Underneath my yellow skin

To not be or not to be

I’m struggling. The reasons are long and complicated (and, yes, family-related), which I’m saving for another post. I will note that I had an actual meltdown while last talking to my mother. The result was my sleep immediately going to hell (had my first four-hour night sleep in a while, and how the hell did I EVER used to live on that? Regularly?), my brain fragmenting, and my energy completely dissipating. But,  again, not the focus of this post.

In this post, I’m musing about all the ways I’m just…not. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.

Every since I was a wee little Taiwanese American girl (well, not so wee and not so little) growing up in the lily white suburbs in Minnesota in the 1970s, I was different. Some of it can be seen in the previous sentence. Hell, a lot of it. I was fat, unhappy (difficult childhood), Taiwanese American, super smart, and just…weird. I didn’t watch much TV and we rarely went to the movies. I didn’t listen to pop music until much later. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I ever heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in the sixth grade.

Side note: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time Googling exactly when the song came out and discovered it charted in America in April of 1983, so my apocryphal story could theoretically be true. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way of underling my otherness.

My mom made my clothes including dresses which I hated. Still hate them. Skirts are fine-ish, but not my first choice. I wore one to my nieces wedding, but honestly, if I had some really swish (both literal and metaphorical), I probably would have worn them instead. I don’t wear makeup or use beauty products of any kind. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, which I’ll come to later.  I got fun of for bringing Taiwanese food because this was waaaaaaaay before ‘ethnic’ food became so popular.



I didn’t have any real friends, and I was deeply lonely. I spent most of my time reading, and one year, I made a decision to read the dictionary. I made it to the “I” section before I gave up. I adored big words, which wasn’t the way to make friends–trust me. I became deeply depressed when I was seven, which didn’t help the matter at all.

As you can imagine, I did not fit in at school for many reasons. I like to joke I was raised by wolves, but it was true. I didn’t understand why the kids around me acted the way they did, and I always felt as if I was on the outside of the glass looking in. These days, people talk about being neuroatypical and it’s not quite the mystery it was back when I was a kid. Back then, I was just a weirdo who didn’t think like normal kids. It didn’t help that I was really brainy–in fact, I’d say it actively hurt. I didn’t understand why I could ‘get’ things other couldn’t, and I was intensely bored with school.

On the other hand, I had shitty social skills because of all the  aforementioned issues and more.  I didn’t know how to talk the way other kids talked, and they were all aliens to me. I don’t think this was a cultural thing, though that was a large component. This was a me thing. I’m about to say something that’s going to sound deeply arrogant, but there’s no way around it. I have the ability to look at things from several angles and layers. I’m the ‘well actually’ guy inside because I can see the holes where everyone else sees solidity. One time, I was really frustrated about an argument I was having, and I discussed it in a therapy session. My therapist said, “Minna, you’re talking at a level 5 whereas other people are struggling to deal with a level 2. They literally cannot comprehend what you’re saying.”

It hit me in the gut because while I knew I was considered smart, I always thought it was like just a little bit smart. I surround myself with smart people, so I’m used to having a small gap–not a large one. It’s the lesser-known aspect of the Dunning Kruger effect–those who are accomplished in something (or just smart) tend to underestimate the gap between their skill and others around them. When I explained this to my brother (the smartest person I know), it was as if a light bulb went off in head as well.

Because of this, I have learned to keep most of my opinions to myself with most people because I don’t see the point in having an asymmetrical discussion. It’s just frustrating on all sides. The result, however, is that I feel as if my opinion doesn’t matter. I mean, I know it doesn’t on the granular level because I’m just one person. Who the hell cares what I think? But it’s hard not to equate it with I don’t matter, which is my default position, anyway.

I’m going to be real. If it weren’t for my cat, I wouldn’t care if I was alive or dead. I’m tired, and I’m ready to put the burden down.

That’s not the point of this post, though, which is funny given that it’s taken nearly a thousand words for me to get here. But it does fit in with my meandering in a way–it’s about how I know more about who I am not than who I am. Some things I know about myself that are positive (defined as tangibles) and not negative (defined as the absence of something): taiji, especially weapons; Dark Souls; Shadow. That’s about it right now. Friends are not inherent to me or traits of me so I’m not counting them. I know Shadow isn’t either, but he’s something akin to a familiar.

What I know about myself as a process of elimination is much more lengthy. I’m not straight. I’m not gay. I call myself bisexual (bi), but it’s more a default label than anything else. I don’t like pansexual or omnisexual, and, really, I’d prefer just to say I’m sexual. I don’t want to fall into the ‘no labels’ bullshit, though, and I do think there is some strength is putting a name to it, especially something as overlooked as bisexuality.

Then, there’s my romantic identity. My default had been monogamous because that was what I was taught. At some point, I realized that I wasn’t exactly monogamous, but I wouldn’t have said I was nonmonogamous, either because the way I envisioned it didn’t exactly fit the paradigm. I thought I’d have a primary partner and lots of sex with other people. More recently, I realized that I wasn’t even sure I wanted a romantic relationship at all. Did that make me aromantic? Dunno. Don’t really think so as it’s more function over form, but now the idea of a long-term relationship seems almost unfathomable to me.  What I think I want is several Netflix and chill buddies, but that sounds like too much energy to expend. It’s what I want in theory, though.

To complicate things even further, I can be extremely physically attracted to someone on very little. Like Daniel Dae Kim. I would hit that every day and twice on Sunday. Michelle Yeoh. Also, too. Nico Tortorella. Ahem. Sex is easy for me (having it, I mean. Getting to the place where I’m able to go out and get it is hard). But, I can also become physically attracted to someone after getting to know them, which is why I tend to date friends.

Right now, none of that is very important because of the Covid-19 and for other reasons. But, it’s still nagging at me that I’m wasting prime sex years because I’m way too into my own head (and not enough into someone else’s if you get my drift).

I’ve been thinking a lot about gender lately. Why? Because once again, I don’t like any of the available options. I wanted to be a boy when I was younger but that was because of all the strictures placed around girls/women that still exist now. I was what is typically called a tomboy. I hated dresses, and I liked to climb trees. I was sporty, and I had a deep voice. Whenever I wore makeup, I always felt awkward and like I was wearing a mask. There was a time when I could put it on competently, but it still felt like I was doing something alien to me. Once I gave up wearing makeup, it was such a relief.

I still don’t like any typically female-coded activities, including shopping, makeup, clothing, cooking, babies, crafts, and romcoms. I like the weapons in taiji, which many people would consider masculine. I have such a deep voice, I’m often confused for a man on the phone (don’t give a shit about that). When I was in my twenties, I was told twice by self-identified stone-cold butches that I confused them as far as the butch/femme dichotomy (this was decades ago when that was a thing). I was very proud of that.

I have hair that is almost at my knees. I love my hair. I’m going to keep on growing it until it won’t grow any further and then some. I mean, it stopped growing for decades before starting again, so I know hope. It’s the one ‘feminine’ thing about my appearance except for my boobs and hips. I’m neutral about them and about my pussy. I don’t mind having them, but I’m not rah rah about any of them, either. Actually, I wouldn’t mind having less boobage, but it’s not enough of an issue that I would actually do something about it.

He/him. Not me. They/them. Not me. She/her. Eh, it’s fine. I don’t identify with it, really, but it’s fine. Kinda like bisexual. It’s default, which is my point of this post. I’m defaulting in places because there really are no options that feel like me. I don’t think I’m nonbinary, either. Genderfluid? Maybe. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it, either. It’s not so much that my gender is fluid but that I don’t fit what the definition of…well…anything. That’s always been my problem, and I don’t know what to do about it or how to deal with it.

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