Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Relationships

My unending love for bladed weapons

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 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.


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It’s complicated. No, I’m complicated

I’m irritable. In general, but more to the point, right now. The filters I have set so carefully in place are…shall we say…stressed. As are we all. Here’s the thing. I have a constant dialogue in my brain–dialogue? Monologue. Lots of time, it’s just anxious chatter about how I’m fucking up. But, otherwise, it’s a snarky MST3K voice sniping about everyone and everything around me. I’m pretty good at keeping it under wraps for the most part–except when I’m driving. I have bad road rage. Or rather, I used to have bad road rage. Taiji has helped with it a great deal–but then it comes bursting out at the exactly wrong time. I’ve had this issue all my life so it seems as if I overreact to something small after all the rage has built up inside me.

I was taught never to show negative emotions, especially anger, by my father. He was the only one allowed to be mad, and he was very unpleasant to be around when he was raging. He would make his displeasure known one of two ways–either by shouting at the top of his lungs or by completely ignoring you. I don’t mean just not speaking to you, but looking straight through you. Unfortunately, I’ve perfected that ability, and in my case, it’s my way of escaping an unpleasant situation if I’m trapped. It’s my safe space, and I’m really good at blocking out everything.

Side Note: I know the silent treatment is not a good thing. It has a bad rap, and deservedly so. However, as someone who has been trapped in situations in which I cannot win, it’s the least-worst of all the bad options. When I was a kid, I was scolded about whatever. If I tried to protest, I was told not to talk back. If I sat there without saying anything, then I was attacked for the sulky look on my face. I felt as if I couldn’t win, so the only thing I could do was have a blank look on my face while being yelled at.


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The tension between

I tend towards inertia. I know that’s true in general, but it’s really strong in me. Even if I’m in a negative situation, I will suffer through it rather than take the necessary steps to change. For example–my health. Right now, it’s a hot steaming mess. I’m very bitter because I had almost three years…three? Two? It’s three. Beginning of May, 2017, is when I cut dairy and gluten out of my diet. So, two-and-a-half years of a decent digestive system before it exploded on me again.

I was reading a thread on AAM about Celiac Disease, and the OP was saying she had been gluten-free for two years. Slipped recently, and has had issues since. Doctor said she had to go back on gluten in order to be tested for Celiac. Her question was if it was worth it or not. I had a similar situation in that the last time I talked to my doc, she informed me I’d have to go back on gluten before I could be tested for an allergy/intolerance to it.

One of the commenters in the above thread said that she had to do that and while it was worth it in the end, she felt as if she were poisoning herself at the time. That’s exactly how I feel about it, though I had never really thought about it in that way. I already know that I have a bad reaction to gluten and dairy, so why the hell would I put myself through it deliberately? I’m pretty sure I don’t have Celiac, but it would be comforting to have an actual diagnosis. Also, adding back foods one by one is a way to pinpoint which specific foods make my stomach react. I would love to be able to add cheddar cheese back into my diet, for example, but I’m very afraid of having a negative reaction to it.

Intellectually, I know it’s not the worst thing in the world. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to sit on the toilet for an hour and have a raw asshole by the end. It’s not great to have a cramped and bloated stomach, either. It’s not going to kill me, though, and it’ll be gone in the morning. In other words, it’s an intense feeling, but a transient one. In addition, I’m in the ideal position to do this experiment because I’m never far from the bathroom.

I’m taking the reintroduction phase of the diet slowly, and so far, garlic is a no-go and onion and honey are fine. In the aforementioned thread, the OP asked if an instant negative reaction to any given food was enough or if they should give it time. I was interested in the responses which were varied. They seemed to tilt more to the bad reaction not getting better over time. I would love to be able to keep garlic in my diet, but the reactions were not great.

It’s a question of short-term discomfort versus long-term health. It’s the uncertainty that gets to me, though. If I could know that in a week or two I would be able to adapt to the food in question, then I would suffer through the immediate pain without qualm. I know that’s not the way this works, though, so I have to just deal with the discomfort as it arises. For now, garlic is on the no list. When I’m done with everything else, then I’ll see if I want to try it again. Because garlic!


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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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New Year’s thoughts

hopefully better than the last!
New year, same shit?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do take time in the weeks leading up to it to reflect on my life. This is a grim time as I think my life is crap in general. If i had a hard reset button, I would slam it without thinking about it. Except. I wouldn’t want to give up my friends, taiji, Dark Souls, Shadow, my brother and his family, and, ok, maybe not a total reset.

But. There are always things I wish I were doing differently. Some are ongoing such as my desire to publish a book (though my writing is not going great at the moment), but others are pretty specific. Let’s start with the one I think I will achieve the easiest.

1. Learn the taiji Sabre From. I just learned the third row of six, and this one I will accomplish barring some unforeseen obstacle in my way. So, let’s add to it learn the Cane Form. I am through the first row of four, but it gets batshitcrazy in the third or fourth row. I’ve seen my teacher perform it, and it’s jumping all over the place. I cannot wait.

I also have to teach myself the left side of each form because that’s how it works. The teacher teaches the right side, and we have to teach ourselves the left side. It’s a good way to discover where I’ve been fudging it on the right side, and it reinforces the teaching. I have to brush up on the Sword Form left side.

A funny side note: I still haven’t taught myself the whole Solo Form because the Solo Form got drastically changed when I was teaching myself the third section. That’s the section with most of the changes, and I decided to let it settle down before trying to teach myself the left side. And, to be honest, I am still not a big fan of the Solo Form, though knowing the applications has helped as has learning the Fast Form. The Fast shorter form. Which is the new Solo Form. I would like to learn the whole Fast Form this year as well, but that is a little outside my control.

Side note to the side note: I have been struggling to make it to class for a few reasons, most of them health related. That in turn makes it difficult to learn new things because we’re all at different places. I would like to make at least one class a week in addition to my Sabre Form private lessons every other week. That entwines with another of my thoughts so you’ll have to wait for it.

Prediction: I will get this one. And I will be stoked to learn the next form, which I’m hoping will be the Fan Form. Or maybe Dual Sabres. With a side helping of the karambit. Which is not a taiji thing, but so fucking cool, anyway.

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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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The perfect game for me, er date?

In Friday’s post, I wrote many, many words about how I defined myself and how it applied to dating. It was purportedly about gaming, but I spent most of the post focusing on dating. Now, on a day when I’m supposed to be talking about personal issues, I’m going to focus mostly on gaming. Why? Because it’s funny to me.

In the last post, I left it off by describing how death in Dark Souls made me learn this game back and forth. Let’s take the Undead Burg because it’s the first real place you explore after the Northern Undead Asylum. You’re dropped at the Firelink Shrine by a big black bird, and there are three ways you can go. One, across the way by the skellies in the graveyard. Two, down by the mute Fire Keeper, then down again, to New Londo and the ghosts who don’t take damage (unless a certain condition is met). Three, up the stairs where there are more skellies, but manageable one.

One small gripe. Some people ‘in the community’ say it’s obvious that you’re supposed to go the third route because the other two are so hard. My retort to that the one thing everybody knows about the game is that it’s brutally hard. How the hell are you supposed to discern ‘too hard’ with adequately hard? Especially if you’ve never played that kind of game before.

Anyway, here’s the Undead Burg run. Go up the stairs from Firelink Shrine. There will be a boney to greet you. Then one jumps down as another chucks firebombs at you. There is an armored one further down the way, but I ignore him for now. After dispensing with boney number two, I go up the second set of stairs to take care of another boney, then firebomber, then two more bonies.


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Fool me a hundred times

My heart is heavy, and I’m grieving the loss of a relationship I never had. Or rather, two relationships. Or one relationship with two people. My parents. My relationship with my father has ranged from nonexistent to frosty to cordially distant. Right now, I would classify it as parent-child–with me being the parent. His faculties have diminished to what I suspect is early onset dementia, but it’s hard to say because he refuses most testing in that area. Funny because he’s a hypochondriac who goes to the doctor at a moment’s notice, but like most hypochondriacs, if there is a potential serious issue, then he refuses to go. And if it’s something that has a negative connotation about his brain, well, forget about even mentioning it.

To be fair, my mother told me that Alzheimer’s is looked upon as a personal failing and weakness in Taiwan, so I can understand not wanting to open yourself up to that. I suggested he get tested here, but his English is nowhere near as good as it used to be, and it wouldn’t be fair to use a test he took in English as a barometer. On the other hand, the longer he goes without treating it, the worse it’s going to get.

Do you notice how I immediately started talking about my father? I meant to talk about my mother as a starter, but my father is such the focal point of the family, it’s hard to avoid, even here. Why am I grieving my relationship with my mother? Sit back with your favorite cup of tea because this is going to take some explaining.

If you asked my mother, she would say we are really close. She made me her confidante when I was eleven, pouring out all her woes about my father and her marriage into my very unwilling ears. She would cry about how he treated her (very badly), and I would listen until I couldn’t take it any longer before telling her she should divorce him. Then, she would shift to how he wasn’t that bad. I would feel like a dupe, and I would vow never to say anything again. She also told me how depressed she was and how much she hated her life. Not in those exact terms, but that was what she meant.


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Thoughts during a lovely wedding

My niece got married Friday night. I’m still digesting the fact that she’s no longer running around the lawn, screaming, giggling in glee as she babbled incoherently about whatever. She was such a happy, energetic child, and I marveled at how perfect she was. I know it’s trite, but I couldn’t believe that she had grown up enough to actually get married (just as a matter of time) even though I had seen it happen over the years. I mean, she had been living with Nick for several years, first in his parents’ house during the week, then in their own apartment, and then a house. They adopted their dog, Obi, who was their ring bearer with a pouch tied to his collar (and the groomsman using a spoonful of peanut butter to lead him down the aisle), and they both had full-time jobs–at the same place! I’ve seen her during all these stages, so it’s not as if she went from two to twenty-one without me noticing it. She told me about the wedding nearly two years ago, so it’s not like it got sprung on me.

The whole event was surreal. My brother called me up at 4:20 p.m. (bro) and asked me if we could be there by 5 p.m. My parents were sleeping, and that wasn’t doable, anyway. Apparently, they were doing family photos beforehand, and I told him we would be there as soon as possible. I woke up my parents, and sure enough, my mother freaked out. She’s an anxious type to begin with, and throwing a monkey in the wrench (heh) made it even worse. We managed to leave by 5:10 p.m., and we made it to the venue (the groom’s parents’ backyard) by 5:30 p.m.

There was only one picture taken (my mom for the grandmothers and niece pic), so it was kind of silly for us to be there so early. It was nice to snag a parking spot right across the street, though. Funny story before we left. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt with spaghetti straps (black) and a floral teardrop skirt (also black) that reached my knees. I had my hair down because I wanted to look nicer than normal. I had no idea what I was supposed to wear because I missed ‘church casual’ on the invite (which wouldn’t have helped me, anyway. I haven’t attended church in thirty years), so I decided to just do the best with what I had. It wasn’t a problem because people were dressed in everything from jeans to long dresses and everything in between.

Anyway, my dad looked at me and asked if I were going to bring a coat. I looked at him if he had lost his goddamn mind. It’s fucking summer. Who the hell wears a coat in the summer? Granted, it was going to be outside at night and the temperature was predicted to hit a low of 59, but that would be at like three in the morning–and I still wouldn’t wear a coat. I said as calmly as I could that I’d be fine–this is a long-running issue between us. Ever since I was a small child, he has been haranguing me to wear a fucking coat because he felt cold. This time, he said that seeing me without a coat made him feel cold for me. I said with a laugh that he could wear two coats and feel warm for me. He wisely let it drop, but it shouldn’t have come up at all. Later in the night after the sun went down, he asked if I was cold, and I said I was still hot. He refused to believe me, but I was.

It’s one of the most frustrating things about him–if he doesn’t feel/think/believe something, than he can’t fathom someone else could possible be different, especially his spawn. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it’s still frustrating.


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Grasping for a reason

The countdown to enforced family time is ticking, and as a result, my health is taking a nosedive. Oh, I can’t say for sure it’s related (see what I did there?), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were. Let me amend. I know my mental health takes a hit during family time, but I can’t say for sure my physical decline is a direct correlation. I would not be surprised if it were, given that stress is really bad for health, but I can’t say it’s 100% true. I do know, however, that my brain starts thinking darker thoughts that get worse every day. I know that my sleep issues, which are problematic at the best of times, become even worse. The chattering in my brain that I can usually keep to a bare minimum grows louder, and it’s harder to block it out.

Side note: I’ve been grappling with the idea that I may have ADHD/ADD or at least some of the traits. I’ve never thought about it in the past because the stereotype is the hyperactive young boy who can’t sit still for five minutes, talks a mile a minute, and careening into things at a high velocity. None of that is me except on occasion the middle one, and I tend towards inertia whenever possible. In addition, I already know I have OCD tendencies, and to my mind, these two disorders are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Also, I’m a woman, and ADD is notoriously overlooked in people of my gender in part because of the aforementioned stereotype. Here are the symptoms as they may present in women, and I match many of them. I also have four of the five comorbidities, which doesn’t make me feel any better. The only reason I hesitate with the label is because I have a good memory and don’t forget things. Other than that, though, everything else fits.

What really opened my eyes to the fact that I may have ADD (no H here) is when someone who has it explained that the ‘look, squirrel’ syndrome was followed by hyper-focus when he was really interested in something. That’s what tripped me up. I can do several things at one time, but if I’m really into something, I lose sight of everything else. I cannot be distracted once I latch onto one thing (or, worse, one person), and once I learned that was part of ADHD, things started clicking. Reading the list above, I’m struck by how I was just thinking this week how I couldn’t work in an office because so much of the social bullshit was such an anathema to me. I felt that way when I was in an office, and even though I can fake it because I’m really good at small talk (even though I hate it), I don’t understand the reasons behind much of it. I feel that way in general with social interactions and especially with the office. There was a letter at Ask A Manager this week in which the letter writer said she didn’t answer every time her coworker said hi in the morning, and he would confront her about it. Sometimes, it was because she had her headphones on, but also because she didn’t feel like it once in a while. She asked how she could push back on the confrontation and why he NEEDED her to say hi every day, and I wished she hadn’t added the part about not feeling like it once in a while because I knew the commentariat would focus on that–and they did.

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