Underneath my yellow skin

Alienated isolation

In reading Ask A Manager, I have come to realize how truly weird I am for a variety of reason. In this post, I’m going to focus on gift-giving. In the case of AAM, it’s work related, of course, but I can extrapolate in general. Or, conversely, ponder it as yet another reason I wouldn’t be a good fit for a 9-to-5 job. There are always questions about giving gifts, sometimes about to whom you should give them, but also often about what to give. Obviously, nothing personal, and most people said stick to consumables or flowers or some such.

Um. No. I can’t consume most of the popular holiday consumables–cheese and chocolate. I also don’t drink so wine is right out. As for flowers, well, I’m allergic to almost everything known to womankind. I still remember working for the county and every Christmas, the administrative assistants got poinsettias. That’s when I learned that I was really allergic to poinsettias–to the point where I had difficulty breathing. There were four administrative assistants in the area I was in, so the scent of the poinsettias was very overwhelming. I put mine as far from me as possible, but I couldn’t escape it. When I mentioned it to my boss, she shrugged and got me one the next year as well.

I’d like to point out that this isn’t just me being difficult. It’s not me saying, “I don’t like this thing. Please don’t give it to me.” Well, ok, in the case of wine, it half is. Yes, I don’t like drinking, but I’m also allergic to it. I understand that a work gift isn’t the same as a personal gift, but it made me feel very unimportant to keep getting poinsettias after I pointed out that I was allergic to them. And, yes, it’s different than food because I’m not allergic to any food–just intolerant/sensitive. I’m not going to go into anaphylactic shock, and I won’t have to be rushed to the hospital. My throat isn’t going to swell shut, and I’m not going to die from any of it. I’m just going to be miserable as I sit on the toilet for hours, shitting until I’m dehydrated, sore, and exhausted.

Side Note: It’s strange that in the floral world, being allergic to something means itchiness, stuffed nose, watery eyes, etc. It doesn’t have to mean a need to be rushed to the hospital. The same with animal allergies. But in the food world, that’s a sensitivity or an intolerance. No greater point to be made about this–just an observation.

This is an issue with other aspects of my life, albeit in a more subjective way.   I am a weirdo in so many ways, and I’m careful about letting it show on the regular. I know how to pass as normal, and I can do it for shorts bursts of time. For example, when I go to the grocery store, I can pass as one of the locals. I know how to speak the language, and I have a mantra that nobody needs to know the real me. So, yeah, I can nod and smile when someone groans about winter or snow. I can talk about the Vikes to a superficial degree. I can say I’m doing fine with the best of them, and I can nod sympathetically if someone else complains about something.


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The positivity in negativity

I am a pessimist, and I have a negative outlook on life. I know it; I own it; I’m trying to change it. Or rather, I’m trying to modify it. I don’t want to ever be a blind optimist, though I know they live longer. It’s a funny twist of life–optimists live longer*, but pessimists are more realistic about life. Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking of negativity vs. positivity a lot this week because of several things I’ve seen/heard on the internet. One is a post on Ask A Manager about a coworker being relentlessly (I initially typed resentfully, which is a Freudian slip If I’ve ever written one) positive and forcing others to be positive as well. The reaction in the comments was swift and brutal–the coworker must be murdered, and no jury would convict. I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, because that was my response as I read the letter as well. The comments touched on the toxic positivity mentality that is prevalent in America (and I went down the rabbit hole of suggested links, also about this kind of forced positivity), which struck a chord in me.

I can hear you thinking, “Minna, what does this have to do with video games?” My response is, “Relax. I’m getting there. I’m just taking my sweet time as is my wont.”

I listened to the latest RKG podcast for producers, and one of the questions was from a supporter who had secured a job in games journalism. His main question was just asking for tips on how to be a good writer in the field, but he also touched on his guilt at being a white cis het man in a field that is, well, glutted with them. I’ll get to the second part later, but it’s the first part that ties in with the positivity/negativity theme. Gav went off on a rant about how he hated it when people immediately tore down something as their go-to. He was speaking specifically in the industry, and he said it was his pet peeve how people just wanted to rip on something new. Rory was in agreement with Krupa being a bit more tempered. Krupa pointed out that it’s not easy to write a negative opinion/critique well, which I agree with, but he wasn’t as on board with the ‘don’t be negative’ thing (possibly because he’s the problem solver in the bunch).

Gav said there was someone on Twitter that he follows who always is snarky about something new coming out. Again, I’m assuming in the field. The example he gave was the new Jurassic World movie in which apparently Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum are appearing in. He’s super-excited about it, and the aforementioned guy on Twitter posted something snarky about it. Gav was like, “Why can’t you just enjoy it for a second? Maybe it’ll suck, but why not just revel in it right now?” He didn’t say ‘revel’, but you get the picture.

Full disclosure, I’m touchy about people policing other people’s Twitter/FB TLs/Feeds because I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like what other people like and because I’ve had it done to me. Someone got mad at me because I posted so much about cold and snow on my FB page (heard about it through someone else), and I saw another FB friend post something about why do people who hate Christmas have to talk about it? Why couldn’t they just keep it to themselves? I hadn’t posted anything really anti-Christmas that year, but she certainly knew how I felt about it. I’m sure I wasn’t in the forefront of her mind when she posted her rant, but that’s kind of my point.

Here’s the thing. Those of us in the minority are usually well-aware that our opinion is not usual. Many of us keep 90% of that shit to ourselves for that very reason. Small example. I was at Cubs yesterday and exchanging pleasantries with another customer. I said something about the sun being so bright, and she said, “At least there’s no snow!” I laughed and said nothing, and we went our separate ways. Had I been true to my feelings, I would have blurted out, “I fucking love snow!”, but it wasn’t necessary to say that to a stranger.

Here’s the other thing. When you are in the majority about something, you vastly overestimate the times you hear about the opposing opinion.** Or rather, you don’t notice how many times your point of view is being vocalized. If you live in America, you can’t fucking escape Christmas starting from the day after Thanksgiving (actually before, but I’ll be generous). It’s everywhere, and it’s annoying as fuck if you don’t actually like Christmas/are indifferent to it/don’t celebrate it. Let’s say you read three posts on Facebook in a week about how Christmas sucks. You probably read a hundred pro-Christmas posts in the same time-frame, but because you like Christmas, it doesn’t even register in your brain.


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Running out of patience

I’ve had enough with the sickness, but it has not had enough of me. Last night, I ate something that hit me hard. I’m pretty sure I know what it is as the symptoms came within minutes of finishing something, and it does not have wheat/gluten or dairy in it. You know what that means? It means there is something else I’m allergic/sensitive/intolerant to, and I have to do some more fact finding. I think you can guess how happy I am about that. I’ve had issues before, and I’m tired of it. That means I have to figure out the other thing that makes me shit my brain out*. It happened five minutes after eating this thing (not naming it because it’s not the fault of the product, which was actually tasty), and then I was running to the bathroom every fifteen/twenty minutes for the rest of the evening.

TMI, but the whole post probably is. It’s the kind of thing where you have to run to the bathroom and pray you’ll make it in time. My stomach is fine, fine, fine, and then GOTTA RUN NOW! Shadow did not appreciate that as he was on my legs the first time it happened. I didn’t shove him off exactly, but I moved my legs with quickness. He was not pleased, and he let me know about it, but I had roughly ten seconds to make it to the toilet, so I paid him no mind.

Side Note: I was describing the symptoms to my mother while she was here, and she said it might be her issue as well. She’s been having similar problems, and she decided to try to go dairy free/gluten free as well. I told her she could try my dairy-free cheese and cashew milk. She complained that they did not taste like the real thing, and I patiently explained to her that they wouldn’t. She had to not think of them as substitutes but as their own thing. After one day, she gave up because it was too hard.

Side Note II: My father has the opposite problem (constipation). As he was listening to my mother and I discuss our problems, he said, “I know this sounds strange, but I wish I had your problem.” I didn’t explain to him why he should not say that to someone, but I certainly thought it. I had heard similar things when I was anorexic/bulimic, and it always made me feel worse. Like, I’m dealing with this really difficult thing, and you so blithely make a joke about it? No thank you. I didn’t demur with my father, however, because I knew it wouldn’t make a difference.

Side Note III: It’s really interesting how invested Americans are in the idea of faaaaaaamily. I was explaining something about my father to someone, and they were saying, “Oh, maybe he’s trying to be sympathetic in a really awkward way”, and I said, “No, he’s just a narcissist.” The uncomfortable silence was palpable, and I swiftly changed the subject.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. My dodgy stomach. Hey, I watch a bunch of British YouTubers, so I’ve absorbed some of their lingo.


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Swimming under water when I’m not a fish

on a quiet basis.
Depression hurts.

Months ago, I read an article about living with chronic depression and suicidal ideation. More to the point, the article was about how it’s difficult to talk about it without people freaking out. I’m not saying it’s not understandable–mentioning suicide or not wanting to live is deeply uncomfortable to hear. The impulse is to rush in and placate the person, say it’s not so bad, or give them a half-dozen reasons why they should want to live. Especially in America, we are not comfortable with death, and my theory is because we are so removed from it.

The piece really resonated with me because I can’t remember a day when I woke up thinking, “I’m glad to be alive.” There were long periods of my life when I actively wanted to be not alive. Note that I did not say I wanted to die because I’m afraid of death, but I most certainly did not want to be alive. I liked to joke that my negativity is the only reason I’m alive–I had more fear of dying, convinced that whatever was on the other side was worse than what was in this one. I hated life, though, and everything about it. I hated me most of all, and I would go over every day in my mind what I hated about myself. The list was long and seemingly never-ending.

It’s weird for me to think about those days because I was a completely different person back then. It’s as if it weren’t me, and I feel that way about most of my earlier incantations. I don’t have any connection to them, and I don’t know if it’s normal or not. I feel some sympathy for the younger mes, but I don’t feel as if they were me. It could be dissociation or it could just be normal growth. It’s hard for me to say.

Recently, I had a bout of wanting to die, and it was really strange. It wasn’t me. I mean, I wasn’t consciously thinking it–it was an external pressure. Back in the day, it was me wanting to not live. This most recent bout, it wasn’t that at all. I mean, to get a bit more nuanced, I go through most of my days not wanting to be alive. Or rather, I’m indifferent to it. I don’t see the point, and I don’t know what I’m adding to the world by being here. I will say it’s a huge step up from I used to think I was actively toxic. I had the mindset that I started each day with a negative amount of points, and I had to claw my way to zero in order not to be a sum negative to the world. I don’t know why I had this mindset, though I’m sure it had something to do with my very critical childhood, but it persisted through my thirties.

It was a trap, of course, because I started every day at a negative (indeterminate) number. Even if I managed to make my way to zero (in my brain, which I never did), any good points would be wiped out overnight. I can say that now and see it with such clarity, but while I was in the middle of it, it seemed like the way it should be.

Side Note: For years, I had a voice in my head that I dubbed The Dictator. He (and it was a he) would order me about, saying what I should and shouldn’t do. He was capricious in that what he deemed appropriate was, well, pretty much the same as my family, but hardened into a rigidity that was dangerous. I felt helpless to stop it, and it took many years of therapy and taiji to quiet the voice. I don’t know when I stopped hearing it, but it’s been gone for some time. I’m glad about that, but what’s replaced it is more insidious. It’s not a voice, but just a feeling of general malaise. You would think it’s better, and it is in general, but it’s also harder to combat. It sounds so reasonable when it’s saying unreasonable things.

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Hacking off more limbs in The Surge 2

 

party people!
If you like pina coladas….

I’m sick. Or rather, I have a ‘bug’ that is sapping my energy and my will to do anything. I’ve had to cut down my morning routine to the bare basics, and I’ve been dozy all day long. I have not played The Surge 2 for the last two days because it takes a lot to play that game. However, before I got sick, I managed to finally find the first boss. I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to get to him, but probably because when I play this kind of game, I wring out absolutely every inch of content I can. I will go on every side path, and I will do every fetch quest, er, side quest.

An aside: There is a bug in the game that if you don’t get your reward from a certain NPC the first time she asks, you don’t get to open the magnetic lift next to her. It probably doesn’t matter in the long run other than it makes it hard to get to her, but it’s annoying.

Aside II: There is an area right outside the first Medical Bay (not in the prison) that you unlock, kinda, but that is walled off by some bad-ass motherfuckers. Supercops, if you will. You can go in there, but you probably don’t want to. It’s the same with another area. It has two supercops walling it off, but I picked them off and went behind them. To my disappointment, there wasn’t anything I could do yet there. I understand that they’re trying to organically wall off areas, but if you can get there, there should be something there waiting for you.

In the second walled-off area, I decided to take a peek behind the three supercops. I did a stealth thing down the side road and picked off all the enemies along the way. I stealthed into the  plaza, then started running like hell because there were turrets and enemies and all kinds of bullshit.

Side Note to the Aside II: I really hate the turrets. Hate, hate, hate it. There is one enemy that has turrets and spider drones and rifle drones, and uses them all interchangeably. Yes, I have a turret drone and a rifle drone myself, but I don’t have unlimited ammo the way they do. Yes, Souls does the same thing with enemies having endless stamina/firebombs/whatever, so I know it’s not a novel idea, but it’s annoying and as frustrating as hell. Once again, I’d like to note that there is a really fine line between ‘difficult, but fair’ and ‘flat-out bullshit’. The Surge 2, unfortunately, crosses that line more than once.

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Finding my way home

Today is gray and drizzling out, and we need the rain. I like gloomy weather, but it doesn’t do much for my depression. Which I still have right now. It’s not as bad as it was on Friday, but it’s still (ma)lingering. Friday was the worst I’d had in quite some time, and it freaked me out. I could barely get through the one day, so how the hell did I used to do this on the daily? I passed much of my twenties in this fashion, and I’m amazed I made it to the other side. There were days when I considered it an accomplishment that I brushed my teeth. That’s how I felt on Friday. I struggled to get anything done, and I’m feeling it a bit today. The last few days, it’s been difficult to get my writing done. I’d write a sentence or two, then stopped. My head felt heavy, and my eyelids kept closing against my will.

Today, I’ve had to push myself to get my shit together. My taiji routine should take a half hour to forty minutes. I’ve stretched it to ninety minutes before by reading my phone as I was stretching. Today, since I wanted to go to Cubs afterwards, I managed to do it in forty minutes. My routine now consists of 10 minutes of stretching, 10 minutes of warm-ups, 10-15 minutes of weapons, 5 minutes of Solo Form, 10 more minutes of stretching. As I was doing my morning routine, I thought, “I don’t have to go to Cubs. I can go tomorrow.” This is one of the more insidious aspects of my depression–I can talk myself out of doing anything. Now, granted, I didn’t *have* to go to Cubs today, but it would have been a lean day if I hadn’t. Nothing wrong with a lean day, but I probably wouldn’t feel like going tomorrow, either. I made myself go today, and now, I can eat fairly well (given that I don’t cook).

I’ve been exhausted since my parents left. I can barely keep my eyes open, and all I want to do is sleep. Yet, when I try to sleep, I can’t. This is per yooz for me, though. I can be falling asleep every minute of the day, and then when I actually go to bed, I’m wide awake. I used to get frustrated about it, but I’ve accepted it as a way of life. My weighted sleep mask has been a god-send for keeping me asleep (except for the bizarre fact that it doesn’t have a fastener, but merely a slit to pull one end through, so it falls off. I should sew a button on or something, but, that’s probably not going to happen), but it doesn’t help me actually fall asleep.

I’m really tired. So tired that my brain is refusing to brain. So, for today, I’m shutting it down. Here’s Vienna Teng’s Lullaby For a Stormy Night. I may need to take a nap.

 

Matter over mind

Last weekend, my taiji teacher invited me to her place this Saturday (last night) because her husband was on a retreat so she was baching it for the week. When she asked, my brain immediately came up with a million reasons not to go (even though we are friends and I like hanging out with her), so I did the Minnesotan response* (which I then explained to her in another context ten minutes later) of saying I would have to see how I felt that day. Then, after I went home, I thought about it more and realized that I had a habit of naysaying because I had such a difficult time leaving the house. I had to convince myself that there was a good reason to leave, then talk myself through the actual leaving. I hate driving so that’s part of it, but it’s also just that I am not able to control things outside my house to the extent that I can inside my house. Except my cat. There’s no controlling him.

I emailed my teacher and told her I’d be going (betraying my MN roots) and if I could bring anything. All was well until Friday rolled around. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed as the saying goes, and I was in the worst depression I’d had in at least a decade. It wasn’t my usual general malaise; it was a serious I hate everything about the world feeling. Plus, I was physically drained to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open. I had no idea why I felt that way or what caused it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Everything I tried to do was made impossible by the heaviness of my eyelids and my body. I would try to write, and my eyes would close.

I wanted to go to taiji, but I knew I would be putting myself and others at risk if I tried to drive. I emailed my teacher telling her I wouldn’t be in class, and then I immediately started worrying about whether I would be able to go to her place the next night. My brain told me I should just cancel (even though I told her I was still aiming to go) and promise to take her out for lunch later. I didn’t want to disappoint her, plus I knew that my depression made me catastrophize everything. I decided to wait and see because I might be better by the next morning. There was no reason to call it off with plenty of time to see if I’d get better. But, that’s how my brain rolls. It says everything is terrible and I might as well just give up because it’s no use. What is no use? Everything is no use.

The rest of the day was me struggling to get shit done. I did manage to do it, but it took about four times the effort, and the results were…not great. But I got them done. I went to bed or rather passed out against my will (I hate falling asleep sometimes), and when I got up, I felt much better. Still like shit, but at least it didn’t feel as if I were swimming in molasses. I decided I was going to taiji and my teacher’s place later, even though my brain was screaming at me not to go. Why? Because it hates me.

Side Note: I have a lot of anxiety, obviously. It makes me sympathetic to others with anxiety, but it also makes it difficult for me to be around others with a high level of anxiety. My mother also has a lot of anxiety, and while she used to keep it somewhat under control, now she just lets it run amok. Her constant stream of anxiety is the way the voices in my head sound, and I don’t need an outwardly manifestation of said anxiety.

I went to taiji, and it was productive. I will talk more about that later because it’s worthy of a post in and of itself. Afterwards, my teacher and I chatted for a few minutes before we went our separate ways *cue Journey*. I went home to relax a bit, but in the back of my mind, there was a little voice worrying about the evening. That’s the way my mind works. There’s always a little voice saying something negative. Over the years, I’ve been able to tame it to a great extent, but I can’t get rid of it completely. In the past, I would give in to the voices just to shut them up, but it was folly. It only stopped them for a second, and sometimes, not even then. It used to be a shout, but now it’s more a dull murmur.

At least I knew what I was going to wear. I have a new favorite pair of paints that I bought from Target. AVA And Viv. Burnt Orange. Pockets. Comfy waist. Wide legs. In other words, fucking perfect. Plus a black button down from Taiwan. The drive was terrific because I was able to take the freeway that is currently NOT under construction rather than the one that is a fucking nightmare right now. There was one other woman there, someone I had met before who is really kindhearted with a fey outlook on life that I found both fascinating and at times bewildering.

I bought two tubs of hummus, two packets of pitas, and one bag of gluten-free bagels. I also bought some dark chocolate hummus to try for myself, and it’s…ok. It’s bland and too gritty, though. I also currently have a dark chocolate vegan spread that is…ok. It’s too gummy, though. The best is from Peanut Butter & Co., but it’s a tad too gritty. They also have a dark chocolate hazelnut spread, but the shipping fee on a five dollar jar is ten bucks. Uh, no. I could get six for thirty from Amazon, but that’s too much for one person.

We listened to music, chatted, and had tasty food. The other woman brought corn chips, and my teacher made a great guac to go with them. She also had a tasty flavored drink made with cane sugar. I think it was cherry? I can’t quite remember. In addition, she provided dark chocolate-covered almonds and dark chocolate-covered nuts and Majula dates. For a second, I was concerned about the chocolate until I remembered that she was allergic to dairy herself so she would not buy anything that would trigger a reaction.

My teacher’s husbands has an impressive array of insects and lizards, and my teacher has an adorable cat. It was so cool to check them all out. There is a lizard, um, gecko, um, not sure exactly what species she is, but I told her she was me in lizard form. She’s stealthy and likes to hang out in the shadows, being more of an observer than a participant. The boy lizard, on the other hand, is gregarious, outgoing, and likes to show you his big testicles. I didn’t get to see them, but I cackled at my teacher’s description of him manspreading on the glass.

At the end of the night, I marveled to myself that I had gone through so much anxiety over the event because it turned out to be lovely and very low-key. That’s the way my brain works, though, and I doubt I will ever be able to get it to stop completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Anything other than a yes is a no. “I have to check my calendar” is a no. “That sounds interesting” is a no. “I’ll talk it over with my husband/wife/spouse/dog” is a no. “I’d love to if I can ____” is a no. If you don’t hear an explicit, “Yes! I’m there!”, it’s a no.

The good and the bad of The Surge 2

oh dear. it's coming.
What fresh hell is this?

The Surge (the original) was a surprise hit for me when I played it back in 2018. I even gave it an award and everything! I will never argue that it’s a great game, but I had a blast playing it. The RKG group (members of the group, not RKG themselves) hates it almost uniformly, and they got mad at me for saying I liked it better than Nioh. They argued that Nioh was a better game, and they seemed befuddled when I agreed. I know Nioh is a better game than The Surge. I mean, it’s more technically accomplished, it looks better (though there are some UGLY levels in Nioh–I’m looking at you, snow world–and the combat is more complex. Actually, that was part of my issue with Nioh, though I’d be curious to see if I felt the same way now that I’ve finished Sekiro. It’s more imaginative, and I like the demon/fantasy theme much better than the sci-fi world of The Surge. However, when it comes to which one I enjoyed more, indeed, which one I actually finished, it would be The Surge.

It was such a success that a sequel was inevitable. I was hyped about it, but also nervous. Why nervous? Because I was hyped about it. See, I wasn’t expecting anything from the first game. Why? Because Deck 13’s first game, Lords of the Fallen, was a hot mess. The reviews ranged from lukewarm to downright excoriating. Me, I hated the game. A lot. It was fantasy, and should have been right up my alley, but all they seemed to take from Dark Souls was ‘heavy’ combat. They were transparent about their love for Dark Souls, but they didn’t seem to understand what makes it such a transformational game*. It’s like looking at the Mona Lisa and thinking the smile was the only thing important about the painting. Yes, it’s an integral part, but it’s not the whole. I feel the same about Deck 13 and Lords of the Fallen. Yes, the combat is weighty, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Dark Souls. Also, the magicks is shite in LoF, at least in the first hour. Also also, just throwing a mob of enemies at the player isn’t a great way of making a game difficult. My biggest complaint about LoF was that they seemed to go into the game thinking, “We want a game that is hard” and built everything around that instead of having a vision that integrated elements of a challenging game.

When The Surge was announced, I wasn’t anything more than mildly interested. Nothing about it screamed, ‘come here!’ to me, and I let it go until it went on sale on Steam. Then, I tried the demo and had a reasonably good time, so I bought it for like ten bucks. I wasn’t expecting anything from it, and I was pleasantly surprised. There were several things I did not like about the game, but overall, I had a decent time with it. When the sequel was announced, I was stoked. But, as I said above, also nervous. Was I expecting too much?

Fast-forward to September 23rd when the game actually dropped. I bought it four hours before it released and pre-loaded it. I was excited and ready to roll by the time the game was installed. Graphics looked better than the last one, and the environments were more varied in the first few hours than they had been in all of the original game. I got to make my own character, and, yes, I made her an Asian woman. There wasn’t that much customization, but the fact that they allowed me to do any at all was a step up.

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I got my weapons on my mind

Let’s talk weapons. Not the gun kind that has been making the news with distressing frequency, but the kind that doesn’t shoot projectiles at a high velocity. We’re talking swords, sabres, canes, and fans. We’re also talking escrima sticks and karambits. I mentioned this before, but I want to delve more into it.

I never wanted to try weapons when I first started taiji. While I was all about the martial arts application, I thought weapons were…uncivilized. More than that, they scared me. I was a ball of rage at that time, and I felt if I did weapons, I would just beat the shit out of everyone with said weapons. It wasn’t rational, but it was how I felt. I kept a tight rein on my anger, but when I slipped, it exploded all over the place.

I’ve told this story a million times, but I fobbed off my teacher every time she brought up weapons for an uncomfortable amount of time. It was only when she put a wooden sword into my hand that I realized what the fuck I had been missing. The second I closed my fingers over the hilt of the sword, I knew this was what I was meant to do. It felt like an extension of my arm, and I bought my stainless steel sword pretty soon after.

I would like to say that I practiced diligently once I started learning the Sword Form, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and I didn’t experience a radical personality change. I still dragged my feet, but I *did* enjoy learning the Sword Form more than I did the Solo Form. I learned it fairly quickly, and I loved every minute of it. When I was learning the Solo Form, there were several times I questioned what the fuck I was doing and why the hell I was doing this thing called taiji? I don’t mind saying (and my teacher doesn’t mind hearing) that I resented the hell out of taiji, and one of the reasons I went to more than one class a week is because I didn’t practice at home at all.

Side Note: I have a new classmate who is challenging to me for many reasons. The one I’m going to focus on this right now is because she’s so gung-ho about taiji, especially weapons. I am the weapons person in my class, and it’s a poke to my ego to see her learning them before knowing the whole Solo Form. Back when I started taiji, my teacher was told by her teacher that weapons could not be taught until after the Solo Form. That is no longer the case, and while I think it’s a good change, it’s hard for me not to feel resentful. I know I sound very much ‘back in my day’ about it, but it doesn’t help to hide it. I try not to have attitude around her, but it’s difficult.

Anyway, after the Sword Form came the Sabre Form, and that was a rocky road. It was nothing like the Sword Form, which shocked the hell out of me. Ignorant me thought, “Hey, it’s just a slightly bigger sword. It should be a snap.” It was not a snap. Not a snap at all. It was the opposite of a snap, and it upset me. There are very few things I’m proud of when it comes to myself, and one of them is that I learn things quickly*. Whereas the sword instantly felt at home in my hand, the sabre was just…dead wood. It never came alive. It never sang to me. It never thrummed with excitement, and I hated it.

I can say that now because I am past that hate and the resentment. Way past it, but I’ll get to that in a second.


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The sins of the parent

One thing I hate when my parents are around is how I’m relegated to being baby once again. My brother is three years older, and he gets treated as if he were the font of wisdom whereas I’m…well, it’s complicated, and I’ll get to it in a second. One thing that everyone in my family has in common is that we all have Strong Opinions on things and will not let it go. It manifests in different ways with each of us. My father simply refuses to acknowledge points other than his own and hammers his own opinion over and over again. Over the decades, he has perfected the art of the blank look followed by simply repeating what he already said. He does not argue in good faith, and he’s not really looking for other opinions. My mother will acknowledge the other position, but then immediately want to drop the subject if it gets at all uncomfortable. In a way, it’s more frustrating because she’s vent for a half hour; I’ll give my opinion for five minutes; then she wants to change the topic if I don’t simply agree with her.

My brother states his opinions confidently, and while he’s willing to hear other opinions, it’s often hard to face his confidence with equanimity. Even when I know I’m right, I hesitate in the face of his certainty. One example that always stands out in my mind is Daylight Savings Time. For whatever reason, I had looked up whether the farmers were for or against it (I think we talked about it in taiji or something), and then it came up in a conversation with my brother and parents. This was a few summers ago, and I don’t remember the details. I do remember my brother stating the urban myth reason of farmers pushing for DST, which was what I believed before looking it up. Even though I knew he was wrong because I had just looked it up, he said it with no doubt in his voice, and I started thinking I had misremembered what I Googled. I looked it up again on, and I was right. Also, he does not get emotional reasoning at all (or thinks he doesn’t. He does it himself, but rationalizes it as logical), so he can’t understand why someone doesn’t just listen to all the facts he’s presenting and see the reasonableness of his position.

Me, I do one of two things. Either I say nothing at all or I forcefully state my opinion. There is no in-between for me, and I feel bad regardless of which route I choose. Nobody in my family can argue/debate without pushing it to the limits, and it gets really annoying when we’re all together. I’m working on my own issues around this, but it’s slow-going. I have a bad temper, which I try to keep under control. For the most part it works, but when my buttons are pushed, I blurt shit out without thinking about it because I’m pissed. Or at least deeply irritated. I get this from my father, and it’s not pretty. For many years, I just stuffed it down deep inside because I wasn’t allowed to show anger. Only my father was, and, oh, did he show it. Then, I was angry all the time and popping off about everything. I’ve managed to temper the rage somewhat with the help of therapy and taiji, but it’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis.


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