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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, December 9, 2009

The things we do for love

So I'm stuck on the couch with a kitty in my arms. Doesn't sound too bad, right? It's not. Except the kitty is hell-bent on gagging up her antibiotics, and the only way to prevent it is to wrap her up burrito-style in a blanket and hold her upright until the urge to urp passes. With Simone, it takes about an hour.

Simone came to us with an upper respiratory infection (we asked for a foster who needed a place to recuperate -- it's a big help to the shelter since they only have so much isolation room to prevent the spread of germs). This is her second round of antibiotics, and we're hoping it works this time. It probably didn't help that we hadn't figured out how to help Simone keep her meds in her tummy for the first week's course, but she's definitely more adept at rejecting them than our last foster was.

While I've been sitting here, I've been thinking about these last few months since my return from Little U. on the Prairie. As much as life has vastly improved for me and D now that we're no longer doing the long-distance marriage thing, it's been an adjustment for both of us. I don't mean the little habits we each have that we have to accommodate now that we share the same physical space all the time. Those are pretty easy, and even welcome. I'm talking about the aftermath itself of having been put through the two-year emotional wringer of living in separate places, resenting the situation, and having to suppress a lot of those unhappy feelings in order to keep the marriage intact.

Bad things happen when you stuff your feelings into a dark hole and hope they never surface again.

Both of us did that to varying degrees, and sometimes the feelings leach out in the most unexpected ways. They lead to misunderstandings, arguments, confusion about why our emotions are suddenly running so high.

Lately, we've been trying to unpack all that, acknowledge how wounded we each felt, how we still bristle when our wounds get unintentionally poked. It's helping, I think, but slow. Both of us are different people because of the last two years. But because we weren't there to see the effects of that painful time on the other person, because we couldn't show those effects to each other for fear of making things too unbearable, we react to each other now as if the other person is still someone s/he used to be. When the differences become evident, it's sometimes saddening, disappointing. Or encouraging and relieving. You never know what you'll find out next. I guess that's what makes it scary but also compels us to keep pushing on. We can't not do this.

I just wish it could be a less exhausting process.

5 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

I think you did a great job of explaining that dynamic, CT, especially that sense of keeping things bottled up in order to keep it all together. I totally get that. I mean, if you're just spending occasional weekends together, it's hard to spend them in conflict. It's great that you recognize this and are trying to unpack it all now. I can't relate entirely since I didn't do the long distance thing, but I think my hubby and I did that a little bit when we got pregnant six weeks into the relationship. Plus, we are conflict avoiders in general, which means when we do have conflict, I can go from zero to ninety in two minutes, and he can get sarcastic and shut down.

It's hard for me to imagine the separation or the reunion you guys have gone through, but I appreciate you sharing these thoughts because they still strike a chord with me.

Good luck with Simone! :)

French Fancy said...

Yes, I should imagine it is quite strange to be together as a normal family unit again. But look how you both coped with the enforced separation; I am sure that many couples separate eventually under such circumstances. You both did very well and in a few more months time I am sure things will have evened themselves out.

As for the poor little kitty, I am more a dog person but, like most sensitive folk everwhere, a sick animal of any species is enough to make me want to hug and cuddle it better.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- thanks. We've had a hard week with this stuff. I think D is a conflict avoider too in that he wants to make the problem go away by resolving it once and for all, then never coming back to it. The "shut down" is sometimes too early for me (my thought is if we're going to have a conflict, let's figure out what's at the root of it and deal with it). And that reaction from me maddens him further. Not the best way to try to get to a better understanding of each other or resolve the issue itself, whatever it may be.

I can't totally imagine how challenging it was to find out you were pregnant six weeks into your relationship with your husband, but I can relate in some ways, based on my worries about becoming a parent. Those plans are not far off in our future, partly because my body seems to be telling me not to wait much longer, given all the complications from prediabetes. I guess, being someone who wants to be emotionally prepared for big life changes, I would have freaked out big time if I'd been in your place. I am totally impressed that you guys made it work and have two wonderful, wonderful children who bring you such joy. Your blog gives me hope that parenthood will be worth it, as much as I fear it sometimes.

I'm replying after another morning of kitty burrito fun. Seems to be working! (Simone wouldn't tell you that, but she's a cat.)

FF -- I have no doubt that many couples break under the strain of commuting, and I wouldn't judge them for it either, having been in the position of the commuter. I think being back together isn't so much strange as unpredictable. Emotionally unpredictable because of the wounds that haven't healed. That's what we're trying to fix now by getting to know each other again.

I think having Simone has helped. At least we both are on the same side when it comes to caring for her.

TKW said...

Oh, your poor little kitty!

You do such a beautiful job, here. I love how you compare unpacking your emotional baggage to actual unpacking of belongings/physical things. You are right, you have to do both, and both jobs are arduous.

Wishing you nothing but the best.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Kitty is on the mend, I think, TKW :). Burrito swaddling is making a difference.

We're on the mend too, even if we're only taking baby steps. Thanks for the good wishes. Thinking of you too.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The things we do for love

So I'm stuck on the couch with a kitty in my arms. Doesn't sound too bad, right? It's not. Except the kitty is hell-bent on gagging up her antibiotics, and the only way to prevent it is to wrap her up burrito-style in a blanket and hold her upright until the urge to urp passes. With Simone, it takes about an hour.

Simone came to us with an upper respiratory infection (we asked for a foster who needed a place to recuperate -- it's a big help to the shelter since they only have so much isolation room to prevent the spread of germs). This is her second round of antibiotics, and we're hoping it works this time. It probably didn't help that we hadn't figured out how to help Simone keep her meds in her tummy for the first week's course, but she's definitely more adept at rejecting them than our last foster was.

While I've been sitting here, I've been thinking about these last few months since my return from Little U. on the Prairie. As much as life has vastly improved for me and D now that we're no longer doing the long-distance marriage thing, it's been an adjustment for both of us. I don't mean the little habits we each have that we have to accommodate now that we share the same physical space all the time. Those are pretty easy, and even welcome. I'm talking about the aftermath itself of having been put through the two-year emotional wringer of living in separate places, resenting the situation, and having to suppress a lot of those unhappy feelings in order to keep the marriage intact.

Bad things happen when you stuff your feelings into a dark hole and hope they never surface again.

Both of us did that to varying degrees, and sometimes the feelings leach out in the most unexpected ways. They lead to misunderstandings, arguments, confusion about why our emotions are suddenly running so high.

Lately, we've been trying to unpack all that, acknowledge how wounded we each felt, how we still bristle when our wounds get unintentionally poked. It's helping, I think, but slow. Both of us are different people because of the last two years. But because we weren't there to see the effects of that painful time on the other person, because we couldn't show those effects to each other for fear of making things too unbearable, we react to each other now as if the other person is still someone s/he used to be. When the differences become evident, it's sometimes saddening, disappointing. Or encouraging and relieving. You never know what you'll find out next. I guess that's what makes it scary but also compels us to keep pushing on. We can't not do this.

I just wish it could be a less exhausting process.

5 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

I think you did a great job of explaining that dynamic, CT, especially that sense of keeping things bottled up in order to keep it all together. I totally get that. I mean, if you're just spending occasional weekends together, it's hard to spend them in conflict. It's great that you recognize this and are trying to unpack it all now. I can't relate entirely since I didn't do the long distance thing, but I think my hubby and I did that a little bit when we got pregnant six weeks into the relationship. Plus, we are conflict avoiders in general, which means when we do have conflict, I can go from zero to ninety in two minutes, and he can get sarcastic and shut down.

It's hard for me to imagine the separation or the reunion you guys have gone through, but I appreciate you sharing these thoughts because they still strike a chord with me.

Good luck with Simone! :)

French Fancy said...

Yes, I should imagine it is quite strange to be together as a normal family unit again. But look how you both coped with the enforced separation; I am sure that many couples separate eventually under such circumstances. You both did very well and in a few more months time I am sure things will have evened themselves out.

As for the poor little kitty, I am more a dog person but, like most sensitive folk everwhere, a sick animal of any species is enough to make me want to hug and cuddle it better.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- thanks. We've had a hard week with this stuff. I think D is a conflict avoider too in that he wants to make the problem go away by resolving it once and for all, then never coming back to it. The "shut down" is sometimes too early for me (my thought is if we're going to have a conflict, let's figure out what's at the root of it and deal with it). And that reaction from me maddens him further. Not the best way to try to get to a better understanding of each other or resolve the issue itself, whatever it may be.

I can't totally imagine how challenging it was to find out you were pregnant six weeks into your relationship with your husband, but I can relate in some ways, based on my worries about becoming a parent. Those plans are not far off in our future, partly because my body seems to be telling me not to wait much longer, given all the complications from prediabetes. I guess, being someone who wants to be emotionally prepared for big life changes, I would have freaked out big time if I'd been in your place. I am totally impressed that you guys made it work and have two wonderful, wonderful children who bring you such joy. Your blog gives me hope that parenthood will be worth it, as much as I fear it sometimes.

I'm replying after another morning of kitty burrito fun. Seems to be working! (Simone wouldn't tell you that, but she's a cat.)

FF -- I have no doubt that many couples break under the strain of commuting, and I wouldn't judge them for it either, having been in the position of the commuter. I think being back together isn't so much strange as unpredictable. Emotionally unpredictable because of the wounds that haven't healed. That's what we're trying to fix now by getting to know each other again.

I think having Simone has helped. At least we both are on the same side when it comes to caring for her.

TKW said...

Oh, your poor little kitty!

You do such a beautiful job, here. I love how you compare unpacking your emotional baggage to actual unpacking of belongings/physical things. You are right, you have to do both, and both jobs are arduous.

Wishing you nothing but the best.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Kitty is on the mend, I think, TKW :). Burrito swaddling is making a difference.

We're on the mend too, even if we're only taking baby steps. Thanks for the good wishes. Thinking of you too.