[ j o u r n a l ]
The following online journal entries are from April 2005.
[ 0 4 . 0 2 . 0 5 ]
SATURDAY. 11:59 AM.
I am drop dead tired. But relieved. Totally hungover. But glad. Still a little shell-shocked.
But stress levels are returning to their usual ranges. The week of intense heck is finally at
a close. I can hopefully put behind me the restless nights, anxious dreams, constant worry,
and the dread that something is going to go horribly wrong with my best laid plans. But now
it's over. I am done.
I am a Master.
April Fool's Day will be a day to remember for me. I cannot believe it was just yesterday.
It was my D-Day. It was my defense date for my Master's Writing Project, capstone, final
paper thingy. The defense was pretty tough. But I muddled through it. I might even have
said a couple of smart things. The end being that everyone on my committee signed the
little paper. I have secured my pedigree. (Of course, I still have to finish out the
semester, write a seminar paper, read a whole bunch of stuff, and actually graduate.)
I am a Master.
I'll have to get my students to call me Master Chang. That would be funny. Damn, I'm
More specifics later.
[ 0 4 . 1 0 . 0 5 ]
SUNDAY. 10:16 PM.
You know the feeling: replacing one ball of stress with another ball of stress,
exchanging one set of issues with another set of problems. I guess life right now
is just meant to be unsettled, complicated, and a little bit wonky.
It's been weeks since I have seriously sat down and written anything in terms of
journaling -- either here or in my paper journal. In fact, I was flipping through
my paper journal the other day thinking to myself that I haven't finished a
book in a really, really, really long time. My current journal is over a year old.
I usually fill a book a year. I'm slacking. Or I've just been so completely
consumed, busy, and otherwise preoccupied to even think about putting pen to paper.
That's the theme of the past year or so: preoccupied.
I guess I'm just checking in. I'm not dead. I'm not any where near dying. I've
just been...elsewhere, over there, doing other things. It's been good. I've had to
focus a lot the past few weeks. Plus a lot of stuff has been unfolding -- some
good, some disappointing, some just down right confusing. Even just brainstorming
about the last few weeks has my head in a spin: school, teaching, work, good students,
bad students, really scary conservative prejudiced students, friends, family,
changes in weather, daylight savings time, allergies, fighting a cold, wrangling
projects, spring break, working on Tellings, working on my Master's writing project,
wrangling professors, reading, finishing assignments, defending my MA, getting
rejected from PhD programs, waiting on schools, thinking about the summer, thinking
about moving, thinking about cute guys, being single, hating singledom, watching
TV, cooking for my class, missing my sister, talking to my father, strange dreams,
hanging out at the coffee house, being tired, being stressed, being scared of
It's a heck of a lot. It's time once again to simplify. I have news. I just
don't know how to share it yet.
[ 0 4 . 1 5 . 0 5 ]
FRIDAY. 12:20 PM.
tax day! Fortunately, my taxes are done (and
I'm actually getting money back again). I've had a lot on my mind. Life is just a little
too complicated right now. Nothing is "bad" per se. Just stressful. I will go into
more specifics soon. Right now, I leave you with an email I sent out to my family and
For some of you, it's probably been a while since you've heard extensively from
me (and vice versa). For some of you, you've probably heard muy extensively from
me but not in any particulars. And for a select some, you already know the whole deal.
But, in the spirit of the long, long, long email updates I used to send out, I
figure I would revive the form (albeit in brief) and let people in on some recent
developments in the saga of my life.
I am happy to report that I am closing a huge chapter of my life. I
will be graduating with my Master's in English from the University of
Maryland this May. Finally. I struggled with my MA years ago, from
1993 to 1998 in fact, and did not complete it. Three years in San
Francisco, some trying to figure stuff out, and two more years of
coursework later, I have finished.
I defended my MA Writing Project (an alternative to the traditional
thesis option) entitled "Birth of the Cyberqueer Manifesto"
(twenty-seven pages attempting to imagine a queer online aesthetics,
politics, and activism) on April 1. Yes, April Fool's Day. I chose
the date purposefully. The defense was forty-five minutes of sheer
terror for me. It began nice and pleasant but then the really hard
questions started to fly. But I survived. I passed. I am now a
Master. As long as I finish out the semester, I'll don the cap and
gown very soon.
The past couple of years has been mostly good. Great even. I'm glad
to have accomplished something I started so many years ago. It's good
to have been able to pick up that dropped stitch. Now, I have to turn
my energies toward the future.
In the fall of last year, I applied to PhD programs in a whirlwind. I
applied to seven schools: New York University and University of Texas
- Austin for American Studies; UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, University
of Washington, and University of Southern California for English; and
UC Santa Cruz for their History of Consciousness program. I must say
that I hate applying for schools; I hate waiting for responses even
As of this past week, I have heard from all of my schools. The score:
Grad Schools-6, Ed Chang-1. The first six schools I received replies
from all rejected for me for admission. UCLA, Berkeley, NYU, USC,
UCSC, and UTexas all said no. UT actually sent two letters of
rejection--nice of them kick a guy when he's down! My last letter
came on Saturday in a clatter of the mail slot. I had a feeling that
the mail was going to bring some sort of news. University of
Washington's letter was in the small pile. It was a little bulkier
than the previous letters. UW accepted me for admission to their PhD
English program. Now begins the hemming and hawwing over whether to
move 3,000 miles (again).
Decisions, decisions, decisions. I seem to find myself in quandry
after quandry these days. I wish it was the case that I had opened
the letter from UW and jumped with glee and called everyone and news
stations to report that I had finally been accepted by a school. I
wish it was the case that I knew for sure that three to five more
years of school was what I wanted to do. Alas, I am still uncertain.
In part, I think my hesitance comes stems from the fact that I am just
finishing up two years of classes. I am a little burnt out. As much
as I love going to class and reading, I really could use a break from
writing papers. In part, I think I'm a little school-shy simply
because I have been rejected to so many times that the bitterness is
clouding my judgement.
Finally, I think my proverbial biological clock (or
socio-economic-cultural clock) is ticking. A huge part of my life is
culminating, which is great, but the prospect of moving to a new city
and starting over and starting school again is a little daunting.
While I've been working on my MA, I feel like I have had to put
certain things on hold or certain things have been circling. Though I
have grown educationally, intellectually, and chronologically, I have
really not grown socially, economically, artistically, and
romantically. I'm coming up a "certain age." Do I want to be 40 and
just graduating and just entering the workforce and just starting life
as it were. There is a strong impulse to nest, to settle down, to
find a partner, to start a family, to own a house, to make more than
$20,000 a year, to buy grown-up furniture, and to have a stable place
to call home.
So like I said: decisions, decisions, decisions.
UW was not able to offer me funding for the first year. I think if
they had offered me money, I would be more likely to make the move.
It would be difficult to move to a new city without a job and to find
a place to live without a job lined up. Of course, I am pursuing
funding opportunities. Hopefully, I'll be able to secure some sort of
graduate assistantship for the first year.
I am not 100% sure that I am ready to go on for my PhD. But if not
now, then when? (Or if ever.) I guess I'll just have to do a little
soul searching. I have until the 30th to decide. If I can arrange it
with the school, I'm going to go out for a visit. I know I like
Seattle -- that's not the problem. I just don't know if I want my PhD
Well, there really isn't anything ugly -- it just fit the organization
of my email.
I had made a deal with myself when I re-started my MA that I would
graduate and then evaluate things. I'm obviously at that point now.
So far there have been a few votes for me to stay or to pursue other
things. The majority of people I have talked to (granted they're from
school) think I should go on. What would I do if I didn't go on with
school? Probably move back to San Francisco, get a job, and work on
my fame and fortune. Really.
I guess if there is any ugliness about this time and place in my life
it is the unavoidable sadness (and happiness) that comes with any kind
of big change, any kind of growing pains, of death and rebirth. It
feels like when I left Maryland for the first time for SF. I really
don't want to leave behind my stability, my family, my friends, my
familiar surroundings, my stuff. But I realize that I can keep much
of it even in another city. I do know that living in the suburbs
makes me unhappy to a degree. I hate driving everywhere. And being
stuck in Hyattsville isn't doing anything for my love life. Something
has to change whether it means staying here but moving into DC or
taking off and living in another city.
Change is difficult sometimes. So hopefully as things suss out, I can
make a decision I can live with. I also hope to solicit response,
reactions, and support from the world around me. Any suggestions,
advice, contacts, stashes of Vatican gold, or premonitions about me
and UW are appreciated. Many thanks to those that wrote me letters,
that said to keep hope, and that just listened to me moan and groan
over the past few months.
Happily (if a bit unsteadily),
[ 0 4 . 2 0 . 0 5 ]
WEDNESDAY. 11:11 PM.
I have decided. See the following email:
After nearly two weeks of thinking and thinking and thinking, I
believe I have come up with a clear and considered decision: I have
accepted University of Washington's offer for admission into their PhD
English program starting this coming fall.
I talked to as many people as I could, both in and out of academia. I
went over my concerns. I went over my trepidations. I went over my
hopes and dreams. And the general response has been pro-UW and
pro-Seattle and pro-PhD program.
I notified UW on Monday of my decision. Now, the (slow) race to find
funding begins. Thankfully, my academic advisor and honorable
professor here has helped me with a few string pulls. I am on the
waitlist for a teaching assistantship and other avenues are being
explored. (I have come this far in my education without needing loans
and I hope to continue that trend.) So far the decision hasn't woken
me up in the middle of the night in sheer terror.
I am concerned about the whole move. I mean I have done the 3,000
mile transplant with no job and no home. I hope the move to Seattle
will be as smooth, if not smoother than my move to San Francisco.
Here is where I ask for help between now and my departure from
Maryland. I have already had a number of people begin the inroads to
foster me to their friends in Seattle. Any suggestions, insider info,
contacts, and resources you might have in Seattle are appreciated.
My timeline looks like I will finish up the semester, graduate, work
through most of the summer, and move sometime in August. I will
probably be headed out to Seattle in July to get my housing situation
resolved. My ideal is to move to Seattle about a month before classes
start, which in this case is late September for UW, to set up and get
settled. I would also invite people to plan a couple of visits for
late August, early September. I figure if I have people help me move,
come visit while I settle, and come help me explore the city, I won't
feel as disconnected or isolated.
In the meantime, for those that are near and dear to me (particularly
those geographically close to me), quality Ed-time will be on premium.
Change is in the air. (And it freaks me out.) I want to make the
best of it all.
Thanks for your support and for your advice and for listening,
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© 2005 Edmond Y. Chang. All original material. All rights reserved.
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