Blogroll

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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On trains of thought


... and how I'm trying to get a grip on mine.

Numerous people have asked me in the last few weeks what my thesis is about. And each time, I've tried to come up with words to describe it, but I never feel like I've given a good answer. Part of this is a product of my not wanting to get too deep into personal details, as the subject is indeed personal, and part of it is just my having trouble deciding how I'm going to go at the topic itself. The thing is, in early May, I gave my prospectus, with tentative chapter outline, to my committee (four professors), and they essentially told me to toss the outline and just write. A refreshing approach to freeing the mind, invoking the muse, whatever you want to call it -- but the form my work will take is now completely unclear! Since I've tended to look at form as an essential part of defining what a piece of writing is about, I'm a bit stumped on what to say the shape of mine will be.

But I guess that's one of my goals in reading for the summer: seeking out some kind of frame on which to stretch my subject matter. The general topic is the body and how it mediates the way we relate to others. Since this is meant to become a narrative piece, I will indeed be writing about my body, but the story is more than that -- and here's where I get tongue-tied and can't really explain what that more is. It's not a body-image story or a sexuality story or an illness story. It's a character portrait in the form of memoir, I suppose, where the characters of the people under scrutiny (yes, the story's not just about me; that would be boring) are meant to come through to the reader via the characters' shared fascination with the body; the differing cultural attitudes toward it that come to bear on how the characters relate to each other; the experience of being a body at all. I say being rather than having because I don't want to imply that the body is just an object, a container for who we are. But that's an argument to get into at another time.

Clear as mud? I thought so.

I've been pondering over Arthur W. Frank's The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics as a jumping-off point for the last few weeks. It posits a theory on how we talk through the body to relate to others, specifically when illness strikes. My summary here totally oversimplifies what Frank examines and is even misleading -- it sounds like I'm saying we use the body in some nonverbal capacity to communicate when we get sick, but that's not it at all. I'm not going to be able to pin down Frank's real meaning without launching into a small treatise on his theory, so I'll spare you. But if you're interested in the body, illness, and the stories these two ideas together compel, this text is a good one to look at.

I'm not going to be looking strictly at illness, as I said before, but when things go wrong with the body, we do have a tendency to give voice to that experience. That leads me to my next nominees for the One Lovely Blog award -- I did some looking around on the internet yesterday and discovered some really interesting blogs that all spring to some degree from witnessing a breakdown in the body. The writing about the body in each is beautiful in its own way. So to continue with my nominations, I present:
Now go check them out. I promise they don't get all theoretical and they certainly offer food for thought.

3 comments:

Sherlock said...

Great blogs -- thanks! Still digesting the rest of your post but it does make sense!! Just got to get through another cuppa java before I can take it all in intelligibly :-) Have a great Wednesday!

French Fancy said...

You write so well about what the ideas behind your thesis are- every word counts and I have no doubt that when it is done and your viva has taken place you will come soaring through it all with an outstanding result.

I liked the idea of 'being' as opposed to 'having' a body. I had never thought of it like that.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- coffee was essential before I wrote the post too :).

FF -- thank you so much. The ideas behind the thesis keep evolving, so I'm never quite sure I've caught them in the moment when I do try to write about them. I'm glad they made sense to you!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On trains of thought


... and how I'm trying to get a grip on mine.

Numerous people have asked me in the last few weeks what my thesis is about. And each time, I've tried to come up with words to describe it, but I never feel like I've given a good answer. Part of this is a product of my not wanting to get too deep into personal details, as the subject is indeed personal, and part of it is just my having trouble deciding how I'm going to go at the topic itself. The thing is, in early May, I gave my prospectus, with tentative chapter outline, to my committee (four professors), and they essentially told me to toss the outline and just write. A refreshing approach to freeing the mind, invoking the muse, whatever you want to call it -- but the form my work will take is now completely unclear! Since I've tended to look at form as an essential part of defining what a piece of writing is about, I'm a bit stumped on what to say the shape of mine will be.

But I guess that's one of my goals in reading for the summer: seeking out some kind of frame on which to stretch my subject matter. The general topic is the body and how it mediates the way we relate to others. Since this is meant to become a narrative piece, I will indeed be writing about my body, but the story is more than that -- and here's where I get tongue-tied and can't really explain what that more is. It's not a body-image story or a sexuality story or an illness story. It's a character portrait in the form of memoir, I suppose, where the characters of the people under scrutiny (yes, the story's not just about me; that would be boring) are meant to come through to the reader via the characters' shared fascination with the body; the differing cultural attitudes toward it that come to bear on how the characters relate to each other; the experience of being a body at all. I say being rather than having because I don't want to imply that the body is just an object, a container for who we are. But that's an argument to get into at another time.

Clear as mud? I thought so.

I've been pondering over Arthur W. Frank's The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics as a jumping-off point for the last few weeks. It posits a theory on how we talk through the body to relate to others, specifically when illness strikes. My summary here totally oversimplifies what Frank examines and is even misleading -- it sounds like I'm saying we use the body in some nonverbal capacity to communicate when we get sick, but that's not it at all. I'm not going to be able to pin down Frank's real meaning without launching into a small treatise on his theory, so I'll spare you. But if you're interested in the body, illness, and the stories these two ideas together compel, this text is a good one to look at.

I'm not going to be looking strictly at illness, as I said before, but when things go wrong with the body, we do have a tendency to give voice to that experience. That leads me to my next nominees for the One Lovely Blog award -- I did some looking around on the internet yesterday and discovered some really interesting blogs that all spring to some degree from witnessing a breakdown in the body. The writing about the body in each is beautiful in its own way. So to continue with my nominations, I present:
Now go check them out. I promise they don't get all theoretical and they certainly offer food for thought.

3 comments:

Sherlock said...

Great blogs -- thanks! Still digesting the rest of your post but it does make sense!! Just got to get through another cuppa java before I can take it all in intelligibly :-) Have a great Wednesday!

French Fancy said...

You write so well about what the ideas behind your thesis are- every word counts and I have no doubt that when it is done and your viva has taken place you will come soaring through it all with an outstanding result.

I liked the idea of 'being' as opposed to 'having' a body. I had never thought of it like that.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- coffee was essential before I wrote the post too :).

FF -- thank you so much. The ideas behind the thesis keep evolving, so I'm never quite sure I've caught them in the moment when I do try to write about them. I'm glad they made sense to you!