Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

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.

Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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