I’ve been cutting back drastically on politics because it’s overwhelming. The government shutdown, religious discrimination against non-Christians, and a whole plethora of other issues that are just too much to bear. I don’t see it ending any time soon, and I don’t see a solution, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut for now.
Right now, it’s snowing, which I enjoy very much–especially since I don’t *have* to drive in it. I’m on the edge of a relapse so I’m doing my best to fight that off. I’ll get back into the rhythm of writing longer posts on a regular basis, but not right now. Instead, enjoy a video of Shironeko (white cat) and a buddy chilling in a chair.
Still fighting off a new round of crud. It’s cold and snowy (yay), which makes driving…interesting. I heard a good speech on MLK Jr. on NPR, but I had to get over the preachification cadence that I find off-putting. He brought up something I didn’t know–by the time MLK Jr. was assassinated, he had a 70% disapproval rating from white people and a 55% disapproval rating from black people because he was anti-war and focusing on eradicating poverty.
I hate how he’s been defanged and become some kind of teddy bear. On his day, people trot out his I Have a Dream speech in justification of wanting to be ‘color-blind’. It’s a good speech, don’t get me wrong, and has some strong aspirations. However, it’s used by white people to gloss over the racial strife that exists as well as the social injustices.
I much prefer Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which is sadly apropos today. MLK Jr. had no problem speaking his mind when he thought it was called for. He wasn’t just a wise old Uncle Remus telling a good yarn about peace and getting along.
I’m feeling pretty grotty, so it’s more fighting off the crud on this bank holiday.
Yesterday, I talked about the impulse to present minorities in the best light in popular culture and why I don’t follow that line of thought. To recap, I have no interest in caricatures, and while I understand the impulse, I don’t think it ultimately helps the minority in questions to be seen as individuals. Also, as a creator, I hate the idea of dictating to people what they can and can’t create. Art should be thrilling and outrageous, and it should poke and pry in all the dark corners of human nature. Put too many strictures on it, and it becomes anodyne and toothless. The things that we don’t want to talk about are often the best fodder for the greatest art.
I ended by stating that I was somewhat hypocritical because I do criticize other creators for their choices, and I wasn’t sure where to draw the line. In thinking more about it, I realized that my criticism is based on products that already exist. I’m specifically talking about Hollywood and how amazing they are about whitewashing PoC or even worse, yellowface (and other colors of faces). Even as I write this, there’s a controversy over the Black Panther pin and how Disney lightened his skin. In the first picture, he looked white. In the second picture, he was definitely black, but light-skinned. Hollywood is unbelievable in its stubborn insistence in pandering to what they believe to be the mainstream. I’ve noted it on other occasions on how insipid Hollywood is. Most of their movies are safe, boring, and focus grouped on that mythic creature–the average, middling (white, male, young) American. When they manage to create a hit, they suck everything out of it with the energy of an emotional vampire.
Anyway, the difference is that these products are already out there, and Hollywood is simply recreating them. They are not bringing anything new to the party as it were, and the results have been anemic. Ghost in the Shell was the pinnacle for me, and it made me realize how fucking hopeless Hollywood is. It has no spine, and it lives firmly in the past. In 2017, diversely cast movies performed well, better than most of the anemic fare that Hollywood churns out these days. What Hollywood doesn’t seem to realize is that even white middle America has moved past the 1950s, and even Joe from Nebraska or Chad from Beverly Hills can handle an actual person of color in an actual person of color role in a movie that isn’t dominated by white people.
I’m still being hypocritical because it’s not only remakes that draw my ire, but any time Hollywood wants to pass off a white person as an Asian. I think I’ll rephrase it as not hypocritical but context specific. Obviously, this doesn’t hold true for the written word, at least not in the same way. There have been poorly-written minority characters by white people (and other people in the majority), of course, but that’s another post for another day. If you are going to have an Asian character, then fucking cast an Asian person. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have our stories and our culture, then erase us from the whole lot* as if we don’t matter. It’s one of the most infuriating things about the GitS example. Hollywood took what is uniquely a Japanese story, then took Japan out of it. The director protested it was an international story, which is bullshit. Even if it’s true, Japan is international. Why couldn’t the main character be Japanese?
I’m still recovering from my whatever I had, and it’s slow going. Stuffy nose, gunk in my ears, scratchy throat. All are still present, even though they ‘re slowly subsiding. Add to that my laptop keyboard finally giving up the ghost with some sticking and repeating (looking at you ‘y’), some sticking and not working at all despite frantic pounding (‘h’ key), and some aing the little rubber piece come off (oh, ‘o’ key, why), necessitating the need to replace it repeatedly. It has been said that I am hard on my keyboards. I like to protest, but it’s true. My brother is coming tomorrow to fix it, so I’ll be more in the typing mood then, hopefully, and will finish up my games of the year post.
In the meantime, there is more Poirot to watch and more honey ginger lemon tea to drink. Here is the story of Maru & Hana in two parts.
I don’t have much use for New Year resolutions, but I’ve been finding myself at odds in the last month or so, and I’m not sure why. It could be because of the anniversary of the lost of my beloved Raven, or it might just be that time of year. At any rate, I’ve been more morose than I have been in some time. Maybe because I’m closer to fifty than to forty, but I’m contemplating the end of my life and what I’ll have to show for it. I will say that on the familial front, my relationship with my parents has never been better, and as I’ve said, I attribute it to taiji. My teacher was recently talking about how tension makes you numb so you can’t physically feel things. Then, when you first start to relax, all you can feel is tension. You had gotten so used to it, you never even noticed how tense you were. When my relationship with my parents was at its lowest, I had my shoulders hunched up around my ears metaphorically all the time. I was so tense all the time. Then, with the help of taiji, I learned to release the tension. It was great, but I started noticing how great my tension was. My shoulders were like rock, and the small of my back was constantly aching. Talking to my parents made me tenser, which I also noticed.
Quite frankly, this was the worst of both worlds. When I was tense all the time, it was just a way of life. I didn’t know any differently, so I just accepted it as normal. Then, I learned it wasn’t normal or even sustainable, but I didn’t feel I could do anything about it. Rather, I could keep doing taiji, which I have, but I didn’t feel I could do anything more tangible. So, I felt more physically horrible than I did when I was tense all the time, even though I was ostensibly doing better. I felt the same emotionally. For years, I had defenses a mile high, and I was bunkered down behind them. Once they started falling, but I yet didn’t have anything to take their place, I felt as if my emotions were pinging all over the place. It was a really uncomfortable place in which to be, and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
Now, I find I am much more able to control my emotions and not be as controlled by them. I’m in a better place emotionally, even if I’ve been more morose in the past few weeks. I’m also healthier overall, my recent illness not withstanding. I am no longer defensive when I talk to my parents, and we’re actually able to have meaningful conversations without shouting on either side. I’m astonished, actually, at how far we’ve come.
It’s the end of 2017, and I, for one, am not sorry to see the back end of it. It’s been a lousy year politically, and there hasn’t been much for me to crow about, personally, either. I lost my beloved Raven at the end of 2016, and I still think about him almost every day. It’s not as painful as it was when it first happened–and it was such an unexpected shock–but it’s a dull, aching throb that doesn’t go away. Shadow (his brother) and I have slowly adapted, but it’s been a long, hard road, and we are nowhere near normal. Or, to be more accurate, we have created a new normal. One in which it’s only the two of us. In the first six months after Raven’s death, Shadow was a changed cat. He was clingy whereas he used to be sweet, but more aloof. He would spend hours on his own downstairs, sauntering back upstairs whenever he felt like it. Right after his brother’s death, Shadow clung to me like glue. He followed me everywhere, and he meowed mournfully whenever I had to leave. When I went to the back porch to smoke, Shadow would stretch out his front paws up on the sliding glass door and cry until I went back in.
He was never much of a talker when his brother was alive, but he truly found his voice after. We have a wake-up ritual now that includes him meowing at me until I get out of bed and feed him. He’ll meow at random times during the day, and he’ll mournfully cry when I go to bed. I have theorized that the meowing in the morning and when I’m headed for the kitchen is because he used to rely on Raven to inform me when it’s time to eat, and now that Raven is gone, he has catted up and is taking over the duty of letting me know it’s time to eat.
Another change is that he snuggles with me much more than he used to. He used to like perching on top of the couch by my feet (he still won’t sit in his brother’s spot more than a few times), but now he prefers either sitting in his hidey hole (favorite bed) or nestling on my legs. After six months, he started doing his own thing again. In fact, he’s downstairs as I’m writing this. But, he will come up eventually, and he will stiff-walk down my body as I go to sleep tonight because that is part of our new normal as well.
I’m tired. I’m doing better overall, but I’m still in recovery. I will continue this post tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a video of Shironeko (white cat) snuggling with a buddy. Happy New Year, and may 2018 kick 2017’s ass.
I’m writing this on Christmas, and I’m feeling out of sorts. Not as bad as in past years, but there’s still a vague ‘I should be celebrating, but I’m not, and that makes me a bad person.” As I said, it’s much more subdued than it has been in past years, but it’s still there. I like to say I’m immune to advertising*, but there is still enough societal pressure that makes me low-key feel bad for not celebrating.
I still feel like shit with congestion and cotton in my brain. My ears are scabby and gross, and if I pick the scabs (I know, I know), pus oozes out. My lymph node is almost not-swollen any more, which is good, and it’s barely tender. I’m still going to go to the doc after the holidays, though, because I need to get a grip on this. I also need to get my thyroid meds checked, which may help with the sinus crap.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve cut out gluten and dairy, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it–except for cheese. God, I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me back. As Tim Minchin says, “I cannot Camembert any more.”
Why does cheese have to be so goddamn delicious???? And why is it so hard to duplicate? “I love cheese, but it’s plain to see, that cheese doesn’t love me. I am such a fool in love; I just cannot get enough, but it’s an unrequited love!” Sing it, Tim! The rest of it, though? Not. I’ve gone back to my Taiwanese roots and reacquainted myself with rice. Which, by the way, smells so delicious while cooking. And, PSA: rice cooker all the way for a perfect cook every time. Anyway, rice is way tastier than bread, and it’s way more versatile. I’ve also discovered non-gluten tortillas, bread, and bagels which are all nearly as good as the originals.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. If you’re someone who loves eggnog, elves, tinsel, Christmas trees, and all that fun stuff, I hope you enjoy yourself, but this post is probably not for you. This post is for those of us who are not into Christmas for one reason or another. Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you were raised in a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe you’ve had a shitty year and don’t feel like celebrating this year. Maybe you’ve had something tragic happen in the last month–lost a job, a family member/friend, an animal companion, a relationship–and being holly and jolly is the last thing on your mind. Maybe you struggle with chronic depression, and you don’t want to pretend that you’re feeling the Christmas cheer. Maybe you have a toxic family situation and you’ve cut them off for the first time, so everything is weird and strange. I’ve been several of those before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
Or, maybe you’re like me in that you don’t understand the need for forced bonhomie during a very specific time of the year. Maybe the hypocrisy of ‘good will towards all humankind’ for two weeks gets to you, and you want to point out that we need to be a better country all year round, rather than do feel-good things in the last two weeks before the end of the year.
I’ve said this year, the holiday season hasn’t been as annoying for me personally as it has been in the past. I used to feel as if people were having their holiday cheer AT me instead of just doing their own thing. It’s hard not to feel suffocated by it, however, as it’s everywhere this time of the year. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t bothered me as much this year, which I’ll take as a boon. I don’t think it’s because there’s less hawking going on because there’s not, but because I’ve reached a better place in my life, emotionally, I mean. I’m able to deal with things better than I used to, and that apparently includes holidays.
I’m still not rah rah about Christmas, however. I’m at best indifferent, and I would like to ignore it completely. I still have the crud, which is really sapping my energy. I went to the store today (Christmas Eve day), and I was dizzy while I was there, and I was exhausted by the time I got home. I’m going to the doctor/TCM/acupuncture in the new year because this shit has been staying for far too long.
For anyone who’s not feeling the holiday spirit, I wish you peace during this difficult time. I’ll probably binge-watch Poirot while munching on sweet kettle popcorn, sipping my ginger lemon honey tea. Hopefully, Shadow will be snuggling on my legs, and I’ll be feeling better physically. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit glum. Partly because of the time of year, and partly because I’m ill, but also because I’m contemplating my life, and I have some difficult choices to make. If you’re struggling this Christmas, vow to do one thing just for you. Read a book. Take a walk. Soak in a bubble bath. One thing just for you. It may not make things all better, but it will certainly not hurt.
Here are two atheist Christmas songs that I quite enjoy. First up, Tim Minchin with White Wine in the Sun. This version is from a week ago on James Corden (and the first time I’ve heard it. There are a few updates!)
Next up is Vienna Teng with The Atheist Christmas Carol.
Both of these songs make me cry because they’re so lovely.
And, of course, I’m going to wrap it up with ‘O Holy Night’, the only Christmas carol I like. This version is done by Angelica Hale, a finalist from America’s Got Talent.
So, I love to write. A lot. Prolifically. Garrulous. It’s the equivalent to a chatterbox who cannot keep her mouth shut. I can’t keep my fingers from banging away at my keyboard, and I have many broken keyboards to prove it. In fact, this one (on my laptop) is on its last legs, and I should replace it pretty soon. The problem is, people are reading less and less. Rather, they’re reading less of actual longform pieces and novels. I’m old woman shaking my fist at the clouds, but I also acknowledge that it’s probably not going backwards any time soon.
What’s the new big thing? Videos. Streaming. It’s all the rage with the kids these days, an it’s something I’ve thought about doing myself. The problem is, first of all, I hate the way I look on camera. Now, of course, I could stream a game without face-cam, but from what I’ve seen, you get more views with the face-cam on, especially as a woman. Which, therein, is my second issue. The world of video games is still a man’s world with a very bro-y culture. I don’t watch streams on Twitch (except Ian’s! twitch.tv/eenbou) because the chats are fucking toxic. I don’t use that word lightly, but it’s sadly true. Anything over ten viewers, and it’s ‘fuckbois’, ‘faggot’, and ‘i’d fuck that ass’ all the damn time. There’s a streamer I did watch occasionally when he wasn’t too big yet, and I already felt not included by dint of being a woman in my forties. I watched a vod of a recent stream, and he’d changed from being low-key and lovable to low-key and ‘fuckbois’, and it really disappointed me. I’m not naming him because it’s not him–it’s the ethos of chat. I’m stil working on my Theory of Dudes in which the more dudes you have in one place, the grosser the culture becomes.
Anyway, I watched a podcast with four female streamers, and they were emphatic about not being just boob jigglers, but one of them is known for that, and another is known for being bro-y in her chat. They were all young and conventionally pretty, which is another double standard for women who stream. Dudes can be any age, shape, size, or look, but the women have to be young, not fat, and hot. In addition, most of the female streamers are even bro-y-er than their male counterparts as a way to overcompensate. It’s the same with streamers girlfriends/wives. They put down women, make sexual innuendos, and are pretty jerky. They also feed into the stereotypes of the nagging wife, which is annoying as hell as well.
I went to taiji and overdid it, but it felt good to get moving again. I’m exhausted now, so I think it might be nap time soon. I’m currently eating gluten and dairy-free mac and cheeze. It’s not bad at all (Amy’s), but it’s oddly gummy. I added spinach, vegan sour cream, and chicken to it. Quite tasty. The trick to eating substitutes is not to think of it as the real thing and to judge it on its own merits. Also, all the dairy substitutes are things I’d eat with other things, but never on their own. Fake cheeze is not munchable by itself, at least not to me. For milk, my favorite is cashew milk, but again, it’s not something I would chug a big glass of.
I decided to do something a bit different this year for the few people I actually buy gifts for. Normally, I buy a soap basket for my BFF, Kat, and a game on Ian’s Steam wishlist, and call it a day. This year, I went for different things that I think (and hope!) each of them will get a kick out of. I’m not a big fan of Christmas (massive understatement), but I find the cheer and hoopla to be far less irritating this year than in past years for whatever reason. Maybe I’m just mellowing with age, but I’ve found the holiday season (starting with Thanksgiving) to be eminently ignorable this year.
I am off social media Wednesday and Saturday, and I’m thinking of adding Monday as well. I notice that I’m more agitated when I’m heavily involved with social media, especially Twitter. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when the shit is constantly flashing before your eyes. Most of the people I follow are political junkies, so, yeah, it’s not a happy place to be in general.
Anyway. Here’s on of my favorite versions of O Holy Night. Enjoy.