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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.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quotes for the day

End of the week at last. It's been a particularly tiring one since I've been holding extra office hours for my students, who are consulting with me on their first formal papers for the semester. The time spent will be worth it, I know, as I've already helped a good number of them focus their work (which will mean better papers in the end and a nicer grading experience for all involved). But now I'm exhausted!

After I got home today, I did manage to schedule a survey of my apartment for next week with a moving company, which is very exciting. One little bit closer to being back with D! The person doing the assessment will be here Wednesday morning to see what I've got at my place and to run some estimates on the cost -- with or without packing services, with or without shipping my car, etc. The ballpark quote the company gave me isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and if I can save money by packing things myself (all but the really fragile stuff), that will be good. I don't mind that part; I just hate the heavy lifting.

I think we've decided that I won't be driving the car back unless I can find someone to do it with me. It's very tempting to go it alone anyway, though. There's something attractively symbolic about the idea of that journey back to Seattle through the mountains and across the Continental Divide. The picture I've had of this homecoming for the last year and a half is an earthbound one, an arrival that allows me to pass beneath the sentinel gaze of the Cascades -- not the airport's TSA. The image at left is one that D took about 80 miles east of home as the crow flies (it's more like 120 miles by highway). How lovely a welcome that would be, to be shepherded home in the end by the firs I've missed. As much as I've enjoyed seeing Seattle from the window of a plane, I'm not especially taken with the idea of a reunion at Sea-Tac. It feels too transient: everyone there is going somewhere else and the jets momentarily on the tarmac are really denizens of the air. The trees, though, are rooted -- willingly.

D and I have had what feels like too many years of wandering from one corner of the U.S. to another, with career shifts to match. I'm ready for an end to that, especially when it comes to choosing a profession to stick with for more than 24 months. At the same time, I think the work it took to get us to where we are is important, and I don't want to negate that. I'd probably be much less certain about my job interests without having had the graduate school experience and the chance to take another crack at teaching. The first attempt (seventh graders in the Bronx) was a near disaster, and I ran away into editing (at a newspaper in Texas) but didn't feel challenged enough. So here I am.

I had to read Mary Catherine Bateson's Peripheral Visions for one of my classes this semester, and there's a really great passage in it that addresses the idea of indirect and broken trajectories. I'll end with it here, just because it makes these last few years feel like they've had purpose, even if they've been hard.

In my recent work on the ways women combine commitments to career and family, I have been struck by how commonly women zigzag from stage to stage without a long-term plan, improvising along the way, building the future from "something old and something new." For men and women, résumés full of change show resiliency and creativity, the strength to welcome new learning, yet personnel directors often discriminate against anyone whose résumé does not show a clear progression. Quite a common question in job interviews is "What do you want to be doing in five years?" "Something I cannot now imagine" is not yet a winning answer. Accepting that logic, young people worry about getting "on track," yet their years of experimentation and short-term jobs are becoming longer. If only to offer an alternative, we need to tell the other stories, the stories of shifting identities and interrupted paths, and to celebrate the triumphs of adaptation.

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

I'm so happy that all this long-distance living is nearly at an end for you. Have you got a college post lined up for the future or are you keeping all your options open?

I don't blame you for being reluctant to do the long drive alone. I've not done a long car journey all alone for years now and even though I love the idea of driving long distances with all my favourite music being played loudly, the reality is that I would be fed up after an hour

I liked that passage very much - oh so true.

Good Enough Woman said...

I have always loved road trips. And as I read your post, I had Nancy Griffith's "Across the Great Divide" playing in my head (at least I think that's the title).

But it's been a few years since I've done a big trip on my own. I suppose it does depend on how much one likes driving and how reliable one's car is.

But I once found someone to make a one-way trip with me when I moved from NC to CA, so perhaps you can still find a Thelma to your Louise (or vice versa)! Then again, perhaps that's not the best reference to consider.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- No college post lined up yet as I'll be using next year to complete my thesis (it's not required to do that on campus), but I'll certainly be looking into my options! An intimidating prospect. As for the possible trip, after doing the thousand-mile drive this past December, I think I have a better sense of my ability to take on twice the distance (in much more time). We'll see whether it's worth it ...

GEW -- Wow, NC to CA is an adventure! We did Texas to Seattle when we first moved D there, but we turned it into a 10-day vacation with stops at all sorts of fun places like Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and Sonoma Valley. I think I'll be taking the less scenic route this time for the sake of keeping it cheap (if I end up doing the drive). D had considered flying to, say, Denver, to meet me halfway, but we're not sure it's worth using his vacation time that way. Logistics, logistics.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Quotes for the day

End of the week at last. It's been a particularly tiring one since I've been holding extra office hours for my students, who are consulting with me on their first formal papers for the semester. The time spent will be worth it, I know, as I've already helped a good number of them focus their work (which will mean better papers in the end and a nicer grading experience for all involved). But now I'm exhausted!

After I got home today, I did manage to schedule a survey of my apartment for next week with a moving company, which is very exciting. One little bit closer to being back with D! The person doing the assessment will be here Wednesday morning to see what I've got at my place and to run some estimates on the cost -- with or without packing services, with or without shipping my car, etc. The ballpark quote the company gave me isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and if I can save money by packing things myself (all but the really fragile stuff), that will be good. I don't mind that part; I just hate the heavy lifting.

I think we've decided that I won't be driving the car back unless I can find someone to do it with me. It's very tempting to go it alone anyway, though. There's something attractively symbolic about the idea of that journey back to Seattle through the mountains and across the Continental Divide. The picture I've had of this homecoming for the last year and a half is an earthbound one, an arrival that allows me to pass beneath the sentinel gaze of the Cascades -- not the airport's TSA. The image at left is one that D took about 80 miles east of home as the crow flies (it's more like 120 miles by highway). How lovely a welcome that would be, to be shepherded home in the end by the firs I've missed. As much as I've enjoyed seeing Seattle from the window of a plane, I'm not especially taken with the idea of a reunion at Sea-Tac. It feels too transient: everyone there is going somewhere else and the jets momentarily on the tarmac are really denizens of the air. The trees, though, are rooted -- willingly.

D and I have had what feels like too many years of wandering from one corner of the U.S. to another, with career shifts to match. I'm ready for an end to that, especially when it comes to choosing a profession to stick with for more than 24 months. At the same time, I think the work it took to get us to where we are is important, and I don't want to negate that. I'd probably be much less certain about my job interests without having had the graduate school experience and the chance to take another crack at teaching. The first attempt (seventh graders in the Bronx) was a near disaster, and I ran away into editing (at a newspaper in Texas) but didn't feel challenged enough. So here I am.

I had to read Mary Catherine Bateson's Peripheral Visions for one of my classes this semester, and there's a really great passage in it that addresses the idea of indirect and broken trajectories. I'll end with it here, just because it makes these last few years feel like they've had purpose, even if they've been hard.

In my recent work on the ways women combine commitments to career and family, I have been struck by how commonly women zigzag from stage to stage without a long-term plan, improvising along the way, building the future from "something old and something new." For men and women, résumés full of change show resiliency and creativity, the strength to welcome new learning, yet personnel directors often discriminate against anyone whose résumé does not show a clear progression. Quite a common question in job interviews is "What do you want to be doing in five years?" "Something I cannot now imagine" is not yet a winning answer. Accepting that logic, young people worry about getting "on track," yet their years of experimentation and short-term jobs are becoming longer. If only to offer an alternative, we need to tell the other stories, the stories of shifting identities and interrupted paths, and to celebrate the triumphs of adaptation.

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

I'm so happy that all this long-distance living is nearly at an end for you. Have you got a college post lined up for the future or are you keeping all your options open?

I don't blame you for being reluctant to do the long drive alone. I've not done a long car journey all alone for years now and even though I love the idea of driving long distances with all my favourite music being played loudly, the reality is that I would be fed up after an hour

I liked that passage very much - oh so true.

Good Enough Woman said...

I have always loved road trips. And as I read your post, I had Nancy Griffith's "Across the Great Divide" playing in my head (at least I think that's the title).

But it's been a few years since I've done a big trip on my own. I suppose it does depend on how much one likes driving and how reliable one's car is.

But I once found someone to make a one-way trip with me when I moved from NC to CA, so perhaps you can still find a Thelma to your Louise (or vice versa)! Then again, perhaps that's not the best reference to consider.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- No college post lined up yet as I'll be using next year to complete my thesis (it's not required to do that on campus), but I'll certainly be looking into my options! An intimidating prospect. As for the possible trip, after doing the thousand-mile drive this past December, I think I have a better sense of my ability to take on twice the distance (in much more time). We'll see whether it's worth it ...

GEW -- Wow, NC to CA is an adventure! We did Texas to Seattle when we first moved D there, but we turned it into a 10-day vacation with stops at all sorts of fun places like Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and Sonoma Valley. I think I'll be taking the less scenic route this time for the sake of keeping it cheap (if I end up doing the drive). D had considered flying to, say, Denver, to meet me halfway, but we're not sure it's worth using his vacation time that way. Logistics, logistics.