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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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In which I am a bad patient

This whole recovery thing is not what I'd anticipated.

Don't get me wrong -- I know I had surgery, which means not trying to do more than my body can handle. Even if all that that entails is sleeping A LOT. (Seriously, I had no idea I could crash all day and then still sleep a full night without waking up in the middle of it.) But I'm off the prescription pain meds as of today, which means I have a clear head for the first time in 48 hours (yay!) even if I'm still stuck in bed.

It also means the gears are turning.

They should, if anything, be turning on Chapter 4 of the thesis. (Forgot to mention somewhere in the last two weeks -- I turned in a revision of Chapter 2 and a new Chapter 3 to my advisor!) If recovery continues as expected (and it should), I should be cleared for a research trip I'd had in the works long before the health mess ever happened. That's scheduled for next week, so I'm looking guiltily at my files, which I need to back up and organize so I can make the most of my time while I'm up to my elbows in old photos and supplementary documents. Actually finishing the Chapter 4 draft would be good too.

But the kitty is pawing at the bedroom door, which is not conducive to any sort of concentration, and the ibuprofen is only so effective, and I've been distracted by more pressing thoughts since I got my brain back.

It's been an isolating year.

Seattle, I've been told, is a friendly place but a difficult one in which to make friends -- as in those who will make room for you in their established social circle. This cultural oddity even has a name: the Seattle Freeze. Seriously, a name? How's that for intimidating. I know I haven't tried my hardest in the last year to reach out to people, but I have tried, despite all the other stuff I've written about here (2010, you've been difficult). I've gone to get-togethers hosted by D's work colleagues; tried to start conversations there with the wives and girlfriends; suggested and pursued follow-up lunch dates, coffee dates, dinners. Much response?

* Crickets chirping *

I'm still looking and asking, because it's not healthy to be so isolated. I've even gone so far as considering sites like Meetup.com (where there are actual references made to the Seattle Freeze). But a lot of what's offered isn't quite my style -- dance parties on a boat in themed costume? Sure, but I do better in smaller settings. Then how about speed friending? Um, that's kind of an oxymoron.

How about just a meal and some good conversation?

I know, these are things I shouldn't be worrying about before I can walk around the house without feeling exhausted. But being stuck in bed gives you a lot of time to think. And I'm thinking my list of local friends could use some rejuvenation.

So, dear bloggy friends (how I wish you were geographically nearer). How do you make opportunities for new friendships where you live -- and encourage them to grow?

6 comments:

Sherlock said...

Some people are happy being cocooners. We're like that. One of our sons is a happy cocooner and one is a social butterfly :-)

I used to feel "abnormal" because we don't have a lot of friends and we don't go out and socialize a lot. Well not at all except with family .

We meet people at our campground and spend a lot of time just talking and some time sharing meal times.

Folks are different. Some of our friends are social butterflies and are always on the go with other people. They spend a little time with us too and that's all good.

What are "friends" anyway? And why do they have to be people we "do things with"? Most of my very best friends are online :-)

It took me a while but I had to figure out if I really WANTED to make more friends and do things with other people more often or if I just felt like I was SUPPOSED to do that.

Says who? I'm a cocooner and happy to be that way :-)

SuziCate said...

Yes, I do wish you were closer, we could go grab a cup of coffee. I've never been one to surround myself with lots of people, but develop deeper relationships with fewer ones but that's just me. I am just not a social butterfly. I wouldn't know where to meet people. It's nice to have people to do things with, but I think lasting relationships are more important. You sound like the type of person to form lsting friendships rather than superficial ones.

BigLittleWolf said...

Yes, being stuck in bed can give you a lot of time to think. Or not. It can also add to the isolation - except, thankfully - for this wonderful online community.

Seattle Freeze? Really? Quel horreur.

I wish I had a few good suggestions for you. I know what you mean about small gatherings - so much easier to actually have a conversation.

I will say - meetup has language groups (I haven't tried one but I've seen that online). They would tend to be a bit smaller (et il y en a en fran├žais). You could also try an art exhibit - an opening if you can. You don't have to stay long, you have something to talk about (the art) - whether you like it or not.

And isolation sucks. No two ways about it.

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- thanks for the insights into your own approach. I'm neither a cocooner or a social butterfly, just something in between :). I'm happiest having good conversations, which don't require "doing" anything. Just the willingness to engage. It sounds like you have people in your life who do this regularly with you, which is great!

SuziCate -- you've said it well. Lasting relationships are so special to me. I've been lucky to have some; they've just become long-distance connections because of the inevitable relocation for job, school, etc. Coffee sounds like just the thing you and I would meet over :)

BLW -- I kid you not! C'est vrai. Hmm, I hadn't come across language groups on Meetup; I'll have to look again. That could be great fun. D and I loaded up La Femme Nikita from Netflix a few nights ago while I was still bed-bound and exclaimed throughout about the terrible subtitles.

Good Enough Woman said...

Sorry I'm so late to this! I guess I've been in my own cocoon.

Hmmm. Well. I have been lucky enough to end up in the same town where I went to grad school, which is where I met some great friends who (some of them) have also stayed around. But then I started not seeing them much because we were all so busy and because our lives seemed to be going in different directions (even though we work together!).

But then, I managed to get into a book group with some former grad school friends along with mostly former grad school profs. We meet once every couple of months and they are my main social outlet even though I rarely see them otherwise.

Also, we now face the whole parents-of-our-kids thing. And we have been so lucky that at the end of my son's first grade year, we made two sets of couple friends who we both get along with so well.

But what I realize, is that they are the first good, new friends that I've made in years. I really like both of the women and enjoy getting drinks, etc. And one of them is becoming a really close friend.

I know this doesn't help at all, but, in addition to some of the other suggestions here (going to readings, events, etc.), I would suggest patience. It's hard to find good friends out there in the world. Kind of like finding a mate, which, for me, took a loooonngggg time.

(((CT)))

C. Troubadour said...

No worries, GEW! I hope it was a good kind of cocoon and not the less pleasant kind. Sometimes cocooning is a relief and a rejuvenator.

Grad school does make for a great way to meet friends (common interests like your areas of focus and common gripes like students who don't do the work). You are, indeed, lucky that you got to stay where some of those friends still are.

I think meeting couples who mesh well with you and your spouse is doubly challenging. We've been working primarily on that in the last few months, so that in our limited time in the week, we can enjoy being social while also being together.

It's helpful to know that in your experience, good new friends weren't the easiest to come by. I wonder sometimes if I have an unrealistic expectation of myself -- that if I just keep putting myself out there, I'll click with someone. But perhaps it's just this way for everyone and no one talks about it.

Thanks for the insights :)

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

In which I am a bad patient

This whole recovery thing is not what I'd anticipated.

Don't get me wrong -- I know I had surgery, which means not trying to do more than my body can handle. Even if all that that entails is sleeping A LOT. (Seriously, I had no idea I could crash all day and then still sleep a full night without waking up in the middle of it.) But I'm off the prescription pain meds as of today, which means I have a clear head for the first time in 48 hours (yay!) even if I'm still stuck in bed.

It also means the gears are turning.

They should, if anything, be turning on Chapter 4 of the thesis. (Forgot to mention somewhere in the last two weeks -- I turned in a revision of Chapter 2 and a new Chapter 3 to my advisor!) If recovery continues as expected (and it should), I should be cleared for a research trip I'd had in the works long before the health mess ever happened. That's scheduled for next week, so I'm looking guiltily at my files, which I need to back up and organize so I can make the most of my time while I'm up to my elbows in old photos and supplementary documents. Actually finishing the Chapter 4 draft would be good too.

But the kitty is pawing at the bedroom door, which is not conducive to any sort of concentration, and the ibuprofen is only so effective, and I've been distracted by more pressing thoughts since I got my brain back.

It's been an isolating year.

Seattle, I've been told, is a friendly place but a difficult one in which to make friends -- as in those who will make room for you in their established social circle. This cultural oddity even has a name: the Seattle Freeze. Seriously, a name? How's that for intimidating. I know I haven't tried my hardest in the last year to reach out to people, but I have tried, despite all the other stuff I've written about here (2010, you've been difficult). I've gone to get-togethers hosted by D's work colleagues; tried to start conversations there with the wives and girlfriends; suggested and pursued follow-up lunch dates, coffee dates, dinners. Much response?

* Crickets chirping *

I'm still looking and asking, because it's not healthy to be so isolated. I've even gone so far as considering sites like Meetup.com (where there are actual references made to the Seattle Freeze). But a lot of what's offered isn't quite my style -- dance parties on a boat in themed costume? Sure, but I do better in smaller settings. Then how about speed friending? Um, that's kind of an oxymoron.

How about just a meal and some good conversation?

I know, these are things I shouldn't be worrying about before I can walk around the house without feeling exhausted. But being stuck in bed gives you a lot of time to think. And I'm thinking my list of local friends could use some rejuvenation.

So, dear bloggy friends (how I wish you were geographically nearer). How do you make opportunities for new friendships where you live -- and encourage them to grow?

6 comments:

Sherlock said...

Some people are happy being cocooners. We're like that. One of our sons is a happy cocooner and one is a social butterfly :-)

I used to feel "abnormal" because we don't have a lot of friends and we don't go out and socialize a lot. Well not at all except with family .

We meet people at our campground and spend a lot of time just talking and some time sharing meal times.

Folks are different. Some of our friends are social butterflies and are always on the go with other people. They spend a little time with us too and that's all good.

What are "friends" anyway? And why do they have to be people we "do things with"? Most of my very best friends are online :-)

It took me a while but I had to figure out if I really WANTED to make more friends and do things with other people more often or if I just felt like I was SUPPOSED to do that.

Says who? I'm a cocooner and happy to be that way :-)

SuziCate said...

Yes, I do wish you were closer, we could go grab a cup of coffee. I've never been one to surround myself with lots of people, but develop deeper relationships with fewer ones but that's just me. I am just not a social butterfly. I wouldn't know where to meet people. It's nice to have people to do things with, but I think lasting relationships are more important. You sound like the type of person to form lsting friendships rather than superficial ones.

BigLittleWolf said...

Yes, being stuck in bed can give you a lot of time to think. Or not. It can also add to the isolation - except, thankfully - for this wonderful online community.

Seattle Freeze? Really? Quel horreur.

I wish I had a few good suggestions for you. I know what you mean about small gatherings - so much easier to actually have a conversation.

I will say - meetup has language groups (I haven't tried one but I've seen that online). They would tend to be a bit smaller (et il y en a en fran├žais). You could also try an art exhibit - an opening if you can. You don't have to stay long, you have something to talk about (the art) - whether you like it or not.

And isolation sucks. No two ways about it.

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- thanks for the insights into your own approach. I'm neither a cocooner or a social butterfly, just something in between :). I'm happiest having good conversations, which don't require "doing" anything. Just the willingness to engage. It sounds like you have people in your life who do this regularly with you, which is great!

SuziCate -- you've said it well. Lasting relationships are so special to me. I've been lucky to have some; they've just become long-distance connections because of the inevitable relocation for job, school, etc. Coffee sounds like just the thing you and I would meet over :)

BLW -- I kid you not! C'est vrai. Hmm, I hadn't come across language groups on Meetup; I'll have to look again. That could be great fun. D and I loaded up La Femme Nikita from Netflix a few nights ago while I was still bed-bound and exclaimed throughout about the terrible subtitles.

Good Enough Woman said...

Sorry I'm so late to this! I guess I've been in my own cocoon.

Hmmm. Well. I have been lucky enough to end up in the same town where I went to grad school, which is where I met some great friends who (some of them) have also stayed around. But then I started not seeing them much because we were all so busy and because our lives seemed to be going in different directions (even though we work together!).

But then, I managed to get into a book group with some former grad school friends along with mostly former grad school profs. We meet once every couple of months and they are my main social outlet even though I rarely see them otherwise.

Also, we now face the whole parents-of-our-kids thing. And we have been so lucky that at the end of my son's first grade year, we made two sets of couple friends who we both get along with so well.

But what I realize, is that they are the first good, new friends that I've made in years. I really like both of the women and enjoy getting drinks, etc. And one of them is becoming a really close friend.

I know this doesn't help at all, but, in addition to some of the other suggestions here (going to readings, events, etc.), I would suggest patience. It's hard to find good friends out there in the world. Kind of like finding a mate, which, for me, took a loooonngggg time.

(((CT)))

C. Troubadour said...

No worries, GEW! I hope it was a good kind of cocoon and not the less pleasant kind. Sometimes cocooning is a relief and a rejuvenator.

Grad school does make for a great way to meet friends (common interests like your areas of focus and common gripes like students who don't do the work). You are, indeed, lucky that you got to stay where some of those friends still are.

I think meeting couples who mesh well with you and your spouse is doubly challenging. We've been working primarily on that in the last few months, so that in our limited time in the week, we can enjoy being social while also being together.

It's helpful to know that in your experience, good new friends weren't the easiest to come by. I wonder sometimes if I have an unrealistic expectation of myself -- that if I just keep putting myself out there, I'll click with someone. But perhaps it's just this way for everyone and no one talks about it.

Thanks for the insights :)