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2003-08-20 11:00 a.m.

I feel like a girl writing this, but it has to be said: I had a really fun outfit on yesterday. I wore tight bondage pants with black and red vertical stripes, and they perfectly matched my hair, which also had black and red vertical stripes. It's not often one can match their striped pants to their striped hair, and I was smugly pleased with my ability to coordinate. Granted, this skill is little more than the combination of not being color blind and being physically awake. But it made me happy nonetheless. It was a little pleasure, like wearing new underwear that cost too much or touching my nipples while talking on the phone.

I didn't think about it much, though. I live in my body, which means I don't actually see myself very often. So, within minutes of leaving my bedroom mirror I have mostly forgotten how I look.

But yesterday I got reminded in the nicest way. I got this email from a coworker:

From: Lucy Silva
From: Tue Aug 19, 2003 10:50:12 AM US/Pacific
To: Justin
Subject: love your outfit!

Hi Justin,

I saw you in the caffe, but didn't want to interrupt your conversation. I had to take a moment to tell you that I love your outfit today. You look like you just stepped out of a magazine.

Have a terrific day.
I was so flattered that someone took the time out of their day to actually give a compliment—rather than just think it and never share it as most of us do countless times each day. I replied:

From: Justin Winokur Grace
From: Tue Aug 19, 2003 11:34:44 AM US/Pacific
To: Lucy Silva
Subject: Re: love your outfit!

Wow! If you are trying to make my day better, then it worked! That's like getting told I'm cute by the cutest girl in the school!

Thanks for taking the time to share a compliment. Our world -- and our corporate workplace -- needs more positive shining like that.

My day was already terrific, but now it's even better!

Goal for the rest of my life: Take the time to actually express to people all the nice things I am thinking and feeling about them.

In other news I have been feeling lonely. I never feel lonely, so I am not very good at it. I am a loneliness beginner, fumbling with something very foreign and awkward. Navigating my loneliness is like trying to keep up with a conversation in a foreign language I only took one semester of in high school, ten years ago. Except there's no conversation, since I'm alone.

Why do I feel this way? I think it is a combination of things. Some of my closest friends are gone: Andie, Dave Marr, and Trisha are all at Burning Man already. On top of that people have been flaking on me a lot the last week. Almost every phone call, dinner plan, or hang–out turned out to be a no–show. People say they will call, so I sit at home and wait instead of going out and doing something fun and adventurous. They don't call, which leaves me feeling disappointed not only because I don't get to talk with that person but also because I didn't get to go out and do anything else.

People usually never flake on me. That's why it seems so strange that the last few days have been a gigantic flake–fest. I wonder why my feelings get so hurt? Is it because I feel especially lonely lately? Or do I feel especially lonely because of being flaked on?

The real questions are: What am I supposed to be learning from this? How can I make sure I am being part of the solution (rather than part of the problem)?