Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

The Mind/Body Connection

I’ve been depressed for the past few months. I’ve written about it before, but I’d like to expand on it a bit. I lost my Raven over a year ago, then a month later, I got really sick. Sicker than I have been in quite some time. I started getting better, then went to the doctor for a different reason, and got really sick again. that started months of sickness, and it happened again this year, starting a few months ago. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it might be because I’ve been thinking more heavily about Raven since the anniversary of his death.

I also have to check my thyroid because my levels were off last time. I hadn’t had to adjust my meds in years, then I did last year. Then I got sick and didn’t re-check my levels, so I need to do that. I just have an unthinking bias that going to the clinic makes me sick.

I started getting depressed, and I realized it was definitely from outside of me. There’s nothing in my life to make me depressed, and at least I can see it’s not intrinsic to me. Weirdly, though, it actually makes it more difficult to deal with because it feels out of my control. I’m struggling with feelings of hopelessness and despair, and I’m sure it’s partly because of the insanity that is our national politics.

My sleep has been even shittier than usual lately, and I can’t tell if that means I’m recovering from my sickness or not. Usually, the healthier I get, the worse I sleep, but this feels more psychological than anything else. I’m hoping to power my way through it somehow, but I’m not sanguine about it.

In honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year, here’s Maru doing the Lion Dance.

How I Digest Popular Media

I just finished my umpteenth rewatch of Poirot (David Suchet. He is the only one in my mind), and I have a few thoughts on it and my popular media consumption in general. I wrote a post about the show specifically, so I’ll keep that part brief and move on to the broader issues in general in this post.

First of all, Curtain, the final episode (and final novel in the series. Fun fact: Agatha Christie wrote it in WWII in case she got killed, and it sat in a vault for thirty years before being published. It’s interesting to think about the fact that she wrote it before she wrote roughly half of the later novels. I cried buckets watching Curtain–again. The last few series were darker than the originals in general, and the final episode was drenched in melancholy. I’ve written before how Curtain is the perfect episode. From the oppressive atmosphere to the exemplary acting across the board to the fact that for once in the later series, they stuck pretty close to the source material, it’s a solid ten.

I need to talk about Hugh Fraser in this episode. During the whole series, he’s our eyes and ears as the affable, hearty, naive, tenderhearted but thoroughly English Captain Hastings. He is our stand-in, and he grew into the role over the years. If David Suchet IS Poirot, Hugh Fraser is equally Captain Hastings. I’ve written before that the allies in the series having gotten the credit they deserve, and the series really wasn’t the same without them. They brought back Hugh Fraser for Curtain, and from the first second we see Captain Hastings, it’s clear that the ravages of time have visited him. He’s still a fine figure of a man, but there’s grey in his hair, and there are lines on his face that previously weren’t there. There’s also a sadness in his eyes because of the death of his wife. The grief is heavy on his ramrod straight shoulders, and it’s not helped by the fact that his daughter is a more modern woman who doesn’t have time for useless emotions like grief.

The look on Captain Hastings’ face when he realizes that Poirot is dying/dead still haunts me. It’s the one still from the episode that stays with me long after I watch the episode (and makes me bawl my eyes out). As much as I adore David Suchet as Poirot, it’s Hugh Fraser’s Captain Hastings who carries this episode. Usually, he’s a bluff, hearty man who’s ready with a smile and a quick joke, but in this episode, he’s a shell of his former self.

In the last post, I wrote about my issues with the book series and a few with the TV episodes as well. I think it’s important to be aware of these issues, but it’s also inhibiting at times. I like to say that I don’t like movies, and while it’s not strictly true, I do find it an inferior medium to books (same with TV). I don’t like TV and movies in general because I find it difficult to believe what is happening on the screen is actually real. I rarely get lost in a movie or TV show the way I do novels, and I think it’s, ironically, because I’m being given too much detail whereas in novels, I have to imagine them myself. In fact, I don’t like books with too much description and just skim those sections.


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Kung Fu Fightin’ This Cold

I am still fighting off the third round of this cold, and it’s wearying. Not only on my body, but also on my soul. My body doesn’t know its own mind. I’m tired all the time, but I cannot sleep. This should indicate I’m getting better because I have a long, sordid history with sleep that doesn’t allow me to sleep decently no matter what I try. It’s actually one of the things I like best about being sick–I can get a decent amount of sleep in one stretch. I know I’m getting better when I’m unable to sleep more than six hours.

I’ve been practicing the Long Form alongside the new Medium Form, and it’s surprising how quickly I’ve forgotten the sequence of the Long Form. Scary, really. Once I check the list, it all comes flooding back to me, but I’m afraid of losing it forever. I will say that I like how streamline the new Medium Form is. It’s clean and concise, and there’s absolutely old fat. However, I don’t want to lose the Long Form, so I’m still practicing it.

I need to get my thyroid meds checked, but I’ve been dragging my feet over it. Rightly or wrongly, I associate going to the clinic with getting sick as the last two times I went, I got horribly sick. Anyway, I’m tired. Here’s the Tiny Hamster and friends having a Tiny BBQ on Independence Day.

I Have a Dream (and Not a Good One)

Still fighting off a new round of crud. It’s cold and snowy (yay), which makes driving…interesting. I heard a good speech on MLK Jr. on NPR, but I had to get over the preachification cadence that I find off-putting. He brought up something I didn’t know–by the time MLK Jr. was assassinated, he had a 70% disapproval rating from white people and a 55% disapproval rating from black people because he was anti-war and focusing on eradicating poverty.

I hate how he’s been defanged and become some kind of teddy bear. On his day, people trot out his I Have a Dream speech in justification of wanting to be ‘color-blind’. It’s a good speech, don’t get me wrong, and has some strong aspirations. However, it’s used by white people to gloss over the racial strife that exists as well as the social injustices.

I much prefer Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which is sadly apropos today. MLK Jr. had no problem speaking his mind when he thought it was called for. He wasn’t just a wise old Uncle Remus telling a good yarn about peace and getting along.

I’m feeling pretty grotty, so it’s more fighting off the crud on this bank holiday.

Fighting the Good Fight

I’m fighting off round three of the crud I’ve been having, so I’m going to forgo the post I was going to write on a new theory I’m crafting and save it for another day. Instead, I’m going to sit back, watch the snow fall, and watch as my Vikings find a creative way to lose in the last minute*.

Skol!

*Obviously, I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon.

The Best Part of Waking Up Is NOT Folgers In My Ass

Ed. Note: Astute  POOG readers will realize that I haven’t tackled goop nonsense in quite some time. The reason is twofold. One is because I watched an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow (the things I do for POOG!), and she talked about how watching her father waste away from cancer started her on the path to all this woo-hoo business. It made me feel sympathetic for her (more like sorry), which makes it difficult to satirize her nonsense. The second is because of the Harvey Weinstein bullshit and the fact that she was one of his victim’s. You can probably imagine how I feel about that, so I laid off Gwyneth. However, three members of the POOG Patrol have sent me articles about the same issue through three different mediums (Julie in email, Kel on Facebook, and @infinitewords14 on Twitter), and once I read it, I knew I had to answer the bat (shit crazy) signal, so here we go! 

We’re a country who loves our coffee. Many of us couldn’t imagine getting through the day without a cup of joe or three. Starbucks is practically a national institution, and we worship at the altar of Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino Blended Coffee. Grande, Venti, or Trenta, it doesn’t matter. We just want to mainline it as quickly and painlessly as we can. We need that boost to get through the day, and what better way to ingest the coffee than to literally shove it up your ass as an enema?

You read that right. I can see your double-take in horror, much the same as mine when I read the article after Julie first sent it to me. Surely, it had to be The Onion. This had to be satire! I’d heard of coffee enemas before, but I’d always pooh-poohed them because who would be silly enough to squirt boiling hot coffee up their assholes? Sadly, in researching for this post, I learned that there are many people who earnestly believe that this is the ideal way to remove the toxins* from the body. It’s a very complicated formula, so follow along very carefully if you will.

  1. Inject a coffee enema
  2. ???
  3. PROFIT!!!

I hope you were able to follow along with my very scientific explanation, but in case not, here is a graph in which the X Axis is coffee squirted up your ass and the Y Axis is the time it takes for the coffee to kick into effect.

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The Many Faces of Being Done

I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sexual harassment complaints pouring out of Hollywood–and politics as well. The pace seems to have slowed down, but it’s still soul-crushing to realize how many predators there are out there and how much we accept it as a given in our society. I’ve heard the variant of ‘men are dogs’ and ‘that’s just the way men are’. I heartily protest because I’ve known plenty of men not like this, and I think more of men than many men do. In addition, it gives an excuse for the horrible behavior. If we shrug our shoulders and say, “Men are trash,” well, then, there’s nothing we can do about it, is there?

I don’t disagree that men (and women, too!) have biological urges that can be powerful at times. However, I most heartily disagree that men can’t control these urges. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a comely person and thinking, “I’d tap that ass.” I, myself, have done it many times. But because I’m a woman who has been heavily trained that one simpy must not think those thoughts, let alone speak them, I can keep them to myself when it’s inappropriate to share them. I heard an interesting interview on NPR with a transgender man, and one thing that really bothered him was how once he started taking the T (testosterone), he was driven almost cazy with lustfully thoughts. If I remember correctly, he was given two to three times the amount of testosterone of the ‘typical’ man, and it became difficult for him to control his desires. He said he was so conflicted about it because when he was a she and a lesbian, she prided herself on being a feminist of the utmost order. Once the T was coursing through him, if he saw a pretty woman, all he could think about was fucking her.

Even so, he never attacked a woman, which is my point. No matter how powerful are the urges, it is up to the person to control them. I’ve had powerful sexual attractions to the ‘wrong’ person, and I’ve sublimated them, sometimes with great difficulty. The thing is, you have to set firm boundaries with the object of your affection in order you don’t tip over into grossness. I’m wandering far from the intent of this post, though.

When the news about Harvey Weinstein broke, I was completely disgusted, but not entirely surprised. Then, the other perps were revealed at a fast and furious pace. I noticed that I was having a different reaction based on who the perp was, what he did, and how he reacted to being found out. Oh, and also how I originally felt about him.


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Sickness of the Mind–and Body

I’m on the mend, and it’s not been a smooth road back to recovery. I have the sniffles right now, but I’m hoping it’s just because Shadow was sleeping on me during the night. Every time I’m sick, there is a moment when I feel like I could either get better or get worse. It’s an actual definable moment, and I felt it yesterday. I know I’m getting better because my sleep is getting worse. For whatever reason, my body decides that the only time it will allow itself to get the appropriate amount of sleep is when I’m sick. Side note: I heard neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, an expert on sleep, on NPR. He’s a big proponent of getting eight hours of sleep a night, which is an anathema to me. He was saying how if you get much less than that, your chance of catching a cold is (and since I was just listening, I may not have gotten the percentages exactly right) three to four times more likely. In addition, if you’re not well-rested before getting your flu shot, you only absorb 50% of the antigens.

Most people know about the connection between sleep (lack thereof) and susceptibility to illness, but I didn’t realize it was so stark. He is an evangelist about getting eight hours, but I had to leave before I could read the tips about how to get better sleep. I know the usual, don’t use electronics before bed (which is not something I’m good at), don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep (I don’t actually sleep on the bed), don’t nap (which I normally don’t). The last, he explains in an article I looked up is because if you nap, you won’t be able to sleep fully later. Which makes sense, of course, but it’s the wrong way around. Most people don’t nap with the intent to wreck their sleep later–they nap because they are so tired, they simply have to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, and simply telling people to sleep more at night isn’t going to work. Dr. Wheeler knows that, which is one reason he despairs. Being sleep-deprived is such a badge of honor in our society (in many societies), that many people won’t get a good night’s sleep because it would make them look like slackers.

The thing is, I’m not against sleep because I think it’s immoral–sleep is against me. I’ve never been an early to bed, early to rise type. I never went to bed before midnight, even when I was eight or nine. Dr. Wheeler also talks about how criminal it is that school starts so early, and I agree. He said it would be best to start at ten, but that probably won’t happen. Even when I had to get up early, I could never go to bed before midnight–ever. In my first year at college, I had a 7:45 a.m. class. I rarely went to bed before four in the morning, and on those days, I was a mess. I remember one morning, I got up and couldn’t find my alarm clock. It was a portable one, and it was nowhere in the room. I opened the mini-fridge to get a Diet Pepsi (I drank six a day at that time), and there was my clock. I was continually sleep-deprived, and every time I went home for the holidays, I would sleep for fifteen hours the first day I was home. Then, I’d get as sick as a dog for the rest of the stay. So, yeah, I know about the link between sleep and the immune system.
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The Importance of Being Diverse

Yesterday, I talked about the impulse to present minorities in the best light in popular culture and why I don’t follow that line of thought. To recap, I have no interest in caricatures, and while I understand the impulse, I don’t think it ultimately helps the minority in questions to be seen as individuals. Also, as a creator, I hate the idea of dictating to people what they can and can’t create. Art should be thrilling and outrageous, and it should poke and pry in all the dark corners of human nature. Put too many strictures on it, and it becomes anodyne and toothless. The things that we don’t want to talk about are often the best fodder for the greatest art.

I ended by stating that I was somewhat hypocritical because I do criticize other creators for their choices, and I wasn’t sure where to draw the line. In thinking more about it, I realized that my criticism is based on products that already exist. I’m specifically talking about Hollywood and how amazing they are about whitewashing PoC or even worse, yellowface (and other colors of faces). Even as I write this, there’s a controversy over the Black Panther pin and how Disney lightened his skin. In the first picture, he looked white. In the second picture, he was definitely black, but light-skinned. Hollywood is unbelievable in its stubborn insistence in pandering to what they believe to be the mainstream. I’ve noted it on other occasions on how insipid Hollywood is. Most of their movies are safe, boring, and focus grouped on that mythic creature–the average, middling (white, male, young) American. When they manage to create a hit, they suck everything out of it with the energy of an emotional vampire.

Anyway, the difference is that these products are already out there, and Hollywood is simply recreating them. They are not bringing anything new to the party as it were, and the results have been anemic. Ghost in the Shell was the pinnacle for me, and it made me realize how fucking hopeless Hollywood is. It has no spine, and it lives firmly in the past. In 2017, diversely cast movies performed well, better than most of the anemic fare that Hollywood churns out these days. What Hollywood doesn’t seem to realize is that even white middle America has moved past the 1950s, and even Joe from Nebraska or Chad from Beverly Hills can handle an actual person of color in an actual person of color role in a movie that isn’t dominated by white people.

I’m still being hypocritical because it’s not only remakes that draw my ire, but any time Hollywood wants to pass off a white person as an Asian. I think I’ll rephrase it as not hypocritical but context specific. Obviously, this doesn’t hold true for the written word, at least not in the same way. There have been poorly-written minority characters by white people (and other people in the majority), of course, but that’s another post for another day. If you are going to have an Asian character, then fucking cast an Asian person. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have our stories and our culture, then erase us from the whole lot* as if we don’t matter. It’s one of the most infuriating things about the GitS example. Hollywood took what is uniquely a Japanese story, then took Japan out of it. The director protested it was an international story, which is bullshit. Even if it’s true, Japan is international. Why couldn’t the main character be Japanese?


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