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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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are you bummed in yet?

That's what D asked me a few nights after I got my response from my advisor about a thesis extension. (He was hoping I was no longer bummed out that she'd turned my request down. Yes, this is why I love him.)

Unfortunately, I guess I am still kind of bummed out. Basically, the way my advisor's reply went was, "I think it's going to be hard to get your committee together then, and everyone reserves that time for their own writing, and I'm trying to finish a book. So the best I can give you is an extra month; you can defend during finals week. That's assuming everyone else is okay with that time."

Sigh.

I could almost hear the frazzled notes rising in her voice. I understand her reasons for saying no, but muscling in the parts about how the rest of the group would feel about the situation (on an entirely speculative basis) seemed like it was done defensively. A simple "No, I have a book deadline to meet," would have felt less to me like she thought I was being a pain in the butt. I get it, really I do.

So now I feel like I've been a pest when all I'm trying to do is give this project the room it needs to grow. And I'm so bad at brushing this kind of thing off. Being made to feel like a nuisance is so much worse than a form-letter rejection.

But I do have that extra month, if the rest of the committee can make it work. Here's hoping the next three e-mails I have to write don't get the same kind of response.

On a different note -- as promised, instructions on how to make compound eyes! Any questions, just post them in the comments and I'll try my best to help.

Compound Eyes

Materials:

Two hollow styrofoam hemispheres
Shimmery fabric (preferably without sequins)
Superglue (this is the kind we used)
Stapler and staples
Scissors
Wide elastic headband or headwrap
Needle and thread
Chalk or other fabric-marking implement

1. Place fabric wrong side up on flat surface. Then place one hemisphere round side down on fabric.

2. Wrap hemisphere in fabric and mark the width of fabric required to cover hemisphere across its widest part. Add an extra 4 inches to this number.

3. Mark two squares on the fabric with sides measuring the length calculated at the end of step 2. Cut out carefully.

4. Place fabric square wrong side up. Place first hemisphere, round side down, on square. Here's where it gets interesting: imagine that your hemisphere is a compass. Make sure the square's edges are matched to the north, south, east, and west points on the compass (i.e., make sure the square's corners aren't in those positions).

5. Fold the north edge of the square at its midpoint around the northernmost point on the hemisphere. Glue the fabric at this point only (i.e., do not glue the entire edge of the square, as the fabric will overlap and get bulky). Reinforce with staples.

6. Fold the south edge of the square at its midpoint around the southernmost point on the hemisphere. Glue and staple in place as in step 5, making sure fabric is tautly wrapped around styrofoam. Repeat with remaining two edges of square. Allow to dry.

7. Repeat steps 5-6 on second hemisphere with remaining fabric square.

8. Now you're ready to fold in the corners of the squares. Take the northwest corner of a square and fold around northwesternmost point on the hemisphere. Glue the fabric at this point only. Reinforce with staples.

9. Fold the southeast corner of the square around southeasternmost point on the hemisphere. Glue and staple in place as in step 8, making sure fabric is tautly wrapped around styrofoam. Repeat with remaining two corners of square. Allow to dry.

10. Repeat steps 8-9 on second hemisphere.

11. Here's where it gets tricky: you are now going to cut the fabric to accommodate the curvature of the hemispheres. To do this, turn each hemisphere round side up. You should be able to see where the fabric is not pulled taut over the dome. Choose one of these areas to begin cutting.

12. Snip fabric from underside of the hemisphere toward the top of the dome. You should now have two flaps of fabric. Make sure each can be pulled taut around the edge of the hemisphere without causing the fabric over the dome to buckle. You may have to cut further to adjust the flaps accordingly.

13. Pull one flap taut and glue and staple in place. Then pull the other flap taut, overlapping the first flap as necessary, and glue and staple in place.

14. Repeat steps 12-13 with all remaining areas where fabric is not pulled taut over the dome. Allow to dry.

15. Place hemispheres round side down. Trim any excess fabric in the hollow of each one. Glue all fabric that is not secure along underside edges of hemispheres. Allow to dry.

16. Have the person who will wear the compound eyes put on the elastic headband. Position one hemisphere over each ear and mark where the top edge of each hemisphere touches the headband. This is where you must baste the hemispheres to the headband.

17. Have your model remove the headband. Stitch each eye to the headband, as indicated, by picking up a little bit of the fabric from the hemisphere and a little bit of the headband fabric with each stitch. Reinforce as necessary (I sewed a double row to make sure the eyes wouldn't come off).

And that's it! Sorry I don't have pictures of my compound eyes in progress -- that would have made writing these directions a bit easier. But I'll leave you with a picture of the model for my costume:

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh dear - I also am someone who dwells on the sub text in mails and letters - and things said. Maybe you just hit her at a bad moment? Still all being well you do have your extension so just try and put her off-sounding remarks behind you (easier said than done)

How's the kitten?

Good Enough Woman said...

Are you a people pleaser? If so, I know exactly how you feel. I hope the other e-mail responses are a little less cool. As for the other one, I hope you can shake it off! I think it's great that you focused on your duty to your own writing more that your duties as a "student." Good job taking care of your own work! That's what you *should* be doing.

Yesterday was my parent/student/teacher conference with the Boy's first grade teacher. She told me this story: They kids were making little quilt pictures with squares of Halloween colored construction paper. I guess the Boy was done with all of his work, and the teacher asked if he would finish another
little girls "quilt." His response? "Well, it's her work, so I really think she should do it."

The teacher, interestingly enough, was very proud of him for maintaining the integrity of that concept and being willing to speak up and question (or reject) what he was asked to do.

This isn't exactly like your situation of course, but since I'm such a people pleaser, the Boy is now my role model for rejecting people pleasing when a more important concept is at stake. It's all about boundaries, right? Your advisor was setting hers and looking out for your work, so it's okay for you to do the same!

Anyway, enough of the dime-store pep talk. Hoped you're getting more bummed in!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- yes, indeed. A month of extra time (pending agreement from the other committee members) is better than none, even if three was my hope. The kitten is doing well :). No inquiries yet from anyone interested in adopting her, but she's warm and dry and happy here. That's what matters.

GEW -- I am a people pleaser. But not necessarily all the time. It depends on how much authority a given person has over me, and I wish that wasn't the case.

I think I'm also too good at squelching my feelings, opinions, needs, etc., because I convince myself that they don't matter as much as someone else's. (I'm still trying to figure out why I do this.) But if I get backed far enough into a corner (by my own willingness to let others' needs take precedence over mine), I do a Jekyll-and-Hyde. Suddenly, I'm assertive about something and at the same time that I'm putting my foot down, I'm feeling terrible about it because I'm out of practice being assertive and people aren't happy with me. Not very effective in encouraging me to keep practicing ...

The Boy's teacher sounds like an insightful person. I know too many teachers who would not have seen the situation the way she did. Props to her. And props to you for taking on the Boy as a role model :). It is not easy to retrain our people-pleasing muscles when their reactions are more reflex than conscious act.

Definitely more bummed in today.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are you bummed in yet?

That's what D asked me a few nights after I got my response from my advisor about a thesis extension. (He was hoping I was no longer bummed out that she'd turned my request down. Yes, this is why I love him.)

Unfortunately, I guess I am still kind of bummed out. Basically, the way my advisor's reply went was, "I think it's going to be hard to get your committee together then, and everyone reserves that time for their own writing, and I'm trying to finish a book. So the best I can give you is an extra month; you can defend during finals week. That's assuming everyone else is okay with that time."

Sigh.

I could almost hear the frazzled notes rising in her voice. I understand her reasons for saying no, but muscling in the parts about how the rest of the group would feel about the situation (on an entirely speculative basis) seemed like it was done defensively. A simple "No, I have a book deadline to meet," would have felt less to me like she thought I was being a pain in the butt. I get it, really I do.

So now I feel like I've been a pest when all I'm trying to do is give this project the room it needs to grow. And I'm so bad at brushing this kind of thing off. Being made to feel like a nuisance is so much worse than a form-letter rejection.

But I do have that extra month, if the rest of the committee can make it work. Here's hoping the next three e-mails I have to write don't get the same kind of response.

On a different note -- as promised, instructions on how to make compound eyes! Any questions, just post them in the comments and I'll try my best to help.

Compound Eyes

Materials:

Two hollow styrofoam hemispheres
Shimmery fabric (preferably without sequins)
Superglue (this is the kind we used)
Stapler and staples
Scissors
Wide elastic headband or headwrap
Needle and thread
Chalk or other fabric-marking implement

1. Place fabric wrong side up on flat surface. Then place one hemisphere round side down on fabric.

2. Wrap hemisphere in fabric and mark the width of fabric required to cover hemisphere across its widest part. Add an extra 4 inches to this number.

3. Mark two squares on the fabric with sides measuring the length calculated at the end of step 2. Cut out carefully.

4. Place fabric square wrong side up. Place first hemisphere, round side down, on square. Here's where it gets interesting: imagine that your hemisphere is a compass. Make sure the square's edges are matched to the north, south, east, and west points on the compass (i.e., make sure the square's corners aren't in those positions).

5. Fold the north edge of the square at its midpoint around the northernmost point on the hemisphere. Glue the fabric at this point only (i.e., do not glue the entire edge of the square, as the fabric will overlap and get bulky). Reinforce with staples.

6. Fold the south edge of the square at its midpoint around the southernmost point on the hemisphere. Glue and staple in place as in step 5, making sure fabric is tautly wrapped around styrofoam. Repeat with remaining two edges of square. Allow to dry.

7. Repeat steps 5-6 on second hemisphere with remaining fabric square.

8. Now you're ready to fold in the corners of the squares. Take the northwest corner of a square and fold around northwesternmost point on the hemisphere. Glue the fabric at this point only. Reinforce with staples.

9. Fold the southeast corner of the square around southeasternmost point on the hemisphere. Glue and staple in place as in step 8, making sure fabric is tautly wrapped around styrofoam. Repeat with remaining two corners of square. Allow to dry.

10. Repeat steps 8-9 on second hemisphere.

11. Here's where it gets tricky: you are now going to cut the fabric to accommodate the curvature of the hemispheres. To do this, turn each hemisphere round side up. You should be able to see where the fabric is not pulled taut over the dome. Choose one of these areas to begin cutting.

12. Snip fabric from underside of the hemisphere toward the top of the dome. You should now have two flaps of fabric. Make sure each can be pulled taut around the edge of the hemisphere without causing the fabric over the dome to buckle. You may have to cut further to adjust the flaps accordingly.

13. Pull one flap taut and glue and staple in place. Then pull the other flap taut, overlapping the first flap as necessary, and glue and staple in place.

14. Repeat steps 12-13 with all remaining areas where fabric is not pulled taut over the dome. Allow to dry.

15. Place hemispheres round side down. Trim any excess fabric in the hollow of each one. Glue all fabric that is not secure along underside edges of hemispheres. Allow to dry.

16. Have the person who will wear the compound eyes put on the elastic headband. Position one hemisphere over each ear and mark where the top edge of each hemisphere touches the headband. This is where you must baste the hemispheres to the headband.

17. Have your model remove the headband. Stitch each eye to the headband, as indicated, by picking up a little bit of the fabric from the hemisphere and a little bit of the headband fabric with each stitch. Reinforce as necessary (I sewed a double row to make sure the eyes wouldn't come off).

And that's it! Sorry I don't have pictures of my compound eyes in progress -- that would have made writing these directions a bit easier. But I'll leave you with a picture of the model for my costume:

3 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh dear - I also am someone who dwells on the sub text in mails and letters - and things said. Maybe you just hit her at a bad moment? Still all being well you do have your extension so just try and put her off-sounding remarks behind you (easier said than done)

How's the kitten?

Good Enough Woman said...

Are you a people pleaser? If so, I know exactly how you feel. I hope the other e-mail responses are a little less cool. As for the other one, I hope you can shake it off! I think it's great that you focused on your duty to your own writing more that your duties as a "student." Good job taking care of your own work! That's what you *should* be doing.

Yesterday was my parent/student/teacher conference with the Boy's first grade teacher. She told me this story: They kids were making little quilt pictures with squares of Halloween colored construction paper. I guess the Boy was done with all of his work, and the teacher asked if he would finish another
little girls "quilt." His response? "Well, it's her work, so I really think she should do it."

The teacher, interestingly enough, was very proud of him for maintaining the integrity of that concept and being willing to speak up and question (or reject) what he was asked to do.

This isn't exactly like your situation of course, but since I'm such a people pleaser, the Boy is now my role model for rejecting people pleasing when a more important concept is at stake. It's all about boundaries, right? Your advisor was setting hers and looking out for your work, so it's okay for you to do the same!

Anyway, enough of the dime-store pep talk. Hoped you're getting more bummed in!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- yes, indeed. A month of extra time (pending agreement from the other committee members) is better than none, even if three was my hope. The kitten is doing well :). No inquiries yet from anyone interested in adopting her, but she's warm and dry and happy here. That's what matters.

GEW -- I am a people pleaser. But not necessarily all the time. It depends on how much authority a given person has over me, and I wish that wasn't the case.

I think I'm also too good at squelching my feelings, opinions, needs, etc., because I convince myself that they don't matter as much as someone else's. (I'm still trying to figure out why I do this.) But if I get backed far enough into a corner (by my own willingness to let others' needs take precedence over mine), I do a Jekyll-and-Hyde. Suddenly, I'm assertive about something and at the same time that I'm putting my foot down, I'm feeling terrible about it because I'm out of practice being assertive and people aren't happy with me. Not very effective in encouraging me to keep practicing ...

The Boy's teacher sounds like an insightful person. I know too many teachers who would not have seen the situation the way she did. Props to her. And props to you for taking on the Boy as a role model :). It is not easy to retrain our people-pleasing muscles when their reactions are more reflex than conscious act.

Definitely more bummed in today.