Justin's Life... July 13th - 31st, 1999

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July 13, 1999 - Tuesday

8:02PM - Eastern Time

By the time Larry got home from the reunion dinner, at around 11PM on Saturday, my feelings of being uncomfortable at his mother's house had lessened quite considerably, and consequently, so lessened my being upset about being placed in the situation. I complained for a bit when Larry got home with his friend Harry, but the feelings were no longer strong enough to add bite to my comments. Also, Larry said that he was sorry and that my not being at the reunion had ruined the night for him as well, so I couldn't be too tough on him. I, too, knew that he was between a rock and a hard place.

Anyway, Harry, Larry, and I went out to Hardee's for a late night bite to eat and returned home to go to bed shortly thereafter... around 1AM.

The next day, I got the complete street-by-street tour of Larry's hometown and was taken to various locations of significance, such as an ice cream parlor Larry went to as a child. We also went with Harry to the cemetery to see Larry's dad's gravestone and to other nearby towns, but most of all, we just took in the small town vibe.

It's SUCH a different vibe than California... and even a different vibe than Kentucky. I come from a town of around 25,000 people. Larry's town must have a population of no more than 8,000, if that. We never really had much of a downtown small shop area; it was K-Mart and Wal-Mart and Rose's department stores for as long as I can remember. I mean, I remember the JC Penney's downtown, but we never really went there much as kids, and I certainly never spent much time hanging out anywhere folksy when I was a high school kid.

I never really spent much time hanging out anywhere as a high school student. After Chris stopped talking to me, I threw myself into the video store and occasionally hung out with Amanda.

But the residents of Larry's hometown have that "old fashioned sensibility" to them that you're always reading about... and perhaps living with yourself. I've never really experienced it firsthand before. I've never before met anyone who hated the kids next door because they were white trash. Sure, we had our share of white trash, but there wasn't really any ill feelings towards them. As kids, we might not have wanted to play with them much, but that was because they were dirty (literally), not because they were something less than we were. Truth be told, being black was much worse than being poor in Kentucky.

Yet the vibe in small town Ohio wasn't as bad as one would imagine. As I told Larry, there's a certain calmness about it all. No one's trying to become a model, no one's worried about making his next million, and no one's longing for that which he does not have like in LA. LA is a city full of people wanting something they do not have. In Ohio, you might not have a lot, but you're not spending day and night worrying about it.

Anyway, most of Sunday was spent driving the various streets of the small town, looking at the acres upon areas of crops, and just absorbing the vibe.


Living in LA, I often forget the "Hollywood factor" to the people around me. The "Hollywood factor" is the fact that on the whole, much more attractive people live in LA than in the rest of the country. Sure, a random sampling will find an extraordinarily cute guy in Ohio, Kentucky, or one of those square states, but that same random sampling would net at least 20 times as many extraordinarily cute guys in LA and several others "of note." Larry and I've talked about it with each other before, and perhaps I've written about it here, too, but people in LA are more attractive than people elsewhere. I would guess it has something to do with our culture's emphasis on physical beauty and the cultural myth that being good looking is all it takes to make it big in Hollywood. Any number of handsome actor wannabes currently employed as waiters will tell you otherwise, yet living in LA, my point of comparison is those handsome actor wannabes.

I'm 6'0" and weigh 196 pounds. Writing that, and leaving it here, is akin to coming out for me, believe it or not. (I even wrote "194" the first time through.) I'm embarrassed about it... even after I spent the day at Cedar Point surrounded by guys much uglier and much fatter.

That was my point when I started writing this... that I realized yesterday that I'm using the artificial reference point of LA when comparing myself in the physical department to others, but now back on the plane to LA, I no longer can convince myself that I should use middle America as my comparison point. I still feel like I should weigh less, which would, in turn, make me cuter.

Yet, ironically, I do realize that living in LA messes with a person's sense of reality. And I realize that if I lived in a land of all black people, I'd feel like I was painfully pale. I know it's all relativity... that was my point... but even having spent the day in a more normal location, where that relativity would put me near the top of the food chain, I'm still unable to talk myself out of the Hollywood induced ideal that we must be thin to be attractive. That's Amazing.

July 21, 1999 - Wednesday


Life has been, and remains, busy. This past Saturday, I completed the production phase of the project involving the male models (which, contrary to the interviews, was entirely work and no fun... even though I was in the presence of naked men), and today, early Wednesday morning, I'm now in New York City, having flown here on the red eye last night.

Before Larry, his assistant Peter, and I got on the plane in LA about seven hours ago, I told them about the first time I went to New York, back with my mom when I was still in the eleventh grade. I came here to look at Manhattan College, a college I have no idea why I chose other than its location... but it was a nice trip, and reflecting back on it now, I realize just how much my life has changed. I remember how staying at a $150-ish per night hotel that stank from the restaurant below it was amazing in both price and poor quality. The sirens that went by the window at night, the flow of pedestrian traffic across the street opposing the "Don't Walk" sign; it was all so new and different to me.

Yet, having spent the past three plus years with Larry, things like flying here last night in First Class and staying here at The Roosevelt hotel are so much less awe inspiring. They're definitely not old hat, at least not the First Class part, but money is such a different thing now than it was then.

The saying, "Money's only an issue when you don't have it," is so true. And as much as we all try to see the world from viewpoints other than our own, we're all inherently egocentric creatures. The life of the guy jogging across the street this morning is just as important as the lives of those inside the limo that drove past him. Yet, being the guy inside the limo, I have to force myself to realize that others have completely different yet equally valid lives... and to tell the truth, I don't know if it's harder for the guy inside the limo to realize that his life is the same as the jogger's or if it's harder for the jogger to realize his life is the same as the guy inside the limo.

Anyway, lest you think my life is all glamour, I'm sitting here in the hotel lobby at 5:08AM California time, having barely slept on the plane, unable to get a room until sometime around noon. So, while I may have gotten here "in style", I'm still just a tired guy in a Warner Bros. Tazmanian Devil T-shirt, denim shorts, and sandals... unable to get a room.

July 22, 1999 - Thursday


As you may or may not know, I write an almost weekly newsletter on Fridays which gets sent via e-mail to around 500 people. (The cgi scripts which handled additions and removals from the list died in the server crash, so there's no real mention of it here on the web site, and I haven't been inclined to fix it as perl cgi script installation is server-specific (and I intend to move to a new host once the site's redesign is completed.))

Anyway, this past Friday I wrote saying that Larry and I'd be in New York and "if you're in New York City and want to meet, drop me a line. We're only going to be there for a day and a half, but perhaps we can say "Howdy".

Four or five guys responded and I forwarded the e-mails to Larry (as he usually handles that sort of meeting thing and as I had no idea of what our schedule consisted).

So, anyway, Larry called a guy named Don after we got into the hotel room, and at six-thirty-ish, we met. As always, I was worried that the guy meeting us would be a freak, but my fears were less as I knew the meeting would be short (as we were all tired and could easily, and honestly, say that we needed to go to sleep) and as both Larry and Peter were there (as even if he were a freak, I'd still have Larry and Peter to commiserate with).

Yet, Don showed and he was cute in an oddly sadistic fashion. In an oddly sadistic fashion, I mean that he reminded me of USC Aaron whom I genuinely don't enjoy being around. (USC Aaron is a friend of USC Erik. I haven't written about him other than the first time we met. We've tried hanging out and retried being friends via e-mail, but it's always failed miserably.)

So, we had dinner at Larry's partner's brother's brew house with Don, and he seemed like a nice guy. Afterwards, I was game for doing something else (with nothing particular in mind), but Don said he went into work at 5:30AM and Peter & Larry were too tired to do anything but go to the hotel and sleep. So, we parted ways and that was that.

Will we hang out again on my next trip to New York? I honestly don't know. There definitely wasn't that "oh-my-gawd-I've-gotta-see-him-again-NOW" feeling afterwards, but he was nice enough and definitely didn't do or say anything that would preclude him from being seen again. I think what is more preclusive though, is the fact that I really don't care for New York and I doubt I'll be back anytime soon.

It is odd (and ironic), though, that Don was curious about how writing about my life related to living it... and writing about him I have no strong feelings one way or the other. I think that's even more rare than the freak/great duality.

7:45PM - Eastern Time

Transcribed Chronologically Here Yet Written Before Previous Entry
The plane back to LA was scheduled to leave at 4PM, and we boarded at around 4:15PM, but it's now 7:45PM and we still haven't left the airport. We've been sitting here (in first class, at least) for over three hours and I'm scribbling this on the back of the menu (as laptops are still required to be off).

If we were connecting in LA, I'd be stressed out, but now the only stress (save the stress induced from being stuck on a non-moving plane for three hours) is from wondering how much fuel we've used sitting here idling.

I know things like fuel are measured precisely as to not add unneeded weight to the plane, but idling for hours has to take energy otherwise allotted. The air conditioning has been going full force as well, so that must have taken power otherwise intended, too... but I can only assume that the pilot and people in charge of the plane realize all that. (And if you're reading this, they did. )

Anyway, it's now 7:59PM... and we're still sitting.

8:08PM - Eastern Time
The engines fired up and the plane moved... but we're still sitting here. [Perhaps it was a clever ploy to get us to think we're actually going to take off sometime soon. ]


Well, the plane did take off shortly after the engines fired up, and we're now about an hour away from LA. The trip's been remarkably ok for having lasted over eight hours now. I'm sure being in larger seats and getting more attention from the stewardesses has helped. (BTW, we're in first class because of free frequent flyer upgrades for Larry & Peter and a free companion upgrade for me... and the limo from the airport pretty much has to do with the fact that it costs the same (or less) than a cab.)

July 23, 1999 - Friday


David just unsubscribed from the newsletter.

We haven't talked in months, but his unsubscribing is like cutting the last string, "breaking all ties" as the saying goes. Actually, earlier today Talk Soup was on and Hal Sparks was the guest host. I'd never heard of him before, but he reminded me a lot of David and caused me to wonder what's been happening in David's life. I really don't want to think about it. I really don't want to think about David... because no matter how I've tried to reconnect, it's obvious that he doesn't want to hang around. I just don't get it.

I mean, how can people go from being so close to so distant? I've never understood that, and I don't think I ever will. If you're a part of my life now, why shouldn't you be a part of my life forever?

Anyway, I just received the unsubscribe notice from the listbot... and I think I'm going to have a drink.

July 31, 1999 - Saturday


Hard to believe, even for me, but it seems I've done nothing but work for the past week. My eyes are so strained from staring at the monitor for 12+ hour days that they literally hurt and I really shouldn't even be looking at the computer to write this, but it's the only time I've had a chance to catch the diary back up.

Anyway, Thursday morning I got e-mail from Dan wanting to touch base (as Larry & I haven't talked or seen him in La Jolla for more than a month) and I responded:

Actually, I've been pulling twelve+ hour work days... and I'm working right now (but waiting for the computer to batch process a bunch of files). Hard to believe for someone who doesn't have a "job job" but this new business venture of mine is taking so much time that it's not even funny. I literally wake up thinking about it and my index (AKA clicking) finger hurt when I quit for the night last night. *grin* Larry keeps nagging me about fixing a web site for his company, but... ;-)

Anyway, I know we haven't seen you in forever. Between New York and Ohio, it seems like we're always running somewhere. This weekend is the ranch, just for a break from everything... but I'm still taking the computer along so I can continue my French lessons for the doofy placement test coming up in a few weeks. I have thought about ya from time to time, though.

As I continued catching him up on life here in LA from the last time we saw one another, I explained:

We met a couple of guys via Yahoo! classifieds that live here in LA. It's *strictly* a friend thing (i.e. haven't seen (and probably won't see) them naked)), but one of the couple is a 23 year old red head. You can imagine the harassing that goes on... especially from his boyfriend. Deric (the red head) did show us a tattoo on his butt which had me secretly swooning, but I think that'll be it. I'm hoping not... maybe at least have a friendly skinny dip or something, but the boyfriend is more protective. Deric is a tease... and that's been nice, and I've been meaning to e-mail them, too, but haven't either.

Which brings me back to talking about Scott and Deric.

Remember a while back I said I was going to go meet two guys around my age and a couple that Larry had found. Well, it turned out one was a twenty three year old red head, genuinely by coincidence and unbeknownst to Larry and I until we met.

Anyway, after confessing my fixation with red heads at dinner, figuring I might as well get it out in the open, I pretty much assumed that Scott (the brunette) would eighty-six us getting together again, especially as I seemed to perceive a very protective vibe.

But, as you may have been able to guess, that didn't happen and we've hung out a few times since then, with me routinely being harassed about the red head thing. Yet, as we didn't meet Deric and Scott because of the website, I thought I'd give them the courtesy of informing them about the diary and getting a reaction before writing anything (hence the delay), not really changing what I wrote in facts/opinions but changing how specific I was in identifying details, know what I mean?

Deric and Scott,

Hey there... it's me, Justin, from last night, and I've got something to ask. Basically, Larry and I almost ALWAYS meet people because of my web site and online journal. My online journal (at http://www.koool.com/mylife.html ) is a way for guys who live in podunk (and just guys in general) to realize that they're not alone in their thoughts and feelings. I'm in the process of redesigning my site and creating a page answering why Justin's Life... exists.

It says:
Asking me why my site is here is like asking you why you give to the Salvation Army bell ringers who stand in front of stores during Christmas. It's a complicated answer.

On one hand, you give because you want to help those less fortunate than you during the holiday season. But, on the other hand, you give out of some sense of guilt. If no bell ringer was there to see you walk past the pot and not put money in, I'm 98% certain you wouldn't do it.

My continued life online is to show people that being gay isn't the horrible thing that it's often made out to be, but is instead, in some ways, better than being straight. But moreso, my online journal shows that we all have our strengths and our weaknesses and our commonalties as human far outweigh any differences we may have because of the gender of our partners. We all long for love, we all feel lonely, we all have to deal with friends and school and work. And we'd nearly all walk past that red bucket without giving any money if it weren't for the bell ringer.

We all worry about whether our clothes are right when we meet someone new. We all eat at McDonald's on occasion. We have the same goals and dreams, just slightly different ways of getting them.

My life is online so that no matter where you are, you can see without a doubt that someone else is having the same thoughts and worries and joys as you are having or have had. And my life is online so that if you're gay and feel like no one else in the entire world knows what you're going through, you can read and see just how similar our lives really are. As I've said before, we're all basically on the same tracks, just at different places.

It's more complicated than that (and I'm sure there's some Narcissism and desire for immorality thrown in there as well), but it's like why I prefer Pepsi over Coke. Hard to explain, but a certainty nevertheless.

So, the question is how comfortable are you with my writing about "Scott" and "Deric"? Like I said, normally we meet people because of the site, so the issue never even comes up... they might get written about and they might not. But seeing as how we didn't meet because of the site and you didn't know about it beforehand, I thought I'd give you the courtesy of asking before I went on.

Anyway, let me know. Of course, I'd want to be able to write about you guys... I can forward you some e-mail if you want to give you a better idea how the readers of the site have genuinely found it, at times, to be a life saver (i.e. Subject: THANKS FOR SAVING MY LIFE!").


The response,"You can write all you want about us, in fact we are flattered."

But between Ohio, New York, and work, I haven't really had time to write the diary or respond to e-mail, so even though we've hung out at the house twice since then and had dinner once near where they live, I haven't had a chance to write much about it.

I must admit, Deric is a handful, and probably more than I could deal with on a day to day basis, but he's increasingly cute, perhaps as he relaxes and some of that control freak personality lessens as I bust him on it. And from the various non-specific conversations regarding nudity, I know he'd be game for a skinny dip in the pool one evening if Scott wasn't vetoing it, but I don't perceive Scott as the "enemy". I understand where he's coming from, but I'm sincere (but not literal) when I tell him that I'd kill Deric after 5 minutes. In English, that reads: "Completely disregarding all outside circumstances, it would be fun to see Deric naked, but mentally it would never work." But it is nice to have friends who aren't likely to disappear into the woodwork due to any sort of "breaking up" thing any time soon.

And who knows, perhaps when Scott realizes I'm sincere in my not wanting to take Deric away, he'll relax enough to let the exhibitionist side of Deric have some fun. I mean, a guy with a tattoo on his butt can't be all that inhibited about nudity.

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© 1999 Justin Clouse


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