Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

Resistance and Art in the Time of Fascism

I’m still reeling from what happened in Charlottesville, especially since this president is still ‘both sides’ing the situation. He came out with a statement denouncing the KKK, but had to throw in ‘other hate groups’, and it was clear he was only saying it because he felt he had to. It shouldn’t take two days to say, “Fascism and white supremacy have no place in America. We will not tolerate Nazis in this country”, but that’s where we are right now. He got a lot of pushback for his lukewarm statement, tweeted his temper tantrum at being told it wasn’t good enough, and had a meltdown yesterday in which he said there are good guys in on the white supremacy side, honestly, and the ‘alt-left’ is just as bad as the ‘alt-right’.

I mean.

WHAT???

I’m not surprised. I have to say that up front because this is who he is. Many of us minorities knew this from the very beginning, which is why we weren’t willing to ‘just give him a chance’. We didn’t need time to know he’s a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic fuck, but if anyone had any doubt, his words yesterday should put that illusion to rest.

In addition, he’s a narcissistic, vindictive, petty man who can’t see anyone other than himself, and everything is about him. 24/7. Of course he had to make it about him because he’s incapable of doing otherwise. Of course he wasn’t going to denounce the white supremacist because he believes the same things they do. His grandfather was a slum landlord who did not want to rent to black people, and it’s clear the apple does not fall far from the tree. This president has said racist things time and time again about people of many different ethnicities, and he has white nationalists on his staff for fuck’s sake.

In other words, he’s no friend of minorities, and we’ve known that even before he ever ran for president. This is my way of saying while it’s disheartening that this president refused to full-throatedly denounce white supremacists, it’s not surprising in the least.

I was off Twitter for about twenty minutes when he made his announcement, and when I returned, I had a TL full of anger, disbelief, pain, and fear. This president had just signaled to his base–and, let’s be clear. His base are racist fuckers–that he is with them 100%. It was so appallingly bad, even Republicans were moved to denounce his message, albeit not directly to him. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan subtweeted the president saying that white supremacy is unacceptable. I said, “OK. What are you going to do about it?” Because words don’t mean shit if you don’t back it up with actions.

I think it’s really hard to explain to white non-Jewish people, even really supportive liberals, how exhausting it is to be a minority in this president’s America. Waking up every day, wondering how else he’s going to hate on me and my kin, it’s more than my brain–and heart–can take. I saw so many of my Twitter family in pain, and it broke my heart. I tweeted a message to them because I’m a caregiver even if I’m also cantankerous and a misanthrope, and I’ll post the beginning of the thread here.


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The Art of Peace

“It was so much nicer this time. When you smile, you’re much….cuter? Is that the word?”

My father to me on the phone yesterday about why his trip home was more pleasant this time around. I started laughing as did my mother. I was talking to him through LINE, which mean she could hear him as well. He said, “Is that not the right word? Attractive? Is that better?”

By now, I’m flat-out laughing, but I tell him  I know what he means. He keeps pursing it, and my mom says the Taiwanese equivalent–kuh-ai. I say, “Yes, cuter, but that’s not exactly the right word.” I kept telling him I understood what he meant, and more importantly, I didn’t get pissed as I would have a few years ago or even last year, even though what he was trying to say is a literal meme about one of the most condescending things you can say to a woman.

Last year, I would have lashed out and told him angrily how condescending he was being, blah, blah, blah. He would not have understood what I was saying at all, and it would have gotten ugly. I would have felt pissed off and insulted, whereas he would have felt confused and affronted. It would have gotten uglier and uglier until one or both of us exploded in anger. We both have terrible tempers and are very bristly, so we’re like oil and water.

Or we were, anyway.

I marvel at how effortless it was to keep my temper most of the time during this visit. The thing is, I’ve changed. He has as well, though he’s still more himself. One of my father’s biggest flaws is that he cannot imagine someone else not feeling the same way he does, but for whatever reason, I didn’t take it personally this time. I was able to see that’s just him. His narcissism. His prickly skin. His shaky sense of self and pride.

The thing is, I didn’t have any plan. I mean, I told myself to be chill about it, but I’ve told myself that in the past and failed miserably. He would say something incendiary, and I would explode without even thinking about it. This time, he could say the same thing, and it didn’t push my buttons. I was able to not react to the words and see the intent instead. I was also able to remember his limitations and firmly delineate his issues from my issues.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I credit taiji for the ability to deal more effectively with my father. It’s given me a sense of self that I didn’t have before, and, more importantly, it’s taught me how to relax.

I will admit there are still a few things that have made me snap or that have me on edge. One has to do with my mother. I’ve said before how she has a habit of narrating events from her life as if she’s Morgan Freeman. It’s fucking annoying especially if I’m trying to do something else. Another is her laser-like focus on my father’s ailments. It’s a tricky line because he’s failing in many ways, so it’s understandable that she’s concerned. However, she focuses almost all her energy on him, and I think it’s one way for her to not have to look at how lopsided their relationship is.


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Learning to Bite My Tongue

finding my peace.
Just breathe….

Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you to count to ten before saying anything when you were angry? Or maybe she was a ‘think before you speak’ kind of woman, instead. Basically the same thing. If you’re like me, you probably scoffed it off as trite. Well, it is trite, but I’m finding value in it these days. Sort of. I’ll explain.

In the past, my relationship with my parents consisted of them saying something and me immediately snapping back defensively. It didn’t matter what they said–I would take it as an attack and respond accordingly. It’s partly because my family is highly critical is the way we talk to each other (me included), so there is a sense of being on the defensive baked into any conversation between any of us. In addition, I have PTSD for several reasons, so I’m prone to lashing out, anyway.

The basis of taiji is to respond to any action with an appropriate reaction, using just enough force to repel the attack and nothing more. It’s called the lazy martial arts because you want to expel the least amount of energy possible for the biggest result. It’s not something I consciously dwell on, but after eight or nine years of study, I’ve soaked it in. In the past, I was near suicidal when one or both of my parents would come visit. You might think it hyperbole, but it isn’t. I couldn’t sleep for days before they came*, and I thought about killing myself to get out of it. I was tense the whole time, and I felt as if I had no control over my anger. I would tell myself to be chill, and next thing I knew, I’d be flying off the handle over the stupidest thing. That would make me feel worse about myself, and I would quickly spiral downwards into the abyss.

Now, I’m tense before they come, but not to the point of wanting to kill myself. It’s more because I really, really, REALLY like to be alone. I’m a happy single, which is one reason I never want to cohabitate with someone, not even a partner. Come to think of it, especially not a partner. A friend, maybe, but not a romantic partner–hell no!

The thing is, I’ve noticed that while I still get irritated by my parents, I’m not flying off the handle nearly as much. I may snap at them one out of ten times, but that’s better than ten out of ten. Half the time, I can give them a calm and reasonable response, and the other forty-percent is filled with a terse, but not angry answer. I find that after they say something, my brain automatically tells me just to digest it a second without saying anything. I’m not consciously telling myself to count to ten or to think before I speak–I’m just automatically doing it. It’s one thing I’ve learned about the way I learn things. I think/work hard about/on it for years, and then it just ‘suddenly’ takes. I don’t consciously decide to do it–it just becomes a part of me.

Same with my interactions with my parents. I’m more able to be calm and to give a reasoned response. Even when I’m upset about something, I’m mostly able to talk about it without shouting. I’m using my words finally! It’s easier with my mother because she’s a psychologist and I was a psych major. We speak the same language, even if it’s her third language and not her first. We can talk about projection and codependency and shit without having to explain the terms. It really is easier when you have the jargon in common.

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Patience, Grasshopper

I forgot I was taking Wednesday off social media and immediately checked my mentions and notifications when I woke up. When I remembered, I stopped. I hadn’t looked at my FB feed or Twitter TL, and I don’t plan on doing that today. I feel bad about it, but in my defense, I’m discombobulated by my parents’ visit.

Speaking of which, one of my biggest pet peeves is being talked at the second I wake up. This is an ongoing issue with my parents. They’ve been up for hours (usually) by the time I get up, and they have a list of things they NEED to discuss with me the SECOND I wake up. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my favorite things about living alone is that I don’t actually have to talk to people most of the time. I work at home, so I don’t have coworkers, either. I don’t sleep well, either, so I’m usually groggy when I wake up. I feed Shadow his breakfast (which he didn’t care for this morning. Probably because it’s a day old and had been in the fridge. This is a new pet peeve of his); I smoke half a cigarette; I do my taiji routine. After that, I start on my big vat of Coke Zero (sob, we didn’t have enough time together), and I slowly start feeling like a human being.

After an hour or so, I can do any communications I need to do as long as they’re electronic. To actually talk to people in real life, I need at least two hours of silence. I’m not saying this is a good thing, nor am I saying it’s optimal. I realize I’m privileged because I can set this schedule for myself on a regular basis. That said, I hate having questions pelted at me the second I walk in the vicinity of my parents. Not only haven’t I had the time to wake up yet, my brain isn’t yet functioning. It’s yawning and grumbling and slowly stretching its metaphorical arms.

I’ve given up coffee for several reasons, one being that as I get older, it’s harder on my stomach. The downside is that I don’t get the boost drinking coffee gives you. I love my Coke Zero (noooooo don’t gooooooooooo), but it’s just not the same. I’m sure there’s nearly an equivalent amount of caffeine, but it doesn’t kick in the same way. I want a punch to the gut, which coffee delivers. Coke Zero (why, Coca-Cola, why???) is more like an ivy drip with its steady stream of caffeine.


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An Unsettled Mind

My brain is rumpled today. Now, that’s not unusual for me, but I’m feeling it extra today, and I don’t know why. Well, that’s not entirely true. Part of it is the horrible fiasco that is the American Congress voting to proceed on the reprehensible kill Obamacare bill–that isn’t even written yet. The Republicans keep sinking lower and lower, and there isn’t anything we can do about it. Let me rephrase that. We can protest and march and make a big stink, but if the Republicans hold firm, it won’t mean jack or shit.

I’m so tired. And so many of my online friends are tired as well. We’re angry, yes, but the rage is wrapped in layers of weariness, depression, and hopelessness. I’ve talked before about the weirdly American mentality of positivity when there’s no tangible reason to be positive. You can see it in most of our pop culture where the good guy wins in the end, and the bad guys are inevitably vanquished. That’s not the real world, and I’m very much afraid that the good guys are in dire trouble right now.

I’ve decided to add another social media-free day, and it’s going to be Wednesday (which is today by the time this is posted). I feel better when I’m not compulsively scrolling through my timeline on Twitter or my feed on Facebook. Huh. Alliteration. Cool. It’s weird how social media makes me feel simultaneously connected with the world and alienated from it. I’ve talked about it before, so I’ll move on.


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Just Call Me Mulan

When I was younger, I used to go to bed praying I’d wake up a boy,* and I would be severely disappointed when I woke up still a girl. Even as I grew older and stopped believing in God, I thought I would have been better off as a man. Let me be clear: I never felt as if I were trapped in the wrong body. It’s all about the rigidity of patriarchy and how punishing it is to people who don’t fit in. I played with dolls, but I preferred stuffed animals when I wasn’t running around playing softball and other sports. I was what was called a tomboy back then, hating dresses and anything feminine not because they were feminine, but just because they didn’t interest me.

As a teen, I didn’t care about makeup and clothes, though I tried desperately to fit in. I had a Farrah Fawcett flip, and I’m wearing a powder blue sweater and pink eye shadow in my senior photo. I look like a freak and not at all like myself. I curled my hair, used hair products, and applied makeup like it was spackle. Also, I’m allergic to everything, and most makeup was rough back then. Literally and figuratively. I was allergic to whatever was in it, which was not a pretty scene. In addition, I hadn’t perfected the skill of eating without eating off my lipstick, which made me constantly worried about walking around with my lips outlined in lipstick and nothing else. I also was allergic to whatever’s in shaving cream, so I would get bumps any time I shaved. Imagine how fun that was the one time I shaved my pussy.

I gave it all up at some point–makeup, shaving, and trying to keep up with fashion. The shaving thing happened when I was on my semester abroad in Asia and a shower was a hand-held sprayer. Plus, I’m Asian. I don’t need to shave as my body hair is pretty sparse. I haven’t tried makeup in decades, but I know it’s better now than it was when I attempted to wear it. I wore lipstick for longer than I did any other makeup, but I gave it up when, OK, backstory. Wand lip glosses were in for a hot second, and I thought, “I can handle that. It should be pretty easy to apply.” I bought a rich plum-colored lip gloss (I prefer dark shades) and tried it on in the parking lot of the glasses shop. I looked in the rear view mirror, and it looked like someone had punched me in the mouth. I blotted and reapplied, but it didn’t look any better. I concluded I was shit at makeup*** and gave it up that day.


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Baby Steps and a Shimmy

fuck the heat.
I can’t go on. Tell Shadow I love him.

First of all, it’s hot as balls today, which means I’m even grumpier than usual. I’ve griped about the heat before, but it’s frustrating to try to make some people understand why I hate it so much. It’s not just me whining (though I do plenty of that); it’s not me being a delicate snowflake (though I’m that as well). It’s a physical impediment to me being able to do what I want/need to do. When I feel overheated, which is at about 70 degrees for me, I can feel the energy literally drain out of me. It’s akin to depression in that it makes it hard for me to move. My bestie and I used to have a running joke about the heat versus the cold. When we went out during the winter, she’d shiver and say, “Doesn’t the cold make your spine crunch?” I’d reply, “No, it makes me feel ALIVE!” When we went out in the summer, I’d say, “Doesn’t this heat drain you of your will to live?” She’d reply, “I love it! It energizes me!” She’s from Florida, and I’m a born and raised Minnesotan, so that might account for a large part of our different outlooks.

Last Saturday, I was in the co-op parking lot when it was 92 degrees out. I felt the energy drip out my body in a profusion of sweat, and I could barely force myself to go into the co-op. All I wanted to do was sit down where I was and cry. I found myself mentally snapping at everyone in the co-op for the stupidest things. I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from being a bitch, and by the time I got back in my car, I was in tears.

I hate having to defend myself, but I feel it’s necessary because it’s hard to constantly be judged (even if it’s not directly aimed at me) for being almost inert in the summer. It’s a weird disconnect to hear other people talking about how gorgeous the weather is when it’s eighty degrees out and wanting nothing more than to shoot a million ice arrows into the sun. My brain slows down when it’s hot, and that’s the worst part of all. The one thing I pride myself on is that I am a quick thinker. Anything that impedes my ability to think is on my shit list. Valerian is another. I took it once in desperation as a way to sleep, and it slowed my thinking so much, I wanted to kill myself. That’s not hyperbole, by the way. It was bad. Alcohol and drugs are also on the list.

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Different Day, Same Shit

Woke up today and the sun was shining, which means I’m a cranky bitch right now. Well, crankier than normal, which is pretty cranky to begin with. The face-eating aliens are back, and they are having a feast of it lately. An added bonus is that my knees are feeling sore and tender, and I’m blaming it on the weather as well because why the hell not? My head is pounding, and I have no motivation.

I’ve been going down the Gordon Ramsay rabbit hole on YouTube for the past several days, mostly watching clips of him eating horrible food prepared to him by deluded chefs. However, I’ve also watched clips of him cooking, and oh, baby. He could banger my mash any time. Here’s a video of him cooking 5 dishes for winter. I miss winter. *sigh*

Anger and Frustration in the Time of Sinusitis

One of the worst things about being sick is how much it narrows my world. All I can think about is being sick and how much I hate it. When I’m able to write or go to taiji classes, I feel emotionally better, if not physically, but it’s far too easy for me to just let it slide. I also get angry at myself for being sick, as if it’s a judgment on my morality.

I know it’s time for me to practice my mental taiji with a dash of Zen. I can only do so much to get better, and then, I have to just take it as it is. I still haven’t been to the doctor, and one reason is because I’m afraid that she’ll say it’s all in my head. It literally is, all in my head, I mean, but I’m afraid she won’t find anything wrong. It’s the same reason I refused to get on antidepressants for the longest time. What if they didn’t work? I considered them my last resort, and if they failed me, then what? What if I go to the doctor and she can’t find anything wrong with me? Then I’m fucked, and I get to feel terrible about myself for feeling like shit when there’s nothing apparently wrong with me.

To throw a wrench in the works, I have hypothyroidism, and my doctor has been adjusting my dosage. The last time I got checked, my levels were too high, so she decreased my dose. Now, however, I’m feeling so groggy, exhausted, and draggy all the time. I quite expected that my follow-up blood test would reveal she had lowered the dose too much, but my levels were still too high. I don’t know what I’d do if the same thing happened again.

I’m used to feeling tired and not motivated, but this is beyond even my level of tolerance. I want to sleep all the time, but I can’t sleep (another one of my ongoing issues. Sleep). I don’t want to do anything other than sit on the couch. It’s not depression–I know what that feels like. It’s just sheer physical exhaustion.

I know I need to go to the doctor, especially since she requested a second follow-up. I just have to make myself do it.

Here’s the latest Mazzy video. She cheers me up, and that’s a good thing.

Death By a Thousand Cuts

good for you and tasty, too!
I’m Asian. Drinking tea is in my blood.

I’m sipping ginger lemon honey tea as I write this post for three reasons. One, it’s fucking delicious. Two, I’m trying to drink more tea as a way to wean myself off Coke Zero. Three, sigh, I’m fighting something off. I hate even typing those words because it seems like I’ve just recovered from my last flu or cold or whatever the fuck it was. I went on vacation and was feeling fine, but then the day before I left to come home, I was really dizzy when I woke up. As I sat up, a wave of vertigo overcame me, and I fell back on the bed. I get dizzy from time to time, but nothing like that. Eventually, I was able to sit up, but I was weak for the rest of the day. In addition, I started to feel a tickle in my throat. None of this boded well. The next day, I woke up and was immediately dizzy again. When I tried to get up, I couldn’t stay balance, and I had to sit back down. Ian had commented a few nights earlier that I seemed shaky on my legs. I had noticed my balance wasn’t great, but I just chalked it down to me being clumsy.

After returning home, the dizziness in the morning and the tickle in my throat continued. I have to add that my left ear is currently, um, gross. I get crud in my ears, then I pick off the crud, and they scab over. My left ear is like that right now, and it’s sore to boot. I put it down to me picking at the scabs, but maybe it’s something more. I really need to stop picking at the scabs, by the way, but it’s a compulsion with me. In addition, while I was on vacation, the weather went from fifty one day to snow the next to sixty a few days later. It dropped to thirty again, and I returned to almost seventy. I’m guessing that some of the shit I’m dealing with is my body protesting the wildly fluctuating temperatures. Yesterday morning was the first time in nearly a week I’d woken up without the dizziness (yay!), but the tickle in my throat was still there. Today, my nose is running like crazy, and my throat is a bit sore. No dizziness, though. So, yay? I did my shortened routine, but I decided to add some sword drills and the first rep of the weight set. Immediately after, I broke into sweat and stopped. Julie always says to stop when you break into sweat if you’re sick because taiji is counterproductive after that point.

I was able to do a full class on Saturday including a round of the sword (with my steel sword. Should have used my wooden sword, but I was so excited to do sword again, I automatically grabbed my steel one), but I paid for it afterwards. My thighs ached, and I was exhausted, but I slept hard that night–so that was a benefit. I took it easier on Monday, but I’m still worn out. I really thought I could add a little sword and some weights, but my body is telling me no. It’s saying, “Hey, we just went through a really nasty flu. You need to take it easy for longer than you realize/want to.” I hate being sick. It’s boring and no fun, and I can’t stop thinking about all the progress I’m losing. I know I can get it back at some point, but having to regain what I already had always pisses me off. It’s such a waste of time, but the other option is to not regain it at all. Sigh.

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