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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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The perfect storm

I knew I shouldn't have stayed up so late on Saturday.

I've been having trouble getting properly tired at my usual bedtime in the last ten days or so partly because of all the excitement about the next few weeks and also because my sugar's been screwy. I've been getting highs and lows, probably because of the increase in stress (good and bad), and that means conking out involuntarily in the middle of the day on the couch. Carb-induced naps mean not being sleepy when it's time to wind down at the end of the day.

Saturday was one of those evenings -- couldn't seem to shut off my brain, so I packed more stuff just to be productive (grading and writing weren't happening either). As a result, I got up a little later than usual on Sunday. Had breakfast, read the news online. My parents-in-law were planning to meet me for dinner, so I figured I'd try to get work done during the day. Took a stab at an introduction for my essay, didn't seem to be making headway, so I started cleaning up the living room of packing debris so the in-laws would be able to sit down. Figured I'd fit a workout in after lunch and then a shower before one last stint of grading while waiting for them to arrive.

Suddenly, I heard a light series of knocks on my apartment door. At first I thought I was imagining things, but it lasted too long to be someone accidentally bumping into the wall with a bag of groceries on the way up the stairs. I peered through the peephole, figuring it was some door-to-door solicitor -- and was appalled to find my mother-in-law on the other side.

There I was, still in pajamas, hair going in four different directions, face unwashed, bags of garbage sitting on the floor by my feet. Talk about getting caught at a bad time! Within a few sentences of awkward conversation, I figured out that when my mother-in-law says dinner, she means lunch. But only on Sundays. Oh, Midwestern semantics! Why, I ask, would she use such a designation when making time-sensitive arrangements with someone who clearly didn't grow up in a Midwestern family?

I don't think I've been quite that embarrassed in a long time. To make matters worse, my mother-in-law insisted that she'd been calling and calling but that I hadn't picked up my phone (which, on my end, had been perfectly silent all morning). Turns out that she had my old phone number in her cell -- which I had disconnected in 2005. She doesn't know how to program contacts, so one of D's brothers had put my old information in a long time ago, and she'd never changed it.

Once I got over my initial shock and counted to ten so I wouldn't say something I'd regret, I was able to invite her inside. My father-in-law appeared then (he'd been parking the car) and we quickly reconfigured our plans. They had intended to pick up their spare table and chairs, which I had been borrowing during my time at school, so they worked on fitting those things into their car while I took a very quick shower. Then we headed out for sushi and everything was fine.

Except I'm still rattled about the whole getting-caught-by-the-in-laws-in-pajamas-after-noon-in-the-midst-of-a-small-disaster-site thing. I know D's parents don't think I'm a bum, and I had absolutely valid reasons for putting off showering till later (cleaning, exercise), but damn it, I still feel all squirmy thinking about the experience.

To take my mind off all this, I'm going to post a picture of my workspace. I'm taking down the art and the bulletin board today and wrapping everything for safe shipment, so the little nook I've called my creative center for two years is going away. I guess in the last few months I haven't been doing much there -- I do better writing curled up on the couch, I've found -- but the pictures and cards I've put up are visible from there too, and they give me good things to think about. The next time I see them will be when D and I hang them in our new home, which is now officially ours; D got the keys last Thursday.

There, that's a much better thought. More on the house very, very soon -- we'll be starting the moving process from the Seattle apartment this weekend!

12 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh my sweet bloggy friend - I feel for you. In fact I've gone off your inlaws since finding out you had to share your Easter time with them - so I'm more concerned with your mortified feelings than with what they thought.

You work very hard, your hubbie is away from you most of the time, you are not in the best of health - and if they can't be understanding about what you choose to do in your home, then they are not worth it.

I realise I sound a touch hostile towards them, but I know how I would feel (although Mr FF's mum is a sweet kind woman so it would never arise) - at least it saved you having to prepare a meal for them

You look after yourself and I'm so excited on your behalf about the happiness that is awaiting you in your new home.

x

Jacqueline said...

Oh. MG. OMG.
I feelz for you... good recovery! :)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- thanks. They're very, very understanding people, I must say. We had planned to go out for the meal, so fortunately, there was no expectation that I would have food prepared (or I'd REALLY have felt terrible). It was just an unfortunate misunderstanding on the time of day coupled with technological snafus. As for the Easter thing -- we went more to get some time in with the grandparents who don't travel. Didn't make it feel any easier to have to share the time, but D's parents would have understood, I think, if it had been just them and we'd said we weren't coming.

Sigh. I could write pages on the challenges of balancing time with family while doing the long-distance marriage thing. It's been one of the hardest parts of the whole experience, and I don't trust myself enough with my feelings to write about it often!

Jacqueline -- the art of speed showering saves more than just water! :)

Mrs Whatsit said...

I completely understand your embarrassment. I feel I have to have the place spotless when MIL visits. Not so much when my mother visits. Of course, my mother already knows I'm a slob. MIL is still in the dark.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, Mrs. Whatsit -- thanks for stopping by! Yes, even though MIL is not a white-glove inspection kind of person (she's very down to earth), I feel the need to have the place look moderately tidy. Annoying compulsion! I think I was worried she would offer to help clean (not because the mess bothered her but because she's just nice that way). I feel uncomfortable with people picking up after me like I'm still a kid.

david mcmahon said...

Came here from French Fancy. We shared your post and experienced all your emotions with you.

But at least your in-laws DID visit.

Good luck with the new home .....

Wayfarer Scientista said...

oftah! Yeah, that's enough to make anyone a little off kilter. But your new office is nice.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

David -- yes, it was good to have the visit.

Wayfarer -- this is actually my old office :). The contents are moving to the new house in a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by!

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. I can see how that would be disconcerting. But then there was sushi! Yay! And I can't wait to see your new work area in your new home, in which you will write a great novel or great non-fiction (or whatever it is that you will write). I'm excited for you! And hoping you have been sleeping.

French Fancy said...

all packed yet?or have you gone now?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, GEW -- yes, sushi made things better. Sleep's not bad these days -- can't be distracted by packing now because there's so much grading! But in exactly week, that will be over. Very excited.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- not all packed yet, but clearing out the last of the grading and trying to get my last paper done for the semester. I think I've finally got a window to do the latter in this weekend!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The perfect storm

I knew I shouldn't have stayed up so late on Saturday.

I've been having trouble getting properly tired at my usual bedtime in the last ten days or so partly because of all the excitement about the next few weeks and also because my sugar's been screwy. I've been getting highs and lows, probably because of the increase in stress (good and bad), and that means conking out involuntarily in the middle of the day on the couch. Carb-induced naps mean not being sleepy when it's time to wind down at the end of the day.

Saturday was one of those evenings -- couldn't seem to shut off my brain, so I packed more stuff just to be productive (grading and writing weren't happening either). As a result, I got up a little later than usual on Sunday. Had breakfast, read the news online. My parents-in-law were planning to meet me for dinner, so I figured I'd try to get work done during the day. Took a stab at an introduction for my essay, didn't seem to be making headway, so I started cleaning up the living room of packing debris so the in-laws would be able to sit down. Figured I'd fit a workout in after lunch and then a shower before one last stint of grading while waiting for them to arrive.

Suddenly, I heard a light series of knocks on my apartment door. At first I thought I was imagining things, but it lasted too long to be someone accidentally bumping into the wall with a bag of groceries on the way up the stairs. I peered through the peephole, figuring it was some door-to-door solicitor -- and was appalled to find my mother-in-law on the other side.

There I was, still in pajamas, hair going in four different directions, face unwashed, bags of garbage sitting on the floor by my feet. Talk about getting caught at a bad time! Within a few sentences of awkward conversation, I figured out that when my mother-in-law says dinner, she means lunch. But only on Sundays. Oh, Midwestern semantics! Why, I ask, would she use such a designation when making time-sensitive arrangements with someone who clearly didn't grow up in a Midwestern family?

I don't think I've been quite that embarrassed in a long time. To make matters worse, my mother-in-law insisted that she'd been calling and calling but that I hadn't picked up my phone (which, on my end, had been perfectly silent all morning). Turns out that she had my old phone number in her cell -- which I had disconnected in 2005. She doesn't know how to program contacts, so one of D's brothers had put my old information in a long time ago, and she'd never changed it.

Once I got over my initial shock and counted to ten so I wouldn't say something I'd regret, I was able to invite her inside. My father-in-law appeared then (he'd been parking the car) and we quickly reconfigured our plans. They had intended to pick up their spare table and chairs, which I had been borrowing during my time at school, so they worked on fitting those things into their car while I took a very quick shower. Then we headed out for sushi and everything was fine.

Except I'm still rattled about the whole getting-caught-by-the-in-laws-in-pajamas-after-noon-in-the-midst-of-a-small-disaster-site thing. I know D's parents don't think I'm a bum, and I had absolutely valid reasons for putting off showering till later (cleaning, exercise), but damn it, I still feel all squirmy thinking about the experience.

To take my mind off all this, I'm going to post a picture of my workspace. I'm taking down the art and the bulletin board today and wrapping everything for safe shipment, so the little nook I've called my creative center for two years is going away. I guess in the last few months I haven't been doing much there -- I do better writing curled up on the couch, I've found -- but the pictures and cards I've put up are visible from there too, and they give me good things to think about. The next time I see them will be when D and I hang them in our new home, which is now officially ours; D got the keys last Thursday.

There, that's a much better thought. More on the house very, very soon -- we'll be starting the moving process from the Seattle apartment this weekend!

12 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh my sweet bloggy friend - I feel for you. In fact I've gone off your inlaws since finding out you had to share your Easter time with them - so I'm more concerned with your mortified feelings than with what they thought.

You work very hard, your hubbie is away from you most of the time, you are not in the best of health - and if they can't be understanding about what you choose to do in your home, then they are not worth it.

I realise I sound a touch hostile towards them, but I know how I would feel (although Mr FF's mum is a sweet kind woman so it would never arise) - at least it saved you having to prepare a meal for them

You look after yourself and I'm so excited on your behalf about the happiness that is awaiting you in your new home.

x

Jacqueline said...

Oh. MG. OMG.
I feelz for you... good recovery! :)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- thanks. They're very, very understanding people, I must say. We had planned to go out for the meal, so fortunately, there was no expectation that I would have food prepared (or I'd REALLY have felt terrible). It was just an unfortunate misunderstanding on the time of day coupled with technological snafus. As for the Easter thing -- we went more to get some time in with the grandparents who don't travel. Didn't make it feel any easier to have to share the time, but D's parents would have understood, I think, if it had been just them and we'd said we weren't coming.

Sigh. I could write pages on the challenges of balancing time with family while doing the long-distance marriage thing. It's been one of the hardest parts of the whole experience, and I don't trust myself enough with my feelings to write about it often!

Jacqueline -- the art of speed showering saves more than just water! :)

Mrs Whatsit said...

I completely understand your embarrassment. I feel I have to have the place spotless when MIL visits. Not so much when my mother visits. Of course, my mother already knows I'm a slob. MIL is still in the dark.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, Mrs. Whatsit -- thanks for stopping by! Yes, even though MIL is not a white-glove inspection kind of person (she's very down to earth), I feel the need to have the place look moderately tidy. Annoying compulsion! I think I was worried she would offer to help clean (not because the mess bothered her but because she's just nice that way). I feel uncomfortable with people picking up after me like I'm still a kid.

david mcmahon said...

Came here from French Fancy. We shared your post and experienced all your emotions with you.

But at least your in-laws DID visit.

Good luck with the new home .....

Wayfarer Scientista said...

oftah! Yeah, that's enough to make anyone a little off kilter. But your new office is nice.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

David -- yes, it was good to have the visit.

Wayfarer -- this is actually my old office :). The contents are moving to the new house in a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by!

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. I can see how that would be disconcerting. But then there was sushi! Yay! And I can't wait to see your new work area in your new home, in which you will write a great novel or great non-fiction (or whatever it is that you will write). I'm excited for you! And hoping you have been sleeping.

French Fancy said...

all packed yet?or have you gone now?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hi, GEW -- yes, sushi made things better. Sleep's not bad these days -- can't be distracted by packing now because there's so much grading! But in exactly week, that will be over. Very excited.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- not all packed yet, but clearing out the last of the grading and trying to get my last paper done for the semester. I think I've finally got a window to do the latter in this weekend!