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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, January 8, 2009

Time to get creative

For those of you wondering where the pretty card in my last post came from, it's actually handmade. My sister (the one heading into her last semester of college) is amazing with scissors and paper, and she put together all of the cards she gave to the family. A few more examples of her work:




I think my favorite is the snowman, but the scarf, hat, and mittens on the card below it run a close second.

D's side of the family was hard at work on an art project too during the week before Christmas. As I mentioned while writing from his parents' place, D engineered a gingerbread cathedral -- one that took almost an entire week to construct. The results were quite solid:




There wasn't enough time to decorate the walls completely, but D and his brothers did manage to create the "stained glass" by melting down crushed bits of Jolly Rancher candy in greased cookie molds. Lighted from inside the cathedral, the windows really do suggest the real thing. The roof shingles are made from cut-up Twizzlers.

Before we took off on our road trip, D's brothers planned to finish off the decor with gargoyles made from gummy bears and Swedish Fish. Guess I'll find out how far the project got when I return to pick up my car in a little over a week. I suspect many of the would-be adornments will have met a different fate!

So where have I been applying my creative energies, you ask? Well, most of it has gone primarily toward sprucing up our apartment in the last day or two, by which I mean finding more storage and organizational space than truly exists. Goodwill, here we come! I'm giving up on selling much more on Amazon and Craigslist (another project from last summer that yielded a few successes but not enough to help us reclaim that much square footage). I think I'm trying to prepare for what may be a stay of indeterminate length in our sweet but small place while we wait for the housing market to turn up a potential home for us. Prices are looking better, but they're still ridiculously high compared to what people paid five years ago. In this economy, we're not biting. Yet.

The rest of my creativity is being channeled toward the kitchen -- namely, how to rework my diet. No, this is not one of those "new year, new you" fads. I finally got some answers as to why I was so tired last semester: I'm prediabetic. This is such a weird term -- "So you're not diabetic, what's the big deal?" you might ask. Well, it means my body can't handle sugar well, and if I don't make changes in my diet, full-blown diabetes will be right around the corner. (There's more to it than that, obviously, but I'll leave the scientific explanation to my other sister, the one in medical school.) It's especially frustrating because I exercise every day, eat balanced meals most of the time, and maintain a healthful weight. There's no arguing with genetics sometimes, though, the main culprit in this instance.

The good news is that since cutting out refined sugars from my diet, I've been feeling much, much better. I'm also getting pretty adept at doing finger sticks to test my blood glucose levels. The one thing I haven't figured out, however, is how to work fresh fruits into meals. They cause my readings to skyrocket, even in tiny portions, and I miss them terribly.

D has been great about all of this. In a sort of ironic fashion, he's a reactive hypoglycemic (at the opposite end of the sugar-problem spectrum), so he's familiar with the testing and diet restrictions. We're working on finding low-carb recipes to try out before I go back to school. Any suggestions are very, very welcome! The more, the better. I'd like some variety in my new regimen of eggs, nuts, and meats ...

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

Wow, so much to comment on in this post.

First - your sister has made some incredible cards there. I'd buy cards like that so I'm sure there must be someone out there who would pay her to produce them.

Second - I've never seen a cake look so much fun and not be one of the cake-kit things you see out there today. Is D an artist by profession?

third - It's awful when one is really cramped and running out of room. When Mr F and I first set up home together we rented a sweet little Victorian cottage that was ever so charming and ever so small. I know how it got to me after a while so you really have my sympathies. But house prices are sure to drop more and more so you could end up with a fantastic bargain.

fourth - at least you have been diagnosed and fancy the fructose affecting you so badly. One always thinks of fruit as a healthy treat - and of course it still is - but to make your levels wobble like that...! Good luck with sticking to a new regime.

My mum was diabetic and it's something our doctor here keeps in mind whenever I go to him feeling a bit unwell.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Glad you enjoyed the cards. We keep telling my sister to send samples to a publisher, but she's very busy. Maybe after she finishes with school in a few months (nudge, nudge, little sis ...)?

As for D, he likes to keep his creative muscles in shape in his spare time, but his job also keeps him in touch with the visual arts. He works as a software engineer with a specific focus in graphics. The gingerbread construction projects have become a tradition for him -- a few years ago, when his family was living in St. Petersburg, he built a tower with an onion dome like the ones on the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. I wish I had pictures of it to post!

As for the space in our apartment and our cooking experiments, we've made some progress in the last few days -- more on that soon :). Thanks for your good wishes.

Bev said...

He's the yin to your yang, the pepper to your salt, the hypoglycemia to your pre-diabetes.

<3

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time to get creative

For those of you wondering where the pretty card in my last post came from, it's actually handmade. My sister (the one heading into her last semester of college) is amazing with scissors and paper, and she put together all of the cards she gave to the family. A few more examples of her work:




I think my favorite is the snowman, but the scarf, hat, and mittens on the card below it run a close second.

D's side of the family was hard at work on an art project too during the week before Christmas. As I mentioned while writing from his parents' place, D engineered a gingerbread cathedral -- one that took almost an entire week to construct. The results were quite solid:




There wasn't enough time to decorate the walls completely, but D and his brothers did manage to create the "stained glass" by melting down crushed bits of Jolly Rancher candy in greased cookie molds. Lighted from inside the cathedral, the windows really do suggest the real thing. The roof shingles are made from cut-up Twizzlers.

Before we took off on our road trip, D's brothers planned to finish off the decor with gargoyles made from gummy bears and Swedish Fish. Guess I'll find out how far the project got when I return to pick up my car in a little over a week. I suspect many of the would-be adornments will have met a different fate!

So where have I been applying my creative energies, you ask? Well, most of it has gone primarily toward sprucing up our apartment in the last day or two, by which I mean finding more storage and organizational space than truly exists. Goodwill, here we come! I'm giving up on selling much more on Amazon and Craigslist (another project from last summer that yielded a few successes but not enough to help us reclaim that much square footage). I think I'm trying to prepare for what may be a stay of indeterminate length in our sweet but small place while we wait for the housing market to turn up a potential home for us. Prices are looking better, but they're still ridiculously high compared to what people paid five years ago. In this economy, we're not biting. Yet.

The rest of my creativity is being channeled toward the kitchen -- namely, how to rework my diet. No, this is not one of those "new year, new you" fads. I finally got some answers as to why I was so tired last semester: I'm prediabetic. This is such a weird term -- "So you're not diabetic, what's the big deal?" you might ask. Well, it means my body can't handle sugar well, and if I don't make changes in my diet, full-blown diabetes will be right around the corner. (There's more to it than that, obviously, but I'll leave the scientific explanation to my other sister, the one in medical school.) It's especially frustrating because I exercise every day, eat balanced meals most of the time, and maintain a healthful weight. There's no arguing with genetics sometimes, though, the main culprit in this instance.

The good news is that since cutting out refined sugars from my diet, I've been feeling much, much better. I'm also getting pretty adept at doing finger sticks to test my blood glucose levels. The one thing I haven't figured out, however, is how to work fresh fruits into meals. They cause my readings to skyrocket, even in tiny portions, and I miss them terribly.

D has been great about all of this. In a sort of ironic fashion, he's a reactive hypoglycemic (at the opposite end of the sugar-problem spectrum), so he's familiar with the testing and diet restrictions. We're working on finding low-carb recipes to try out before I go back to school. Any suggestions are very, very welcome! The more, the better. I'd like some variety in my new regimen of eggs, nuts, and meats ...

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

Wow, so much to comment on in this post.

First - your sister has made some incredible cards there. I'd buy cards like that so I'm sure there must be someone out there who would pay her to produce them.

Second - I've never seen a cake look so much fun and not be one of the cake-kit things you see out there today. Is D an artist by profession?

third - It's awful when one is really cramped and running out of room. When Mr F and I first set up home together we rented a sweet little Victorian cottage that was ever so charming and ever so small. I know how it got to me after a while so you really have my sympathies. But house prices are sure to drop more and more so you could end up with a fantastic bargain.

fourth - at least you have been diagnosed and fancy the fructose affecting you so badly. One always thinks of fruit as a healthy treat - and of course it still is - but to make your levels wobble like that...! Good luck with sticking to a new regime.

My mum was diabetic and it's something our doctor here keeps in mind whenever I go to him feeling a bit unwell.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Glad you enjoyed the cards. We keep telling my sister to send samples to a publisher, but she's very busy. Maybe after she finishes with school in a few months (nudge, nudge, little sis ...)?

As for D, he likes to keep his creative muscles in shape in his spare time, but his job also keeps him in touch with the visual arts. He works as a software engineer with a specific focus in graphics. The gingerbread construction projects have become a tradition for him -- a few years ago, when his family was living in St. Petersburg, he built a tower with an onion dome like the ones on the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. I wish I had pictures of it to post!

As for the space in our apartment and our cooking experiments, we've made some progress in the last few days -- more on that soon :). Thanks for your good wishes.

Bev said...

He's the yin to your yang, the pepper to your salt, the hypoglycemia to your pre-diabetes.

<3