Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

Let it snow, let it snow, fuck yeah!, let it snow

april snow brings may...rainbows?
It sure is purty!

I am a happy camper right now, and I’ll tell you why. It’s been snowing steadily since Friday night now Sunday afternoon), and we’ve gotten 12.5 inches of snow so far (and still counting). Yes, it’s mid-April, and no, this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. When I saw earlier in the week that we were supposed to get 8-12 inches, I was stoked, but skeptical. The last time we were supposed to get a lot of snow, it turned out to just be a big, fat lot of nothing. I was not about to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again. I woke up Friday morning to nothing. I tweeted about WHERE IS MY SNOW?, and a fellow Minnesotan reminded me that it wasn’t supposed to start until night. I knew that, but I was so excited, I wanted it to come early.

A light sleet started to fall around 1 p.m. Then, hail. Then, nothing. Intellectually, I knew that it wasn’t really supposed to start until late evening, but I still kept an eye out for it. Around ten, it started to snow steadily, and by the time I woke up Saturday, we had a few inches. It was lightly snowing, but I wasn’t sure we would get the real snow we were promised. Around ten a.m., it started snowing for real. Taiji was cancelled as the snow continued to fall. It made me so happy, and it kept. on. falling. By the time I went to bed, we had 7.5 inches (with other areas having a foot already), and I was pretty content with that. By the time I woke up Sunday morning, we had 12.5 inches (and it was still snowing, which it still is).

I have a longstanding agreement with myself that if we get over a foot of snow at a time, I will do nekkid midnight dancing in the snow. I haven’t had to put this into practice, but now, I actually do. Of course, there’s the small problem that I’m still sick, which means dancing naked in snow probably isn’t a good thing. Still. How many chances do I get to do this? Not many. It’ll be brief, and, disappointing the few people who ask for it every time, video-free. We’ll see if it’s actually at midnight because my sleep schedule has been all over the map since I’ve been sick. I’ve been going to bed at weird times, sleeping for longer than I normally would, and having to deal with a very cross cat when I wake up (my current theory is that he thinks he’s DYING because breakfast is at a different time every day now).

I want to say, I know most of my fellow Minnesotans are thoroughly sick and tired of the snow and cold, and I don’t blame them at all. It’s mid-April, so it should be spring! I love it, but I also know that I’ve very lucky because I have a snow guy and a garage, and I work from home so I don’t have to deal with driving to and from work. I’m totally privileged in this situation, and I fully acknowledge it. That’s part of the reason I can really sympathize with other Minnesotans. That said, I’m loving it. I love snow. I love the way it looks as it’s falling. I love the way it feels on my body. I love everything about it (until it melts and turns everything brown and muddy), and I make no bones about that.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be cold enough to stick around for a few days, and we’re supposed to get maybe an inch more on Tuesday/Wednesday (along with a little more today). I’m just going to enjoy it while I can. To my fellow Minnesotans, remember what Prince sang, “Sometimes, it snows in April.”

Everything sucks

I now have a hacking cough and my ears hurt. My stomach is starting to hurt as well, and I’m just done. I’m done with my body. I’m done with my immune system. I’m done with being sick. That’s all I have to say. Here’s Maangchi making ginseng chicken soup. I wish she were here to make it for me.

Awkward dancing in my head

Ian had a thing yesterday (he’s here visiting me) with his old colleagues at Game Informer (GI) for their 300th issue of their print magazine. He asked if I wanted to go, and I said sure both because I wanted to meet the GI crew and to support him. Immediately, I was assaulted with anxious thoughts about the event. Would I look stupid? Would I sound stupid? Would I embarrass him in front of his old colleagues? Objectively, I know I’m decent at small talk and mingling with people. In my brain, however, I’m THE WORST PERSON EVER AND NO ONE WILL LIKE ME. It hearkens back to my days as a kid–fat, friendless, and endlessly picked on. It’s hard to escape that mentality, even forty years later.

Another problem is that I don’t interact with people I don’t know very often in my real life. Online? Sure. But it’s much easier to curate an interaction online and to end it when you’re done with it. It’s not as easy to do in real life, and I’m not good at gracefully extracting myself from uncomfortable situations. I’m the one who gets cornered at the party and has someone talk her ear off for hours about a problem I could care less about. I’m also the person who has cashiers pouring their hearts out to for no apparent reason, and yes, I’m working on curbing this behavior in others. I know part of it is my own fault for asking follow-up questions, but it’s ingrained in my head. Also, eye contact. It feels rude not to look someone in the eyes, though.

Anyway, my point is, I was fretting about this shindig for the whole week leading up to it. Not constantly (which is an improvement), but once in a while, I’d think, “Oh shit. I’m going to make a fool of myself.” What helped was to shove it in the back of my head whenever the thought popped up. I haven’t been able to do that successfully before, but I was able to this time. Then, the day of the shindig, I started telling myself things such as, “You aren’t that big of a deal. No one is going to give a shit about you.” I know that sounds horribly negative, but it’s not in this case. One of the problems with having a low self-esteem is that, paradoxically, you think too much of yourself. What I mean is that I simultaneously think I’m the worst person in the world (which is low self-esteem) and that everyone must be thinking of how horrible I am (which is egotistical if you really think about it). When I was at my lowest, I thought everyone was constantly thinking about what a terrible person I am. The minute they met me, they’d say it to themselves, and they wouldn’t let up until our interaction ended.

This is pure horseshit, of course, First of all, most people care more about themselves than they do about you. I’m worrying about how I’m coming across to others, and they’re probably doing the same to a greater or lesser extent. Even if they aren’t, they’re not laser-like focused on me, waiting to pounce on any misstep I may have.

The other thing I told myself is that if I get stuck, just get the other person to talk about themselves. This is something I’m really good at, and I can do it for hours on end if need be. It works ninety-nine out of one hundred times because as I said, most people hunger to talk about themselves, and for the last one out of a hundred, well, that’s a bit more difficult. I have only run into that person once or twice, however, so it’s not a big deal.


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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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