Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

I hate nature because it hates me

I usually keep my mouth shut when it comes to nature, including camping. People (usually white) wax poetic about it and it’s treated as this amazing thing. I’m sure it is for many people (because it’s a constant reframe), but it’s the exact opposite for me.

I went camping a few times as a kid with my family and church. I know at one point it was when I had contacts, so that would be when I was a teenager. I remember being miserable because, and I am not kidding, I am allergic to almost everything on earth up to and including the sun. I’m allergic to everything green and most animals. I had to get allergy shots every week when I was a kid, and my mother never explained what was happening. I did not know that what they were actually doing was injecting me with the same poison that they were trying to protect me from. Yes, I know how it’s done–now. But at the time, all it meant was that I was miserable every week. My arm would swell and itch, and I would be unhappy for the rest of the day. I had to sit in the allergy office for a half hour because–I’m not even sure why. Anyway, it never stopped me from being allergic.

When I got tested for allergens in my twenties, I got twenty to thirty pokes on my thigh. Ten minutes later, my thigh looked like a balloon. At one point, the thirty pokes joined and it was a unity of agony. In other words, hell NO I am not going camping! The last time I was outside, I got stung by a yellow jacket. This was nearly a week ago, and my finger is still red and swollen. I todes not itch any longer, but it’s still a bit tender to the touch.

Anyway. The one time camping that I remember was with the church. I was misreable because my eyes were itchy. Which is bad in and of itself, but it’s worse because I was wearing contacts. Hard contacts. So in rubbing my eyes, I was afraid they would pop out. Then, there were all the creepy crawlies. I’m not afraid of them, but I don’t like them on me. And, as I mentioned, I’m allergic to almost everything–which includes mosquitos. Ok, technically not because allergic means EpiPen. But I have a ‘sensitivity’ to them in that they swell up to the size of a mandarin orange.

One of my favorite memories about being on Twitter was when Angry Black Lady and I started riffing about camping being white people shit. Other PoC joined in, and it was honestly one of the funniest thing I’d been a part of. Closely followed by the time we started riffing on a pumpkin riot (long story) that happened, which was also white people shit. I did a parody of Next Episode, substituting in  pumpkin spice latte. As to the former, several PoC pointed out that owning a home was a point of pride for many black people and that not for anything would they camp voluntarily.

I’m sure my father would say the same. He is of farmer stock and did not enjoy working on the farm. I don’t think he had a good time when we went camping. Then again, he did not have a good time doing much of anything, but that’s a whole different post.

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Unspoken (and ever-changing) norms

Today over at Ask A Manager, in the first post of the day (5 questions type post, which is typically the first post), the first two questions got the most response. Thefirst question was about training a coworker who was hopeless, and the second about a pumping mother who was getting heat from HR. I knew those two questions were going to get the bulk of the comments, and I was not wrong.

However, it was the third one that had the most interesting responses (to me). The question was from someone who worked in fundraising in a room with two big whiteboards. They used the first one for work, but the second one was blank. They put up five pics of their family on that board. Their question was if that was too much. The usually saw the donors offsite. They didn’t want to be unprofessional, but they were in an office that talked freely about family. They (I think it’s a woman, but not 100% sure) were in their thirties, but perceived to be younger. They did not want the pictures to make them appear anything less than professional.

Alison’s reply was measured and thoughtful. She said it was probably fine in that office, but tif the letter writer (LW) really felt uncomfortable, they could pare back. Alison also said that it wouldn’t make the LW look young (that was another part of the concern) in the way photos of partying would. I had no disagreements with Alison’s answer; however, the comments from the commentariat were all over the place.

First thing to note is that I swear the LW mentioned putting up five photos, but I can’t find that referenec. In her answer, Alison says a dozen in too much. I was pretty sure someone in the comments–found it. Someone did mention 5 family photos. And the LW did say threeof their new baby and two of their wedding, but they also mentioned that they ‘filled’ the whiteboard and those seemed like an example so I don’t know how many.

That’s besides the point, though. It jjust seems wild to me that people in the comments were coming down so hard on the LW for the amount of pictures. One went so far as to do the ‘of course I want to hear about people’s families and of course I support people bringing their whole selves to work’–which was followed with the inevitable ‘but’.

It’s amusing to me bceasue I never put up anything personal when I worked in an office and that was considered weird. There have been letters to Alison about that as well. How people find it troubling when the OP didn’t have anything up on their walls. One said they got so many comments, they just brought in a few random things and the comments stopped.

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Invisible like me

I am invisible in several ways. First, Asian as a race is usually ignored in America. When racism is talked about, it’s always about black people. I get it. Racism against black people is the worst, literally, in America. And Latinos will get a mention now and again. Oh, and when the pandemic hit, there was a hot second of concern for Asians who were getting bashed (because of the “China” virus), but that was it.

And I get that what Asians go through in general is not as bad as what blacks go through. But. At the same time. It was difficult to grow up in the seventies in Minnesota as an Asian girl. My food was laughed at because it was decades before Chinese (mine was Taiwanese, but similar) became fashionable. I was awkward, fat, and miserable. I had no friends, and I was the proverbial fish out of water.

In addition, we have been considered the model minority beacuse waves of East Asians came to America for college/grad school. I have been told in all earnesty that Asian people are so smart. Back in my twenties, my cheeky reply was that all the unintelligent people were in Asia. Not a nice thing to say, but not untrue, either. Not meaning that Asian people are less smart than Westerners, but that with nearly 2 billion Eastern Asians, there are bound to be some who are not as smart as Westerners.

In the sixties and seventies, many East Asian people came to America to study. Many stayed here for opportunities and did not return to their home countries. This is called a brain drain, and it was a big problem back then. In addition, people who come to Ameria from Asia to study are very driven and the cream of the crop (school-wise). In my parents’ case, my father was extremely driven and got a Fulbright Scholarship. In my mother’s case, she’s very smart and worked hard to get here as well. They both had to be at the top of their game, schoolwise to even be considered to be allowed to come to America to study.

In Taiwan, you have to declare your major for college as you enter high school. Plus they went to school for something like ten hours a day. It was brutal. As my mother expalined it to me, school was hard until grad school where it’s then a party. She found it bizarre here that school was pretty much a breeze until college.

Other categories in which I fit that have no place in this world: religion, gender, suxual, generation, marital/parental status. In order, i’m areligious, agender, bi, X, single and childfree. Concerning religion, it’s often Christian, Judaism, and Islam that are the big three. Atheists are known, but reviled. Gender, it’s male, female, and nonbinary (with trans people being acknowledged, finally!). Generation-wise, it’s Boomers and Millennials and nothiing between. It’s fascinating, really, how both Gen X and Gen Z have been erased from the conversation. Boomer is shorthand for old people and Millennial is shorthand for kids today. The oldest millennial is over 40! I mean. Come on. They are married and have kids. But, yes, tell me about kids these days, those millennials.

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Free your mind…if you can

I have talked before about how I reach the end of things and then decide that I need to move on. It’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just the way I am. Meaning that I get bored with things if they don’t change.

I had a Taiji class today (Zoom), and we were going over a movement that is in the first section of the Solo (Long) Form. In other words, the very beginning of the my studies. It has been refined and tweaked, but I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. Back before the pandemic, I was teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form, and made it to roughly two-thirds into the third section. In other words, one-third from the end. My teacher’s teacher was tinkering with the form, and he was changing so much at that point that I decided to put it on hold until he finished.

Theoretically, I understood that it wasa living form. Theoretically, it was exciuting that he kept changing it. My teacher said that when he was taking lessons from the masters, they  were changing t on the regular and just expected people to keep up. Which, fine, but that’s not the way I work. Especially when I was trying to teach myself the left side.

Then, I became focused on the weapons and then, the pandemic hit. It’s only in the last six months or so that my teacher has been teaching us the new Solo Form. It’s mostly the same, and my brain is not remembering the differences. I’ll need my teacher to go over them with me in my private lessons, but I’m happy that A) It’s been refined and B) It’s settled, more or less.

I’ve been in a rut for the last few months, and I’ve decided to shake things up. Now, I’m focusing on refining the forms I know, but also on working on my upper body strength. I need to keep things spicy enough that I don’t get bored, but comfortabl e enough for me not to feel overwhelmed.

I have a weird way of doing that. I stick with what I know for a bit too long, and then I rush to do ten new things. I do wonder if I have ADHD or at least the traits. I tend to hyper-focus on something until i get bored, and then i move on. This is with groups, hobbies, and, sadly to say, people. Not that i need a person to be constantly evolving because I sure am not, but I do need a person to be at least open to the idea that there is more out there than they know. In other words, that they are willing to learn something.

My brother has an ex-friend who is a dedicated Republican. They became friends back when he was a Republican (in name) and worked at the same place I think. She was really rightwing and said to him straight up that the truth didn’t matter. If the Republicans said it, then she believed it. He did not know what to do with it, and he wanted to talk about it from time to time. He wanted to know why she thought that way because he could not fathom it.

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Bias and reason

One thing I’ve learned from reading advice columns. If you introduce animals to the question, all bets are off. Today at Ask A Manager, there was a question involving two large dogs, a party, and reasonable (or not) requests. And academia. It garnered over a thousand responses (granted, it was one of four questions, but I’d estimate that at least three-quarters of the comments were about this question), and the comments were all over the map.

It fascinated me because it’s a question i didn’t have much personal interest in. I wasn’t invested in it, so it was the perfect question to take the longview on. I could see what got people upset, what pushed other people’s buttons, and what made this such a thorny topic. And, boy, did it get ugly.

First of all, there is a way that the letter writer (LW) wrote the question. They stated that they hosted an open house once a month with their partner in order to help their friends and colleagues (acadameia) to socialize. They’ve been doing it for a year. It’s open in the truest sense in that people were encouraged to bring friends, kids, and dogs.

That was the one stipulation the LW made. They had two large, sweet, well-trained dogs who they were not going to shut up in a room. They were very clear about that to everyone who came to the parties, and it was not a problem.

Cue the actual issue. They have a colleague, Paul, whom they invited to dinner a while ago. They made sure Paul new about the dogs, and he indicated he was fine with that. When he got there, he wasn’t fine with that and ‘was rude about them when they approached to sniff him and greet him’.

LW decided to keep their distance from Paul outside of work. Fastfoward to now. Paul, recently divorced, asked if he could attend one of the parties. LW said it was fine but that the dogs wouldbe allowed to roam, and there would probably be other dogs, too. Paul said that was fine but then later texted to ask if the dogs could be put in a room and other dogs asked not to attend.

The comment section exploded. The first comment about this question (which I saw fairly soon after the new post went up scolded the LW for not being nice. And then it was an all-out bawl. The comments ranged from people saying the LW was completely in the right and that Paul was being a total dick to those who said poor Paul was being attacked (not physically) and LW was a complete monster.

It was wild.

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Someone always get screwed

In DEI discussions, there’s a lot of talk about equality versus equity. How treating everyone the same isn’t the same as treating everyone fairly. At Ask A Manager, this came up because of how religious days are dealt with in different jobs. In a Christian-based society (which America is, even if people don’t want to admit/acknowledge it). Hell, Christmas is a federal holiday. The fact that many people don’t consider it a Christian holiday is how dominant the religion is in this country. It’s easy to say as the majority that you don’t think of it as Christian holiday.

The discussion is about how to be fair to people from other religions. In Judaism, for example, there are Purim, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshanah, and more. For Muslims, there are Ramadam, Eid-ul-Fitr, and more. Alison made it the “Ask the readers” question of the week, and there have been several interesting answers.

The one that irritates me, though, is that people with no religino get no extra-day. One person said it’s like people without children don’t get days off for parent-related things and people who aren’t sick don’t take off sick days. Which is fine in each individual situation, I guess, but it’s aggravating in the aggregate. More than one person brought up this point without acknowledging that some people won’t need any of those things. But I know that people don’t give a shit about me (not me personally, but the categories that I’m in) because I’m not a parent, I’m not religious, I’m not married, I don’t have parents who depend upon me, or anything like that.

People are suggesting floating holidays or the ability to swap (so you can work Christmas if you want, asy Yom Kippur off). Or floating holidays that you can use for any day that is personally meaningful to you. What if you don’t have either of those? I do’nt care about holidays. At all. But if I was working in an office, I would want my fair share of days off. If I was working in an office, I would have had to take time off for my medical crisis. Other than that, though, I don’t need any of the other things being talked about.

That’s why I think if the office is open for Christmas, swapping days plus a standard number of days for floating holidays would work fairly well, I tihkn. I hate the argument that any inequity is done by the employer and not the employee who gets the benefits. I mean, I agree in theory, but if the employee getting the perks is putting pressure on their coworker (like a parent bugging a coworker without children) to take a shift, do their work, etc., then that coworker is part of the problem. An active one.

A few people in the thread said that the best thing to do was to just give everyone a set amount of days and let them use the days for whatever they wanted. THat’s the camp I would be in as well. People were saying that religious people from minority religions get shafted by this, but to a certain extent there is no way that it can be completely equal. Or truly fair.

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School versus learning

I love learning.

I hated school.

I don’t think these are contradictory statements, and  Ithink many people would agree with me. I get a frisson of electricity up my spine when I learn something new. Or am learning something new. These days, this is mostly with Taiji because that’s what I’m studying. when I taught myself the Fam Form after getting out of the hospital, it was such a triumph. I need to tidy up a few of my forms, though.

In addition, I’ve added the Taiji weight-lifing set to my daily routine, but I knew that already because I did it before. I have smoothed it out a bit more and know why it’s done the way it is, but it’s not new.

Taiji is interesting in that there is a time where there is a lot of learning–like at the beginning. My teacher taught me the Solo (Long) form, and it was so much information at one time. She believed that when she first taught the form, she didn’t go too much in details. She gave the basics behind why we do things the way we do, but she didn’t load me down on all the theories and history in the first year. She wanted to give a broad base upon which to build the rest, and it took off a lot of the pressure. Also, it was hard to focus on more than one thing at a time.

So, when you’re a complete newb, you just concentrate on the postures (now called movements). As long as you get the basic shape of it, you’re doing fine. I have a classmate who likes to correct other people and tell them how to do things–and he’s incorrect more often than not. He’s been doing it ever since he started about four years ago (right before the pandemic).

Side note: That’s sexism at work. My teacher is a woman and I, the student who has studied with her the longest, am female-presenting. Also, I would not presume to assume that I know better than my actual teacher. It’s amazing to me how confident a mediocre white man can be in our society. I know why it is, but it’s maddening, in any case.

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Removing gender from the equation

One frustrating things about isms is how pernicious and pervasive they are. In addition, people will make constant excuses why what they do isn’t sexism or is somehow benevolent or benign. (Speaking specifically of sexism. When it’s racism, it’s usually how they didn’t mean it that way or they didn’t mean you. Also irritating and exhausting, but in a different way.)

I remember reading a comment section at Slate before I self-banned myself from reading the comments on that site. It was about sexism and there was a guy who said that he held the door open for his female friends, and he was not sorry about it. Now, presumably, if they’re his friends, they don’t mind (though perhaps they just don’t want to make a fuss. If it were me and it was just a casual friend–liek a friend of a friend situation, I would internally roll my eyes and ignore him). But if he’s doing this for random people or people at work (and I think this was a letter about the latter? I don’t remember. Wait. Was it Ask A Manager? I don’t think so. Not that it matters).

He could not be talked out of his position that this was a nice tihng he was doing for these women. No matter how much he was grilled on it by the other commenters, he doubled down on it being respectful. I think he even said that was how he was raised. When it was pointed out to him that there were many women who were pointing out that they didn’t find it respectful and would not want him to do it, he kept repeating that he was doing it to be respectful.

He could not get it in his head that if the recipient of his gesture did not find it respectful, then it wasn’t, indeed, respectful. It’s surprising how many people don’t get that. Personally, I hold the door for anyone who is within five feet of the door when I get there. I don’t care about their gender. It’s just polite. But if someone were to make a big fuss about it because they were male and perceived me to be female, well ,then we would have an issue.

With this guy I mentioned (I’ll call him Eric because that’s the name he used), he made it clear that he did not do this for his male friends. In addition to being old-fashioned, it’s just weird if you’re in a group of friends and you only hold the door for some of the people and not the rest. Would he do that for, say, black people and not white? Highly doubt it. The excuse that it was considered respectful fifty years ago doesn’t hold water at any rate beacuse things change. Customs change. Would he also not give a job to a woman because she is  supposed to be at home taking care of her children?

And what if he doesn’t know the gender of one of his friends? Does he ask them? Or just assume? I would be annoyed as hell about it. Like I said, if he was an acquaintance and it was a one-time thing, I probably wouldn’t say anything. But I would definitely demote him in my mind.

He kept repeating that he was being courteous and gentlemanly (or something like that). Which showed that he was more wedded to the idea of looking good than actually being good. Not that he would look good these days for that kind of behavior–at least not like it was viewed fifty years ago. But how very white male of him. what he thought as a man about how he terated women was more important than how actual women told it made them feel. He didn’t care if it was actually respectful of the women he was purportedly saying he was treating with respect.

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Going low or no-contact with faaaaaamily

One of the problems with a society that gives lip service to family is that it will often be resistent to any negativinty surrounding faaaaamily. Any time you need to defend something that heavily, it means that fundamental thing is broken.

An example that I ofen use. When I was twenty, I realized that I did not want kids. And, more to the point, that I did not have to have them! It was the best realization of my life (at some point, I will do a comprehensive post about how the best realizations of my life were negative ones–meaning, that I realized I was NOT something or did NOT want something, rather than positive ones), and I felt a lightness that I had not felt beforehand.

And, at the time, I naively thought that it was a one-and-done decision. I wasn’t going to have kids. Boom! That’s it. I was a sweet, summer child, but in my defense, I was raised by wolves. I did not know much about societal expectations because my parents did not have any interest in being a part of American society so did not impart any of those norms to me. Yes, in my ancestral culture (Taiwanese), there is the expectation that a female-shaped person will have kids, but I didn’t think it was as strong in American culture.

Like I said, I was a sweet summer child. So yioung. So naive.

Women started asking me about it when I was mid-twenties. I will note it was only women. Men just wanted to get in my pants and probably didn’t care want me to get pregnant from it. But women would ask, and I would honestly answer. I never brought it up myself, but it was a common topic of conversation. I want to emphasize that I never, ever, got into a rant about my thoughts of having children. I simply said that I didn’t have them/wasn’t going to have them. They would press and ask why. I wouuld say that I did not want them.

That was it. I never elaborated more than that. And you would think that would be the end of that, but it never was. For some reason, the women felt the need/urge/compulsion to arguue with me. And the one that got to me the most were the women who were angry at me because “You must think I’m a loser to have children/want them.” Uh, no? I don’t think about you and your progeny at all? It literally is not on my mind–at all. I don’t care if someone else has children or not.

This was so confusing. Why were they angry at me for making a decision (that they dragged out of me) that had no effect on them at all? It took me a decade or so to truly grasp what was going on. It’s beacuse they were invested in the status quo and societal norms. Or that they had never questioned them all their lives. They grew up assuming they would get married and have children, and that would be that. Then, they were vaguely dissatisfied with their lives (or not so vaguely) and could not figure out why.

I walzed along and blithely say that I’m not having children. I wasn’t questioning the status quo; I was just blowing past it. I didn’t care about having children. I didn’t care if other people wanted them or not. I didn’t understand agonizing over not having them or falling over yourself (as a woman. Let’s face it. Most dudes were not pushed to defend their decision to this degree to not have children. By other men, at least) to apologize for not having them. I didn’t want them, wasn’t having them, and it was glorious! It made me feel so good, I wanted to hire a skywrite plane and have it emblazoned in the clouds.

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Unconditional love vs. reasonable boundaries

While I was doing my Taiji routine this morning, I had music on as I was doing the forms as was my wont these days. It’s funny how the playlists that YouTube makes for me just includes all the songs I like with no context. So Rihanna is followed by Vienna Teng, who is then followed by a showtune. I’m fine with that because it shakes things up, but still keeps it in my comfort zone.

The song, Locked Away by R. City, ft. Adam Levine, came on. I want to stress that I like the song and think it’s a banger. However, I reject the entire premise of the song as being ridiculous, and it irritates me every time I hear the song. The song starts out:

If I got locked away
And we lost it all today
Tell me honestly
Would you still love me the same?

To which I always say, “No! No I would not!” In the context of the song, it’s easy to realize that the singer is basically asking for unconditional love and framing it as if his partner was unreasonable. In the video, she’s streessing about bills and he’s like, “You gotta trust me.” It’s clear that we’re supposed to think she unreasonable for nagging him about those pesky bills and should just assume they will get taken care of by magic.

Or by him robbing someone–which is how he ends up in jail. Look. It’s a song/video. It’s allowed to take whatever creative licenses it wants. But the bottom line is that she was reasonable to question him because bills need to be paid, and some vague dream isn’t going to do it. There are other examples in the video, but this is the one tha really irritated me.

It’s because I was raised by narcissistic parents who believed that unconditional love came with strings heavily attached. Or rather, their kids should have unconditional love for them, but not vice-versa. They added culture to it as in, “In Taiwanese culture, you’re supposed to respect your elders.” Which I don’t have a problem with, but there should be at least a baseline of respect for your children as welll, I would think. And if that’s too American, well, I am an American. I was born and raised in this country and do believe that every human being is worthy of a baseline level of respect just for benig a human being.

My last therapist worked with me on setting boundaries within my family. My mom didn’t like that therapist because as my mother said, “She doesn’t understand that in Taiwanese culture, family is everything.” My mother also said, “You and I used to be so close, but now that has changed” with the implication that it was my therapist’s fault.

This is incorrect. We have never been close. She doesn’t know the first thing about me. What she means by close is that she can dump all her emotions on me, and I will jsut take it. That is her definition of unconditional love, even if she wouldn’t admit it. She may not even realize it herself, but it’s true.

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