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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, February 24, 2010

A great big pile of

... mulch. And you thought I was going to say something else, didn't you?

This is what's left of the three cubic yards of fine-bark goodness we spread over our little garden plots two weeks ago. We're hoping it'll inhibit most of the weed growth we fought last summer. And protect the bulbs we planted last fall -- you know, the ones that thought it was spring three weeks ago. Silly bulbs! Here are our irises from way back when I first started blogging, now transplanted to the great outdoors. The stems on the lavender in the foreground never even died off over the winter:





And here are the lilies that came with the property. We've got others in the ground near them that seem to be a little wiser.


We've been getting frost at night, so growth has slowed down since I shot these pictures. D says everything's doing all right, though. And apparently, the trees in our neighborhood are BLOOMING. When I left, our lilac tree looked like this:


But maybe not anymore! Wait for me, lilacs; I'm coming back!

I'm asking D to take pictures so I don't miss them like I did last year, when I was away at Little U. on the Prairie (Land of the Deep Freeze). One of the profs on my thesis committee -- the one I mentioned in this post -- wrote as part of an excuse for his/her e-mail silence, "It's tirelessly cold here. If this were a logging (rather than a college) town we'd all be deep into booze."

And because I lived there for two years, I still sympathize. Just a little.

Said prof sent me feedback a few days ago. It was, shall we say, thin -- and so delayed that the suggestions were almost irrelevant (i.e., I've reworked the manuscript in an attempt to keep moving forward to the point that certain areas of concern the prof referenced have undergone significant changes). But s/he did send it, that feedback. And it at least reaffirms for me that my editing instincts were good ones, even if I have no clue whether the changes themselves improve the work. It's the small things we have to be grateful for, I guess. They add up in the end. Case in point: one cubic yard of mulch weighs 500 to 800 pounds, depending on its moisture content.

Which means, over the course of one afternoon, D and I moved about a ton of it. Likely a little more, since it was fairly wet.

That's more than I thought I was doing at the time. Perhaps this thesis too -- ? Oh, I hope.

5 comments:

French Fancy said...

The joy of seeing planted things (that you've done yourself) actually succeed and not just grow but thrive - well, I share your joy and love.

As for your prof - this long long delay and sketchy feedback is just not on. Are there other students on the same course who feel rightly neglected? I'd get together if I were you and go and visit the guilty person. Of course if you took it higher it could rebound in a negative way, but why not try and make the offender feel just a little bit bad about the treatment of their students

xx

Sherlock said...

I always have shoots coming up in the winter - even in the snow! I think they get confused when we have a couple of days in the 50's here and there!

My lilac looks like that too. It's grown up so high this year that it's over the second story deck rail. I can't wait for those delicious smelling blooms to come out!

I am ready for spring!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- unfortunately, this isn't a course with multiple students enrolled, all getting neglected at the same time. Each student heading into thesis year assembles a committee by asking at least three professors with whom s/he has worked to advise him/her during the writing process. Toward the end of the first semester of thesis year, these professors review the work the student has completed and send feedback (so that there will be no surprises at the defense several months later). It would have been nice to be able to drop into this prof's office hours to gently remind him/her about my draft (more effective than e-mail, I imagine), but being a few time zones away makes that slightly more challenging. I resorted to calling, which helped nudge things along.

Sherlock -- the smell is what I really don't want to miss. It's fleeting since the tree only blooms for a short time. Hope spring comes your way soon!

suzicate said...

I had a huge bed of lavender for years,and tried to transplant it in another area and the whole thing died. I was so disappointed. I've never had a green thumb. And lilacs...I also love, the scent is amazing, tkes me back to childhood. My iris'(purple) are alwys beautiful on their own. My flowers are all perrenials. I just hope each year that they've survived the winter. Do you see my purple attern here with my flowers. It sounds like you take much better care of your plants than I do...hope that are all pretty this year.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I've never had a green thumb either, SuziCate! Anything that makes it under my care tends to do it on its own inherent hardiness :). I go for the perennials myself (less need to replace them). There are chrysanthemums bordering the iris bed -- we'll see if they survived the bunnies that ate them to nubs last fall.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A great big pile of

... mulch. And you thought I was going to say something else, didn't you?

This is what's left of the three cubic yards of fine-bark goodness we spread over our little garden plots two weeks ago. We're hoping it'll inhibit most of the weed growth we fought last summer. And protect the bulbs we planted last fall -- you know, the ones that thought it was spring three weeks ago. Silly bulbs! Here are our irises from way back when I first started blogging, now transplanted to the great outdoors. The stems on the lavender in the foreground never even died off over the winter:





And here are the lilies that came with the property. We've got others in the ground near them that seem to be a little wiser.


We've been getting frost at night, so growth has slowed down since I shot these pictures. D says everything's doing all right, though. And apparently, the trees in our neighborhood are BLOOMING. When I left, our lilac tree looked like this:


But maybe not anymore! Wait for me, lilacs; I'm coming back!

I'm asking D to take pictures so I don't miss them like I did last year, when I was away at Little U. on the Prairie (Land of the Deep Freeze). One of the profs on my thesis committee -- the one I mentioned in this post -- wrote as part of an excuse for his/her e-mail silence, "It's tirelessly cold here. If this were a logging (rather than a college) town we'd all be deep into booze."

And because I lived there for two years, I still sympathize. Just a little.

Said prof sent me feedback a few days ago. It was, shall we say, thin -- and so delayed that the suggestions were almost irrelevant (i.e., I've reworked the manuscript in an attempt to keep moving forward to the point that certain areas of concern the prof referenced have undergone significant changes). But s/he did send it, that feedback. And it at least reaffirms for me that my editing instincts were good ones, even if I have no clue whether the changes themselves improve the work. It's the small things we have to be grateful for, I guess. They add up in the end. Case in point: one cubic yard of mulch weighs 500 to 800 pounds, depending on its moisture content.

Which means, over the course of one afternoon, D and I moved about a ton of it. Likely a little more, since it was fairly wet.

That's more than I thought I was doing at the time. Perhaps this thesis too -- ? Oh, I hope.

5 comments:

French Fancy said...

The joy of seeing planted things (that you've done yourself) actually succeed and not just grow but thrive - well, I share your joy and love.

As for your prof - this long long delay and sketchy feedback is just not on. Are there other students on the same course who feel rightly neglected? I'd get together if I were you and go and visit the guilty person. Of course if you took it higher it could rebound in a negative way, but why not try and make the offender feel just a little bit bad about the treatment of their students

xx

Sherlock said...

I always have shoots coming up in the winter - even in the snow! I think they get confused when we have a couple of days in the 50's here and there!

My lilac looks like that too. It's grown up so high this year that it's over the second story deck rail. I can't wait for those delicious smelling blooms to come out!

I am ready for spring!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- unfortunately, this isn't a course with multiple students enrolled, all getting neglected at the same time. Each student heading into thesis year assembles a committee by asking at least three professors with whom s/he has worked to advise him/her during the writing process. Toward the end of the first semester of thesis year, these professors review the work the student has completed and send feedback (so that there will be no surprises at the defense several months later). It would have been nice to be able to drop into this prof's office hours to gently remind him/her about my draft (more effective than e-mail, I imagine), but being a few time zones away makes that slightly more challenging. I resorted to calling, which helped nudge things along.

Sherlock -- the smell is what I really don't want to miss. It's fleeting since the tree only blooms for a short time. Hope spring comes your way soon!

suzicate said...

I had a huge bed of lavender for years,and tried to transplant it in another area and the whole thing died. I was so disappointed. I've never had a green thumb. And lilacs...I also love, the scent is amazing, tkes me back to childhood. My iris'(purple) are alwys beautiful on their own. My flowers are all perrenials. I just hope each year that they've survived the winter. Do you see my purple attern here with my flowers. It sounds like you take much better care of your plants than I do...hope that are all pretty this year.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I've never had a green thumb either, SuziCate! Anything that makes it under my care tends to do it on its own inherent hardiness :). I go for the perennials myself (less need to replace them). There are chrysanthemums bordering the iris bed -- we'll see if they survived the bunnies that ate them to nubs last fall.