Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

Finally! No longer feeling like warmed-up puke

I started feeling better Sunday night, and when I woke up on Monday, I was markedly improved. Sinus was clear (although my ears were still scabby and crusty. Yes, they become filled with pus when I pick the scabs), cough was mostly gone (one or two hard coughs every few hours), and better yet, I had more energy than I’ve had in the last month. I didn’t feel like death warmed over, and I actually looked forward to going to taiji. More to the point, I had enough energy to propel myself out of the car.

It’s difficult, though, because I don’t like leaving the house in general. It’s my low-level depression that makes it twice as hard for me to get in the car and drive. My BFF and I have talked about how fucked up it is that we’d set up a date to go out dancing. We did that maybe once a month, which isn’t a big ask, really. Both of us would spend the whole day psyching ourselves up to go out and begrudgingly get dressed. I’d leave the house, feeling extremely reluctant to go. I’d reach my BFF’s house, and she wouldn’t be dressed yet.

Side note: We have a running joke about her being perennially late. Like other issues in our friendship, once we hashed it out, it was fine. I just mentally added twenty minutes to a half hour to whatever the start time was supposed to be, and it worked out. Funnily enough, one time, she was supposed to pick me up at my house at, say, eight. That meant I’d change around eight-fifteen. The doorbell rang at eight, and I exclaimed, “You’re early!” She said, “We said eight, right?”

We’d chat while she decided what to wear. She often roped her husband into the process (if he was there) because he had a sharp eye for fashion.

Another side note: We were shoe shopping once, and I was griping about my wide feet and how shoes looked so bad on them. She said she once asked her husband if a pair of shoes made her feet look big. He said, “_____, no guy has every looked at a woman and said, ‘Damn, she’s fine, but those feet are too fucking big!'” I laughed, but the message has stuck with me, even though that was probably twenty years ago.

We’d smoke a cigarette on her porch before reluctantly leaving. Once we hit the club or restaurant or whatever, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but it took a lot of wherewithal to get there in the first place.

It’s the depression. When it was chronic and really bad, I could barely make myself brush my teeth, let alone leave the house. Now that I ‘only’ experience low-level depression, I can make myself do the things I need to do outside the house. However, I don’t have an office job, so I don’t have to drive every. That’s another thing. I hate driving, and I’m terrible at it. There are many reasons for that, but suffice to say, it makes it easier for me to cancel on outings whenever possible.


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It’s all a veneer

where's my cuppa?
I’m not going anywhere.

From the outside, it looks as if there’s nothing wrong with my life. I have friends I love and who love me. I don’t have to worry about money on a daily basis, and I am writing every day–meeting the goals I’ve set for myself. I am devoted to my cat, Shadow, and he to me–he’s making biscuits on my legs (the comforter over it) as we speak. I have things I’m passionate about, and I get to set my own schedule. For some people, this life would be damn near idyllic. But, as with many things, it’s what’s not being said that matters more than what is stated. Even though I have friends I love and who love me, I feel lonely sometimes. In addition, I get too much in my own head and start telling myself things I know aren’t true.

It’s the ugly head of depression, and it’s rearing itself up more frequently and higher than before. If I had to guess why, I would say it’s because I’m sick. Physical and emotional health are linked, and the longer the physical bullshit continues, the worse my mental health gets. It’s partly because I feel it’s a weakness on my part that I’m sick for so long. Rationally, I know it’s not true, but that little voice in my head is like, “You’re weak. You’re terrible.” Or, conversely, “It’s all in your head.”

Which it most definitely is not.

Yesterday, I was so exhausted, I skipped taiji. My sleep is shitty in general as I’ve documented before, but it’s been really bad in the past few days. I’ve woken up feeling exhausted with the chills, and I would struggle through the day, going to bed feeling exhausted and having hot flashes. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Last night, I was feeling perkier, but then I started coughing so hard, my voice turned raspy. This is one of the stages of sickness I get when I do get sick–hacking cough. I still have it today, but I’m feeling MUCH better in general. More energy, and not as if I’m death warmed over. I’ll take that trade-off any day of the week.

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I fought the Nergigante and the Nergigante….

get a room, guys.
Lovers’ spat.

I finally did it! Yes, I fought the Nergigante between last week’s post and this one, and how did I do? We’ll get to that in a minute. I also took on the Black Diablos, and I want to talk about her first. Diablos was my hardest fight in Low Rank. He was the first one to make me cart three times, which isn’t too bad considering that it’s at the very end of Low Rank. He’s tanky and cranky, and even though he’s considering a Flying Wyvern, his favorite move is to tunnel underground and pop up suddenly to crash into you and do massive amounts of damage. I actually had a harder time with LR Derblers than with HR Derblers, which really shouldn’t be the case. I knew Black Derblers was going to be even harder because she’s a female Diablos in heat (her description) which means she’s almost always pissed off.

I encountered her for the first time on another quest or expedition, and I followed her around a bit, but was having none of that. I’ve said that I admire people who can just jump into a fight. I was watching Pat of the Super Best Friends playing MHW, and he ran into the Deviljho in the wild. He just decided to fight the Angry Pickle and beat him. He was scoffing at how easy it was, but when he had the actual quest, it was harder. I just couldn’t believe he decided to go after the Deviljho without prepping–and won. Then again, he was playing on the PS4, and Deviljho didn’t come out until well after the original content was released. In other words, people had already beaten the game by the time they encountered the Deviljho.

Anyhoo, I was on another expedition and ran into the Black Derblers. She has no interest in me as she wanders around, probably because I’m just a speck to her. A gnat, really. I decided to attack her just to see what she was like. I did not plan on killing her, and *spoiler* I didn’t. She stunned me and then made me cart before I could get away. I don’t consider it a real cart because I wasn’t really trying to fight her, nor was I kitted out properly. I went back to HQ and got ready for the fight. I’m a rabid convert to saved load-outs now, and for Derbers, it includes a lot of Legiana armor and her Switch Axe. I update as I get further in the game, but I’m pretty sure I had the Legiana helm and vambraces. Actually, I probably had the Ingot Vambraces Beta on because it gives two levels of Health Boost, which is an extra 30 health total. Actually again, I might have been using the Axe Semper Tyrannis, which is made from Derblers parts. If that’s the case, then I had a different load-out because you need to shore up the -30% Affinity and use Free Element to ‘wake up’ the Ice element.  I think I used Leggy’s Switch Axe for this fight, though. Back to Health Boost. I really should get the third level because three levels is +50 (as opposed to +15, then +30). I know it might not sound like a lot, but my base health is 100, so right now, I have nearly a third more.

Ian was asking me the other day how I increased my health and stamina, and I rattled off a bunch of things I do. I realized I was ‘that gal’ now, and he even commented that I was really locked into the meta. I said it was because I watched a ton of Casey at IGN and because I knew what was important to me. Related note: I still don’t know the most optimal way to use the Switch Axe, but I get the job done. My point being, I get way into the weeds about certain things and not others. So. As to my build and buffs, from watching Woolie of the Super Best Friends play, I realized that I should buy the Powercharm and the Armorcharm from the Provisions Stockpile guy. They give an attack boost and a defense boost respectively. Then, you can combine a Powercharm with two Bageljuice talons and an Armorcharm with two Bageljuice talons to make the Powertalon and the Armortalon respectively. These give even bigger attack and defense buffs, and they stack with the Powercharm and the Armorcharm. So, at the cost of four slots in my item pouch, I can have +15 attack and +30 defense. Which, again, doesn’t sound like a lot, but due to the obscure logarithms that I don’t completely understand, they’re really good.

I usually have Diving Blessing Level Three which randomly reduces the damage I take by 50%, and it seems to go off a lot of the time. I try to have Defense Level Three as well because I’m all about the defense. As I’ve said before, I will sacrifice some offense for defense, but I’ve found a way to have both. I’ll get to that in a minute. I also use Mega Demondrug and Mega Armorskin before each fight because they give you a big boost in attack and defense respectively. Better yet, they last until the quest is over or you get carted. Fucking OP, man, especially since I can make them at the Elder Melder, albeit at a ridiculously low cost. I stack that with Demon Powder and Hardshell Powder. I try to make sure I have teammates around before I use all this if I’m doing multi so they get the benefits as well. I only have one Friendship Jewel, and I currently don’t feel like I can sacrifice more slots/skills to being a healer, but I could add a few more Wide Range skills if I wanted. Sometimes, I eat a Might Pill and an Adamant Pill as well, but I’ve not done that as much lately. Why? Because it seems like overkill, and I’m using up my resources at a rapid pace.

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The more things change

all. the. tea.
Drinking all the tea.

It’s the same old, same old. Just as I was getting better, ROUUUUUUND THREEEEEEEEE. (Imagine buxom chick in a tiny bikini holding up a title card. Or Finchy (see clip. The boys’ character is always named Finchy). Whichever works for you.) It’s as if the fates that be are laughing at me every time I start getting better and saying, “You think you’re OK now? Oh, you poor, sweet, summer child.” I was roughly 85% better when I went to class on Saturday. I went home achy, but not unbearably so, and I was pleased that I was finally on the tail end of the bullshit.

I woke  with the chills. I immediately knew that I was worse because I don’t get cold if I’m not sick. Or rather, I don’t get cold until it’s well below zero. I threw on a sweatshirt and struggled through my morning routine. I skipped class and spent the whole day, miserable, on the couch. Then, early in the evening, I started having heat flashes–which happened the last time I got chills. Though, admittedly, it was cold/hot/cold/hot in rapid succession; this time, it’s chills in the morning and hot at night. At least from my limited data of one day and this morning. I have chills literally as I write this, and now because my words are so brilliant.

It’s depressing and discouraging. I know I need to see a doctor/acupuncturist, but I can’t bear the thought of being out of the house for more than a half hour. I’ve joked before that there are only two reasons I ever want to have a roommate/partner/cabana boy. One is to lift heavy things. Hey, yes, I can do it myself, but it’s nice not to have to do it all the time. The bigger one is to help me out when I’m sick. Shadow is currently snoozing on my legs, and he’s a great nurse (except when he meows at me, drags his nose across my bare flesh, and claws at me (gently) in the morning to wake me up for brekkie), but he’s not so good at making me tea or going out grocery shopping for the bare essentials.

Anyway. If this goes according to the timetable, the chills/heat flashes will last another day, and then I’ll slowly start getting better for reals. Or something. I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t really care. I’m watching Numb3rs as my comfort food right now and hoping I’ll feel better soon.

But what if I’m the weird one?

I’ve been reading an old open thread post on Ask A Manager (AAM)  in which Alison asks about people’s weirdest coworkers. It’s been amusing, but it’s also been informative. In the back of my mind as I was reading was, “What if I’m the weirdo?” Or, more to the point, I *know* I’m the weirdo. When I used to work in an office, I was definitely the weirdo. In the first place I worked (day treatment for juvies*), I felt out of place for so many reasons. The first month I was there, they had their annual retreat on which I had to go. It was awkward, obviously, and then one night, everyone got hammered and decided to play, “Never Have I” when it came to drugs. After alcohol and marijuana, I was done, and I watched incredulously as the rest of my coworkers kept raising their hands. Not only did I feel weird and out of place, but I was like, “You guys work with kids who struggle with these issues.” It was hypocritical as most of them seemed proud of the shit they’d done.

At the same place, there was a woman in the other program (for truant kids, not actual juvies) who spackled on makeup with a spatula. I mention this because one day, she looked at me through heavily-encrusted eyes and said, “You would be the perfect poster child for a makeover.” I didn’t wear any makeup and didn’t give a shit about my hair (other than to brush it and make sure it was neat) and clothes (clean and no holes), and when she said that, I thought to myself, “I’d rather be that than look like an over-sized Kewpie doll.” I could tell story after story about that place, but my point is that I did not fit into the culture. At all.

The reason I like to read advice columns isn’t just because they have stories that are unbelievable and entertaining (although, many times, heartbreaking as well), but it’s because with the ones I have carefully curated, there is always a few people who are similar to me. It helps me feel like less of a weirdo. In the particular thread I mentioned in the first paragraph, there was one woman, bearcat (fairly sure it’s a woman) who declared that she was the weird coworker. Reading what she wrote, I thought, “Except for the aromatherapy scentball, you’re the COOL coworker” (which is exactly what someone else wrote). I mean, she freaking hula-hooped at work. How cool is that?

It got me thinking how someone’s weird is someone else’s cool. Maybe I could just own my weirdness, but I’m not there yet. I’m not ashamed of it for the most part, but I’m not proud of it, either. What makes me weird? So. Many. Things.


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Traipsing my way through Monster Hunter: World High Rank

thanks, cat friends!
Grimalkynes help trap Bagel!

Still sick. Still dragging my ass around when I can bother to get off the couch. The weather turned cool today, which is a relief. Yesterday was hot, steamy, and gross, and, boy, am I glad I don’t live in the South. I’ve been playing a shit-ton of MHW since I last wrote about it, but I still haven’t taken on the Nergigante. Yes, I know I said I’d hoped I’d have tackled him by now, but I’m still enough under the weather that I didn’t feel I could commit to a fifty-minute Nergigante fight.

I took on Uragon, and he actually made me cart once. I was caught off-guard by one of his falling pods, and then I was stun-locked into oblivion. I find one of the important things about a hunt is to armor up correctly, and I hadn’t had enough fire resistance to withstand the one-two punch. The next time I took on Uragon (by myself), I was better kitted out, and it was easy-peasy. You may ask yourself why I took him on again by myself when I’ve been enjoying the world of multi once I kill a monster solo. It’s because of the opaque multi system, which while I understand mostly how to use it, there are still a few things that make me shake my head. For example, I like to play the story missions by myself. So, there’s no reason I need to play online for that. But, you’re not allowed to play offline in this game so I had to figure out that I wanted to start an online session just to play by myself. In addition, I wanted to make it private so not just anyone could jump into my game.

Fine. Dandy, even. Not a problem once I learned that. Except, when I tackled A Fiery Convergence (an optional quest in which I tackled Lavasioth and Uragon in order to get the Fireproof Mantle), I automatically selected one player, then departed for the quest. Once I got to the Elder’s Recess, I went to fire off my SOS Flare, but it was grayed out. I thought, “Hm. Maybe I need to eat first.” So, I did that and still the SOS Flare was grayed out. I realized at some point that it was probably because I set my session to one player, and I had to decide if I wanted to try it myself or abandon the quest and start again. I think I used a Lucky Voucher (which doubles rewards) for this quest or else I just decided to try it on my own. I could always abandon it later if it went poorly. Spoiler, it did not go poorly. I took care of both within half an hour and never was in any real danger. It was satisfying, I’ll be honest with you.

Next up was Azure Rathalos. I was nervous about him, I won’t lie. I took out a few regular Rathalos in multi so I could upgrade my Rathalos Axe II into the Rathbringer (love the name!) Axe I. I buffed myself out max for the Azure Rathalos fight, including Mega Armorskin), girded my loins, and waded into the Ancient Forest. To my surprise, I took him out fairly easily. Not as easy as, say, HR Diablos, but he still wasn’t as hard as I expected him to be. Immediately afterwards, I took on The Red and Blue Crew (optional quest to take down a regular Rathalos and an Azure Rathalos in the same quest) in multi because one, I wanted to clear the quest, and, two, because I’m still feeling punk, and I didn’t feel up to taking on the duo by myself, even though I had just downed Azure Rathalos.

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Making a bad situation worse

There is something intensely boring and self-involved in being sick. At least for me, that is. It’s hard to do much else when I’m not at my best or even at 50%, and it makes me cranky as fuck. I am not at my better self when I’m sick. Mostly, I want to withdraw into myself and hide from the world. Hm. Come to think of it, it’s not much different than regular me. I jest, I jest. (But only partly.) Since I am purportedly a goddamn adult, I manage to keep most of this shit to myself, but it’s harder to do when I’m sick. I’m funneling so much energy into being miserable, I have little left over for the constant controlling of my emotions that I do on a regular basis.

My taiji teacher suggested acupuncture, which I am fine with in theory. In reality, though, I have a complicated reaction. Not to acupuncture itself. I think it’s a good thing. But to the fact that I’m Taiwanese, and I know little-to-nothing about it. If I go to someone in Minnesota, they’re most likely going to be white. So, there’s a layer of shame and defiance in my attitude to begin with, which is not a good way to go into a new situation. But, as uncomfortable as that is, it’s better than going to someone who’s actually Chinese because I have even more feelings about that. It’s part of being in the diaspora–never feeling as if I belong to anywhere in particular. I know to many old school Chinese/Taiwanese people, I’m a disappointment/shame to my culture. In addition, I’m Taiwanese with a grudge against the Mainlanders*, which would not end well, either.

Regardless, I need to do something because every time I start to come down with something, it’s never-ending. It goes something like this. I start to feel off, which means my energy starts flagging. That lasts for a week or two. Then, sinus issues. Then, bowel issues. Then, coughing/sneezing/sore throat issues. Sinus issues may or may not persist. Throw in flu-like issues from time to time, lather, rinse, repeat. Last night, I was lying on the couch under a blanket and my cat (on my legs), and I got the chills. That’s another phase of being sick for me.

I’m tired of this. It seems to happen every year. My taiji teacher asked if it could be a prolonged sense of allergies, and that might be part of it since I’m allergic to everything. It’s worse when I get up in the morning and then for a few hours before I finally drop off to sleep. My ears are totally scabbed over with crud, and they hurt.

I’m in the same position, still have the chills, and I’m sipping my honey ginger lemon tea. Is it helping? Dunno, but it tastes good.

I really liked this song until I figured out what it was about (which was by the end of the song–it’s pretty obvious. At first, I thought it was about a lover, which would have been bad enough, but it’s God, which is even worse). Too bad because her voice is gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

*Brief primer: Chiang Kai-shek fled the Mainland to get away from Mao. He took over Taiwan and ruled it with an iron fist. Taiwanese people were considered second-class citizens under his regime, and he considered it part of China. My parents believe in an independent Taiwan and that we are Taiwanese, not Chinese.

I have a dream…of being a normie

a lonely, friendless path.
The road less traveled….

Still sick. Got better, up to feeling 75% or so, and then I plummeted back down to roughly 40% two nights ago. I’m hovering around that same point right now, and it’s fucking annoying. I think it’s time to actually go to the doctor and/or try Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Ugh.

So, on one of the advice forums I read, there was someone asking how does someone know if they are ready to have children (indeed, if they should have them at all). Someone responded with a classic column from Dear Sugar in which she counsels the LW to imagine a ‘sister ship’ to the life he is leading (in this case, he’s a childfree man contemplating having children) and to see what that sparks in him.

I’ve been thinking about that since rereading the column. I don’t know if I agree with how she ultimately made her decision (feeling like she’d slightly regret it more if she didn’t have kids than if she did), but I think there’s merit in imagining an alternative life. So. Let’s try it out. I don’t have any qualms about my decision not to have children (and never have. The only decision I’ve consciously made in my life that I haven’t second-guessed), but there are plenty of things in my life that I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken another path.

In addition, it can be alienating to be so persistently on the fringes, but not completely alternative. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my blog, so I’ll write about it again if I want to. Nothing about me is ‘normal’–unmarried, gleefully childfree, agnostic, freelancer, bisexual, Taiwanese, non-movie lover, etc. Something that makes me fringe from both normies and freaks is that I’m completely straight-edged when it comes to drinking/drugs. I don’t do any of that, and I have little patience for it. It’s not fun being the only sober person in a group of drunk/high people, which, unfortunately, many artistic people are.

Then, there’s sex and relationships. In my teens, I was determined to wait until I was married to have sex because–church. The problem was, sexytimes were AW HELL YES times. It felt goddamn good, like, really fucking good, and I became what I later called a TV (technical virgin). I did everything up to PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, and that’s how I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking my Christian vows, as it were. Even though I never really believed in God with a capital G, I tried so goddamn hard. But, sexy stuff felt amazing, and it got harder and harder for me to abstain from penetrative sex.

In my twenties, I realized I was bisexual, but I denied it for several years. I was already an Asian woman in America–did I really need to throw another label that would make life harder for me into the mix? I couldn’t deny it forever, however, and I came out with some fanfare. It took me roughly a decade to adjust to that, and I also had what I fondly refer to as my slutty years in my late twenties. I did a lot of experimenting, and while it got messy from time to time, it was a lot of fun, too.

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Spinning my Charge Blade in Monster Hunter: World

give me your majestic horns, derblers!
DIABLOS (HR) MY NEMESIS WE MEET AGAIN

I’m still recovering from the sickness, and it’s been slow-going. It’s frustrating because I know that I have to take it easy in order to get better, but I’m impatient for it to just be done already. I did jump in my recovery last night to about 50%, which is up from roughly 10%. I can tell I’m getting better because I’m sleeping less, and for now, I’ll take that trade. I wish it weren’t so, but it is–I know I’m getting better when I’m sleeping significantly less.

One of the downsides to being sick is that I haven’t been able to make as much progress in Monster Hunter: World as I would have liked. I’ve mentioned in the past I’ve reached the point with Souls games, especially DS III, where I’m comfort gaming if I’m playing them. I don’t have to put much thought into it, especially since I summon for bosses*. MHW, on the other hand, still takes all my concentration when I’m fighting something new.

In my moments of feeling better, I fought my nemesis, HR Diablos, and took him down handily. Before I did, I took down a Low Rank Diablos for parts, and it was a piece of cake. I had to laugh to myself because I had been dreading Derblers, and it was easy-peasy. I had more difficulty with HR Anjanath, and that’s saying something. Again, I’ve done a lot of grinding, and I’ve built a defensive juggernaut. I usually have a Defense III charm, Diving Blessing Level 3, and I always have the Armorcharm and Armortalon in my item pouch. I use Armorskin before each fight, so, yeah, I’m buffed the fuck out defense-wise when I go into a fight. (I also have the Powercharm in my pouch and use Demondrug before each fight).

I also took on (and down) The Angry Pickle, who has been, by far, the hardest fight I’ve had so far. I’m still pissed that I had him down to flashing skull the first time when time ran out because of the stupid Handler story bullshit that takes up the first fifteen minutes. I got him the second time with one bogus faint (lag faint) in about thirty-eight minutes. It’s a slog, and it made me feel that maybe my offense isn’t where I need it to be at this point.

I’m still maining the Switch Axe at this point, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it’s powerful, especially in Sword mode and surprisingly agile in Axe mode for such a big weapon. Bad because it means I always have to get up close and personal with a monster, which isn’t always ideal. I really want to pick up a ranged weapon, but I want one that gives me the option of melee as well. Which means the Gunlance. Which is one of the most technical weapons in the game. I already main three technical weapons–do I want or need to add a fourth? OK, so I just read that the Gunlance is still an up-close weapon, so do I want to tackle one of the ranged weapons? Also, Gunlance is a heavy weapon, not a technical one, so there’s that. The other two technical weapons are Hunting Horn (hahahahahah no) and the Bow. Which is amazing in the right hands, but just not mine. Most of the speed records are with ranged weapons, which is another reason I want to pick one up.

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In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.


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