Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Adjusting expectations and dealing with an emergency

Yesterday was the taiji lunar new year demo at my teacher’s teacher’s studio. I didn’t hear about it until last Saturday because I hadn’t been in class due to my sickness. I was caught off-guard because I like to plan things well ahead of time and because I was still feeling iffy. I had missed the last few demos, though, due to health reasons, and I really wanted to go this time. I just didn’t know if I could endure, and I didn’t want to embarrass my teacher in front of her teacher. In addition, we had a snowstorm on Friday that lingered into Saturday (the day of the demo), and the winds were up to 45 mph. I was talking myself out of it, but I really felt I should go. Not only to represent my teacher, but because there was going to be a ton of weapon forms. I had to set some ‘rules’ for myself so that I would feel ok going.

The first was that I could go at any time. One of my issues is that if i go to something, I feel  have to stay for the whole thing. I have to deliberately give myself permission to leave, and weirdly, that makes me enjoy it more. I don’t have to be uptight and agonizing about how I’ll make it to the end. I can stay ten minutes or half an hour, or I can stay until the end if I’m up to  it. That way, I don’t feel trapped, and I’ve used it to a good effect for the past couple events I’ve gone to.

Secondly, I had to tell myself that I didn’t have to do anything. There were three things I knew well enough to participate in, the Solo Form, the Sword Form, and the first section of the Fast Form. Funnily enough, they were the first three performances of the afternoon, one right after the other. The thing is, I really wanted to do the Sword Form. I had not participated in it before even though I’ve known it for years, and I wanted to show my teacher’s teacher that she was a damn good teacher in her own right. As my classmate said, we have to represent the Seven Stars. The problem was that the Solo Form was first, and I knew if I did that, I would not be able to do the Sword Form. I did not have the energy for both of them.

Let me be real with you. I felt the need to show what I could do. Why? I don’t  know. No one cared but me, but it was in the back of my mind. I don’t take any classes at my teacher’s home studio even though it’s in the same building and I’m able to take any of the classes, and I am very competitive–though I try to keep it to myself. I had to tell myself that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. My teacher knew where I was at, and that was really all that needed to happen. Even more to the point, I knew where I was at. I know some of my insecurity is because I’ve missed so many classes in the last two years. Plus, there’s a woman in the home studio who I found out started roughly the same time I did, and she’s so much further. It’s hard for me because I know it’s all on me, but I want to be so much further than I am.

I ended up skipping the Solo Form and the first section of the Fast Form. I did the Sword Form, and I felt good once it was over. I did not make any major mistakes, and I definitely looked like I was one of the crew. I didn’t bring my own sword because it would have been one more thing to make me anxious–keeping track of it and making sure I didn’t leave it behind. There are plenty of practice swords in the studio, so I just grabbed one of them. I will admit a second of feeling embarrassed because I normally practice with my stainless steel sword, but I brushed it to the side. I did the Sword Form to the best of my ability, and I was pleased once we were done. I didn’t hit anyone, though I came close, and I remembered all the movements. I call that a win.

I had a mini panic when I arrived at the studio because I could not find my key fob. It wasn’t in the pocket it was supposed to be, and I couldn’t find it in the other pockets, either. Since I had been at the tire shop on Friday, I thought maybe I left it in the cup holder in the car. Nope. I spent five minutes rootling around in my car, but I could not find it. In desperation, I checked the original pocket again, and I found a hole in the corner. My key had slipped into the hole, and while I was relieved to find it, I also was grumpy about the hassle it caused.


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No, where are you really from?

In reading my stories, I ran across a post on AAM from someone who had a variety of chronic illnesses, some of  which affected her walking. She recently bought a wheelchair that helped on her worst days. The problem was that she worked in residential life and had distant coworkers (not the ones she works with intimately) asking her about it when she first broke it out. One was shockingly rude about it, and she wanted to know the best way to respond. She didn’t mind educating on her good days, but she didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it on her bad days. Alison made it an ask the readers question, and the comments grew lively and contentious.

It’s not unusual to this topic in that people who are in the majority, in this case, abled people, not understanding that what they consider is benign, well, isn’t. You can’t know what you don’t know. You don’t have the context because it’s not part of your life, and nobody can put themselves in someone else’s shoes 100% of the time. And, if I want to think the best of people, some people truly can’t understand how insidious all kinds of isms are.

Back to the post. It’s difficult because people within the category have different ideas about how to deal with the issue because no group is a monolith. In addition, with the disability issue, there is the additional problem that if someone is on crutches or in a wheelchair as, say, the results of an accident, they want people to inquire about them as a show of care. But, several people with disabilities in the comments said it was delivery, not the actual question itself. “What happened????” was routinely disdained–weirdly, one person who as far as I could tell was not disabled, was firmly invested that this was the way to go–whereas there was more a split on “Are you ok?” Some people said it was fine as long as you accepted the answers. Others said even that was too invasive. They preferred, “How are you doing?” In other words, what you’d ask anyone. Someone else pointed out you can tell when someone is used to using crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair versus a n00b.

Some commenters said that most people didn’t mean to be malicious. Which is true. But intent isn’t magic, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a gentle pushback on what is considered the norm. When I was in college, I  used to get asked quite often where I was from. I would answer my hometown in Minnesota, and they would invariably ask, “No, but where are you really from?” It was annoying as fuck, so I made it a mental game to see how long it would take for that second question to follow the first. And it always did. No one was ever satisfied with my first answer.

One thing Alison of AAM does well is provide scripts to people who need them. Same with Captain Awkward. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I developed scripts to deal with all the nosy parkers who demanded to know my heritage.


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The more things change…part one

I have been thinking lately about changes in my life and how they have crept up on me, but that post will have to wait for Wednesday because it’s my blog and that’s the way I want to do it. This post will be about the lack of change that causes me to lose interest in something I once liked/loved. Specifically, websites and social media, but it applies to other things as well.

Let’s start with Twitter. I used to be heavily involved back in 2008. Or rather, the lead up to the election. I tweeted for hours a day, and I was heavily engaged with other tweeters. I didn’t have that many followers, but I had a lot of interaction. I tweeted a lot about politics, and I kept up with all the minutiae that surrounded it. Over the years, I’ve just…faded on it. Not for any one reason, but all the things that drew me to Twitter eventually turned me off it as well. The intense interactions. The free-for all nature. The tendency to scrutinize every little thing to death, and just the constant noise. The things that made it exciting back in the beginning began to irritate me, and then I just hated it. These days, I mostly tweet about cats, a video I like, and a video game once in a while. I check it maybe twice a day if even that. I don’t follow politics at all for many reasons, so I rarely read my TL any longer.

I noticed the same thing when I was deep into politics and visiting different political sites on the daily. I was heavily involved in a few (and I’m not naming them because that’s not the point), and I commented regularly. After some time, I started to feel constrained because there was a staleness to the interactions. I knew who was going to say what in response to each post, and I did not want to have the same conversations over and over again.

Side note: I know I have issues with relationships in that I either cling too hard or I let them fade away for one reason or another. These days it tends to be the latter rather than the former. I’m not saying it’s an issue in general because relationships don’t have to last forever, but I’m just mentioning it because it’s something I’ve become aware of in the past decade or so and it’s relevant to this post. Online relationships aren’t the same as IRL relationships, but there are some similar landmarks. The difference is that it’s even easier for me to let them go because the person isn’t in front of my face. In addition, online websites are even less real in my mind than online friendships. Therefore, it’s easy for me to walk away from a website that no longer holds my interest.


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Run over by a semi truck

The crud that I’ve been fighting off has hit hard, and I sound like Barry White–when I have a voice at all. I already have a deep voice, but this cold is making me a double bass. Sexy? Not really because it’s interspersed with a hacking cough or a loud throat clear that ain’t sexy no way, no how, no why. So, another day of hunkering down on my couch with Shadow warming my legs as I alternate between freezing and boiling. Have some Barry White in honor of my sickness.

Relationships, motherhood, and weapons, oh my!

I’ve been thinking about relationships lately because, well, I’m not sure exactly why. Probably because it’s the end of the year and I get introspect as the year comes to a close. Thinking about it reminds me of how I realized I didn’t want to have children. Well, not really, but the aftermath was similar. The decision itself was easy. It was as if the heavens parted and the sun shone directly  upon me. If I liked sunshine, that was. I didn’t have to have kids! I was filled with relief and went about my merry way.

Or I would have except I naively shared this decision with people who asked me about children and when I was having them. I was a young woman in my early twenties, so this came up more than I wanted it to. To me, I made a decision that only affected me, and that should have been that. Instead, I had people question my decision making several gross claims that were firmly rooted in sexism even if I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. This was in the early nineties when it was still preached that a woman’s #1 job was to be a mother.* It was the main tenet of both of my cultures, and I got so much pressure from my mother, but that’s another post for another day.

I was so young and naive to think that I could dare state that I didn’t want to have children without any blowback. Mind you, it wasn’t something I brought up out of the blue, but I was honest about it if someone brought it up. The reactions I received ranged from condescending–you’re too young to know/you’ll change your mind–to anger. Yes, I actually had people think I was judging them for their decision to have children because I said I didn’t want them. Honestly? I didn’t give a shit about their reproductive choices–just mine. But, I was pushing back on the status quo which made some people very unhappy. More to the point, I acted as if it simply did not exist, which really shook some people. In reflection, I realized that people who followed the status quo without thinking REALLY did not like those who didn’t.

I gave dozens of reasons why I wasn’t going to have children depending on my mood. I was too selfish (true), I was too hot-tempered (true), and I didn’t have the energy (true). My go-to snark answer was that I would be screaming, “Get the fuck away from me! Mommy doesn’t want to see you for three days”, and I couldn’t afford paying for a lifetime of therapy–but it was basically true. I don’t like being around other people all the time or having anyone depend on me (except my cat, and even he pushes it when he meows incessantly in my face in the morning for breakfast), and something I didn’t admit to many people was that I could see myself abusing a child. Not purposely, but because I snapped.

It was all faff, however, because while it was true, the simple answer is that I didn’t have children because I didn’t want them. I never have, and I only thought I’d have them because that was what I was supposed to do. I cannot tell you how free I felt when I realized I could choose not to have children, and it’s a feeling that has only intensified over time. Over a quarter of a century later, I am happier than ever that I don’t have children. There was only one time I briefly considered it, and it was because my mother engaged a 15-year campaign to get me pregnant from the time I was 25 until I was 40. During the heyday when she was nattering at me yet again about how motherhood was whatever she said it was because I blanked out every time she mentioned it, I had a flash thought of, “Maybe I should get pregnant to shut her the fuck up.” Fortunately, I immediately realized that was a fucking stupid reason to get pregnant, but it was a rough fifteen years.


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New Year’s thoughts

hopefully better than the last!
New year, same shit?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do take time in the weeks leading up to it to reflect on my life. This is a grim time as I think my life is crap in general. If i had a hard reset button, I would slam it without thinking about it. Except. I wouldn’t want to give up my friends, taiji, Dark Souls, Shadow, my brother and his family, and, ok, maybe not a total reset.

But. There are always things I wish I were doing differently. Some are ongoing such as my desire to publish a book (though my writing is not going great at the moment), but others are pretty specific. Let’s start with the one I think I will achieve the easiest.

1. Learn the taiji Sabre From. I just learned the third row of six, and this one I will accomplish barring some unforeseen obstacle in my way. So, let’s add to it learn the Cane Form. I am through the first row of four, but it gets batshitcrazy in the third or fourth row. I’ve seen my teacher perform it, and it’s jumping all over the place. I cannot wait.

I also have to teach myself the left side of each form because that’s how it works. The teacher teaches the right side, and we have to teach ourselves the left side. It’s a good way to discover where I’ve been fudging it on the right side, and it reinforces the teaching. I have to brush up on the Sword Form left side.

A funny side note: I still haven’t taught myself the whole Solo Form because the Solo Form got drastically changed when I was teaching myself the third section. That’s the section with most of the changes, and I decided to let it settle down before trying to teach myself the left side. And, to be honest, I am still not a big fan of the Solo Form, though knowing the applications has helped as has learning the Fast Form. The Fast shorter form. Which is the new Solo Form. I would like to learn the whole Fast Form this year as well, but that is a little outside my control.

Side note to the side note: I have been struggling to make it to class for a few reasons, most of them health related. That in turn makes it difficult to learn new things because we’re all at different places. I would like to make at least one class a week in addition to my Sabre Form private lessons every other week. That entwines with another of my thoughts so you’ll have to wait for it.

Prediction: I will get this one. And I will be stoked to learn the next form, which I’m hoping will be the Fan Form. Or maybe Dual Sabres. With a side helping of the karambit. Which is not a taiji thing, but so fucking cool, anyway.

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But is it, though?

One of my daily stories is Doctor Nerdlove. I read his website, and then recently discovered (remembered) he also writes for Kotaku. I’ve been bingeing past articles, and there are a few themes that have stuck with me that I’d like to explore. Before I do that, I would like to say if you’re a dude who is struggling with dating issues, please read Doctor Nerdlove. He is on point 98% of the time, and his writing is clear and easy to digest. It’s refreshing to see a dude just lay it on the line and be quite frank when the letter writer is acting like an entitled prick. Do I agree with him all the time? Of course not, but I think his general principles are sound.

The first principle I want to explore is his belief that love is hard, but it’s worth it. That’s a gross generalization, of course, but it’s pretty much the bottom line of his advice to people struggling with dating for a variety of reasons. It’s mostly dudes wanting to date women, but there have been other permutations as well. His bottom line is that, yes, the dating pool may be harder for some (say if you’re a fat woman of color who dates men, for example), but that love in any shape or form (as long as it’s healthy) is worth it.

To which I’ve been asking myself, “But is it, though?” To be clear, I’m not saying that lifelong love can’t happen. It can. My BFF met her husband when she was fifteen and has been with him for nearly thirty-five years. They’ve had many hard times, but nearly thirty-five years, one daughter, and one move out of state later (still miss ya, K!), they still love and support each other. My other bestie recently met the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and I’ve never seen him happier or more comfortable with himself.

So, I’m not saying it’s not possible or that people shouldn’t strive for it if it’s what they want. The last part is key, though, because it’s too easy for people in this society to think that a long-term monogamous relationship is the be-all/end-all. To be clear, the good not-doctor is not advocating either of these things, necessarily. But it’s still baked into a lot of the questions, and I would love to see people really dig into this expectation.  I’ve done it myself over the years, and who I am now as far as romance goes is so different than who I was when I first started dating (I was 16).


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More frustrations with FODMAP

So, I’m planning the FODMAP elimination diet thing, and I’m in the exploratory stage. One thing you must know about me is that I don’t do anything quickly. I take forever to make a decision, but once I do, I go in whole hog. My BFF once said after I got my cats that it seemed like I had made the decision with the snap of the fingers, but when she thought more about it, I had been talking about it for a few years. It’s the same with all the decisions I make. I think about it a lot, and then I research it to death, then I do everything all at once. It happened when I decided to lose weight, twice, to great detriment (because I have a really strong will once I actually decide to do something), and it was the some when I eschewed gluten and dairy. Only once in the two-and-a-half years did I decide to give it up–on my trip to Malta–and that was only for two days.

As I’ve noted before, I’m pissed that I have to do more. I’ve given up dairy, gluten, and caffeine, and that’s a lot of shit. The caffeine was the hardest to give up, but it’s the one I miss the least. To be fair, I do drink a cup or two of caffeinated tea every week or so, plus a caffeinated pop if I go out to eat. I bought some cold coffee this week and then got a piercing headache from drinking it. I woke up with a horrible headache–teetering towards a migraine–and I’m pretty sure it’s salt this time. Been eating a lot of chips lately, and even though they are reduced salt, it’s still not great. In fact, I’m eating some as I write this. I had given up chips a long time ago, but I’ve added them back in. I know I need to cut them out again, but it’s not something I’m happy to do right now.

I read a FODMAP article about how the person who helps her clients achieve a low-FODMAP diet liked to focus on what they COULD eat rather than what they couldn’t. I appreciate this approach, and I understand why she does it. However, it’s really hard for me not to be resentful about what I can’t have, especially because I don’t cook. Not only do I not cook, I don’t like to cook. I *can* cook, but it seems like a waste of time. I hate prep work, and I don’t see the point in cooking for one. Yes, I know about batching it and freezing portions. I hate defrosting stuff.

Here’s the thing. I have to give out about ten times the energy that ‘normal’ people do in order to do even the simplest things. This will be a factor in what I have to say later as well. So, yes, defrosting food is not a big deal. Really, it isn’t, especially with microwaves. But to my brain, it’s almost insurmountable in addition to nuking food in general. Yes, you can take it out ahead of time and allow it to defrost naturally–which I do with the roast chicken when I buy it. But, doing it for more than one thing is too much for my brain. For whatever reason, my brain shuts down when it’s more than a few simple steps, which is something I’ve adjusted for all my life. It’s difficult to explain it to people who don’t have the issue because it sounds stupid. Believe me, I know it sounds like bullshit when I try to describe each step it takes for me to, say, go to the grocery store. By the way, this is relevant for later as well.

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Food map? FODMAP it is! *Sigh*

I’ve been aware of the FODMAP elimination diet for years, but I’ve always shied away from it because it’s really damn restrictive. I’ve already eliminated gluten, dairy, and caffeine, which is the reason I don’t want to do the damn diet. I feel as if I’ve given up so much, and I don’t want to give up more. But, my symptoms are getting worse, and it’s exhausting to have to deal with the aftereffects. In looking over the lists of what you can and can’t eat on this elimination diet, I found out that cauliflower is high FODMAP, which might explain the terrible reaction to the Cauliflower Bezule I had while I was in Philly.

IT WAS STILL WORTH IT!

The problem is that I don’t cook. I tend to eat a lot of prepared food, processed and otherwise. Many of the items on the high list are in many processed foods including onion and garlic. Let me give you several other items on the ‘do not eat’ list, particularly ones I like to eat. Mushrooms, peaches, watermelon, apples, beans and lentils, gluten and dairy (already given up), cashews, honey and other sweeteners, and alcohol. The last isn’t a problem for me. This is but the tip of the restricted list, and I get tired just looking at it.

Giving up dairy and gluten wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t hard. There were plenty of substitutes, and I rarely miss it. Yes, I do occasionally want a dumpling or cheese, but it’s not something that has a negative impact on my life. This, on the other hand, is an ordeal. Right now, I’m big into hummus. Chickpeas are medium FODMAP and garlic are high FODMAP. I love potatoes, which are low FODMAP, but can be irritable, nonetheless. Thankfully, citrus fruits are low FODMAP, which is good because I eat an orange a day.

I just read an article about how you should think about what you can have, not what you can’t. There’s plenty! You can have salmon and green beans and potatoes, for example! Actually, that sounds delicious. The problem is that I don’t cook. I will have to cook. These two things are mutually exclusive, and I don’t know how to reconcile it.

My nose is burning. It’s hurting like hell. My head is softly thumping, but it’s not migraine levels. Yet. I stopped drinking the cold coffee I bought, and that seems to have done the trick. I might check it by drinking some of the coffee because, science.

I really am not feeling blogging this week, so I’ll end this hear. I’ll leave you with yet another Oxventure. Actually, it’s the first of three episodes, and Andy Farrant who plays the rogue pirate, Corazon de Ballena (nee de Leon, kind of) has to pretend to be a young paladin named Chauncey. His voice and manners as he pretends to be Chauncey had me in tears. I earmarked where it all started in the video below. There is also a lot of homoerotic tension in the quest as well, which is delightful.