Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

That’s Just the Way I Am

nom nom nom!
Shadow lovin’ his almond milk ice cream treat.

Ian is here visiting, and I asked him if he thought Shadow was talking more than usual. I know he is, but I was wondering if it was just a little more or a lot more (my choice). It’s hard to tell when I live with him, even though it was pretty extreme in that it started after Raven died. Ian said yes, a lot more, which just confirmed my belief.

Shadow rarely meowed when Raven was alive. Shadow was also more aloof and liked to spend a lot of his time alone. I used to call them Shadow and my Shadow because Raven was my Velcro cat while Shadow was more paws off. Raven didn’t meow a ton, but he would sometimes get in a chatty frame of mind, and he would meow at me for several minutes. His voice always sounded cross, even when it wasn’t, and he was a very affectionate cat.

When Raven died, Shadow underwent a complete personality change. He became clinging and would be anxious and unhappy if I were out of his sight. When I went to the back porch to smoke, he would reach his paws up on the sliding glass door and meow piteously. I had explained to him what happened to his brother, but I don’t think he really understood. What I can tell you is Shadow definitely changed after his brother died. Instantly and startlingly in some ways, and more slowly in others.

The talking thing has gradually grown over time. I’ve realized it’s his way of making sure he gets his treats because Raven used to be the one to inform me of eating time. I don’t think either of them ever realized that I was going to feed them regardless, or they were just trying to ensure they would get their food. Either way, Shadow has taken over that duty, and he’s pretty definite when he thinks it’s time for food.

He also has a relatively new habit of biting my face when he wants breakfast. Not hard, of course, but just gentle nibbles. If he doesn’t do that, it’s just his face in my face when I open my eyes, or him walking on my face. He’s seemed to have lost his sense of boundaries, at least when it comes to me. He wasn’t a lap cat when his brother was alive, but now, we spend most nights with him warming my legs.

In the past few months, he’s slowly become more independent again. He’ll disappear for hours as he used to do, but we still have our nightly ritual of chilling on the couch together. It’s been a year and two months since Raven has died (has it really been that long??), and I’d say his personality now is a blend between his old personality and his more recent one.

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Minding My Mindfulness

Ed. Note: I am not starting my bad movie live-tweeting this week. In fact, I probably won’t do it ‘live’ when I do start it, but I’ll discuss that more in the first actual bad movie/live-tweet post. 

I like to pride myself on my multitasking abilities. I try to do two or three things at a time, and I find my brain going to bad places when I concentrate on one thing. It’s one reason I don’t like meditation even though I know it’s supposed to be good for me. Currently, I am eating breakfast, watching the Olympics, and typing this post at the same time. I have about one-third of my attention on eating, one-fourth on watching the Olympics, and the rest on typing this post.

This started back when I used to have really bad demons in my head, and I needed a white noise option to drowning them out. I found out that by splitting my attention in several directions, I was able to keep them to a dull roar. I used to read a book as I was walking home from school (not a smart idea. For the children at home, don’t do this!), so I guess that was the prototype to the current multitasking me.

My taiji teacher likes to say that we are not as good at multitasking as we think we are. While I might bristle at this, she’s right. The only way it really works for me is when the things I’m doing don’t really need my concentrated attention. Or, if one thing needs my attention, then the other things have to be suitable for background noise.

I bring this up because I fell on the stairs twice Friday night as I was doing the laundry. I was reading something on my phone as I walked down the stairs because of course I know how many stairs there are! I don’t actually need to pay attention, do I? Apparently, I do because I missed the last step two times in a row. When I went to put the third load into the dryer, you can bet I made damn sure not to be looking at my phone.

Let me back up. I had a root canal last Tuesday, and the process itself wasn’t bad at all. I had a nice nap, and it was done before I knew it. They gave me pain meds and scrips for more pain meds and antibiotics with instructions on how to use them. When I told my dentist it wasn’t bad at all, she told me to wait until the Novocaine wore off. I did, and it still wasn’t bad at all. I dutifully took the antibiotics, but I didn’t need the pain meds.

I was fine the next day as well. Then, that night, I started feeling feverish*, but not bad enough to take the pain meds. I felt like I had a low-grade flu the next day, and my mouth ached. I still didn’t take the pain meds, but I definitely was not at optimal health.

I mention this in relation to my tripping because my sleep has been really shitty since my root canal. Shittier. Why? Because I have to take the antibiotics every eight hours, and my sleep is so weird, it’s hard to take them on a rigorous schedule. Ideally, you take the pill at the exact same time for maximum effect, which meant setting the alarm to get up at five to take the third pill of the day.


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Shaking Things Up

let's tidy up in here.
Clean up in aisle 5!

I’m getting better, but I still feel I’m on the cusp of a relapse, which is no fun. I’m also musing over my writing life because, well, to be frank, blogging isn’t doing it for me any longer. Or rather, blogging every day isn’t doing it for me any longer. I still enjoy writing blog posts, especially the POOG posts, but it’s becoming to feel more like a chore given the political climate of the country right now. Plus, I’m beginning to think that shouting on the internet isn’t really doing anything meaningful, but I don’t want to give it up completely.

On the other hand, I have been neglecting my fiction blog (minnahong.com), which–good lord. I just checked, and I haven’t touched it in over three years–doesn’t feel good at all. minnahong.com used to be my blogsite, but then I decided I wanted to use it to promote my fiction instead, and I switched it over. Obviously, I’ve been letting it languish, and I’ve recently decided it’s time to change that. I want to state it out loud because I’m terrible at actually implementing change. I’m hoping that by letting it be known, I’ll be spurred into action.

To that end, I’ve decided on a 3/2 split with three days of blogging here and two days of posting fiction there. I’ll continue with my old novel, Trip on This, and I may start up another old novel I wrote (haven’t quite decided which or if I actually want to do that. I may just want to focus on Trip on This and then the sequel which I recently wrote–sixteen years after the original).

This is all tentative right now, but I’m planning on doing blog posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ll keep to the current topics (personal thoughts, health, and popular culture/fun/POOG posts, respectively), but I reserve the right to change that up in the future.

Then, I’ll post chapters from my fiction on Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday will be Trip days (I’ve already posted two chapters), and Thursdays will be, well, we’ll see what I decide. That’s the tentative schedule for now, but again, I reserve the right to change it later if I feel the need.

Personally, I’m in a foul mood, and I don’t know why. I’m hoping that changing things up with my writing will help with the general ennui I’m feeling. By the way, that Google art thing matched me with a painting called Ennui by a Japanese artist (can’t find it right now), which is a lounging woman in a kimono. It doesn’t look like me at all (to be fair, it was like a 40% match), but I love that it’s called Ennui. I changed my name on Twitter to M’Ennui Hong for a few days because it amused me so much.

My sleep has been astonishingly bad lately. Not as bad as it was twenty years ago, but astonishingly bad for me lately. Which means I’m getting better. But it also means my depression is hitting particularly hard right now. The only positive thing I can say about the depression is that I know it’s not rational, which makes it slightly easier to believe.

The Mind/Body Connection

I’ve been depressed for the past few months. I’ve written about it before, but I’d like to expand on it a bit. I lost my Raven over a year ago, then a month later, I got really sick. Sicker than I have been in quite some time. I started getting better, then went to the doctor for a different reason, and got really sick again. that started months of sickness, and it happened again this year, starting a few months ago. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it might be because I’ve been thinking more heavily about Raven since the anniversary of his death.

I also have to check my thyroid because my levels were off last time. I hadn’t had to adjust my meds in years, then I did last year. Then I got sick and didn’t re-check my levels, so I need to do that. I just have an unthinking bias that going to the clinic makes me sick.

I started getting depressed, and I realized it was definitely from outside of me. There’s nothing in my life to make me depressed, and at least I can see it’s not intrinsic to me. Weirdly, though, it actually makes it more difficult to deal with because it feels out of my control. I’m struggling with feelings of hopelessness and despair, and I’m sure it’s partly because of the insanity that is our national politics.

My sleep has been even shittier than usual lately, and I can’t tell if that means I’m recovering from my sickness or not. Usually, the healthier I get, the worse I sleep, but this feels more psychological than anything else. I’m hoping to power my way through it somehow, but I’m not sanguine about it.

In honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year, here’s Maru doing the Lion Dance.

Hoping the New Year is Better Than the Old

It’s the end of 2017, and I, for one, am not sorry to see the back end of it. It’s been a lousy year politically, and there hasn’t been much for me to crow about, personally, either. I lost my beloved Raven at the end of 2016, and I still think about him almost every day. It’s not as painful as it was when it first happened–and it was such an unexpected shock–but it’s a dull, aching throb that doesn’t go  away. Shadow (his brother) and I have slowly adapted, but it’s been a long, hard road, and we are nowhere near normal. Or, to be more accurate, we have created a new normal. One in which it’s only the two of us. In the first six months after Raven’s death, Shadow was a changed cat. He was clingy whereas he used to be sweet, but more aloof. He would spend hours on his own downstairs, sauntering back upstairs whenever he felt like it. Right after his brother’s death, Shadow clung to me like glue. He followed me everywhere, and he meowed mournfully whenever I had to leave. When I went to the back porch to smoke, Shadow would stretch out his front paws up on the sliding glass door and cry until I went back in.

He was never much of a talker when his brother was alive, but he truly found his voice after. We have a wake-up ritual now that includes him meowing at me until I get out of bed and feed him. He’ll meow at random times during the day, and he’ll mournfully cry when I go to bed. I have theorized that the meowing in the morning and when I’m headed for the kitchen is because he used to rely on Raven to inform me when it’s time to eat, and now that Raven is gone, he has catted up and is taking over the duty of letting me know it’s time to eat.

Another change is that he snuggles with me much more than he used to. He used to like perching on top of the couch by my feet (he still won’t sit in his brother’s spot more than a few times), but now he prefers either sitting in his hidey hole (favorite bed) or nestling on my legs. After six months, he started doing his own thing again. In fact, he’s downstairs as I’m writing this. But, he will come up eventually, and he will stiff-walk down my body as I go to sleep tonight because that is part of our new normal as well.

I’m tired. I’m doing better overall, but I’m still in recovery. I will continue this post tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a video of Shironeko (white cat) snuggling with a buddy. Happy New Year, and may 2018 kick 2017’s ass.

Too Tired to Think–and Dark Souls III

I’m writing this on Christmas, and I’m feeling out of sorts. Not as bad as in past years, but there’s still a vague ‘I should be celebrating, but I’m not, and that makes me a bad person.” As I said, it’s much more subdued than it has been in past years, but it’s still there. I like to say I’m immune to advertising*, but there is still enough societal pressure that makes me low-key feel bad for not celebrating.

I still feel like shit with congestion and cotton in my brain. My ears are scabby and gross, and if I pick the scabs (I know, I know), pus oozes out. My lymph node is almost not-swollen any more, which is good, and it’s barely tender. I’m still going to go to the doc after the holidays, though, because I need to get a grip on this. I also need to get my thyroid meds checked, which may help with the sinus crap.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve cut out gluten and dairy, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it–except for cheese. God, I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me back. As Tim Minchin says, “I cannot Camembert any more.”

Why does cheese have to be so goddamn delicious???? And why is it so hard to duplicate? “I love cheese, but it’s plain to see, that cheese doesn’t love me. I am such a fool in love; I just cannot get enough, but it’s an unrequited love!” Sing it, Tim! The rest of it, though? Not. I’ve gone back to my Taiwanese roots and reacquainted myself with rice. Which, by the way, smells so delicious while cooking. And, PSA: rice cooker all the way for a perfect cook every time. Anyway, rice is way tastier than bread, and it’s way more versatile. I’ve also discovered non-gluten tortillas, bread, and bagels which are all nearly as good as the originals.

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Merry Happy Jolly–Or Not

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. If you’re someone who loves eggnog, elves, tinsel, Christmas trees, and all that fun stuff, I hope you enjoy yourself, but this post is probably not for you.  This post is for those of us who are not into Christmas for one reason or another. Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you were raised in a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe you’ve had a shitty year and don’t feel like celebrating this year. Maybe you’ve had something tragic happen in the last month–lost a job, a family member/friend, an animal companion, a relationship–and being holly and jolly is the last thing on your mind. Maybe you struggle with chronic depression, and you don’t want to pretend that you’re feeling the Christmas cheer. Maybe you have a toxic family situation and you’ve cut them off for the first time, so everything is weird and strange. I’ve been several of those before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Or, maybe you’re like me in that you don’t understand the need for forced bonhomie during a very specific time of the year. Maybe the hypocrisy of ‘good will towards all humankind’ for two weeks gets to you, and you want to point out that we need to be a better country all year round, rather than do feel-good things in the last two weeks before the end of the year.

I’ve said this year, the holiday season hasn’t been as annoying for me personally as it has been in the past. I used to feel as if people were having their holiday cheer AT me instead of just doing their own thing. It’s hard not to feel suffocated by it, however, as it’s everywhere this time of the year. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t bothered me as much this year, which I’ll take as a boon. I don’t think it’s because there’s less hawking going on because there’s not, but because I’ve reached a better place in my life, emotionally, I mean. I’m able to deal with things better than I used to, and that apparently includes holidays.

I’m still not rah rah about Christmas, however. I’m at best indifferent, and I would like to ignore it completely. I still have the crud, which is really sapping my energy. I went to the store today (Christmas Eve day), and I was dizzy while I was there, and I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I’m going to the doctor/TCM/acupuncture in the new year because this shit has been staying for far too long.

For anyone who’s not feeling the holiday spirit, I wish you peace during this difficult time. I’ll probably binge-watch Poirot while munching on sweet kettle popcorn, sipping my ginger lemon honey tea. Hopefully, Shadow will be snuggling on my legs, and I’ll be feeling better physically. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit glum. Partly because of the time of year, and partly because I’m ill, but also because I’m contemplating my life, and I have some difficult choices to make. If you’re struggling this Christmas, vow to do one thing just for you. Read a book. Take a walk. Soak in a bubble bath. One thing just for you. It may not make things all better, but it will certainly not hurt.

Here are two atheist Christmas songs that I quite enjoy. First up, Tim Minchin with White Wine in the Sun. This version is from a week ago on James Corden (and the first time I’ve heard it. There are a few updates!)

Next up is Vienna Teng with The Atheist Christmas Carol.

Both of these songs make me cry because they’re so lovely.

And, of course, I’m going to wrap it up with ‘O Holy Night’, the only Christmas carol I like. This version is done by Angelica Hale, a finalist from America’s Got Talent.

A Thousand Steps to One Foot

Still sick, though marginally better. Shadow has been a great help snuggling up to me and keeping me warm, but he has yet to make me a cup of tea. I’ve had to do that myself. I’m at the stage of recovery where I’m holding my breath, hoping I don’t do anything to set myself back. I don’t overextend myself at this point, but the problem is, when I start feeling exponentially better, such as 80%, I get reckless. I think I can go back to doing what I used to do. Now, granted, that’s much to begin with, but it’s enough to set me back.

I still have some remnants of my fundamental upbringing, and it shows up in nebulous ways. In this case, it’s my frustration in that I’m trying to be better about my health in general, and I’m still getting sick. I went five years bronchial/sinus-issues free, and now, I’m getting sick every year. What’s worse, it’s not just a few days or even a week. It’s one bout of two weeks, a few days to a week of being healthy, then a few more weeks of being sick. There’s no logical reason for me to expect that just because I’m doing better with my health, I should be sickness-free. Well, yes, there is a logical link between taking care of your health and not being sick, but it’s not a direct link. It’s not like, “Eat all the leafy greens, and you’ll never cough again,” but it’s hard not to be a little bitter that I’m working on trying to be healthier, and I’m still dealing with all this shit.

Anyway. here’s a video of Maru putting a bag with a hole in it on his head. It’s too ridiculously cute.

I’m All Over You–Eclectic Blue

I have weird tastes. I know it, and I don’t mind saying it. In all pop culture, it’s hard to say what I’ll like and what I won’t. Let me amend that. It’s pretty easy to know some basic things I WON’T like. In novels, I don’t like endless descriptions. If I see paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptions, my eyes glaze over, and I skip to dialogue or action. When I write, I have a hard time remembering that descriptions even exist. I’ll give a thumbnail sketch of the characters, but I rarely talk about environment. The reason is because I have a very lively imagination, and I’d rather conjure up my own pictures of the characters and the environments than read about them.

I read a lot of mysteries, and I don’t like any where the main character is a sociopath/psychopath/raging narcissist. I tried to read the Dexter series, well, the first book, anyway, and I couldn’t get into it. I’ve dealt with enough of them and really intimately in my real life that I don’t want to follow one around in a book. In addition, I find them boring, especially psychopaths. They’re mostly born that way, and there’s no known cure. When I read mysteries, I care about why people are doing things; I’m mostly in it for the psychology. If there is no there there, then I’m out.

I don’t like unearned happy endings, whether it’s in novels, movies or TV shows. Americans are obsessed with happy endings, which is one reason I prefer foreign films. Of my three favorite movies of all time, only one is American (The Station Agent), and it’s an indie movie that definitely does not have a happy ending. I can’t stand most Hollywood movies because they’re so fakey to me, especially as we demand exceedingly good-looking people in our movies. In foreign films, you see people who actually look like real people. Not in America, though. No uggos allowed! Most American movies are MOVIES to me, and I can’t lose myself in them. Actually, this is a problem I have with movies in general. When I’m reading, I can get lost in the world, but with a movie? Not so much.

While we’re talking about movies, I HATE rom-coms. Hate them like:

They reinforce every negative stereotype about men/women/heterosexual relationships that are so harmful to our society in general. A hapless, creepy dude likes a girl, maybe one he’s never even talked to, so he pursues her. She says no, so he persists. She keeps saying no, so he keeps persisting. He makes a Grand Public Gesture, and she’s won over. She realizes he’s the perfect guy for her. The end. This, my friend, is stalking. It’s not cool. It’s not romantic. It’s not fucking sexy. Cracked has written several times about how rom-coms are fucked up. You can read about it here, here, and here.

I’ve ranted several times about Love, Actually, which many women inexplicably love and watch every Christmas. I watched it because Alan Rickman (sniff, sniff) is in it and it’s British, so it has to be great, right? Wrong! It’s one of the most misogynistic piece of shit movies I’ve ever seen (the Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson storyline is the best part of it, but still contrived. It’s only saved by their terrific acting), and the fact that it’s so beloved by many women earns a massive side-eye from me.

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Getting My Freak On

I’ve mentioned my love for my stories over at Captain Awkward and Ask A Manager. One reason I’m addicted is because I don’t interact with the world at large very much, and it’s a way to gauge how weird I am against two communities that are more similar than not to my personal leanings. CA is way more left-leaning than is AAM, but both are more progressive than the country in general. In addition, both are filled with passionate, thoughtful commenters (and have strict commenting rules), and even when I don’t agree with someone, I can usually come away with something to think about.

What do I mean about the weirdness? I’ll give you an example. There was a letter at AAM from someone who played a ‘prank’ of locking her (AAM uses the generic she/her unless otherwise noted in the letter) coworker on a balcony right before an important meeting in which the coworker was presenting something. He was let out (phrasing hers. It appears she didn’t let him out), and he waited until after the meeting to go ballistic on her, pulling her away from a client and telling her he would kill her if she ever did that again. The OP (original poster/letter writer) took great pains to say that they had a jokey relationship before this, and asked what she should do now.

My immediate reaction was that it was a malicious thing to do, especially before a presentation, and that she should take her blaming tone and shove it. She was framing the letter as if she had done this silly little thing and look at how he overreacted!!!!! Now, him grabbing her and threatening her is not cool. At all. I am saying that upfront. However, what she called a prank is not cool, either. She locked him on the balcony, not knowing if he might have issues with being out in the open for a long period of times, heights, or not having an escape. Two, she did it right before an important meeting in which he had a presentation. He might have been thinking he would miss the meeting, and that would have been an unpleasant feeling as well. Three, apparently, she wasn’t the one who let him in.

I was really disturbed by how she minimized her own behavior only to focus on his. There were plenty of people on my side, but there were also plenty of people saying the prank was probably innocent, and the coworker really overreacted. I’m not defending his behavior because there is no place for grabbing/threatening, but I can at least see where that behavior is coming from. I have much less sympathy for the OP because who the hell pulls a childish ‘prank’ like that? Apparently, many people, according to the comments.

An interesting difference between the two commentariats is that there are several ‘out’ polyamorous people at CA, and it definitely puts a different spin on relationship-related woes. The commentariat at AAM is very harsh against people who have affairs–both the partner who is married and the other person. Over at CA, the common belief is that it’s the person who’s married who has the contract with their partner, and they are responsible for keeping it. The other person isn’t obligated to honor the marriage and as people are not possessions, should not be the target of anger/ire. At AAM, there is a sizable portion of the commentariat who believe that if you help someone cheat on their partner, you are a terrible person, period. They liken it to being the driver of a getaway car for a bank robber–yeah, you didn’t rob the bank, but you’re helping the person who did.


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