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

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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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things I am grateful for, or an epistle to the powers that be


Dear Life:

You and I have had our ups and downs this year. Mostly downs, by any measure, but let's not quibble over the finer points therein. Suffice it to say that in general, 2010 has been unmatched in this Troubadour's experience of "rough patches," "tough spots," "suboptimal circumstances," or any other euphemistic label you'd like to slap on it -- despite multiple appeals for relief. To which I have to ask, at the risk of sounding repetitive: WTF?

I have not, in the past, been a big bright-side seeker. I lost my innocence a little too early on to develop the habit. But I'm willing to try almost anything at this point, given the November you've served up so far. And as tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I figure now is as good a time as any to start. So whatever you are -- an entity indifferent to the human plight or one whose intentions for me have yet to make any sense -- listen up.

In the last week, I was grateful for the following:

  • Getting to see one of my dearest friends from college, who happened to be interviewing in Seattle for a medical residency at the UW and needed a place to stay. Never mind the kidney infection you decided to make apparent to me with a raging fever and teeth-rattling chills, about the time her flight was going to arrive. The ER was on the same route as the airport, so it was convenient for D to drop me off and continue on to pick her up. A reunion in one of those skimpy hospital gowns was not what I'd envisioned, but I have never been happier to have company. The laughter that came from behind the curtain in my ER bay for the hours we were stuck there should be proof enough of that.

  • Having my white cell count remain oddly normal in the ER, despite the fact that the infection had already spilled into my bloodstream by the time the poor nurse assigned to me found a usable vein to get the IV antibiotics going. (Is laughter, indeed, the better medicine?) The delayed immune response fooled the hospital into discharging me on the same night rather than admitting me for what was actually a much more serious condition (bacteremia, with the potential to turn into straight-up sepsis). It was nice to get to spend a few extra hours with my friend outside the hospital, which we used not wisely but very well. We took the conversation home and didn’t end it till nearly 3 a.m.

  • Having the blood cultures come back soon enough the next day to get word to my urologist, who promptly called in the extra antibiotics I would need to make sure the infection was properly treated (the ER doctor prescribed only 7 days' worth; turns out I needed 14). Without them, I would have been short on meds for the length of my research trip. Which brings me to ...

  • Getting to go on said research trip, despite the severity of the aforementioned infection. I know the party line, per the infectious disease consult ordered by the urologist, was to cancel my plans, but she and I decided that the calculated risk of getting on a plane for a few hours to spend a week essentially under my parents' care (the arrangement was for me to stay with them while doing the research) was reasonable to take. Yes, you made me pay for it by giving me more chills and fever while I was somewhere over Utah, but I was armed this time with enough antipyretics to kill a buffalo. So I'm still glad I went. Recovering in Panhandle, Texas, is essentially no different from recovering in Seattle. And Mom's chicken soup beats any I could make.

  • Being lucky enough to have scheduled my return flight between that arctic front's passage over Seattle and its subsequent arrival in Panhandle. For a few days before the anticipated snowy cold snap, we were concerned that I might get stuck in Texas for the holiday, leaving D on his own for Thanksgiving. But I'm home now, thanks to a little mercy from the travel gods, and we will have turkey together tomorrow. Given the last month's health ridiculousness, we will not be throwing the usual fete we love to put on nor will we be traveling to share the holiday's bounty with the numerous folks from out of town who have invited us. But we are glad that I'm on the mend (for real this time, we hope) and look forward to the long weekend, if only just to rest.

So. Here's to a happy Thanksgiving. May what remains of 2010 offer much to be grateful for. (I wouldn't mind, though, if the things to be happy about were packaged with fewer associated challenges ...)

Sincerely,
C. Troubadour

9 comments:

ck said...

You are such a trooper. I'm so glad you were able to do your research, despite your kidney's best attempt to keep you grounded at home.

I hope you're feeling better and enjoying the long weekend!

Sherlock said...

Hope you're feeling better and have enjoyed a quiet and restful holiday weekend!

SuziCate said...

My goodness, you have had one heck of a time! I am sooo glad you are better. Your body was betraying...glad they found out how bad it was and got you properly medicated...and Mama's homemade soup always helps...and back home in time for Thanksgiving. What a whirlwind research trip...wow! You really are a trooper!

C. Troubadour said...

CK -- the research was worth it indeed. Turning it into prose is going to be another story, but it's still something I can do sitting down, right?

Hope your Thanksgiving was as relaxing as possible :)


Sherlock -- happy turkey weekend to you. From your most recent update, it sounds like yours was very productive!


SuziCate -- there is nothing like Mama's soup. Oh my goodness. I think she was only too glad to load me up with it! Thanks for the well-wishes. Hope you had an excellent holiday too.

BigLittleWolf said...

And I hope that your end of year will be packaged far more smoothly as well.

(Ah, the things we take for granted, n'est-ce pas?)

Repose-toi.

French Fancy... said...

So sorry to read that you've had yet more health scares. Here is a big hug and hopes for a better year ahead for both of us

((CT))

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- vous, aussi! (And I mean that for all of it.)

FF -- I'll toast to that. I hope you've got good friends around you to take you out for a meal while you're getting through these tough weeks. If I were on your side of the pond, I'd want to do that for you.

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm so glad you got to see your good friend! (Look at me, finding the bright spot!)

C. Troubadour said...

It was THE bright spot of that mess, GEW! I still can't believe how late we stayed up after getting back from the ER. We had a few years of catching up to do -- the every-so-often weddings among our friends that also serve as reunions are not events where you can talk at length.

Oh how awesome it would be if she ended up getting a spot in the program out here and deciding to take it!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things I am grateful for, or an epistle to the powers that be


Dear Life:

You and I have had our ups and downs this year. Mostly downs, by any measure, but let's not quibble over the finer points therein. Suffice it to say that in general, 2010 has been unmatched in this Troubadour's experience of "rough patches," "tough spots," "suboptimal circumstances," or any other euphemistic label you'd like to slap on it -- despite multiple appeals for relief. To which I have to ask, at the risk of sounding repetitive: WTF?

I have not, in the past, been a big bright-side seeker. I lost my innocence a little too early on to develop the habit. But I'm willing to try almost anything at this point, given the November you've served up so far. And as tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I figure now is as good a time as any to start. So whatever you are -- an entity indifferent to the human plight or one whose intentions for me have yet to make any sense -- listen up.

In the last week, I was grateful for the following:

  • Getting to see one of my dearest friends from college, who happened to be interviewing in Seattle for a medical residency at the UW and needed a place to stay. Never mind the kidney infection you decided to make apparent to me with a raging fever and teeth-rattling chills, about the time her flight was going to arrive. The ER was on the same route as the airport, so it was convenient for D to drop me off and continue on to pick her up. A reunion in one of those skimpy hospital gowns was not what I'd envisioned, but I have never been happier to have company. The laughter that came from behind the curtain in my ER bay for the hours we were stuck there should be proof enough of that.

  • Having my white cell count remain oddly normal in the ER, despite the fact that the infection had already spilled into my bloodstream by the time the poor nurse assigned to me found a usable vein to get the IV antibiotics going. (Is laughter, indeed, the better medicine?) The delayed immune response fooled the hospital into discharging me on the same night rather than admitting me for what was actually a much more serious condition (bacteremia, with the potential to turn into straight-up sepsis). It was nice to get to spend a few extra hours with my friend outside the hospital, which we used not wisely but very well. We took the conversation home and didn’t end it till nearly 3 a.m.

  • Having the blood cultures come back soon enough the next day to get word to my urologist, who promptly called in the extra antibiotics I would need to make sure the infection was properly treated (the ER doctor prescribed only 7 days' worth; turns out I needed 14). Without them, I would have been short on meds for the length of my research trip. Which brings me to ...

  • Getting to go on said research trip, despite the severity of the aforementioned infection. I know the party line, per the infectious disease consult ordered by the urologist, was to cancel my plans, but she and I decided that the calculated risk of getting on a plane for a few hours to spend a week essentially under my parents' care (the arrangement was for me to stay with them while doing the research) was reasonable to take. Yes, you made me pay for it by giving me more chills and fever while I was somewhere over Utah, but I was armed this time with enough antipyretics to kill a buffalo. So I'm still glad I went. Recovering in Panhandle, Texas, is essentially no different from recovering in Seattle. And Mom's chicken soup beats any I could make.

  • Being lucky enough to have scheduled my return flight between that arctic front's passage over Seattle and its subsequent arrival in Panhandle. For a few days before the anticipated snowy cold snap, we were concerned that I might get stuck in Texas for the holiday, leaving D on his own for Thanksgiving. But I'm home now, thanks to a little mercy from the travel gods, and we will have turkey together tomorrow. Given the last month's health ridiculousness, we will not be throwing the usual fete we love to put on nor will we be traveling to share the holiday's bounty with the numerous folks from out of town who have invited us. But we are glad that I'm on the mend (for real this time, we hope) and look forward to the long weekend, if only just to rest.

So. Here's to a happy Thanksgiving. May what remains of 2010 offer much to be grateful for. (I wouldn't mind, though, if the things to be happy about were packaged with fewer associated challenges ...)

Sincerely,
C. Troubadour

9 comments:

ck said...

You are such a trooper. I'm so glad you were able to do your research, despite your kidney's best attempt to keep you grounded at home.

I hope you're feeling better and enjoying the long weekend!

Sherlock said...

Hope you're feeling better and have enjoyed a quiet and restful holiday weekend!

SuziCate said...

My goodness, you have had one heck of a time! I am sooo glad you are better. Your body was betraying...glad they found out how bad it was and got you properly medicated...and Mama's homemade soup always helps...and back home in time for Thanksgiving. What a whirlwind research trip...wow! You really are a trooper!

C. Troubadour said...

CK -- the research was worth it indeed. Turning it into prose is going to be another story, but it's still something I can do sitting down, right?

Hope your Thanksgiving was as relaxing as possible :)


Sherlock -- happy turkey weekend to you. From your most recent update, it sounds like yours was very productive!


SuziCate -- there is nothing like Mama's soup. Oh my goodness. I think she was only too glad to load me up with it! Thanks for the well-wishes. Hope you had an excellent holiday too.

BigLittleWolf said...

And I hope that your end of year will be packaged far more smoothly as well.

(Ah, the things we take for granted, n'est-ce pas?)

Repose-toi.

French Fancy... said...

So sorry to read that you've had yet more health scares. Here is a big hug and hopes for a better year ahead for both of us

((CT))

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- vous, aussi! (And I mean that for all of it.)

FF -- I'll toast to that. I hope you've got good friends around you to take you out for a meal while you're getting through these tough weeks. If I were on your side of the pond, I'd want to do that for you.

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm so glad you got to see your good friend! (Look at me, finding the bright spot!)

C. Troubadour said...

It was THE bright spot of that mess, GEW! I still can't believe how late we stayed up after getting back from the ER. We had a few years of catching up to do -- the every-so-often weddings among our friends that also serve as reunions are not events where you can talk at length.

Oh how awesome it would be if she ended up getting a spot in the program out here and deciding to take it!