Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

Life’s ups and downs

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

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

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

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

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Check your own damn privilege

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

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

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

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

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

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More what I am not than what I am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Invisibility is my superpower

I’m used to being ignored. It’s a fact of life that people tend to think in the binary. It’s one reason it’s been so difficult to broaden the public consciousness on gender diversity. It’s also a fact that people are territorial. Us and them is pretty much innate (we can argue whether it’s more nature or nurture, but most people feel it to some extent).

I belong to several groups that are outside the binary. I am not black or white. I’m Asian (Taiwanese), so I get ignored when the question of race arises. I’m bisexual, so again, neither gay nor straight. It’s interesting because in the post about trans and gender-diverse people that I wrote about yesterday (at Ask A Manager), there were several bis in the comments (including me) who have said that we’ve  gotten shit from gays and lesbians, and it hurts more than the shit we get from hets.

Side note: I am not happy with the term bisexual, but I don’t like pansexual or omnisexual, either. If I had my druthers, I would call myself sexual and leave it at that. I reall ydon’t like labels (and not in that smarmy ‘no labels’ way), but it’s because I find them constraining. I’m a sloppy, messy person who doesn’t fit into any one category. That’s why I’ll default to the broadest category possible, but still not be satisfied with it.

I’m also areligious/agnostic, rather than an atheist–and I’m certainly not a Christian, I don’t know if there is a god (though I don’t think there is is a Christian God), but at this point, I don’t care. Not in a negative way, but in a ‘I don’t want to think about it any longer’ way.

I have a similar feeling about gender. I just don’t care about it. I had been chewing it over before I ended up in the hospital, and my brain went in many different directions. The reason I started stepping away from ‘woman’ was because of other women. All my life, I had been told that I was not acting properly as a woman.

This included, but was not limited to–not having children (the big one); not wanting children (a bigger one); not wanting to get married; not wearing makeup; not caring about fashion, cooking, or cleaning; liking to climb trees; dislkiking dolls; picturing strangers on the street naked and how they’d be in bed; liking sports; and that’s just the short list. I’m sure some people would put Taiji weapons and video games on that list, too.

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Resting Blank Face

When I was young, I was taught that my emotions were not allowed. More specifically, my negative emotions. I was not supposed to be angry or sad or upset. I was not supposed to disagree with my parents in any way. I was supposed to paste a smile on my face and act like I was happy/grateful/upbeat all the time.

I have to say. Upbeat is not in my vocabulary. Not by a long shot. Even when I’m happy or elated about something, I’m very lowkey. I have had to learn in online communication that I can come across as flat, so I need to add emojis and exclamation points. I’m verbose, yet, but I’m also factual. I don’t tend to be flowery in my writing, so I can come across as dry.

In real life, I have perefcted the blank face. It’s my resting face, and I have to actively add emotion to it if I don’t want to be perceived as being emotionless. I had a Taiwanese roommate once tell me that he could not see a guy asking me out. This did not come out of nowhere, by the way. I was complaining about being hit on as I did my moring walk. At least once a week, a guy would try to come onto me. It was always white and black guys, though–never Asian guys.

When my Taiwanese roommate said this, I retorted that not all guys were afraid of a strong womnan. It wasn’t very tactful of me, but he hadn’t been tactful, either. He was very much into the steretoypical Asian woman, but then he would complain about how bored he was of the women he was dating.

Not only had I trained myself not to show my emotions, but I also trained myself not to show pain. Physical pain, I mean. As a result, my pain threshold is insanely high. When we were doing chin na (joint manipulation) techniques in Taiji, this was a problem. You’re supposed to tap out when the pain was too much, but I would never tap out. Not because I was trying to be hard, but because I truly could not feel it.

My teacher finally decided that I could only practice with her because she did not want me to be hurt. She was the only one experienced enough to realize when to back off without me having to tap out. She talked to her teacher about it and one time, he was in our class to practice/watch. He suggested i stand on my tiptoes, and then i was abble to feel the pain. I did, and he demonstrated. I automatically felt the pain and tapped out. He said that when you were on your toes (generic you), you can’t tense up your muscles/joints.

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When I’m done, I’m done

I am pretty patient in general. With people, I mean. Wait. That’s not true. I am impatient in my brain, but outwardly, I’m patient. I understand people’s foibles because I know the reasoning behind it. I’m not an empath for no reason.

Side note: There was someone at Ask A Manager (a commenter) who wrote, “Of course, there is no such thing as an empath.” She dropped it in like everyone knew this to be a fact.” I did not say but should have, “Just because YOU don’t believe in them, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.” But I didn’t because I know what people think of empaths. I don’t even really like the word, but I accept it’s the common nomeclature. I can understand why she did not want it to be true.

I have known since I was in college that people don’t like being told about themselves. I mean, I knew it before that, but it was when I was studying psychology that I realized that most people don’t know themselves and more to the point, don’t want to know themselves. Jung was spot on when he said that people didn’t want to see their shadow sides.

It’s funny to me because I’m all about my shadow side. For most of my life, I have freely admitted my flaws. I’m a slob and a procrastinator. I am quick to take offense being very thin-skinned and quicker to anger. I am sarcastic and I see the negative in people much more easily than I see the positive. I’m sarcastic, snide, and will always find the fault in everything.

For decades, I refused to look at any of my positives. I liked to joke that my shadow side comprised my positive aspects. This was collateral damage from a childhood in which I could not do anything right. I got it in my head that I would be punished if I said anything at all positive about myself. This was my Taiwanese culture at work, but it was also my parents being overwhelmingly negative people.

Other people, though, cannot bear to face their own flaws. In fact, many of them will go to any lengths not to acknowledge them. And then act up because they’re so ashamed of them. It’s fascinating as a student of psych to watch the defense mechanisms people use. There’s a saying in psychology. You don’t take away someone’s defense mechanism without giving them something to replace it with.

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Taiji is the answer no matter the question

I have had a bad week. I fell twice; both times were completely my fault. The first time, I was walking from the couch to the kitchen with my NYT crossword puzzle soup mug with ginger honey lemon tea in it (cold) in hand. I stumbled over something and sent the mug flying. It’s thick, thankfully, so it didn’t break, but it sprayed tea everywhere. It was only about a quarter full, so at least there’s that. I crushed Shadow’s box (he wasn’t in it!), and I scuffed up my left knee. I also slightly pulled my right pec, but I was happy that it was that minimal. Back in the day, I would have pulled something or twisted something or just ached everywhere.

Then, the next day, I was lugging a box of cat litter into the garage. Or rather, pushing it because the box was falling apart. What I should have done was open the box and brought win each of  the two cartons individually. They’re not light. But, no. I didn’t do that. That’s one of my problems–I don’t do the thing I know I should do.

Funny side note: One time, I was telling Ian that my mother had complained to me about the way I put paper bags away. I mash them up and shove them in the cupboard. She told me I should fold them neatly and stack them. I said to Ian that I knew she was right, but I wasn’t going to do it. He was gobsmacked. He said, “Wait. You admit that she is right, but you are going to continue doing it your way, anyway?”

“Yup,” I said cheerfully. I knew myself, and I knew I couldn’t be bothered to do it the right way. I have changed that habit now, though. I fold the bags neatly at least 2/3rds of the time.

Anyway. I was pushing the box of two cat litter cartons when I felt myself pitch forward. I put my hands out to brace myself, but I also relaxed. That’s the thing that Taiji has instilled in me–the instinct to relax when I’m about to smash myself up. It doesn’t stop me from being clumsy, but it has helped me tremendously not to fuck myself up.

The biggest example of this was when I got into a minor car accident several years ago. I was going thirty-five on a local road (30 mph was the speed limit, but nobody goes that speed). There is a place when you can veer off to the freeway to the right (on my side, left on the other) and then a bit further, you canturn left to go on the freeway the other way (right on the other side, naturally).

This is not a well-designed “intersection” because it’s marked minimally. If you live in the area, you know how it is, but if you don’t, it’s a mess. Plus, the road itself is winding in a way that is difficult to explain, so I normally give directions to the next exit–which is more straightforward. Anyway, os I was going forward on my side, I noticed that the car on the other side of the road (an SUV, I think), was suddenly veering to the left at a high speed. They clearly needed to get on the highway and overshot the exit. I thought to myself, “I’m going to get hit” and my body instantly relaxed. A few seconds later, I was hit. The entire front of my car was stoved in, and my airbag deployed.

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The new and improved me

I am perfect the way I am. No, that’ is not true. I am joking, obviously. I have as many flaws as my arm is long, but I have realized the older I get that there is only so much I can do about it. Back in the day, I would set goals and/or resolutions and then fail miserably at them. It’s beacuse I am an all-or-nothing kind of person. I don’t know moderation, which is one of my flaws. Ironic, really.

I used to do the ‘lose fifty pounds in a month’ thing–which is ridiculous. Trying to lose weight in general is futile. There is a stat that has been bandied about that 97% of people who lose weight gain it back–and more. There was a letter to How To Do It (Slate’s sexxxxxytimes advice column) in which the letter writer told his wife (they had kids) that he was no longer attracted to her because she gained thirty pounds in the last two years–and her health, though. To be more precise, she gained 31 pounds. Yes, he knew precisely how much it was.

She agreed to lose the weight, which meant she  made two dinners every day (one for her and one ofr her husband and the kids) and went to the gym to work out. Her hubby complained that it meant more work for him at home, but he was very ‘patient’ about it. Imagine heavily-laid sarcasm infused into the word ‘patient’.

She got down to a weight that he deemed acceptable, but then she wrapped herself in huge clothing, complaining about being too cold and too tired for sex. She had it, but she wasn’t as adventurous as she was before. She wouldn’t derss in the hot clothes he wanted her  to and he was at a loss as to what to do. She also didn’t want to have sex with the lights on. He noticed other men eyeing her up and down, but she seemed oblivious to the stares.

Rich took him to task for being the sexist pig that he was an utterly repugnant. The commentariat was nearly unanimous in condemning him (which, frankly surprised me as they were pretty fatphobic), but more than one person commented that gaining thirty pounds in two years (gee, what happened in the last two years that might have made it easier to gain weight?) was a bad thing.

First of all, no.

See how easy that was? Look, I know that this country worships at the altar of painful skinniness, but there is not any sustained research that says being fat in and of itself is a bad thing. In fact, I have read more research saying being underweight is worse for you than being overweight, but you never, ever hear anyone say they’re concerned about a too-thin person ‘for their health’.

In addition, several people had antiquated ideas of what is a normal weight for a person, especially a woman. I’m 5’6″. When I was at my skinniest–fainting on the dance floor with a 27″ waist–I weighed 138 pounds on my homescale (which meant probably five more pounds on the doctor’s scale).That was JUST under overweight on the BMI scale. I have very dense muscles and look like I weigh tthirty pounds less than I do.

More to the point, people who say that they’re worried about someone’s health is lying. You cannot tell how healthy someone is by looking at them. Or what they eat. In general, yes, you’ll probably be in better shape if you eat plenty of veggies and fruit. But it varies with each person and it’s not as you’re innoculated from anything bad happen if you eat ten fruits and veggies a day.

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Goals, my future, life

In the last post, I talked about how difficult it was for me to make buying decisions at a certain price point. Under twenty bucks, not a problem. Buying for my cat, well, it’s a problem because he’s become incredibly picky about food, but I have no problem spending money on him. I just have a hard time finding something he will eat. He was sick about two months ago and since then, he’s been extremely picky about food. I think it’s that he can’t smell as well as he used to, but I’m not sure. What I do know is that he used to eat Solid Gold tuna pate for all his meals.

Now, however, he will or won’t touch it, depending. He’ll eat it every three or four days, maybe, but not every meal as he used to. It’s frustrating beacuse he won’t eat any shredded food. He’ll eat the gravy that it’s in, but not the shreds themselves. Flakes? Yes. Pate? Yes. Morsels? Yes. But, and this is the important part, not more than a certain amount. I’ve been trying to figure out what he will and won’t eat, and it changes meal-to-meal. There are some foods he won’t eat at all. Tiki Cate Pate is one. Oh, and he will not eat broths.

Today, he is having a ‘I don’t want to eat anything day’, and I’m frustrated. I know that the standard bit of advice is to just leave out the wet food for twenty minutes and then take it away. It wouldn’t be feasible or ethical to put out the same food for the next meal, but that would be what you do with dry food. Even the food that he loves, he’s only deigned to nibble at. To be fair, he ate a decent amount at breakfast. Not a lot, but decent.

Side note: I learned when I took him to the vet that he had lost several pounds since the last time I took him in. Meaning, he wasn’t eating enough. Well, to be fair, he was considered plump back at the last check-in when he was nearly fifteen pounds. He was ten pounds this time, which was on the thinner side. He is getting older so that’s part of it, but I’m trying to feed him more. So, in general, he is eating more than he did before he got sick. I used to feed him one small can a day of wet food plus free-feeding dry food, and giving him treats during the day. Now, I’m upping it to one big can or two small cans a day, but he won’t eat all of it at a time. Realistically, we’re probably at a small can and a half total during the day with a lot of food wasted.

If he were younger, I would try to change his feeding so that I didn’t have to go through this stress every day. Given that he’s nearly 17, though, it’s pretty much any food I can get into him that I accept as edible that will do. He is eating. I take comfort in that. It’s jsut a  matter of him getting something down him.

I think another thing that I have to come to terms with is that there are things I  won’t change about myself. Back when I was younger, I bought into the notion that you had to change everything wrong with you. If you were aware of a flaw, then it behooved you to do something about it. The problem is that I wsa well-aware of my issues. I knew of the many things that I should fix. One prominent one was that I worked to the back of a deadline. If something was due on, say, February 1st, I would get it done ournd 11:59 p.m. on the night of January 31st.

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I need to step up my buying game

I am terrible when it comes to buying big purchases. I have no problem with spending, say, $20 for three pairs of skivvies (Jockey, knit. Very comfy) without agonizing over it.

By the way, we’ve gotten four or five inches of snow and it’s still falling. It’s white and fluffy and it is, indeed, a winter wonderland. I’m loving it; it’s making my heart smile. I’m glad that I got Thai takeout a few days ago so I don’t have to go anywhere. I am very privileged in that and because I have someone who plows for me. I can just sit and enjoy it from inside my house, which is exactly how I like it.

Anyway. I can order takeout and not feel bad about it as long as it’s under a hundred dollars. That seems to be my tripping point in general–a hundo. Anything under that and I am basically fine with it (again, a huge privilege on my part, I know). But, once we hit that price point, then I start agonizing.

Let’s start with shoes. I buy one pair of sneakers, one pair of boots, and one pair of sandals when the last one of each is beyond repair. I used to buy New Balance tennis shoes, but I will not do so any longer because the owner/CEO/head honcho is/was a Trump supporter. That means I have to find another brand when this pair wears out. None of the usual suspects, of course, beacuse they are trash (Nike, Puma, Reebok, etc.), but there has to be a company that is ethical. I am Googling now.

That’s part of the problem. I get paralyzed when I start comparing the different items. I can spend hours looking at boots, for example. It’s beacuse I have very specific needs for my shoes. They must be black, for example. That’s not a problem, at least not online. In stores decades ago, finding black sneakers for women was impossible. I’m sure it’s different now, but I gave up. I shifted to buying online and have not looked back.

I need extra-extra wide as well. My feet are fat as fuck. In addition, I’m a half-size, which makes it even harder. 8 1/2 EE/WW/ whatever. Then, it’s just a matter of plain black sneakers. That’s not so bad. The sandals and boots, however, are a different matter because style comes into it.

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