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The following online journal entries are from February 2002.
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THURSDAY. 4:20 PM.
The following is probably the last big email update I will do in San Francisco:
THREE YEARS AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISHES!
Friends and Neighbors--
I'm sure someone has probably said that all good things in San
Francisco must come to an end. If not, they just have thought
it at least. The Gold Rush. The Summer of Love. Punk Rock.
The Dot-Com Boom. After three years in the City by the Bay,
I bid the love affair goodbye.
Three years have passed since I left the Land of Mary and though
I know my traveling days are not yet done, I am returning to the
shores of the Chesapeake once again. The decision to leave San
Francisco is product of a unique number of events, circumstances,
and hopes. But the time has definitely come for a sabbatical
(at the least) and a change of geography (at the most).
I have not reached the point where I am completely frustrated
by the crazed, sometimes desperate, sometimes downright mean
tenor of San Francisco. There is still a lot here, in this
place, in my neighborhood that I truly love and embrace. I will
miss the late night walks down Valencia when its quiet with the
hum of the electric buses in the distance. I will miss the #33
bus and its amazing hairpin turn at Market and Clayton. I will
miss all of the food, the taquerias, We Be Sushi, the dive bars,
the neighborhood coffee houses, and the Pacific Ocean. I will
miss the handful of times when a random San Franciscan actually
reached out, said a few kind words, or demonstrated an amazing
generosity to me. I will miss my friends; I leave as our
friendships are on the cusp of something deep. I will miss my
sister. I will miss my cat. The arithmetic is simple: I will
miss the City.
It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at
all. I guess the same adage applies to living in San Francisco.
Three years ago, I packed up my life, pulled my roots out of the
only place I have ever known, and transported myself three
thousand miles to a city I only knew in myth and legend. I
fought homesickness. I fought homelessness. I fought
joblessness. I fought loneliness. I fought my Grendel and
won. Now I would rather leave before the love affair sours and
I know I can always return. San Francisco is my city now and
will always be a place to call home.
The situation at hand: no job, shrinking savings, losing the
apartment, waiting for graduate school replies.
First, my contract job with
Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison
ended in the middle of January. I have been job searching
since last July when I left CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. The
job market in San Francisco is simply anorexic. The pool of
applicants is far larger than the number of available positions.
My friend Dustin applied for a part-time administrative job at
his aunt's workplace. She told him that in the first few days
of posting the job, they received hundreds of resumes. My next
door neighbor Josh applied to a job downtown. He was called
in for an interview where the HR representative said that he
was one of 30 applicants they were considering for the job
boiled down from 1,500 resumes. Fifteen-hundred! I would say
that the chances of me finding a perfect job are as likely as
me winning the lottery.
Next, I have been wanting to get out of my apartment for a while
now. My friendship with my roommate is nonexistent though no
longer hostile. And I continue to battle the noisy neighbors
that refuse to respect my needs. Well, you get what you wish
for. A month or so ago, my roomate emailed me to tell me she
was leaving the apartment. She has found a new place to live
and is leaving at the end of February. Therefore, I must
leave as well. Why? When we moved into the apartment, we
put the security deposit on her credit card. Therefore,
when she leaves, she would be taking the entire sum. To
stay, I would have to come up with almost $1,400 to give
to the landlord and find a roommate willing to pay rent
as well as a large deposit. Unfortunately, I do not have
the money to remain nor do I think I could find someone
willing to fork over such a high deposit in the current economy.
Finally, my applications to MFA programs in creative writing
have all gone out. The top three schools I'm considering are
San Francisco State University, the University of Maryland at
College Park, and New York University. All of my paperwork
is done. My writing samples sent. My GRE scores sent. And
my letters of recommendations all mailed. Now the painful
wait begins. The schools estimate that reponse letters will
be sent out in late March or early April.
Therefore I am left with a quandry. Do I try to stay in the
apartment? Do I try to find a new job and a new place to
live only to have to move because graduate school calls me
away from the city? Do I move out and try to couch surf
for a few months? Do I try to find a sublet? Do I wait
and spend the last few dollars I have on rent?
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The plan: leave San Francisco, use the remaining money I have
to travel and see friends across the country, and return to
Maryland for a minimum of a few months till graduate school
decisions are made.
I haven't been back East in over two years. I haven't seen
my father nor my friends in such a long time. A visit back
to the DC area is important. My father is planning to take
an extended trip to Taiwan in April and has invited me to
housesit for him. The stage is being set for me to travel
and rest in Maryland. Plus, my intution tells me that I will
most likely be attending the University of Maryland. They
are most likely to accept me and give me funding. I really
hope to get teaching again. I have been too long out of
the classroom both as a student and as a teacher. The plan
to travel and to be uprooted yet again may not be the most
practical, but it is the most karmically and psychically
sound. It will be good for me.
Dustin, my best friend in San Francisco, has decided to join
me on the expedition. He's in a similar situation. So we
will travel together in his car and drive across the country
for most of the month of March. Our intention is to drive
up the Pacific coast. We will stop in Eugene to visit the
University of Oregon (and investigate their Master's program
in Literary Nonfiction)
and stay a night in Portland. Then we will head further
north to Seattle to visit my friend Carol for a few days.
Then we will strike east from Seattle taking the northern
route across the states (barring extremely poor weather,
cold, snow, or militia men with assault rifles).
We plan to leave San Francisco on February 28. Then whim,
wind, and curiosity will take us wherever we want to go. I
hope to maintain my online journal during the trip.
Details on how to reach me are forthcoming. But for all
of my friends out there, get ready I'm coming. Plus, if
you know of any good places to visit and particularly
places to crash (close friends, favorite aunts or uncles,
former co-workers, friendly Quakers, accomodating
celebrities) please let me know.
YEAR OF THE HORSE
February 12, 2002 was the start of the New Lunar Year (according
to the Chinese calendar). Chinese New Year has always been a
favorite time for me (more so than the Western New Year).
It's a time when I gather some of my favorite people and I
spend the day making homemade dumplings (potstickers) from
scratch. Do I use wonton wrappers from the store, you ask?
Heavens no! I make everything from the flour dumpling skins
to the ground turkey and spinach filling (or near-meat for my
veggie friends). This year I made nearly a hundred dumplings.
It was about five hours of work, which is why I only do this
once a year. It was a fine evening of food and friends.
"This year we celebrate the Year of the Horse. With this Sign
guiding most of our 2002, we can expect a time of independence,
movement and energy. Because Horses love to wander, the year
should be full of exciting trips and voyages. However, we're
not likely to want to stay in the same place long because
we'll continually be on the lookout for greener pastures.
This attitude also applies to our careers; though we'll work
hard, we'll have a tendency to jump from assignment to
assignment, always keeping our eyes open for a more interesting
challenge. In love, we may find relationships stifling, but
at the same time, we'll crave romantic intimacy from our
partners. This contradiction should keep us on our toes! When
we find the right person, however, we're likely to be a loyal,
A more in-depth prediction is at:
I hope the new year brings brightness, good fortune, healing,
and new found strength for everyone. It's also fortuitous that
I am traveling under the sign of the Horse. The energy is
there. The motivation is there. Even the universe agrees with
my new adventure.
A NEW HOPE
I have been re-reading some of my personal journal entries from
1998 right before my move to San Francisco. A lot of the
insecurities are the same: anticipatory anxiety, fear of the
unknown, insecurity about things material. But there are
differences. I was twenty-nine then. I am nearly thirty-two
now. I knew nothing but Maryland then. I know more about the
world now. I had never lived away from 'home' then. I have
learned to make home wherever I am now. I didn't know how to
get what I wanted out of my life then. I understand that
everything I do I must do to honor my life's dreams and goals now.
Pray for me. Hope for me. Dance for me. Sing for me.
Oh, I will still grieve. I will still be sad. I will be homesick
for a new place now. But all in all I know that this is a good
decision for me. It is a good plan. It is a good way to move
ahead in my life. I will wander the Earth like
Kwai Chang Caine
(hell, my new tattoos on the insides of my forearms are like
the tiger and dragon on Caine's arms).
More details to come.
[ i n d e x E D ]
© 2002 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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