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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, April 23, 2012

All according to plan

I can't believe it, but the paint job on our would-be nursery is done.

We had a few interruptions in March -- birthdays to celebrate in the first week, out-of-town guests in the second, and a visit to D's parents to prepare for -- and the trip itself took out the first week of April. But the new face on the room is finished: primed, painted, molded, caulked. Now all that's left is to clean up.

For many reasons, finishing this room was much more satisfactory than completing the previous one. We were so burned out the first time that I think all we could manage when we'd finally hammered the lids back on our paint cans was to close the door behind us, mumbling obscenities as we trudged away. I don't think I even bothered to take the "after" shot to post next to the "before." Don't get me wrong -- we were happy that the room was no longer an eyesore, but it was a guest bedroom that we weren't going to use on a daily basis. It was a lot of effort for not a lot of immediate return.

This room, though -- we're hoping it'll have plenty of use in a year or so, if we're lucky.

The thought has been on both of our minds as we've slowly erased the evidence of previous tenants in that once cave-like space. The dark, dreary blue that covered the walls when we moved in was also swiped on the ceiling, smeared on the door frames and baseboards, even spattered on the window -- a careless job that made for pain-in-the-ass repairs, which we'd already had to do in the other room with much trial and error. We didn't have the skills to remove the baseboards for recoating, so D resorted to using a painter's taping spatula to shove old sheets under the baseboard edges followed by pieces of corrugated cardboard, all to shield the carpet while I painted over the damage. It was maddeningly slow. But with every drop of blue we obliterated, the room felt cleaner. Lighter. More and more the nest we've wanted it to become.

Transforming the room has also been unexpectedly meditative. Because we haven't taken extended breaks (on the order of months) in between phases of painting, there's been a rhythm to the process as we've worked our way around the room for each step, like the repetitive circling of wanderers in a labyrinth. And with each turn, we've talked about what we remembered from childhood, what made home feel right. The colors in a favorite blanket, the books we particularly liked to have on our shelves. We'll never know what these things might be for our own children, of course, until they discover all this themselves, but the walls are ready. Down to the seams around every door.

On our final afternoon of work, as D circled the room for the last time with brush in hand, I had to laugh. He'd pulled out a fine-tipped model from his days of taking watercolors on vacation with his parents to capture landscapes, birds, and bugs on paper. Now, he was dipping the brush in a tray of pale green latex paint, dabbing with painstaking strokes at imperfections along his caulk line. The tiny featherings of white paint that had bled through our taping job when we'd applied the last coat on the molding were in no way visible to me, but he wanted everything to be flawless.

"No baby will ever notice," I teased.

But D just grinned. You wouldn't want him to, his eyes said to me as he reached to place his last stroke.

5 comments:

BigLittleWolf said...

And hoping you have use for this important room as well... at exactly the right time...

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, BLW. Obviously, we can't control much in terms of whether that time will coincide with other things life will throw at us, but we're crossing our fingers for as few complications down the road as possible!

Sherlock said...

Glad to hear all is going well. I've been remiss in not reading or posting in blogs for quite a while. Hope that will change in a few weeks when I'll only be teaching a few classes instead of a full load for the summer.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

What care and attention to detail you put into your paint job! Lucky indeed is any future resident of that room.

P.S. Finally started The Marriage Plot! Better late than never... :)

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen. We totally didn't expect to feel the way we did on this second job after the first! D wants to take on built-in shelves for the living room next, but I think I'm lobbying for a break ;)

Looking forward to your thoughts on the book!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

All according to plan

I can't believe it, but the paint job on our would-be nursery is done.

We had a few interruptions in March -- birthdays to celebrate in the first week, out-of-town guests in the second, and a visit to D's parents to prepare for -- and the trip itself took out the first week of April. But the new face on the room is finished: primed, painted, molded, caulked. Now all that's left is to clean up.

For many reasons, finishing this room was much more satisfactory than completing the previous one. We were so burned out the first time that I think all we could manage when we'd finally hammered the lids back on our paint cans was to close the door behind us, mumbling obscenities as we trudged away. I don't think I even bothered to take the "after" shot to post next to the "before." Don't get me wrong -- we were happy that the room was no longer an eyesore, but it was a guest bedroom that we weren't going to use on a daily basis. It was a lot of effort for not a lot of immediate return.

This room, though -- we're hoping it'll have plenty of use in a year or so, if we're lucky.

The thought has been on both of our minds as we've slowly erased the evidence of previous tenants in that once cave-like space. The dark, dreary blue that covered the walls when we moved in was also swiped on the ceiling, smeared on the door frames and baseboards, even spattered on the window -- a careless job that made for pain-in-the-ass repairs, which we'd already had to do in the other room with much trial and error. We didn't have the skills to remove the baseboards for recoating, so D resorted to using a painter's taping spatula to shove old sheets under the baseboard edges followed by pieces of corrugated cardboard, all to shield the carpet while I painted over the damage. It was maddeningly slow. But with every drop of blue we obliterated, the room felt cleaner. Lighter. More and more the nest we've wanted it to become.

Transforming the room has also been unexpectedly meditative. Because we haven't taken extended breaks (on the order of months) in between phases of painting, there's been a rhythm to the process as we've worked our way around the room for each step, like the repetitive circling of wanderers in a labyrinth. And with each turn, we've talked about what we remembered from childhood, what made home feel right. The colors in a favorite blanket, the books we particularly liked to have on our shelves. We'll never know what these things might be for our own children, of course, until they discover all this themselves, but the walls are ready. Down to the seams around every door.

On our final afternoon of work, as D circled the room for the last time with brush in hand, I had to laugh. He'd pulled out a fine-tipped model from his days of taking watercolors on vacation with his parents to capture landscapes, birds, and bugs on paper. Now, he was dipping the brush in a tray of pale green latex paint, dabbing with painstaking strokes at imperfections along his caulk line. The tiny featherings of white paint that had bled through our taping job when we'd applied the last coat on the molding were in no way visible to me, but he wanted everything to be flawless.

"No baby will ever notice," I teased.

But D just grinned. You wouldn't want him to, his eyes said to me as he reached to place his last stroke.

5 comments:

BigLittleWolf said...

And hoping you have use for this important room as well... at exactly the right time...

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, BLW. Obviously, we can't control much in terms of whether that time will coincide with other things life will throw at us, but we're crossing our fingers for as few complications down the road as possible!

Sherlock said...

Glad to hear all is going well. I've been remiss in not reading or posting in blogs for quite a while. Hope that will change in a few weeks when I'll only be teaching a few classes instead of a full load for the summer.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

What care and attention to detail you put into your paint job! Lucky indeed is any future resident of that room.

P.S. Finally started The Marriage Plot! Better late than never... :)

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen. We totally didn't expect to feel the way we did on this second job after the first! D wants to take on built-in shelves for the living room next, but I think I'm lobbying for a break ;)

Looking forward to your thoughts on the book!