Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Wellness

It’s just a fantasy

I am mostly better from the cold I had, but I feel as if I’m on the cusp of something else. I know it’s a vicious cycle, but any time I go out, I get something that makes me feel worse than before. It’s one of the problems with not interacting with people on a regular basis. I have a shitty immune system, and it has no chance to improve because I don’t allow it to interact with bad things on the regular. On the other hand, I am allergic to everything under the sun, so my instinct is to wrap myself in a bubble so I won’t get hurt. The reason I got my cats in the first place was because I decided since I was allergic to everything and miserable all the time, I might as well get cats. Yes, I was allergic to them, but they would make me less miserable. I’m actually not that allergic to my cat now unless he decides to sit on my face, which he does from time to time when I have a pillow over my face.

I’m really frustrated right now. I’ll be real with you. Why? Well, I’m going to tell you. One, depression. It’s low grade, but persistent, and it saps much of my energy to do anything. Two, my physical health. I’ve been sick more than healthy it seems in the past year, and it’s just draining as well. Three, the intersection of the two and how it makes me not want to do anything. I’m trying to push past it and change the way I think, but it’s not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to even get me out the door, not to mention driving to the place I need to be. I haven’t even gone to the co-op since I got sick, for example, because it’s too much effort. It’s fifteen minutes away, but I can’t make myself do it.

I have a hard time not castigating myself for doing more, which is not the best motivation. The taiji demo showed me so many things I want to do, but I just don’t have the capacity to do them all. I set the goal of learning the Sabre Form this year. I am at the end of the fourth row (there are six), and this is where I stopped the last time I was learning the Sabre Form. Two years ago. The end two postures of the fourth row are insane, but in a good way. Part of the problem the first time I learned the Sabre Form was because I was fully expecting it to be like the Sword Form. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that it wasn’t, and it made the whole experience sour for me. This time going in, I fully realized it was a very different beast, and I fell in love with it immediately. I had to have that extra experience under my belt before I could really get the Sabre Form.


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Adjusting expectations and dealing with an emergency

Yesterday was the taiji lunar new year demo at my teacher’s teacher’s studio. I didn’t hear about it until last Saturday because I hadn’t been in class due to my sickness. I was caught off-guard because I like to plan things well ahead of time and because I was still feeling iffy. I had missed the last few demos, though, due to health reasons, and I really wanted to go this time. I just didn’t know if I could endure, and I didn’t want to embarrass my teacher in front of her teacher. In addition, we had a snowstorm on Friday that lingered into Saturday (the day of the demo), and the winds were up to 45 mph. I was talking myself out of it, but I really felt I should go. Not only to represent my teacher, but because there was going to be a ton of weapon forms. I had to set some ‘rules’ for myself so that I would feel ok going.

The first was that I could go at any time. One of my issues is that if i go to something, I feel  have to stay for the whole thing. I have to deliberately give myself permission to leave, and weirdly, that makes me enjoy it more. I don’t have to be uptight and agonizing about how I’ll make it to the end. I can stay ten minutes or half an hour, or I can stay until the end if I’m up to  it. That way, I don’t feel trapped, and I’ve used it to a good effect for the past couple events I’ve gone to.

Secondly, I had to tell myself that I didn’t have to do anything. There were three things I knew well enough to participate in, the Solo Form, the Sword Form, and the first section of the Fast Form. Funnily enough, they were the first three performances of the afternoon, one right after the other. The thing is, I really wanted to do the Sword Form. I had not participated in it before even though I’ve known it for years, and I wanted to show my teacher’s teacher that she was a damn good teacher in her own right. As my classmate said, we have to represent the Seven Stars. The problem was that the Solo Form was first, and I knew if I did that, I would not be able to do the Sword Form. I did not have the energy for both of them.

Let me be real with you. I felt the need to show what I could do. Why? I don’t  know. No one cared but me, but it was in the back of my mind. I don’t take any classes at my teacher’s home studio even though it’s in the same building and I’m able to take any of the classes, and I am very competitive–though I try to keep it to myself. I had to tell myself that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. My teacher knew where I was at, and that was really all that needed to happen. Even more to the point, I knew where I was at. I know some of my insecurity is because I’ve missed so many classes in the last two years. Plus, there’s a woman in the home studio who I found out started roughly the same time I did, and she’s so much further. It’s hard for me because I know it’s all on me, but I want to be so much further than I am.

I ended up skipping the Solo Form and the first section of the Fast Form. I did the Sword Form, and I felt good once it was over. I did not make any major mistakes, and I definitely looked like I was one of the crew. I didn’t bring my own sword because it would have been one more thing to make me anxious–keeping track of it and making sure I didn’t leave it behind. There are plenty of practice swords in the studio, so I just grabbed one of them. I will admit a second of feeling embarrassed because I normally practice with my stainless steel sword, but I brushed it to the side. I did the Sword Form to the best of my ability, and I was pleased once we were done. I didn’t hit anyone, though I came close, and I remembered all the movements. I call that a win.

I had a mini panic when I arrived at the studio because I could not find my key fob. It wasn’t in the pocket it was supposed to be, and I couldn’t find it in the other pockets, either. Since I had been at the tire shop on Friday, I thought maybe I left it in the cup holder in the car. Nope. I spent five minutes rootling around in my car, but I could not find it. In desperation, I checked the original pocket again, and I found a hole in the corner. My key had slipped into the hole, and while I was relieved to find it, I also was grumpy about the hassle it caused.


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The more things change…part three

Last week, I wrote about how there are several things in my life that have changed without me actively trying to enact said change. Most of them I put down to taiji, and there’s one more I want to add to the list. It’s a weird one, but it’s fascinating–at least to me. Let’s talk about my hair for a minute. I don’t like much about the way I look, but my hair is my shining glory. Funnily, I mostly keep it in a bun these days, but I feel badass when I have it down. For at least a decade, it fell to my waist, just above my ass. In the past year or two, it’s grown about eight inches and now it falls past my ass. I thought I was making things up, but, no, my hair is appreciably longer now. I’m excited about it, but also a bit weirded out. I haven’t changed any of my hair regime, so what’s the difference?

At first, I said taiji. Why? Because that’s my go-to for anything positive in my life. It’s true 85% of the time, so it’s not a bad shout. This time, however, I don’t think I can give credit to taiji. Instead, I think it’s beacuse I drastically changed my diet two and a half years ago by cutting out dairy and gluten. I also cut out caffeine almost 100% later, I think six months or so, and maybe that’s part of it. Anyway, I think it’s the diet that has strengthen my hair, and at any rate, I hope it keeps growing.

That’s not the coolest part, though. Well, the next part is half cool, half not-cool. I have a lot of silver/gray in my hair. I’ve been eagerly awaiting for it to turn all gray/silver because I think that would be bad and ass. I want to look like storm, and then I’m going to cut it all off. At least that was the plan. I’ve become really attached to it (no pun intended), so we’ll see. That’s not the cool/not-cool part, though. The gray is reversing. I know it sounds crazy, but it is. I took it down to brush yesterday–

Side note: Part of my depression is that I am not always on point with my daily grooming. It’s one reason I wear my hair up in a bun–so I don’t have to deal with it. That’s fine and dandy, but it means that I sometimes can go a week or longer without brushing my hair. If I just left it in a bun, it might be ok (but probably not), but I have to redo the bun every few days, which means by the time I let it down, there are usually huge tangles in the underneath part of it.

Side note to the side note: I remember reading a series of tweets a while ago about a woman who had severe depression. She did not wash her hair or brush it in something like a year. Her hair was as long as mine, and she went to a hairdresser to deal with it. It was the hairdresser who was tweeting about it. The woman was still downtrodden and self-defeating, and the hairdresser decided she was going to do what had to be done to save the woman’s hair. For the next six hours, she brushed out the woman’s hair until she got rid of all the mats, tangles, and snarls.

Anyway, with the amount of hair I take, when it snarls, it takes a lot of patient coaxing to get them all out. In addition, it’s the worst in the exact back of my head, so it’s difficult to reach. I know the answer is to brush it every day, but that’s simply beyond my ken. It’s one thing that I hate about myself–how much mental and physical energy it takes for me to do simple tasks–and it’s one that I would like to change.


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The more things change…part two

In part one, I talked about my frustrations with things that do not change over time. In this post, I want to talk about the things that have changed without notice from me. I’ve mentioned some of them in the past such as my sleep. To summarize briefly, when I was in college, I rarely slept more than three hours a night. Then, when I went home on breaks, I slept for fifteen hours the first night. Partly because it was my sleep deprivation catching up to me and partly I would get sick, but fight it off until I got home. In my late twenties, I slept maybe four hours a night. I will say I have thyroid issues, but at that point of my life, I had hypothyroidism and not hyper, so insomnia should not have been a problem. If anything, it should have been the opposite. I got my thyroid destroyed when I was fourteen (radiation), so any insomnia before hand could be attributed to hyperthyroidism (well, at least partly), but afterwards, it should have course-corrected.

I also learned yesterday that having vivid dreams is a symptom of not getting deep REM sleep. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I used to have very graphic and disturbing dreams all the time when I was sleeping four hours a night. I woke up after two hours, usually in a cold sweat because of a weird and intense dream, and then I’d drift off into another uneasy, unsettling dream before waking up again. I knew I wasn’t getting REM sleep, so it was weirdly validating to read that I wasn’t just imaging things.

In the time I’ve been studying taiji–over ten years–I’ve slowly started sleeping more and more. I’m up to six hours on a good night, and I rarely remember my dreams any longer. If I do, they’re anxiety dreams. While not great, they’re much better than the murder dreams I used to have. Six hours is a huge leap for me, but it’s hard not to get fixated on the fact that I’m not getting the requisite eight hours unless I’m sick as I am now. Currently, I’m going from five hours in one night to nine hours the next. That’s how I know I’m sick. It’s actually one thing I like about being sick–I actually get a long chunk of sleep without disturbance. Other than that, though, it pretty much sucks.


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Not today, Satan. Not today

I was going to go on a full-out rant about toxic masculinity, ‘boys will be boys’, cross-Atlantic culture differences, and video gaming culture, but I’m really not in the mood for it today. I’m still sick, though, thankfully the flu symptoms are gone. It’s all settled into my respiratory system, and my voice comes and goes as it pleases. When it comes, it’s still Barry White deep but not nearly as sexy what with the sneezes, sniffles, and hawking up loogies. I need to be in fighting form to do a full-throated rant and because I want to fully develop my theory of…well, I don’t have a pithy name for it, and I cannot for the life of me find the post in which I thought I wrote about it, but it’s a good theory. I swear!

I still can’t find it. I’ll look for it and craft the post and do it when I’m feeling better. In the meantime, enjoy the latest Oxventure (first of four parts). It actually is tangentially related to my rant. With that teaser, enjoy.

A new year, but the same old me

It’s the day of the eve of New Year, and I’m doing the tiniest bit better. I had a horrible night in which I was shivering and sweating alternately. I have Googled cold vs. flu several times, and I still don’t exactly know the difference. I feel like being ‘feverish’ (I don’t get fevers as my base temp is 97) is a symptom of the flu, and there is some writing that backs me up, but it’s hard to say. It doesn’t really matter as there’s no cure for either a cold or the flu, but it’s just my natural inquisitiveness that I want to know. Either way, I woke up with the feverish symptoms gone. Now, it’s ‘just’ a stuffy head (nose, brain, throat, ears–the left one is blocked), sometimes a runny nose, a hacking cough with a sore throat, and just a general exhaustion.

Here is ABBA’s cheerful Happy New Year song. Enjoy!

Run over by a semi truck

The crud that I’ve been fighting off has hit hard, and I sound like Barry White–when I have a voice at all. I already have a deep voice, but this cold is making me a double bass. Sexy? Not really because it’s interspersed with a hacking cough or a loud throat clear that ain’t sexy no way, no how, no why. So, another day of hunkering down on my couch with Shadow warming my legs as I alternate between freezing and boiling. Have some Barry White in honor of my sickness.

Obligatory Holiday Post

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m not a holiday person. At all. For many years, I had a revulsion to most of them for good and not-so-good reasons. Christmas: way too commercialized, long-drawn, and exclusive (in the true sense of the word, not meaning swank or posh). V-Day: made-up holiday making men feel pressured to buy expensive shit for their girlfriends (very heteronormative), make grand gestures, and it’s a recipe for disappointment. Independence Day: it wasn’t.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. A funny thing happened this year, though. I ended up not caring about Christmas in the best way possible. I don’t watch TV, and I have ad-blocker online, so I didn’t have to see the excruciatingly terrible commercials associated with Christmas, which really helped. Yes, it was irritating to hear the music on the radio or in stores, but that was really time-limited, which helped. So, here we are the day before Christmas (Christmas by the time this gets posted), and I don’t even know how I got here. I am surprised at how quickly this year went, but that’s a different post.

I tweeted and posted on my FB wall about how strange it was to go from hating Christmas to not caring about it (in a positive way). I think it’s taiji, but I’m going to attribute most positive changes in my life to taiji. Anyway. Here are my two favorite Christmas songs. First, Vienna Teng singing The Atheist Christmas Carol.

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Relationships, motherhood, and weapons, oh my!

I’ve been thinking about relationships lately because, well, I’m not sure exactly why. Probably because it’s the end of the year and I get introspect as the year comes to a close. Thinking about it reminds me of how I realized I didn’t want to have children. Well, not really, but the aftermath was similar. The decision itself was easy. It was as if the heavens parted and the sun shone directly  upon me. If I liked sunshine, that was. I didn’t have to have kids! I was filled with relief and went about my merry way.

Or I would have except I naively shared this decision with people who asked me about children and when I was having them. I was a young woman in my early twenties, so this came up more than I wanted it to. To me, I made a decision that only affected me, and that should have been that. Instead, I had people question my decision making several gross claims that were firmly rooted in sexism even if I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. This was in the early nineties when it was still preached that a woman’s #1 job was to be a mother.* It was the main tenet of both of my cultures, and I got so much pressure from my mother, but that’s another post for another day.

I was so young and naive to think that I could dare state that I didn’t want to have children without any blowback. Mind you, it wasn’t something I brought up out of the blue, but I was honest about it if someone brought it up. The reactions I received ranged from condescending–you’re too young to know/you’ll change your mind–to anger. Yes, I actually had people think I was judging them for their decision to have children because I said I didn’t want them. Honestly? I didn’t give a shit about their reproductive choices–just mine. But, I was pushing back on the status quo which made some people very unhappy. More to the point, I acted as if it simply did not exist, which really shook some people. In reflection, I realized that people who followed the status quo without thinking REALLY did not like those who didn’t.

I gave dozens of reasons why I wasn’t going to have children depending on my mood. I was too selfish (true), I was too hot-tempered (true), and I didn’t have the energy (true). My go-to snark answer was that I would be screaming, “Get the fuck away from me! Mommy doesn’t want to see you for three days”, and I couldn’t afford paying for a lifetime of therapy–but it was basically true. I don’t like being around other people all the time or having anyone depend on me (except my cat, and even he pushes it when he meows incessantly in my face in the morning for breakfast), and something I didn’t admit to many people was that I could see myself abusing a child. Not purposely, but because I snapped.

It was all faff, however, because while it was true, the simple answer is that I didn’t have children because I didn’t want them. I never have, and I only thought I’d have them because that was what I was supposed to do. I cannot tell you how free I felt when I realized I could choose not to have children, and it’s a feeling that has only intensified over time. Over a quarter of a century later, I am happier than ever that I don’t have children. There was only one time I briefly considered it, and it was because my mother engaged a 15-year campaign to get me pregnant from the time I was 25 until I was 40. During the heyday when she was nattering at me yet again about how motherhood was whatever she said it was because I blanked out every time she mentioned it, I had a flash thought of, “Maybe I should get pregnant to shut her the fuck up.” Fortunately, I immediately realized that was a fucking stupid reason to get pregnant, but it was a rough fifteen years.


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New Year’s thoughts

hopefully better than the last!
New year, same shit?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do take time in the weeks leading up to it to reflect on my life. This is a grim time as I think my life is crap in general. If i had a hard reset button, I would slam it without thinking about it. Except. I wouldn’t want to give up my friends, taiji, Dark Souls, Shadow, my brother and his family, and, ok, maybe not a total reset.

But. There are always things I wish I were doing differently. Some are ongoing such as my desire to publish a book (though my writing is not going great at the moment), but others are pretty specific. Let’s start with the one I think I will achieve the easiest.

1. Learn the taiji Sabre From. I just learned the third row of six, and this one I will accomplish barring some unforeseen obstacle in my way. So, let’s add to it learn the Cane Form. I am through the first row of four, but it gets batshitcrazy in the third or fourth row. I’ve seen my teacher perform it, and it’s jumping all over the place. I cannot wait.

I also have to teach myself the left side of each form because that’s how it works. The teacher teaches the right side, and we have to teach ourselves the left side. It’s a good way to discover where I’ve been fudging it on the right side, and it reinforces the teaching. I have to brush up on the Sword Form left side.

A funny side note: I still haven’t taught myself the whole Solo Form because the Solo Form got drastically changed when I was teaching myself the third section. That’s the section with most of the changes, and I decided to let it settle down before trying to teach myself the left side. And, to be honest, I am still not a big fan of the Solo Form, though knowing the applications has helped as has learning the Fast Form. The Fast shorter form. Which is the new Solo Form. I would like to learn the whole Fast Form this year as well, but that is a little outside my control.

Side note to the side note: I have been struggling to make it to class for a few reasons, most of them health related. That in turn makes it difficult to learn new things because we’re all at different places. I would like to make at least one class a week in addition to my Sabre Form private lessons every other week. That entwines with another of my thoughts so you’ll have to wait for it.

Prediction: I will get this one. And I will be stoked to learn the next form, which I’m hoping will be the Fan Form. Or maybe Dual Sabres. With a side helping of the karambit. Which is not a taiji thing, but so fucking cool, anyway.

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