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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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's not nesting if it involves fleas

At nearly 11 p.m. on Saturday, when 30-somethings without kids are likely out and 30-somethings with kids are likely out cold, I'm holding a one-quart Pyrex measuring cup full of borax powder, swinging it like a censer over the living room carpet. The cat is upstairs in the laundry room, crying to be let out, but as long as the floors are coated in this fine, white dust that I'm counting on for salvation, my will isn't bending on that score.

It has been six days since the discovery of flea "dirt" -- the blood meal that fleas excrete like little pepper grains -- in our cat's coat, and seven since our vacuum happened to break down. Impeccable timing. While we're fortunate to have caught the problem very early -- our indoor-only cat almost certainly picked up the fleas from an indoor-outdoor cat whose house she shared while we were traveling over Christmas -- I'm still kicking myself for not having the vet treat her on a preventive level, knowing the risks of boarding her with D's friend, the owner. Never mind that said owner failed to mention that he suspected his cat's flea treatments hadn't been working. I try not to think about what we could have done differently and concentrate on getting the borax distributed evenly over the carpet. And here I was a week ago, just hoping to get the vacuum repaired in time to do a once-over on the house before this baby's arrival.

Would I call that pre-flea impulse nesting? Not really. That instinct everybody keeps asking me about is there, but only so far as the preservation of future sanity goes. Of course I want to get the baby room furniture assembled; the baby laundry washed and folded; the extra meals cooked, labeled, and frozen -- so I won't have to do it once the baby is here. But no, I'm not scrambling to organize my sock drawer by brand and color or alphabetize the spice cabinet.

In the name of making more space, I would love to purge our closets of clothes we haven't worn in several years, books from long-finished college classes that we haven't been able to resell, electronics that are obsolete enough to be laughed off Craigslist. While we've gone as minimal and practical as possible in deciding what we truly need or wish to have for this tiny person, who promises to outgrow it all quickly enough, the sheer volume of what other well-meaning friends have been sending us in the last few weeks is beginning to threaten our storage capacity. Or at least the limits I currently believe in maintaining -- yes, there is always a way to make room, but is that really a practice I want to embrace without reservations when this child will be accumulating things wherever we are for the next 18 years?

These thoughts scroll through my mind as I swing the glass back and forth, back and forth, over the room D has helped me clear of all furniture except the couches. The next morning, I will vacuum with our freshly serviced vacuum, hoping that the borax will have desiccated any eggs or fleas overnight. It's not the kind of purge I envisioned, but the irony of it is almost funny. Not funny enough, though, to keep me from asking why this now, of all things?

I finish dusting the carpet, set the heavy glass on the stairs, and massage my aching hand. It's advisable to work the borax into the deeper fibers, so I make a slow circuit of the room in blue running shoes turned gray from their coating of powder. The cat mumbles to herself upstairs, giving up on me for the night, and it's finally quiet. I've been lucky not to have the raging insomnia so many women have told me is part and parcel of the third trimester, but I am on this evening a little too overcharged to want sleep -- I'd just welcome the chance to sit. Still, the room goes on, suddenly much larger as I make myself side-step, ankle to ankle, around the perimeter, working my way back toward the stairs.

Just let this be done, I think, tempted to turn my methodical pacing into a mad grapevine. There are too many other things I'd rather be doing to prepare not just our home but my state of mind for this baby. But to give in to that desire -- to give up my controlled march so I can get some control back elsewhere -- is the paradoxical opposite of surrender. Maintaining this slow dance is the very act of yielding that I know I'm terrible at. And I'm about to bring into the world a little being who will need me to do just that -- ignore the closets, the old books and electronics, and the mental space they occupy.

So I traverse the room, step by step, carrying us both across the powdery landscape I've committed to tamping down. And I tell myself that nesting for me may be clearing out the detritus of old lives. But only so that I can take on this new one.

*

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

14 comments:

Nitewriter said...

Oh yuck! We did the same thing several months ago. The vet gave the dogs a med that is one pill that kills fleas on the dogs immediately. Did that and put the flea preventative on them. Also got some stuff in PetSmart to spray on furniture and animal beds (it's non-toxic) and it kills fleas on contact. Then we shook the bedding outside and vacuumed inside. Once more swipe of the spray the next day and another vacuum and all was done.

If it happens again, check for the spray that kills on contact. It's a lot easier doing that several times (to get all the eggs too).

Good luck -- fleas are awful.

C. Troubadour said...

We suspected the presence of fleas so early (within 2-3 weeks of exposure) that the vet didn't think a spray was necessary -- just a thorough vacuuming of floors and furniture. The borax was optional, but I wasn't going to take any risks. We'll definitely remember your spray recommendation should we continue to see evidence of a problem! Kitty's got her meds on board now and will be treated monthly for the next three months at least. We'll also vacuum at least once a week during that time (even with a baby, I know ...). What was the brand of product you got from PetSmart?

BigLittleWolf said...

Not to worry. When that little being comes into the world, those things you need to yield you will yield, short of having wait staff to take care of those tasks for you!

And by Child #2, all the things you torture yourself over on Child #1 seem very very small indeed. It's part of the process...

Good Enough Woman said...

Us, too! Kitty started scootching her butt a couple of days ago! Actually, it was while reading your post that everything clicked for me. Not only do we have fleas, but she has worms! Ick! Now I need to get the fleas meds, the worm pills, and get to work on the carpets and house. Sigh.

So Borax is a good method? I've got some in the laundry room. Might look for the non-toxic spray that Nitewriter mentioned, especially for the cat tower.

I think our housesitter brought her dog over, and the doggie brought in fleas. Bleck.

So glad they are unlikely to carry the plague these days. Whenever I'm reading early modern texts or even a recently written history fiction book written in plague times, I just want to yell, "Not the blankets! Don't use the blankets!!!"

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, and good luck to you with your pre-baby pest removal, CT!

KChripczuk said...

It was funny to me, when pregnant with our first, how my due date became a literal "due date" fro nearly everything I'd ever hoped to get done before having kids. There was a lot that got left undone and three more kids later, there's more and more that get's yeilded.
Good luck with the fleas, we had them a couple of times and it freaked me out so to find them on my kids (because they crawled so on the carpet). No pets now means no fleas. Visiting from Just Write.

Nitewriter said...

By the time the kids get to school, you'll wonder which is worse, lice or fleas! LOL

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- wait staff, ha! :) And yes, I'm sure what we wonder about with the first baby will feel much less consequential with the second. But only because the first will have prepared us!

GEW -- OH NO. I am SO sorry to hear about your fleas. (Glad I could be of help ... ?). Yes, borax was what the vet recommended if we really wanted to be thorough, given that we weren't looking at an infestation. How long ago did the house sitter have the dog at the house? One flea cycle is about 2 weeks; so if it's been more than that, you'll definitely want to use the borax and not just vacuum. I got some guidelines on application from this site. Vacuuming tips and general flea exposure management were helpful on this site and this site. As for pet meds, our vet recommended Revolution, which kills not just fleas but also worms (in case the fleas our kitty got were indeed carriers). They'd been using Advantage but found it ineffective in our particular area. Let me know if you have any questions at all; I'm happy to share tips!

KChripczuk -- thank you. I agree, the idea of a due date for everything you think you want to accomplish before that first baby arrives is very apt at the moment! There was that book manuscript I was working on, the places we wanted to travel to ... the list could go on and on. Which is why we knew we couldn't keep putting off starting our family. There will always be something.

Nitewriter -- I totally overheard a parent at Target yesterday looking for a lice killing kit while I was grabbing more borax. I gave him a wide berth. No sense compounding our problems further ... ! By the way, I checked out PetSmart's site and they had several spray options. Which one did you use?

Nitewriter said...

Gosh between the dog beds, sofa, chairs, and floors, I used it all up and I haven't a clue what it was. I do remember that I asked the lady who worked there. They had like four different sprays and all were non-toxic. We vacuumed the floor and did the furniture as good as we could. The dog beds? We just took them outside and shook them out. I do recall that we used a very light spray that was dry in about 30 minutes. Wish I could be more help.

TKW said...

Fuckity fuck! That's not fun, not fun at all. Reminds me of my bedbug incident. Ick!

C. Troubadour said...

Kitch, I totally thought of you and the bedbugs while I was doing my umpteenth load of laundry. You and I, we take no prisoners! (Though at the moment, the cat is squalling to be let out of her quarantine space while I borax the last of some spot-wash-only seat cushions I'd rather she didn't get her paws on -- borax isn't good for pets. I imagine you can relate to the feline ruckus ...)

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Oh, yuck, that's the last thing you need right now! We are a pet-free house, but had a bad flea infestation after some overnight guests and their dogs left us with a very unpleasant parting gift. The borax solution seemed to work well enough upstairs, but we eventually had to call an exterminator for the room where they stayed - which happens to be our office. I still shudder at the memory of looking down one day to see those little creatures leaping onto my socks.

God speed with the eco-friendly extermination efforts! xo

C. Troubadour said...

What a nightmare in your home office, Kristen! (And those poor dogs must have been so uncomfortable if they only stayed one night and left such an infestation behind.) I hope we don't need to get an exterminator. Fortunately, I haven't seen evidence of live pests yet. And we'll do our best to keep it that way -- but if we end up going the route you had to follow, I'll ask for your recommendations on what kind of treatment to search for in our area.

Pamela Hunt Cloyd said...

Oh yikes. We had that trouble before. NO FUN!! Good luck:)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's not nesting if it involves fleas

At nearly 11 p.m. on Saturday, when 30-somethings without kids are likely out and 30-somethings with kids are likely out cold, I'm holding a one-quart Pyrex measuring cup full of borax powder, swinging it like a censer over the living room carpet. The cat is upstairs in the laundry room, crying to be let out, but as long as the floors are coated in this fine, white dust that I'm counting on for salvation, my will isn't bending on that score.

It has been six days since the discovery of flea "dirt" -- the blood meal that fleas excrete like little pepper grains -- in our cat's coat, and seven since our vacuum happened to break down. Impeccable timing. While we're fortunate to have caught the problem very early -- our indoor-only cat almost certainly picked up the fleas from an indoor-outdoor cat whose house she shared while we were traveling over Christmas -- I'm still kicking myself for not having the vet treat her on a preventive level, knowing the risks of boarding her with D's friend, the owner. Never mind that said owner failed to mention that he suspected his cat's flea treatments hadn't been working. I try not to think about what we could have done differently and concentrate on getting the borax distributed evenly over the carpet. And here I was a week ago, just hoping to get the vacuum repaired in time to do a once-over on the house before this baby's arrival.

Would I call that pre-flea impulse nesting? Not really. That instinct everybody keeps asking me about is there, but only so far as the preservation of future sanity goes. Of course I want to get the baby room furniture assembled; the baby laundry washed and folded; the extra meals cooked, labeled, and frozen -- so I won't have to do it once the baby is here. But no, I'm not scrambling to organize my sock drawer by brand and color or alphabetize the spice cabinet.

In the name of making more space, I would love to purge our closets of clothes we haven't worn in several years, books from long-finished college classes that we haven't been able to resell, electronics that are obsolete enough to be laughed off Craigslist. While we've gone as minimal and practical as possible in deciding what we truly need or wish to have for this tiny person, who promises to outgrow it all quickly enough, the sheer volume of what other well-meaning friends have been sending us in the last few weeks is beginning to threaten our storage capacity. Or at least the limits I currently believe in maintaining -- yes, there is always a way to make room, but is that really a practice I want to embrace without reservations when this child will be accumulating things wherever we are for the next 18 years?

These thoughts scroll through my mind as I swing the glass back and forth, back and forth, over the room D has helped me clear of all furniture except the couches. The next morning, I will vacuum with our freshly serviced vacuum, hoping that the borax will have desiccated any eggs or fleas overnight. It's not the kind of purge I envisioned, but the irony of it is almost funny. Not funny enough, though, to keep me from asking why this now, of all things?

I finish dusting the carpet, set the heavy glass on the stairs, and massage my aching hand. It's advisable to work the borax into the deeper fibers, so I make a slow circuit of the room in blue running shoes turned gray from their coating of powder. The cat mumbles to herself upstairs, giving up on me for the night, and it's finally quiet. I've been lucky not to have the raging insomnia so many women have told me is part and parcel of the third trimester, but I am on this evening a little too overcharged to want sleep -- I'd just welcome the chance to sit. Still, the room goes on, suddenly much larger as I make myself side-step, ankle to ankle, around the perimeter, working my way back toward the stairs.

Just let this be done, I think, tempted to turn my methodical pacing into a mad grapevine. There are too many other things I'd rather be doing to prepare not just our home but my state of mind for this baby. But to give in to that desire -- to give up my controlled march so I can get some control back elsewhere -- is the paradoxical opposite of surrender. Maintaining this slow dance is the very act of yielding that I know I'm terrible at. And I'm about to bring into the world a little being who will need me to do just that -- ignore the closets, the old books and electronics, and the mental space they occupy.

So I traverse the room, step by step, carrying us both across the powdery landscape I've committed to tamping down. And I tell myself that nesting for me may be clearing out the detritus of old lives. But only so that I can take on this new one.

*

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

14 comments:

Nitewriter said...

Oh yuck! We did the same thing several months ago. The vet gave the dogs a med that is one pill that kills fleas on the dogs immediately. Did that and put the flea preventative on them. Also got some stuff in PetSmart to spray on furniture and animal beds (it's non-toxic) and it kills fleas on contact. Then we shook the bedding outside and vacuumed inside. Once more swipe of the spray the next day and another vacuum and all was done.

If it happens again, check for the spray that kills on contact. It's a lot easier doing that several times (to get all the eggs too).

Good luck -- fleas are awful.

C. Troubadour said...

We suspected the presence of fleas so early (within 2-3 weeks of exposure) that the vet didn't think a spray was necessary -- just a thorough vacuuming of floors and furniture. The borax was optional, but I wasn't going to take any risks. We'll definitely remember your spray recommendation should we continue to see evidence of a problem! Kitty's got her meds on board now and will be treated monthly for the next three months at least. We'll also vacuum at least once a week during that time (even with a baby, I know ...). What was the brand of product you got from PetSmart?

BigLittleWolf said...

Not to worry. When that little being comes into the world, those things you need to yield you will yield, short of having wait staff to take care of those tasks for you!

And by Child #2, all the things you torture yourself over on Child #1 seem very very small indeed. It's part of the process...

Good Enough Woman said...

Us, too! Kitty started scootching her butt a couple of days ago! Actually, it was while reading your post that everything clicked for me. Not only do we have fleas, but she has worms! Ick! Now I need to get the fleas meds, the worm pills, and get to work on the carpets and house. Sigh.

So Borax is a good method? I've got some in the laundry room. Might look for the non-toxic spray that Nitewriter mentioned, especially for the cat tower.

I think our housesitter brought her dog over, and the doggie brought in fleas. Bleck.

So glad they are unlikely to carry the plague these days. Whenever I'm reading early modern texts or even a recently written history fiction book written in plague times, I just want to yell, "Not the blankets! Don't use the blankets!!!"

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, and good luck to you with your pre-baby pest removal, CT!

KChripczuk said...

It was funny to me, when pregnant with our first, how my due date became a literal "due date" fro nearly everything I'd ever hoped to get done before having kids. There was a lot that got left undone and three more kids later, there's more and more that get's yeilded.
Good luck with the fleas, we had them a couple of times and it freaked me out so to find them on my kids (because they crawled so on the carpet). No pets now means no fleas. Visiting from Just Write.

Nitewriter said...

By the time the kids get to school, you'll wonder which is worse, lice or fleas! LOL

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- wait staff, ha! :) And yes, I'm sure what we wonder about with the first baby will feel much less consequential with the second. But only because the first will have prepared us!

GEW -- OH NO. I am SO sorry to hear about your fleas. (Glad I could be of help ... ?). Yes, borax was what the vet recommended if we really wanted to be thorough, given that we weren't looking at an infestation. How long ago did the house sitter have the dog at the house? One flea cycle is about 2 weeks; so if it's been more than that, you'll definitely want to use the borax and not just vacuum. I got some guidelines on application from this site. Vacuuming tips and general flea exposure management were helpful on this site and this site. As for pet meds, our vet recommended Revolution, which kills not just fleas but also worms (in case the fleas our kitty got were indeed carriers). They'd been using Advantage but found it ineffective in our particular area. Let me know if you have any questions at all; I'm happy to share tips!

KChripczuk -- thank you. I agree, the idea of a due date for everything you think you want to accomplish before that first baby arrives is very apt at the moment! There was that book manuscript I was working on, the places we wanted to travel to ... the list could go on and on. Which is why we knew we couldn't keep putting off starting our family. There will always be something.

Nitewriter -- I totally overheard a parent at Target yesterday looking for a lice killing kit while I was grabbing more borax. I gave him a wide berth. No sense compounding our problems further ... ! By the way, I checked out PetSmart's site and they had several spray options. Which one did you use?

Nitewriter said...

Gosh between the dog beds, sofa, chairs, and floors, I used it all up and I haven't a clue what it was. I do remember that I asked the lady who worked there. They had like four different sprays and all were non-toxic. We vacuumed the floor and did the furniture as good as we could. The dog beds? We just took them outside and shook them out. I do recall that we used a very light spray that was dry in about 30 minutes. Wish I could be more help.

TKW said...

Fuckity fuck! That's not fun, not fun at all. Reminds me of my bedbug incident. Ick!

C. Troubadour said...

Kitch, I totally thought of you and the bedbugs while I was doing my umpteenth load of laundry. You and I, we take no prisoners! (Though at the moment, the cat is squalling to be let out of her quarantine space while I borax the last of some spot-wash-only seat cushions I'd rather she didn't get her paws on -- borax isn't good for pets. I imagine you can relate to the feline ruckus ...)

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Oh, yuck, that's the last thing you need right now! We are a pet-free house, but had a bad flea infestation after some overnight guests and their dogs left us with a very unpleasant parting gift. The borax solution seemed to work well enough upstairs, but we eventually had to call an exterminator for the room where they stayed - which happens to be our office. I still shudder at the memory of looking down one day to see those little creatures leaping onto my socks.

God speed with the eco-friendly extermination efforts! xo

C. Troubadour said...

What a nightmare in your home office, Kristen! (And those poor dogs must have been so uncomfortable if they only stayed one night and left such an infestation behind.) I hope we don't need to get an exterminator. Fortunately, I haven't seen evidence of live pests yet. And we'll do our best to keep it that way -- but if we end up going the route you had to follow, I'll ask for your recommendations on what kind of treatment to search for in our area.

Pamela Hunt Cloyd said...

Oh yikes. We had that trouble before. NO FUN!! Good luck:)