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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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For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

For posts on frequently referenced topics, click the buttons to the right.

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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, June 12, 2009

In which I become an undergrad again

Well, not really, but it sort of feels that way for two reasons. The first is that I spent most of last week wandering the grounds of my alma mater and (re)experiencing the university's commencement ceremonies. Almost Dr. Sis and I had a terrific time -- both of us felt we could actually enjoy the hoopla properly since neither of us were preoccupied with the uncertainties of the next day: how to get completely packed and moved out of the dorms by 5 p.m. as well as how to make the transition to that thing called the Real World after four years in the protective bubble of those dorms. They provided hot meals and an instant community when we arrived. How were we supposed to find those things again on the outside?

Actually, I think our younger sister will have no trouble. She's amazing in the kitchen (having worked for a catering service helps in that area) and she's incredibly comfortable meeting new people (even in early childhood, she was never panicked by the presence of strangers as we were). Wish I were as outgoing -- I'm not quite so shy anymore, but I am apprehensive about finding ways to make new friends once I get properly settled in Seattle. Perhaps I should start looking for special-interest groups in the area, or maybe sign up to volunteer somewhere once or twice a week? Otherwise, I'll end up too easily content to stay at home, nesting.

But yes, back to graduation. Almost Dr. Sis and I tried to chase down the parade of seniors from our younger sister's dorm to get a picture of her marching (each dorm's residents process to the ceremony through the city streets after breakfast, escorted by bagpipers). Unfortunately, we couldn't locate anyone from her dorm and kept running into folks from others. In the end, after sprinting around madly in heels with cameras in tow, we made it to the university church in time to see the last of the seniors filing in for some final words of wisdom from the reverend:


Still not the group we were looking for, but at least it's representative ...

We finally caught up with Newly Graduated Sis in the afternoon -- and from then on, time moved in leaps: a celebration at a lovely restaurant, a few hours of sleep, and then speed-packing NG Sis's belongings. D, who flew in for the graduation dinner, schlepped ALL of the boxes over crazy cobblestone sidewalks to the nearest Staples for shipping the following day. No question, he's the best. Wish I'd had that kind of assistance when I was moving out!

Now, the second reason I'm feeling like an undergrad again (sorry, I got carried away talking about the previous one): I've been staying this week with a former college roommate, who is pursuing a Ph.D. at another university nearby -- and I have to say, it's been an adjustment returning to dorm life. At Little U., there were no graduate dorms, so everyone rented apartments. Here in Boston, the rent is much less budget-friendly, so the university has to provide other options. My friend has a single room in a group of three that share a bathroom and standard-size refrigerator (no common space, just a corridor connecting everything). A kitchen for the entire floor of residents is available down the hall (not sure exactly how many people use it, but there are about 500 students housed on five floors, some living in suites with private kitchens, if they can afford it, and some without).

I think the obstacles to cooking a proper meal are what have really stood out to me in the last few days. We've been making use of the kitchen as best we can, but because of the limited fridge space and storage for cooking utensils in the tiny rooms, it's not easy to eat cheaply without eating poorly (i.e., prepackaged stuff meant for the microwave rather than meals using fresh produce and actual pots and pans). We've found that stir-fries are a fairly economical, single-pan way to go without sacrificing our health -- my friend's diabetic so agreeing on a menu has been pretty easy. I have to admire her creativity in finding space for her cooking supplies:


The shelf is actually a shoe rack, and the drawers are empty clementine crates. Genius.

When we were true undergrads, we had access to a kitchen during our sophomore year but not a lot of funds to invest in cookware. So we bought an all-metal pot that doubled as a skillet and baking pan for many recipes. We remembered that this week while we were jury-rigging a lid for her current pot so we could boil water (a large plate works well). It's been useful to my research, unearthing such memories here, as my thesis will examine a part of my life in those first years away from home. I never expected this trip to provide this sort of "data" though -- I only intended to conduct interviews with some Boston-based contacts when I arranged to stay the week. The magic of serendipity, I guess.

Notes to transcribe, groceries to pick up. More news as soon as I can sort out more of my whirling thoughts.

2 comments:

Bev said...

Waahh such fun! You all are my heroes...as I'm unpacking boxes I keep finding things snuggled in T-shirts and wedged cleverly into spaces I never would have dreamed existed :). Chat soon to catch up more about your trip?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

But of course :)

I think cutting up the egg-crate foam padding from your bed was the capstone achievement in creative packing -- good suggestion.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

In which I become an undergrad again

Well, not really, but it sort of feels that way for two reasons. The first is that I spent most of last week wandering the grounds of my alma mater and (re)experiencing the university's commencement ceremonies. Almost Dr. Sis and I had a terrific time -- both of us felt we could actually enjoy the hoopla properly since neither of us were preoccupied with the uncertainties of the next day: how to get completely packed and moved out of the dorms by 5 p.m. as well as how to make the transition to that thing called the Real World after four years in the protective bubble of those dorms. They provided hot meals and an instant community when we arrived. How were we supposed to find those things again on the outside?

Actually, I think our younger sister will have no trouble. She's amazing in the kitchen (having worked for a catering service helps in that area) and she's incredibly comfortable meeting new people (even in early childhood, she was never panicked by the presence of strangers as we were). Wish I were as outgoing -- I'm not quite so shy anymore, but I am apprehensive about finding ways to make new friends once I get properly settled in Seattle. Perhaps I should start looking for special-interest groups in the area, or maybe sign up to volunteer somewhere once or twice a week? Otherwise, I'll end up too easily content to stay at home, nesting.

But yes, back to graduation. Almost Dr. Sis and I tried to chase down the parade of seniors from our younger sister's dorm to get a picture of her marching (each dorm's residents process to the ceremony through the city streets after breakfast, escorted by bagpipers). Unfortunately, we couldn't locate anyone from her dorm and kept running into folks from others. In the end, after sprinting around madly in heels with cameras in tow, we made it to the university church in time to see the last of the seniors filing in for some final words of wisdom from the reverend:


Still not the group we were looking for, but at least it's representative ...

We finally caught up with Newly Graduated Sis in the afternoon -- and from then on, time moved in leaps: a celebration at a lovely restaurant, a few hours of sleep, and then speed-packing NG Sis's belongings. D, who flew in for the graduation dinner, schlepped ALL of the boxes over crazy cobblestone sidewalks to the nearest Staples for shipping the following day. No question, he's the best. Wish I'd had that kind of assistance when I was moving out!

Now, the second reason I'm feeling like an undergrad again (sorry, I got carried away talking about the previous one): I've been staying this week with a former college roommate, who is pursuing a Ph.D. at another university nearby -- and I have to say, it's been an adjustment returning to dorm life. At Little U., there were no graduate dorms, so everyone rented apartments. Here in Boston, the rent is much less budget-friendly, so the university has to provide other options. My friend has a single room in a group of three that share a bathroom and standard-size refrigerator (no common space, just a corridor connecting everything). A kitchen for the entire floor of residents is available down the hall (not sure exactly how many people use it, but there are about 500 students housed on five floors, some living in suites with private kitchens, if they can afford it, and some without).

I think the obstacles to cooking a proper meal are what have really stood out to me in the last few days. We've been making use of the kitchen as best we can, but because of the limited fridge space and storage for cooking utensils in the tiny rooms, it's not easy to eat cheaply without eating poorly (i.e., prepackaged stuff meant for the microwave rather than meals using fresh produce and actual pots and pans). We've found that stir-fries are a fairly economical, single-pan way to go without sacrificing our health -- my friend's diabetic so agreeing on a menu has been pretty easy. I have to admire her creativity in finding space for her cooking supplies:


The shelf is actually a shoe rack, and the drawers are empty clementine crates. Genius.

When we were true undergrads, we had access to a kitchen during our sophomore year but not a lot of funds to invest in cookware. So we bought an all-metal pot that doubled as a skillet and baking pan for many recipes. We remembered that this week while we were jury-rigging a lid for her current pot so we could boil water (a large plate works well). It's been useful to my research, unearthing such memories here, as my thesis will examine a part of my life in those first years away from home. I never expected this trip to provide this sort of "data" though -- I only intended to conduct interviews with some Boston-based contacts when I arranged to stay the week. The magic of serendipity, I guess.

Notes to transcribe, groceries to pick up. More news as soon as I can sort out more of my whirling thoughts.

2 comments:

Bev said...

Waahh such fun! You all are my heroes...as I'm unpacking boxes I keep finding things snuggled in T-shirts and wedged cleverly into spaces I never would have dreamed existed :). Chat soon to catch up more about your trip?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

But of course :)

I think cutting up the egg-crate foam padding from your bed was the capstone achievement in creative packing -- good suggestion.