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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, June 15, 2009

Down time at DFW and a diet-tribe

You know you’ve been doing too much traveling when, upon arriving at an airport for your layover, you can direct other people to the nearest watering hole.

Okay, I admit, I happened to be looking for a place to buy dinner and was standing in front of an airport directory, but the guy who wanted beer was asking which vendors on the list would sell him one, not where to find any restaurant in particular. Being fairly familiar with the various establishments at DFW after getting stranded there back in March -- not because I visited them but because I walked past them so many times while roaming from terminal to terminal -- I pointed him toward the most likely options, and we went our separate ways.

I will be very happy to sleep in my own bed tonight! Seven nights on the floor of a dorm and then two more on a stick-to-your-skin leather couch are a little rough on the body. But it was all in the name of research and some long overdue catching up with friends I haven’t spent time with in at least six years. I think I achieved both of those primary goals, and that’s what matters.

Eating as a prediabetic for such a long period away from home was a pretty challenging but informative learning experience too. I was really lucky I was staying for the majority of the trip with someone who understood my needs so well -- whether we were staying in or going out, I didn’t need to feel like a nuisance for having to request menus that would give me enough to eat (heavy on the vegetables and lean protein, light on the carbs). I also didn’t need to feel deprived because we kept regular meal times and we didn’t have a lot of forbidden foods on the table for me to lust after. On top of that, I packed my own breakfast (low-carb cereal) to keep things cheaper and to prevent anyone from having to stock it for me -- the friend I stayed with for most of last week tends not to eat breakfast as it is, so I expected I’d be on my own for that anyway.

These last two days were quite a bit harder as I changed hosts for the weekend, and the other person I stayed with seemed to think that as long as I had salad, it was perfectly fine for her and her boyfriend to eat pasta and pancakes and chocolate chip cookies (the first was for dinner, the second lunch, and the third dessert after another dinner). I’m not saying other people should have to forgo all those goodies when I’m eating with them, but it did feel a little cruel to be given no substitutes or variety in alternatives. I love salad – I’ve been eating Cobbs, Caesars, and other kinds every single day for lunch and sometimes dinner in the last week without feeling deprived when that’s what I’ve decided to have -- but when you’ve invited me into your home and your meal has absolutely nothing in common with mine when we sit down at the table and mine is in fact a repeat of what I’ve eaten at every other meal you’ve served me, it feels like my food was an afterthought. If you get dessert, shouldn’t I? There are lots of sugar-free options out there.

I think the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were the clincher last night. I felt like I needed to leave the room while they noshed on them, three or four at a time. Dinner was light, so I was still hungry but I didn’t feel comfortable asking my host for more food. Moral of the story: when staying with strangers who might not understand your dietary needs, pack your own treats (I tried to go lighter on the baggage since it was already so stuffed, but perhaps it would have been worth the extra few ounces for some sugar-free chocolate). And if you’re someone who might be hosting a guest for a meal where dietary restrictions come into play, at least try to make sure your guest has as many courses as you do so s/he doesn’t have to sit there pretending not to notice that you’re eating while his/her plate is awkwardly bare.

Okay, I’m off my little soapbox now -- time to find a good carry-on meal option! This won’t be posted until after I get home (no free internet till then), but for now, the dinner hour approaches.

7 comments:

Sherlock said...

Sometimes people can be so inconsiderate and sometimes they just don't know any better. My dad has been Type 2 for about five years. We were always careful not to overdo the sweets and carbs when he came for dinner -- there was always something he could eat and not feel left out. I made sugar-free desserts when he was there.

However, it wasn't until I was diagnosed with Type 2 earlier this year that I realized just how restrictive the diet really is and that we were, in actuality, not very considerate of my dad. He ate the food we fixed (in limited quantities) and I would suppose he did okay with it. I would also suppose he would have said so if he needed to NOT eat certain things. But I didn't know a the time and he didnt' say.

Hope the rest of the trip home was good and you had a good night's sleep in your own bed!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock, I'm sure your dad appreciated what you provided with his needs in mind, even if he had to eat it in limited portions. The fact that you went to the trouble to make those things so he wouldn't be left out couldn't have gone unnoticed.

As for the sleep, it was blissful. There's nothing like one's own bed after a very long trip!

Sherlock said...

Just wanted to drop by real quick and let you know that I'm giving you the "lovely blog award" because I've always enjoyed reading your blog!! Come on over to my place to pick up your award!!

Good Enough Woman said...

Can you eat the sugar-free bon-bon things from See's Candies? Or really dark chocolate? If so, I'm mentally sending you some right now!

Watching others eat dessert while one is still hungry sounds very hard and awkward. Kudos to you for not given in to your inner cookie monster!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock, how sweet! Thanks very much. It may take me a few months to come up with 15 other blogs to pass the award to, but I'll do it a few at a time :)

GEW, I've never tried See's as I haven't come across a vendor in my area yet. Will have to look around. Russell Stover makes some nice sugar-free candies too. Thanks for the mental bonbons!

French Fancy said...

Hello you, I'm very happy to be back on your blog and I've got to award you the French Fancy award for discipline and self-control in the face of selfish people guzzling cookies in front of someone who can't eat them. How insensitive of them and I feel very cross on your behalf.

You should be justly proud of yourself though - go on, go and get some treats that you can eat

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I will, FF :). And welcome back! So nice to see you again.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Down time at DFW and a diet-tribe

You know you’ve been doing too much traveling when, upon arriving at an airport for your layover, you can direct other people to the nearest watering hole.

Okay, I admit, I happened to be looking for a place to buy dinner and was standing in front of an airport directory, but the guy who wanted beer was asking which vendors on the list would sell him one, not where to find any restaurant in particular. Being fairly familiar with the various establishments at DFW after getting stranded there back in March -- not because I visited them but because I walked past them so many times while roaming from terminal to terminal -- I pointed him toward the most likely options, and we went our separate ways.

I will be very happy to sleep in my own bed tonight! Seven nights on the floor of a dorm and then two more on a stick-to-your-skin leather couch are a little rough on the body. But it was all in the name of research and some long overdue catching up with friends I haven’t spent time with in at least six years. I think I achieved both of those primary goals, and that’s what matters.

Eating as a prediabetic for such a long period away from home was a pretty challenging but informative learning experience too. I was really lucky I was staying for the majority of the trip with someone who understood my needs so well -- whether we were staying in or going out, I didn’t need to feel like a nuisance for having to request menus that would give me enough to eat (heavy on the vegetables and lean protein, light on the carbs). I also didn’t need to feel deprived because we kept regular meal times and we didn’t have a lot of forbidden foods on the table for me to lust after. On top of that, I packed my own breakfast (low-carb cereal) to keep things cheaper and to prevent anyone from having to stock it for me -- the friend I stayed with for most of last week tends not to eat breakfast as it is, so I expected I’d be on my own for that anyway.

These last two days were quite a bit harder as I changed hosts for the weekend, and the other person I stayed with seemed to think that as long as I had salad, it was perfectly fine for her and her boyfriend to eat pasta and pancakes and chocolate chip cookies (the first was for dinner, the second lunch, and the third dessert after another dinner). I’m not saying other people should have to forgo all those goodies when I’m eating with them, but it did feel a little cruel to be given no substitutes or variety in alternatives. I love salad – I’ve been eating Cobbs, Caesars, and other kinds every single day for lunch and sometimes dinner in the last week without feeling deprived when that’s what I’ve decided to have -- but when you’ve invited me into your home and your meal has absolutely nothing in common with mine when we sit down at the table and mine is in fact a repeat of what I’ve eaten at every other meal you’ve served me, it feels like my food was an afterthought. If you get dessert, shouldn’t I? There are lots of sugar-free options out there.

I think the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were the clincher last night. I felt like I needed to leave the room while they noshed on them, three or four at a time. Dinner was light, so I was still hungry but I didn’t feel comfortable asking my host for more food. Moral of the story: when staying with strangers who might not understand your dietary needs, pack your own treats (I tried to go lighter on the baggage since it was already so stuffed, but perhaps it would have been worth the extra few ounces for some sugar-free chocolate). And if you’re someone who might be hosting a guest for a meal where dietary restrictions come into play, at least try to make sure your guest has as many courses as you do so s/he doesn’t have to sit there pretending not to notice that you’re eating while his/her plate is awkwardly bare.

Okay, I’m off my little soapbox now -- time to find a good carry-on meal option! This won’t be posted until after I get home (no free internet till then), but for now, the dinner hour approaches.

7 comments:

Sherlock said...

Sometimes people can be so inconsiderate and sometimes they just don't know any better. My dad has been Type 2 for about five years. We were always careful not to overdo the sweets and carbs when he came for dinner -- there was always something he could eat and not feel left out. I made sugar-free desserts when he was there.

However, it wasn't until I was diagnosed with Type 2 earlier this year that I realized just how restrictive the diet really is and that we were, in actuality, not very considerate of my dad. He ate the food we fixed (in limited quantities) and I would suppose he did okay with it. I would also suppose he would have said so if he needed to NOT eat certain things. But I didn't know a the time and he didnt' say.

Hope the rest of the trip home was good and you had a good night's sleep in your own bed!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock, I'm sure your dad appreciated what you provided with his needs in mind, even if he had to eat it in limited portions. The fact that you went to the trouble to make those things so he wouldn't be left out couldn't have gone unnoticed.

As for the sleep, it was blissful. There's nothing like one's own bed after a very long trip!

Sherlock said...

Just wanted to drop by real quick and let you know that I'm giving you the "lovely blog award" because I've always enjoyed reading your blog!! Come on over to my place to pick up your award!!

Good Enough Woman said...

Can you eat the sugar-free bon-bon things from See's Candies? Or really dark chocolate? If so, I'm mentally sending you some right now!

Watching others eat dessert while one is still hungry sounds very hard and awkward. Kudos to you for not given in to your inner cookie monster!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock, how sweet! Thanks very much. It may take me a few months to come up with 15 other blogs to pass the award to, but I'll do it a few at a time :)

GEW, I've never tried See's as I haven't come across a vendor in my area yet. Will have to look around. Russell Stover makes some nice sugar-free candies too. Thanks for the mental bonbons!

French Fancy said...

Hello you, I'm very happy to be back on your blog and I've got to award you the French Fancy award for discipline and self-control in the face of selfish people guzzling cookies in front of someone who can't eat them. How insensitive of them and I feel very cross on your behalf.

You should be justly proud of yourself though - go on, go and get some treats that you can eat

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I will, FF :). And welcome back! So nice to see you again.