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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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cracks and curlicues


It happened two weeks back, the day before Valentine's Day.

I pulled the glass out of the dishwasher that morning and noticed a small but clearly visible line under the pattern printed on its surface. It was time to retire this one, just like its twin, which cracked a few years earlier.

I bought these a decade ago from a little boutique that may or may not be in business now. I passed its window on the way home from class and went inside on a whim. These glasses were set on a sale shelf toward the back of the store with other random items.

Why these glasses? I don't completely remember how it came to be, but somehow, we adopted the curlicue as our symbol. I think it had something to do with time being a spiral -- cycling but still moving in a line. We needed a sense of forward motion but couldn't deny the detours our relationship was having to undergo. So, the curlicue. We'd doodle it on things, the way people would carve their initials on tree trunks, to remind ourselves of the possibility of a future in one location, even if we had to get there in a roundabout fashion.

So just before Valentine's Day ten years ago, I found these glasses waiting for me on that shelf. I took them back to my dorm, filled one with red and white M&Ms, and wrapped it up in cellophane. I sent that one to D and kept the other for myself. For the years we were apart, we used these. And when we had to separate for a second time, I made sure to take mine with me.

Of course, with all of that history, I can't bring myself to throw these away, but I haven't figured out what to do with them. Perhaps they'll become homes for small plants. Or candleholders. No matter what, glasses, we've had a good run. Here's to having you side by side.

7 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Such a great story. I love the idea of a relationship symbol. Now you've got me thinking about what ours would be...

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! Can't wait to hear if you do come up with a symbol of your own -- we didn't consciously go out looking for one; it just fell out of a conversation in those first months of dating. Possibly another one of those late-night phone calls where I wasn't totally with it? ;)

French Fancy said...

I think that is really a mark of love - to pick two specific colours out of bags and bags of M&M's to show the colours of love in such a pretty glass.

Isn't it a shame when things we love get past being used. I do agree it is much too pretty to throw away though.

TKW said...

This is lovely! How sweet that you have your own symbol! Those glasses are keepsakes, that's for sure--even if you fill them with colored stones or marbles, they'll still make you smile.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- I went for the one-pound bag and ate my way through the remaining ones that semester. The drugstore had a Valentine's version (red, white, and pink mix), so it cut down on the sorting.

TKW -- colored stones are a great idea!

suzicate said...

You could use them as votive/candle holders. That is such a sweet story, and awesome that you guys have a symbol.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

They do lend themselves to that sort of function, don't they, SuziCate? The real question, I think, is where they'll fit in the house. If I put anything more on the end tables in the living room, there won't be surface space for things that actually need it (like glasses people really do want to drink from)!

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cracks and curlicues


It happened two weeks back, the day before Valentine's Day.

I pulled the glass out of the dishwasher that morning and noticed a small but clearly visible line under the pattern printed on its surface. It was time to retire this one, just like its twin, which cracked a few years earlier.

I bought these a decade ago from a little boutique that may or may not be in business now. I passed its window on the way home from class and went inside on a whim. These glasses were set on a sale shelf toward the back of the store with other random items.

Why these glasses? I don't completely remember how it came to be, but somehow, we adopted the curlicue as our symbol. I think it had something to do with time being a spiral -- cycling but still moving in a line. We needed a sense of forward motion but couldn't deny the detours our relationship was having to undergo. So, the curlicue. We'd doodle it on things, the way people would carve their initials on tree trunks, to remind ourselves of the possibility of a future in one location, even if we had to get there in a roundabout fashion.

So just before Valentine's Day ten years ago, I found these glasses waiting for me on that shelf. I took them back to my dorm, filled one with red and white M&Ms, and wrapped it up in cellophane. I sent that one to D and kept the other for myself. For the years we were apart, we used these. And when we had to separate for a second time, I made sure to take mine with me.

Of course, with all of that history, I can't bring myself to throw these away, but I haven't figured out what to do with them. Perhaps they'll become homes for small plants. Or candleholders. No matter what, glasses, we've had a good run. Here's to having you side by side.

7 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Such a great story. I love the idea of a relationship symbol. Now you've got me thinking about what ours would be...

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! Can't wait to hear if you do come up with a symbol of your own -- we didn't consciously go out looking for one; it just fell out of a conversation in those first months of dating. Possibly another one of those late-night phone calls where I wasn't totally with it? ;)

French Fancy said...

I think that is really a mark of love - to pick two specific colours out of bags and bags of M&M's to show the colours of love in such a pretty glass.

Isn't it a shame when things we love get past being used. I do agree it is much too pretty to throw away though.

TKW said...

This is lovely! How sweet that you have your own symbol! Those glasses are keepsakes, that's for sure--even if you fill them with colored stones or marbles, they'll still make you smile.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- I went for the one-pound bag and ate my way through the remaining ones that semester. The drugstore had a Valentine's version (red, white, and pink mix), so it cut down on the sorting.

TKW -- colored stones are a great idea!

suzicate said...

You could use them as votive/candle holders. That is such a sweet story, and awesome that you guys have a symbol.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

They do lend themselves to that sort of function, don't they, SuziCate? The real question, I think, is where they'll fit in the house. If I put anything more on the end tables in the living room, there won't be surface space for things that actually need it (like glasses people really do want to drink from)!