Blogroll

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!)

Archives

For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

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

To search this blog, type in the field at the top left of the page and hit enter.

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, July 18, 2011

Scenes from a graduation, part 4: limits

Hello! As you may have noticed, the writing's slowed down here -- we are in the midst of a heavy rotation of back-to-back visitors. (Our friends and family know the best time to come to Seattle is in summer, when the sun is out.) We're nearly done with B&B duty, though, so please stay tuned for more!

Dinner is easier -- just family. Although this is the first time we've all been in this city together, most of us have visited my sister enough individually to have dined with her at the place she's chosen for this evening, one known for its seafood. We settle in at the table together, laid with heavy silverware and votive candles, as if we've been doing this for a lifetime.

In a way, we almost have. Fine dining -- whether it's while traveling or at my parents' house -- is what my father has come to enjoy, of very little else, in the last fifteen years, so this is what we do with him. He cites his busy hospital schedule as an excuse for his lack of hobbies. I look at Almost Dr. Sis, who'd usually rather be out -- alone or with friends -- than in on free afternoons and evenings, and know my father's limits are more a product of temperament than anything external.

I'm an admitted homebody. And maybe, just maybe, if I'd become a doctor myself, I would be, like my father, too exhausted to do more than eat. That I resemble him in many ways -- habits, aversions, quickness to anger -- has been undeniable all my life, as much as I've been dismayed as I've grown more and more aware of these similarities. On a scale of predictable to spontaneous, we both skew away from the impromptu and, as a result, miss out on the joys of surprise, happenstance, discovery. Or so I believe, when I see the tension in his small, dark eyes, which mirror my own, as a well-laid plan goes astray.

My father is also, more often than not, testy and demanding, intolerant of change or other people's differing opinions. When these tendencies are at their worst, he's able to clear the living room at home just by walking into it, each daughter conveniently finding a reason to disappear, if only because conversation among us is impossible -- too likely to invite a lecture or judgment from him, born of his need to be in control. Left alone, then, he dissolves into the couch cushions, remote in hand and laptop on his knees, lost to their steady stream of I'm not sure what for the rest of the night, save for our evening meal together. Even then, the news blares from across the room. We try to ignore it; he does not.

I see what he misses -- and what I miss -- because of who we are, and the fear that I will become him tightens around me like a straitjacket. It's irrational; I know I have a chance at a different life than he may ever have because I do see, do fear. Still, when I'm feeling frazzled or inflexible, I have to remind myself that I'm not my father's carbon copy, even as I resist and moderate the tendencies we share, perhaps more rigorously than necessary.

For more from this series, please click here.

5 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This line really resonated with me: "I see what he misses -- and what I miss -- because of who we are, and the fear that I will become him tightens around me like a straitjacket." The tendencies I've inherited from my parents aren't the same, yet I too have to remind myself that I have my own path to forge, that the die isn't cast yet.

Sorry I have been such a lousy commenter of late. Needless to say, the wee ones are asking for lots of my attention these days, but it's good to be here today.

BigLittleWolf said...

Recognizing similarities with a parent is a far cry from - as you say - becoming a carbon copy.

My mother was such a jumbled set of extremes - some highly admirable, and others, destructive beyond measure to herself and others. Elements of a personality that I will never understand, and even in death, her legacy chases me - at times.

I used to worry when I saw anything in myself that resembled her - and of course, there are aspects in which I am very much her daughter. But as I've grown older, I have come to realize that awareness, differing experiences, and my own choices all lead me far from her own dark place.

I think your awareness will take you to the reaches of your developing self, as will your choices. You are not the carbon copy of your father, and you need never be. But you can find the good in him with distance - that you choose to mirror.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen -- glad you were able to stop by. I can imagine the demands on your time these days are many! And yes, it's hard to remember that we get to forge our own path, especially when imitating what we are familiar with is sometimes easier.

BLW -- awareness, differing experiences, and choice, YES! I hang on to these like worry beads. As for seeing the good and selective mirroring, that's where I'm hoping to head next in this writing :). I think it took these first few posts (and time) to get that requisite distance. (I could be wrong, though, so no promises ... I keep reminding myself it's an exploration, not a predetermined story.)

Good Enough Woman said...

It's interesting and surprising to read that you are quick to anger. Your writing voice (and commenting voice) are so gentle and calm and reflective. And though I know what it's like to have undesirable family traits, it's hard for me to imagine being just like your father. He does not sounds like an introspective man, whereas as you are an introspective woman. And therein, I should think, lies the difference.

C. Troubadour said...

It's a difference I cherish, GEW. And yes, my writing and commenting voice is the reflective one -- a much slower to surface one -- that gets passed up by the quick-to-anger one that I have to keep from coming out of my mouth whenever painful emotions get stirred. (I guess it's like the difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles?) So the writing is the more measured form of processing the hard stuff or thinking about what others say or do. I think my writing voice is the one I'd like to aim for in my spoken interactions, though I miss the mark regularly! I am a s-l-o-w processor, so even when I do manage to suppress the temper, I don't often have enough insight on what's upsetting me to produce a measured response in conversational time. I make interesting faces, I imagine, in those moments ... ?

Posts by label

Air travel Airline food Allergic reactions Astoria Awards Bacteremia Bacterial overgrowth Baggage beefs Bed and breakfast Betrayal Blues Body Boston Breastfeeding British Columbia California Canada Cape Spear Clam-digging Colonoscopy Commuter marriage Cooking CT scans Delays Diagnoses Dietitians Doctor-patient relationships Doctors Eating while traveling Editing Endocrine Endoscopy ER False starts Family dynamics Feedback Food anxiety Food sensitivities Gate agent guff GI Halifax Heart Home-making House hunting Hypoglycemia In-laws Intentional happiness Iowa Journaling Kidney stones Knitting Lab tests Little U. on the Prairie Liver function tests Long Beach Making friends in new places Malabsorption Massachusetts Medical records Medication Mentorship MFA programs Miami Monterey Motivation Moving Narrative New York Newark Newfoundland Nova Scotia Olympic Peninsula Ontario Ophthalmology Oregon Oxalates Pancreatic function tests Parenting Parents Paris Pets Photography Portland Prediabetes Pregnancy Process Professors Publishing Reproductive endocrine Research Revision Rewriting Rheumatology San Francisco Scenes from a graduation series Scenes from around the table series Seattle Sisters Skiing St. John's Striped-up paisley Teaching Technological snafus Texas Thesis Toronto Travel Travel fears Traveling while sick Ultrasound Urology Vancouver Victoria Voice Washington Washington D.C. Weight When words won't stick Whidbey Island Why we write Workshops Writers on writing Writing Writing friends Writing in odd places Writing jobs Yakima

Monday, July 18, 2011

Scenes from a graduation, part 4: limits

Hello! As you may have noticed, the writing's slowed down here -- we are in the midst of a heavy rotation of back-to-back visitors. (Our friends and family know the best time to come to Seattle is in summer, when the sun is out.) We're nearly done with B&B duty, though, so please stay tuned for more!

Dinner is easier -- just family. Although this is the first time we've all been in this city together, most of us have visited my sister enough individually to have dined with her at the place she's chosen for this evening, one known for its seafood. We settle in at the table together, laid with heavy silverware and votive candles, as if we've been doing this for a lifetime.

In a way, we almost have. Fine dining -- whether it's while traveling or at my parents' house -- is what my father has come to enjoy, of very little else, in the last fifteen years, so this is what we do with him. He cites his busy hospital schedule as an excuse for his lack of hobbies. I look at Almost Dr. Sis, who'd usually rather be out -- alone or with friends -- than in on free afternoons and evenings, and know my father's limits are more a product of temperament than anything external.

I'm an admitted homebody. And maybe, just maybe, if I'd become a doctor myself, I would be, like my father, too exhausted to do more than eat. That I resemble him in many ways -- habits, aversions, quickness to anger -- has been undeniable all my life, as much as I've been dismayed as I've grown more and more aware of these similarities. On a scale of predictable to spontaneous, we both skew away from the impromptu and, as a result, miss out on the joys of surprise, happenstance, discovery. Or so I believe, when I see the tension in his small, dark eyes, which mirror my own, as a well-laid plan goes astray.

My father is also, more often than not, testy and demanding, intolerant of change or other people's differing opinions. When these tendencies are at their worst, he's able to clear the living room at home just by walking into it, each daughter conveniently finding a reason to disappear, if only because conversation among us is impossible -- too likely to invite a lecture or judgment from him, born of his need to be in control. Left alone, then, he dissolves into the couch cushions, remote in hand and laptop on his knees, lost to their steady stream of I'm not sure what for the rest of the night, save for our evening meal together. Even then, the news blares from across the room. We try to ignore it; he does not.

I see what he misses -- and what I miss -- because of who we are, and the fear that I will become him tightens around me like a straitjacket. It's irrational; I know I have a chance at a different life than he may ever have because I do see, do fear. Still, when I'm feeling frazzled or inflexible, I have to remind myself that I'm not my father's carbon copy, even as I resist and moderate the tendencies we share, perhaps more rigorously than necessary.

For more from this series, please click here.

5 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This line really resonated with me: "I see what he misses -- and what I miss -- because of who we are, and the fear that I will become him tightens around me like a straitjacket." The tendencies I've inherited from my parents aren't the same, yet I too have to remind myself that I have my own path to forge, that the die isn't cast yet.

Sorry I have been such a lousy commenter of late. Needless to say, the wee ones are asking for lots of my attention these days, but it's good to be here today.

BigLittleWolf said...

Recognizing similarities with a parent is a far cry from - as you say - becoming a carbon copy.

My mother was such a jumbled set of extremes - some highly admirable, and others, destructive beyond measure to herself and others. Elements of a personality that I will never understand, and even in death, her legacy chases me - at times.

I used to worry when I saw anything in myself that resembled her - and of course, there are aspects in which I am very much her daughter. But as I've grown older, I have come to realize that awareness, differing experiences, and my own choices all lead me far from her own dark place.

I think your awareness will take you to the reaches of your developing self, as will your choices. You are not the carbon copy of your father, and you need never be. But you can find the good in him with distance - that you choose to mirror.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen -- glad you were able to stop by. I can imagine the demands on your time these days are many! And yes, it's hard to remember that we get to forge our own path, especially when imitating what we are familiar with is sometimes easier.

BLW -- awareness, differing experiences, and choice, YES! I hang on to these like worry beads. As for seeing the good and selective mirroring, that's where I'm hoping to head next in this writing :). I think it took these first few posts (and time) to get that requisite distance. (I could be wrong, though, so no promises ... I keep reminding myself it's an exploration, not a predetermined story.)

Good Enough Woman said...

It's interesting and surprising to read that you are quick to anger. Your writing voice (and commenting voice) are so gentle and calm and reflective. And though I know what it's like to have undesirable family traits, it's hard for me to imagine being just like your father. He does not sounds like an introspective man, whereas as you are an introspective woman. And therein, I should think, lies the difference.

C. Troubadour said...

It's a difference I cherish, GEW. And yes, my writing and commenting voice is the reflective one -- a much slower to surface one -- that gets passed up by the quick-to-anger one that I have to keep from coming out of my mouth whenever painful emotions get stirred. (I guess it's like the difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles?) So the writing is the more measured form of processing the hard stuff or thinking about what others say or do. I think my writing voice is the one I'd like to aim for in my spoken interactions, though I miss the mark regularly! I am a s-l-o-w processor, so even when I do manage to suppress the temper, I don't often have enough insight on what's upsetting me to produce a measured response in conversational time. I make interesting faces, I imagine, in those moments ... ?