Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

Just world fallacy–American style

I don1’t know if this is specifically an American thing or a human thing, but, man, Americans really want to believe in the just world fallacy.

When I was a kid, my mother liked to say that life was not fair. Which infuriated me, but she was correct. Life was not fair. It was life. I think we should try to make it as fair as possible, but things were never going to even out. That was, indeed, life. In fact, me dying twice and coming back twice means that I’ve used up my luck for the rest of my life.

It was luck that I lived, by the way. Not completely. I tilted the deck in my favor by practicing Taiji for a decade-and-a-half. It prepared my body to relax under very stressful situations. That helped me when I was in a minar car crash about seven years ago, and I walked away with only a massive bruise on my stomach (either from the air bag or the seat belt), The front end of my car was caved in and the whole car had to be totaled, but I was fine.

I always say that love, luck, and Taiji were the three things that pulled me through my medical crisis. I mean, my medical team, too, but that was just a given. I would say of the three, Taiji was maybe 25%; love was 25%; and luck was 50%.

I have joked that I want to write a self-help book about my experience, but that would be basically, “Die and see if you come back to life.” It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation, and the chances that you will come back to life is slim-to-none.

A few months after I returned home from the hospital, I tried to find other people who had  gone through what I had. I also wanted to find a therapy group for people like me.

They don’t exist. At all. I could not find anyone who had walking (non-COVID) pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and an ischemic stroke. Hell, I can’t even find someone who has had a cardiac arrest and a stroke, let alone the rest of it.

It’s interesting. There were people who wanted to know my secret–how I managed to come back from death–twice. This is such an American way of thinking, honestly. That we have more control over life than we do. I get it. It’s scary to think that things happen to you for no reason, but that’s life, indeed.

I also get the need to think that others will get their just due. Again, this may be an American thing, but people in this society really thirst for the villain to get their comeuppance. This is the Just World Fallacy, The belief that bad things will happen to bad people.

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Stronk chonk is bonking

my strength character with no clothes and a big hammer
Chonking and bonking! Nekkid.

I’m still exhausted from the flu shot, but I don’t want to talk about that. I’m bored with being exhausted, so let’s talk about Elden Ring (FromSoft) instead. I’ve been doing a strength run which I have never done before. I’ve done strengthcaster builds before, but not a pure strength build. To be completely honest, I I did put three tiny levels into faith. Very tiny. Barely bumped it. But it allows me to use Poison Mist and Flame Cleanse Me. The former is a great way to kill bosses v-e-r-y slowly. The latter is for curing Poison or Scarlet Rot. That is very necessary in the game. Yes, you can craft bolluses that do the same thing, but why when you only need 12 faith to use the incantation?

To put it in perspective, I have 45 in Vigor. That’s nearly 3 times the amount I had in my first playthrough up to this point. Last night, I went up against


Radahn, Starscourge Radahn, to be more precise. Let me set the scene for you. The first time I fought him, I had 18 Vigor. That is not good. This is about a third of the way through the game, and you should have about 30 health at the minimum. Health is vigor. I know this. This is the way you play these games. You can do whatever you want with your levels, but you really should have plenty of vigor. With only 18 Vigor, Radahn could one-shot me with his opening arrows. It was, shall we say, not fun. 

Let me back up and say that at the beginning of this fight, you have to traverse across the sands in order to even get to him. It’s very long. Very long. Using my shield can block it, but that takes up all my energy. Stamina. Which I also didn’t level up. Look. There are eight stats. Vigor, endurance, mind, strength, dexterity, intelligence, faith, and arcane. Because I wanted to use all the spells and incantations, I needed to level up Mind (how much FP/mana/blue bar I had), Intelligence (sorceries), Faith (incantations), and Arcane (ah, not exactly sure what this does, but Google tells me finding items, so luck. But you need it for some incantations, too). That doesn’t leave much for anything else.

I always skimp on Vigor and Endurance in these games. Always. If I had all the levels in the world, of course I would up Vigor. But I don’t. And in Elden Ring, you can get flasks back by beating groups of enemies, so Vigor is not as important. At least, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. It served me fairly well in my first playthrough, but, yeah. 18 Vigor was skimpy, even for me. I managed to limp along with that tiny tiny health bar for over a hundred hours by patching together techniques. Mostly, zapping from afar.

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CPTSD and the roots thereof

When my nibbling was six or sever, let’s call them X, I and my bestie took X and my bestie’s baby, we’ll call them Y, to the park for a picnic and later, a swim. My nibling’s mother is pretty exacting and very much a germophobe. I am….not either of those things*.

Here’s another thing you need to know about me. I don’t like shoes. At all. So I wear them as little as possible. Including outside when I can get away with it. I promise this matters for this post.

We’re eating our picnic, which I have to imagine was something like sandwiches and chips. I remember dropping a chip on the ground and folling the five-second rule, brushed it off and ate it. My nibling was gobsmacked because their mother would never allow that in a million years. I explained the five-second rule (and, yes, I know it doesn’t work that way), and they were fascinated by it. Later, they accidentally dropped a chip on the ground, picked it up, brushed it off, and then with a weird look on their face, put it in their mouth.

Here’s the thing. I was the one who often presented them with a differest point of view. I am radically different than my brother in many ways. One of the biggest ways is that I’m not a Christian and my brother is, as is my nibling’s mother. I never pushed my opinions onto my niblings, but if they said something to me about it or asked me a question, I would be honest. My last therapist scolded me because when my nibling said to me that their god was the oldest and best god, I corrected them factually. Not about the best part because that’s subjective, but the ‘oldest’ part because that’s just incorrect. the Christian god is relatively new. Of the seven most well-known religions (in order of oldest to youngest, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), Christianity, and Islam), Christianity is the second newest/youngest.

My therapist angrily said that since I was not my nibling’s parent, I should not have said that. Full disclosure, my last therapist’s specialty was motherhoodh. Just noting that because it’s possibly related. I disagree with that strenuously. I don’t think I should let my nibling believe a lie just because it’s been indoctrinated into them by their parent(s).

Side note: That might be because of my neurospiciness. I have never been formally diagnosed with either autism or ADHD, but I have several traits of each. And my inability to tell when to lie and when not to lie is one of them.

I am not being snarky when I say that I don’t get when a lie is polite and acceptable and when it’s neither. I mean, that’s not completel ytrue. I know not to tell someone that their ass looks fat in a dress, even if they ask. I don’t understand why this is true because I would not ask that question if I didn’t want an honest response, but I accept that this is true.

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Day Three of the flu shot

Day Three of flu shot. Well, two-and-a-half, really. I got it around four on Thursday and as I’m writing this, it’s one in the afternoon on Saturday. My teacher has Covid and had to cancel the class today. I was glad because I’m exhausted. My arm is a bit sore, buthere is barely a welt.

It’s the level of fatigue that only happens when I’m sick. I had to curtail my morning Taiji/Bagua routine because I don’t want to push it. It’s frustrating. I had just gotten back to doing everything and now, I have to pare it back again.

Today, I did all the stretching because I had a hunch that class would be canceled. And i did the Fan Form, the Eight Palms (Bagua) with DeerHorn Knives, bot only one way (usually do it both ways), and the Double Saber…I think? Suddenly, I’m not so sure. I did the Sword Hu-li Form (dancing sword form) which is just me moving the sword as I want to. With internal music going.

Now, I just want to sleep. I’m watching the Early Access Retry Elden Ring episode and have ordered Thai. This is my Saturday Ritual. Taiji class, Thai, and Retry. No Taiji class, but the other two still stand. It’s a meaty episode at nearly two-and-a-half hours.

I’ve been doing a run loosely based on Aunty Finchy’s run. I gotta say, it’s been so fucking hard. He’s a dex man, and I am…not. Neither dex nor a man. Plus, he spreads his points all over the place, much to the constertation of a lot of fans. A lot.

I peeked at the Facebook page last night, and, boy, do people have a lot of opinions on what Rory should and should not do. A. Lot. WHich is fine in the, well, everyone has opinions sort of way. But it gets pretty depressing when it’s RORY YOU HAVE TO DO THIS YOU STUPID IDIOT sort of way, which is so many of the comments.

The big ones are the insistence that he not use spirit summons on boss fights, which is silly and honestly just wrong. The boss fights are made to have spirit summons in them and while you can do the boss fights without them, it’s adding unnecessary difficulty.

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The body will do what it will do

Day Two of the flu shot. And, yes, I am going to be doing areport on it, much as I did with the Covid booster. I’m very tired. My arm is sore, but not bad. And not a welt. I can’t stop holding my breath yet because it was the night of day two for the Covid booster when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Last night, I was pretty tired and went to bed early. I woke up really tired. I did manage to do my whole Taiji/Bagua routine, but it was a struggle. And I just want to take a nap. Which would be ok except I had a solid eight hours last night.

It’s been a while since I had a flu shot. The reason why is because of how I react to these shots. And the fact that I never had the flu. I mentioned this in yesterday’s post.

I get why I need to get the shots, at least from a theoretical point of view. It’s like insurance. Except in this case, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be the right shot. That’s the reason I stopped getting the flu shot, by the way. It made me feel so shitty and then I never got the flu.

Yes, I know that’s the best outcome. I’m not disputing that not getting the flu is a good thing. It just seems like a waste plus it’s hard on my body–and to make matters worse, it’s not as if the vax prevents you from getting the flu (or Covid).

This was what I didn’t understand for years. I thought if you got the flu shot, you would be innoculated against getting the flu. No, it’s if you get one of the six strains that the shot was prepared for that year, you would suffer the effects much less (presumably). Same with the Covid vaccination. It mitigates the effects if you get one of the strains that it’s innoculating you for.

I feel really bad for my Taiji teacher because she was trying to get her booster, but could not get in. I can empathize because I was planning for my own booster shot. I could not get into my pharmacy until the first week of December. I wanted to get it a week before Thanksgiving. Cubs had a spot open in a few days from when I was planning it, but for the Moderna rather than the Pfizer.

I was going to get the booster on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Then, the flu shot the Tuesady after. Then, my brother’s Thanksgiving feast Friday night. That WAS the plan, which failed miserably.

I think that’s one thing I’ve taken away from the experience. It’s ever-changing. I can’t rely on what happened the time before because it’s ever-changing–like the virus itself.

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Trying to manage my fears

This is the first day in two weeks I’ve been able to do a full Taiji/Bagua routine. And it feels really good! For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing portions of it because of my reaction to the booster shot. In the first few days after, I mostly did stretches and warm-ups. I was exhausted, and I did not want to make things worse.

I slowly started adding weapons back in in. One at a time. This was probably four or five days after I got the shot. I really, really, really did not want to overdo it.

Today, for the first time in two weeks, I did all the things I normally do in my daily routine. All the stretches, warm-ups, and weapons. And it felt so good! That means Sword Form (right side)–

Gotta interject. I got my flu shot. I was going to get them on the same day, but thought better of that plan. In fact, when I went in a month or so ago to get my wasp bite checked out (it was infected), they asked if I wanted to get my flu shot and my Covid booster. I said sure. My doctor told me not to because I was already fighting off an infection, and my immune system was stressed enough. I had to do the full ten days of antibiotics for that mess. And my finger didn’t really get back to normal for about a week after.

Two weeks ago, I got the Covid booster. The Moderna instead of the Pfizer. It’s supposedly good to mix them up, probably so you can catch more variants. I have no scientific backing for this, but I believe that’s why I had such a bad reaction this time.

My plan had been to get the Covid booster a week before Tthanksgiving. Then, I was going to get the flu shot the following Monday or Tuesday. My brother had his Thanksgiving feast Friday night, and I figured it would be enough time to recover.

I was so wrong. So very wrong. I had never had such a strong reaction to one of these shots. I mean, I’ve always reacted to them, but not like this. It was mostly the welt that stayed forever. Which is annoying, but not a big deal. Usually, it was me feeling like shit for three days and then it getting better by day five or six. A week of being tired was pretty much it.

This time, it was so much more. It was horrid, and it never occurred to me until Ian mentioned it that it might actually be something other than a reaction to the shot. Which, it could have been–but it wasn’t.

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Playing life on hard mode

Over a decade ago (ouch), John Scalzi wrote a blog post entitled, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is. In it, he endeavored to explain to straight white dudes what privilege was without actually using the word privilege because they were so turned off by it. He said at the outset that he was writing it as a straight white dude, and the police blew up. It went viral, and it was deeply polarizing. He did a few updates to the post as well. I just reread the piece, and it still holds up today.

As a person of color, I think this is a solid post. Is it a bit snarky? Well, sure. That’s his style. But he’s also speaking their language (in this case, specifically, white nerd boys) by using the analogy of playing a video game called The Real World. Being a white het dude is Easy Mode, and he explains why. He also adds that ti doesn’t mean they will ‘win’ the game or that they won’t have a hard time. He’s just saying they start with an advantage that other people don’t have.

I want to springboard off that point to say that I really wished I hadn’t chosen to live my life on difficult mode. Or even maybe nightmare mode.

I will start by acknowledging that in one way, I am on easy mode. That is money. Scalzi says that’s a stat rather than a skill, but I will say that not having to worry about money is definitely easy mode for that particular stat. Especially in America where one hospitalization whilst uninsured can leave you bankrupt for life. So, I disagree with him on that. Not having to worry about money is hugely stress-relieving.

Having said that, almost every other skill/level/stat I’ve ‘chosen’ is bullshit. The reason I put it in quotes is because it’s more that I’ve realized things about myself rather than chosen them. Me being Asian (Taiwanese) and AFAB are both knocks against me.

Now. From here on out, I could have theoretcially chosen to do the straight (heh) and narrow. I could have gotten married to a man and had 2.4 children. Well, not the .4 bit. I could have gone to church dutifully every Sunday and taught Sunday school.

And my soul would have died. Several times. Over and over because nothing sounds worse to me. I never wanted children, but just assumed I had to have them because I was seen as a woman–and that’s what women did. Spawn children. That was the most important purpose for a woman–and maybe the only, don’t you know.

Here’s the thing about being bi. Back when I realized it (thirty years ago), it was drummed into my head that it wasn’t a choice. I didn’t CHOOSE to be attracted to people of both (at the time) genders. Now, all and any genders, and none at all. Which is true. But I could choose who I wanted to date. At that time, I didn’t want to deal with being bi so I ignored that part of me. Once I embraced it, I realized that i would have chosen to be bi even if I weren’t.

I wasn’t supposed to say that, though. Because the formal queer line was that it wasn’t a choice–you were born that way. Like Lady Gaga sang. But what if you did choose it? It would still be a valid choice.

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I can’t eat the sandwiches

Today, Alison from Ask A Manager wrote a post about why you need to attend your company’s holiday party even if you really, really don’t  want to. She gave advice as to how to deal with it, and it was solid as always. She makes good points, and if I worked in an actual office, I would–still not go.

Here’s why. One, the title of this post is based on another AAM post. If I remember correctly, it was about how to plan food for the office in a thoughtful manner. Someone suggested sandwiches, and someone said not everyone can eat sandwiches. Which people took great umbrage at because they thought the person was just being difficult. I think that person was being difficult, but in general, I actually cannot eat the sandwiches. Unless there is gluten-free bread.

Another tihng Alison has doen in the past is mention that most people want money for their Christmas gift (from the company). By far. Money. You would be surprised how many people push back on that because it’s not really a gift in the sense of it’s legal tender.

Look. Give. Me. Money. People are terrible at getting me gifts for more that one reason. One, I’m just a freak who is not interested in normal people things. Plus, with all my allergies, I can’t eat many things. This is related to the gift-giving thing that Alison writes about. There are many people in the comments who think that it’s the thought that counts. Well, yes, but if the thought is ‘you don’t count’, then what’s the point? Every suggestion people had, I could not use. Well, almost every. Chocolate? Has milk. cheese platter? All dairy. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pie? Gluten. Foodwise, I can eat meat and I can eat nuts, and I can eat fruits. So give me any or all of those.

Candles? Allergic. Soap/lotion? Same. Clothing? Also probably allergic. Well, depending on the material. Wool is bad. Feathers are bad. Synthetic is fine.

As for alcohol, I don’t drink it–and I’m allergic to alcohol, anyway. I don’t contribute to these convos because it’s so tiring, but someone defended alcohol saying people could give it away if they didn’t  want it. One, why should I have to give away a gift for me? And nothing says I’m valued like a gift I can’t use. Two, some people can’t have alcohol in the house. I can, but I would prefer not to. Three, it’s a pain in the ass to pass it on. I don’t have anyone nearby who drinks wine (which is what’s usually given away). Beer I could pass on, but it’s still something I have to do that I would prefer not to do.

So. Let’s take this to an office party. I can’t eat anything there. Miss me with asking for special food because I have read enough AAM to know that even if you ask, the chances of getting exactly what you want is slim to none. I have a Kind bar in my purse for that reason, but it’s not enough to last a whole night.

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Customer Disservice at its best (worst)

Last week, the garbage collector did not come. At all.

I’m going to let that sit there and marinate while I go back a few months. My garbage is usually collected early in the morning. A few months ago, I started to get weekly calls on the day it was supposed to be collected telling me that my route was ‘running late that day’ and would definitely positively be there by the end of the day–which was something like five-thirty. For several months.

Look. If they just came out and said that my new route was at the end of the day, I’d be fine with it. I don’t actually care when they come as long as they come.

They leave a message every collection day telling me that my route is ‘late for that day’. I had gotten to the point where I erased it as soon as I heard the automated voice. I just assumed it was the same message. Last week, they did not come. It was Thanksgiving week, so I thought maybe they had Monday off. I have helpful neighbors who roll my can back up for me, but I put it back out (this was thenext day) in the vain hope that it would get emptied.

It did not. At the end of the day, it was still full. The next morning, I called Republic, the monopoly for the area. In effect, anyway. It’s one of the only games in town. I told the woman on the phone that my house had been missed. After asking for my address, she immediately said that because of the holiday, my guy could not swing by and pick it up.

I mean. I get that it’s a holiday, but what happened was not my fault. I did not want to make extra work for anyone, but they didn’t do their job. Of picking up my trash. Which was, might I emphasize again, their actual job. That I pay them for. That they are supposed to do every week.

So the woman on the phone was as unhelpful as possible. She made sure to tell me several times that it was a holiday week and there was no possible wayt to get my trash picked up that week. That was it. She had nothing else to say. I asked what I was supposed to do the next week because I only had one small-ish can and, if you can recall, MY GARBAGE HAD NOT BEEN COLLECTED LAST WEEK. Which meant, and I’m sure you can put two and two together, that there was still garbage in the can.

“Put it in bags on the side.” She could not have been any less interested in my problem. Because I wanted to make sure that all the garbage would be taken, I clarified, “They will take the bags?” Because normally, they would not. She said she would put a note in the record for them to take the bags.

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The most wonderful time of the year

SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically, it’s depression that is brought about by a season. For most people, that’s winter with the darkness, the coldness, and the gloom. One of the ways to deal with it is a SAD Lamp to bring you light when it’s dark out.

It’s annoying. The way SAD has come to mean depression in the winter, I mean. I can understand that’s the more prevalent time it happens, but it’s not limited to that.

I get it in spring/summer. I hate the heat, the outdoors in bloom, and everything about not-winter/autumn. We got snow last night, which makes me both happy and nervous.

I need to get my roof fix. I was going to do it last week, but then I had to deal with the aftermath of my Covid shot. I honestly don’t remember it taking a week to recover from my previous shots. I mean, my arm was swollen/had the welt for several weeks, but the aches, chills, sweats, and tiredness didn’t last that long. Or did it?

My totally unsupported theoriy is that it was because I got the Moderna this time instead of the Pfizer. It’s supposed to be fine to switch between the shots, but it seems plausible to me that there would be a stronger reaction to one than another.

I’m still very tired. The chills and sweats are almost completely gone, and I’m slowly adding weapons back to my practice. I don’t want to do the fallacy of going from zero to a hundo and hurting myself doing it.

I had a classmate who was frustrating in this way. He would not jog for the whole year, and then when it got the least bit nice out, he would run like ten miles. Of course, he would pull something nad then complain about it. Loudly. I never said it, but I would think, “What the hell did you expect?” It’s so antithetical to Taiji that I could only shake my head.

But he’s a dude with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. He actually ripped a tendon, I think, doing this. Part of my annoyance is directed at myself, I know. I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of person. I have to be careful because I will go all out and ignore my body’s signals that I should stop.

My goal is to add one weapon a day and then gauge how I feel. Today, I did the drills for the staff. Yesterday, I did the Double Saber Form. I’ve done all the weapons this week at least oonce–except I think for the Karambit Form. I don’t think I’ve done that one. Maybe? It’s hard to say. I think I did it the day after I got the shot because Friday is the day I do that form.

I would rather do too little than too much.

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