Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Holidays in a weird and wild world

Note: I don’t celebrate holidays. I feel the need to get the way before I go on my screed. 

Thanksgiving is coming up and it could not come at a worst time in terms of Covid cases soaring in America. In my state, you cannot gather with another household at all now because our cases peaked at 7,500 cases in one day. I don’t think the strictures have gone far enough even though I understand why the governor had to walk the tightrope. I really didn’t like the press conference, however, because it was definitely targeted at the yahoos who refuse to wear a mask because ‘MURIKA FUCK YA!

To wit, he praised everyone for doing so much and emphasized how hard it was and how unfair it was. I don’t disagree with the latter, but I am not at all down with the former. So many people have flouted the rules and/or don’t think Covid is an actual thing. Then, he went on to emphasize that this four week restriction was going most definitely going to only be a month because the vaccine will certainly be ready to go by then.

I mean, what. But that wasn’t the worst of it. He ended by saying he knew that come April, we would be sitting in that Twins stadium maybe without a mask, sitting with your brother-in-law having a hot dog and a beer. There is so many things wrong with this statement. One, the fact that he was so positive about the timeline. It’s one thing to say something like ‘with the information we have, it’s likely’ or something similar. But he phrased it in a way that made it inevitable, which I think is a recipe for disaster. I know he wants to keep people’s spirits up, but that isn’t the way to do it.

Secondly, the whole situation is aimed specifically at a certain type of person. I’ll just be clear–the Covid deniers. That’s not something I would do even in the Before Times, and it make it very clear that the press conference was not for me. It was for the recalcitrant assholes who whine about freeeeeedum and personal choice. Mostly Republicans, but not all of them. There’s a thread in Ask A Manager’s weekend post about Thanksgiving and whether or not to travel for it. Most people came down on the side of not traveling, especially as many states have come out with no mixing households mandates.

There were more than a few people, however, who disagreed. They were thoughtful about it and said that it was up to each individual (or family) to assess their risks and be careful when comingling households. They pointed out how devastating the lockdowns/restrictions have been to the mental health of people. They were right about the latter part, but so very wrong about the former. It’s part of why we are where we are right now–the emphasis on individual choice.

My parents bring up Covid every time they call. They say that cases have to be down, right? They can’t understand why the numbers keep going up. Their country, Taiwan, has been the platonic ideal of how you should deal with a pandemic. I’ve had to tell them over and over again that the things that worked in Taiwan wouldn’t work in America for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is because  individual freedom/choice has become fetishized in this nation.


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50,000 ways to write a novel

Let’s talk NaNoWriMo for a minute. Or, in my case, NaNo Rebel. As I’ve mentioned, I have no problem writing 50,000 words in a month (that’s not a humblebrag. Just an outright brag) and I’ve long since decided to do my own thing instead of holding down the basics. Another rule of NaNoWriMo is that you start the novel on the first day of the month and not a moment before. I found that to be restrictive as well because I was usually in the middle of something by the time November arrived. This time, I already had 25,000 words written and I was aiming for 100,000 more. I’d done it before for NaNoWriMo before–and more–but this year is not like any other. *waves at the world around me*

My meta-goal is to finish this novel by the end of the year. The other two novels in this trilogy are roughly 230,000 words each and I see this one being similar. That means 100,000 words in November and 100,000 in December. I have a 20,000-word excerpt that I wrote during the last novel which I decided fit better with this one. I don’t know where I’m going to pop it in, but I’ll find a place for it. It’s not finished, either, and it has some implications for the bigger picture. I’m also going off on a weird tangent that may or may not make it into the final product. It’s interesting and sheds a light on a character who was minor in the second book, but is emerging as a main player in the third.

I’m interested in doing a side project that has a short story about each character’s backstory. I’m not sure I’m going to do it, but this weird side tangent is similar to that. While my original goal is to finish this novel by the end of the month, there’s another part of me that is more interested in going off on all these tangents. I don’t know if it’s because of my usual distaste for the end of things or because I truly just want to remain with these characters. They seem to have more to say and it’s not necessarily related to the main story. It’s like the sidequests in video games–they may not be necessary for the main game, but they certainly make things more interesting.

This book is really interesting in that I know how the last fifty pages are going to go–until the very end. I don’t know how I’m getting there and the motivation for the main character I previously mentioned has drastically changed. I had one idea in mind for her and then one day, another idea hit me. I liked the second idea better and could make it fit with the rest of the story. Now, I’m building for that end, but I’m not sure how it fits in with the bigger picture.

It’s good that I have this side stuff to invigorate me because I’m struggling with the main story. I don’t know how to get where I need to be, which is why I’m taking all these side trips.


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A big sigh of relief

I’ve been struggling with a migraine all last week. I woke up Saturday morning (afternoon, really, but why quibble?) and it was 90% better. I went about my morning routine then checked the news. I caught my breath and tears filled my eyes as I read that Biden was projected to win the election. No jubilation. No excitement. Just a deep and abiding relief.

Four years ago, I believed the pundits and watched the incoming results of the election with a sense of dread, despair, and surrealness. I was thrown into a deep depression in part because I was not prepared for it. This time, I wanted to believe and trust the pundits, but I just couldn’t. The memory of 2016 was still too vivid. Also, I went numb on Election Day night because I couldn’t handle it, but under the numbness was…a deep fear. I couldn’t live with another four years of this president. I didn’t think our country could survive. He’s already did so much damage and if he were in a lame-duck situation, imagine how much worse he would have gotten.

I joked on the social mediums that my migraine went away because I was psychic, but it’s partly true. Stress is a big trigger of migraines and this whole week has been stressful. I don’t think I was psychic because I truly was not suspecting that the election would be called Saturday. I talked to my BFF, Kat, later that day and she said the same thing. We both thought it would be at least Monday.

The one thruway I’ve seen/heard is relief. Everyone I talked to about it said that was their initial response. Most of that was followed by the clarification that everything was not roses and champagne, but at least the country wasn’t going to spontaneously implode.

That’s the thing. All the jubilation and elation really didn’t have anything to do with Biden. Personally, I don’t like him. I was not enthused about him. He’s too centrist, too handsy (and possibly more than just handsy), and too ‘aw, shucks, I’m Uncle Joe’ for me. Although that probably was to his advantage because he could appeal to some of the same demos as did the current president. Harris was my candidate and let’s talk about her for a minute.

We cannot understate the fact that we now have Vice President-Elect who is a woman, South Asian American, and African American. I would have preferred if she was the president, but that may still happen in the next four years. Joe’s old is what I’m saying. Anyway, she’s warm, caring, intelligent, and she means so much to me. I don’t agree with everything she’s done (she was a  prosecutor in the past), but she’s head and shoulders better than–I don’t even need to go down that road. She’s quality is what I’m saying.


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NaNoWriMo Rebel Yell

I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times over the past decade or so and for the first few years, I just followed the edict of starting a new novel and writing 50,000 words. I wasn’t trying to push myself because I was new to the whole NaNoWriMo thing and I didn’t want to make waves. The thing is, though, that I didn’t have a hard time with this goal. I am verbose and can write for days. Or at least, I could in pre-pandemic times. I’ve been struggling in the past few months, churning out fiction that was functional, but didn’t have that pizzazz to it. I’m not unique in this as I’ve read and heard that many people are having difficulty concentrating on daily tasks.

For the past few years, I’ve set the goal of writing 2,000 words of fiction a day. I’ve done it almost every day (I think it’s every day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed one every year or so). That means that I’m meeting the NaNoWriMo number count every month. What I’m saying is that it ain’t no thing. And, yes, it’s a not-so-humble brag. I know there’s no way to say it without sounding arrogant so I’m just laying it on the line. I will add that I have a flexible schedule and plenty of time to do it in, which helps a ton. However, I can take a modicum of pride in the fact that  I do it every day because many people don’t, even with good intentions.

I started getting bored with NaNoWriMo. One year, I decided to set a goal of 5,000 words a day. I made it and then some, which was amazing. I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for a few years because I was bored with it, to be frank. There was no challenge except whatever I added to the basic formula. When I went back to it, I decided that I would add my own twist. One year, I edited a novel instead of writing one. One year, I worked on an existing novel. Last year, I think I did the same thing. I looked it up. I just wrote about whatever I wanted to write about apparently.

Last year, I became aware that there’s a subset of people who do NaNoWriMo but with their own goals. They call themselves NaNo Rebels. They do whatever they want within the month of November as long as it has something tangentially-related to writing and it spoke to me. I liked the idea of being a rebel so I embraced the name to my bosom.


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Positive affirmations and gaslighting myself

I hate positive affirmations and I always have. In the past, I haven’t quite been able to articulate why although I could say what I thought the effects of it and toxic positivity/individualism in general were. It makes it very easy to blame the masses for problems that start at the top. Let me explain. Telling people to vote and that each vote makes a difference is under this umbrella. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote and in the general sense, yes, each vote matters. But the emphasis around election time on each individual vote is disingenuous because in the end, it’s the system that matters more than the individual votes. So, yes, I can do my civic duty and vote (which I have), but that’s just propping up the status quo. Yes, it’s urgent to get this president out of office, but his presidency has outlined many of the problems with the system in general and how we take for granted that the president will act like a normal human being with a sense of decency.

Look. Does he need to be shunned from polite society? Yes. Should he ever have been made president? No. In fact, his being president highlights another problem with the system–how the Electoral College is an antiquated system that needs to be refined or trashed completely. But, with the exception of Obama, I haven’t been excited to vote for any of the Democratic candidates on the ballot for president. I’ve done it, of course (except voting for Nader instead of Clinton in 1996 after waiting to see enough returns to realize Clinton would carry MN), but being told that it’s more important to have any warm Democratic body as president rather than to have a GOOD Democrat as president is an indication of a broken system.

It’s difficult to fix a whole political system, however. It’s much easier to place an outsized sense of importance on each individual vote AND it’s easier to feel satisfied you’ve actually done something by voting rather than working on improving the system which may or may not be a lost cause.


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Free to breathe

I have a problem doing what I need to be doing. In this case, mailing in my absentee ballot. I’m registered to vote and requested my ballot in the beginning of September. I didn’t get my ballot and didn’t get my ballot so I checked the SoS website. It said it was sent September 18th. What??? I only checked my mail once a week (Sunday when I went to put out the trash) and there it was–two weeks after they said they sent it. Which meant it took at least five or six days to get to me–which shouldn’t be the case.

Then, I set it on my counter and didn’t do anything about it for two weeks because that’s how I roll. We had a bit of snow yesterday and it was predicted we’d get 5 – 8 inches today (now downgraded to 4 – 6) and it was getting uncomfortably close to the election for my taste. So, I went to mail it (I don’t trust my mailbox for good reason) and it felt so damn good to be driving with the windows down in 30 degree weather. I felt alive and refreshed; I had forgotten how much I loved doing that.

By the way, voting in my small city is so easy. I just Google candidates for about fifteen minutes and bob’s your uncle. Even for ‘non-partisan’ (yes, in quotes) positions, it’s fairly easy to tell where they stand on issues. If the first thing they mention is taxes, they’re not the candidate for me. If there’s no mention of social justice (especially with the current events being what they are), hard no. If there’s no challenger such as with judges, I don’t vote. I’m not feeling great about this year’s election for many reasons, but I knew I had to vote.

Being in the car with the window down, the brisk wind reddening my cheek, that felt good. Now, I’m on snow watch and it’s coming down hard. I can feel my soul expanding as I watch it fall. Oh, this is another reason I am not good with people. I love winter. I love snow and the cold. When the weather drops below forty, I feel more alive. Other people get SAD in the winter; I get it in the summer. Or rather, I get irrationally angry when the temperature rises about seventy. Put me in zero degrees with my weighted ‘cool’ blanket and a mug of dairy-free hot chocolate with my cat on my lap? Hell to the motherfucking yes!


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I can’t eat any of the sandwiches

In reading my stories (advice columns), I came across a post on Ask A Manager from the owner of a company’s wife who was disappointed because the employees of the company said they wanted money as their Christmas present this year. The post is here and I heartily agree with SHOW ME THE MONEY especially in this year of all years. I highly doubt that all the employees loved the lavish parties thrown in the past, but more to the point, this year of all years, throwing a lavish party of any kind (on Zoom or in person) would be so out of touch with reality. In addition, the letter writer (LW) mentioned that the dinners were at The Palm which is a surf and turf restaurant, and that there were plenty of options so that ‘even those with dietary restrictions have plenty to eat’.

Well. As someone with many dietary restrictions, I took a look at the menu of The Palm (as did more than one person in the comments). Most of the starters if not all have dairy or gluten in them. The salads have dairy or one of my ever-expanding veggies-I-am-sensitive list in it. All the steaks have parsley butter on them. I could eat a few of the sides, but that’s it. And maybe they could cook it without the parsley butter, but that means another thing to worry about. Also, alcohol. So much alcohol. Of which I do not drink. I have a really hard time eating in restaurants these days and not just because of the pandemic.

She also said her initial idea was to send something to each employee like a Harry & David dinner box or a wine & cheese box, but it was shot down by the employees. I couldn’t eat either of those, either. In addition, she said there would be the usual speeches by the owners (on Zoom), which, I mean….


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Neverending shrinking world

When I was young, I had to get allergy shots. I didn’t know why, but I had to get them every week. My mom never explained them to me nor did the doctors. All I knew was that I had to go get poked and then suffer through burning, itching, and short of breath. My brother went with me for a while, but then he stopped. I couldn’t understand why he got out of it when I had to suffer through it week by week. Nowadays, I would ask why I had to go through this, but back then, I just did what my parents told me to do. I mean, they were my parents, right? Wasn’t that what I was supposed to be doing? Nowadays, I would also immediately Google what was happening to me, but again, this was little me who knew nothing of that sort.

Recently, I talked with my brother about allergies. We had talked about it before, but this time, it clicked in my brain. He talked about how he’d had such a bad reaction to the shot, they had to stop. I asked if that was why he quit going and he said yes. I didn’t know that at the time and merely envied him for getting out of the miserable experience, but that’s how my family rolls. Or at least how it rolled when I was a kid. I honestly did not know that they were injecting me with the allergens in order to build up a tolerance for it. I was just miserable, hot, and itchy every week without knowing why. And I had a hard time breathing. My mom claims that shots worked for her but she’s not the most reliable narrator. My brother says that his clean eating has mostly cleared his allergies now.

Me, my allergies have just gotten worse. Now, I’m having food issues that I’ve never had before. I’ve ascertained that I have problems with gluten and dairy, plus I’ve given up caffeine. Now, I’m having more issues, and it’s really wearing me down. When I went to visit my BFF last year (right about a year ago), I had a violent reaction to a cauliflower dish that caused me to immediately declare cauliflower off-limits, but now I think that it’s more likely there was a cross-contamination. I have never had any reaction to cauliflower before. The reason I think it’s cross-contamination is because my response to my recent gluten mix-up was similar to the one I had after the Cauliflower Bezule, which was the most delicious thing I’d eaten in a long time. If it’s true that it was cross-contamination rather than a reaction to the cauliflower, then I’ll be very happy. I bought some cauliflower to try it out.

I’m also starting to have reactions to certain fruits including a stomachache, some tingling in my mouth, and just a negative reaction in general. Strawberry is the main culprit so far. This reaction is another reason I think I was wrong about the cauliflower. That intense of a reaction isn’t something that happens out of the blue.

Anyway. I’m tired and need to rest. Here is a video.

The confirmation of what I already knew

Three years ago in May, I gave up dairy and gluten at the same time. I knew I had lactose-intolerance to a certain degree that was getting worse as I aged. I suspected I also had a reaction to gluten, but I didn’t want to/didn’t have the energy to get it tested. Instead, I cut out gluten and never looked back. A year or so later, I mentioned to my new doctor that I would like to be tested for gluten intolerance. She said that I’d have to start eating gluten again. Which, I mean, yes, that makes sense, but my immediate reaction was to flinch at the thought of poisoning myself. Yes, that’s how I viewed it. Why would I intentionally put something into my body that I knew was bad for me? For the reassurance that it was, indeed, bad for me? No, thank you. I might as well just keep on keeping on with my gluten-free life.

There has been a lot of ink wasted about people who claim to be gluten-intolerant but aren’t. There is a lot of discussion about gluten sensitivity vs wheat allergy vs FODMAP issues, ad nauseam. I  know I don’t have Celiac’s and I would never claim to have it. I also have done the Low FODMAP diet/test, and I found out a few things that are triggers. But, in general, I was comfortable with saying I was GF/DF and getting on with my life. Sure, it’s annoying to read/hear people (including actual doctors) pooh-poohing my actual life experience, but you know, it is what it is.

Why am I rambling about this? First, because I can. But more importantly because of something that happened last night. I decided to make shakshuka (poached eggs in spicy sauce/stew) the lazy way (pre-made shakshuka sauce) over macaroni. This has been my thing of making an easy shakshuka and pairing it with different carb sources. Anyway, It was delicious. Then, my stomach started cramping hard, and I had to race to the bathroom in a reaction I was much too intimate and familiar with. I hadn’t had one in almost a year, but I knew it when it happened. I spent the next half hour on the toilet, and then I was going to the bathroom once every hour or two for the next six hours. Up to half an hour at a time. My stomach was bloated and sore, and let’s just say my innards were enflamed. Not just my innards, if you know what I’m saying. I had so much diarrhea, it was ridiculous. But, also, constipation. It’s fun to have both, let me tell you.

Six hours. Six fucking hours. I had the symptoms upon waking up (and another unpleasant trip to the bathroom), and sixteen hours later, there are some lingering side effects.

I started thinking about why this happened. I assumed it was the shakshuka sauce because it has onion and garlic in it, and I have mild sensitivities to both of those (stronger to garlic). However, I had used it before and didn’t have this reaction. On a hunch, I checked the macaroni box. It was the regular one which meant gluten. Lots of gluten. So much gluten. All the gluten. I didn’t notice when I used it last night, and this made way more fucking sense. I am doing food delivery currently, and I ordered the wrong one. I didn’t look at the box closely before using it. It’s my complete bad, and I’m paying for it.


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