Justin's Life... March 10th - 15th, 1999

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March 10, 1999 - Wednesday


Even after writing that I was going to endeavor to write more about the daily nuances of life, I haven't found time to sit down and write. I didn't get the Friday's Thoughts... Newsletter out until Saturday and studying for a midterm that was on Monday prevented me from even writing my weekend wrap up.

Anyway, I did write something in the newsletter which I thought merited inclusion here. I try to keep the two separate, but my mind was more in the diary mode when the newsletter was "due", so I wrote it there.


Buttercups are blooming here in northern Southern California. It seems a little early, especially considering today is a bit nipply, but they're blooming... and ya know what that means, nothing to you, but a lot to me. See, when I was little, my cousins and I would go out and pick buttercups (AKA daffodils) and bring them back to my grandmother's house, where we'd put food color in the water and watch as they changed color on the tips. Now, it's over a decade later and Granny has passed on, but the buttercups are here as my little reminder of who she was. I just planted them a few months ago, but even then, I called them Granny's buttercups. And I know it's sappy and sentimental and perhaps I'm getting old and learning to appreciate such things, but it's my little way of bringing her here more than 2000 miles away from where she lived, bringing a visible part of her into my life.

It's odd the little things we remember about people... but the important thing is that we remember. I mean, I think about going to Florida and catching fish, or rather the cleaning of fish, every time I open a Zip Lock bag. I remember being a little kid and going down to the area, whose proper name I still don't know, where the fish were cleaned in a big fiberglass tub. Not a tub really, but a table with sides that came up about five inches... and it had faucets all along the middle, hanging from wood, spaced about a foot apart. And Dad and my uncles on his side of the family would use both a filet knife and an electric knife. The filet knife was arched and had a blade that grew gradually thinner until a sharp point on the end. It's handle was light colored wood and it had the manufacturer's name branded onto it. The electric knife was white and grey and the blades interlocked on the far end with a peg and hole type of thing that I thought was so interesting.

And as the fish were cleaned, they were put, or rather stuffed, into Zip Lock bags. The Zip Lock bags were then put into coolers and taped shut with duct tape and marked with names of relatives who were back in Kentucky. They weren't relatives to whom the fish were to be given, but rather names of who supposedly caught the fish should we be stopped by the "police". I don't think we were ever checked, but the cooler and duct tape thing happened every time. Who would have ever thunk that the smell of Zip Lock bags would be so vivid a reminder of my childhood.

You know, the real point of my Zip Lock thing, I confess, was to write it down and send it on to my Dad, just to let him know that he's important to me. I'm sure Granny would have appreciated the daffodils, and I'm sure in her own special way, that she still does, but it would have been nice to let her know that I associated that childhood pleasure with her when she was still alive.

Reprinting that here, I found about a dozen left out words (which I added) and a whole thought which I had but left out in mid-sentence (which I also added). Of course, finding those "errors" just further indicates how caught up I was in writing it. I think it's important to get so entrenched in a good memory that you have trouble even describing it. So much time is spent focusing on the negative.

And, of course, having said that, here comes the negative.

In about two hours from now, my group is supposed to turn in the introduction to our semester long paper project. I have no clue as to whether we'll turn it in because no one called, no one e-mailed, and I didn't bother to take the leadership position to do it myself.

Actually, it's a lot more complicated than that, but in short, I'm fed up with the group and am taking the standpoint of not being the savior. I already said to the professor, when the class was talking about the agonies of working in groups, that I'd rather go down with the ship than singlehandedly do 90% of the work and have everyone get an "A", so she knows my position. That declaration combined with the fact that I got an "A" in her class last semester, pretty much assures that a failed group project won't be attributed to me. I mean, I think we have to write reports about the other group members in the end, but even without those, past performance and an explanation of my reasoning are on my side.

And if push comes to shove, like if no one wrote the introduction, I'll simply forward the e-mail I sent Sunday after a meeting was called by another member of the group and no one showed, including her,... except me.

Subject: Not a happy camper...

Hey Guys,

I don't want to talk about this tomorrow, but let's just suffice it to say that I was pretty darn pissed having come back from out of town early to go to our meeting today to find no one there... especially after I indicated on Wednesday that I thought meeting today would be pointless. We all have our faults in this thing, but it is COMPLETELY irresponsible to call a meeting, have other group members shorten their weekends (and even fly back early) and then not show... AND not even inform those people. I've got the PacBell voice mail and e-mail, so my line wasn't busy and I wasn't unreachable... but that's not the point. The point is that everyone needs to start putting a little more GENUINE effort into this thing, with some obviously needing to change more than others. I mean, I could do the entire thing myself and get the group an A, but that's not my style. In fact, the way some things have been going, I'm much more likely to get resentful of the group, do virtually nothing, and watch us all fail.

I don't want to be all negative, but come on people. If you were in the "real world" and called a meeting and didn't show or kept having to postpone doing your job time after time because of outside concerns, you'd be fired in a heartbeat.

Anyway, like I said, I don't want to talk anymore about this: I just wanted to let my feelings/consequences be known.


The meeting initiator didn't talk about it in class on Monday. In fact, she and I didn't talk at all.

March 11, 1999 - Thursday


A lot has happened since I last wrote. In fact, just a few minutes after I finished uploading that last entry, I received a phone call from Larry's secretary. He said that I need to get over to the house (I was at my office) because the paramedics couldn't get in. Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, but he said that something had happened to Spencer and I needed to get over there ASAP.

So, I ran to the house next door and found five paramedics all standing around with Spencer laying naked on the table, being held by the housekeeper/nanny. He was moving and such, but a naked baby always looks helpless, so I tried to figure out what had happened.

In her broken English, the housekeeper/nanny said that she was giving him a bath and he sort of bunched up and turned blue and she called 911. Amazingly, no one on the paramedic staff spoke Spanish, so they were equally having a difficult time understanding exactly what happened.

So, anyway, one of the paramedics asked me if I was Justin and I said that I was. He then said for me to come on outside, where it was a bit quieter, and I followed him into the front yard. There he asked me various questions as to who was the dad, where he was (in New York on a business trip), who was the mom, where she was, who I was, and so forth. His mannerisms and badge gave me an eerie sense of not wanting to reveal too much information, but when he said, "I need to ask you a very personal question... Are you two married?" The way he said it, as though marriage between two guys was a real possibility (though a rarity), sorta caught me off guard and I said "Yeah, for all practical purposes."

He then went on and asked me a few more questions before going back in the house. A few minutes later, the guys in the fire truck left and I proceeded to go with the two other guys in the ambulance. It was my first ambulance ride and looking back at it now, I can just picture the camera filming my getting in and placing the oxygen mask near Spencer's face. (See, everyone's life is a movie... without the camera crew.)

So, anyway, the paramedics and I strapped the car seat onto the gourney then loaded up and headed towards the hospital. About half way through, Spencer started to seem a little more lethargic and so the paramedic in the back with me said, "We better head on in." or something like that and the front guy turned on the sirens and we made it the rest of the way.

By the time we made it to the hospital, Spencer seemed to be doing ok, but as I was carrying the car seat into the emergency room I noticed him sort of pass out. I told the paramedics and we quickly ran back to the ambulance where they grabbed some oxygen equipment and started poking Spencer trying to get him to come back around. I noticed that he kept breathing the whole time while he had "fainted" but it was definitely on the scary side.

When we got into the actual emergency room itself, I forewent my normal, "where do the rules say that I'm supposed to be" mindset and simply went past the "Authorized Persons Only" area with the paramedics. When we got on into the emergency room, a staff of like six people surrounded the carrier and placed Spencer on the table... and then person after person asked me who I was, where the dad was, and all those questions and more that the paramedic had asked. Fortunately, I had most of the answers, knowing everything from the Dad's date of birth to his place of employment. One thing, in hindsight, which I did err on was Spencer's birthday. I repeatedly told those asking that he was born November 23rd. It was, in fact, the 20th, but oh well, close enough for medical purposes.

So, anyway, I stood back and watched as the six medical professionals looked, poked, and examined. Spencer, of course, was wailing as he was having tubes inserted down his nose and needles stuck into his arm... and when I wasn't answering "I'm the dad's boyfriend", I watched and listened. Of course, I must admit that when I was watching and listening, I was paying a little extra attention to the ultra cute, bod of steel, gay medical assistant boy named Cameron. I mean, I wasn't giving him the eye or anything, but I noticed everyone (including the Uncle Buck-esque guy with two scabs right on the tip of his nose which I had to force myself not to look at) and I noticed Cameron (and caught his name) in particular. Of course, when I heard him speak, there was no doubt whatsoever as to his inclination, and he was pleasing on the eyes, so why not, all things considered.

Anyway, after a few of the people went away, another guy X-rayed his chest and the medical guy (whose title I do not know) who pretty much attended to Spencer for the rest of the day, told me that I could have a seat next to the bed and touch him if I wanted.

He was sleeping by then, so I didn't want to wake him up, but I did look carefully to see that he was breathing (just in case the equipment monitoring such things wasn't working correctly ). I talked to him a bit, too, then the full-time nanny arrived. She was all concerned and began talking to the doctors who tried to once more figure out who was who. Of course, her "I'm the mom, but not the birth mom" answer brought a lot of subsequent questions and eventually a social worker came to get the entire story straight.

Once that was done, we went to another examining room, out of the main area, and waited for a CT ("cat") scan. Hours later, he had that and was then transferred to a room.

Needless to say, after a night of getting up to feed and change him (because Larry left for New York Tuesday night), I was already tired and having spent six or seven hours intensely in the hospital, I was completely exhausted. Nevertheless, I came home, took Katie to Chuck E. Cheese's (to get both our minds on something else) and then fell asleep promptly upon returning to the house.

Spencer is still at the hospital. The nanny nanny spent the night with him, and Larry will be back tonight. They've been able to find nothing more than a urinary tract infection, but they still want to keep him another day. I don't think Larry's going to go for that.

Larry thanked me again on the phone last night and sincerely said that he didn't know what he'd do without me. I must admit, it amazes me how in charge I can get when the situation calls for it. It's like my whole real life communication apprehension stuff just leaves when I know that I MUST communicate with strangers. As I told Larry, I singularly outed myself to more people yesterday than any other day in my life. In that I meant that I've told large groups of people that I'm gay before, but yesterday I told more people one-on-one than any other day, ever. There was no question of who I was? I didn't say "A friend of a family" or "An uncle" or anything except "The father's boyfriend" and most of the time I went on to say for how long, as to demonstrate that I had full knowledge of Spencer's behaviors.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't giving any speeches or anything, but I wasn't worried about what the staff was going to think of me... at all. I knew I had the critical job of relaying as much relevant information as possible and I was going to do it.


Further tests revealed a urinary tract infection which led to an ultrasound which found a possible enlargement of the tube leaving one kidney. Spencer's going to have further dye-based cross-sectional analyses to further determine the severity and an operation has been mentioned as a possibility. At the very least, the problem is said not to be life threatening.

Relatedly, I sent e-mail to the group class professor. I didn't forward the e-mail I sent to the group, but instead wrote:

Subject: Didn't start Spring Break early...

I just wanted to let you know that I didn't start Spring Break early. At around 1PM yesterday, I went in the ambulance with my godson when the nanny called 911 after he stopped breathing/passed out. As his father is out of town in New York until tonight, I'm supervising his care and so I spent the entire day at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles dealing with medical releases, coordinating contact with his father, and basically being a parent to the baby, the father, and his six year old daughter who were all crying. He's still at he hospital now with the nanny, but should be coming home later today.

As for the group's introduction of the paper which was due yesterday, I assume from a cryptic e-mail I received from Willy that it wasn't turned in. Basically, you could say that our group is now in Chapter 5, and just like I said I might in class, I've the very intense beginnings of letting the ship go down instead of single handedly saving everyone. The sense of responsibility is unbelievably low, as evidenced by the intro not being turned in. "Team Member A" has had so many excuses about not being able to do her part that it's become nauseating. I've had to rearrange dates with the Daily Trojan twice because of her first not realizing that she had class during the time she initially volunteered and then not realizing that she had to work. Even worse was the fact that she didn't inform me (so that I could rearrange schedules) until the day before and day of the occurrence. "Team Member B" put the last large hole in the ship when she insisted we have a meeting on Sunday afternoon to write the intro, yet I was the only person to show. Apparently, she wasn't going to be able to make it but only informed "Team Member A" who I bumped into thirty minutes after the meeting was to have started (and who once again gave me an excuse about her work schedule and why she couldn't have made our meeting.) "Team Member C" didn't show at the Sunday meeting because the earlier flight (taken at the request of the meeting initiator) was late getting in and "Team Member D" didn't show because he was never even informed about the meeting. How someone could call a meeting, request out-of-town weekends be shortened, not show, not inform everyone that she wasn't going to show... and not even let the earlier absent team member know that there was a meeting is beyond me. The fact that "Team Member A" felt no need to come to the meeting (or inform anyone) after learning that "Team Member B" wasn't going to make it is again remarkable.

So, even if I had made it to class yesterday, I would not have had the paper. I sincerely thought about writing it myself and turning it in, but after receiving no apologies to an e-mail informing the other members of my strong disdain on Sunday, I further embraced that idea of going down with the ship.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know,
See you after the break,

OK, OK, so I didn't out myself to the professor... and yes, she probably already knows. Maybe I felt like I'd already met my outing quota for the week... but more likely, I signed up to take one of her classes next semester and didn't want to mess with my chances for getting an A. Is that cowardly? Is that selling out? Maybe just a little. I mean, I didn't lie really, but I wasn't totally forthright for sure. I'm not perfect, and part of my deal with writing the diary again was including it all. Of course, I thought about removing that first paragraph when printing it here, but that wouldn't be right either.

March 13, 1999 - Saturday

8:05AM Eastern Time

About an hour ago I was at the airport newsstand and saw a blurb on the cover of "Rolling Stone." It read "special..report The Holy Way on Gays" and considering that I'm burnt out on computers (and computer magazines) and that it had a bad boyish cute Sugar Ray (whoever he is) on the cover, I bought it to read on the plane.

Upon getting settled in the plane, I began reading and almost became nauseated at the number of organizations mentioned who do everything in their power to encourage the world to see homosexuality as a horrible thing. The concept of creating an organization to harm a group of people who have never tried to harm me, no matter what my beliefs, seems incredibly wrong. How could it not seem wrong to christians? How could it not seem wrong to everyone? I mean, let's take people who chew gum for example. It absolutely annoys me to no end when someone chomps and smacks on bubble gum, so much that I don't want to be around him/her... yet I haven't decided to start a program to rid people of their gum chewing tendencies. I haven't organized protests at gum chewers funerals, and I'm not committing my life to denouncing gum chewers. (Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but isn't that my point?) How does someone wake up and decide that their life mission is to spread and incite hate towards a group of people?

What's even more amazing is that we don't have a group of our own that buys full page ads in magazines stating that being gay is ok. I mean, I get those Human Rights things in the mail and just toss them in the trash, just like you. But how come no group exists which says, "Listen. Here's what we're going to do and we need your help. We're going to place a full page ad (copy enclosed) in the following magazines on March 12th and here's the breakdown of cost..." If I got something like that, I'd be way more likely to contribute. Now, I just feel like my money would go to some black hole, doing who knows what, so I don't contribute... but if I knew explicitly what was planned and how much it costs, well, that's a whole 'nuther story.

Relatedly, a couple weeks ago I was trying to motivate an employee of Larry's to stop feeling sorry for himself, to figure out what he wanted out of life, and go for it. Part of getting him to figure out his goals was revealing mine. One of my big change-the-world goals is to make enough money that I can just spend money to let people know that being gay is ok... and, without sounding too arrogant, I have virtually no doubt that I'm going to do just that. I'm going to buy that freaking full page ad. I'm gonna write that book. I'm going to let it be known far and wide that it's ok to be a normal guy who happens to be gay.

I even know how I'm going to make the money to pay for it all, and the process is in the works as we speak... but I'm not much for revealing things until they're 100% functional (hence, no "Under Construction" crap on the web site) Just know that by this time next year, that full page ad will have run. (I'd follow that with "Mark my words," but I guess I already have.)

March 14, 1999 - Sunday - Spring Break

1:38PM Eastern Time

I realized before I finished the last entry that I forgot to write why I was at the airport or to explain the logistics of who was there with me. I thought about going back and prefacing it all, but realized that doing so would detract from the main point.

So, anyway, yesterday Katie, Larry, and I were at the airport, a day later than originally planned, so that Katie and I could fly to Kentucky before beginning our RV (recreational vehicle) trip to Florida. Actually, the original plan was that Larry, Katie, Spencer and I would fly to Kentucky then all pile in the RV with my mom and dad to drive down to Florida, but due to Spencer's hospital visit, the plans changed through several iterations. Eventually they stopped, though, with Katie and I flying to Kentucky on Saturday; Katie, Mom, Dad, and I driving in the RV to Florida starting Sunday (today); and Larry flying with Spencer to Orlando to meet us late Monday night.

So today we've been riding in the camper since about 11AM. It was a rough start as it was raining and it seemed like Mom had packed the entire house (which I had to carry out to the RV)... and it's only marginally improved. I mean, we have had our nice moments, like when I was reading all the March entries to Mom and Dad, and like when I was reading them a touching e-mail I'd gotten from a reader named Brian, and playing with the digital camera was fun, too, but Katie has refused to keep her seat belt on, thus forcing me to be the seat belt cop, and now I'm sitting here listening to the Rio MP3 player much too loudly, just to try and drown out the radio which Dad has been BLASTING as he changes from station to station trying to find some Kentucky basketball game. (Yeah, it's a run on. It's Spring Break, ok!?) I swear, if we were sitting still, we'd be cited for a 50 feet noise ordinance violation. Even worse is that that it's not a radio station most of the time, but UMM, UMM, UMM, UMM, UMM on all the unused bands.

But, I'm, for the most part, biting my tongue. Mom knows that the radio is driving me crazy, but she, too, isn't saying anything about it. I guess we both know that his entertainment is rather limited having to drive the entire time while we sit back here and do other stuff.

As for Spencer, the various tests found that he had a blockage in the tube that leads from one of his kidneys. Most likely, the water from the bath the nanny/maid was giving him made him pee, which hurt, which caused him to ball up in pain. Anyway, he's now home from the hospital on antibiotics and doing much better, and pending a urinalysis on Monday morning, will head to Orlando late Monday night.

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© 1999 Justin Clouse


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