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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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scenes from a graduation, part 2: compromises

To my relief, the electronic monitors at O'Hare have no abnormalities to report. There's just enough time to grab a salad from one of the vendors on the walk between Terminals H and G, call D to let him know all is well, and fall into line at my connecting gate.

I am, short of my footwear, dressed for the evening reception we'll be heading to directly from the airport -- no time to change -- so I'm careful as I poke my fork into the chicken and greens in my lap, wary of wayward dressing drips. Though I would have preferred one of my favorite dresses, a soft silk whose pattern reminds me of thin washes of gray ink with occasional streaks of butter-yellow watercolor, I've opted for darker wool slacks and a pink paisley blouse. Still pretty, but slightly less feminine -- at least, as it feels to me. But I guess that's the point: in pants, I can stride, even run if I have to, without having to worry that my skirt has rotated or hiked itself into unladylike territory.

As I eat, I make note of the things I have to do when I land: call family, find bathroom, apply makeup, change sneakers to heels, unpack purse from luggage, transfer wallet and phone. The makeup and purse are already within easy reach toward the top of the items in my backpack, the shoes at one end of my suitcase. The heels are low in case I have a lot of walking to do with the heavy bags. I am, if nothing else, extremely practical.

I know, though, that my mother and sisters will all be in dresses tonight, that this will bother me even though I resist the feeling adamantly. This -- blouse, slacks -- is what is comfortable for me on this 2,500-mile travel day, and yet, in their company, it will leave me not ill at ease but something like it. As if my lack of willingness to do as they would -- just wear the dress -- is indicative of some personal deficit in the quality all Troubadour women ought to have, a tolerance for inconvenience in the name of feeling our outward best.

I picture the gritty airport bathroom stalls at my final destination, the acrobatics of changing in that narrow space with luggage to boot, and I know I will feel anything but my best -- inside or out -- after attempting a transformation there. I'll be meeting my sister's doctor colleagues and doctor professors, whom I'm mildly intimidated by, at this evening's reception, and I'd prefer not to be fighting a case of the cranks after playing public restroom Twister. So, gaping toilet? Questionably sanitary walls on which to hang so many dry-clean-only garments? Given my choices, I'd rather feel the needling sadness of being conflicted over how I look, sadness that I can't just be confident in this fairly inconsequential decision, rather than feeling certain frustration with trying to be more than I'm able. Just for today, anyway.

For more from this series, please click here.

2 comments:

BigLittleWolf said...

Oh, the conflict of what we know feels right for us, and the expectations of family.

A lovely read, CT.

Looking forward to more. And hoping that the day went well, despite the inevitable churning of family dynamics.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, BLW. As you can see, I'm creeping through this writing project -- there's so much stuff. I think part of the exercise is figuring out just what feels right, or how to know it. Not a quick process, in any case.

Thanks for sticking with the read (as erratically as these installments seem to be coming).

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scenes from a graduation, part 2: compromises

To my relief, the electronic monitors at O'Hare have no abnormalities to report. There's just enough time to grab a salad from one of the vendors on the walk between Terminals H and G, call D to let him know all is well, and fall into line at my connecting gate.

I am, short of my footwear, dressed for the evening reception we'll be heading to directly from the airport -- no time to change -- so I'm careful as I poke my fork into the chicken and greens in my lap, wary of wayward dressing drips. Though I would have preferred one of my favorite dresses, a soft silk whose pattern reminds me of thin washes of gray ink with occasional streaks of butter-yellow watercolor, I've opted for darker wool slacks and a pink paisley blouse. Still pretty, but slightly less feminine -- at least, as it feels to me. But I guess that's the point: in pants, I can stride, even run if I have to, without having to worry that my skirt has rotated or hiked itself into unladylike territory.

As I eat, I make note of the things I have to do when I land: call family, find bathroom, apply makeup, change sneakers to heels, unpack purse from luggage, transfer wallet and phone. The makeup and purse are already within easy reach toward the top of the items in my backpack, the shoes at one end of my suitcase. The heels are low in case I have a lot of walking to do with the heavy bags. I am, if nothing else, extremely practical.

I know, though, that my mother and sisters will all be in dresses tonight, that this will bother me even though I resist the feeling adamantly. This -- blouse, slacks -- is what is comfortable for me on this 2,500-mile travel day, and yet, in their company, it will leave me not ill at ease but something like it. As if my lack of willingness to do as they would -- just wear the dress -- is indicative of some personal deficit in the quality all Troubadour women ought to have, a tolerance for inconvenience in the name of feeling our outward best.

I picture the gritty airport bathroom stalls at my final destination, the acrobatics of changing in that narrow space with luggage to boot, and I know I will feel anything but my best -- inside or out -- after attempting a transformation there. I'll be meeting my sister's doctor colleagues and doctor professors, whom I'm mildly intimidated by, at this evening's reception, and I'd prefer not to be fighting a case of the cranks after playing public restroom Twister. So, gaping toilet? Questionably sanitary walls on which to hang so many dry-clean-only garments? Given my choices, I'd rather feel the needling sadness of being conflicted over how I look, sadness that I can't just be confident in this fairly inconsequential decision, rather than feeling certain frustration with trying to be more than I'm able. Just for today, anyway.

For more from this series, please click here.

2 comments:

BigLittleWolf said...

Oh, the conflict of what we know feels right for us, and the expectations of family.

A lovely read, CT.

Looking forward to more. And hoping that the day went well, despite the inevitable churning of family dynamics.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, BLW. As you can see, I'm creeping through this writing project -- there's so much stuff. I think part of the exercise is figuring out just what feels right, or how to know it. Not a quick process, in any case.

Thanks for sticking with the read (as erratically as these installments seem to be coming).