Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self Esteem

But I’m not the only one

When I was in my twenties, I started writing mysteries. I took a class from an author I really admired. We brought in our work and had it critiqued. She said that I could not have an ‘I’ protagonist and then have scenes without that protagonist. I asked why not. She said it just wasn’t done.

Fast-forward to three or four years later when it became all the rage in mystery novels. I was kicking myself for not beleiving in me, but she was so certain that it could not be done. That did not stop me from doing it, but I stopped talking about it in class.

It’s a small thing, but it’s indicative of the way my brain thinks. I didn’t undrestand why I could not do it, and nothing she said changed my mind. When people tell me I can’t do something, I always want to know why. If the reason doesn’t make sense to me, then I ignore it.

That’s how I am in general, by the way. When I was a teenager and going to a very restrictive, sexist, Evangelical Taiwanes church (under protest. The only thing I liked was going to a fast food restaurant afterwards. It was the only time we were allowed fast food). The youth pastor was a white guy who had no cultural sensitivity and what’s worse, no capability for independent thinking.

We were talking about dating in high school, and he disclosed that he had had a wild youth. He put it aside once he became a Christian, and he espoused not having sex before marriage. Which, fine. Whatever. That’s standard for Christianity. I don’t agree with it, but it’s to be expected.

Side note: When I thought about it more, it made no sense at all to me. It’s the same act whether you do it in marriage or outside of it. It’s not as if there was something magical about that piece of paper saying you were married. I realize that it’s a philosophical matter as to whether ‘marriage’ is a different state in and of itself, so much so that it can transform sex from ‘your soul will be eternally damned in hell’ to ‘angels approve and choirs sing’.

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Unmasking and taking off the bra

I don’t wear a bra. Ever.

I think I might have autism.

Bear with me because I think these two things are related. Tenuously, maybe, but related, nonetheless.

I also think I have OCD traits. This, too, is related.

Let’s start with the bra thing. I hate clothing in general. It all feels so restrictive and I am allergic to manydifferent kinds of fabrics. Hell, I’m allergic to so many things in general. Let’s go over them, shall we?

Almost every fucking flower/weed under the sun. So many of the manmade scents–almost all of them, too. The last time I had the allergy test where they infect you, I mean inject you with all the different allergens in your thigh, like thirty diffreent allergens, my entire thigh blew the fuck up. It became one giant boil, basically.

I also didn’t know when I used to get allergy shots as a kid that they were injecting me with poison. It was so utterly miserable. My arm would swell up every time, and I would be hot and miserable. And, again, I had no idea what was happening. If someone had actually told me why they were poisoning me, I would have been able to deal with it better.

And did it work? No. I still have allergies. I used to envy my brother for not getting the shots. I found out a few years ago it was because his allergies were too far gone for the shots to be considered effective. Ironically, his allergies are pretty much gone now while mine are just worse.

I’m allergic to mosquito bites. To gluten. To lactose. So many allergies (none life-threatening) to so many things.

Let’s get back to bras. I hate them. I have always hated them. I had a traumatic fitting incidence that left me in tears. It also made me hate my body even more than I did. I found that fitters telling women* to wear really fucking tight bras that crushed your ribs was common, which was what I went through. I wore 38 D. They told me I should wear 34 DD. It hurt like fuck. When I said I ended up in tears, I meant it literally. And I will never, ever, EVER allow a bra fitter near me again. Even if I were to go back towearing a bra. Which I won’t.

Ranodm fact: There was a study that showed people who did not wear bras had perkier boobs than those who did, but that was not conclusive. On the other side, there is no conclusive evidence that wearing a bra keeps the boobs perkier, too. And because there is so much push for women to wear them, I always feel compelled to stand up for the other side.

Even if boobs sag, so the fuck what? If there is no medical problem with it, then who the uck cares? Also, if there is no pain. Look. If someone wants to wear a bra, I am most emphatically not going to stop them or lecture them about how they should free the boobs. I would just appreciate the same courtesy in return. But the fear that they project as they frantically defend the bra is amazing. And tiring. Just chill the fuck out, ok?

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Underestimating your expertise

I think about the Dunning-Kruger effect from time to time. Probably more often than most people do. Not the Dunning-Kruger effect that most people know (people who are bad at something often underestimate just how bad they are or think they are good at it*.), but the second effect that no one ever talks about.

That is the opposite effect of the first one–people who are really good at something underestimate how much better they are at the thing than other people or they think it’s no big deal. It’s for the same reason. They are using themselves as the reference because they have never been anyone else and can only go by what they can do themselves.

I was reminded of this by a thread in the weekend forum at Ask A Manager about cooking. They were talking about how caramelizing onions took way longer than a recipe says it does. People pointed out that it was the same for other times in cooking. Like the time it takes to make the whole dish in general. Someone joked that it took them that long just to gather the ingredients (twenty minutes).

This reminded me of when I got my Instapot (Instant Pot). My brother was pushing it hard, making it sound like the miracle cooking device. I read a bunch of recipes before deciding to do something I thought would be relatively simple–mashed potatoes. How hard could it be, right?

First of all, all the recipes were for four people. I am a single person, which means I don’t need that much of anything. And also that I will eat at least two servings at once.

When I make mashed potatoes without the Instapot, I cut up the four or so potatoes in cubes, throw them in boiling water, then I mash them up (I  did buy a potato masher) , slowly pouring in water and vegan butter. And salt. That’s it! It’s really easy.

With the Instapot, it’s much more elaborate than that. I’m discounting mashing by a fork because it was before I got the masher. That’s not the fault of the Instapot. Remember. The thing that everyone emphasized with the Instapot was how it made everything so easy and simplified. What they don’t tell you is that the cooking time does not include: preheating time, taking pressure off, and any prep time. And in this case, the time they said it would take for the mashed potatoes to cook was not nearly enough.

When I mentioned it to my brother, he said that of course you had to preheat it. NOBODY SAYS THAT. The second thing I tried to make was a pork dish that had four ingredients. Pork, liquid smoke, and two other things  Idon’t remmeber. And this was supposed to be super easy. Also for four people. And you have to brown the meat before cooking it. Which I could not get to happen in the Instapot. I did it in a skillet instead and burned my forearm. The meat was fine afterwards, but the total time took so long and it wasn’t that great. I didn’t use the Instapot again and eventually gave it to my brother.

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I’m always not a woman to some

When I tured twenty-six, my mother commented that she had my brother at that age. I had nothing to say to that so I shrugged and dismissed it from my mind. Quitck backstory. I realized when I was tewnty that I did not want kids. Like, definitely did not want them. I had never been that sure about anything in my life. Ever. Not before and not since. It came down like a message from the angels above, and I shouted out, “Hallelujah!” Ok. No. I did not do that. But the relief I felt when I realized that not only did I not want kids, I did not have to have them, was immense. I can’t describe the weight it lifted off my shoulders.

Before that, i just assumed that I had to have them because that was the culture I grew up in. The Taiwanese culture, I mean, though it was backed up by the American culture, too. Women were nothing if they did not get married and have children. It was what they were born (and bred) to do. We were chattel and cattle, and more than one person referred to my birthing hips when I was in my twenties. Excuse me. Not person–but woman. Because it was only women who pushed me to have children, who nagged me about not having them, and who tried to make me feel selfish for not having them.

It was never men. I emphasize this because women are often the worst when it comes to upholding the patriarchy. There are many reasons for that, but that is not the point of this post. The point is that the fifteen years I was pushed to have children, mostly by my mother, is what planted the seed that I was not comfortable calling myself a woman.

My mother actually said at one point that it did not matter if I wanted children or not because it was my duty as a woman to have them. Think about that for a minute. Let it marinate in your mind. I was supposed to put aside my personal feelings and procreate because that was my express purpose as vagina-bearing person. That was what my mother was saying to me. That’s pretty horrifying if you think about it.

Oh. the one exception to men not pushing me about kids–when it came to the question of an abortion. More than one man I’ve talked with was firmly against it. One was a Catholic guy (claimed liberal) who said that if a woman ‘played’ then she should have to ‘pay’. Which was another terrible way to view parenting. It’s a punishment for your sins. That’s literally what he was saying. He claimed it was the same as if you were skiing and broke your leg. You had  to deal with the broken leg. I pointed out that ‘dealing with a broken leg’ did not include leaving it broken and saying, “Well, I broke it, so I have to keep it broken.”

I mentioned that if  iwere forced to have a baby, I would probably kill myself to get out of it. And the fetus would die with me, so two entities would be dead. How was that any better? He said that I could get a note from my doctor in that case. I said why should that be necessary? Why should I have to prostate myself and reveal my mental health issues just to be able to do what I wanted with my own body?

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Invisible like me

I am invisible in several ways. First, Asian as a race is usually ignored in America. When racism is talked about, it’s always about black people. I get it. Racism against black people is the worst, literally, in America. And Latinos will get a mention now and again. Oh, and when the pandemic hit, there was a hot second of concern for Asians who were getting bashed (because of the “China” virus), but that was it.

And I get that what Asians go through in general is not as bad as what blacks go through. But. At the same time. It was difficult to grow up in the seventies in Minnesota as an Asian girl. My food was laughed at because it was decades before Chinese (mine was Taiwanese, but similar) became fashionable. I was awkward, fat, and miserable. I had no friends, and I was the proverbial fish out of water.

In addition, we have been considered the model minority beacuse waves of East Asians came to America for college/grad school. I have been told in all earnesty that Asian people are so smart. Back in my twenties, my cheeky reply was that all the unintelligent people were in Asia. Not a nice thing to say, but not untrue, either. Not meaning that Asian people are less smart than Westerners, but that with nearly 2 billion Eastern Asians, there are bound to be some who are not as smart as Westerners.

In the sixties and seventies, many East Asian people came to America to study. Many stayed here for opportunities and did not return to their home countries. This is called a brain drain, and it was a big problem back then. In addition, people who come to Ameria from Asia to study are very driven and the cream of the crop (school-wise). In my parents’ case, my father was extremely driven and got a Fulbright Scholarship. In my mother’s case, she’s very smart and worked hard to get here as well. They both had to be at the top of their game, schoolwise to even be considered to be allowed to come to America to study.

In Taiwan, you have to declare your major for college as you enter high school. Plus they went to school for something like ten hours a day. It was brutal. As my mother expalined it to me, school was hard until grad school where it’s then a party. She found it bizarre here that school was pretty much a breeze until college.

Other categories in which I fit that have no place in this world: religion, gender, suxual, generation, marital/parental status. In order, i’m areligious, agender, bi, X, single and childfree. Concerning religion, it’s often Christian, Judaism, and Islam that are the big three. Atheists are known, but reviled. Gender, it’s male, female, and nonbinary (with trans people being acknowledged, finally!). Generation-wise, it’s Boomers and Millennials and nothiing between. It’s fascinating, really, how both Gen X and Gen Z have been erased from the conversation. Boomer is shorthand for old people and Millennial is shorthand for kids today. The oldest millennial is over 40! I mean. Come on. They are married and have kids. But, yes, tell me about kids these days, those millennials.

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Going low or no-contact with faaaaaamily

One of the problems with a society that gives lip service to family is that it will often be resistent to any negativinty surrounding faaaaamily. Any time you need to defend something that heavily, it means that fundamental thing is broken.

An example that I ofen use. When I was twenty, I realized that I did not want kids. And, more to the point, that I did not have to have them! It was the best realization of my life (at some point, I will do a comprehensive post about how the best realizations of my life were negative ones–meaning, that I realized I was NOT something or did NOT want something, rather than positive ones), and I felt a lightness that I had not felt beforehand.

And, at the time, I naively thought that it was a one-and-done decision. I wasn’t going to have kids. Boom! That’s it. I was a sweet, summer child, but in my defense, I was raised by wolves. I did not know much about societal expectations because my parents did not have any interest in being a part of American society so did not impart any of those norms to me. Yes, in my ancestral culture (Taiwanese), there is the expectation that a female-shaped person will have kids, but I didn’t think it was as strong in American culture.

Like I said, I was a sweet summer child. So yioung. So naive.

Women started asking me about it when I was mid-twenties. I will note it was only women. Men just wanted to get in my pants and probably didn’t care want me to get pregnant from it. But women would ask, and I would honestly answer. I never brought it up myself, but it was a common topic of conversation. I want to emphasize that I never, ever, got into a rant about my thoughts of having children. I simply said that I didn’t have them/wasn’t going to have them. They would press and ask why. I wouuld say that I did not want them.

That was it. I never elaborated more than that. And you would think that would be the end of that, but it never was. For some reason, the women felt the need/urge/compulsion to arguue with me. And the one that got to me the most were the women who were angry at me because “You must think I’m a loser to have children/want them.” Uh, no? I don’t think about you and your progeny at all? It literally is not on my mind–at all. I don’t care if someone else has children or not.

This was so confusing. Why were they angry at me for making a decision (that they dragged out of me) that had no effect on them at all? It took me a decade or so to truly grasp what was going on. It’s beacuse they were invested in the status quo and societal norms. Or that they had never questioned them all their lives. They grew up assuming they would get married and have children, and that would be that. Then, they were vaguely dissatisfied with their lives (or not so vaguely) and could not figure out why.

I walzed along and blithely say that I’m not having children. I wasn’t questioning the status quo; I was just blowing past it. I didn’t care about having children. I didn’t care if other people wanted them or not. I didn’t understand agonizing over not having them or falling over yourself (as a woman. Let’s face it. Most dudes were not pushed to defend their decision to this degree to not have children. By other men, at least) to apologize for not having them. I didn’t want them, wasn’t having them, and it was glorious! It made me feel so good, I wanted to hire a skywrite plane and have it emblazoned in the clouds.

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Unconditional love vs. reasonable boundaries

While I was doing my Taiji routine this morning, I had music on as I was doing the forms as was my wont these days. It’s funny how the playlists that YouTube makes for me just includes all the songs I like with no context. So Rihanna is followed by Vienna Teng, who is then followed by a showtune. I’m fine with that because it shakes things up, but still keeps it in my comfort zone.

The song, Locked Away by R. City, ft. Adam Levine, came on. I want to stress that I like the song and think it’s a banger. However, I reject the entire premise of the song as being ridiculous, and it irritates me every time I hear the song. The song starts out:

If I got locked away
And we lost it all today
Tell me honestly
Would you still love me the same?

To which I always say, “No! No I would not!” In the context of the song, it’s easy to realize that the singer is basically asking for unconditional love and framing it as if his partner was unreasonable. In the video, she’s streessing about bills and he’s like, “You gotta trust me.” It’s clear that we’re supposed to think she unreasonable for nagging him about those pesky bills and should just assume they will get taken care of by magic.

Or by him robbing someone–which is how he ends up in jail. Look. It’s a song/video. It’s allowed to take whatever creative licenses it wants. But the bottom line is that she was reasonable to question him because bills need to be paid, and some vague dream isn’t going to do it. There are other examples in the video, but this is the one tha really irritated me.

It’s because I was raised by narcissistic parents who believed that unconditional love came with strings heavily attached. Or rather, their kids should have unconditional love for them, but not vice-versa. They added culture to it as in, “In Taiwanese culture, you’re supposed to respect your elders.” Which I don’t have a problem with, but there should be at least a baseline of respect for your children as welll, I would think. And if that’s too American, well, I am an American. I was born and raised in this country and do believe that every human being is worthy of a baseline level of respect just for benig a human being.

My last therapist worked with me on setting boundaries within my family. My mom didn’t like that therapist because as my mother said, “She doesn’t understand that in Taiwanese culture, family is everything.” My mother also said, “You and I used to be so close, but now that has changed” with the implication that it was my therapist’s fault.

This is incorrect. We have never been close. She doesn’t know the first thing about me. What she means by close is that she can dump all her emotions on me, and I will jsut take it. That is her definition of unconditional love, even if she wouldn’t admit it. She may not even realize it herself, but it’s true.

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My particular brand of neurospicy

For the first twenty years of my life, I felt like I was an alien without the manual for being human. Part of that  was because I was the kid of two immigrants who did not want to be in America. Or rather, one of them did not  want to be, and he was the king of the castle. We had very little interaction with American culture as my parents spoke Taiwanese at hom (to each other, but not to my brother and me), had only Taiwnaese friends, and did not watch any American TV. We did not go to the movies or listen to the radios. My father demanded Taiwanese food, and my brother and I wanted American food. We preferred pizza, mac and cheese, and the like.

Side note: My favorite part about church was that we went to a fast food restaurant afterwards. Usually McDonald’s or Burger King, but sometimes arby’s or Wendy’s. Then, for one glorious meal, I could eat a delicious Big Mac or a chicken parm (at BK) or a roast beef sandwich without being shamed for it.

Side note II: For decades, I thought my mother liked cole slaw and always gave her mine when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Turns out she did not, but she felt she had to eat it because she did not want it to go to waste.

I did not realize that I was also just…diffreent. I didn’t think of things in the way other people did, but I didn’t know why or how to correct it. For example, other girls liked to play with dolls; I never did. I like stuffed animals because you could cuddle them and they felt squicshy and comforting. I didn’t realize until much later that this was because of my sensory issues, but I always felt better after hugging a plushie.

I also felt as if other kids were talking to each other in a language I could not undrestand. I remember going through the motions and hoping that no one would notice that I did not know what the hell I was doing. I basically shut up and didn’t say anything that would make me a target.

In addition, my father had a weird idea of what was supposed to be kept ‘secret’. The example I always give is when I was a kid, he and my mother were out playing tennis with some friends. Another woman from church called and asked for my father. I said that he was playing tennis with some friends and thought nothing of it.

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Happy second rebirthday to me!

Today is my second rebirthday.

That’s doing my head in at the moment. It’s been two years since I died twice and came back again twice. At least it will be by the time you’re reading this.

My mindset is so different since then, even if my life itself is similar. I went from hating almost everything about myself to no one being able to say shit about me. Now, I’ve calmed down with my egoism a bit, but I’m still left with a better self-esteem than I had before I ended up in the hospital.

That’s not hard to do given that my self-esteem was nearly nonexistent beforehand. Taiji helped drag it up to low rather than negligible, and I was able to project that I was not as negative about myself as I was.

Now, however, my self-esteem is what I would call healthy. I think my body is wonderful because it got me through death twice. And, as I always say, that’s walking (non-Covid-related) pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and an ischemic stroke. My body took all that, laughed, and said, “Is that all you got?”

Seriously. I should be dead. For real, I mean. I should not be here, and I stil consider every day a bonus day. I am writing this the day before my rebirthday, and  I just ordered a whole mess of Thai food to enjoy as I watch the early access episode of Elden Ring Retry from RKG. This is my Saturday afternoon, by the way. I have Taiji class at noon for an hour and a half. I watch a bit of the Retry episode before class, but then I have to leave the rest for later.

This episode is over two hours–which is nice and juicy. The lads have been really spoiling us with all the content. People can be such assholes, though. I was reading the comments on the Patreon page, and people were complaining because A) Rory is too OP; B) Rory is so bad at the game; C) Rory is spreading his points too much; D) Rory is using too much magic, and that’s just the start of it.

I understand that everyone has different expectations, but so much of it is just unnecessary gatekeeping. Retry is meant to be for hard games, but I just want Rory to enjoy the game. I love Elden Ring so much; I want him to experience the joy as well. I get that everyone thinks they know the one true way, but to be blunt, they don’t.Just because something works for them, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for someone else.

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Normal is in the eye of the beholden

In yesterday’s post, I talked about not wanting children. It bothers me that in the year of our endemic, 2023, it’s still considered the norm to  have children. Or rather, that people perceived as women are still pushed to have them. I had naively thought that in the thirty years that have passed since I was in prime breeding years, we would have evolved on this issue. But, no. We have not. If anything, we have regressed on so many diversity issues, it hurts my heart. I did not come back from the dead twice to live in a world that is worse for my niblings than it was for me at their age.

I honestly thought that we would have become a bit more enlightened by this time, but no. I know that it’s partly because the reaction to unwanted change is often fear and rage, but I’m discouraged (and fucking pissed off) that the conservatives are winning the fight to go back to the 1950s. Some liberals like to say that the old conservatives are dying out, but it isn’t as if they aren’t passing along their norms. Yes, the younger generations are better than us in many ways, but prejudices die hard. Those who are my age aand claim that the younger generations are prejudice-free are naive at best and willfully dismissive at worst.

The sad fact is that we always need someone to look down on. There always has to be an out-group in order to have an in-group. One could argue that we don’t need an in-group, but that’s human nature–to have an in-group, I mean. We tend to gravitate towards people who are like us. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing because it’s natural. However, the key is to not hate those who are different or automatically suspect them, and we are terrible at that.

It’s funny because I assume that I’m the weirdo in any given situation. Therefore, tnhe few times I actually realize I’m in the norm, it’s a very weird feeling. Or when I find a group in which I actually fit (for that one thing). But the problem with the latter is that groups that focus on one thing are oftentimes not great in other areas. When I was in college, I saw this play out in real time. For example, I belonged to an Asian group and brought up women’s issues a few times. The leadher of the group (a guy) told me we didn’t have time to tackle that.

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