In reading my stories (advice columns), I came across a post on Ask A Manager from the owner of a company’s wife who was disappointed because the employees of the company said they wanted money as their Christmas present this year. The post is here and I heartily agree with SHOW ME THE MONEY especially in this year of all years. I highly doubt that all the employees loved the lavish parties thrown in the past, but more to the point, this year of all years, throwing a lavish party of any kind (on Zoom or in person) would be so out of touch with reality. In addition, the letter writer (LW) mentioned that the dinners were at The Palm which is a surf and turf restaurant, and that there were plenty of options so that ‘even those with dietary restrictions have plenty to eat’.
Well. As someone with many dietary restrictions, I took a look at the menu of The Palm (as did more than one person in the comments). Most of the starters if not all have dairy or gluten in them. The salads have dairy or one of my ever-expanding veggies-I-am-sensitive list in it. All the steaks have parsley butter on them. I could eat a few of the sides, but that’s it. And maybe they could cook it without the parsley butter, but that means another thing to worry about. Also, alcohol. So much alcohol. Of which I do not drink. I have a really hard time eating in restaurants these days and not just because of the pandemic.
She also said her initial idea was to send something to each employee like a Harry & David dinner box or a wine & cheese box, but it was shot down by the employees. I couldn’t eat either of those, either. In addition, she said there would be the usual speeches by the owners (on Zoom), which, I mean….
I’ve written before about the upside of being an outsider. This is not one of those posts. I have seen people on social media blasting the whole ‘introverts living their best lives’ themes, saying that they were introverts, but who is living their best life right now? The tone is ridicule/anger, and it makes me uncomfortable because while I’m not living my BEST life, I’m not suffering like other people are. Meaning, I’m not visibly more distressed. Yes, my sleep is more fucked up. Yes, I randomly want to kill myself, but it’s not an active feeling, and I have it during regular times as well. It’s not as intense then as it is now, but it’s there. Yes, I’m having way more family time than I want. Yes, I’m having a hard time focusing. But in general, I am less anxious than I am during regular times.
In addition, I don’t really miss hanging out with people. Granted, I didn’t do it much during normal times, but the reduction isn’t bothering me. The fact that I couldn’t do it chafed at the beginning of the lockdown because I don’t like to be told what to do, but in general, it doesn’t bother me now. The state is doing a soft open tonight at midnight for very depressing reasons (Americans suck as self-denial and no political will to go hardcore), and we haven’t even hit our peak yet. I’m resigning myself to another spike after the soft reopen, and I’m just grateful that I can do what I’ve been doing and ignore the soft opening all I want.
I don’t feel like I can say that I’m not any more stressed or anxious now than I was before. I know it’s because I had an unreasonably high amount of stress and anxiety before and that everyone has risen to meet my level, but it still doesn’t sound great when I say it outside. I also don’t miss being around people except sex. For whatever reason*, I want to fuck the next ten people I see. I’ve been rewatching Chiodini’s Kitchen (from Eurogamer, well, he was, now he’s at Dicebreaker and a DM extraordinaire), and one of them has the actual voice of Geralt from the Witcher series. Doug Cockle. Johnny was brewing a beer from the games at an actual brewery, and he sent a sample to Doug Cockle. Cut to the end where Doug is sitting in front of festive stuff, wearing a Santa hat. He talks a bit in his regular voice, tests the stout, and then says something in Geralt’s voice.
Full disclosure: Geralt is one of my vidya gaemz boos. I have the hots for him, and it doesn’t matter that he’s a video game character.
When Doug Cockle was talking in his regular voice, I was like, he’s a nice guy and he’s fine, but whatever. The second he slipped into Geralt’s voice, however, I wanted to bone him. I’m a sucker for a deep, husky growl.
I am always on the outside looking in. Even when I’m participating in a conversation, I feel outside of it–with very few rare exceptions. I’m gauging the other person(s) and calibrating my own responses. That’s not terrible in general, but taken to the extreme, it can be debilitating.
I’m a weirdo and a freak. I’ve discussed this with my taiji teacher because she is, too. The plus side to being an outsider is that it’s much easier to do things that others might consider odd because I’ve been doing that all my life. It’s always amusing to me when people get hung up on a certain band, TV show, movie, or whatever, insisting that you must like it as much as they do. Try saying you don’t like the Beatles on Twitter and see what happens. Or Breaking Bad. Or Titanic. The pushback is strong, and there are people who literally cannot fathom someone not liking __________. Well, not the last. There are plenty of people who agree with me that Titanic is shite*.
It’s the funniest when people tell me that my taste is horrible, especially in music, because I’ll cheerfully agree. It flummoxes them, and that’s when I know their intent is to put me down rather than have an actual conversation. I like to say I have no guilty pleasures, only pleasures because I don’t feel guilty about what I like (99% of the time). It’s weird because I feel guilty about almost everything else in my life, but not the pop culture I consume or not.
The downside, however, is that I just assume no one will want to hear about what I’m interested in unless there are plenty of indicators to the otherwise. When I think about dating, for example, I have a difficult time envisioning someone who will have the patience to put up with my oddities. Taiwanese American, bisexual, fat, agnostic, child-free (and do. not. want. children or steps), not interested in most mainstream popular stuff, and just plain weird. Add in video games as an old person and taiji, and the fact that I don’t want a traditional relationship, and, yeah. Prospects are dim.
The problem is that I’m so inclined to discount that anything I have to say is of any interest to anyone because I’m used to being ignored and invisible.
Side note: It’s fucking 2019. There is no excuse not to have more PoC and queer folks (and other minorities) in popular media. If I see a trailer for a show that is all white people, I immediately tune out. There was a stretch where all the trailers for new TV shows fell into the category I called, “White guys doing white guys things”. I have no interest in that bullshit, and I never gave any of them more than a second of attention.
The centering around white straight dudes in media has definitely affected how I see myself in general. Add to that a hobby (video games) that is all about white straight dudes, and my negative self-esteem is reinforced on a daily basis. I’ve mentioned before how I can get into some aspects of gaming, but I never feel truly accepted. It’s as if I’m tolerated as long as I don’t make a fuss or stand out in any negative (in their eyes) way. It’s gender, but it’s also age and race. I’m too old to be a gamer, and it stops me from fully participating in the community in general. It’s not hard to see that 95% of the visible gaming journalists/YouTubers/Twitchers fall into this category. Maybe it’s not quite that high, but it certainly seems like it. I’ve searched out women, but they are few and far between.
Yesterday, I commented to my taiji teacher that one of the good things about growing up a freak (both of us did) was that it gave us a lot of time being comfortable with liking things that other people thought weird. It was in conjunction to the fact that I had someone on my FB saying she didn’t see why on earth people played video games after I posted a pic from Monster Hunter World, and while I didn’t get into it on the post, I immediately thought, “Why is it so hard to believe that someone might like something you don’t?” I’ve never gotten that, really. Being so mainstream in your interest, you can’t fathom anyone not liking what you like is something I can’t even begin to imagine.
I like that I’m not invested so much in anything I’m passionate about, I take it as a personal affront if someone else doesn’t like it at all. I will say, don’t be a dick if you don’t like something someone else is enthusiastic about, though. That’s never very nice. However, I have so much experiencing being on the outside, I don’t take offense if people wrinkle their noses when I say I like something. I’ve mentioned it before, but I will cheerfully admit that my taste in music is garbage which takes the wind out of the sails of people wanting to slag me for the music I listen to. My taiji teacher likes loud experimental noise music, and I like cheesy pop music (not exclusively, but considerably more than is good for me).
I tend to like the niche in things other than music. Well, it used to be true in books because I’m an avid mystery reader, but it’s become so mainstream, I can no longer claim it as a niche. Also, there are several different sub-genres within the broad category of ‘mystery’ including literary, just FYI. In movies, I prefer indie films and ones with a psychological bent. I’m not huge into action movies, and I hate romcoms. In video games, I like Souls, which used to be niche but now is the standard. I kid. It’s still pretty niche, even though it’s a popular niche. I’m currently watching the intro bit to Death’s Gambit, a Souls-like game that was in development for ages. I forgot about it except when there was an update now and again, but then it was dropped without fanfare, which made me suspicious. The rating on Steam is mixed, so I decided to watch a few Let’s Plays of the intro areas (up to the first boss, but also extra boss in the beta demo, which was last week. Again, with no fanfare) to make up my mind.
What is Death’s Gambit? It’s a 2D Souls-like Metroidvania. I feel like I’ve been saying that way too often about games because there are many Souls clones out there. The graphics are gorgeous, and I was immediately drawn into the world. The music is appropriately atmospheric, and it’s soothing. One of the streamers I watched, RockLeeSmile, picked wizard to play as, which unnecessarily excited me. No one EVER plays as a caster on stream, and while I understand why (it’s not that exciting to watch, tbh), it’s hard for me to gauge my experience with a game if I don’t see a caster. That’s another way I’m different–being a caster. It’s decried in Souls-like games, but I don’t give a fuck. If it’s in the game, it’s fair play. In addition, as I’ve said, now that I’ve played both caster and melee, I can say with confidence that melee is easier than caster BY FAR*, so I side-eye all the streamers who unthinkingly repeat the blather than being a caster in baby/easy mode.
Anyhoo, this is not yet another screed about the toxicity of the Dark Souls community. It’s about the pros and cons of being an oddball. Another pro is that I’m very comfortable being by myself because I’ve done it for so long. I actually prefer it, which is both a plus and a minus. I’ll get more into that later. It’s just me and my cat, Shadow, and we get along really well–except for in the morning when he’s mewing and pawing at me to get up because he’s STARVING and needs wet food RIGHT NOW. Never mind that I free-feed him–he needs the wet stuff! It doesn’t help that my sleep schedule is all over the map so he’s never sure when he’s getting his breakfast, but he can be assured he’ll get it at some point.