Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Society

I’m (un)comfortably numb

As the news about the coronavirus variants continues to pop up on a daily basis, I find myself becoming increasingly numb to it. I know why this is; it’s because my brain is shorting out and can’t take it. I’m so angry at the assholes who refuse to get vaccinated out of defiance (not those who can’t or POC who have reasons to be wary). We had a chance to get this thing on lock, but, no. We couldn’t be arsed to do that and I’m furious.

The fury is buried under layers of numbness, however, because I simply cannot. It’s the cumulation of the last four years and it’s my self-defense mechanism. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not proud of how Americans are acting right now. It’s American individualism run amok and it’s a disgrace. I’m also pissed at the Republican leadership for fomenting the dissent strictly as a political move. A week ago, 50% of the Republican members of the House of Congress refused to say whether they were vaxxed or not. While shouting about how it was personal choice and no one got to tread on their freedom.

Riddle me this. If they truly believe that the vaccination is from the devil and to be refused at all costs, why won’t they say they’re not vaxxed? It’s simple: they’re vaxxed. They just want to keep their base riled up as a way to get at the Democrats. I don’t doubt there are some who are not vaxxed, but I’m pretty sure they’re fine with saying so. One of my Twitter people tweeted about a kid (well, late teens) posting on his Facebook that he was getting the vaccination, but don’t worry, he was still a Republican. This was in an article about the faces of the anti-vaxxers. I tweeted to her, “Tell me that the Republicans are terrible without saying the Republicans are terrible” because the vaccination should not be political.

Side Note: The CDC has not handled the messaging well at all. I understand when you make a message to the public, you want to be as definitive as possible. I once had a doctor (the best doctor) who, when I told her I smoked two or three cigarettes a day, she said it wasn’t that big a deal. I asked why the message around smoking, then, was that it was the very worst and if you inhaled one lungful of smoke, you were doomed to die before the age of thirty? She said because if doctors said one or two cigs a day was ok, the nuance would get lost and most people would take it to mean they could smoke a pack a day.

I saw her point, but there had to be people like me who would prefer the unvarnished truth. It was the same during the pandemic. At the beginning, the message was that masks were unnecessary for the hoi polloi. Supposedly, that was because they didn’t have enough masks for the health care providers. I call bullshit, but even if that was true, it was the worst way to get the message across.

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A mishmash of ideas floating in my brain

I’m hot and swollen and just done with it all. In the last two months, we’ve had several weeks of 90+ temps, and a solid week of ‘feels like’ 102 and above. Yes, we get some 90 and 100 degree, but not like this. normally, I use my air three or four times a summer–it’s been putting in work this year. I’ also have my personal fan going on high 24/7 and drink tons of cold beverages. I’m wearing a tank top and shorts, and I’m STILL hot. To me, 65 is when it starts to get unpleasant for me and 90 is untenable. 100 and above? That just hurts my feelings.

Here’s the thing about the heat–it makes me very sleepy. However, I can’t actually sleep in the heat so I’m getting less sleep than usual. Then I spend the whole day being groggy and working at half-productivity. It’s a vicious cycle because no amount of cold can change the actual temperature outside. And, look, I realize that I’m very lucky. I have a house. I have air. I don’t have to be out in the heat. I don’t do physical labor. And still I hate the heat so much.

In addition, I have a multitude of swollen mosquito bites that are making me miserable. I am allergic* to them and they swell up, lasting for days if not weeks. They are tender to the touch and can sometimes be unbearably itchy. I try not to scratch them as it just makes it worse, but sometimes, nothing can stop that itch.

Pairing the heat with the mosquito bites means that I’m miserable. The temperature is currently climbing and is ‘feels like’ 94. It saps my energy and my will to do anything. Writing, my bread and butter, is interspersed with my bitterness at being miserable. The pandemic has been hell on my concentration and I don’t know when I’ll get my focus back. I am still able to get shit done, but it takes three times the mental energy.

I’m also mad about the pandemic itself. I can’t help thinking it didn’t have to reach this point, but that would have entailed changing the entire fabric of our society. It would mean we needed to have put our collective foot down years ago when the Republicans started going off the rails about science and not pretended that their viewpoint was equally valid. We’d actually need to go even further back and value education again, but I’m not getting into those weeds. Needless to say, it’s frustrating as hell to see all these people blithely ignoring science because of their feels, and what’s even worse, not learning a lesson from it.

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Living in an echo chamber

I love the internet. I just wanted to get that out of the way because I’m about to do a thousand-word post on why I hate a certain aspect of the internet. First, though, my ode to the internet and how it’s opened up my world. Back in my twenties, I was a hot mess. I was deeply, chronically depressed and could barely drag my carcass out of bed in the morning. I am lucky that I have always had at least one really good friend to moor me (shoutout to Kat who has been there with me throughout the ages), but I still felt isolated and lonely.

The internet changed all that. While sitting at my desk, I can get on my computer and visit places all around the world. I don’t have to leave my house to visit all different kinds of communities that I might not have available in my neighborhood or surrounding areas. I can talk to anyone about anything. It was wonderful and made me feel a little less alone, but not completely. Why? Because even on the internet, I was a weirdo. I was fine with it, but it underscored that even on the wide world web, I was a misfit.

It started when I was into politics and visiting political websites. I would get really into them and then realize a few  months or a year later that everyone was saying the same thing. It was understandable, but I got bored and frustrated because I felt the conversations were stifled. I would move on and try to find something different and then it just repeated itself.

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American toxicity of constant productivity

There was a question in the Ask A Manager’s work open thread that really struck a chord with me (and many in the commentariat). It was about having a question about what did you do for self-improvement during the pandemic placed on their list of standard interview questions. She thought it was tone-deaf and was wondering if she was just being too sensitive since she had a (literal) breakdown during the pandemic. The question is here (search for Keymaster of Gozer if the link doesn’t take you directly to the question, which it should). It struck me not just because it’s an awful question, but because it’s so on brand for America and its passion for being productive all the time.

It’s everywhere. You see it often in fitness magazines that counsel how to turn ordinary events into exercise. It’s doubly so for parents who have a serious time crunch. I’m not against it in general because it can make sense to do a twofer when you’re running short on time. However, the mania for making every minute ‘productive’ is, ironically, counterproductive to mental health. I know for me personally that if I only think about maximizing everything for productivity, I start feeling like shit because you can never 100% that category.

In addition, it’s a con when it’s used in the business sense. It’s a way for TPTB to keep their workers down by holding up a mythical standard of productivity over their heads that no one can live up to. If the workers are pressed to be productive at all costs, they can’t take time to think about anything else. It’s always frustrating when non-Americans on AAM comment about how dismal things are for employees in America because we fucking know! They’re right, though, in that so many of us are caught up in that web. And, again, being told it’s unproductive to ‘only’ work 40 hours per week is not uncommon in America. American workers are told they’re lazy if they actually want to have work/life balance, much to everyone’s detriment. Not only to the worker who is forced to give so much of their life to the company, but for the company itself as an exhausted workforce is not good for anyone.

Anyway, in response to the question above, my answer would be thusly:

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I’m as cold as ice

It’s 69 degrees (nice) and I’m a happy clam. It’s still outside my comfort zone, but after two weeks of over a hundred, I’ll take it. Being outside didn’t make me want to claw my own face off and I could actually feel a nice breeze. I fucking hate summer. We get a hundred day here and there, but nothing like the last two weeks. Even with air con, a fan blowing high, ice water, ice packs, and as little clothing as possible, it’s miserable. I can’t think in the heat–it feels as if my brain is frying. It makes me snappish, irritated, and unable to concentrate.

Even though the weather is much more tolerable, it’s still not fun for me. I’m fine with 20-50 degrees, but I prefer it under that, honestly. Down to zero is nice and then it’s a bit nippy when it gets to sub-zero temps. I talked to Kat Friday night and we reminisced about how back when we used to go out, we’d have such a different reaction to the weather. She’s a Florida gal and revels in the heat. When we went out in the summer, I would be whining and moaning about the heat, barely able to move while she would be flitting around, clearly in her element. In the winter, however, the shoe was on the other foot. She would be hunching over, shivering, demanding to know why my spine wasn’t scrunching up. I, on the other hand, would be in my element and loving it.

As I grow older, my ability to deal with cold gets less attuned*, but my ability to deal with heat hasn’t gotten better at all. If anything, it’s gotten worse. I would love to live in a place where the weather never rose about 50 degrees.

Let’s talk demos. Still trying them out and I really dig it. I can play a game for ten minutes or an hour and not have to commit to it. During the Steam Next Fest, there are so many demos! This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I can try out any game that catches my eye without plunking down money for it. It’s bad because, well, there are so many bad games out there. That ain’t throwing shade at video games because that’s the case with, well, everything. 98% of pop culture is pure crap. That’s just the way it goes.

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Life is (not) like

E3 is going on right after Summer Game Fest and so far, I have been less than underwhelmed. On Thursday, I suffered through two hours before finally getting Elden Ring. There was one or two other games that sparked an interest, but for the most part, I got gloomier and gloomier because I started thinking there would be no Elden Ring. Plus, there was just so much filler. So. Much. Filler. Then, there was the Ubi conference and there was nothing there for me. Nothing at all. Granted, Eurogamer didn’t find much to get excited about, either, in part because it was all trash.

Here’s the thing. I came to the realization a few years back that I don’t really like video games. Wait. Let me expand that. I don’t like most of pop culture in general. I never watch movies–well, rarely, which is why I’m still salty about how much I hated Knives Out. My one movie last year and I was excited to see it and it sucked so much–and I rarely watch TV. When I do, it’s reality competition shows with contestants who are nice to each other.

My point is that it’s not specific to vide games–it’s just me. I don’t like most of what other people like and most of the time, I’m fine with it. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult because I don’t want to be the joykiller when other people are squealing over something I could not give two shits about. It could be Game of Thrones or the endless Avengers movies or Gone Girl, either the movie or the book. I’ve long since accepted that I am an outlier, but it wears on me.

Not only is it pop culture, it’s just me in general. I’ve listed it all before, but here are the ways I’m different than everyone else: Not married; not cohabitating; no children; agnostic; the list goes on. I’m a freak and I know it. I was able to realize and accept it for most of pop culture so I don’t know why it took so long to do the same for video games. I think it’s partly because the first game Ian suggested to me, Torchlight, I enjoyed immensely. I adored the protag because she could be Asian if you squinted. Then, he suggested Diablo III and once the disaster of launch day was fixed, it was lots of fun. Then, Borderlands 1 and 2, which I played back-to-back for over a hundred hours–each? Maybe? I dunno. It’s been a hot minute.

Then, it was Dark Souls, Dark Souls II (SotFS), Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. On the indie side, Cook, Serve, Delicious! (All three), Binding of Isaac (all iterations, I guess, but mostly Rebirth), Spiritfarer, Hades, and Cozy Grove.

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My body is not a temple

clyde wallace, the wolf-bear, introduces himself.
I’m a wolf! I’m a bear! I’m Clyde Wallace and I’m both.

In the weekend post at AAM, someone asked what you would wish for if you had three wishes. The twist was that the first wish had to be for yourself, the second had to be for everyone, and the third could be whatever. I thought it was an interesting question, so I thought about it a bit. The second one I waver between everyone not having to worry about the basic needs being met (housing, healthcare, etc.) and eradicating all isms. The reason I don’t make those the second and third wishes is because I want to make a good welfare to all animals wish as well. Oh, of course, there can be no wishing for more wishes.

The first was the most interesting because there were a ton of things I could have said–be a best-selling author, know all the taiji weapons forms, etc. Or be the best at FromSoft games in all the world. But the first thought I had and the one that stuck to me was good health, both mental and physical. That seems especially relevant now and I’m going with that one. My father ends every conversation with a pompous monologue about how health is the most important thing and as annoying as it is, he’s right. So much of my life has been shit because of my varying health issues. I would get rid of them in a heartbeat if it were possible.

Back to Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. The biggest tip I could give to a newcomer would be to take the game as it is. When I first started playing, I would get impatient because there was so much I couldn’t do at the moment. I didn’t like that the game would introduce things such as the brokenhearted imps without me being able to do anything about it (no cocoa beans). It stressed me out until I realized that there was no negative consequence to not being able to do something at the moment. I mean, I didn’t like it, but I was able to let it go.

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Nearly a week of feeling like shit (get vaxxed)

Nearly a week since my second jab and…it’s not going well. I wrote about the first few days in this post and I want to expand on that in this post. Sunday sucked. Was really bad. Woke up Monday (yesterday) feeling as if I had been hit by a pickup truck which was better than being hit by a semi. Still was exhausted and taking it easy, but I was cautiously optimistic that I was on the mend. Then, last night (evening) hit me hard in the face. I was smacked with a “I have to shut my eyes now” exhaustion that I have not felt in a long time. Woke up around ten or so feeling wiped out and moped about for a bit before falling back asleep. Woke  up today completely wrecked.

It didn’t help that I ate a big heaping of asparagus last night and paid the price this morning. To be blunt, diarrhea every ten minutes for an hour. That’s what happens when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me, but it usually happens immediately after–not the next morning.

The heat in my arm had lessened greatly then came back with a vengeance last evening as well. Now, it has lessened again but it’s still got slight heat. Also swollen and sore. I’m not a happy camper. This is all not fun at all. Still worth it, obviously, but I wanted to be frank about my experience because people have been pooh-poohing the possibility of a bad reaction.

Knocked out by the second jab (get vaxxed, tho)

Got the second Pfizer jab on Thursday (it’s Sunday as I’m writing this) and it’s been a trial. The first shot was like this. Day of shot, no reaction until around 11 p.m. Then, the injection site swelled up and my arm started aching. Next day, pure exhaustion plus the arm issues. Third day, less exhaustion, but still some and the arm stuff. Exhaustion lessened as did arm stuff each day. Still, my arm still had the bump and was sore to the touch by the time I went to get my second jab, three weeks and one day later. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and except for the two days of exhaustion, more an inconvenience than anything else. Yes, the jab site was sore, but not enough to hinder me from my day-to-day activities. A week after the shot, it was only sore when I poked it (which was once every few days to see if it was still sore).

I went into the second shot cautiously optimistic. I was expecting a reaction, but based on the first shot, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be too bad. The shot itself was no thing, much like the first one. I barely felt the needle go in (I have a high pain tolerance, though) and no immediate reaction. Well, a bit of sweating, but that could just be because I was hot. I get overheated easily and the temps have risen considerably in the last week. I waited my fifteen minutes then left, feeling as fit as a fiddle. Except the damn sweating.

Went through the day feeling fine. Then, at 11:30 p.m., just like last time, bam! My arm swelled up like a ballon and the jab site was hot to the touch. Very hot. My arm started aching and it was much more noticeable than the first time. Still, it wasn’t terrible. The next morning, I woke up not feeling great. I emailed my taiji teacher saying I was skipping class, but I was able to do my daily routine, more or less. I was dragging, to be sure, but that’s my normal life, anyway, and this was only a bit worse. I was optimistic that it wouldn’t be terrible.

Then, I crashed. Hard. Around five-ish at night, I was hit with pure exhaustion and fell asleep. I woke up around ten, chills coursing through my body. I don’t get cold so that was an indication that something was wrong. My arm was sore as fuck and I just wanted to sleep. I fell back asleep around two, then woke up at four. Fell back asleep around five and got up at eight-thirty in the morning. That really sucked, by the way. I hate stop-and-start sleep, which used to happen to me all the time. When I got up for good, I felt as if a semi truck had hit me, ran over me, and reversed before running over me again.

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Jab jab jab

Wednesday was my 50th birthday. I decided to celebrate by getting my first (Pfizer) jab as a treat. I knew I was going to have a reaction to it because I am always sensitive to this kind of thing. Many people online were reporting no effects at all. In fact, some people were saying the side effects were overstated or that people were making too much out of them. That it was deterring people from getting the vax. That really annoyed me because it’s just a fact of life for me. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but that’s just the way my body works. I definitely want people to get the vax, but I’m not going to lie about my reaction.

Let me take you through what happened. I tried to make an appointment online. I was able to make an appointment for the first jab, but when I tried to set the second one, the website said there were no times available. Um, what? Why the hell would you allow me to make a first appointment if I weren’t able to make a second one? That didn’t make any sense at all. I tried to do it again a few days later, but the website wouldn’t allow it. Then, it told me to set my first appointment and the place I had made the appointment at before wasn’t listed. Did this mean I didn’t have any appointments at all? It seemed to be the case.

I took a deep breath and did something I hated doing–picked up the phone. I called and was able to set both appointments by phone. Look, I love doing things online and I think it’s the best way to get shit done when it works. When it doesn’t, however, then talking to an actual person is the way to cut through all the confusion. The person on the other end of the line was pleasant and happy to answer all my questions (and I had many. It’s my way of dealing with my anxiety). She got me signed up for both shots and made me feel comfortable in getting them. I decided to go for my birthday because it was the best day possible of the early batch of days and I didn’t want to wait until two weeks after that to get my first shot.

Here’s the thing about anxiety. It doesn’t discriminate between legit worries and not-so-legit ones. At least my anxiety doesn’t. I found that it’s best to answer the logistics ahead of time so I can tick that off my list. In this case, I haven’t been to the Roy Wilkins auditorium in decades so I Google Mapped it. I also asked my taiji teacher about her experience because she got her jabs at the same place. She told me there was free parking if you mentioned you were there for the vax. She told me how to get from the parking lot to the auditorium and made sure to note that it was well-marked. All of that was helpful in allaying my anxiety. Knowledge is power!

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