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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 sorted by date or label, see the links below.

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.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warning: rant ahead, or a peek into the mind of a food-anxious freak

What follows is an account of one day in my battle with disordered eating. I have fought this problem since before I was old enough to drive a car. It is one of the reasons I finally sought professional counseling through a dietitian this summer, though I didn't know it at the time.

In the months since my work began with the dietitian, I've made many gains. But under the right (wrong?) circumstances -- such as the recent weeks of stress -- backsliding happens. I'm writing about that for the first time here, now, because it's better than keeping silent.


I should have paid attention to the sinking feeling this morning.

It's the kind you get when you haven't eaten in a few hours and your blood sugar dips. Your stomach is growly and your head gets thick and it is all you can do to remember where you were supposed to go next -- much less what you were supposed to do once you got there -- on that list of errands you'd set for yourself.

It was another early morning. And you didn't count on things taking so long. Take a snack, your brain was saying as you headed for the car, wishing you could just stay home. But you were tired and you didn't want to have to have that snack. In the fuzzy logic -- or plain mule-headedness -- of on-the-way-out-the-door thought, you told yourself a doctor's appointment, a haircut, and an in-and-out trip to the grocery store should not take more than three hours. You'll be home right on time for your next meal,* you said. Screw the snack. It's extra calories you don't need. You've lost a little weight in the last month -- don't you want to keep things the way they are?

So you get through your appointment. When you get to the salon -- the bargain-basement walk-in one that also happened to put out a coupon that you needed to use this week if you wanted the additional savings -- you find two other people ahead of you in line. Okay, no problem. You flip through the look books since you haven't had a trim in six months -- better find a picture of what you're supposed to look like so whoever on the rotating staff is assigned to you will do the job right.

And you wait.

And you wait.

And you wait some more. No reason things are slow except that there are only two people working. By the time the woman with the scissors is ready for you, you're regretting that snack you told your brain to forget. The stylist does a good job, a thorough one. So thorough you're wondering if she's cutting each hair individually. And this is just a trim? The morning you thought you'd still have, after finishing these errands, slowly begins to slide out of reach. But, oh good, the stylist is finally done.

This, if you weren't going to take that snack, is where you should have gone home right away instead of trying to stick things out.

After leaving the salon, you head over to the grocery store. What did you need? It takes effort to remember, even though it's just two items. One of them -- salad greens -- wouldn't even be necessary if the greens you bought last Thursday, with an expiration date of November 10th, hadn't already decomposed by the 7th. But you need those greens. What the hell else are you supposed to fill up on if bread and crackers and cereal and all the rest of the food you've ever loved can only be eaten in portions that would make a mouse cry?**

At last, you do get home. You make that salad -- a quarter of an apple, an ounce of goat cheese, not quite a tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossed with the greens -- and slap some turkey with mustard on low-carb bread. It's a good lunch, a filling one. But you've eaten the same damn lunch for five days straight*** because you've been on autopilot with everything else going on. And now you want what you know you can't have: anything with more than 15 grams of carbs per serving. In any quantity you like.

You wait out the cravings. You're supposed to get on with the rest of the day anyway -- so the morning's gone, and you haven't showered yet, and the workout that you've been hating lately but that you cling to because it means your body still functions and your weight is still under your control needs to be done. But then the phone rings. And you're so lonely that you will totally blow another two hours talking when you know you'll be mad at yourself for shoving off more of the afternoon. Your resistance is waning.

When you hang up, you head for the kitchen. You need fuel for the workout, or that sinking feeling will get you halfway through. So you allow yourself some carbs.

But you've got no willpower left. Between the sugar lows and the lost morning and the loneliness and the sheer sense of defiance you have against all that the universe has thrown at you this year and the last with no rhyme or reason, you've HAD it. Before you can stop yourself, you've inhaled enough from the pantry to horrify your (former) endocrinologist and alarm your dietitian, the latter of whom you should call and 'fess up to right now so she can help you.

And I will.

Tomorrow.

* Eating meals at regular intervals is helpful in maintaining optimal blood-sugar levels and preventing binges.

** Obviously, this is a bit hyperbolic, but when your brain has no fuel, it doesn't process thought very logically or reasonably.

*** Creating variety, even only slightly, in what you eat can be helpful in preventing boredom, which can otherwise trigger binges.

3 comments:

TKW said...

I'm a carb-craver, too. And boy, once I sit down to a bowl of pasta, it takes the willpower of a dozen to keep me from eating like a linebacker. I do understand.

Sherlock said...

Rant away -- right there with you. I find that maintaining meal schedules is more difficult than eating what I'm supposed to be eating.

Lordy I miss the "grab a sandwich" days!!

On the snack deal -- I have a small bag of various types of protein bars that I grab to take with me wherever and whenever I go out of the house. You just never know when something's going to take longer than it should.

And when I get nauseous or lightheaded, there's no warning. It's just BOOM there it is and I'd better have something fast!

I loved reading this post. Felt like I was walking through your day with you!

C. Troubadour said...

Kitch -- how I know you know. There are days when no amount of creativity can trick the mind into ignoring the truth: carbs are carbs are carbs. And nothing trips our happy brain chemicals in the same way.

Sherlock -- it's a mixture of both for me in terms of challenge. I've made it easy to grab a snack (one that's all right for me) on the way out the door. I struggle more with not wanting to have to eat those extra calories in snack form. It means rebudgeting caloric allowances later in the day. And there's the whole wishing things were "normal." I resist the snack because it's a reminder of how not normal things are. (Which does me no favors, but there you go.)

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Warning: rant ahead, or a peek into the mind of a food-anxious freak

What follows is an account of one day in my battle with disordered eating. I have fought this problem since before I was old enough to drive a car. It is one of the reasons I finally sought professional counseling through a dietitian this summer, though I didn't know it at the time.

In the months since my work began with the dietitian, I've made many gains. But under the right (wrong?) circumstances -- such as the recent weeks of stress -- backsliding happens. I'm writing about that for the first time here, now, because it's better than keeping silent.


I should have paid attention to the sinking feeling this morning.

It's the kind you get when you haven't eaten in a few hours and your blood sugar dips. Your stomach is growly and your head gets thick and it is all you can do to remember where you were supposed to go next -- much less what you were supposed to do once you got there -- on that list of errands you'd set for yourself.

It was another early morning. And you didn't count on things taking so long. Take a snack, your brain was saying as you headed for the car, wishing you could just stay home. But you were tired and you didn't want to have to have that snack. In the fuzzy logic -- or plain mule-headedness -- of on-the-way-out-the-door thought, you told yourself a doctor's appointment, a haircut, and an in-and-out trip to the grocery store should not take more than three hours. You'll be home right on time for your next meal,* you said. Screw the snack. It's extra calories you don't need. You've lost a little weight in the last month -- don't you want to keep things the way they are?

So you get through your appointment. When you get to the salon -- the bargain-basement walk-in one that also happened to put out a coupon that you needed to use this week if you wanted the additional savings -- you find two other people ahead of you in line. Okay, no problem. You flip through the look books since you haven't had a trim in six months -- better find a picture of what you're supposed to look like so whoever on the rotating staff is assigned to you will do the job right.

And you wait.

And you wait.

And you wait some more. No reason things are slow except that there are only two people working. By the time the woman with the scissors is ready for you, you're regretting that snack you told your brain to forget. The stylist does a good job, a thorough one. So thorough you're wondering if she's cutting each hair individually. And this is just a trim? The morning you thought you'd still have, after finishing these errands, slowly begins to slide out of reach. But, oh good, the stylist is finally done.

This, if you weren't going to take that snack, is where you should have gone home right away instead of trying to stick things out.

After leaving the salon, you head over to the grocery store. What did you need? It takes effort to remember, even though it's just two items. One of them -- salad greens -- wouldn't even be necessary if the greens you bought last Thursday, with an expiration date of November 10th, hadn't already decomposed by the 7th. But you need those greens. What the hell else are you supposed to fill up on if bread and crackers and cereal and all the rest of the food you've ever loved can only be eaten in portions that would make a mouse cry?**

At last, you do get home. You make that salad -- a quarter of an apple, an ounce of goat cheese, not quite a tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossed with the greens -- and slap some turkey with mustard on low-carb bread. It's a good lunch, a filling one. But you've eaten the same damn lunch for five days straight*** because you've been on autopilot with everything else going on. And now you want what you know you can't have: anything with more than 15 grams of carbs per serving. In any quantity you like.

You wait out the cravings. You're supposed to get on with the rest of the day anyway -- so the morning's gone, and you haven't showered yet, and the workout that you've been hating lately but that you cling to because it means your body still functions and your weight is still under your control needs to be done. But then the phone rings. And you're so lonely that you will totally blow another two hours talking when you know you'll be mad at yourself for shoving off more of the afternoon. Your resistance is waning.

When you hang up, you head for the kitchen. You need fuel for the workout, or that sinking feeling will get you halfway through. So you allow yourself some carbs.

But you've got no willpower left. Between the sugar lows and the lost morning and the loneliness and the sheer sense of defiance you have against all that the universe has thrown at you this year and the last with no rhyme or reason, you've HAD it. Before you can stop yourself, you've inhaled enough from the pantry to horrify your (former) endocrinologist and alarm your dietitian, the latter of whom you should call and 'fess up to right now so she can help you.

And I will.

Tomorrow.

* Eating meals at regular intervals is helpful in maintaining optimal blood-sugar levels and preventing binges.

** Obviously, this is a bit hyperbolic, but when your brain has no fuel, it doesn't process thought very logically or reasonably.

*** Creating variety, even only slightly, in what you eat can be helpful in preventing boredom, which can otherwise trigger binges.

3 comments:

TKW said...

I'm a carb-craver, too. And boy, once I sit down to a bowl of pasta, it takes the willpower of a dozen to keep me from eating like a linebacker. I do understand.

Sherlock said...

Rant away -- right there with you. I find that maintaining meal schedules is more difficult than eating what I'm supposed to be eating.

Lordy I miss the "grab a sandwich" days!!

On the snack deal -- I have a small bag of various types of protein bars that I grab to take with me wherever and whenever I go out of the house. You just never know when something's going to take longer than it should.

And when I get nauseous or lightheaded, there's no warning. It's just BOOM there it is and I'd better have something fast!

I loved reading this post. Felt like I was walking through your day with you!

C. Troubadour said...

Kitch -- how I know you know. There are days when no amount of creativity can trick the mind into ignoring the truth: carbs are carbs are carbs. And nothing trips our happy brain chemicals in the same way.

Sherlock -- it's a mixture of both for me in terms of challenge. I've made it easy to grab a snack (one that's all right for me) on the way out the door. I struggle more with not wanting to have to eat those extra calories in snack form. It means rebudgeting caloric allowances later in the day. And there's the whole wishing things were "normal." I resist the snack because it's a reminder of how not normal things are. (Which does me no favors, but there you go.)