Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

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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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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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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You’re the inspiration–aaaaaargh no!

When I was in the hospital, so many of people on my medical team had to comment as to how I was a miracle. When I got out of the hospital, any time I talked to medical personnel, the phrase, “You’re a miracle!” was pretty inevitable. One of the nurse aides who came to my house once a week to check on me had to take a basic inventory for me because she couldn’t find it on her app. I told her what happened to me and she started ticking things off on her chest list. I was half-listening when I heard, “And you had heart surgery.” Wait, what? No. I hastened to correct her that I hadn’t had any surgery at all, and she set down her phone so she could look at me in shock. She placed a hand on my arm and said, “You are literally a walking miracle.”

I was talking to my brother last night about this and I still couldn’t quite grasp what had happened to me. He said, “You are incredibly lucky to be alive. You should be dead.” Which, yes, it’s true, but how do you really internalize it? I call my life now my bonus days and September 3rd is my re-birthday. I am much better psychologically since that day than I’ve ever been. I’m cute AF and my body is STRONK. The anxiety that used to flow through my brain has cut down by three quarters. My depression is almost gone. I get eight hours of sleep a night rather than 6 1/2, and I may wake up once rather than three or four times, but I have also slept through the night as well. More often than not, I sleep a solid eight hours, which is unheard of for me.

I started resenting being told I was a miracle. I understood why everyone thought that, but I was still just me. I still had to live my life and go on with it. My mom got it into her head that I had to write a screenplay and get my life made into a movie because it would be so inspiring for other people. Now, I’m not objecting to having my life be a movie, but something about the way she said it rubbed me the wrong way. Like she was fetishizing what happened to me, which made me uneasy. I should have just smiled and nodded (which is what I tell myself every time I talk to my parents), but it’s hard not to want to straighten the record when talking to her. I want to be seen for who I am–not just as a symbol.

Besides, I don’t see how I’m an inspiration. Someone who is a quadriplegic and works hard so they can walk again? That’s inspiring. Or someone who is homeless because they’re gay and their family didn’t want them any longer and managed to become the president of their own nonprofit? 100% inspirational. I can see finding  something someone did inspiring. But, I didn’t do anything. I’m not being falsely modest here. You know what I did? I called 9-1-1 and unlocked the front door. That’s the extent of my involvement. I spent the next week unconscious and was high as balls when I woke up. I was scared, discombobulated, and ready to fight someone. I had no idea who, but I was sure someone needed fighting. Then I spent the next few days getting tested and regaining my strength before I was released a week after I woke up. I went home and resumed my life.

That’s it. There was nothing miraculous about what I did. I think that’s my biggest gripe with being told I’m miraculous/inspiration–I didn’t do anything to earn it. So, again, I get why my story is miraculous and why it might be inspirational to some people. But, for me, inspiration means there’s something I can take away from a story and do myself. What can someone take from my story? Have walking non-COVID-related pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke? Hope you don’t suffer any side effects from all of the above? Not losing any ability to talk, walk, or type? None of that is actionable!

I would love t o be able to tell people that so much of what we worry about on a daily basis is just meaningless. I would especially like to tell women that your body is fucking amazing and you are beautiful just as you are. But, I know how that sounds–facile and flippant. Also Pollyannaish. And we don’t live in a vacuum, sadly. We lived in a society that does judge fat people harshly, especially women. But what if we all just did not give a shit? If we laughed in the face of fatphobia (whenever it’s safe to do so)?

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More lessons I’ve learned

There are many lessons I’ve learned from my medical trauma. I mentioned some of them in my previous post and I want to expand on the topic in this one. When I started that post, my intent was to talk about my family dysfunction, but I got caught up in other things.

I would never wish what happened to me on anyone. It was terrifying, confusing, and messed with me on many levels. However, ultimately, I believe it was a net positive for me. Why? Let me count the ways. One, it cleared up the is there an afterlife question for me (no). Two, it made all my body issues disappear. Three, it helped me see that life is short and that we really do only have one life. Er, maybe not so much that as I did die twice. Four, I’m cute AF! Five, I don’t have the patience for nitpicky bullshit. Six, I have a point of view that is unique and worth expressing. There are some other ones, but they’re similar to the ones I’ve stated.

I used to have low self-esteem. I thought I had to earn the right to live. I was disgusting, toxic, and bad for the planet. Yes, that’s what I earnestly believed for decades. I thought that it would be better if I was dead, but I didn’t have the courage to kill myself.  I’m not saying this was sane or logical, but it was the way my brain worked at the time. Therapy couldn’t shake the belief that I had to earn the right to live.

Taiji helped me start inching my way to a healthier outlook. I could go into a crowd without flinching, even if I still didn’t like it. I was more at ease with my body, even if  I still avoided looking in the mirror. I didn’t like the way I looked, but I didn’t hate it, either. I had reached a detente  with my body (and my face), which was the most I could hope.

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Maybe no baby yes?

The pandemic has been hell for many reasons. One of them is because parents have had such a hard time juggling work and caring for their children, especially when schools and daycare centers were shut down as well. Some companies have responded by giving more flexibility to parents, which is a good thing. But, some of that flexibility comes from demanding more of people without children. Which, in case you can’t guess, is bad. There was a letter at Ask A Manager related to this and one of the letter writer’s points was her frustration that people judged her negatively for her lack-of-child state. That elicited commiseration from several commenters, including me.

And it made me sad because I had recently read that there is still pressure on women and female-presenting people to have children. Most of the commenters commenting on the post (if not all) were younger than I am, which means this attitude hasn’t changed much or at all from my heyday. That’s depressing. I would have hoped that 30 years after my birthing years, we would have progressed beyond pressuring women to have children.

It’s so difficult to talk about this without seeming like an asshole, so I’m just going to embrace it. I don’t like kids. I don’t dislike them, mind, but I have never gotten the whole ‘kids are the light of the world’ thing that many women proclaim they feel.

I never got gushy and squealy over kids. Actually, I’ve never gotten that way over anything. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have that proverbial ticking biological clock. It wasn’t that I had one and was stifling it or burying it in the back of my closet. I never had one and I still don’t.

When I talk to children, I don’t use a different tone of voice or dumb down what I’m saying. i mean, I’m not going to talk about quantum physics to them (not that I do to adults, either, come to think of it), but I refuse to say shit like, “Who’s a widdle-bitty baby? You are!” It’s just not me and would sound disingenuous coming from my mouth. I kept the discussions age-appropriate, of course, but otherwise, I didn’t change anything else.

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Why I would have been a terrible parent

When I was in my twenties, I realized I didn’t want to have children. More to the point, I realized I didn’t have to have them–if I was willing to push back  on the societal message that a woman is nothing if she doesn’t breed. I got a lot of shit for it, only from women, I’d like to point out*. Men were harmful to me in other gendered ways, but the expectation to uphold gender stereotypes was mostly foisted on me by women. I should squish down my boobs because they were too big. I should wear makeup because–well, just because. Heels, skirts, and acting more ‘feminine’ was explicitly voiced by women. We like to talk about solidarity, but the underbelly is that women can be just as zealous about upholding the patriarchy as men–if not more so.

I have been frank about my decision not to have children (I started typing ‘make babies’, which, accurate). I never brought it up unbidden, but I made it clear that I did not want them. I did not say that it was bad to want children or that no one should have them. I only said in answer to being asked that I, myself, did not want them. That’s it. I was so naïve in thinking that this was a decision that only mattered to me. That I could tell other  women and they would be like, “Oh, that’s nice. How about sharing some nachos?”

Nope! The more benign responses consisted of them just questioning why I didn’t want them or laughingly assuming I’d change my mind. Even if I did change my mind at some point, why not just accept that was my decision at the time? I know why. Patriarchy. It was unthinkable that a woman-shaped person in her early-to-mid twenties could possibly not want children. The worse responses were the women who got angry at me. I really did not anticipate this. They weren’t just angry at my decision not to have kids; they thought it  carried some referendum on them. They actually said to me that if I didn’t want kids, what must I think of them for having them/wanting to have them?

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Oh the lessons I’ve learned

It’s been seven months since my medical trauma, and it’s been heavy on my mind in the last  week. Probably because of my birthday because I should not be here. I made it to the second half of my first century, which is incredible. It’s not something that I can really quantify, though, or offer to other people who are going through something.

Before my medical trauma, I hated it when people tried to chirp positive tropes at me. “Life is what you make of it!” “Live and learn!” “Mind over matter!” and the such. It still sounds trite to my ears, but I can at least understand the sentiment behind it now.

The problem is that it’s not actionable. I mean, I can tell people that they should just live their life, but that doesn’t really help. I will say that Taiji helped before I had my medical trauma. I was in a minor car crash in July of 2016. That was roughly nine or ten years into my study of Taiji, and when I saw the car hurtling at me, I thought, “I’m going to get hit” and immediately relaxed. My car was totaled, but I only sustained a large bruise on my stomach–probably from my seat belt. My body was fine other than that, despite the dire warnings that I would inevitably get whiplash. Which I did not, thank you very much.

That’s when I first realized that my body was pretty damn cool. It’s sturdy and strong, and it’s seen me through some shit. Taiji also helped me with crippling back pain and other assorted physical problems. But, again, it’s not immediate. With my back pain, it took a few months before it started easing up after my teacher showed me one specific stretch that she said I should do every day (three times to each side). After a year of doing this stretch, the back pain was completely gone.

Taiji has also helped me with navigating relationships and the emotional minefields thereof. I almost said mindfields, which, while wrong, is also apt. I’ve gotten better with being in crowds even though I still don’t like it, and I am not as hypervigilant as I used to be.

Mental health-wise, my depression and anxiety eased up little by little as I studied Taiji. Then the pandemic hit. And, honestly, for me personally, it actually lifted my depression and anxiety. Why? Because it made the outer world match my inner world. I was in mental crisis all the time, so it was weirdly comforting. And it didn’t change my day-to-day that much except Zoom Taiji classes and online grocery shopping.

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