Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Adventures in instapot land

ha, no.
Mashing these should be eeeeeasy!

I got my instapot, which is a story in and of itself. It was supposed to come on Wednesday. I was puttering around the kitchen on Tuesday, and I got an email saying my instapot had been delivered, but they didn’t want to leave it unattended, so they would try again. They tried to deliver it without ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door, apparently. I was in the fucking kitchen. I would have heard someone walking up to my front door. I can give them absolution on the doorbell because one is broken and the other is wonky. However, I definitely would hear a knock.

They came right before noon, so the next day, I brought my laptop to the dining room to work while I watched like a hawk for the Amazon driver. That was another problem–they said I could give delivery specifics, but when I clicked on the link in order to do so, it was just a long list of all the companies they employed to deliver things. I didn’t know which one they were  using, so I couldn’t contact anyone specifically. Anyway, I saw a FedEx driver, a UPS driver, and a USPS driver in the span of an hour. None of them were for me, however. Noon came and went, and I was getting antsy. The message hadn’t said they would try the next day, but that would be the natural assumption, right? I worked as best as I could, but I couldn’t help staring out the window. The minute I glanced away, there was a car in my driveway. It was snowing lightly that day so I saw the tracks.

I blinked. A car? A plain ol’ car? Apparently, Amazon is moving towards the Uberification of delivery, which I do not approve. Who the hell am I supposed to contact with my delivery concerns? I mean, I’m sure they have a way, but they make it really difficult to discover. Anyway, I was just glad to get my instapot, but my god, the box was huge. I wasn’t quite expecting how big it was. Was I going to have room for it?

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Battling the holiday onslaught and other miscellaneous thoughts

Now that Thanksgiving is done and in the bank, of course the whole nation turns its attention to Christmas.

*sigh*

Before I get to that, however, I want to rave about how adding twenty minutes of stretching to my taiji routine when I first get up and sprinkling more stretches throughout the day has really helped my back and my leg by extension. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s amazing how my back pain has nearly disappeared, and the numbness in my right thigh changed into fiery hot pain in the upper thigh, then fiery hot pain just above the knee, and then back to numbness but to a much less degree. Then, after class yesterday, it was back to fiery hot pain, but only for a few seconds. In addition, we did the whole Solo Form (Medium) yesterday, and for the first time ever, I was able to do the whole form without my back hurting like hell by the third section.

However, my sleep is all over the map, which means I’m probably getting sick again. Which, you know, sucks. I’m so fucking tired from the minute I wake up until the minute I drop off to sleep. I also have this thing where if I miss the window for falling asleep, I’m up for a good long time. I was up for nearly twenty hours yesterday, not for any good reason, but just because I couldn’t fall asleep.

Now, let’s talk about NaNoWriMo. I said before it started that I was going to set my own goal because writing 50,000 words a month for me is not a problem. I was already writing 2,000 words a day for months before that, so yeah, I wasn’t worried about 50,000 words. I said I wanted to look into marketing and publishing, but that didn’t happen. I’ve decided I will set aside a different month to do it in. In that month, I’ll lift the 2,000 words a day requirement and focus on editing, marketing, and publishing. I’ve decided which novels I want to publish (one which is on my other website), but I need to do a little updating.

So, what have I been doing this month? Starting four different novels. I worked on the first one for a few weeks, then decided to shelve it. The second one lasted a few days, I think, and the same with the third. Then, I had a conversation with a Twitter friend, @NotSoSilentMajo, who inspired me to start something completely different. I don’t want to talk about it right now because I prefer to wait until I’m done with a novel before talking about it, but I can say it’s urban fantasy. I’ve never attempted fantasy before (though I love reading it), so I’m excited about it in a way that I haven’t been in quite some time. Thank you, @NotSoSilentMajo for giving me the kick in the (not-so-flat yellow) ass that I needed to get out of my rut!

Now. On to Christmas. Me when thinking about it (apropos because I dressed up as Yoko Ono for Halloween one year):

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OCD traits and general update

i'm broody, damn it!
Cute black kitten just because.

I think I’m finally on my way out of the cruds, crossing all my bits and knocking on wood. I’m sleeping less, which is a telltale sign, and I’m only getting the chills very rarely rather than regularly. Yes, I’ll take the positives where I can get them because they have been few and far between when I’m sick. I’m still exhausted, but that’s perpetual for me. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I sleep–I can barely keep my eyes open during the day. In fact, sometimes I just doze on and off throughout the afternoon/evening.

I’ve been thinking about my mental health lately because I’ve been depressed for no reason. And, yes, I know that’s part of depression, but it doesn’t make it easier to accept. That’s not what I’ve been thinking of, though. I’ve been musing over my OCD tendencies (I don’t have OCD, but I definitely have some of the traits). OCD is misunderstood in the general public (as with most mental health issues) or boiled down to someone having to alphabetize their soup cans or checking the door fifteen times in five minutes. There’s more to it than that, and I’ll try to explain how it affects me. In addition, whenever OCD is being portrayed in the media or talked about, it’s presented in an overwhelmingly negative light. I would be the first to admit that it’s not fun for the most part, but there are positive aspects to it.

The biggest plus is that when I plan to do something, I go all in. If I commit to it, it’s gonna get done. The two times I decided to lose weight, I set a plan, stuck to it, and the pounds came off like clock-work, two pounds a week. It’s the same with my schedule now. I wake up whenever, then I feed Shadow his breakfast. He has his own schedule, by the way, which includes meowing in my face before I wake up until I actually get off the couch. After I feed Shadow, I go outside and smoke half a cigarette. Then, I heat up my tea while going through my taiji/stretching routine. That takes about half an hour, and then I write my blog post. After that, I take a brief break (or not) and work for my brother. Then, I eat something and smoke a fourth of a cigarette–or rather, smoke first while heating up food. After a break, maybe playing MHW or a DS game,  then I write my two-thousand words of fiction.

Those are the things I need to do every day (posts only for week days, which means writing them Sunday – Thursday, and work for my brother on week days, Monday – Friday. I write fiction every day), and I have it down cold. When I decide to do something, something in my brain clicks in and it becomes a given. I give it everything I can at the time, and I do it to my best ability. The problem is, it becomes rote over time if there’s no end date, and my attention starts slipping.

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Ripping off the mask

don't look behind the mask.
A perfect facade.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have a split personality. Not in the clinical definition of the word, but in the vernacular. There’s the me at home. I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, my hair in a sloppy bun. I sit/lie on the couch most of the day as I madly type away on my computer, and it’s only recently that I’ve been forcing myself to get up roughly every other hour or so to do my stretches. If you could see a picture of my brain waves, it would be a flat-line with only dips and no spikes.

I know it’s the depression talking, but I don’t see any reason to live. I’m not being dramatic. I don’t actually want to die (I never did. Not even when I was at my most suicidal–which I’m not); I just don’t see any reason to be alive. Nor do I think that many people would actually miss me if I were gone. Let me be clear. I am not going to kill myself, but I can’t motivate myself to do much other than meander through my so-called life.

I’m mostly numb these days. I know I need to see a therapist, but I don’t want to go through the bother of finding a new one. It’s been four or five years since my last therapist and I mutually terminated, and it took me forever to find her. I am not an easy client, and I can fully acknowledge that. I know too much of the lingo, and I’m very good at manipulation of people. I’m not proud of it, but I have to acknowledge it. I try to not do it because it makes me feel slimy, and I’ve watched my father charm the pants off people (especially women) throughout my life.

Another thing I made clear to my last psychologist is that I need someone to call me on my shit. I get into my head and the weeds way too much, and I can run in circles around most people when I choose to. I can use the psych lingo to justify anything or to explain anything, and to anyone with a lesser perception, what I’m saying makes perfect sense. i told my therapist I would try to do this to her, and I needed her to see through it and put her foot down. She was more than capable of doing so, but I had therapists previous to her who simply weren’t.

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Depression infusion

a mirror to my soul.
Unrelenting gloom.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month because why not? I’m already up to 32,000 words, so I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble meeting the 50,000 words goal. I never do as writing a plethora of words is not an issue for me. I mused about looking more into the business side of things, which I have yet to do. Or rather, the marketing side as it’s much different in this digital age. Authors have to push their brand (themselves and their books) on social media in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I know it’s the way of the world now, but I have a very Taiwanese horror of promoting myself. I’ve talked with my mother about it, and she feels the same way.

Speaking of my mother, watching her twist herself into knots over my father has been disheartening, depressing, and enlightening. She’s using his illness as a reason to let her weaknesses run rampant. Let me be blunt. She is a control freak (I come by it honestly), and she is a constant worrier (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). The problem is, anyone would be worried in her position. My father just went through a ten-hour surgery to deal with three fused vertebra. Plus, we believe he’s in early onset dementia. That would be a lot to deal with for any spouse. However, my mother goes past worry into straight up obsession. Whenever we talk, it’s all about him. She may ask me how I’m doing, but once I say, she veers immediately back to her own health for a minute or him.

It’s not conducive worry, either. Conducive worry leads you to make a reasonable plan in order to deal with the situation. Then, once you make the plan, you put it out of your head and the worries are mostly allayed. I know it’s unrealistic to expect her to be completely blasé about it, but it’s all she can talk about. She’ll say something like, “I can’t leave him alone” followed by, “What if he falls when I’m not there?” and she’s off on a tangent about the fear of him falling for ten minutes. She sounds like the voices in my head when they go off the rails.

Normally, I try to listen and make soothing noises in her general direction. However, the last time I talked to her, I tried to inject some reason into her brain. I know, I know, but I had to give it a shot. After she was panicky for ten minutes about something or the other concerning the minutia of my father’s condition, I told her as gently as I could that constantly worrying about it didn’t help. I said she as a therapist knew that. She admitted that she it was her control issues at play, but she quickly glided over it.

I’ve said it before, but watching her interact with my father, or rather, watching her obsess over my father is the main reason I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship. Why? Because I see too much of myself in her. I know how easily I would slip into that mindset, and I see how hard it is to get out. She’s convinced herself that she *has* to worry about my father to this extent, and while, as I said, it’s reasonable for her to have a lot of worry, she’s pushing it to excess. She’s allowing her own mental health issues to drive the bus, and she has an excuse/explanation any time I bring it up.

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Dropping the mike

I’m tired. I’m so fucking exhausted. Still sick. Still got the chills alternating with still got the heat. Still grumpy as fuck. Still not playing MHW. I’m riding at about 40%, and I’m just done.

Funny note. I’ve been going down that Hot Ones rabbit hole. It’s a web series in which Sean Evans interviews a guest while eating ten wings with increasing heat. The first three or four ain’t nothing. They eat and Sean asks questions, and the guest answers. The middle four are increasingly hot, and most guests are at least breaking a sweat by this point. Then, comes bottle number 8 (used to be 9, I think). It’s called Da Bomb, and it makes me smile every time I see it because I know this sauce.

Backstory. My brother and I both love spicy foods. We have since the beginning of time, which is rather strange given our background. I don’t know how it started, but we began a tradition of giving each other hot sauce for Christmas with one giving it to the other one year, then using the same box, the other reciprocates the next year. It caused much merriment, especially for the other members of the family. The point, of course, was to try to find something hotter than the year before. This happened for several years in a row, and then came the year I found Da Bomb, considered to be the hottest hot sauce at the time.

“Consume one drop at a time with extreme caution” is on the bottle, and it ain’t no joke. I ordered two bottles so I could keep one for myself. I made a huge batch of chili and put four or five drops of Da Bomb in it. I’m talking HUGE batch. I tasted it and yeah, no. I had to throw it away. When I gave the other bottle to my brother, I warned him about it. I said to take the label seriously.  A few days later, he called me and said he thought we could end the contest right there. (WITH ME WINNING, LET’S NOTE.)

Side note: Several years later, the Carolina Reaper was created, and my brother sent me an email with a link. He only wrote, “We back on?” We didn’t restart the contest, though, and my tolerance for spice has decreased over the years. As I get older, I find that I don’t enjoy not feeling my face after eating any longer. In addition, I like flavorful rather than just pure spice.


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NaNoWriMo confessionals

I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times in the past decade, and while I haven’t done it every year, any time I did participate, I completed the original goal–handily. I have a personal goal of writing 2,000 words a day, and I’ve been doing it consistently for many months if not a year. This means if I just continue doing what I do, I will easily meet the NaNoWriMo goal.

One year, I set my own goal. I decided I would edit a manuscript I already had, and that was very satisfying in its own way. I’ve realized that while I appreciate NaNoWriMo and thinks it’s an excellent way for people to make themselves write if they ordinarily wouldn’t, I have no use for the original goal. I don’t feel any sense of accomplishment in meeting it, so the whole thing is a bit hollow for me. One year, I set the goal at 200,000 (I think). I made it, and that was quite the thrill. However, I’m not sure that setting an arbitrary number is the most productive use of my time. In addition, I have OCD tendencies, which means I fixate on numbers as if they’re gods.

It was one of my biggest problems when I was dieting. I had all these numbers that Meant Something, and they slowly morphed into the be-all, end-all. In addition, the final number (the goal weight I wanted to be) kept moving any time I got even close to it. The first time I started a diet, I was counting calories. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but I started assigning values to the numbers. Some were bad and some were good. That spiraled into they were all bad, and at the end of that road was anorexia/bulimia.

The second time, I had a goal weight, plus I used a tape measure. I was losing roughly a half inch a week, and that quickly became the standard. If I didn’t reach that half inch, it would make me miserable for the whole week. In addition, I had a hard and fast rule about how much exercise I had to do a day, and I thought it was reasonable that I set it at 2 hours of aerobics every day and forty-five minutes of weight-lifting every other day.

It works the same when I’m writing. Because I have a personal goal of 2,000 words a day, I have a mentality like, “Reach 500 words and take a mini-break.” “Reach a thousand words and do one mission/quest in MHW.” It’s not a bad way to write, but it can become rigid. My own weird brain thing is that things have to be broken up into quarters. In this case, quarters of a hundred. I’ve told this story before, but I used to have a compulsion that if I saw a clock at any quarter of the hour, I had to rapidly count to 25 (another quarter) before the clock changed. My last therapist once asked me what would happen if I didn’t make it, and I said I would be upset. She persisted, asking me what practically would happen, and I was flummoxed. I couldn’t answer her, of course, and that was the beginning of the end to my counting.


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Spending time in a brown study

I’m mostly over the sickness right now, but I overdid it in taiji yesterday, so I’m exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open last night, and I kept dozing off while writing and doing other things. I finally gave in and went to actual bed around two in the morning after falling asleep and waking up every half an hour or so for several hours. I’ve been doing the stretches my teacher taught me for my back and leg, and they seem like they are helping. However, my knees are aching, which means I’m overextending on my postures. This was a problem I’ve had for several years, and while I’m much better at not doing it, I still slip every now and again. I think being sick and adding these new stretches has made me concentrate less on my form, much to my knees’ detriment.

Anyway. I mused a while back about my life and what I need to do differently. Looking back on it, I’m doing a bit better with health. The thing I’ve realized that while I’m really good at quitting things cold turkey (in general. Potato chips are one exception), it takes me a long time to get to that point of actually making the move, and I can only cut out so much without feeling seriously deprived. It’s better to add something to my diet rather than constantly take away things. Right now, I’m concentrating on eating an apple a day (which, as we all know, keeps the doctor away). Before that, I added an orange a day (or two clementines/mandarins) for achy joints purposes. My theory is that if I add things to my diet, I’ll naturally want to eat less of other things. I’ll let you know how it works.

I mentioned caffeine in the previous post. Currently, I drink one cup of caffeinated tea every few days, so I’m mostly caffeine-free. It was so hard in the beginning, but now, I’m mostly used to it. I’m over the initial ‘can’t keep my eyes open’ stage, and I rarely miss the jolt. I occasionally have a pop when I go out to eat, and it now tastes weird. It’s not the same as gluten and dairy, both which still tastes delicious–god, I miss cheese so much. I still eat gluten-free pasta and bread, and I’m back in love with white rice, but there is no good substitute for cheese that I’ve found. Damn it.

My brother is urging me to get an Instant Pot, and I’ve been resistant to it mainly because it’s new and seems like it’d have a steep learning curve, though everything I’ve heard about it has said it’s easy. But, easy for people who cook already or easy for people who don’t cook? Plus, batch cooking is not something that appeals to me. Yes, I know I can freeze it and warm up each portion a day, but that’s a lot of work, yo. Also, read the description to this bad boy. It’s full of techno-babble and shit that doesn’t interest me. My brother laughed and said it’s geared towards guys, and I said, “Yeah. I’m not a guy.”

Side note: My brother likes to run his advertising ideas by me. I have a hard time giving him useful advice because what works on most people actively turns me off. Anything relentlessly cheerful and positive is boring to me, and anybody who hypes their product too much makes me suspicious. My brother was leaning towards using words that are old-timey and suggest solidness like ‘trusty’ or ‘trusted’. To me, if you’re those things, you don’t have to say it. I’m not just going to take you at your word, either. You have to prove you’re trustworthy–you can’t just say it.


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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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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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