Underneath my yellow skin

Ripping off the mask

don't look behind the mask.
A perfect facade.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have a split personality. Not in the clinical definition of the word, but in the vernacular. There’s the me at home. I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, my hair in a sloppy bun. I sit/lie on the couch most of the day as I madly type away on my computer, and it’s only recently that I’ve been forcing myself to get up roughly every other hour or so to do my stretches. If you could see a picture of my brain waves, it would be a flat-line with only dips and no spikes.

I know it’s the depression talking, but I don’t see any reason to live. I’m not being dramatic. I don’t actually want to die (I never did. Not even when I was at my most suicidal–which I’m not); I just don’t see any reason to be alive. Nor do I think that many people would actually miss me if I were gone. Let me be clear. I am not going to kill myself, but I can’t motivate myself to do much other than meander through my so-called life.

I’m mostly numb these days. I know I need to see a therapist, but I don’t want to go through the bother of finding a new one. It’s been four or five years since my last therapist and I mutually terminated, and it took me forever to find her. I am not an easy client, and I can fully acknowledge that. I know too much of the lingo, and I’m very good at manipulation of people. I’m not proud of it, but I have to acknowledge it. I try to not do it because it makes me feel slimy, and I’ve watched my father charm the pants off people (especially women) throughout my life.

Another thing I made clear to my last psychologist is that I need someone to call me on my shit. I get into my head and the weeds way too much, and I can run in circles around most people when I choose to. I can use the psych lingo to justify anything or to explain anything, and to anyone with a lesser perception, what I’m saying makes perfect sense. i told my therapist I would try to do this to her, and I needed her to see through it and put her foot down. She was more than capable of doing so, but I had therapists previous to her who simply weren’t.

Continue Reading

Monster Hunter: World, Dark Souls II, and asundry

twice as much fun.
Tandem Bageljuice gliding!

I said last week I was nearing the end of Monster Hunter: World. There was plenty more to do as there is always a ton to do in MHW, but I felt as if I were running out of gas. I’m still playing, albeit more casually (in terms of time put into it). I took on the twin Tempered Bageljuices solo without even breaking a sweat. This is not a humblebrag–just the facts, man. I went in properly buffed. I have an armor/weapon loadout for each monster, which you can do when you have a-mill-and-a-half monies. I update the set whenever I fight the next souped-up version of the monster, and I try to make sure I have Divine Blessing Level 3, Health Boost Level 2 (prefer Level 3, of course), and Defense Boost Level 3 (or higher. I will forgo this for the other two, though). I’m very much defense-based, and I don’t mind if it takes me a bit longer to kill a monster than it would if I were more attack-based. I also had Fire Resistance Level 3 for this fight because the consensus is that Bageljuice does fire damage.

I buffed myself to the max for this fight. I drank my Mega Armorskin and Mega Demondrug, which are fucking amazing. I can’t stop raving about them. They buff your defense and attack respectively by a lot, and they last the entire quest or until you get carted. I got the Grimalkyne in the area, which are the trappers because the quest happens in the Wildspire Waste. Then, I boosted us by throwing a Hardshell Powder and an Attack Powder in the air like I just don’t care. I ate for defense, and then I went to tackle the two Tempered Bazelgeese.

One of the best things about this fight is watching the two Bageljuices go at each other, which they did four or five times during this fight. Not only is it epic to watch; they do significant damage to each other. I’m in the minority (of ‘the community’) in that I think Bageljuice is adorable. I love his podded face and body, and I just want him as a pet. Then again, I think the Nazgul, Dementors, and Ultralisks are adorable as well.

I thought time would be my biggest issue in this fight, but I didn’t even need half the time. My strat was to let the two of them fight each other for as long as possible before they both targeted me. Then, I’d Dung Pod one of them and attack the other. I had the Vitality Mantle and the Health Booster as my tools. The best part is that you can use a mantle and a booster at the same time. So, I’d plunk down the Health Booster, throw on my Vitality Mantle, and go to town on the one Bageljuice until the other one came around. The Health Booster lasts 60 seconds and has a 150-second cooldown. The Vitality Mantle lasts 120 seconds or until you get hit out of its protectiveness, and it has a 360-second cooldown. They are a great tandem, especially when playing solo. That Health Booster has saved my ass more times than I care to admit. Another way I use it is to wait until the monster flees, then plunk it down so me and my Felyne friends can fully heal.

Continue Reading

Of (not-so) sound mind and body

drinkin' tea 24/7.
All the tea in Taiwan.

I slept for nine hours the other night, which makes me think I’m getting sick again. I don’t sleep for that long unless I’m sick. I slept nearly seven hours last night, which is still a bit much for me. When I saw my taiji teacher yesterday, she was like, “I hope your week is filled with shitty sleep.” That was her way of wishing me well, and while it made me laugh, it’s sadly apt. The best way for me to gauge how sick I am is to look at my sleep. The ratio for sickness is directly proportional–the more sleep I get, the sicker I am. It’s not something that makes me happy, obviously, but it’s handy to know.

I don’t know what it says about me that my body only allows me to get a good night’s sleep when I’m really sick, but it’s as frustrating as hell. Is it too much to ask that I sleep a full night when I’m not sick? When I’m not sick, I sleep maybe six hours a night, and I wake up at least once. That’s not very restful, as I bet you could guess. I can’t help but think it hearkens back to the days when sleeping through the night was dangerous, and my body hasn’t yet realized it’s not necessary.

Side Note: I don’t sleep in a bed. I’ve found that I sleep marginally better on the couch. I think that’s part of the reason my back is messed up, however, so I might try sleeping in a bed again.

I also wonder if my shenanigans in college contribute to my sleep woes. My first semester I was there, I had a class at 7:45 a.m. (or some such ungodly hour), and I wouldn’t go to bed until three in the morning at the earliest. That meant I got at best three hours of sleep a night on the days I had that class. I think it was a T/Th class, so twice a week. I probably got 4, maybe 5 hours. In other words, I was severely sleep-deprived for my first semester of college.

I’ve told this story before, but there was one time when I woke up and couldn’t find my portable alarm clock. I looked everywhere in my (small) dorm room to no avail. I opened my mini-fridge to grab a Diet Pepsi (the way I always started my day), and there was my alarm as pretty as you please. I had no recollection of putting it there, which was worrisome. I put it on the sink across the room, which meant no more stowing it in my mini-fridge, but didn’t change the fact that I was having serious sleep issues.

I used to get four hours of sleep a night on the regular. Now, I’m up to six, and I owe it all to taiji. Well, taiji and therapy, but mostly taiji. It’s frustrating that it’s not more (and, yes, I know eight hours a night is ideal), but it’s amazing I even get that much*.

Continue Reading

Depression infusion

a mirror to my soul.
Unrelenting gloom.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month because why not? I’m already up to 32,000 words, so I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble meeting the 50,000 words goal. I never do as writing a plethora of words is not an issue for me. I mused about looking more into the business side of things, which I have yet to do. Or rather, the marketing side as it’s much different in this digital age. Authors have to push their brand (themselves and their books) on social media in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I know it’s the way of the world now, but I have a very Taiwanese horror of promoting myself. I’ve talked with my mother about it, and she feels the same way.

Speaking of my mother, watching her twist herself into knots over my father has been disheartening, depressing, and enlightening. She’s using his illness as a reason to let her weaknesses run rampant. Let me be blunt. She is a control freak (I come by it honestly), and she is a constant worrier (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). The problem is, anyone would be worried in her position. My father just went through a ten-hour surgery to deal with three fused vertebra. Plus, we believe he’s in early onset dementia. That would be a lot to deal with for any spouse. However, my mother goes past worry into straight up obsession. Whenever we talk, it’s all about him. She may ask me how I’m doing, but once I say, she veers immediately back to her own health for a minute or him.

It’s not conducive worry, either. Conducive worry leads you to make a reasonable plan in order to deal with the situation. Then, once you make the plan, you put it out of your head and the worries are mostly allayed. I know it’s unrealistic to expect her to be completely blasé about it, but it’s all she can talk about. She’ll say something like, “I can’t leave him alone” followed by, “What if he falls when I’m not there?” and she’s off on a tangent about the fear of him falling for ten minutes. She sounds like the voices in my head when they go off the rails.

Normally, I try to listen and make soothing noises in her general direction. However, the last time I talked to her, I tried to inject some reason into her brain. I know, I know, but I had to give it a shot. After she was panicky for ten minutes about something or the other concerning the minutia of my father’s condition, I told her as gently as I could that constantly worrying about it didn’t help. I said she as a therapist knew that. She admitted that she it was her control issues at play, but she quickly glided over it.

I’ve said it before, but watching her interact with my father, or rather, watching her obsess over my father is the main reason I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship. Why? Because I see too much of myself in her. I know how easily I would slip into that mindset, and I see how hard it is to get out. She’s convinced herself that she *has* to worry about my father to this extent, and while, as I said, it’s reasonable for her to have a lot of worry, she’s pushing it to excess. She’s allowing her own mental health issues to drive the bus, and she has an excuse/explanation any time I bring it up.

Continue Reading

Monster Hunter: World limping to the end

uppercut!
Best place to be with Xeno.

After several days off from playing Monster Hunter: World, I jumped back in, partly to play the Kulve Taroth Siege. I’ll get to that in a minute. I also wanted to do the weekly Limited Bounties because doing them all nets a Gold Wyverian Print when it’s all said and done. Basically, it gives you one free gem (at the Elder Melder) a week, which ain’t bad. The problem is, the Limited Bounties are like, “Hunt ______ Fanged Wyverns”, which can get tedious. I do them multi if I can, but that’s not always possible. This week, it was Hunt 3 Fanged Wyverns, 4 Radobaans, and 5 8-star Quests (Elder Dragons. Just call them Elder Dragons). I mostly did Nergy for the last one because I need another Nergy Gem, and Teo once because I need his as well, but I got no gems from those five hunts. Only two tail cuts on Nergy and didn’t get the tail cut on the Teo.

I tried the Charge Blade on one hunt, and I’ve lost my skills on that. It’s a shame because it’s a great weapon, but it’s one that needs constant usage. I forget the combos if I haven’t used it in a while, and, yes, I didn’t really need the combos for the Tempered Palolumu, but I felt like a newb when I couldn’t charge my shield or my sword. The problem is that I love my Switch Axe and am so comfortable with it. I’ve taken down almost every monster with my SA, and it feels like an extension of my hand.

Side Note: I’ve mentioned before my love of axes. It started when I played as a Pyromancer in Dark Souls (that seems like ages ago) and started with the Hand Axe, then I used the Battle Axe throughout most of that game. It’s pooh-poohed as a babby weapon, but I finished the game with it. As a result, I love axes. The first time I played tank in a Dark Souls game (DS III, second playthrough), I mained the Great Axe for most of the game. I really dug the Black Knight Greataxe during my tank run in DS Remastered.

I like axes, is what I’m saying. The Switch Axe felt the most comfortable from waaaaay back in the beginning when I tried all fourteen weapons, and it’s continued to be my favorite weapon. I know it’s not as flashy as other weapons or as fast, but it’s a solid weapon. Plus, you have the heavy-handed axe on the one hand, and the fast, slashing sword on the other. I think it’s hilarious that you can walk faster with the axe out than you can with the sword, but I usually sheathe before walking/running.

Continue Reading

Over it

I’m done with being sick. I just can’t. I mean, I’m not literally done with it because it’s lingering like an unwelcome guest, but emotionally, I’m over it. I’m tired of it being the focus of all my energy and will. My microwave broke today, which means buying another. Normally, it would be an irritant, but not a big deal. Today, it seems insurmountable. Given that it’s also Election Day and I have to vote, part of me just wants to go back to sleep.

Anyway. That’s all I feel like writing today. So. here’s a video of Congressman John Lewis voting Gangnam Style.

Dropping the mike

I’m tired. I’m so fucking exhausted. Still sick. Still got the chills alternating with still got the heat. Still grumpy as fuck. Still not playing MHW. I’m riding at about 40%, and I’m just done.

Funny note. I’ve been going down that Hot Ones rabbit hole. It’s a web series in which Sean Evans interviews a guest while eating ten wings with increasing heat. The first three or four ain’t nothing. They eat and Sean asks questions, and the guest answers. The middle four are increasingly hot, and most guests are at least breaking a sweat by this point. Then, comes bottle number 8 (used to be 9, I think). It’s called Da Bomb, and it makes me smile every time I see it because I know this sauce.

Backstory. My brother and I both love spicy foods. We have since the beginning of time, which is rather strange given our background. I don’t know how it started, but we began a tradition of giving each other hot sauce for Christmas with one giving it to the other one year, then using the same box, the other reciprocates the next year. It caused much merriment, especially for the other members of the family. The point, of course, was to try to find something hotter than the year before. This happened for several years in a row, and then came the year I found Da Bomb, considered to be the hottest hot sauce at the time.

“Consume one drop at a time with extreme caution” is on the bottle, and it ain’t no joke. I ordered two bottles so I could keep one for myself. I made a huge batch of chili and put four or five drops of Da Bomb in it. I’m talking HUGE batch. I tasted it and yeah, no. I had to throw it away. When I gave the other bottle to my brother, I warned him about it. I said to take the label seriously.  A few days later, he called me and said he thought we could end the contest right there. (WITH ME WINNING, LET’S NOTE.)

Side note: Several years later, the Carolina Reaper was created, and my brother sent me an email with a link. He only wrote, “We back on?” We didn’t restart the contest, though, and my tolerance for spice has decreased over the years. As I get older, I find that I don’t enjoy not feeling my face after eating any longer. In addition, I like flavorful rather than just pure spice.


Continue Reading

Monster Hunter: World curtains closed–then opened again

hey, boo, hey!
Me backing up The Seeker, my MHW boo.

One final boss. One last Elder Dragon to take on before closing the books. This was it. This was what I had been training for all my life.

::cue Rocky training montage::

Of course, by training, I mean mostly grinding out the other Elder Dragons and getting my gems, yo! I’m all about the gems. Still haven’t gotten a Teo gem, but to be fair, I haven’t fought him many more times this last week.

I mentioned last week that the grind can get tedious. I don’t mind fighting a monster four or five times, but twenty times to get one gem….I’m getting ahead of myself.

The last boss. The lead up to it is pretty epic, and it includes a lengthy cameo from my Monster Hunter: World boo, The Seeker. He’s a wyverian, which is this game’s version of elves. Not really. They have the elf ears, but it’s that they have dragon blood or some such. Or rather, wyvern blood. Anyhoo, The Seeker is a hottie and could get it all day errrry day. I’m just saying.

Let me backtrack a bit. The whole story of MHW is ridonkulous and doesn’t really matter, of course. The basic gist is (and again, remember this is not canon) there is a bunch of bioenergy burbling around everywhere, and everyone is mystified as to why or what is causing it. It’s Elder Dragons, bitches!!! They’re running wild and running crazy and…something, something, something. Then, once you beat Nergy, The Admiral (who is apparently The Handler’s grandfather?) booms at you about something or the other, he tells you that his old friend (The Seeker) is waiting for you because something, something, something.

So, I take off with shadow, The Handler, and The Admiral to meet The Seeker. We cross the River Styx in a properly  solemn and stirring manner, and it’s a nice setup. I’m not usually one for long cutscenes, but this one felt right given everything I’d gone through. I EARNED this. Plus, shadow looked so adorable in his Vaal Hazak armor (Vaal Set), waving frantically goodbye to The Handler. We go towards something, the ‘bioenergy’ that was fucking everything up, and this brilliant blue light emerges from a crystal-like area. As The Seeker, The Admiral, shadow, and I watch, something emerged slowly from it as if…yeah, that’s right. We get to watch a baby Elder Dragon being born. As it is being born, something falls on The Seeker (oh, no! Not my vidya game boo!), nearly crushing him. I make The Admiral take care of him (how, since I don’t talk, but apparently my intense stares conveyed my seriousness) while I take on the baby Elder Dragon on my own. Well, with shadow by my side, of course! I can’t do anything without my trusty Palico. I was a little nervous because I didn’t have another Felyne to help me, but there was nothing I could do about that.

Continue Reading

Trade-offs health-wise I’m willing to take

I think I’m being hit with round 2 of the crud, and I’m fine with it. Wait, Minna, I can hear you say (or make you say in my mind). How can you be fine with it when you hated it so much the last round? I’ll tell you, and thank you for asking and setting me up so nicely.

Let’s backtrack a bit. I was sick for a long time as is my want. I have this loop of getting one thing–say, chills and fever–then getting something else–like sinus problems–before slowly recovering, only to be hit with a third thing–persistent, hacking cough. Then, when I’m finally over it, I pray to the cold and flu gods that I don’t get it again.

That’s what happened this time. I got over the last thing, then felt decent for a week or so, then I was incredibly tired last week. I mean, I’m tired in general most of the time, but I was at the ‘I literally can’t keep my eyes open’ stage for all of last week. For those lucky duckies who’ve never felt it, it’s when you’re doing something innocuous like watching a video, and then you come to with a start and realize you haven’t seen the last ten minutes/half an hour/hour of the video. That kept happening to me, and one particularly bad night, I passed maybe three hours that way, waking up every ten minutes to ever half hour.

Speaking of sleep deprivation, The Try Guys did a series of videos about driving while under the influence in four different ways, including not sleeping for thirty-six hours straight. They have a doctor in each video explaining the ramifications of driving under that particular influence, and in the sleep-deprived one, he said that people who were deprived of sleep for twenty-four hours, they had nearly the same impairment as someone who blows a .1 on a breathalyzer. His advice was, “Don’t drive when you’re sleep deprived.” He also said most people need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I laughed, albeit it bitterly, because if I followed his advice, I would never drive. I venture that many Americans could say the same. Also, getting seven hours of sleep in one go is not gonna happen for me unless I’m sick. Which, incidentally, is another reason I know I’m getting sick–I slept nearly seven hours (total in two separate chunks)last night after going to bed around midnight.


Continue Reading

NaNoWriMo confessionals

I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times in the past decade, and while I haven’t done it every year, any time I did participate, I completed the original goal–handily. I have a personal goal of writing 2,000 words a day, and I’ve been doing it consistently for many months if not a year. This means if I just continue doing what I do, I will easily meet the NaNoWriMo goal.

One year, I set my own goal. I decided I would edit a manuscript I already had, and that was very satisfying in its own way. I’ve realized that while I appreciate NaNoWriMo and thinks it’s an excellent way for people to make themselves write if they ordinarily wouldn’t, I have no use for the original goal. I don’t feel any sense of accomplishment in meeting it, so the whole thing is a bit hollow for me. One year, I set the goal at 200,000 (I think). I made it, and that was quite the thrill. However, I’m not sure that setting an arbitrary number is the most productive use of my time. In addition, I have OCD tendencies, which means I fixate on numbers as if they’re gods.

It was one of my biggest problems when I was dieting. I had all these numbers that Meant Something, and they slowly morphed into the be-all, end-all. In addition, the final number (the goal weight I wanted to be) kept moving any time I got even close to it. The first time I started a diet, I was counting calories. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but I started assigning values to the numbers. Some were bad and some were good. That spiraled into they were all bad, and at the end of that road was anorexia/bulimia.

The second time, I had a goal weight, plus I used a tape measure. I was losing roughly a half inch a week, and that quickly became the standard. If I didn’t reach that half inch, it would make me miserable for the whole week. In addition, I had a hard and fast rule about how much exercise I had to do a day, and I thought it was reasonable that I set it at 2 hours of aerobics every day and forty-five minutes of weight-lifting every other day.

It works the same when I’m writing. Because I have a personal goal of 2,000 words a day, I have a mentality like, “Reach 500 words and take a mini-break.” “Reach a thousand words and do one mission/quest in MHW.” It’s not a bad way to write, but it can become rigid. My own weird brain thing is that things have to be broken up into quarters. In this case, quarters of a hundred. I’ve told this story before, but I used to have a compulsion that if I saw a clock at any quarter of the hour, I had to rapidly count to 25 (another quarter) before the clock changed. My last therapist once asked me what would happen if I didn’t make it, and I said I would be upset. She persisted, asking me what practically would happen, and I was flummoxed. I couldn’t answer her, of course, and that was the beginning of the end to my counting.


Continue Reading