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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You just never know

Unpredictable -- I think that describes the general tenor of life at the moment.

D sent me an interesting e-mail this morning about some recent tech news. Midway Games, a company he interviewed with during his last job search, made some notable staff cuts this week. We had initially hoped, before the move to Seattle, that D would get a position at Midway since it's driving distance from Little U. on the Prairie. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that he was turned down. Who knows whether the job he applied for was one of those that got hit. Apparently, the company's stock shares are also taking a beating.

I had my workshop today, which was very helpful. Very tough, though, because of what was on the table. The essay I submitted was the first in which I think I really, really put myself out there naked -- not writing in the voice or character of the person I wanted my audience to see me as, but as the person I am underneath all the carefully wrought word-armor. I realized, in some earlier attempts to pull together this piece, that my problems writing it stemmed largely from trying not to reveal parts of myself that I'd rather keep under wraps. This is not to say that what I ultimately turned in was an exercise in self-flagellation, but I did let all the embarrassing, uncomfortable awkwardness of childhood appear. And that was hard.

What really caught me off guard, though, was the sadness I felt as the workshop got at the heart of what was in the essay -- the entanglement in certain family issues (I won't get more specific than this here) that still cause powerful grief. The sadness isn't even explicit in the essay, but people began plumbing the family dynamics driving the action in the work, and then as the explanations came out, all the awfulness of the aftermath from the experience I wrote about bubbled up like acid. I was tearing up liberally by the time we finished (also much cause for embarrassment), and I couldn't do a thing about it. I think the people who noticed probably figured it was because the subject matter was painful, not because I was upset by what people were saying about the piece -- it was all very constructive -- but ouch. I think I've had enough surprises for one day. I feel bad because I was too choked up to thank everyone at the end. Maybe an e-mail? But that seems so impersonal. Perhaps a quick thanks at the beginning of next Thursday's class. That'll be better.

So now I'm wiped out (more so than usual). But at least this weekend, I have no grading, which means I can do some more writing. I haven't had that luxury in what feels like months.

A happy note to end on: our irises are still doing well out in Seattle -- D sent me update photos. The plants will winter on our apartment balcony and should bloom just in time for my arrival at the end of the spring semester. We thought up names for them a few days ago (they're pets, so why not, right?). D has chosen Ralph and Tessa for his two, which will be deep red and tawny gold, respectively. For mine, I picked Carmen (indigo) and Lolita (pale pink). Yes, yes, think what you will! But if you could have seen what their predecessors looked like at the farm we visited, you'd understand how the names just fit.

Anyway, we're hoping all the plants will keep thriving as they have been -- I think one of D's bulbs may need its own pot already.

2 comments:

French Fancy said...

How brave of you to expose yourself like that within a group of your peers. You should pat yourself on the back. Some people pay a fortune for therapy and it sounds like you had enough for a lifetime during that difficult experience

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for the kind words :). It was a good thing in the end -- it means what's there in the writing is true to the experience. So easy to fool ourselves on paper, no?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

You just never know

Unpredictable -- I think that describes the general tenor of life at the moment.

D sent me an interesting e-mail this morning about some recent tech news. Midway Games, a company he interviewed with during his last job search, made some notable staff cuts this week. We had initially hoped, before the move to Seattle, that D would get a position at Midway since it's driving distance from Little U. on the Prairie. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that he was turned down. Who knows whether the job he applied for was one of those that got hit. Apparently, the company's stock shares are also taking a beating.

I had my workshop today, which was very helpful. Very tough, though, because of what was on the table. The essay I submitted was the first in which I think I really, really put myself out there naked -- not writing in the voice or character of the person I wanted my audience to see me as, but as the person I am underneath all the carefully wrought word-armor. I realized, in some earlier attempts to pull together this piece, that my problems writing it stemmed largely from trying not to reveal parts of myself that I'd rather keep under wraps. This is not to say that what I ultimately turned in was an exercise in self-flagellation, but I did let all the embarrassing, uncomfortable awkwardness of childhood appear. And that was hard.

What really caught me off guard, though, was the sadness I felt as the workshop got at the heart of what was in the essay -- the entanglement in certain family issues (I won't get more specific than this here) that still cause powerful grief. The sadness isn't even explicit in the essay, but people began plumbing the family dynamics driving the action in the work, and then as the explanations came out, all the awfulness of the aftermath from the experience I wrote about bubbled up like acid. I was tearing up liberally by the time we finished (also much cause for embarrassment), and I couldn't do a thing about it. I think the people who noticed probably figured it was because the subject matter was painful, not because I was upset by what people were saying about the piece -- it was all very constructive -- but ouch. I think I've had enough surprises for one day. I feel bad because I was too choked up to thank everyone at the end. Maybe an e-mail? But that seems so impersonal. Perhaps a quick thanks at the beginning of next Thursday's class. That'll be better.

So now I'm wiped out (more so than usual). But at least this weekend, I have no grading, which means I can do some more writing. I haven't had that luxury in what feels like months.

A happy note to end on: our irises are still doing well out in Seattle -- D sent me update photos. The plants will winter on our apartment balcony and should bloom just in time for my arrival at the end of the spring semester. We thought up names for them a few days ago (they're pets, so why not, right?). D has chosen Ralph and Tessa for his two, which will be deep red and tawny gold, respectively. For mine, I picked Carmen (indigo) and Lolita (pale pink). Yes, yes, think what you will! But if you could have seen what their predecessors looked like at the farm we visited, you'd understand how the names just fit.

Anyway, we're hoping all the plants will keep thriving as they have been -- I think one of D's bulbs may need its own pot already.

2 comments:

French Fancy said...

How brave of you to expose yourself like that within a group of your peers. You should pat yourself on the back. Some people pay a fortune for therapy and it sounds like you had enough for a lifetime during that difficult experience

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for the kind words :). It was a good thing in the end -- it means what's there in the writing is true to the experience. So easy to fool ourselves on paper, no?