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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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For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

For posts on frequently referenced topics, click the buttons to the right.

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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, February 1, 2010

Less-than-retail therapy

It's been a hard month. And not just because of the medical stuff and relationship adjustments.

You know when your thesis committee tells you to give them a draft of your work no later than the first week of December so they can get back to you before the craziness of the spring semester starts up? Well, that's what I did. Did they actually send me feedback?

Of course not.

My advisor has been in regular contact, thank goodness, but the rest of the folks who have to sign off on my work in order for me to graduate have been incommunicado. One of the committee members has a very good excuse -- major surgery. Another member also had minor surgery over break and came back to find that all three departments s/he works within were either getting eliminated or folded into some yet-to-be-created umbrella department, so s/he understandably has his/her hands full dealing with the administration. And s/he e-mailed me to let me know what was going on. But the last committee member? Not a single message. Yep, despite my numerous gentle inquiries, s/he didn't even bother to send a one-liner to say, "I'm too busy. Bug off."

I FINALLY received a note from that last professor yesterday, with brief, customary apologies, but still no feedback. Unfortunately, after a month of being e-snubbed*, I'm not really in the most charitable mood, given that I'm paying for this person's expertise. I know I'm just a lowly grad student, but that doesn't mean it's okay to ignore me for weeks on end. That's just rude.

Alas, I'm still powerless to make this process move any more quickly, and I know it's affecting my ability to write. I hate that I'm letting the situation do this to me. I've tried to keep going as usual with my work, but I had the sense that some weighty critiques would be coming any day now -- critiques with things I very much want to consider going forward -- and it kept me from feeling confident on the page whenever I would sit down at the keyboard. I need just to forget about what those critiques might say and delve back into the manuscript with more faith. Easier said than done when you're at the mercies of the committee for your degree.

I spent the weekend trying not to get sucked under by all this, and the product of that is a few small acquisitions from Craigslist and Ross. Am I satisfying my need for some instant gratification? Oh, yes. But at least it's all deeply discounted ...

First, a much-wanted console table via Craigslist for our back entryway, which leads to the garage. We've been using the little valet (pictured below) and various surfaces in the kitchen as the catch-all for keys, wallets, glasses, etc. Now all that can be relocated here:


The cost? The equivalent of drinks and a moderately priced dinner for two. Hey, I'm happy to cook at home if it means I get to eat on a clutter-free kitchen table!

Next, an extremely useful toiletry shelf from Ross for the first-floor bathroom. Until we found this, we were putting the extra toilet paper in a basket on the floor, and the soap dispenser was perched rather precariously on the sink.



Cost: A cheap dinner for two, no drinks.

Finally, a mirror. This was actually included in the price of the console table, along with a very cute lamp -- we decided it made better sense to put those items in our bedroom. We may change out the shade on the lamp some time in the future, so for now, meet my new dresser:



This table had its former incarnation in our apartment bedroom as four large moving boxes draped in a bed sheet. This is actually an upgrade: two wooden bar stools we couldn't find a place for after the move with some spare particle-board shelving from the kitchen sitting on top of them. I just threw a tablecloth and some other pretty fabric over the whole thing and propped the jewelry frame D gave me for last year's birthday against the wall. (Don't worry, I made sure the whole rig was safely weighted.) Add one mirror, and it's actually a very functional vanity.

So now I'm off to put some new sheets from Ross in the wash (ours were getting holes in them after years of laundering). Those were also deeply discounted -- the cost of nice drinks for two. I figure I've gone long enough without one of those to offset the expense here! The set is a pretty chocolate brown to go with the beautiful accent pillow slips Marketing Sis made us for Christmas:


DIY guru that she is, she picked the fabric herself! Here's a closer look at the patterns.



So there, January, is my answer to your interminable limbo. It doesn't fix the problems at hand, but it does make me feel better.

* Credit for this term goes to this article. I only wish (a) that I could figure out how to adapt the remedy described in order to make it work in the academic bureaucracy and (b) that I had the guts to employ said remedy.

8 comments:

Bev said...

oh YAY I'm SO glad the pillows look good :)

Bev said...

p.s. you've inspired me to find a few useful pieces like your fabulous shelving for my apartment

TKW said...

Nothing like a little retail therapy to suck the anger right out of you! :)

Good Enough Woman said...

I LOVE buying new bedding when I don't know what else to do. The days after my M.A. comps? Bought new bedding.

Love your items. You seem to have such beauty in your home. I admire your efforts to cultivate that beauty. Chaos and utilize seem to dominate at my house. (Not that you're items are useful, but they are ALSO beautiful.)

Good Enough Woman said...

P.S. I should post some picture of how we currently try to "organize" and "store" all of the kids art stuff (both pre- and post-production). Jeesh.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Bev -- the shelving was on the wish list the day we moved in, but everything we found initially was so expensive! Or it was plastic and too suggestive of dorm bathroom caddies. I don't think I want to be reminded of dorm bathrooms. Ever.

TKW -- exactly my thoughts. I'm amazed at how well it works. I finally got back to writing yesterday. Nothing big, but it's a start.

GEW -- love, love, love bedding. It was the one nice thing I asked for from my mother when she helped me move to my first apartment before I started teaching, and she helped me pick out a lovely set -- not the one pictured but the one on our guest bed now. It was comforting to come home to (especially since I lived in a studio and the bed was the most prominent piece of furniture in the room).

Thank you for what you said about beauty. I do try to cultivate it, using items that have personal significance. I think that's also what makes it easier to maintain :). I tend to let things become victims of entropy otherwise!

Organizing and storing the kids' art stuff? Oh man, we are in for it, I'm sure. It took me until this past August to deal with MY boxes of old childhood art and school projects and random collections (parking lot rocks, anybody?). I think my life, from elementary school through my wedding, is now whittled down to three big boxes and two small ones, stacked in a closet. We are working our way through the last of D's stuff as we create new storage spaces. I can only imagine the new chaos we'll have to learn how to manage when we have kids! I'll be asking you for tips for sure.

French Fancy said...

I'm baffled why I did not spot this post from you earlier. I can't understand it because I've monitored my blogroll all week and tried to keep up with the new posts.

Sorry about that but love the pictures - and how you've priced them (as in 'the price of a dinner').

This 'Craig's list' must be world wide because when I was trying to find a flat for Mr FF to rent in Paris - well, Craig's list was one of the sites I found.

I can totally understand you being fed up not to have received feedback from your tutor. How can they expect students to progress if nobody tells them what might need modification?

As for me - saw the specialist last night and the heart is fine, the murmur is very slight. What is not fine is my bp - it's high, too high and I'll need to see my GP to be prescribed meds. Oh well - better safe than ........


xx

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No worries, FF! I've been having problems with my blogroll not updating of late -- I eventually went to Blogger help and posted something in a discussion thread that had already been started on the issue. Don't know what's been going on, but it's apparently affecting lots of people!

Craigslist is quite useful but also somewhat frustrating to work with on more occasions than not. It's a free market with no governing purchase rules (like, say, on Amazon or eBay), so people aren't obligated to buy or sell even if they indicate at first that they want to. We've gotten burned a few times where people had said they'd buy from or sell to us and then disappeared without bothering to tell us they'd changed their minds. But I guess that's what you have to deal with in exchange for deep discounts ...

Very glad the murmur is slight! That's excellent news. Sorry to hear about the blood pressure, though -- hopefully the meds will take care of that.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Less-than-retail therapy

It's been a hard month. And not just because of the medical stuff and relationship adjustments.

You know when your thesis committee tells you to give them a draft of your work no later than the first week of December so they can get back to you before the craziness of the spring semester starts up? Well, that's what I did. Did they actually send me feedback?

Of course not.

My advisor has been in regular contact, thank goodness, but the rest of the folks who have to sign off on my work in order for me to graduate have been incommunicado. One of the committee members has a very good excuse -- major surgery. Another member also had minor surgery over break and came back to find that all three departments s/he works within were either getting eliminated or folded into some yet-to-be-created umbrella department, so s/he understandably has his/her hands full dealing with the administration. And s/he e-mailed me to let me know what was going on. But the last committee member? Not a single message. Yep, despite my numerous gentle inquiries, s/he didn't even bother to send a one-liner to say, "I'm too busy. Bug off."

I FINALLY received a note from that last professor yesterday, with brief, customary apologies, but still no feedback. Unfortunately, after a month of being e-snubbed*, I'm not really in the most charitable mood, given that I'm paying for this person's expertise. I know I'm just a lowly grad student, but that doesn't mean it's okay to ignore me for weeks on end. That's just rude.

Alas, I'm still powerless to make this process move any more quickly, and I know it's affecting my ability to write. I hate that I'm letting the situation do this to me. I've tried to keep going as usual with my work, but I had the sense that some weighty critiques would be coming any day now -- critiques with things I very much want to consider going forward -- and it kept me from feeling confident on the page whenever I would sit down at the keyboard. I need just to forget about what those critiques might say and delve back into the manuscript with more faith. Easier said than done when you're at the mercies of the committee for your degree.

I spent the weekend trying not to get sucked under by all this, and the product of that is a few small acquisitions from Craigslist and Ross. Am I satisfying my need for some instant gratification? Oh, yes. But at least it's all deeply discounted ...

First, a much-wanted console table via Craigslist for our back entryway, which leads to the garage. We've been using the little valet (pictured below) and various surfaces in the kitchen as the catch-all for keys, wallets, glasses, etc. Now all that can be relocated here:


The cost? The equivalent of drinks and a moderately priced dinner for two. Hey, I'm happy to cook at home if it means I get to eat on a clutter-free kitchen table!

Next, an extremely useful toiletry shelf from Ross for the first-floor bathroom. Until we found this, we were putting the extra toilet paper in a basket on the floor, and the soap dispenser was perched rather precariously on the sink.



Cost: A cheap dinner for two, no drinks.

Finally, a mirror. This was actually included in the price of the console table, along with a very cute lamp -- we decided it made better sense to put those items in our bedroom. We may change out the shade on the lamp some time in the future, so for now, meet my new dresser:



This table had its former incarnation in our apartment bedroom as four large moving boxes draped in a bed sheet. This is actually an upgrade: two wooden bar stools we couldn't find a place for after the move with some spare particle-board shelving from the kitchen sitting on top of them. I just threw a tablecloth and some other pretty fabric over the whole thing and propped the jewelry frame D gave me for last year's birthday against the wall. (Don't worry, I made sure the whole rig was safely weighted.) Add one mirror, and it's actually a very functional vanity.

So now I'm off to put some new sheets from Ross in the wash (ours were getting holes in them after years of laundering). Those were also deeply discounted -- the cost of nice drinks for two. I figure I've gone long enough without one of those to offset the expense here! The set is a pretty chocolate brown to go with the beautiful accent pillow slips Marketing Sis made us for Christmas:


DIY guru that she is, she picked the fabric herself! Here's a closer look at the patterns.



So there, January, is my answer to your interminable limbo. It doesn't fix the problems at hand, but it does make me feel better.

* Credit for this term goes to this article. I only wish (a) that I could figure out how to adapt the remedy described in order to make it work in the academic bureaucracy and (b) that I had the guts to employ said remedy.

8 comments:

Bev said...

oh YAY I'm SO glad the pillows look good :)

Bev said...

p.s. you've inspired me to find a few useful pieces like your fabulous shelving for my apartment

TKW said...

Nothing like a little retail therapy to suck the anger right out of you! :)

Good Enough Woman said...

I LOVE buying new bedding when I don't know what else to do. The days after my M.A. comps? Bought new bedding.

Love your items. You seem to have such beauty in your home. I admire your efforts to cultivate that beauty. Chaos and utilize seem to dominate at my house. (Not that you're items are useful, but they are ALSO beautiful.)

Good Enough Woman said...

P.S. I should post some picture of how we currently try to "organize" and "store" all of the kids art stuff (both pre- and post-production). Jeesh.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Bev -- the shelving was on the wish list the day we moved in, but everything we found initially was so expensive! Or it was plastic and too suggestive of dorm bathroom caddies. I don't think I want to be reminded of dorm bathrooms. Ever.

TKW -- exactly my thoughts. I'm amazed at how well it works. I finally got back to writing yesterday. Nothing big, but it's a start.

GEW -- love, love, love bedding. It was the one nice thing I asked for from my mother when she helped me move to my first apartment before I started teaching, and she helped me pick out a lovely set -- not the one pictured but the one on our guest bed now. It was comforting to come home to (especially since I lived in a studio and the bed was the most prominent piece of furniture in the room).

Thank you for what you said about beauty. I do try to cultivate it, using items that have personal significance. I think that's also what makes it easier to maintain :). I tend to let things become victims of entropy otherwise!

Organizing and storing the kids' art stuff? Oh man, we are in for it, I'm sure. It took me until this past August to deal with MY boxes of old childhood art and school projects and random collections (parking lot rocks, anybody?). I think my life, from elementary school through my wedding, is now whittled down to three big boxes and two small ones, stacked in a closet. We are working our way through the last of D's stuff as we create new storage spaces. I can only imagine the new chaos we'll have to learn how to manage when we have kids! I'll be asking you for tips for sure.

French Fancy said...

I'm baffled why I did not spot this post from you earlier. I can't understand it because I've monitored my blogroll all week and tried to keep up with the new posts.

Sorry about that but love the pictures - and how you've priced them (as in 'the price of a dinner').

This 'Craig's list' must be world wide because when I was trying to find a flat for Mr FF to rent in Paris - well, Craig's list was one of the sites I found.

I can totally understand you being fed up not to have received feedback from your tutor. How can they expect students to progress if nobody tells them what might need modification?

As for me - saw the specialist last night and the heart is fine, the murmur is very slight. What is not fine is my bp - it's high, too high and I'll need to see my GP to be prescribed meds. Oh well - better safe than ........


xx

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No worries, FF! I've been having problems with my blogroll not updating of late -- I eventually went to Blogger help and posted something in a discussion thread that had already been started on the issue. Don't know what's been going on, but it's apparently affecting lots of people!

Craigslist is quite useful but also somewhat frustrating to work with on more occasions than not. It's a free market with no governing purchase rules (like, say, on Amazon or eBay), so people aren't obligated to buy or sell even if they indicate at first that they want to. We've gotten burned a few times where people had said they'd buy from or sell to us and then disappeared without bothering to tell us they'd changed their minds. But I guess that's what you have to deal with in exchange for deep discounts ...

Very glad the murmur is slight! That's excellent news. Sorry to hear about the blood pressure, though -- hopefully the meds will take care of that.