Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Society

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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Life lessons I’ve learned

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in my 51 years on this earth. First, there were some things that my last therapist told me that have stuck with me.

Before I was tthinking about moving to the East Bay in order to attend grad school, I was obsessing over all the negative things that might happen. My therapist listened to me patiently for roughly five minutes before cutting me off (she had to, otherwise I’d go on forever). “Minna,” she said. “Half of the things you imagine will never happen, and you can’t imagine half of the things that will.” Her point was that I was needlessly worrying. It was also that I was trying to frantically apply control where I had none.

The illusion of control is somethnig I think about often because me dying twice underlined my lack of control. Twice. (Both dying and underlying.) There is no use worrying about shit I cannot change–which is almost everything. Life is short. That’s a trope, but it’s true. And it can be over in a blink of the eye. So, yeah, plan for the future–but don’t forget to experience your present at the same time.

Another thing that really struck me was when my father and I had this huge fight over whether I was grateful or not to him for all he’d done fro me. When I said no (because I felt pushed into being performatively grateful), he asked why he should love me then. Which showed how nakedly transactional he was. I told him it was part of his job as a father. Like, did that need to be explained? To a raging narcissist, yes. My father did not do anything that did not have any apparent value to him, which included ‘loving’ someone. I put ‘loving’ in quotes because he’s not capable of actual love.

This argument was in the car as I drove him to the airport so he could fly back to Taiwan. He called me when he arrived in LA for his layover and hesitantly said he loved me before hanging up. I felt nothing at his announcement because if I had to force it ou of him (which I wasn’t trying to do! I was just answering his question) and because I was beyond caring at that time.

I brought this up to my therapist, and sh esaid, “This is a big thing to him and a small thing to you. Two things can be true at the same time.” That hit me hard because I thought that an experience had to be the same for everyone who experienced it. Which, I admit, was a naive and childish viewpoint, but one that many people had. I wasn’t even astonished that he viewed that moment differently than I did, necessarily, but that they both could be true at the same time.

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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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More boobs, er, hills to die on

More talking about boobs. I just watched a video by Rachel Bloom called Heavy Boobs. It’s very catchy and I agree with the sentiment…. but she says she’s Double D. That’s not heavy. That’s what I said I was when I stopped buying bras, but I knew I was MUCH bigger than that. Much. Like, Z big. Yes, I know that’s not an actual size, but someone with Double Ds is average. I just Googled. The average bra size is 34DD.

Of course, we all know that women’s clothing and numbers are bullshit. It’s one reason I just don’t any longer. I stick to clothing that is S, M, L, XL, XXL, and higher. Oh, yeah. XS and going in the other direction as well.

The reason I gave up on jeans is that when I was as my skinniest (eating disorder, yo), I could not find a pair of jeans that fit properly. In theory, I was at the ‘perfect’ size to find a pair. I could not. I spent hours in a dingy Target changing room with lights that hurt my eyes, discarding pair after pair while my then-boyfriend waited with four or five pairs of jeans in his hand. Jeans he was going to buy without ever having tried on because men’s clothing goes by measurement, and not some nebulous number system that has no basis in reality. At the time, I wore anything btween a 0 (yes, there is actuallly a size 0 for women, or at least there was twenty years ago) to 11, depending on the brand. That’s awide range.

I could not find a single pair of jeans that fit. I was getting more and more depressed as I tried on the jeans, and then I realized, “Fuck. I don’t need to wear jeans.” And I haven’t since. If I have to wear pants, then I wear flowing pants that have elastic at the waist and are comfortable. What a relief!

Hm. So at the end of the last post, I was writing about how women are often the worst for upholding the patriarchy. So many women who think women’s bodies are gross just makes me incredibly sad. I can’t even get angry about it. Going through life with that much safe-hatred is tiring; I jnow this from experience. And if you’re wasting so much emotion on hating yourself, well, that’s time you can’t spend doing literally anytihng else.

This was something I realized in my late twenties (though I could not fully embrace it for decades): It benefits the partiarchy to have women focused on hating their bodies because it means they won’t think about other things–including how much the patriarchy sucks. In the last decade or so, there has been a slow movement towards the idea that an indidual of a minority can’t do anything wrong. Menaing, if a woman does something, the action in and of itself is feminist.

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Accepting additional info with ease

People talk about how difficult it is to adjust to the new pronouns of someone they’ve known and love for quite some time. For some reason, I do not have this problem. When gender identity started becoming more talked about as a social issue, I struggled with ‘they’ in the singular. When I changed my thinking to ‘Wait. I use ‘they’ in the singular when it’s a generic person, then it was no longer an issue for me. In other words, when I realized I already used they in the singual, I hod no problem accepting it as a singular pronoun.

And, yes, I kow it used to be one. That is an argument that is proffered frequently, but I don’t find it that persuasive because there are many things that used to be standard that we no longer use. Such as thou and thee. For me, personally, knowing that we currently use they in the singular is a better rationale to me. The other reason that resonated with me was that it’s what people want to be called. I can dig that.

I also had difficulty with neopronouns. I will admit that I’m not as comfortable with those, but that’ss a me-problem. In part, it’s the purpose of pronouns. There is a reason for a set amount of pronouns. They are meant to be stand-ins and not personally applicable to each individual. But, I do agree that he and she is way too limiting. Personally, Idon’t like they for myself, and I have no affinity for the rest of them. I will say that ey/em/eir are the closest to ones that I actually identify with, but it’s more an intellectual connection than a personal one. Honestly, call me any of them other than he/him, and we’re good.

It’s easy for me, though. I rarely slip up, and I also think it’s because I’m in so many ‘other’ categories. I’m not black or white–I’m Asian. Not gay or straight, but bi (or pan, I guess, but I really don’t like that. I tried to just leave it at ‘queer’, but people think that means gay). I have been trying to get away from bi for years, but there really isn’t anything else that I like.

When It comes to religion, I’m not Christian and I’m not an atheist. I am areligious, meaning I don’t care. I like using apathetic for religion, but it’s more hostile than I mean it to be. Or rather, it imparts an ill-intent that I don’t mean. Areligious is good for pubblic consumption because it’s about as bland a word as you can get.

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Neurospicy is the new neurodiverse

Neurospicy is the new word for neurodivergent. I’m not sure how I  feel about it, and I say this as someone who is pondering whether or not I am–neurodivergent, I mean. In the last few years, I have heard it being called neurodivergent, neuroatypical, and neurodiverse. Neurospicy is a newer one, and I think I like it in a casual setting, but not for something like an office. Just like I wouldn’t use queer in a more formal setting, but I would with my friends.

I only started thinking about this issue seriously in terms of myself a few years ago. Why? In part because I did not present in the typical way, which I learned was more based on male behavior than female behavior (as are most medical diagnoses, sadly). I learned about a decade ago that the hyperactive thing was a drastic simplification of the matter. There was also a hyperfocus aspect that people overlooked when they talked about the inability to focus. Those two things (not being hyperactive and being able to focus with a laserlike precision) made me dismiss the idea that I had ADHD for a long time.

I kept getting drawn back to it, though. Things like being repeatedly told you’re lazy because you wouldn’t (couldn’t, actually, but it looked like wouldn’t) do simple things like check the mail or recycle empty boxes (the ones my cat, Shadow, doesn’t want). I would castigate myself for being lazy, which didn’t help, of course. I didn’t even learn of the term ‘executive function’ until about five years ago.

I did hear about hyperfocus before then, but I still didn’t think it was me. Until I read more and more about it. How it presents it women, I mean. I no longer identify as a woman, but I definitely grew up being treated as one. Oh, and it’s often talked about as a kid’s thing, when it’s definitely not.

The other complication is that I have trained myself from a young age to overcome some of the symptoms without even knowing it. I have, er, had a phenomonal memory. So I can overcome the shortcomings like being bad with details by brute force. I was also trained to take care of other people’s emotions so I was forced to pay attention to other people to an unnatural degree. I also have an off-the-charts EQ and can read people like books to an extent that makes them uncomfortable.

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I’m such a freak

I’m a freak. I know that. I’ve known it since I was in my twenties. I just didn’t realize to what extent until, well, now. And I’m still realizing it. I wish I had known the extent when I was younger because then maybe i wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling like there was something wrong with me. And being deeply depressed about it.

One thing I’m still coming to terms with or realizing is…well, it’s more of a question. How much of my weirdness is an actual disability. I’m some flavor of neurodivergent, but I have never been tested because I can mask it well enough for government work. This actually took me until I was in my thirties to fully grasp that people do not think the way I do. Not just in opinions, but in the actual way of thinking.

I have a very high EQ, which is how I can make myself look like a normal person. Something I have difficulties with, though, is very dry humor. Since I use facial and body cues to read someone, it’s hard when they mask that–or make a joke in writing that is very sardonic. My brother does this all the time, which makes it difficult for me. I can usually know when he’s making a joke, though, because I know him well.

Back when I was younger, I was numb all the time. I had to suppress my emotions to the point where I no longer felt them. There was a time when someone could tell me the best news in the world, and I would feel nothing inside. Same with the worst news in the world. “I’m getting married!” Nothing. “My mother died.” Nothing. “I got a promotion at work!” Nothing.

Part of that was because you can’t always tell good news from bad. “I’m pregnant!” is usually good news, but not always. Not if the baby is not wanted or an unpleasant surprise. Or, god forbid, the result of forced sex. “I’m getting divorced!” looks negative on the surface, but for some people, it’s the best thing to happen to them.

Back when I was completely divorced from my emotions, I would have to follow a very elaborate system so I could display the proper emotions. So. Let’s say someone told me they were pregnant. My first step would be to scrutinize their face to see if there were any signs whether they were happy or not about it. If I got the news by text/email, I would pore over the rest of the email/text for clues. Exclamation points? That meant something. Exuberant words? Good. That helped as well. Then I could match their emotions with simulated emotions of my own.

This took less than ten seconds on the average, and I was able to make it seem as if my reactions were natural. With practice, I got it down to two or three seconds. It appeared like an organic reaction, but it wasn’t. With the help of Taiji, I’ve been able to inhabit my body and feel comfortable in it. Dying twice has cemented my love for my body.

I’m still shaky on emotions, but I’m able to feel them more than I ever have. I still go through the process I mentioned above, but it’s at lighnting speed now, rather than several seconds. It’s as if I have a Rolodex (I’m old) of emotions in my head that i rapidly flip through until I find the right one.  So it’s still not organic, but I’m not bothered by it.

It’s interesting. Even knowing that I’m different, a freak, and a weirdo, it’s astounding how far out of the norm I am. And, this is something I have a hard time discussing, that I might actually have disabilities. Believe me. It’s not something my family would have accepted. My father cannot handle the idea of women who actually work outside the home (even though he saw plenty of them when he was the VP of TIER, the Taiwanese Institute for Economic Research) let alone whatever the fuck I am.

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People always tell on themselves

In the last post, I was talking about how people have a hard time looking at their own flaws.  I said that I was comfortable with mine, but that’s not completely true. There are flaws I have that make me uncomfortable, but I at least know I have them. I know I can work on them if I want.

It boggles my mind how other people don’t see themselves as they are. I mean, I know the brain is inclined to see the best in itself because that’s how humans are made. But the extent to which some people deny their own flaws or project them on other people is endlessly fascinating to me.

It’s one reason I read advice columns. The letter writers often tell on themselves without realizing it. The thing they’re writing in about is not the thing that is actually the problem. A good columnist will see that and answer the real quesstion, not the one being asked. Captain Awkward is pretty good at this as is Ask a Manager. The two of them collaborating was the best thing ever. I also love that Alison (AAM) will answer a question just because it interests her, even if it doesn’t really fall in the category of work-related. She’ll be honest about it, too. That she picked it because it tickeld her fancy.

Captain Awkward tends to write reams in her response, which is one tihng I like about her. I am verbose, and I appreciate a thorough reply. Plus, I read quickly and she writes very readable text. Alison’s replies are longer than average, too, but also highly scannable. They both have an engaged style of writing–like we’re having a conversation. It’s a skill that not everyone has, unfortunately.

The thing I really appreciate about Alison is that she will admit when she is wrong and take other people’s points into consideration. I have read her for several years and have delved into her archives. She has expanded and grown, and she’s wiser and more mature now than she was when she first started (obviously). I like that she has a sense of humor and seems eminently human. She’s warm, even in her writing. She’s compassionate and no-nonsense. She’s a nice blend of pragmatic and caring. Her one flaw is that she’s pro-pranks, but we all have our shadow sides. (To be clear, not harmful pranks, but the ones that those of us who don’t like pranks would consider annoying. And she’s made it clear that she thinks pranks are opt-in and not opt-out).

Both of them will get to the root prablem, rather than get caught up in the face of the issue. To me, part of my enjoyment from reading AAM is because of the commentariat. What people bring into the questions is the most interesting part by far. There are some questions that have a pretty much universal answer (such as the repost today about a woman who was wilding out at the medical office in which she worked. The letter writer was her boss. The employee was taking naked pics of herself at work, including in front of her boss’s (the letter writer) desk. That’s not the whole story, but that’s the main gist. Consensus: fire her), which are usually highly-entertaining, but there isn’t much room for discussion.

The best ones are the ones in which you can look at them from several points of view. Maybe the LW (letter writer) is correct to be upset with her coworker. Maybe the coworker has a reason for being the way she is. There was a letter (and several updates) from a woman who was the boss of someone she (the LW) was jealous of. The LW clearly stated this in her letter. She didn’t hire her employee and never would have if it had been her choice because of the way the employee looked. She openly admitted she was jealous and probably made her other employees think the attractive employee is bad aat her job because of the way she (LW) treated her (employee). The LW was in therapy for anxiety and an eating disorder. She was doing better until this employee was hired.

She stated in this letter that she lied to her boss when her boss (the one who hired the attractive woman) asked if she was jealous of the employee. She said she wasn’t, and the boss believed her. In other words, according to the writer herself, she was jealous of this employee. And yet, in the comments, there was a sizable minority of women who were skeptical about the employee saying that her boss was jealous of her. “Who would say that?” “She thinks too highly of herself.” These were the comments, paraphrased, and when it was pointed out that the LETTER WRITER HERSELF had said that she was jealous of the employee, these commenters doubled down. Well, yeah, but the employee sounded full of herself for saying it out loud!

Here’s the thing. I knew when women were jealous of me. They were not subtle about it. At all. It wasn’t because I was full of myself; I hated the way I looked, but I knew that some people found me very pleasing to the eye. I couldn’t help but see it. I also couldn’t help but see that some women were snide about me because I didn’t fit what they thought a woman should be, but the guys liked me, anyway. These were hetero women who believed the  attention of men was the pinnacle of success.

In addition, the LW was paraphrasing what her boss had said to her, so that migth not have been the way her report had phrased it. The employee could have said, “I feel like I can’t do anything right with the LW.” The big boss could have prodded a bit and the employee could have realized at some point that, yes, the LW seemed jealous of her. It was fascinating and frustrating to see the women who insisted that the employee was full of herself when the whole letter was that the LW was jealous of her report and never would have hired her. I don’t think I was reading at the time because I did not comment on this, and I probable would have if I had been.

There were several updates, gathered here. It became clear that she had been minimizing what happened, even though she was always clear that she was responsible for what happened. Still. There were people who insisted her report overreacted, despite not knowing the details or any of the people involved. It was fascinating how she revealed a bit more each time, and it ended with her settling with her report on the advice of her (the LW’s) lawyer. And even then, theer were people in the comments who insisted the LW was somehow the one being wronged somehow. One person even said she thought the report was a jerk for suing the LW. As noted in the comments of that update, we all bring our own shit into these letters.

Personally, I could not get behind cheering on this OP because she did harm to another human being. Deep harm. In addition, she was such an unreliable narrator, I felt that I could not trust what she was saying. I understood why Alison and most of the commentariat wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but while I was glad she was improving, I couldn’t help but notice that the harm she did her report was revealed to be worse with every update.

That’s human nature, though. We don’t want to look at the nasty stuff inside our head until we’re forced to do so. Even then, most of us would find a way to ignore it or pretend it wasn’t happening. This LW was fired for her denial, which was the catalyst for her drastically changing her life. At least she found the strength to deal with her flaws. That’s more than most people can say.



You don’t know what you know

I’ve been watching a Sekiro (FromSoft) playthrough and I am reminded of how people think their level of skill is normal. This is Nath from Playstation Access, and I was watching his plat run first, but then switched to when he was playing the first two hours (for the second time). In the plat run, he talks about finding the rhythm and he makes it look effortless as he whizzes through the game. He only needed two trophies with one of them being the ‘kill all bosses on one save’ one. Plus the all skills one. The former means you have to play it at least two times through (meaning NG+) and save-scum as there are four different endings and…well, ok. See, you need all four different endings as part of the plat. You need to do different things for the different endings, obviously.

One of the endings is the ‘bad’ ending and there are two unique bosses. I have not done this ending or fought these bosses.  This is called the Shura ending. The other three endings are variants of the good ending. This is not uncommon in FromSoft games, to have three or four different endings with one being the ‘bad’ ending, but this is the first time you have to fight different final bosses for the bad ending.

The first good ending is just go through the game and do the things and you can choose the vanilla good ending. For the second good ending, you have to fight my worst boss of the game and get an item from him, plus do the basic good ending last bit path. For the final good ending, you have to do all that plus a bunch more. If you are smart, you will set up everything for this ending, save, and scum the other endings. I  should have done (or at least tried. Save-scumming for Elden Ring didn’t work), but I didn’t even think about the plat at that point.

Oh, all of this is before fighting the BRUTAL final boss/es of the good ending. Who is the second or third hardest boss in the game. There is an optional boss who is just a pain in the behind. Here’s the thing. I took a peek at the trophy/achievement list and it’s brutal. You have to defeat all the bosses on the same save, which means at least two playthroughs on the same character. In my case, I would have to go to NG++ on my current save because I’m past the point of going to the bad ending in NG+. It’s really frustrating. If I could summon, I would be all over it. But because I cannot, it’s all on me. And I just cannot play the game enough to do what needs to be done.

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