Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

Knives out is better than knives in

I hated Knives Out as I mentioned in my two-part review. In part because it didn’t have enough bladed weapons, even though admittedly it was a tiny part of the reason. This is just a clever way for me to say that I love weapons. A lot. This is not news to anyone who knows me, but the depth of my passion might be. Except to my taiji teacher. She is well-used to me gushing about some weapon or the other. I appreciate her patience because she is not a weapons person herself. She doesn’t dislike them, I don’t think, but she’s at best neutral about them.

One consequence of my training is that I have become a ‘well, actually’ person when it comes to weaponry that I know. I mean, it’s not unusual. I hate movies with psychologists in them because they break SO MANY LAWS. Similarly, taiji in most movies is just people waving their hands in the air. I watched Truly, Madly, Deeply with Alan Rickman in it, and there’s a scene in which he is playing the cello. I love Alan Rickman immensely, and he did a decent job of mimicking a cellist, but it was obvious he didn’t really play.

So, yeah, it’s not unusual that I wince when I see weapons-play in movies or TV. I remember when Game of Thrones was a thing. There was a scene between Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth that had everyone online raving about it. Especially ‘girl power’ and that kind of thing. I finally watched the clip, and I was underwhelmed. The two actors did the best with what they were giving, but the whole thing was ludicrous. Let’s start with the constant clashing of swords. Look. If you have a pointy-stabby thing in your hand, you’re not looking to clash it against another pointy-stabby thing. You’re looking to point and stab it into a soft bit. This is not rocket science. In addition, the wild swinging and slashing is both wasted energy expended and leaving yourself open to an attack.


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Living the condiment life

all eggs all the time.
Shake the shakshuka into my mouth!

I don’t cook. I think I’ve been pretty goddamn clear about this. I don’t like to cook, which is not to say that I can’t cook. I’m not very good at it because I don’t do it often, but I know the basic principles. I will admit I do struggle with how to pace everything so they come out done at the same time. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still not natural to me.

One thing I’ve learned is that sauces/condiments are life. They can make a big difference in a simple dish, and it’s hard for me not to keep piling them on. For example, when I make a ‘burger’ (fake meat), this is the breakdown. I use vegan butter and lactose-free cream cheese on the bread, oh, and fake cheeze. On the burger itself, I put ketchup and mustard, relish, and bread and butter pickle chips. And spinach. So, yeah, it’s definitely hard to put my hands around it and sometimes my mouth.

I’d like to sing the praises of the Mina sauces. Yes, I picked up the first one in part because of the name, but also because I was curious about harissa sauce. Then, I discovered they had a shakshuka sauce, and I was more than intrigued because I had been thinking of attempting shakshuka for a month or so. It has onions and garlic, which I’m trying to avoid, but I can take in small amounts. I also am allergic to cilantro, but that’s just a taste thing. Ugh, soap.

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When mental health issues collide with reality

In the best of times, I have to push myself to do what needs to be done. This is not the best of times, and it’s even worse now. Add to that the fact that my sleep has completely reverted, and I’m a hot(ter) mess right now. I’m discouraged because it’s a vicious cycle. I’m going to bed around four-thirty in the morning, which is not good. More to the point, it’s a rather sudden change which makes it even more difficult to deal with. It took me several months, probably half a year or so, to go from going to bed at five/six in the morning to two. now, in the course of maybe two weeks, I’ve reverted back to almost five.

Logically, there’s no reason I can’t follow that timetable. I t’s not like I have to be anywhere at any specific time (except for my taiji Zoom classes–and most of them are in the afternoon). But, I wanted to be on a more normal schedule. That seems to be but a dream now. And I’m discouraged by it. There is little I can do about sleep that I haven’t done before.

Ugh. I am so not feeling it today.

Slipping away

I’m done. My sleep has been a hot mess, and how the hell did I ever deal with this in the past? I can’t believe I used to get by on four hours of sleep and that I used to go to bed at eight in the morning. One thing I was working on before the pandemic started was getting my sleep on track. I wanted to be more like normal people because…I don’t even know why. I think because while I like being awake when other people are sleeping, I do feel like even more of a freak for being on the opposite side of sleep for most people. In addition, normal life was hard to navigate when I was on the late night tip. If I had any appointments, I tried to make them as late in the afternoon as possible, but it was still hard to make it to them. And it would throw me off my game for the rest of the day.

It’s not a matter of restfulness, either, because I’m always tired. It’s just a fact of life. Much like I used to always have headaches. They were lowkey and I was able to ignore them most of the time, but they were there. It’s the same with sleep. I’m always tired. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I get. There are days when it’s worse than others, obviously, but it’s always there.

Anyway, I was making strides in my sleep pattern before the pandemic hit. I started pushing my sleep time…back? Forward? Earlier. Since I was consistently going to bed around five-ish, I pushed it back to four. After a week or so, I pushed it back again to three. In this fashion, I managed to get it to one/one-thirty. My goal was midnight, but I was ok with where I was at. Then, during the pandemic, it began to become a bit more elastic. It was one-thirty to two, which, while not great, was fine. Then, the phone call. My meltdown. The immediate panic.

Side note: Briefly, my mom called, and I knew immediately that she wanted to say something she knew I wasn’t going to like. I could tell because when I asked how she was, her voice got that tone that it gets when she has something unpleasant to say and she added a little laugh, which is also a tell. Of course, that put me on guard, and I was predisposed to dismiss whatever she had to say. I tried to be patient, but let’s face it. Things were tense between us whenever we talked, and I was not in the mood for difficult.


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Ch-ch-ch-changes…sorta

I feel like I’m drowning. Not physically, but emotionally. First of all, I’m exhausted all the time. That’s not unusual. I’m always tired, but I mean to-the-bone exhausted. I’ve been dozing on-and-off for the past week or so. I’ve been going to bed at weird times and getting up at even weirder times. I will say that the ZonLi cooling weighted blanket has been really beneficial in me getting some solid zzzzzs. It’s not exactly cooling, but it doesn’t make me hot, either. Which is about the most I can hope for with a 15-pound blanket. It’s a comforting weight that is weirdly neutral in hotness. I still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that it is a blanket that is heavy upon me, but it’s not making me sweat. In addition, it’s cut down on the number of times I wake up in the middle¬† of the night (sometimes, I sleep through the whole six hours), which is amazing.

I think part of the reason I’m so exhausted is that I’ve been sleep-deprived my entire life. I’m getting more sleep now (and I think I’m on the edge of a cold, but that’s something completely different) than I have, well, ever, and maybe my body is saying, “Where the fuck was this my whole life?” I know you can’t make up a sleep deficit, but it’s like my body is trying desperately. The reason I think I’m getting sick is because I’m sleeping for eight hours and more, which is unheard of for me. Maybe the blanket is allowing it to happen? If so, it’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent. I’ve done so many things in order to sleep more and better, and none of it has worked. Only taiji has improved my sleep, and that was an indirect consequence that happened over ten years. Two hours in ten years? Not bad. If the blanket pushes me over seven, well, then, I consider it a big fat win.

I am curious to see how it works in the winter when I actually do want a bit of warmth from a blanket. I have a hunch it’ll be fine, but if not, then I can add another blanket. I’m not too worried about it because I don’t need much heat. Oh, I do have to keep my feet poked out at the bottom of the cooling blanket in order for optimum temperature control. It’s worth it, though. I still wear my weighted eye mask (that still falls off sometime during the night) and my earplugs (which fall out, too), and I still jam my head under a pillow. Speaking of, my new pillows are mixed. Or rather, my feelings about my new pillows are mixed. They’re fine, but they’re a bit…floofy? Too plump? I dunno. I’m not in love with them, but they’re fine.


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Annual sinus issues in the time of Covid-19

So, I’ve been dealing with my annual sinus/migraine bullshit. Oh. I just thought of something. Caffeine can cause migraines as well as cure them (it’s finicky like that). I’ve been drinking caffeinated tea at night. That might be the cause of the migraines. I’ll give it a skip tonight and see if it helps.

As for the sinus stuff, I think it’s partly allergies (because I’m allergic to everything under the sun), but it’s also sinus stuff. I can tell the difference because I’ve had allergies all my life, and I’ve had sinus issues for several years. The former is your typical itchy eyes, runny/stuff nose, clogged throat, while the latter is ear shit, nose afire/pricked, and swollen glands. The third factor is the weather. I have no scientific basis for this, but I firmly believe that the barometric pressure changes plus the heat negatively affect my sinuses. I definitely know that ‘feels like 102’ negatively affects my mood. I keep my AC at 78, but I dropped it a degree yesterday because I was not gonna deal with a migraine, sinus crap, AND heat.

I fucking hate the summer with all my heart, and I always have. Not only because of the heat but also because of the allergies. Everything is in bloom, and it wreaks havoc on my nose. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Not only because it’s been pushed out of the news, but because life around me hasn’t changed. I haven’t seen one mask in my neighborhood, and there are definitely neighbors who are not practicing safe social distancing.

And I end up feeling like I’m the weird one for completely shutting myself off. My father laughed at me the other day that when I had food delivered, I didn’t let them in my house. To me, it was a no-brainer. Letting them in the house defeated the whole purpose of delivery in the first place. And, our state soft-opened…a week ago? I think? Time doesn’t matter. Anyway, my brother said we should go to the noodle place down the street when it opened. Even after we agreed that nothing had really changed during the ‘stay-at-home’ time and the ‘stay safe’ time.


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Personal health in a time of societal crisis

The war is raging on, and it seems selfish to focus on my personal health. Alas, I am still me, even in these times of unrest, so I can’t completely divorce myself from, well, me. Also, all the words¬† I have to say about the ongoing situations are bottled up in my throat, making me strangely muted. I’ve been grieving–crying at the drop of a hat, and I’ve been praying to a god I don’t believe in for something, anything, and I’m not even sure what.

But, because of my autoimmune bullshit and the Covid-19, I am not going to the protests. I have to ask myself honestly, though, would I go if it weren’t for the Covid-19? My answer is, I don’t know. If my bestie were here, we’d go together. We’ve done it before. Would I go on my own? Not so sure. It doesn’t say anything good about me, but it’s the truth.

It’s weird. When my parents called the other night, concerned about my brother and me (more him because he lives in South Minneapolis), my father counseled me to stay in. “You’re Asian,” he said. “So you’re the other to both blacks and white.” He didn’t say it exactly like that, but it’s what he meant. He’s right, and it puts me in this weird other-land that makes it hard for me to figure where my place is in all this.

Let me make myself clear. I am 100% on the side of the protesters. What happened to George Floyd was horrific, and it’s a symptom of a very sick system. But I’m not black. I cannot speak to that experience. I’m also not white, and I’ve experienced racism myself. Especially in the time of the Covid-19 with the president stoking flames of hatred towards Chinese people, I am concerned about how I might be perceived if I go out into public. I’m not Chinese, but that’s a point without distinction right now. Add to that the fact that I’ve experienced mild racism at the hands of cops, and it leaves me in a weird place.


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I’m my own worst enemy…again

I’m an idiot of the highest order. I have been feeling pretty shitty for three or four days, and I skipped two taiji classes over the weekend. Yesterday (Monday), I woke up feeling markedly better. Not my best, but better. Enough better to try taiji class. I was fine during the warm-ups which, as you may imagine, are gentle. Then, we got to the chi gong, and this is where I fucked up.

My teacher has told us more than once that if we’re sick, we have to be careful of breaking out into a heavy sweat. If it’s a light sweat, that’s fine. If it’s a heavy sweat, we should immediately quit. During chi gong, we did 6 of 8 postures. First three, no problems. Then, four, which is the most difficult, complicated, and involved. I immediately broke out into a heavy sweat and was shaky on my toes (literally. Most of the posture is done with the heels lifted). Normally, I do not have a problem standing on my toes, but yesterday, I was terrible. I almost fell over several times, and I was very hot and sweaty.

Here’s the thing. I knew immediately that I should stop, but I didn’t. Why? A few reasons. One, I’m very loath to appear like a quitter in front of other people. I phrased that very carefully because I am a quitter. I quit when things get hard because, well, again for several reasons. One, I am naturally good at many things. I never really had to learn how to persevere at something that I wasn’t good at because there were relatively few things that I *had* to learn in that manner. Two, my family of origin is not very forgiving of mediocrity. When I was in school, they never had anything to say when I got As, only when I got anything less than an A. I graduated college magna cum laude, and my mother said I would have graduated summa if I didn’t get a B in my Intro Psych class.


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Mental and physical health in the time of you-know-what

It’s May. I’m having a hard time grasping that little fact. I’m also having a hard time remembering when my personal lockdown started. I want to say it was…March…early? Late? Not sure any longer. I know it was before my birthday which was nearly a month ago. Time has lost all meaning, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s also interesting how many people are having vivid dreams, which was something I assumed was only happening to me. There are reports of people dreaming about people who ignored social distancing, making the dreamer panic. Mine have had nothing to do with COVID-19, but they are very intense. It’s weird because I used to have extreme anxiety dreams and before that, outright nightmares. Now, however, my dreams are intense but not anxious dreams–well, not in the classic sense. They are the least-troubling aspect of my sleep at the moment, which is saying a lot.

I’ve given up on trying to regulate my sleep. I go to sleep whenever I go to sleep, and I get up whenever I get up. If I snooze at any given point, then I snooze. I’m of the mindset that whatever gets me through at this point is fine. Within reason, of course.

Side Note: I read all these people joking about drinking 24/7, and I don’t find it funny at all. I already thought people in America drink too much (let’s not talk about Britain), and I don’t like that the pandemic is being used as an excuse to get plastered. I do sympathize with self-medicating, but….Yeah, I’ll just leave it at that.

I mentioned last time that the one bright side to this mess is that my allergies and sinus issues have been drastically reduced, which strengthens my theory that nature is trying to kill me. I mean, it makes perfect sense that if I’m allergic to everything in nature, keeping it at bay will be better for me. Now that I’m able to test this hypothesis, I’ve found that it’s true. What does it mean for life after this pandemic clears (if it does)? I don’t know. It’s not realistic for me to not ever go anywhere ever. I mean, I could do it, but I don’t think it’s feasible for the long run.

I’m also thinking about what to do about life in general once the restrictions ease. People in my neighborhood are pretty lax about best practices, and it’s tripping me up whenever I see it. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a mask in my neighborhood, including when I went to the pharmacy. It’s bizarre, and it makes me angry. I’m working on letting it go and reminding myself that I’m hermetically sealed for the most part.


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Covid, COVID, covid…no matter how you spell it

It’s week whatever in lockdown, and I’m about the same as I ever was. Unhappy about the golfers not practicing good social distancing/masking, but I know that’s a me-problem. Meaning, I’m in my house. There’s no way their germs can reach me. I know that being outside in a widely-dispersed area greatly negates the risk, and yet. The fury rises within me, and I have to talk myself down. I can’t control other people, obviously, so I can only do my best to distance myself.

Speaking of which. I’ve read several people online with compromised immune systems saying they don’t know if they’ll ever feel safe to go out again. I can relate. I have a very mild case of agoraphobia–it’s more accurate to say I really don’t like to leave the house if I absolutely don’t have to–and it’s ratcheted up during this time. All the fears that have been percolating in my brain in a low-key fashion before this mess have bubbled to the surface, and I don’t know how I’ll be able to feel comfortable around other people again.

On the plus side, my sinus issues have gone down a ton. I’m still a bit afraid I’m having sinus issues right now, but it’s nothing compared to what I used to get. Which has led me to the conclusion that the outside really is trying to kill me. I mean, what can the conclusion be but this? I’m saying this in jest, of course, but it’s not untrue. I’m allergic to almost everything on earth up to and I like to joke including the air, and, obviously, I can’t control the environment around me when I’m outside. Now that I’m only going out to smoke (yes, irony alert) and to grab up the packages delivered to me before I put them in the garage to live out their natural lives–yes, that’s where the packages go to live–before disinfecting everything, of course.

Side note: I’m trying not to freak out at the ever-changing information as to what is and what isn’t helpful when it comes to covid-19. It’s hard, though, when even the experts are changing their recommendations¬† on a regular basis. Remember back in the day when us plebes were absolutely not to wear masks ever and they wouldn’t help, anyway? Now, it’s mandated in some states that you have to wear them, and it’s heavily recommended.


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