The following online journal entries are from May 2002.
THURSDAY. 10:36 AM. May, May, May. It's May already. It's been two full months since I left San Francisco. The ramblings of my recent big update still apply. Nothing much has changed since I last posted.
I'm sick with a hint of the flu. I had a 101 degree fever last night. It was fun. I'm still feeling poorly this morning but better than I did yesterday.
So, today's entry will be rather short. I can't really string much consciousness together this morning. Ah well.
12:32 PM. It's Fever Watch 2002. Well, looks like I need to take some more meds and go to sleep. My fever subsided this morning but looks like it's creeping back. 99.6 degrees. Bleh.
8:13 PM. Fever Watch 2002 continues. Throughout the day I've been hovering somewhere between 99 and 100 degrees. At this moment, I'm at 99.8 degrees. I feel pretty worn out. I'm going to take a couple of cold tablets and head to bed soon. I hate being sick.
FRIDAY. 8:16 AM. Fever Watch 2002 is on its second day! I'm actually down to only 99 degrees. I think a little more Tylenol or something and I'll be good. I did sleep twelve hours last night. I'm not at a hundred percent yet, though.
I have the entire house to myself this weekend. Everyone's going to be out-of-town. So, I'll left to my own devices. I'm probably going to try to move to my father's house (granted I can make myself some room there) so Kate and Skinner can have the house back to themselves. Brooke, the other boarder, finished her internship and will be headed back to Philadelphia. It's time for me to move on; I've been here for two months. Even though both Kate and Skinner have been nothing but kind, I can sense they're wanting to have their house back. Totally understandable.
I was hoping to have heard back from San Francisco State University by now. The letter should be in the mail. It should arrive any day now. It's May for heaven's sake. A NaNoWriMo friend of mine who applied got her letter already; sadly, she was not accepted. If I knew whether or not I was going to SFSU, I could make plans accordingly. Real plans.
Thanks to the folks that responded so openly to my email update. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement. This is what a few people had to say:
Murphy wrote me: "I read your last email, heavy stuff dude, chill out and catch a wave. You east coasters are so uptight. Anyway, life is unpredictable don't let it get you down."
Dustin wrote me: "Anyway, you're the person who told me: 'Don't worry, it will all work out.' So now I'm telling you. It will all work out. Trust me. Just follow your dream. And I don't mean the one about the boy from Hackers. Or the one where you eat pastry until you explode. Pursue your teaching. Call up some people at UM. Make them give you a job."
(Congratulations to Dustin, by the way, who landed a reporting job at a local newspaper in Benicia, California.)
Seth wrote me: "So when you write about losing your compass, I know how you feel. When you wonder what to do next when your previously solid goals writhe and turn to smoke in your hands ... I know. It is frustrating, enraging, exhausting, and can be crushing to know that you need a change but not to what. I don't know about you, but I react like a baby: 'I hate this! I hate that! I want something else! ... No, I don't know what... but I hate this! I hate that!' ... If Maryland offers you a teaching job, how is that not exactly what you want? It also might be a good way to hang around for a year and build rapport with admissions decision-makers in case you decide to re-apply ... So we struggle and wonder and spin our wheels and try to move forward without being pushed. But I think someday we'll look back at these days and think 'glad that's behind me' ... Go where you need to go and do what you need to do. The rest will follow ..."
Peter wrote me: "I remember something my grandmother told me while I was in college. She said that once she lived at college for a year, she took the train back home. On the train, she realized that she didn't quite belong at home any more, but didn't completely belong at school. And so each train ride was an uncomfortable limbo, a bridge over nothingness. Maybe in the same way, you are still in limbo. But I think for you, your goal is not a geographical location. You could be living in Maryland, Kuala Lumpur, or London, and still feel lost in space. Or, you could find your self, and be comfortable living in any one of those places, or permanently traveling ... Basically, I just want you to know that you have been, and always will be, at your core, the same person. Since I met you, I've known who you are: intelligent, thoughtful, comfortable, funny, and calm. You may not think it, but it's true. I find it fascinating, your constant soul-searching, and public airing of it, to boot. It's really the most admirable thing to do in life. But I wanted to remind you that no matter where you go, there you are."
It's definitely food for thought.
SUNDAY. 9:49 AM. I think my fever is finally gone though I'm still feeling out-of-sorts. I need to lay off the cold medicine for a while. It's really affecting my personality. I also think that allergies are exacerbating my symptoms. It's kind of gross. I hope whatever is blooming or producing spores stops soon.
The weekend has been completely and utterly quiet. Part of the silence is due to the fact that I've been sick and haven't been particularly active. Part of the silence is the fact that no one is home and no one has been available to do much.
Friday night, I met up with Shawn, Christine, their daughter Hailey (whom I met for the first time, and Ryan at Ruby Tuesday in Laurel, MD. We had some dinner, chatted, and everyone went home. It was nice to meet Shawn and Christine's daughter finally; she's going to be a firecracker when she gets older.
Last night, I went with Nancy to see Spider-Man. It was a fun ride and a good adaptation of the comic books. Tobey McGuire was a good Peter Parker. (Nancy swoons for Tobey... James Franco is a bit more my style.) It's good to see Marvel finally making some good films, which I attribute to good directors and good scripts and the technology finally catching up to the vision. There was a very small preview for the Hulk, which also looks promising. I had completely forgotten that Ang Lee is directing the film -- should be amazing (look for his doorway framed shots).
So, it's my last day of solitude. I was supposed to use the weekend to move over to my father's house. But, there's been some sort of miscommunication (or lack thereof) and I have not been able to get a hold of him. Either I move in a big rush today or I just take the next few days to do it. Honestly, I don't know what to do. I pretty much feel like I'm an inconvenience no matter where I am either here with Kate and Skinner or over there with my father. He's not exactly jumping to get me situated in his house. I'm pretty sure my step-mother isn't exactly thrilled at the prospect either. I haven't even spent a night there yet and I already feel like I've stayed too long.
I have been very tempted to just buy a plane ticket back to San Francisco. At least, there, I know I have some place to stay where I haven't worn thin my welcome. I may still just do that. I just haven't gotten my blasted letter from SFSU yet. It's becoming nerve-wracking to check the mailbox every day. Of course, today is Sunday, which means there's no post.
I'm convinced that I'll get the letter tomorrow for my birthday.
Ahh, turning thirty-two. I have no plans. I haven't had the opportunity to make any. I've mentioned it to a few people but folks have been super busy. It might just fall under the radar. I just want my stupid letter and to get on with the next phase of my life. Maybe I'll go and get myself a little present.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
MONDAY. 10:44 AM. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Well, folks, I'm officially a year older. It's my birthday and I'm a sprightly thirty-two years of age. Too bad I still have aliens nesting in my chest. Cough. Cough. Phlegm.
I don't know what I have planned for my natal day. I think a jaunt down to Dupont for some dinner and drinks sounds good to me. We'll see what happens.
TUESDAY. 9:41 PM. I'm pretty darn tired. Strange since I didn't do a whole lot today. Though I did move a bunch of my boxes from Kate and Skinner's house to my father's house. All of my worldly possessions are piled up in a corner of the converted garage, which used to be my old bedroom. I was overcome by a sudden sadness like I was leaving a part of me to rest...tomb-like even. I miss my books. My boxes and boxes of books that haven't seen the light of day for over three years. And now the rest of my things are shut-in till who knows when. It's very hard to know that you may not unpack those things for a while. I know they're just things, but I think my phalanx of boxes really represents for me how transient life is right now. I miss having a place of my own.
My birthday was quiet but pleasant. Most of my friends in the area had to work or had other plans. But myself, Kate, and Skinner drove down to Dupont Circle for some Thai food and a coffee at Soho. It was relaxing. Thanks to Kate and Skinner for taking me to dinner.
For my birthday, I bought myself a mobile phone. I know I lose some punk points but I decided that my current homelessness really warranted some reliable means of contacting me. It's pretty neat. I'm still not completely comfortable with the idea of carrying an item that has made much of our culture rude, obnoxious, and entirely more self-involved. But, it fits nicely in my pocket. (And now I really have to find a job.)
I guess I'm going to get ready for bed. Like I said I'm pretty tired. More on the morrow.
WEDNESDAY. 9:55 PM. Well, in a strange shift in fate, I am headed to San Francisco tomorrow morning. I am flying out for a short vacation from my seeming vacation. It will be fun to be back in the City for sometime. Part of the reason I'm headed back is to help my sister with her move to Maryland later this month. I am flying the new airline jetBlue, which has some pretty swell deals on Washington-San Francisco flights.
I'm glad to be taking this jaunt out West. I'm such a jet-setter. Not. But it'll be a fun trip, I hope. Plus I get to belatedly drink-up-a-storm for my birthday at POW on Friday.
THURSDAY. 12:25 PM. I think this is an [ ED pages ] first: I'm writing an entry on an airplane over Colorado right outside of Denver. Of course my watch is still on East Coast time.
So far jetBlue has been pretty cool. The planes are new. The seats are leather (if you can believe that) and each seat has a six-inch flatscreen TV that shows twenty-four channels of DirectTV. I've been watching the Food Network and The Learning Channel for hours now. Too bad there not showing a marathon of Trading Spaces.
So I probably should explain why this sudden flight back West. Basically, I didn't have anywhere to go, to live. Kate and Skinner's wedding is in less than three weeks. They have family coming in to stay at their house. Therefore, to simplify their lives and to give them the space to focus on planning, I needed to vacate. I was intending on staying at my father's house. However, my step-mother decided (and changed her mind and changed her mind again and again) that she didn't want me to stay at the house. My father and I had a very long talk earlier in the week. There is just a lot going on and the "step" issues are pretty thick. I don't think they'll ever be resolved.
I really didn't know where else I could go. So I decided that a little vacation would do me good. I have really missed San Francisco and this trip gives me the chance to refresh my taste buds. Plus, my sister is getting ready to drive across country from the Bay Area to Maryland to go to graduate school. Whether or not she actually needs my help, I'm glad to let my support to her.
I'm staying at my friends Rob and Murphy's house in the Haight. It'll be neat to live even for a short time in a different part of the city. I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks.
SATURDAY. 6:10 PM. One day I won't complain about being tired. I'm still feeling a bit lagged. But I also went out and stayed out a little late last night. I also think stress and the whole lack of a stable life is contributing to my sense of weariness.
I called San Francisco State University yesterday. Basically, I knew I had nothing to lose. I hadn't received my letter yet and I really wanted to know. So I just called up, explained that I had been moving around a lot, and I wanted to know my status. The woman who answered the phone was very polite. She said she'd check for me. After a brief pause, she came back on the phone and said, "I'm sorry it doesn't seem that you were accepted." Ah well.
Today, Skinner called me from Maryland saying my letter arrived. A day too late. But I had him read the letter to me over the phone for actual confirmation. The letter didn't actually mention the increased number of applicants this year. I just wasn't one of the "ones."
So I don't know what to do. You would think that knowing this one final piece, I would be able to formulate my next move. But I'm still lost. I'm still without a clear sense of purpose. That lack is really inconveniencing my life.
I tried to drown my sorrows last night at POW. But I wasn't very successful. Thought it was really good to see folks: Nathan, Tim, Dave, Eric, Roman, Ena, Shamim. It was good to see the POW folks, too. Though there are new people working there that I don't know. Of course, Rob and Murphy were there.
We had a few drinks and chatted. It was a little too loud though. People were pretty tired from a long work week. So we called it an early night. I decided to head up to a party at Dustin's old apartment where his friend Jay was having a birthday bash. The party was pretty jumping. I got to see Dustin, my next door neighbors Josh and Alex, and a lot of the other SF clan. It was good to see Dustin again.
Then I went home and went promptly to bed.
I really don't know what to do. Part of me feels like I should just hop back on a plane for Maryland. I feel like I should go back to Maryland, find a good apartment, get all of my boxes, unpack them, and just start life again. Start stability again.
I really need to figure out what's going on with myself. I'm more lost than I thought I was. Geography isn't my problem. It's me. And if I don't really start manifesting some clear solutions, I will be haunted no matter where I live. I will be unhappy no matter where I am or what city I call home.
The $25,000 question is: how?
MONDAY. 10:26 PM. Well, I just lived through my second earthquake. It happened just a few minutes ago and measured 5.2 on the richter scale and was centered in Gilroy, California (south of San Francisco near San Jose).
The house shook a little like a large truck passing by (even though we were watching TV on the third floor). Then it got stronger and the whole building seemed to rock back and forth for a few seconds.
I knew it was an earthquake as soon as it started. It didn't freak me out as much this time compared to my first experience. Though I still dislike this whole planet moving under me thing.
FRIDAY. 1:16 AM. Late. I just got home from going to my friend Kara's birthday party. Happy birthday to her.
Birth. Life. Death. What a precarious cycle we live in, live through.
I just got an email from my father. He says I can return to Maryland and live at the house. My sister's cat, Nemo, whom I have to shepherd from California to Maryland, can live there, too. In the garage. With me. But I have to make certain concessions. I have to "pretend" in order to keep my step-mother happy. I have to make myself more respectable, more presentable, more worthy in her eyes.
Sounds like the fucking closet to me. It might not be about me being gay. It might be. But it certainly is about my age, my employment or lack thereof, my status, my lack of a significant other, a house with a picket fence, a life of value and commodity.
And you know what? It hurts.
And I can't express right now how much it does. I don't want to go back. I don't want to stay here. I'm so fucking tired of just being no where, I want to disappear.
Am I scared? Yes. More than I can explain right now. Really. There is a certain amount of honesty in pain. I hope this too shall pass.
I need to sleep. Goodnight.
SATURDAY. 1:53 PM. Behold the power of technology -- mobile technology. I'm sitting on the CalTrain about to head down to Menlo Park to visit my sister. She's holding a going-away BBQ. I've been on the train several times already this week. I find the ride pretty relaxing, almost meditative.
I am in a better space, a better mood than Thursday night. I've had a couple of days to recuperate, put up some new defense mechanisms, and shore up old ones. I'm still not particularly happy. And the fact that I cannot really express how depressed I am is probably a sign of the gravity of my current state. I need to go back to therapy.
Curiously (or maybe not so curious) I am harboring a lot of anger right now. Disappointment that has become resentment. In a very short amount of time I've faced a lot of rejection, a number of blows to my confidence. I feel inadequate. I feel unwanted. I feel ultimately broken. But in my usual turn of the knife, I blame myself. It's all about internalization.
So I have been pushing myself to go outside, to leave my turret room, to get out into the sunshine, and to ultimately get outside of my own head. I've been having some moderate success.
I am very angry at the situation at my parent's house. I am hurt and frustrated and indignant at what my father has asked me to do in order to appease my stepmother, in order to keep the peace, in order to maintain appearances, in order to secure the status quo. I have been told in so many words that I need to be more respectable, to act more my age, to act less of the child and more of the man, to pretend to want to help my parent's, to pretend to be interested in helping in my father's business, to pretend that I am responsible and not a free-loader. My father says that this isn't about me being gay, but it is about me being thirty-two with green hair. My father says this isn't about not accepting me for who I am and where I am in my life, but about building a more harmonious situation. Where is the harmony in me pretending to be something I am not. Fuck that. I am angry that my father is complicit in all of this. Where did all of this Asian conservatism come from?
I am angry that in the end I may have to play along anyway because I have no recourse, no resources. I am angry at anyone who tells me to suck it up and play nice at my parent's house. I am angry that I don't have a job, that I'm not going back to graduate school this year, that I don't have relationship to lean on, that I am sometimes no more than a grown child.
But this is today. Tomorrow will be different. The next day will be different still.
I went down to Alenda's yesterday to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. I enjoyed the movie. It was definitely better than Episode One. But I think the move lacked enough to keep it short of amazing. Lucas is just not a very good director and certainly not a great screenwriter. The ideas are there. The vision is there. The technology and the money are there. But he needs to use that vision and that wealth to bring in people to augment the big picture. I think all of the principals were good. Hayden Christensen managed some convincing dark looks (though he whines just as well as Mark Hammill). Christopher Lee was sufficiently villanous (though the rhyme with Saruman is an interesting intertexuality). But how the hell does Lucas pick character names? Dooku? Come on! Let's get serious, please. The visuals were stunning though I think I am jaded at this point. The battles seemed lackluster, predictable, expected. Though I must say that the movie is worth Yoda's incredibly agile (and incongruously funny) battle. He's a scary little green muppet (alas, a CGI muppet). I am glad to have seen the film. Again, it is all set up. There is little resolution, just potential. (And Lucas should not write love stories.)
After the movie, I trained it back up to the City and went down to POW for a little bit. I was hoping that a few people would pop down for my last weekend in San Francisco. Unfortunately, no one I expected showed up. However, I did run into a guy named Mitch, whom I met online at gay.com. Plus, I got to talk to Jennifer, one of the co-owners of POW, for a bit and she told me that I needed to keep remembering that things are good now, that things may be great tomorrow. Her attitude is that the world is my oyster. The rejection letters, the evil stepmothers, the unemployment are all just passing. I appreciated her enthusiasm and her empathy and her entire lack of pity.
I have to take all of the support and the kind words and the well-wishing in my life and transform them into something self- sustaining. I have to be able to make myself happy. I think a lot of the people in my life are stymied by my depression, they're at a loss as to what to do. I think as long as they don't give up on me, continue to treat me with respect and prescience, and just keep talking then the rest is up to me.
I am at a narrow crossroads. People ask me what is it that will make me happy? What is it that I want to do? I know what I want to do. I know what what will make me happy. But I just don't have a way to get there just yet. It's a short circuit. I can see the endgame but not the strategy to get there. Furthermore, I'm ardently unwilling to bide my time, to pay any more dues, to climb any more ladders, to work some shit job till I get to where I want to go. I deserve to be happy, to be content, to be participating in my life's work now. I want support in that, recognition in that, unconditional love for my dreams.
Rock and a sharp place, anyone?
I am not off my suicide watch yet. The vision quest is hardly over. There are still demons to sweat out, to cast out, to name out loud. But I have glimpses of the sun. I know the light at the end of the tunnel is there though I might not be able to see it. Maybe I'm too afraid to open my eyes? But I imagine that the very fact that I wake up in the morning, that I continue to write these entries, that I continue to try to engage people and talk about my struggles, that I can say I am trying means that there is hope.
THURSDAY. 3:52 PM. Jet lag is evil.
I left San Francisco on Tuesday night right after the Buffy season finale (yay, Giles!) and flew out of Oakland International Airport at 11:55 PM. I arrived at Dulles around 7:30 AM the next day. So, I am back in Maryland.
It's for the time being at least.
I'm staying at my father's house and even only a day into being back, I'm already having drama with my stepmother. It's frustrating as hell and makes me feel really unwelcome. I'm crashing in the converted garage (which used to be my bedroom) after clearing out a space large enough for a mattress. She doesn't care for that. I watched the final live episode of Rosie yesterday. She didn't like me watching TV or sitting in her chair. I was shepherding my sister's cat Nemo from California to Maryland. He had to stay with me in the garage until I could take him over to Alenda's friend's house. She didn't like the cat being in the house. Everytime I saw her and said hello, she ignored me, didn't look at me, and said nothing back. When my parents had dinner, they didn't let me know or ask me to join them. It's been fun.
My father's probably getting a lot of heat. He's actually suggested that I get an apartment and he'll pay for it while I look for a job. Crazy.
I don't know what I'm going to do yet. The rents have increased in the area since I left. I guess DC is booming. And though I am happy that my father is willing to buy my forgiveness and cooperation, I don't know if getting into a one bedroom right now without some sort of idea of income might be a bad decision. I don't know. It might happen. Of course, if I knew of a good roommate situation, it would be more practical and economical. I have done some sublet searches but haven't really come up with anything affordable or in the right place.
I just don't know if I want to live here. I really don't.
I am just overwhelmed.
Maybe if I didn't feel like such a loser, things would go better.
MONDAY. 10:44 PM. I am very tired. The stress of my circumstances and living situation is really getting to me. Each day is another struggle. Each day is another thorn in the side, another layer to the melodrama. I'm pretty much sick of it all.
If you've tuned in late, I'm talking about my stepmother (or the stepmonster as some of my friends like to say). Today was a change in her normal passive aggressive, cold-shoulder routine. She actually said a few sentences to me. I was working on some stuff for my father on his computer, which required me to get online. Unfortunately, she uses his dialup account (and has often read his email in the process) to email and such. If she is online while I log on, I knock her offline and vice versa. So, today, I interrupted her and she came downstairs to tell me to stay offline. I told her I was doing work for my father and she says that what I'm doing is not working. I begged to differ. Then she said not to live here any more. To which I replied that I had lived in the house long before she had. She simply went upstairs.
Of course, at lunch when my father came home, she bad mouthed me to him. I could hear them arguing in the kitchen. (Note: I have had one meal at my father's house and it was the day I arrived. Since then I have not been invited even to share in the leftovers.)
I have found a possible apartment. It's a one bedroom. It's in the apartment community I had lived in before I moved to San Francisco. It's $900 a month. And I have misgivings of committing to a year lease without even the slightest prospect of a job. It makes me deeply nervous. But my father is really pushing me to leave the house. And the more he wants me out, the more frustrated and angry I get.
I will apply for the apartment. With his help, I should get it. But I can't move in till June 1. I will still have to survive five more days of hell.
I had a good, long weekend. Kate and Skinner got married this past Saturday. Congratulations to them! I spent Friday and Saturday doing wedding things. I was one of the groomsmen. I had fun. The rehearsal dinner was fun. The wedding was beautiful and smooth. Everyone looked great. The groomsmen wore kilts and formal jackets. I will get more pictures up as soon as I get them. I got to meet a lot of people I had never met before including many of Skinner's college friends.
Sunday, I spent recovering from the wedding and decompressing. I was back in the lion's den. I hung out with Meredith and Kelle. We watched movies and had Chinese food. It was fun and relaxing.
So, today was pretty darn quiet. Memorial Day. I went up to my friend Stephanie's house for a little BBQ. Then I came home and hid myself in the garage. Now it's late and I'm doing laundry after my father and the beast have gone to bed.
My sister called me today. She's in Missouri now staying with a friend in St. Louis. She said she's going to try to make it from St. Louis all the way to Maryland tomorrow. That's excellent. It'll be good to have her nearby.
Well, I think I'm going to go get the rest of my laundry done and then go to bed.
© 2002 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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