Underneath my yellow skin

Baby steps in health

caffeine injection stat!
Yes, I’d love a–GIMME THE DAMN TEA

It’s been a roughly a week since I started my caffeine cut-down. I’m at roughly 8 oz a day, which is where I want to be. It’s been easy-breezy-peasy!

Fuck the hell it has. It’s been harder than fuck, and you can tell I’m serious because I said fuck twice in two sentences. Three times. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be. The last time I did this, I cut out caffeine completely (6 cans of Diet Pepsi a day), it was horrible for a few days. I barely remember because I was in a haze and my head was pounding like it was a taiko drumming. If I had any doubt that caffeine was an addiction, I didn’t after that.

This time, I decided to be smart about it. I cut down gradually, well, OK, not that gradually. I went from 60 oz to about 25 oz (the first cut is the deepest), and then slowly whittled it down to roughly 10 oz. I’m close to where I want to be, and it’s the worst. I’m so fucking tired all the time. I mentioned last time that it’s a weariness deep in my soul. It’s also mad headaches at time, but it’s mostly feeling unfocused and not able to think. I’m drinking the caffeine when I first wake up, and then I’m going the rest of the day mostly without. By the way, I just had a sip of Mango Diet Coke and instinctively made a face. It was gross. I don’t think I can drink them, though I hate just pouring them out. It’s the Taiwanese in me–we loath to get rid of anything.

I didn’t realize how much I rely on the caffeine to get me through the day. I’m draggy most of the time, and it’s hard for me to concentrate. On the other hand, I am less anxious than I was before, but maybe it’s because I’m just so fucking tired. My affect is flat–flatter than normal, which is pretty flat. I think my body is craving the caffeine, and I don’t know how long it’ll take to physically become not dependent.

I also don’t know if my body will accept anything less than going completely caffeine-free before adjusting. I think I might be keeping it in a state of confusion by pumping it up with caffeine in the morning and coasting on it for the rest of the day. I’ll report back in a week or so how the caffeine experiment is going.

I believe it’ll be better overall, but it’s hellish right now. All I want to do is sleep all the time, and I keep nodding off. It makes me think that at least some of my sleeping issues has been the caffeine. Yes, I know that’s a ‘duh’ thought, but I can’t be brilliant all the time. Could it be as simple as less caffeine equals more sleep? Yeah, no. I’ve been sleeping less actually since giving up caffeine, but maybe that’s just because of the adjustment period.  Continue Reading

Life hacks from the Queer Eye guys

I just binge-watched the two seasons of the rebooted Queer Eye on Netflix, and I’ll have a full post on it later. For now, however, I want to talk about a few life hacks I’ve taken away from the show in general. Before that, I want to talk about a life hack I’m trying from a Buzzfeed video of all things. The video was on coffee addicts giving up coffee for a week, and the one thing they all had in common was that they suffered from anxiety, and they had a scientist* on who talked about the link between caffeine and anxiety. The minute she said it, I was like, “No shit!” It made perfect sense once she said it, but I had never thought about it up until that moment.

I drink a ton of caffeine a day. I have a 64 oz growler I keep filled (around 50 oz) and sip throughout the day. In addition, I drink a cup or two of tea and coffee sometimes, though I’ve mostly cut that out. I estimated that I drink 60 oz of caffeine a day, which isn’t great. I decided I wanted to get it down to 8 oz and mostly drink tea rather than Diet Coke. Now, I’ve given up caffeine cold turkey before, going from 6 cans of Diet Pepsi a day (hey, I was in college. I didn’t know better, and I didn’t discover my allegiance to Diet Coke until decade later) to none. It was horrible, and I would not recommend it to anyone.

This time, I decided to wean myself off rather than just quit, and I would do it by switching out the Diet Coke for tea. All caffeine is not equal, and even though there have been no definitive studies about the effects of aspartame, I can confidently say that it’s not good for a person. In other words, there is no downside to cutting out Diet Coke. First day, I cut myself down to roughly 25 oz. Ouch. The second day, I got it down to 20 oz. Yesterday (Saturday), the fourth day, I had to get up at 4 a.m. to take my parents to the airport, so I slammed a Diet Coke on the way there. One thing I’ve learned from this experiment is that Diet Coke is pretty gross-tasting. Even the mango one, which was my favorite of the new flavors, made my lips pucker. In addition, when I got home from the airport, I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t because I was still jittery.

I’m down to about 8 oz of caffeine a day, which was my target, and I’m trying to have it in the morning, then do without for the rest of the day. It’s been difficult because I’ve been incredibly fatigued the rest of the day. It’s not a normal kind of tired–it’s a body-encompassing fatigue that is really hard to explain. A great word for it is lassitude, and, yeah, let’s stick with that. I’m actually thinking about going down to no caffeine, but I’m not sure I can do that. Plus, there are benefits for drinking roughly 8 oz of caffeine a day, so I’m not rushing to cut it out completely.

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*snap* *snap* *snap*
Where are my likes?

Recently, I went down the Buzzfeed video rabbit hole, and I’ve only recently emerged. First of all, it’s easy to keep on clicking on suggested videos, which is exactly why they do it the way they do it. Let’s face it, they have honed the science of getting people to keep on clicking. I’m not even really interested in the videos, but, hey, I’m here, anyway, so I might as well click. I keep them on as background noise while I’m doing other things, so it’s easy to keep the chatter going. I really think of them as white noise, which is perfect for me.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The videos are mostly fluff. I’ve seen a dozen videos of people trying different kinds of food, and there’s usually some kind of theme to it like weird foods or spicy foods or Thai foods. They usually show their faces as they react, and the reaction is big and bold. On purpose, I’m sure. It’s not normal for everyone in the room to react so wildly for something that is just a bit weird and not, say, an entire person on fire. It feels as if one of the requirements for working with Buzzfeed is being an out-sized personality–at least if you’re going to be on camera. Let’s face it, though. It wouldn’t be half as interesting if someone took a bite of, say, lutefisk (actual thing that happened) and just shrugged their shoulders. They are masters of selling their product.

Two, they have a wide variety of people who work for Buzzfeed. All races, colors, religions, genders, sexual orientations, but not age. The videos are definitely geared towards hip twenty-somethings–which I am most emphatically not. Not only because I’m not twenty, but I’ve never been and never will be hip. Also, ninety-percent of the people in the videos are good-looking, but we’ll get to that later (if I remember).

Three, the videos that try to be deeper…fail. The ‘girls acting like guys’ and vice-versa–by the way. It’s 2018. WOMEN, not girls. It’s irritating that this is still a thing, especially when it’s used in the same sentence as men. Such as, “The girls and their men.” Ugh. Anyway, I know these videos are trying to highlight stereotypes, but many of the issues they cover are not easy to breakdown in five minutes or less–especially not in video. What usually happens is that they have the women do stereotypical male things, then have a short, pithy statement at the end why the stereotyping is bad.

First of all (on the third point), the stereotypes are all tired. Dudes like to talk about sports. Dudes have trouble committing. Chicks are overly emotional and go to the bathroom in pairs. OK, the second is true, but still. I know they are taking an ironic look at it, but it’s the age old question of whether focusing on the stereotypes so much is beneficial or not. I think it can be if there is enough down to deconstruct said stereotypes, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

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I vant to be alone

Day Five

go. away.
I’m ready for the apocalypse.

It’s day five with no end in sight. Life as we know it is over, and I may not make it out of this alive. If I don’t, tell Shadow I love him.

I’ve been up for almost three hours, and I’ve had to answer four tech questions for my father already. Now, I know this isn’t a big deal because many of us have older parents who are uncomfortable with technology. Let’s throw some additional wrenches into this shitshow. One: I don’t read Chinese; my father’s phone is in Chinese. Two: I don’t use cell phones for any serious work because it makes me angry, scared, and confused. I like a full-functioning keyboard and all my keyboard shortcuts. Three: One of the problems has to do with PowerPoint, which I don’t use at all.

So. We have the comedy of me pointing at something on the screen and asking my father what it says. He doesn’t speak English on the regular any longer and hasn’t for at least two decades, so he struggles to translate the Chinese into English. Then, I try to figure out the equivalent in English before poking his phone, mostly in random.

This is fairly funny, but it’s also irritating because both my parents expect me to drop whatever I’m doing and help them RIGHT NOW. Yes, I know their emergency is not my emergency, but Asian parenting training is real, yo. You don’t say ‘no’ to your Asian parent. You just don’t. I’ve gotten much better at it, but it’s hard not to slip. Plus, my mother has a singular mind when it comes to, well, anything. And she has no ability to rate how urgent something is. If she wants it done, then it’s urgent. It’s hard because my ‘office’ is my couch, which is in the living room. So they feel free just to wander in and ask for whatever it is they need or just to chat.

Small annoyance: My mother is like a caster of her own thoughts. You know that inner voice that is constantly narrating what you do and think? That’s my mom. “I’m going to cut the vegetables now. First I have to soak them, though. I soak them for twenty minutes to get the–what do you call it?” That’s an actual question which she waits for me to answer. I know what she wants, but I’m not going to give it to her. I am not. No, no, no. I am not going to say toxins. “I leave it for twenty minutes, and–” I cannot tell you what follows because by this time, my eyes have glazed over, and my pulse is nonexistent.

I know that I’m making all this sound amusing (and it is in retrospect, it kinda is), but it’s mostly irritating at the time. The last few times they’ve been here, I’ve been able to let this shit roll off my back, but for whatever reason, it’s been harder this time. It started when my mom called me a few days before the visit. We were just talking about whatever, and then she said something that was patently a statement of denial. I was telling my brain, “Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it,” as my brain formulated a statement that I knew wouldn’t make things better and might actually make things worse. My brain wouldn’t let me not say it, and, yes, it didn’t make things any better.

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The Surge–put it in the done folder

making him feel it EXTRA.
Crucifixion never felt so good.

Ian and I sometimes talk about the way we game. He’s a Games Journalist™ now, but even before he had to play a million games a week, he had the tendency to dive into something for a bit, then move on to another game, rinse, lather, and repeat. I, on the other hand, will latch onto a game, then wring every ounce of content I can out of it and then some. ‘Coz I’m Taiwanese, and we’re a cheap people. I tend to have ‘my’ game, playing it obsessively until I finish the game. In this case, it’s The Surge. I wrote about the first half of it here.

Halfway through the game, I started getting sick of the game. Now, this is normal for me when I play a game, especially a Souls/Souls-like game. It’s the downside of ingesting a game until it bleeds out of my eyeballs. I clearly remember the first time I played the original Dark Souls. After the infamous duo, everything went rapidly downhill. I didn’t want to play the rest of the game. And, it’s pretty much accepted that the second half of the original Dark Souls doesn’t hold up to the first half, do not @me, Souls fans, because you know it’s fucking true. When I beat *spoilers* Gwyn, I chose to link the First Flame, and watched the credits roll, I didn’t feel jubilation, elation, or any other kind of positive -ation. I was relieved, and I was glad to see the backside of Dark Souls. I put it in the done folder, and I thought I was through with it forever. Ha! I will get to that more in a bit.

One thing I quite like about The Surge is that you had to go back to one early area–Central Production B–several times because doing later parts unlocked new areas. What I didn’t like is that it wasn’t always clear what I was meant to do when I finished an area. Yes, yes, I know esoteric and Souls go together like hand and glove, but usually in a Souls game, you at least know what you’re supposed to go. And, because it’s not exactly linear, sometimes you have several places you can go. Yes, there are areas that you can skip or not even know exist, but in general, all the places you NEED to go are fairly easy to spot. There is one major counter-example in Dark Souls II, but, again, not a Miyazaki* game. In The Surge, I had to check the wikis more than once after finishing a section because I had no idea where I was supposed to go next.

Here’s where we touch on the story. The story is…meh. The premise is serviceable.  You start on a train into CREO, a company dedicated to using technology for the betterment of the world. Yeah, like we have never heard that one before. Like it’s not the basis of a zillion sci-fi novels/movies/TV shows. Yes, there’s the board that even for all their good intentions, ultimately do more evil than good. They are positioned to be the big baddie, which they are in the metaphorical sense, if not the literal one. *mild spoiler* When the train stop, you get off the train, wait, what? I’m in a wheelchair, which is an interesting choice. Not being able to sprint is frustrating, which is a good thing. Here’s the thing, though. It’s just a shtick. The first thing you do after getting off the train is to roll to a place where you choose either ‘Lynx’ (dex) or ‘Rhino’ (tank), and then you have the mechanical pieces grafted onto your body. You’re supposed to be sedated, but it doesn’t take. As a result, you get thrown into the garbage heap, and you wake up to a drone trying to drag you somewhere. And, of course, you can walk. *unspoilered*

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Real life getting in the way of my blogging

We’re coming down to crunch time with my parents’ visit being roughly twenty-seven hours away and me being in a panic because I am not ready. Cleaning-wise because I always leave it to the last moment, but I’m mostly at peace with that because it’ll never be clean enough*. I mean it more mentally and emotionally. I’ve had a better relationship with my parents in the past few years since, well, ever. I’ve been able to roll with much of the bullshit, and arguments went from daily to maybe once every other week.

I was on the phone with my mom the other night, and she was talking about my father as she normally does. 90+% of our conversations revolve around him (partly my fault because I get pulled into it), and she mentioned something that instantly triggered my, “That’s fucked up” response that is specifically tuned to my family bullshit. Now, I knew mentioning it wouldn’t make things better. I knew, in fact, that it probably would make things worse. I *knew* it. My brain was like:

I even said internally, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.” Then it was as if the pod people had taken over my brain and I heard myself saying, as if from outside of me, “You know, that’s wrong.” I didn’t say it in exactly those words, but I was crossing that family boundary of saying the truth when a lie would do just as well. Even as I was saying it, I was yelling inside my brain to shut up, but something inside me compelled me to say my bit.

I was right. It didn’t make one whit of difference except to make things worse as I knew it would. I tweeted afterwards:

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Romance is dead

or, until i get sick of you.
Until death do we part.

I read a lot of trashy teenage romances when I was a teenager–and several Harlequin Romances as well. I had my first crush on a boy when I was in first grade, and it lasted until I was in seventh grade. It only died out because we went to junior high school, which meant I didn’t see him nearly as often as I did in elementary school. I can still remember his name and how he looked, which is indicative of my passions in general.

My parents did not have a good marriage (and that’s an understatement if I’ve ever written one), but I completely bought into the idea that you had to be married in order to be a complete person. To be fair to me, it was pushed on me by my mother since I was rather young. She might not have explicitly said it, but it showed in everything she did. She had a full-time job, but she did all the housework and parenting as well. She arranged everything around my father, and I can remember the countless arguments when he would come home late at night without a single word of explanation other than he was ‘working late’.

I saw my mother frantically turning herself inside out to try to please him, and when I was a preteen, I became her unwilling confidante, and she poured out her woes to me on a regular basis. She was deeply depressed, and I begged her to divorce my father. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, and I continued to learn warped ideas of what a relationship should be. I had two cultures telling me that it was my job and duty to please my man and to keep him happy at any cost. It was better to be in a miserable relationship than to be alone, and as much as I didn’t want to believe it, it seeped into my soul.

To make matters worse, I was a fat*, ugly**, awkward Asian girl in a lily-white suburb. It was before Asian girls were exotic and hot–back then, we were just not considerable dating material. That’s actually not completely true as I knew a very popular Asian girl who probably had many dates, but it’s true in the sense that we were not the norm, so it would take someone thinking outside the box to ask us out. I had my first date when I was sixteen, and because I had internalized a lifetime of ‘you’re a loser if you don’t have a boyfriend’, I clung to him as hard as I could. The first kiss was disappointing, but it got better. He was a good-looking, smart (fucking smart), kindhearted boy, and I had a hard time believing he wanted to date me. I met him at summer school, and he went to a school thirty minutes away from me. Little did I know that long-distance relationships were to be a staple of my dating life.

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First half of The Surge–otherwise known as Junkyard Souls

grind 'em up!
You didn’t need that arm, did you?

In the world of the Souls-like, I have tried many–oh, so many–with dismal results. Most of them lacked a certain something that makes Souls games addictive to me, though it was different with each game. Ironically, the ones that hewed the closest to Souls were the most disappointing because they made me want to be playing a new Souls game. I haven’t finished most of those games. The one exception to that was Salt & Sanctuary, which I thought was a solid game as a caster, but a shite one as a melee character. I also promptly forgot much of it once I beat it, but that’s neither here nor there. Then, there was a Souls-like I really adored, Hollow Knight, that I just sucked at and knew I wouldn’t be able to finish. I still think it’s a great game, and I love the protagonist.

Anyhoo, one of the more slavish Souls-like games was Lords of the Fallen, made by Deck 13 Interactive. It made no bones about the game being a love letter to Dark Souls, and almost everything they did could be mapped onto something in Souls. It should have been my jam, except it wasn’t because one, the magic was shite (at least in the few hours I played). Two, they mistook careful combat for everything being suuuuuuuper slow. Three, the one thing they added is a timer for getting back your Souls (whatever they were called) when you die, and I hated that. A lot. I tried Lords of the Fallen twice, and quit within a few hours the second time because it just wasn’t very good.

Fast-forward to 2017. Deck 13’s next Souls-like game came out, called The Surge. Lords of the Fallen was called Clunky Souls, which was more than apt. The Surge is Junkyard Souls, though they prefer to say it’s Sci-fi Souls. I watched a bit of YouTubers and reviewers when they played it, and it was immediately much more intriguing than Lords of the Fallen, even though I’m not into sci-fi. At all. I’m way into fantasy, but LotF was so generic, it might as well have not been fantasy at all.

I knew when I saw The Surge that I would try it out. I’ve given most Souls-likes a go, and this one had enough going for it that I wanted to at least give it a shot. I also knew I would wait until it went on sale because I wasn’t paying forty bucks for it. The Steam Summer Sale started last week, and both The Surge and Prey (for some reason, they are the same game to me in my mind) were on steep sale, and both had free demos. I installed both, and before I tell you about The Surge, let me tell you about my experience with the Prey demo.

I fired it up and was immediately nauseated. It’s first-person, and I have severe motion sickness. I fiddled with the FOV, and when I tried to go back to the game, it crashed. When I tried to restart, I couldn’t use my controller. Third time, I was able to get it running, but I was still nauseated. I messed with the FOV for a few more minutes, but nothing seemed to work. I went to the Googles, and the Steam forum informed me that it’s a motion blur problem, and that you have to go into the files to fix it because it’s not an option in-game. Which is infuriating because motion blur, apparently, is to make console game players forget that the game is only 30 fps and not 60 fps, like PCs. Ahem.

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With a sword in my hand

We started up with the sword again in taiji a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t be happier. As longtime readers know, I love the Sword Form. It’s funny because on Saturday, my teacher was telling one of my classmates that she (my teacher) might start her (my classmate) on the sword soon. My classmate was hesitant about whether or not she wanted to do it, and I had to internally smile because I resisted with all my might when my teacher first suggested it to me. She had the same reaction when her teacher told her it was time for the Sword Form, except in her case it was because she wanted to focus on open hand forms. In my case, while I was into the martial arts side of taiji way more than the health side, the thought of weapons slightly repelled me.

Thankfully, my teacher pushed the issue by pressing a sword into my hand. The minute my fingers closed over the hilt, I was hooked. This was what I was meant to be doing. I’ve learned two-thirds of the Sabre Form, and while I like it, it’s not the same. The Sword Form sings to me in a way I can’t explain. The sword is an extension of my hand, and I feel both powerful and graceful when I’m doing the Sword Form.

I’ve written this before, but I taught myself the left side of the Sword Form in fairly short order. To put it in perspective, I still haven’t learned the whole left side of the Solo Form. I was near the end of the third (and last) section when my teacher’s teacher went nuts changing things, and I decided it was better to wait until the new Solo Form was settled before trying to teach myself the left side. Quick reminder: my teacher’s teacher’s view is that he teaches the right side, and you teach the left side as a way to see if you really understand what you’re doing. It’s a solid idea because it’s easy to fudge the movements you don’t know or do something unthinkingly. When you have to teach yourself the left side, it brings up all your shortcomings.

I have spatial issues, so teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form was–and is–hell. My brain screeched to a halt when I tried to teach to show it how to do the left side. I would do the right side, then try to copy it on the left, and my brain would grind to a halt. I literally could not make myself do the left side. It was frustrating as hell, so when I decided to teach myself the left side of the Sword Form, I approached it with much trepidation.


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