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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 17, 2009

On endurance

I know it's been a while since I last mentioned the house hunt D and I started this past summer. We've been watching sales in our area since the economy took its nosedive after September, and it's been unclear what the local market is doing. Sales are generally slower in the winter, yet homes are still selling at more than 95 percent of their list price in the neighborhoods we're considering.

Of course, the percentages are fudged a bit as they're calculated on what the most recent price was -- not what it was before it was lowered and relisted. So we're still trying to get a handle on how much negotiating room we have. It is a buyer's market, but if there's something we like, we don't want to lowball our offer so much that we get shut out and end up losing to someone else's bid. Supposedly, if we come back too quickly with a higher offer, we'll be setting ourselves up for tougher negotiations. Says my dad: "Just don't blink." Sounds like a game of chicken to me.

We've been checking in on the market every few weeks, by which I mean that one of us sets up a time to look at properties with the realtor from the listings she's been sending us, and then we evaluate what seems to be available at the price we're considering. What you get for your dollar seems to be improving somewhat, but it's not ideal yet. I went out during my Thanksgiving break while I was in town and saw seven places in about five hours. A bit tiring, trying to remember floorplans and construction quality, etc., for each site. Or so I thought. This past Saturday, D went out again and saw eighteen homes in eight hours. And then he reported everything he saw to me in amazing detail, drawing maps and diagrams to boot! "I think I wore her out," D said (referring to our realtor). This is a first -- she's a dynamo. He was unfazed, though, and went looking at seven more places on his own on Sunday. The plan is to go back to our top picks when I'm in town at the end of the month.

It's been a couple days of digging deep for willpower on many fronts. I'm working on an essay that's due in a week, one I'm actually excited about for the first time in many months, but it's slow going. My workshop is being led by a really excellent visiting professor, which is helping a lot with the motivation. She's been terrific at guiding discussion on other essays so far, which wasn't my experience during the fall under someone else (and I wasn't alone in that). I'm glad to have a fresh start this semester and a sense of hope for this particular piece -- I just wish I could see the structure for it more clearly. For now, the work is more of a meditation. I guess that's all right as long it finds some sort of ending point.

I also knocked out comments and grades on my students' latest writing assignment over the weekend. Thank goodness for enrollment caps! It's definitely more work having two sections, but it does mean I get to teach my lessons twice. Since I see my classes back to back, I get to figure out what worked well and what I need to tweak after the first run. It's nice to have the chance to do that, especially when you can see marked improvement in how students respond the second time around.

As for things health related, I'm making some progress there too. I used to do 45 minutes of cardio at a pretty decent clip each day on the elliptical machine, with intervals of high resistance to make it more challenging. Needless to say, after the switch to low-carb foods, that wasn't something I could maintain anymore (no quick energy available). It was frustrating -- I had to cut my workouts to 30 minutes on low resistance the whole time (and even that was tough to get through). But in the last week, I've been able to raise the resistance by one level, which means my body is adjusting. Perhaps another notch up in a few weeks? We'll see.

Okay, break time's over. Time to get back to the essay.

3 comments:

hypoglycemiagirl said...

oh, the uncertainty and doubt that arises when buying property.

Yes, it's the buyer's market now, but if you just wait a little longer, the prices will decrease even more and your mortgage will be lower than if you buy now..... but when will the prices rise again?

Arrrgh.

French Fancy said...

You must be such a disciplined person to manage the dietary change so easily. I might have cracked by now. I'm glad that it seems to be getting easier.

As for D's 18 houses in 8 hrs - how could he do it? And retain clear images and do plans of each one? The man is a veritable marvel.

Good luck with the essay - glad you've got a good prof. I bet you're a good teacher too.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

hgg -- Indeed, indeed. There's also the problem of having your house depreciate if you buy too early and then having to wait longer before you can sell it again. We've had to change the size of the place we're looking for to account for this. We need something that we won't outgrow in five years if we need to keep it for seven or eight.

FF -- Thanks, regarding the diet thing and teaching :). And yes, D's a wonder! He says he took lots of notes when he was doing his tour. He's always been the kind of guy to throw himself into something he's enthusiastic about with 110 percent of the energy anyone else would normally muster. Admirable, but also difficult to keep up with!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On endurance

I know it's been a while since I last mentioned the house hunt D and I started this past summer. We've been watching sales in our area since the economy took its nosedive after September, and it's been unclear what the local market is doing. Sales are generally slower in the winter, yet homes are still selling at more than 95 percent of their list price in the neighborhoods we're considering.

Of course, the percentages are fudged a bit as they're calculated on what the most recent price was -- not what it was before it was lowered and relisted. So we're still trying to get a handle on how much negotiating room we have. It is a buyer's market, but if there's something we like, we don't want to lowball our offer so much that we get shut out and end up losing to someone else's bid. Supposedly, if we come back too quickly with a higher offer, we'll be setting ourselves up for tougher negotiations. Says my dad: "Just don't blink." Sounds like a game of chicken to me.

We've been checking in on the market every few weeks, by which I mean that one of us sets up a time to look at properties with the realtor from the listings she's been sending us, and then we evaluate what seems to be available at the price we're considering. What you get for your dollar seems to be improving somewhat, but it's not ideal yet. I went out during my Thanksgiving break while I was in town and saw seven places in about five hours. A bit tiring, trying to remember floorplans and construction quality, etc., for each site. Or so I thought. This past Saturday, D went out again and saw eighteen homes in eight hours. And then he reported everything he saw to me in amazing detail, drawing maps and diagrams to boot! "I think I wore her out," D said (referring to our realtor). This is a first -- she's a dynamo. He was unfazed, though, and went looking at seven more places on his own on Sunday. The plan is to go back to our top picks when I'm in town at the end of the month.

It's been a couple days of digging deep for willpower on many fronts. I'm working on an essay that's due in a week, one I'm actually excited about for the first time in many months, but it's slow going. My workshop is being led by a really excellent visiting professor, which is helping a lot with the motivation. She's been terrific at guiding discussion on other essays so far, which wasn't my experience during the fall under someone else (and I wasn't alone in that). I'm glad to have a fresh start this semester and a sense of hope for this particular piece -- I just wish I could see the structure for it more clearly. For now, the work is more of a meditation. I guess that's all right as long it finds some sort of ending point.

I also knocked out comments and grades on my students' latest writing assignment over the weekend. Thank goodness for enrollment caps! It's definitely more work having two sections, but it does mean I get to teach my lessons twice. Since I see my classes back to back, I get to figure out what worked well and what I need to tweak after the first run. It's nice to have the chance to do that, especially when you can see marked improvement in how students respond the second time around.

As for things health related, I'm making some progress there too. I used to do 45 minutes of cardio at a pretty decent clip each day on the elliptical machine, with intervals of high resistance to make it more challenging. Needless to say, after the switch to low-carb foods, that wasn't something I could maintain anymore (no quick energy available). It was frustrating -- I had to cut my workouts to 30 minutes on low resistance the whole time (and even that was tough to get through). But in the last week, I've been able to raise the resistance by one level, which means my body is adjusting. Perhaps another notch up in a few weeks? We'll see.

Okay, break time's over. Time to get back to the essay.

3 comments:

hypoglycemiagirl said...

oh, the uncertainty and doubt that arises when buying property.

Yes, it's the buyer's market now, but if you just wait a little longer, the prices will decrease even more and your mortgage will be lower than if you buy now..... but when will the prices rise again?

Arrrgh.

French Fancy said...

You must be such a disciplined person to manage the dietary change so easily. I might have cracked by now. I'm glad that it seems to be getting easier.

As for D's 18 houses in 8 hrs - how could he do it? And retain clear images and do plans of each one? The man is a veritable marvel.

Good luck with the essay - glad you've got a good prof. I bet you're a good teacher too.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

hgg -- Indeed, indeed. There's also the problem of having your house depreciate if you buy too early and then having to wait longer before you can sell it again. We've had to change the size of the place we're looking for to account for this. We need something that we won't outgrow in five years if we need to keep it for seven or eight.

FF -- Thanks, regarding the diet thing and teaching :). And yes, D's a wonder! He says he took lots of notes when he was doing his tour. He's always been the kind of guy to throw himself into something he's enthusiastic about with 110 percent of the energy anyone else would normally muster. Admirable, but also difficult to keep up with!