The following online journal entries are from June 2002.
MONDAY. 9:08 PM. Today is my mother's birthday. And in the spirit of coincidences and miracles, she gave me a wonderful present instead: I got a job offer from University of Maryland at College Park. I will be teaching Freshman Writing again this coming fall. Three sections if I have my druthers. Three sections! I am so excited and can't wait for the first day of classes this fall.
After ten long months of unemployment, I finally have a job. More importantly, it's exactly what I want to be doing. I still need to find something small, part-time to supplement my enormous teacher salary. But I'm bound to get some freelance work or something. Maybe I'll learn to bartend.
I am incredibly elated for once. It's been a long while since this flavor of endorphin has coursed through my veins. It's a good, good feeling.
More news later.
WEDNESDAY. 11:28 AM. Just a quick update: I have been assigned my three sections of English 101 at the University of Maryland. The contract is all worked up and I'm set for the fall. I'm teaching Tuesday/Thursday from 9:30 AM straight through till 2 PM. I've done it before. It'll be exhausting, but fun. Now, I have to dig up my syllabus and figure out what books I'm going to require. Oi, I need my own space, my own desk, and my computer set up again. One day soon.
FRIDAY. 11:53 AM. I am sitting in my sister's new apartment in the living room while two strapping young men rip out the air conditioning unit to put in a new one. One might be tempted to get "ideas." They're pretty cute (gotta love blue collar boys). Unfortunately, I would've rather seen then a week ago when the weather was boiling hot and the apartment a sauna. But last night we had some pretty impressive thunderstorms (one of the saving graces of Maryland life) that blew in some much cooler air. It's actually chilly in the apartment now. Better late than never, I guess.
I have successfully made the transition from my dad's house to my sister's. I am pretty sick of living out of my suitcase. My sister took an apartment in the community where I used to live right before I moved to San Francisco. In fact, her unit is right across the hall from my old apartment. I was going to take a two bedroom in the same complex (they were running a great deal) but I just really didn't feel it was the right thing for me to do. I didn't want to sign a year lease.
I have decided to live in my old house, the Calverton house; it's the house I lived in from third to tenth grade. I rented it from my father when I started grad school and lived there for a couple of years. Using the money my mother left me, I lived in the house, took care of the house, and furnished the house. It is the one place where I feel the most at home. It reminds me a great deal of my mother. I had so much fun there. I think of my childhood. I think of my first home away from home. I think of my first boyfriend. I think of my first cat, Ceti. I think of all the hours I spent hanging out with friends, gaming in the basement in front of the fireplace, and grading papers in the kitchen.
So, if I'm going to stay in Maryland, I might as well live where I want to live. My father agrees. My sister agrees. And my friends think it's a great idea (I think they look forward to gaming nights in the Calverton house as much as I do). But I have to wait two months. I cannot move in till August 1. So as to not be too much like an evil San Franciscan landlord, we've given the current tenants sixty days notice. I feel a little bad about displacing someone, but the process seems amicable.
In total, I will have spent five months living from friend's house to friend's house, from family to family. I am eager to have a place of my own, to have a permanent address again. I want to unpack. I want to put away my suitcases. I want to see my things, my books, my personal items.
I'm still not happy. I think being a vagabond just isn't my style. I hope as things continue to fall into place, I'll feel more at ease. I don't really know what else to do or say. I guess I'll go back to watching the repair boys.
P.S. Create yourself as a South Park character.
MONDAY. 9:12 AM. June is half over. Only six more weeks before I get to move into my own place. In a couple of weeks, Alenda's boyfriend Brian is driving out from California with his stuff and his car. Once he moves in, the apartment will seem a little fuller. I'm not exactly sure what the plan will be. My sister has said that it will be all right for me to stay until I can move into the Calverton house. But I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of being in their space since they haven't really spent any time alone in their new apartment yet. I guess we'll see how it plays out.
Over this past weekend, I went with a bunch of folks to my friend Meredith's mother's house in Pennsylvania. It was a nice, quiet weekend. Kate and Skinner drove us up. I got to hang out with a guy named Jesse, who just joined my Tellings group. A second carload brought my friend Ryan, Owen, Scott L. and his fiancee Steph. Scott ran a live-action Cthulhu game. I had run one years back in the same house. Overall, the weekend was fun. It was good to get out of Maryland for a while and to give my sister some alone time.
While in Pennsylvania, I caught a little bit of the World Cup, a game between Ireland and Spain. Can you say cute shavy-headed Irish soccer boys? Shay Given, the Newcastle United goalie, definitely caught my eye. Some of his mates aren't too bad to look at either.
WEDNESDAY. 2:24 PM. I wish to give my best wishes and deepest sympathies to my friends Christopher and Scott Morrison, whose father passed away this past Sunday. My condolences also go out to their mother and their friends and family. Healing and peace to them all.
I just got back from the funeral. The ceremony was longer than I had expected but it was dignified and sincere. Scott performed a touching elegy on a marimba, the sound was ethereal in the high-ceilinged space of St. John's in Silver Spring. Christopher gave an emotional and funny and well-spoken speech in memory of his father.
It is my third funeral. My first being my own mother's. The second being my friend Nick's from early last year. It still isn't an easy thing. I guess it should never be. But I think I am slowly learning that grieving is healthy and that healing does eventually come. I hadn't wanted to go to the funeral at first. But Scott and Christopher were there in 1993 when my mother died. I wanted to show the same support, the same solidarity. I knew that I would meet people I hadn't seen in a very long time -- friends from high school or from before I moved out to San Francisco. It was like dreading going to a reunion. But I went anyway. I had to go. Lastly, I was afraid of going near all those emotions of sadness, loss, and pain associated with my mother's death. But I knew that confronting some of that fear was a good thing, a necessary thing.
I still think that we as a culture need desperately to learn about death, to honor death as part of life, and to talk about it openly, unashamedly, and boldly. I know it would change how we live our lives. I know it would change how we mourn our dead. I know it would change how we see ourselves in our families, in our communities, in the world, in the bigger picture.
I am a different person today. The funeral reminded me of that. Meeting Mrs. Morrison after so many years reminded me of that. Seeing my friend Janell and sharing a car ride up to the cemetery reminded me of that. Watching Scott play with his almost-three-year-old daughter reminded me of how things have changed -- mostly for the better.
I am deeply saddened that Samuel McCorkle Morrison, Jr. (1939-2002) is gone. He will no longer be father, husband, friend, and peer in the corporeal sense. But I know and I hope to encourage anyone who has lost someone that death is the firmest of milestones in life. For such an abstract concept in our society, it is very real, solid, unchanging, certain. Death affirms life, reminds us to be alert, challenges us to be present, and commands us to waste little.
Of course all of this verbage is easy to spill in the moment. But I am honestly trying to live in full knowledge of my own talk. And I will be fortunate to have people in my life that will help me along the way. I know Scott and Christopher have those kinds of people in their lives and I know that their father was one of them. Even in memory, in spirit, he will continue to guide them and guard them. That fact gives me great joy.
I, myself, am longing for the same confidence. The past few weeks have been difficult. The homelessness and the lack of personal space continues to be wearisome. But I am using the time to sift through some of my past. I can't really explain what it is exactly I am going through. I keep trying but the words just don't have a good hold on the feelings. So I keep working at it, unpacking little bits of history.
Life is all about rhyming, about magical coincidences. The cemetery where Scott and Christopher's father is to be buried is the one where my mother is buried. In a way, the whole experience led me back to her both emotionally and physically. A goodly chunk of what I'm sorting through is about my mother, about my relationship with her, and about her death. There are things I think I would've had liked to have worked out with her face to face and I feel a bit cheated, a bit angry that I didn't have that opportunity. But I'm learning to communicate those things now. I'm learning to say and let go. It is by no means easy. But I hope for my sake the work gets done.
I am in an incredibly sensitive space right now. Because I have no home or room with a door to shut myself in or a firm idea of what I want to do with my life, I think I can only retreat into my own head. And guess what? I'm finding my head and my heart to be a bit crowded and uncomfortable. Since I do not have the regular routines of life to keep me distracted -- I am my only entertainment, I am my only companion -- I have to live totally in my own skin. It drives me crazy certainly. I hate it some of the time. But I think the reason I hate it is because there are so many sore spots, so many neglected areas, so many regrets. So, I'm cleaning house. One white elephant at a time.
It's about fucking time.
© 2002 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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