Underneath my yellow skin

Fake It Until You Make It, Part II

Hi. I wrote the first part of this post here. I have more things to say about it, so this is part two.

Another part of my problem is that my father has the inability to look at things from a viewpoint other than his own. He brought up an example that has been a sore point between us for many years. Rather, it was a sore point, but then it kind of got glossed over, and I eventually shrugged it off. He’s brought it up the last two times he’s visited, so obviously, it stuck with him. When I was a kid, he had a firm belief that having wet hair meant you’d catch cold. In addition, he has a lower set point for coldness than do I. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it a time or a million, he’s a narcissist. When I was a kid, I used to go outside after taking a shower. Or I would go outside without a coat on in the winter. He would say, “Put on a coat; I’m cold.” To hear him tell it, I rebelled because he didn’t ask me nicely such as, “Please put on a coat; it’s cold outside.” He’s framing it as a question of etiquette and culture. (Taiwanese culture it’s more acceptable to order your child around.) My issue isn’t because of the politeness, however. I still would have resisted because I wasn’t cold. I don’t care if he’s cold–that won’t change by me putting on a coat.

Now, I’ve come to realize that this coat thing is a power struggle between parents and children of different cultures, so it’s not strictly a Taiwanese thing, but the difference is, he told me to put on a coat because HE was cold (looking at me). Or, as he explained it, he would have been cold in that situation, so he just assumed I would be, too. Now, once, OK, I can see that. But, if the person in question tells you repeatedly that she isn’t cold, then wouldn’t you eventually believe her? The fact that I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease years later (hyperthyroidism) validated my point of view. One of the symptoms is never feeling cold, grossly simplified, and it’s one thing I can point to now when I question whether I’m right to feel a certain way. I shouldn’t *need* outside validation, but when you grow up with two parents denying the way you feel, it can be helpful. I still hate the heat to this day, though I’m now hypothyroid, and I still don’t wear a coat in the winter except on the chilliest days.

I can tell that I have a better sense of self these days because things my father says that don’t ring true, I don’t immediately accept it. For example, when I said I was bad at promoting myself because of the two cultures pushing me to not be proud, not be uppity, etc., he launched into a rambling story about how he’s not good at tech and how while he knew (at his last job) that he would have benefited from being tech-savvy, he didn’t learn it. He knew it wasn’t within his wheel-house, and blah, blah, blah. I cut into his declaration to ask what that had to do with me and self-promotion. He said I said I was bad at it, and maybe I should do something else because I was bad at it. In his mind, since he knew he couldn’t do something and chose not to learn it, I must be the same. I said I was bad at it, but I was pretty sure I could learn it if I wanted to. Again, it irritated me that he assumed I was the same as him when it wasn’t true, but I realized it was his issue, not mine.

The final example of him doing this is him bringing up a job he had procured for me (teaching English at a university in Taiwan), one which I vehemently opposed at the time. He said he thought it was because of pride–that I would feel shamed in being challenged in something I’m good at–because that’s how he would feel about the situation. It was so far off the mark, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The reason I didn’t want to do it (though I didn’t tell him) was because I couldn’t fucking stand to be around my parents at that time. If I had to be near them in close contact, I would have probably had a nervous breakdown. Just the thought (at the time) made me hyperventilate, and it really had me spiraling into the depths of depression. I didn’t have enough sense of self to be around them without taking what they said about me at face value. Now, while I still have my moments, I’m much better at designating his issues from my own.

I beat myself up for so many things. On the daily. Regularly. But you know what? It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. I have this almost constant voice in the back of my head saying negative things, and I’ve found the only way to deal with it is to pretty much let it say whatever the fuck it wants without paying too much attention to it. I hate meditation, but the one thing it’s taught me is that you can’t talk yourself out of thinking negative thoughts. I’ve tried. God knows, I’ve tried. I’ve done the stupid positive affirmation thing (three guesses how I feel about it), which pretty much made me feel like a fraud and made me feel worse about my negative thoughts. Taiji has helped me realize that letting them flow without attaching any importance to them is the best way for me to deal with them.

It helps that the voice is now mostly a snarky MST3K voice and is not always directed at me, but I can tell when I’m at the end of my reserves (by the way, I do not like the spoons theory of using up spoons in dealing with a chronic illness, but I can see the value in it) because the voice becomes mean rather than just snarky. Small detour: I don’t think snarky is a negative thing, and I was surprised to read on a website that many people viewed it as such. I think what MST3K and RiffTrax do is snarky, but not mean. Anyway, I’ve noticed that the voice is really minimal compared to what it was decades ago. I can actually go for hours without hearing it if I take the necessary precautions*.

Speaking of snarky, I’ve decided that I’m going to live-tweet a movie once a week. I was talking to my bestie about it, and she was immediately enthusiastic. She said it was a perfect fit for me and since I already got the attention of RiffTrax (hi, guys!), why not? Then, we brainstormed different weeks I’d have once I got established. Shark Week, running concurrently with the actual Shark Week. Movies I Hate Week, followed by Movies I Love Week. Both my bestie and my BFF (I often confuse which is which!) have said that I could totally be a stand-up comedian, and it’s really nice to hear. Like, I think I’m funny–obviously!–and it’s terrific to hear others say it, too. I’ve used the word validating before, and I’m using it again. It’s fucking validating to hear that I’m hilarious even if I think I am in my head.

And believe me. I think I’m a damn scream in my head! I’ll come back to this in a minute.

When I was a kid, I loved performing. My uncle has a favorite story of when I was a wee tot. I’d jump off the coffee table and yell, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!” while waving my arms in the air. I stared dance when I was two, and I continued until I was fourteen. I played the cello for ten years, and I got quite good at it. What I loved more than anything, however, was to act. However, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me on TV when I was a kid, so I decided it was something Asian people weren’t allowed to do.  I tried out for plays in high school, but the director had a thing against me. I fucked up one tryout, but I did well in others. She didn’t like me, so the best I could hope for was being in the chorus. There was another woman who directed plays, and she was wonderful. She cast me as the lead in A Murder is Announced (Agatha Christie) after some truly diva-ish behavior on my part.

I had some horrible tryouts in college, then I acted in Theater Mu (now Mu Performing Arts) for a few years. That was fun, but I was always typecast as an older family woman type. Mom, aunt, even grandmother. Whatever. So, I started doing one-woman performance shows, and I loved it. It was stressful, and I didn’t get paid much, but I loved it. I wrote them, directed them, and performed them. Some of them were essentially stand-up pieces, and I always got the laughs. I wish I could go back and do more on the stage, but I think my ship has sailed for being an actor.

It’s weird to think that I can actually do something with being funny, movies (which I mostly don’t like), and Twitter. I mean, that seems way too fucking good to be true, right? The thing is, though, I won’t know until I try. Try meaning a few months of it or a year, not just one or two times. I think I need to plan it out ahead of time, which is not my strong point (I don’t plan what I write, ever). Not what I’m tweeting because that’s spontaneous, organic, and fresh, but the format of how I’m going to approach this.

I’m funny. I’m fucking funny. Not to everyone, of course, but to plenty of people. It’s strange to actually embrace this as part of my personality. Anyway, this is one of my absolute favorite clips from Margaret Cho. She’s one of my idols in comedy for many reasons. “Why do they think fat dyke is an insult? To me, it means Imma eat fried chicken and pussy. That’s why I brought Wet-Naps.” “I inadvertently activated Al-Gayda…That is a sleeper cell you do not want to wake up, yo!” I love her style of telling a story that is punctuated with jokes.

The first video is of Tig Notaro telling an absolutely hilarious story about her encounters with Taylor Dayne, a singer from the…nineties? I think. It’s her style of telling the story that had me crying actual real tears. She’s fucking amazing. The part where she forgets the story and fumbles her way through it is a hoot. The second video is an incredibly brutal but funny story from Maria Bamford about how she became bipolar in her forties and how it fucked up her life. It’s incredibly raw, and it made me wince, but it also made me howl in laughter.

I’m funny. I know this to be true. Now I just have to act on it.




*Have a Let’s Play playing or any other video/movie/TV show/music. Basically, I can white noise it.

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