The following online journal entries are from March 2004.
WEDNESDAY. 11:02 PM. I am desperate to get an entry in this month. At least. One. I'm only asking one. I've just been so preoccupied with life at school, life at work, and general life beyond (outside? apart?) my web journal that I haven't had the time, energy, gumption, nor focus to put any words to screen. But, tonight, come hell or high water, I'm going to write. Write. Write. Waffle about stuff. And write.
I don't even know where to begin, really. My life consists mainly of getting up, going to school, working at the Division of Letters and Sciences, some days teaching, some days going to classes, reading, coming home, reading some more, going to sleep, and then getting up the next day to lather, rinse, and repeat. It's not a bad schedule. The routine is a good thing. But I'm in the sixth week of the semester and I'm already feeling a bit worn around the edges.
What have been up to since my last substantial entry?
• Classes have me pinned to the mat a lot of the time. But they're going well. I'm barely keeping up with the reading. Though I've noticed that my ability to get all the reading done is slowly slipping. At the start of the semester, I was reading everything that was required by the syllabus. Then that started dropping to mostly reading everything. Now it's down to about half to two-thirds to three-quarters depending on how dense the stuff is. I feel bad about it. I know it's just a part of the reality of graduate school. But sometimes I get peeved after cramming a 300-page book into my brain only to go to class and talk about less than ten pages for two and a half hours. But, overall, it's good.
• In the past few weeks, I read George Chauncey's Gay New York, a history of queer men in New York City before the World Wars. It's thick, but a good read. My seminar was required to see him speak on campus. Chauncey visited campus in February to give a talk as part of the LGBT Studies speakers series on "Queering Citizenship" (the very title of my grad seminar). His talk was entitled "Lawrence v. Texas: Sexual Identity/Politics in the 20th Century." It was very good. Chauncey really warned the LGBT community about becoming too complacent particularly in light of the crazy stuff going on in the country. I agree wholeheartedly.
• Congratulations to David and Mark. I don't know them personally. Though I did see David once on an SF bus and correspond with him a couple of times via email. I've read his blog when I moved to SF and continue to do so whilst I am away.
• I have been going to the coffee house entirely too much. I basically go every Thursday. Lately, I've been Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I guess I just have no social life to speak of and just want to be someplace, around some people. I've managed to make some pretty cool College Perk friends. Shout outs to Joe (we are close in age and discovered went to high school together and never knew it) and Chrissy (who also went to my high school but much later) and Jess (from my digital studies class) and Kit (history graduate student extraordinaire) and Aaron (a former student) and many more whom I'm sure I'll mention at some point. Since I haven't been able to get into the city much, going to CP offers me the chance to be in a neat place, around neat people, and to get good coffee (or tea).
• Work at Letters and Sciences is going very well. I have been loosed upon the student population. I started seeing students a couple of weeks ago. The first week of advising was pretty surreal, terrifying in a way, but exciting. I really am enjoying this side of the desk, this aspect of university life. I like seeing where students are going (though sometimes they don't really have a clue), and I like being able to offer them suggestions, advice, nudges, and support. I've seen probably about forty or so students thus far out of a caseload of over a hundred. I like my office (though it still needs decorating) and I like my office mates. It's very relaxed, very supportive, very funny, and very smart. L&S takes quite a bit of my on campus time and energy. But I'm glad I have the job and the opportunity to learn a new skill base.
• I have done a number of speakers bureaus already this semester. They've been great experiences. I hope to get to do a few more in the next couple of months. In fact, I am applying for a scholarship sponsored by the LGBT Equity office and the LGBT alumni group, Lambda Pride. The scholarship is for an undergraduate or graduate student doing LGBT education, community work, and advocacy. It's for $1,000. I'd really like to get the honor (and the money can go to buying a brand new computer).
• Teaching has been all right. My one section of 101 students has been a little slow on the uptake. I don't know if it's because they're second semester or because the class is at two in the afternoon or because many of them are not freshmen, but the class hasn't quite taken the bait and hooked in. I hope they get their act together soon. I like the group, but they could be so much more enthusiastic, proactive, and attentive.
• This past weekend I actually made it into the city. I had reason and I forced myself to get out of the ghetto-burbs even for just a few hours. Saturday night, I went down to Dupont Circle. I had a coffee at Soho Tea & Coffee (P & 22nd). Then I went up the block to Mimi's American Bistro, where the waiters sing. It's kind of like dinner musical theatre except there's no stage or props or costumes. I met up with a bunch of people to celebrate my friend from school Emily's birthday; there were a couple of people from UMCP, Jessica and Becky, as well as a knot of Emily's fabulously cute gay male friends. It was a nice evening. Sunday night, I drove back into the city to Nancy's apartment. I hadn't seen Nancy in months. She was having a Oscar's gathering. It was a small, intimate affair with drinks and nibbly things. It was very relaxed. It was good to see her and Meghan and Jenn and other folks. I couldn't stay for the whole Academy Awards shebang, though.
• The past couple of days have been kind of stressful. On Monday, my sister's boyfriend Brian was admitted to the hospital. He had not been feeling well for a while and particularly bad over the weekend. When I saw him and Alenda this past Saturday, Brian looked pretty pale and very thin and worn out. My sister made him go see a doctor on Monday. Turns out, he has diabetes. Brian was admitted immediately. His blood was in severe ketoacidosis and needed immediate hydration and insulin. He was severely dehydrated, his blood was extremely acidic (the doctor said he was pickling himself), and he had lost an incredible amount of weight of the past months. Ketoacidosis is related to ketosis, the blood chemistry "state" required for weight loss while on the Atkins diet. Basically, Brian's body was eating itself because it thought it was starving. Alenda's doing all right, and Brian is now in much better shape. Brian's mother flew out from California. He's getting good care and is slowly learning about living with a manageable disease. I wish him a swift recovery and the best of health and luck.
• I am newly obsessed with Orkut. Or Chad Michael Murray. And I hate to admit another guilty pleasure, but I really am liking the writing and repartee of Gilmore Girls. What can I say, I'm a WB slut. Of course, I still love my Queer Eye. Can't seem to get enough of chocolate milk. Oh, my LiveJournal is fun, too.
It's been a crazy past few weeks.
I am just tired. I have a lot to do. And I'm trying to make sure that I do some fun things, some Ed things, while working and going to school. I know it's early to say, but I will be glad when the semester is over.
SATURDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Josh Jones!
WEDNESDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Christopher! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
SUNDAY. 9:00 PM. I can't stop trying to cough up a lung. I've been feeling pretty crappy the last week or so. I think it's mostly allergies. I've had sinus pressure and headachiness all week plus throat scratchiness. The sinus stuff is slowly fading and moving south into my chest. Now I'm congested and coughy. I'm hoping that the weather warms up, dries up, and I can get back to normal.
Life has been pretty darn busy. School and work have got me by both arms and are dragging me through the hours, the days, and the weeks. But I can't complain too much. For the most part, I'm fine (save for this respiratory affliction). Of course I'm totally ready for the semester to be over and done.
• At least it's officially spring or as the wicca call it, Ostara.
• Classes are good. Busy, but good. My cup is full and runneth over with reading. I finally finished my short piece for my creative nonfiction writing workshop called "Squirrels 101: 101 Facts About Squirrels." It was one of the hardest things I've had to write in a long while, and I thought my seminar papers from last semester were difficult. "Squirrels" is the first creative writing I've had to do for school in many, many years, and it's for one of my favorite professors Michael Olmert, who has won two writing Emmys for his work with the Discovery Channel. I guess the performance anxiety was high. But I finished it (two weeks late) and Olmert said it was a "great paper" and proclaimed, "But you get my point: you're BACK." My other classes are going well. Busy, busy. I've been posting a lot to my digital studies blog. We've been talking about cybernetics, cybords, posthumans, William Gibson, databases, MUDs, and MOOs as narrative. On the other hand, my queering citizenship seminar has been pretty interesting -- we're dipping into issues of race and LGBT stuff. I went to a very informative lecture called "Straight Black Studies" by Dwight McBride, a professor of African American Studies and English at Northwestern University.
• I applied for an LGBT Scholarship sponsored by University of Maryland's Office of LGBT Equity and Lambda Pride, UM's LGBT Alumni group. I had to write a personal statement about my work in LGBT advocacy and community leadership, submit a transcript, and get two letters of recommendation. The scholarship is a sizable $1,000. If I get it, I am going to buy a new computer.
• Work has been busy and very interesting. Advising students is definitely a different animal from teaching. I am learning a lot about students, about their motivations (or lack thereof), their interests, and their struggles. Life at the office is good and I am surrounded by fun, smart people.
• Teaching has been all right. I had to be "Mean Ed" this past week or so. I've given a quiz, which most of my students failed. I've been a hard ass about everything. I've graded all of their second papers. I've turned in their midterm grades (which should be a wake-up call). And I've basically told the class that they need to shape up or they're in for a rude end of the semester.
• Two weekends ago, the first weekend in March, I went to a party in west Hyattsville (in the same area that I live but in a slightly nicer neighborhood). I was invited by a couple I met at the coffee house -- Anne and Hunter. It was a party at their friends' group house. Little did I know that I would be walking into a party of...mathematics graduate students. It was fun, different, strange, curious, manic, and titallating. Math grads are an interesting bunch. It was mostly men. There were a handful of women and a couple of gay guys. The humor was mostly off-color, occasionally riske, and sometimes funnily offensive (think South Park). Straight men continue to astound me by the ways they flirt with homoeroticism, have a good time at it, and then run screaming to reassert their masculinity (though not necessarily their heterosexuality). Case in point: a bunch of the men talked about "gay for pay" throughout the whole night, propositioning one another for sex, and doing the teasing thing. All of it culminated in a big arm wrestling match. Too funny. Of course, all the while, I had conversations about the study of topology. I am glad I went even though I barely knew any of the people (including the two that invited me). It was fun. It's all part of my crusade to expand my social circle and to meet more like-minded people.
• Last weekend, March 13, I went down to Nation for "I Love the 80s" night. I managed to con a few people into going with me. Ryan, Tina, Shawn, Jesse, Odie, and Greg braved the Saturday night crowd. It was a fun evening. I needed to do something that was about my interests, about my needs. Ultimately, I wanted to do something totally gay. LGBT scholarship is great and wonderful, but sometimes a boy has got to dance and ogle and flirt and make-out (alas there was none of the latter). I was hoping to get a bit more action, but I guess I can't complain. It was good to go out. It was good to go to the club and see Vickie. And it was fun to get my drink on (though I think I'm getting too old or too out of practice for boozing it up too heavily). Thanks to Greg for being the DD and driving.
• This past Friday night, I went to a party in Laurel (the esteemed townhouse was called "Stangri-la") at the invitation of Jess, who I have digital studies with and who shares in the coffee house obsession. It was a birthday party for her friend John and in part for her. Happy birthday to Jess (cause today is actually her birthday)! It was an interesting evening. Like the math grads, most of Jess's friends are computer nerds and gaming geeks and video gamers. The house has a very straight nerd vibe and decor complete with computers in the living room, a big TV, and an altar to console game systems. People drank. People talked. There was a webcam and IRC. People played Dance Dance Revolution...a lot. I played a round of "beer pong." I watched people smoke cloves. I had fun even though I was feeling poorly. Again, no action for Ed though I did get to pet a cute Army boy's arm where he had a big tattoo of cthulhu. Thanks Jess for the invite!
• I am now on spring break. I have a week off of classes. But I have to work on Wednesday and Thursday. Plus I have reading to do and research for upcoming papers. I'm going to try to enjoy the time. Get better. Have a little fun. Clean the house. Maybe even do a bit of writing.
That's all for now. I hate coughing. More later.
SATURDAY. 10:40 PM. The time reminds me that I have to do my taxes. Bleh. I actually don't have much to do. Fill out one form. I can get away with the 1040EZ. I should get money back. Bam. Done. I guess I'll get that off my to-do list tomorrow.
Happy birthday to Brian, Alenda's boyfriend. I just got back from dinner with Alenda and Brian. We went to Franklin's. Good food. Then we stopped in at College Perk. Good coffee. I got to see Chrissy and Alice. Now I'm back home and ready to just have a quiet evening. I have reading to do, anyway.
We were supposed to go out with a bunch of people for Skinner's birthday (and by extention Brian's) up to Medieval Times. Alas, the show was sold out for tonight. So, we decided to do our own thing. Most of the gang went out to dinner and then to the movies. I didn't feel like watching a movie.
It's now the last couple of days of spring break. I spent most of the past week just hanging out (spending way too much time at the coffee house). At least the weather's turning more and more spring-like. I played tennis with my sister on Tuesday afternoon. I had to work Wednesday and Thursday mornings; it was super quiet at the office. I went to see my friend Scott's new house, which he just bought and is now trying to fix up. Today, the day was gorgeous though it started rainy. I ran Archaea today. It was really nice being outside. Cool. Breezy. Sunny. I'm sure the cherry blossoms are popping and the 17-year cicadas are chomping at the bit to come out (I remember the last time they were around; giant, buzzy, glassy-winged critters everywhere -- and I mean everywhere).
Now, I have to gear up to go back to classes. Overall, break was pretty quiet, pretty laid back. I didn't do half as much as I would've liked to have accomplished. But I did read a pretty cool novel for my digital studies class called The Bug by Ellen Ullman. It's about programming, programmers, the 1980s, silicon valley, life, madness, and the pursuit of solutions, personal meaning, and love. Now I've got to get a bunch of other reading done, start on my short digital studies paper, and start on my long piece for my creative nonfiction class.
The second half of the semester is going to be as crazy if not crazier than the first half.
I guess I should go and enjoy what time off I have.
Goodnight for now.
MONDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Skinner! Happy birthday to Seth, whom I haven't talked to in a long while...I should probably send him an e-card or something. Anyway, happy birthday to them both!
© 2004 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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