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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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting closer

... to having one of these!

I'm sure you're asking, "Hey, weren't you looking for a house?" and yes, we still are. Today, we checked out several of the ones D and I screened from the list he saw two weeks ago (remember the Valentine's Day viewing marathon?). And we have prospects. Real, honest-to-goodness potential places with price points we're willing to consider, with some negotiation.

The next month could be very, very interesting.

But what about the kitty? Well, we promised ourselves that when we finally got a house, we would get a cat, and now that we may actually have a home in our near future, I can almost feel its little paws kneading my lap. In fact, we're hoping to adopt two cats at the same time so they'll have companionship when we're not home (which will certainly be the case for a good part of the day since D and I hope for both of us to have jobs after I finish this degree).

So the details. Without giving actual identifying information away, of course:

The first place we saw today was one D really liked because of the detailing in the molding (baseboards, crown, bordering the doors and windows, etc.). Most of the places that were built in this area lack molding in some if not all of these spots. So D was quite taken with the quality of the construction and the materials used. I agreed that it was nicely done, but the kitchen had some problems -- a glass-topped electric stove (troublesome for cooking because the heat isn't well maintained) with poor ventilation and no way to install a fume hood without going through some serious renovations. The family room also needed a built-in bookcase to be knocked out in order for us to be able to put our couches and TV in a formation that makes sense (not blocking main pathways, doors, etc.). The master suite was fine, as were the numerous other bedrooms, but overall, the layout didn't feel right to me. "This isn't home," I said as we headed to our next location.

The second place had fewer bedrooms (one less) but had a lovely kitchen. The master bathroom needed to have its carpet replaced by tile, which also led us to think about other improvements we might prefer in that space -- redoing the shower, perhaps. The entire home smelled a bit diapery too, but that's because the family living there has two very young children not yet toilet-trained. I imagine that'll go away (not like pet odors). All in all, a nice space laid out in a way that flowed well. Even the office attached to the master bedroom didn't seem odd (even though it sounds a little unusual). The space is separated by French doors that we can put curtains over -- it could become a nice library nook, I think.

The third place is kind of fuzzy to me, which is not the best sign -- if you can't picture yourself in the space, it's probably not "home" either. This one is located on a nice cul-de-sac where our kids would eventually be able to play, and the back of the house opens onto an enclosed yard as well. Good kitchen, decent master bedroom, despite some slightly odd window placement. What feels weird in the layout, though, is the living room and family room. They're side by side, with a large picture hole cut into the wall between them. This means there's an openness to the space (good) but the areas are in some ways required to coordinate visually (limiting). I kind of imagine my living room being more formal than the family room, so to solve this problem, I'd probably just use the family room for sitting and turn the living room into a library (line the area with bookshelves and maybe one smaller sofa?). Blocking up the hole would make the two spaces feel tight, so that's not really an ideal fix. Anyway, because of this, it feels like I'm trying to force my lifestyle to fit the home, which is not what I want.

The fourth place is a townhome. It is new construction, and the floor plan makes incredibly good use of space. But I'm having a hard time picturing children in it. The main floor is great for entertaining -- the kitchen is open to the living and dining areas, which are fluid. But where would kids be able to play while D and I are cooking? Not feasibly around the good furniture. There is a small office on the main floor behind the kitchen, which could be used as a playroom, but it's small, and I imagine it would be confining for any active kid. There's a bedroom in the basement of the townhome that could be used, but again, it's not where kids can be supervised when they're young. There's no good place for them to play outdoors either as the community will have traffic going in and out of it (no lawns or yards adjacent to the property). So, as I said to D, the place is a phenomenal retreat for us, but it would delay when I'd want to have children. I'd want to put it off until we were ready to buy our next house.

The fifth place we saw is also new construction, but it's priced higher than the range we'd been looking in -- D just likes the builder. The home we're considering there is larger than anything else we've looked at, so the price is justified, but we'll still have to see how much it can be talked down. The house's layout is also a bit busy -- living, kitchen, and dining open to each other in ways that are a little disorienting as you're walking through the space. As D put it after we left, "You need to feel grounded wherever you are in the house." We both certainly had moments of "What space am I occupying and where should I be going next?" as we were touring.

The last place under consideration isn't one we saw today. It's in a great neighborhood but is a bit smaller than the other places we've been looking at. We'd have to buy some sort of butcher block to add counter space to the kitchen. Other than that, no real complaints. This home has been on the market for a very long time now, though, which makes us wonder if there's something we don't know about it.

Our next step is to meet with our realtor when I come back for spring break and come up with our strategy for putting in bids. I think we'll pursue House No. 2, then Nos. 6, 3 and 5 (in that order). In the meantime, we need to get a loan preapproval letter, which D is shopping around for. I'm in disbelief that we may actually have a home before I come back from Little U. on the Prairie. What a dream that would be! Oh, let the housing gods be with us.

Time for dinner now. D is trying a new recipe for chicken stew, and he insisted that I should blog so he could do the cooking as a treat. Whatever's on the stove smells delicious ...

12 comments:

Prof S said...

House hunting is so much fun. But it can be a bit frustating as well sometimes. How exciting that you're going to get a house!! Good luck getting the right price on the home you really want!

Bev said...

Acute house lust. DON'T KNOCK OUT THE BUILT-INS!!!!! I can't wait to see your new home and kitties...I squealed when I read the part about you feeling paws kneading in your lap. ^.,.^

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Prof S -- thanks! We're heading to Barnes & Noble later today to look at some books on homebuying for negotiation advice. Our agent is good, but we'd like to know what standard types of things may come up once we put our bid in.

Bev -- You'd see why the built-in bookcase made no sense for the arrangement of the room if I could put a picture here. I know, I know, knocking out any built-in object always gives me pause.

Jacqueline said...

KEEEEEETYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^.,.^ :- .'. -: ^.,.^

French Fancy said...

I'm so excited for you - the thing is don't you want to wait until you walk into a house and absolutely know without a doubt that 'this is the one Doug'? Perhaps I'm being silly and it is more sensible to have a few to choose from.

Whatever happens re the house it must be lovely to nearly be at the end of this commuter relationship. I'm so looking forward to the last post as a part-time partner.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jacqueline -- Hi! ^.,.^

FF -- It's actually kind of funny; I'm able to have the "This is the one!" feeling about each of the houses we're considering because they're of completely different sizes. The two houses we like best are different enough in square footage that we'd consider the larger one as a place we'd stay a fair bit longer, so I guess I look at it with a different eye than I do the smaller one. Each fits us for the time period we'd consider living there.

French Fancy said...

I think it's lovely you are looking at it all from the long time point of view - with little troubadours running around.

I really hope you find your dream home very soon and can be together as one family again

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Little troubadours! I love it, FF! Now I know what I'll call them if I'm still writing this blog when they become part of our lives.

Good Enough Woman said...

"Little troubadours" is great!

And I LOVE houses. Wheneven I'm in a hotel that has cable, I always watch house hunters. I'd probably go to open houses all the time if it weren't for the facts that a) I love our house, b) I'm afraid I'd want a new house, and c) We don't have any money for a new house.

But I'm enjoying living vicarously! And your order of preference makes total sense to me based on your descriptions. However, since I am someone whose first pregnant was unplanned, so to speak, I might think twice about the townhome.

Oh, and a kitty! I love kitties. My last one died about two years ago. We tried to get a new one last summer at the same time we got a puppy, but it didn't work out. First, the kitty was vicious and kept biting the children (including their faces) HARD. Second, the (somewhat large) puppy would jump on the couches to try to play with the kitty and I felt the need to constantly make sure the puppy wasn't hurting the kitty. All too much in our small house.

But there WILL be a kitty in our future.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Good Enough Woman, I totally agree that looking for a home is huge fun. If only there weren't a great big mortgage attached to it!

And yes, that was the thing about the townhome -- so not kid-friendly. Goodness knows I have my reservations about bringing little troubadours into the world; I don't need a home space that tells me to put it off or will make me stress more if we get any surprises.

So funny and sad about the puppy and the kitty. We're looking at adopting the latter, possibly from this place since they are near us (relatively speaking). I also love their blog. They get me my kitten fix when I'm longing for a pet.

Good Enough Woman said...

OMG, I would totally go get one of those kitties. I've always been a cat person, and I married a dog person. For a while we had both. My cat and his dog loved each other, and they were both extremely mellow. Then, both of those animals died, and when we tried to replace them at the same time, we got mayhem. So we haven't restored the balance, but I still love me some kitties.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I think I could love a mellow dog. I imagine D and I won't be home enough for it, though, and it would be wrong to get one knowing it would be cooped up all day without attention. Cats seem to be less bothered by that. We do still want to get a pair so they can have companionship when we're not around.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting closer

... to having one of these!

I'm sure you're asking, "Hey, weren't you looking for a house?" and yes, we still are. Today, we checked out several of the ones D and I screened from the list he saw two weeks ago (remember the Valentine's Day viewing marathon?). And we have prospects. Real, honest-to-goodness potential places with price points we're willing to consider, with some negotiation.

The next month could be very, very interesting.

But what about the kitty? Well, we promised ourselves that when we finally got a house, we would get a cat, and now that we may actually have a home in our near future, I can almost feel its little paws kneading my lap. In fact, we're hoping to adopt two cats at the same time so they'll have companionship when we're not home (which will certainly be the case for a good part of the day since D and I hope for both of us to have jobs after I finish this degree).

So the details. Without giving actual identifying information away, of course:

The first place we saw today was one D really liked because of the detailing in the molding (baseboards, crown, bordering the doors and windows, etc.). Most of the places that were built in this area lack molding in some if not all of these spots. So D was quite taken with the quality of the construction and the materials used. I agreed that it was nicely done, but the kitchen had some problems -- a glass-topped electric stove (troublesome for cooking because the heat isn't well maintained) with poor ventilation and no way to install a fume hood without going through some serious renovations. The family room also needed a built-in bookcase to be knocked out in order for us to be able to put our couches and TV in a formation that makes sense (not blocking main pathways, doors, etc.). The master suite was fine, as were the numerous other bedrooms, but overall, the layout didn't feel right to me. "This isn't home," I said as we headed to our next location.

The second place had fewer bedrooms (one less) but had a lovely kitchen. The master bathroom needed to have its carpet replaced by tile, which also led us to think about other improvements we might prefer in that space -- redoing the shower, perhaps. The entire home smelled a bit diapery too, but that's because the family living there has two very young children not yet toilet-trained. I imagine that'll go away (not like pet odors). All in all, a nice space laid out in a way that flowed well. Even the office attached to the master bedroom didn't seem odd (even though it sounds a little unusual). The space is separated by French doors that we can put curtains over -- it could become a nice library nook, I think.

The third place is kind of fuzzy to me, which is not the best sign -- if you can't picture yourself in the space, it's probably not "home" either. This one is located on a nice cul-de-sac where our kids would eventually be able to play, and the back of the house opens onto an enclosed yard as well. Good kitchen, decent master bedroom, despite some slightly odd window placement. What feels weird in the layout, though, is the living room and family room. They're side by side, with a large picture hole cut into the wall between them. This means there's an openness to the space (good) but the areas are in some ways required to coordinate visually (limiting). I kind of imagine my living room being more formal than the family room, so to solve this problem, I'd probably just use the family room for sitting and turn the living room into a library (line the area with bookshelves and maybe one smaller sofa?). Blocking up the hole would make the two spaces feel tight, so that's not really an ideal fix. Anyway, because of this, it feels like I'm trying to force my lifestyle to fit the home, which is not what I want.

The fourth place is a townhome. It is new construction, and the floor plan makes incredibly good use of space. But I'm having a hard time picturing children in it. The main floor is great for entertaining -- the kitchen is open to the living and dining areas, which are fluid. But where would kids be able to play while D and I are cooking? Not feasibly around the good furniture. There is a small office on the main floor behind the kitchen, which could be used as a playroom, but it's small, and I imagine it would be confining for any active kid. There's a bedroom in the basement of the townhome that could be used, but again, it's not where kids can be supervised when they're young. There's no good place for them to play outdoors either as the community will have traffic going in and out of it (no lawns or yards adjacent to the property). So, as I said to D, the place is a phenomenal retreat for us, but it would delay when I'd want to have children. I'd want to put it off until we were ready to buy our next house.

The fifth place we saw is also new construction, but it's priced higher than the range we'd been looking in -- D just likes the builder. The home we're considering there is larger than anything else we've looked at, so the price is justified, but we'll still have to see how much it can be talked down. The house's layout is also a bit busy -- living, kitchen, and dining open to each other in ways that are a little disorienting as you're walking through the space. As D put it after we left, "You need to feel grounded wherever you are in the house." We both certainly had moments of "What space am I occupying and where should I be going next?" as we were touring.

The last place under consideration isn't one we saw today. It's in a great neighborhood but is a bit smaller than the other places we've been looking at. We'd have to buy some sort of butcher block to add counter space to the kitchen. Other than that, no real complaints. This home has been on the market for a very long time now, though, which makes us wonder if there's something we don't know about it.

Our next step is to meet with our realtor when I come back for spring break and come up with our strategy for putting in bids. I think we'll pursue House No. 2, then Nos. 6, 3 and 5 (in that order). In the meantime, we need to get a loan preapproval letter, which D is shopping around for. I'm in disbelief that we may actually have a home before I come back from Little U. on the Prairie. What a dream that would be! Oh, let the housing gods be with us.

Time for dinner now. D is trying a new recipe for chicken stew, and he insisted that I should blog so he could do the cooking as a treat. Whatever's on the stove smells delicious ...

12 comments:

Prof S said...

House hunting is so much fun. But it can be a bit frustating as well sometimes. How exciting that you're going to get a house!! Good luck getting the right price on the home you really want!

Bev said...

Acute house lust. DON'T KNOCK OUT THE BUILT-INS!!!!! I can't wait to see your new home and kitties...I squealed when I read the part about you feeling paws kneading in your lap. ^.,.^

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Prof S -- thanks! We're heading to Barnes & Noble later today to look at some books on homebuying for negotiation advice. Our agent is good, but we'd like to know what standard types of things may come up once we put our bid in.

Bev -- You'd see why the built-in bookcase made no sense for the arrangement of the room if I could put a picture here. I know, I know, knocking out any built-in object always gives me pause.

Jacqueline said...

KEEEEEETYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^.,.^ :- .'. -: ^.,.^

French Fancy said...

I'm so excited for you - the thing is don't you want to wait until you walk into a house and absolutely know without a doubt that 'this is the one Doug'? Perhaps I'm being silly and it is more sensible to have a few to choose from.

Whatever happens re the house it must be lovely to nearly be at the end of this commuter relationship. I'm so looking forward to the last post as a part-time partner.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jacqueline -- Hi! ^.,.^

FF -- It's actually kind of funny; I'm able to have the "This is the one!" feeling about each of the houses we're considering because they're of completely different sizes. The two houses we like best are different enough in square footage that we'd consider the larger one as a place we'd stay a fair bit longer, so I guess I look at it with a different eye than I do the smaller one. Each fits us for the time period we'd consider living there.

French Fancy said...

I think it's lovely you are looking at it all from the long time point of view - with little troubadours running around.

I really hope you find your dream home very soon and can be together as one family again

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Little troubadours! I love it, FF! Now I know what I'll call them if I'm still writing this blog when they become part of our lives.

Good Enough Woman said...

"Little troubadours" is great!

And I LOVE houses. Wheneven I'm in a hotel that has cable, I always watch house hunters. I'd probably go to open houses all the time if it weren't for the facts that a) I love our house, b) I'm afraid I'd want a new house, and c) We don't have any money for a new house.

But I'm enjoying living vicarously! And your order of preference makes total sense to me based on your descriptions. However, since I am someone whose first pregnant was unplanned, so to speak, I might think twice about the townhome.

Oh, and a kitty! I love kitties. My last one died about two years ago. We tried to get a new one last summer at the same time we got a puppy, but it didn't work out. First, the kitty was vicious and kept biting the children (including their faces) HARD. Second, the (somewhat large) puppy would jump on the couches to try to play with the kitty and I felt the need to constantly make sure the puppy wasn't hurting the kitty. All too much in our small house.

But there WILL be a kitty in our future.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Good Enough Woman, I totally agree that looking for a home is huge fun. If only there weren't a great big mortgage attached to it!

And yes, that was the thing about the townhome -- so not kid-friendly. Goodness knows I have my reservations about bringing little troubadours into the world; I don't need a home space that tells me to put it off or will make me stress more if we get any surprises.

So funny and sad about the puppy and the kitty. We're looking at adopting the latter, possibly from this place since they are near us (relatively speaking). I also love their blog. They get me my kitten fix when I'm longing for a pet.

Good Enough Woman said...

OMG, I would totally go get one of those kitties. I've always been a cat person, and I married a dog person. For a while we had both. My cat and his dog loved each other, and they were both extremely mellow. Then, both of those animals died, and when we tried to replace them at the same time, we got mayhem. So we haven't restored the balance, but I still love me some kitties.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I think I could love a mellow dog. I imagine D and I won't be home enough for it, though, and it would be wrong to get one knowing it would be cooped up all day without attention. Cats seem to be less bothered by that. We do still want to get a pair so they can have companionship when we're not around.