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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, February 18, 2014

Sick day

O. wakes early from his morning nap, screaming in uncharacteristic distress. It's an hour from his usual rousing time, and from the sound of his cries, punctuated with coughs and splutters, I can tell he's as congested as I am. We've both been fighting a head cold since the end of last week, and so far, there's no sign of relief.

I abandon the hope of getting any writing done -- the essay that's been sitting idle for two weeks, the kernel of another that needs me to put notes on paper now, lest the shape of the ideas erode like sand sculptures in high tide. My head feels underwater anyway.

I usually eat a fast lunch before O. is ready to be fed, but his shrieks tell me he won't wait today. So I collect him from his crib. He doesn't realize I've picked him up -- he writhes and sobs and throws his head back, choking in between attempts to register his complaints. I press my cheek to his, damp and chapped by the work of his fingernails. No change. Only after we come to the stair landing, bathed in the flat light of a gray day, does he take note that he's been rescued. He looks at me, reproach in his bleary gaze, and hides his face in my chest as if the world is too much to bear.

I bring him to his favorite toy in the living room, a tower of plastic stacking doughnuts, and set him down. He grabs them right away and accepts this consolation. But as soon as I make tracks for the kitchen, he bursts into tears again. There will be no leaving him alone, it seems.

I try the high chair, but O.'s crying goes from aggrieved to furious, especially when I try to clean his dripping nose. He's relieved, though, to be strapped into the wearable carrier. From there, he watches me manipulate knife, fork and leftover pork chops for five minutes. I haven't eaten this way since he was only a few weeks old. The memory of that same furrowed brow nestled against my chest pulls at my heart -- O. turned one earlier this month. He is no longer a baby, but a toddler who is rarely content to be still. I've missed being able just to hold him, I realize, letting my chin rest on his dark hair. Though I wouldn't trade O.'s usual wiggly, giggly cheer for the cranky cuddler he's been today.

Still wearing him, I assess the leftovers in the fridge, none of which pique my interest. It's a mug cake day, I decide, and throw together cocoa, flour, and applesauce as O. begins to wriggle. "Hungry, little man?" I ask. He's not pleased to be put back in his high chair, but he's recovered enough to be distracted with cubes of avocado while I eat. Despite my stuffiness, I can still taste the dark chocolate, warm and just sweet enough on my tongue to soften my own edges. O. licks his fingers and I, my spoon -- at last, I can take a breath.

A hot drink beckons. And O.'s having no more of anything that holds him down, so I pop a bag of orange-spiced tea into the microwave and take him into the living room again to play. This time, the plastic doughnuts are only marginally more interesting. I manage to step away when the tea is done without O. protesting, though he notes my activities with an owlish glance. If he had spectacles, I think to myself, he'd be peering over them with disapproval.

I reach to set the mug on the half-wall behind the sofa, where it'll be out of his reach -- he's gotten so tall that the usual places on the end tables are no longer safe -- but it tips. In one bobble, the contents spill over cushions and carpet and now I'm ready for a cry. There's no way O. will let me address the mess in his current mood, but I can't leave it to stain. With a long sigh, I scoop him up in one arm and gather cleaning rags and soap in the other.

Of course, O. fusses when I put him back on the living room floor. By now I've steeled myself to ignore the tantrum I suspect is inevitable -- I'm out of tricks to redirect his focus, at least while I'm unable to attend to him directly. But as I tug on the arms of the sofa to work it away from the wall, curiosity overtakes O.'s dismay. He pads nearer to observe as I blot with the rags, pulling a cushion aside to get at the wettest parts.

This won't last, I think, as I climb over the seat back to assess the damage to the carpet. As soon as I kneel out of sight, he'll start up again. Just get it over with, I tell myself, and bend down in acceptance.

And then I hear a hoot of excitement. Followed by the scramble of hands and knees and the creak of sofa springs -- O. has climbed onto the seat frame, now low enough without the cushion for him to negotiate. He peers over the sofa back at me, thrilled by his accomplishment. Suddenly, he's all dimpled smiles and giggles of delight.

"So that's what you needed, huh?" I say, returning the smile, though mine is wry. He bounces and slaps the damp seat back, then, with some calculation, crawls to the edge of the frame. Before I can stop him, he lunges for the floor, landing face first in the cushion turned tumbling mat. He laughs at the novelty of it all, clambering back up to do it again.

I'll take it, I think, and I bend again to the task at hand.

*

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

4 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. When the mug tipped? Oh my goodness, I could feel the despair. But if we apply the "philosophic mind" to O's response, we really get something, don't we?

Oh perhaps I've just been reading too much Wordsworth for class.

I hope you both feel better soon!

C. Troubadour said...

Wordsworth or not, the "philosophic mind" is something we've definitely been employing over here to make the harder days less so!

Thankfully, the head cold's taken it's leave :)

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This is terrific, CT. The details bring me right into your scene and I could picture it as though it was happening to me, in my home, with one of my kids a few years ago. I hope by now you are both long recovered from your colds.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! We're happily back to our healthier selves. Though mug cakes are still in more frequent use than is probably considered part of a balanced diet ...

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sick day

O. wakes early from his morning nap, screaming in uncharacteristic distress. It's an hour from his usual rousing time, and from the sound of his cries, punctuated with coughs and splutters, I can tell he's as congested as I am. We've both been fighting a head cold since the end of last week, and so far, there's no sign of relief.

I abandon the hope of getting any writing done -- the essay that's been sitting idle for two weeks, the kernel of another that needs me to put notes on paper now, lest the shape of the ideas erode like sand sculptures in high tide. My head feels underwater anyway.

I usually eat a fast lunch before O. is ready to be fed, but his shrieks tell me he won't wait today. So I collect him from his crib. He doesn't realize I've picked him up -- he writhes and sobs and throws his head back, choking in between attempts to register his complaints. I press my cheek to his, damp and chapped by the work of his fingernails. No change. Only after we come to the stair landing, bathed in the flat light of a gray day, does he take note that he's been rescued. He looks at me, reproach in his bleary gaze, and hides his face in my chest as if the world is too much to bear.

I bring him to his favorite toy in the living room, a tower of plastic stacking doughnuts, and set him down. He grabs them right away and accepts this consolation. But as soon as I make tracks for the kitchen, he bursts into tears again. There will be no leaving him alone, it seems.

I try the high chair, but O.'s crying goes from aggrieved to furious, especially when I try to clean his dripping nose. He's relieved, though, to be strapped into the wearable carrier. From there, he watches me manipulate knife, fork and leftover pork chops for five minutes. I haven't eaten this way since he was only a few weeks old. The memory of that same furrowed brow nestled against my chest pulls at my heart -- O. turned one earlier this month. He is no longer a baby, but a toddler who is rarely content to be still. I've missed being able just to hold him, I realize, letting my chin rest on his dark hair. Though I wouldn't trade O.'s usual wiggly, giggly cheer for the cranky cuddler he's been today.

Still wearing him, I assess the leftovers in the fridge, none of which pique my interest. It's a mug cake day, I decide, and throw together cocoa, flour, and applesauce as O. begins to wriggle. "Hungry, little man?" I ask. He's not pleased to be put back in his high chair, but he's recovered enough to be distracted with cubes of avocado while I eat. Despite my stuffiness, I can still taste the dark chocolate, warm and just sweet enough on my tongue to soften my own edges. O. licks his fingers and I, my spoon -- at last, I can take a breath.

A hot drink beckons. And O.'s having no more of anything that holds him down, so I pop a bag of orange-spiced tea into the microwave and take him into the living room again to play. This time, the plastic doughnuts are only marginally more interesting. I manage to step away when the tea is done without O. protesting, though he notes my activities with an owlish glance. If he had spectacles, I think to myself, he'd be peering over them with disapproval.

I reach to set the mug on the half-wall behind the sofa, where it'll be out of his reach -- he's gotten so tall that the usual places on the end tables are no longer safe -- but it tips. In one bobble, the contents spill over cushions and carpet and now I'm ready for a cry. There's no way O. will let me address the mess in his current mood, but I can't leave it to stain. With a long sigh, I scoop him up in one arm and gather cleaning rags and soap in the other.

Of course, O. fusses when I put him back on the living room floor. By now I've steeled myself to ignore the tantrum I suspect is inevitable -- I'm out of tricks to redirect his focus, at least while I'm unable to attend to him directly. But as I tug on the arms of the sofa to work it away from the wall, curiosity overtakes O.'s dismay. He pads nearer to observe as I blot with the rags, pulling a cushion aside to get at the wettest parts.

This won't last, I think, as I climb over the seat back to assess the damage to the carpet. As soon as I kneel out of sight, he'll start up again. Just get it over with, I tell myself, and bend down in acceptance.

And then I hear a hoot of excitement. Followed by the scramble of hands and knees and the creak of sofa springs -- O. has climbed onto the seat frame, now low enough without the cushion for him to negotiate. He peers over the sofa back at me, thrilled by his accomplishment. Suddenly, he's all dimpled smiles and giggles of delight.

"So that's what you needed, huh?" I say, returning the smile, though mine is wry. He bounces and slaps the damp seat back, then, with some calculation, crawls to the edge of the frame. Before I can stop him, he lunges for the floor, landing face first in the cushion turned tumbling mat. He laughs at the novelty of it all, clambering back up to do it again.

I'll take it, I think, and I bend again to the task at hand.

*

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

4 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. When the mug tipped? Oh my goodness, I could feel the despair. But if we apply the "philosophic mind" to O's response, we really get something, don't we?

Oh perhaps I've just been reading too much Wordsworth for class.

I hope you both feel better soon!

C. Troubadour said...

Wordsworth or not, the "philosophic mind" is something we've definitely been employing over here to make the harder days less so!

Thankfully, the head cold's taken it's leave :)

Kristen @ Motherese said...

This is terrific, CT. The details bring me right into your scene and I could picture it as though it was happening to me, in my home, with one of my kids a few years ago. I hope by now you are both long recovered from your colds.

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, Kristen! We're happily back to our healthier selves. Though mug cakes are still in more frequent use than is probably considered part of a balanced diet ...