I’ve been thinking about gender lately for obvious reasons (it’s in the societal zeitgeist at the moment), and where it ends for me personally is the same place it ends for me on many issues. A massive shrug, a loss of interest, and a sense of frustration because nothing quite gets to the heart of matter.
I’ve done the same thing with religion (not a theist or an atheist, uneasily call myself an agnostic), sexuality (not gay or straight, reluctantly labeled myself bi), and to a lesser extent, ethnicity/nationality (not Taiwanese and not American, so I guess Taiwanese American).
Now, it’s gender. Here’s my thought process on gender. I’ve always felt like I use woman by default because it was my gender at birth. I hated it when I was a kid because I was told there were so many things girls weren’t allowed to do. Climb trees, for example. I used to pray to a god I didn’t believe in that He (yes, a He, of course) would turn me into a boy as I sleep. I also prayed He’d give me blond hair, which was the result of being an Asian kid in a white suburb of Minnesota in the ’70s.
I don’t want to be/think I’m a man. I want to make that clear up front. My issues with ‘woman’ are more because of the societal expectations than the actual equipment. I mean, I don’t love my boobs (way too big and distracting), but I don’t hate them, either. They’re just there. I accept them much like I accept my legs. I mean, I love boobs in general, but I’m indifferent towards mine. I do find it amusing how much attention they used to get (alternating with annoyed), but I’m meh towards them on the daily.
I used to pride myself on messing up gender expectations. I’ve lesbians inform me that they didn’t know where to put me on the butch/femme spectrum (yes, I’m that old), which always made me happy. I’m not androgynous but more a mishmash of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits. Physically, I look like a woman. Long hair past my ass, big boobs, wide hips, etc. Yes, I’m been told I have good birthing hips. That always made me laugh heartily because I knew from my early twenties that I most emphatically did not want children. Vocally, I sound like a man. I get called sir/mister on the phone all the time. The advice from my father when i was fifteen on how to get a boyfriend was to raise my voice a few registers and let them beat me in games/sports/fix my car/whatever. I am inordinately proud of myself for retorting that I’d rather be single than do all that bullshit which had no effect on my father (he’s a narcissist), but at least I stood up for myself.
It’s month…five? I think? of personal lockdown, and I’m pass the incandescent rage I was feeling a month ago. Now, it’s just resignation, almost fatal. A lot of numbness. My brain is still not able to be as productive as it was in the Before Times, but I just work around it. The outcome isn’t as good as it was before, but I’m trying to be forgiving of myself for that. I’ve set myself an ambitious goal to take me through the end of the year, and I don’t want to talk about it yet. It has to do with writing. I feel comfortable sharing that, but I’m going to keep the detalis to myself. I find that if I talk about a project too much as I’m doing it, I talk more than do.
This is a huge stretch for me, and I’ll be amazed if I accomplish it. I feel as if I need to set an ambitious goal, however, because I have no motivation otherwise. Wait. That’s not completely true. I feel motivated with my taiji weapons, but that’s it. I don’t want to talk to anyone other than a very few people, and I recognize that my depression is settling in. It’s not severe as it was before, but it’s there. I think back wistfully to the first two months of the pandemic when I was doing better than most people in general. I think it’s because I’m intensely introverted in general and work from home, anyway, so the physical ramifications weren’t that overt for me.
Now, however, I’m over it. I know there are people who are moving on as if the pandemic never happened. I can understand why because it’s draining. It’s awful to think about doing this for maybe a year or more. The thing is, though….Let me preface this by saying I understand that there are people who have to go out there for work, being on the front line, whatever. I also know that there are areas where the risk is low. Social (physical) distancing, masks, blah, blah, blah. I want to get that out of the way because I know it’s not everybody, but that said, fuck all y’all who are like, “100 people inside six foot dinner party LOL”. I can’t help thinking how much better things would be right now if we had taken this seriously from the start. I can’t blame people in general for the first few months because it was a shit-show from a governmental and public point of view. The government really fucked up how they presented it and dealt with it in the beginning. Now, however, it’s pretty simple. Don’t do anything that isn’t necessary. The more people and the smaller the place, the more risk. Masks help cut down on the risks. Don’t touch your face and wash your dang hands. Those are the basics.
This week, I finished two things. I’ve talked about both on this blog, and I’m going to do it again. The first is Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games. It’s a game I had my eye on for quite some time, but I forgot about it because there was no chatter. Understandable as it’s an indie game that doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre, but, man, I really think it’s an underrated game. Those who played it and reviewed it LOVED it, but it’s not enough people. I’ve gone back and wandered about in a desultory fashion to find the secret chests I missed and because Med the community manager sent a newsletter with a BIG reveal that I didn’t get from the game itself. In retrospect, there were subtle hints, but they were easy to explain away or overlook at the time.
The other thing I finished this week was the Sabre Form in taiji. Or, as my teacher calls it, graduated from the form. The first time she said it was when she taught me the final posture of the Solo Form, and I nearly laughed in her face. I might have ‘known’ the whole form, but I wouldn’t be allowed to do it myself without heavy guidance. Now, many years later, I’ve done the form so many times, I could do it in my sleep. Well, I could have before it got radically changed by my teacher’s teacher. That’s another story for another day, though.
I can’t stop thinking about how much I hated the Sabre Form the first time my teacher taught it to me. I resented every minute, and I did not understand it at all. I wanted it to be the Sword Form, and it wasn’t. By the way, I’m beyond ecstatic that I’m learning a new Sword Form. It’s such a finesse weapon, which is not like me at all. Or at least….That’s the point of this post, and we’ll get to that later. For now, I’m musing about the Sabre Form and how it went from not to hot. While the sword is still my beloved, the saber has become my bestest friend. The karambit is the the honey of the moment, and the cane is that entertaining friend that always makes you feel better when you see them (as long as it’s not TOO often).
The saber is an infantry weapon. It’s not a thinking person’s weapon, and taiji is the scholar’s martial art. It’s about power, and I do feel powerful when I brandish it. Sometimes, I feel like a swashbuckler and sometimes I feel like a Hun. I feel as if I can do anything–and it feels good. I feel like I’m saying, “Don’t fuck with me!”, and I’m backing it all the way the fuck up.
The Sword Form is still my favorite, but it’s not about the power. It’s about elegance and grace, and it’s a finesse form. It’s about cutting someone before they know that you’ve even moved, and it’s about severing tendons. That doesn’t sound elegant or graceful, does it? The saber is about smashing and cleaving. That’s more in keeping with the nature of the weapon.
Side note: Just because the sword is a finesse weapon, it doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. It is; it’s just not the main point of the weapon.
I like bladed weapons. A lot. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone who knows me. Maybe the depth of my love, but not the fact that I’m an aficionado. I am fairly open about it, and I am always up for talking about it (though not the quantitative stuff such as the intricacies of different blades. I’m all about the feelings, bay-beeeeeee!). I’ve noted that women on twitter are uncomfortable with my declaration of passion for bladed weapons (it’s not ‘nice’ and is ‘so aggressive’, not to mention it’s hard for them to reconcile what they perceive as a gentle martial arts with weapons. I like to remind people that it’s still a martial art. I mean, it’s right there in the name!) and a weird corollary is that dudes think it’s hot. I mean, I get it in a way because I think it’s hot, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think of weapons. And, it’s a bit creepy for dudes to be all, “See this hot sword scene that I immediately thought of when you mentioned weapons?”, especially on social media.
Side note: Dudes. My dudes. If there is one thing I can impart on you as a female-presenting person it’s this. If you don’t know a woman (anyone, really, but especially women and female-presenting persons) well on social media (and I define well as not ‘talking’ to them every few days at the bare minimum or having an offline relationship (that includes DMs/PMs), do NOT make sexual innuendos to them as your first foray. I might laugh politely, but it won’t make a good impression. And I’m someone who can be very ribald.
I’ve written before on how I had a similar mindset with the women above in that before I took taiji, I considered myself a pacifist and that violence was always wrong. The reason for it, however, was not a healthy one. I thought my life was worthless, so there was no point in defending it. When I used to walk the circle doing ba gua instead of meditation, I used to imagine an opponent in the middle of the circle. One time, I had a flash of visualizing me killing the opponent. It unsettled me, and I talked to my teacher afterwards. She said it wasn’t a bad thing because it meant that I was willing to defend myself. She was right, and it completely changed my viewpoint.
Back to weapons. I dragged my feet on them for so long. When I first started taiji, it was for self-defense and the martial art applications. I didn’t care about the health benefits or the mental health benefits–I was all about the martial arts. Weapons, though? That was over the line. No way I was ever gonna do that. Nuh-uh, no way. I dragged my feet until my teacher placed a wooden sword in my hand and exhorted me to just try. The second my fingers closed around the hilt, I was hooked.
I hate ASMR. I just want to get that out of the way. I am not neutral to it. I do not merely dislike it or have no use for it. I HATE it.
With that barn burner of an intro, let’s delve into this newfangled* phenomenon that has swept the country if not the world. ASMR. I hope you can read the loud sigh that accompanies the acronym because it’s there every time I see the word, type it, or say it.
You’ve heard about it, I’m sure, because it’s all over the place. It’s suggested as a sleep aid, which is something I’m always interested i n.
Before I dive into that, however, let’s talk about misophonia. The dictionary definition of it is, I believe, being annoyed as fuck by certain sounds. In my current research of ASMR, there are some theories being floated around that people who suffer from misophonia either love or hate ASMR as well. Now, it makes sense that if certain sounds annoy you the fuck, then others may delight you. I liked that one of the dudes defending it (probably a doctor, I was too amused to even really clock it) basically said that there was no true Scotsman of people who reacted negatively to it.
What do I mean? Hold that thought and we’ll get back to it in a minute.
After reading all these people raving about ASMR, I decided to check it out for myself. I pulled up a video and pressed play. The second it started, my shoulders went up around my ears, and I was immediately filled with rage. Not irritation. Not annoyance. RAGE. Like, wanting to punch someone rage. I stopped the video and thought maybe it was just me or that particular video. I tried another, and I had the same reaction.
Are we surprised that something so popular is so loathed by me? No. But, Idiot that I am, I allowed myself to hope that maybe this was something that would bring me relief. Did I have my doubts? Yes. Was I skeptical? Yes. Did I hope it would work? Also yes.
I’m struggling. The reasons are long and complicated (and, yes, family-related), which I’m saving for another post. I will note that I had an actual meltdown while last talking to my mother. The result was my sleep immediately going to hell (had my first four-hour night sleep in a while, and how the hell did I EVER used to live on that? Regularly?), my brain fragmenting, and my energy completely dissipating. But, again, not the focus of this post.
In this post, I’m musing about all the ways I’m just…not. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.
Every since I was a wee little Taiwanese American girl (well, not so wee and not so little) growing up in the lily white suburbs in Minnesota in the 1970s, I was different. Some of it can be seen in the previous sentence. Hell, a lot of it. I was fat, unhappy (difficult childhood), Taiwanese American, super smart, and just…weird. I didn’t watch much TV and we rarely went to the movies. I didn’t listen to pop music until much later. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I ever heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in the sixth grade.
Side note: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time Googling exactly when the song came out and discovered it charted in America in April of 1983, so my apocryphal story could theoretically be true. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way of underling my otherness.
My mom made my clothes including dresses which I hated. Still hate them. Skirts are fine-ish, but not my first choice. I wore one to my nieces wedding, but honestly, if I had some really swish (both literal and metaphorical), I probably would have worn them instead. I don’t wear makeup or use beauty products of any kind. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, which I’ll come to later. I got fun of for bringing Taiwanese food because this was waaaaaaaay before ‘ethnic’ food became so popular.
In the first few months of the Covid-19, there was much ink spilled about how life would never be the same and how everything has changed. I was skeptical then and I’m even more skeptical now. I’m not saying things aren’t drastically different–they are. I’m saying that even though situations change, people don’t necessarily change with them. Oh, hell. I’m not explaining this well, but I’ll keep trying.
Have you ever had something big in mind that you were sure would change you? Marriage, losing a large amount of weight (me), a degree, a job, whatever. You work diligently for years to attain the goal, and then, maybe, one day you achieve it. Finally, you’re where you’re supposed to be, and you can live life to the fullest! Then, you realize to your dismay, that life isn’t perfect, and you still have to, well, deal with it. I had this belief when I decided to lose weight (twice). All the shitty things in my life would finally be better, and my life would be perfect.
You can probably guess how that went down. Well, not exactly because I never reached my end goal. That’s because as I got closer to it, I would change it. It was literally impossible for me to meet whatever the current goal was. Two eating disorders later, I can safely say that my life did not change for the better after those two situations. Or when I graduated from college. Or got my first boyfriend. Or got my MA. It’s pretty obvious why–because I’m still me at the end of the day. No matter what I achieve, I’ll still be the same person (more or less).
On the other end, my BFF separated from her husband for a year early-ish in their relationship. She had been with him since she was a teenager, and she thought that there were so many things she could have done if she were on her own. Long story short, she didn’t do the things she thought she would when she was on her own. In other words, it wasn’t he marriage that was stopping her, but she herself.
It’s been a rough week. As I’ve chronicled, I’ve been dealing with a migraine and something else, not sure what, exactly, but it’s not the ‘Rona, thankfully. It might be a cold; it might be allergies; it might be something else. All I know is that I”m exhausted all the time, and it’s hard to do much of anything. My motivation is gone, and I have to push myself to get anything done. Is it depression? Partly. But it’s also something different. I know depression intimately, and while some of what I feel is that, some of it is not. I have a random cough, and it’s very wet. Is it a summer cold? Probably. Or allergies. My allergies are terrible, and even though they’re better because I’m mostly inside, they’re not gone completely.
I’m enraged by the idiocy in my country. I tweeted about it yesterday just to get it off my chest.
Let me preface this mini-rant by saying I’m not going to do it. With that said, I have to get this off my chest. 
I read a tweet or FB post about how exhausting it is to try to do your best for the better good while realizing that there are people who aren’t doing that. More to the point, there are people who are actively doing what they can to flout the recommendations. It’s especially difficult because the people who need to be the most diligent about the recs are the same people with the most to lose.
It’s really difficult to know that I’m expendable to the assholes in charge. I mean, I knew that in general because I’m old, Asian, bi, and a woman, but it makes it even worse that because of my shitty immune system, it doesn’t matter if I live or die. To see it repeatedly and not just by the president’s cronies really hits hard. I already struggle with feelings of self-worth, and this message certainly doesn’t help. To see it casually repeated, “Oh, it’s just the old and those with autoimmune issues who are at risk” as if we don’t matter…yeah, it’s not a good feeling.
The first four months of lockdown, I was holding it down fairly well. Yes, there was a low level of anxiety and my sleep went to shit, but I was mostly fine on the daily. I’m not saying it was easy, but I did not feel the overwhelming stress and depression that other people did. I’ve mused as to why that is–PTSD means I’m best when it’s the worst-case scenario because then my inner world matches the outer world. In addition, I’m already pretty much a hermit, so it wasn’t that big an adjustment. Sure, my productivity took a hit, but I got done what I needed to do, even if it took much longer.
Now, however, that we’ve entered the reopening stage, this has changed drastically. I’m fucking pissed off. Why? Because Americans fucking suck. We fucking suck so hard. Texas and Florida are spiking again, and the governors are acting as if they’re surprised. ‘Whocuddaknown?’
Look. Back at the very start of all this, I could understand the confusion. The experts were pooh-poohing masks and saying they were useless. The basic rules were there are no rules! Just, wash your hands a lot. But that was four months ago. Then it was acknowledged that staying six feet apart was the bare minimum (somehow, crystalizing into six feet is magical) to stay apart, masks are good even if we can’t get them, wash your hands repeatedly, and take as few risks as possible. The message has been the same for at least two months. Stay in if you can, mask up and physically distance yourself if you have to go outside, and wash your goddamn hands. Outside is better than inside. It’s not really that hard.
All the bullshit about the masks is just that–bullshit. What kills me is that it’s the same people who talk about going to war for their country. Going to war? You can’t even wear a fucking mask. Yeah, it’s much easier to be a keyboard commando than to actually do something in real life, isn’t it? I’ve written in the past about extenuating circumstances and understanding why people are champing at the bit to get out. But…right now….
I don’t fucking care. I’m furious, and I just want to punch every asshole in the face. Not every non-mask wearer because there are valid reasons, but the ones who are aggressively NOT wearing masks at people. Or coughing on people. Or trying to grab other people’s masks. Fuck allll the way off. If you want to endanger yourself, fine. But the problem is that in this case, you’re endangering everyone else as well. And it’s exponential. It isn’t just, well, you get sick and your spouse and kids get sick. It’s everyone they run into who is exposed, multiplied.
Fuck all of you. Fuck you hard. I’m trying to slowly reincorporate going out of the house again into my life, but it’s hard to do when I see people not wearing masks and not physically distancing themselves. It’s one thing if they are outside, but it’s another when it’s, say, the pharmacy or the gas station. I’m gearing for the grocery store, but the last time I went to my local co-op, it was a woman who worked there being unmasked and pushing her way through people that sent me into full lockdown mode. I may try to go to the co-op nearer to downtown, but it’s hard for me to even contemplate. I know I can leave if it’s too much for me, but just expending the energy is a lot.
In addition, it’s ninety degrees this week. I’m not a heat person at all. My taiji teacher mentioned having open practice sessions in the park once a week instead of an online class. My instant response was, “No fucking way.” Not because of the ‘Rona, but because it’s fucking summer. No way I’m doing anything outside in above 70 degree weather. By the way, this is another reason I’m angry. The relaxations on outdoor activities. Why? Because I’m allergic to everything, so I stay inside as much as possible, anyway. Whenever I used to get those allergy tests on my thigh, there would be twenty or so swollen bubbles that were hot to the touch. I have a bunch of foods that I react to as well, and it’s just fucking depressing.
But mostly I’m angry because the selfish assholes are making it harder on those of us who are at the highest risk. Or higher risk. I don’t think I’m highest risk, but I’m definitely higher than average with my shitty immune system. If we all take the maximum precaution and do our best with the recommendations, then it’s better for society at large. But, the anti-maskers aren’t having any of that. It’s freedom! It’s liberty! It’s MURIKA.
It may surprise people to know that I’m a libertarian in that I think people should be allowed to do what they want–up until the point where it harms someone else. That’s what’s going on right now, and I’m so fucking tired of it. In addition, we’re probably not going to have a vaccine for at least a year, more like two. I can’t do this for two years–not even me. I mean, I’ve joked about being hermetically sealed, but I do leave the house a few times a week. Now, I have a hard time even forcing myself to do my once-a-month pharmacy run.
At this point, I don’t know why I’m bothering. I hate the fact that I have to be extra-careful because there are so many assholes out there. I know that’s life, and I know it’s up to me take care of my own business. I’m going to do all that, but I can’t help the simmering rage that is boiling my blood. I’m hoping it’ll pass if I acknowledge it and let it have it’s say. Other than that, though, I have one last thing to say. Welcome to the Thunderdome.
I’m depressed. This is not new or unusual as I’m depressed all the time, but I’m even more depressed than usual. Why? There are several reasons. One, obviously, Covid-19 and racism. Two, it’s summer. I fucking hate summer. Heat is the absolute worst. Three, I’m spending too much time online. This is my life in general. I tend to take negative opinions too much too heart, and it’s easier to do absence of context. I was reading a question on Ask A Manager, and it was about deliveries not being done correctly. The person asking (OP) wondered if she should go to management. She was very careful to say that she knew it was last resort and she didn’t want to get the person in trouble, but she wasn’t happy with the issues (not wearing masks, demanding she answered the door, etc.). Most people were pragmatic about it–talk to the delivery person through a closed door, put up signs, etc. But a small minority castigated the OP, calling her cruel and said that she was outsourcing her risk to others.
Now, let me be clear. They’re right. She’s paying someone else to take the risk that she isn’t. I know that I’m doing the same thing, and I’m profoundly grateful to the people who do my work for me. I’m not even taking issue with the ‘check your privilege’ attitude because it’s a good thing to recognize where you have privilege in order to decide what to do with it. What bothers me is that by throwing that out there, they are completely shutting down any communication that can be had on the subject. Scolding someone feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t really add to the conversation. I know I’m biased in this case, but I’ve always felt this way. Even when I’m the minority. Yelling at people about how awful they are isn’t going to get them to change their minds. I’m not saying don’t call out the issues, but name-calling and putting others down is not the way to do it. In addition, it can amount to bullying, which I see happening too often online.
In this case, some people pointed out that one person doing the shopping and delivery for a bunch of other people did cut down on the danger in general. They got jumped on, too. Again, I’m not disagreeing about the base point, but it’s more nuanced than that. In addition, the people typing angrily about privilege, well, they have it as well. They have something they are typing on, most likely a cell phone. Which was probably made in China and boxed by people at Amazon or somewhere similar. Places with miserable working conditions, and in some cases, the places had people jumping off the roof to kill themselves so they wouldn’t have to keep working.