Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Family

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.
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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.

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Slogging through the daily grind

fragile shoulders.
The weight of the world.

It’s been a week since I’ve been back from Malta, which is hard to believe. I’ve been back for as long as I was there. It feels both like a faded memory and as if it never happened. I’m grateful for the experience, and it’s taught me some things about myself. One thing I didn’t talk about before is our nightmare layover in Charles de Gaulle. I may have mentioned it in passing, but I neglected to say how truly hellish it was. It was on the way to Malta, and it was three hours. That seemed like it would be plenty of time, but I was wrong. First mistake was not getting boarding passes for both legs of the trip, but I naively thought it would work like all other international airports and not be a problem. Oh, how I was wrong.

First of all, my mother was obsessed with getting a wheelchair for my father. His deteriorating health, both mental and physical, was a constant theme of the trip. It was one of the reasons my parents extended an offer to Ian to be included; he was going to help with chaperoning my father around. We went to the help desk, and he wasn’t very helpful. He put in a request for a wheelchair, but he said it would come in half an hour, maybe an hour, who could tell? He gave a Gallic shrug, and my mother tried to ask other questions. He didn’t know the answer to any of them, and we were on our bewildering way.

We needed boarding passes, but we didn’t know how to get them. I tried to use the Wi-Fi, but it wasn’t working on my phone. Ian was making suggestions, but my mom (and, admittedly me) was ignoring him. We stood in the security line for a minute, but I was wondering if we needed to get the tickets first. So, Ian and I went to try to find the ticketing counter, but couldn’t. I was panicking, and we returned to the security line. Someone told us we had to go through that to get to the ticketing agent, which was weird to me. When we got to the front of the line, over an hour and a half had passed, and we were running out of time. I was hot and cranky, and the woman told us we needed our boarding pass to get through or a confirmation of our flight. Which would not be a problem if I could actually access the Wi-Fi. Which I couldn’t. I stepped out of line, but my parents were at another agent. She was telling them they needed their boarding pass when I was finally able to access Wi-Fi and after much difficulty, pull up my confirmation.

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When a cynic and a hopeless romantic have a baby

Romance has been on my mind a lot lately. Or rather, sex has been. The two are not interchangeable, and I’m still figuring out how much of each I want and how I can go about getting it (and the right balance).

First off, let me admit that it started with me wanting sex. Straight up. I love sex so fucking much. It’s been mumble mumble years since I’ve had it, and I’m worried I’m going to plumb dry up. I’m nearing my menopausal years (I think I’m perimenopausal), and I’ve heard that sex can be more problematic after menopause than before. That doesn’t mean I have to get it now or never get it again, but it does put an internal ticker on it.

More to the point, though, in the past few months, I’ve just been so fucking horny (yes, I mean that in both ways). It’s getting harder and harder to ignore. I can get myself off, of course, but there’s something about interacting with another person that I miss a lot.

Now, let’s get to the problem(s). One. I’m forty-seven who is self-employed. I’m not going to meet someone at work except myself, and that defeats the purpose. Two, I haven’t been in the dating game for such a long time. Come to think of it, I haven’t ever really been in the dating game. I met my first boyfriend at summer school when I was sixteen, and that tends to be a pattern of mine–dating friends. There was a time in my late twenties when I was on the Craigslist personals (I’m showing my age here), and I did end up dating a dude. The sex was hotter than hot, but the relationship was fraught with tension and issues.

It’s been said that online dating is a godsend to introverts, but I found it to be more stressful than it was worth. I liked Craigslist because I could place an add, but that meant wading through all the dudes with the yellow plague, unsolicited dick picks, and women with boyfriends/husbands who wanted a threesome*. No matter how specifically I noted that I didn’t want Asian fetishists or pictures of some rando’s cock, I’d open up my message box and BAM! Dick in my face or ‘I looooove Oriental girls’.

Side note: My dudes. Read the actual bios/essay of the chick you’re trying to hit up. Nothing is more unattractive than showing disrespect within the very first line of your message.

I signed up for OKCupid once, but I got stuck on answering the gazillion questions and never really did anything with it. I’ve heard they’ve changed their metrics so that you can’t read someone’s profile for free any longer, and they’ve taken away a lot of what made OKCupid good. I’ve heard good things about Bumble, but they recently went to a monetization system as well. You can still do the basics, but the reviews on the site are not pleased with the changes. I do like the idea of the woman making the first move, though. If it’s a same-sex couple, then either person can make the first move. You have to answer within 24 hours, though, which I find a bit pushy.

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I vant to be alone

Day Five

go. away.
I’m ready for the apocalypse.

It’s day five with no end in sight. Life as we know it is over, and I may not make it out of this alive. If I don’t, tell Shadow I love him.

I’ve been up for almost three hours, and I’ve had to answer four tech questions for my father already. Now, I know this isn’t a big deal because many of us have older parents who are uncomfortable with technology. Let’s throw some additional wrenches into this shitshow. One: I don’t read Chinese; my father’s phone is in Chinese. Two: I don’t use cell phones for any serious work because it makes me angry, scared, and confused. I like a full-functioning keyboard and all my keyboard shortcuts. Three: One of the problems has to do with PowerPoint, which I don’t use at all.

So. We have the comedy of me pointing at something on the screen and asking my father what it says. He doesn’t speak English on the regular any longer and hasn’t for at least two decades, so he struggles to translate the Chinese into English. Then, I try to figure out the equivalent in English before poking his phone, mostly in random.

This is fairly funny, but it’s also irritating because both my parents expect me to drop whatever I’m doing and help them RIGHT NOW. Yes, I know their emergency is not my emergency, but Asian parenting training is real, yo. You don’t say ‘no’ to your Asian parent. You just don’t. I’ve gotten much better at it, but it’s hard not to slip. Plus, my mother has a singular mind when it comes to, well, anything. And she has no ability to rate how urgent something is. If she wants it done, then it’s urgent. It’s hard because my ‘office’ is my couch, which is in the living room. So they feel free just to wander in and ask for whatever it is they need or just to chat.

Small annoyance: My mother is like a caster of her own thoughts. You know that inner voice that is constantly narrating what you do and think? That’s my mom. “I’m going to cut the vegetables now. First I have to soak them, though. I soak them for twenty minutes to get the–what do you call it?” That’s an actual question which she waits for me to answer. I know what she wants, but I’m not going to give it to her. I am not. No, no, no. I am not going to say toxins. “I leave it for twenty minutes, and–” I cannot tell you what follows because by this time, my eyes have glazed over, and my pulse is nonexistent.

I know that I’m making all this sound amusing (and it is in retrospect, it kinda is), but it’s mostly irritating at the time. The last few times they’ve been here, I’ve been able to let this shit roll off my back, but for whatever reason, it’s been harder this time. It started when my mom called me a few days before the visit. We were just talking about whatever, and then she said something that was patently a statement of denial. I was telling my brain, “Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it,” as my brain formulated a statement that I knew wouldn’t make things better and might actually make things worse. My brain wouldn’t let me not say it, and, yes, it didn’t make things any better.

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Living in an echo chamber

think again.
Not this way.

I was talking to my brother about electric cars because he’s a Tesla fanboy*, and we are both in agreement that moving away from gas cars and towards electric cars is a good thing. However, he said something about moving towards having only electric cars, and I said, “Let’s work on making hybrid cars mainstream first, then we can talk about electric cars.” My brother said hybrids were mainstream, that they had been around for a long time. I said, yes, they had been around for some time, but they certainly weren’t mainstream. We went back and forth about this for a while, and I said mainstream as in at least half of the cars were hybrid (which I was pretty sure wasn’t the case). He said he thought it was near that, and, of course, I pulled out my phone and Googled it. In 2016, hybrids were 2% of new cars sold. 2%.  I was startled by that, honestly. I thought it would be 10% – 20%, but no. 2%. My brother was stunned. He said, “Everywhere I go, I see hybrids and electrics. Most of my clients** have hybrid/electric cars. I said, “It’s because you’re steeped in the culture. You have that you’re green on your website, so your clients are self-selecting. In addition, you hang out with people with similar values, so of course you’re going to see more hybrids/electric cars.”

My point in bringing this up isn’t because I was right (although I will not hesitate to point that out), but because it’s a good example of how our unconscious biases are reinforced without us even noticing (because, unconscious, duh). My brother truly believed that hybrids were mainstream 40%-50% of new cars bought. I truly believed it wasn’t so. Obviously, one of us was wrong, and it could have as easily been me (but, it wasn’t, as I noted before). I’ve had instances before when I really believed something to be true and later found out it wasn’t. To my brother’s credit, he accepted what I told him without too much argument, which is more than some people would do. Like me, he incorporates new information into what he currently believes, even if it takes some time to adjust.

I remember during the 2012 elections, I would go around asking people in real life about a hot-button topic on Twitter. Most of the time, the real-life person would stare at me blankly, not knowing what the hell I was saying. These are people who are well-informed when it comes to politics, too. They just didn’t wade in the weeds the way political junkies on social media did. It helped me realize the dangers of social media for those of us who are heavy users. It’s way too easy to envelop yourself in a cozy bubble of yes-people and be an amen-corner for things you already believe. It’s only natural to congregate with people with similar ideas, and it’s frighteningly easy to do online. I see it happen far too often where someone who is even slightly Twitter famous quickly starts blocking people hwo disagree with them. On the one hand, I can understand. Getting hundreds/thousands of people telling you how wrong you are, most of them in very impolite words, will grind down even the most stalwart of people. On the other hand, it shuts down debate and leaves the original tweeter with only acolytes. I’ve realized that many people if not most don’t want a real debate online (including me at times) and merely want to bleat their opinions unchecked.

This bleeds over into the real world when social media users use the same jargon they do online in their real lives. Using rough metrics, there are approximately 68 million Twitter users in America. That’s a lot of users, don’t get me wrong. However, there are 326 million people in America, so roughly 1 in 5.6 people use Twitter. Honestly, that’s more than I thought it would be (displaying my own unconscious biases), but it’s still a sizable minority. So even when something is hot on Twitter, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s just as important in real life. To further extrapolate, let’s say you’re passion is electric cars (yes, using that example again), and that’s all you tweet about. All your followers and the people you follow are way into electric cars as well. If that’s all you tweet about, and they’re all, “ELECTRIC CARS ALL THE TIME”, then, yeah, you’re going to think it’s the norm.

I think by now it’s common knowledge that confirmation bias is a thing. Liberals like to point at Republicans and giggle and snort over it, but we do it as well. I’ve seen it happen more and more in the past five years or so, and I firmly believe it’s because of the echo chamber effect. As I said above, one of my saving graces is that when I’m faced with evidence that my idea is wrong, I incorporate it into my way of thinking (after a lot of research, obviously). Many people don’t seem capable of doing that, instead, contorting themselves into a pretzel in order to explain away something that threatens a deeply-held belief.

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Not in This Lifetime

I saw my last therapist for close to fifteen years. Around the ten-year mark, I said something about regretting that I was still working on some of the same issues that I had been when I first started seeing her. She said something to the effect that if I didn’t work on them then, I would be saying the the same thing in ten more years, except it’d be, “I can’t believe I’ve been working twenty years on this,” instead of ten.

I balked at what she was saying at the time (that’s just how I roll. My first instinct is always to counter what’s being said to me. I’m working on it), and I thought it was trite (which it was, but many tropes have at least a grain of truth), but she’s right. It’s fine to be sad that I haven’t fixed x, y, or z, but unless I work on it, it still won’t get fixed, and I’ll just have wasted more years. Take for example learning a new language. Chinese would be really useful for me to learn, but I would feel weird if I learned it before I learn Taiwanese which is my family’s native language. It would be harder for me to learn it, and I haven’t. I also haven’t learned Chinese. If I had started with that, I would know it by now.

Sigh.

In the past week, I’ve been thinking of my mortality. I’m probably past the half point of my life, and it’s all downhill from here. I jest, but not really. I have a thing that I hate the second half of things because it means the end is nearer than the beginning, and I’m feeling that way about my life right now. There are many things that are probably not going to happen in this lifetime, some for better and some for worse. Let’s start with some of the better ones.

  1. Have kids. WHEW!!! Enough said. Ha! Just kidding. About enough said, not about putting kids on this list. I can’t help but be smug when I remember an argument with a friend twenty years ago about having kids. There were three of us, all in our mid-to-late twenties, and one friend was insisting that I’d be the first of us to have kids. I don’t know why she thought that, but it really pissed the fuck out of me. I’ve known since I was twenty that I didn’t want kids. It’s the only constant in my life. To have someone who didn’t even know me that well tell me that I was going to have kids, aw, hell no. At the time, I thought to myself that I would send her postcard after she had a kid to gloat about it. She has a kid now and so does my other friend (my BFF), and me? Gloriously child-free.
  2. Get married. This is another that I assumed would just happen because isn’t it what every girl dreams of? Not me. I never made my Barbies get married–just have sex. I didn’t dream of my wedding because it seemed more like a nightmare to me. When I got older, I had political problems with it as well. The sexist origins of marriage, the taking of the dude’s last name, etc. Add to that the fact that marriage equality was but a dream when I was a young bi lady, and it was a big fat nope for me. Still, there was a tiny corner of my mind that wanted it for…reasons! I couldn’t articulate why, but I began to see it was to normalize my freak-ass self. I was such a weirdo and had no place in polite society. I had shed vestiges of an acceptable persona all throughout my twenties. I gave up religion, the idea of being a mother, and I had a hard time letting go of walking down the aisle in wedded bliss. What changed my mind? Over time, I realized I didn’t want to be with someone 24/7. I like living alone. I don’t like compromise. I like sleeping by myself. Well, maybe with my cat, but dassit. Any time I thought of marriage, it just seemed like a millstone around the neck. By the time I was thirty, I was done with the idea of marriage.
  3. A romantic relationship. This is in a gray area, but I’m leaning towards the idea that I’d prefer not to have a monogamous, primary romantic relationship. I’ve written about this before, but I’m not good girlfriend material. In addition, I don’t want to commit so deeply to one person. I have great friends that fulfill many of my emotional needs, and all I really am missing is sex. I’ve said it many times, but my ideal sex buddy would be someone with whom I could laugh, talk, eat, watch a sportsball game, then fuck for hours. Then, I’d kick them out and sleep the way I sleep best–alone. I wouldn’t mind having a few of these relationships. The idea makes me smile. When I think of a romantic relationship, there’s a constriction in my chest, and I have a hard time breathing. It feels smothering, which is what I tend to do in relationships.

Those are the ones I’m comfortable with. There are others that I’m less happy about. Let’s start that list now.


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Fake It Until You Make It, Part II

Hi. I wrote the first part of this post here. I have more things to say about it, so this is part two.

Another part of my problem is that my father has the inability to look at things from a viewpoint other than his own. He brought up an example that has been a sore point between us for many years. Rather, it was a sore point, but then it kind of got glossed over, and I eventually shrugged it off. He’s brought it up the last two times he’s visited, so obviously, it stuck with him. When I was a kid, he had a firm belief that having wet hair meant you’d catch cold. In addition, he has a lower set point for coldness than do I. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it a time or a million, he’s a narcissist. When I was a kid, I used to go outside after taking a shower. Or I would go outside without a coat on in the winter. He would say, “Put on a coat; I’m cold.” To hear him tell it, I rebelled because he didn’t ask me nicely such as, “Please put on a coat; it’s cold outside.” He’s framing it as a question of etiquette and culture. (Taiwanese culture it’s more acceptable to order your child around.) My issue isn’t because of the politeness, however. I still would have resisted because I wasn’t cold. I don’t care if he’s cold–that won’t change by me putting on a coat.

Now, I’ve come to realize that this coat thing is a power struggle between parents and children of different cultures, so it’s not strictly a Taiwanese thing, but the difference is, he told me to put on a coat because HE was cold (looking at me). Or, as he explained it, he would have been cold in that situation, so he just assumed I would be, too. Now, once, OK, I can see that. But, if the person in question tells you repeatedly that she isn’t cold, then wouldn’t you eventually believe her? The fact that I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease years later (hyperthyroidism) validated my point of view. One of the symptoms is never feeling cold, grossly simplified, and it’s one thing I can point to now when I question whether I’m right to feel a certain way. I shouldn’t *need* outside validation, but when you grow up with two parents denying the way you feel, it can be helpful. I still hate the heat to this day, though I’m now hypothyroid, and I still don’t wear a coat in the winter except on the chilliest days.


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Crouching Hackles, Hidden Buttons

I forget it was Wednesday (as I write this) and checked my social media before realizing this is supposed to be a social media-free day. I quickly backed out, but it’s just a reminder that I have to be mindful all the time.

I also got into it with my mom last night, which is another reminder. She wanted to talk about a few things before she goes back to Taiwan (tomorrow), and while these talks are never ‘hell yeah! what a great talk’, I wasn’t dreading it this time. We sat down in our usual places across from each other, and she said, “Hey, come here and see this funny thing!” I just sat down, and something in me was like, “No.” So, I said no, let’s just talk. She pushed it by saying, “Would you just come and see this funny thing?” I said no again, and it suddenly became A Thing. After a few rounds of this, I said to turn the computer around, and I’ll look at it this way. She started rambling how hard it’d be, and I knew she wouldn’t let it go, so I turned the computer around. Sure enough, it wasn’t funny (which I told her I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be to me), and that set a bad tone for the conversation. It made me feel like this:

via GIPHY

Then, she said something that crossed a huge boundary and pressed my ‘she cares more about my brother’s time/opinions/thoughts than mine’ button, and I snapped at her. That devolved into an argument about the Asian way of relating versus the American way of relating along with other things, and it wasn’t pretty. When I tried to explain about the joke thing, she said, “I thought it was such a small thing, but I apologize.” Can you guess why my hackles went up? She’s a psychologist, and I was a psych major, so I tried to explain it in a way she would understand–flipping the script back at her. “If it was such a small thing, why couldn’t you let it drop?”

Probing a bit more, she said she thought sharing a joke would be a nice way to start the conversation that wasn’t going to be pleasant in the first place. Then, I understood that she had one of her scripts running in her mind, and she was determined I’d follow it. That actually was made clear when she asked me a question at the beginning of the conversation, then as I tried to answer, talked over me several times. She hadn’t designated a ‘response’ time to her question (it was rhetorical at that point), so she simply didn’t hear my response. This is her MO in general: I have a firm idea of how this interaction should go, and I will not let reality stand in the way. I almost admire her because who among us doesn’t wish we could shape reality to our liking?

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Being OK With Letting Go

Yesterday, I came home from taiji and my mom informed me that my brother and the boys (his sons) wouldn’t be able to make it here for dinner. He suggested we go there. I immediately said no, and my mother said she knew I’d say that. She suggested we meet somewhere like Culver’s for dessert, but he decided to come here after dinner. Then, they came over, and my brother and I were discussing something while my mom and the boys were playing ping-pong. One of my nephews came up to say that my mom wanted to talk to my brother about something. He said OK, then we continued talking. I was marveling over that because I would have immediately gone done and probably resented it slightly. My mom can be very persistent when she has her mind on something, and it’s often easier just to give in than to defer. However, she also is more pushy with me than she is with my brother, probably in part because he’s very firm about his limits.

Anyway, after they were done playing ping-pong, they came back up. My brother, my nephews, and I were chatting about something when my mother said to my brother in a faux-whisper, “Can we go to Culver’s for ice cream?” A beat, “Or, we have bananas.” I started laughing, and my brother said with a big smile, “Can we go eat all the ice cream or stay here and have a banana?” He was making it clear that he realized there was really only one answer to that, which is something he wouldn’t have recognized before. We all started laughing and joking about it, and then agreed we would go, but in separate cars so they could go straight home. Then, my mom said, “Minna will have to drive.” She twisted her knee a week ago, and it’s still giving her problems. So, I said in a deadpan voice (because I mentioned it earlier, too), “Minna can drive to the place where she can’t eat anything!”* We all joked about that for several minutes, and then my mom said, “We should go now.” So of course, that got wrapped up into the joke (that my mom was making a suggestion she knew couldn’t be turned down, then adding layers of conditions to it), and it was a fun family moment.

To be clear, I was fine with driving even if I couldn’t eat anything. It was a moment of family teasing and bonding, and it felt great. I can’t help but compare it to how that shit would have gone down a few years ago.

Me getting home from taiji, quietly resenting that I don’t have space to myself.**

Mom (the second I step in the door which I still don’t like, but doesn’t send me up. the. fucking. wall the way it used to): Your brother wants us to go there instead of coming here for dinner.

Me (a bundle of resentment in part because I know that means me driving because my mom doesn’t like to drive at night, never mind that I don’t either, and my brother lives forty minutes away): NO I DON’T WANT TO GO JUST FUCKING GO YOURSELF GET AWAY FROM ME YOU EVIL COW ARRRRGH!

Obviously, I don’t say that, but it’s what I’m feeling. What I would say would be some variant of a huffy, “I’m not going there” in a very aggrieved tone.  I would feel I didn’t have a choice, which would make me really resentful, even if I did end up going. Also, my mom doesn’t believe she has the right to ask for anything (for many reasons), so she would never just come out and say, “I would like it if you drive us to your brother’s place.” It would be, “Your brother can’t come, but he said we could go there”, and I’m supposed to infer the rest. It’s actually part of what happened in the amusing family scenario above.


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