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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, August 17, 2009

Brushes and palates

I think next time I go to Vancouver, it will have to be without Troubadour Dad.

Seeing the city with him right after we moved up here in 2007 was a lot of fun -- I'd never explored Richmond (the suburb with all the amazing Asian seafood restaurants offering live catch in tanks for you to order) and I hadn't seen the public market on Granville Island. There was also Stanley Park to check out and the Chinese herbal shops in the downtown area to experience.

Since that first trip, we've gone back to Vancouver with my parents two more times (one visit for each subsequent summer we've lived in the Pacific Northwest). And each time, we've done the same itinerary, even down to the same restaurant (yes, singular) for lunch and dinner multiple days running. The only difference, perhaps, has been less time in the park and more time at the table or in search of things to put on it.

Now, I do enjoy a good gastronomic tour, but in a city that contains so much more than food, you'd think it would be nice to explore some of those other cultural offerings, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, Troubadour Dad is not very adventurous, and as it has been for the rest of us in the family since I was very little, it's his way or the highway. I've been trying to figure out how to change this dynamic without catastrophic fallout (aiming for a few falling rocks rather than an entire landslide), but at this point, my muscles are giving out. What that means for the future, I'm not sure. At the moment, it just means taking a breather from Dad-controlled vacations before my head explodes. We've had four this summer (vacations, not explosions, in San Jose, Boston, Newfoundland, and Vancouver) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I feel this way. Still, the situation makes me sad.

We did get two hours' reprieve from food on this most recent trip, which I was grateful for. Troubadour Dad wanted to commission a Chinese painting for a friend of his, and one of Troubadour Mom's former schoolmates, who does wonderful work and has had it exhibited, is now living in Vancouver. So we got to visit her in-home studio, where she showed us samples of her watercolors and calligraphy. Newly Graduated Sis and I had fun taking pictures of her tools, still out after a private lesson earlier in the morning:



Troubadour Mom also took classes in calligraphy and watercolor before leaving Hong Kong, and when we were kids, she let us use her brushes and her special ceramic dish (similar to the one above with multiple compartments) to paint. I had forgotten all about that until I saw those tools again.

Supposedly, Troubadour Mom has many old friends who have settled in the Vancouver area, so if we can get her up here on her own, we might have a chance of reconnecting her with a few more of them. That was the best part of this trip, of course -- getting to witness the reunion between her and her schoolmate, whom she hadn't seen in thirty years.

More on non-gastronomic sightseeing soon, as well as thesis reading updates and a final blog award nominee (I know, I'm getting to it!). More frequent posting in general too -- it's a relief to be in one place again.

Photo by Newly Graduated Sis

2 comments:

French Fancy said...

Gastronomic delights must really be bottom of your list these days with your dietary restrictions. Painting trips with your mum sound much more you

Contemporary Troubadour said...

It's okay, FF. I enjoy the eating when it's in reasonable frequency -- usually I can find something on the menu that I like. It's more the constant focus on food (in between meals too) that makes things unpleasant: shopping endlessly for delicacies to ship home, driving around looking at menus of various restaurants in case there's something better to be had at the next meal, being restricted from activities that put the group at risk of having to negotiate traffic on the way to a meal or getting less-than-optimal seating ... not my kind of vacation.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Brushes and palates

I think next time I go to Vancouver, it will have to be without Troubadour Dad.

Seeing the city with him right after we moved up here in 2007 was a lot of fun -- I'd never explored Richmond (the suburb with all the amazing Asian seafood restaurants offering live catch in tanks for you to order) and I hadn't seen the public market on Granville Island. There was also Stanley Park to check out and the Chinese herbal shops in the downtown area to experience.

Since that first trip, we've gone back to Vancouver with my parents two more times (one visit for each subsequent summer we've lived in the Pacific Northwest). And each time, we've done the same itinerary, even down to the same restaurant (yes, singular) for lunch and dinner multiple days running. The only difference, perhaps, has been less time in the park and more time at the table or in search of things to put on it.

Now, I do enjoy a good gastronomic tour, but in a city that contains so much more than food, you'd think it would be nice to explore some of those other cultural offerings, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, Troubadour Dad is not very adventurous, and as it has been for the rest of us in the family since I was very little, it's his way or the highway. I've been trying to figure out how to change this dynamic without catastrophic fallout (aiming for a few falling rocks rather than an entire landslide), but at this point, my muscles are giving out. What that means for the future, I'm not sure. At the moment, it just means taking a breather from Dad-controlled vacations before my head explodes. We've had four this summer (vacations, not explosions, in San Jose, Boston, Newfoundland, and Vancouver) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I feel this way. Still, the situation makes me sad.

We did get two hours' reprieve from food on this most recent trip, which I was grateful for. Troubadour Dad wanted to commission a Chinese painting for a friend of his, and one of Troubadour Mom's former schoolmates, who does wonderful work and has had it exhibited, is now living in Vancouver. So we got to visit her in-home studio, where she showed us samples of her watercolors and calligraphy. Newly Graduated Sis and I had fun taking pictures of her tools, still out after a private lesson earlier in the morning:



Troubadour Mom also took classes in calligraphy and watercolor before leaving Hong Kong, and when we were kids, she let us use her brushes and her special ceramic dish (similar to the one above with multiple compartments) to paint. I had forgotten all about that until I saw those tools again.

Supposedly, Troubadour Mom has many old friends who have settled in the Vancouver area, so if we can get her up here on her own, we might have a chance of reconnecting her with a few more of them. That was the best part of this trip, of course -- getting to witness the reunion between her and her schoolmate, whom she hadn't seen in thirty years.

More on non-gastronomic sightseeing soon, as well as thesis reading updates and a final blog award nominee (I know, I'm getting to it!). More frequent posting in general too -- it's a relief to be in one place again.

Photo by Newly Graduated Sis

2 comments:

French Fancy said...

Gastronomic delights must really be bottom of your list these days with your dietary restrictions. Painting trips with your mum sound much more you

Contemporary Troubadour said...

It's okay, FF. I enjoy the eating when it's in reasonable frequency -- usually I can find something on the menu that I like. It's more the constant focus on food (in between meals too) that makes things unpleasant: shopping endlessly for delicacies to ship home, driving around looking at menus of various restaurants in case there's something better to be had at the next meal, being restricted from activities that put the group at risk of having to negotiate traffic on the way to a meal or getting less-than-optimal seating ... not my kind of vacation.