Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

Ripping off the mask

don't look behind the mask.
A perfect facade.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have a split personality. Not in the clinical definition of the word, but in the vernacular. There’s the me at home. I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, my hair in a sloppy bun. I sit/lie on the couch most of the day as I madly type away on my computer, and it’s only recently that I’ve been forcing myself to get up roughly every other hour or so to do my stretches. If you could see a picture of my brain waves, it would be a flat-line with only dips and no spikes.

I know it’s the depression talking, but I don’t see any reason to live. I’m not being dramatic. I don’t actually want to die (I never did. Not even when I was at my most suicidal–which I’m not); I just don’t see any reason to be alive. Nor do I think that many people would actually miss me if I were gone. Let me be clear. I am not going to kill myself, but I can’t motivate myself to do much other than meander through my so-called life.

I’m mostly numb these days. I know I need to see a therapist, but I don’t want to go through the bother of finding a new one. It’s been four or five years since my last therapist and I mutually terminated, and it took me forever to find her. I am not an easy client, and I can fully acknowledge that. I know too much of the lingo, and I’m very good at manipulation of people. I’m not proud of it, but I have to acknowledge it. I try to not do it because it makes me feel slimy, and I’ve watched my father charm the pants off people (especially women) throughout my life.

Another thing I made clear to my last psychologist is that I need someone to call me on my shit. I get into my head and the weeds way too much, and I can run in circles around most people when I choose to. I can use the psych lingo to justify anything or to explain anything, and to anyone with a lesser perception, what I’m saying makes perfect sense. i told my therapist I would try to do this to her, and I needed her to see through it and put her foot down. She was more than capable of doing so, but I had therapists previous to her who simply weren’t.

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Depression infusion

a mirror to my soul.
Unrelenting gloom.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month because why not? I’m already up to 32,000 words, so I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble meeting the 50,000 words goal. I never do as writing a plethora of words is not an issue for me. I mused about looking more into the business side of things, which I have yet to do. Or rather, the marketing side as it’s much different in this digital age. Authors have to push their brand (themselves and their books) on social media in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I know it’s the way of the world now, but I have a very Taiwanese horror of promoting myself. I’ve talked with my mother about it, and she feels the same way.

Speaking of my mother, watching her twist herself into knots over my father has been disheartening, depressing, and enlightening. She’s using his illness as a reason to let her weaknesses run rampant. Let me be blunt. She is a control freak (I come by it honestly), and she is a constant worrier (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). The problem is, anyone would be worried in her position. My father just went through a ten-hour surgery to deal with three fused vertebra. Plus, we believe he’s in early onset dementia. That would be a lot to deal with for any spouse. However, my mother goes past worry into straight up obsession. Whenever we talk, it’s all about him. She may ask me how I’m doing, but once I say, she veers immediately back to her own health for a minute or him.

It’s not conducive worry, either. Conducive worry leads you to make a reasonable plan in order to deal with the situation. Then, once you make the plan, you put it out of your head and the worries are mostly allayed. I know it’s unrealistic to expect her to be completely blasé about it, but it’s all she can talk about. She’ll say something like, “I can’t leave him alone” followed by, “What if he falls when I’m not there?” and she’s off on a tangent about the fear of him falling for ten minutes. She sounds like the voices in my head when they go off the rails.

Normally, I try to listen and make soothing noises in her general direction. However, the last time I talked to her, I tried to inject some reason into her brain. I know, I know, but I had to give it a shot. After she was panicky for ten minutes about something or the other concerning the minutia of my father’s condition, I told her as gently as I could that constantly worrying about it didn’t help. I said she as a therapist knew that. She admitted that she it was her control issues at play, but she quickly glided over it.

I’ve said it before, but watching her interact with my father, or rather, watching her obsess over my father is the main reason I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship. Why? Because I see too much of myself in her. I know how easily I would slip into that mindset, and I see how hard it is to get out. She’s convinced herself that she *has* to worry about my father to this extent, and while, as I said, it’s reasonable for her to have a lot of worry, she’s pushing it to excess. She’s allowing her own mental health issues to drive the bus, and she has an excuse/explanation any time I bring it up.

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Dropping the mike

I’m tired. I’m so fucking exhausted. Still sick. Still got the chills alternating with still got the heat. Still grumpy as fuck. Still not playing MHW. I’m riding at about 40%, and I’m just done.

Funny note. I’ve been going down that Hot Ones rabbit hole. It’s a web series in which Sean Evans interviews a guest while eating ten wings with increasing heat. The first three or four ain’t nothing. They eat and Sean asks questions, and the guest answers. The middle four are increasingly hot, and most guests are at least breaking a sweat by this point. Then, comes bottle number 8 (used to be 9, I think). It’s called Da Bomb, and it makes me smile every time I see it because I know this sauce.

Backstory. My brother and I both love spicy foods. We have since the beginning of time, which is rather strange given our background. I don’t know how it started, but we began a tradition of giving each other hot sauce for Christmas with one giving it to the other one year, then using the same box, the other reciprocates the next year. It caused much merriment, especially for the other members of the family. The point, of course, was to try to find something hotter than the year before. This happened for several years in a row, and then came the year I found Da Bomb, considered to be the hottest hot sauce at the time.

“Consume one drop at a time with extreme caution” is on the bottle, and it ain’t no joke. I ordered two bottles so I could keep one for myself. I made a huge batch of chili and put four or five drops of Da Bomb in it. I’m talking HUGE batch. I tasted it and yeah, no. I had to throw it away. When I gave the other bottle to my brother, I warned him about it. I said to take the label seriously.  A few days later, he called me and said he thought we could end the contest right there. (WITH ME WINNING, LET’S NOTE.)

Side note: Several years later, the Carolina Reaper was created, and my brother sent me an email with a link. He only wrote, “We back on?” We didn’t restart the contest, though, and my tolerance for spice has decreased over the years. As I get older, I find that I don’t enjoy not feeling my face after eating any longer. In addition, I like flavorful rather than just pure spice.


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Spending time in a brown study

I’m mostly over the sickness right now, but I overdid it in taiji yesterday, so I’m exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open last night, and I kept dozing off while writing and doing other things. I finally gave in and went to actual bed around two in the morning after falling asleep and waking up every half an hour or so for several hours. I’ve been doing the stretches my teacher taught me for my back and leg, and they seem like they are helping. However, my knees are aching, which means I’m overextending on my postures. This was a problem I’ve had for several years, and while I’m much better at not doing it, I still slip every now and again. I think being sick and adding these new stretches has made me concentrate less on my form, much to my knees’ detriment.

Anyway. I mused a while back about my life and what I need to do differently. Looking back on it, I’m doing a bit better with health. The thing I’ve realized that while I’m really good at quitting things cold turkey (in general. Potato chips are one exception), it takes me a long time to get to that point of actually making the move, and I can only cut out so much without feeling seriously deprived. It’s better to add something to my diet rather than constantly take away things. Right now, I’m concentrating on eating an apple a day (which, as we all know, keeps the doctor away). Before that, I added an orange a day (or two clementines/mandarins) for achy joints purposes. My theory is that if I add things to my diet, I’ll naturally want to eat less of other things. I’ll let you know how it works.

I mentioned caffeine in the previous post. Currently, I drink one cup of caffeinated tea every few days, so I’m mostly caffeine-free. It was so hard in the beginning, but now, I’m mostly used to it. I’m over the initial ‘can’t keep my eyes open’ stage, and I rarely miss the jolt. I occasionally have a pop when I go out to eat, and it now tastes weird. It’s not the same as gluten and dairy, both which still tastes delicious–god, I miss cheese so much. I still eat gluten-free pasta and bread, and I’m back in love with white rice, but there is no good substitute for cheese that I’ve found. Damn it.

My brother is urging me to get an Instant Pot, and I’ve been resistant to it mainly because it’s new and seems like it’d have a steep learning curve, though everything I’ve heard about it has said it’s easy. But, easy for people who cook already or easy for people who don’t cook? Plus, batch cooking is not something that appeals to me. Yes, I know I can freeze it and warm up each portion a day, but that’s a lot of work, yo. Also, read the description to this bad boy. It’s full of techno-babble and shit that doesn’t interest me. My brother laughed and said it’s geared towards guys, and I said, “Yeah. I’m not a guy.”

Side note: My brother likes to run his advertising ideas by me. I have a hard time giving him useful advice because what works on most people actively turns me off. Anything relentlessly cheerful and positive is boring to me, and anybody who hypes their product too much makes me suspicious. My brother was leaning towards using words that are old-timey and suggest solidness like ‘trusty’ or ‘trusted’. To me, if you’re those things, you don’t have to say it. I’m not just going to take you at your word, either. You have to prove you’re trustworthy–you can’t just say it.


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It’s all a veneer

where's my cuppa?
I’m not going anywhere.

From the outside, it looks as if there’s nothing wrong with my life. I have friends I love and who love me. I don’t have to worry about money on a daily basis, and I am writing every day–meeting the goals I’ve set for myself. I am devoted to my cat, Shadow, and he to me–he’s making biscuits on my legs (the comforter over it) as we speak. I have things I’m passionate about, and I get to set my own schedule. For some people, this life would be damn near idyllic. But, as with many things, it’s what’s not being said that matters more than what is stated. Even though I have friends I love and who love me, I feel lonely sometimes. In addition, I get too much in my own head and start telling myself things I know aren’t true.

It’s the ugly head of depression, and it’s rearing itself up more frequently and higher than before. If I had to guess why, I would say it’s because I’m sick. Physical and emotional health are linked, and the longer the physical bullshit continues, the worse my mental health gets. It’s partly because I feel it’s a weakness on my part that I’m sick for so long. Rationally, I know it’s not true, but that little voice in my head is like, “You’re weak. You’re terrible.” Or, conversely, “It’s all in your head.”

Which it most definitely is not.

Yesterday, I was so exhausted, I skipped taiji. My sleep is shitty in general as I’ve documented before, but it’s been really bad in the past few days. I’ve woken up feeling exhausted with the chills, and I would struggle through the day, going to bed feeling exhausted and having hot flashes. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Last night, I was feeling perkier, but then I started coughing so hard, my voice turned raspy. This is one of the stages of sickness I get when I do get sick–hacking cough. I still have it today, but I’m feeling MUCH better in general. More energy, and not as if I’m death warmed over. I’ll take that trade-off any day of the week.

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But what if I’m the weird one?

I’ve been reading an old open thread post on Ask A Manager (AAM)  in which Alison asks about people’s weirdest coworkers. It’s been amusing, but it’s also been informative. In the back of my mind as I was reading was, “What if I’m the weirdo?” Or, more to the point, I *know* I’m the weirdo. When I used to work in an office, I was definitely the weirdo. In the first place I worked (day treatment for juvies*), I felt out of place for so many reasons. The first month I was there, they had their annual retreat on which I had to go. It was awkward, obviously, and then one night, everyone got hammered and decided to play, “Never Have I” when it came to drugs. After alcohol and marijuana, I was done, and I watched incredulously as the rest of my coworkers kept raising their hands. Not only did I feel weird and out of place, but I was like, “You guys work with kids who struggle with these issues.” It was hypocritical as most of them seemed proud of the shit they’d done.

At the same place, there was a woman in the other program (for truant kids, not actual juvies) who spackled on makeup with a spatula. I mention this because one day, she looked at me through heavily-encrusted eyes and said, “You would be the perfect poster child for a makeover.” I didn’t wear any makeup and didn’t give a shit about my hair (other than to brush it and make sure it was neat) and clothes (clean and no holes), and when she said that, I thought to myself, “I’d rather be that than look like an over-sized Kewpie doll.” I could tell story after story about that place, but my point is that I did not fit into the culture. At all.

The reason I like to read advice columns isn’t just because they have stories that are unbelievable and entertaining (although, many times, heartbreaking as well), but it’s because with the ones I have carefully curated, there is always a few people who are similar to me. It helps me feel like less of a weirdo. In the particular thread I mentioned in the first paragraph, there was one woman, bearcat (fairly sure it’s a woman) who declared that she was the weird coworker. Reading what she wrote, I thought, “Except for the aromatherapy scentball, you’re the COOL coworker” (which is exactly what someone else wrote). I mean, she freaking hula-hooped at work. How cool is that?

It got me thinking how someone’s weird is someone else’s cool. Maybe I could just own my weirdness, but I’m not there yet. I’m not ashamed of it for the most part, but I’m not proud of it, either. What makes me weird? So. Many. Things.


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I have a dream…of being a normie

a lonely, friendless path.
The road less traveled….

Still sick. Got better, up to feeling 75% or so, and then I plummeted back down to roughly 40% two nights ago. I’m hovering around that same point right now, and it’s fucking annoying. I think it’s time to actually go to the doctor and/or try Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Ugh.

So, on one of the advice forums I read, there was someone asking how does someone know if they are ready to have children (indeed, if they should have them at all). Someone responded with a classic column from Dear Sugar in which she counsels the LW to imagine a ‘sister ship’ to the life he is leading (in this case, he’s a childfree man contemplating having children) and to see what that sparks in him.

I’ve been thinking about that since rereading the column. I don’t know if I agree with how she ultimately made her decision (feeling like she’d slightly regret it more if she didn’t have kids than if she did), but I think there’s merit in imagining an alternative life. So. Let’s try it out. I don’t have any qualms about my decision not to have children (and never have. The only decision I’ve consciously made in my life that I haven’t second-guessed), but there are plenty of things in my life that I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken another path.

In addition, it can be alienating to be so persistently on the fringes, but not completely alternative. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my blog, so I’ll write about it again if I want to. Nothing about me is ‘normal’–unmarried, gleefully childfree, agnostic, freelancer, bisexual, Taiwanese, non-movie lover, etc. Something that makes me fringe from both normies and freaks is that I’m completely straight-edged when it comes to drinking/drugs. I don’t do any of that, and I have little patience for it. It’s not fun being the only sober person in a group of drunk/high people, which, unfortunately, many artistic people are.

Then, there’s sex and relationships. In my teens, I was determined to wait until I was married to have sex because–church. The problem was, sexytimes were AW HELL YES times. It felt goddamn good, like, really fucking good, and I became what I later called a TV (technical virgin). I did everything up to PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, and that’s how I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking my Christian vows, as it were. Even though I never really believed in God with a capital G, I tried so goddamn hard. But, sexy stuff felt amazing, and it got harder and harder for me to abstain from penetrative sex.

In my twenties, I realized I was bisexual, but I denied it for several years. I was already an Asian woman in America–did I really need to throw another label that would make life harder for me into the mix? I couldn’t deny it forever, however, and I came out with some fanfare. It took me roughly a decade to adjust to that, and I also had what I fondly refer to as my slutty years in my late twenties. I did a lot of experimenting, and while it got messy from time to time, it was a lot of fun, too.

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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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