Underneath my yellow skin

Queer Eye has not aged well

I finished watching the most recent season of Queer Eye after I had fallen off it for a while. Why? I’ll get to that in a minute. It was set in Philly where my BFF lives and it had all the calculated emotional notes that the series is known for. Did I cry once an episode? Yes. But I knew going in that I would. Is it emotionally manipulative? Yes. But I also knew that going in as well. Here is Captain Awkward’s spoiler-free review for every episode of Queer Eye, written as she watched the third season, and it remains true to the end. There’s a very predictable format and I’m not here to argue for or against it. What I am here to say is that many of the things that caused me to flinch the first time I watched it has induced a full-body cringe this time around. I re-watched the first season and while it’s still generally heartwarming, I’m also very aware of how normative it is in so mane ways. Even heteronormative in some ways. Not in a anti-homosexual way, obviously, but in a ‘everyone must be paired up’ way. There was an unusual amount of attention paid to whether or not the participant was getting shagged so let’s address the sexual harassment elements first.

I know that it’s a reality TV show, but I couldn’t help thinking of all the ways it’s an HR nightmare. The participants have to had sign a waiver form because there were several times when if it had happened in an office, the Fab Five would have been hauled into HR so damn fast. One, and I distinctly remember this from the first time I watched the show, Neal, the Indian guy. I did a full-body cringe when they forced hugs on him. Some people do not like to be touched and it was clear that he was not enjoying it at all. Then, they forced him into a group hug and I was SCREAMING inside. This time watching it was even worse and their rational that he was ‘shut off’ and needed to be open to people did not fly with me. First of all, there are cultures in which people are more reserved. Secondly, some people have personal trauma that means no touching without consent. Thirdly, it’s ok not to want to hug people you just met.

Another episode is the firefighters one. Yes, they were all thirsty in that episode. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for Karamo to sexually harass one of the firefighters whom he nicknamed Superman. Micah, I think his real name was. He took it in stride and with a smile, but it was uncomfortable to watch. I commented at the time that it would have been unacceptable if it were a straight dude doing that to a woman so why was it acceptable for a gay guy to do it to a guy? I mean, no one should be sexually harassing anyone, ideally! Jonathan does it all the time as well on a lowkey level, but that’s more just a generic ‘I’m going to fake-sexualize everyone to make them feel wanted’ thing that wasn’t as gross.

Again, I know that these people agree to be on camera and maybe they were fine with it in the end. However, it’s really uncomfortable to watch as someone who has experienced sexual assault.


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My empathy bowl is empty

Was reading my stories (AAM being the main) and there was a question about what to do when your boss was wearing his mask wrong (under the nose). I ran into this when I went to the gas station. An employee was wearing her mask under her nose. I just stayed away and got out as quickly as possible. I know I could have told her to pull it up, but it’s a young woman working a low-paying job. I had my mask on and I was only in there for five minutes. I wasn’t going to add to her already shitty day. However.

If I were in an office where I didn’t need to be and my boss did this? Yeah, no. That would be all kinds of no. There were stories in the comments about people knowing Covid deniers (some of them coworkers) who then got Covid and they (the commenter) having a hard time having any compassion for the person. It reminded me of a question to Dear Prudence from someone whose relatives, want to say brother and sister-in-law, who were avid Covid deniers, spread misinformation, and wouldn’t social distance or wear masks. The LW (letter writer) was pissed because her brother had set up a GoFundMe when he, his wife, and all their children got Covid. He wanted LW to donate and send it around. She was furious and unloaded some righteous anger in her letter to Danny. LW said not only did she not want to give her brother money or send around his request, she had no compassion for him for getting Covid. I don’t even remember her question–probably something about should she do it, anyway? That doesn’t matter because it’s the response I want to focus on.

Danny, rightly so, took the LW to task for being vindictive in her response. He said that it wasn’t the fault of the population that the government has fucked this up so badly and people were confused. This was a few months ago, I hasten to clarify, when information about what to do wasn’t quite as obvious as it is now. Danny also said that wanting someone to pay with their life was cruel no matter the person’s behavior beforehand. He said no one deserved to get Covid for their beliefs/behaviors.


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Holidays in a weird and wild world

Note: I don’t celebrate holidays. I feel the need to get the way before I go on my screed. 

Thanksgiving is coming up and it could not come at a worst time in terms of Covid cases soaring in America. In my state, you cannot gather with another household at all now because our cases peaked at 7,500 cases in one day. I don’t think the strictures have gone far enough even though I understand why the governor had to walk the tightrope. I really didn’t like the press conference, however, because it was definitely targeted at the yahoos who refuse to wear a mask because ‘MURIKA FUCK YA!

To wit, he praised everyone for doing so much and emphasized how hard it was and how unfair it was. I don’t disagree with the latter, but I am not at all down with the former. So many people have flouted the rules and/or don’t think Covid is an actual thing. Then, he went on to emphasize that this four week restriction was going most definitely going to only be a month because the vaccine will certainly be ready to go by then.

I mean, what. But that wasn’t the worst of it. He ended by saying he knew that come April, we would be sitting in that Twins stadium maybe without a mask, sitting with your brother-in-law having a hot dog and a beer. There is so many things wrong with this statement. One, the fact that he was so positive about the timeline. It’s one thing to say something like ‘with the information we have, it’s likely’ or something similar. But he phrased it in a way that made it inevitable, which I think is a recipe for disaster. I know he wants to keep people’s spirits up, but that isn’t the way to do it.

Secondly, the whole situation is aimed specifically at a certain type of person. I’ll just be clear–the Covid deniers. That’s not something I would do even in the Before Times, and it make it very clear that the press conference was not for me. It was for the recalcitrant assholes who whine about freeeeeedum and personal choice. Mostly Republicans, but not all of them. There’s a thread in Ask A Manager’s weekend post about Thanksgiving and whether or not to travel for it. Most people came down on the side of not traveling, especially as many states have come out with no mixing households mandates.

There were more than a few people, however, who disagreed. They were thoughtful about it and said that it was up to each individual (or family) to assess their risks and be careful when comingling households. They pointed out how devastating the lockdowns/restrictions have been to the mental health of people. They were right about the latter part, but so very wrong about the former. It’s part of why we are where we are right now–the emphasis on individual choice.

My parents bring up Covid every time they call. They say that cases have to be down, right? They can’t understand why the numbers keep going up. Their country, Taiwan, has been the platonic ideal of how you should deal with a pandemic. I’ve had to tell them over and over again that the things that worked in Taiwan wouldn’t work in America for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is because  individual freedom/choice has become fetishized in this nation.


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Leaving the Hades life

Am I going to talk about Hades. Yes. Am I going to gush about how great the game is? Kinda. Am I going to talk about what a thirst-trap the game is? Yup! Am I going to talk about the lore? Hell, yeah! Am I going to keep asking rhetorical questions? Nope!

SuperGiant Games have absolutely hit it out of the park with this game. It’s fucking brilliant and it’s replaced Binding of Isaac as my go-to for a daily roguelike run. It has quite a ways to go before I put in anything close to the amount of time I put into BoI. I’m actually surprised by how little (relatively) time I’ve put into Hades given how much I feel like I’m playing it.

I’ve mentioned before that I never got into any of the prior SuperGiant Games. They’re all really great graphically and game-wise, but none of them clicked with me. I *really* wanted to like Transistor because I loved the mood, the graphics, and everything about the game–except the gameplay. I could not get into it and found the controls awkward and counterintuitive. When Hades came out of early release, I was hesitant to get it. I had heard all the accolades and how great it was. I watched NL play some of it and agreed it was a great game. I was tired of BoI and hadn’t found a roguelike to replace it. It was on sale and there had been across-the-board good reviews for it. I finally bought it and, holding my breath, I gave it a shot.

I sucked at it, but damn it felt good. The graphics are gorgeous; the writing is great; the music is tight, and; the gameplay just feels right. It’s smooth and snappy, and it has that ‘just one more run’ feel to it. But, and I cannot stress this enough, the learning curve is steep in the beginning. I’m watching Johnny Chiodini start a new save file for a charity stream and it’s bringing back memories as to how difficult it was in the beginning. I tried to clear up a few achievements that negated many of the upgrades and even with the goosed-up weapons, it was rough. I quit, in fact. Plus, I just tried a run with the sword after unlocking one of the aspects of the spear (Poseidon, in this case) and it’s so under-leveled. I’m trying to do a Heat Nine run and it’s not great with a weapon that only has one level.


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Changing my mind is hard…and sometimes necessary

I’m a stubborn cuss. Once I make up my mind about something, I’m hard-pressed to change it. If I do, it’s usually after a lot of thinking, musing, and researching. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming into a new idea. To my credit, I actually will change my mind if enough good information is presented to me. It doesn’t even have to be a lot–just solid enough for me to understand a different point of view. In this case, let’s talk caffeine. I have given it up twice in my life. Once in college because I was drinking six to eight cans a day and I went cold turkey. That was hell on earth and I would not suggest it. I was cranky, irritable, and my sleep was fucked even more than usual. It was two weeks of pure hell and this time around, I knew better than to try it again.

I had a plan. I was going to wean myself off caffeine. At the time, I drank probably three to four cans of pop a day. It’s hard to know for sure because I poured it into a big (adult) sippy cup and just drank from that throughout the day. I cut it by an estimated one can a day until I was down to zero. This was a year or two ago and I had a cup of caffeinated tea/coffee once a month or so. One of the reasons I quit was because I was getting a bit jittery. The biggest reason, though, was because I thought I should quit. That’s it. Not for any real reason. But because I was getting the jitters and thought maybe it would be better for me to cut out the caffeine.

However. Here’s the thing. Caffeine is both a trigger for migraines and a prevention for them as well. No one knowns why or in what quantities. It’s different for each person as well. A few weeks ago (election week), I was struggling with migraines and popping my pills as much as I felt safe doing. The main ingredient is caffeine and I thought that maybe my abstinence of caffeine was a hasty decision. I decided that one cup a day (8-12 oz.) would not be a bad thing. I started with oolong tea, which was not my favorite, but I happened to have it on hand. I found a box of green tea with pomegranate that I much preferred and substituted that. Then, I saw that Califia Farms who makes very tasty cold-brew coffee drinks had a peppermint mocha blend (with almond milk) so I’m drinking that every day.

Cold-brew has much less acidity than regular coffee and its caffeine content varies. I feel like there’s less in the Califia than in tea because I feel the migraine bubbling under the surface at the end of a day when I drink the Califa but not the tea. But! Both have been able to stave off a full-blown migraine so I’ll take that as a win. Still. I’m careful to keep it under control and not go back to drinking a six pack of pop a day.

50,000 ways to write a novel

Let’s talk NaNoWriMo for a minute. Or, in my case, NaNo Rebel. As I’ve mentioned, I have no problem writing 50,000 words in a month (that’s not a humblebrag. Just an outright brag) and I’ve long since decided to do my own thing instead of holding down the basics. Another rule of NaNoWriMo is that you start the novel on the first day of the month and not a moment before. I found that to be restrictive as well because I was usually in the middle of something by the time November arrived. This time, I already had 25,000 words written and I was aiming for 100,000 more. I’d done it before for NaNoWriMo before–and more–but this year is not like any other. *waves at the world around me*

My meta-goal is to finish this novel by the end of the year. The other two novels in this trilogy are roughly 230,000 words each and I see this one being similar. That means 100,000 words in November and 100,000 in December. I have a 20,000-word excerpt that I wrote during the last novel which I decided fit better with this one. I don’t know where I’m going to pop it in, but I’ll find a place for it. It’s not finished, either, and it has some implications for the bigger picture. I’m also going off on a weird tangent that may or may not make it into the final product. It’s interesting and sheds a light on a character who was minor in the second book, but is emerging as a main player in the third.

I’m interested in doing a side project that has a short story about each character’s backstory. I’m not sure I’m going to do it, but this weird side tangent is similar to that. While my original goal is to finish this novel by the end of the month, there’s another part of me that is more interested in going off on all these tangents. I don’t know if it’s because of my usual distaste for the end of things or because I truly just want to remain with these characters. They seem to have more to say and it’s not necessarily related to the main story. It’s like the sidequests in video games–they may not be necessary for the main game, but they certainly make things more interesting.

This book is really interesting in that I know how the last fifty pages are going to go–until the very end. I don’t know how I’m getting there and the motivation for the main character I previously mentioned has drastically changed. I had one idea in mind for her and then one day, another idea hit me. I liked the second idea better and could make it fit with the rest of the story. Now, I’m building for that end, but I’m not sure how it fits in with the bigger picture.

It’s good that I have this side stuff to invigorate me because I’m struggling with the main story. I don’t know how to get where I need to be, which is why I’m taking all these side trips.


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Hades: more game for your game

A week after I saw the credits roll in Hades, I’m still firing it up every day. Why? A little for the combat, somewhat because it’s soothing and comforting (it’s my new Binding of Isaac), but mostly for the lore. That sweet, sweet, Greek lore. Again, this is all going to be spoilers if you haven’t seen the credits and played beyond it. Fair warning before I jump into the meat of the post. All spoilers, all the time. Spoilers for DAYS.

You’d think with all the content I’d experienced so far that SuperGiant would be satisfied to rest on their laurels and say, “Good job, us!” with a satisfied nod. It took me roughly fifty hours to see end credits because I am bad at the game. Or I was. Now, I win more runs than not and my personal best was five wins in a row. I’m on Heat 7 with the sword, which–ok. I need to explain this. One of the genius touches of the game is how they do NG+ and beyond. Most games just start you at the beginning again and make the enemies harder. In a roguelike, there may not be any NG+ at all. In this game, each run is called a heat. The first is Heat 0 (which I call Heat Zero for clarity), which is your basic New Game. There are four floors with a boss at the end of the floor. When you beat the final boss, a mechanic called the Pact of Punishment is introduced and it has modifiers that increase the heat. You can increase as much as you want, but you’re only going to get the rewards for the appropriate heat. So, in this case, Heat 1, you need one pain point. My go-to is adding what is essentially a shield to each enemy which means they can take one free hit.

Also, you have to beat each heat (well, except Heat Zero) with each weapon in order to advance to the next heat with that weapon. There are different aspects of each weapon, including hidden ones. I have to say, I love the hidden aspects of the weapons because they’re named for famous people. Like the sword’s hidden aspect is Excalibur, wielder, Arthur. The spear is a really interesting one. Guan Yu. Gives you much more power, but a third of your health. So you’re very much a glass canon. Ugh. I just read how to unlock one of the hidden aspects I don’t have and it’s not going to be fun. At all.

This is one complaint I have about the game. The grind gets super grindy. At this point, I’m pretty much over the combat and am in it for the lore. I’ve united Orpheus and Eurydice, and I’ve done the same with Achilles and Patroclus. I’m having an interesting relationship with Dusa, the Gorgon head who is a helpful maid in the House of Hades. I’ve been giving her Nectar/Ambrosia (how to bond with people) and while she’s appreciative at first, she then tells me she can’t take it because it makes Nyx mad. What, huh? Why does Nyx not want me talk to Dusa? I haven’t figured that out yet, but at least she’s allowed to talk to me again.


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Sad sigh happy sigh WTF 2020

I spent too much time in the bathroom last night. I’m doubly mad because it was because of something I’ve eaten before. I’m guessing because I haven’t eaten anything new. What is the food? Sweet corn. I think. Maybe it was the eggs I made earlier? Could be, but I doubt it. I really hope it’s not eggs because I love them so much. I like sweet corn, too, but not as much. Here’s the thing. I’ve been eating sweet corn for a week or two with no problem. Last night, I decided to steam about eight ounces and eat that. Half yellow and half white. The yellow was the old bag and white was the new. I had eaten half the old bag with no issue. I ate the corn no problem, then less than an hour later, I was sitting on the toilet thinking nasty thoughts about corn and my digestive system in general.

Today, I Googled IBS and sweet corn. It’s considered a high FODMAP food in large amounts. This is for fresh, which is probably the same for frozen. What is considered low FODMAP? Half an ear of corn. Roughly one ounce. Well.

Can I say how pissed I am that fruits and vegetables are becoming such a pain in my ass–literally–in my forties? I had it hammered into me as a young girl to eat my five servings a day. Fruits and vegetables are good for you! They are the best! You have to eat them for your vitamins! Fine and dandy until they bite back. So far, I have issues with grapes, apples, plums, berries, and ripe bananas–which, by the way, is the way I like them. I can only eat barely ripe bananas now, which I’m not happy about.

Vegetable-wise, cauliflower, garlic, and onion are on the no-go list. You know, it might not be the sweet corn. Maybe it’s the pickled asparagus spears. I had eaten them the day before as well, though. I just looked it up. Asparagus is also a High FODMAP food. *sigh*.

Oh! I read that there is a low level of arsenic in rice. Really?

There’s a part of me that just doesn’t want to eat any longer. It’s so difficult and I hate having to spend hours in the bathroom. I could test the sweet corn hypothesis, but my body recoils at doing it. I probably will because I’m cheap like that but also because I really don’t want to have to cut out sweet con/corn if I don’t have to.

You know what? I’ve had issues eating popcorn before, but nothing that was too severe. Just some stomach pain. Nothing too bad so I just dismissed it. But, given this new information, corn may be on The List.

I’m so mad! I’m just trying to be healthy by eating more vegetables and my body is not having any of it. Well, not having some of it. Irritates the fuck out of me. What could be healthier than steamed veggies? At least, that’s the way it should be.


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A big sigh of relief

I’ve been struggling with a migraine all last week. I woke up Saturday morning (afternoon, really, but why quibble?) and it was 90% better. I went about my morning routine then checked the news. I caught my breath and tears filled my eyes as I read that Biden was projected to win the election. No jubilation. No excitement. Just a deep and abiding relief.

Four years ago, I believed the pundits and watched the incoming results of the election with a sense of dread, despair, and surrealness. I was thrown into a deep depression in part because I was not prepared for it. This time, I wanted to believe and trust the pundits, but I just couldn’t. The memory of 2016 was still too vivid. Also, I went numb on Election Day night because I couldn’t handle it, but under the numbness was…a deep fear. I couldn’t live with another four years of this president. I didn’t think our country could survive. He’s already did so much damage and if he were in a lame-duck situation, imagine how much worse he would have gotten.

I joked on the social mediums that my migraine went away because I was psychic, but it’s partly true. Stress is a big trigger of migraines and this whole week has been stressful. I don’t think I was psychic because I truly was not suspecting that the election would be called Saturday. I talked to my BFF, Kat, later that day and she said the same thing. We both thought it would be at least Monday.

The one thruway I’ve seen/heard is relief. Everyone I talked to about it said that was their initial response. Most of that was followed by the clarification that everything was not roses and champagne, but at least the country wasn’t going to spontaneously implode.

That’s the thing. All the jubilation and elation really didn’t have anything to do with Biden. Personally, I don’t like him. I was not enthused about him. He’s too centrist, too handsy (and possibly more than just handsy), and too ‘aw, shucks, I’m Uncle Joe’ for me. Although that probably was to his advantage because he could appeal to some of the same demos as did the current president. Harris was my candidate and let’s talk about her for a minute.

We cannot understate the fact that we now have Vice President-Elect who is a woman, South Asian American, and African American. I would have preferred if she was the president, but that may still happen in the next four years. Joe’s old is what I’m saying. Anyway, she’s warm, caring, intelligent, and she means so much to me. I don’t agree with everything she’s done (she was a  prosecutor in the past), but she’s head and shoulders better than–I don’t even need to go down that road. She’s quality is what I’m saying.


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I beat Hades; now the real game begins

*Bonus Post*

I beat Hades! Thanks for reading. Goodbye.

one big happy family!
Welcome home, Mom.

Just kidding. You didn’t think I’d let this achievement go without gushing about it, did you? Before I get into that, however, I wanted to touch on a few things I forgot to say in yesterday’s post. I have called myself sucky at the game. Then I read the chat for Aoife’s stream of it and realized that I needed to upgrade myself to mediocre. Why? Because while there were the people who clearly were really good at the game, there were also people who…weren’t. And not people who just played it once or twice, but people who played it regularly. Like the person who mourned that they couldn’t beat Theseus and Asterius no matter how hard they tried. At this point for me, I have to ready myself for it, but if I have a halfway decent build, I can get through it without losing a life. And, despite knowing that Aoife is correct in killing Asterius first, I still hammer away at Theseus because I just can’t fucking stand him.

Anyway! I beat the game and we need to talk about it. It was surprisingly emotional and I have many feelings about it. Consider the rest of this post spoilers because it’s all about the end game. Oh, and it was on the tenth escape that I got to see the end credits.

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