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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.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wine and tattoos

Yes, it's nearing the end of the semester at last, and we're all going a little stir-crazy here at Little U. on the Prairie. No, I didn't invest in a new form of self-expression while inebriated. But there is an explanation for the title above -- hey, where are you going? Hang on and hang in there! Man, I can tell some of you are as impatient as I am.

So, shortly before Thanksgiving, D told me that he'd dreamed that I'd gotten a tattoo. A strange dream, for sure, as I'm too chicken as it is to get my ears pierced, much less endure the pain of a tattoo needle. But we all have random dreams now and then, and I assumed this was just one of them for D.

Well, it turns out that D liked what he saw. When I asked him what I'd chosen for a tattoo, he couldn't quite explain it. "It's those things on the front of a violin," he said. "You had one on each side above each hip."

Ahhhh -- I was pretty sure I knew what he was talking about but I didn't know the specific name for what he was picturing either. So I consulted one of my sisters, who plays the violin. "They're called f-holes," she said. For illustrative purposes, she and her boyfriend took pictures of the ones on her instrument. The results were quite pretty (see above).

Now I'm thoroughly curious about what planted this idea in D's head, even if it was subliminal. Dreams are supposed to be a kind of playback for things your brain stores up over the course of the day -- at least, that's one theory I've heard a few times.

I'm also curious about why I have crazily intense dreams whenever I've had red wine. They started a few years ago and have been pretty consistent (I can tell since I rarely drink reds). I don't always remember what I dream about, but the dreams tend to leave me feeling less than rested because my brain feels so exhausted in the morning. And no, it's not a hangover -- I drink barely enough to make a mouse tipsy.

Yesterday, I hosted a wine and cheese night at my place for a few of the girls in my program, and since they favor reds, I picked one up -- a Montecillo Crianza Rioja that looked decent but still reasonably priced for grad students on a budget. It turned out to be delicious, going nicely with smoked Gouda and baked Brie (I made another of the latter since the one at Thanksgiving was such a success). The best pairing, though, was with the blue cheese I'd chosen, especially when the cheese was eaten with dried dates.

So what did I dream about? I'm not sure. During Thanksgiving break, however, I also had a little taste of red wine with dinner, and I woke up that night to D asking me what was wrong. Apparently, he'd witnessed me pulling back my arm and then giving the mattress a solid wallop with my fist!

If I did anything violent last night, I have no proof. But I did notice that a large number of things that I'd left at the foot of the bed (socks, a magazine, and an envelope with papers I need to read) were scattered on the floor this morning. Considering that I'm known among my former college roommates as the girl who could stack library books on her mattress without disturbing them in my sleep, this suggests something out of the ordinary.

4 comments:

French Fancy said...

For an awful moment when I saw the title of your latest entry I thought you had gone and got yourself a tattoo. I'm ever so old-fashioned like that - I can't bear them on anyone.

So glad it was all a dream and then not even one of yours.

How good of you to hold these cheese and wine get-togethers for your students - it must be lovely to be a tutor and have all these students looking up to you. I've only got an email and telephone relationship with my tutor.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Wine and cheese night was my first hosted get-together here -- so happy that the people who came had a good time. They were actually colleagues of mine (also pursuing MFAs). The drinking age in the U.S., for one, prevents me from hosting most undergraduates for such an event. The university also has a policy, I think, that doesn't allow it.

It has been nice, at any rate, to have students who've looked up to me this semester, just in the classroom. It's a new experience, that's for sure!

French Fancy said...

Where will you be for Christmas and how long will you be together for?

hi there by the way :)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, French Fancy! I'm going to be in several places for the holiday :). First, we'll be at D's parents' house for the week before Christmas. Then we'll spend a week with my parents. We return to Seattle a few days after New Year's. I think I get two weeks there before I have to go back to Little U. on the Prairie -- so all in all, a month of time together. We're very excited.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wine and tattoos

Yes, it's nearing the end of the semester at last, and we're all going a little stir-crazy here at Little U. on the Prairie. No, I didn't invest in a new form of self-expression while inebriated. But there is an explanation for the title above -- hey, where are you going? Hang on and hang in there! Man, I can tell some of you are as impatient as I am.

So, shortly before Thanksgiving, D told me that he'd dreamed that I'd gotten a tattoo. A strange dream, for sure, as I'm too chicken as it is to get my ears pierced, much less endure the pain of a tattoo needle. But we all have random dreams now and then, and I assumed this was just one of them for D.

Well, it turns out that D liked what he saw. When I asked him what I'd chosen for a tattoo, he couldn't quite explain it. "It's those things on the front of a violin," he said. "You had one on each side above each hip."

Ahhhh -- I was pretty sure I knew what he was talking about but I didn't know the specific name for what he was picturing either. So I consulted one of my sisters, who plays the violin. "They're called f-holes," she said. For illustrative purposes, she and her boyfriend took pictures of the ones on her instrument. The results were quite pretty (see above).

Now I'm thoroughly curious about what planted this idea in D's head, even if it was subliminal. Dreams are supposed to be a kind of playback for things your brain stores up over the course of the day -- at least, that's one theory I've heard a few times.

I'm also curious about why I have crazily intense dreams whenever I've had red wine. They started a few years ago and have been pretty consistent (I can tell since I rarely drink reds). I don't always remember what I dream about, but the dreams tend to leave me feeling less than rested because my brain feels so exhausted in the morning. And no, it's not a hangover -- I drink barely enough to make a mouse tipsy.

Yesterday, I hosted a wine and cheese night at my place for a few of the girls in my program, and since they favor reds, I picked one up -- a Montecillo Crianza Rioja that looked decent but still reasonably priced for grad students on a budget. It turned out to be delicious, going nicely with smoked Gouda and baked Brie (I made another of the latter since the one at Thanksgiving was such a success). The best pairing, though, was with the blue cheese I'd chosen, especially when the cheese was eaten with dried dates.

So what did I dream about? I'm not sure. During Thanksgiving break, however, I also had a little taste of red wine with dinner, and I woke up that night to D asking me what was wrong. Apparently, he'd witnessed me pulling back my arm and then giving the mattress a solid wallop with my fist!

If I did anything violent last night, I have no proof. But I did notice that a large number of things that I'd left at the foot of the bed (socks, a magazine, and an envelope with papers I need to read) were scattered on the floor this morning. Considering that I'm known among my former college roommates as the girl who could stack library books on her mattress without disturbing them in my sleep, this suggests something out of the ordinary.

4 comments:

French Fancy said...

For an awful moment when I saw the title of your latest entry I thought you had gone and got yourself a tattoo. I'm ever so old-fashioned like that - I can't bear them on anyone.

So glad it was all a dream and then not even one of yours.

How good of you to hold these cheese and wine get-togethers for your students - it must be lovely to be a tutor and have all these students looking up to you. I've only got an email and telephone relationship with my tutor.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Wine and cheese night was my first hosted get-together here -- so happy that the people who came had a good time. They were actually colleagues of mine (also pursuing MFAs). The drinking age in the U.S., for one, prevents me from hosting most undergraduates for such an event. The university also has a policy, I think, that doesn't allow it.

It has been nice, at any rate, to have students who've looked up to me this semester, just in the classroom. It's a new experience, that's for sure!

French Fancy said...

Where will you be for Christmas and how long will you be together for?

hi there by the way :)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, French Fancy! I'm going to be in several places for the holiday :). First, we'll be at D's parents' house for the week before Christmas. Then we'll spend a week with my parents. We return to Seattle a few days after New Year's. I think I get two weeks there before I have to go back to Little U. on the Prairie -- so all in all, a month of time together. We're very excited.