Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

Slogging through the daily grind

fragile shoulders.
The weight of the world.

It’s been a week since I’ve been back from Malta, which is hard to believe. I’ve been back for as long as I was there. It feels both like a faded memory and as if it never happened. I’m grateful for the experience, and it’s taught me some things about myself. One thing I didn’t talk about before is our nightmare layover in Charles de Gaulle. I may have mentioned it in passing, but I neglected to say how truly hellish it was. It was on the way to Malta, and it was three hours. That seemed like it would be plenty of time, but I was wrong. First mistake was not getting boarding passes for both legs of the trip, but I naively thought it would work like all other international airports and not be a problem. Oh, how I was wrong.

First of all, my mother was obsessed with getting a wheelchair for my father. His deteriorating health, both mental and physical, was a constant theme of the trip. It was one of the reasons my parents extended an offer to Ian to be included; he was going to help with chaperoning my father around. We went to the help desk, and he wasn’t very helpful. He put in a request for a wheelchair, but he said it would come in half an hour, maybe an hour, who could tell? He gave a Gallic shrug, and my mother tried to ask other questions. He didn’t know the answer to any of them, and we were on our bewildering way.

We needed boarding passes, but we didn’t know how to get them. I tried to use the Wi-Fi, but it wasn’t working on my phone. Ian was making suggestions, but my mom (and, admittedly me) was ignoring him. We stood in the security line for a minute, but I was wondering if we needed to get the tickets first. So, Ian and I went to try to find the ticketing counter, but couldn’t. I was panicking, and we returned to the security line. Someone told us we had to go through that to get to the ticketing agent, which was weird to me. When we got to the front of the line, over an hour and a half had passed, and we were running out of time. I was hot and cranky, and the woman told us we needed our boarding pass to get through or a confirmation of our flight. Which would not be a problem if I could actually access the Wi-Fi. Which I couldn’t. I stepped out of line, but my parents were at another agent. She was telling them they needed their boarding pass when I was finally able to access Wi-Fi and after much difficulty, pull up my confirmation.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Life hacks from the Queer Eye guys

I just binge-watched the two seasons of the rebooted Queer Eye on Netflix, and I’ll have a full post on it later. For now, however, I want to talk about a few life hacks I’ve taken away from the show in general. Before that, I want to talk about a life hack I’m trying from a Buzzfeed video of all things. The video was on coffee addicts giving up coffee for a week, and the one thing they all had in common was that they suffered from anxiety, and they had a scientist* on who talked about the link between caffeine and anxiety. The minute she said it, I was like, “No shit!” It made perfect sense once she said it, but I had never thought about it up until that moment.

I drink a ton of caffeine a day. I have a 64 oz growler I keep filled (around 50 oz) and sip throughout the day. In addition, I drink a cup or two of tea and coffee sometimes, though I’ve mostly cut that out. I estimated that I drink 60 oz of caffeine a day, which isn’t great. I decided I wanted to get it down to 8 oz and mostly drink tea rather than Diet Coke. Now, I’ve given up caffeine cold turkey before, going from 6 cans of Diet Pepsi a day (hey, I was in college. I didn’t know better, and I didn’t discover my allegiance to Diet Coke until decade later) to none. It was horrible, and I would not recommend it to anyone.

This time, I decided to wean myself off rather than just quit, and I would do it by switching out the Diet Coke for tea. All caffeine is not equal, and even though there have been no definitive studies about the effects of aspartame, I can confidently say that it’s not good for a person. In other words, there is no downside to cutting out Diet Coke. First day, I cut myself down to roughly 25 oz. Ouch. The second day, I got it down to 20 oz. Yesterday (Saturday), the fourth day, I had to get up at 4 a.m. to take my parents to the airport, so I slammed a Diet Coke on the way there. One thing I’ve learned from this experiment is that Diet Coke is pretty gross-tasting. Even the mango one, which was my favorite of the new flavors, made my lips pucker. In addition, when I got home from the airport, I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t because I was still jittery.

I’m down to about 8 oz of caffeine a day, which was my target, and I’m trying to have it in the morning, then do without for the rest of the day. It’s been difficult because I’ve been incredibly fatigued the rest of the day. It’s not a normal kind of tired–it’s a body-encompassing fatigue that is really hard to explain. A great word for it is lassitude, and, yeah, let’s stick with that. I’m actually thinking about going down to no caffeine, but I’m not sure I can do that. Plus, there are benefits for drinking roughly 8 oz of caffeine a day, so I’m not rushing to cut it out completely.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

How I deal with depression

just...no.
Do I hafta?!?

There are many suggestions for dealing with depression, some that have held steady for decades. The one that is recommended quite often is exercise, and there’s usually the accompanying exaltation of how great it makes one feel, how it helps with sleep, etc. It’s often touted as the magic bullet for depression, and while I’m sure it’s true for some people (it has to be in order for people to keep nattering on about it, right?), it has never been that way for me. I bought into that bullshit back when I was in my deep and chronic depression. I exercised every day, and it only made me irritated. Part of that was because I was doing it solely to be doing it, and because of my obsessive nature, I was doing it way too much.

In addition, sometimes, I was doing exercise that I hated, such as walking. I hate walking/running. No matter how in shape I was (and I’ve been in really good shape at various times in my life), walking was never enjoyable for me. When I lived in the East Bay, I walked four and a quarter miles a day, and hated every step of it. I did it for almost two years, and it never got any better. It got easier, of course, but I never hated it any less. That whole endorphin high people talk about never happened, and, yes, there’s some lingering resentment on my part that I stuck it out so long.

I switched to dancing in my living room for my aerobic workout, and while I enjoyed that more, it still didn’t give me the natural high that everyone keeps raving about. Even taiji, which I love, doesn’t make me feel instantly better. I will say that I think my daily taiji routine helps me keep the worst of the demons at bay, but it’s taken years to get to this point. In addition, I don’t think I’m doing enough and am slowing trying to add to it (weight-bearing exercise, mostly by doing sword drills and the Sword Form).

Exercise never helped with my sleep, either. I knew better than to do it right before going to bed, but even when I did it early in the day, it didn’t make me sleep any better at night. Disclosure: I’ve had difficulty with sleep all my life. I’m a bit notorious among my friends for my sleep issues. During one period in my life, I was having nightmares in which my friends died on a regular basis. It became a joke that you weren’t really a friend of Minna’s if you didn’t die in my dreams. A joke sadly based on reality.

I am not saying exercise isn’t beneficial, obviously. It’s better to exercise than not if you can, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m pro-sitting on your ass all day long. Well, actually, I am pro-that, but I acknowledge that exercise is good for your health. It’s just that it never gave me the boost that other people seem to get from it. I don’t want someone who’s severely depressed to think that if they don’t get the endorphin rush from exercising that it’s not worth it, and I don’t want them to be upset about expending the energy for seemingly no benefit.

Continue Reading

Anthony Bourdain and the legacy of depression

Content Note: In this post, I’m going to talk frankly about suicide, suicidal thoughts and ideation, and severe or chronic depression. Please don’t read if these things are trigger points for you because I want you to take good care of yourself.

I read about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide the first thing when I hopped on social media on Friday. I saw one of the people no my Twitter TL posting a clip of Bourdain and saying it was a good way to remember him. With a sinking heart, I Googled Anthony Bourdain and found out that he had died earlier that morning. For whatever reason, I immediately thought it was suicide, and I was saddened when I saw it was true. I felt even worse when I read that it was his good friend and fellow chef, Eric Ripert, who found him. I can’t imagine being in that position, and my heart hurts for Ripert.

I’ve always loved Bourdain, ever since I first saw No Reservations many years ago. His lust for life, food, culture, and people (not to mention alcohol and cigarettes) was fully displayed wherever he went. What I loved best about him is that he would approach every culture with respect, not viewing them as a curiosity or specimens in a zoo. He showed the good and the bad of the country he was in without sensationalizing it in either direction. He was a good ally, even though he probably would never use that word or recoil in horror if he heard himself being described in that fashion, which is one reason he was a good ally. But, this post isn’t about that. I will write more on that later, however.

I watched No Reservations voraciously, living vicariously through Bourdain. I like to travel, but I also…don’t. I’m very much a homebody, and I have a hard time with the actual travel. I love visiting new places and exploring, and very much like Bourdain, I prefer not doing the touristy things. I’d rather eat where the natives eat, see the funky local stuff, and go way off the beaten track. I am never as bold as Bourdain was, though, as my anxieties oftentimes got the best of me. I loved the way he would eat anything placed in front of him, and he was gracious about it, even if he didn’t care for it. He was a good model of how you should act when you visited another country. He was the opposite of an ugly American, though he’s painted as a bad boy in his own country. Or was when he was younger, at least.

I hadn’t watched his shows recently, but I saw him being fierce about #MeToo, which started because he was dating someone who had been one of Harvey Weinstein’s victim. Again, I will write more about that later, but for now, I’m going to focus on the suicide. Every time I saw a tweet or quote from Bourdain standing up for #MeToo, I smiled. Even though I no longer watched his show much, I still had a soft spot for him. And, yeah, I’ll admit I had a massive crush on him when I first started watching the show, and I still found him intriguing years later.


Continue Reading

Beyond freaks and geeks

Oh, you think the darkness is your ally, you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then, it was nothing to me but blinding! The shadows betray you, because they belong to me. I will show you where I have made my home, I will be preparing to bring justice.

–Bane

I was born a weirdo, and I’m comfortable living on the fringe. Hell, more than comfortable–I thrive on the edges. I’ve never been a normie, even though I’ve tried hard to fit in. I wore a powder blue sweater for my senior picture, had feathered bangs, and wore makeup. Whenever I think about it or see a copy, I stare in wonder. Who was that girl, and how did I know her? When I spent a year abroad in Asia, I quit doing all the girly things I had started doing just because I felt I should. I stopped shaving my legs and armpits–I didn’t really need to especially since as a Taiwanese American person, I didn’t have much hair. I cut my hair short so I didn’t have to deal with it (and because it was too damn hot for my usual mop), and I stopped wearing makeup because it just melted off my face in a hot second, anyway.

I felt much more myself once I stripped away all that shit. I still wore earrings, but no other jewelry, and my style of dress was lackadaisical at best. In Thailand, I had someone tell me I looked like a gratui, which is a boy who dresses/looks like a girl.  It was said with a laugh and no intention of malice, but it stung. I had enough issues with my own femininity; I didn’t need other people questioning it as well. I never felt like I was enough of a woman, though to be clear, I didn’t feel like a man, either. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a boy so badly, I would pray to God to make me a boy. I mean, hey, He created the world, right? So making me a boy shouldn’t be any big thing for Him. It never happened, and I woke up every minute feeling bitterly disappointed. Again, I want to stress that I did not want to be a boy; I just didn’t want to be a girl. To me, I saw how much better it was to be a boy (in both of my cultures), and I was like, “Sign me up.”


Continue Reading

Walking a tightrope

i am not grace under pressure
SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP

I know I need to keep up on what’s happening in the world because I wouldn’t feel like I’m being a good citizen if I just poked my head in the sand and ignored everything around me. More to the point, it’s not in my nature to be willfully ignorant, which is why I’m never blissful. Before the 2008 election, I became obsessed with politics because I was #TeamObama from day one. The fact that a black man was running for president made politics immediately personal to me, and I had a vested interest in following his campaign.

Let me be clear. I have been a Democrat since I could vote, and I have only voted for a non-Democrat (Nader, 1996), and I made sure Clinton carried MN before casting my vote. I did it to make a point, and I didn’t like Clinton (Bill), anyway. I’ve voted straight Dem ever since. However, it was more because there was no way in hell I would vote for the Republicans rather than I was excited by anything the Democrats had to offer. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the basic tenets of the Democratic Party. Helping the poor and needy; equality for all; social justice, etc. However, before PBO, I felt as if I was taken for granted within the party. Being an Asian American bi agnostic woman meant I was invisible in so many ways, and I never really felt a part of the party.

When Barack Obama announced his candidacy, I felt an excitement I’d never felt before. In addition, Hillary Clinton also announced she was running, and while I didn’t care much for her, I was excited to have a female candidate as well as a black one. I really didn’t know which way I would go in the primary, but Obama won me over by being inclusive without making a big deal of it. He mentioned Asians when he talked about ‘all Americans’–probably because he has a sister who’s half-Asian, and he talked about nonbelievers without making it sound like a crime (this might have been after he was elected). He also actually uttered the word  ‘bisexual’, which made my jaw drop in amazement. No one ever acknowledged that bis existed, let alone said the actual word.

Continue Reading

I have a dream…or more like a nightmare

I have a dream that I’m June Cleaver with a loving husband, Ward, who goes off to work and does…work things all day long. While he’s gone, I take care of my two kids, uptight older kid, and the little scamp, the Beaver. Why is he called the Beaver? Who knows? The smarmy brat, Eddie Haskell, comes over from time to time to do whatever smarmy things he does, and I spend all day cleaning the house in heels because that’s what you do when you’re a white woman in the 50s, apparently. What the camera doesn’t show is me clutching a bottle of Valium, popping them like candy because IF ONE MORE PERSON WALKS ON MY CLEAN FLOOR I AM GOING TO LOSE MY SHIT.

Why do we never see that part of life in the 50s? How many women were sleepwalking through the day, just trying to get from one minute to another? I’ve been thinking about it for several reasons, and how in general, societal norms are so omnipresent and normative, we don’t even think to question them (society in general, not specific people). I’ve been thinking about it because of a few things I read online. One was a tweet by DJ Khaled about how he refused to go down on his wife, but expected her to do it to him because he was a man! He deserved it (but she didn’t was the implication), and given the one video of his I’ve seen, I can only conclude that it’s a business transaction for him. He gives her stuff; she gives him blowjobs. I tweeted a PSA to women who liked to get with men–don’t go down if he won’t, either. It boggles my mind that I have to say this in 2018, but there it is. I’ve also hoped that there would be less pressure on women to have kids, but apparently, it’s still pretty steady from what I’ve heard from younger women.

*sigh*

Another thing that really struck a chord with me was someone on an open thread at Ask a Manager was talking about seeing people her age (thirties) having all the ‘normal’ markers of adulting, marriage, house, kids, andd even though she didn’t want them, she was feeling as if she was falling behind. I totally empathized with that. I don’t want any of the trappings of the ‘normal’ life, but lately, I’ve been thinking how much easier it would be if I did. Not just in the big things such as marriage and kids, but in, well, almost every way.


Continue Reading

A general malaise

little pieces of me everywhere.
Feels like I’m coming apart.

I had two fillings put in on Thursday, and it wasn’t a big deal because they were in the front, and I had just had a root canal a few weeks ago. The dental assistant was telling me how much pain meds I could take at the end (Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol), and I said it probably wouldn’t be a problem because I didn’t take any for the root canal, and I had a Vicodin prescription filled for that. Both times, she gave me four Advil on my way out. It held me fine for the root canal, but I’m having a little more trouble this time around. My jaw still hurts–or rather, my gums–and I’m wondering if I inflamed it by brushing. I didn’t brush the first night per my dental assistant’s instructions, but I have been brushing since. I also wondered if it was because my dentist injected more numbing gel in my gums than for the root canal, but that doesn’t make sense. It might just be normal soreness, but it’s rather annoying.

I bring it up because that’s my life in general right now. Nothing big or horrific is going on, but I’m feeling a general malaise. It’s hard because logically, I know I have no reason to feel this way*, which actually makes it harder to deal with. When things are shitty in my life, I can accept that depression is the way I respond. When things aren’t shitty (and they really aren’t right now. I have great friends; my relationship with my family is the best it’s ever been; I’m writing every day; and I’m also doing taiji every day), what’s my excuse? It’s one of the problems with being intelligent and more than conversant about psychological concepts–I’m aware where I’m fucking up and how. Usually. We all have our blind spots, and therapy has helped me figure out mine In general, though, I know what’s wrong with me, and even know the ways to fix most of the problems; I just don’t do them for whatever reasons. Even when I know the reasons, it’s frustrating and embarrassing to me.

I feel aimless. There are too many things I want to do, but I just…don’t do them. I have a lot of shame about the fact that I’m a lazy bastard, but it’s not enough to motivate me to change. I’ve written before about how I’m my worst enemy, and I can talk myself out of anything by listing all the things that could possibly go wrong. I’ve been brainstorming podcasts, streaming, live-tweeting, and YouTube ideas, and all of them sound good to me, but have I done them? No, I haven’t. I know what I have to do. After all my planning, I have to just pick one and do it. The way I got myself to move to California and get my MA in Writing & Consciousness was by agonizing over it for several months, and then just doing it. It’s how I make all my big decisions, actually. My BFF reminded me once about how it looked to her when I got my cats. She said, “I said to _____ (her husband), “Minna just got cats! It’s so sudden!”.” In thinking about it, though, she realized I’d been talking about it for years before actually doing.

Continue Reading