Blogroll

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!)

Archives

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

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

To search this blog, type in the field at the top left of the page and hit enter.

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.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting

I knew today was off to a slow start when we realized we'd put dirty dishes in among the clean ones in the dishwasher.

Not that it takes much effort to add more detergent and run the machine again. It's the drying that frustrates me. The whole thing is set to perform that convenient little function so I don't have to towel everything off, but inevitably, when the door opens, all the plastics (mostly food packaging we've saved from the garbage for storing leftovers -- margarine and yogurt tubs, peanut butter jars) are still beaded with moisture, dripping onto everything else. So you have to let it all air dry. I try to run the machine right after dinner and then pull the racks out before bedtime so that this can happen overnight. Hence my frustration this morning when I realized I'd have to wait through another evaporation cycle before I could deal with the dirty items crowding the sink and counter.

It's a linear process, which is something that's also true of writing for me. Sunday night, I sent the intro chapter of my thesis to my advisor, the chapter I'd been working on since January. Somewhere in the midst of my February trip, I'd revised that chapter based on her feedback and had sent it to her again. Knowing I needed to keep moving things along (especially since I was still hoping to graduate this spring), I started on the next chapter, or what I thought that would be, based on the context created by the first. The narrator's quest, as my advisor likes to call it, was established in my mind and on those initial pages.

Two weeks later, I got the revision back -- with more questions about what I'd changed than my advisor had had about the original version. The quest? More muddied than it was clarified, she said. In the end, we agreed that much of what I'd added needed to come back out. Which also meant that the next chapter I'd been working on, which referenced key parts of those additions, no longer made any sense.

So I'm sitting here, awaiting news of the revision of the revision while trying to write a new second chapter. I know I should keep going with what's beginning to emerge on the page, should trust that this time I've finally figured out and explained what the quest is. But I'm feeling skittish. Afraid that some time in the near future, I'll get my first chapter draft back with requests for yet another full-scale rewrite.

Meanwhile, my ideas are crowding my brain, in need of processing. I just want to be able to set them, clean and dry, in the places they belong.

Is that so much to ask?

14 comments:

TKW said...

Argh! How frustrating! I'd be feeling a little restless, too!

By the way, we put dirty dishes in with the clean ones all the time.

C. Troubadour said...

I think we've got a solution for the dishes, Kitch, but the writing -- ?

D and I are going to get some of those brightly colored chip clips and stick one on each of the racks to indicate things are clean. Or dirty. We haven't decided which one. But you get the idea :)

suzicate said...

Oh, how frustrating for you. I wish you the best. I can't even begin to imagine writing something so long and complicated. I am impressed. And I have the same problem with my dishwasher!

C. Troubadour said...

Believe me, SuziCate, I didn't imagine doing this either -- learning as I go. I think my writing temperament makes me better suited to shorter forms, but there is something satisfying about sustaining the work across a larger arc. It'll be a milestone if I can get there.

theycallmejane said...

I feel you pain! I truly do! And dirty mixed with clean? At least you don't put away the dirty dishes like we do in this house!

C. Troubadour said...

Ha! We've totally done that, Jane! I think an entire drawer of forks, spoons, and knives had to be ADDED to the dishwasher as a result ...

French Fancy said...

I so admire you CT - you've been plugging away at this for so long and it's ever so hard to keep momentum when doing it at home on your own (I'm like a mini version of you at a much lower academic level). The thing is - are you so sure your adviser is correct? Do you ever think you'd be better going along with your original draft? Sorry to muddy the waters but you seem so clever and you write so well that I can't imagine you would often need to rewrite something.

As for the dishwasher thing - it's mainly me that stacks it as I go along so this problem doesn't happen.I've sort of got the traditional woman's role in our house - something that still amazes us (I was quite a dynamic career woman in London when we first met).

C. Troubadour said...

You're right about momentum, FF (and I know you know what it is to be a student away from an actual campus -- not easy)! I've been trying to maintain the habit of writing for a two-hour block most days of the week. Then there's at least a regular, dedicated time during which words make their way onto the page. At the end of the day, I can say I tried, even if there isn't a huge amount to show for it. And usually, there's something I'm glad I added or changed ...

You ask a good question (and thank you for your kind words about my writing). This time, my advisor is right. The additions I'd made to the chapter essentially set up the rest of the project to be a different work (the central conflict the narrator was going to have to sort out changed significantly). Since that wasn't what I wanted for the project, it made sense to revise again. It took me the better part of a month to get to that understanding -- I resisted when I first read the feedback, as I didn't realize I was steering things so far off track -- but getting space from what I'd written helped me go back to it with fresher eyes.

As for household roles -- I imagine we're less traditional, but there are still some things that tend to fall along gender lines. Note that I'm the one hemming those curtains ... :)

BigLittleWolf said...

You must be ready to throw things. Or at least hurl expletives. En fran├žais, aussi.

Are you not working from a very detailed outline that your adviser can somehow sign off on? Something that provides the view from 5,000' as well as one that is very focused, at least for several chapters or sections?

I'd be spitting, spitting up, and pacing in circles. Click click click, in my 4" heels.

C. Troubadour said...

Funny you should ask, BLW -- this explains a bit why I'm without that detailed outline. I do have a narrative arc in mind now (revised and revised again as this year has progressed), but it deals more with chronology than argument.

As for argument, I think I spent this last semester redefining what this work is really about (I thought I'd done it for the prospectus meeting eleven months ago, but you see what the committee told me to do). Makes you wonder why the meeting occurred at all and why they signed off? Sigh ... it's easy to say it's not a perfect system, but I can't suggest any fixes either. Not yet, anyway.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Even while I wallow with you in your frustration, I marvel at your metaphor of the dishwasher and the possible extensions for life as we know it: dirty mixing with clean; a process coming to an end, but not a satisfying one. The possibilities are endless. Sigh.

Here's hoping that you find a resolution - and soon.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen. Kitchen sink philosophy -- it pops up more often than I expect it to!

Good Enough Woman said...

I feel your pain about dishes and about chapters.

Sending patience vibes your way.

(((CT))))

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, GEW. The latest update: my advisor says she's going to read the new chapter version this weekend. Meanwhile, I have four pages of totally new Chapter 2 making puppy eyes at me: "Please don't delete us! Please!"

Posts by date

Posts by label

Air travel Airline food Allergic reactions Astoria Awards Bacteremia Bacterial overgrowth Baggage beefs Bed and breakfast Betrayal Blues Body Boston Breastfeeding British Columbia California Canada Cape Spear Clam-digging Colonoscopy Commuter marriage Cooking CT scans Delays Diagnoses Dietitians Doctor-patient relationships Doctors Eating while traveling Editing Endocrine Endoscopy ER False starts Family dynamics Feedback Food anxiety Food sensitivities Gate agent guff GI Halifax Heart Home-making House hunting Hypoglycemia In-laws Intentional happiness Iowa Journaling Kidney stones Knitting Lab tests Little U. on the Prairie Liver function tests Long Beach Making friends in new places Malabsorption Massachusetts Medical records Medication Mentorship MFA programs Miami Monterey Motivation Moving Narrative New York Newark Newfoundland Nova Scotia Olympic Peninsula Ontario Ophthalmology Oregon Oxalates Pancreatic function tests Parenting Parents Paris Pets Photography Portland Prediabetes Pregnancy Process Professors Publishing Reproductive endocrine Research Revision Rewriting Rheumatology San Francisco Scenes from a graduation series Scenes from around the table series Seattle Sisters Skiing St. John's Striped-up paisley Teaching Technological snafus Texas Thesis Toronto Travel Travel fears Traveling while sick Ultrasound Urology Vancouver Victoria Voice Washington Washington D.C. Weight When words won't stick Whidbey Island Why we write Workshops Writers on writing Writing Writing friends Writing in odd places Writing jobs Yakima

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting

I knew today was off to a slow start when we realized we'd put dirty dishes in among the clean ones in the dishwasher.

Not that it takes much effort to add more detergent and run the machine again. It's the drying that frustrates me. The whole thing is set to perform that convenient little function so I don't have to towel everything off, but inevitably, when the door opens, all the plastics (mostly food packaging we've saved from the garbage for storing leftovers -- margarine and yogurt tubs, peanut butter jars) are still beaded with moisture, dripping onto everything else. So you have to let it all air dry. I try to run the machine right after dinner and then pull the racks out before bedtime so that this can happen overnight. Hence my frustration this morning when I realized I'd have to wait through another evaporation cycle before I could deal with the dirty items crowding the sink and counter.

It's a linear process, which is something that's also true of writing for me. Sunday night, I sent the intro chapter of my thesis to my advisor, the chapter I'd been working on since January. Somewhere in the midst of my February trip, I'd revised that chapter based on her feedback and had sent it to her again. Knowing I needed to keep moving things along (especially since I was still hoping to graduate this spring), I started on the next chapter, or what I thought that would be, based on the context created by the first. The narrator's quest, as my advisor likes to call it, was established in my mind and on those initial pages.

Two weeks later, I got the revision back -- with more questions about what I'd changed than my advisor had had about the original version. The quest? More muddied than it was clarified, she said. In the end, we agreed that much of what I'd added needed to come back out. Which also meant that the next chapter I'd been working on, which referenced key parts of those additions, no longer made any sense.

So I'm sitting here, awaiting news of the revision of the revision while trying to write a new second chapter. I know I should keep going with what's beginning to emerge on the page, should trust that this time I've finally figured out and explained what the quest is. But I'm feeling skittish. Afraid that some time in the near future, I'll get my first chapter draft back with requests for yet another full-scale rewrite.

Meanwhile, my ideas are crowding my brain, in need of processing. I just want to be able to set them, clean and dry, in the places they belong.

Is that so much to ask?

14 comments:

TKW said...

Argh! How frustrating! I'd be feeling a little restless, too!

By the way, we put dirty dishes in with the clean ones all the time.

C. Troubadour said...

I think we've got a solution for the dishes, Kitch, but the writing -- ?

D and I are going to get some of those brightly colored chip clips and stick one on each of the racks to indicate things are clean. Or dirty. We haven't decided which one. But you get the idea :)

suzicate said...

Oh, how frustrating for you. I wish you the best. I can't even begin to imagine writing something so long and complicated. I am impressed. And I have the same problem with my dishwasher!

C. Troubadour said...

Believe me, SuziCate, I didn't imagine doing this either -- learning as I go. I think my writing temperament makes me better suited to shorter forms, but there is something satisfying about sustaining the work across a larger arc. It'll be a milestone if I can get there.

theycallmejane said...

I feel you pain! I truly do! And dirty mixed with clean? At least you don't put away the dirty dishes like we do in this house!

C. Troubadour said...

Ha! We've totally done that, Jane! I think an entire drawer of forks, spoons, and knives had to be ADDED to the dishwasher as a result ...

French Fancy said...

I so admire you CT - you've been plugging away at this for so long and it's ever so hard to keep momentum when doing it at home on your own (I'm like a mini version of you at a much lower academic level). The thing is - are you so sure your adviser is correct? Do you ever think you'd be better going along with your original draft? Sorry to muddy the waters but you seem so clever and you write so well that I can't imagine you would often need to rewrite something.

As for the dishwasher thing - it's mainly me that stacks it as I go along so this problem doesn't happen.I've sort of got the traditional woman's role in our house - something that still amazes us (I was quite a dynamic career woman in London when we first met).

C. Troubadour said...

You're right about momentum, FF (and I know you know what it is to be a student away from an actual campus -- not easy)! I've been trying to maintain the habit of writing for a two-hour block most days of the week. Then there's at least a regular, dedicated time during which words make their way onto the page. At the end of the day, I can say I tried, even if there isn't a huge amount to show for it. And usually, there's something I'm glad I added or changed ...

You ask a good question (and thank you for your kind words about my writing). This time, my advisor is right. The additions I'd made to the chapter essentially set up the rest of the project to be a different work (the central conflict the narrator was going to have to sort out changed significantly). Since that wasn't what I wanted for the project, it made sense to revise again. It took me the better part of a month to get to that understanding -- I resisted when I first read the feedback, as I didn't realize I was steering things so far off track -- but getting space from what I'd written helped me go back to it with fresher eyes.

As for household roles -- I imagine we're less traditional, but there are still some things that tend to fall along gender lines. Note that I'm the one hemming those curtains ... :)

BigLittleWolf said...

You must be ready to throw things. Or at least hurl expletives. En fran├žais, aussi.

Are you not working from a very detailed outline that your adviser can somehow sign off on? Something that provides the view from 5,000' as well as one that is very focused, at least for several chapters or sections?

I'd be spitting, spitting up, and pacing in circles. Click click click, in my 4" heels.

C. Troubadour said...

Funny you should ask, BLW -- this explains a bit why I'm without that detailed outline. I do have a narrative arc in mind now (revised and revised again as this year has progressed), but it deals more with chronology than argument.

As for argument, I think I spent this last semester redefining what this work is really about (I thought I'd done it for the prospectus meeting eleven months ago, but you see what the committee told me to do). Makes you wonder why the meeting occurred at all and why they signed off? Sigh ... it's easy to say it's not a perfect system, but I can't suggest any fixes either. Not yet, anyway.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Even while I wallow with you in your frustration, I marvel at your metaphor of the dishwasher and the possible extensions for life as we know it: dirty mixing with clean; a process coming to an end, but not a satisfying one. The possibilities are endless. Sigh.

Here's hoping that you find a resolution - and soon.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen. Kitchen sink philosophy -- it pops up more often than I expect it to!

Good Enough Woman said...

I feel your pain about dishes and about chapters.

Sending patience vibes your way.

(((CT))))

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, GEW. The latest update: my advisor says she's going to read the new chapter version this weekend. Meanwhile, I have four pages of totally new Chapter 2 making puppy eyes at me: "Please don't delete us! Please!"