Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Society

Out on a limb

My brother is fearless. He has the mentality of ‘why not try?’ If something doesn’t work, he shrugs his shoulders and moves on. He rarely lets a failure bother him, and he takes what he has learn with him into his next venture. The downside to this is that sometimes, he wastes time, money, and effort in a project that he doesn’t take to completion, but it doesn’t bother him at all.

Now. Part of this is the  fact that he is a man and that means he has much more leeway in the two culture in which we live. Boys are heavily favored in Taiwanese culture, so much so that even he has noticed that my parents give his opinion more weight because he’s male (than mine, that of a lowly female (in their eyes). It’s one reason I have gender issues, which is not the point of this post). Ian commented that my mother would ask for my opinion, but then ask my brother without accepting mine. I actually think that’s more an anxiety thing as she’s done the opposite, too. She never accepts the first answer as correct on its own. But, yes, she does give more weight to what my brother says than to what I do.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me that my brother sees this happening, too. It’s one thing to realize it on my own, but it’s another thing to have back-up on my opinion. It’s easy for me to gaslight myself and say that they don’t mean it, it’s just their culture, etc., but when my brother says it out loud, it validates my feelings.

My mother is a Debbie Downer in general. Any idea you bring up to her, she immediately crushes down. K and I have talked about our respective upbringings. Her mom was of the mindset that everything would work out no matter what choice you made (which came with its own issues) whereas mine believed that you were fucked no matter what choice you make. Not that she would use the word fuck, but that’s her mentality. K’s mother always sees the bright side whereas my mother only sees darkness.

I take after my mother in that I can always see the flaws of something, but I’m getting better at realizing I don’t always have to bring it up. And I try to make it constructive and not just complaining. If I want to complain, I do it here!

When I told her I was bi, she asked me what’s next, animals? By the way, I have no idea how that became a thing. Going from same-gender relationships to fucking goats. When I told her I was getting a tattoo, well, let’s just say she voiced strong disapproval. The times when she doesn’t actively say she’s against whatever I’m doing, it’s clear in her tone of voice or her face. Oh, and when I told her I was practicing Taiji, she said it was a way to invite the devil to dance on my spine. And she was being earnestly sincere.

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Mary, Mary, most contrary

I am not a contrarian. Not deliberately so, anyway. I know that my mother believes I do it on purpose, but I really don’t. It’s not like I wake up and choose violence. I don’t think, “Hm, what is the most contrary position I can take?” and then voice that.

My mother once said to me in exasperation, “Something isn’t bad just because it’s tradition.” To which I replied, “That doesn’t make it automatically good, either.” She did not like that. At all.

It’s true, though. Just because something is tradition, it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. I don’t see anything wrong with questioning something in order to time-test it. If it’s good, then continue to do it. If not, then let it go. I don’t think that’s controversial, but I know it is.

The biggest examples in my life are having children and getting married. Let’s add to that being in a long-term hetero relationship. Let’s lump all that together under the umbrella of family shit. I knew since I was young that I was going to get married to a man and have children. My mother made it very clear that it was my duty as a woman to have children and to take care of my husband. In the other order, actually.

When I was 22, I was madly in love with my boyfriend at the time. We were talking about having children and I realized that I did not want them. At all. I cannot tell you how great that felt. My heart lifted and I was free! I didn’t have to have children. It’s still the best decision I’ve made in my life, by the way.

Along with the biggies, though, there are the more medium choices that I’ve made that are weird. Like my hobbies. Taiji isn’t weird in and of itself, though it’s less popular in the States than is yoga. I had to Google that because while it feels true, I didn’t know for sure. Roughly 2.5 million people practice Taiji in America versus 37 million people and yoga. So, yeah, I was right. Taiji is way less popular, which is of no surprise to me. Hm. Another resource says 3.7 million practice Taiji in America. At any rate, it’s roughly 1/10th the amount that practices yoga or less.

I can only guess that those who study Taiji weapons is even less. This makes it a very niche hobby, which isn’t surprising to me. I did not choose it because it’s the lesser-practiced meditative practice, but it’s not surprising that I’m drawn to it in part for that reason.

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Humor is subjective

Humor is so subjective and difficult to explain. If someone does not find something funny, I rarely bother to explain it. When my mother and I went to movies, she would need me to explain certain things to her. It was frustrating because I would miss the next minute to several minutes of the movie while I was whispering to my mother. Eventually, I came up with a rule that if it took me longer to explain something to my mother than it took for them to say it, I would not do it.

The worst was humor. American human is so different than Taiwanese humor. I gave up on explaining jokes completely because it was nearly impossible to make the cross-culture connection. This is not ragging on my mom (for once!), by the way. Humor is just very demo-specific.

For example. The Brits seem to be much more casual about making child molestation jokes. They have a word specifically for an adult (let’s face it, man) who is a pedophile–nonce. And they’ll toss around ‘pedos’ casually like it’s nothing. At least in the RKG group, which may be skewed   towards laddy humor. Honestly, it’s one of my least-favorite things about them, but I chalk it up to cultural differences.

On the other hand, there’s a RNG Chalice  Dungeon called the cum dungeon because they code is CUMMM then three other letters. Krupa didn’t even want to say it and they bleeped it out. Even Gav was grossed out by it. Krupa had been teasing it out for a few episodes, and when he finally said what it was,  I blurted out, “That’s it?!?”  I was expected so much worse than that. I wouldn’t even blink at the word ‘cum’.

On the other hand, I hate poop jokes. A lot. My Taiji teacher likes to make them once in a while and say we’re all two-year-old children at heart. Nope. Not me. I find them sophomoric, distasteful, and, well, gross. I’m not offended by them, but I would be just fine if I never hear another one again.

On the other hand, I can tell a sex joke with the best of them in the right company. From the old hoary ‘That’s what she said’ to elaborate jokes about what fits where. There was a time in my twenties when I told filthy jokes all the time. I had been indoctrinated as a child with a rabid form of Evangelical Christianity, so I firmly believed I was going to hell if I had sex outside of marriage. It was impressed upon me that having sex for pleasure was the worst thing I could do (especially as a not-male person). Until I got married, of course, and then it was magical with angels singing and playing their harps.

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Speaking my truth (no matter how weird)

Talking about vaxxes, it often comes up that they are ‘not that bad’. Back when they were first rolled out, there was a concerted effort on the left to  exhort people into getting them. I have no problem with that. People should get vaxxed if they can. But, I didn’t like how they were saying it was no big deal and scoffing the notion that it might be anything other than a minor nuisance for people.

I have had three vaccination shots including one booster. The first one was on my birthday is 2021. It was horrible and I suffered greatly from it. I was expecting it to be terrible because I react badly to flu shots as well. In fact, I stopped getting the flu shot because of how horrible I reacted to it. My doctor snapped at me that it was better than being dead, which, true, but it still sucked.

When I got my first vaccination shot, my arm swelled up, was burning hot, and throbbed for weeks. I was exhausted, fatigued, and sore as well. Everything slowly dissipated on the daily, but my arm did not fully recover in time for the next shot. Seriously. When I went to get my second vax, I still had a bump from my first. Three weeks and a day later.

So. When I saw all the tweets making fun of people who were hesitant to get the vax, I spoke up. I tweeted my experience, emphasizing that it was worth it.

I got a response from someone who admonished me, saying we should encourage people to get their shots. He claimed that my tweet would deter people because I was very honest about the side effects I had experience f rom it–the first vax to be specific. One of my fave tweeters came to my defense, saying he would rather know the effects ahead of time so he could prepare for it. Others chimed in to agree, but I really had a moment of ‘was I wrong?’ when I received the initial scolding tweet.

Here’s the thing. I prefer to know the possible effects ahead of time. It makes it easier for me to prep myself for dealing with said effects. It’s not as if they would suddenly magically not happen if I hadn’t talked about them. And, yes, it may put off some people from getting the shot, but wouldn’t it be much worse if they went into it thinking it’d be a breeze and it knocked them on their ass? I was careful to emphasize that I was rare in my reactions and that I had a shitty immune system. I said that for most people, it would probably be ok. I just wanted people to be prepared in case they had a reaction like mine.

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It’s a nice day to start again

I was reading the weekend thread at Ask A Manager. There were two questions that I saw about weddings. The second was more pragmatic while the first asked what was one thing people loved about their weddings and one thing they would change. She had a bonus question about whether it was OK for her to go dress shopping alone.

I have a visceral reaction to the whole concept of weddings because of what they have become in America. Like some kind of grotesque Frankenstein monster, they have grown to become bloated. all-encompassing, and a massive waste of time, energy, and money.

The fact that the concept of Bridezilla exists disgusts me as does how much ‘but faaaaaamily’ is invoked for the occasion. When my brother got married, he and his fiancee at the time planned the whole thing themselves and kept it to $3,000. This was nearly thirty years ago, but still. That’s pretty damn impressive. The biggest issue is that my mother made a big fuss because my brother wanted to keep to 75 guests total. In Taiwanese culture, weddings are huge. You invite all your friends who have kids of the same age, and they do the same for you. She threw a huge fit when my brother told her the total number of guests they were inviting. He compromised by having a dinner at a Chinese restaurant for her friends. He invited his future in-laws, which went…not great. His ex-father-in-law was a racist asshole who was not shy about voicing his uneducated and vile opinions. He refused to eat ‘any of that crap’ at the Chinese restaurant, which, fine. Be a big baby.

My BFF told me that her mother and mother-in-law clashed during her wedding over things like what food was going to be served. K is a pretty even-keeled woman, but she told me she was close to chucking it all aside and eloping. And I know her! She wouldn’t have a big blowout wedding in the first place.

I came to the realization in my late twenties/early thirties that I did not want to get married. Not only because of all the bullshit that surrounds the day itself, but also because I did not like what it represented. You cannot untangle it from the patriarchy, no matter how hard you try–in a heterosexual wedding/marriage, at least.

A few decades ago, I was dating someone who was a bit more traditional than I was. I had no desire to marry and have kids, but he was a bit more waffly about it. He said he didn’t want kids, but mentioned a few years later that maybe he might want them. I told him that while it would make me sad, we would have to break up because I did not want children, full stop.

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Hidden disabilities are, well, hidden

I’m on the last bit of Stray (BlueTwelve Studio), and I have mostly enjoyed my time being a cat. They have captured accurately the feeling of being a cat, I think, and I love that you can just take the time to sharpen your claws, lap water from a puddle, or curl up in a ball and snooze. You can also have a few specific NPCs pet you, which is really sweet.

I almost quit the game, though. I’ll tell you why. I mentioned in the last post about my difficulty collecting the things I needed to make progress. I finally realized I had been in both places before, but I just hadn’t looked around thoroughly enough. In one case, the item was under a mess of papers on the floor, which means I didn’t push them around enough to find it. In the second case, it was that I missed the safe that was nestled on the bookshelves. I had the keys, but I had forgotten about it when I didn’t find the safe during my first walkaround.

I could say this is my fault for not looking closely enough, but it’s not completely my fault. I have spatial issues and the camera controls aren’t terrific. Or rather, it’s easy to miss cues if you swing the camera around too quickly. In addition, it’s not always clear why you can jump on one ledge and not another. It’s frustrating and I wasted hours trying to find these two items.

It’s somewhat on me because I could have just looked it up, but I didn’t want to. My brain was like, “YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND THIS YOURSELF, YOU DOLT!” When a game is cozy, I feel extra pressure to figure it out myself. That’s just from me, though. It’s not as if anyone is saying, “Do this yourself, numbnuts.” That is what my brain is telling me, though. “Why are you finding this so hard? Anyone can do this!” I know that’s what people with disabilities are made to feel, and I have to say, it’s corrosive.

I know it’s me a lot of the time. Rather, I know it’s my issue and not the game. Just like my shitty reflexes (we’ll get to that in a second) is me. I try to keep my mouth shut about it, but it makes my enjoyment of a game really take a nosedive if I can’t find a way around it.

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What if we all cared less?

It’s fascinating to me to read Ask A Manager to see what the norms are in the working world. Today, there was a question from a manager who’s college grad hire has made a pillow fort (a ‘nest’) in her office. She’s going to get an officemate soon (a new hire), and her manager wants to know how to approach the topic with her report. The manager has not seen it, but it has been reported to her by other managers.

Alison started out by saying she loved the idea of a pillow fort, which is why I like her so much. Because I, too, love the idea of a pillow fort. In fact, I work from my couch in what could be described as a blanket nest of my own. And my instinct is that if she’s not public-facing and if she weren’t about to get an officemate, let her have her blanket nest

Not surprisingly, most people were anti-pillow fort. But in the ‘I personally have no issue with it, but business norms!’ kind of way. Which is how many of them reacted to other issues such as wearing a bra and not shaving your underarms. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There was another letter from someone who was neurodivergent and did martial arts. He wrote in to ask if it would be seen as weird if he did some of his martial arts practices at work, including some forms, combat rolling to get things off the lower shelf, and standing in a deep horse stance. There were several of us who did martial arts, and we told him that some of it like the combat rolls and practicing the forms in the lunch room would seem odd.

Most of us emphasized that if he wanted to do it, it was fine, but he had to accept that he would be seen as weird, which he did not like at all. I said there are things from Taiji that I do automatically (like breathing and posture), but that I wouldn’t do weapons forms in an office. I can save that for home. Honestly, things like that seem performative. Same with the combat roll to get something off a lower shelf. He was snitty in the comments saying he guessed he’d have to hurt himself and not do it the way he normally would, which is bullshit. You don’t need to combat roll to get something off a low shelf in order to not hurt yourself.

Also, we stressed that he can do any of it, but there will be a perception that he’s being weird. He just has to decide if he’s ok with it or not. Many of us who did martial arts didn’t like the performative aspect of what he was doing. All of us know that guy who struts around the gym/dojo acting as if his shit don’t stink.

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Gender roles determinism

I’ve always had men as friends. I get along well with men for reasons that are different than why I like women. This was in the days before we were aware that there were more than two genders, and I’m still sorting out gender for myself.

It’s weird to me that there are still people who believe men and women can’t be friends. It was strange to me because I’ve always had male friends. I get them in a way I sometimes don’t get women because they’re, in general, less complex than women. (Insert sexism and societal expectations of genders here. No, I’m not going to go in depth about it because I’ve  written about it so much in the past.)

Let me rephrase that. I love women. I love the camaraderie and shared experiences. When there is not some Alpha Female bullshit going on. We’ve all heard of Alpha Male behavior, but there is also Alpha Female behavior. It’s different, but just as annoying. It’s when a woman is constantly judging you for what you’re wearing, your weight, your makeup, your clothing, whom you’re dating, etc. It can be hilarious when I simply ignore the behavior because it enrages the other person.

It was discouraging in college, though, that some women got upset with me for having male friends. One woman exclaimed that all the guys liked me. I retorted it was because I treated them like normal human beings. I never got the ‘I’m going to treat you differently based on your gender’ (in terms of common decency, I mean) mentality, and guys liked me for it.

Side Note: My boyfriend at the time told me that every guy who was a friend wanted to get into my pants. I dismissed him at the time, and I still don’t think it’s true. Yes, some of them might have wanted to fuck me, but it’s reductive to say that men and women can’t be friends simply because of their differing genitalia (again, going by what we assumed at the time, which was thirty years ago).

Here’s the thing. I am genderqueer and queer in general. I am attracted to people of all different genders, so I would not be able to have any friends if the rule was you can’t be friends with people of the genders you’re attracted to.

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Unique, but not weird

I read a bunch of advice columns, or rather, I did. I’m getting bored/unsatisfied with most of them, but the one that is still decent is Ask A Manager. It also has a good commentariat, who are, for the most art, able to see things from many points of view. They have their weird spots, too, though, and one of them is business attire.

There was a post about the 100-day dress challenge. The basic premise is that you wear this one specific dress for a hundred days in a row for reasons. Supposedly, it’s about sustainability, but that’s not really what’s happening. It’s basically a marketing ploy, but that’s not my focus. It’s on the amount of people who said don’t do it because you would stand out in a bad way. Oh, it’s unfortunate and they personally didn’t feel that way, mind, but you know, society.

One person went so far as to say don’t be weird. It’s ok to be eccentric, but not weird. I had such a visceral reaction to their comment for several reasons. One, what’s to differentiate weird and eccentric? Two, to me, eccentric is further outside the norm than is weird. Three, it’s such an arbitrary distinction, which is which or if something is weird or eccentric in the first place. four, as noted in response to the comment, it’s so juvenile. “Don’t be weird!” Why not? If it’s not actually harming someone (like wearing the same dress every day), who the fuck cares?

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Virtual but still reality

It’s funny to me when people talk about the internet as not being real. I mean, communities on the internet. I understand that attitude from twenty years ago when it was new and unusual. But. It’s been a thin now for quite some time, and people have made lifetime friendships and even met their long-term partners in this fashion. I met Ian on Twitter a decade ago, and our friendship is still going strong. Most of our interactions are online-based, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I know that he would do anything for me (and has). He knows I would do anything for him (and have). My door is always open to him and vice-versa. He’s coming to visit in a week and staying for two weeks. It’ll be the first time I’ve seen him since the pandemic, and I cannot wait. We have such an easy rapport that it’s like being by myself (which is a compliment). My cat loves him almost as much as he (Shadow) loves me, and that’s saying something.

I met K in person nearly three decades ago, but we only talked once every few weeks. This was before messaging and texting was common. We got together once every other month or so, but we knew that we could see each other more often than that if we wanted. Until she moved to Philly. I will admit that was hard. Even though we didn’t see each other that often, the knowledge that I could drive fifteen minutes to her house was comforting. We message every now and again, and we talk once a month for hours. She’s planning on visiting in a month or so, and I cannot wait. I picture us thirty years from now in an old folks home, heckling the other inmates.

The fact that I have to use technology to nurture both of these relationships for the most part doesn’t make them any less real. We don’t have to be physically in each other’s presence in order to care about each other. I love both of them just as much as if I see them every day. Honestly, probably more because I am a solitary person. I wouldn’t want to see any person every single day, though Ian did stay with me for four months (on was it three?) when he had an internship with Game Informer, and we had no problems.

I get that there are different vibes when you’re hanging in person than when it’s online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a different kind of friends within an online community. Like in the RKG Discord, I do genuinely care about the people. I want the best for them. I’m happy when something good happens to them and sad when something bad happens. There are in-jokes and short-hands. There are shared experiences and some of them meet in person (the Brits) on the regular.

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