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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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Striped-up paisley

So not too long ago, I was over at French Fancy's place responding to this post, which got me thinking about the reasons I started this blog.

We were a long-distance couple, D and I, within weeks of becoming a couple at all toward the end of our senior year of high school. His family moved away that summer, and then we started college in cities a thousand miles apart.

Before that point in time, we still didn't get to see each other very frequently (dating wasn't an activity Troubadour Dad approved of, per se), so we got to know each other by phone when we weren't in physics class, launching things or setting them on fire. The only time of day that happened to work was late at night, after my parents had gone to bed.

To paraphrase what I wrote chez French Fancy, I was a tired Troubadour by then, so I would doze off in the middle of sentences -- but I'd still be talking. One of the phrases I randomly uttered in that state was striped-up paisley. To this day, we can't peg the origin or inspiration for it within that conversation, but we used striped-up paisley for the eight years we were apart to characterize our long-distance relationship. Striped-up paisley love: it may not look typical to other people, but it reaches across crazy circumstances.

And that hasn't changed, now that we're together at last. I started this blog to keep a record of our time apart, our ways of coping, our reasons for sticking to each other in spite of the inordinately frustrating challenges those eight years presented. Going through more recent posts, which talk a little about the new challenges in adjusting to each other, I realize that striped-up paisley isn't a temporary condition. As obvious as it may seem, the ways we've learned to love and stay in love were formed out of that experience. And we're using what we learned then to handle the challenges now, in each other's presence.

So, striped-up paisley. It's my outlook for us. And I guess it's what this blog was and still is about.

8 comments:

French Fancy said...

(thrilled to be mentioned in your post - ta)

I've got to say it - your dad sounds more and more of a real killjoy, just trying to keep you down. OK - got that off my chest

I love your special phrase and hope that, now a lot more time of you reuniting has passed, you are gelling together better. I'm having to do this on a minor scale when Mr FF returns from Paris. It always feels a bit weird at first to be a couple again and I'm slightly stilted with my responses to things

xx

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- I was the oldest, so it made sense that he was a bit overprotective when his girls hit the dating age. I was annoyed then, but I also had few prospects anyway, so it wasn't an issue that came between us too often. What I'd love, though, is for him to acknowledge the existence of the people my sisters are dating and less begrudgingly at that -- the sisters Troubadour are old enough to hold jobs, for goodness' sake! He's sort of coming around on that one, but not without disproportionate resistance.

Those first few hours of being in D's presence were always odd. Stilted, as you say, is a great word to describe the way I felt my responses were. Scripted, too. I'd hug D because he opened his arms, but I didn't feel the impulse to hug in the same way I did before he went away because I'd had to get through so many weeks without hugging him. So even the warmth or delight (which were real, just suppressed) in the hug had to be consciously called forth.

suzicate said...

Striped up paisley...that is such a sweet story. I hope you continue using that phrase so that the grandchildren someday will incorporate it into their vocabularies and it becomes a legacy.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

A lovely idea, SuziCate :). If we ever manage to have those children!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

I love the term "striped-up paisley." It seems a fitting term not just for your relationship (which I am just starting to learn about), but for the challenges that face all of us as we try to mix our shades and colors up with those of another person. Swirls, straight lines, angles, shapes all coming together.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! The phrase does lend itself well to the idea you're describing.

I actually hadn't used striped-up paisley in a while, but when I was unpacking the pillow slips one of my sisters made us for Christmas, the fabric pattern jogged my memory. Hence the response to French Fancy and then the background for the blog banner :)

TKW said...

I love this term! I think striped-up paisley is a perfect summation of our fractured, freakshow lives!

French Fancy said...

Oh yes, you've got paisley in your banner; I hadn't realised.

x

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Striped-up paisley

So not too long ago, I was over at French Fancy's place responding to this post, which got me thinking about the reasons I started this blog.

We were a long-distance couple, D and I, within weeks of becoming a couple at all toward the end of our senior year of high school. His family moved away that summer, and then we started college in cities a thousand miles apart.

Before that point in time, we still didn't get to see each other very frequently (dating wasn't an activity Troubadour Dad approved of, per se), so we got to know each other by phone when we weren't in physics class, launching things or setting them on fire. The only time of day that happened to work was late at night, after my parents had gone to bed.

To paraphrase what I wrote chez French Fancy, I was a tired Troubadour by then, so I would doze off in the middle of sentences -- but I'd still be talking. One of the phrases I randomly uttered in that state was striped-up paisley. To this day, we can't peg the origin or inspiration for it within that conversation, but we used striped-up paisley for the eight years we were apart to characterize our long-distance relationship. Striped-up paisley love: it may not look typical to other people, but it reaches across crazy circumstances.

And that hasn't changed, now that we're together at last. I started this blog to keep a record of our time apart, our ways of coping, our reasons for sticking to each other in spite of the inordinately frustrating challenges those eight years presented. Going through more recent posts, which talk a little about the new challenges in adjusting to each other, I realize that striped-up paisley isn't a temporary condition. As obvious as it may seem, the ways we've learned to love and stay in love were formed out of that experience. And we're using what we learned then to handle the challenges now, in each other's presence.

So, striped-up paisley. It's my outlook for us. And I guess it's what this blog was and still is about.

8 comments:

French Fancy said...

(thrilled to be mentioned in your post - ta)

I've got to say it - your dad sounds more and more of a real killjoy, just trying to keep you down. OK - got that off my chest

I love your special phrase and hope that, now a lot more time of you reuniting has passed, you are gelling together better. I'm having to do this on a minor scale when Mr FF returns from Paris. It always feels a bit weird at first to be a couple again and I'm slightly stilted with my responses to things

xx

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF -- I was the oldest, so it made sense that he was a bit overprotective when his girls hit the dating age. I was annoyed then, but I also had few prospects anyway, so it wasn't an issue that came between us too often. What I'd love, though, is for him to acknowledge the existence of the people my sisters are dating and less begrudgingly at that -- the sisters Troubadour are old enough to hold jobs, for goodness' sake! He's sort of coming around on that one, but not without disproportionate resistance.

Those first few hours of being in D's presence were always odd. Stilted, as you say, is a great word to describe the way I felt my responses were. Scripted, too. I'd hug D because he opened his arms, but I didn't feel the impulse to hug in the same way I did before he went away because I'd had to get through so many weeks without hugging him. So even the warmth or delight (which were real, just suppressed) in the hug had to be consciously called forth.

suzicate said...

Striped up paisley...that is such a sweet story. I hope you continue using that phrase so that the grandchildren someday will incorporate it into their vocabularies and it becomes a legacy.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

A lovely idea, SuziCate :). If we ever manage to have those children!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

I love the term "striped-up paisley." It seems a fitting term not just for your relationship (which I am just starting to learn about), but for the challenges that face all of us as we try to mix our shades and colors up with those of another person. Swirls, straight lines, angles, shapes all coming together.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! The phrase does lend itself well to the idea you're describing.

I actually hadn't used striped-up paisley in a while, but when I was unpacking the pillow slips one of my sisters made us for Christmas, the fabric pattern jogged my memory. Hence the response to French Fancy and then the background for the blog banner :)

TKW said...

I love this term! I think striped-up paisley is a perfect summation of our fractured, freakshow lives!

French Fancy said...

Oh yes, you've got paisley in your banner; I hadn't realised.

x