Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Nearly a week of feeling like shit (get vaxxed)

Nearly a week since my second jab and…it’s not going well. I wrote about the first few days in this post and I want to expand on that in this post. Sunday sucked. Was really bad. Woke up Monday (yesterday) feeling as if I had been hit by a pickup truck which was better than being hit by a semi. Still was exhausted and taking it easy, but I was cautiously optimistic that I was on the mend. Then, last night (evening) hit me hard in the face. I was smacked with a “I have to shut my eyes now” exhaustion that I have not felt in a long time. Woke up around ten or so feeling wiped out and moped about for a bit before falling back asleep. Woke  up today completely wrecked.

It didn’t help that I ate a big heaping of asparagus last night and paid the price this morning. To be blunt, diarrhea every ten minutes for an hour. That’s what happens when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me, but it usually happens immediately after–not the next morning.

The heat in my arm had lessened greatly then came back with a vengeance last evening as well. Now, it has lessened again but it’s still got slight heat. Also swollen and sore. I’m not a happy camper. This is all not fun at all. Still worth it, obviously, but I wanted to be frank about my experience because people have been pooh-poohing the possibility of a bad reaction.

Knocked out by the second jab (get vaxxed, tho)

Got the second Pfizer jab on Thursday (it’s Sunday as I’m writing this) and it’s been a trial. The first shot was like this. Day of shot, no reaction until around 11 p.m. Then, the injection site swelled up and my arm started aching. Next day, pure exhaustion plus the arm issues. Third day, less exhaustion, but still some and the arm stuff. Exhaustion lessened as did arm stuff each day. Still, my arm still had the bump and was sore to the touch by the time I went to get my second jab, three weeks and one day later. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and except for the two days of exhaustion, more an inconvenience than anything else. Yes, the jab site was sore, but not enough to hinder me from my day-to-day activities. A week after the shot, it was only sore when I poked it (which was once every few days to see if it was still sore).

I went into the second shot cautiously optimistic. I was expecting a reaction, but based on the first shot, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be too bad. The shot itself was no thing, much like the first one. I barely felt the needle go in (I have a high pain tolerance, though) and no immediate reaction. Well, a bit of sweating, but that could just be because I was hot. I get overheated easily and the temps have risen considerably in the last week. I waited my fifteen minutes then left, feeling as fit as a fiddle. Except the damn sweating.

Went through the day feeling fine. Then, at 11:30 p.m., just like last time, bam! My arm swelled up like a ballon and the jab site was hot to the touch. Very hot. My arm started aching and it was much more noticeable than the first time. Still, it wasn’t terrible. The next morning, I woke up not feeling great. I emailed my taiji teacher saying I was skipping class, but I was able to do my daily routine, more or less. I was dragging, to be sure, but that’s my normal life, anyway, and this was only a bit worse. I was optimistic that it wouldn’t be terrible.

Then, I crashed. Hard. Around five-ish at night, I was hit with pure exhaustion and fell asleep. I woke up around ten, chills coursing through my body. I don’t get cold so that was an indication that something was wrong. My arm was sore as fuck and I just wanted to sleep. I fell back asleep around two, then woke up at four. Fell back asleep around five and got up at eight-thirty in the morning. That really sucked, by the way. I hate stop-and-start sleep, which used to happen to me all the time. When I got up for good, I felt as if a semi truck had hit me, ran over me, and reversed before running over me again.


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Jab jab jab

Wednesday was my 50th birthday. I decided to celebrate by getting my first (Pfizer) jab as a treat. I knew I was going to have a reaction to it because I am always sensitive to this kind of thing. Many people online were reporting no effects at all. In fact, some people were saying the side effects were overstated or that people were making too much out of them. That it was deterring people from getting the vax. That really annoyed me because it’s just a fact of life for me. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but that’s just the way my body works. I definitely want people to get the vax, but I’m not going to lie about my reaction.

Let me take you through what happened. I tried to make an appointment online. I was able to make an appointment for the first jab, but when I tried to set the second one, the website said there were no times available. Um, what? Why the hell would you allow me to make a first appointment if I weren’t able to make a second one? That didn’t make any sense at all. I tried to do it again a few days later, but the website wouldn’t allow it. Then, it told me to set my first appointment and the place I had made the appointment at before wasn’t listed. Did this mean I didn’t have any appointments at all? It seemed to be the case.

I took a deep breath and did something I hated doing–picked up the phone. I called and was able to set both appointments by phone. Look, I love doing things online and I think it’s the best way to get shit done when it works. When it doesn’t, however, then talking to an actual person is the way to cut through all the confusion. The person on the other end of the line was pleasant and happy to answer all my questions (and I had many. It’s my way of dealing with my anxiety). She got me signed up for both shots and made me feel comfortable in getting them. I decided to go for my birthday because it was the best day possible of the early batch of days and I didn’t want to wait until two weeks after that to get my first shot.

Here’s the thing about anxiety. It doesn’t discriminate between legit worries and not-so-legit ones. At least my anxiety doesn’t. I found that it’s best to answer the logistics ahead of time so I can tick that off my list. In this case, I haven’t been to the Roy Wilkins auditorium in decades so I Google Mapped it. I also asked my taiji teacher about her experience because she got her jabs at the same place. She told me there was free parking if you mentioned you were there for the vax. She told me how to get from the parking lot to the auditorium and made sure to note that it was well-marked. All of that was helpful in allaying my anxiety. Knowledge is power!


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A mélange, a potpourri, and an olio–but mostly Lil Nas X

My brain has been jumping all over the place and my sleep has sucked, so this post is going to meander more than usual. I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit on how I write posts. Not on the writing itself because that’s usually just put down whatever is in my brain. No, it’s about how I decide what to write about. Normally, there’s something pressing on my brain and I let that flow from my fingers until I’ve said all I need to say on the subject or until  I lose interest. Sometimes, it’s both, but sometimes it’s one or the other.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my concentration for reasons I don’t want to get into. Suffice to say, it’s not as easy to get shit done as it used to be. Most of the time, I just grit my teeth and force myself to write the post. It may not be as long as it normally is or very good, but I get it done, damn it. Today, however, I’m going to write about whatever is on my mind with no attempt at coherency. Here we go.

Lil Nas X. I didn’t know he existed until yesterday when I read something about Satan Shoes, his new kicks. That he’s selling. Oh, and he’s a rapper? Singer? Both? Anyway, there are 666 pairs and they contain drops of human blood. That’s all I knew when I made this tweet:

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The quiet place of me

I have talked at length about how I’m different than most people. I’m talking in big ways–Asian, bi, not married, no children, agnostic, food issues, etc.–and small–liking winter, preferring night to day, etc. When it comes to pop culture, it’s pretty much a guarantee that if something is popular, I will hate it. Movies I hate: Star Wars, Titanic, Amelie, Se7en, and Pulp Fiction. Music groups: The Who, Led Zepplin, and The Beatles. Books turned into movies I tried to read and couldn’t: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I read the first chapter of the first one three times before finally giving up because it was such bad prose. As for the latter, I instantly haaaaaaaaated the narrator and couldn’t get past it. Oh, one more. The first Game of Thrones book by George R. R. Martin. The prose was so purple and turgid, I had a hard time not laughing out loud. A few more: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin.

Let’s move onto TV. It’s the area in which I am the weirdest. It’s also something I don’t talk about hardly at all because I’m so squarely on the side of weird. Popular TV shows I absolutely hate: Seinfeld; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Game of Thrones*; Breaking Bad; House of Cards; Arrested Development. I will add that I’ve only seen one episode of GoT and BB so there’s that. The GoT one was the Red Wedding and the BB one was the penultimate episode. I absolutely LOATHE Seinfeld. All the characters are narcissistic, smug, entitled, whiny, and overwhelmingly white.

Speaking of, the most recent movie I watched was Knives Out. I was really looking forward to it because it had gotten such great acclaim and I loved Agatha Christie, especially Poirot; it was clear the movie was an homage of sorts to Christie. The cast was stellar, ranging from Jamie Lee Curtis to Toni Colette to Don Johnson. Oh, and Daniel Craig as the detective. I wasn’t impressed by the frenetic cut-editing of the trailer, but I figured it was just a way to get people to see the movie.


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In an alternate lifetime

I am a weirdo and I know it. Most of the time, I’m fine with it. More than being fine with it, I’m happy that I’m not part of polite society. I make it easier on myself by only being friends with fellow weirdos (though some pass better that I do) so I don’t really think about it on the daily. Sometimes when I talk to my brother because he’s definitely more mainline than I am, but he’s starting to skew more towards weird the older he gets.

A week ago or so, I was talking to my BFF. Somehow, we started talking about kids and school. Probably because she’s a teacher and has a teenager of her own. She got her first jab and will be getting her second this week. Yay! I’m so happy for her. I’m not eligible because most of my issues are not documented. And, they’re not as serious as many people’s. I mean, yes, having bronchitis for six months is no fun, but it’s not life-threatening, either. That’s sums up my myriad of health issues. None of them are terrible in and of themselves, but they could lead to something worse and the sum is worse than the individual parts.

For example. Having a cold or bronchitis for months is not a big deal in and of itself. Constantly getting them, though, is an indication that I have a really shitty autoimmune system. Nothing too serious, I don’t think. I’ve never had a doctor voice concern about it, but there could be several reasons for that. Oh! My thyroid issue is a big deal, but that’s mostly taken care of. Migraines? I consider myself fortunate that a full-blown migraine is rare for me and when it does happen, it just puts me out of commission for one day and most of the next. And, by out of commission, I mean weakened, exhausted, extra-sensitive to stimuli (I’m already sensitive to stimuli in my day-to-day life), and being fragile. The second day after the migraine, I’m about 80% back to normal. Given the descriptions I’ve heard/read about how terrible some people’s migraines are, yes, I consider myself lucky. Also, if I catch one in time, I’m just stuck with a low-level headache, slight nausea, and hurting eyes for the day.

When the pandemic started, I knew that if I got Covid-19, it would most likely hit me really hard given how badly my body does with regular colds. The last time I got the flu shot, I was out of commission for three days afterwards. Yes, I know it wasn’t the flu, but it sure felt like hell, anyway. I will be getting the vaccine for Covid-19 when I’m allowed, but I anticipate having a bad reaction to it, especially the second dose.

Where was I? Oh, right. So my BFF and I talked about how for most of her kids, the pandemic has sucked school-wise, but for a minority of them, they have thrived doing online schooling only. I said I felt similarly. Because of my PTSD, I am aces in a crisis. It’s only the imminent threat has passed that I fall apart. For the pandemic, that meant around month four or five. I went from being calm and focused to being incandescent with rage. For two or three months, I was furious. Some of it was reasonable, but some of it was just generalized anger at the world around me. Two things I regret most about last year (other than the pandemic itself, of course) were my missed trips to see my two best friends. I’m hoping to see both of them in 2022, but it’s still hard to swallow.

While my BFF and I were talking about school and neurodiversity, I mentioned that I wished there had been more known about neurodiversity when I had been a kid. I would definitely have preferred online school to in-person school for several reasons and would have love the current situation from a school point of view. If I were to go back to school, it would be online with me doing most of the heavy work by myself at home.


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Not my mother’s daughter

One thing my mother does that irritates me is endlessly complaining about her various injuries/pains. Not the complaining in and of itself because I know how wearing chronic issues can be. No, the annoying part is that a lot of it is self-inflicted. My mother is a very busy person and refuses to cut down on anything. Plus she’s an anxious person who is constantly looking for something that’s going wrong and is ruled by her anxiety. I get the latter thing because I’m like that, too. The only difference is that I keep it mostly to myself whereas she emotionally vomits all over about it to me.

She’ll tell me about this or that injury and most of the time, it’s because she’s trying to do five things at once, her anxiety makes her radically change what she was about to do, or she’s rushing from one place to another. I tried to tell her Master Liang’s mantra of ‘no hurry, no worry’ and how it was better to do something slowly and with intention (and it actually saved time in the long run). I could empathize with her because I tend to try to do ten things at one time, especially if it’s carrying things from one area to another. I have several burns because of this as I tried to carry my coffee/tea mug in the crook of my elbow. It’s a travel mug, yes, but there’s still an opening so I can drink from it.

The next time I talked to my mom, she proudly announced that she and my father had modified the saying to ‘no hurry, no going too slow.’ I didn’t say anything, but I rolled my eyes at her. Don’t worry, she couldn’t see because we were talking on the phone. That completely missed the point of the saying, but I knew why she did it. It was her fear of not getting everything done, of missing something important, and of being lazy. She’s driven to be the one to count on and in doing everything. I understand that. But, what I was trying to drive home to her was that if you took your time and did something properly the first time, you actually saved time in the long run. And pain.


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On the contrary; life as a contrarian

I’m a contrarian. I know this and to some extent, I embrace it. I swear to the heavens that it’s not out of spite or because I think I’m better than anyone else, but it’s just how my brain works. I tend to look at something from several angles and poking holes in theories. I will say that part of it is me always rooting for the underdog, which means I want to represent the minority viewpoint more often than not. It’s also because I hate things being misrepresented. It’s one reason I had to step back from politics because of the in-fighting. I expect Republicans to attack Dems, but it’s Dems viciously tearing each other apart that drives me fucking nuts. It’s always been that way, but it started getting really bad during the 2016 primaries and it has just gotten worse over time.

I am a far leftie in theory and a not-quite-as-far leftie in practice. That means I get to see the ugly on both sides. It really irks me that some Democrats online spend more time slinging arrows at each other than across the bow. What is the fucking point? I’m not talking about discussing the differences and hashing out what’s important to the party. I’m talking about demonizing the other side and declaring them the enemy. Seriously. We’re talking about degrees of how far we should go on an issue rather than being on opposite sides. It’s frustrating and irritating, and I want no part of it.

However, this post isn’t about me being a contrarian about ideas and politics and whatnot, but rather about me being contrarian when it comes to pop culture.  Now, while it’s true that in the aforementioned instances, there is often a small part of pure contrarian because that’s who I am. It’s 95% not that, but maybe 5% that. In this case, though, it’s simply I don’t like what other people like. I know some people think it’s me being hip or whatever, but it truly isn’t.

A recent(ish) example is Knives Out. It was a huge success and it got raved about over and over again. So many superlatives, so little time. It was an ensemble cast with a quirky detective, which should have been right up my alley. I watched the trailer and was…not impressed. Everyone talked about how great Daniel Craig was, but I could not get past how terrible his accent was. Maybe it was purposeful? I mean, he’s a great actor so I cannot imagine he couldn’t do a spot-on accent. Also, he appears clueless, but it had to be an act, right? Like Poirot.


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Happy Lunar New Year + taiji demo

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone! I’m not a huge celebrator of holidays, but I’m more into Lunar New Year than the alternative because, well, just because. That doesn’t mean I do much about it, but I at least acknowledge it–mostly because my family celebrates it.

One thing that comes with the Lunar New Year is the demo at my taiji teacher’s home studio. Last year was right before the pandemic really hit and it was both great (saw the Double Sabre Form) and terrible (car wouldn’t start afterwards because of the bitter cold). This year, there was question whether there would even be one given the pandemic, but they decided to do it on Zoom.

My teacher was in charge of it as she does all the online Zoom classes, but this was the first time she’d done an event of this magnitude. We had twenty-five or so people, which was more than I expected for a Zoom event.

The way it was handled was that my teacher had roughly twenty slots for demos. Solo demos, which was the only way it made sense. It was limited to 2-3 minutes per demonstrator. Hm. Not a good word. Presenter.

It would have been better in person, of course, but there were a few benefits to it being online. One, we’re in the middle of a wind chill advisory and it might get down to -45. Two, for me, it was nice to be able to sit in the comfort in my own home and not have to worry about my physical energy levels. Also, while I enjoy watching the group presentations, it’s easier to focus on the details with single presenters.

One thing that blew my mind was that two of the women who demoed did their routines to rap/hip hop, one being a Beastie Boys song. I had never thought about doing a routine to music, let alone hip hop/rap, and it was the most amazing thing. One was the Dancing Wu-Li Form and the other was a mixture of sabre forms.

At first, I was taken aback with the two of these being brought together. But, watching the first demo, I immediately got into it and thought, “Why the hell not?” Then, I was besotted by it and by the end of the demo, I was thinking of which forms I could unite with which rap songs.


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The grass is always greener

Most of the time, I’m fine with being a weirdo. Sometimes, I take a perverse amount of pride in not being traditional. My mom once said with much irritation after I–oh, I know what it was. My cousin had gotten engaged by her husband (fiancé at the time) and my mom was relating how it happened. Or at least, we were talking about it. He had collaborated with her boss to make it appear as if she had a professional meeting in another country. Unbeknownst to her, he was flying out to the same country a day early to propose to her.

My mom thought this was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I, on the other hand, was horrified by it, as I would be by any flamboyant/public proposal. Sad to say, I went on a rant about it because I hated the whole idea and thought it was a way of one-upping other people. I also hate people having secrets about me so everything about this proposal hit me in the worst way possible.

Now, decades later, I can see that it was more about me than the actual proposal. To be clear, I would still hate it, but it wasn’t about me. It was about my cousin and what she would like–and she loved it. It made her feel loved and cherished, and it was a great proposal story she could share with people.

Just because my idea of the ideal proposal if I were into getting married, which I’m not, is for me or my lover to roll over in bed and say, ‘Hey, wanna get married?’ before hoofing it for the JoP, there’s no reason to rain on other people’s parades. Fortunately, I never said any of this to my cousin because I had a higher EQ than that.

My point is that I’m weird. I’ve always been weird. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t think the way other people did and I was miserable all the time. I got picked on all the time for being Asian, fat, and smart. I didn’t really have any friends and I didn’t know how to go about making them. I didn’t watch TV or go to the movies. I ate mostly Taiwanese/Chinese food before it was chic and took a lot of teasing about it at school.

I first learned about death when I was seven, which freaked me out. But, at the same time, I became inexplicitly drawn to it. It became my boon companion, both lover and bogeyman. I used to sit up in bed, my heart pounding in terror at the idea of simply not existing forever. And yet, I looked for death wherever I went because it was calling to me. I wanted to kill myself as early as eleven and that lasted…well, it’s still around in a lesser form. And it’s not that I want to kill myself, but rather than I don’t want to live. It’s hard to explain the difference. I’m not actively seeking to die and haven’t been for decades. However, I’m not sold on this life thing, either.


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