Justin's Life...

~ October 1999 ~
~ October 8th - 21st ~

October 8, 1999 - Friday

JustinsLife.com is born!


October 9, 1999 - Saturday

Last night, Larry, Katie, Spencer and I were on the way to the ranch with Warren and Selma (aka Grandma & Grandpa) when we stopped at the Outback steakhouse for dinner. During the course of the meal, I gave Spencer a drink coaster to bang on the table and chew. Normally (before I was with a baby so much), I never would have thought that it was ok to chew on dirty drink coasters, but I've since learned without a doubt that all babies put everything in their mouths and most of us have seemed to make it to adulthood fine.

So, anyway, I gave him the drink coaster and we continued with the meal. Before long, Larry said I better take it from him before he chokes, so I took it away and most of it was still there.

A while later, he was getting fussy again so I decided to give him a little tuft of bread. I placed the smallest possible pinch of bread that I could get in front of him, and he picked it up and put it in his mouth. A minute or so later, Spencer started to cough. Larry said "He's going to choke," and I started to panic. I didn't know what to do with a choking baby, so I tried to give him a bottle, to wash it down, but that was too adult thinking. He wanted that itsy bitsy tuft of bread out of his throat and hadn't the reasoning to drink and swallow. I didn't know what to do, "Swallow baby! Swallow!" was all I could think.

And then a fountain of puke came out. It was a literal tube of yellowish white liquid, and as strange as it sounds, I was happy to see it. If he was puking, he wasn't going to choke. But on the same hand, the puke went everywhere. Three or four times, the puke came out in a fountain of liquid which covered the baby and the car seat in which he was sitting.

I'd given him the bread: I knew I had to clean it up. So as Larry went to the car to get new clothes, I carried the car seat to the bathroom and proceeded to remove Spencer from the car seat. I had to stick my hand down in the warm puke to press the seat belt release, and as I fussed with getting the puke covered belt over his head, I started to gag. Had it been any other setting, I would have certainly puked myself, but I forced my parental mode to talk over and remained possessing of my salad.

As I was holding him by his armpits, trying to figure out how to get his puke covered clothes off, Warren walked out of the toilets/urinals section, which was separated from the sinks by a wall. He saw what had happened and came over to help.

He took Spencer by the armpits and I put my hands in the puke again to unbuckle the snaps of his clothes. We pulled the jumper off over his head and then I sat Spencer in the sink to wash off his legs.

When I removed the diaper, as it also had puke on it, it was a poopie diaper, so that was yet another mess. At about this time, Larry walked in from the car and I passed the now clean except for a poopie butt Spencer off to Larry. He and I then went on into the toilets/urinals section to look for a changing table and proceeded to put him on the shelf and change his diaper.

When Spencer was changed and redressed in new clothes, we went back out to the sinks where Warren was still rinsing off the puke drenched clothes and car seat. A few minutes later and laughs later, it was as good as be done in the situation and we headed back out to the table where the food was waiting.

I couldn't believe that such an itsy bitsy piece of bread could have caused such a chain of events, especially considering that Spencer is nearly 11 months old, but needless to say, I won't be feeding him any tiny pieces of bread again any time soon.


October 14, 1999 - Thursday

I've been doing a lot of thinking about life as of late. Not the usual relationship/friendship ponderings, but rather the career uncertainty. Where do I want to go careerwise? What do I want to do with my life?

My project with the programmer should make money, but it's not something I enjoy which incidentally makes money. It's main goal is to make money. It won't change the world. It won't change my life, except perhaps financially.

And to be honest, I held some crazy idea that with the debut of JustinsLife.com, something magic would happen. Media attention would suddenly be flung onto the journal, a book offer would ensue, and Justin's Life... would be available at your local bookstore.

I know it hasn't even been a week, but the new sections have gotten less usage than I anticipated. The bulletin board has about ten posters who've posted multiple times, but I thought there would be a hundred people all adding their comments. I even offered a Halloween Swatch watch as a prize last week in the newsletter to get the bulletin board jump started. 4 people entered by using the word watch either on the bulletin board or in a pager message.

Four people. 4 out of 500 recipients! I'd like to think that others didn't participate in the contest because they didn't want to appear "cheesy", but I'm pretty sure I'd just be kidding myself.

Larry's in New York on a business trip until tonight. Last night, I wrote him:


This place is lonely tonight without you here. I worked all day scanning negatives of Shane (the first red head) [for RedHeadedMen.com], but it's all so non-rewarding. I don't know why I'm bothering. It's like, I'm sure people will look, and some even pay, but right now I can't figure out why I even care about sharing the pictures with anyone else... and I can't figure out why I bothered with the JustinsLife.com redesign. No one cared [that it hadn't been redone in years]. No one new is reading it now that wasn't reading it before... I know in my mind I told myself that I was spinning it off so that mainstream media would cover it, but I seem destined to never be more than a wanna be. I mean, I know, all things being relative, that I've done more than most, but it's just not there. It's not fulfilling. My personal life, with you and the kids, and all, is good, but my "career" is a big hole, leaving me scanning negatives all day for some unknown purpose. I don't want to become a photographer. I want to be a writer, but I want my writing to have more potentiality than a term paper. I want people to read what I write. I want them to pick it up in the bookstore and read it. My writing needs to be capable of going some where, and if my diary, after all these years, still hasn't gone anywhere, I can't see how anything else I would write would even have a chance.

Maybe, just maybe, if I get some $$ from [the project with the programmer], I can hire a PR agent and get somewhere... but that seems as likely as that diet I'll start tomorrow. Always intending, never doing.

So, yeah, I know I have to do it. I just wish I had the confidence to think that I could do it.

If you were here, you could hug me and I'd just forget all this stuff.


October 18, 1999 - Monday

Before Larry got on the plane to head back to LA, he wrote, in part:

1. you will get where u want.
2. you have the ability to change the world.
3. you needed to redesign the my life section and spin it off..it was needed.
4. you have the right instincts..they will continue to make you do what you have to do.
5. finish school and then i hope and make that money and we'll get someone involved on the pr side..i know you will have to spend that money on pr..i should have years ago with my company..i waited too long, you won't.
6. i'll be home soon and hug you for sure..love my bunny.

I so needed to hear that. I so needed to hear him say that he really believed in me. I knew it, instinctively, I guess, but there are times when you just need to hear what you already know. That was one of those times.

And on Saturday afternoon, I watched October Sky. It's the 1999 film of a 1950's story of a boy who sees the Russian Sputnik satellite and decides rocketry will be his key out of his coal mining town. Everything tells him that he should just be content with his eventual life as a coal miner, but he knows it's not for him. Gay or straight, that's an idea that resonates with a lot of us. I so wanted to get out of that small town. I so wanted to move to the big city where I could be the person I knew I was meant to be instead of the one small town life would have me be. I knew it... and I knew I was going to do whatever it took to achieve that goal. Homer Hickam, the guy in the movie, felt exactly the same thing, but it had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. And perhaps my need to move to the big city had less to do with my being gay than I realize and more to do with my wanting to be someone who mattered. Someone whose life affected more than those around him. And now I realize that those lives are equally valid, but mine must be different. I still must be something more.

And so, watching that film on Saturday afternoon, I realized that I've just got to stick with it, and let it go. I've got to keep my focus and one day you will read that book with my name on the spine and my face on the dust jacket. One day, it will happen.

And in talking about it all with Larry, I've realized that a lot of what he's said is right. He told me that I need to write from the heart, that really great writers have a universal message. My writing is sometimes shallow, for sure. It's often trivial, but I hope that it brings us all a little closer together. Watching October Sky this past weekend really helped me to realize that my cause celebre does not necessarily have to be gay, which I guess I knew, again instinctively. My goal is to show us ALL that we're far less alone than we think.


October 19, 1999 - Tuesday

Ever heard the term "Star Fuckers"? It's the none-to-flattering term used for people that ride on the coattails of others to achieve their own fame. I'm not a star, but I've had my share of star fuckers.

First and most notably was Sage Lundsford. Back in February of 1996, I found that she'd created a parody of the journal. It tore me up pretty bad. I was really amazed at how hate filled she was towards me. I couldn't understand what would possess her to spend so much energy putting me down. Much later, I came to realize that she was a star fucker. She'd hoped to push her own writing career by riding on the coattails of mine, not that I even had one, but it was more than hers. She had nothing original or interesting to say, so the best she could do was make fun of me. But she got my attention, got me upset, and got mentioned in the diary. (The last I read, the hate mail from readers of my site was too much, so she took the site down and disappeared from the web, which, I must admit, gave me a sense of "Take that BITCH!")

Anyway, this morning I woke to read a really nasty e-mail about me and this site... yet it was not blatantly nasty enough for me to completely disregard it. It appeared to come from someone of intelligence and someone with concern. But carefully re-reading it, I realized it was from a star fucker. He wanted to get my tail feathers in a tangle. He wanted to get a rise out of me and have me mention the letter. He wanted his minute of fame by having me quote his letter here.

So, I'm going to do just that:

Dear Justin:

In your recent diary entries you express some frustration over the fact that your new "Justin's life" page has not created the degree of interest that you expected it to generate. You now believe that it is a matter of better public relations.

I do not think so. Years ago your public diary was an interesting and fresh attraction. It gave the impression of being candid and open, and it described a young man in struggle. Over time, for understandable personal reasons, you seem to have blocked more and more of your true thoughts and feelings from the on-line diary, and when "real" events occurred in your life you have even shut down the diary completely. This is perfectly fine of course, since announcing all events, thoughts, and personal conflicts in public would have wreaked havoc on your personal life. However it made for a bland and extremely boring narrative, highlighting the digestive problems of babies and your sophomoric aversions to this class or that class in USC.

It is hard to see why anyone would be truly interested in this stale stuff, PR or not PR. What made your diary interesting ions ago was the fact that it depicted - with true expressive power and heartfelt pain - the difficulties that a young gay man was facing as he was growing up. At present it does not depict anything of great interest, merely the various comings and goings of a not-too-interesting and somewhat spoiled young man who lives rather comfortably in Southern California, takes vacations in Las Vegas and Hawaii, goes to movies, etc. You cannot be surprised that no one outside your circle of family and friends is terribly interested.

Unless you are able to break outside your own little cocoon and express on your pages more than your own little trivial and highly "sanitized" daily activities, your goal - to have the page attract big and enthusiastic crowds - will probably remain elusive. Like most people, you seem to be too self centered and myopic to become a meaningful writer, and thus once your personal life became uninteresting (or once you lost the ability to report on what is really happening) your page lost its soul. It is hard to see why anyone would be dying to follow your small deeds, your small frustrations, and your (very) small achievements as of late. [Personally, I used to visit your page very often, now much longer periods pass between visits, and the new entries are truly boring.]

I believe that if you are looking for a good way to use whatever talents you may have, packaging and re-packaging this increasingly mundane web site is not going to provide you with success. Without real content it would not become an attraction. Since you seem to have lost the ability to supply interesting content, you may have to look for another line of work.

Best Regards,


He's good. I have to give him that. The whole heartfelt introductory paragraph, the intermingling of seemingly caring words with overly spiteful barbs, it all lends itself to a true craftsman. But it goes over the top with the name calling. If he were truly interested in my diary's well being, wouldn't he have said the same thing without trying to belittle me? "You need to write more from your soul" is a valid point. One I even detailed myself just above... but count the pejorative adjectives in the letter and it's clear that the intent was to incite, not to help.

More and more lately, I've gotten letters from long time readers saying that I've matured in the course of the years they've been reading, and I've still been getting letters from guys saying that they just found the site and it has changed their lives. My diary may still be just a web site... but it's changed my life for the better and I've personally seen that it's changed the lives of others for the better in more ways than I could ever hope to count. And as the saying goes, "If you don't like it, change the channel."


October 21, 1999 - Thursday

Ironically, after talking about how I wished JustinsLife.com had increased exposure, I found that the diary had indeed been "exposed" in a way I hadn't anticipated. This exposure, inevitably, led me to do some what-if ponderings. "What if everyone knew about the diary and read it?" being the largest of those thoughts... and the honest truth is that I'll handle it when I get there.

See, this past week, I had a professor tell me that he found my web site. He told me that I was a really talented writer, and that meant a lot to me. I'd heard that I was a talented writer from teachers and professors before, but each comment is taken in context of the person making it. With my composition professor (who was flamboyantly gay) my first semester at USC, I knew the gay connection was a fair sized part of his impression, and while I knew he "knew his stuff", he seemed too caught up with the semantics of writing... like an artist and his painting, without a large appreciation for how others in the real world view it.

With my ditz of a communication professor who said I was the best speech writer in the class (during the diary hiatus), I was very happy to hear her say that, but she, too, was too caught up in her own theories of speech writing and verbal communication for me to take it too the real world level. Don't get me wrong: It majorly made my day to hear that I was the best speech writer in the class, but it was still a comment on my academics and her life didn't seem to go much further than the academic door. (She lives and breathes communication theories.)

Yet this past week, a professor found my site and commented about my writing outside of the academic area. He said I was a very talented writer, and he was sincere. He told me that the last time he saw someone as talented was eight or nine years ago and that that person was a graduate student. And more important than all that, I admired him, so it meant the world to me.

Yet I got caught up in the semantics of writing it here. It was like the unofficial lines of church and state had been crossed and I shouldn't write my appreciation of the comment here because it could be construed as some sort of academic integrity issue. But then I realized, other students have slept with professors while they were in their classes... and I'm not just whistling dixie. Remember the girl I referred to as Eyelashes? A large part of the reason for that name was because she dated and slept with a comm. professor while in his class and she wasn't sure if the issue would be mentioned here. They even went to Hawaii and she asked me if I wanted pictures of him nude. (I passed.) What the heck am I worrying about this for?

What kind of fucked up world do we live in where students and professors are supposed to remained distanced from each other's lives. Isn't that the whole point of education? Learning from other's experiences... yet we're supposed to keep this artificial distance?

And so, I wracked my brain about how to write about the event here without attributing it to any particular professor. I thought I could wait until it had passed, like on Friday, so that when I said, "One of my professors this past week said..." it was entirely true yet didn't pinpoint any professor in particular. I thought about how I could write it without using the professor's name, but I needed to write the dialogue of a conversation in which his last name occured. [Lastname] just seemed too hokey for such a great thing. And then I thought about how he insisted upon paying for dinner with a group of students when they all went out to Korea town last semester as an "academic integrity issue". And even now, I'm wondering if I should complete the whole story or if I've said enough.

Of course, the irony of the whole situation is that anyone who could in their wildest dreams ever care about his name would have more than enough clues to figure it out. I only have two male professors this semester and you can be fairly certain that Leonard Maltin wouldn't take the time to get to know his students.

And more important than all that is if a professor actually takes the time to get to know his students, why is that something less than wonderful? Sure, I could point out the fact that anyone in the class would say I deserved an "A", so there would be no possible "academic integrity" issues, but aren't the "dumb" kids the ones most in need of personal interaction with professors? This is a much crazier issue than the actual comment itself.

And so, with a much too long and too issue laden introduction, here goes.

Tuesday night, I was in Professor Noll's class when he asked if anyone had read the reader (a collection of photocopied articles selected by the professor bound together and purchased at the bookstore). Of course, none of us had so we got that guilty look on our faces and started smiling. He, of course, commented on the smiles which meant that we hadn't read and I said something to the effect of "We much prefer the Noll manuscript." Of the two books for the course, one was written by him, and last semester the course book written by him was still in manuscript form so he referred to it as the "Noll manuscript". I rode him about referring to it in the third person, so my comment this past Tuesday was A) true B) a playful chide at his referring to his work in the third person and C) an excuse as to why we hadn't read.

It was his response, however, that took me by surprise. I don't remember the phrasing of it, but it was a smiling comment back, something to the effect of then why don't I sell it (the Noll book) on my web site.

The class, all graduate students except me, has a lot of fun stuff in it. It actually makes education enjoyable, if you can believe that, so I'm sure no one else paid those remarks any more attention than to any of the countless other playful yet educational remarks occurring during class. But I noticed it. Did he know I had a web site? Was he just making the remark because I'm the class gadget freak and a lot of the classes conversations are about online commerce? I was jarred a bit, but class continued and I didn't think too much more about it.

A while later it was time for the break (It's a three hour class with a 10-15 minute break in the middle), and we all went out into the hallway to yak about various things. In the course of our discussions, Ping, an Asian girl with whom I've formed an alliance due to our mutual Internet addiction, was talking about buying furniture somewhere on Vermont Ave. because it was inexpensive. She then asked if there was a reason why you shouldn't buy furniture there, and I responded, "What? You think it's got furniture cooties?" and laughed. But she didn't know what cooties were, and neither did any of the rest of the students. A class of nine other students and only the professor and I knew what cooties were. It was laugh-your-ass-off funny. Cooties. It's such an inherent part of growing up in America. How could anyone not know what cooties were? (Yet in all fairness, I was the only student in the class that grew up in America. I'm the only native American, for lack of a better term.)

So, anyway, Ping, who has excellent English skills, had to find out what cooties were and Professor Noll and I were having much too fun a time not telling her or any of the rest of the students. Eventually, Ping thought of her cell phone and in cahoots with another student in the class, she called yet another grad. student to find the definition of "cooties".

Meanwhile, Professor Noll says to me, "I went to your web site." Knock me over. I never even said I had a web site, so the fact that he found mine was dumbfounding. I mean, I guess it only stands to reason. I wrote a paper about how I thought the world wide web was the revolutionary invention of the 20th century and I'm at the extreme when he does informal "How many have cell phones? How many web sites do you visit a day?" polls of the class to illustrate a point. I mean, why wouldn't I have a web site?

So, anyway, he said that he typed my name in a search engine and found my site. He then went on to say that I was a talented writer, a really talented writer. And the way he said it showed that he wasn't "just whistling dixie". He meant it with as much conviction as he could express. He went on to say that the last time he'd had a student with such talent was eight or nine years ago and that that was a grad. student. I said, "Thanks." still taking it all in, and then he said something about him not wanting me to get a big head. I, like a complete dumbass, said that I'd heard it from professors before, so I wouldn't (get a big head).

But for all those reasons I explained before, his comments meant so much more than the other professors. Once it sank in, I was elated... yet I'd said, "I've heard it before". So, that SOOO made my day. An academic, who realizes that there's a world beyond academia, said that my non-academic writing was by a very talented writer. Amazing.

I'm still not expressing the greatness felt in that idea. It was AWESOME.

Click here for the next set of entries.

© 1999 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's