Underneath my yellow skin

5 Popular Movies I Hate

nom nom nom.
I do like the popcorn, though.

I’m not a big fan of movies. It’s not something I say very often because I know how it sounds. I once said it to my writing teacher, and she looked at me as if I had two heads. What kind of person says that she asked me, and I didn’t really have a good answer for her back then. Or one I was willing to say out loud.

I have an answer now, though it may still not be a good one. I learned to read when I was very young, and even before that, I pretended I could read. My mom tells a story of how when I was two, I would hold the newspaper in my hand and study it as if I were reading–but it was upside down. Even then, I knew the world of words was for me, and I wanted in. I taught myself to read so by the time I was in grade school, I was reading with ease. It was my escapism, and I loved opening a book and being transported into another world. I could go anywhere and do anything without leaving my house, and I was all in from the moment I could put a sentence together.

I never wanted to go out and play–I would rather read a book. I read the dictionary in my spare time, and I tackled War and Peace when I was ten because it was the biggest book I could think of. I gave up after five hundred words because I couldn’t keep track of all the nicknames and who was doing what to whom, but I did give it a solid try. I read The Scarlet Letter around the same time, and even then I thought it was bullshit that Hester bore the brunt of the punishment for the ‘sin’ of committing adultery.

I read all the Little House on the Prairie books, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden (I loved mysteries, even then), and whatever else I could get my hands on. Some of it was age appropriate, but much of it was not. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, Pippi Longstocking, and all the trashy teenage romances I could gobble up.

In contrast, Superman was the first movie I saw when I was about seven, and it gave me nightmares for months after I saw it. I saw and hated Star Wars when I was a kid, and I never really cared for the Star Trek movies. ET was OK, but not really my jam. I didn’t see many movies when I was a kid, and I was fine with it. I found movies to be limiting, to be honest. Books allowed my imagination to run wild, whereas movies dictated what I saw and heard. When I write, I don’t do much description at all, and I know it’s a shortcoming on my part, but it’s because I always skip long descriptions whenever I read. I’d rather imagine the visuals myself than be told in excruciating detail what I should be seeing. You can see why this would be an issue for me when I watch a movie.

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Resistance and Art in the Time of Fascism

I’m still reeling from what happened in Charlottesville, especially since this president is still ‘both sides’ing the situation. He came out with a statement denouncing the KKK, but had to throw in ‘other hate groups’, and it was clear he was only saying it because he felt he had to. It shouldn’t take two days to say, “Fascism and white supremacy have no place in America. We will not tolerate Nazis in this country”, but that’s where we are right now. He got a lot of pushback for his lukewarm statement, tweeted his temper tantrum at being told it wasn’t good enough, and had a meltdown yesterday in which he said there are good guys in on the white supremacy side, honestly, and the ‘alt-left’ is just as bad as the ‘alt-right’.

I mean.

WHAT???

I’m not surprised. I have to say that up front because this is who he is. Many of us minorities knew this from the very beginning, which is why we weren’t willing to ‘just give him a chance’. We didn’t need time to know he’s a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic fuck, but if anyone had any doubt, his words yesterday should put that illusion to rest.

In addition, he’s a narcissistic, vindictive, petty man who can’t see anyone other than himself, and everything is about him. 24/7. Of course he had to make it about him because he’s incapable of doing otherwise. Of course he wasn’t going to denounce the white supremacist because he believes the same things they do. His grandfather was a slum landlord who did not want to rent to black people, and it’s clear the apple does not fall far from the tree. This president has said racist things time and time again about people of many different ethnicities, and he has white nationalists on his staff for fuck’s sake.

In other words, he’s no friend of minorities, and we’ve known that even before he ever ran for president. This is my way of saying while it’s disheartening that this president refused to full-throatedly denounce white supremacists, it’s not surprising in the least.

I was off Twitter for about twenty minutes when he made his announcement, and when I returned, I had a TL full of anger, disbelief, pain, and fear. This president had just signaled to his base–and, let’s be clear. His base are racist fuckers–that he is with them 100%. It was so appallingly bad, even Republicans were moved to denounce his message, albeit not directly to him. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan subtweeted the president saying that white supremacy is unacceptable. I said, “OK. What are you going to do about it?” Because words don’t mean shit if you don’t back it up with actions.

I think it’s really hard to explain to white non-Jewish people, even really supportive liberals, how exhausting it is to be a minority in this president’s America. Waking up every day, wondering how else he’s going to hate on me and my kin, it’s more than my brain–and heart–can take. I saw so many of my Twitter family in pain, and it broke my heart. I tweeted a message to them because I’m a caregiver even if I’m also cantankerous and a misanthrope, and I’ll post the beginning of the thread here.


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The Art of Peace

“It was so much nicer this time. When you smile, you’re much….cuter? Is that the word?”

My father to me on the phone yesterday about why his trip home was more pleasant this time around. I started laughing as did my mother. I was talking to him through LINE, which mean she could hear him as well. He said, “Is that not the right word? Attractive? Is that better?”

By now, I’m flat-out laughing, but I tell him  I know what he means. He keeps pursing it, and my mom says the Taiwanese equivalent–kuh-ai. I say, “Yes, cuter, but that’s not exactly the right word.” I kept telling him I understood what he meant, and more importantly, I didn’t get pissed as I would have a few years ago or even last year, even though what he was trying to say is a literal meme about one of the most condescending things you can say to a woman.

Last year, I would have lashed out and told him angrily how condescending he was being, blah, blah, blah. He would not have understood what I was saying at all, and it would have gotten ugly. I would have felt pissed off and insulted, whereas he would have felt confused and affronted. It would have gotten uglier and uglier until one or both of us exploded in anger. We both have terrible tempers and are very bristly, so we’re like oil and water.

Or we were, anyway.

I marvel at how effortless it was to keep my temper most of the time during this visit. The thing is, I’ve changed. He has as well, though he’s still more himself. One of my father’s biggest flaws is that he cannot imagine someone else not feeling the same way he does, but for whatever reason, I didn’t take it personally this time. I was able to see that’s just him. His narcissism. His prickly skin. His shaky sense of self and pride.

The thing is, I didn’t have any plan. I mean, I told myself to be chill about it, but I’ve told myself that in the past and failed miserably. He would say something incendiary, and I would explode without even thinking about it. This time, he could say the same thing, and it didn’t push my buttons. I was able to not react to the words and see the intent instead. I was also able to remember his limitations and firmly delineate his issues from my issues.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I credit taiji for the ability to deal more effectively with my father. It’s given me a sense of self that I didn’t have before, and, more importantly, it’s taught me how to relax.

I will admit there are still a few things that have made me snap or that have me on edge. One has to do with my mother. I’ve said before how she has a habit of narrating events from her life as if she’s Morgan Freeman. It’s fucking annoying especially if I’m trying to do something else. Another is her laser-like focus on my father’s ailments. It’s a tricky line because he’s failing in many ways, so it’s understandable that she’s concerned. However, she focuses almost all her energy on him, and I think it’s one way for her to not have to look at how lopsided their relationship is.


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Struggling Against the Darkness

no need to memorialize.
This is the hill they’re willing to die on.

If you’re an American (and even if you’re not), you’re probably aware of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. A bunch of whiny titty ass babies gathered with their store-bought tiki (Polynesian) torches on the U.Va. campus in the middle of the night while the students weren’t even there, ostensibly to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, but in reality to get their Nazi/Confederacy/white supremacy cosplay on. Before I get into this heated topic, I’m forewarning you that this is going to be even more stream-of-conscious than normal, and I’m going to go to some pretty dark places. I don’t normally write when my feelings are this raw, but I need to sort through my emotions, and I do it best while writing.

When I saw the pictures of the rally on Friday night, my instinct was to sneer at how pathetic they looked. All these young white men (and they were overwhelmingly men, gee, I wonder why) shouting vile slogans, their face contorted in hatred. They were holding their tiki torches, and it’s not a coincidence that they looked like a lynch mob, and I know I was supposed to be terrified, but all I felt was disgust and contempt.

If it weren’t for the fact that they could (and did) cause irreparable harm, I would just laugh in their goddamn faces. They think they’re so powerful and patriotic, but they’re just a pathetic, whiny mess. They can’t even make their own fucking torches for fuck’s sake! That’s part of the problem, though. They feel powerless and that their lives are a waste, but instead of taking stock of their inner flaws as to why that might be, they blindly seek out others to blame for their shortcomings.

Quick side note: This is one of the downsides to toxic masculinity. If you’re not at the top of the heap, then you’re a failure as a man. If you’re a failure, that’s the worst thing in the world and unbearable, so it’s easier to say it’s someone else’s fault.

I took Saturday off from social media as is my wont, and when I returned Sunday morning, I heard about the murder by car of Heather Heyer by one of the fascist assholes. I heard that the stupid rally raged for days with increasing violence directed at the protesters. I saw some media and politicians ‘both sides’ the situation, and it made my blood boil. Hell, I saw our fucking president say that ‘many sides’ were to blame, but not once did he say Nazi or white supremacists.

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Acting Like an Adult For Once

mantra mantra mantra
Going to my happy place.

It’s hard to see progress sometimes because it’s not something that happens in huge leaps and bounds (usually). It’s slow and incremental, and it takes a lot of time to accumulate into something tangible. It’s the same with anything that increases over time, and it’s only easy to see in retrospect if you live with it every day. I’ve talked about this before, and I have a great anti-example. I only see my parents once a year at the most, and it’s easy to see how they’ve aged from year to year with such a gap in between. However, when I dare look in the mirror, which is probably once a month or so, I’m astounded anew at how old I am because I feel like a twenty year old inside. I know that’s trite, but it’s true. How the hell did I become this middle-aged woman staring back at me? I look at my age spots, wrinkles, and faded skin, and I wonder where the time has gone. But, since I live with myself, I don’t notice it on a daily basis.

I’ve written about my fraught relationship with my parents, and I’ve also written about how it’s improved in the last few years. I really noticed it when my parents and I sat down to have a talk about my future last night, something I was dreading. It happens every year, and it usually ends in recriminations and tears. There’s shouting and hurt feelings on both sides, and it twists my insides for weeks. This time, my mom informed me the night before that my father and she wanted to have the talk before my father went back to Taiwan, and I was expecting it to go much the same.

I resolved just to nod my head and agree with whatever they said in order to make it go more smoothly. There was no point in arguing, and it wouldn’t be an affront to my core just to say whatever to get it over. The problem is, my parents know how to push my buttons. Of course they do because they’re the ones who installed them. My father, especially. He makes baseless assumptions about me, well, his basis is, “I feel this way, therefore you must, too.” He even brought up the classic fight we used to have throughout my childhood, something we’ve argued about since.

I used to wash my hair in the morning, and then go outside with wet hair. He would say, “Put on a coat; I feel cold”, and it still bothers him that I would refuse. He said I said it was because he didn’t ask nicely, but that wasn’t all of it. I wasn’t cold, so why should I put on a coat? He said he felt cold for me, and I retorted that he could put on two coats and feel warmer. I added that I was right in that I had hyperthyroidism when I was a child, which meant I was never cold. I’m hypothyroid now, but I still rarely get cold–though my threshold isn’t the same as it was when I was younger. Anyway, to him, it’s an example of how I was a recalcitrant youngster not minding my elder. To me, it’s an example of how he’s a narcissist and can’t imagine someone feels differently than he does.

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Lip Sync Battles: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

When I’m feeling down, I watch clips of the show, Lip Sync Battle, and it never fails to cheer me up. It’s just loads of fun, and it’s great to see the contestants go all out for the second performance. One thing I started to notice is that a lot of the guys like to do songs sung by women. I don’t know why that struck me, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time, so I decided to do a thinkpiece about it because why the hell not?

I think it has something to do with it being a safe way to express their femininity. In addition, most of them are actors, so they’re probably more flexible in their ideas of gender fluidity–at least the ones who dressed up to some degree as the singer (or as a woman in general).

I consider myself a Lip Sync Battle connoisseur since I’ve watched so many clips (and repeatedly). It’s not a guilty pleasure because I feel no guilt at all while I’m singing along. There are several categories of men lip syncing to women singing, so I’m going to tackle them one by one with examples before presenting you my top five fave performances in this genre ever.

The first category is guys who don’t change their appearances at all, but simply lip sync to the song. Dwayne Johnson singing Shake It Off by Taylor Swift is one such example. He’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans, but the joy with which he bounces around and shakes his shoulders is infectious. In addition, there’s something sublimely silly about a musclebound man like ‘The Rock’ imitating a teenager’s giggle.

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Learning to Bite My Tongue

finding my peace.
Just breathe….

Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you to count to ten before saying anything when you were angry? Or maybe she was a ‘think before you speak’ kind of woman, instead. Basically the same thing. If you’re like me, you probably scoffed it off as trite. Well, it is trite, but I’m finding value in it these days. Sort of. I’ll explain.

In the past, my relationship with my parents consisted of them saying something and me immediately snapping back defensively. It didn’t matter what they said–I would take it as an attack and respond accordingly. It’s partly because my family is highly critical is the way we talk to each other (me included), so there is a sense of being on the defensive baked into any conversation between any of us. In addition, I have PTSD for several reasons, so I’m prone to lashing out, anyway.

The basis of taiji is to respond to any action with an appropriate reaction, using just enough force to repel the attack and nothing more. It’s called the lazy martial arts because you want to expel the least amount of energy possible for the biggest result. It’s not something I consciously dwell on, but after eight or nine years of study, I’ve soaked it in. In the past, I was near suicidal when one or both of my parents would come visit. You might think it hyperbole, but it isn’t. I couldn’t sleep for days before they came*, and I thought about killing myself to get out of it. I was tense the whole time, and I felt as if I had no control over my anger. I would tell myself to be chill, and next thing I knew, I’d be flying off the handle over the stupidest thing. That would make me feel worse about myself, and I would quickly spiral downwards into the abyss.

Now, I’m tense before they come, but not to the point of wanting to kill myself. It’s more because I really, really, REALLY like to be alone. I’m a happy single, which is one reason I never want to cohabitate with someone, not even a partner. Come to think of it, especially not a partner. A friend, maybe, but not a romantic partner–hell no!

The thing is, I’ve noticed that while I still get irritated by my parents, I’m not flying off the handle nearly as much. I may snap at them one out of ten times, but that’s better than ten out of ten. Half the time, I can give them a calm and reasonable response, and the other forty-percent is filled with a terse, but not angry answer. I find that after they say something, my brain automatically tells me just to digest it a second without saying anything. I’m not consciously telling myself to count to ten or to think before I speak–I’m just automatically doing it. It’s one thing I’ve learned about the way I learn things. I think/work hard about/on it for years, and then it just ‘suddenly’ takes. I don’t consciously decide to do it–it just becomes a part of me.

Same with my interactions with my parents. I’m more able to be calm and to give a reasoned response. Even when I’m upset about something, I’m mostly able to talk about it without shouting. I’m using my words finally! It’s easier with my mother because she’s a psychologist and I was a psych major. We speak the same language, even if it’s her third language and not her first. We can talk about projection and codependency and shit without having to explain the terms. It really is easier when you have the jargon in common.

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Not ALL Opinions Need to Be Voiced

and fire. all the fire!
I still love my lotus blossom. Deal.

I love the internet as most of my longtime readers know. I’m a heavy user, and the amount of information you can find is breathtaking. The downside is that the amount of opinionated and baseless bullshit is also breathtaking. I know I’ve ranted about this before, but I ran across a thinkpiece in The Federalist (I know, I know) that made me roll my eyes so hard, I’m still searching for them somewhere behind my couch. It was a million-word piece about how tattoos are going to be the downfall of America because reasons!

Full disclosure: I have four tattoos. No, I don’t regret getting them. No, I don’t care what they’ll look like when I’m old and droopy. No, it wasn’t a phase, a youthful rebellion, or me trying to be trendy. No, I’m not worried that they’re on my body forever–that’s kind of the point. I got my tats before it was a cool thing to do, so, yeah, I’m a hipster tatted up gal. I was doing it before some of y’all were even born! Get off my lawn, too. Also.

Fuller disclosure: I think this falls under the category of, “If you don’t like them, don’t fucking get one.” No one is forcing you to get a tat (and if they are, you need to think about your life choices as to who you allow in your life), so you can live your life gloriously tattoo-free if you want. YOU DO YOU! Go on with your unadorned self! Be proud of your mark-free skin! No one is stopping you from being great without a tattoo, are they?

Back to The Federalist masturbatory piece. The dude is roughly my age (40) which puts him firmly in wagging his finger at the youngins range. Here’s the thing, though. I skimmed his whole piece (and it went on for fucking ever), and I couldn’t get a coherent reason why he thought tattoos were the Worst Thing On Earth. One of his points is that we have no culture reason for them, unlike, say the Polynesians. He even made a stupid joke about big Polynesian men please not beating him up for dissing on tats. He says it’s fine to get a tattoo if it has meaning to you, but he’s not down with random tats, and you need to know about it.

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I Hate Change

I hate change.

I don’t think I can overstate how resistant I am to change, and, yes, I know it’s not a good trait.

I’m a creature of habit, and living alone, I can usually do what I want when I want where I want. All of this has been thrown out the window by having my parents here. I get up a few hours after they do, and by the time I’m up, they have a list of things a mile long they want to talk to me about. As I’ve said before, I’m barely coherent before my first swig of Coke Zero, and my brain refuses to comprehend what is being jabbered at it in the wee hours of the morning*.

Yesterday, Saturday, I was so discombobulated, I checked my social media without even thinking about it. One of the reasons I set myself a rigorous schedule is because it helps me cope with the vagaries of life. I only looked at my mentions and my notifications, and once I realized what I was doing, I stopped. I didn’t check the rest of the day, but I felt bad about it, anyway. I’ve been doing it long enough that it should be a habit by now, but because everything else is topsy-turvy, I slipped back to my old habits.

It’s hard to watch your parents decline mentally and physically. It’s even harder when I only see them once a year at the most so the changes are stark. My mom is holding up pretty well because she takes really good care of herself, but my father is going downhill fast. He’s been having a lot of physical problems, and worse, he doesn’t do what he should to rectify them. It’s difficult to be completely sympathetic because he’s been a hypochondriac all his life. He sees doctors constantly, and there’s always something wrong with him. When we went to the doctor this time, he had a litany of complaints. The doctor was great, but he also said, “You are in good physical shape for your age.” In other words, the litany of complaints are quality of life questions rather than actual crises.

It’s not to say there aren’t actual problems and that he’s not in actual pain. I’m sure he is. However, it’s hard to know how much of it is real and how much is exaggeration.

Anyway, my parents have a rhythm they’ve perfected over the years, and as dysfunctional as it is, it works for them. To an outsider, it looks bizarre–and it is–but if they’re both happy in it, there’s not much anyone can do about it. My mom isn’t as happy as she pretends to be, but that’s not the point of this post.

My childhood was chaos littered with unreliable narrators. I never knew what was real and what wasn’t, and as a result, I have an excruciating need for the truth. Not only do I need the truth, I need to verify it five or six times before I’ll ultimately accept it. It’s also why I need my routines. It’s part of my OCD traits, and it’s comforting to me to know I’m going to do the same things in the same order until the end of time.


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