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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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sense and sensitivity

The smell of fresh biscuits is wafting upstairs from the kitchen in my parents' house in Texas. We've been coming here for the end-of-year holidays only since 2006, so the room I'm writing in -- a loft above a garage -- is not the one where I used to wake up to the promise of butter, flour, baking powder, milk, and salt, in those perfect, golden, flaky proportions that are my mother's standby recipe for daughterly bliss. It's just a loft with an elliptical machine in it, and I cycle along, willing myself to recall the tender center of this favorite baked good, how it releases a ribbon of steam when it first breaks open under my much younger fingers.

The last few years have been an adjustment -- first, the limit on sugars and starches after I became insulin resistant, then the limit on dairy and gluten after those food sensitivities came to light. I can choose to ignore these inconvenient circumstances -- nothing truly dire will occur immediately if I eat from the tray my mother has just pulled from the oven -- but I know it's unwise. At the very least, I'll feel sick and be less able to enjoy this time with my family. So I soak up the memory of warmth and comfort that the aroma brings back.

But the coziness of a different kitchen in a different time fails to materialize. I'm needled by earlier moments from the morning. "Can you butter the tray for me?" my mother asks, as I am about to leave the kitchen in search of a writing spot. "Oh, there might be flour on the counter. You can touch that stuff, right?"

I tell her it's fine -- I can wash my hands -- but then, as I clean the baking utensils left in the sink, I hesitate before setting the sponge back on the edge of the basin. "Is it okay to put this through the dishwasher?" I ask. Without a thorough soaping and scalding, a good quantity of gluten particles can stay lodged in the fibers.

"Oh, it'll never get completely clean," she replies, waving a floury hand, as if whether the sponge goes through the machine isn't important. I know she doesn't mean to be cavalier, but a flood of resentment at what feels like her insensitivity rises in my chest. Just because the sponge can't be sterilized doesn't mean I can't take the measures with it -- or anything else in her kitchen -- that will decrease my exposure to what makes me sick. It has only been a day since my arrival, but the few things I've asked her not to do for food I will eat -- like using wooden cutting boards, which are porous and also harbor gluten easily -- she's done anyway.

I wonder whether to say anything. When I do remind her, she makes the excuse that this is all new to her, which I understand. But she makes no move to apologize.

Am I wrong to feel hurt? I ask myself. Don't be so -- well, sensitive, part of me says in reply. Still, the scent of my mother's biscuits, hanging in the air of the loft, refuses to transfer the pleasure I wish it would.

1 comment:

Sherlock said...

We went to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's brother's family. His wife is gluten-intolerant and she knows I'm diabetic. There were only two things I could eat at dinner - turkey and veggie casserole I brought. When I had the whole big family at my house for a sit-down formal dinner a few weeks ago, I fixed everything gluten free so she could eat anything she wanted to. Some people are just thoughtless or don't think it matters for one meal (or a couple of days).

Merry Christmas to you and Happy 2012!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Sense and sensitivity

The smell of fresh biscuits is wafting upstairs from the kitchen in my parents' house in Texas. We've been coming here for the end-of-year holidays only since 2006, so the room I'm writing in -- a loft above a garage -- is not the one where I used to wake up to the promise of butter, flour, baking powder, milk, and salt, in those perfect, golden, flaky proportions that are my mother's standby recipe for daughterly bliss. It's just a loft with an elliptical machine in it, and I cycle along, willing myself to recall the tender center of this favorite baked good, how it releases a ribbon of steam when it first breaks open under my much younger fingers.

The last few years have been an adjustment -- first, the limit on sugars and starches after I became insulin resistant, then the limit on dairy and gluten after those food sensitivities came to light. I can choose to ignore these inconvenient circumstances -- nothing truly dire will occur immediately if I eat from the tray my mother has just pulled from the oven -- but I know it's unwise. At the very least, I'll feel sick and be less able to enjoy this time with my family. So I soak up the memory of warmth and comfort that the aroma brings back.

But the coziness of a different kitchen in a different time fails to materialize. I'm needled by earlier moments from the morning. "Can you butter the tray for me?" my mother asks, as I am about to leave the kitchen in search of a writing spot. "Oh, there might be flour on the counter. You can touch that stuff, right?"

I tell her it's fine -- I can wash my hands -- but then, as I clean the baking utensils left in the sink, I hesitate before setting the sponge back on the edge of the basin. "Is it okay to put this through the dishwasher?" I ask. Without a thorough soaping and scalding, a good quantity of gluten particles can stay lodged in the fibers.

"Oh, it'll never get completely clean," she replies, waving a floury hand, as if whether the sponge goes through the machine isn't important. I know she doesn't mean to be cavalier, but a flood of resentment at what feels like her insensitivity rises in my chest. Just because the sponge can't be sterilized doesn't mean I can't take the measures with it -- or anything else in her kitchen -- that will decrease my exposure to what makes me sick. It has only been a day since my arrival, but the few things I've asked her not to do for food I will eat -- like using wooden cutting boards, which are porous and also harbor gluten easily -- she's done anyway.

I wonder whether to say anything. When I do remind her, she makes the excuse that this is all new to her, which I understand. But she makes no move to apologize.

Am I wrong to feel hurt? I ask myself. Don't be so -- well, sensitive, part of me says in reply. Still, the scent of my mother's biscuits, hanging in the air of the loft, refuses to transfer the pleasure I wish it would.

1 comment:

Sherlock said...

We went to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's brother's family. His wife is gluten-intolerant and she knows I'm diabetic. There were only two things I could eat at dinner - turkey and veggie casserole I brought. When I had the whole big family at my house for a sit-down formal dinner a few weeks ago, I fixed everything gluten free so she could eat anything she wanted to. Some people are just thoughtless or don't think it matters for one meal (or a couple of days).

Merry Christmas to you and Happy 2012!