Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Holidays

An Ode/Eulogy to Valentine’s Day

Ed. Note: I wrote this on Valentine’s Day, even though it won’t be posted until the day after. Just so there’s no confusion.

I have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day. I have always professed to hate it, and I do, mostly, but it’s for more complex reasons than I normally admit. I would tell people when asked (and sometimes unprompted) that I deplored the commercial aspects and being told that I have to buy lavish gifts to demonstrate my love. I firmly believed that you could show your love in many different ways at any time of the year, and I didn’t need Hallmark to dictate when I should display my love, damn it. That was all true and sincerely felt, but there was a deeper, darker reason I hated it so much–it’s because it consistently let me down. Yes, even I, as jaded and bitter as I was, I had bought into the promises and dreams Valentine’s day had fed to me, lies, really, during my teenage years and into my twenties. I wanted the romance, to be wined and dined, and to be made to feel like a queen. I wanted happily-ever-after that was the bailiwick of fairy tales and Harlequin Romance novels. When I was in a relationship during those years, even though I would pooh-pooh Valentine’s Day, I would secretly hope that my partner would surprise me with a magical night. It never happened, and each time it didn’t, I became increasingly bitter. Even though I tried to pretend I was fine with having a low-key Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t. In other words, I was a lover scorned being spiteful towards my ex-lover.

During my thirties, I tried to make my peace with Valentine’s Day, even though I dreaded its arrival every year. I was not in a relationship more often than I was, and each Valentine’s Day was a stark reminder that I was single. Our society is very couple-centric, and it’s not like I need another day to shove my alone-ness in my face. I get enough of that wherever I go–you really can’t escape it anywhere. Back in my thirties, I desperately wanted to be in a relationship, although I would have vigorously denied it. I was an independent, strong woman, damn it, and I didn’t need no man or woman to make me complete. Yet, there was something inside me that longed to be one half of a couple. I couldn’t squash the feeling, no matter how hard I tried. So, much of my bluster about Valentine’s Day was because it made me feel my lack of a romantic relationship keenly, and I hated feeling that way.

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My Christmas Post–Three Weeks Late

Every year for Christmas, I write a post in which I rant about how much I dislike Christmas. I list all the reasons why, and the biggest one is because it’s such crass consumerism on display, wrapped up in sentimental rhetoric. “If you love someone, you have to buy them something really expensive, or you’re a chump.” That’s pretty much what Christmas commercials tell you, starting with the day after Halloween (sometimes before), which is part of my issue with it as well. It used to be that the hype for Christmas had the sense to wait until after Thanksgiving to dominate society’s consciousness. Now, we’re creeping towards Christmas 24-7. There’s a local radio station that used to start playing Christmas music all day long starting on the first day of December. This year, they started the day after Halloween, which means two months of sappy, poorly-written Christmas music. Which is another problem I have with Christmas. All of the music sucks. It’s overwrought, treacly, and steeped in false nostalgia. There is only one Christmas carol that I like, but I’ll get to that in a second.

This year, I didn’t have the heart to write my usual post because my Raven had died three weeks earlier. I distinctly remember I had changed my Twitter and Facebook avatars earlier that evening to my usual Grumpy Cat hating on Christmas avis. After Raven died, I changed them back to just being black, and I’ve left them that way ever since. With my heart broken, I didn’t even care that Christmas was approaching at all. It meant nothing to me, and I pretty much just ignored its existence. I was just trying to cope with my sudden and shocking loss, and I couldn’t summon up enough energy to even acknowledge that it was happening. My Raven was gone, and that’s all that mattered to me. I was struggling to make it through each interminable day while making sure Shadow was OK as well.

Now, however, I regret not writing the post. Or rather, I feel empty for not having written it. As much as I don’t like Christmas, I did like my tradition of writing about how much I dislike it. I would post about it on Facebook and tweet about it, and I’d get several people who would commiserate with me. It became known that the only Christmas carol I like was O Holy Night, and I’d have people sending me their favorite versions of the song. I’d compile them and post them every year, and it was something I looked forward to, but, again, I didn’t have the heart to do it this year. After a few years, I started adding Christmas-related songs I liked to the list, and if I was feeling extra-grumpy, I would include the worst version of O Holy Night I could find.*

First off, I’ll post one of my favorite versions of the song. It’s done by New Orleans jazz musicians, and it was after Katerina ripped through their city and destroyed so many lives. It was featured on the show, Studio 60, which I never watched, but this version is amazing. It’s soulful, wistful, heartbreaking, and, yet, somehow, uplifting. Here’s the version with no dialogue.

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Post-Prandial Narcolepsy

I’m not a big holiday person, so I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Plus, genocide of indigenous people. That doesn’t sit well with me, either. But, Ian and I were set on getting turkey subs from Subway, which wasn’t open, despite Google telling me it’d be open until ten tonight.* We drove around to see if there was anything else open, and most everything was closed. Adagio’s Pizza Factory was open, however, so we decided to eat there for our Thanksgiving feast. We ordered an appetizer of Gruyere cheese and beer dip with pretzel slices, which was fantastic, and mac-n-cheese pizza with Italian sausage, which was uh-may-zing. I still have two pieces left, for which I’m thankful.

Anyway. I played Dark Souls for a couple hours after coming back, killing the Gaping Dragon. I cut off his tail, and I got the Dragon King Greataxe, which takes 50 strength to wield.** I fought two Black Knights, and one of them dropped the Black Knight Sword, which I mained during my first playthrough at the end of the game. It only requires 20 strength and 18 dexterity, which I acquired after beating the Gaping Dragon. It’s a great early game weapon, and I’ll be maining it until I get enough strength to wield one of the heftier weapons. I also got my beloved Greataxe which requires 32 strength. I love the Greataxe and mained it as a melee character in Dark Souls 3, I may use it when I reach 32 strength, but I don’t want to use it for the whole game. The Iron Golem’s boss soul can be made into the Golem Axe, which takes 38 strength to wield. I love me my axes so much, I think I’ll shoot to use them when I get the strength.

I’m planning on cutting off all the tails I possibly can. Crossbreed Priscilla, though Priscilla’s Dagger is dex-based, Seath the Scaleless, which gives you the vaunted Moonlight Greatsword, and Black Dragon Kalameet, which gives you the Obsidian Greatsword. I have the Drake Sword, which you get from shooting (with arrows) off the tail of the Hellkite Dragon, and the Gargoyle Tail Axe, which is from the Bell Gargoyle’s tail. That plus killing Quelaag solo are my Dark Goals, as Ian jokingly calls it, for this playthrough. I have a problem with wanting to go in many different directions when I play the games, so it’s hard to stick to my stated goal of doing a pure strength build. I’m determined to do it, however, or as close to it as I can get. Which means pumping all my points into vitality, endurance, and strength from here on out.


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Happy Merry and All That

Hello. I was going to write a whole post about identity politics and what the DNC needs to do, and blah, blah, blah, but I thought, “To hell with it. It’s a holiday. I’m taking time off.”

So. Here is Shironeko with a small pumpkin* on his head. I thought it holiday appropriate. Have a peaceful holiday.

*I think it’s a pumpkin. That’s what I choose to believe, anyway.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like–Shut the Fuck Up!

I hate Christmas, and I have since I was a kid. I found out there was no Santa Claus when I was seven or eight. I got up early Christmas morning to check the stockings, and there was nothing in them. I went to tell my mom, and she told me to go back to bed for an hour or so. I did, then went back to check, and, lo, and behold! There was stuff in my stocking. I put two and two together and came up with four, but I didn’t tell my mom because who doesn’t like presents? That’s not the reason I don’t like Christmas, however. It’s because of all the crass commercialism that surrounds it, covered in the veneer of gooey emotions. I even wrote an editorial about it when I was in junior high school, bemoaning how capitalism had corrupted Christmas. That was over thirty years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since.

Why am I writing about it now, well before Halloween if I hate it so much? Aren’t I just contributing to the problems? No, I’m not. I’m reacting to the fact that I saw two Christmas commercials today during the Vikings game. One was Star Wars-themed and for Duracell batteries, and I can’t tell you what the other one was for because I started freaking out when I saw it. It’s not even fucking Halloween yet, and they’re showing this shit? I have begrudgingly accepted that Christmas lasts all through November and December, but I will not brook it creeping into October as well. I don’t care for holidays in general, but Halloween is the one I like the most. The costumes, the candy, the pagan basis, the turn-off-the-lights-and-pretend-not-to-be-home, it’s great. It deserves its own month as a welcome to autumn, which is my second favorite season. Winter is my first, and I don’t like that it’s overtaken by Christmas.

Here’s the thing. I don’t hate Christmas for itself. I’m not a Christian, but I don’t mind if Christians want to celebrate the birth of Jesus, even if it’s at the wrong time and is grafted over pagan rituals. It’s no skin off my nose. As for the gather with the family and eat a ton of turkey/ham until you pass out tradition, to each his own, I guess. Although, I will say that the theme of forced family togetherness is annoying and potentially alienating for some people. I wrote a post a while back about what to do if you’re not feeling merry around Christmas, and I got a lot of heartfelt responses in the comment section, on Twitter, on Facebook. It’s hard to watch all the cheer and everyone getting hyped for Christmas if you’re not feeling it for one reason or another. Maybe you just lost a loved one or went through a messy divorce. Perhaps you’re estranged from your family and haven’t talked to them in years. Maybe your children don’t answer your calls, and you’re wondering what’s going on. Or you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease. There are plenty of reasons you may not be feeling jolly for the holidays and hearing that you should be 24/7 is a guaranteed way to make your mood even sourer. I can attest to that. The more I see people being all holly and jolly for the holidays, the more bitter I become. Grinch gets a bad name, but I can feel his pain. All he wants is to be left alone to live his life in Grinchly peace, but the annoying Whoville pipsqueak can’t shut her damn trap for a hot second.


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