Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: General Housekeeping

Shaking Things Up

let's tidy up in here.
Clean up in aisle 5!

I’m getting better, but I still feel I’m on the cusp of a relapse, which is no fun. I’m also musing over my writing life because, well, to be frank, blogging isn’t doing it for me any longer. Or rather, blogging every day isn’t doing it for me any longer. I still enjoy writing blog posts, especially the POOG posts, but it’s becoming to feel more like a chore given the political climate of the country right now. Plus, I’m beginning to think that shouting on the internet isn’t really doing anything meaningful, but I don’t want to give it up completely.

On the other hand, I have been neglecting my fiction blog (minnahong.com), which–good lord. I just checked, and I haven’t touched it in over three years–doesn’t feel good at all. minnahong.com used to be my blogsite, but then I decided I wanted to use it to promote my fiction instead, and I switched it over. Obviously, I’ve been letting it languish, and I’ve recently decided it’s time to change that. I want to state it out loud because I’m terrible at actually implementing change. I’m hoping that by letting it be known, I’ll be spurred into action.

To that end, I’ve decided on a 3/2 split with three days of blogging here and two days of posting fiction there. I’ll continue with my old novel, Trip on This, and I may start up another old novel I wrote (haven’t quite decided which or if I actually want to do that. I may just want to focus on Trip on This and then the sequel which I recently wrote–sixteen years after the original).

This is all tentative right now, but I’m planning on doing blog posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ll keep to the current topics (personal thoughts, health, and popular culture/fun/POOG posts, respectively), but I reserve the right to change that up in the future.

Then, I’ll post chapters from my fiction on Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday will be Trip days (I’ve already posted two chapters), and Thursdays will be, well, we’ll see what I decide. That’s the tentative schedule for now, but again, I reserve the right to change it later if I feel the need.

Personally, I’m in a foul mood, and I don’t know why. I’m hoping that changing things up with my writing will help with the general ennui I’m feeling. By the way, that Google art thing matched me with a painting called Ennui by a Japanese artist (can’t find it right now), which is a lounging woman in a kimono. It doesn’t look like me at all (to be fair, it was like a 40% match), but I love that it’s called Ennui. I changed my name on Twitter to M’Ennui Hong for a few days because it amused me so much.

My sleep has been astonishingly bad lately. Not as bad as it was twenty years ago, but astonishingly bad for me lately. Which means I’m getting better. But it also means my depression is hitting particularly hard right now. The only positive thing I can say about the depression is that I know it’s not rational, which makes it slightly easier to believe.

General Housekeeping: A New Day is Breaking

let's tidy up in here.
Clean up in aisle 5!

Hello Gentle (and Not-So-Gentle) Reader! This is your friendly blogger here to inform you that changes will be coming to the blog. I have been dissatisfied for some time with the blog–not because I haven’t been doing what I intended to do. I have. I’ve written a post every weekday, and I’m mostly satisfied with the way they’ve turned out. The problem is, I feel like I have said pretty much all I want to say on certain subjects. I know I circle around to my pet issues over and over again, and I’m fine with that. However, I don’t want to write something just to have written something.

I still have sit to say on many subjects, and I’m not going to quit writing, don’t you worry. However, I would like to change things up a bit for several reasons. One is the aforementioned one. Two is to get myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve been writing longform pieces for some time now, and while I’m good at it, it’s something I can do in my sleep. I’ll still do it, but I want to mix things up. Three, video is where it’s at these days. All the kids are doing it, and most people would rather watch a five-minute video than read a two-thousand words pot.

The question is, what do I want to do for those videos? One idea is to riff on the topic of the day, similar to the posts I write. I probably would write the script out ahead of time because the way I circularly write about these issues isn’t as viable in video form, but it would still be loose and casual. My second idea is to do Twitch streaming, except in a funny way. Either playing video games where you can’t see the game being played, for example, or me sitting on my couch with my cat while I’m drinking my coffee. That’s it. Nothing more. I’ve had people tell me in all seriousness that they would watch me do that.

Another idea I’m tossing around is a cooking show. But, Minna, I can hear you say. You don’t cook. Details, shmetails. Neither does half the people on The Food Network, so why let that stop me? It would actually be part of my shtick I went down this route. I could either do recipes only for ‘dummies’ or make foods that don’t actually require cooking (such as egg salad sandwiches, for example). Another gimmicky idea is to have my face hidden the whole time I’m cooking. By a cupboard door, by the oven door, by a grocery bag, etc. My favorite idea, however, well, I’m going to keep that to myself for now.

Yet another idea I’m thinking about is, well, some backstory. I used to write one-woman shows that were social commentary mixed with stand up. I miss it a lot, and another of my video ideas is to do these acts (after I create them) for the camera. I’m still in the musing phase, but it’s something I really want to try.

Do not worry. I will continue to write posts in the meantime, but I may not adhere to my own schedule (though I’m pretty loosey-goosey with that as it is). I will keep you updated as I implement the changes. I’m excited about this, and the possibilities are endless.

General Housekeeping News!

may i have your attention, please.
Cleaning house!

As I stated in a recent post, I’ve been thinking of changing the categories on this blog. Brief history: I used to blog about whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted because you are not the boss of me. Funny thing is, I had planned on replacing the ‘Topical Politics’ category, but I continued to write about politics. Instead, I’m going to change ‘Myopia’ to ‘Musings’. It’ll still probably be all about me because it’s my blog, but it’ll be like peeking into my diary, only more interesting. I’ll leave the ‘Myopia’ posts as marked because I can’t be stuffed to change the tags, but from now on, Monday posts will be categorized under Musings.

I’m also considering making POOG the permanent category for Fridays and moving the other ‘Fun’ topics to Thursday. I’ll have to come up with an alliteration for it, something like Topical Culture. Topical works with pretty much everything, really.

Anyway. That’s it from the management. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled program.

Learning to Let Go (of Social Media)

cut me off, ma. i've had enough.
Why are my emotions dialed up to eleven all the time?!?

Recently, I had a situation in real life where I had an intensely negative reaction to something someone said. It was instantaneous and visceral, though I tried to restrain it as best I could. Later that day, I started thinking about cutting back on social media, and, yes, the two are connected. One thing I’ve noticed about spending a lot of time on social media, specifically Twitter, is how it’s made me more reactionary. If I see something I don’t like, my body flushes, my heart starts racing, and I feel as if I want to punch someone. Part of that is because people tend to be declarative on Twitter, leaving no wiggle room. There’s a lot of name-calling, putting other people down, and negativity in general, and that’s just between Democrats–which is arguably worse than some exchanges between Democrats and Republicans.

It’s also because when something starts trending, everyone has to throw in their two cents, even if they’re not knowledgeable on the subject. So, much of my TL becomes a wall of the same ill-informed, not-nuanced opinion, and reading it over and over again has had a bad effect on my brain. In addition, my attention span has shortened, and I’m not happy with that. I can still read a long form piece, but it takes more concentrated effort on my part than it used to. When I write, I find myself thinking, “Let me just check out what’s happening on Twitter/Facebook” about every half hour or so. I’ve recently muted my notifications on my phone so I still get them, but I don’t get the beeps. That means I’m not constantly checking to see who’s said what to me, which really can wait until I’m done with whatever I’m doing–especially writing.

There have been studies on what overuse of the internet has done to our brains, but it’s still too early to say a lot about the results definitively. This article on the negative results match what I’ve found to be true in myself, though I will add that I’ve always skimmed portions of novels, even before the internet. I don’t like pages-long descriptions of scenery, so I always scan those or skip them completely. I prefer to visualize the environment in my own mind, and I don’t like flowery purple prose, anyway. The point remains, though, that when I read, I am more apt to check my social media than I am comfortable with.

Back to my IRL situation. The problem isn’t that I had a reaction to what was being said because my reaction was not out of line–it’s the intensity of the reaction that bothers me and how it was instantaneous. I’m not making the civility argument; I’m making the, “This is not good for my health” argument. I’m also making the, “This is not a good way to have a discussion” argument. I’ve already written in the past how I feel worse about myself since ingesting social media as a steady diet. I used to think I never should speak up about anything because my opinions weren’t valid or worthwhile to state. I also thought, “Why would anyone want to hear anything I had to say?” With the help of taiji and therapy (the title of my self-help book!), I’ve been able to work through it to the point where I was spouting my opinion all over the damn place. Hell, it’s what I do here all the time. But, ever since I’ve started using Twitter on a regular basis (and to a lesser extent, Facebook), I find myself biting my metaphorical tongue more often.

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General Announcement: Breaking Up With Politics

no more politics.
The end.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was thinking about rejiggering the format of my blog. Now, I’m formally announcing that Topical Politics will no longer be a category*, meaning I’ll have to come up with something else to write on Thursdays. I haven’t gotten that far in the planning yet. The reason I don’t want to write about politics any longer is complex and layered. I’ll try to dissect it so you can understand why I’m putting the pen down during these turbulent political times. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I made the decision after Ian told me he loved my POOG posts (which you really should read because they’re pretty damn funny, if I do say so myself, and I do) because I got to write like me. I never thought about it that way, but it’s true. I love writing the POOG posts because I can just let ‘er rip and not care too much about how I’m coming across. It’s satire, so I can say whatever the fuck I want! It’s exhilarating and freeing, and my true voice shines through.

I used to be able to write about politics in that way, but somehow, I no longer feel able to do so. Let me recount the reasons why. One, I’m having a hard time laughing at the current administration because they scare the fuck out of me. Not just because they have no compassion and don’ t give a damn about anything other than themselves and their wealthy compatriots, but because they are so fucking inept and could bring about World War III. Fortunately (if sadly), many of our allies are more into mocking the president rather than trying to take him down, but that could change on a dime.

By the way, I’m so not into macho alpha/beta shit, but the video of my political bae, President Emmanuel Macron, owning our president with that handshake is a thing of beauty. He said it was to show our president that he wasn’t going to concede on the little things, and it’s one way of dealing with a bully. I would not kick President Macron out of bed for eating crackers, I’ll tell you what. You can have your Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; he reminds me of a grown-up frat boy, tbh. That’s neither here nor there, so moving along.

It’s almost seven months since the election, and I’m still not over the fact that so many of my fellow Americans wanted this man as president. I know there are more of us than there are of them, but it doesn’t really matter right now. All of our collective id is on display, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s not that he’s a (nominal) Republican; it’s more than that. If we had ended up with a President McCain or President Romney, I would have been pissed, but not as scared as I am now. I would have understood why someone voted for them (though, obviously, not agree). I do not understand voting for a failed business man who has no experience in politics, and that’s the least of his problems.

I also don’t like how in focusing on this president and everything he’s doing wrong, we’re not paying enough attention to Congress. That’s where the real deals get down, and the Republicans are doing some nasty shit.

The biggest reason, however, is that I hate the endless infighting between progressives and pragmatists within the Democratic Party. It’s like being a kid whose parents are going through a horrible divorce, and you just want  to disappear. I don’t like how each side is hunkering down and  and demonizing the other side, and it’s making me sad, tired, and weary. I don’t find much humor in the situation, if any, and I find myself writing about it in a very tepid way because I have friends on both sides of the divide.

I’m not giving up on politics completely, but I just don’t want to feel as if I have to write about it every week. I don’t know what’s replacing it yet, either, but I have a week to figure it out.


*The irony being that I’m using it as the category tag for this post.

Tidying Up the Mess: General Housekeeping From the Staff (Me)

may i have your attention, please.
Cleaning house!

There is one upside to being sick: It’s given me a lot of time to think, albeit morbidly, about this blog, my life in general, and the direction thereof of both. I’ve had a hard time writing every day, and it had me questioning whether it was even worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep on blogging; I’m just not sure it’s worth it. To be brutally honest, I feel as if I’m shouting into the void for many reasons, and I don’t like doing things that aren’t beneficial in one way or another.

If I do continue blogging, I’m most likely going to change the format. Initially, I decided to choose one topic for every day of the week to give myself some structure. And, to be honest, so readers would know what to expect every day. True to my nature, I soon said, “Fuck it. I’m going to write whatever I want whenever I want and just label it under each day. It’s my blog; I can do whatever I want.” I felt restricted by the constraints I placed on myself, though I do feel it helped me over all. One of my biggest flaws when it comes to writing is that I’m undisciplined, and forcing myself to write about a certain topic every day actually got me to write.

Now, though, I’m finding myself more frustrated than not when I try to stick to the schedule. In addition, I’ve pulled way back from writing about politics, which is my Thursday topic. Not because I don’t care, but because it’s overwhelming. I started using Twitter and Facebook in earnest during the 2008 campaign, which means I have a ton of political people in my TL/feed. I’m grateful to have so many intelligent, conscientious people in my social media, but it becomes crushing to read post after post about the fuckery of this presidential administration.

In addition, so much of the reporting on it is political theater, and it’s depressing to watch the media cavil at calling this president exactly what he is: a narcissistic, petulant, childish, tyrannical, deeply ignorant, idiotic, dangerous despot. We don’t need any more, “Can you believe this president is doing this?” articles because unless it’s something positive, yes, I can believe this president is doing something terrible, ignorant, self-destructive (country-self, mostly, but also self-self), and petty. That. Is. Who. He. Is.

What we need are posts about how to stop him and the cowardly Republicans who are supporting him. We also need articles constantly exposing the president and the Republicans for all their shenanigans, holding their feet to the fire, and demanding that they do their goddamn fucking jobs.

Breathe, Minna, breathe.

This is why I need to pull back from politics. I can’t deal with the constant (righteous) outrage over this president and this congress. I’m not talking about checking out because I think we all have a moral obligation to stay aware of what’s happening to our democracy, but I don’t think it’s helping anyone for us to make ourselves sick over it. Let me be clear. You and I can only individually do so much. Collectively, we can do a lot, but not if we run ourselves into the ground. One of my problems when I get overwhelmed is that I get depressed. When I get depressed, I get paralyzed. It’s a trite trope, but it’s true–if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone (or anything) else.

I’m not going anywhere, but I just need a shakeup. I’m not sure what, exactly, so I’m going to make it up as I go. Join me in the journey.

*Cough Cough* Go On Without Me

Still feeling squidgy and squicky. Oh, sorry! I’ve been binge-watching the Great British Bake Off and just finished the first season, so I still have my British slang on. I really like the show for several reasons. One, I love baking shows. I used to bake now and again, and it’s much more pleasing to me than cooking is. Two, scrumptious desserts. Enough said. Three, there’s none of the American machismo and grandiosity of, “I’m going to win, shove it in your ear!!” Yes, it’s still a reality show and scripted in a way, but it’s more laid-back than American reality cooking shows. There’s no faux-ginning up of the tension or false bravado. In fact, it’s quite endearing that the competitors were all rooting each other on*, and they were genuinely distraught when it came time to cut a contestant. Also, none of the contestants will actually say they think they’ll win. The closest they’ll come is, “I quite think I might have a chance.” I had fun trying to figure out who would be cut at the end of each episode, and I was usually right. The tells aren’t as obvious as they are in, say, Chopped, but I’m catching on to the British way of doing things.

The one thing I really didn’t like, though, happened in the final episode. There are three contestants (seven have already gone home), and they have one round as a semifinals before one is cut. Paul Hollywood is a master baker and one of the judge. Mary Berry is a baker and a food writer–called the Queen of Cakes–is the other judge. In the final episode, Paul was very dismissive of one of the women for choosing cupcakes as her mini-cakes (for a special tea). He called it childish even before she made them. Then, when she presented her cupcakes, he was still adamant they weren’t for an adult tea, even though he admitted they tasted fantastic. He also didn’t like the decoration of the other woman’s mini-cakes, calling them too girly. It was very off-putting, and it was even worse when he and Mary were discussing who should be cut. It was very evident that he wanted to cut Miranda (cupcake woman), whereas it was equally obvious that Mary wanted to keep Miranda. The minute I heard Paul’s critique, I knew Miranda would be cut.** When she was, I was irritated. It’s not that I thought the other woman or the man should have been cut, but just that Paul’s bias was so clear and that I knew he would get his way in the end.

Anyway! It’s still an addictive show, and I find myself watching episode after episode while sipping my tea and resting my tired body. I’m frustrated that I can’t kick this flu or cold or whatever it is. It’s been almost a week, and I had hoped it’d be done by now. Here’s a video of Maru getting into things. I love this cat.

*At least in the first season. I’m on the first episode of the second season, and they’ve expanded the contestant pool, so we’ll see.

**It was between Miranda and the other woman. The man was clearly safe.

Notice From Management (i.e., Me)

Just a note to let you know I’ve been sick the past few days. I’ve tried to work through it, but I hit a wall last night. I crashed hard, so there is no post this morning. I will have one up as soon as possible. I’m sorry for the lack of post this morning. Here’s a video of Maru and his sister, Hana, to make up for it. Maru is the big (literally) brother and famous for loving boxes that are too small for him.


have a seat
Make yourself comfy!

Hello. My name is Minna Hong, otherwise known as asiangrrlMN on various social media platforms. I have many, many thoughts about many, many things, and as I am a writer rather than a talker, blogging is the perfect avenue for me to convey my thoughts. I did this casually on my old blog, theminna.com, but I decided it was time for something fresh and new, so I started a new blog. You are seeing it from its inception, so bear with me as I am sure there will be bumps and false starts before I truly find my groove.

What do I write about? Whatever is on my mind! At least, that’s how I used to do it. Now, I’m turning over a new leaf and doing things more methodically. To that end, I have actually added buttons to the menu as to what my schedule will be. You will find them up there. *waves vaguely over my head* You will notice that there is overlap in the categories because my thinking tends to be all over the place. I’ll start thinking about one issue, say, depression, and then I’ll wander over to taiji and how it’s helped with my depression. Thinking about taiji will make me think how so many Americans don’t understand what it actually is, and then I’ll lose several minutes wondering why Asian mysticism is still so fucking popular in America. This idea that Asians are only concerned about spiritual matters is misguided, but still prevalent. I’m puzzled and pissed by it because Asian culture is so much richer than that. Like, Taiwanese food is the best. It’s similar to Chinese food, but tastier. Thai food is also delicious, and let’s not forget Indian, Vietnamese, and Sri Lankan. I dated a Sri Lankan guy when I was in college. He was my first love, and I recently realized that I still compare prospective lovers to him. That’s not fair because I’ve idealized my ex in my mind, and no one can really live up to him. Plus, he had plenty of flaws, many of which contributed to the detriment of our relationship. Also, the older I get, the less I want to invest in a romantic relationship. I don’t want to live with someone; I definitely do not want to get married; I certainly don’t want kids. What I really want is a fuck buddy. Someone I can watch a game with (or co-op with), fuck for a few hours, then send home.

This is how my brain works. This is one reason I write lengthy posts. I have a hard time restricting myself to one topic per post. Other writers I’ve known have joked about pulling a Minna when they write a post that is over 2,000 words. I’m working on being more concise, but if you’re looking for snappy posts or listicles, this probably isn’t the blog for you. I’m not telling you to go because I would love to change your mind about long posts, but I just want to be upfront about my garrulousness. I also want to let you know that I have a page for my commenting policy in the menu bar. In a nutshell, be respectful to others and to me. I encourage debate, but I will not tolerate trolls or people being hateful.

I also write fiction as well. I haven’t updated my fiction site in a while, but I intend to do that, too. If you’re curious about my fiction, you can read some of my short stories and a few chapters from one of my mystery novels right here.

I think that’s enough of an introduction for now. If you want to know more about me, click here. Otherwise, kick off your shoes, get comfy, and enjoy!