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, August 24, 2010

On a lighter note

It's been busy, as I'm sure you've guessed, but life chez Troubadour is back to normal as of yesterday. In relative terms, at any rate.

I'm not going to go into all the details right off, but I'm happy to say that my parents' visit was manageable. All the prep leading up to it figured significantly in making it so, but there were also moments that were enjoyable entirely for what they were, not because I used any magical thinking or conversational stealth to make a difficult situation better.

Troubadour Dad stayed for an extended weekend; my mother stayed for an additional week. During the last part of her visit, we drove down to Long Beach, a tiny town at the southwestern corner of Washington, for their annual kite festival. It's been running for thirty years, but D only found out about it early this summer.

Road trips to new places with Troubadour Mom are always fun because she still has her sense of adventure (my dad is another story, but Mom works on him every now and then). We were pleased to give ourselves lots of firsts on this brief weekend, which included:

Mom's first visit to Oregon! (We stayed Friday night in Astoria, which is just across from Long Beach Peninsula by way of this bridge.)


First time flying a Revolution kite for all of us, and the first time flying any kind of kite for both me and Mom. A master Rev flier was giving lessons to interested bystanders, so we lined up for a try. What a rush!




Mom even managed to land the kite on her second attempt without crashing:


These aren't easy to fly in light winds, but they can do amazing things. Each of the Revs in this clip is flown by a different person:


Then there was my first time dipping a toe in the Pacific Ocean. Even though we moved to Seattle three years ago, I'd never had the chance -- the Puget Sound isn't the same thing even though it's technically connected.



Two weeks of playing parental vacation director means more than a few things around the house are in need of attention. And the fall semester started yesterday! So it's back to earth after much flight. But I'm on both feet and glad.

First photo courtesy D; second, third, and above photo courtesy Troubadour Mom

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fire burn and cauldron bubble

Because I needed to take care of at least one of the items on my list of beefs just to get back some peace of mind over the weekend, I waged war on the mysterious (and impossibly hardy) microbes in our laundry.

I think we have detente.

We won't know for sure until D tries out the most seriously affected item (a t-shirt), but so far, everything else has proven to be odor-free. So, for your amusement -- and actual use, if you ever run into this problem -- here's what I did on Sunday morning. N.B.: this approach is only recommended for clothing appropriate for the regular hot cycle in your washing machine.

Materials

large pot with lid (ours was a 6.5 quart)
distilled white vinegar
water
measuring cup
stove
large mixing bowl or other similarly sized receptacle
tongs or chopsticks

1. Using measuring cup, fill pot about halfway with hot water from tap (this will reduce time required to bring to boil). Note quantity of water and add about 1/12 this volume in vinegar. Cover and heat on stove until a rolling boil is achieved.

2. Place one laundry item in pot. Poke with tongs or chopsticks until completely immersed. You may add more if the items are small, but dyes do come out of fabric and may discolor other garments.

3. Cover and boil for 5 minutes, 10 for garments with especially resistant odor problems. At the halfway point, stir garment to resoak any parts that may have puffed out above water line from steam.

4. Carefully lift garment with tongs or chopsticks and transfer to mixing bowl. Empty pot and repeat boiling process with fresh vinegar solution for each remaining garment.

5. Place boiled items in washing machine and launder on regular hot wash cycle with detergent. DO NOT add bleach as this will mix with the vinegar to produce poisonous fumes. Select the extra rinse option on your machine if you have one -- this should help prevent any residual vinegar smell from remaining.

6. Tumble dry as usual.


And now, I'm off to the airport. Life will be unpredictable here for a little while, but I'll be checking in as best I can ...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The writing on the wall

It's not a good sign when you wake up and the first thought that flits through your mind is oh no.

I admit, I'd gone to sleep feeling anxious. Despite all the effort I've been putting in to take care of myself in preparation for next week, there's still this panicky thing doing jumping jacks in my guts, and no number of countermeasures will get it to calm the hell down. You can only trick the mind and body so much. Add to that the usual random obstacles life offers and suddenly the reserves I thought I'd been storing up look so much smaller.

I've been trying not to dwell on the less than pleasant stuff (and I'm good at dwelling, so this takes effort). But after a certain point, I can't ignore what's right in front of me.


So, my beefs with the universe, some trivial and some not. Because it all takes energy to deal with, and I really can't devote what's meant to be for my parents to this:

  • Introducing us to the most sweet-tempered, affectionate kitty on the planet but having her hate catnip and all manner of kitty treats, which are essential strategic tools for getting a cat to scratch her scratching post instead of the furniture. Also having her general aversion to drinking water and the aforementioned treats foil the administration of preventative dental care. (There are specific water additives and dental chews that can help if your cat is prone to tartar buildup.) Am I a bad parent for thinking dental care for a cat is a wee bit of a racket? You don't want to know the quote I got for the cleaning our cat supposedly needs, just in case her gums are reabsorbing one of her back teeth.

  • Making the price of a central cooling system so ridiculously high that even over the course of ten years, it will not pay for itself. We're lucky enough to have cooler summers out here, but during those few weeks when the temperature spikes, it's more than a little unpleasant in the house. This has been one of those weeks. As a result, I think my body has retained enough water for both me and the cat who will not drink. Which brings me to ...

  • Bloating. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? As if I really want to manage a visit from my food-obsessed parents while also feeling how uncomfortable my waistband is before being taken on a traveling smorgasbord with them.

  • Mildewing. Back in May, when we were visiting our friends in Portland, we stayed at their place. Well, they had a bit of a moisture problem in their linen closet (and their apartment in general), so the sheets we slept on definitely reeked of something foul. No worries, we said -- two nights and we'll go home, wash everything we're wearing, and all will be fine again. Well, we've put some of those items through the laundry three times now, and they STILL begin to smell after a few hours of wear. I'm at my wits' end (and it's time to do another round of general wash before my parents arrive). Do I take ye olde fashioned approach, boiling the clothes and whatever they're harboring in a pot on the stove? And how are we supposed to get around future invitations to stay for a weekend when we do very much want to hang out but obviously can't throw away what we wear after each visit? They'll think it odd if we book a hotel next time around, won't they?

Okay. I think that's all that's bloggable. Now I'm off to check on the kitty, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, she's gotten hungry enough to try the treat I left in her food bowl in lieu of breakfast this morning ...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On organization

Whoever came up with the idea of "a place for everything and everything in its place" -- that person knows the inner workings of my (home-making) heart. Places like The Container Store speak to some strange, deeply seated longing I still don't quite understand, a need to sort and streamline what I use around the house. Maybe because I hate actual housework, and organizing the tools I need to get things done in the least time possible makes all those chores easier to tackle before procrastination leads to neglect.

But The Container Store ain't cheap. So what's a girl to do?

Eat salad. And peanut butter. Not in the same dish! (Unless you happen to like them that way -- I'm not judging.) Then save the containers.

For months, we've been collecting the plastic clamshell boxes from prewashed greens, as well as the jars from all the nutty goodness D and I consume. Slowly, they've worked their way into our cabinets and closets, the former corralling sponges and bottles of cleaning product, the latter keeping random paper clips and rubber bands from scattering. And now that the shelves in the garage are finished, we're putting these makeshift stackables to use out there too. See?


Mind you, the clamshells aren't sturdy enough to bear huge amounts of weight. But for little odds and ends (in the ones above, a glue gun and its half-used ammo, random rolls of tape, and D's multi-accessory Dremel tool), they work perfectly. Attach labels and you're done. They're even see-through for quick perusal.

As for the peanut butter jars, this is my favorite use so far:


It's been one of those weeks where !!! has been with me mentally but not physically, so please forgive the lack of actual !!! index card in the photos. How about a button instead?

Intentional HappinessMomalom !!!Bad Mommy Moments !!!
On that note, I'm off to store up some more !!! before next week. Not necessarily to be blogged about, though it's so easy to want to -- I know, it's been kind of !!! all the time for a bit here, but I've needed it. Six days till the parents arrive ...

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, August 24, 2010

On a lighter note

It's been busy, as I'm sure you've guessed, but life chez Troubadour is back to normal as of yesterday. In relative terms, at any rate.

I'm not going to go into all the details right off, but I'm happy to say that my parents' visit was manageable. All the prep leading up to it figured significantly in making it so, but there were also moments that were enjoyable entirely for what they were, not because I used any magical thinking or conversational stealth to make a difficult situation better.

Troubadour Dad stayed for an extended weekend; my mother stayed for an additional week. During the last part of her visit, we drove down to Long Beach, a tiny town at the southwestern corner of Washington, for their annual kite festival. It's been running for thirty years, but D only found out about it early this summer.

Road trips to new places with Troubadour Mom are always fun because she still has her sense of adventure (my dad is another story, but Mom works on him every now and then). We were pleased to give ourselves lots of firsts on this brief weekend, which included:

Mom's first visit to Oregon! (We stayed Friday night in Astoria, which is just across from Long Beach Peninsula by way of this bridge.)


First time flying a Revolution kite for all of us, and the first time flying any kind of kite for both me and Mom. A master Rev flier was giving lessons to interested bystanders, so we lined up for a try. What a rush!




Mom even managed to land the kite on her second attempt without crashing:


These aren't easy to fly in light winds, but they can do amazing things. Each of the Revs in this clip is flown by a different person:


Then there was my first time dipping a toe in the Pacific Ocean. Even though we moved to Seattle three years ago, I'd never had the chance -- the Puget Sound isn't the same thing even though it's technically connected.



Two weeks of playing parental vacation director means more than a few things around the house are in need of attention. And the fall semester started yesterday! So it's back to earth after much flight. But I'm on both feet and glad.

First photo courtesy D; second, third, and above photo courtesy Troubadour Mom

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fire burn and cauldron bubble

Because I needed to take care of at least one of the items on my list of beefs just to get back some peace of mind over the weekend, I waged war on the mysterious (and impossibly hardy) microbes in our laundry.

I think we have detente.

We won't know for sure until D tries out the most seriously affected item (a t-shirt), but so far, everything else has proven to be odor-free. So, for your amusement -- and actual use, if you ever run into this problem -- here's what I did on Sunday morning. N.B.: this approach is only recommended for clothing appropriate for the regular hot cycle in your washing machine.

Materials

large pot with lid (ours was a 6.5 quart)
distilled white vinegar
water
measuring cup
stove
large mixing bowl or other similarly sized receptacle
tongs or chopsticks

1. Using measuring cup, fill pot about halfway with hot water from tap (this will reduce time required to bring to boil). Note quantity of water and add about 1/12 this volume in vinegar. Cover and heat on stove until a rolling boil is achieved.

2. Place one laundry item in pot. Poke with tongs or chopsticks until completely immersed. You may add more if the items are small, but dyes do come out of fabric and may discolor other garments.

3. Cover and boil for 5 minutes, 10 for garments with especially resistant odor problems. At the halfway point, stir garment to resoak any parts that may have puffed out above water line from steam.

4. Carefully lift garment with tongs or chopsticks and transfer to mixing bowl. Empty pot and repeat boiling process with fresh vinegar solution for each remaining garment.

5. Place boiled items in washing machine and launder on regular hot wash cycle with detergent. DO NOT add bleach as this will mix with the vinegar to produce poisonous fumes. Select the extra rinse option on your machine if you have one -- this should help prevent any residual vinegar smell from remaining.

6. Tumble dry as usual.


And now, I'm off to the airport. Life will be unpredictable here for a little while, but I'll be checking in as best I can ...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The writing on the wall

It's not a good sign when you wake up and the first thought that flits through your mind is oh no.

I admit, I'd gone to sleep feeling anxious. Despite all the effort I've been putting in to take care of myself in preparation for next week, there's still this panicky thing doing jumping jacks in my guts, and no number of countermeasures will get it to calm the hell down. You can only trick the mind and body so much. Add to that the usual random obstacles life offers and suddenly the reserves I thought I'd been storing up look so much smaller.

I've been trying not to dwell on the less than pleasant stuff (and I'm good at dwelling, so this takes effort). But after a certain point, I can't ignore what's right in front of me.


So, my beefs with the universe, some trivial and some not. Because it all takes energy to deal with, and I really can't devote what's meant to be for my parents to this:

  • Introducing us to the most sweet-tempered, affectionate kitty on the planet but having her hate catnip and all manner of kitty treats, which are essential strategic tools for getting a cat to scratch her scratching post instead of the furniture. Also having her general aversion to drinking water and the aforementioned treats foil the administration of preventative dental care. (There are specific water additives and dental chews that can help if your cat is prone to tartar buildup.) Am I a bad parent for thinking dental care for a cat is a wee bit of a racket? You don't want to know the quote I got for the cleaning our cat supposedly needs, just in case her gums are reabsorbing one of her back teeth.

  • Making the price of a central cooling system so ridiculously high that even over the course of ten years, it will not pay for itself. We're lucky enough to have cooler summers out here, but during those few weeks when the temperature spikes, it's more than a little unpleasant in the house. This has been one of those weeks. As a result, I think my body has retained enough water for both me and the cat who will not drink. Which brings me to ...

  • Bloating. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? As if I really want to manage a visit from my food-obsessed parents while also feeling how uncomfortable my waistband is before being taken on a traveling smorgasbord with them.

  • Mildewing. Back in May, when we were visiting our friends in Portland, we stayed at their place. Well, they had a bit of a moisture problem in their linen closet (and their apartment in general), so the sheets we slept on definitely reeked of something foul. No worries, we said -- two nights and we'll go home, wash everything we're wearing, and all will be fine again. Well, we've put some of those items through the laundry three times now, and they STILL begin to smell after a few hours of wear. I'm at my wits' end (and it's time to do another round of general wash before my parents arrive). Do I take ye olde fashioned approach, boiling the clothes and whatever they're harboring in a pot on the stove? And how are we supposed to get around future invitations to stay for a weekend when we do very much want to hang out but obviously can't throw away what we wear after each visit? They'll think it odd if we book a hotel next time around, won't they?

Okay. I think that's all that's bloggable. Now I'm off to check on the kitty, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, she's gotten hungry enough to try the treat I left in her food bowl in lieu of breakfast this morning ...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On organization

Whoever came up with the idea of "a place for everything and everything in its place" -- that person knows the inner workings of my (home-making) heart. Places like The Container Store speak to some strange, deeply seated longing I still don't quite understand, a need to sort and streamline what I use around the house. Maybe because I hate actual housework, and organizing the tools I need to get things done in the least time possible makes all those chores easier to tackle before procrastination leads to neglect.

But The Container Store ain't cheap. So what's a girl to do?

Eat salad. And peanut butter. Not in the same dish! (Unless you happen to like them that way -- I'm not judging.) Then save the containers.

For months, we've been collecting the plastic clamshell boxes from prewashed greens, as well as the jars from all the nutty goodness D and I consume. Slowly, they've worked their way into our cabinets and closets, the former corralling sponges and bottles of cleaning product, the latter keeping random paper clips and rubber bands from scattering. And now that the shelves in the garage are finished, we're putting these makeshift stackables to use out there too. See?


Mind you, the clamshells aren't sturdy enough to bear huge amounts of weight. But for little odds and ends (in the ones above, a glue gun and its half-used ammo, random rolls of tape, and D's multi-accessory Dremel tool), they work perfectly. Attach labels and you're done. They're even see-through for quick perusal.

As for the peanut butter jars, this is my favorite use so far:


It's been one of those weeks where !!! has been with me mentally but not physically, so please forgive the lack of actual !!! index card in the photos. How about a button instead?

Intentional HappinessMomalom !!!Bad Mommy Moments !!!
On that note, I'm off to store up some more !!! before next week. Not necessarily to be blogged about, though it's so easy to want to -- I know, it's been kind of !!! all the time for a bit here, but I've needed it. Six days till the parents arrive ...