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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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On the elasticity of time

Mmmm good visit. It was over too soon, but we filled it with so much that the weekend actually seemed longer by the end than we expected it to be. Definitely a positive thing, but talk about messing with your body clock (and never mind the jet lag)!

There were several new things to see. First, the latest addition to our living/dining area:


This is an original scroll painting that a good friend of mine brought back after she visited China last year. We took it to the local frame store (the same one that provided something fun for one of our other decorating projects back in January) and had it mounted in a shadow box. This is the first piece of large-scale original art we've ever owned, so it was exciting to have it finally ready for proper display. Apparently, D had to borrow a coworker (and the coworker's truck) to get the painting back to our place and up on the wall. Now our space really is starting to look like a home and not a temporary residence!

Next, the birthday project, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Back when we were getting the painting mounted, we also ordered a frame to use for a jewelry board, which D offered to help make as a gift to me. The frame I chose arrived last week, so we went shopping for fabric to cover the foam insert that goes inside. (The idea is to stick sturdy pins into the board so you can hang necklaces, bracelets, etc., on them instead of having everything get tangled in a jewelry box.) We found a wonderful store that specializes in material for home decorating and quilting, so the fabrics were really luxe and just the thing to use as a background for displaying pretty baubles. There were so many options at such good prices (especially what we pulled from the scrap pile) that we ended up picking out several swatches. So now the jewelry board has its own wardrobe:


The fabric currently in the frame is brocade and the other samples are dupioni silk, the majority of which were D's finds. I think D was almost having more fun than I was digging through the offerings -- it's the artist in him that I love.

There were new things to taste as well over the weekend. D and I hadn't had Indian food for a long time, so after he picked me up from the airport on Friday, we went out for lunch at a place D discovered not far from his office. To my delight, it seems that most curries are not a problem for my new diet (have to watch the rice and naan, though).

In our own kitchen, we tested out a cornish hen recipe on Saturday and a Hungarian goulash on Sunday; both were excellent. They also require significant cooking time! The hen has to be slow roasted and the goulash requires a lot of simmering. Maybe this is why we felt like we had a longer weekend than we'd anticipated -- watched pots and all that. But we were certainly never bored, so it was a good sort of time stretch.

There were some old things I got to revisit on this trip too, several of which I hadn't seen in years. I flew on United this time because I had a voucher I had to use -- it was from last March's flight fiasco -- so that meant connecting through a completely different terminal in O'Hare. When I was little, my family did most of its traveling on United, and often this required us to use the underground passage to get from one concourse to another. If you've ever been through this tunnel, you'll recognize it now:


I used to love the rainbow of neon lights zipping along the ceiling with the moving walkways below (I thought those were as much fun as the rides at Disney World). Going through the passage this time was a reminder of that. In Seattle, too, I got a little nostalgia jolt -- I landed at a gate that requires you to take an underground train to get to the main airport building. I had completely forgotten that I had been there before until I saw the waiting area. Something about the floor tile pattern (strange, I know) and the dim lighting dredged up the memory: my family had come through this part of the airport en route to Vancouver when I was thirteen. Funny to look back and see myself then, a kid with no idea she'd be returning to Seattle years later, married and hoping to settle there for a long time.

All this because of a travel voucher ...

My return trip didn't evoke such old memories, but it did have a surprise for me and D when we stepped outside this morning: snow. We knew it was in the forecast, but it wasn't supposed to arrive until Monday evening. So the blanket of white on our mountain was a bit unexpected (though certainly not unfamiliar to me this winter on campus). I guess you might call this an old experience in a new context? It's the first time I got to see a fresh snowfall there, and with the lightly coated branches of the trees arching over the back roads we took to the airport, it was quite lovely. I thought I was sick of frozen precipitation -- enough to believe I didn't want to see it anywhere at any time for the remainder of the winter -- but I guess I was wrong.


So anyway, I'm safely back in my other place of residence. It's after 11 p.m. in Seattle, which means it's way past my bedtime here. If only I could make the next few hours of sleep feel like more than they'll be ...

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

That Chinese scroll is simply beautiful, you are lucky. Likewise with the jewellery board that D designed - things like that are always the loveliest of presents, aren't they. The things that people spend their own time doing. Anyone can go to a shop and buy something - this way is much better, a real labour of love.

You must get so fed up of all the travelling you have to do to stay in touch. I don't envy you and hope you will both be in one place soon enough - I forgot, it's only a couple more months now.

Take care

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF. We've got another trip for me at the end of the month. If it goes as smoothly as this one did, I'll be very happy! No delays. The next trip after that will be for my spring break, and then it'll be just two months to the end of all the commuting. Hard to believe it, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting quite a bit closer.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

Oh I don't even know how to tell you how captivated I am by your weekend. I love the little details that you mix in as you appreciate the bits of your trip. It must be so emotional for you, so I become especially awed by your description.
Katie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Katie! Writing about the weekends away helps me stay upbeat about the commuting. One of the reasons I started this blog was to create a record of the good things within our time apart. D likes to keep up with me through what I post too -- it makes the everyday details of what we're doing on our own seem less separate.

Good Enough Woman said...

It sounds like a very sensory and creative weekend! It sounds great. Glad the travels were smooth. My last trip through O'Hare was bad, bad, bad . . . But your picture is beautiful!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, Good Enough Woman! Yes, O'Hare has been hit or miss for me in the last year or so. I was there when it had to be evacuated during a tornado warning in August. Once we got the all-clear, every passenger had to go back through security. Not fun.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On the elasticity of time

Mmmm good visit. It was over too soon, but we filled it with so much that the weekend actually seemed longer by the end than we expected it to be. Definitely a positive thing, but talk about messing with your body clock (and never mind the jet lag)!

There were several new things to see. First, the latest addition to our living/dining area:


This is an original scroll painting that a good friend of mine brought back after she visited China last year. We took it to the local frame store (the same one that provided something fun for one of our other decorating projects back in January) and had it mounted in a shadow box. This is the first piece of large-scale original art we've ever owned, so it was exciting to have it finally ready for proper display. Apparently, D had to borrow a coworker (and the coworker's truck) to get the painting back to our place and up on the wall. Now our space really is starting to look like a home and not a temporary residence!

Next, the birthday project, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Back when we were getting the painting mounted, we also ordered a frame to use for a jewelry board, which D offered to help make as a gift to me. The frame I chose arrived last week, so we went shopping for fabric to cover the foam insert that goes inside. (The idea is to stick sturdy pins into the board so you can hang necklaces, bracelets, etc., on them instead of having everything get tangled in a jewelry box.) We found a wonderful store that specializes in material for home decorating and quilting, so the fabrics were really luxe and just the thing to use as a background for displaying pretty baubles. There were so many options at such good prices (especially what we pulled from the scrap pile) that we ended up picking out several swatches. So now the jewelry board has its own wardrobe:


The fabric currently in the frame is brocade and the other samples are dupioni silk, the majority of which were D's finds. I think D was almost having more fun than I was digging through the offerings -- it's the artist in him that I love.

There were new things to taste as well over the weekend. D and I hadn't had Indian food for a long time, so after he picked me up from the airport on Friday, we went out for lunch at a place D discovered not far from his office. To my delight, it seems that most curries are not a problem for my new diet (have to watch the rice and naan, though).

In our own kitchen, we tested out a cornish hen recipe on Saturday and a Hungarian goulash on Sunday; both were excellent. They also require significant cooking time! The hen has to be slow roasted and the goulash requires a lot of simmering. Maybe this is why we felt like we had a longer weekend than we'd anticipated -- watched pots and all that. But we were certainly never bored, so it was a good sort of time stretch.

There were some old things I got to revisit on this trip too, several of which I hadn't seen in years. I flew on United this time because I had a voucher I had to use -- it was from last March's flight fiasco -- so that meant connecting through a completely different terminal in O'Hare. When I was little, my family did most of its traveling on United, and often this required us to use the underground passage to get from one concourse to another. If you've ever been through this tunnel, you'll recognize it now:


I used to love the rainbow of neon lights zipping along the ceiling with the moving walkways below (I thought those were as much fun as the rides at Disney World). Going through the passage this time was a reminder of that. In Seattle, too, I got a little nostalgia jolt -- I landed at a gate that requires you to take an underground train to get to the main airport building. I had completely forgotten that I had been there before until I saw the waiting area. Something about the floor tile pattern (strange, I know) and the dim lighting dredged up the memory: my family had come through this part of the airport en route to Vancouver when I was thirteen. Funny to look back and see myself then, a kid with no idea she'd be returning to Seattle years later, married and hoping to settle there for a long time.

All this because of a travel voucher ...

My return trip didn't evoke such old memories, but it did have a surprise for me and D when we stepped outside this morning: snow. We knew it was in the forecast, but it wasn't supposed to arrive until Monday evening. So the blanket of white on our mountain was a bit unexpected (though certainly not unfamiliar to me this winter on campus). I guess you might call this an old experience in a new context? It's the first time I got to see a fresh snowfall there, and with the lightly coated branches of the trees arching over the back roads we took to the airport, it was quite lovely. I thought I was sick of frozen precipitation -- enough to believe I didn't want to see it anywhere at any time for the remainder of the winter -- but I guess I was wrong.


So anyway, I'm safely back in my other place of residence. It's after 11 p.m. in Seattle, which means it's way past my bedtime here. If only I could make the next few hours of sleep feel like more than they'll be ...

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

That Chinese scroll is simply beautiful, you are lucky. Likewise with the jewellery board that D designed - things like that are always the loveliest of presents, aren't they. The things that people spend their own time doing. Anyone can go to a shop and buy something - this way is much better, a real labour of love.

You must get so fed up of all the travelling you have to do to stay in touch. I don't envy you and hope you will both be in one place soon enough - I forgot, it's only a couple more months now.

Take care

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF. We've got another trip for me at the end of the month. If it goes as smoothly as this one did, I'll be very happy! No delays. The next trip after that will be for my spring break, and then it'll be just two months to the end of all the commuting. Hard to believe it, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting quite a bit closer.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

Oh I don't even know how to tell you how captivated I am by your weekend. I love the little details that you mix in as you appreciate the bits of your trip. It must be so emotional for you, so I become especially awed by your description.
Katie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Katie! Writing about the weekends away helps me stay upbeat about the commuting. One of the reasons I started this blog was to create a record of the good things within our time apart. D likes to keep up with me through what I post too -- it makes the everyday details of what we're doing on our own seem less separate.

Good Enough Woman said...

It sounds like a very sensory and creative weekend! It sounds great. Glad the travels were smooth. My last trip through O'Hare was bad, bad, bad . . . But your picture is beautiful!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, Good Enough Woman! Yes, O'Hare has been hit or miss for me in the last year or so. I was there when it had to be evacuated during a tornado warning in August. Once we got the all-clear, every passenger had to go back through security. Not fun.