The following online journal entries are from September 2004.\
MONDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Rob! Happy birthday to Peter!
TUESDAY. 7:13 PM. I haven't quite gotten the routine down yet. But the first week of school is done. Now in week two. Eventually, I'll settle into the ebbs and flows of work, classes, teaching, grading, reading, and writing. Right now, my internal clock still hasn't quite got everything figured out. And, fortunately, there isn't a whole lot of work to worry about. I do have to get started on a couple of things that require a bit more self-motivation than I have right now.
Last week was alright. Students seem fair to midland. They're still a little quiet, a little hesitant. Some of them seem pleased to be in my class, though they're already concerned about the amount of work I assign. The two class blogs, one for ENGL101 and the other for UNIV101, are starting to see some life. I really do like being in the classroom. I like having something to say and to have people listen, understand, and nod their heads or light up their eyes when they get a point. (Of course, as soon as the grading comes around, I'll probably be moaning and groaning.)
My own classes are all right so far. Dr. Olmert has commandeered "ENGL454: Modern Drama" and turned it into a class solely about "Modern British Drama." It's interesting to be in a class with undergraduates, nearly fifty of them (though my seminar over the summer was a mixed class). We're reading bunches (the syllabus is extremely ambitious): Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett, Brian Friel, Caryl Churchill, Charlotte Jones, Harold Pinter, and others. I don't think we're going to get through it all, but it will certainly be fun to try. It's funny to watch Olmert teach undergrads, and it's funnier to realize how much of my own style, schtick, tropes, and tricks are borrowed directly from him. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?
My graduate seminar, "ENGL709A: Arthurian Legend" met for the first time last Thursday. Dr. Flieger is wonderful, insightful, and patient. The class is full to the brim. So many people are always trying to get into her classes. There's quite a bit of reading, too. The class will be an interesting mix of history and myth, literature and legend. We're starting with the barely digestable Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Mabinogion. Then there's a whole series of medieval French texts by Chretien de Troyes, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, the Alliterative Morte Arthur, and who could forget the works of Malory. It's going to be an interesting semester.
In addition, I am supposed to be coming up with a topic for an independent study with Dr. Flieger. Since she didn't offer a graduate level class on Tolkien, I figured I'd better take matters into my own hands. I wanted to do something with her before I finished my MA. I have a ton of books on my shelf that I need to start on, get through. I have a ton of journal articles that I dug out of the library to start on, get through. Eventually, I'll come up with a paper topic and get that ball rolling. Plus, I have my first conference coming up in October. I've joined the Society for LIterature and Science, I've registered for their annual meeting (this year in Durham, NC), and I've booked my hotel room. Now I just have to get my "Birth of a Cyberqueer Manifesto" paper I wrote last semester whipped into shape: pared down to a 10-15 minute talk and tailored to the needs, themes, and purpose of the conference. I have to turn in my final title and short abstract by the start of next week. Craziness.
I'm hoping that this year will be a good one. I'm a fancy "second year" student now. I'm supposed to be one of the big kids around campus (though I've already been here for decades). I'm happy that some of my school friendships are deepening. I do miss the guys that graduated, though. And from what I hear most of the incoming class are women; there are hardly any men in our department this year. The story of my life. Heh. Classes are fine thus far. Teaching is fine thus far. Work is calmed down now. So, I'm good (looking forward to better).
Then there's the whole deal about thinking about, figuring out, applying to Ph.D. programs. Cripes. I'm not ready to deal -- at all -- I'll start next week (maybe next month), though many applications are due mid-December.
The long weekend was pretty chill. Quiet. Uneventful. Nearly boring. Friday, I was a slug. Saturday, I was a slug. I did try to get out a little bit. But nothing seemed to be what I wanted to do. I stopped in at College Perk a couple of times to find the stay lackluster; there were new people working, whom I didn't know, and usually musicians playing way too loud. I did get to see former barista Noah for a little while, who is now enjoying the high-life as a graduate student at SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York (well, sort of upstate). Noah looks good, slimmed, happier. Grad school is treating him well, and I'm glad he's doing well.
Sunday, I was a slug. I did a little bit of reading. Then I gussied myself up and headed into the city for Taint. Shawn was supposed to hang out with me, but bailed. Skinner had mentioned going with me, but also decided otherwise. So, I was left to my own amusement. I had fun the last time I went on July 4 weekend. I took the metro down. I stopped in at my friends Nicole and Dana's housewarming party for a couple of hours. I love their house. There was good food. There was a little drink. People were nice. I met up with Nancy there. Afterward, we walked over to Taint at DC9. I had a fun night. Jess, Meghan, Amy, and Brandi from school came out. Brandi's friend Jonathan partook. I met up with a bunch of Guerilla Queer Bar and Friendster folks. It was a good night. The music was good. The drink was good. The dancing was good. The drag queen from Philly named Enya Buttocks doing a politically relevant rendition of Salt 'n Pepa's "Push It" called "Bush It" was okay, curious, and spirited. Though there was a fair share of friendly hugs, petting, and dirty dancing going round, I didn't hit pay dirt on the meeting the man front. Though, rumors have it that others in the party did. I had a good time anyway, and I got to rub elbows with new people. The evening came to an end eventually. Brandi, whom forever shall be crowned Our Lady of Perpetual Designated Driving, gave me a ride home. (Thank you, thank you, thank you to her!) My little blue Saturn had to spend the night in the metro parking lot.
Sunday, I was a slug. Shawn was supposed to come by and hang out but bailed. I ended up getting picked up by Jesse and we both went over to Shawn's for a Labor Day BBQ. We ate, chatted, talked about the Tellings revision. It was very quiet, very chill. Afterward, Jesse was kind enough to drop me at my car. And I went home, read, and went to sleep early.
Weekend (of slugging) done.
SATURDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Shawn!
FRIDAY. 4:10 PM. A whirlwind week. A few remarkable moments. The rest is mostly par for the course, but busy. I have just been trying to keep up with my schedule and adjust to the rhythms of school. I'm not sure I'm doing such a good job because I find myself constantly flagging. I'm usually tired by the end of the day. I feel distracted. I haven't been sleeping entirely well. Things are good, but I feel off. I think the change in weather is partly to blame (or at least a factor). Autumn is showing signs, and it has been a little cooler (particularly in the morning) and grey a lot.
Last weekend, I ventured into uncharted territory. My friend Bailey invited me to the 2004 Atlantic Stampede Gay Rodeo. I have a) never been to a rodeo and b) much less a gay one. Last Friday, I drove down with Bailey and her friend April to the Capitol Hill Hyatt, where the rodeo was holding its registration and extra-rodeo events. Bailey was really excited. She loves the rodeo and, it turns out, she's pretty darn good at it. She describes going to rodeo like Christmas morning. When we got to the hotel and walked inside, there were cowboy hats, bold striped shirts, jeans, and cowboy boots everywhere. And a few drag queens, too. I felt a little like a fish out of water, but it was fun, fascinating, and definitely a new experience. I couldn't help but wonder what the "regular" tourists staying at the hotel were thinking seeing all manner of queer cowboys and cowgirls wandering around. Bailey got registered. Then we went to the "Stampede Jamboree," which was basically a big dance. There were a ton of people two-stepping, line-dancing, drinking, hanging out, performing, carousing. I felt even more out of place. But people were friendly. The atmosphere was relaxed. The boys were cute. Two-stepping is vaguely reminiscent of waltzing. It's country-western ballroom dancing. Everyone is paired up, step-step-stepping, turning, gliding, and moving in a slow wide circle around the dancefloor. It's kind of like the motion of a rollerskating rink only without the skates. I just watched, hung out. I did run into my friend Stephanie, who was there for the fun of it. All in all, I had a good time (even though no cowboys wanted to chase this mohawk).
Saturday day, my friend Amy from school picked me up in the morning. We went and picked Cate up. Then the three of us headed up to the rodeo itself, which was being held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. It was a good day. The weather wasn't too hot. We sat in uncomfortable bleachers and watched a bunch of events. There were a few dicey moments when unhappy animals did not want to be the center of attention. There was a horse during the opening ceremonies that was completely white-eyed freaked out by the Maryland flag that its rider was holding. Then there was the steer that refused to return to the holding pen, busted out of the arena, and nearly went on a rampage in nearby Landover Mall. We watched Bailey compete in bronc riding; she "covered," which means she stayed on the horse for 6 seconds. We also watched her participate in a "camp" event (as in campy, fun, silly) where she and a partner had to wrestle a little goat and put a pair of pink underwear on the hind-end of the goat in as fast as time possible. The rodeo was fun. We had some good fair food -- excellent burgers from Hamburger Mary's. We stayed for a few hours and then headed home. It was tiring just sitting out in the sun. Something about being out in the sun all day just sucks the energy out of you.
Saturday night, I went to a party for my friend Shawn's birthday. Cate and Skinner picked me up and we drove to Meredith's house. There was the usual crowd. People were in a good mood. There was eating and drinking and hanging out. I was pretty tired after a day at the rodeo. I ended up going home at a reasonable hour with Cate and Skinner.
The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. I squeezed in some hangout time at College Perk on Sunday morning. I'm going to try to resurrect my Sunday mornings at the coffee house like I did last semester. Sunday afternoon, the gaming group came over to talk about Tellings. We just finished a year and half long campaign. The characters have been retired. Plus, Cate is going on "maternity leave" from the gaming table. So we have to find another player, thinking about the new campaign, and get the revision finished. We just talked, hung out, ate food, and chilled.
The past week itself was all right. As I said before, I'm really worn out these days. I guess it's just getting used to the semester. Since I'm on campus four days out of the week, I am walking a lot more. I work longer days. Last semester, I generally worked only 4 or 5 hours a day. This semester I have eight hour Mondays and Wednesdays. Tuesdays are shorter. Thursdays are my monster days when I'm working, teaching, and going to class. I still haven't been sleeping all too well. I have a lot of crazy dreams that wear me out. I'm hoping everything settles down.
On Monday, I worked a full day. Then I went to the university's LGBT Equity welcome to the school year reception. It was cool. Free food. I ran into some old faces and met some new. Afterward, I decided to go to the free showing of Supersize Me at the Hoff Theatre. I really liked the film. It was cute, quirky, funny, gross, disturbing, and charming. Afterward, I went to the free lecture by Morgan Spurlock, the star, creator, director of the movie. He was very cool and well-spoken. He was definitely just as cute, quirky, funny, gross, disturbing, and charming. I got to shake his hand. Did I say he was cute?
The rest of the week was filled with classes and advising and teaching and reading. You know, the usual.
THURSDAY. 11:01 AM. Happy birthday to Meghan way out in San Diego!
MONDAY. 7:22 PM. What the heck have I been doing? I guess I've been doing something because every time I say to myself that I really need to sit down and write an entry, I get distracted or diverted by something. Before you know it, a week or more has zipped by.
I'm just trying to keep my head and shoulders above water. I just can't quite figure out how to find my groove. I need a little grace in my life. The semester is chugging away, and I still don't quite know what I'm doing. I don't know if it's my work schedule or my class schedule or what, but I can't quite shake the discombobulated feeling. I wake up each morning and feel like I'm starting over. Anyway. What have I been doing? Really. I don't even know if I can summon the memories from the depths of two weeks ago.
Two weekends ago, on the third Friday of the month, I went to my third ever Guerilla Queer Bar. This time the mission was "Operation Cleveland Park," to take over Ireland's Four Provinces. I managed to get Cate and Skinner to come out a little early. Since the 4Ps is right next door to the Uptown Theatre (3426 Connecticut Avenue, NW), we went to see Hero by Zhang Yimou. I took the metro into the city, met up with Cate and Skinner, and Nancy. Hero is a gorgeous movie. I love the colors and the fantasy. I enjoyed it. I found it interesting, applicable to the present, and a comment on war, politics, love, and right and wrong. Unfortunately, my movie going experience was not particularly restful--a group of a dozen or so young teens sat behind us and whispered, talked, giggled, and were completely obnoxious through the entire movie. I finally had enough and actually left the theatre and got the manager. Yes, I am now that guy. After the movie was over, Cate even laid into them. I cannot believe how utterly rude people are sometimes.
After the movie, we walked up to the 4Ps. An Irish duo were playing and singing songs. The place was pretty full already. We grabbed a table, ordered food, and started drinking. My friend Casper and his friend was there. Jess joined us. Eventually, I spotted Karl from the GQB crew. As the night wore on, more and more queers and their friends filled the bar. I ran into a bunch of GQB regulars. My friend Nicole showed up after things were well underway. It was an excellent crowd and everyone was in good spirits. I'd say we took up at least half or more of the bar. I had a blast. There was much drinking. There was singing. There was meeting new people. There was chatting with cute boys. There were Bud Light promotional girls in tight t-shirts that gave me a flashing button and a free beer (why they picked me out of the crowd I chalk up to my weird bar karma). There was also the befriending of random straight people who were quite surprised (pleasantly so) by the different clientele that night. Pictures here.
Jess and I stayed pretty much till the shindig was over. Most everyone else that I knew had already headed home. After quite a few beers and a number of whiskeys, I was in no condition to head home. I ended up walking back to Jess's apartment, which is right in the neighborhood. It's a really lovely place. She's got a fun, high-ceilinged one-bedroom. We stayed up, chatted, drank water, and joked about random things. My lovely and gracious host wrote of the night: "Currently the person who'd probably be the most valuable respondant -- the one who's taught English 101 at UMD for a dog's age -- is asleep on my sofabed, having done his Cher impression and his rendition of King Lear and then thrown up. It was Guerilla Queer Bar tonight and everything was great fun; I too am drunk as hell." Hah.
Saturday morning was a slow one. Jess and I lazed about till long after the sun was high. We decided to go for some breakfast. We metro'ed to Dupont and had fatty foods at Annie's Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th Street, NW). It was fun to go to a restaurant, particularly during the breakfast/brunch hours, in the gayborhood. I, in fact, did have steak and eggs. It was yummy, filling, and undoubtedly nutritious. Most of the patrons were gay. Our server and host were gay. It's been a while since I've basked in the glow of that much family. It was a good way to start the day. After breaking fast, Jess and I parted ways. I walked from 17th Street to the U-Street metro stop, which is on the Green Line and a much shorter ride home. A day of "living" in the city was just what I needed.
That Saturday night of the same weekend, I went over to the Lodge. The Lodgemates were throwing a party in celebration of their return from Burning Man. All of them had been utterly engrossed by getting ready for the trip out to the desert, that I hadn't seen them in months. It was definitely good to hang out with Ryan and Matt and Mindy and Allison and Eric and friends. After a night of drinking at GQB, I didn't partake of the hair of the dog at the party. I just hung out. They showed a slide show of pictures from Burning Man and regailed everyone with their crazy, funny, and bizarre stories. I have always thought it'd be an experience to go to BM, but I don't think I would survive more than a day out in the dust, dirt, and craziness of the desert. The party was fun, though I was beat tired and my allergies were driving me crazy. I ended up leaving shortly before midnight. I needed to catch up on some beauty sleep.
The rest of the weekend was spent doing work, reading, and grading papers.
This past week was spent just doing the school thing, the advising thing, the teaching thing, and the staying in thing. Classes are all right. My Modern Drama class is pretty relaxed. The reading is relatively light. And since I am exempt from the quizzes, I really just get to enjoy being in class. I probably should start thinking about my paper for that class, though. My Arthurian Legend class is starting to get serious. We've read three primary texts already, and the professor is expecting us to being to make connections, draw parallels, remark on differences, and think about how the stories continue to change and elaborate over time. The class just figured out that we have to do a bit of outside reading, research, and boning up in addition to the primary texts. I'm not sure I have the history and the knowledge base for the class, but I'll try my hardest to keep up.
I have my advising caseload now for work. This semester I have over a hundred and sixty students as advisees. It's pretty crazy. Students are already making appointments and coming in to see me. Advising has been easy going so far. No one has had any major issues yet. But it's still quite early in the semester. Teaching is all right. I finished grading my ENGL101 class's first formal assignment last week. They got them back last Thursday, and now the honeymoon is over. Now they know, better yet realize the class and I mean business. My UNIV100 class is all right. We talked about the role of faculty, media representations of college, and the stereotypes and expectations of professors, teachers, and students. I showed them about forty-five minutes of Good Will Hunting and a couple of scenes from Dead Poets Society. They were not as engaged and interested as I hoped them to be. Ah well.
This past Friday, I did run into a little snafu with my English class. My director called me up about noon. It's always a bad sign for me when my boss calls me at home. Basically, she's discovered the class blog and has a number of concerns. The long and short of it is that I had to take the blog down, school my students again on netiquette, and delete a few questionable posts. I have since returned to the blog to active duty. Hopefully, it will be used in a more conscientious and responsible manner. Here, you can read the ugly details.
The weekend just past was pretty full, too. After the blog debacle, I worked on stuff to get ready for Archaea the next day. Then, out of the blue, I decided to hang out with Nancy that night. We had dinner at Franklin's. Then we went to see a dance performance at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where our friend Daniel Singh was showcasing his Master's project called "Dakshina: Songs of My Life." I don't have much experience with dance, much less modern dance. But it was fun, intriguing, and entertaining. The piece is interactive and the dance space is setup like a smoky dance club. At certain points during the performance, the audience is encouraged to join the dancing. I was impressed. Of course, there were a lot of cute gay men there. After the show, Nancy and I went to College Perk for a little while.
Saturday was devoted to Archaea. I hadn't run an event in months. Our numbers had been low. The weather had been off. Or I had other things to do. So, it was interesting to run the game after such a long break. It was a good day, though. The weather was nice. The turnout was small, but I wrote an adventure to accommodate a small party of players. I think people had fun. I had a good time, but I know that if the game doesn't pick up more players, it'll probably have to break for good. Saturday night, Shawn, Skinner, and Jesse came over to work on Tellings characters for the new campaign. We went out to dinner at Plato's. Then hung out for a few hours talking about game stuff.
Sunday, yesterday, I went to the coffee house in the morning. I really like going to the Perk on Sunday mornings. It's usually quiet, very relaxed, the people are friendly, and I can get work done. It's the one day I know I can make it to the coffee house and run into people. Sunday afternoon we gamed sans Cate. Cate has had to bow out of gaming since she's pretty much ready to deliver her baby any day now. It was a little quiet, small, lonely playing without her. We're hoping to find a new player soon. And then, if possible, Cate will return to the table as well. Gaming was fun. We had also been on a short break, too, and it was good to get back to playing.
That's basically all that's been going on. Okay, so it's quite a bit. I have to really get going on school stuff, work stuff, and teaching stuff. I don't know how I'm going to get it all done and keep up with my extracurricular activities and my TV shows. The new seasons have finally started: Gilmore Girls is fun, Smallville's premiere was smoking hot (Tom Welling really got buffed up, Margo Kidder wasn't so hot), One Tree Hill is good only because Chad Michael Murray's shavy headed look this season is way too cute, and I'm intrigued by Jack & Bobby (Matt Long is also way too cute). Too much eye candy. I can't keep up. I've also been watching (I hate to admit it) the new season of The Real World: Philadelphia; it's annoying and tantalizing all at once and there is a lot of eye candy on the show. I do find it interesting that there are two gay men this season (though it could be argued that Karamo might as well be straight).
Is that it? I don't think I have anything else to report. Whew. I've said too much. Over and out.
© 2004 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
Email the webmaster of this site.
These pages are best viewed with Internet Explorer. Open your browser to the largest viewable area.