Justin's Life... August 4th - 19th, 1999

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August 4, 1999 - Wednesday


Know that sorta sick to your gut, down feeling you get after watching the last episode of a mini-series, television show, or book? That's the feeling I have right now as this morning I finished listening to the unabridged version of Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, on tape.

The characters are gone, no longer a part of my daily drive around town, and they left in ways I didn't particularly care for. The book would have been better had it ended a tape sooner. Had the last hour of the thirteen hours been removed, I would still be down but I would have been more pleased with the outcome. Instead, the book went off into some metaphysical hallucination bullshit and tied up the loose ends. I hate movies that don't end, like most of Hitchcock's (if my memory serves), but I hated the ending to Hannibal more than if it'd simply stopped and faded out, as the movie no doubt would.

It is weird how make believe can draw us in. How we can become familiar with those that do not exist. How we miss them when they're gone. As crazy as it sounds, and if you've read the book you know how crazy it does sound, I'm going to miss Mason Verger and Clarence Starling and Barney and Margot. They never existed, yet I miss them.

August 6, 1999 - Friday


This morning I wrote the weekly newsletter and I usually try to conclude with something offbeat and perky or bizarre, but nearly always on an up note.

To that, I thought a story semi-related to the content of the newsletter would be appropriate, so I wrote:

After last week's newsletter, I got a response that read:
Please remove me from this gay list. Im a minor and this a serious crime and unless you want me to tell my parents and thier lawyer then please take me off. I didn't sign up on this list in the first place, some one else did. Thank you very much
Knowing that the listbot confirms each signup with the recipient before adding the e-mail address to the list and knowing that I didn't use the administrative function to manually add anyone to the list who didn't request it, I checked for the above person's e-mail address in Eudora.

I found five letters to me and two responses. I was livid that someone would threaten me when HE signed up.

I wrote:

Your name has been removed, but you did indeed sign up for this list. (See attached). If you're having doubts about your sexual orientation, that's ok, but don't go threatening me when I have several e-mails from you including one that starts "Well, first of all it hit me a few months ago that I'm gay and I'm comfortable with that fact." Perhaps you'd like me to call you now and tell your parents that I'm sending the newsletter to you?

You could have easily asked to be removed... but don't go freakin' threatening me when you know damn well that you signed up for the list.


Date: Fri, 01 Jan 1999 17:07:56 -0500
From: David LASTNAME <emailaddress@somehwere.net>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.05 [en] (Win95; I)
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: newsletterquestions@koool.com
Subject: Friday's Thoughts

I tried to sign up throught the webpage but that didn't work
could you please sign me up.  Thank You.

Email(personal):                       Email (personliches):
XXXX@XXXXX.net                         XXXX@XXXXX.net

Snail Mail:                            Adresse:
David LASTNAME                         David LASTNAME
STREET ADDRESS                         STREET ADDRESS
CITY, Virginia ZIP                     CITY, Virginia ZIP
United States of America	       Vereinigten Stadten

Phone:                                 Telefon:
(757)XXX-XXXX			       1-757-XXX-XXXX	

Amazed that someone would outright lie like that (especially when there was no cause for it... and knowing that they'd sent me e-mail with their signature file INCLUDING home phone number and address), I tried just to shrug it off.

But, writing this here now (Friday, August 6th), I re-read his first letter.

To: justin@koool.com
Subject: Thanks


I'm not quite sure how to start this. Well, first of all it hit me a few months ago that I'm gay and I'm comfortable with that fact. And after that "event" I decided that I wanted to know a little more about it. That's how I came across Koool.com. I forget exactly how but I did. It has been possibly one of the most instrumental tools for my self relization. No it has been the most instrumental tool. When I first started to look for information I came across absolutely nothing. I tried searching "gay" in multiple search engines only to get tons of pornography. Then when I came across your page I found "Letter to a friend and realized that I was going through the exact same thing. I live in a pretty big city but also one that is severely homophobic because of the large military population. So I've been trying to find some scene of which I haven't found any so far. I also go to a very small school (our class is 38 people) and am afraid to come out to anyone except for one person because of the way that news spreads, as you can imagine, very rapidly.

Anyway end of my little tangent there. I've been debating as to whether I was even going to write to you and decided that I should b/c of the great help you've been in my life. The Justin's Life section of your page kept my rapt attention as it resembled, at least in a small part, my life or the way I'd like my life to be. I admire you for being brave enough to bear all for the world to see. Perhaps the best thing about Justin's Life is the fact that it showed me that I'm not the only "normal" gay guy. I know that there had to be some others out there but I couldn't find them. Thank you.

I've always had something missing in my life. I've always longed for someone to share my life with. Someone that I could be affectionate with and be in love with. I tried to fit in by going out with a few girls but found some reason to break it off. For example, last night I went to a friend's house for a New Year's Eve Party, a friend to whom I haven't yet come out, but was planning to come out last night, anyway I was a little anxious because I didn't know what I would do about the "New Year's Kiss" but luckily there turned out to be no "New Year's Kiss" but that anxiety just tore me up inside and I couldn't deal with it. So I've decided that I'm going to just let things go the way they go. And I have you to thank for that. Thank you Thank you Thank you. I don't know how to thank you enough for all you have done for me. Even though we've never met it feels like you're a brother to me. I know that sounds a bit obsessive, don't worry I won't be stalking you or anything. But I do want to say one last time. Thank You for all you have done for me. THANK YOU.


Email(personal):                       Email (personliches):
[snip - same signature file]

That's really depressing. Perhaps I shouldn't have busted him so hard. I got caught up with being threatened and didn't realize from where he was coming. I mean, I sorta realized it. I knew the reasoning behind the "I didn't sign up for this" change of heart, but not completely reading his letter again until now since he first wrote it I failed to realize his viewpoint.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a downer.

I was intending to illustrate the point that no matter how down on yourself you get, you're at least at a point where you're comfortable with your sexual orientation enough not to lie and threaten others... and the internet probably helped you get there.

Sorry this wasn't cheery.

So now I feel like a major heel. He needed an encouraging word and I totally dropped the ball. I know it was the threatening and lying that did it to me, but I should have thought more.

But at the same time, I can't blame myself for responding to lies and a threat by busting him on it. That's who I am. If you lie to me, I'll bust you. And if you threaten me, I'll bust you even harder if you're lying. Hindsight's 20/20. But should something similar happen in six months (after this is no longer in my active memory), I'd probably respond the same.

I don't know. Larry always says I write "poison pen" letters when I'm angry. I know one of my best qualities is seeing things for what they are, yet that perception does allow me to fight back with a vengeance. I still remember when I first perceived that a friend in Boston had been physically abused as a kid. I was play hitting him, just palling around, but he was flinching too much. We were close, so I said something about it and although he didn't confirm, he didn't deny. I would never use that to "fight back" as there are some places you just don't tread, but my point is that my perception is powerful and sometimes I call a duck a duck when the duck would rather be known as a goose. I'm sure he didn't want me to know that he'd been beaten as a kid, but I saw it when no one else would have even thought twice about it.

Anyway, now I'm debating what to do in regards to the letter. I'm fairly certain I'll write a letter to Dave. In fact, I'm sure of it.

August 7, 1999 - Saturday


We're in La Jolla this weekend, and I'm missing David pretty hard. It's worse here because for the year or so David was part of my life, he came here nearly every time I was here. In LA, there were plenty of days that David wasn't around, so the place didn't get associated with him. But here in La Jolla, on the weekends, David was always here with us, so now his not being here is all the more apparent.

I still haven't heard from him... nor have I written. I figure that he knows I miss him and that my thoughts haven't changed since the last time I wrote.

Anyway, I'm trying not to think about it, but I still love him. He was my David Wayne, so it's hard.

August 9, 1999 - Monday


Well, the guy from above, Dave, wrote back to say that his brother had written the e-mail and to say, in part:

Please forgive Erick for what he wrote... He did not understand at that time what I was going through. However now he is completely accepting of it and is now even closer to me. Please forgive me as well for not telling him before this incident and I also ask your forgiveness for all of the pain that this has caused you.

Dave was sincere and I know that time can be really mixed up... but I do have to say that I think he's being naive with the whole "now he is is completely accepting". It doesn't go from that threatening e-mail to completely accepting overnight. It takes time.

August 12, 1999 - Thursday


As much as I hate to admit it, a lot of the e-mail that I receive goes in one eye and out the other. It's so hard associating a name with a certain series of events. "Oh, you're the guy with the gay dad. Oh, you're the guy who was interested in surfing. Oh, you're the guy..."

So when a particular e-mail catches my eye, it's a rarity. Well, that's not true. A lot of e-mails catch my eye. A lot of e-mails stick out for the e-mails that they are... but rarely does an e-mail lead anywhere. It's an isolated incident, and as such, I deal with them fairly well. I tend to, but not always, write back... but it never goes anywhere.

So, anyway, the other day I got an e-mail which read:

Subject: Can I subscribe? :)
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 18:43:37 -0500

Hi Justin,
  My name is Adam, I'm a 25 y/o from Alabama (no jokes please), I love your diary and think what you do is totally brave and cool. You said you have a nearly weekly newsletter. Is this the same as your diary? Can I subscribe? I didn't see a link to it from your homepage. Maybe I just missed it. I know you get this all the time ,but reading your diary, I feel like there is someone else out there like me (normal, whatever that means). Would love to hear from you or your newsletter. Thanks for being you!


P.S. Cool Font!

He seemed enthused and very much interested, so I signed him up and e-mailed back that he'd get the next newsletter on Friday.

Friday came and the newsletter's topic was masturbation. The week before I'd decided to have a little contest, so I was locked into the topic of masturbation, not the most subtle introduction. Anyway, after the newsletter, I e-mailed Adam to say:


Well, hopefully you got the newsletter... but it was an atypical newsletter for sure... (not that they're really typical, mostly topical, but pretty varying from one to the next *grin*)

Anyway, you live in Alabama? What do you do there? Have a digital picture of yourself?


In all honesty, I figured he'd write back, tell me a little about Alabama, tell me a little about himself, and then he'd disappear back into the ether of cyberspace, randomly e-mailing me once every few months, with me having relatively no clue as to what made him him and not the guy who was into surfing and liked my photo in the body suit.

But he wrote back...

Subject: Hi. Kind of Surprised. :)
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 02:56:49 -0500

Hi Justin,

Well, very surprised you are able to find time to write to a new subscriber! I thought you may be a little to impersonal for that. Should never make assumptions. How are you?

I received your letter the day after you wrote me. I think you're right, I will have to catch up. How many subscribe? Anyway I enjoyed it so far (with the reassurance that it wasn't about sex all the time) . . . . . not that I'm opposed to that. ;-) I am gay after all.

I'm "from" Alabama, I just got out of the Navy a month ago, I live in Norfolk, Virginia. I'm a Medical Assistant but not sure that is the direction I want to go. I've been trying to decide where I'm going to live. And the verdict: Moving back to Alabama, not back home, just back. I will be living in Birmingham, originally I'm from rural, central AL. Man, I am so excited.

As far as a pic... I don't have any recent on disk. So, I decided to set up my video camera and here you go. Sorry about the lighting!

       Not sure what I'm doing.       I'm figuring it out . . .

And so there's a smile for you. Next time I'll look into the camera. Well, gotta go. Kind of a late night tonite.

Hope you don't think I'm a total goof or something. :-)


I was impressed, not only did he write back and include a picture, but he took the picture just because I asked.

So, anyway, speeding right along, nearly a week later, I wrote back.

Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 18:55:24 -0800


So you thought you had me... giving you all the attention... and then presto, I disappear for like a week? ;-)

Seriously, that was way sweet of you to snap those photos for me. I much appreciate it as names all to quickly blend together and I found it nearly impossible to respond to everyone... so you take a picture for me, I respond. ;-)

Anyway, hopefully you found this past newsletter a little tamer than the previous one. They're eclectic, to say the least. ;-)

You just got out of the Navy? I must admit that piques my interests. Why did you join? Where you out to your friends there? (My friend Amanda is an army wife and her husband has relatively out friends serving with him... no, not servicing him, get your mind out of the gutter.)

I know what you mean about moving back to your home town, but not your home town. I've often thought about moving to Kentucky... but not to my home town. The area's nice, but I don't want to have to worry about shaving or running into someone I knew from school every time I go to the grocery, know what I mean? ;-)

You look like a pale guy? (That's a complement.) I adore pale guys. Kinda ironic that I live in the land of tan bodies, but I do.

Anyway, I took this picts JUST FOR YOU in the course of writing this e-mail.

I'm sure you can appreciate the lighting issues. ;-)

Two of the few pictures of me with glasses on. ;-)

Anyway, is that a cleft chin I see??


And by the next day, yesterday, he'd given me his phone number and I called him on the phone. His phone number actually came about as I said he should fly out to LA for a weekend. He, in turn, said we should talk first. I said that I was just typing out loud.

So, anyway, the past couple of days have been interesting. I showed his picture to Larry and told him that he was just out of the navy (which gets major points ). Where it's going I have no idea... but, as they say, the trip is half the fun.

August 17, 1999 - Tuesday


I've started this entry like four times now... and so this time, no matter how it comes out, I'm leaving it here...

Basically, as crazy as it sounds, I really did miss all the f*cked up characters in Hannibal; their disfunction had become a part of my life and I'd grown familiar with their irregulariites. So after a few days passed with nothing on the car radio except music, I ordered four more books on tape from the Barnes and Noble website:

  • The Thomas Harris Gift Set
    • Red Dragon - Abridged
    • Silence of the Lambs - Abridged
  • Comfort from a Country Quilt by Reba McEntire
  • The Mist in 3D Sound by Stephen King

Knowing the I'd probably prefer the Thomas Harris set the best, I decided to start with The Mist in 3D sound by Stephen King. I realized that the whole 3D sound thing had the major potential for being hokey, but I also thought that perhaps it was as neat as it sounded. (Pardon the pun.)

So, anyway, I put on the tape... and what a piece of crap. It was a play-on-tape, without any sort of clues as to what was occurring. It was as though someone had decided to record the words of a visual play and had forgotten that the aural audience couldn't see it. That was bad enough, but horrible acting made the concept even worse. Of course, that's not yet mentioning the fact that it all sounded like it was recorded in an echoing room with two mics (to give it that stereo "quality").

And, last but not least, I thought I was listening to a commercial. Hating that I'd wasted money buying it, I managed to get through side one and about five minutes of the side two... when I heard this:

            What's that? RealAudio clipRA MP3 clipMP3



Well, it's not prunes.

Did he really just call raisins "Sunmaid"? I mean, I'd been bombarded with brands throughout the first side of the tape, but ya gotta draw the line somewhere. I mean, they'd managed to get ALL these in:

            Pepsi RealAudio clipRA MP3 clipMP3
55 T-Bird
Land O' Lakes Butter
Diet Coke
Kraft Miracle Whip
Oscar Meyer Bologna
Hellman's Real Mayonaise
Cracker Jacks
Claussen's Kosher Pickles

But calling raisins "Sunmaid" is just too much. I turned the tape off and put it back in it's case. What an amazingly horrible waste of money.

August 18, 1999 - Wednesday


Today I finished my Learn To Speak French CD-ROM set. Three discs and about three months later, I now know what I hope is enough to fully pass the placement exam, which I'll take tomorrow. (Of course, if the sentences are as awkwardly worded as that last one, I'll be majorly up the creek. )

Anyway, I'm really tired of French, et si tout va bien, je ne devrai pas l'etudier plus loin. (Translation: and if all goes well, I won't have to study it any more.)

Anyway, that's been about it in this neck of the woods lately. Working and studying. Oh, and I fired that programmer once and for all on Monday night. I did manage to get what he'd completed in exchange for just under a third of the original bid price. Of course, the original bid was for a working product, so who knows what kind of "bargain" I really got, and if time's money...

August 19, 1999 - Thursday


Having not set foot on campus since graduation, I was amazed how quickly that feeling of dread came over me as I walked from the parking lot to Taper Hall, where the French placement test was to be given. No more than 1/10th of the regular school semester population was on campus, yet it sent that same nauseating aren't-we-great-and-you-just-wish-you-could-be-as-cool-as-us vibe with just as much volume. Twenty elitist or two hundred; it truly makes no big difference.

And so, by the time I got to Taper, midway into the campus starting from the edge, I was already dreading being there. The test itself didn't really scare me as I'd studied all summer with a three CD, very comprehensive, software program and as I knew much more than when I finished second semester French at Boston U. I was at least placing into the third semester and at best, placing out entirely.

So before the test began, as I and around 75 others were sitting in the hallway, I started talking to the girl next to me. She was taking the Japanese test and she seemed nice enough, but I was much more prepared, which I quietly thought to myself was a good thing. When we all got into the room and were divided by languages, another girl asked me if I knew the meaning of fait. I told her that it was to do or to make and was the il conjugation of the word faire. If she didn't know that but had taken two semesters, I was going to kick butt.

And so, at 12:30PM, the test began. The first page was vocabulary and I knew about half the terms. Ironically, I'd learned two from watching the Austin Powers DVD with French subtitles. The next section of grammar was harder, but I still did fairly well. I remembered things such as du not being du but rather de after a negative verb conjugation and I had my past, present, future and future conditional rules down pat.

Reading comprehension went decently as well. In one of the passages I knew most of the sections, but in another passage, the text was more difficult so I only partially understood it. Still, it was nearly a hundred question test. It was looking good. And the final section, listening comprehension, turned out to be fairly understandable as well, even considering the cheap boom box tape player which kept going in and out of loudness.

So, when the test was over and done, I was a tad concerned that I hadn't placed out, but I knew that third semester placement was a given. I'd simply have to go one hour per day this last final semester at USC and do it. A pass/fail option would allow me to get by and not have to break my neck studying a language that no one uses. (Like it or not, just like Windows is ruling the computer market, English is ruling the language market.)

Anyway, the man in charge of administering the tests said that the results would be ready at 3:30PM, approximately an hour and a half after the test was completed, so I decided to wait on campus instead of making a special trip back tomorrow to get the results.

In the interim, I completed my registration for the much red tape COMM 574 graduate level class, ate at Wendy's, and observed the movie that was being shot on campus. (i.e. No principals were to be seen, but a bunch of extras wearing high school uniforms and sitting in the grass in front of a building newly transformed into "Manchester Prepatory School" is interesting in that sort of "on the set" way.) And then 3:15PM rolled around and I found the building where the results were to be picked up. I'd psyched myself into believing that I'd be taking the 3rd semester and went through the course catalog to find the best class time (even though part of me really knew that I'd be placing out entirely).

3:25PM and people are waiting in the lobby to get the results. The previously jovial white haired man administering the tests was now quite crotchety, demanding that everyone wait outside for their last name to be called. Luckily, A-D were the first batch, so I went inside and picked up my results.


Name: CLOUSE JUSTIN C             Stud. No.: ###-##-####   Birthdate: 12/17/75
Test Date:         8/19/99

Test Taken       Placement
French            Semester II

French II? I didn't place out, but surely that meant that I was capable of French II work and could now proceed to the third level. I talked to the Japanese speaking girl again to find out that she was Semester I and off we went to the language department to get D clearance for the appropriate classes. I'd be in school every day of the week for one hour learning French. Not the best, but it could have been worse.

And then, walking down the hallway with another guy whom I knew had taken the French test, I asked, "So how'd you do?" He said that he'd gotten Semester I whatever that meant and that he didn't see why he had to take the placement test as he'd never taken French before. Wait, French I for him with no experience, yet I got French II. Could he have placed into the second semester with no previous knowledge? It certainly seemed possible as I tested into the second semester back in Boston after a two year hiatus of no foreign language.

So, anyway, we get to the appropriate room and he goes inside. He's a tad confused, but the girl tells him that he needs to pick out a specific time before she can give him D clearance for the class. I knew that and had brought a coursebook with the times, which I offered to him as I no longer needed it. I then asked the girl, incredulously if my score meant I had to take the second and third semesters or if it meant I could now take the third semester, as the third level was required by my department (several of the departments only require two semesters). She responded that it meant I had to take the second and third semesters.

What A CROCK Of Shit! I'm sorry, but I did not spend all damn summer studying French to have to take French this semester and have to come back to campus for an entire additional semester just to take a damn French class. Fuck off is all I could think... and I just wished I knew how to say it in French. Instead, I simply said that it wasn't happening this semester and probably not ever. I left the building and called Larry on the cell phone.

Already hating USC in general, the thought of not graduating because of some piddly little French class was more than I could take. I told Larry what had happened, and he said he was afraid that that was going to happen... and he knew exactly what my reaction was going to be. Perhaps you can put it together. I ABSOLUTELY hate USC, I don't really see the point in my continuing anyway as I already make nearly twice as much as the starting salary for a college graduate, and I never intend to work for anyone besides myself. Why the f*ck do I need a degree? Why do I need to pay USC $11,418 dollars to sit through classes that will absolutely help me in no way? It's sorta like English. If you don't have English down by the time you're in high school, you're probably never going to get it. You're either a writer or you aren't.

I don't know what I'm going to do. All I know for sure is that when I was talking to Larry on the cell phone, tears starting coming out of my eyes. I really do hate it that much. I'll figure it out somehow, or I won't. But of this I am certain, Saturday I leave for Hawaii with Larry. Not too bad a life for someone without a degree, if I do say so myself.

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© 1999 Justin Clouse


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