Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Wish I May, Wish I Might

I’ve been going down the rabbit hole in the archives of Captain Awkward and Ask A Manager, and I recently realized it’s because they’re my version of soap operas. I don’t mean that in a denigrating way because there are real people writing those letters and real people commenting. I mean it in the sense of watching the communities interact is fascinating from a psychological perspective, and it’s now my joke if only to myself that it’s time to hush up because my stories are on. In addition, it’s interesting to feel like I have a handle on someone’s personality just by reading a lot of their comments, at least the regulars–and it’s always exciting to spot a crossover. It’s reached the point where I can read a comment and think, “I bet so-and-so wrote this” and usually be right. This is both the plus and minus of having a dedicated community–and the reason I usually move on from a website after a few years. I’ve moved on and they haven’t, but that’s another post for another day.

The Awkward Army (the self-given name for the Captain Awkward commentariat) is aces in supporting someone who is in a bad relationship. They are mindful of reasons why she (and it’s usually a she) may not be ready/be able to leave, but they’re supportive of her as a person. They remind her not to let her partner gaslight her or point out the strengths they see in her from the letter she’s written (or even just the fact that she wrote the letter in the first place), and if I ever needed to break up with someone, they would be the first online community I would seek.

However, one thing that bothers me is this. Oftentimes, the letter writer (LW) will say something like, “This is the only person who will tolerate/love me because I’m so weird.” They will rush in to reassure her that of course this isn’t the only person who’ll love her and offer stories of how they once thought that way and now are with the loves of their lives. Once in a while, someone will say, “Even if you don’t find someone, it’s better to be alone that with someone who makes you feel like shit all the time” which I really appreciate because well-meaning or not, the constant reassurance of you’ll find someone else is bullshit. For many people, this is true. But, for some, it isn’t.

I am one of those people. I’ve been in several relationships in my life, and I have not yet found someone who will tolerate/love me for the weird, fucked-up person I am, and it’s been five or six years since I’ve dated someone. There are a whole host of reasons for that, but I’m not sanguine that if I started dating again, I’d find someone whose luggage was complementary to mine (thanks, BFF for that description!). I don’t want to fall into Geek Relationship Fallacy (#5), but it’s hard not to feel with my particular combination of likes/dislikes, wants/do not wants, hobbies, etc., the chance of me finding a long-term partner is slim.

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The More Things Don’t Change….

I spent much of yesterday morning ranting about Harvey Weinstein on Twitter, and I still have Things To Say about it, so here goes. I said I would write this post, and I’m keeping my promise. More and more women are coming out and Weinstein assaulted them, too. Several famous women who come from Hollywood families. Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are two of the top names, and while I don’t want to focus on them, the fact that they are included on the list indicate just how much of a systemic problem this is. They’re from Hollywood elite families. Steven Spielberg is Paltrow’s godfather, for fuck’s sake. And yet, Weinstein felt free to sexually harass them, probably thinking they’d know it was just part of the culture. I had an argument with a friend about the ‘this is just the way we did things in the seventies’ part of Weinstein’s statement. She maintained that it wasn’t OK at that time, either, even if it wasn’t talked about. I said in his industry, it was absolutely OK. It was tacitly condoned, and I would bet overtly in some cases. In other words, there’s a reason Weinsten thought it would be fine to harass Paltrow and Jolie, and it’s from being steeped in the culture.

I saw statements from more than one male star claiming they had no idea and were horrified. (To be fair, I also saw a few female stars, including Meryl Streep, make the same claim, but it was way more men.) It was after I saw the statement by Benedict Cumberbatch that I snapped. I hasten to add it’s not because of Cumberbatch, and I really appreciated that he added the part about zero tolerance going forward, but I have to say, really? Really you had no inkling? Because shit like this is an open secret. So much so, Seth MacFarlane made a joke about it at the 2013 Oscars and everyone laughed. So much so, Jessica Chastain tweeted about how she’d been warned about Weinstein when she first got into the industry. Glenn Close released a statement in which she admitted she’d heard the rumors but dismissed them. She was frank about how toxic the industry is and that she’s angry.

I wrote a series of tweets to Hollywood dudes who want to know what they can do, but I think it can be used by men in general when they want to know how they can help dismantle the mindset behind systemic sexual violence.


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Love in the Time of Stubbornness

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about dating. Why? I don’t really know, but I’ve discussed it with friends to try to puzzle out my feelings. I’ve written before about how I realized in my early twenties that I didn’t want children. That’s also roughly the same time I realized I was sexually attracted to women as well as men. In my late twenties, early thirties, I decided I didn’t want to get married. It’s only recently that I’ve questioned whether I want to be an a monogamous dyad relationship or not. I’ve been in an open relationship before, but it was more because that’s what my boyfriend wanted than because we both agreed, so I don’t really count it when calculating my metrics about what I want from a relationship. I also realized in my mid-twenties that I was more comfortable with casual sex  than are many women, but I didn’t really know what to do with it.

Now, I’m questioning whether I want a traditional romantic relationship or not. I’ve been reading a shit-ton of Captain Awkward, and I must admit that the letters she gets makes me very disinclined to date. Intellectually, I understand that she’s seeing the worst of the worst because you don’t write to an advice columnist if your relationship is peachy keen. However, the steady stream of women (let’s face it. A vast majority of the emotional labor done in a heteronormative relationship is done by the woman) writing in with horror stories that curl the very straight Asian hairs on the back of my neck confirm my bias for just snuggling down on the couch with a good book, a mug of tea, and my cat instead of venturing into the dating world.

I hate dating. I always have. I know most people don’t love it, but I hate it to the point of revulsion. I don’t like making small talk with people I know, let alone people I don’t, and there’s the possibility of rejection constantly hovering in the back of my mind. It’s hard to not feel as if I’m auditioning for the role of girlfriend, and it’s only recently that I’ve realized I have veto rights in a relationship, too. In other words, I’m not just auditioning for them–they’re doing the same for me. Even so, the thought of having awkward  conversation with someone while sipping coffee makes me cringe. When I used to meet people online for dating (read, sex) purposes, I was very comfortable with the emailing portion of the ‘courting’. I’m a writer, and my strength is in my words. I can be witty, vibrant, intelligent, and fearless in my writing. It’s quite different when I actually open my mouth. It’s the same with me and my Twitter persona. No, I’m not being someone different, but I’m being a more confident, more brash me. I’m sure if people on Twitter met me in real life, they would be slightly (or not so slightly) disappointed that I wasn’t as dynamic as I am online. Also weird–I swear way more in writing than I do in real life.

The real me is low-key to the point of inertia. I have low energy, and it takes a great deal for me to do something that it outside my norm. Take going out dancing with my bestie, for example (when she used to live here). We would set a day to go to First Ave. I’d be up for it when we set the date. Then, when the day arrived, I would think, “I don’t want to get dressed and leave the house. I have to drive to bestie’s house, which, ugh. Then, I have to dance around people I don’t know and maybe fend off unwanted advances. Then, I’d have to drive home again in the wee hours of the night.” I didn’t want to do any of it in the moment, and I’d have to force myself step by step. I had a great time when I went, and I love spending time with my bestie, but my depression makes it seem like going out is a mountain when it’s really a molehill.


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Losing the Veneer

I was at a wonderful Mediterranean buffet with Ian a few days ago for lunch, and I was trying to pick something out from between my teeth. TMI and kinda gross, I know, but it’s pertinent to the rest of the post. I felt something give in my mouth, and it was the top of a tooth! It didn’t hurt at all, though, so I knew I hadn’t broken a tooth. Believe me. I’ve had that happen, and the pain is agonizing and intense. This time–nothing. I cautiously touched my tongue to the space it came from, and it felt smooth. When I saw it, it had a metal plate in place, and I figured out with the help of Google (which may or may not be correct, naturally) that I had broken off the cap to the crown and not the crown itself. It’s just the top of the tooth to make it look like an actual tooth, but it’s not the crown itself. I have it wrapped in a napkin, and my dental office was closed on Friday when it happened, so I’m hoping after I mea culpa my dental office for not being in for years, they’ll be able to easily replace it. I read articles about how you should temporarily glue on the crown, but it was mostly to prevent from infection and if you’re feeling pain. As I have a metal plate covering the actual tooth and don’t feel pain at all, I decided just to wait until I see the dentist. Why mess with it if it’s not giving me any trouble or pain? In the meantime, I’m careful to clean it and I’m trying not to eat on that side of my mouth, but it’s not been a problem thus far. It’s weird to pass my tongue over it and there’s no top to the tooth, but it’s nothing more than an anomaly.

The reason I mention this is because I feel this way about my life right now. Putting aside with difficulty all the shit that is going on in this country right now (not to mention the world), my own personal life is going OK. I’m in a better place emotionally and mentally than I have been in a long time if ever, and despite the bouts of depression I get from time to time, it’s nothing like I used to feel on a regular basis. It disappears in a relatively short amount of time, but I still gingerly probe my emotions regularly to see if I’m feeling the pain. Most of the time the answer is no, but once in a while, it’s yes. This is where the analogy breaks down, so I’m going to abandon it for the rest of this post.


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Bloodborne: Born of That Old Blood

Longtime readers know I’m a HUGE FromSoft fangrrl. More to the point, I loyal to Hidetaka Miyazaki. I will buy whatever he creates, no questions asked. Except, it has to be on PC because I don’t have a PS4. Or, rather, I didn’t. More on that in a bit. In case you don’t know, Miyazaki is the brilliant mind behind the Dark Souls series, starting with Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne. I beat the first Souls games (Dark, not Demon’s), and I hated it by the end. I was so done with it, and I never wanted to see it again. No more Souls for me, no way, no how. Then, Dark Souls 2 was coming out, and I thought, OK, maybe I’ll give it another shot. It had been long enough since my trudge through the original game, and my feelings towards it had softened. I decided to play the original as a way to gin up for the second one, and it was much more enjoyable, to my surprise. Because I had learned the basics of the game, I was able to make my way through it more smoothly, and because I didn’t care about summoning, I had a less difficult time with certain bosses (*cough* looking at you, Biggie & Small *cough cough cough*). I still had to beat all the DLC bosses solo because there are no NPC summons, but I did it. By end of my second playthrough, I was a converted Souls fan, and I was eager to play Dark Souls II. Since I got it well after its release, I got the Sins of the First Scholar edition, which is harder and includes all the DLC.

It’s not as brilliant as the original, but it’s still a good game. I have played it several times as I have the original, and, of course, Dark Souls III. The third game is comfort food for hardcore fans, while still being the most accessible of the trilogy. I’ve played it the most times by far, and it’s my relaxation game, except now because I’m doing a dex build, which is not my jam at all.  I’ve beaten it a dozen times at least, and it’s still enjoyable to run through as a pyro or a melee character. In addition, I started a SL1 run, which is fucking brutal. That’s a Soul Level 1 run, for those not in the know. Or a onebro run, which is, whatever. The point is that you don’t level up your character throughout the game, which severely limits, well, everything. Much respect to the people who have made it through a whole game this way, but it’s not how I want to play Dark Souls. I think I made it to the Cathedral of the Deep before I decided to tap out. It’s way above my pay station.

One of my lasting sorrows as a Miyazaki fangrrl was that I couldn’t play Demon’s Souls or Bloodborne because I didn’t have a PS anything. I’m not a console grrl at all, and I resigned myself to watching countless Let’s Plays of Bloodborne, which looked fucking amazing. There was a time when that was all I watched because I was obsessed with it. I loved the Gothic horror vibe, and I was fascinated with the no shields concept, even though I felt I would be terrible at it because I’m so wedded to the sword-(or wand/talisman/pyro glove) and-board mentality. The idea of having no shield scared the hell out of me.

Fast-forward two and a half years to now. Recently, I was afforded of the opportunity to buy a PS4 at a very good price. I agonized over it because was I really considering buying a PS4 just to play Bloodborne? Why, yes, I was. I tried to talk myself out of it, but it stayed in the back of my mind. I wasn’t even sure if I should play the game because it’s so aggressive and fast. And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I don’t think I can overstate my adoration for Miyazaki and his Soulsborne games*, and the temptation to play a Souls game which has the same core ethos, but is completely different was too much to pass up.


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Sorry (Not Sorry)

OT: (And, yes, I’m starting a post going off topic) I forget that yesterday was one of my two days I take off from social media and just started tweeting about the restaurant I made for Ian in Cook, Serve, Delicious 2. It’s Boudreau’s Bed & Breakfast, and it only serves foods that begin with the letter ‘B’ (I cheated by including the burger, even though it’s official name is ‘Hamburger’). Biscuits & Gravy, Brisket Slices, Brussels Sprouts (side), and two kinds of Beer. After I went to may taiji class, I realized it was Saturday, and I stopped looking at social media for the rest of the day. I felt bad, but it reminded me how easy it is for me to slip back into my old habits when I’m not paying attention. The restaurant looks really sweet, though:

Boudreau's Bed & Breakfast
Come for the biscuits & gravy, stay for the beer!

Here is the menu from the restaurant:

cooked and served, too.
Deeeelicious!

Anyway, I just wanted to note that, but that’s not what the actual post is about

I’ve realized lately that while I’m used to having nontraditional opinions about subjects, I’ve taken to couching them in apologetic terms. I’m not sorry in the least for having these opinions, but I don’t necessarily want to argue about them all the time, either. The problem is, if something is steeped in Americana tradition, any notion to the contrary can seem radical, no matter how softly couched. I read an article by a woman who was child-free about her decision to make her home a no-kids zone, and I read the comments out of curiosity. I thought the article was snarky and a tad rude, but she said straight out that she was having a hard time writing it in a way that would be acceptable to parents. The comments were brutal, and I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, how entitled they all sounded.

Look, I’m not saying you have to be friends with people who don’t want your children in their houses, but realize that your kids aren’t the center of other people’s lives the way they are the center of yours. But, as Bill Hicks said so famously, “They [your children] are not special….Oh, I know *you* think they’re special….I’m just trying to tell you, they’re not.”

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Memories Are Sometimes Best Left Remembered

I’m on a mission to winnow out my mounds of books, and I started weeding through them today. It can be a strange thing to look at a bunch of books that I labeled my favorites and realize that I’ve moved past many of them. There are others that I still think of fondly, but many of them I put in the give away pile. The unofficial ratio seems to be one book kept for every eight or nine I’m giving away. One bad thing about books is that they were made with cheap material back in the day, so they can get moldy or grimy and feel tacky.

Anyway, I was going through a box of books, and I came across a few cards from an ex. I scanned them, and they were filled with billing and cooing, and I felt…nothing. That’s not exactly true. I felt a bit of regret, disgust, and shame. The regret wasn’t that we had broken up, though, but that we had hooked up in the first place. We were both messed up, and we were friends first. We shouldn’t have gotten together, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. In addition, because I was with him, there was a path not taken that I deeply regret. I was musing about it on Twitter last night because, well, sit back and grab a cold beverage. This is going to be unwieldy because that’s the way my brain works.

I was waxing poetic about how Mike Ness from Social Distortion would have terrified the 22-year old me, but that’s he’s insanely hot. It reminded me of a bartender I had met while I lived in the East Bay who looked a lot like Mike Ness with tats and nipple piercings to match. He was one of the hottest guys I’d ever met in my life. We hit it off, and he asked me out. Unfortunately, I was dating the aforementioned ex, and while we were technically open*, we had to talk about it before doing it. I turned the Mike Ness lookalike down with deep regrets, and I was tweeting about how one of my biggest regrets was that I never fucked him. The bartender, I mean. Mike Ness, too, but that was never an option. We probably wouldn’t have lasted, but my god, he was so fucking hot.


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The More Things Change

In cleaning up the house, I saw a picture of me from twenty-five years ago. I picked it up and stared at it as if it were an artifact from a different lifetime. I was in the middle of my first anorexic stage, and I had a perm and was wearing makeup. I searched my face for anything recognizable, and there it was in my trademark smirk. I don’t smile easily, and I always feel fakey when I do, but when I looked at the picture, it wasn’t terrible. Only I could see the pain behind the smile because I was pretty good at masking it while I was out and about.

I can’t see much of the current me in the earlier incantation, but it’s more the mental and emotional changes. Even though it wasn’t readily apparent in the photo, I was at the depth of my depression, and I struggled to get out of bed every day. Those were the days when I exercised seven hours a day in order to support my ED, but then I didn’t do anything else. Once I stopped exercising so much, I spent a lot of time on the couch, wallowing in my depression.

It’s hard to overstate how much I loathed myself at the time. My head was constantly filled with negative voices, the main one whom I dubbed The Dictator because he was always telling me what to do, and calling me horrible names in the meantime. I would never call other people the things I’ve called myself. It’s not even just the epithets. I was so cruel to myself. Telling myself I was worthless and not fit to live. I really thought I was toxic and the world would be better off without me. I called myself ugly and fat and lazy, and it was a constant narrative in my brain.

I believed that every day I was adding more poison to the world, and any good deed I did just moved me one step closer to neutral. But, because the negatives were more numerous than the positives, I was losing ground every day I lived. I have no idea why that belief solidified in my brain, but it was firmly intact by the time I was twelve or thirteen.


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Romance? Bah, Humbug!

I’ve been thinking a lot about romantic relationships lately, in part because I’ve been reading a shit-ton of the Captain Awkward’s archives, and it’s not surprising that she focuses heavily on fucked-up romantic relationships. She’s a woman, and most of the people who write in are women. I see myself in many of the letter writers, and who among us has not found herself in a relationship thinking, “What the fuck am I doing here?” And, even acknowledging how fucked-up it is, have stayed? I’m sure most of us can relate to this, and it’s the bulk of Captain Awkward’s letters. Sure, there are some letter writers who truly have incompatibilities with their partners, but it’s mostly that they’re in a toxic relationship and are trying to either convince themselves that they are bad partners who just need to work harder/grow up/be more generous, etc., or they’re trying to convince themselves to leave. The latest letter on fucked-up relationships hits Captain Awkward BINGO, and it’s fucking depressing. She thinks she needs to work harder? B! She thinks she needs to grow up? I! He treats her with disdain (‘accidentally’ giving away her clothing when he was donating his is the most egregious example)? N! He controls her to a ridiculous degree and makes her feel like she’s the controlling one? G! Is she sneaking around in secret to do her laundry? O–wait a fucking minute. She’s sneaking around to do her laundry in secret because he gets mad. Not that she’s not doing his, but that she doesn’t wait until he deigns to do hers (and ruins it when he does it which is just short of never). That’s B-I-N-Get the hell-Out of there!

Captain Awkward is wonderful as an advice columnist. She gets right to the point, but she shows endless compassion for the letter writers. She gives great scripts for difficult situations, and her GIF game is on point. I know she gets burned out from all the shittiness she reads (understandably), but she doesn’t let it show in her answers. One thing she’s pushing  back on is the idea that relationships take work. Or rather, the kind of work they take. In another letter, the letter writer (LW) details all the recent problems and how her girlfriends are like, “At least you have a boyfriend”, when it’s clear that he’s just not into her any longer, and Captain Awkward said this:

There’s this Hollywood & Glossy Magazine narrative we have that privileges having a (heterosexual) relationship over being alone (no matter the quality of the relationship) and that puts it on the woman to do the emotional work of keeping the relationship together by having the big serious talks and speaking up about feelings and stuff. And I use the word “work” on purpose. We hear that “relationships take work” and what they mean is “women’s work” – the work of reading magazine quizzes and carrying the emotional water and looking pretty all the time and finding ways to “drive him wild” in bed and cooking new recipes and making excuses.

The commentariat is all over it, saying it shouldn’t be work in the ‘I hate my job and have to do it’ kind of way, and it should be work that both partners participate in.

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