The following online journal entries are from December 2004.
FRIDAY. 11:00 AM. Happy birthday to Ryan!
FRIDAY. 12:43 PM. Weeks have passed. The semester has come to an end. And I'm almost in the clear. The last few weeks have just been all about getting the semester sorted out, tidied up, and finished. Classes are over. My big seminar paper is done. I have one shorter paper to write, and then I will be finished. Free.
At least, as of today, the last of my PhD applications have been mailed. The whole thing is now out of my hands completely. Now the long wait begins.
FRIDAY. 11:16 AM. Frankly, my dear, I don't have much to say.
The semester is done. I've tossed on the last bit of dirt, brushed off my clothes, and tossed the shovel into the shed. Now, I'm just ready to get cleaned up, have a few drinks, and do absolutely nothing (for at least a couple of weeks).
The past week has brought a very rocky, albeit not necessarily bad semester to a soft, whispering close. Kind of like the sound of whooshy slippers on carpet. My English 101 class ended kind of anti-climactically. We had a little farewell. A few kind words were said. There were no hugs or tears or parting is such sweet sorrows. Maybe I'm just jaded and they just don't care. But their final papers are graded and their final grades are turned in. Done. My classes are done. All the work is finished. My Arthurian seminar paper was a bear to write; it just kept going and going and going. It was supposed to only have to be 15 to 20 pages, but mine turned out to be 25. Sheesh. And I got it in a whole four days early. I got six other people in class to agree to a 'Paper Writing Death Pact':
We have met and in goode faythe ye have ben asked to accomplysh a faire deed within half a fortnyght's time lest a punyshmente uppon your hede be wrought. There is no tyme for asking questionys for the rashe boon hath been set. A commentary full of grayce and analysis is your queste. Let hit not be catchlyss. Let thys be done. So say you welle, "I have herde and mervayled at this taske and shall do unto me glorys in spyte of fear and myscheve and with hopes that my herte shall not to braste and my head shall not be disparbled. Give me leave!
Translation: Have your Arthurian paper done, ready and polished, by the last day of our class, next Thursday, or suffer dire and irksome consequences.
I think it really helped. Six out of seven of us finished and turned in our papers with some pomp and ceremony. I promised everyone a little certificate, which I still have to create. And, the sole one that did not finish is still awaiting punishment. Just teasing. I think the stress of it all is probably punishment enough. We emailed back and forth, encouraged one another, griped, and managed to form a little community. See what adversity can teach us?
I wrote my paper on the figure of Mordred and how he appears, disappears, reappears, and changes over different Arthurian texts over time. I really liked what I turned out. We then had to take a modern text and look at our chosen figure/topic and see how the text fits into the whole Arthurian tradition. I read and wrote about Mary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset, which was very good. Here's a bit of my paper:
All in all, it is inevitability that links all of the Mordreds past and present. They all have a shared fate, a common destiny. Though the twists and forks, turns and knots may be slightly different, each Mordred from the earliest sources to recent instantiations end in infamy. The character Mordred becomes metonymy standing in for the rise and fall and death of Arthur. The shining light of the king, of Excalibur, of the Table Round, of knighthood, of the perfect Camelot surrounds Arthur but also casts a stark shadow. Mordred is that shadow. Inevitability then links all of the characters together. Without Arthur, there can be no Mordred. Without Mordred, there can be no Arthur. And it is this fatedness that leads them all to adventure and marvel but also to destruction and tragedy.
But what can be learned, gleaned from all of this round and round? If the script is set and the action predestined, then why play the part at all? In part, the stories about Arthur and his knights serve as exempla of the circularity and possibility of human life (and though history does not truly repeat itself, it does carry forward similarities and analogies from past to future) for its audiences, its readers. Birth, death. Light, dark. Good, evil. Right, wrong. They are not the sides of the same coin but all part of the coin’s circumference. The wheel of Fortune comes up again and again in the Arthurian tradition, most notably in the dreams of Arthur. But if Arthur dreams them, then as readers read or listen they dream them as well. The lives of these characters, of these people, real or imagined, draws the audience in. And every time, if the story is well told, the audience hopes the outcome will be different, the choices made will be different. The court will listen to Merlin. Lancelot will walk away from Guinevere. Gawain will relinquish the blood fued. Mordred will listen to follow his remorse. Arthur will save his son. Even though the stories still end the same, the audience will hopefully be changed, little by little, just as Mordred over time has been altered fleck by fleck. After all, human life is itself a wheel, a circle, an inevitable turning passed from one generation to the next.
I also finished a shorter paper for my Modern British Drama class. I originally wasn't going to do it because I got leave from my professor to not turn it in if I didn't want to. I had done enough for the class already. But, my perfectionism and my sense of duty and my need for teachers to be proud of me got me in the end. So I wrote it. I wrote a paper on Nicholas Wright's play Cressida, which is a history play about the boy actors that played female roles in 16th and 17th Century England. I'm glad the paper's done.
Now that all of my work is finished, I get to play. Last Friday, I went to the end of the semester holiday party/grad english pub. It was fun. We got to drink on the tab of the Graduate English Organization. I got to see and schmooze with people I hadn't seen all semester. Thanks to GEO for all of their hard work and hospitality.
Lately, as in almost every single day, I've been playing World of Warcraft. A lot. A few weeks ago, Skinner bought the damnable game for me and lured me into the net of another addiction I don't really need. It's a fun game. It's an MMORPG. It reminds me a lot of EveryQuest, but it does some neat things. I like the game, the system, the world, the setup. Plus it's fun to play with friends. I'm sure I'll be sucked into WoW (as it's called) for a while. It's been a very cool, fun, and much needed diversion.
That's basically about it. I'm going to have a restful holidays. I'm probably not going to do anything fancy. I was hoping to go to Taiwan for a week and a half or so over winter break, but the airfare is just way too expensive. I cannot find any good tickets for the time I want to go. My sister is a little unhappy that I will not be able to visit. But I plan to go either during spring break or after I graduate.
That's about all for now.
TUESDAY. 9:34 AM. Happy birthday to my sister, Alenda! I'll just have to celebrate it with you in spirit!
TUESDAY. 9:34 AM. Locally, happy birthday to Cate! And shout out to San Francisco, happy birthday to Murphy!
TUESDAY. 10:57 AM. WoW has completely taken over my life (and sometimes sneaks into my dreaming life, too). I knew the minute that I got the game from Skinner that I was a doomed soul. I have pretty much played the blasted game for nearly two weeks straight. But it's been fun. That's the problem.
I've been pretty incommunicado the past week or so. Ever since the semester ended, I've really been in shut-in mode. In the first place, right at the start of last week, I got sick. The flu. I was fevery, coughy, achy, and later phlegmy, sneezy, and sniffly for days. I blame it on last Monday, which was the first really cold day of the year -- Winter Solstice to boot. I had to walk across campus in near zero temperatures, and it chilled me to the bone. Starting that day, I didn't feel so hot. Then it morphed into the flu. I called out of work two days. And what better way to spend a sick, druggy haze than to play a computer game for hours and hours.
Another reason why I've been the silent type is that the holidays are generally pretty un-holiday-y for me. Most of my friends are sequestered away with their families. My family is scattered or simply not available. So, I spent the days by myself. Getting better. Comfortable in my PJs, hot cocoa, and playing World of Warcraft. It was a nice time for me. Granted, I was a little lonely. But in the end it wasn't too bad.
I did go out a couple of times. The weekend before Ed's Flu of Winter 2004, I went into the city to Nancy's abode for a little holiday get-together and to visit with Meghan, who was in town after her first semester at San Diego. It was a quiet and chill night. I got to see a few people who I hadn't seen in a long while. We all chatted, had a few drinks, played a game called Spinergy. I was pretty dead tired and did not stay too late into the night.
Last Thursday night, I did shuffle my sick ass into the city. The Taint kids were having a mini-Taint night at DC9. I hadn't been out of the house in days. I just wanted to get out. A lot of people were out of town. So the ones that were staying in got together. Holiday orphans unite! It was a good night. I only stayed a few hours. I met some of the usuals. There were a few cute guys. Nancy and a couple of her friends were there, too. I got to dance some. I got to watch a very strange martial arts movie projected on the bar's screen (without sound though) called Seven Lucky Ninja Kids -- it was mesmerizing, very 80s, and very bad. Overall, fun. I stayed till about half past midnight and then headed home.
That's about it. I'm trying to enjoy the last week of freedom before work starts up again and I have to start working on my last semester at Maryland. I have an independent study to do. I have to get my final project in order. And I have to try not to think about PhD applications. I got my GRE Subject Test in English scores a little while ago. They were terrible. I guess there goes my chances for Berkeley. But, who knows? It just gives me stress to think about. So, I won't. It's probably the reason I'm so engrossed in WoW.
Plus, this time of year is just plain blah for me most of the time. I will just keep it simple, keep it on the down low, and everything will be fine.
© 2004 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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