Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Society

The grass is always greener

Most of the time, I’m fine with being a weirdo. Sometimes, I take a perverse amount of pride in not being traditional. My mom once said with much irritation after I–oh, I know what it was. My cousin had gotten engaged by her husband (fiancé at the time) and my mom was relating how it happened. Or at least, we were talking about it. He had collaborated with her boss to make it appear as if she had a professional meeting in another country. Unbeknownst to her, he was flying out to the same country a day early to propose to her.

My mom thought this was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I, on the other hand, was horrified by it, as I would be by any flamboyant/public proposal. Sad to say, I went on a rant about it because I hated the whole idea and thought it was a way of one-upping other people. I also hate people having secrets about me so everything about this proposal hit me in the worst way possible.

Now, decades later, I can see that it was more about me than the actual proposal. To be clear, I would still hate it, but it wasn’t about me. It was about my cousin and what she would like–and she loved it. It made her feel loved and cherished, and it was a great proposal story she could share with people.

Just because my idea of the ideal proposal if I were into getting married, which I’m not, is for me or my lover to roll over in bed and say, ‘Hey, wanna get married?’ before hoofing it for the JoP, there’s no reason to rain on other people’s parades. Fortunately, I never said any of this to my cousin because I had a higher EQ than that.

My point is that I’m weird. I’ve always been weird. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t think the way other people did and I was miserable all the time. I got picked on all the time for being Asian, fat, and smart. I didn’t really have any friends and I didn’t know how to go about making them. I didn’t watch TV or go to the movies. I ate mostly Taiwanese/Chinese food before it was chic and took a lot of teasing about it at school.

I first learned about death when I was seven, which freaked me out. But, at the same time, I became inexplicitly drawn to it. It became my boon companion, both lover and bogeyman. I used to sit up in bed, my heart pounding in terror at the idea of simply not existing forever. And yet, I looked for death wherever I went because it was calling to me. I wanted to kill myself as early as eleven and that lasted…well, it’s still around in a lesser form. And it’s not that I want to kill myself, but rather than I don’t want to live. It’s hard to explain the difference. I’m not actively seeking to die and haven’t been for decades. However, I’m not sold on this life thing, either.


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The pervasiveness of motherhood

I was reading my stories today and there was a question in the Care and Feeding column from a woman who broke up with the love of her life because he was leaning towards wanting children and she was leaning towards not. Or rather, they were both ambivalent when they started dating five years ago, but he’s realized that being a father is important to him whereas the LW still didn’t want them. It wasn’t a strong, “God, I never want children,” but more that she was 32 and decided if she didn’t want them now, she probably never would.

Michelle Herman is the one who answered the question and I like her in general. I think she gave a good answer until the very end where she felt compelled to point out that she didn’t have her desire to have a kid until after she was 32. She posted something from Emily Yoffe (the old Dear Prudence) who also apparently had the same realization in her later years (didn’t read the link).

Which, I mean, for this letter, I suppose it’s appropriate because the LW did say she thought if the desire to have babies didn’t hit her now, it never would, but it still irritated me even though Herman was quick to point out that she might not change her mind, either. But, did she really need to say that maybe the woman would? It didn’t change Herman’s answer as to the current situation and it really read as if she couldn’t help herself. She had to mention that this woman might at some point want to have children.


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New year, hopefully not the same as the old

A new year is a strange thing. We put all this weight on it especially after a year like last year. How many of us (including me) vocalized our relief at seeing the backend of 2020? It was as if we felt we could collectively turn the page once the clock rolled over from 11:59 p.m., December 31, 2020 to 12:00 a.m., January 1st, 2021. It makes sense emotionally because we’re apt to look for categories and we are the best at putting arbitrary definers on things. So, seeing the year roll over into a new one, our brains say, “New slate!” It’s natural and normal, but reality doesn’t work that way.

Side Note: See Boris Johnson abruptly putting country on Tier 5 lockdown. There have been a lot of issues with the tiered lockdowns and the abrupt announcement that the country was going to Tier 5 without the law actually put in place, well, that’s just Boris being Boris. Which is a lot like our president being our president.

Side Note II: Speaking of this president (two weeks now. Two weeks now), I don’t know how exactly to say this, but why is anyone surprised by what the president is doing? He’s a narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant asshole who cannot stand to look bad or to lose. He’s a vain, pompous jerkwad who believes anyone who’s flattering him in the moment. Of course he was going to do everything he could to take down the country before leaving. If anything, I’m disappointed with how pedestrian and mundane he’s being about it. Lawsuits and threats? Come on! That’s bush league. Kidding aside, I’m bracing for the reaction of his supporters when it sinks in that, no, he can’t bully his way into another four years.

Side Note III: I’m really just done. Not with this year, though that’s quite possible, but everything in general.

 

 

 

The end of the year is nigh

The end of the year is right around the corner and I can’t stop thinking about what a strange year it’s been. Terrible in so many ways. The pandemic. The current president. The mingling of the two. I’ve been reading past posts I’ve done on my gaming throughout the year to get ready for my end of the year game awards I was playing Syndicate back at the end of February right before the soft lockdown. I can’t believe I played Syndicate this year. I feel like it was ages ago. I also realized I played a ton more games than I remembered playing. To be fair, most of them I only played for a few hours. But, still. Good Pizza, Great Pizza was this year? If Found? Code Vein? I feel as if I’m living in some alternate universe and I want to get out of it.

Anyway. I’m not here to talk about video games. That will be a post (or three) by itself later. I’m here to talk about how happy I am to see the end of this year and how weird that it’s simultaneously been the longest year and the shortest year ever. I have heard the same thing from several people so it’s not just me. February seems like such a long time ago, but it also seems like just yesterday. I can’t help thinking about that younger me and smile ruefully at how naive I was. Not just me, but everyone in America, really. So many of us thinking the pandemic would last a month or two. I was supposed to fly to NY in early July and pooh-poohed my mother at the end of February for suggesting I cancel it. I was also planning on flying out to Philly over Halloween and surely I would be able to do that!

Yeah, no. Looking back, the idea that I would be able to fly in July is unfathomable. I’m not beating myself up about it because very few people thought the pandemic would last as long as it did. Back in February/March, the general thought in America was that it would be a few months before life returning to normal or some semblance thereof. It isn’t our fault as our government handled it so fucking poorly in the beginning. Not only did they underplay how terrible it was, but their advice was contrary. Don’t wear masks and go about your business as usual! Do wear masks. Six-feet apart. But still buy things!

The worst is the president. He had done active harm and January 20th cannot come soon enough for me. Trevor Noah did a bit about all the things this president has done wrong concerning the handling of the coronavirus and I couldn’t watch the whole thing because it was both enraging and profoundly depressing. One thing that has been made crystal clear during the pandemic is how little certain lives mean to those in charge. All the talk about it only affecting those who were already at high-risk wore me down. Even if it were true (which it isn’t), don’t our lives count? Don’t we matter?

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Holidays in a weird and wild world

Note: I don’t celebrate holidays. I feel the need to get the way before I go on my screed. 

Thanksgiving is coming up and it could not come at a worst time in terms of Covid cases soaring in America. In my state, you cannot gather with another household at all now because our cases peaked at 7,500 cases in one day. I don’t think the strictures have gone far enough even though I understand why the governor had to walk the tightrope. I really didn’t like the press conference, however, because it was definitely targeted at the yahoos who refuse to wear a mask because ‘MURIKA FUCK YA!

To wit, he praised everyone for doing so much and emphasized how hard it was and how unfair it was. I don’t disagree with the latter, but I am not at all down with the former. So many people have flouted the rules and/or don’t think Covid is an actual thing. Then, he went on to emphasize that this four week restriction was going most definitely going to only be a month because the vaccine will certainly be ready to go by then.

I mean, what. But that wasn’t the worst of it. He ended by saying he knew that come April, we would be sitting in that Twins stadium maybe without a mask, sitting with your brother-in-law having a hot dog and a beer. There is so many things wrong with this statement. One, the fact that he was so positive about the timeline. It’s one thing to say something like ‘with the information we have, it’s likely’ or something similar. But he phrased it in a way that made it inevitable, which I think is a recipe for disaster. I know he wants to keep people’s spirits up, but that isn’t the way to do it.

Secondly, the whole situation is aimed specifically at a certain type of person. I’ll just be clear–the Covid deniers. That’s not something I would do even in the Before Times, and it make it very clear that the press conference was not for me. It was for the recalcitrant assholes who whine about freeeeeedum and personal choice. Mostly Republicans, but not all of them. There’s a thread in Ask A Manager’s weekend post about Thanksgiving and whether or not to travel for it. Most people came down on the side of not traveling, especially as many states have come out with no mixing households mandates.

There were more than a few people, however, who disagreed. They were thoughtful about it and said that it was up to each individual (or family) to assess their risks and be careful when comingling households. They pointed out how devastating the lockdowns/restrictions have been to the mental health of people. They were right about the latter part, but so very wrong about the former. It’s part of why we are where we are right now–the emphasis on individual choice.

My parents bring up Covid every time they call. They say that cases have to be down, right? They can’t understand why the numbers keep going up. Their country, Taiwan, has been the platonic ideal of how you should deal with a pandemic. I’ve had to tell them over and over again that the things that worked in Taiwan wouldn’t work in America for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is because  individual freedom/choice has become fetishized in this nation.


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A big sigh of relief

I’ve been struggling with a migraine all last week. I woke up Saturday morning (afternoon, really, but why quibble?) and it was 90% better. I went about my morning routine then checked the news. I caught my breath and tears filled my eyes as I read that Biden was projected to win the election. No jubilation. No excitement. Just a deep and abiding relief.

Four years ago, I believed the pundits and watched the incoming results of the election with a sense of dread, despair, and surrealness. I was thrown into a deep depression in part because I was not prepared for it. This time, I wanted to believe and trust the pundits, but I just couldn’t. The memory of 2016 was still too vivid. Also, I went numb on Election Day night because I couldn’t handle it, but under the numbness was…a deep fear. I couldn’t live with another four years of this president. I didn’t think our country could survive. He’s already did so much damage and if he were in a lame-duck situation, imagine how much worse he would have gotten.

I joked on the social mediums that my migraine went away because I was psychic, but it’s partly true. Stress is a big trigger of migraines and this whole week has been stressful. I don’t think I was psychic because I truly was not suspecting that the election would be called Saturday. I talked to my BFF, Kat, later that day and she said the same thing. We both thought it would be at least Monday.

The one thruway I’ve seen/heard is relief. Everyone I talked to about it said that was their initial response. Most of that was followed by the clarification that everything was not roses and champagne, but at least the country wasn’t going to spontaneously implode.

That’s the thing. All the jubilation and elation really didn’t have anything to do with Biden. Personally, I don’t like him. I was not enthused about him. He’s too centrist, too handsy (and possibly more than just handsy), and too ‘aw, shucks, I’m Uncle Joe’ for me. Although that probably was to his advantage because he could appeal to some of the same demos as did the current president. Harris was my candidate and let’s talk about her for a minute.

We cannot understate the fact that we now have Vice President-Elect who is a woman, South Asian American, and African American. I would have preferred if she was the president, but that may still happen in the next four years. Joe’s old is what I’m saying. Anyway, she’s warm, caring, intelligent, and she means so much to me. I don’t agree with everything she’s done (she was a  prosecutor in the past), but she’s head and shoulders better than–I don’t even need to go down that road. She’s quality is what I’m saying.


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Positive affirmations and gaslighting myself

I hate positive affirmations and I always have. In the past, I haven’t quite been able to articulate why although I could say what I thought the effects of it and toxic positivity/individualism in general were. It makes it very easy to blame the masses for problems that start at the top. Let me explain. Telling people to vote and that each vote makes a difference is under this umbrella. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote and in the general sense, yes, each vote matters. But the emphasis around election time on each individual vote is disingenuous because in the end, it’s the system that matters more than the individual votes. So, yes, I can do my civic duty and vote (which I have), but that’s just propping up the status quo. Yes, it’s urgent to get this president out of office, but his presidency has outlined many of the problems with the system in general and how we take for granted that the president will act like a normal human being with a sense of decency.

Look. Does he need to be shunned from polite society? Yes. Should he ever have been made president? No. In fact, his being president highlights another problem with the system–how the Electoral College is an antiquated system that needs to be refined or trashed completely. But, with the exception of Obama, I haven’t been excited to vote for any of the Democratic candidates on the ballot for president. I’ve done it, of course (except voting for Nader instead of Clinton in 1996 after waiting to see enough returns to realize Clinton would carry MN), but being told that it’s more important to have any warm Democratic body as president rather than to have a GOOD Democrat as president is an indication of a broken system.

It’s difficult to fix a whole political system, however. It’s much easier to place an outsized sense of importance on each individual vote AND it’s easier to feel satisfied you’ve actually done something by voting rather than working on improving the system which may or may not be a lost cause.


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I can’t eat any of the sandwiches

In reading my stories (advice columns), I came across a post on Ask A Manager from the owner of a company’s wife who was disappointed because the employees of the company said they wanted money as their Christmas present this year. The post is here and I heartily agree with SHOW ME THE MONEY especially in this year of all years. I highly doubt that all the employees loved the lavish parties thrown in the past, but more to the point, this year of all years, throwing a lavish party of any kind (on Zoom or in person) would be so out of touch with reality. In addition, the letter writer (LW) mentioned that the dinners were at The Palm which is a surf and turf restaurant, and that there were plenty of options so that ‘even those with dietary restrictions have plenty to eat’.

Well. As someone with many dietary restrictions, I took a look at the menu of The Palm (as did more than one person in the comments). Most of the starters if not all have dairy or gluten in them. The salads have dairy or one of my ever-expanding veggies-I-am-sensitive list in it. All the steaks have parsley butter on them. I could eat a few of the sides, but that’s it. And maybe they could cook it without the parsley butter, but that means another thing to worry about. Also, alcohol. So much alcohol. Of which I do not drink. I have a really hard time eating in restaurants these days and not just because of the pandemic.

She also said her initial idea was to send something to each employee like a Harry & David dinner box or a wine & cheese box, but it was shot down by the employees. I couldn’t eat either of those, either. In addition, she said there would be the usual speeches by the owners (on Zoom), which, I mean….


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The confirmation of what I already knew

Three years ago in May, I gave up dairy and gluten at the same time. I knew I had lactose-intolerance to a certain degree that was getting worse as I aged. I suspected I also had a reaction to gluten, but I didn’t want to/didn’t have the energy to get it tested. Instead, I cut out gluten and never looked back. A year or so later, I mentioned to my new doctor that I would like to be tested for gluten intolerance. She said that I’d have to start eating gluten again. Which, I mean, yes, that makes sense, but my immediate reaction was to flinch at the thought of poisoning myself. Yes, that’s how I viewed it. Why would I intentionally put something into my body that I knew was bad for me? For the reassurance that it was, indeed, bad for me? No, thank you. I might as well just keep on keeping on with my gluten-free life.

There has been a lot of ink wasted about people who claim to be gluten-intolerant but aren’t. There is a lot of discussion about gluten sensitivity vs wheat allergy vs FODMAP issues, ad nauseam. I  know I don’t have Celiac’s and I would never claim to have it. I also have done the Low FODMAP diet/test, and I found out a few things that are triggers. But, in general, I was comfortable with saying I was GF/DF and getting on with my life. Sure, it’s annoying to read/hear people (including actual doctors) pooh-poohing my actual life experience, but you know, it is what it is.

Why am I rambling about this? First, because I can. But more importantly because of something that happened last night. I decided to make shakshuka (poached eggs in spicy sauce/stew) the lazy way (pre-made shakshuka sauce) over macaroni. This has been my thing of making an easy shakshuka and pairing it with different carb sources. Anyway, It was delicious. Then, my stomach started cramping hard, and I had to race to the bathroom in a reaction I was much too intimate and familiar with. I hadn’t had one in almost a year, but I knew it when it happened. I spent the next half hour on the toilet, and then I was going to the bathroom once every hour or two for the next six hours. Up to half an hour at a time. My stomach was bloated and sore, and let’s just say my innards were enflamed. Not just my innards, if you know what I’m saying. I had so much diarrhea, it was ridiculous. But, also, constipation. It’s fun to have both, let me tell you.

Six hours. Six fucking hours. I had the symptoms upon waking up (and another unpleasant trip to the bathroom), and sixteen hours later, there are some lingering side effects.

I started thinking about why this happened. I assumed it was the shakshuka sauce because it has onion and garlic in it, and I have mild sensitivities to both of those (stronger to garlic). However, I had used it before and didn’t have this reaction. On a hunch, I checked the macaroni box. It was the regular one which meant gluten. Lots of gluten. So much gluten. All the gluten. I didn’t notice when I used it last night, and this made way more fucking sense. I am doing food delivery currently, and I ordered the wrong one. I didn’t look at the box closely before using it. It’s my complete bad, and I’m paying for it.


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The word for today is apathetic

I’ve been thinking about gender lately for obvious reasons (it’s in the societal zeitgeist at the moment), and where it ends for me personally is the same place it ends for me on many issues. A massive shrug, a loss of interest, and a sense of frustration because nothing quite gets to the heart of matter.

I’ve done the same thing with religion (not a theist or an atheist, uneasily call myself an agnostic), sexuality (not gay or straight, reluctantly labeled myself bi), and to a lesser extent, ethnicity/nationality (not Taiwanese and not American, so I guess Taiwanese American).

Now, it’s gender. Here’s my thought process on gender. I’ve always felt like I use woman by default because it was my gender at birth. I hated it when I was a kid because I was told there were so many things girls weren’t allowed to do. Climb trees, for example. I used  to pray to a god I didn’t believe in that He (yes, a He, of course) would turn me into a boy as I sleep. I also prayed He’d give me blond hair, which was the result of being an Asian kid in a white suburb of Minnesota in the ’70s.

I don’t want to be/think I’m a man. I want to make that clear up front. My issues with ‘woman’ are more because of the societal expectations than the actual equipment. I mean, I don’t love my boobs (way too big and distracting), but I don’t hate them, either. They’re just there. I accept them much like I accept my legs. I mean, I love boobs in general, but I’m indifferent towards mine. I do find it amusing how much attention they used to get (alternating with annoyed), but I’m meh towards them on the daily.

I used to pride myself on messing up gender expectations. I’ve lesbians inform me that they didn’t know where to put me on the butch/femme spectrum (yes, I’m that old), which always made me happy. I’m not androgynous but more a mishmash of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits. Physically, I look like a woman. Long hair past my ass, big boobs, wide hips, etc. Yes, I’m been told I have good birthing hips. That always made me laugh heartily because I knew from my early twenties that I most emphatically did not want children. Vocally, I sound like a man. I get called sir/mister on the phone all the time. The advice from my father when i was fifteen on how to get a boyfriend was to raise my voice a few registers and let them beat me in games/sports/fix my car/whatever. I am inordinately proud of myself for retorting that I’d rather be single than do all that bullshit which had no effect on my father (he’s a narcissist), but at least I stood up for myself.


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