Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Relationships

If only I could see what others saw

a soup of negative emotions.
A peek into my brain.

Recently, I received two compliments from two women I admire and respect (my BFF and my taiji teacher), and I was really taken aback. For some background, I grew up believing that I was a toxic presence who had to earn my right to live on a daily basis. I believed that every day, I started with a negative number (never could ascertain what that number meant, exactly, but it wasn’t good), and I had to do good enough to get to zero and have no effect on the world around me. Then, I would go to sleep, and the counter would reset. Why? Well, that’s a story in and of itself.

Part of it was childhood trauma. Part of it was being Asian in a very white world. Part of it was family dysfunction, and part of it was culture expectations taken to the extreme. In Taiwanese culture, it was heavily frowned upon to say anything even remotely positive about yourself lest you look as if you were bragging. In the white cultural, I was ugly, weird, and a freak. I’m still a freak, but that’s beside the point. In my family, I was taught that my only worth was what I could do for others, and I had no intrinsic value in and of myself. Add to that a deep depression and an impressionable brain that twists everything into a negative, and it’s not surprising that I ended up firmly believing I had to earn my right to live.

In addition, I had all these elaborate rules as to what counted as a positive, and it was extremely hard for me to make it to neutral. I don’t think I ever did, actually, because I rigged the game in such a way that I was bound to fail. When I talk about it in the past tense, it’s clear to see how ridiculous it is, but at the time, it felt as real as the sun on my face. I was miserable because I was constantly failing, and I just wanted to die. I spent much of my childhood well into my thirties wishing I had the courage to kill myself.

I hated myself. I couldn’t find anything about myself that I liked except my hair and my intellect (though I saw the latter as a curse oftentimes). I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me for any reason when it was obvious that I was pure toxicity. I’m not saying it was reasonable or rational, but it governed my thinking for longer than I care to admit. I truly thought I was a worthless human being (while at the same time having an exaggerated sense of the impact I had on others around me, which is common with people who have low self-esteem), and I was miserable every day of my life.

Then, sometime in my thirties, I slowly started shedding this idea. I’m not sure how or why (probably because of taiji and therapy. I attribute most of the positives in my life to taiji with a shout-out to therapy), but a few years ago, I realized that I no longer had that mindset. I didn’t think I had to earn the right to live, but I wouldn’t say I had a healthy self-esteem, either. I still didn’t like myself, and I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (literally and figuratively), but at least I wasn’t actively thinking of ways I could passively allow myself to die.

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More things to ponder in the new year

As the year draws to a close, I’ve become more pensive than I usually am. Which is pretty pensive to begin with. This has been a rough year for me emotionally, and I have no  idea why. It started roughly six months ago, and it’s only gotten worse as the months have passed. I know what the answer is. Therapy. The thought of it makes me sigh and recoil inside myself. Not because of therapy itself. I am a big proponent of therapy, and it is one of the main reasons I’m still alive. My last therapist helped me with some really serious and dark shit, and I’m eternally grateful to her. So why my resistance to finding a new therapist? There are several reasons. One, I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was fourteen. That’s thirty years (quit my last therapist a few years ago), and I’m tired of it. Two, finding a therapist is hard. Before my last therapist (and she was a recommendation), most of my other therapist were crap for various reasons. The biggest was that I could run rings around them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I need someone who is smart and savvy enough not to let me get away with shit. The fact that I have a psych background and am VERY good at speaking the jargon makes this a tall order.

In addition, I thought I’d get over it. Or rather, I could wait it out. Since I pulled out of my last chronic crippling depressive episode (lasting decades), I’ve had low-level depression with short periods of more intense depression. The latter have always been relatively short (a few weeks) before returning to my norm of low-key depressed. This time, it’s been months, and it’s only getting worse. I’m still able to recognize that it’s not a part of me and that it’s irrational, but it doesn’t help. My brain tells me that I might as well be dead, and even though it’s manageable most of the time, there are flashes of ‘do it now’ that are harder to  ignore.

I know the depression is bad because things that are hard for me to do in the best of times (set up an appointment to have my tire looked at) are now nearly impossible. On Saturday, I had to talk myself into going to taiji. I wanted to go, but I really did not want to leave the house and drive somewhere. To be fair to me, I had been dealing with a migraine, and was still shaky from it. It’s been years since I’ve had a full-blown migraine because I can usually catch it in time, and I had forgotten how debilitating it can be. If I catch it at the very first signs of a migraine and pop a couple Excedrin Migraine pills, it subsides into a low-key throbbing headache for a couple of hours. This time, however, I was already at the gritting-my-teeth phase when I noticed it. I popped two Excedrin Migraine pills, but it didn’t do a damn thing this time.

You’d think a headache would only cause your head to hurt. Nope. My whole body was drained, and I spent two full days just lying on the couch with the lights off, curtains drawn, and moving as little as possible. I managed to do my work, but it was slow-going. I could watch videos as long as the sound was very low, but I consider myself fortunate. I know that many people are immobilized by a migraine; I could at least move.


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You’re a lonely one, Mr. Grinch

We’ve all heard the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”–especially at this time of the year. We know the story (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), and I think Grinch has gotten a bad rap. It’s been a while since I’ve seen, but I have to admit I have much sympathy in my heart for him. He’s just going about his business trying to keep himself to himself. Then, the whole town is all LISTEN TO OUR LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS CHRISTMAS MUSIC MR. GRINCH LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LISTEN TO US SING LOUDLY MR. GRINCH MR. GRINCH MR. GRINCH!!!!

He’s all, “I can’t see you, you’re not there, lallallalalallallala,” which would be my tactic.

Underneath it, though, I’m sure he was hurting. He saw all these happy families and was only reminded of the emptiness in his own life. I can relate. Not because I don’t have friends and family–I do, but because of the relentless reminder of how you’re supposed to be soaked in the festive atmosphere. Even as isolated as I am from society in general, I can’t escape it. If it’s not the fucking insipid Christmas songs that are playing when I go into the grocery store, it’s the incessant posts on FC and Twitter and the websites I visit about the holly and the jolly.

I wrote about how I was trying to be more chill about it, but my hackles are automatically raised when I hear yet another Christmas carol or see yet another picture of a decorated tree. I know my reaction is out of proportion to what’s actually happening (people are not Christmasing AT me), but it’s still intensely irritating. It’s like any other popular media that I can’t escape–it’s alienating not to be in on the good cheer. Actually, it’s worse because you’re expected to be into Christmas. There are exceptions, of course, if you’re from other religions, but if you’re areligious such as I am and raised Christian, you’re expected to love Christmas as much as everyone else does. Or if not love it, then at least be neutral about it (read, shut up with your negativity). I’ve seen people complain about people who put anti-Christmas posts on their FB walls (which I’ve done), saying, “Why can’t we just enjoy this?” implying that those of us who don’t like Christmas are not-Christmasing at THEM.

That’s the problem with being in the minority–everything you do is put under a microscope. When you’re the majority, your behavior is considered the norm, so it’s not questioned. It’s similar to, say, when NFL players protest police brutality, and fans say something like, “Don’t bring politics into my sportsball enjoyment!” There are already politics in your goddamn football game, but because they align with your values, you don’t recognize them. Pointing out the sexism or the racism or queerphobia in something isn’t bringing politics into the picture because they’re already there. It’s the same with Christmas. Me pointing out that it’s become a crass commercialized money grab isn’t me bringing politics into Christmas–it’s me pointing out what’s already there.

To get more personal with it, I’ve always had a problem with how we’re all supposed to be filled with good cheer and goodwill towards our fellow human during this specific time because we should be doing that all year round. It’s feels way too performative to me, and that’s how I feel about the holiday in general. There are also way too many expectations of how the holidays *should* be (which is evident from all the threads in advice columns dealing with family expectations), which ends up with hurt feelings. People put way too much pressure on the holidays to make up for childhood disappointments (and don’t even realize what they’re doing), and the real thing can never live up to the ideal.

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In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.


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50 goals for turning 50

In taiji yesterday, a classmate was talking about celebrating her youngest stepdaughter’s birthday. She (the stepdaughter) turned 51, and my classmate said that ‘young’ is relative. She also mentioned that the stepdaughter made a crack about some old man, and her sister said that someone who had just turned 51 should be careful about calling someone old. It got me to thinking about turning 50 and how I’m not ready for it. I’m 47, and, yes, I know that’s closer to 45 than 50, but this birthday was really hard for me for some unfathomable reason. I don’t usually care about age, and I’m not upset about being 47 specifically. It’s just that it crept up on me, and I don’t know what happened to the last ten years. I’m nearing half a century on this planet, and I have nothing to show for it. It’s messing with my mind, and I think par of my current depression is because of this.

So. Resolutions.

1. Health. I’ve talked several times about not being happy about my weight. It’s not about health, though I’m sure that could be improved as well. It’s that I hate the way I look, and I want to do something about it. I thought giving up gluten and dairy would help, but it hasn’t. Probably because I started eating rice again which is SO GOOD but calorific. I haven’t eaten as much as of late, so that’s probably helpful. As much as I love rice (and I love it a lot because I’m Asian), it doesn’t really have any nutritional benefits. I’ve also cut out potato chips, added them back, and cut them out again. I’ve slowly added back fruit and veggies, and I cut down my caffeine intake by four-fifths.

Which, by the way, was by far harder than giving up dairy and gluten. I was so logy and cranky, I could barely function. It was two weeks before I felt human again, but I’m still adjusting. I have one cup of tea/coffee a day and have completely given up pop. I had some while I was in Malta, but those were extenuating circumstances. I will have a glass occasionally if I’m dining out, but more often than not, I’ll stick to water.

Side note: I want pizza right now. I want it so bad, I can taste it. There are many tasty substitutes for many gluten and dairy foods, but gluten-free/dairy-free pizza just isn’t that tasty. A local pizza joint had a fall special a few years ago that had sausage and sauerkraut, and it was amazing. So delicious! Heavy as hell, yes, but I would eat it every day all day long. I have a feeling I’ll break soon and get one because I can’t stop thinking about it, but I don’t want to fall off the gf/df wagon. I did while in Malta, but again, it was extenuating circumstances. How the hell could I not try pasta in Malta? Especially pasta with cheese in it?

I need to start cooking. I’ve said it several times, but I’ve yet to do it. I’ve boiled gf macaroni and added spaghetti sauce to it, but that’s not exactly cooking, now is it? I should get a pressure cooker because it’s magical, but it seems like a lot to learn. I could be wrong and probably am, but that’s how it appears to me.

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Everything’s easier on the internet

a tangled web we weave.
Socially networking like a bawss.

I’m a heavy internet user, but I’m trying to lessen my time on social media. Why? It’s having a negative effect on my mental health. I realized that if I hopped on Twitter first thing in the morning, it would negatively affect my mood for the rest of the day. I now take Wednesday and Saturday off, and it makes me feel better. I’m thinking of adding Monday, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’ve noticed something about the online world vs. the real world. It’s much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber because you can tailor everything to your preferences. It’s not a bad thing because why would I want to see tweets from right-wingers all day long? Apparently, Jack (from Twitter) doesn’t agree and is considering messing with the algorithm so that you see tweets outside of your bubble, which, no, Jack. Just no. Look, I get the reason for thinking this is a good idea. Like I said, it’s easy to just hang out with people you agree with and for your opinions to harden into rigidity. However, the solution to that is not to force heinous tweeters on hapless users. While the idea is a good one, it’s too much of a benevolent dictatorship for me. Ideally, the user would have a healthy mix of tweeters she followed, but let’s face it–most people aren’t that self-aware.

It’s also easy to craft theories in your head that work perfectly but don’t stand the sniff test when taken out into the real world. It’s the academic fallacy in which you can talk about a subject with your friends/colleagues for hours, come to an agreement with them, then think everyone in the world thinks that way. I see way too many philosophical arguments that don’t have anything to do with real life, and it’s especially difficult to burst that bubble because we all have a bias for believing what we think is reality. I tested this during the 2012 election by randomly asking people in the real world (people I knew, not just strangers) who weren’t on Twitter what they thought of some hot Twitter topic, and they never knew what I was talking about. All my friends follow politics more than the norm, and they still didn’t know about the Twitter outrage of the day.

I see this all the time, especially on certain progressive sites, including one of the advice sites I frequent. There are buzzwords that get thrown out willy-nilly, and it only works if everyone agrees on the meaning of said words (or phrases), which, sadly, is often the case. I had a discussion with Ian the other night about how heuristics are important, and I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s true that they are important, but it’s also true that when heuristics become FACTS, it can be a problem. For example, the term ’emotional labor’ gets thrown around a lot these days. It started as a way to describe situations in the workplace in which the worker has to suppress her own emotions in order to do what needs to be done at work. A good example is retail. Colloquially, it’s come to mean managing the emotions in a relationship (any relationship, but most often romantic), and it’s often relegated to the woman in a heteronormative relationship. By the way, that’s another word that is more useful in academic settings–heteronormative.

Anyway, now, people are throwing emotional labor out there to mean anything from having to deal with someone else’s feelings to having to set boundaries and a half dozen of other things that may be tangentially related, but not actually emotional labor. Another one is the word toxic to describe a situation. I’ve seen it used in situations which have negative aspects, say, the hubby doesn’t do the dishes every night, but isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself (he does the laundry, takes care of the children half the time, makes a decent living, remembers anniversaries, listens to his wife, etc.), and I think it dilutes the term when it’s used so loosely.
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The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a freak

yellow and mellow.
Yellow and different–that’s me.

Yesterday, I commented to my taiji teacher that one of the good things about growing up a freak (both of us did) was that it gave us a lot of time being comfortable with liking things that other people thought weird. It was in conjunction to the fact that I had someone on my FB saying she didn’t see why on earth people played video games after I posted a pic from Monster Hunter World, and while I didn’t get into it on the post, I immediately thought, “Why is it so hard to believe that someone might like something you don’t?” I’ve never gotten that, really. Being so mainstream in your interest, you can’t fathom anyone not liking what you like is something I can’t even begin to imagine.

I like that I’m not invested so much in anything I’m passionate about, I take it as a personal affront if someone else doesn’t like it at all. I will say, don’t be a dick if you don’t like something someone else is enthusiastic about, though. That’s never very nice. However, I have so much experiencing being on the outside, I don’t take offense if people wrinkle their noses when I say I like something. I’ve mentioned it before, but I will cheerfully admit that my taste in music is garbage which takes the wind out of the sails of people wanting to slag me for the music I listen to. My taiji teacher likes loud experimental noise music, and I like cheesy pop music (not exclusively, but considerably more than is good for me).

I tend to like the niche in things other than music. Well, it used to be true in books because I’m an avid mystery reader, but it’s become so mainstream, I can no longer claim it as a niche. Also, there are several different sub-genres within the broad category of ‘mystery’ including literary, just FYI. In movies, I prefer indie films and ones with a psychological bent. I’m not huge into action movies, and I hate romcoms. In video games, I like Souls, which used to be niche but now is the standard. I kid. It’s still pretty niche, even though it’s a popular niche. I’m currently watching the intro bit to Death’s Gambit, a Souls-like game that was in development for ages. I forgot about it except when there was an update now and again, but then it was dropped without fanfare, which made me suspicious. The rating on Steam is mixed, so I decided to watch a few Let’s Plays of the intro areas (up to the first boss, but also extra boss in the beta demo, which was last week. Again, with no fanfare) to make up my mind.

What is Death’s Gambit? It’s a 2D Souls-like Metroidvania. I feel like I’ve been saying that way too often about games because there are many Souls clones out there. The graphics are gorgeous, and I was immediately drawn into the world. The music is appropriately atmospheric, and it’s soothing. One of the streamers I watched, RockLeeSmile, picked wizard to play as, which unnecessarily excited me. No one EVER plays as a caster on stream, and while I understand why (it’s not that exciting to watch, tbh), it’s hard for me to gauge my experience with a game if I don’t see a caster. That’s another way I’m different–being a caster.  It’s decried in Souls-like games, but I don’t give a fuck.  If it’s in the game, it’s fair play. In addition, as I’ve said, now that I’ve played both caster and melee, I can say with confidence that melee is easier than caster BY FAR*, so I side-eye all the streamers who unthinkingly repeat the blather than being a caster in baby/easy mode.

Anyhoo, this is not yet another screed about the toxicity of the Dark Souls community. It’s about the pros and cons of being an oddball. Another pro is that I’m very comfortable being by myself because I’ve done it for so long. I actually prefer it, which is both a plus and a minus. I’ll get more into that later. It’s just me and my cat, Shadow, and we get along really well–except for in the morning when he’s mewing and pawing at me to get up because he’s STARVING and needs wet food RIGHT NOW. Never mind that I free-feed him–he needs the wet stuff! It doesn’t help that my sleep schedule is all over the map so he’s never sure when he’s getting his breakfast, but he can be assured he’ll get it at some point.

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Fumbling like a Bumble bee

searching out the perfect pollen.
Just buzzing along.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m ready to dip my toe in the dating world. Well, to be more accurate, I’m ready for some sexing, y’all! It’s been far too long, and while my hand is a reliable companion, sometimes, I long for the touch of another body. Just to refresh your memories, I want someone with whom I can have dinner, a few laughs, maybe a movie or a show, raucous sexing, and then I can send them home with no hard feelings. I want this two to three times a week (I’d be  down for more sex, but that usually slides into an actual relationship, which I don’t want), and it’s starting to feel urgent.

Before I went to Malta, I installed Bumble and actually put in a few photos. They’re not current, but I still pretty much look the same with just a few more wrinkles. The power of being Asian, yo! I looked at the first dude and immediately came up with a problem–I have to swipe one way or the other on him. I couldn’t just ‘like’ him or something like that and ponder him later. Also, you have to pay for something called Bumble coins to get more info, which is not something I appreciate. Anyway, I swiped left on most of the people I saw (looking for both men and women) for various reasons, but there was one guy that caused me pause. I didn’t want to swipe right on him because that felt like too much pressure, but I wanted to save him for later. I realized that because I would have to be the one to make the first move, swiping right on him was essentially saving him for later, so I did.

I let it go for the day, but checked it the next day. To my surprise, I had a woman swipe right on me (is it right? I never remember which is which, which is a problem), and when I tried to look at her info, I accidentally swiped right on her. I panicked and wanted to undo it, but Bumble won’t let you unswipe a right because they said it wouldn’t be nice. I panicked some more because in a same-gender match, either person can make the first move, and I don’t do well with rejecting someone. Yes, I hate to be rejected (who doesn’t?), but I hate rejecting someone else even more. Which is a problem if I’m going to use a dating app.

I uninstalled Bumble and haven’t touched it since. Yes, it was an overreaction, but it was also because I was leaving to Malta, so I really wouldn’t be doing much chatting for the next week. Now that I’m back, I’m thinking about installing it again. In fact, I’m doing it now. I just opened it up and found someone has SuperSwiped me. I don’t know what to do with this information. I really hate having to make a decision right away, so I just left it and set down my phone. That’s how I tend to deal with things–I push them away until they either go away or until I absolutely have to deal with them.

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When a cynic and a hopeless romantic have a baby

Romance has been on my mind a lot lately. Or rather, sex has been. The two are not interchangeable, and I’m still figuring out how much of each I want and how I can go about getting it (and the right balance).

First off, let me admit that it started with me wanting sex. Straight up. I love sex so fucking much. It’s been mumble mumble years since I’ve had it, and I’m worried I’m going to plumb dry up. I’m nearing my menopausal years (I think I’m perimenopausal), and I’ve heard that sex can be more problematic after menopause than before. That doesn’t mean I have to get it now or never get it again, but it does put an internal ticker on it.

More to the point, though, in the past few months, I’ve just been so fucking horny (yes, I mean that in both ways). It’s getting harder and harder to ignore. I can get myself off, of course, but there’s something about interacting with another person that I miss a lot.

Now, let’s get to the problem(s). One. I’m forty-seven who is self-employed. I’m not going to meet someone at work except myself, and that defeats the purpose. Two, I haven’t been in the dating game for such a long time. Come to think of it, I haven’t ever really been in the dating game. I met my first boyfriend at summer school when I was sixteen, and that tends to be a pattern of mine–dating friends. There was a time in my late twenties when I was on the Craigslist personals (I’m showing my age here), and I did end up dating a dude. The sex was hotter than hot, but the relationship was fraught with tension and issues.

It’s been said that online dating is a godsend to introverts, but I found it to be more stressful than it was worth. I liked Craigslist because I could place an add, but that meant wading through all the dudes with the yellow plague, unsolicited dick picks, and women with boyfriends/husbands who wanted a threesome*. No matter how specifically I noted that I didn’t want Asian fetishists or pictures of some rando’s cock, I’d open up my message box and BAM! Dick in my face or ‘I looooove Oriental girls’.

Side note: My dudes. Read the actual bios/essay of the chick you’re trying to hit up. Nothing is more unattractive than showing disrespect within the very first line of your message.

I signed up for OKCupid once, but I got stuck on answering the gazillion questions and never really did anything with it. I’ve heard they’ve changed their metrics so that you can’t read someone’s profile for free any longer, and they’ve taken away a lot of what made OKCupid good. I’ve heard good things about Bumble, but they recently went to a monetization system as well. You can still do the basics, but the reviews on the site are not pleased with the changes. I do like the idea of the woman making the first move, though. If it’s a same-sex couple, then either person can make the first move. You have to answer within 24 hours, though, which I find a bit pushy.

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Romance is dead

or, until i get sick of you.
Until death do we part.

I read a lot of trashy teenage romances when I was a teenager–and several Harlequin Romances as well. I had my first crush on a boy when I was in first grade, and it lasted until I was in seventh grade. It only died out because we went to junior high school, which meant I didn’t see him nearly as often as I did in elementary school. I can still remember his name and how he looked, which is indicative of my passions in general.

My parents did not have a good marriage (and that’s an understatement if I’ve ever written one), but I completely bought into the idea that you had to be married in order to be a complete person. To be fair to me, it was pushed on me by my mother since I was rather young. She might not have explicitly said it, but it showed in everything she did. She had a full-time job, but she did all the housework and parenting as well. She arranged everything around my father, and I can remember the countless arguments when he would come home late at night without a single word of explanation other than he was ‘working late’.

I saw my mother frantically turning herself inside out to try to please him, and when I was a preteen, I became her unwilling confidante, and she poured out her woes to me on a regular basis. She was deeply depressed, and I begged her to divorce my father. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, and I continued to learn warped ideas of what a relationship should be. I had two cultures telling me that it was my job and duty to please my man and to keep him happy at any cost. It was better to be in a miserable relationship than to be alone, and as much as I didn’t want to believe it, it seeped into my soul.

To make matters worse, I was a fat*, ugly**, awkward Asian girl in a lily-white suburb. It was before Asian girls were exotic and hot–back then, we were just not considerable dating material. That’s actually not completely true as I knew a very popular Asian girl who probably had many dates, but it’s true in the sense that we were not the norm, so it would take someone thinking outside the box to ask us out. I had my first date when I was sixteen, and because I had internalized a lifetime of ‘you’re a loser if you don’t have a boyfriend’, I clung to him as hard as I could. The first kiss was disappointing, but it got better. He was a good-looking, smart (fucking smart), kindhearted boy, and I had a hard time believing he wanted to date me. I met him at summer school, and he went to a school thirty minutes away from me. Little did I know that long-distance relationships were to be a staple of my dating life.

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