Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

Nioh 2 is growing on me?

I realized yesterday that leaving a mission in Nioh 2 (Team Ninja) is not as dire as I’ve always thought it was. I mean, the penalty is steep, yes, but not as bad as I had outlined in the last post. Yes, you have to go back to the beginning of the mission and yes you have to do the whole thing again. And, sure, you lose whatever souls you have (what is it called in this game? Amitra, I think), and, yes, it’s frustrating as heck. But! you don’t lose the stuff you collect, and you can do waht I did on the last sub-mission I was re-exploring. I reached enoughm to level up, did that, and then left the sub-mission.

Side note: It’s funny to watch people play these kinds of games. Everyone calls the things you accumulate souls, even though that is obviously not what it’s called in the Niohs. I will say that I don’t call the shrines bonfires because they are visually different. In Elden Ring, though, I sometimes call the sites of graces bonfires and the runes are absolutely souls more often than I care to admit.

I will say that in all the games I’ve played, I have not been a sword aficionado, which is sad to me since I love them so much in real life. I lean towards axes, probably in part because the Pyro starts with a Hand Axe in Dark Souls. I found a Battle Axe early on (after killing an enemy who had one, if I remember correctly) and mained it for the rest of the game.

Later, I did learn to enjoy the Zwei, but that is not like any sword I use in real life. That myght be part of it–none of the swords in the games I play are like the swords I use in real life. In general, though, I didn’t care for swords–which made me sad.

Then, I got a pair of dual corrupted swords in Nioh 2. Corrupted weapons/demon weapons are sentient with demon souls. I still don’t know if they are better for human or for yokai, but they’re loads of fun to use. The more you use them, the more sentient they become. By the way, I love that you get more skill points in the weapon you’re using the more experience you have with it.

The dual swords are fast and quick. They are called Weathered Fang & Bleached Twig, and mine are blue, which is second from the top in terms of rarest. It’s purple, blue, green, yellow, and white. I can do four or five fast hits without running out of ki. I am in love with them, and I’m happy that I have finally found swords that I like in a game. It might be because they are dual, which is my jam. Double sabers, i mean. My favorite form of all.

I’ve been doing past sub-missions just to get a hang of my new weapons. I tend to stick to one weapon (original game) or two (this game), and I know there is such a wide array of weapons in this game. It’s funny because I’m doing a sub-mission that is level 20, so not that far behind where I am now. It was a recent sub-mission I have done, and I’m moving through it much more easily this time. i want to try my new guardian spirit, which is the snake. It’s considered a feral guardian spirit, which is interesting.

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Swallowing my pride and moving on in Nioh 2

So, as a FromSoft fan, I played all the Dark Souls and Bloodborne with the mentaliy that I had to solo the bosses, otherwise, I’m not hard–and I’m not a real gamer. I did summon a few times, but only as a last straw. Then, I went back and beat all the bosses solo. Except for three bosses in the BB DLC and the gank runs in the DS II DLCs.

When I started Nioh the original, I had the same mentality. No summoning. It’s a crutch that only fake gamers needed. Except. Here’s the thing. I quit the game a third of the way through because I hit a boss that I found too grueling. I fought her for hours and then switched my weapons. I proceeded to beat her in thirty seconds, quit the game, and did not go back except for a brief moment.

I know you’re saying, “Minna, you beat the boss. You’re not making the point you think you’re making. But it’s part of the point. If I hadn’t spent hours against the boss, I would not have felt as infuriated that merely switching weapons did the job. I will say that my one big dislike of both games is that once you start a mission, you can’t quit out of it without losing all your XP, amitra, money, and any progress you made in the mission. So, you can’t dip out and go to an earlier mission to grind, which bugs me.

Anyway, Nioh 2 by Team Ninja was the game I was playing when I ended up in the hospital. The last message I sent to Ian was about the forge boss we had both just beaten. The second main story boss. It had been really difficult for me because I poured all my points into Omnyo Magicks, but you can’t actually use them until late into the second main mission. So, yes, I had some magicks available by the time I reached the boss, but not much. And I had no health or stamina.

I had heard that Omnyo Magicks were very powerful in this game, but then later found out that meant midway through the game. Of course. Which meant that I was highly under-tuned for the first two story mission and three or four sub-missions. Actually, I’m still underleveled now. My general marker for what level I should be is the suggested level +5 or +10, but that’s not easy to do in this game. I’m level 30, and the next batch of missions are suggested 35 or so.

I beat the forge boss the day before I ended up in the hospital. Or at least, that was when I messaged Ian about it. I died to that boss 100 times. Nioh 2 keeps track of your deaths. Ugh. I do not need that on my permanent record, thank you very much.

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Life’s ups and downs

Life is not always a box of chocolates–sometimes, it’s rotten milk. Ok. That’s not a good analogy, but hopefully, my meaning is clear. This has been a bad few weeks I listed why in my last post, and I’m just not feeling it at the moment. It’s nothing big, but a series of small, irritating, mostly self-inflicted wounds.

The thing is this. In the first bonus year of my life, I pretty much decided I was just going to enjoy it. Despite my mother pressuring me less than a month out of the hospital as to what I was going to do. Even when I told her I was taking six months just to regroup, she was pushing it. Later, I realized it was because my father was bugging her about it, and she always do whatever my father wants–eventually.

This is the mainstay of their marriage, which has been for fifty-five years. He has her so beaten down at this point, she literally cannot consider doing something that might upset him. Hm. Let me rephrase this. In the big things, she will not go against him. She will jab at him, however, in small ways that are equal parts infuriating and understandable. Such as, she will blab about his health issues to anyone who will listen. She did the same when I was going through my own medical crisis. She has no filter on her mouth when it comes to things like this.

Other things she does that are even less savory. She was complaining to me (because she is all about complaining) that during a wave of COVID cases–let me quickly explain. for the first year of the pandemic, Taiwan was on top of it. They were so strict, they had no cases for nine months. Then, as was human nature, they relaxed a bit and because they are a small, enclosed island that were vulnerable to massive spread.

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Mindfulness takes…mindfulness

i just lost a tooth. An old decaying tooth, I think, but still. I think it had a crown on it, but also, sitll. I had not been to the dentist since before the pandemic and had just been about to make an appointment when the pandemic happened. Now, this is forcing my hand because…well, I think this is the same tooth I lost before. Maybe? I’ve been having issues with this particular tooth for a long time. I’m not good with my teeth. Or wait. Maybe it was the other side. I have a missing crown there.

I don’t remmeber. All this was before I ended up in the hospital, so, rightly or wrongly, I put it way down my list of things to worry about. Probably wrongly because I’m still alive, which means I need teeth. And now that I’m in my second bonus year, I have to entertain the thought that maybe I won’t be dying for the third time any time soon.

In my first bonus year, I was just amazed to be alive. I marveled every day at the miracle, which meant not much time for anything else. Now that I am less stunned by it, that means I can look at what living my life actually means.

In the past two weeks, I have injured myself three times. I fell down the front stairs once, fell on the driveway once, and spilled hot coffee on myself once. The last incident was a complete accident as I just sat down on my couch, picked up my coffee, and spilled it. I wasn’t doing anything outlandish like carrying twenty things at once (which I’ve done), juggling three different beverages (which I’ve also done).

It wasn’t boiling though it was close, but it was mostly caught by my shirt. Or so I thought. Today, I saw that it’s red and sore, but not skin peeling off, thankfully. I put antibiotitc ointment on it and hope that it’ll be ok. I will admit that I’m a bit unhappy about it, but what am I going to do?

As to the two falls, those were totally on me. In the first case, I was not paying attention as I went down the stairs. I was scrolling on my phone, which is a bad habit. The second time, I was pulling a heavy box that was falling apart into the garage–or was I pushing? Either way, I slipped and fell. I ended up with a bruise on my left knee and a slightly tweaked right pec after the first fall, and a bruise on my rigth boob and a nasty scrape on my right elbow after the second fall.

Then, after the two falls, I got my fourth vax, the bivalent booster, which fucked me up but good. I was expecting it, but it’s still harder every time than I prepared myself for. I’m exhausted, and I think it’s the last gasps of the shot. It’s been…two weeks since my shot, I think? Two weeks and one day. I got it on a Friday.

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Life lessons I’ve learned

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in my 51 years on this earth. First, there were some things that my last therapist told me that have stuck with me.

Before I was tthinking about moving to the East Bay in order to attend grad school, I was obsessing over all the negative things that might happen. My therapist listened to me patiently for roughly five minutes before cutting me off (she had to, otherwise I’d go on forever). “Minna,” she said. “Half of the things you imagine will never happen, and you can’t imagine half of the things that will.” Her point was that I was needlessly worrying. It was also that I was trying to frantically apply control where I had none.

The illusion of control is somethnig I think about often because me dying twice underlined my lack of control. Twice. (Both dying and underlying.) There is no use worrying about shit I cannot change–which is almost everything. Life is short. That’s a trope, but it’s true. And it can be over in a blink of the eye. So, yeah, plan for the future–but don’t forget to experience your present at the same time.

Another thing that really struck me was when my father and I had this huge fight over whether I was grateful or not to him for all he’d done fro me. When I said no (because I felt pushed into being performatively grateful), he asked why he should love me then. Which showed how nakedly transactional he was. I told him it was part of his job as a father. Like, did that need to be explained? To a raging narcissist, yes. My father did not do anything that did not have any apparent value to him, which included ‘loving’ someone. I put ‘loving’ in quotes because he’s not capable of actual love.

This argument was in the car as I drove him to the airport so he could fly back to Taiwan. He called me when he arrived in LA for his layover and hesitantly said he loved me before hanging up. I felt nothing at his announcement because if I had to force it ou of him (which I wasn’t trying to do! I was just answering his question) and because I was beyond caring at that time.

I brought this up to my therapist, and sh esaid, “This is a big thing to him and a small thing to you. Two things can be true at the same time.” That hit me hard because I thought that an experience had to be the same for everyone who experienced it. Which, I admit, was a naive and childish viewpoint, but one that many people had. I wasn’t even astonished that he viewed that moment differently than I did, necessarily, but that they both could be true at the same time.

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Check your own damn privilege

I love the internet in general. I spend a lot of time on it, and I find so much value in it. THat being said, there are downsides as there are to everything. One thing is how it’s easy for someone’s opinions to harden because of the echo chambers on line. And things that started out with genuine good purposes can become meaningless.

One of those is, “Check your privilege.” In the beginning, it was used to point out to people that the way they lived/thought was not the same for everyone. As a recent example, working from home and the pandemic. The assumption that eveyrone could work from home during the pandemic was very white collar-specific, and those in blue collar/retail jobs rightly pointed out how frustrating it was.

So, yes. It’s good to examine your own privilge when you’re talking to other people. But, at some point, it became a snap response to anyone offering a solution the first person did not agree with. I mentioned the boob post at AAM in which a few people talked about that it was a privilege to quit a job that imposed rules upon you with which you did not agree.

To which I and others said, “Well, yes. And?” The point being, saying something is a privilege doesn’t really add to a conversation in and of itself. I find it frustrating for many reasons. One, we all have privilge to some degree. If you’re commenting on AAM, you’re probably privileged. The demos skew to highly-paid white women, and it’s not even close. If they live in America and/or the UK< they’re privileged. Have a car? Privileged.

In addition, offering a solution that not everyone can do–well, that’s every solution. There is no one solution that is palatable/available to everyone, so it’s not practical to say don’t offer a solution that not everyone can do.

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More what I am not than what I am

One thing I’ve accepted about myself is that I discover more about myself by discarding things I don’t like rather than gravitating towards things I like. In some cases, it’s just baked into my identity, such as being Asian rather than black or white. It goes even further in that I am Taiwanese, not Chinese.

Sexuality–I’m not gay or straight. Back when I first realize this, the vocab was limited. I reluctantly settled on bi because it was the best of the bad options. I didn’t like pansexual or omnisexual for various reasons. Bisexual felt limiting, but queer just means gay to most people. To be honest, I would like to be able to say, “I’m sexual” and leave it at that, but it’s too easy to be misunderstood or to reduce it to just sex.

I’m very much not into labels, but not in the “No labels!” sort of way. I understand that it’s helpful to have heuristics and to be able to  group people together just to have a connection, but also to have a collective power to fight injustices. Plus, it’s human nature to categorize, and there’s nothing wrong in that.

Unfortunately, I am prone to being overly picky about how I am represented. It’s in part because when I was young, my parents did not see me as me at all. They assumed things about me or imbued me with characteristics that they wished I would have. In addition, they lied. Not knowingly, but both of them were unreliable narrators.

When I realized this, I was in my late twenties/early thirties. It was a reveelation to me that my mother was not to be trusted. I knew that about my father from a much earlier age, but I thought my mother was different. She was, but not in a good way. If something happened that made her look bad, she forgot it happened. She literally erased it from her memory. I saw her do it when she was here during my medical crisis.

She and my father had a huge screaming fight in which they ran into the living room (where I was). It was terrible–really awful. My father yelled at me and I yelled back at him. Later, he wanted to talk about it with my brother, and he was telling a completely different story (about why he was upset. And downplaying the screaming). I told him that we did not need to talk about it, which made him upset. My mother wanted me to apologize to him, and I said, “Why doesn’t he have to apologize to me?”

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More boobs, er, hills to die on

More talking about boobs. I just watched a video by Rachel Bloom called Heavy Boobs. It’s very catchy and I agree with the sentiment…. but she says she’s Double D. That’s not heavy. That’s what I said I was when I stopped buying bras, but I knew I was MUCH bigger than that. Much. Like, Z big. Yes, I know that’s not an actual size, but someone with Double Ds is average. I just Googled. The average bra size is 34DD.

Of course, we all know that women’s clothing and numbers are bullshit. It’s one reason I just don’t any longer. I stick to clothing that is S, M, L, XL, XXL, and higher. Oh, yeah. XS and going in the other direction as well.

The reason I gave up on jeans is that when I was as my skinniest (eating disorder, yo), I could not find a pair of jeans that fit properly. In theory, I was at the ‘perfect’ size to find a pair. I could not. I spent hours in a dingy Target changing room with lights that hurt my eyes, discarding pair after pair while my then-boyfriend waited with four or five pairs of jeans in his hand. Jeans he was going to buy without ever having tried on because men’s clothing goes by measurement, and not some nebulous number system that has no basis in reality. At the time, I wore anything btween a 0 (yes, there is actuallly a size 0 for women, or at least there was twenty years ago) to 11, depending on the brand. That’s awide range.

I could not find a single pair of jeans that fit. I was getting more and more depressed as I tried on the jeans, and then I realized, “Fuck. I don’t need to wear jeans.” And I haven’t since. If I have to wear pants, then I wear flowing pants that have elastic at the waist and are comfortable. What a relief!

Hm. So at the end of the last post, I was writing about how women are often the worst for upholding the patriarchy. So many women who think women’s bodies are gross just makes me incredibly sad. I can’t even get angry about it. Going through life with that much safe-hatred is tiring; I jnow this from experience. And if you’re wasting so much emotion on hating yourself, well, that’s time you can’t spend doing literally anytihng else.

This was something I realized in my late twenties (though I could not fully embrace it for decades): It benefits the partiarchy to have women focused on hating their bodies because it means they won’t think about other things–including how much the patriarchy sucks. In the last decade or so, there has been a slow movement towards the idea that an indidual of a minority can’t do anything wrong. Menaing, if a woman does something, the action in and of itself is feminist.

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You don’t get to choose my hill to die on


I like boobs.

Who doesn’t like boobs?

Most people like boobs. I have a fake-hubby who is gay who likes boobs. In the words of the inimitable Tim Minchin:

Fuck, I love boobs, though!
I just really love them.
Fuck, I love boobs, though.
I just want to rub them!

He just really loves boobs! I’ve included the video below because it’s hilarious–but true.

The reason I’m thinking about boobs is because there was a letter to Alison (Ask A Manager) from a busty woman who does not wear a bra to work. She has been chastised by her manager for not wearing one and told she has to put one on. She asked her male coworkers if they were ever told to wear one, and they said no. So, she brought that up with her supervisor.

That did not go over well, as you might have imagined. I knew how the comments were going to go because even in the year of our ruler supreme, 2023, so many American women think that not wearing a bra is unprofessional. I knew it from previous posts on the site, but I had hoped that after three years of a global pandemic in which many women set the girls free whilst working from home, there would be a little more balance about wearing a bra at work. But, no. It’s still, I CAN’T DEAL WITH NIPPLES AHHHH SEX AHHHHHHH YOUR BOOBS JIGGLED. And this is from other women.

So many busty women commented on how they couldn’t imagine not wearing a bra and how horrifying it was. I will just say it here. It’s sad to me that this is the mentality. Women used to say the same thing about corsets and other things that restrained and reshaped the body. Oh, and the ‘the boobs are lower without’ canard? Nope. There was a 15-year study back in 2013 that showed that women who did not wear bras actually had perkier boobs. The theory is that constantly wearing a bra weakens the musscles in the pecs, which makes sense. Here’s the study, and it’s more nuanced than that, of course.

Bottom line, though, is that there is absolutely no health benefit to wearing a bra, so it’s strictly psychological. And in the study, he does say that if you’ve worn a bra for decades, you probably shouldn’t just toss it now.

Since I work from home, I did not wear a bra on the regular for many years. Around five years ago, I just stopped wearing them completely. And I have never felt better. My reasons for stopping were sensory–I hate wearing clothing so the less, the better. When I wear a bra, no matter how comfortable it is, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that I am wearing one.

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Accepting additional info with ease

People talk about how difficult it is to adjust to the new pronouns of someone they’ve known and love for quite some time. For some reason, I do not have this problem. When gender identity started becoming more talked about as a social issue, I struggled with ‘they’ in the singular. When I changed my thinking to ‘Wait. I use ‘they’ in the singular when it’s a generic person, then it was no longer an issue for me. In other words, when I realized I already used they in the singual, I hod no problem accepting it as a singular pronoun.

And, yes, I kow it used to be one. That is an argument that is proffered frequently, but I don’t find it that persuasive because there are many things that used to be standard that we no longer use. Such as thou and thee. For me, personally, knowing that we currently use they in the singular is a better rationale to me. The other reason that resonated with me was that it’s what people want to be called. I can dig that.

I also had difficulty with neopronouns. I will admit that I’m not as comfortable with those, but that’ss a me-problem. In part, it’s the purpose of pronouns. There is a reason for a set amount of pronouns. They are meant to be stand-ins and not personally applicable to each individual. But, I do agree that he and she is way too limiting. Personally, Idon’t like they for myself, and I have no affinity for the rest of them. I will say that ey/em/eir are the closest to ones that I actually identify with, but it’s more an intellectual connection than a personal one. Honestly, call me any of them other than he/him, and we’re good.

It’s easy for me, though. I rarely slip up, and I also think it’s because I’m in so many ‘other’ categories. I’m not black or white–I’m Asian. Not gay or straight, but bi (or pan, I guess, but I really don’t like that. I tried to just leave it at ‘queer’, but people think that means gay). I have been trying to get away from bi for years, but there really isn’t anything else that I like.

When It comes to religion, I’m not Christian and I’m not an atheist. I am areligious, meaning I don’t care. I like using apathetic for religion, but it’s more hostile than I mean it to be. Or rather, it imparts an ill-intent that I don’t mean. Areligious is good for pubblic consumption because it’s about as bland a word as you can get.

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