Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

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.

Continue Reading

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.


Continue Reading

I have a dream…of being a normie

a lonely, friendless path.
The road less traveled….

Still sick. Got better, up to feeling 75% or so, and then I plummeted back down to roughly 40% two nights ago. I’m hovering around that same point right now, and it’s fucking annoying. I think it’s time to actually go to the doctor and/or try Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Ugh.

So, on one of the advice forums I read, there was someone asking how does someone know if they are ready to have children (indeed, if they should have them at all). Someone responded with a classic column from Dear Sugar in which she counsels the LW to imagine a ‘sister ship’ to the life he is leading (in this case, he’s a childfree man contemplating having children) and to see what that sparks in him.

I’ve been thinking about that since rereading the column. I don’t know if I agree with how she ultimately made her decision (feeling like she’d slightly regret it more if she didn’t have kids than if she did), but I think there’s merit in imagining an alternative life. So. Let’s try it out. I don’t have any qualms about my decision not to have children (and never have. The only decision I’ve consciously made in my life that I haven’t second-guessed), but there are plenty of things in my life that I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken another path.

In addition, it can be alienating to be so persistently on the fringes, but not completely alternative. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my blog, so I’ll write about it again if I want to. Nothing about me is ‘normal’–unmarried, gleefully childfree, agnostic, freelancer, bisexual, Taiwanese, non-movie lover, etc. Something that makes me fringe from both normies and freaks is that I’m completely straight-edged when it comes to drinking/drugs. I don’t do any of that, and I have little patience for it. It’s not fun being the only sober person in a group of drunk/high people, which, unfortunately, many artistic people are.

Then, there’s sex and relationships. In my teens, I was determined to wait until I was married to have sex because–church. The problem was, sexytimes were AW HELL YES times. It felt goddamn good, like, really fucking good, and I became what I later called a TV (technical virgin). I did everything up to PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, and that’s how I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking my Christian vows, as it were. Even though I never really believed in God with a capital G, I tried so goddamn hard. But, sexy stuff felt amazing, and it got harder and harder for me to abstain from penetrative sex.

In my twenties, I realized I was bisexual, but I denied it for several years. I was already an Asian woman in America–did I really need to throw another label that would make life harder for me into the mix? I couldn’t deny it forever, however, and I came out with some fanfare. It took me roughly a decade to adjust to that, and I also had what I fondly refer to as my slutty years in my late twenties. I did a lot of experimenting, and while it got messy from time to time, it was a lot of fun, too.

Continue Reading

In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.


Continue Reading

I get knocked down, will I get up again?

One of the most frustrating things about getting sick for me is that it’s not a linear process. Ideally, I would feel the bug, get sick for three days, then slowly recover until the point of being OK. It seems like most people go through something like that, but, me? No. I gotta be different, even in this. I feel completely exhausted for a week or two, but not sick per se. It’s like a physical depression. And it’s frustrating as hell. It’s also embarrassing to talk about because I feel like an impostor. I’m not really sick, so I should just suck it up.

It’s similar to my gluten and dairy sensitivities or whatever you want to call them. I’m not allergic to either, not technically, but if I just say I’m sensitive, I’m worried that people won’t take me seriously. A better example is that I get migraine headaches, but I’m wary of calling them that. Why? Because if you say that online, you’ll be deluged with so many people telling you why what you have isn’t a migraine and how they have it so much worse. Yes, I know that’s the nature of the beast. Anonymous people on the internet finding ways to feel superior, but it’s annoying as fuck, even if it isn’t directed at me personally (I never talk about this stuff on forums. I know better).

Here’s how I would describe the way I know I’m getting a migraine: the world starts losing color, and my body starts shutting down. The former is literal, but the latter is figurative. Everything starts getting less bright, and my body feels as if it’s drawing inward. If I take two or three Excedrin Migraine pills in time, I can stave off the worst of it and feel OK in a few hours. I get the aura sometimes, but not all the time.

On the internet, this is not enough. If you can mitigate the pain ahead of time, it’s not a Real Migraine. I’ve read this time and time again, and it’s enough to make me tight-lipped about my own experiences. Never mind that ‘migraine’ is a broad category–hell, you don’t even have to have the headache to have a migraine–if you don’t fall into a proscribed description, then what you have Isn’t A Migraine according to the powers that be. Funnily enough, my BFF’s daughter has the same experience I have, and her doctor says what she’s experiencing is a migraine. If she takes Excedrin Migraine in time, she’s fine in a couple of hours, just like me.

Continue Reading

Gonna make me sweat

The full crud hit me on Thursday, and I’ve been slogging through it ever since. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday feeling like complete and utter shit. Today (Sunday), I woke up feeling a bit better, and I’m hoping it means that I’m on the tail end of this thing, or at least the legs of it. I’ve taken Excedrin Migraine (generic version) every day since then, and it’s helped stave off the incipient migraine.

Side note: I go back and forth about calling what I get migraines because there are a lot of people who are elitist about migraines. “Oh, you think that’s bad? I can’t get out of bed for three days and have to lie in complete darkness and stillness with a cold towel over my face the entire time.” “Migraine medication? How lucky that it works for you. It doesn’t help me at all.” I know there are a variety of migraines, but I’m still chary because I don’t want to have to listen to a harangue about why what I have isn’t a migraine. But, I know it is. I get nauseated, and everything starts turning gray. I feel as if I have a steel band closing around my forehead, and if I’m lucky to catch it in time with the Excedrin, then I’ll just feel the mild effects for a few hours as they slowly dissipate.

I haven’t been able to do much other than watch videos, go to Cubs, and play Monster Hunter World. I’m starting to get serious about the end game of MHW. I’ve allowed Nergigante to build up in my mind, and now I’ve freaked myself the fuck out. I still can’t get out of Dark Souls mode of thinking that each monster is a Boss (with a capital B), which means I dread each fight. It doesn’t matter that I don’t die against the monsters nearly as much as I die against the bosses in the Souls series–I still equate the two.

It’s hard for me to answer whether or not I’m still enjoying the game. I am, but there’s an accompanying sense of dread/resentment/obligation. There is just so much to do, and when I unlock additional quests, I’m more, “Oh, not more shit to do” rather than “Hell, yeah!”

It’s also hard for me to gauge how I’m doing because I only play solo. I’ve fainted maybe a total of a dozen times, and have failed a quest because of being carted three times twice (LR Diablos and LR Kirin, but as I have pointed out several times, one of the cartings on Kirin was because of a glitch/lag). I don’t think that’s so bad, but I don’t know because again, I don’t play with other people.


Continue Reading

Rainy days and Mondays

I’m sick. I started feeling a tickle yesterday, and I was hoping it was just allergies. *spoiler* It wasn’t. Today, I woke up experiencing the full cruds, and it’s the worst. Honestly, I would rather be full-on sick for five days then feel crappy for weeks. It’s not bad enough to lay me out completely, but it’s enough to make me drag my flattish yellow ass all over the place.

I had to skip class yesterday because I just didn’t have the energy to drive myself there, and I didn’t want to infect my classmates with whatever incipient cold is brewing up inside of me. I probably would have benefited from the class, but it seemed like scaling a mountain to get there.

In addition, I’m having phone woes. My beloved Nexus 5X died on me two weeks ago. I got a Moto X4 to replace it, and it just died today. After I’ve had it for less than a week. Yeah, I’m not impressed by that. I’ll be returning it and getting a different phone.

So, yeah. I have the grumps today. That’s why I’m not doing a full post. Sorry about that. Here’s a video of Maru making pizza.

50 goals for turning 50

In taiji yesterday, a classmate was talking about celebrating her youngest stepdaughter’s birthday. She (the stepdaughter) turned 51, and my classmate said that ‘young’ is relative. She also mentioned that the stepdaughter made a crack about some old man, and her sister said that someone who had just turned 51 should be careful about calling someone old. It got me to thinking about turning 50 and how I’m not ready for it. I’m 47, and, yes, I know that’s closer to 45 than 50, but this birthday was really hard for me for some unfathomable reason. I don’t usually care about age, and I’m not upset about being 47 specifically. It’s just that it crept up on me, and I don’t know what happened to the last ten years. I’m nearing half a century on this planet, and I have nothing to show for it. It’s messing with my mind, and I think par of my current depression is because of this.

So. Resolutions.

1. Health. I’ve talked several times about not being happy about my weight. It’s not about health, though I’m sure that could be improved as well. It’s that I hate the way I look, and I want to do something about it. I thought giving up gluten and dairy would help, but it hasn’t. Probably because I started eating rice again which is SO GOOD but calorific. I haven’t eaten as much as of late, so that’s probably helpful. As much as I love rice (and I love it a lot because I’m Asian), it doesn’t really have any nutritional benefits. I’ve also cut out potato chips, added them back, and cut them out again. I’ve slowly added back fruit and veggies, and I cut down my caffeine intake by four-fifths.

Which, by the way, was by far harder than giving up dairy and gluten. I was so logy and cranky, I could barely function. It was two weeks before I felt human again, but I’m still adjusting. I have one cup of tea/coffee a day and have completely given up pop. I had some while I was in Malta, but those were extenuating circumstances. I will have a glass occasionally if I’m dining out, but more often than not, I’ll stick to water.

Side note: I want pizza right now. I want it so bad, I can taste it. There are many tasty substitutes for many gluten and dairy foods, but gluten-free/dairy-free pizza just isn’t that tasty. A local pizza joint had a fall special a few years ago that had sausage and sauerkraut, and it was amazing. So delicious! Heavy as hell, yes, but I would eat it every day all day long. I have a feeling I’ll break soon and get one because I can’t stop thinking about it, but I don’t want to fall off the gf/df wagon. I did while in Malta, but again, it was extenuating circumstances. How the hell could I not try pasta in Malta? Especially pasta with cheese in it?

I need to start cooking. I’ve said it several times, but I’ve yet to do it. I’ve boiled gf macaroni and added spaghetti sauce to it, but that’s not exactly cooking, now is it? I should get a pressure cooker because it’s magical, but it seems like a lot to learn. I could be wrong and probably am, but that’s how it appears to me.

Continue Reading

Everything’s easier on the internet

a tangled web we weave.
Socially networking like a bawss.

I’m a heavy internet user, but I’m trying to lessen my time on social media. Why? It’s having a negative effect on my mental health. I realized that if I hopped on Twitter first thing in the morning, it would negatively affect my mood for the rest of the day. I now take Wednesday and Saturday off, and it makes me feel better. I’m thinking of adding Monday, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’ve noticed something about the online world vs. the real world. It’s much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber because you can tailor everything to your preferences. It’s not a bad thing because why would I want to see tweets from right-wingers all day long? Apparently, Jack (from Twitter) doesn’t agree and is considering messing with the algorithm so that you see tweets outside of your bubble, which, no, Jack. Just no. Look, I get the reason for thinking this is a good idea. Like I said, it’s easy to just hang out with people you agree with and for your opinions to harden into rigidity. However, the solution to that is not to force heinous tweeters on hapless users. While the idea is a good one, it’s too much of a benevolent dictatorship for me. Ideally, the user would have a healthy mix of tweeters she followed, but let’s face it–most people aren’t that self-aware.

It’s also easy to craft theories in your head that work perfectly but don’t stand the sniff test when taken out into the real world. It’s the academic fallacy in which you can talk about a subject with your friends/colleagues for hours, come to an agreement with them, then think everyone in the world thinks that way. I see way too many philosophical arguments that don’t have anything to do with real life, and it’s especially difficult to burst that bubble because we all have a bias for believing what we think is reality. I tested this during the 2012 election by randomly asking people in the real world (people I knew, not just strangers) who weren’t on Twitter what they thought of some hot Twitter topic, and they never knew what I was talking about. All my friends follow politics more than the norm, and they still didn’t know about the Twitter outrage of the day.

I see this all the time, especially on certain progressive sites, including one of the advice sites I frequent. There are buzzwords that get thrown out willy-nilly, and it only works if everyone agrees on the meaning of said words (or phrases), which, sadly, is often the case. I had a discussion with Ian the other night about how heuristics are important, and I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s true that they are important, but it’s also true that when heuristics become FACTS, it can be a problem. For example, the term ’emotional labor’ gets thrown around a lot these days. It started as a way to describe situations in the workplace in which the worker has to suppress her own emotions in order to do what needs to be done at work. A good example is retail. Colloquially, it’s come to mean managing the emotions in a relationship (any relationship, but most often romantic), and it’s often relegated to the woman in a heteronormative relationship. By the way, that’s another word that is more useful in academic settings–heteronormative.

Anyway, now, people are throwing emotional labor out there to mean anything from having to deal with someone else’s feelings to having to set boundaries and a half dozen of other things that may be tangentially related, but not actually emotional labor. Another one is the word toxic to describe a situation. I’ve seen it used in situations which have negative aspects, say, the hubby doesn’t do the dishes every night, but isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself (he does the laundry, takes care of the children half the time, makes a decent living, remembers anniversaries, listens to his wife, etc.), and I think it dilutes the term when it’s used so loosely.
Continue Reading

The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a freak

yellow and mellow.
Yellow and different–that’s me.

Yesterday, I commented to my taiji teacher that one of the good things about growing up a freak (both of us did) was that it gave us a lot of time being comfortable with liking things that other people thought weird. It was in conjunction to the fact that I had someone on my FB saying she didn’t see why on earth people played video games after I posted a pic from Monster Hunter World, and while I didn’t get into it on the post, I immediately thought, “Why is it so hard to believe that someone might like something you don’t?” I’ve never gotten that, really. Being so mainstream in your interest, you can’t fathom anyone not liking what you like is something I can’t even begin to imagine.

I like that I’m not invested so much in anything I’m passionate about, I take it as a personal affront if someone else doesn’t like it at all. I will say, don’t be a dick if you don’t like something someone else is enthusiastic about, though. That’s never very nice. However, I have so much experiencing being on the outside, I don’t take offense if people wrinkle their noses when I say I like something. I’ve mentioned it before, but I will cheerfully admit that my taste in music is garbage which takes the wind out of the sails of people wanting to slag me for the music I listen to. My taiji teacher likes loud experimental noise music, and I like cheesy pop music (not exclusively, but considerably more than is good for me).

I tend to like the niche in things other than music. Well, it used to be true in books because I’m an avid mystery reader, but it’s become so mainstream, I can no longer claim it as a niche. Also, there are several different sub-genres within the broad category of ‘mystery’ including literary, just FYI. In movies, I prefer indie films and ones with a psychological bent. I’m not huge into action movies, and I hate romcoms. In video games, I like Souls, which used to be niche but now is the standard. I kid. It’s still pretty niche, even though it’s a popular niche. I’m currently watching the intro bit to Death’s Gambit, a Souls-like game that was in development for ages. I forgot about it except when there was an update now and again, but then it was dropped without fanfare, which made me suspicious. The rating on Steam is mixed, so I decided to watch a few Let’s Plays of the intro areas (up to the first boss, but also extra boss in the beta demo, which was last week. Again, with no fanfare) to make up my mind.

What is Death’s Gambit? It’s a 2D Souls-like Metroidvania. I feel like I’ve been saying that way too often about games because there are many Souls clones out there. The graphics are gorgeous, and I was immediately drawn into the world. The music is appropriately atmospheric, and it’s soothing. One of the streamers I watched, RockLeeSmile, picked wizard to play as, which unnecessarily excited me. No one EVER plays as a caster on stream, and while I understand why (it’s not that exciting to watch, tbh), it’s hard for me to gauge my experience with a game if I don’t see a caster. That’s another way I’m different–being a caster.  It’s decried in Souls-like games, but I don’t give a fuck.  If it’s in the game, it’s fair play. In addition, as I’ve said, now that I’ve played both caster and melee, I can say with confidence that melee is easier than caster BY FAR*, so I side-eye all the streamers who unthinkingly repeat the blather than being a caster in baby/easy mode.

Anyhoo, this is not yet another screed about the toxicity of the Dark Souls community. It’s about the pros and cons of being an oddball. Another pro is that I’m very comfortable being by myself because I’ve done it for so long. I actually prefer it, which is both a plus and a minus. I’ll get more into that later. It’s just me and my cat, Shadow, and we get along really well–except for in the morning when he’s mewing and pawing at me to get up because he’s STARVING and needs wet food RIGHT NOW. Never mind that I free-feed him–he needs the wet stuff! It doesn’t help that my sleep schedule is all over the map so he’s never sure when he’s getting his breakfast, but he can be assured he’ll get it at some point.

Continue Reading