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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.

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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, April 30, 2010

A serious request

Even though I'm away from Little U. on the Prairie, I still get e-mails from my department. Reminders about registering for classes each semester, invitations to readings, job postings, spam -- check to all of the above. Most of it isn't relevant to me at the moment.

But today, I received this.*
If you enjoy the alphabet, then have I got a job for you! I'm looking for two people to alphabetize and shelve about 2,000 books for me very quickly -- either tonight or tomorrow. (But preferably tonight.)

My mom is visiting me soon and is going to be appalled to discover that I haven't quite moved in to this place that I supposedly moved into several months ago. So I'm hoping to diguise
[sic] the fact that I own no furniture with many shelves of meticulously alphabetized books (plus a couple hundred DVDs).

Sound like your idea of a Friday night? Then e-mail me and I'll give you some details. I think the job will require two people, so contacting me with a partner already in place would be ideal -- otherwise you risk being partnered with someone potentially annoying. I will pay you each 150 bucks in cold/hard cash, and I'm guessing that the job will take you about 5 hours total. If you're pleasant I'll also order pizza.

Yours,
A. Professor
Yes, this was sent by a member of the faculty at Little U., who has been teaching there longer than I have been one of Little U.'s students. And no, s/he is not on my thesis committee -- I never did end up taking a workshop under this person, so it didn't make sense to ask.

I know; it's a quirky request, humorous because of the situation it describes. But I hesitate to laugh for two reasons. One, because I think this prof is being earnest -- as in, the situation is of a serious nature to him/her. Parental visit, lack of furniture. I know that kind of judgment all too well. I could substitute a good number of items (concrete or abstract) for that missing couch and coffee table s/he's talking about in that e-mail and remember the squirmy feeling of not measuring up to somebody's expectations on how I should live.

The other reason? Well -- and you can laugh about this -- I like filing.

D makes fun of me for it, but when he needs a document we don't reference on a daily basis, he's very glad I am the way I am. Need a receipt for the sofa we bought three months back? Three years? Sure. Records from bank accounts two out-of-state moves ago? Got it. How about the operating manual for the decades-old sewing machine your mother passed on to us last year? Give me thirty seconds; I know exactly where it is.

So, alphabetizing books. I so would have done it for this prof. And cash (and pizza) aside, I would have enjoyed it.

But I also would have been getting ready to defend my thesis and/or give a final to my students, so I guess it's a good thing I'm not there, tempted by this distraction ...

* Edited to protect the identity of the original sender.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

You are my filing twin and I claim my £5.

Probably, like me, I wonder how people can live in a state of disorganisation and chaos. I too can pinpoint receipts from five years ago and manuals for every gadget ever bought. I don't understand why people want to put themselves through the 'hunting around to find something' lark. Then these people call me anal - but I would rather be anal than run around like a blue-arsed fly (UK slang there) tearing my hair out.

Hope things are going well for you

x

Sherlock said...

Well I'm about halfway there. I can usually find the important stuff. Funny you mentioned a decades-old hand-me-down sewing machine. I just gave such a machine to my daughter-in-law. I'd had it for ten years, never used it, and she wanted it. I found everything except the plates for the various functions (hemming, zigzagging etc.) Have no clue where those are and now she has to find them on ebay cause you buy them anywhere anymore.

I did find the manual and all sorts of other stuff to go with it :-)

theycallmejane said...

Could you PLEASE come over to my house and show me your system? I'm hopelessly unorganized when it comes to receipts. But alphabetizing books? In groups of subject, decade it was published, color even - I'm your gal!

C. Troubadour said...

FF -- a filing twin! I love it. And yes, my hair's thinned enough in the last decade that I'm totally with you on being anal.

Sherlock -- ha, there's a shot of the sewing machine I didn't post but was tempted to. There's an essential screw missing that's supposed to hold a piece of hardware in place (can't properly thread the machine without this little metal bracket screwed on at the top of the rig). We used duct tape as as quick fix. I should find a proper screw before this part falls off and goes missing. No idea how much help eBay would be for us then.

Jane -- yes, yes! It took me forever to get my bookshelves in order after we moved because I was sorting subject; decade; and, to some degree, size (to make everything fit). But filing regular old paperwork? Much more straightforward for me. Happy to help if I'm ever in the neighborhood. Really, I'm serious! People think it odd that I find it fun, but ... :)

medieval woman said...

Okay, this is fuh-nny! I love the thought of alphabetized books as a distraction from the fact that there's no furniture. And to have $300 to give to the filers? That would come close to buying you a cheap IKEA couch. But it's far better this way!

You may also come file for me anytime! The only thing I'm psychotically meticulous about is my taxes!

suzicate said...

I used to be so organized...now I am an "organized mess"...I am the only one who knows where to find the things I file (place, hide, lose etc...)!

TKW said...

Unlike you, I do NOT enjoy filing. So I'm planning your visit here so you can get your organizing "fix"!

BigLittleWolf said...

This is a great story. (And I am one of those people French Fancy mentioned. We don't necessarily live in chaos and disorganization by choice, but by circumstance.)

Nonetheless, I would've enjoyed filing the books, too - on the low shelves - unless footstool was provided along with the pizza.

C. Troubadour said...

MW -- I know, right?!? As if anyone walking into a room sans furniture (when furniture was expected) would look closely enough to determine whether the books were alphabetized or not. I think that was the sort of hopeless note that came through in my reading (yes, close-reading a prof's e-mail ...!). "I'm not going to be able to control the situation much, so I need something to feel controlled. And that's the alphabetization of my books!" I get that, I really do.

And $300 disposable cash? No kidding. I would have had plenty of uses for that ...


SuziCate -- D and I have a slight fear of putting things in a "safe place" sometimes because we tend to forget where that spot is. Out of sight really is out of mind! So on many occasions, we let stuff clutter up just so we know where it is until we can come up with a location less nonspecific than the "safe place" for it. That's our version of the organized mess, I guess!

TKW -- sweet. Tell me when you want me and I'm there!

BLW -- I think we would both need the footstool. Not even the tallest Louboutins would get me within reach of those top shelves!

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Friday, April 30, 2010

A serious request

Even though I'm away from Little U. on the Prairie, I still get e-mails from my department. Reminders about registering for classes each semester, invitations to readings, job postings, spam -- check to all of the above. Most of it isn't relevant to me at the moment.

But today, I received this.*
If you enjoy the alphabet, then have I got a job for you! I'm looking for two people to alphabetize and shelve about 2,000 books for me very quickly -- either tonight or tomorrow. (But preferably tonight.)

My mom is visiting me soon and is going to be appalled to discover that I haven't quite moved in to this place that I supposedly moved into several months ago. So I'm hoping to diguise
[sic] the fact that I own no furniture with many shelves of meticulously alphabetized books (plus a couple hundred DVDs).

Sound like your idea of a Friday night? Then e-mail me and I'll give you some details. I think the job will require two people, so contacting me with a partner already in place would be ideal -- otherwise you risk being partnered with someone potentially annoying. I will pay you each 150 bucks in cold/hard cash, and I'm guessing that the job will take you about 5 hours total. If you're pleasant I'll also order pizza.

Yours,
A. Professor
Yes, this was sent by a member of the faculty at Little U., who has been teaching there longer than I have been one of Little U.'s students. And no, s/he is not on my thesis committee -- I never did end up taking a workshop under this person, so it didn't make sense to ask.

I know; it's a quirky request, humorous because of the situation it describes. But I hesitate to laugh for two reasons. One, because I think this prof is being earnest -- as in, the situation is of a serious nature to him/her. Parental visit, lack of furniture. I know that kind of judgment all too well. I could substitute a good number of items (concrete or abstract) for that missing couch and coffee table s/he's talking about in that e-mail and remember the squirmy feeling of not measuring up to somebody's expectations on how I should live.

The other reason? Well -- and you can laugh about this -- I like filing.

D makes fun of me for it, but when he needs a document we don't reference on a daily basis, he's very glad I am the way I am. Need a receipt for the sofa we bought three months back? Three years? Sure. Records from bank accounts two out-of-state moves ago? Got it. How about the operating manual for the decades-old sewing machine your mother passed on to us last year? Give me thirty seconds; I know exactly where it is.

So, alphabetizing books. I so would have done it for this prof. And cash (and pizza) aside, I would have enjoyed it.

But I also would have been getting ready to defend my thesis and/or give a final to my students, so I guess it's a good thing I'm not there, tempted by this distraction ...

* Edited to protect the identity of the original sender.

9 comments:

French Fancy said...

You are my filing twin and I claim my £5.

Probably, like me, I wonder how people can live in a state of disorganisation and chaos. I too can pinpoint receipts from five years ago and manuals for every gadget ever bought. I don't understand why people want to put themselves through the 'hunting around to find something' lark. Then these people call me anal - but I would rather be anal than run around like a blue-arsed fly (UK slang there) tearing my hair out.

Hope things are going well for you

x

Sherlock said...

Well I'm about halfway there. I can usually find the important stuff. Funny you mentioned a decades-old hand-me-down sewing machine. I just gave such a machine to my daughter-in-law. I'd had it for ten years, never used it, and she wanted it. I found everything except the plates for the various functions (hemming, zigzagging etc.) Have no clue where those are and now she has to find them on ebay cause you buy them anywhere anymore.

I did find the manual and all sorts of other stuff to go with it :-)

theycallmejane said...

Could you PLEASE come over to my house and show me your system? I'm hopelessly unorganized when it comes to receipts. But alphabetizing books? In groups of subject, decade it was published, color even - I'm your gal!

C. Troubadour said...

FF -- a filing twin! I love it. And yes, my hair's thinned enough in the last decade that I'm totally with you on being anal.

Sherlock -- ha, there's a shot of the sewing machine I didn't post but was tempted to. There's an essential screw missing that's supposed to hold a piece of hardware in place (can't properly thread the machine without this little metal bracket screwed on at the top of the rig). We used duct tape as as quick fix. I should find a proper screw before this part falls off and goes missing. No idea how much help eBay would be for us then.

Jane -- yes, yes! It took me forever to get my bookshelves in order after we moved because I was sorting subject; decade; and, to some degree, size (to make everything fit). But filing regular old paperwork? Much more straightforward for me. Happy to help if I'm ever in the neighborhood. Really, I'm serious! People think it odd that I find it fun, but ... :)

medieval woman said...

Okay, this is fuh-nny! I love the thought of alphabetized books as a distraction from the fact that there's no furniture. And to have $300 to give to the filers? That would come close to buying you a cheap IKEA couch. But it's far better this way!

You may also come file for me anytime! The only thing I'm psychotically meticulous about is my taxes!

suzicate said...

I used to be so organized...now I am an "organized mess"...I am the only one who knows where to find the things I file (place, hide, lose etc...)!

TKW said...

Unlike you, I do NOT enjoy filing. So I'm planning your visit here so you can get your organizing "fix"!

BigLittleWolf said...

This is a great story. (And I am one of those people French Fancy mentioned. We don't necessarily live in chaos and disorganization by choice, but by circumstance.)

Nonetheless, I would've enjoyed filing the books, too - on the low shelves - unless footstool was provided along with the pizza.

C. Troubadour said...

MW -- I know, right?!? As if anyone walking into a room sans furniture (when furniture was expected) would look closely enough to determine whether the books were alphabetized or not. I think that was the sort of hopeless note that came through in my reading (yes, close-reading a prof's e-mail ...!). "I'm not going to be able to control the situation much, so I need something to feel controlled. And that's the alphabetization of my books!" I get that, I really do.

And $300 disposable cash? No kidding. I would have had plenty of uses for that ...


SuziCate -- D and I have a slight fear of putting things in a "safe place" sometimes because we tend to forget where that spot is. Out of sight really is out of mind! So on many occasions, we let stuff clutter up just so we know where it is until we can come up with a location less nonspecific than the "safe place" for it. That's our version of the organized mess, I guess!

TKW -- sweet. Tell me when you want me and I'm there!

BLW -- I think we would both need the footstool. Not even the tallest Louboutins would get me within reach of those top shelves!