Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

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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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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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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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.

Sliding doors and my digestive system

I was reading advice to a woman getting married (on the open weekend thread on Ask A Manager) on how she could keep the costs of the wedding down. Putting aside the fact that I don’t get weddings, no, wait. Let me briefly explain what I mean. I understand the desire to bond and to declare that bond to the world (in theory. I actually don’t understand that, either, but that’s just me. I know it’s me), but I do not understand the stressing over it for a year ahead of time. Well, I understand from a psychological standpoint. It’s what the wedding represents, the start of a new life together, yadda yadda. It’s also the Wedding Industry Complex that has a vested interest in making sure brides (and let’s be clear, it’s aimed at the women) feel inadequate unless they buy all the latest and the greatest useless wedding shit.

Anyway, one gem of advice was, “Booze, food, and music. That’s all guests care about.” While this may be true for most people, it’s not for me. Or rather, let’s break it down word by word. Music is nice, but it’s background for me. Food is important, but it’s difficult to find something to feed me. Dairy free is easy to find. Gluten free, also easy to find. gluten free, dairy free? Yeah, no. As for booze, I don’t drink. At all. It was just a throwaway line on the thread, but it really struck me because I’m tired of being a freak.

I feel weird for mentioning to people that I have dietary restrictions, like I need to apologize for being so difficult. I don’t make a fuss when there’s no food I can eat, and I make sure to bring Kind bars when I’m going to be stuck somewhere that may not be able to feed me.

Side note: I am incredibly lucky for two reasons. One, I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I can pay for meal delivery if I want or get takeout every day if I so choose. I know this is a privilege, and I don’t take it for granted. The second thing is that there are so many tasty substitutes these days that didn’t exist when I first tried going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free two decades ago. Back then, all the substitutes are made of tapioca and arrowroot. Now, they can be made of anything and everything. There’s a hamburger bun substitute made by Canyon Bakehouse that is fucking fantastic and is my current obsession.

Side note to the side note: Went out with my brother and my nephews for Chinese buffet last night (of course), and I like to joke that when I go out to eat I look like half-vegetarian and half-keto/Atkins. The two things I know I can eat without much problem–veggies and meat. I did eat some octopus that had some kind of breading on it, though. That was a mistake. Since I’ve come home from Philly, my digestive system has been even shittier than usual–no pun intended. I had a gluten-free/dairy-free burrito that I’ve had before, and I spent the next hour in the bathroom. Then on and off for the rest of the night. Was it the burrito? Hell if I know.


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I can’t accept the new me

One of my flaws is that I have a fairly rigid way of looking at myself. I tend to think of myself in terms of absolutes, which does not allow for any change. I’m grumpy, cynical, depressed, fat, and  introverted. That’s who I am. Taiji, video games, writing, and reading. That’s what I do. More specifically, blades, Souls, mysteries, and mysteries (respectively). It’s a weird tension because when I ignore what I know about myself, it doesn’t usually go well. Some small examples–going to see Pulp Fiction with a boyfriend (many years after it was released). It was his favorite movie, and he really wanted me to see it. I warned him that I was not going to like it. I knew I wouldn’t, but he was convinced that either I would like it or he would be ok with me not liking it.

Reader, I didn’t like it, and he wasn’t ok with it. Not only did I not like it, I fucking hated it. I loathed it with every pore of my being. I thought it was shallow, grotesque, and painfully hipster. I hated everything about it. When my boyfriend asked me what I thought about it afterwards, I made the mistake of telling him. Not in the terms above, but more as what I saw about it that was problematic. After I was done, there were several seconds of silence. Then he said he couldn’t be with someone with that kind of worldview and dumped me on the spot. He wanted to be ‘just friends’*, and we saw two other movies together. Both that he loved and insisted I’d love (we are both slow learners), and I hated both.

Here’s the weird thing about me. I don’t always know what I’ll like, but I know what I don’t like. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go. When I hate something, I hate it hard. If I hate something from the start, I do not change my mind. The biggest glaring exemption to this is Dark Souls, the original. I hated it as I was playing it, and now, it’s one of my favorite games of all time. You know what? That’s not entirely correct. When I first started playing it, I was instantly hooked even though I was so bad at it. That is unusual in and of itself because I normally refuse to do things I’m not good at. For some reason, however, I kept playing Dark Souls. I nearly quit once (Bell Gargs), quit for months once (Gaping Dragon), and came thisclose to quitting for good (Biggie & Small), but I overcame all those hurdles and felt like a goddess. Then, the second half, which I hated every minute. I was sick and tired by the end, but I made it through the whole game, including DLC. I remember saying in my brain once I was done, “I never have to play this game again.” Ah, how young and naive I was back then.

I actually held to it–until Dark Souls II was announced. For whatever reason, my lizard brain said I had to play that game. In order to prepare for it, I decided to play the first game again. Why? I don’t know. That’s how my brain works. Also, I wasn’t going to buy the second game on release, so I had time to play the first game at my leisure. Considering it took me nearly 150 hours to play it the first time, I needed as much time as I could to play it again. Playing it a second time made me a complete 180 on the game, and it’s now the game to which I compare every other game. I’ve played it probably a dozen times, and I’ve played the third one twice that.


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Fighting myself and my body

but probably won't.
I would love to be able to eat this.

My digestive system is acting up again. Still? Still. I don’t know what it is, but I have a sneaking suspicion. I have been eating more hummus than usual because hummus is delicious, and I get in moods where I want to eat one thing all the time. Unfortunately, my stomach has been not happy about it, and it’s making its unhappiness known in one specific way–me spending too much goddamn time on the toilet. The problem is that I don’t know what exactly it is about hummus that is making my stomach cranky, and there’s no easy way of figuring it out. My stopgap measure is that I bought black bean hummus instead of hummus that is chickpea based. Why? Because if I don’t have the same problem with the black bean hummus, then I know it’s the chickpeas. If I do have the same issue, then I know it’s most likely not the chickpeas.

I have another issue coming up. After Taiji on Friday, I had to go to the bathroom. Warning, TMI for bodily effluvia. You have been forewarned. Normally, when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me, it hits me immediately. I have to race to the bathroom within a minute or it will not be a good time for me. Let me put it in plain terms–diarrhea for days. When I’m done, I have to sit on the toilet because it will start up again in a minute or so. Then a few minutes later, more. I can sit on the toilet for up to half an hour at a time, and even then, it feels as if I’m not completely done.

Side Note: I read an interesting description of food allergies vs. sensitivities/intolerances, which was really illuminating. I know what I have is not an allergy (it’s not life-threatening), but it’s still pretty miserable to experience.

Anyway, the last time, I ate a scrambled tofu breakfast burrito with fake cheeze before going to taiji. I have had all that before with no problem. I was fine during class, but then as things were winding up, so was my stomach. By the way, winding up and winding down can mean the same thing. Funny. I made it to the bathroom, just, but it wasn’t a deluge like it had been in the past. It was solid waste rather than runny waste. I made it home and had to go again. My stomach was touch and go well into the next day.

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Alienated isolation

In reading Ask A Manager, I have come to realize how truly weird I am for a variety of reason. In this post, I’m going to focus on gift-giving. In the case of AAM, it’s work related, of course, but I can extrapolate in general. Or, conversely, ponder it as yet another reason I wouldn’t be a good fit for a 9-to-5 job. There are always questions about giving gifts, sometimes about to whom you should give them, but also often about what to give. Obviously, nothing personal, and most people said stick to consumables or flowers or some such.

Um. No. I can’t consume most of the popular holiday consumables–cheese and chocolate. I also don’t drink so wine is right out. As for flowers, well, I’m allergic to almost everything known to womankind. I still remember working for the county and every Christmas, the administrative assistants got poinsettias. That’s when I learned that I was really allergic to poinsettias–to the point where I had difficulty breathing. There were four administrative assistants in the area I was in, so the scent of the poinsettias was very overwhelming. I put mine as far from me as possible, but I couldn’t escape it. When I mentioned it to my boss, she shrugged and got me one the next year as well.

I’d like to point out that this isn’t just me being difficult. It’s not me saying, “I don’t like this thing. Please don’t give it to me.” Well, ok, in the case of wine, it half is. Yes, I don’t like drinking, but I’m also allergic to it. I understand that a work gift isn’t the same as a personal gift, but it made me feel very unimportant to keep getting poinsettias after I pointed out that I was allergic to them. And, yes, it’s different than food because I’m not allergic to any food–just intolerant/sensitive. I’m not going to go into anaphylactic shock, and I won’t have to be rushed to the hospital. My throat isn’t going to swell shut, and I’m not going to die from any of it. I’m just going to be miserable as I sit on the toilet for hours, shitting until I’m dehydrated, sore, and exhausted.

Side Note: It’s strange that in the floral world, being allergic to something means itchiness, stuffed nose, watery eyes, etc. It doesn’t have to mean a need to be rushed to the hospital. The same with animal allergies. But in the food world, that’s a sensitivity or an intolerance. No greater point to be made about this–just an observation.

This is an issue with other aspects of my life, albeit in a more subjective way.   I am a weirdo in so many ways, and I’m careful about letting it show on the regular. I know how to pass as normal, and I can do it for shorts bursts of time. For example, when I go to the grocery store, I can pass as one of the locals. I know how to speak the language, and I have a mantra that nobody needs to know the real me. So, yeah, I can nod and smile when someone groans about winter or snow. I can talk about the Vikes to a superficial degree. I can say I’m doing fine with the best of them, and I can nod sympathetically if someone else complains about something.


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