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2003-12-27

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! I'm trying to keep life low key so I can catch up on the last two or three weeks of writing. Let me tell you, Florida is the place to do it! It's a pleasant place to be, as long as you don't mind the Christians everywhere.

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 104, Part 1: Thoughts on Holiday Gifts

If you live in San Francisco and are anything but the richest of the rich, it's safe to say that you definitely don't have enough space for all of your belongings. When I first moved there I found myself giving away entire boxes of my old stuff. Rent is high and space is scarce. So, you learn to live with less stuff than if you lived in, say, Austin, Modesto or Orlando.

Now I live out of my car. Compared with my car, my old home in San Francisco was an expansive palace, a black hole of endless space in which to store an infinite amount of things.

It's not bad living out of my little car. I quite like it. It doesn't feel that much different than backpacking across Europe, except I have a much larger backpack and people don't speak English as well here in the States. I find myself being very space conscious, though. I looked at a t–shirt in a shop window and thought, if I folded that up just right, could I maybe jam it into the remaining space in my glove compartment? I cram spare underwear in my guitar case, maps are smashed under my car seat, and I recently found a great hiding spot for a ham and cheese sandwich between the headrest of the driver's seat and the rear window.

The car is full. If I had to bring anything else with me it would have to sit on my lap as I drove or be forced into one of my orifices.

So, I made it a point to tell all my family this year that, while I appreciate their generosity, non–consumable Christmas gifts were not going to work out for me.

Now, for me Christmas is really about spending time with loved ones, not gifts. I don't like the whole compulsory gift exchanging thing. I think it has gotten too big for its britches and I've seen it bully away a lot of the holiday magic in my own family.

For months my family has asked me, What can we get you for Christmas? I always tell them the same thing: I am so happy, there is nothing more I could want. Just spend time with me. Eat with me. Take me somewhere with you. That's what I want.

So, this year they did just that. They spent time with me. My mom went to New Orleans with me. And we ate together. And, when the time came to open up gifts, they had wrapped up little tokens of money like presents. I am so fortunate to have my family. I'm honored to say I couldn't imagine a more perfect family for me.

My top four gift ideas for the holiday season:

1) The gift of time. This goes hand in hand with the gift of food. What I want more than anything from my loved ones is their time and companionship. And, my favorite thing to do with my favorite people is eat food. Take me out. Eat with me. Talk with me. This is always what I want.

2) Something someone created with me in mind. Adam once gifted me a piece of art he made that was inspired by something I wrote. Receiving it was one of the biggest honors I can remember. When he gave it to me, I thought to myself, Wow. I wrote something which got you excited to bring this beautiful thing into existence. Then you decided to give it to me. What did I do to deserve this?

3) Sincere words. Compliments, suggestions, observations, and constructive criticism given from the heart carry immeasurable and continuing value for me. Plus, sincere words last forever and they don't take up any space!

4) Money. Money can't buy you love or happiness. But, it can buy you most everything else. It pays for medicines; it brings food to our mouths. It carries us to foreign destinations; it opens the doors to the university. It bought the computer I'm typing on right now; it bought the glasses which allow me to see the words I type. Money doesn't compare to numbers 1, 2, or 3 in my list—no way. At the most basic level, someone—even if it's not us—needs to have some money in order for us to live. When used to the limits, this tool can help bring our greatest ideas to fruition.



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