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2003-12-21

IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:

Ah yes, I am finally back in Florida after 16 days home for the holidays. I'd been itching to get traveling again, and it feels good to be out here. Plus, it's WARM!

So, is there no end to this journey? There definitely seems to be no end in sight. There are so many people to meet and enjoy, so many places to fall in love with, and so much to share and learn. So I continue to move with the winds; I continue to entice the winds to follow me.

So, one of the things about this experiment in love and motion and travel is that I have—against my will—assumed the challenging variable I like to call 'being broke'. So, that means I am doing this crazy trip while living, ahem, very frugally. For example, my slutty pants that used to be tight aren't tight anymore—that kind of frugal, you know?

So, what does this mean? Well, staying in a hotel every night is out of the question. I am looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights and really host me. This would involve me staying at your house for a few days, showing me a good time (since I like good times), feeding my stupid mouth (in an attempt to make my pants fit me again), and whatever general mischief we can get into. And, the best part is that I get to learn about your life and write about our times together! That is part of the experiment, see. I am meeting with people I've never met before and living some life with them. 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 in your email to me so I can be in touch!

I am especially looking for places to stay in the southeast USA and everywhere on the East Coast. I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter where you are because I will probably come visit! Here are the places I will be in the next few weeks that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

Alabama
Florida
Tennessee
North/South Carolina
Georgia
Virginia

Please contact me ASAP if you want to hang out!



US Tour Day 98, Part 2: A Life of More

What does one do on a sunny Sunday in Dunedin, Florida? Why, go to the flea market, of course! I love to go to the flea market. For me it is not so much a place to purchase things but rather a sort of alternative gallery. To me, the market is a place to observe objects framed alternatively. Instead of surrounded by actual frames, they are surrounded by people and other objects. These accidental compositions drip with unintentional irony, as do the people milling about.


CARROI, PADISH

I didn't buy much. I never really do. Because I think of it as a gallery, I just assume that—as is usually the case in galleries—there is nothing there in my price range. I got a basket of fresh kumquats and proceeded to pop the tart, little globes in my mouth. Their smell almost reminded me of this tsatsumo orange oil that a friend wears, but it may have been wishful thinking. Just as we often only hear what we want to hear, sometimes we only smell what we want to smell.

And I bought one Christmas present. I found an antique Swedish Ericsson–brand "Cobra" telephone for Skot for $5. I have one just like it, but mine was bought in Sweden where they're very rare and priced accordingly. (I think my girlfriend at the time shelled out nearly $150 for the one she bought me!) Skot appreciates intelligent design, so I couldn't pass up a chance to share this masterpiece with him.

After escaping the peddlers and their wares, Marion, Monica, and I drove off to a place they called the Greek sponge docks. Once we got there I no longer wondered about the name. Greek–themed stores and restaurants lined the dockside street, each beckoning to tourists with boasts of better, cheaper, or a more Greek selection of—you guessed it—fresh sponges.


Isn't there medicine you can take for that sort of thing?

The sponges came in many shapes and sizes. Some were three feet long and shaped like a giant forearm. Others were smooth and round and about the size of a child's head with tiny pores all over. Some looked harmless like big handfuls of wool, yet others looked like scary monsters with lots of tentacles from some Japanese video game. Each kind was separated into their own bin or barrel or box with a label and a price. Florida Wool sponges! Great for washing your car! $12.95 each! or Common sponge! These are shitty! Good for your child's crappy art projects, your wife's sponge–painting project, or anything else you don't give a rat's ass about! Only $1.95!

I imagined scrubbing my face with one of the three–foot–long loofahs. The mechanics of it seemed awkward. It may have made more sense if I had a bunch of friends all lined up with their faces next to one another. Then I could have scrubbed all our faces at once. But, I've only got one face. I didn't buy any of the long loofahs.

I spent my daily allowance on Greek food instead. We ate Greek salad with anchovies, pita and cucumber sauce, and spanakopita. I love Greek food, and eating it always makes me miss Greece. Where else can you go and eat Greek food for every meal and not have anybody look at you funny for it? Greek food all over the place in Greece. Except there they just call it food!


Monica and Marion in Marion's sweet–ass ride, the Schwagler Mobile.

Eventually the sun melted down to the horizon and the day's warmth took the opportunity to exit gracefully before it was too late. So, we walked past the stalls of fresh, wet sponges and the rows of knock–off Greek statuettes back to Marion's car and headed home for the night.


The absolute most cute picture of an already very adorable person, here we see Marion Schwagler being what I would like to call VERY DRUNK.

And as the evening went on, we sat around their apartment. We passed the time in the way that I imagine millions of young people do every night of their lives: drinking, talking, listening to angsty punk rock, and scolding an unwanted, ill–behaved dog that constantly was doing something completely unacceptable such as tearing up a phone book or the carpet or biting someone. And of course, let's not forget more drinking.

I was having a great time. I never did this sort of thing when I was younger, so the novelty still remains. So, I laughed and joked and flirted and had the kind of fun you have when you are drunk among friends.

But, even with my mind slowed with alcohol—everything slightly out of focus in my fog of drunkenness—I could hear this nagging within me, something about the bigger picture. See, I felt like I was only having a great time. Yes, it all felt fun. It's just that there was no sense of creating or shaping the world around me during those hours.

I wondered, isn't there more to life than this? I know the answer for me is YES, YES, YES! Surely there's more, but we weren't bothering with it right then. Many folks I've met on this trip have told me the same thing, "There's nothing to do here but drink and fuck." As fun as those things are, I know I'm not the only one with this nagging sense that there's more to life. There is huge world to explore, people to relate to, artistic realms to explore, hearts to heal, and songs to sing. Songs to sing.

Oh, America—so beautiful and bountiful yet still unfulfilled—I ask you to question yourself deeply. What is it that would heal your heart? And what keeps you from embracing it? And what song do you want to sing? And, what is it that keeps you from singing this song every day and every night?


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