Underneath my yellow skin

Feeding my addiction

Weapons. Let’s talk about them. Why? Because I’m obsessed with them. I mean, I’ve always loved my weapons, but in the last few months, they’ve really become deeply meaningful to me. As much as I love taiji in general, I would not have said the same for the Solo Form. I’ve really struggled with the Solo Form. I hated it from the beginning and, honestly, I didn’t know why I stuck with it especially since I had a disastrous experience the first time I tried taiji due to a terrible, manipulative, shady teacher.

With my second teacher, I fought her every step of the way. I was recalcitrant and grumpy, pushing back hard on whatever she said. I hated the Solo Form. I hated it so much that I didn’t practice it at home. In fact, I added a second class a week because I wouldn’t practice at home. Why didn’t I quit especially as it was not mandatory in any way? I’m still not entirely sure. Something inside me kept pushing me to go. I needed something to do as exercise as I hated nearly every other form of it.

In addition, I wanted to have a way to defend myself if I ever needed it. I have been in harrowing situations in the past and never want to be in one again. Or rather, I never want to feel as helpless as I have in the past. Indeed, I have already seen the fruits of my labor in other ways. Such as my minor car accident in which I saw the other car coming towards me. I thought, “I’m going to get hit,” and my body immediately relaxed. I didn’t will it to relax and I didn’t consciously think that I had to relax–it just happened.

But did I ever learn to love the Solo Form? No. I still don’t. I don’t hate it any longer, but I don’t love it. And yet, there was something in me that kept pushing to do it. I resentfully started practicing at home for five minutes a day. Just the warmups and maybe a bit of the Solo Form. Oh, I also did the weight-bearing set that is in taiji as well.

Against myself, I started incorporating more and more of taiji into my daily life. I added a third class and my home routine stretched out into ten minutes, fifteen, and now, up to forty-five minutes with the expansion being on the weapons side. I’ve had to cajole and trick myself into doing more taiji because that’s the way my brain works, but whatever it takes.


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The pervasiveness of motherhood

I was reading my stories today and there was a question in the Care and Feeding column from a woman who broke up with the love of her life because he was leaning towards wanting children and she was leaning towards not. Or rather, they were both ambivalent when they started dating five years ago, but he’s realized that being a father is important to him whereas the LW still didn’t want them. It wasn’t a strong, “God, I never want children,” but more that she was 32 and decided if she didn’t want them now, she probably never would.

Michelle Herman is the one who answered the question and I like her in general. I think she gave a good answer until the very end where she felt compelled to point out that she didn’t have her desire to have a kid until after she was 32. She posted something from Emily Yoffe (the old Dear Prudence) who also apparently had the same realization in her later years (didn’t read the link).

Which, I mean, for this letter, I suppose it’s appropriate because the LW did say she thought if the desire to have babies didn’t hit her now, it never would, but it still irritated me even though Herman was quick to point out that she might not change her mind, either. But, did she really need to say that maybe the woman would? It didn’t change Herman’s answer as to the current situation and it really read as if she couldn’t help herself. She had to mention that this woman might at some point want to have children.


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Reluctantly giving up the (first-person) ghost

I gave up on Paradise Killer by Kaizen Game Works, reluctantly and with much regret, after I could not get it to not cause me nausea and headaches after playing for half an hour to an hour. I talked about my woes here and fiddled with it some more, including unlocking the FPS, but it just didn’t work in the end. I could have dealt with it if it just meant being sick and nauseous while playing, but it lingered for a long time after. In addition, when I thought about the game, the feeling would return. I’m really sad about it because I loved the game and was so excited to play it.

I played roughly three hours of it and can say with confidence that if you like retro and neon vibes with a high kitsch factor, murder mysteries that have the feel of ‘she had gams for days’ kind of prose and mysticism, and a lot of walking. I mean a lot of walking. A LOT. There is fast travel, but it costs a blood crystal to unlock at each save point (the game’s currency) and another crystal to actually use it. And you have to find the blood crystals around the island. You can probably get them in other ways such as doing side quests, but you have to shell them out for many things, including information.

I finally decided to try Divinity: Original Sin 2-Definitive Edition by Larian Studios, which is a D&D-based video game that is by all accounts the closes to the real thing. I tried the first game and did not care for it. As much as I would love to try D&D in real life, the idea of doing it in a video game stressed me out because I don’t like turn-based combat. I’m not one for mapping out my combat, which is probably why I just go for take damage/give damage when I play Souls games (along with casting).


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Learning the rules before breaking them

There’s a saying in writing that you have to know the rules before you can break them. I agree. And I am at the point where I knowingly break rules I think don’t make sense. Such as using a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence as I did in the last sentence. Or ending a sentence with a preposition. That is one I do a lot because I don’t see any reason not to do it. That’s pretty much my excuse for anything I do that breaks the rules in writing–it makes the flow better. I’m about communicating, not about the stiffness of rigid rules. I will not give up my semi-colon, however; that, I will not do.

There’s a similar thing in taiji. The first thing you learn is the Solo Form, which is the basis for everything else in taiji. I hated the Solo Form when I first learned it. That was over a decade ago. I got used to it, but I never liked it. With the long form (Master T.T. Liang’s form), there were just so many things I didn’t like about it. A few years ago, my teacher’s teacher modified it to be more in line with Master Choi’s teaching and suddenly, I liked it much better, especially the Fast Form. I was talking about it with my teacher during our last private lesson because I was saying how when we used to do the whole form, my lower back would start to hurt at the end of the first section. By the end of the third section, nearly twenty minutes later, my whole back would be cramped up and it would hurt. I didn’t understand how this was supposed to be good for me!

In addition, I had the habit of collapsing my back knee which gave me tendonitis around my knee. I had mentioned that to my teacher when it was the worst (about five years ago) and she gave me tips to deal with it. They helped, but it was a lot of effort to reverse the damage. Anyway, I was saying how I could do the whole current form without my lower back hurting and I couldn’t figure out why. My teacher mentioned the change in form and it clicked in my brain. I mean, of course it made sense that changing the form would ameliorate the pain, but I just didn’t think about it. My knees don’t hurt, either. The difference is that this form is focused on the martial arts applications whereas the old form was more for health benefits. It was more theoretical and difficult to get exactly what you were supposed to do.


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Love me, love my weapons

I’ve told this story several times, but it’s a defining moment in my life. One of those sliding door moments of, what if I went the other way? That’s a bit dramatic because it would have happened sooner or later unless I completely quit taiji, but still.

Let me back that train up a bit. When I first started taiji, I was looking far something to back up my swagger. I was able to carry myself with pseudo-confidence, but if anyone actually approached me, I would be screwed. I didn’t care about the health or mental health aspects (still don’t, although I am grateful that they are added benefits) and I really had no interest in weapons. I just wanted to know the martial arts aspects and how I could defend myself if need be.

The first time I tried deer-horn knives, I was intrigued and loved them, but the flash image of me killing an opponent while walking the circle shook me. When my teacher explained that it was a positive, my brain saying that I was worth fighting for. I loved the knives, but I put them down when I was ready to meditate again (or rather, gave them back to my teacher) and rarely thought about them again.

Until that fateful day. It was after I learned the Solo Form and didn’t know what was coming up next. My teacher told me that it was time to start the weapons, meaning the sword, and I literally recoiled in horror. I had no interest in weapons because I was not an aggressive person. Yes, that was my thought at the time. Who but an aggressive, angry, snarling, raging asshole would be interested in weapons?

Here’s where the story starts, the official story, I mean. My teacher told me it was time to start learning the Sword Form. I demurred. I had a million reasons why I didn’t want to do this, but the bottom line was that it weirded me out. She picked up a wooden sword and held it out to me. I refused. She literally pressed it in my hand and told me to just hold it for a few seconds.

Side note: My teacher is incredibly patient with me. She knows I’m contrary, cranky, and resistant to new things. She rolls with it, pushing me when I need to be pushed and explaining things I need explained.

The second my hands closed over the hilt of the sword, I never wanted to let go. I knew this was what I was meant to do; I have never had that kind of kinetic connection with anything in my life. It felt like an extension of my hand and I never wanted to let go.


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The first person blues

I get motion sickness. A lot. An hour in the car? Motion sickness. Flying? Motion sickness. First person games? Motion sickness.

Side Note (quickest side note ever): When my mom was trying to guilt me into going on a cruise with her (whole family), I brought up motion sickness as one of the issues. Not the main one, but a serious issue. My brother said that a ship is so big, I would not be likely to feel it. I Googled it, of course, and there are people who get motion sick on a cruise ship. It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take, especially since I did not want to go in the first place.

I can play some first person games with a lot of fiddling, but getting there is very uncomfortable. Nausea, a headache that threatens to become a migraine, queasy stomach, etc. If I really want to play a game, I’ll do it, but if I don’t care about the game, it’s easier to give up. Or even if I’m just slightly warm about it. I really liked Firewatch and suffered for half an hour as I delved into the files to fiddle with the FOV. Same with Borderlands, one and two. A little bit of three. Even if there is an FOV slider, it doesn’t always make the game playable.

My biggest regret is that I couldn’t finish What Remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow. It’s first person, which I didn’t know when I bought it. I had heard so many good things about it that I just gritted my teeth and continued. It was low-level nausea and headache at first, but then I hit the part where I had to fly and the urge to vomit was so strong and the headache was so intense, I violently recoiled. I immediately shut down the game and tweeted my regret that I couldn’t play it before asking for a refund. Sparrow Game tweeted me back saying I could either use the reticule or take it off (don’t recall which) because that helped some people. The thing is, I didn’t even want to open the game again because it had been such an intense reaction. I’m really sad because I’ve heard such amazing things about the game. I *may* try it again, but every time I even think about it, my body negatively reacts.


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New year already worse than the old?

By the time this is posted, it will have been a week since the sitting president–

Had a real life interruption and don’t feel like writing about this right now. So I won’t! One thing about my new schedule is that I can write what I want when I want whenever I want. I mean, that’s always been the case, but I’m trying to give myself permission this year to be not as rigid.

So, for today, have a video of….Maru! With a brief appearance by kitten Miri! Middle sister, Hana, can be seen as well.

GOTY–the 2nd game above the rest

In a year that defied description, there were two games that stole my heart. I have written about both of them in length and I extolled the virtues of one of them in my previous post. The other co-GOTY is second because I’m doing it alphabetically and because, well, I’ll get to the second reason once I announce it.

The best game that still brings me to tears whenever I think about it

Spiritfarer

This game is one of those comes along once in several years and I have to give massive props to Thunder Lotus Games for creating it. Their tagline for the game is, “Spiritfarer is a cozy management game about dying.” While, yes, it is that in a nutshell, at its heart, it’s so much more.

I knew about this game before it was released. I was following it on Steam and when Ian let me know it was being released, I checked it out on Steam. Why did I have an eye on it? Quite bluntly, because of the graphics. The game is hand-drawn and saturated in rich, lush colors. The colorful cartoon characters as well. The palate is breathtaking and I loved the attention to details. There was a demo on Steam, which I downloaded. After the short demo, I fell in love and quickly bought the game.

There is so much about this game that I absolutely adored. Oh, before I go any further, I will be talking about the game as a whole so there will be spoilers. With that out of the way, let’s talk about what this game is and isn’t. There is no combat and there is very little in the way of action. There is no voice acting and all the conversations (and there are many) are done as text. So if reading in games isn’t your thing, then this isn’t the game for you.


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GOTY–2 games above the rest

Ok, my friends. It’s finally time after weeks of build-up. This year has been sparse as far as games that I sunk my teeth into. I’ve outlined a few that were the equivalent of summer popcorn movie in this post here. There was one game I liked enough to give an actual award to which I wrote about here. Today, I’m finally ready to talk about my co-GOTY. I’ve written about both of them in length, but I have so much more to say. Since there are two, I have to talk about one of them first. There are two reasons for it. One, alphabetical order. Two, well, I’ll get to that later.

Before I get into all that, though, let me just give one obligatory honorary award first.

The game I’m desperately looking forward to but fear will never come out

Elden Ring (FromSoft)

With that out of the way, let’s get to my co-GOTY awards.

First up is a game that I was tempted to call The best game that I wasn’t good enough to beat until I was to continue a running joke and you know what? Let’s do it. Ready? Here we go!


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New year, hopefully not the same as the old

A new year is a strange thing. We put all this weight on it especially after a year like last year. How many of us (including me) vocalized our relief at seeing the backend of 2020? It was as if we felt we could collectively turn the page once the clock rolled over from 11:59 p.m., December 31, 2020 to 12:00 a.m., January 1st, 2021. It makes sense emotionally because we’re apt to look for categories and we are the best at putting arbitrary definers on things. So, seeing the year roll over into a new one, our brains say, “New slate!” It’s natural and normal, but reality doesn’t work that way.

Side Note: See Boris Johnson abruptly putting country on Tier 5 lockdown. There have been a lot of issues with the tiered lockdowns and the abrupt announcement that the country was going to Tier 5 without the law actually put in place, well, that’s just Boris being Boris. Which is a lot like our president being our president.

Side Note II: Speaking of this president (two weeks now. Two weeks now), I don’t know how exactly to say this, but why is anyone surprised by what the president is doing? He’s a narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant asshole who cannot stand to look bad or to lose. He’s a vain, pompous jerkwad who believes anyone who’s flattering him in the moment. Of course he was going to do everything he could to take down the country before leaving. If anything, I’m disappointed with how pedestrian and mundane he’s being about it. Lawsuits and threats? Come on! That’s bush league. Kidding aside, I’m bracing for the reaction of his supporters when it sinks in that, no, he can’t bully his way into another four years.

Side Note III: I’m really just done. Not with this year, though that’s quite possible, but everything in general.