Justin's Life... May 1st - 10th, 1999

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May 1, 1999 - Saturday


This past week has been spent largely writing papers for class. First, I finished a twenty-three page paper for my group, then today I wrote another paper about the experience. Some of the happenings with the group have been chronicled here already, but this is what I'm turning in on Monday.

Who's The Professor and What Time Does It Meet?

Justin Clouse

University Of Southern California

May 3, 1999

In choosing classes for the current semester, I focused almost exclusively on two things; professor and time. After scanning the list of communication classes and marking those with professors I'd liked previously, I went back and circled the ones with acceptable times. In true college student fashion, I gave no real thought to the name of the course or the actual course contents. Yet had I known or even thought that I would spend the entire semester antagonizing four other students, I almost certainly would have made another choice. Nevertheless, as this is not to be a "tattletale" paper, I will try to focus on the leadership development and attempted dissolution within our group.

At the beginning of our project together, we happenstancedly determined that we could each be the leader by taking turns. First Willy organized a subsequent meeting, then I, then no one, and in all honesty, that was fine. No need for a leader really existed at that point as we were independently searching for groups to observe and the concertive control of the group was just as, or more, effective as reporting to a temporary leader.

When I secured the Daily Trojan budget meetings for observation, I once again became the tacit temporary leader. As the agent of our group, it was my responsibility to interface with our contact, David [Lastname], and I was responsible for making sure our group adhered to David's three simple requests; let him know in advance which days would be observed, keep the number of people observing each meeting to a minimum, and keep the newspaper's content confidential until the next day. His third request only required my informing the group members of it, but the first two required me to become a scheduler.

After determining which two days of the week were best in regards to our group schedule, I informed David and we were set to start observing until Christina realized that she had class when she originally agreed to attend. I rearranged our schedules to accommodate by switching Jenn and me to new days and informed David of the change. Yet that attempt was also futile as Christina forgot she had to work during her second choice. I got mad but did not change anything with David.

By this time, I had sort of emerged as the leader within our group simply by being the liaison with David, but we were still trying to be equals and decide everything democratically. To that end, Jenn determined that we should meet the Sunday afternoon before Spring Break to write the introduction to our paper. I knew that the intro wouldn't get written three days before it was due but reluctantly agreed when Jenn insisted.

Amazingly, I was the only person that showed for that Sunday afternoon meeting, and I was pissed. I'd ended my out-of-town weekend early to return for a meeting that I didn't think was necessary, and the person calling it didn't show or cancel. Moreover, I bumped into Christina thirty minutes after the meeting was to have started, and she knew that Jenn wasn't going to show. She, in turn, had decided that she didn't need to show either. It was time for a change.

When our group first met again after Spring Break, I came prepared. I had taken the group assignment and modified it so that each section could be assigned to one person. I elaborated on the things specifically needed for each person and volunteered to do the actual writing of the paper myself. It wasn't quite the saving of the ship that I'd mentioned before, but I'd give it a fair shot. I told them that I would do the best that I could with what I was given, but that's all I would do. If the research for the lit review wasn't there, I wasn't going to the library to do it myself.

The semester moved on and April 4th, the deadline I'd set for the sections to be submitted, the day before they were to be presented in class, came and passed. No one had really done anything at that point, and per my words, I did not do the sections myself. I did type out a bibliography based on the articles Willy gave me, Jenn turned in a rough draft of the methods, and Lorraine submitted a simplistic version of the case description, but it was all sub par.

And so, I became disgusted. The same apathy that had compelled me to become the declared leader was now pushing me away. I no longer wanted to be the leader: I want to be one of the carefree. If we all failed, we all failed, but I was tired of trying to guide those unwilling to be led. The paper had to be a conjunctive task, but I'd made the individual parts as simple as I could. Each person needed only to worry about her or his section and contribute ideas to the results. I'd even intentionally assigned myself the hardest, most time-intensive part, yet that wasn't good enough. I could do no more and gave up.

Yet, oddly enough, I was still the leader in the eyes of the group. Although I told myself that I was no longer the leader and stopped trying to assert authority, I still received progress reports from the other members and I was still promised sections to be submitted. I was truly amazed. I figured the ship would go down and no one would notice, but the group was saying that I was wrong.

With my leadership position established, like it or not, the five of us were to have met the Saturday before our group presentation. At that meeting, in addition to working out our presentation, Willy and Christina were going to give me their sections. As they were in charge of the research and lit review drafts, the only real part I could not write from directly observing the DT, I needed both of their submissions to get started on the paper. Indeed, I'd reserved the entire weekend for writing, but Willy's section was incomplete with only 1.2 pages and Christina's was non-existent.

Perceived leader or not, I was not doing it myself, so we parted under feigned nice terms with Christina and Will promising to have their sections by Monday's class. Monday came and Willy gave me his contribution to the paper, but Christina's still wasn't ready. I wasn't surprised, but just took her rough draft and began writing the final paper shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, the day before the paper was due, Christina gave me a more complete, yet still admittedly incomplete, version of her section. I went home, found some citations Christina had left uncited, and wrote the bibliography by getting the information out of the books myself.

I guess, in some ways, I did go back on my stance and do more of the extra work than I'd said. I became the emergent leader of the group because of apathy and yet that same apathy caused me to want to revert back to a regular group member with a group member's indifference. I can honestly say this has been the least rewarding leadership position I have ever had and the paper was one of the worst on which I've ever ascribed my name. The only thing I have learned without a doubt is that I never want to have another class with a group project. Perhaps more research should focus on that.

No, it's not the most modest thing in the world, but how do you write "They all sucked and I did the work" without sounding like a self-described martyr? And don't get me wrong, I'm not some academic freak... but the level of responsibility exhibited by some of the group members was astounding (and not in a good way).

May 10, 1999 - Monday


Back in March, I got an e-mail which read:

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 17:03:33 -0700
To: justin@koool.com
From: dan [lastname]
Subject: hi
hi justin,

yesterday a friend of mine in boston called me at work to tell me that i just *had* to check out your web site. he wouldn't tell me why, and the fact that he called me at work told me it must be either really good or really important.

well, i have only read through jan & feb '96 in your diary, but i already see why he told me your site is a *must* read.

i was going to wait until i finished reading your diary (which may take me a few weeks), but i just wanted to write you now. i don't know what else i'm going to discover in the next 3 years of your "life" but what i have seen so far has already touched me.

i just turned 25, and i have been out for almost 3 years now. i also happen to be a hairy, short, blond, skinny guy. a *very* rare combination. and not one that is plastered on the magazines or bared topless on the dance floors. as a matter of fact, when i take my shirt off in bed, i usually get a surprised look followed by, "oh my gosh, you're hairy!" and it hurts.

but, just reading that there are young guys like you out there who like hairy guys like me is inspiring. and i just had to let you know that.

ok, i'm off to read more. maybe i'll drop you a line when i'm done reading you diary.


dan [lastname]
www.[websiteaddress].com (my simple little web site)

Dan's e-mail piqued my interest. A hairy, short, skinny blond guy... like he said, quite a rare combination (and one I could definitely appreciate). So, I clicked the URL to his web site and expected to see a none-too-cute guy living just outside of Boston. Instead, I found "i live in san diego, california" at the top of his page and this picture on a subsequent link:

I was half right.

I mean, his picture wasn't bad, just none-too-cute. He did have that engineer look, which I've been known to go for, but... Anyway, I had no friends in San Diego and he seemed like a nice guy. Furthermore, Larry was always bugging me about finding someone to hang out with in La Jolla (which is a suburb of San Diego), so I wrote back:

Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 12:13:00 -0700
To: dan@[e-mail address].com
From: justin@koool.com
Subject: Re: hi

Wow... you really know how to flatter a guy... *grin*

Thank you for your letter. A "hairy, short, blond, skinny" 25 year old sounds like something I definitely wouldn't kick out of bed. It is amazing, though, how some guys are SO caught up into body hair (as it being bad). I mean, I like hairier guys, but I've never seen a smooth guy and gone yuck, know what I mean.

So you live in San Diego (Guilty: I checked out your web page.) Larry has a house in La Jolla and we get there about every other weekend. Mainly, I tend to like to chill on the weekends, but if you can track us down, it's always nice to know someone there. The number is 619-###-#### if you want to call and leave a message so that it'll be on the machine the next time we're there.

Anyway, thanks again for the e-mail,

The next day, he wrote to thank me for responding to his e-mail and to say that he was on an extended business trip in Tennessee and might not be back in San Diego until May.

I didn't think much more about it until we next got to La Jolla, back in the beginning of April, when I sent another e-mail to say that we were in town for the weekend. It didn't get a response until after we left and then he said that he was still back east.

The next time Dan's e-mail crossed my mind was a few weekends ago when I stayed in town to work on the group paper (and ended up making the video letter) while Larry went to La Jolla with Katie and Spencer. When Larry got to the house, he called to say that Dan had left a message, that the two of them had talked and that he sounded nice, but that he didn't think they were going to meet that weekend. Larry was taking care of the kids and Dan was going out with friends for pizza (but invited Larry along.)

So, anyway, life went on and not much thought was given to Dan again until this past Saturday morning when Larry and I got to the La Jolla house and played the answering machine. There was Dan's message, the same one as Larry'd heard the weekend before, talking about him currently being in Iowa.

But that was at least three weekends old, so I dialed his number, and it answered on the first ring (indicating that his cell phone was off). Given his propensity to out-of-town business travel and the fact that he still hadn't called back nearly two hours after I left a message, I figured he was again not around and so Larry and I debated which movie the two of us would go see. (Katie stayed in LA to go to a birthday party and Spencer was going to stay with his biological mom in San Diego.)

Eventually we picked The Mummy and a few minutes later, the phone rang.

It was Dan, he was in San Diego, and the idea of going to see The Mummy and having dinner sounded like a good idea to him. We arranged to meet 15 minutes before the 7PM showing at the AMC 12 theatre then eat dinner afterwards.

In the meantime, Larry and I took care of some various odds and ends (like going to Wal-Mart) and I checked Dan's picture once more to have a better chance at recognizing him.

When we got to the theatre, we went down the escalators and looked around to see no one who looked like he was looking for someone. So Larry went into the bookstore and I kept looking.

After walking around the downstairs area for a bit, I saw a cute guy walking around, but the best I could determine, he was waiting on an older man who was talking to someone else. I mean, I couldn't tell for certain if he was waiting on the older man, but it appeared as such, so I went on looking for someone similar to the above picture.

Eventually, I locked eyes with another guy, who was obviously waiting for someone he didn't readily know, but he was much too cute to be Dan. I didn't even give it a second thought.

Five minutes or so later, I was still looking for him. The guy who was waiting with the older man was now gone, so he definitely wasn't the one, and everyone else waiting for someone was the wrong gender, the wrong age by decades, and so forth... but the second too cute guy was still there. His and my eyes met once again and he started walking towards me. He said, "Are you Justin?" while I said "Dan?"


I was dumbstruck. Not only was he not the none-too-cute guy in the picture, but he was darn cute. He was blondish, with pale eyebrows (a weakness of mine), and short... and rumor had it that he was furry.

So we looked in the bookstore for Larry, who I knew would be equally surprised to see such a difference from the picture, and the three of us went inside the theatre once we were all together.

After getting a popcorn and Coke, we went inside the theatre itself and sat down to talk briefly before the previews. It was mostly just chit chat stuff, about jobs and the like, but he seemed like a really nice guy.

During the movie, I must admit, I wanted to look over and stare, but refrained myself. Instead, using the times when he was balled up in the fetal position during a particularly scary part, I turned his direction and harassed him about being afraid. I made special effort to pay attention to Larry, too. He's my husband and short, cute, hairy blonde guy with pale eyebrows sitting beside me or not, I still needed to remember that; something I've been known to forget in the past.

Anyway, speeding things along, the movie ended and the three of us headed back to the house (before we were to go to the restaurant which was walking distance away). At Larry's suggestion, I rode with Dan to give him directions, but we still got on the wrong path twice. The ride in his Jeep also gave me a chance to find out more about Dan's non-physical attributes (like when he told me about how someone slashed his roof and stole his much treasured Rent CD's and souvenir tickets), and I got to playfully harass him about what his e-mail didn't say (like the guys who saw his hairy chest in bed and didn't like it must not have known him very long previously if they didn't know he was hairy).

Before we got to the restaurant, though, Larry fixed Dan and himself a glass of wine while I had a Mountain Dew and Amaretto.

When the Amaretto had kicked in a bit, I told Dan that he was much cuter than his picture online. I hadn't meant to say it, but the Amaretto removed a layer of inhibition and the thought that was repeatedly running through my head came out my mouth.

Anyway, we went to eat and once dinner was done, the three of us went back to the house and sat in the living room and talked... and talked... and talked.

I so wanted to touch Dan, to hug on him, to see if he was indeed hairy, but I refrained. Instead, I sat in the floor between Larry and Dan who were sitting in two chairs about eight feet apart. Eventually, Larry said something about Dan being hairy and something to the effect of "Justin's probably just dying to see your hairy chest."

OK, so I was... well, maybe not dying, but I would have definitely welcomed the sight.

Dan, in turn, untucked his inner shirt and pulled it up to reveal a quite hairy stomach. He tucked his shirt back in and that was that.

As the talking went on, I got increasingly nervous. I mean, like I said, I did want to hold him, hug on him, but I couldn't just say that... until I did. Something to the effect of "Come down here, I want to hug on you." came out of my mouth... and the Amaretto was long worn off.

He did just that and sat in front me of me as I wrapped my arms around him. His being only 5'7"-ish allowed me to readily wrap my arm over his shoulder on one side, thereby making hugging him even easier. My legs went around his body as he faced away from me and he squeezed his arm against the one of mine which was under his as a little hug back.

Before long, I was looking at the side of his head, caught up in my own little world of guys with blonde body hair, when Larry called me on it. He wasn't angry or anything, just harassing me, and when he asked what type of dog they were talking about to prove I wasn't listening, I had no clue. It was funny, but I think by this time the cat was completely out of the bag about how I felt about Dan.

Before long, Larry moved on down to the floor, too, and I changed positions. Although the hugging from behind thing was nice in a mental way, it was a major pain physically. Anyway, I moved to Dan's side and placed my legs over his while Larry layed his head on my lap and rubbed Dan's leg.

That lasted for a bit... then when Dan said something about his head hitting the kitchen table's leg, Larry suggested he get a pillow... then suggested that we just move to the bed.


The next morning, I woke around 7AM with a really furry, cute, short, blond guy with pale eyebrows and eyelashes (in boxers and a t-shirt) next to me, and next to him was Larry. I actually didn't sleep much as I knew the middle person in a bed tends to get hot and so I stayed at the very edge of the bed, nearly falling off, for the entire night.

Anyway, the three of us got up... [Yes, you just have to use your imagination for some stuff, alright?] and before long headed towards Tijuana, Mexico. Actually, I didn't think anything about Dan going with us, but when Larry asked and Dan accepted, that was fine with me.

So, anyway, the three of us went to Tijuana, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, and had a really nice time just hanging out. True, we were "on guard" while in Tijuana, but not because of each other... and when we got back into the US, we continued to have a really nice time just hanging out with each other.

When we got back into San Diego proper, Dan suggested we take a route to his apartment that would drive us by a park where a bunch of gay volleyball games were being played. As it was on the way and as there were no pressing concerns otherwise, we agreed and Larry drove the way he told him.

As we drove past the first few volleyball nets and players, Dan said something about looking for his neighbor Chris, who he thought he would be playing. I figured I'd say hi, but truly didn't care much about meeting anyone else. To do so would sorta inspire envy because he was Dan's neighbor and they'd hang out a lot and so on and so forth.

Anyway, Larry slowed down the van, and Dan said that he saw Chris. I looked at the field and immediately knew to whom he was referring... I said, "I know him. That's Chris [Lastname]." Dan was in disbelief, but that was his last name. Amazingly, his neighbor Chris was the Chris from Baltimore that I met in April 1998 and who needed a place for three weeks when he moved to California when the diary was on hiatus. I opened the van door, as I was sitting in the back seat, and motioned for Chris to come over. Needless to say, the four of us were all completely in disbelief. They both knew about my web page, but hadn't told the other about it. Indeed, as I wrote at the beginning of this entry, it was a friend of Dan's from Boston who told him to check out the site.

Anyway, the four of us talked for a while more then said bye to Chris before heading on back to Dan's apartment where we dropped him off. A hug, a kiss, and an "I had a really nice time this weekend" later, he was gone. It was nice.

This morning Larry forwarded me a response he got from e-mail he sent to Dan last night:

hi larry & justin,

it was *so* cool to finally meet you guys. i had such a fun weekend. thanks again for everything. i hope we can get together again sometime soon, either in SD or LA. i can't wait to meet everyone else.

well, i have to run to catch my plane...america west waits for no one ;) have a great week just keep having fun!



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