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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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Have salt, will travel

Airports. Not the best places to sleep, but in terms of providing basic office services, they're not bad.

I got stranded in Dallas on Friday because of the blizzard that settled over the Texas panhandle, home of Troubadour Mom and Dad (Troubadour Mom had a birthday last week, so it was a nice reason to visit):

Image courtesy of weather.com

I expected flights to be canceled, given the numerous warnings the National Weather Service was putting out days in advance about whiteout conditions, so I packed a good chunk of work and enough cereal to cover me for two extra breakfasts (that's the one meal that's more difficult to get from airport vendors in a form that will fit my dietary restrictions).

Around the time I was finishing lunch, D called me to say our realtor needed my signature on the post-inspection repairs agreed to by the seller of our house -- preferably before the weekend. Hmm, what to do? I knew I could get to my e-mail for the documents, but where was I going to find a printer and a fax machine without being a member of any airline's elite travelers' club (with the private lounges and conference rooms for business executives on the go)?

Well, it turns out that the people who work at the information kiosks scattered around DFW's terminals have access to their own office technology. For free. They set me up with everything I needed, and within an hour of D's call, he had the forms in hand to add his own signature to.

I wish I could say the rest of my day was as productive. I nodded off more than I graded while sitting in the airport's low-slung faux-leather chairs -- I'd only had three hours of sleep on the previous night -- and by the time the last flight out was scrubbed, all I wanted was a good workout, some dinner, and a real bed. I got all of that at a hotel a few miles away after getting tickets for the next morning.

Saturday, 6 a.m.: first three flights of the day to Panhandle canceled. Grrrr.

Being slightly better rested, I plopped myself down by a plug in a wall (I've gotten pretty good at spotting these in airports since acquiring my laptop) and started editing my thesis prospectus -- it had been hanging over my head since before spring break, which is when I wrote the first draft. I also got to know the large herd of travelers also hoping to get to Panhandle. The first plane cleared to go was around 2 p.m., so we wandered in a pack thereafter, peeling off a few at a time whenever standby seats were available on flights to points northwest. I was eighteenth on the list, so I did quite a bit of wandering, but it allowed me to take breaks between editing sessions. We'd install ourselves at a gate, wait for it to board, and if we didn't get seats, we'd pack up and move on en masse to the gate for the next departure.

I finally landed in Panhandle shortly before 6 p.m., just in time for a belated birthday dinner. After cake (a sliver for me), I gave Mom the gift I'd been carrying with me for two days:


She loved it.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

Ooo - what's that in the case? Uninformed European person asks.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF, it's rock salt. They sell it here to throw on ice and snow to make it melt. It's harder to come by in Panhandle since they normally don't get much frozen precipitation. I always carry some in the car during the winter in case I get stuck somewhere.

Good Enough Woman said...

I am impressed by your apparent sense of calm while you were stranded. I am also impressed by your problem-solving and productiveness.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

haha! That's quite the gift. And quite the adventure, too. Congrats on getting the new house. That must be beyond exciting. Is it weird to think that this time on your own is drawing to an end, then? (weird but REALLY exciting, of course)
Hoping for more safe travels for you!
Katie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW, it helped that DFW is a familiar airport for me and that places to stay are fairly easy to come by in the area. When I got stuck at O'Hare last August because of a tornado, there was nothing within 40 miles! And to top that off, my checked luggage got left out on the tarmac and was badly damaged when it reached my final destination.

So relatively speaking, getting stranded in one place because of a blizzard at some other location is much less distressing :).

Katie, it's absolutely bizarre to think that all this commuting will be over soon, and yet I CANNOT WAIT to be done. I think that's what also made me especially intent on getting to Panhandle -- just to be away from the city that's been the site of all the being on my own. I love my little apartment here, but I'm ready for a home.

French Fancy said...

Will you still blog once you are both together and cosy in your dream home? I do hope so.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Yes, FF, I'm planning on keeping up the blogging. We won't have a commuter marriage any longer, but we will still have the two-body problem. Guess I'll have to change the subhead under the name of the blog ...

Jacqueline said...

You carry that in your car! Brilliant. How did you keep it from getting your luggage all crusty?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

It's a new bag, Jacqueline :).

For my car, I have a plastic barrel with a screw-on lid (looks like the old Utz pretzel containers, only about half the size). I pour the salt in there, which keeps me from having to deal with leaky plastic bags. The wide mouth makes it easy to spread the salt too.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Have salt, will travel

Airports. Not the best places to sleep, but in terms of providing basic office services, they're not bad.

I got stranded in Dallas on Friday because of the blizzard that settled over the Texas panhandle, home of Troubadour Mom and Dad (Troubadour Mom had a birthday last week, so it was a nice reason to visit):

Image courtesy of weather.com

I expected flights to be canceled, given the numerous warnings the National Weather Service was putting out days in advance about whiteout conditions, so I packed a good chunk of work and enough cereal to cover me for two extra breakfasts (that's the one meal that's more difficult to get from airport vendors in a form that will fit my dietary restrictions).

Around the time I was finishing lunch, D called me to say our realtor needed my signature on the post-inspection repairs agreed to by the seller of our house -- preferably before the weekend. Hmm, what to do? I knew I could get to my e-mail for the documents, but where was I going to find a printer and a fax machine without being a member of any airline's elite travelers' club (with the private lounges and conference rooms for business executives on the go)?

Well, it turns out that the people who work at the information kiosks scattered around DFW's terminals have access to their own office technology. For free. They set me up with everything I needed, and within an hour of D's call, he had the forms in hand to add his own signature to.

I wish I could say the rest of my day was as productive. I nodded off more than I graded while sitting in the airport's low-slung faux-leather chairs -- I'd only had three hours of sleep on the previous night -- and by the time the last flight out was scrubbed, all I wanted was a good workout, some dinner, and a real bed. I got all of that at a hotel a few miles away after getting tickets for the next morning.

Saturday, 6 a.m.: first three flights of the day to Panhandle canceled. Grrrr.

Being slightly better rested, I plopped myself down by a plug in a wall (I've gotten pretty good at spotting these in airports since acquiring my laptop) and started editing my thesis prospectus -- it had been hanging over my head since before spring break, which is when I wrote the first draft. I also got to know the large herd of travelers also hoping to get to Panhandle. The first plane cleared to go was around 2 p.m., so we wandered in a pack thereafter, peeling off a few at a time whenever standby seats were available on flights to points northwest. I was eighteenth on the list, so I did quite a bit of wandering, but it allowed me to take breaks between editing sessions. We'd install ourselves at a gate, wait for it to board, and if we didn't get seats, we'd pack up and move on en masse to the gate for the next departure.

I finally landed in Panhandle shortly before 6 p.m., just in time for a belated birthday dinner. After cake (a sliver for me), I gave Mom the gift I'd been carrying with me for two days:


She loved it.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

Ooo - what's that in the case? Uninformed European person asks.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF, it's rock salt. They sell it here to throw on ice and snow to make it melt. It's harder to come by in Panhandle since they normally don't get much frozen precipitation. I always carry some in the car during the winter in case I get stuck somewhere.

Good Enough Woman said...

I am impressed by your apparent sense of calm while you were stranded. I am also impressed by your problem-solving and productiveness.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

haha! That's quite the gift. And quite the adventure, too. Congrats on getting the new house. That must be beyond exciting. Is it weird to think that this time on your own is drawing to an end, then? (weird but REALLY exciting, of course)
Hoping for more safe travels for you!
Katie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW, it helped that DFW is a familiar airport for me and that places to stay are fairly easy to come by in the area. When I got stuck at O'Hare last August because of a tornado, there was nothing within 40 miles! And to top that off, my checked luggage got left out on the tarmac and was badly damaged when it reached my final destination.

So relatively speaking, getting stranded in one place because of a blizzard at some other location is much less distressing :).

Katie, it's absolutely bizarre to think that all this commuting will be over soon, and yet I CANNOT WAIT to be done. I think that's what also made me especially intent on getting to Panhandle -- just to be away from the city that's been the site of all the being on my own. I love my little apartment here, but I'm ready for a home.

French Fancy said...

Will you still blog once you are both together and cosy in your dream home? I do hope so.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Yes, FF, I'm planning on keeping up the blogging. We won't have a commuter marriage any longer, but we will still have the two-body problem. Guess I'll have to change the subhead under the name of the blog ...

Jacqueline said...

You carry that in your car! Brilliant. How did you keep it from getting your luggage all crusty?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

It's a new bag, Jacqueline :).

For my car, I have a plastic barrel with a screw-on lid (looks like the old Utz pretzel containers, only about half the size). I pour the salt in there, which keeps me from having to deal with leaky plastic bags. The wide mouth makes it easy to spread the salt too.