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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, March 10, 2010

I am not this person

... who has suddenly lost the ability to do -- well, almost anything. I’m not, I swear, this person who is letting the weekly dinner plan fall to only what comes out of the freezer in vacuum-sealed packages: tilapia fillets, mixed vegetables, pot stickers. Not all within the same meal either.

I’m not this person who crawls back into bed after breakfasting on coffee. I used to do laundry and dishes and file the innumerable bills and other important items from the mail. I would read the news over my cereal, then start my workout. I’d shower before lunch. I'd even floss. I could go about my daily responsibilities without feeling like each small task required so much will. And pleasurable things -- they were effortless to pursue, not these chore-like endeavors they've suddenly become.

It will get better. It has to. But this person who's taken over my body in the last week since I got back -- you're not welcome. You're no stranger to me; I remember you all too well from previous dark times. I'd just forgotten how sneaky you could be. I mean, twelve days ago, I really did think I was fine. I was up to my elbows in revisions; I was chasing down thesis committee members. Hell, I even managed to sell a TV and a microwave on Craigslist to two different people and get a foster cat adopted by a third while I was three time zones away (thanks, D, for doing the in-person follow-up for all that).

And then, some time in the early morning of the last day before I was to fly home, you showed up. You hopped into the bed while I was in the hospital and curled right up under the skimpy white sheet like a delighted child who had found a new playmate. I'm sure I told you to go away. But you knew I'd been worn down, knew my defenses were gone. You'd been watching me for days, waiting for your moment. I realize that now and wish I'd recognized you sooner. Maybe I did and was just in denial.

I understand that you've decided to sojourn here for a stay of indeterminate length, but I'm not cool with it. Do what you have to do (or don't, as the case may be) -- I'll give you that. But tell me what it is you really need, tell me how to provide it, so I can send you away again, this time, I hope, for good.

Because you don't get to stay forever. One way or another, I will figure out how you work. And when that day comes, I'll be the person in charge again. Yes, me. And I won't make it pleasant for you to hang around. So do us both a favor. Help me help you so we can go our separate ways. Really, it'll be better for everyone involved.

13 comments:

SuziCate said...

Great post...I like your spin with this. Just tell it to get up and skedaddle (I just love that word!) so you can get your life back!

medieval woman said...

Ugh - I'm sorry you have this tag-along. Might it leave when you find out the results of the tests you've had? Have you found out yet? Is this biochemical? Physical? Emotional? All of the above?

I have periodically chased my other person away with the help of little pills called Welbutrin and Lexapro (the latter had the most horrible withdrawal symptoms I've ever had). I took them during periods where I needed to break a cycle and now they are no more...

But that's just me - I hope you find out how to evict the little bastard!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Sorry that you have this inky shadow to deal with. Is it any comfort to you that you've managed to produce a powerful piece of writing despite its presence?

Here's to sunnier days ahead.

Sherlock said...

Powerful post! That's just exactly the way it happens. There's been a lot on your plate lately and hopefully it's just situational and will slink away with brighter days. I'm with MW -- when my shadowy other shows up I usually need some help giving it the boot. Take care and hope you get better soon.

French Fancy said...

CT - you have put this so well but I am sorry that this has come to you. You've been through a lot of medical worries over the years and other problems too - it's such a shame that now you are back in your own place and want to get on with stuff, well - that this 'thing' has dropped its cloud over you.

Tell it at regular intervals to get out of your body.

TKW said...

So sorry the Winter Uglies have come to visit. I know the feeling well. (((hugs)))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- thanks. It seems the last few times I forcibly sent it packing, it was only a temporary sort of eviction. So some negotiation has to happen. I have to listen to what it's asking me to pay attention to. Once I do that, I'm hoping it'll decide to leave on its own.

MW -- regarding the question about tests, we do have almost all of the results (yay!). This tag-along was tangentially related to those things. It was more an old ghost of griefs past that came back (so this is emotional more than physical).

Kristen -- thank you. I do find that writing can be helpful (perhaps why I found my niche in nonfiction, as I was saying over at your place). What's moderately disturbing is that the writing sometimes doesn't gain as much potency in sunnier times! A perverse relationship, no?

Sherlock -- thanks for the good wishes. The sneakiness is infuriating, eh? I'm glad you've found something helpful for you when you've needed it.

FF -- regular intervals, yes! Persistence is key. Thank you for reminding me of that.

TKW -- if only I could really blame the Uglies on winter. It's green and blooming out here, which makes me extra frustrated with this particular Ugly who has invaded. Well, hmm, it was still winter at Almost Dr. Sis's. Okay. It was clearly a stowaway, not a native to the Pacific Northwest. Good call.

becca said...

I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch. I think so many of us can recognize its face and try to shove it away. I hope soon it leaves your place and stays gone, for good.

this was a wonderful piece of writing, and I also hope that with time, venting with through your keyboard, and seeing all of the support you have, helps.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for stopping by, Becca! How I wish that face, as you describe it, weren't so recognizable to so many people. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. You are right, though -- the keyboard and the support here make a crucial difference. I'm grateful for that.

theycallmejane said...

What a beautifully raw and touching post - that so many can relate to. Sharing this will comfort many - me included! It's nice to know we're not alone. Makes it a bit easier to bear, somehow.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jane, thanks for visiting. It is easier when we know we're not alone. Couldn't have said it better.

P.S.: I have bad candle pictures to post soon. Total coincidence that you posted pictures of cool ones; hence my comment over at your place :)

Good Enough Woman said...

Aw, CT. I'm sorry you're in this place. And do you not even have a kitty to snuggle with right now?

I have not experienced depression (is it okay to say that word in here?), but your description of your stealthy visitor is so well written. Thank you for sharing, and I hope you figure out what your visitor needs so that you can send it away long term.

(((CT)))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No kitty here at the moment, GEW. We might get another in a few weeks -- the cats that come into our foster care tend to exert emotional demands we want to be sure we can meet. They can bite, scratch, hide, and in general act in non-snuggly ways (understandably) after being stressed in a less-than-ideal shelter environment. It's not fair to the kitty to expect it to comfort me! (Though it would be awesome if there were a super-friendly one who wanted nothing more than to sleep in my lap.)

It is totally, totally okay to say depression here. And I'm so glad you haven't had to experience it. That is, without doubt, a very good thing! Thank you for your kind words. And also your lovely list of joyful bits. I smiled when I read it :)

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am not this person

... who has suddenly lost the ability to do -- well, almost anything. I’m not, I swear, this person who is letting the weekly dinner plan fall to only what comes out of the freezer in vacuum-sealed packages: tilapia fillets, mixed vegetables, pot stickers. Not all within the same meal either.

I’m not this person who crawls back into bed after breakfasting on coffee. I used to do laundry and dishes and file the innumerable bills and other important items from the mail. I would read the news over my cereal, then start my workout. I’d shower before lunch. I'd even floss. I could go about my daily responsibilities without feeling like each small task required so much will. And pleasurable things -- they were effortless to pursue, not these chore-like endeavors they've suddenly become.

It will get better. It has to. But this person who's taken over my body in the last week since I got back -- you're not welcome. You're no stranger to me; I remember you all too well from previous dark times. I'd just forgotten how sneaky you could be. I mean, twelve days ago, I really did think I was fine. I was up to my elbows in revisions; I was chasing down thesis committee members. Hell, I even managed to sell a TV and a microwave on Craigslist to two different people and get a foster cat adopted by a third while I was three time zones away (thanks, D, for doing the in-person follow-up for all that).

And then, some time in the early morning of the last day before I was to fly home, you showed up. You hopped into the bed while I was in the hospital and curled right up under the skimpy white sheet like a delighted child who had found a new playmate. I'm sure I told you to go away. But you knew I'd been worn down, knew my defenses were gone. You'd been watching me for days, waiting for your moment. I realize that now and wish I'd recognized you sooner. Maybe I did and was just in denial.

I understand that you've decided to sojourn here for a stay of indeterminate length, but I'm not cool with it. Do what you have to do (or don't, as the case may be) -- I'll give you that. But tell me what it is you really need, tell me how to provide it, so I can send you away again, this time, I hope, for good.

Because you don't get to stay forever. One way or another, I will figure out how you work. And when that day comes, I'll be the person in charge again. Yes, me. And I won't make it pleasant for you to hang around. So do us both a favor. Help me help you so we can go our separate ways. Really, it'll be better for everyone involved.

13 comments:

SuziCate said...

Great post...I like your spin with this. Just tell it to get up and skedaddle (I just love that word!) so you can get your life back!

medieval woman said...

Ugh - I'm sorry you have this tag-along. Might it leave when you find out the results of the tests you've had? Have you found out yet? Is this biochemical? Physical? Emotional? All of the above?

I have periodically chased my other person away with the help of little pills called Welbutrin and Lexapro (the latter had the most horrible withdrawal symptoms I've ever had). I took them during periods where I needed to break a cycle and now they are no more...

But that's just me - I hope you find out how to evict the little bastard!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Sorry that you have this inky shadow to deal with. Is it any comfort to you that you've managed to produce a powerful piece of writing despite its presence?

Here's to sunnier days ahead.

Sherlock said...

Powerful post! That's just exactly the way it happens. There's been a lot on your plate lately and hopefully it's just situational and will slink away with brighter days. I'm with MW -- when my shadowy other shows up I usually need some help giving it the boot. Take care and hope you get better soon.

French Fancy said...

CT - you have put this so well but I am sorry that this has come to you. You've been through a lot of medical worries over the years and other problems too - it's such a shame that now you are back in your own place and want to get on with stuff, well - that this 'thing' has dropped its cloud over you.

Tell it at regular intervals to get out of your body.

TKW said...

So sorry the Winter Uglies have come to visit. I know the feeling well. (((hugs)))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- thanks. It seems the last few times I forcibly sent it packing, it was only a temporary sort of eviction. So some negotiation has to happen. I have to listen to what it's asking me to pay attention to. Once I do that, I'm hoping it'll decide to leave on its own.

MW -- regarding the question about tests, we do have almost all of the results (yay!). This tag-along was tangentially related to those things. It was more an old ghost of griefs past that came back (so this is emotional more than physical).

Kristen -- thank you. I do find that writing can be helpful (perhaps why I found my niche in nonfiction, as I was saying over at your place). What's moderately disturbing is that the writing sometimes doesn't gain as much potency in sunnier times! A perverse relationship, no?

Sherlock -- thanks for the good wishes. The sneakiness is infuriating, eh? I'm glad you've found something helpful for you when you've needed it.

FF -- regular intervals, yes! Persistence is key. Thank you for reminding me of that.

TKW -- if only I could really blame the Uglies on winter. It's green and blooming out here, which makes me extra frustrated with this particular Ugly who has invaded. Well, hmm, it was still winter at Almost Dr. Sis's. Okay. It was clearly a stowaway, not a native to the Pacific Northwest. Good call.

becca said...

I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch. I think so many of us can recognize its face and try to shove it away. I hope soon it leaves your place and stays gone, for good.

this was a wonderful piece of writing, and I also hope that with time, venting with through your keyboard, and seeing all of the support you have, helps.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks for stopping by, Becca! How I wish that face, as you describe it, weren't so recognizable to so many people. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. You are right, though -- the keyboard and the support here make a crucial difference. I'm grateful for that.

theycallmejane said...

What a beautifully raw and touching post - that so many can relate to. Sharing this will comfort many - me included! It's nice to know we're not alone. Makes it a bit easier to bear, somehow.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jane, thanks for visiting. It is easier when we know we're not alone. Couldn't have said it better.

P.S.: I have bad candle pictures to post soon. Total coincidence that you posted pictures of cool ones; hence my comment over at your place :)

Good Enough Woman said...

Aw, CT. I'm sorry you're in this place. And do you not even have a kitty to snuggle with right now?

I have not experienced depression (is it okay to say that word in here?), but your description of your stealthy visitor is so well written. Thank you for sharing, and I hope you figure out what your visitor needs so that you can send it away long term.

(((CT)))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No kitty here at the moment, GEW. We might get another in a few weeks -- the cats that come into our foster care tend to exert emotional demands we want to be sure we can meet. They can bite, scratch, hide, and in general act in non-snuggly ways (understandably) after being stressed in a less-than-ideal shelter environment. It's not fair to the kitty to expect it to comfort me! (Though it would be awesome if there were a super-friendly one who wanted nothing more than to sleep in my lap.)

It is totally, totally okay to say depression here. And I'm so glad you haven't had to experience it. That is, without doubt, a very good thing! Thank you for your kind words. And also your lovely list of joyful bits. I smiled when I read it :)