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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A night at the Lo-Fi

On Saturday, it rains for the first time in 80 days, bringing an end to the Indian summer Seattle has held on to for weeks. In spite of the chill, though, I've put on a light cotton dress and the peep-toe slingbacks I've been wearing to swing dancing lessons with D. Tonight's adventure: Soul Night at the Lo-Fi, a self-advertised "performance gallery" whose reputation everywhere else on the web suggests a live-music dive club.

Zoe, a woman nearly my age whom I do volunteer editing and photography for each Friday at the Humane Society, has invited us to come out with her for this event. I have no idea what we're in for, but I figure it's a good opportunity to practice our new dance skills and get to know Zoe outside of work.

We arrive at a building whose front entrance is more board and graffiti than door, at least from what I can make out through a light drizzle and the smoke from the next-door bar patrons leaning against damp brick. Zoe is nowhere in sight, but a girl sporting a cherry-red dye job fading to pink catches the lost look on my face. "Lo-Fi's in there," she says with a grin, jerking her head toward the gaping entryway to her left. I text Zoe, hoping she's already inside.

"Getting liquid courage down the street if you want to join, be there in 10!" is the reply. Alcohol's out for me, so rather than waste time, D and I head straight in. It's only 10 p.m., but these days, I'm usually in bed before 12. Better to take advantage of our chance to dance while I've still got energy.

We know none of the music that the deejay is playing from real vinyl in the dim front room -- barely 25' by 25', 12' by 12' if you count only the space walled off for dancing. But the beat is familiar and I signal to D that it's good for triple swing, even if it's not swing music. Though it takes a moment for us to find our footing, we're soon rocking and twirling around the floor, the smell of baby powder rising from under our heels. "Zoe told me they sprinkle it on the boards!" I shout above the thumping bass.

The room's not nearly full yet, so we get in several good spins under the magenta lights as the details of the rest of the space slowly come to my attention. A dive it is: no seating except a single banquette at one end of the floor and a bar wedged into a corner near the entrance. It's loud and dark and hard not to trip on the ruts in the floor, but I'm happy on D's arm -- as long as we're dancing, I don't worry that I look totally out of place here, even if I feel that way. Even before we became parents-to-be, I was never a late-night club-goer.

Zoe, of course, doesn't know I'm a hopeless homebody, but I wonder if she'll figure that out this evening. I almost didn't want to come, but hers is the first invitation I've received from someone I've met on my own -- not through D -- to do something social since my move to Seattle three years ago. How did it take you so long to start making friends? I think, though I know the many answers. Thesis. Health problems. Working from home. And now, with this baby on the way, I'm facing yet another easy reason not to get out there. Is this what I'm going to give up for good in a few months, I wonder, the chance to hang out with people who still do things like this?

Suddenly Zoe's grabbing my arm, pulling me into a hug. I'm surprised and pleased -- we've never even shaken hands before, but obviously, the vibe at the animal shelter is far removed from the one here tonight. Zoe's also slightly tipsy, but only enough to get her loosened up. She takes me by the hand and all but hauls me toward a long, narrow hall at the back of the room that D and I have initially missed.

"Photo booth," Zoe says, pointing out the curtained machine at the end of the corridor, and then we're in a second room, larger than the first, but not by much. Two more deejays spin records on a raised platform while the crowd, three times as dense, bounces in close, sweaty approval. Zoe's husband of three months and two other women from the shelter emerge from the chaos -- Shona, who also works with Zoe, and Lane, who runs the volunteer program that got me involved at the Humane Society to begin with. We shout introductions all around as a couple wearing rubber horse-head masks squeezes by. They are the only people in costume, but no one finds it odd. Apparently, anything goes here.

Zoe gets down to the business of dancing right away, skinny arms flying in bold-print spandex sleeves. After a while, we take turns partnering up -- Zoe prefers to lead, so I gamely grab her shoulder -- and wiggle around as much as we can among the rest of the knees and elbows. D and I attempt a few moves and end up doing them in half-time for the safety of others, which cracks us both up. In the crush of bodies, we can do no more than step in place -- so much for practicing.

After an hour, I can feel myself beginning to wilt from the heat, but I don't want to leave yet. The group's completely at the mercy of the music and hasn't yet taken a break where we can -- what, chat? Where in this hole-in-the-wall could we do that? I'm starting to rethink my expectations of getting to know anyone on this night when I realize Zoe's waving me toward the photo booth. "Everybody in!" she insists, and suddenly I'm backed against her husband while chest to chest with Shona. I have no idea who is sitting behind us on the narrow bench and Zoe, wedged at the very front of this sardine can, is hollering for singles to feed the machine, which D hands through the curtain. He tries to poke his head in too but can't even get his nose past the burlap. At the first flash, we pose, if attempting to get somebody's -- anybody's -- face in frame can be called posing.

It's funny, but I'm not sure it's fun, the homebody in my head says. Shut up and just go with it, I tell her. We tumble out into the hall and wander back to the dance floor. Lane, purse over one shoulder, grabs my hand and I lead her for half a song before we break into a new configuration under the push and pull of the rest of the bodies around us.

Within twenty minutes, I know I'm fading for good -- I'm bouncing without actually picking up my feet and D can tell. He takes my hand and nods toward the exit. "Let me say goodbye to Zoe," I say. I try not to feel a little defeated. By what, I'm not totally sure: my body, my introverted tendencies, both? Whatever's keeping me from the joy of the moment.

Zoe sees me inching toward her and points at the door. "I'm too hot!" she says. "Let's go get some air!"

Perfect timing, I think. Now I can at least thank her at normal volume for inviting us to come. Shona and Lane follow us outside, where the cold drizzle is suddenly welcome and pleasant.

Zoe shows us the strip of photos she's rescued from the booth. Shona laughs as she peers at one of the shots. "Is that my drink?" she asks, pointing at a tumbler that takes up a good portion of the frame.

"Is that my nose?" Zoe asks in return, indicating a smudged shape right next to it. Then she points at my face, just visible toward the top. "You should keep these," she says, grinning. "Of all of us, you actually look cute in this one!"

I peek at the image and snort -- I'm bug-eyed, mouth open, mugging into the camera with hair sticking out in five directions. But it is spontaneous. I take the photo strip.

Shona checks her phone for the time. "I gotta go get the kids from the in-laws' soon," she says. "My husband's working the night shift on a barge."

"Seriously?" I say. "Crazy hours." We start talking about working night jobs, including my stint as a copy editor in Texas, which leads us to how D and I finally ended up together there after commuting to see each other during college and my first job teaching in New York. Zoe, a native of Queens, asks where I'd lived in Manhattan and we bemoan the rent increases from year to year. And suddenly, we are chatting, the stories running like water from the Lo-Fi rain pipe.

We gab our way through a quick half-hour, gradually getting chillier, but I don't mind shivering -- this is what I'd wanted all along. But couldn't you have gotten here without all that came before? the homebody in my head asks. I let the question go. Then D taps me on the shoulder. It's late for both of us.

"Glad you made it," Zoe says, and I can tell she's not just being polite.

"Me too," I say, thinking of the photos and grinning for once at captured chaos. "See you again soon."

*

I'm linking up with Just Write this week. For more stories and essays, click the button below!

5 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This was a great read, CT. As a fellow "hopeless homebody," my blood pressure rose for you as you entered the club. It's hard - isn't it? - to quiet our natures long enough to find the fun and the funny in something new? I'm glad you ended up finding both in your night out with Zoe & co. Here's to many more fun, funny evenings - at home and on the town.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen, I'm not supposed to be raising your blood pressure! :) But yes, it is hard, quieting our natures. If anything, it takes practice! And learning to see the opportunities, which I'd tended to ignore while I was up to my eyeballs in the thesis-that-wouldn't-end.

I still like curling up with the cat and a good book on a Saturday night, but I guess those evenings will always be there in some fashion, eh?

Emily Wierenga said...

wow, a fascinating and well-versed write! glad to find you here friend!

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks for visiting, Emily. The impulse to "just get it down" isn't something I listen to enough, but this week, the community encouragement gave me the motivation :)

Nitewriter said...

Sorry I'm late to the party :-) Lots going on and reading for fun takes a back seat. I loved reading this. It takes courage to step out of the comfort zone. Your experience is an inspiration. Thank you!

Posts by date

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A night at the Lo-Fi

On Saturday, it rains for the first time in 80 days, bringing an end to the Indian summer Seattle has held on to for weeks. In spite of the chill, though, I've put on a light cotton dress and the peep-toe slingbacks I've been wearing to swing dancing lessons with D. Tonight's adventure: Soul Night at the Lo-Fi, a self-advertised "performance gallery" whose reputation everywhere else on the web suggests a live-music dive club.

Zoe, a woman nearly my age whom I do volunteer editing and photography for each Friday at the Humane Society, has invited us to come out with her for this event. I have no idea what we're in for, but I figure it's a good opportunity to practice our new dance skills and get to know Zoe outside of work.

We arrive at a building whose front entrance is more board and graffiti than door, at least from what I can make out through a light drizzle and the smoke from the next-door bar patrons leaning against damp brick. Zoe is nowhere in sight, but a girl sporting a cherry-red dye job fading to pink catches the lost look on my face. "Lo-Fi's in there," she says with a grin, jerking her head toward the gaping entryway to her left. I text Zoe, hoping she's already inside.

"Getting liquid courage down the street if you want to join, be there in 10!" is the reply. Alcohol's out for me, so rather than waste time, D and I head straight in. It's only 10 p.m., but these days, I'm usually in bed before 12. Better to take advantage of our chance to dance while I've still got energy.

We know none of the music that the deejay is playing from real vinyl in the dim front room -- barely 25' by 25', 12' by 12' if you count only the space walled off for dancing. But the beat is familiar and I signal to D that it's good for triple swing, even if it's not swing music. Though it takes a moment for us to find our footing, we're soon rocking and twirling around the floor, the smell of baby powder rising from under our heels. "Zoe told me they sprinkle it on the boards!" I shout above the thumping bass.

The room's not nearly full yet, so we get in several good spins under the magenta lights as the details of the rest of the space slowly come to my attention. A dive it is: no seating except a single banquette at one end of the floor and a bar wedged into a corner near the entrance. It's loud and dark and hard not to trip on the ruts in the floor, but I'm happy on D's arm -- as long as we're dancing, I don't worry that I look totally out of place here, even if I feel that way. Even before we became parents-to-be, I was never a late-night club-goer.

Zoe, of course, doesn't know I'm a hopeless homebody, but I wonder if she'll figure that out this evening. I almost didn't want to come, but hers is the first invitation I've received from someone I've met on my own -- not through D -- to do something social since my move to Seattle three years ago. How did it take you so long to start making friends? I think, though I know the many answers. Thesis. Health problems. Working from home. And now, with this baby on the way, I'm facing yet another easy reason not to get out there. Is this what I'm going to give up for good in a few months, I wonder, the chance to hang out with people who still do things like this?

Suddenly Zoe's grabbing my arm, pulling me into a hug. I'm surprised and pleased -- we've never even shaken hands before, but obviously, the vibe at the animal shelter is far removed from the one here tonight. Zoe's also slightly tipsy, but only enough to get her loosened up. She takes me by the hand and all but hauls me toward a long, narrow hall at the back of the room that D and I have initially missed.

"Photo booth," Zoe says, pointing out the curtained machine at the end of the corridor, and then we're in a second room, larger than the first, but not by much. Two more deejays spin records on a raised platform while the crowd, three times as dense, bounces in close, sweaty approval. Zoe's husband of three months and two other women from the shelter emerge from the chaos -- Shona, who also works with Zoe, and Lane, who runs the volunteer program that got me involved at the Humane Society to begin with. We shout introductions all around as a couple wearing rubber horse-head masks squeezes by. They are the only people in costume, but no one finds it odd. Apparently, anything goes here.

Zoe gets down to the business of dancing right away, skinny arms flying in bold-print spandex sleeves. After a while, we take turns partnering up -- Zoe prefers to lead, so I gamely grab her shoulder -- and wiggle around as much as we can among the rest of the knees and elbows. D and I attempt a few moves and end up doing them in half-time for the safety of others, which cracks us both up. In the crush of bodies, we can do no more than step in place -- so much for practicing.

After an hour, I can feel myself beginning to wilt from the heat, but I don't want to leave yet. The group's completely at the mercy of the music and hasn't yet taken a break where we can -- what, chat? Where in this hole-in-the-wall could we do that? I'm starting to rethink my expectations of getting to know anyone on this night when I realize Zoe's waving me toward the photo booth. "Everybody in!" she insists, and suddenly I'm backed against her husband while chest to chest with Shona. I have no idea who is sitting behind us on the narrow bench and Zoe, wedged at the very front of this sardine can, is hollering for singles to feed the machine, which D hands through the curtain. He tries to poke his head in too but can't even get his nose past the burlap. At the first flash, we pose, if attempting to get somebody's -- anybody's -- face in frame can be called posing.

It's funny, but I'm not sure it's fun, the homebody in my head says. Shut up and just go with it, I tell her. We tumble out into the hall and wander back to the dance floor. Lane, purse over one shoulder, grabs my hand and I lead her for half a song before we break into a new configuration under the push and pull of the rest of the bodies around us.

Within twenty minutes, I know I'm fading for good -- I'm bouncing without actually picking up my feet and D can tell. He takes my hand and nods toward the exit. "Let me say goodbye to Zoe," I say. I try not to feel a little defeated. By what, I'm not totally sure: my body, my introverted tendencies, both? Whatever's keeping me from the joy of the moment.

Zoe sees me inching toward her and points at the door. "I'm too hot!" she says. "Let's go get some air!"

Perfect timing, I think. Now I can at least thank her at normal volume for inviting us to come. Shona and Lane follow us outside, where the cold drizzle is suddenly welcome and pleasant.

Zoe shows us the strip of photos she's rescued from the booth. Shona laughs as she peers at one of the shots. "Is that my drink?" she asks, pointing at a tumbler that takes up a good portion of the frame.

"Is that my nose?" Zoe asks in return, indicating a smudged shape right next to it. Then she points at my face, just visible toward the top. "You should keep these," she says, grinning. "Of all of us, you actually look cute in this one!"

I peek at the image and snort -- I'm bug-eyed, mouth open, mugging into the camera with hair sticking out in five directions. But it is spontaneous. I take the photo strip.

Shona checks her phone for the time. "I gotta go get the kids from the in-laws' soon," she says. "My husband's working the night shift on a barge."

"Seriously?" I say. "Crazy hours." We start talking about working night jobs, including my stint as a copy editor in Texas, which leads us to how D and I finally ended up together there after commuting to see each other during college and my first job teaching in New York. Zoe, a native of Queens, asks where I'd lived in Manhattan and we bemoan the rent increases from year to year. And suddenly, we are chatting, the stories running like water from the Lo-Fi rain pipe.

We gab our way through a quick half-hour, gradually getting chillier, but I don't mind shivering -- this is what I'd wanted all along. But couldn't you have gotten here without all that came before? the homebody in my head asks. I let the question go. Then D taps me on the shoulder. It's late for both of us.

"Glad you made it," Zoe says, and I can tell she's not just being polite.

"Me too," I say, thinking of the photos and grinning for once at captured chaos. "See you again soon."

*

I'm linking up with Just Write this week. For more stories and essays, click the button below!

5 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This was a great read, CT. As a fellow "hopeless homebody," my blood pressure rose for you as you entered the club. It's hard - isn't it? - to quiet our natures long enough to find the fun and the funny in something new? I'm glad you ended up finding both in your night out with Zoe & co. Here's to many more fun, funny evenings - at home and on the town.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen, I'm not supposed to be raising your blood pressure! :) But yes, it is hard, quieting our natures. If anything, it takes practice! And learning to see the opportunities, which I'd tended to ignore while I was up to my eyeballs in the thesis-that-wouldn't-end.

I still like curling up with the cat and a good book on a Saturday night, but I guess those evenings will always be there in some fashion, eh?

Emily Wierenga said...

wow, a fascinating and well-versed write! glad to find you here friend!

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks for visiting, Emily. The impulse to "just get it down" isn't something I listen to enough, but this week, the community encouragement gave me the motivation :)

Nitewriter said...

Sorry I'm late to the party :-) Lots going on and reading for fun takes a back seat. I loved reading this. It takes courage to step out of the comfort zone. Your experience is an inspiration. Thank you!