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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.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This


... is how I feel.

Last week's issues are more or less fading away (hooray!) but yesterday was another thesis deadline and I'm now totally brain-drained.

It's a mostly good sort of drained -- I feel like I hit a stride I hadn't achieved in ages, really writing, not just transcribing or starting a scene only to abandon it for a different start. For months, I'd accumulated those starts, 19 pages of them. Yesterday, I turned in a completed chapter with a beginning, middle, and end.

I'm supposed to be writing up a short item for another professor right now, but I think I'm still not quite recharged. Rather, I think I used up my quota of writing brain on an e-mail I had to compose this afternoon. I'd gotten an inquiry from a prospective student, asking about the ins and outs of my program (I'm listed as a student contact for such questions).

Of course, the applicant wanted to know what I thought about the classes, the faculty, etc., etc., and I'm glad to provide my take on my own experience -- which I can only characterize as mixed. But it's not something I share without a lot of consideration about context.

I imagine if you asked each person in my year what he or she thought of the program, none of the responses would be the same. There would be similarities in some areas, but also enormous differences, depending on each individual's personality and expectations. We're all as different as the work we produce. So whenever I reply to someone's inquiry, I have to emphasize the importance of asking other students the same questions he or she has asked me. And I have to word my response so it is absolutely clear that my experience is by no means representative of anyone else's, that in fact there are people I have met who would answer very differently.

For some reason, I don't trust these eager applicants to remember that. I'm sure there are those who will romanticize the "highly intriguing" and "highly illustrious" program I'm a part of (words straight out of today's e-mail), no matter what I say, only to be disappointed when they arrive (if they're admitted). Perhaps I think this because so many people I met in the program eventually found themselves disillusioned with it. The fact is there were (and still are) limited resources, not just in terms of funding but in terms of mentorship, and if you don't fight hard to be your own advocate when you feel like you're not getting what you need, you'll be less satisfied with your experience. I don't want the prospective students who contact me to go into the process of applying -- to this program or any program -- without the understanding that this is part of what will greatly influence how things end up for them.

And then there will be those who'll get turned off before they've gathered enough opinions, taking my comments, no matter how carefully I couch them, as bald-faced denunciations.

It's out of my control, in any case. I can only choose my words so carefully. I just hope I did a good enough job that it'll make the right difference to the right person, if that makes any sense. That's my reason for replying in the first place.

7 comments:

French Fancy... said...

If only you had received the same care and thought with all your tutoring needs, as that which you provided for this student. They should clone you, my dear, and let every university in the world have a copy of you as a student contact.

C. Troubadour said...

Oh, FF! You're so sweet. I don't really wish for different for myself -- I've made things work and might not have been so driven to do that had everything been "easy." I think my teacher/mentor brain just kicks in because it's what made teaching, when I was doing it, more than just lesson planning and grading. It's what I miss about the job. Hopefully after this thesis is done ...

French Fancy... said...

Hope you are feeling chirpier - health problems really shake one up and you begin to wonder if you will ever feel right again. I don't know why I keep worrying about you

hugs
J

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm sure that your words were indeed, "good enough," and I'm an expert on that, right?

I hope you're starting to have a little time to recharge. Damn those kidney stones. I had one that didn't last long, thank goodness. But, really. Ouch. Mine (and I might have told you this before) was not long after I had my daughter, so I thought an ovary was exploding--or *something*.

C. Troubadour said...

Awww, FF, I don't want you to be worried! I'm getting along. This thesis and some work for another professor are making my head spin, but the rest of me is keeping itself relatively quiet.


And GEW, you know how I value your expertise! I should have a pretty rubber stamp that says "Good enough!" made for you with a sparkle ink pad. (For personal use only, I imagine -- students might wonder what to think if they received such a stamp on their assignments, no?)

As for pseudo-exploding ovaries, not good in any measure. I'm going to hope that was your quota of kidney trauma for life. Eeek.

BigLittleWolf said...

I agree with French Fancy. (And I think you should give your drained brain a un peu de repos.)

Read a fashion mag! (Paint your toes cherry crush?)

:)

C. Troubadour said...

Does the J. Crew catalog count as a fashion mag, BLW? That's all I had on hand. It was relaxing, though just for dreaming about pretty things, not actually considering them at the prices listed. Whew.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

This


... is how I feel.

Last week's issues are more or less fading away (hooray!) but yesterday was another thesis deadline and I'm now totally brain-drained.

It's a mostly good sort of drained -- I feel like I hit a stride I hadn't achieved in ages, really writing, not just transcribing or starting a scene only to abandon it for a different start. For months, I'd accumulated those starts, 19 pages of them. Yesterday, I turned in a completed chapter with a beginning, middle, and end.

I'm supposed to be writing up a short item for another professor right now, but I think I'm still not quite recharged. Rather, I think I used up my quota of writing brain on an e-mail I had to compose this afternoon. I'd gotten an inquiry from a prospective student, asking about the ins and outs of my program (I'm listed as a student contact for such questions).

Of course, the applicant wanted to know what I thought about the classes, the faculty, etc., etc., and I'm glad to provide my take on my own experience -- which I can only characterize as mixed. But it's not something I share without a lot of consideration about context.

I imagine if you asked each person in my year what he or she thought of the program, none of the responses would be the same. There would be similarities in some areas, but also enormous differences, depending on each individual's personality and expectations. We're all as different as the work we produce. So whenever I reply to someone's inquiry, I have to emphasize the importance of asking other students the same questions he or she has asked me. And I have to word my response so it is absolutely clear that my experience is by no means representative of anyone else's, that in fact there are people I have met who would answer very differently.

For some reason, I don't trust these eager applicants to remember that. I'm sure there are those who will romanticize the "highly intriguing" and "highly illustrious" program I'm a part of (words straight out of today's e-mail), no matter what I say, only to be disappointed when they arrive (if they're admitted). Perhaps I think this because so many people I met in the program eventually found themselves disillusioned with it. The fact is there were (and still are) limited resources, not just in terms of funding but in terms of mentorship, and if you don't fight hard to be your own advocate when you feel like you're not getting what you need, you'll be less satisfied with your experience. I don't want the prospective students who contact me to go into the process of applying -- to this program or any program -- without the understanding that this is part of what will greatly influence how things end up for them.

And then there will be those who'll get turned off before they've gathered enough opinions, taking my comments, no matter how carefully I couch them, as bald-faced denunciations.

It's out of my control, in any case. I can only choose my words so carefully. I just hope I did a good enough job that it'll make the right difference to the right person, if that makes any sense. That's my reason for replying in the first place.

7 comments:

French Fancy... said...

If only you had received the same care and thought with all your tutoring needs, as that which you provided for this student. They should clone you, my dear, and let every university in the world have a copy of you as a student contact.

C. Troubadour said...

Oh, FF! You're so sweet. I don't really wish for different for myself -- I've made things work and might not have been so driven to do that had everything been "easy." I think my teacher/mentor brain just kicks in because it's what made teaching, when I was doing it, more than just lesson planning and grading. It's what I miss about the job. Hopefully after this thesis is done ...

French Fancy... said...

Hope you are feeling chirpier - health problems really shake one up and you begin to wonder if you will ever feel right again. I don't know why I keep worrying about you

hugs
J

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm sure that your words were indeed, "good enough," and I'm an expert on that, right?

I hope you're starting to have a little time to recharge. Damn those kidney stones. I had one that didn't last long, thank goodness. But, really. Ouch. Mine (and I might have told you this before) was not long after I had my daughter, so I thought an ovary was exploding--or *something*.

C. Troubadour said...

Awww, FF, I don't want you to be worried! I'm getting along. This thesis and some work for another professor are making my head spin, but the rest of me is keeping itself relatively quiet.


And GEW, you know how I value your expertise! I should have a pretty rubber stamp that says "Good enough!" made for you with a sparkle ink pad. (For personal use only, I imagine -- students might wonder what to think if they received such a stamp on their assignments, no?)

As for pseudo-exploding ovaries, not good in any measure. I'm going to hope that was your quota of kidney trauma for life. Eeek.

BigLittleWolf said...

I agree with French Fancy. (And I think you should give your drained brain a un peu de repos.)

Read a fashion mag! (Paint your toes cherry crush?)

:)

C. Troubadour said...

Does the J. Crew catalog count as a fashion mag, BLW? That's all I had on hand. It was relaxing, though just for dreaming about pretty things, not actually considering them at the prices listed. Whew.