Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

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.

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.

All the ginger tea in the world

Back at home with Shadow on my legs. Had a great time in Philly with my BFF, but traveling is not fun at all if you’re flying basic economy. I got a really good price, but that meant I didn’t get to choose my seat and I couldn’t check any bags for free. I don’t are about the bags, but I do care about the seat. I get the aisle when I can for many reasons, but I knew I’d be in the middle. It was only a two-hour nonstop flight, though, so I didn’t care as much about it for that flight. It was really uncomfortable, though, and one of the reasons I get the aisle seat is because I have bathroom issues. When I am confined, I have to pee more often. I do not know why, but that’s how it goes. I hate asking others to move which is why I get the aisle seat.  Fortunately, the guy in the aisle seat next to me (very nice guy, btw) had to go to the bathroom once so I went when he did.

Flying to Philly was a breeze. I also had my first Lyft ride because of a mix up with my brother. It was interesting. He was from Kenya, and we had a very spirited discussion about America, capitalism, and snow. Anyway, shout-out to Delta for making the flight out as painless as possible. They even had Kind bars as a snack option, which means I could actually have one. I brought five with me as my emergency snack.

On the way back was a different matter. It was a Sun Country flight, and when I went to check in, I had to pay $35 to have one overhead bag. Excuse me, what? I have come to accept that check in bags cost extra, but overhead bags???? On a flight back? That just seems sneaky and wrong to me. I also had to pay for a seat–or at least that was how they presented it. Maybe it was if I didn’t choose, they’d give me the worst seat ever. However, I chose a seat, and the screen made it seem like the plane was more than half-empty–which it wasn’t. I didn’t check in that early, either, so I don’t know what’s up with that. I did get an aisle seat at least, so there’s that.

I also have to say that the night before I went home, we went to get Indian food. There was an appetizer called Cauliflower Bezule that was both DF and GF, and I decided to give it a try after my bestie said it was really good. It was fucking amazing. Here is a Yelp! picture of it. I couldn’t stop talking about it all dinner, but the cramps started as soon as I got back to my BFF’s house. It lasted all night and into the next morning, and I would do it again because the cauliflower was that fucking good. However, that meant I had to worry about the flight home. More on that in a sec.

We were sitting on the plane, idling, and not going anywhere. This is not a good sign. Ideally, once you’re in the plane and everyone is belted in, you should be off in five minutes. In this case, ten minutes went by. Then another five. Then, the pilot came on and said that there was an unexplained light on which meant we had to go back to the gate so the crew can look at it and sign off on it. Ok, fine, but what if it meant we had to switch planes? The pilot said it should be twenty minutes or so. Which, again, fine, but what if something was wrong?


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My broken brain

Ed. Note: I got my days mixed up and posted a fiction post on Wednesday instead of Thursday, so today (Thursday by the time you read it), I am posting something that should have gone up Wednesday. To make things even more complicated, I was going to talk about my new health status, but in honor of Halloween, I’m going to talk to something related to that instead. 

Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is probably no surprise to anyone. All the blackness! Black cats! Candy! Dressing up in fantastical costumes! What is there not to love? Turning off the lights and pretending not to be home when the trick-or-treaters are out! It’s all good fun. I’ve been watching some Halloween streams, and I’ve noticed something that has been a constant for me my whole life. What other people consider scary, I don’t. I really like the Eurogamer team because they have two chicks on it who are badass, but also very supportive–and I just found out they’re both bi! I knew one was, but not the other newer one–and they swear a lot. Women after my own heart. It would be nice if they could add a person of color, but I’m not holding my breath. That does not seem to be a thing at all in England, which is another post for another day.

Anyway, they are playing Visage both in their regular videos and in their Halloween stream. It’s a spiritual successor to P.T., and both women have screamed a-plenty while playing it. There are the usual jump-scares, and they are screaming with abandonment at top volume.

Side Note: It’s really annoying when the mic levels are varying for the different people in the video. I have a problem with really loud noises, and for me, really loud is several steps lower than other people’s.  But I also have an issue with whispering just below hearing level–which is one reason I fucking hate ASMR. It literally makes me mad, which is the diametric opposite of what it should do.

I don’t get jump scares. I mean, I’ve jumped when something pops up in my face, but it’s more a startled reflex than actual fear. I’ve thought about why jump scares don’t get me, and it’s because I have PTSD. You might think that would exacerbate my fear reactions, and it does in non-crisis situations. When it’s a real situation, however, I get deadly calm. My theory is that PTSD, which is not helpful in real life, is actually useful in a crisis. The hyper-awareness, mind being zoomed in and alert, the shutting out of everything else.


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Going into the fray

i just can't help myself.
So delicious, and yet….

I’ve started my elimination diet–or rather, the opposite of an elimination diet. The targeted diet, or as I’m calling it, “I eat what the fuck I want” diet. Within reason. I’m not tackling dairy or gluten yet–by the way, when I told my doctor I had cut them out, she said it wouldn’t be possible to test for an allergy/sensitivity because I needed to have it in my system in order to test for it. The point of this diet is to eat copious amounts of the things I think I might be sensitive to and see how I react. Right now, I’m eating a ton of hummus (garlic), and I’ve noticed that my reaction at first is a slight breathing shortage and a fuzziness inside. It’s a very mild reaction, much like when I drank alcohol. There are two tubs of hummus, one that is just roasted garlic, and the other that is ‘everything’, which means onion, garlic, and sesame seeds. Yesterday, after eating a bunch of hummus feeling slightly uncomfortable, I suddenly felt really uncomfortable. More inside fuzziness and more shortness of breath.

I should note that I’m using carrots as the vehicle for the hummus. I have found that I have a slight reaction to carrots in the past as well. My next test will be to eat the hummus on something  else–or alone, but it’s not as tasty alone. Now, I’m eating it on potato chips, which is surprisingly tasty. I think I’m pretty clear on being sensitive to something in hummus, and the next step will be to isolate what it is.

Side Note: The reason I’m doing a targeted attack rather than an elimination diet is because I want to figure it out as soon as possible rather than take months to figure it out. It’s a bit of a crapshoot (pun intended) because I might be overlooking something, and then I’d have to do an elimination diet, anyway. This is how I Google, by the way. I put in as much information as possible, then I widen the search as needed. My brother and I had a friendly disagreement about this because he put in very general terms and narrowed as he went. He said he’d rather be the one to narrow things down than let Google do it for him. This was years ago, and funnily enough, I asked him about it maybe six months ago, and he had switched to my way of Googling.

It’s the same thing I’m doing with this diet. I’m going after the obvious culprits first in the hopes for a quick and dirty solution. It’s day two, and I’ve already determined that there’s something in the hummus that I need to watch out for. Garlic and onion are both on the FODMAP diet list. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the them that is causing the problem. I need to try more of the black bean hummus to see if it causes the same problems. If it does, then it’s garlic or sesame. If it doesn’t, then it’s chickpeas and/or onions.

I also bought two of the tofu scramble burritos and had one yesterday with fake cheeze. It did not seem to affect me much, and at no point yesterday did I have to race for the toilet. That’s not to say I didn’t have some digestive issues, but at least it wasn’t diarrhea. Another problem is that I may figure out that I’m sensitive to certain things, but not pinpoint what is causing the sudden diarrhea.

That’s a positive, of course, but I really want to know what it is that is causing the race for the toilet. I know what I have to do, but I am resisting it with all my might. I need to cook or at least eat foods that are singular units and not a combination of things.

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The road is long…and bland

my heritage.
My lifeblood.

So, I’ve been doing some lackadaisical research into what I’m intolerant to because I don’t have the energy to do a deep dive. In addition, I’m resentful about having to cut something else from my diet. I didn’t like cutting out gluten and dairy, but it was fairly easy to do so. I had a harder time with caffeine, but I don’t miss it now. The problem is that I eat the same thing pretty much every day, and to cut out one thing from my staples feels inappropriately large. I think it might be something in the nut family. I’m currently enjoying a dark chocolate peanut butter that is the best of the chocolate spreads out there (of the ones I can eat). I have it on a bagel or a hamburger bun (which is cheaper than the bagels by half), and sometimes I slap some jam on it.

I’ve not had a problem with this, but I ate a few spoonfuls yesterday sans bread and jam. That didn’t sit well with me, and my bowels were not happy with me for the next few hours. It’s vegan and gluten free, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve noticed an itchiness inside when I’ve eaten nuts before, so I’m keeping my eyes on it. It’s not noodles, thankfully (rice noodles, natch), but I’m concerned it could be rice. I will not deal well with it if it’s rice. I already did not deal well with people telling me I should eat brown rice instead of white (I know, but I don’t care), and if I turn out to be sensitive to white rice, well, I am not going to be a happy camper. I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ve also noticed that I feel the worst in the morning when I just get up. Today, I had a piercing headache–the kind that turns into a migraine if I’m not careful–and a shallowness of breath. I still have the breathing issue, though I took care of the headache problem (it’s a minor headache now, which I can deal with). I’m exhausted, even though I slept for almost seven hours. That’s how I know I’m sick–when I sleep more than six hours.

I hate being like this. I hate not being really sick because I feel like I should fight through it. It doesn’t help that my mother is the type to ignore her health until she can’t. She had back surgery three weeks ago, and she was up and walking two days later. Now, she wants to walk 30 minutes a day, and I told her to pace herself. There are other issues including my father is being an ass to her. It was to be expected, but it’s still difficult. I’m thinking about going there for a week or two, but that would come at a great cost to myself. I’m worried about her, and while I knew what would happen would happen, it’s infuriating to see it play out in real time.
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Running out of patience

I’ve had enough with the sickness, but it has not had enough of me. Last night, I ate something that hit me hard. I’m pretty sure I know what it is as the symptoms came within minutes of finishing something, and it does not have wheat/gluten or dairy in it. You know what that means? It means there is something else I’m allergic/sensitive/intolerant to, and I have to do some more fact finding. I think you can guess how happy I am about that. I’ve had issues before, and I’m tired of it. That means I have to figure out the other thing that makes me shit my brain out*. It happened five minutes after eating this thing (not naming it because it’s not the fault of the product, which was actually tasty), and then I was running to the bathroom every fifteen/twenty minutes for the rest of the evening.

TMI, but the whole post probably is. It’s the kind of thing where you have to run to the bathroom and pray you’ll make it in time. My stomach is fine, fine, fine, and then GOTTA RUN NOW! Shadow did not appreciate that as he was on my legs the first time it happened. I didn’t shove him off exactly, but I moved my legs with quickness. He was not pleased, and he let me know about it, but I had roughly ten seconds to make it to the toilet, so I paid him no mind.

Side Note: I was describing the symptoms to my mother while she was here, and she said it might be her issue as well. She’s been having similar problems, and she decided to try to go dairy free/gluten free as well. I told her she could try my dairy-free cheese and cashew milk. She complained that they did not taste like the real thing, and I patiently explained to her that they wouldn’t. She had to not think of them as substitutes but as their own thing. After one day, she gave up because it was too hard.

Side Note II: My father has the opposite problem (constipation). As he was listening to my mother and I discuss our problems, he said, “I know this sounds strange, but I wish I had your problem.” I didn’t explain to him why he should not say that to someone, but I certainly thought it. I had heard similar things when I was anorexic/bulimic, and it always made me feel worse. Like, I’m dealing with this really difficult thing, and you so blithely make a joke about it? No thank you. I didn’t demur with my father, however, because I knew it wouldn’t make a difference.

Side Note III: It’s really interesting how invested Americans are in the idea of faaaaaaamily. I was explaining something about my father to someone, and they were saying, “Oh, maybe he’s trying to be sympathetic in a really awkward way”, and I said, “No, he’s just a narcissist.” The uncomfortable silence was palpable, and I swiftly changed the subject.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. My dodgy stomach. Hey, I watch a bunch of British YouTubers, so I’ve absorbed some of their lingo.


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Finding my way home

Today is gray and drizzling out, and we need the rain. I like gloomy weather, but it doesn’t do much for my depression. Which I still have right now. It’s not as bad as it was on Friday, but it’s still (ma)lingering. Friday was the worst I’d had in quite some time, and it freaked me out. I could barely get through the one day, so how the hell did I used to do this on the daily? I passed much of my twenties in this fashion, and I’m amazed I made it to the other side. There were days when I considered it an accomplishment that I brushed my teeth. That’s how I felt on Friday. I struggled to get anything done, and I’m feeling it a bit today. The last few days, it’s been difficult to get my writing done. I’d write a sentence or two, then stopped. My head felt heavy, and my eyelids kept closing against my will.

Today, I’ve had to push myself to get my shit together. My taiji routine should take a half hour to forty minutes. I’ve stretched it to ninety minutes before by reading my phone as I was stretching. Today, since I wanted to go to Cubs afterwards, I managed to do it in forty minutes. My routine now consists of 10 minutes of stretching, 10 minutes of warm-ups, 10-15 minutes of weapons, 5 minutes of Solo Form, 10 more minutes of stretching. As I was doing my morning routine, I thought, “I don’t have to go to Cubs. I can go tomorrow.” This is one of the more insidious aspects of my depression–I can talk myself out of doing anything. Now, granted, I didn’t *have* to go to Cubs today, but it would have been a lean day if I hadn’t. Nothing wrong with a lean day, but I probably wouldn’t feel like going tomorrow, either. I made myself go today, and now, I can eat fairly well (given that I don’t cook).

I’ve been exhausted since my parents left. I can barely keep my eyes open, and all I want to do is sleep. Yet, when I try to sleep, I can’t. This is per yooz for me, though. I can be falling asleep every minute of the day, and then when I actually go to bed, I’m wide awake. I used to get frustrated about it, but I’ve accepted it as a way of life. My weighted sleep mask has been a god-send for keeping me asleep (except for the bizarre fact that it doesn’t have a fastener, but merely a slit to pull one end through, so it falls off. I should sew a button on or something, but, that’s probably not going to happen), but it doesn’t help me actually fall asleep.

I’m really tired. So tired that my brain is refusing to brain. So, for today, I’m shutting it down. Here’s Vienna Teng’s Lullaby For a Stormy Night. I may need to take a nap.

 

Matter over mind

Last weekend, my taiji teacher invited me to her place this Saturday (last night) because her husband was on a retreat so she was baching it for the week. When she asked, my brain immediately came up with a million reasons not to go (even though we are friends and I like hanging out with her), so I did the Minnesotan response* (which I then explained to her in another context ten minutes later) of saying I would have to see how I felt that day. Then, after I went home, I thought about it more and realized that I had a habit of naysaying because I had such a difficult time leaving the house. I had to convince myself that there was a good reason to leave, then talk myself through the actual leaving. I hate driving so that’s part of it, but it’s also just that I am not able to control things outside my house to the extent that I can inside my house. Except my cat. There’s no controlling him.

I emailed my teacher and told her I’d be going (betraying my MN roots) and if I could bring anything. All was well until Friday rolled around. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed as the saying goes, and I was in the worst depression I’d had in at least a decade. It wasn’t my usual general malaise; it was a serious I hate everything about the world feeling. Plus, I was physically drained to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open. I had no idea why I felt that way or what caused it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Everything I tried to do was made impossible by the heaviness of my eyelids and my body. I would try to write, and my eyes would close.

I wanted to go to taiji, but I knew I would be putting myself and others at risk if I tried to drive. I emailed my teacher telling her I wouldn’t be in class, and then I immediately started worrying about whether I would be able to go to her place the next night. My brain told me I should just cancel (even though I told her I was still aiming to go) and promise to take her out for lunch later. I didn’t want to disappoint her, plus I knew that my depression made me catastrophize everything. I decided to wait and see because I might be better by the next morning. There was no reason to call it off with plenty of time to see if I’d get better. But, that’s how my brain rolls. It says everything is terrible and I might as well just give up because it’s no use. What is no use? Everything is no use.

The rest of the day was me struggling to get shit done. I did manage to do it, but it took about four times the effort, and the results were…not great. But I got them done. I went to bed or rather passed out against my will (I hate falling asleep sometimes), and when I got up, I felt much better. Still like shit, but at least it didn’t feel as if I were swimming in molasses. I decided I was going to taiji and my teacher’s place later, even though my brain was screaming at me not to go. Why? Because it hates me.

Side Note: I have a lot of anxiety, obviously. It makes me sympathetic to others with anxiety, but it also makes it difficult for me to be around others with a high level of anxiety. My mother also has a lot of anxiety, and while she used to keep it somewhat under control, now she just lets it run amok. Her constant stream of anxiety is the way the voices in my head sound, and I don’t need an outwardly manifestation of said anxiety.

I went to taiji, and it was productive. I will talk more about that later because it’s worthy of a post in and of itself. Afterwards, my teacher and I chatted for a few minutes before we went our separate ways *cue Journey*. I went home to relax a bit, but in the back of my mind, there was a little voice worrying about the evening. That’s the way my mind works. There’s always a little voice saying something negative. Over the years, I’ve been able to tame it to a great extent, but I can’t get rid of it completely. In the past, I would give in to the voices just to shut them up, but it was folly. It only stopped them for a second, and sometimes, not even then. It used to be a shout, but now it’s more a dull murmur.

At least I knew what I was going to wear. I have a new favorite pair of paints that I bought from Target. AVA And Viv. Burnt Orange. Pockets. Comfy waist. Wide legs. In other words, fucking perfect. Plus a black button down from Taiwan. The drive was terrific because I was able to take the freeway that is currently NOT under construction rather than the one that is a fucking nightmare right now. There was one other woman there, someone I had met before who is really kindhearted with a fey outlook on life that I found both fascinating and at times bewildering.

I bought two tubs of hummus, two packets of pitas, and one bag of gluten-free bagels. I also bought some dark chocolate hummus to try for myself, and it’s…ok. It’s bland and too gritty, though. I also currently have a dark chocolate vegan spread that is…ok. It’s too gummy, though. The best is from Peanut Butter & Co., but it’s a tad too gritty. They also have a dark chocolate hazelnut spread, but the shipping fee on a five dollar jar is ten bucks. Uh, no. I could get six for thirty from Amazon, but that’s too much for one person.

We listened to music, chatted, and had tasty food. The other woman brought corn chips, and my teacher made a great guac to go with them. She also had a tasty flavored drink made with cane sugar. I think it was cherry? I can’t quite remember. In addition, she provided dark chocolate-covered almonds and dark chocolate-covered nuts and Majula dates. For a second, I was concerned about the chocolate until I remembered that she was allergic to dairy herself so she would not buy anything that would trigger a reaction.

My teacher’s husbands has an impressive array of insects and lizards, and my teacher has an adorable cat. It was so cool to check them all out. There is a lizard, um, gecko, um, not sure exactly what species she is, but I told her she was me in lizard form. She’s stealthy and likes to hang out in the shadows, being more of an observer than a participant. The boy lizard, on the other hand, is gregarious, outgoing, and likes to show you his big testicles. I didn’t get to see them, but I cackled at my teacher’s description of him manspreading on the glass.

At the end of the night, I marveled to myself that I had gone through so much anxiety over the event because it turned out to be lovely and very low-key. That’s the way my brain works, though, and I doubt I will ever be able to get it to stop completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Anything other than a yes is a no. “I have to check my calendar” is a no. “That sounds interesting” is a no. “I’ll talk it over with my husband/wife/spouse/dog” is a no. “I’d love to if I can ____” is a no. If you don’t hear an explicit, “Yes! I’m there!”, it’s a no.

I got my weapons on my mind

Let’s talk weapons. Not the gun kind that has been making the news with distressing frequency, but the kind that doesn’t shoot projectiles at a high velocity. We’re talking swords, sabres, canes, and fans. We’re also talking escrima sticks and karambits. I mentioned this before, but I want to delve more into it.

I never wanted to try weapons when I first started taiji. While I was all about the martial arts application, I thought weapons were…uncivilized. More than that, they scared me. I was a ball of rage at that time, and I felt if I did weapons, I would just beat the shit out of everyone with said weapons. It wasn’t rational, but it was how I felt. I kept a tight rein on my anger, but when I slipped, it exploded all over the place.

I’ve told this story a million times, but I fobbed off my teacher every time she brought up weapons for an uncomfortable amount of time. It was only when she put a wooden sword into my hand that I realized what the fuck I had been missing. The second I closed my fingers over the hilt of the sword, I knew this was what I was meant to do. It felt like an extension of my arm, and I bought my stainless steel sword pretty soon after.

I would like to say that I practiced diligently once I started learning the Sword Form, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and I didn’t experience a radical personality change. I still dragged my feet, but I *did* enjoy learning the Sword Form more than I did the Solo Form. I learned it fairly quickly, and I loved every minute of it. When I was learning the Solo Form, there were several times I questioned what the fuck I was doing and why the hell I was doing this thing called taiji? I don’t mind saying (and my teacher doesn’t mind hearing) that I resented the hell out of taiji, and one of the reasons I went to more than one class a week is because I didn’t practice at home at all.

Side Note: I have a new classmate who is challenging to me for many reasons. The one I’m going to focus on this right now is because she’s so gung-ho about taiji, especially weapons. I am the weapons person in my class, and it’s a poke to my ego to see her learning them before knowing the whole Solo Form. Back when I started taiji, my teacher was told by her teacher that weapons could not be taught until after the Solo Form. That is no longer the case, and while I think it’s a good change, it’s hard for me not to feel resentful. I know I sound very much ‘back in my day’ about it, but it doesn’t help to hide it. I try not to have attitude around her, but it’s difficult.

Anyway, after the Sword Form came the Sabre Form, and that was a rocky road. It was nothing like the Sword Form, which shocked the hell out of me. Ignorant me thought, “Hey, it’s just a slightly bigger sword. It should be a snap.” It was not a snap. Not a snap at all. It was the opposite of a snap, and it upset me. There are very few things I’m proud of when it comes to myself, and one of them is that I learn things quickly*. Whereas the sword instantly felt at home in my hand, the sabre was just…dead wood. It never came alive. It never sang to me. It never thrummed with excitement, and I hated it.

I can say that now because I am past that hate and the resentment. Way past it, but I’ll get to that in a second.


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