Justin's Life... January 2nd - 20th, 1998

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January 2, 1998 - Friday


1998 came into my little world without too much of a bang... and that was fine with me. In Kentucky, New Years isn't that big of a holiday. Sitting at home, watching Dick Clark drop the ball on Times Square is about it.

This year, it came into this rural part of California (I'm at the ranch) without even that much bruhaha. I was asleep.


Yesterday, to mark the new year, I tried to think of some great new feature to add to Justin's Koool Page but couldn't think of anything. So today, along with responding to about 25 Christmas cards, I added a contest seeking ideas for the site. I haven't yet gotten any submissions, but I figured who better to know what makes a koool web site than the people who use it, so hopefully you guys will have some ideas.


January 3, 1998 - Saturday


Today, for the most part, has been spent relaxing: Larry, Katie, and I took a drive around the area, just looking at the houses, the view, and the forest. I did, however, get something done: I finished replying to the fourty Christmas cards I found in my mailbox when I returned from Kentucky. Sixty two cards, that's how many I got from you guys, and I appreciated each and every one.


January 6, 1998 - Tuesday


This past Sunday as Larry, Katie, and I were driving back from the ranch house, Larry asked if I wanted to go see Titanic. I didn't: I'm not all caught up in the gay Leonardo DiCaprio worship and I didn't want to watch a 3+ hour movie. But, Larry really wanted to go see it, so I said yes. A little later, he suggested that we invite Jeff along as well. That I cared for even less.

See, I thought Jeff and I were back on track, friendly, but the Christmas card I sent him didn't get a response. Instead, he sent one addressed to Larry with "Larry and Justin" on the inside, but that was it. Any of you guys who sent me a card knows that each card I sent is personalized with a lot more than "Merry Christmas." For him to write it to Larry and to write near nothing in the card was a virtual slap in the face. Of course, that's not even yet mentioning that I bought him a Christmas present which, since I didn't see him in the month of Decemember, never got delivered. -- Instead, I just packed it up with the Christmas decorations a couple days ago.

And so, I had no real desire to see him, but Larry did. So I said ok and Larry called Jeff... but the machine answered so Larry left a message saying that if he got the message and wanted to go, he could call.

A little after we got to the house, I checked voice mail and found a message from Jeff. It said that he was just sitting at home, doing nothing, and therefore could go see the movie with us. Long story short, we met Jeff at the Mann Chinese Theatre for the eight o'clock showing.

When the night was over, I wrote this letter:


Waking up this morning, thinking about Titanic, I couldn't help but completely "get it." You know, three hour and twenty four minute movies are not usually something I take interest in, but last night, that movie really hit me. It said, "Wake up, your time here is short, make it count, make it matter." When the credits were rolling, I wanted to reach over and give you a great big hug. One that said, "I know we've been jerks, but I miss you and want you back in my life. Can't we get back to somewhere nearer where we were?" So, instead, I flicked you in the arm, hoping you'd flick back to tacitly respond. But you didn't...

In the Formosa, I tried again to explain. I want something between white chocolate chip cookies and nothing at all. And Larry was right, I'll never believe that I was so horrible a person that you could go from that one extreme to the other. I mean, Larry and I have fights, periods of hatred, etc., much worse than you and I ever thought about having... but we always get back. The best relationships turn into friendships and nearly all relationships are like a roller coaster. They begin with a quick ascent, have an ever faster decent, and leave you somewhere slightly higher than where you started. With us, the roller coaster ride is over, but we must have went past the loading area to end up in the lowest part just before the chain grabs ahold and pulls the coaster up.

When Larry said last night that he would have made sure that I was her and he was him, my eyes filled up and I had to stop myself from crying. Right now, as I rethink it, I am crying. Life is amazing and precious not because of what you do, but how you do to others. I want you back in my life, in whatever capacity you want... but not as a body with no soul.

*tears down my face*

I've yet to get a response.


In under two hours, Larry and I are supposed to have dinner with a web fan. Normally, as I've got a few of these random meetings under my belt and as he's not red headed, I wouldn't be that nervous about it, but when I talked to Brian on the phone earlier today, I got the sense that he was preparing for the Justin section of the S.A.T. -- He readily knew little details like my hometown... not that that's not online, but it's not something you'd readily find or something that you'd really remember.

So, I've got to get ready... but I'm trying to decide whether I should wear my frat boy outfit. On one hand, I think I look cute in it, but on the other, he's seen it online and knows that that's the outfit in which I think I look cute. I mean, I guess he'd think I'd try to look my best for the first meeting of anyone, but it's one thing to think I'm trying to look cute. It's another to know I'm trying to look cute.


January 7, 1998 - Wednesday


Like I said a couple paragraphs above, I've had a few random 'net meetings. The thing I've learned with the most certainty from those meetings is "When meeting anyone you haven't seen before, never, ever believe how he describes his physical self." --I mean, face it, no one ever thinks they look bad, right.-- Last night, that truism was especially prominent in Larry's and my head: Brian had told me on the phone, "We look somewhat alike."

So, we get to Wolfgang Puck's and meet him. It's like lookin' in a mirror... not. In fact, there were several other guys in the restaurant who I think look much closer to me. While he's at the bar, I say "Quite a resemblance there" or something like that to Larry and we giggle. Still, not looking like me and thinking he did wasn't a crime. In fact, I considered it a compliment, so we went on with dinner.

As the night went on, he seemed like a nice enough guy, but I couldn't help but repeatedly get weirded out by how much he knew. Imagine. You go up to someone you've never met, but read all about, say your local newscaster. You not only know that he's on Channel 7, but also that he played for the Brown Bruins in high school, disliked the movie Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and when he was six, his mother spanked him for chopping down her favorite cherry tree which had just been picked by your Uncle Steve. Even if that newscaster had told the Brown Bruins story in one interview and the cherry tree story in another, completely out there for the world to consume, he would still be a little unnerved that someone would know and remember that much about him.

Well, I'm used to having people know a lot about me by now, but last night, Brian took the cake. It was when he said, "Katie's mom is from San Diego, right?" that I gave Larry the "See, I told you he was preparing for the Justin S.A.T." look. Larry waited until he looked back towards me and responded with the a face that could have only meant, "Boy, you were right."

Yet, between the occasional weirding out, it was a fine dinner... and the food was amazing.

After dinner, the three of us headed to the neighboring Virgin Megastore. Inside, Larry wanted to look at the laserdiscs, so we headed to the second floor. We were all looking at the various titles... then... I picked up the director's version of Mrs. Doubtfire and Brian responded, "I didn't think you liked that movie." I said before that I thought he was preparing for the Justin section of the S.A.T. but it wasn't until then that I realized that he was preparing for the L.S.A.T. (Law school)

At around 10:45PM, we headed back to the parking garage and parted ways. He was a nice enough guy, but I doubt we'll hang out. We just didn't click... the knowing absolutely everything I'd ever written online probably accounted for a part of that, but a very little part.


January 8, 1998 - Thursday


Well, I just finished my first class for the Spring 1998 semester... and it went remarkably well.

Not knowing how long it would take to get campus at 8:30 in the morning, I left the house about 20 minutes earlier than I normally would. Traffic wasn't that bad, though, so when I got to the classroom, it was only around 9:15AM... about five other students were spread across the classroom.

As it got closer to 9:30AM, more and more people arrived, and as I really got to know a few people in COMM 395 last semester, I figured for sure one of them would be in this class this semester... I kept looking for a face with which I could match a name so I could move over and talk to someone, but found none.

Between looking for that familiar face, I began reading the newspaper and got about half way through when a guy walked in... I mean, other guys had already gotten there, but this guy had sideburns and sat off my gaydar. For a school with a gay population rivaling that of a Westpoint, any gay guy was a welcome sight, especially a relatively normal looking one.

So, not seeing anything as tell-tale as a rainbow flag, I kept looking over in his direction... and he kept looking back. It was one of those "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, everything is telling me it is a duck, but I'm not going to believe it deals." I mean, his and my eyes must have met, literally, a dozen times. That's not even mentioning that he was wearing an Abercrombie & Fitch sweater (or that I was wearing my sweater/t-shirt/A&F cap frat boy combination --Hey, it's the first day of classes: Ya never know when you're going to need to make a good first impression.)

So, anyway, we kept looking at each other, holding the eye contact for just too little to definitively tell, and then the professor said we'll be doing research with partners. It didn't take me long to figure out who was going to be mine

Next time I'll have to arrive a little later so I can sit by him, but not right by him... Now I understand why those sorority girls are all dressed up at nine o'clock in the morning.


Normally, I'd be in class right now... and hopefully, I would be writing today's entries as they occurred. But today's the first day, so classes are shorter than normal and I couldn't just take out the Velo and start typing. I mean, we didn't really need to take notes today


20 minutes until weight training class... which I think is reflective of my general mood as of late. Today especially, I've been having a major case of low self-esteem. Standing in line to buy books a minute ago, I found myself wondering why I didn't look more like the ultra cute guy who was in my 11 o'clock class while at the same time realizing I could look like any of the other guys in line next to me. I mean, I appreciate that I have a combination of looks and personality, that I could look a lot worse, but some days I'd really like to be absolutely breathtaking and not be able to multiply 6x7. Know what I mean? Today I'm rationalizing that I don't look so bad that anyone would use that as an excuse not to be my friend... perhaps it is my real world personality. Hard to believe it from here, but I pretty much stay to myself here in the real world, at least when I don't know the people around me. That was the reason I wrote that letter to Jeff. It's really hard for me to find quality people with whom I can hang. I just wanted him to be one of those people.

Oh well, off to weight training I head... perhaps there I'll meet that really koool hanging buddy... yeah, right.


January 13, 1998 - Tuesday


Close or too close: Where's the line? Right now I'm four seats in from the end (that guy sat on the end). He's not here yet, so I'm trying to figure out what's "Close" vs. "Too Close."... and determined this seat to be the correct one. He can sit anywhere between here and the end... oh wait, now a girl's on the end. Should I move? Hmm...


Well, the girl moved when she saw a friend, but another girl took her place... BUT when I had to get up to pass a paper, I casually sat in the next seat over.


9:40... and he's no where to be seen. I dressed up, shaved... even tucked my shirt in. Not to "get" him. Just to look nice for someone who cared. And he's not even here.


January 15, 1998 - Thursday


It would seem this class is the only time I have to write as of late. Yesterday I went to class then ran home then back to school for a class called "Intro to BASIC programming." I intentionally signed up for it because, as you may recall, I took Fundamentals of Computer Programming last semester and survived it with a "B+" (at least I think so. Touchtone grade reporting still says "Missing grade" but that's another story.)

Anyway, it dealt with C programming, so I figured BASIC programming would be pretty, well, basic. -- The days of wanting to learn something at school are long since gone. -- Yet, last night when I got to the class, it was amazing how basic it was. The class started with a good section on the differences between Save and Save As... and cut, copy, and paste. I told the girl next to me that we were going to get in trouble for laughing... but we didn't... and everyone lived happily ever after.


I'm in a really weird mood today. -- Living happily ever after does that to a person


January 20, 1998 - Tuesday


It's been a while since I last wrote. Those entries above have been in the Velo and haven't been uploaded (until now) because, well, I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to handle writing about something.

Most of the time, I just write. As I live with Larry, I do make exceptions about what I put in about us (like I've mentioned before), but for the most part, I write the way I see things.

Long story short, two weeks ago from Thursday, a major "incident" happened in class. The professor involved in the incident knows about this web site and journal. And so, I debated about what, if anything to write online. I mean, would there (could there) be some retribution? Where's the line? Could I be kicked out of school for some unknown reason. Line 54 of student handbook, "You shall not write unflattering things about your professors or face expulsion as punishment." I debated a lot.

See, on one hand, I realize this is from my viewpoint, but on another, I realize that we all see from our own viewpoints and must empathize to see other points of view.

Before, when I wrote about Eric's party and not everything about it was flattering, he later responded:

I read your entry today.  I now understand the delicate balancing act you must do when placing entries - how to be honest, but not offend, how much to write.... I think you have struck a very nice balance.

It was so great to know that someone appreciated the exact wording of an entry. I even wrote back to him:

*smile* Finally, someone appreciates that!!!!! Someone realizes how difficult it is to translate "There weren't any majorly cute guys there with whom I could flirt my ass off like I'd hoped, so I was ready to leave and pine myself away for my red headed knight at home. I mean, Computer Nerd Eric was cute in that computer nerd dufus sort of way, but he was no drool inducing frat boy like I was hoping to meet" into "it hadn't really requited my window shopping desire, so I was ready to go home. I mean, as the party went on, Computer Nerd Eric did gain a certain attractiveness which he didn't initially hold, but he was no Jerry O'Connell." Even that "no Jerry O'Connell" remark got re-written and unwritten about four times. Yes, there is a lot of balancing that must occur, especially when you realize that the people who you're writing about are going to read it.

But even that was worded more carefully than if I'd been talking to Larry. I know it's something most people don't readily think about when reading these pages, and I try to think about it as little as possible, too, but these pages have real life impacts.

And so, I wrote the journal entry, removing all references to gender and keeping the specific professor as vague as possible. I then asked Larry to read over it. His response: of course I could put her gender in. He said she behaved unprofessionally and if it had been him, he would have filed a formal complaint with the school. He said he'd probably even put her name online... but I'm going to refrain from that .

As so, here goes...

Basically, I got an e-mail from a fellow classmate which read:

Hey Justin,

Its [So and So], from class in case you forgot. =o) I was just curious if you had dropped, cause you hadnt been there this week and I didnt hear the professor call you on roll today. Well anyways if you want write me back. I miss you!!!!

Well if you did drop the class I hope we can keep in touch.

Take care,

[So and So]

To that, I wrote back:

Yep, I did drop it, and yep, I already thought about how I was going to get ahold of you.

First the drop:

Well, needless to say, I did a lot of replaying the situation. Looking back at it, I could have asked word for word the exact same question as the girl before did (and therefore merited some sort of "I don't get what you mean. I thought that was just what she asked."... but that's not the point. The point is how I got there.

Before class started, [the profeesor] couldn't get the VCR to work, so she asked if anyone knew how to work it. As I'm pretty technical with those sorts of things (I'm sure you remember me explaining how to tape vcr-to-vcr last semester), I volunteered and went up front to the electronics console. But when I didn't readily figure it out, she said something like, "You can go back to your seat now." Geez, if it had been a brand new professor, I don't think she/he would have said it like that. Maybe, "Thanks, I'll figure it out." or something like that, but her tone and word choice passed the message to me that she was making extra sure to keep those professor/student lines drawn.

No big deal. So, on with class, and I try to interject with a comment to clarify the girl's question and the class's concern with so much typing. Wow! Talk about knocking me out of my seat. I just tried to get [the professor]'s attention and bam! When she came back with "Maybe you want to answer her question for her, Justin" or something like that, I was stunned. Like I said before, I sensed that she wanted to keep the prof/student line drawn, but that was uncalled for. I wasn't doing anything that hadn't happened last semester hundreds of times. It wasn't the most formal of classes where everyone raised his or her hand and waited to be called upon. So, anyway, I sat there stunned. When [the professor] finished with the girl, she didn't come back to me, to ask "What was it you were going to say, Justin?" or anything like that. She just went on talking. The message that I was far from an integral part of the class was being broadcast loud and clear. But, finally, I did get her attention and she called upon me.

And so, I delivered my long drawn out explanation/question to be rebutted with "Is that a serious question?", the look of Could-you-really-be-that-stupid? and the classes "Ohhh." That was it. She'd crossed the line too many times, too far, and so, as she came around the desk continuing her condescending remarks, I told her, "I know I came in a little boisterous, but I think we both need to go back to our corners." (Otherwise who knows where it might have escalated.) and to that came the look of death. I sat the rest of class thinking about how a professor I'd so admired the first semester had gone to one whose class I now dreaded.

Just before class was done, to re-obtain any question of authority, she said "Justin, I need to speak with you." so that it was well heard by all members of the class, and then when we got to talking, she told me that she didn't realize the first part about saying did I want to answer her question and that she asked if it was a serious question because she thought I'd asked exactly what the girl had just finished asking. (Looking back, I could have asked the exact same thing. I was so stunned at her comment that I didn't hear a word the girl said.) But then she said, "But you can not tell me that we both need to go back in our corners on the very first day of class." I did not agree. She attacked me. By the time she said that serious question comment, my eyes were welling up. Not only was she repeatedly trying to convey that I was a pee-on, but now she'd tried to make me look like a moron in front of the class. And so, we half-assedly apologized to each other.

Soooo... replaying the scene over and over and over, I couldn't get it out of my mind. The entire weekend, that's about all I could think about. Monday night, I went to class and found myself not saying anything (to a brand new professor) for fear that something similar would happen. And then I realized, this is ridiculous. I'm not going to sit in a class an entire semester, not saying anything, or worrying about whether the same situation will happen again. It's just not worth it, and so, I found replacement units. Nothing wonderful, but it would keep my class schedule at 15 units. Believe it or not, I didn't even drop the class until yesterday. I was still thinking, maybe... but...

And so, no, you won't see me in class. I've still got to write [the professor] a letter saying that I didn't drop because I thought she'd arbitrarily lower my grade, but rather because I didn't want to sit stunted the entire semester.


The one thing majorly in the class's court was you (well, and [Joe] and [Joe]... but they're just red heads... did I tell you I have a MAJOR thing for red heads?) Anyway, you were the one reason I kept debating on whether to stay in the class or not. Friends at USC are far and few between for me. Actually, I'd have no problem counting them on one hand. I REALLY wanted to have another class with you... and then, like I said the other day, I didn't even know your last name. So, while I was debating the whole deal, I thought I could find you in the student directory... [derivation of her name]... or anything close to that... then I realized I'd sent you e-mail last semester. You were on AOL. And so, believe it or not, I was going to mail you... just as soon as all this crap had calmed down.

So, yes, I would really like keeping in touch... heck, even doing some real world activity together would be great, too. I'm game for most new situations... clubbing, bowling, whatever. :-)

Anyway, guess I better get on that letter to [the professor]... won't that be fun! ;-)

Talk to you soon?

I sent that letter on the 15th, but it wasn't until today (the 20th) that I sent the letter to the professor. I actually composed it about two days ago, but kept giving myself extra room to revise or rethink.

Anyway, I sent:

I just wanted to write you to let you know that I didn't drop [your class] because of any idea that my grade would be arbitrarily lowered or anything crazy like that, but rather because replaying the situation in my mind over and over, I realized that I would not have changed anything that I did. I really felt, from the first part of class when I tried to help with the VCR and you told me, "You can go back to your seat now." --Instead of something like, "Oh well, I'll figure it out."-- to the "Is that a serious question?" comment, that you were trying with a vehemence to make the point that I was the student and you were the professor. I admittedly came in a friendlier than if you were a professor under which I'd never had a class. (In fact, you were the first professor I took for a second semester. [Last semester's class] was that cool. That great. I loved the discussion, the class format, etc. etc. I really wanted to have the same semester all over again.) But, friendly as I was, I didn't(don't) see the need to repeatedly attack me in class (and I really felt like it was an attack.) There were several of us coming from [last semester's class]. You could have at any time made a general comment about how you knew most of us knew you, but that we needed to give the new students a chance to learn how things go before having an "anyone-comment-at-pretty-much-any-time" format like we did last semester.

Oh well, all I really wanted to say was that I didn't drop [your class] because of me thinking you would treat me differently, but rather because I knew I would behave differently. As you may or may not know, I didn't drop [your class] until last Wednesday. I didn't decide to drop it until I went to a class, with a totally new professor, and realized that I was sitting there silent for fear something similar would occur. Once you know the stove can burn you, you're a lot more apprehensive about touching the stove again, even if you touched it fifty times before the burn. The idea of sitting in class, wondering whether my next comment would make me the butt of the class, is too high a price to pay for taking [your class].

On a final note, I'm writing you also to say that I hope when we bump into each other around ASC we won't have to put on the fake smiles. [Last semester's class] was one of the coolest, if not the coolest, class I've had at 'SC... and you were a big part of that.


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