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Hello nurse! I am traveling around the US and writing about it, and there seems to be no end in sight.

I am looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights and feed me and pay my way (since I am broke) and show me a good time (since I like good times). If you think it might be fun to host me for a day or two or three, email me at justingrace AT mac DOT com. Please make sure to include your address and phone number. I am especially looking for places to stay in the southeast USA and the East Coast.

I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter what! Here are the places I will be in the next few weeks that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

• Louisiana
• Mississippi
• Alabama
• Florida
• Tennessee
• North/South Carolina
• Georgia

I am in New Orleans right now and will be here for a few more days now. Please contact me ASAP if you are in or around New Orleans and want to hang out!

US Tour Day 48: Getting Flaked On Again

I get flaked on a lot these days. Or, it sure feels like a lot. I had lunch plans with a friend. And she was also going to let me use her printer to make up some more of my buttons. She stood me up. I waited for forty minutes outside her place and she simply never showed up. After that I had afternoon plans with this guy I just met, and he had to cancel at the last minute.

I normally do a good job of not taking these sorts of things personally. But, that only works up to a point. I can get flaked on a few times in a week or month and still think the world is a great place. But, I've been riding the get–flaked–on–all–the–time–train here in Austin and I can't help but feel hurt by it. Phone calls, dinner dates, movie plans, they all get cancelled. And, the percentage of plans that have fallen through in my last two weeks is definitely higher than the percentage of things that actually happened.

There must be some lesson here, something which I ought to be learning. Maybe it's that people change their minds a lot. There are the economic principles of unlimited want and the constant changing of tastes. Perhaps this is what I experience when I stand in the rain outside an empty apartment, feeling like a fool.

Or, maybe the point is that I need to have compassion and understanding for people and the complicated, twisty lives they have woven. It's probably presumptuous of me to expect anyone to ever make me a higher priority than anyone or anything else—even if they say they're going to.

But, why do I connect my heartstrings to the ideas of these moments? One may say that my expectations for what I thought might happen are what are actually hurting me, and I am allowing—no, actually paving the path—for this hurt by being attached to some idea about some imaginary moment in some imaginary future. Yes, that is definitely what is happening here. I'm disappointed. And I hate this disappointed feeling that comes when I get all clingy and dumb about the future.

I think that the lesson is just that: clinging to ideas of what the future will look like often leads to disappointment and sorrow.

So, I will hope that people will keep their plans with me. But, I think I better start learning to like eating alone if I want to be happy in this life.

I ended up walking to a nearby taqueria for lunch. I made myself order something to eat—a chicken taco and a bean and cheese burrito. I didn't want to, though.

I love to eat, but it depresses me to eat alone. I am a social creature, and eating is a social event which I take hedonistic pleasure in indulging as often as possible. I want to sit around a table with friends and share words and laughter as well as food.

Sometimes I feel like I would rather starve than eat alone. It just feels so dismal. I mean, of course this isn't true. I wouldn't really rather starve—there I go, using the most drastic words, exaggerating everything like I always do. The reality is that I notice that I'm much less motivated to purchase and consume food if I am alone.

Many of my moments in Austin have been alone. As the minutes and hours and days and weeks pass, more and more of my moments here are spent alone. So, I've been losing weight. It's sort of a loneliness diet, I guess. Pants that used to be tight are falling off me—this black leather pair and my favorite burgundy bell–bottoms, the ones that make me look like an animé character. This is not good, as I am already very thin. A beautiful and very lean woman—a model—told me last week that I was a bit too skinny. Um, a female model told me I was too skinny. That's not good, no sir.

I looked at my food on the brown, plastic tray and frowned. I filled a cup with ice and then water and frowned.

Then a young woman spoke to me. She asked me if I was the one who just got out of the little red car in the parking lot, and I nodded. She told me that my car was very cute and she asked what sort of car it was. I told her it was a Bertone, which basically means that if it were 1987 and you were a forty–something–year–old guy in his midlife crisis then this would be the car for you. And, if you were twenty–seven and traveling around the United States with winter soon approaching, there couldn't possibly be a less appropriate mode of transport. She laughed and filled a little cup with salsa. Like me, she only drank water. I could sense that she was trying to save money, too.

I asked her if she was eating alone. Yes. Would you like company for lunch? Yes. Well then! How easy! I didn't have to eat alone.

And, I've always thought it would be fun to ask some random person in a restaurant if they would sit and have a friendly, casual conversation with me. It's just not the sort of thing that American's do. Of course, that's what has made the concept so appealing for me. And, today I did it.

She told me about her studies, a botanical garden I ought to see, and her fiancé. We talked about the nature of relationships and marriage. I told her about my album. She happened to know an entertainment lawyer here in Austin who she said might be able to help me with some of my goals—establishing a licensing deal with a true independent label with distribution.

Our lunch was short, as she had places to go. We shook hands and said goodbye. I was happy that I finally asked a stranger to have lunch with me and it actually worked—I felt clever and resourceful for solving my little lunchtime dilemma. I was happy for the company and the information we traded. But, there was an emptiness that lingered still.

I realized at that moment that I needed to be more self–sufficient, and I needed to really inspect why I avoid being alone during certain times. When I think about it, I should be rejoicing at the opportunity to experience the world alone sometimes. I want to learn to appreciate the differentness of the unique solitude I felt sitting on the unfamiliar seats of a restaurant nearly two thousand miles from home—sitting with myself and listening to the strange new sounds and watching the strange new people and the dances that bring them through their days in this foreign place called Texas.

The key, I believe, is to shift my point of view. What was previously considered a punishment must be reexamined and reevaluated until I can grasp the opportunity—the reward—inherent in such moments. Looks like I've got some work to do, so I better start now.