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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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Positive

It is one year from the day the pregnancy test comes back with a YES+ on its little liquid crystal screen, and we are not, as I'd been planning, about to get on a plane to Florida.

To clarify -- I didn't decide upon learning we were going to be parents that I wanted to observe the first anniversary of said news by hitting the beach. It is sheer luck that on the morning before our trip, I happen to be scrolling through the pictures of O. on my phone, looking for a recent one to e-mail to a friend while I wait for the breast pump to do its business. I notice how long the photo stream has gotten, images predating even the Great Elimination Diet of 2011. Time to clear out the clutter. But then the picture of that YES+ flashes by and I pause. One year tomorrow.

I remember taking the picture, not out of sentiment but out of a need for proof. I knew the battery in that digital dipstick would die long before I'd believe that we were really and truly going to be a family of three, so I snapped the shot and filed it away like a secret. During that shaky first trimester, I let it whisper its promise to me when I worried O. wasn't going to make it. Yes, it's real. Yes, you can handle this. Not just yes, but YES+ you will get through whatever may come.

One year later, I'm making a mental game plan on how to space out the pumpings en route to Troubadour Dad's destination birthday celebration so I don't completely drain the pump battery before I can find a wall socket on our layovers. Life before O. is practically unrecognizable.

I notice the text message from my mother after I've finally chosen a picture to send: "You need to call me right away if u can." I brush aside my momentary irritation with the random shorthand pronoun in the otherwise normally typed sentence. What's this about? I tap the phone's screen to dial my mother's cell. Dread mixes with the feeling of hunger in my gut. I'm always hungry these days. But the thought of granola and coffee (quarter caf) slips down the list of priorities as I wonder if something has happened to my father.

There is no reason to expect such a thing today. But the alarming lack of detail in the message leaves me fearing the worst. You don't text someone the news that a loved one has suddenly taken ill or become victim to some other misfortune -- you call. But we're two time zones apart, and it's barely 7 a.m. in Seattle. I imagine my mother, worried about waking us up but also trying to manage whatever it is that's so serious it can't be conveyed in writing. I wait for the first ring at the end of the line in Texas, eyes scanning the half-packed feeding supplies on the kitchen island. Disassembled bottles and nipples and cleaning supplies wait to be sorted into various carry-ons. I'm hoping they'll all fit. But is my father all right? Was there some kind of accident? Stroke or heart attack?

No -- just a wannabe hurricane raining on his birthday plans.

I'm simultaneously relieved to get this news from my mother and thoroughly exasperated. Couldn't you have just followed up your message with something along the lines of "change in travel plans"? I think to myself. I check the time on the text. It was sent a half-hour before I received it. Plenty of opportunity to add some clarification.

We chat about Tropical Storm Andrea while I make the coffee and toss oats, nuts, a dash of oil, and lots of cinnamon into a bowl. I stick the works in the microwave on half power, fingers flying over the buttons on autopilot. My mother wants to reroute everyone to another destination so we can at least observe my father's birthday as intended. It won't be the same, of course -- my father's been looking forward to heading out with the same sea captain he's been fishing with almost yearly since I was in high school -- but it's the gathering of the clan my father wants more than anything else. And even I can't say no to him, despite all instincts screaming otherwise. O.'s feeding problems make it nearly impossible to get five miles from the house, much less three thousand.

"Yes, I'll take a look at the options," I say to my mother. "Yes, I'll get back to you when I have more information."

Yes, yes, YES+. I have to laugh at the message in that photo, tossed into this alternate context. In truth, I'm not sure which gears to shift to make a new plan work at this stage of the game. It's certainly magical thinking on my mother's part that we'll be able to find affordable tickets, but having strategized on the level of a military maneuver to get O., the pump, and me to Florida and back, I'm not about to pull out of trip-prep mode until we are sure there's no way to convene, whatever the new location. Chez Dr. Sis and Marketing Sis in Boston? My parents' place in Texas?

I'm not an optimist by nature, and if I ever was one, the events of the last three months have certainly had their chance to turn me. It's less crazy-making to consider what might go wrong with O. and plan accordingly than to tell yourself the other shoe has dropped already and to stop worrying, to expect some kind of relief.

But it could always be worse. At every stage of the game when things have gotten worse, I've reminded myself that I should have been grateful for what was working. Maybe this is why I still believe we're going to get on that plane to somewhere the next day. I still have my plan -- it just needs some tweaking to accommodate a new destination.

*

I'm linking up today with Mama Kat's weekly Writer's Workshop. Check out more stories and essays by clicking the button below!

Mama’s Losin’ It

5 comments:

Sharone said...

This is one of my very favorite things. :)

loveeachstep.com said...

Sometimes it is hard to live in the moment and believe that these sudden changes that crop up here and there are really all part of the plan! Lovely post. Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

C. Troubadour said...

Sharone -- awwwww. That makes me feel better about this post. I fought it in places to get what I meant to actually make sense. But workshops are good for making me hit publish!

Love Each Step -- welcome, and thank you for visiting! It is hard to live in the moment. I'm learning quickly, though, now that moments are sometimes the only measure of time I get in a single day! Which I suspect you understand well as a mom :).

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Loved this post, CT. I was right there with you, feeling simultaneously annoyed and nervous about your mom's text and still, five-and-a-half years into this motherhood gig, needing to channel a little more YES+ into my life.

I hope you were all able to get together for your dad's birthday and that you - and the breast pump's batteries - made it through the trip unscathed.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen -- thanks. And what a gig it is! YES+ is so elusive sometimes. I have to channel it consciously, which takes muscles I'm not used to using, it seems. Hopefully, practice will make it more habitual ...

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Positive

It is one year from the day the pregnancy test comes back with a YES+ on its little liquid crystal screen, and we are not, as I'd been planning, about to get on a plane to Florida.

To clarify -- I didn't decide upon learning we were going to be parents that I wanted to observe the first anniversary of said news by hitting the beach. It is sheer luck that on the morning before our trip, I happen to be scrolling through the pictures of O. on my phone, looking for a recent one to e-mail to a friend while I wait for the breast pump to do its business. I notice how long the photo stream has gotten, images predating even the Great Elimination Diet of 2011. Time to clear out the clutter. But then the picture of that YES+ flashes by and I pause. One year tomorrow.

I remember taking the picture, not out of sentiment but out of a need for proof. I knew the battery in that digital dipstick would die long before I'd believe that we were really and truly going to be a family of three, so I snapped the shot and filed it away like a secret. During that shaky first trimester, I let it whisper its promise to me when I worried O. wasn't going to make it. Yes, it's real. Yes, you can handle this. Not just yes, but YES+ you will get through whatever may come.

One year later, I'm making a mental game plan on how to space out the pumpings en route to Troubadour Dad's destination birthday celebration so I don't completely drain the pump battery before I can find a wall socket on our layovers. Life before O. is practically unrecognizable.

I notice the text message from my mother after I've finally chosen a picture to send: "You need to call me right away if u can." I brush aside my momentary irritation with the random shorthand pronoun in the otherwise normally typed sentence. What's this about? I tap the phone's screen to dial my mother's cell. Dread mixes with the feeling of hunger in my gut. I'm always hungry these days. But the thought of granola and coffee (quarter caf) slips down the list of priorities as I wonder if something has happened to my father.

There is no reason to expect such a thing today. But the alarming lack of detail in the message leaves me fearing the worst. You don't text someone the news that a loved one has suddenly taken ill or become victim to some other misfortune -- you call. But we're two time zones apart, and it's barely 7 a.m. in Seattle. I imagine my mother, worried about waking us up but also trying to manage whatever it is that's so serious it can't be conveyed in writing. I wait for the first ring at the end of the line in Texas, eyes scanning the half-packed feeding supplies on the kitchen island. Disassembled bottles and nipples and cleaning supplies wait to be sorted into various carry-ons. I'm hoping they'll all fit. But is my father all right? Was there some kind of accident? Stroke or heart attack?

No -- just a wannabe hurricane raining on his birthday plans.

I'm simultaneously relieved to get this news from my mother and thoroughly exasperated. Couldn't you have just followed up your message with something along the lines of "change in travel plans"? I think to myself. I check the time on the text. It was sent a half-hour before I received it. Plenty of opportunity to add some clarification.

We chat about Tropical Storm Andrea while I make the coffee and toss oats, nuts, a dash of oil, and lots of cinnamon into a bowl. I stick the works in the microwave on half power, fingers flying over the buttons on autopilot. My mother wants to reroute everyone to another destination so we can at least observe my father's birthday as intended. It won't be the same, of course -- my father's been looking forward to heading out with the same sea captain he's been fishing with almost yearly since I was in high school -- but it's the gathering of the clan my father wants more than anything else. And even I can't say no to him, despite all instincts screaming otherwise. O.'s feeding problems make it nearly impossible to get five miles from the house, much less three thousand.

"Yes, I'll take a look at the options," I say to my mother. "Yes, I'll get back to you when I have more information."

Yes, yes, YES+. I have to laugh at the message in that photo, tossed into this alternate context. In truth, I'm not sure which gears to shift to make a new plan work at this stage of the game. It's certainly magical thinking on my mother's part that we'll be able to find affordable tickets, but having strategized on the level of a military maneuver to get O., the pump, and me to Florida and back, I'm not about to pull out of trip-prep mode until we are sure there's no way to convene, whatever the new location. Chez Dr. Sis and Marketing Sis in Boston? My parents' place in Texas?

I'm not an optimist by nature, and if I ever was one, the events of the last three months have certainly had their chance to turn me. It's less crazy-making to consider what might go wrong with O. and plan accordingly than to tell yourself the other shoe has dropped already and to stop worrying, to expect some kind of relief.

But it could always be worse. At every stage of the game when things have gotten worse, I've reminded myself that I should have been grateful for what was working. Maybe this is why I still believe we're going to get on that plane to somewhere the next day. I still have my plan -- it just needs some tweaking to accommodate a new destination.

*

I'm linking up today with Mama Kat's weekly Writer's Workshop. Check out more stories and essays by clicking the button below!

Mama’s Losin’ It

5 comments:

Sharone said...

This is one of my very favorite things. :)

loveeachstep.com said...

Sometimes it is hard to live in the moment and believe that these sudden changes that crop up here and there are really all part of the plan! Lovely post. Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

C. Troubadour said...

Sharone -- awwwww. That makes me feel better about this post. I fought it in places to get what I meant to actually make sense. But workshops are good for making me hit publish!

Love Each Step -- welcome, and thank you for visiting! It is hard to live in the moment. I'm learning quickly, though, now that moments are sometimes the only measure of time I get in a single day! Which I suspect you understand well as a mom :).

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Loved this post, CT. I was right there with you, feeling simultaneously annoyed and nervous about your mom's text and still, five-and-a-half years into this motherhood gig, needing to channel a little more YES+ into my life.

I hope you were all able to get together for your dad's birthday and that you - and the breast pump's batteries - made it through the trip unscathed.

C. Troubadour said...

Kristen -- thanks. And what a gig it is! YES+ is so elusive sometimes. I have to channel it consciously, which takes muscles I'm not used to using, it seems. Hopefully, practice will make it more habitual ...