Underneath my yellow skin

Fringe Benefits?

Most of the time, I am perfectly fine with being on the edge of American society. I am *deep breath* a Taiwanese American, bisexual, fat, old, unmarried, childfree, agnostic teetotaling, makeup-free, taiji-practicing/sword-loving woman with four tats who hates shopping, cooking, and clothing, but likes video games, graphic novels/comics, and sports*. ┬áIt’s just who I am, and it’s not something I think about most of the time.

However, once in a while, I can’t help but think it’s would be easier and less lonesome if I were a bit more mainstream. Take alcohol, for example. I grew up in a non-drinking household, and I never had the desire to drink. First of all, I’m allergic as are the majority of Asians because we don’t have the gene that breaks down alcoholic enzymes, but that obviously doesn’t stop other Asians from drinking. I’m sure I had the random glass of wine or beer when I was a teenager, but I didn’t really experiment with alcohol until I was in college. Even then, the thought of getting smashed every weekend didn’t appeal to me. I had heard about beer that you just had to keep trying until you found one you liked, but that seemed stupid to me. Why dedicate so much energy to something that was so distasteful to me just so that I *might* discover something halfway enjoyable? It didn’t work, anyway. I remember a chocolate raspberry beer that was tasty, but that was because of the chocolate and the raspberry. I did find one beer that was acceptable to me–Bud Lite. When people found out that was my favorite beer, their usual response was, “It doesn’t even taste like beer!” To which I would retort, “That’s why I like it! It’s water with a waving of beer running through it.”

Wine is even worse. I hate it, and I’m the most allergic to it. I don’t know if it’s the tannins or what, but there is something especially repugnant about wine to me. When I did drink (infrequently, maybe twice a year, three times at most), I preferred hard alcohol–it’s the one I’m least allergic to. Gin & tonic or rum & Diet Coke were my go-tos, with an amaretto sour thrown in for variety. Even then, I disliked what the alcohol did to me–made me red all over, and I became short of breathing. It all came to a head when I was celebrating a birthday, I want to say my 40th, and I had some kind of ‘dessert’ drink with chocolate, whipped cream, and probably Kahlua and/or Irish whiskey. I found myself thinking, “This is tasty, except for the alcohol.” That’s when I realized that I could have a delicious dessert drink without alcohol because I was a fucking adult, damn it, and I could drink what I pleased.

That’s the last time I really felt I *had* to have a drink, and I’ve had maybe three drinks since then. I don’t like anything about drinking, and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not uncomfortable turning down drinks. However, so much of our social interactions revolve around drinking in this country, and it can be alienating to be a teetotaler. Again, I don’t mind saying I don’t drink, but it can be awkward when someone says, “Hey, let’s grab drinks if I’m in town” to say, “I don’t drink.” I also don’t like being at parties where I’m the only one not smashed because, and I’m going to be completely honest about this, trashed people are no fun to be around. They talk endlessly about stupid shit, thinking they’re being brilliant. In addition, I’ve had to fight off advances from drunk people, which isn’t fun, either, especially when they can’t get it through their alcohol-sodden brains that their pawing is not welcomed.

I’ve dated several people who were alcoholics or had a problem with alcohol, and I’m done with it. If I ever date again, I’m going to prioritize someone who doesn’t drink. I know that’s difficult to find in this country, and I know it cuts down the dating pool rather drastically.

In addition, so does not wanting to get married/cohabitate with someone. This is the other big thing that cuts down on my ability to relate to normies–not being in a relationship and not having kids. I’m fortunate in that I know several women my age who don’t have children, but I know far less who aren’t in a committed, cohabitating relationship. I’ve never lived with a romantic partner, and I used to think there was something wrong with me because I never wanted to. It’s less relevant now because I’m not dating anyone and probably won’t be any time soon, but–another thing. I don’t want a romantic relationship right now–I just want a Netflix and chill buddy. I’m too old for one-night stands, and I do think there is some emotional connection when you have sex with someone, but I don’t want to be all-in.

I think the bigger problem is that while I’m on the fringe of society in many ways, I’m more conventional in others. I am mostly monogamous, mostly because it’s hard enough to tend to one relationship let alone more. I like a wide variety of sexual practices, but I’m also too old to want to do elaborate set-ups like swinging from chandeliers or fancy role-playing. I’m a freak to the normies, but a normie to the true freaks, and I feel lost in limbo much of the time.

It’s similar to how I feel as a Taiwanese bisexual woman–invisible and unwanted. When it comes to race in this country, no one cares about Asians, and when it comes to sexuality, it’s a binary of gay and straight. We are a very black-and-white society, pun intended, and I often feel as if I’m floating through the ether, not acknowledged by either side. I don’t belong in this country, and it has nothing to do with the current president. I have felt this way all my life, and politics right now only serve to exacerbate the feeling. To be blunt, it’s not conservatives, but liberals who are making me feel this way. We’re supposed to be the party of diversity, and, yet, some diversity is considered more important than others.

I’ve beaten this particular drum before, so I don’t want to dwell on it. However, I’ve been really sick the past few weeks, and along with that comes depression. Actually, I started to feel depressed before I got sick, but the two are really playing off each other. Both are making me exhausted and not wanting to be alive. What’s the point? No one gives a shit if I’m alive or dead. I know that’s just the depression talking, but the notion is only strengthened when I look on social media and see people like me being ignored by supposed allies.

I just don’t see the point. In what, you ask? In anything. I write these posts and my fiction, but who really cares? I feel as if I’m spitting in the wind, and to what purpose? I have to write because it’s what I do. I’m not going to stop just because I think it’s pointless, but it would be nice to think it actually made a difference. It’s hard not to be bitter when I read tons of bad-to-mediocre writers who are receiving accolades, whereas I can’t even get a novel published. I have to own some of it because it’s easier to self-publish these days, but I have a hard time convincing myself it’s worth it.

I was talking with my taiji teacher recently about how so much of pop culture is dreck. This has always been the case because by definition, it’s regressing to the mean. I don’t have a problem with the writer who is frank about writing something that is pleasing to the population and has no illusions about being hoity-toity literature, but I hate the self-proclaimed auteur whose writing is shit, but has somehow captured the imagination of millions. It also makes me feel alienated (again) when I try to read something that is lauded by millions, but that leaves me cold. One example is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It was a surprise smash hit, and it was turned into a blockbuster movie starring Ben Affleck. I had heard so much about it, I read the preview on Kindle. I read a few pages, and I thought it was terrible. I read the first few pages several times, but I couldn’t see the charm at all. I had the same reaction to The Da Vinci Code. I read the first chapter three times and thought it was utter shit.

There’s a part of me that says, “Sell out. Write the damn novel you know Americans will read. Get paid.” I don’t blame people who do that, by the way. It’s hard to be a creative type and to make a living at it. The thing is, though, there are no stories like the ones I write, and there are a million stories like the ones, say, Iris Johansen writes. Yes, I could probably make money writing a novel similar to one of hers, but it’s not something I would want to read. That’s ultimately why I write–for myself. I would do well to remember that.


*Well, used to like sports. My interest in them is waning for many reasons, but I still enjoy watching a game or two.

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