Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

Know myself

I know myself pretty well. That’s not a humblebrag; it’s just a flat-out brag. Heh. I kid. It’s just reality. I have a pretty clear view on my negatives and a little less strong grasp on my positives. For example, there’s a famous survey that says 80% of the people surveyed think they’re better-than-average drivers. Which, as you can note, is statistically impossible. What I did not know was that all the respondents had been in a car accident at some point. Also, there’s another study that said fewer than 1% of the people surveyed believed they were worse-than-average drivers. Basically, people think they are above average in everything. An interesting corollary effect is that being around people who are overconfident makes you overconfident as well. All of this is from an article in Inc., by the way.

I am part of that fewer than 1%. I know that  I’m a bad driver and I have no difficulty saying so .I also know that I am very bad at spatial recognizing, and I am not a patient person. I am not great with money (paying bills and such. Good at not spending it) and I’m very weird compared to normies.

I don’t like kids in general. I don’t think babies are cute and I would rather not spend time with them if I don’t have to. There are individual exceptions, of course, but in general, I’m not a fan of babies. Don’t much like toddlers, either. I find them boring and their need for repetition irritating–probably because it rubs up against my own need for repetition. I like kids starting around nine or ten, when they can talk about real-world things rather than just kid stuff. Funnily enough, kids love me. I think it’s precisely because I treat them like human beings and not kids. I don’t talk to them in any special voice (I save that for my cat), nor do I treat them like babies. It’s just not my style. I don’t talk over their heads, obviously, but that’s because I’m not a jerk. Not in that sense, anyway.

It’s how I treat everyone, really. I meet them where they are and don’t expect them to be something they’re not. There’s a cashier at my local grocery store that loves me. The other day, she told me that I was her favorite, which was flattering. I think it’s because she’s Native American and thinks I am, too. We bonded over Wes Studi (a hot indigenous actor) who was on the cover of a magazine, which prompted her to tell me that she was Native American. She’s also disclosed that she loves masa tortillas, that she’s been having car trouble, and her son had to leave his sick puppy with her. I think the fact that we are both BIPOC and female-presenting added to the bond.


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Looking for love in all the wrong places

I love Elden Ring, but it doesn’t love me back. Story of my life, really. I always want what/who I cannot have for reasons as long as my arm. Back when I was dating, I was attracted to gay men, straight women, and anyone who was attached in a monogamous way. Even if someone fit into the category of who I was attracted to and theoretically available, they had no interest in me. The people I did manage to date ended up being not good for me in many ways. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Part of this is because I’m contrary. I could sugarcoat it by saying I point out things other people don’t see (which, true), but the practical outcome is that I am usually the minority voice. This can be a strong point, but it can also be fucking annoying. I fully acknowledge the latter point.

Because of this, I rarely take things at face value. There is always an underlying reason for everything. Again, while this may be true, it doesn’t exactly make me the most popular person when I voice these opinions. I’ve learned how to keep these things to myself when the other person shows they don’t understand what I’m talking about or aren’t interested in my perspective.

Side Note: One of the most insightful things my last therapist said to me was that people literally could not understand what I was saying. Not that they were misunderstanding, but they could not comprehend the concepts I was spitting at them. “Minna,” she said. “They are at a level 2 and you are speaking at a level 5. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy. They are focused on food and shelter while you’re up to self-actualization.” Something about what she said flipped a switch in my head. Along with her pointing out the lesser-known results of the Dunning-Kruger study; that people who are good at something seriously underestimate the gap between them and other people in that area. Because you can’t get an outside perspective on yourself, what you can do is normal to you.

I see this in FromSoft games all the time, by the way. People who are good at the games can’t grasp that their experiences are not the norm. And it’s circular because those who are good at it are the ones who play the games, making them better at the games, thus making it easier for them to forget the difficulty in the beginning. I adore Aoife Wilson from Eurogamer, but she is especially guilty of this. She firmly believes anyone can play the games and that you just have to learn the moves. She calls Sekiro a rhythm game and says once you click with the system, it’s so easy!

Except, some of us do not click with the system. I did not. But Minna, says other people. I thought you could not beat the game if you did not click with the combat! Oh, you can. But you’re not going to have fun and it’s going to be very grueling. Because instead of the posture-breaking at the core of the game, you have to whittle away at the health in agonizing slowness until the boss finally dies. I remember fighting the Boss of Hatred and just hating everything about my life. It’s a three health pip boss and it took me hours to beat him. I have talked about how transcendent it was to beat Isshin, the Sword Saint, but was it worth it? I have to say no. That game just made me feel like a total failure DESPITE me beating it.


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The gift of no gift at all

I’m a good gift-giver. I wanted to put that out there before I get into a rant about why I prefer not getting gifts. I used to think it was a no-brainer to get a good gift for someone. You just think about what they like and get them something from those categories. I can take hours to find the perfect gift if I’m not careful. And, I’m pretty dang good at it.

In return, very few people are good at getting me gifts. I’ve done Secret Santa twice in my life. Once in college when I was a Junior Counselor with my corridor and once in my first job. I went overboard both times and got nothing in return (first time) and things I didn’t want for the most part (second time). In the former case, I can make a direct comparison because the person I got had me as well. We were supposed to give little gifts to each other throughout the week in our PO boxes in the main center building. I gave my person something every day whereas she gave me nothing. I think she gave me a big candy cane at the end when we gave each other a big gift and revealed who we were. I did puzzles or a maze or something like that. I think I did a “On the _______ day of Christmas list”. For the job one, I think that’s the one I did the maze? The person who had me misheard me saying I hated Christmas stuff as I loved Christmas stuff, apparently. I had one friend at that workplace who I bitched about the whole Secret Santa thing to and it turned out she was my Secret Santa. Whoops. She did give me a yin-yang poster, though, which I appreciated.

Here’s the thing. I’m a terrible person to buy gifts for. There are many reasons for this. One, I have a whole mess of allergies that makes it nearly impossible to give me anything related to the senses. I’m allergic to almost everything in the great outdoors, for example.

Side Note: All the people who enthuse about the great outdoors crack me up. I did a hilarious rant on white people and camping on Twitter many years ago. I got a bunch of people of color chiming in with me and it was so much fun. But, it’s also real talk in that I can’t walk around outside without being reminded that many of the things are not good for me. I’m allergic to almost every flower. I like to say I’m allergic to air itself.

My brother is really into essential oils and likes to insist that I smell the bottle he carries around. The first time he did that, it was lavender, which I’m really allergic to and hate the smell of. My head snapped back and I pushed the bottle away with prejudice. I’m also severely allergic to poinsettias.


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Family dysfunction is not a good function

Family dysfunction has been on my mind lately because it’s the one thing that has gotten worse since my medical trauma. Well. Let me restate that, but in a minute. The only lasting injury I’ve suffered from my medical trauma is a slight issue with short-term memory. It’s not a big deal as I can take notes to shore up the gaps. When I first got out of the hospital, I had marked short-term memory issues, but they’ve dissipated in the following months.

But with my parents, well, that’s another story. Part of the issue is that I’m not willing to shine them on as I once was. I shouldn’t say not willing because it’s more not able than not willing. I open my mouth to say the platitude, but I just can’t force it out. All the anger I have built up inside surges into my throat and I have to work hard not to let it out. There is always a thin edge to my voice when I’m talking to them (or thick, depending on how well I can hide it).

Here’s the issue. My father is getting worse. I think it’s partly because of his fear about COVID (which is rising rapidly in Taiwan). They went from no cases in 10 months to nearly 7,000 cases in one day. And if one of them gets it, the one who has it has to be isolated in the hospital or a hotel by themselves. Which would be terrible because my father cannot live on his own.

Side Note: That is one of my frustrations with his pontifications. He likes to talk all this big shit when he can’t live on his own. He used to be the president of a research company, so it’s not that weird that he has an overinflated opinion of himself. Plus, he had a secretary who did everything for him while he was president, including printing out his emails and putting them on his desk for him to read. And my mom does everything for him at home. He’s a paper tiger who thinks he’s a lion.

In addition, when he dumps this shit on me, he doesn’t actually start the conversation. He just assumes I know what he’s been thinking about and continues a train of thought. So, for example, last night, he started talking about these two people he knew who were doing some kind of business. They may or may not needed an editor, but he couldn’t say for sure because he never asked them, but they did do things in English, but he wasn’t sure how they did it, but one of them, it might have been private, so he didn’t know how to approach them about it because they might consider it privileged information…then he started looping with the same information. Mind you, he never once mentioned why he had brought all this up in the first place. Yes, I could intuit it, but still. He never once said clearly that he was suggesting I edit for them–and again, he hadn’t even talked to them about it, yet!


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Insidious gender norms

Gender is a hot topic right now and it’s something that I’ve reached an uneasy alliance on. I’ve settled on genderqueer, which, while it’s not exactly what I want, is the closest. That’s my M.O. for many issues, by the way. Close enough for government work.

But, there is much food for thought in the subject, obviously, and it’s having a moment right now. Especially with all the terrifying legislation being crafted such as the Don’t Say Gay bill in Florida. Which, is totally not about being queer, claims the Republicans, which is obvious bullshit.

The thing, though, is that as frustrating and infuriating as those bills are, there is another level of gender bullshit that is more insidious–gender norms on the level of ‘women must wear makeup’. Ask A Manager’s readership is overwhelmingly female. Something like 70-80%. They are also progressive, white, high-paying, and white collar. They are very much feminists, but for whatever reason, there are a few pockets of ignorance or refusing-to-see that just annoy the fuck out of me.

The number one is that anytime a woman or female-presenting person writes about not wanting to wear makeup at work, but worrying that they may be penalized for it, without fail, commenters offer ways to wear a little bit of makeup, but, honestly, it’s not really wearing makeup. Like only foundation. Or only mascara. Which, it’s still fucking makeup! I don’t understand how ‘I don’t want to wear any makeup’ keeps getting read as ‘Maybe you could wear a little makeup?’. I say that, but it’s rhetorical. I know why it’s happening. Patriarchy. The idea that it’s not possible for a woman to have her face be all naked and shit! Horror!

In this case, it was a letter by someone who identified their pronouns as they/them. They work in the luxury beauty industry, mid-level, and have gotten comments about their skin that they find intrusive (including suggestions for hiding bags under the eyes and acne) whenever they go into the office. They are female-presenting and uncomfortable with the idea that they may need to conform to gender beauty norms and asked if not wearing concealer may harm their opportunities at their workplace. They also noted that they don’t like wearing makeup now for many reasons. They just wanted to know if they had to wear concealer when they went into the office.

The very first comment asks why they took that job in the first place whereas the second one uses the wrong pronoun for them. Then there are several comments suggesting tinted moisturizer (!), sunscreen (!!), and other makeup-adjacent solutions. Which…I mean…just, no. They clearly state that they don’t want to wear makeup and just wants to know if it’ll negatively impact their career.

There were a few people pointing out that this was sexist in that men would not be asked any of these questions, even in a luxe beauty industry. Also, that that doesn’t mean makeup and that the OP might not have a client-facing role. Some commenters also pointed out that you can work in an industry without personally using the products.


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Hearing the unsaid

I love my stories (advice columns). One reason is because there is so much that is not being said. Most people write a couple hundred words and leave it at that. I think Alison Green from Ask A Manager has a limit of 800 words (though I could be pulling that number out of thin air). She’s received some fairly meaty letters and even then, there are things that are not being said. I’ve been rereading old letters and one that has stuck in my brain is from 2016. It’s not that long being only three short paragraphs.

It starts out with an eyebrow-raiser when they  say: I applied for the job of my dreams, no, the job of my life — the best job you can ever have in your wildest dreams!  Then they go on to say that they got rejected and became overly eager in emailing the hiring manager. They saw more positions on Craigslist and want to apply.

Sounds fine, right? Again, the starter was wince-inducing, but I just chalked it down to a fresh-out-of-college grad who is looking for their first job. The second paragraph sees them spouting a bunch of pop psych babble about how they ‘need to do this for myself’. They say they must just take charge’ and ‘step outside my comfort zone’. This is firmly in cringe territory and I started to suspect that it was more than just a young and naive job seeker. They ask what they should say and do. Then, they say, “As a side note, the HR manager told me I was no longer allowed to email the lady I was emailing, and if I do, they will take immediate action and may call the proper authorities.”

After dropping that bombshell as an aside!, they ask whether they should call or visit in person or or email (the HR manager, who is apparently not the ‘lady’ he’s been emailing) or what in the third paragraph.

The fact that they included that bombshell as an aside is mindboggling. The commentariat agreed that that aside was doing a lot of heavy lifting in that paragraph. And the fact that they thought it was just an aside and didn’t actually list what they had done to raise the alarm like that!


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First do no harm

Mother’s Day brings up many complex feelings for me. I try to find the most anodyne and bland card I can find, one that is filled with platitudes. One that has flowers or animals or something equally generic. I pick out some Muzak, scribble a nice note in it, then email it to my mother. I do the same on Father’s Day for my father before calling it a day. I dread picking out a card and I try to do it as quickly as possible.

I know it’s just a meaningless card on a made-up day. I know that there’s no reason to put much energy into it or emotion around it. But, it just reminds me of the fractured family I exist in and how exceptionally dysfunctional we are. I Zoomed with my parents and my brother earlier tonight. My brother has decided that the best way to deal with my parents is to feed them a steady stream of trivial tidbits. This time, he showed them a bunch of pictures he had taken on his previous two trips to Taiwan (I went on one of them) , and I got bored about ten minutes in. Ten more minutes later, he mentioned that I looked really interested (sarcastically, but it’s surprising that he noticed), which made me snap that there were so many pictures. I get what he’s trying to do, but he was dragging it out for far too long. I should have just used my words and said something, but I revert to a petulant child when I’m around my parents.

I can’t forget what I discovered about our family during my health crisis–and how deep the dysfunction runs. Everything that we had all shoved to the very back of the closet came bursting out during my medical trauma, and I can’t unknow that.

Before the Zoom call, my mother called me to thank me for the card. My father mentioned something about a German study saying you should gargle with warm salt water to prevent COVID. Which, I mean….I didn’t even have to Google it to know that wasn’t true. I Googled it, anyway, and, yeah, that’s a lie. You will not be surprised to find out that there is no such study that says any such thing.


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Using my intuition–or not

Yesterday’s post took off on a tangent from which I never returned. I started out talking about my intuition about people, which I want to continue now. I mentioned how there are two YouTubers on different sites that I have watched and the first time I saw them streaming together, I instantly knew they were banging. Or if they weren’t banging at the time, they  were very attracted to each other. When they came out with a tweet that they had been together for a year (at a later date), so many of their fans expressed surprise. Whereas to me, it was so obvious. Take a look at the video below and tell me if you can guess who they are.

Another time, I was talking to my brother about why I don’t like movies. He said of course I didn’t like them because I could see what was happening a mile off and they weren’t authentic enough. I was surprised he had said that not because it wasn’t true because it was pretty perceptive of him to pick up on it. He has made comments since then about my ability to intuit things about people that most people can’t.

Related, there was someone on one of the advice blogs I frequent that said empaths aren’t real. Um, what? Yes, we are. The way she stated it so confidently shook me to my care. If she had said she didn’t think it was real, that would have been one thing. But to state it as if it were a fact when it’s just her opinion? It’s the same when a woman flatly told me that women don’t imagine how strangers would be in bed after I had just told her I did that.

Then, of course there was the classic of what happened when I told my mother I was bi. Why I told her, I don’t know. Unwarranted optimism that since she had just supported my cousin as coming out as gay and she was a psychologist, I thought she’d do the same for me. Nope. She was horrified, to say the least, and she trotted out the classic, “But what next? Animals?” Which, why is it always animals????

When someone denies who you are, it’s hard not to let that shake you. When it comes to the perception thing, I have such a heightened sense of others, it can be intrusive. You know how we all have masks when we’re out and about in the world? It’s a necessary thing and one that I support. Unfortunately, I’m someone who can pierce that veil without even trying. I learned at an early age that I can unerringly know the cruelest way to hurt someone without even really thinking about it.

If I talk to you (general you) for ten minutes, I can find it. 90% of people will hand me the information I need to cut you to pieces. And when I get angry, of course I want to go for the jugular. I try really hard not to do it, but I can’t say that I have never hit a low blow.


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Piercing the veil

I was re-watching a video with two people who are a couple (from different websites), but didn’t announce it until they were together for a year. There were so many messages to them on Twitter gasping in delight (and shock) that they were able to hide it so well.

Except, they didn’t. The first video with the both of them (included in this post)that I saw, I immediately thought, “They’re bonking.” This might have been before they officially hooked up, but it was just so obvious to me. Have a look and see if you can tell. It was just a flash of thought and I did not dwell on it, but something about the way they were bantering screamed ‘couple’ to me.

I’ve always had this ability to read people–and it’s more a negative than a plus. It’s one reason I prefer being on my own The inundation of unwanted emotions from other people was always getting in the way of day-to-day life.

It’s a question of chicken and egg to an extent. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t responsible for my parents’ emotions, which meant that I had to attune my sensitivity radar to eleven to make sure I never made a misstep. My father was the only one allowed to have big emotions whereas my mother couldn’t stop whining in my ear since I was eleven. I really struggle with the concept that we can’t hold the victims of abuse responsible for their own actions when they in turn abuse other people, including their children.

There’s a letter to Ask A Manager about a woman who was being abused, given the name ‘Jane’. In order to talk to the cops, she framed her coworker, named….ah, Mary? Sandra? Let’s say Mary for fraud. The cops came and arrested Mary, who was forced to move out of her house and in with her father because of the turmoil. It was Jane’s manager who wrote in–and it was an investment firm so fraud is a big deal. oh, and the husband, ‘Joe’, worked at the firm as well–and after the investigation, Joe was arrested, but Mary’s life was in tatters. She wanted to know how to deal with the situation.


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The refinement of me by the decade

I’ve had many big realizations throughout my life. They started when I was in my twenties and have continued throughout my fifties. Actually, they started when I was a kid, but they were more incoherent back then. And more in the vein of realizing what I didn’t want rather than what I did want–which is very much my M.O. Such as not liking dolls. I rarely played with them and I especially did not like the realistic crying, pooping, eating ones. I had a few Barbies (plus a Dorothy Hamill doll and a Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman). I hacked the hair of my Barbies and used black shoe polish to make their hair darker. I had them have sex with each other, which was  my extent of playing with dolls. I much preferred plushies which I could squoosh and cuddle.

I was taught many sexist beliefs by my parents throughout my childhood. One, that my main purpose was to marry and have children. Yes, I had to go to college and have a career, but that was a distant second to the whole breeding bit.

Side Note: My niece decided to not go straight to college after graduating high school. My mom wanted me to talk to her and convince her to go because we’re close. First of all, that’s my mother who saw her maybe once a year and had no day-to-day interaction with her. Second, I really resented being made to feel like I had to go to college right after high school, so, no, I wasn’t going to do that.

This was several years ago. This year, my nephew, her brother, is a senior in high school. He does not want to go to college because he thinks he’s too smart for it. Which is funny, but beside the point. My mom told me she emailed him with all the reasons why he should go to college, but he didn’t answer. Which, of course he wouldn’t. He has even less a connection with her than my niece does and what a boundary break that email is. And it shows her narcissism that she thought this was a reasonable thing to do.

Anyway, I realized when I was in my early twenties that I was Asian and that racism existed. That was followed quickly by the discovery that sexism was a thing. Then, that I did not want to have kids. Which is still the best decision of my life. Then, I realized I was bi, but put that on the shelf because, frankly, I could not deal with biphobia as well as sexism and racism.


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