Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

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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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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Positive affirmations and gaslighting myself

I hate positive affirmations and I always have. In the past, I haven’t quite been able to articulate why although I could say what I thought the effects of it and toxic positivity/individualism in general were. It makes it very easy to blame the masses for problems that start at the top. Let me explain. Telling people to vote and that each vote makes a difference is under this umbrella. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote and in the general sense, yes, each vote matters. But the emphasis around election time on each individual vote is disingenuous because in the end, it’s the system that matters more than the individual votes. So, yes, I can do my civic duty and vote (which I have), but that’s just propping up the status quo. Yes, it’s urgent to get this president out of office, but his presidency has outlined many of the problems with the system in general and how we take for granted that the president will act like a normal human being with a sense of decency.

Look. Does he need to be shunned from polite society? Yes. Should he ever have been made president? No. In fact, his being president highlights another problem with the system–how the Electoral College is an antiquated system that needs to be refined or trashed completely. But, with the exception of Obama, I haven’t been excited to vote for any of the Democratic candidates on the ballot for president. I’ve done it, of course (except voting for Nader instead of Clinton in 1996 after waiting to see enough returns to realize Clinton would carry MN), but being told that it’s more important to have any warm Democratic body as president rather than to have a GOOD Democrat as president is an indication of a broken system.

It’s difficult to fix a whole political system, however. It’s much easier to place an outsized sense of importance on each individual vote AND it’s easier to feel satisfied you’ve actually done something by voting rather than working on improving the system which may or may not be a lost cause.


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The confirmation of what I already knew

Three years ago in May, I gave up dairy and gluten at the same time. I knew I had lactose-intolerance to a certain degree that was getting worse as I aged. I suspected I also had a reaction to gluten, but I didn’t want to/didn’t have the energy to get it tested. Instead, I cut out gluten and never looked back. A year or so later, I mentioned to my new doctor that I would like to be tested for gluten intolerance. She said that I’d have to start eating gluten again. Which, I mean, yes, that makes sense, but my immediate reaction was to flinch at the thought of poisoning myself. Yes, that’s how I viewed it. Why would I intentionally put something into my body that I knew was bad for me? For the reassurance that it was, indeed, bad for me? No, thank you. I might as well just keep on keeping on with my gluten-free life.

There has been a lot of ink wasted about people who claim to be gluten-intolerant but aren’t. There is a lot of discussion about gluten sensitivity vs wheat allergy vs FODMAP issues, ad nauseam. I  know I don’t have Celiac’s and I would never claim to have it. I also have done the Low FODMAP diet/test, and I found out a few things that are triggers. But, in general, I was comfortable with saying I was GF/DF and getting on with my life. Sure, it’s annoying to read/hear people (including actual doctors) pooh-poohing my actual life experience, but you know, it is what it is.

Why am I rambling about this? First, because I can. But more importantly because of something that happened last night. I decided to make shakshuka (poached eggs in spicy sauce/stew) the lazy way (pre-made shakshuka sauce) over macaroni. This has been my thing of making an easy shakshuka and pairing it with different carb sources. Anyway, It was delicious. Then, my stomach started cramping hard, and I had to race to the bathroom in a reaction I was much too intimate and familiar with. I hadn’t had one in almost a year, but I knew it when it happened. I spent the next half hour on the toilet, and then I was going to the bathroom once every hour or two for the next six hours. Up to half an hour at a time. My stomach was bloated and sore, and let’s just say my innards were enflamed. Not just my innards, if you know what I’m saying. I had so much diarrhea, it was ridiculous. But, also, constipation. It’s fun to have both, let me tell you.

Six hours. Six fucking hours. I had the symptoms upon waking up (and another unpleasant trip to the bathroom), and sixteen hours later, there are some lingering side effects.

I started thinking about why this happened. I assumed it was the shakshuka sauce because it has onion and garlic in it, and I have mild sensitivities to both of those (stronger to garlic). However, I had used it before and didn’t have this reaction. On a hunch, I checked the macaroni box. It was the regular one which meant gluten. Lots of gluten. So much gluten. All the gluten. I didn’t notice when I used it last night, and this made way more fucking sense. I am doing food delivery currently, and I ordered the wrong one. I didn’t look at the box closely before using it. It’s my complete bad, and I’m paying for it.


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The grand unification theory of me

This week, I finished two things. I’ve talked about both on this blog, and I’m going to do it again. The first is Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games. It’s a game I had my eye on for quite some time, but I forgot about it because there was no chatter. Understandable as it’s an indie game that doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre, but, man, I really think it’s an underrated game. Those who played it and reviewed it LOVED it, but it’s not enough people. I’ve gone back and wandered about in a desultory fashion to find the secret chests I missed and because Med the community manager sent a newsletter with a BIG reveal that I didn’t get from the game itself. In retrospect, there were subtle hints, but they were easy to explain away or overlook at the time.

The other thing I finished this week was the Sabre Form in taiji. Or, as my teacher calls it, graduated from the form. The first time she said it was when she taught me the final posture of the Solo Form, and I nearly laughed in her face. I might have ‘known’ the whole form, but I wouldn’t be allowed to do it myself without heavy guidance. Now, many years later, I’ve done the form so many times, I could do it in my sleep. Well, I could have before it got radically changed by my teacher’s teacher. That’s another story for another day, though.

I can’t stop thinking about how much I hated the Sabre Form the first time my teacher taught it to me. I resented every minute, and I did not understand it at all. I wanted it to be the Sword Form, and it wasn’t. By the way, I’m beyond ecstatic that I’m learning a new Sword Form. It’s such a finesse weapon, which is not like me at all. Or at least….That’s the point of this post, and we’ll get to that later. For now, I’m musing about the Sabre Form and how it went from not to hot. While the sword is still my beloved, the saber has become my bestest friend. The karambit is the the honey of the moment, and the cane is that entertaining friend that always makes you feel better when you see them (as long as it’s not TOO often).

The saber is an infantry weapon. It’s not a thinking person’s weapon, and taiji is the scholar’s martial art. It’s about power, and I do feel powerful when I brandish it. Sometimes, I feel like a swashbuckler and sometimes I feel like a Hun. I feel as if I can do anything–and it feels good. I feel like I’m saying, “Don’t fuck with me!”, and I’m backing it all the way the fuck up.

The Sword Form is still my favorite, but it’s not about the power. It’s about elegance and grace, and it’s a finesse form. It’s about cutting someone before they know that you’ve even moved, and it’s about severing tendons. That doesn’t sound elegant or graceful, does it? The saber is about smashing and cleaving. That’s more in keeping with the nature of the weapon.

Side note: Just because the sword is a finesse weapon, it doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. It is; it’s just not the main point of the weapon.

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My unending love for bladed weapons

I like bladed weapons. A lot. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone who knows me. Maybe the depth of my love, but not the fact that I’m an aficionado. I am fairly open about it, and I am always up for talking about it (though not the quantitative stuff such as the intricacies of different blades. I’m all about the feelings, bay-beeeeeee!). I’ve noted that women on twitter are uncomfortable with my declaration of passion for bladed weapons (it’s not ‘nice’ and is ‘so aggressive’, not to mention it’s hard for them to reconcile what they perceive as a gentle martial arts with weapons. I like to remind people that it’s still a martial art. I mean, it’s right there in the name!) and a weird corollary is that dudes think it’s hot. I mean, I get it in a way because think it’s hot, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think of weapons. And, it’s a bit creepy for dudes to be all, “See this hot sword scene that I immediately thought of when you mentioned weapons?”, especially on social media.

Side note: Dudes. My dudes. If there is one thing I can impart on you as a female-presenting person it’s this. If you don’t know a woman (anyone, really, but especially women and female-presenting persons) well on social media (and I define well as not ‘talking’ to them every few days at the bare minimum or having an offline relationship (that includes DMs/PMs), do NOT make sexual innuendos to them as your first foray. I might laugh politely, but it won’t make a good impression. And I’m someone who can be very ribald.

I’ve written before on how I had a similar mindset with the women above in that before I took taiji, I considered myself a pacifist and that violence was always wrong. The reason for it, however, was not a healthy one. I thought my life was worthless, so there was no point in defending it. When I used to walk the circle doing ba gua instead of meditation, I used to imagine an opponent in the middle of the circle. One time, I had a flash of visualizing me killing the opponent. It unsettled me, and I talked to my teacher afterwards. She said it wasn’t a bad thing because it meant that I was willing to defend myself. She was right, and it completely changed my viewpoint.

Back to weapons. I dragged my feet on them for so long. When I first started taiji, it was for self-defense and the martial art applications. I didn’t care about the health benefits or the mental health benefits–I was all about the martial arts. Weapons, though? That was over the line. No way I was ever gonna do that. Nuh-uh, no way. I dragged my feet until my teacher placed a wooden sword in my hand and exhorted me to just try. The second my fingers closed around the hilt, I was hooked.


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Blocked blocked (writer’s) blocked

Let me start by saying that I don’t get classic writer’s block. Or rather, I got it once, but that’s it. What I do get, however, is an overwhelming feeling of doom that my writing sucks, that there’s no reason to do it, that no one wants to read it, and that I might as well give up. I still write during this time, but it’s not with any heart.

It’s strange because when I go back and read what I wrote several years ago, I marvel at how fresh it seems. Even something I’d read several times. There are very few mysteries I’ve read that has a similar take, and while I don’t tie up all loose ends, I come to a satisfying conclusion. And, I actually prefer not tying up all loose ends, but I worry that it doesn’t seem deliberate. Sometimes it isn’t, but it still works out in the realms that I have set up.

Currently, I am trying to write new stories that are set in the current hellscape that is the pandemic plus police brutality plus political bullshittery. Since I write mysteries, I wanted to tackle what to do when I (protag) see a murdered body but have no faith in the police. It’s been going ok, but I’m not really feeling it. I’m trying to write a few other mysteries set in the same situation, and it’s really limiting. I mean, it’s supposed to be, yes, but it’s REALLY limiting.

One thing I do in my spare time is re-read old things I have written. There are two trilogies (I usually write in trilogies if not a standalone) that I wrote fairly recently–ok. Let me back up. They are not completely written. In the first case, one whole novel (230,000 words) and half the second one (125,000 words). In the other case, two finished novels (122,000 words and 128,000 words respectively) and the third not yet finished (57,000 words).

These are my two favorite trilogies, probably because both are fantasy in nature.

Side note: My brother likes to rant about how much he hates the fact that sci-fi and fantasy are mixed together because he loves the former and hates the latter. I heartily agree with him but because I’m the other way around. I don’t care much for sci-fi, even though I keep it mostly to myself. In most nerd circles, it’s taboo to admit you don’t like sci-fi. It’s also irritating that fantasy is seen as lesser to many–probably because of the gender skew. Sci-fi is seen as more logical (why, I don’t know, as it’s all made up shit, anyway) and fantasy as more emotional. You can probably guess as to the skew here.


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To not be or not to be

I’m struggling. The reasons are long and complicated (and, yes, family-related), which I’m saving for another post. I will note that I had an actual meltdown while last talking to my mother. The result was my sleep immediately going to hell (had my first four-hour night sleep in a while, and how the hell did I EVER used to live on that? Regularly?), my brain fragmenting, and my energy completely dissipating. But,  again, not the focus of this post.

In this post, I’m musing about all the ways I’m just…not. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.

Every since I was a wee little Taiwanese American girl (well, not so wee and not so little) growing up in the lily white suburbs in Minnesota in the 1970s, I was different. Some of it can be seen in the previous sentence. Hell, a lot of it. I was fat, unhappy (difficult childhood), Taiwanese American, super smart, and just…weird. I didn’t watch much TV and we rarely went to the movies. I didn’t listen to pop music until much later. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I ever heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in the sixth grade.

Side note: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time Googling exactly when the song came out and discovered it charted in America in April of 1983, so my apocryphal story could theoretically be true. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way of underling my otherness.

My mom made my clothes including dresses which I hated. Still hate them. Skirts are fine-ish, but not my first choice. I wore one to my nieces wedding, but honestly, if I had some really swish (both literal and metaphorical), I probably would have worn them instead. I don’t wear makeup or use beauty products of any kind. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, which I’ll come to later.  I got fun of for bringing Taiwanese food because this was waaaaaaaay before ‘ethnic’ food became so popular.


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Consent is hot as hell

I’ve been struggling with anger in the past week, and now it’s come crashing down around me and has settled into a thick goo of depression. i have a hard time finding motivation for anything, and I have a fatalistic viewpoint. I mean, I do in general, but it’s especially bad right now. I have the tendency to be negative, and the pandemic sure isn’t helping.

Side note: My right eye has been twitching for no reason. This has happened in the past, but not to the extent it’s happening now. In addition, my sleep has been really fucked over the days. Not unusual for me, but it’s reverting back to early days sleep, which is discouraging. I don’t sleep enough, and then I’m drowsy all day. Then, when I try to sleep, I’m suddenly wide awake.

As my readers know, I am a big fan of advice columns. I call them my stories, and I have a loop I do every morning. One of them is, was, Doctor Nerdlove, and I need to talk about it. I want to say before getting into the controversy that while I enjoyed reading his column, I did not like his podcasts or his videos. It was puzzling to me how someone who could write a good column with solid advice could not do videos/podcasts well (in my opinion, of course). In addition, while I agreed with his general advice, his specific tips in dating were borderline cringe-worthy to me. His idea of flirting was aggressive and skewed cliched, and if he were to his tricks on me in real life, I would be very turned off. That said, his general advice was sound, and I allowed it to overcome the grimace I always had when I read his specific advice. This is relevant to the rest of the post, I promise.

So, there has been a spate of stories about sexual harassment in different branches of geek culture. Games and comic to be more specific. Doctor NL wrote a post about a mentor of his who was accused of…not exactly sexual harassment, but of sexualizing the attractive young women in his forum in a way that would assume de facto pressure. He had a lot of clout in the industry (comics), and a leg up from him would do a lot for someone’s career. Add to that the fact that comics are still largely white dudes, and it’s easy to see how he could use his power for evil.

In the comments, there were people who didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Distressing, but common. There was one dude who ‘just wanted to understand’ and kept asking questions. It was clear that he really did want to understand, but he was coming at it from the wrong angle. I had a Twitter interaction with an Asian friend that was crashed by a rando who was ‘just asking questions’ about a racial issue, but it became quickly clear that he wasn’t arguing in good faith. I muted him and moved along with my life. In the above case, however, it didn’t really matter that the guy was arguing in good faith because the starting point was so different for him and for the actual situation. He didn’t think the behavior was bad enough to classify as damaging, which was pretty myopic of him. But, it’s sadly common in that people often feel that they are the standard of norm. I’ll delve more into that in the future.

A few days after this, the doc then penned a post about his own situation. He was at a con in 2017 and was flirting with a woman at a bar. He’s in an open marriage, so there’s nothing there (unless he didn’t mention it to the woman involved). By his own recount, they flirted and had chemistry. He thought it was going well, so he reached over, gently wove his fingers through her hair, and lightly tugged.


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