The following online journal entries are from January 2002.
TUESDAY. 10:32 AM. I have written my notice to vacate my apartment. I will be leaving the Mission at the end of February. I will be leaving San Francisco as well. I think the timing is simply right in my life. I cannot think of a better solution. My job is over. My roommate is planning to leave the apartment. And I am in limbo while waiting to hear back from schools. So, instead of spending a good deal of energy looking for a new job, a new apartment (or a new roommate even), and WAITING... I'm going to spend a good deal of energy traveling to see friends across the United States, spend time in places I've never seen, and eventually make my way to Maryland to see my father and my East Coast friends.
I have free housing waiting for me. My intuition tells me that the University of Maryland will be the school that chooses me and gives me funding. And I really, really, really want to see affordable prices on rents, utilities, gas, and goods again (though sushi and avocados will be expensive).
Put it this way: I would be in the same position after this sabbatical as if I had stayed in San Francisco...jobless, apartmentless, and nearly penniless. I'd rather use the money I've saved up on traveling than on paying rent on an apartment that I'm leaving anyway. Furthermore, I have never been a good traveler -- wanderlust strikes me so infrequently -- and I want this adventure. I really want it. In the corner of my mind I know I'm getting a older and my opportunities to partake in youthful running amok will dwindle. I want to hop in a car with a good friend, both of us with few ties and immediate responsibilities, and travel for a month. Even if the experience is exhausting, harrowing, and fraught with snafus, it will be an experience that is unique, concrete, and incandescently my own.
By the time I reach Maryland, I will know where my graduate school plans are headed. Then I can plan appropriately. Until then, I am excited, nervous, greedy for this upcoming trip. It is a plan. I didn't have a plan two weeks ago. Now I have one that has met the approval of everyone I've talked with about it.
Be warned my continental friends... I will be stopping at your doorstep. And I would greatly appreciate some hospitality for a night or few. Details are forthcoming.
Right now, everyone, wish me luck. In a way, I see this expedition as a way to herald in the new year (particularly the Chinese New Year on February 12).
THURSDAY. 10:31 AM. My first day of joblessness. My contract job ended yesterday. Now I am free to roam the earth and haunt the living (or something like that). I am starting to feel anxious about my imminent leaving. Though everyone I've talked to so far has been very optimistic and supportive of the decision. I had lunch with my friend Kara yesterday and she said that I seemed and sounded much livelier, happier. I know that I'm very excited for the changes. I'm really excited to be going back to school. And I'm really praying that I get teaching for the fall.
Now I just have to stay busy. Now I just have to keep focused on the true goals in my life, at least for the next few months. Now I just have to work on some insecurities and issues before setting off on this adventure.
I have a lot to think about.
TUESDAY. 11:15 AM. First, belated happy birthday's to Casper and Willie. Sorry, I didn't get e-cards out fast enough (ergo I didn't get the paper cards out at all). I am a bad, bad friend. Well, not really, but I just wanted to apologize enough.
What's new today? Three days before the end of the month. It's funny how time seems to crawl when you really want something to happen now and it seems to whoosh by when you're not really paying enough attention. I forget what day it is sometimes. It's that disorientation you get when the semester ends or you're out of work (the latter for me) and you don't have a schedule to help you to keep track of the days.
I've been trying to keep myself busy. I know if I just give into the doldrums, I'll go stir crazy or end up sleeping all day. Unfortunately, the unseasonably chilly weather San Francisco is experiencing is making crawling out of the womb-like warmth of my bed a test of willpower and determination.
I did the end of the month, start of the month bills. My money dwindles. (And I fear the tax man who is only a few months away...)
I find a strange pleasure in everyday tasks like doing my laundry or washing the dishes. I guess it's concrete. It's a finite activity. I start. I do. I finish. And there's a visible, tangible, notable end result. When you're in limbo, I recommend housework or painting or puzzles or sorting through the junk drawer as therapy.
What else? I went to Mission Creek coffee house yesterday. I had a very tasty decaf double mocha. I sat down and journaled. Then I outlined the revisions for Tellings. I also ran into Mia, my former supervisor from CompassPoint. She didn't recognize me with my spikes all shaved off. It was a good couple of hours sitting in the sun watching the traffic on Valencia and all of the blue-haired, punky-girt boys coming and going (not to mention the Irish moving lads from the furniture store next door).
It was a near perfect San Francisco moment. It's moment like yesterday that I will miss the most about the City. However, I know that I am appreciating the City more now that I know I am going to leave it's borders. I'm okay with that. A friend of mine (from the POW crowd), Shamim wrote me an email the other day. He was concerned about my waning enthusiasm for the city. I'll quote him: "I was taken to the link you put in about the SF blahs. Reading that page I was overcome by feelings of annoyance. I wanted to track down the author of that piece and give the author the half-dollar s/he wants to leave the city tomorrow. Quit yer whinin' ways, I wanted to shout. Just like any other place San Francisco is what the residents make it; if you don't like it and can't accept it, don't sit around in your little klatsches moaning about how wonderful it used to be before all the ________ [fill in group name] moved in; get the fuck out. Move to Bellingham or Omaha."
Now I entirely understand the motivation behind his argument. And I think I have put in a good three years as a resident and I've tried to make SF the City I wanted to live in. I have had a lot of amazing experiences here. The City has provided me much fun, much entertainment, much growth, much life. However, this resident is also feeling overwhelmed by the cost of living; by the chronic meanness that crops up in bars, on buses, on street corners, in the paper; by the simple density of the place. So, I choose to "get the fuck out" as it were. The City is just not ready to be my permanent home; it's not ready for me.
I am sad to be leaving. But I am more excited to be starting the next chapter of my life.
© 2002 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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