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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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And then I got a job

Not the first thing you expected after a vacation absence, right?

It wasn't what I expected either. But a week before our departure, a posting landed in my inbox offering the chance to work as an online tutor. True grammarian wanted, the ad said, flexible hours available.

I was a little skeptical about the quality of the employer, given the odd (read: unorthodox, bordering on misspelled) abbreviations elsewhere in the text, so I asked Marketing Sis if it looked legit enough to consider -- my goal was to start earning a wage through some form of teaching while still trying to balance that commitment with my own writing, among other necessary fall projects D and I are working on. So when Marketing Sis's magical search skills didn't turn up any employee complaints (or evidence of a scam), I threw together a resume and sent it off. Look at this as a chance to get your feet wet, I told myself, and if it ends up being disastrous, you can always walk away.

The business, it turns out, is owned and managed by one woman out of her home on the opposite side of the country, from which she contracts tutors all over the U.S. for students primarily on the East Coast. She failed to notice my Seattle address and called to interview me two days later at 6 a.m., without any prior contact to schedule said conversation.

I have to admit, I'm not swift to wake up and probably sounded a bit bewildered when I answered, fearing a close relative had gotten sick or injured. But when the woman quickly made her disdain known -- "Do you even remember sending me your application?" she asked, perhaps in response to my silence after she'd introduced herself -- I snapped to attention. Simple oversight, I thought, as I explained the time difference, after which the woman was effusively apologetic. So I padded downstairs from the bedroom, D still half-asleep in the darkness, and took her questions in my pajamas.

"You'll be tutoring students who need help on the grammar section of the SAT exam," the woman explained, which sounded manageable enough, even attractive. Subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, misplaced modifiers, parallel construction -- I'd always enjoyed the rules of syntax, thanks in part to my own middle-school grammar teacher. The orderliness of language that she'd revealed, the characteristics of each part of speech, the algorithmic ways of determining the functions of each word in a sentence -- I loved all of it. Could I teach it? Oh, yes.

So I left for Hawaii, agreeing to start work within the week of my return.

Given my long silence since the beginning of October, I'm sure you've guessed at this point in the story that the job has turned out to be much more of a commitment than I believed it would be. Not because I have that many students -- there are just four -- but because my employer is more disorganized than, say, a five-paragraph persuasive essay with no thesis statement and randomly collected statements of fact instead of substantiated arguments. Teaching materials? Sent the day of my first tutoring session, minutes before it was supposed to begin. Oh, and did I mention that this woman decided during my absence to assign me some SAT writing students? My feelings on teaching essay writing to college students have been, at best, mixed -- comp instructors, breathe your collective sighs with me! (And then think about doing what you do, only with high schoolers. Mm hmm, specifically what I didn't want this job to be.)

But of course, given my experience, the woman "thought I'd be perfect" and went ahead with the plan without asking if I cared.

I've spent the last week putting some safeguards in place to keep my sanity from leaking out my ear, but let's just say that there's still plenty I need to do in order to get more timely information from my boss before each tutoring session -- and prevent her from transforming my job description any further. I've promised myself that I will live up to my new duties, but I'm drawing the line at further unforeseen demands.

As for our Hawaiian vacation: it was a getaway better than any we could ever have imagined. More on that trip -- which deserves so much more than passing mention -- once I get my work-life balance back.

7 comments:

TKW said...

As a former college comp teacher, I feel your agony. Uggggggggg. I'm so glad Hawaii was wonderful--sounds like the calm before the storm, eh?

Good Enough Woman said...

Congratulations! Right? I'll be interested to see how it goes for you. Teaching online can be really nice. I taught online for awhile for my CC, and it really appealed to my introverted nature. I didn't have to be so "on," and I could do the work in my own time.

The downside, however, is that I'm not super into technology, and I started to feel more like a webmaster than an English teacher.
Also, it can feel a bit ubiquitous--as if the students follow you everywhere you and your computer go.

But here's to the upsides! Keep us posted.

Love the disorganized essay analogy, BTW.

Aloha!

C. Troubadour said...

TKW -- the positive side here is that I'm not grading hundreds of student papers, just commenting (thoroughly) on a handful per week. You taught comp too, eh? I'm sure you must have stories :). Hawaii was indeed the calm before the storm. Real life is back in full force this month.

GEW -- thanks :). I do love that I can do this job from home. Since my students need me in the evening but are three time zones ahead, I can do the work during my afternoon and still get done before D returns. I've definitely found that the job can easily follow me, though, as you've said. Last week, I made myself do teaching-related stuff exclusively in one room, which is helping. (No checking work-related e-mail while doing fun blog stuff, for instance, which can happen anywhere else in the house.)

Aloha to you too!

BigLittleWolf said...

Wow, and Wow. Keep us posted on the adventure...

Sherlock said...

As a former college comp instructor, good luck!! Also keep a record of your hours and figure out how much you're paid per hour. Online tutoring services are notorious for low pay. Tutors in "real life" make a minimum of 25/hour. If you're not making that, look around for something else. That said, it's great experience if you ever want to go to online teaching (which is ALL I do and I love it!! I teach a full time course load and work about 20 hours a week -- which equates to about $50 an hour and leaves time for other pursuits as well -- I've written three books in the past three years and two before that).

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- I will. Adventure is a good word for it :)

Sherlock -- I'd love to talk with you about the details of the job. I have so many questions, and I know you're a veteran in this field. Please tell me how I can contact you.

Sherlock said...

Just checking to see if you got my reply email??

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Monday, October 17, 2011

And then I got a job

Not the first thing you expected after a vacation absence, right?

It wasn't what I expected either. But a week before our departure, a posting landed in my inbox offering the chance to work as an online tutor. True grammarian wanted, the ad said, flexible hours available.

I was a little skeptical about the quality of the employer, given the odd (read: unorthodox, bordering on misspelled) abbreviations elsewhere in the text, so I asked Marketing Sis if it looked legit enough to consider -- my goal was to start earning a wage through some form of teaching while still trying to balance that commitment with my own writing, among other necessary fall projects D and I are working on. So when Marketing Sis's magical search skills didn't turn up any employee complaints (or evidence of a scam), I threw together a resume and sent it off. Look at this as a chance to get your feet wet, I told myself, and if it ends up being disastrous, you can always walk away.

The business, it turns out, is owned and managed by one woman out of her home on the opposite side of the country, from which she contracts tutors all over the U.S. for students primarily on the East Coast. She failed to notice my Seattle address and called to interview me two days later at 6 a.m., without any prior contact to schedule said conversation.

I have to admit, I'm not swift to wake up and probably sounded a bit bewildered when I answered, fearing a close relative had gotten sick or injured. But when the woman quickly made her disdain known -- "Do you even remember sending me your application?" she asked, perhaps in response to my silence after she'd introduced herself -- I snapped to attention. Simple oversight, I thought, as I explained the time difference, after which the woman was effusively apologetic. So I padded downstairs from the bedroom, D still half-asleep in the darkness, and took her questions in my pajamas.

"You'll be tutoring students who need help on the grammar section of the SAT exam," the woman explained, which sounded manageable enough, even attractive. Subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, misplaced modifiers, parallel construction -- I'd always enjoyed the rules of syntax, thanks in part to my own middle-school grammar teacher. The orderliness of language that she'd revealed, the characteristics of each part of speech, the algorithmic ways of determining the functions of each word in a sentence -- I loved all of it. Could I teach it? Oh, yes.

So I left for Hawaii, agreeing to start work within the week of my return.

Given my long silence since the beginning of October, I'm sure you've guessed at this point in the story that the job has turned out to be much more of a commitment than I believed it would be. Not because I have that many students -- there are just four -- but because my employer is more disorganized than, say, a five-paragraph persuasive essay with no thesis statement and randomly collected statements of fact instead of substantiated arguments. Teaching materials? Sent the day of my first tutoring session, minutes before it was supposed to begin. Oh, and did I mention that this woman decided during my absence to assign me some SAT writing students? My feelings on teaching essay writing to college students have been, at best, mixed -- comp instructors, breathe your collective sighs with me! (And then think about doing what you do, only with high schoolers. Mm hmm, specifically what I didn't want this job to be.)

But of course, given my experience, the woman "thought I'd be perfect" and went ahead with the plan without asking if I cared.

I've spent the last week putting some safeguards in place to keep my sanity from leaking out my ear, but let's just say that there's still plenty I need to do in order to get more timely information from my boss before each tutoring session -- and prevent her from transforming my job description any further. I've promised myself that I will live up to my new duties, but I'm drawing the line at further unforeseen demands.

As for our Hawaiian vacation: it was a getaway better than any we could ever have imagined. More on that trip -- which deserves so much more than passing mention -- once I get my work-life balance back.

7 comments:

TKW said...

As a former college comp teacher, I feel your agony. Uggggggggg. I'm so glad Hawaii was wonderful--sounds like the calm before the storm, eh?

Good Enough Woman said...

Congratulations! Right? I'll be interested to see how it goes for you. Teaching online can be really nice. I taught online for awhile for my CC, and it really appealed to my introverted nature. I didn't have to be so "on," and I could do the work in my own time.

The downside, however, is that I'm not super into technology, and I started to feel more like a webmaster than an English teacher.
Also, it can feel a bit ubiquitous--as if the students follow you everywhere you and your computer go.

But here's to the upsides! Keep us posted.

Love the disorganized essay analogy, BTW.

Aloha!

C. Troubadour said...

TKW -- the positive side here is that I'm not grading hundreds of student papers, just commenting (thoroughly) on a handful per week. You taught comp too, eh? I'm sure you must have stories :). Hawaii was indeed the calm before the storm. Real life is back in full force this month.

GEW -- thanks :). I do love that I can do this job from home. Since my students need me in the evening but are three time zones ahead, I can do the work during my afternoon and still get done before D returns. I've definitely found that the job can easily follow me, though, as you've said. Last week, I made myself do teaching-related stuff exclusively in one room, which is helping. (No checking work-related e-mail while doing fun blog stuff, for instance, which can happen anywhere else in the house.)

Aloha to you too!

BigLittleWolf said...

Wow, and Wow. Keep us posted on the adventure...

Sherlock said...

As a former college comp instructor, good luck!! Also keep a record of your hours and figure out how much you're paid per hour. Online tutoring services are notorious for low pay. Tutors in "real life" make a minimum of 25/hour. If you're not making that, look around for something else. That said, it's great experience if you ever want to go to online teaching (which is ALL I do and I love it!! I teach a full time course load and work about 20 hours a week -- which equates to about $50 an hour and leaves time for other pursuits as well -- I've written three books in the past three years and two before that).

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- I will. Adventure is a good word for it :)

Sherlock -- I'd love to talk with you about the details of the job. I have so many questions, and I know you're a veteran in this field. Please tell me how I can contact you.

Sherlock said...

Just checking to see if you got my reply email??