Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Tirades

Struggling Against the Darkness

no need to memorialize.
This is the hill they’re willing to die on.

If you’re an American (and even if you’re not), you’re probably aware of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. A bunch of whiny titty ass babies gathered with their store-bought tiki (Polynesian) torches on the U.Va. campus in the middle of the night while the students weren’t even there, ostensibly to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, but in reality to get their Nazi/Confederacy/white supremacy cosplay on. Before I get into this heated topic, I’m forewarning you that this is going to be even more stream-of-conscious than normal, and I’m going to go to some pretty dark places. I don’t normally write when my feelings are this raw, but I need to sort through my emotions, and I do it best while writing.

When I saw the pictures of the rally on Friday night, my instinct was to sneer at how pathetic they looked. All these young white men (and they were overwhelmingly men, gee, I wonder why) shouting vile slogans, their face contorted in hatred. They were holding their tiki torches, and it’s not a coincidence that they looked like a lynch mob, and I know I was supposed to be terrified, but all I felt was disgust and contempt.

If it weren’t for the fact that they could (and did) cause irreparable harm, I would just laugh in their goddamn faces. They think they’re so powerful and patriotic, but they’re just a pathetic, whiny mess. They can’t even make their own fucking torches for fuck’s sake! That’s part of the problem, though. They feel powerless and that their lives are a waste, but instead of taking stock of their inner flaws as to why that might be, they blindly seek out others to blame for their shortcomings.

Quick side note: This is one of the downsides to toxic masculinity. If you’re not at the top of the heap, then you’re a failure as a man. If you’re a failure, that’s the worst thing in the world and unbearable, so it’s easier to say it’s someone else’s fault.

I took Saturday off from social media as is my wont, and when I returned Sunday morning, I heard about the murder by car of Heather Heyer by one of the fascist assholes. I heard that the stupid rally raged for days with increasing violence directed at the protesters. I saw some media and politicians ‘both sides’ the situation, and it made my blood boil. Hell, I saw our fucking president say that ‘many sides’ were to blame, but not once did he say Nazi or white supremacists.

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The Stick and the Carrot

the line can be blurry.
It’s not always that easy.

One of the positive and negatives about social media is how easy it is to call someone out when they show their ass. It’s a positive because it’s the great equalizer. If someone is on Twitter, you can talk to them–at least until they block you. I will note that if you swear at a check mark (verified account), you might have your account restricted. Twitter frowns heavily on that, though they are just find with actual threats and harassment. So, telling someone you hope they get killed probably won’t get you a rap on the knuckles, but calling them a fucker will. You can guess how I feel about that, but that’s not the point of this post.

It’s great when there’s something important like making sure the abomination that was ‘repeal and replace’ didn’t pass, and it was glorious to watch the cavalcade of angry and passionate tweets on the subject. Of course, this was in tandem with the actual protesting and calling of recalcitrant senators, and it worked. In the 11th hour, Senator McCain strode dramatically onto the Senate floor and voted no. You could hear the gasps throughout the Senate, and he was able to ride off like a hero. I and several other people noted that Senators Collins and Murkowski, both women, coincidentally*, had stood firm throughout the whole debacle, and I thanked them for their dedication. I also noted that the Dems stood together throughout the whole thing as well, and they deserved to be commended for it.

This doesn’t seem very controversial, but I saw several people angry about having to thank the three Republicans for doing the very least they could do, the basest of decency (in their eyes). Now, I understand that feeling; I really do. While watching all this play out, I had both a feeling of sickness in the pit of my stomach over the cruelty and a sense of disbelief. How could anyone be so unfeeling and monstrous as to take away health insurance from 20-some million people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’–by the way. I hated that the media played into the Republican framing (as they always do) as if it were a pair of jeans or a latte–‘only’ took insurance away from 16 million. Then, there were several Republicans saying they’d vote for it only if they were guaranteed by the House that the bill wouldn’t become law.

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Hey, Police! Don’t Stand So Close to Me

I heard about another shooting in Minneapolis recently, and I was immediately filled with sorrow. Then, I heard about the circumstances, and a white-hot rage filled me. Not because another life was needlessly lost, though that is what saddened me, but because the shooter was a Somalian man, and the victim was a pretty white blond (Australian) lady. I knew what was going to happen, though I hoped against hope that I would be wrong.

I wasn’t.

I need to back up here for the three people who aren’t aware of Black Lives Matter. The movement started in response to the umpteenth killing of a black person by a white cop, and predictably, a wide swath of white America pushed back at the notion that our police system is racist and needs revamping. Not only is it racist (which is inevitable because racism is soaked in the foundation on which our country is built), it’s become increasingly antagonistic and militaristic in mentality. I’m not sure the picture of the cop walking the local beat was ever truly a reality, but it’s certainly not true now. Many cops don’t live in the neighborhoods in which they are policing, and even if they do, they don’t consider the people they’re arresting as part of their community.

Standard disclaimer: Being a cop is a really hard and stressful job. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that we are a gun-happy country, so cops don’t know what they’re facing when they go out on a call. That said, there are ways to de-escalate a situation, but cops are not being taught these techniques. Instead, they are relying more and more on authoritarian tactics, and they’re not allowing for human responses to being shouted at by the cops, even if you’re not guilty. In addition, because the police have so much responsibility and power, it’s incumbent upon them to be scrupulous about how they wield such power. Sadly, the way the laws are written, they can shoot at pretty much anyone they want and not suffer any consequences.

The facts of this case are sketchy. Justine Damond or Ruszczyk*, the victim, reportedly called 911 to report a possible sexual assault occurring. When the cops came, she approached the car and was shot by Mohamed Noor, the first Somalian to be a Minneapolis police officer. The minute I saw the photo of Damond and heard the nationality of the police officer who killed her, I knew how this was going to go, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Noor’s partner, Michael Harrity claims he heard a loud noise, and then Noor shot and killed Damond. That’s the story Harrity is telling, and Noor is not talking at all. Smart on his part, but not helping the public perception of the case.


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Salt and Sanctuary: There’s a Lotta Salt in My Sanctuary, Part II

onion kniiiiiiight!
The Masterless Knight, one of my only friends.

Ed Note: This is part two of my review of Salt and Sanctuary, a game that wears it Dark Souls inspiration firmly on its sleeve. You can read part one here. There will be spoilers abound in this review, so be forewarned. Now, on with the show.

I just finished Salt and Sanctuary last night, and I have several things to say about it. Buckle in, boys and girls, it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride. I have a hard time talking about this game because my feelings on it are over the place. On the one hand, I’ve been obsessively playing this game, even starting a new game as a melee player (much more on that later), thinking about it even when I wasn’t playing it. That’s a sign of a game that has crawled up in your spine and made its home there. I finished the game in roughly forty-five hours, which is one-third the time it took me to finish the original Dark Souls plus DLC (don’t judge), and that’s with plenty of exploring and grinding. I probably could have finished it in thirty-five to forty hours if I really booked it through. This way, though, I feel as if I’ve seen most of what the game has to offer, though I’m aware of a few things I’ve missed.

However, about a half to two-thirds of the way through the game, I begin to hate it. It started to feel like a destructive relationship in which you’re totally in love with the other person, but you know they’re going to be the death of you. No, I’m not saying Salt and Sanctuary is going to kill me–let’s not take the analogy too far. You know what’s a better analogy? Having a big bucket of popcorn at a movie. At the beginning, I’m munching the popcorn and feeling pretty good about. Who doesn’t love theater popcorn with the mysterious butter-like syrup they pour over it? I’m munching through the previews, and the popcorn is delicious! I have handful after handful, and about halfway through the bucket, I start to feel slightly sick to your stomach. “I should put this down,” I think, but do I? Of course not. I paid good money for it, and who likes stale popcorn? Plus, some theaters now give free refills(!), so better keep on eating that popcorn. Three-fourths of the way through the bucket, I’m grim. I don’t even know what movie I’m watching any longer because my stomach is hurting, and all I can think about is that damn popcorn. I know I should just get up and throw the bucket away, but I’ll be damned if I let it best me. I am going to finish the bucket if it kills me, which it probably will. By the end of the movie, I’ve stuffed every kernel down my gullet, and I’m already regretting it. Once I’m done, I feel nothing other than remorse, shame, and bitterness at the popcorn for being there. Then, I go to the concession stand to get my free bucket just because I can. I never learn.

Again, it’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s pretty close to my feelings as I went through Salt and Sanctuary. I want to make it clear that the game is still a solid game, but the last third of it really made me sour on the experience in general. I also have to say that I went through a similar fatigue while playing Dark Souls, and it’s probably because when I play a game, I gobble it down as quickly as possible. It’s similar to when I watch a TV series; I binge-watch until I feel slightly ill. Anyway, in the last third, the game started becoming more focused on platforming, which is not the part of the game I enjoyed. I mentioned in my earlier post that the platforming feels oddly squishy, and that it’s hard to tell when you can safely jump and when you can’t. In addition, there are disappearing platforms, crumbling platforms, and platforms you can’t see until you’ve jumped a certain distance. What’s worse, there are combinations of all these, which nearly did me in.

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I’d Like Some Cheese With My Whine

this is my don't fuck with me face.
Go away. You’re bothering me.

I’ve been in a weird mood lately which I’ve documented before. I’m depressed, but I can recognize I have no reason to be depressed. It’s not internal; it doesn’t feel internal; it’s still depression. As a result, I’m more irritated than normal, which is pretty irritated to begin with. I have a bitchy voice in my head almost constantly, but I don’t usually give voice to what it’s saying. It’s like having the MST3K guys in my head giving commentary to what’s happening, but twice as snarky and half as funny.

Speaking of cheese, it’s the one thing I really miss. I’m surprised how little I miss bread (I don’t miss it at all. I do have some substitute bread, though, which is pretty tasty, too), pasta (can still eat pho!), milk (flax milk, yo!), and ice cream (cashew milk ice cream is better than the real thing). Cheese, though. Daiyu shredded pepper jack is a decent substitution for sandwiches as long as it’s melted, but I have yet to find a fake cheese I’d snack on by itself.

I’m having digestive issues again, and a few nights ago, I had a really bad stomach ache immediately after eating grapes. I Googled it because of course I did, and I found out that both grapes and cherries (and I was eating both, but the stomach ache came after eating the grapes. I ate the cherries after) can cause cramps and diarrhea for different reasons. Part of it is ramping up the fiber so quickly, and there’s also a question of fructose with grapes. Either way, it means I probably won’t eat as many grapes in the future. I may have to try other fruits so they’ll be less irritating on my stomach.

I also had problems after eating bananas, which is frustrating. I’m trying to be healthier, and my body just doesn’t appreciate it! Oranges are not a problem. Neither are blackberries. I really like pomegranates, but they’re such a pain in the ass to peel. Mangoes are tasty, but they irritate my tongue. Same with pineapple. I should eat more melons; I’ve never had a problem with them.

Moving on. I try not to get pulled into what this president is tweeting because there’s no point in it, but others will RT him, and I can’t avoid him completely, as much as I’d like to. He’s been at the G20 (gulp), and he had Ivanka sit in for him at some meeting. Again, I’m not paying really close attention, but that was enough to make me wince. She’s not qualified to be doing anything at the G20, but that’s this president’s mentality to a T. He doesn’t care about qualifications at all, and if he likes you, that’s the only qualification needed.

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Freedom Isn’t Free on Independence Day

democracy is crumbling.
The cracks are showing.

I hate holidays in general, and the Fourth of July is one of my least favorites. There are several reasons for it, including that only some people were truly free at the time, but it’s especially grating this year because of this president. He’s doing everything in his power to destroy our democracy, so it’s kind of hard to be patriotic* right about now. I have no desire to celebrate, even if I were so moved, which I’m not.

I’m tired. Bone tired. Soul tired. Wishing I didn’t have to get up in the morning tired. What is happening in America is not normal, and yet, it’s our new norm. I don’t get American positivity: I really don’t. There’s this naive ‘everything is going to be OK’ mentality that I just don’t understand. “Yeah, this sucks, but he’ll be impeached any day now!” Really? I don’t see any evidence of that happening. And, even if were true, then we have President Pence, who is arguably worse in some ways. Empires do fall. Societies crumble and never recover. Why are we so certain we will survive this regime?

I’m also tired of the constant outrage over everything this president does. His tweets about Mika were heinous, but not unexpected. The one thing I have to give credit to this president for is that he is exactly as he appears. There’s no deeper meaning to what he says and does, and he’s a disgusting pig. It’s also interesting how the media only really gets riled up about this president when he’s attacking one of them (or a news station as in the fake wrestling video).

Is it disgusting? Of course. Is it surprising? Fuck, no. Someone tweeted at me that we have to call it out every time, that it’s never excusable. She totally missed my point which is that it’s a matter of focus and energy. There is so much horrifying shit flowing from the various orifices of this president, it can obscure some of the actions he and this Congress are taking. It’s his one genius, really, muddying the waters to the point where you can no longer remember why you were mad at him in the first place. He’s throwing shit in hopes that it’s enough smoke and mirrors to hide his wrongdoings.

I sympathize to a certain degree because he keeps going lower than most people think is possible. The thing is, though, the sooner you realize he has no floor to how shitty he can be, the sooner you can stop being outraged at everything. I’m not saying to become apathetic, but it’s not helping anyone to be in a constant state of outrage. I should know. I find myself in a better mental state when I limit my social media and news consumption, and I think that’s a good thing. I know I need to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world, but I don’t need it to glut myself in it until I feel completely hopeless. It’s a fine line between being a responsible citizen and doing harm to my mental health.

I have nothing more to say. Instead, here’s a hilarious video of Patrick Stewart explaining how he discovered rather late in life that he’s not circumcised. Enjoy.

 

*I’m not patriotic during the best of times, and this is definitely not the best of times.

Third Saturday Social-Media Free

So, this is the third Saturday I’ve been social-media free. I managed to remember it this week and didn’t even peek in the morning when I woke up. I had to check something from one of the people I follow on Twitter, and I managed to do it without looking at my TL itself. It’s a weird feeling of being simultaneously disconnected and in tune. Disconnected from social media and the world at large, but in tune with myself. Which is not necessarily a good thing. I may try extending the blackout through tomorrow if it continues to go this well.

My teeth are hurting. They have been on and off for the past few months. At first, I thought it was a sinus problem, but now I’m not so sure. I know I grind my teeth, and I used to have a mouth guard that was made specifically for me. I bit my way through it though, and it’s not cheap. Anyway, when I eat hot or cold food, my teeth hurt like hell for several minutes. They dully ache at other times. I know I need to see the dentist, but I’ve been dragging my heels on it. I hate going to the dentist for several reasons, not the least because I haven’t gone in a few years, and I’m embarrassed about it. My dentist is really good, though, and I like the dental hygienists, too.

I also should go to the doctor to get my thyroid meds checked again, along with what food sensitivities I might have. I already know I’m lactose-intolerant and have a sensitivity to gluten, but I’m starting to realize that there are other things that affect my digestive system in a negative way.

It’s Sunday. My self-imposed ban of social media is over. I checked my mentions and responded as necessary, but when I started looking at my feed on Facebook, I found myself getting tense. I haven’t even looked at Twitter yet. I think I may go a second day without checking my TL and feed. We’ll see how far I can take this!

On a different note, I’ve been watching more clips of best and worst auditions for various talent shows, and I have a few general tips. One, don’t ever compare yourself to icons like Whitney, Mariah, and Michael (Jackson), let alone sing their songs if you’re not an absolute powerhouse. Match your songs to your personality. Well, first of all, make sure you can sing. After that, though, the song has to match your voice. This young woman who said she sounds like Whitney had this kittenish voice which would have been better suited to…um…well, not Whitney.

I also have a top three list of songs you should never sing in audition. I’ll give you the reason for each. 3. Proud Mary by Tina Turner, especially if you’re a white dude. Yes, I know there’s a CCR version, but people singing it in audition are definitely trying to do the Tina Turner version. From her growl to her wiggle to the outsized attitude, it’s a performance that I have yet to see anyone else pull off. 2. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and a million other people. The reason for this is a bit different. This song has been covered within an inch of its life. I love this song and have heard dozens of covers, each better than the last. Most people who try to sing it in audition want to put their own spin on it, but butcher it mercilessly. I have only heard one good version of it, and it’s mostly because the guy’s voice was amazing. The arrangement was pretty pedestrian, but he made it his own.

By the way, I saw David Williams’ comments from the initial audition, and he wasn’t mean at all. Plus, he’s hot. But that’s another post for another time. Anyway, Kyle’s version is pretty much a straight cover, which is why it works for his voice. If you can sing like this, then go ahead and sing Hallelujah. Otherwise, stay away from it.

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My Bowl of Empathy is Empty

I did a performance a long time ago in which I said the phrase, “My bowl of empathy (or compassion) is empty”, and I really like it as a way to explain that I do not have any fucks to give right now. That sounds more defiant than I mean it to be, though, because it’s more of a, “I’m feeling so low, I can’t extend myself to others.”

I tend to automatically think of others before I think of myself. It’s not innate, but it was drummed into me when I was a kid that my feelings don’t matter and that I had to cater to the feelings of others, especially my parents. It’s second nature to me by now, and I know I’m at the end of my rope when I’m impatient rather than empathetic. That’s when I have to pull back and replenish my inner resources. At least I’m cognizant of when that is happening.

The problem is, I’m feeling it more and more these days. A large part of it is our political situation and the helplessness I feel about it. Part of it is a depression that came over me a few weeks ago, and I don’t know why. Either way, I’m having a hard time extending myself, and it’s making me uncomfortable.

I will say that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to think of myself rather than others, but it’s makes me feel bad when I can’t be empathetic or compassionate. Intellectually, I know

That’s all I have for today. Here’s a Maru video.

Social Media Addiction and Me

social media all day long.
You were always on my mind.

I woke up this afternoon (Saturday) and forgot what day it was. I went about my morning routine, and then as I was on the toilet, I checked Twitter as I usually do. A few minutes later, I remembered that it was Saturday and that I was NOT going to check social media on Saturdays. Oops. Now, I could have just said, “Fuck it, I’ll do it tomorrow”, but I didn’t want to fall down that rabbit hole. I decided I’d just stop and not look any longer.

Easier said than done. It’s so embedded in my genetics now, any time I’m on the toilet, I almost automatically check Twitter. I don’t know why the two are connected (shit on shit?), but it’s a reminder for me that I need to be more mindful about my social media usage. It’s become like second nature to me, and I have to stop myself from checking. It’s weird because when I’m not checking, I don’t think about it. The minute I’m on Twitter and/or Facebook, I get sucked in, and I waste way too much time scrolling through my feed/TL.

Right now, I’m fine. I haven’t looked at social media in a few hours, and I don’t care. We’ll see how I am in a few more hours.

Oh! Funny note. I sent my father a Father’s Day e-card to my mother’s email because my father doesn’t do email, and my mom called me that night saying all she saw was a pink background. I was puzzled, and I told her to check the flash thing we had to deal with the last time as well. It wasn’t that, so I told her to try to open the card again from the email. Then, she said she couldn’t find my email, and she spent a few minutes looking for it. I sent her another version of the card, and then she realized that she was looking for my name, but the emails were being sent by the website. So, the other email didn’t disappear; it just wasn’t sent directly by me. It still wouldn’t work, so I sent the same card to myself to see what was the problem.

Side note: I know I can take control of her computer, but I didn’t want to do it for two reasons. One, I don’t want to set up the software. Yes, that’s a lazy reason, but I think I’ve established I’m a lazy person. Two, I want her to learn how to do these things herself. I don’t want to just do them for her, even if that’s what usually ends up happening.

Anyway, I clicked on the card, and I only had the background as well. I refreshed the page, and then it loaded. YAY! I figured it out! Now, the next problem was explaining to my mother what she had to do to see the card. With someone with computer savvy, I would simply have to say hit the refresh button, but that’s not my mother. This is how I explained it to her. “You see the white bar at the top of the page? Where you put in the website’s address?” Fortunately, she knows what an address is, and, oh, I remember the days when she didn’t. Once I’ve confirmed this, I say, “See the i in the circle next to it?” We had just talked about this the last time I needed to help her with a card, so she knew what I meant. Unfortunately, she was panicking at this point, and she said, “Yes. The I. Should I right click it?” “No, Mom, don’t right–” “Right click it?” “No, Mom. Look next to the–” “Right click it?” “NO, MOM. DO NOT RIGHT CLICK IT.”

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A Tale of Two Best Friends

I met my bestie when we were both working at Katahdin (now extinct), me as a counselor in a day treatment program for juvenile delinquents*, and her as the administrative assistant. We were the only oddballs in the place, and we started talking during the annual Christmas lunch or some such. She had a tattoo (this was before I had mine), and she had been an English major in college. We really clicked, and we started hanging out outside of work. She did all the work in the beginning because I was deeply depressed and had a multitude of low-esteem issues. I couldn’t fathom she’d want me to bother her, and it took her asking me a year after we became friends if I wanted her to keep calling me to realize that she actually wanted to be friends. This was before Facebook, Twitter, and email were a daily thing with me, so I couldn’t even like one of her posts to let her know I was thinking of her.

We’ve seen each other through some difficult times, and we’ve seen how the other has grown in the past twenty-two years. I’ve called her the yang to my yin, the positive to my negative. She has a kid and gray hair now, and I have a cat and white streaks in my hair. When she lived here, we went out every few months, but it was comforting to know I *could* see her if I needed to in fifteen minutes or less.

One of our favorite things was to go out drinking** and dancing, and I vividly remember a time when we were both pretty sloshed and hungry after hours of dancing. We went to White Castle to get some sliders because that’s what you do when you’re drunk and need something to eat at two in the morning when everything else is closed. We took our sliders to the lake*** and walked on the shore as we ate. Suddenly, we both had to pee, and of course, there were no restrooms around. There was no on around, and it was dark, so we both found a semi-private spot and did our business. I accidentally peed on my foot, which struck me as hilarious.

I bring it up because I never would have done that without Kat, my partner in crime. She’s way more spontaneous than I am, and she can push me out of my comfort zone with little effort. She doesn’t live in state any longer, and we have to make a more conscious effort to keep in touch offline. We talk once every few months, and it’s as if we’ve never stopped talking. She is one of those people with whom it doesn’t matter how much time has passed–talking is as easy if not easier than when we first became friends.


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