Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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My queen, Ranni

We’re back into Elden Ring. I need to talk more about Ranni’s quest because it absolutely blew my mind the first time I did it. I am not going to do it justice, obviously, but I cannot get over how it’s just casually dropped in this game like it’s no big deal. This is one thing I love about these games. You have your main story that can be rushed in, let’s be generous, fifty hours in your first playthrough. But the thing is that you don’t know what is the main story and what isn’t, especially if you’re playing real time.

I mentioned the underground world in the last post. The first time I encountered it, I was amazed, wondrous, and thrilled. And slightly scared. What the hell was I getting into? People talked about this reveal to death because it was so unexpected and different. Not that there was an underworld. That’s not unusual in and of itself, especially not for FromSoft. In their first Dark Souls game, when you’re in Blighttown, there’s this massive tree in the middle of the swamp. You have to hit two invisible walls in successioon to get to a bonfire. Then, you have to climb down this tremendously huge tree to get to another area. And, it’s suggested that you go in the second half because you can fast-travel by then. Otherwise, you have to climb UP this massive tree, which, by the way, was hell. I did NOT wait until I could fast-travel before going down so I just had to gird my loins and go back up.

When I was watching the boys of Prepare to Try (now RKG) playing this part, Rory said (paraphrasing), “Imagine if this is the first game you’ve ever played and you came across tihs. It would blow your tiny little mind.”

That’s what happened to me. It’s not the first game I played, but it was close to it (fourth or fifth ‘hardcore’ game). And I have never been the same. It’s hard for me to play other games without thinking, “Where are the elaborate levels and the mind-blowing surprises?” I can’t play Ubi games without getting bored, for example. I tried to play other games, but they just let me…bored.

I probably shouldn’t have played Dark Souls as like my fifth hardcore game. Really, anything else meaty I try to play, I can’t. I know it’s a me thing. I know it’s because I don’t actually like video games in general. I like FomSoft games, some roguelikes, and cozy games. That’s it.

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Being in the minority is hard enough

I’m still thinking about societal norms and the dictum to listen to other people’s opinions. I wrote a post about it yesterday, but it was still percolating in my brain. I didn’t feel as if I had really gotten to the root of the issue, and then it hit me. I’m a minority in almost every way. In the big things–gender, race, age, religion, and  sexual identity. Also in the daily things such as marriage status, having children status, what popular media I like, and even in more niche ways.

I like Taiji and Taiji weapons. That in itself is weird for Americans. Then, let’s talk FromSoft games. Before Elden Ring, it was a very niche genre of games. Yes, influential in many ways and much beloved as a concept, but the actual number of people who have played the game isn’t that big. As a comparison, Call of Duty has sold 425 million copies collectively. Before Elden Ring, the numbers for  the games sold as far as I could find in a quick Google search: The Souls games (plus Demon’s) is 27 million. Bloodborne is 2 million. Sekiro is 5 million. Elden Ring sold 13.4 million copies in the first month. So, pre-ER, the From games sold roughly 34 million copies. ER sold roughly half the total amount of Souls games sold in its (ER) first month.

That’s such a small fraction of the Collar Duties games sold, that I think I can comfortably call it niche. Even within the niche, however, I am even more niche. I cannot parry for shit, and I struggle with the main combat  convention of every game (save ER in which the parry wasn’t that important). It took me quite some time to realize that it’s because I have spatial issues and reflex issues. It’s the reason I like the Souls games/Elden Ring better than BB and Sekiro: I can make up for my deficiencies and cobble together a way to make things work.

I’m currently poking at the Bloodborne plat (true plat because I can only play it on my PS4), and I’m being reminded of why I did not enjoy playing that game. I’m in the Defiled Chalice Dungeon, in which I have half-health. that’s the gimmick of this chalice dungeon, which, honestly is horseshit.

I fucking hate the Chalice Dungeons. I’ll just say it. That puts me in the minority because everyone loves Bloodborne and some people think you can’t say you beat Bloodborne if you don’t do the Chalice Dungeons. To which I say, fuck off, gatekeepers! There is a literal ending in the game (three of them, actually)! Fuck alllll the way off with that bullshit.

I hate the Chalice Dungeons (CDs) and have been grimly plodding through them with nary a moment of enjoyment. Before I decided to do the plat, I had done two or three of the CDs. I quit because I loathed them. They’re all the same and they’re so utterly boring. Plus, I keep getting lost in them, and it’s just not fun. But
I dealt with it until the Defiled Chalice. Oh my god. It’s such utter bullshit for someone who has shitty reflexes. I’m on the Watchdog of the Old Lords (boss for the second level) and there is one move that keeps getting me. And because I only have half-health, it kills me every time. The RKG Discord is eager to help me out, but I’ve been trying to do it on my own. Why? Because I don’t like asking for help. I’ve tried to summon the regular way, but I can’t get anyone. Just the NPCs, which is not good enough for this boss.

I can put out that call, but this just makes me not want to do it at all. I don’t get the point of this, honestly. And this isn’t even the hard boss. That would be Amygdala on the next level. I took a break form the CDs and went to the main game because I have to see the other two endings as well. I have only played this game once all the way through and twice halfway through (once on NG+ and once with a new character). Or maybe a bit further with my new character. I went to do the Forbidden Woods which is such a slog of an area. I made it to the Shadows of Yharnam and summoned Old Hunter Henryk to help me out on my second try. He died halfway through, but I managed to squeak it out with my Tonitrus +9 and TENTACLES TO THE FACE. I wanted to make some blood bullets, but forgot how.

I raced through Byrgenwerth and summoned Damien of Mensis to take care of the Church Hunter before facing Rom. And we got her in one. Easily. Damien ended up with almost full health. It was a breeze! I mean, I’ve never had much trouble with Rom, but this was E-A-S-Y. Granted, Damien was a badass who did WORK, but still.

I’m hoping I can do save-scumming if I choose to continue with the plat. But I HATE the CDs so much. I really don’t understand why that’s a part of the FromSoft plats. Same with the covenant grinding, but way worse because I have to actually be good at killing bosses. Which I most emphatically am not.

Good lord. Look at me going off  on a tangent, per yooz. get me started on a FromSoft game, and you will NOt get me to stop.

My point is that I always have to decide when I can bring up my opinion/idea/point of view and when I can’t. I don’t have the luxury of assuming my opinion is the norm because it’s most emphatically is not. Ever. In fact, my brother and I have this running joke. When he does marketing for his job, he’ll ask me what I think. Then he knows to do the opposite. It’s a joke, but it’s not a joke. If you want to have a marketing idea that would work, just do exactly opposite of what I would like.

That’s why I have such a negative reaction to ‘talk with people with opposing ideas or you’re just living in a vacuum/echo chamber’. I already have to hear/see/read opposing ideas all. the. goddamn. fucking. time. if I were to go around spouting what I believed at the drop of a hat, I would be ostracized. Not necessarily because my opinions are vile (though some may consider them so), but just because they are so outside the norm. It took me a long time to realize just how incredibly weird I am and how to act like I’m semi-normal. It took me even longer to recognize that I think differently and on many different levels in comparison to most people.

This is what bothers me the most about the smug admonishment to think about opposing points of view: It’s never reciprocal. I understand in an advice column, you can only give advice to the person writing in, but still. Maybe take into consideration that the person DID look at other points of view (as proven later when the LW wrote a comment, adding more context). People in the comments were grumping that she should have included the clarification in the original letter, which, fair, I guess, but I understand what the LW wrote from the initial letter and thought the commenters were being unnecessarily harsh.

But, again, that comes back to my ability to read people exceedingly well. I get that not everyone can do that, but it would make my life so much easier if they could.


The fury is overwhelming

I can’t today (the actual day of writing, not the day of posting). Not with the news from the Supreme Court. Expected, but still enraging. I did not come back form the dead–twice–for this. I need to let the fury simmer. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Too sensitive, my yellow ass

All my life, I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. Mostly by my mother as a way to manipulate my emotions. That might not be her intent, but that’s the effect, which is more important in the end. I learned quickly as a kid that my emotions didn’t matter–and more to the point, I was not allowed to have negative emotions. Only my father was permitted to be angry, for example. And only my mother was allowed to complain. She used to complain constantly to me when I was young–starting from when I was eleven–about my father and their relationship. Any time I tried to bring up my own issues, however, I was quickly shut down. Or, she would turn the conversation back to her somehow. Such as if I have a cold, it reminds her of her own cold, which is worse than mine, of course.

When she and my father flew out here after my medical traumatic incident, she admitted that she knew bringing my father was a bad idea. He could not stand not being the center of attention and he was used to my mother being laser-focused on him (for better and for worse). She said out loud that he would be jealous of her paying attention to me. It turned out that I didn’t need much help after all. I had a nurse’s aid who came every week to wash my hair. My mother helped me shower, but I could wash myself. She mostly dried me off. She also took care of Shadow for the first month or so, including feeding and cleaning his litterbox. And she did the cooking and the laundry. The former was pretty easy because we ordered Origin Meals, so it was mostly breakfast she had to prepare. By the second month, I had taken back the feeding of Shadow and started helping with the cooking. By the third month, I was doing everything for myself except the laundry (which I only did once a month or so, anyway, before my medical trauma). In other words, we didn’t really have to test the hypothesis of if my father would put up with my mother paying attention to me because I didn’t need it. In fact, I did more for my father than the other way around (and than my mother helped me because let’s be brutally honest, my father didn’t do jack shit for me).

I’ve written about this several times, but the thing that slapped me in the face with how unimportant I was to my parents was the second day I was home from the hospital. Two incidents that I’ll never forget. The first was my mother pressuring me to show my father a Taiji stretch for his back. I was still hopped up on drugs and tired as fuck, but that didn’t matter. My father’s back was more important than me. The stretch is really gentle and in normal times, it wouldn’t have been a problem at all. But, two weeks and two days after I had had walking pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke? A much bigger deal. I tried to demur, but my mother would not take no for an answer. I was wiped out after doing it, but that didn’t matter at all.

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The closer I am to fine(ish)

One-and-a-half days to go until I am on my ownnnnnnnn….Now I have two songs I could use as the ‘before the cut’ video. The one based on the title, obviously, but also that first sentence. What to do? I could include both or just add a link here for the latter one. Lea Salonga, of course, because she is queen. I will brook no argument about this.

My mom is getting teary-eyed about going while I’m tamping down my glee as best as I can. It’s astounding that we have had such a different experience. Well, not really. My mom has always ‘forgotten’ the bad times or put a positive spin on them. How quickly she does it astounds me, though. When we had the darkest week in which I yelled at my father because he was yelling at her and making her cry, she wanted me to apologize to him (not for that, but for something related). She brought it up again a few days later that he was really hurt by what I had done (refused to let him tell my brother lies about what the fight was about), I lashed back, stung, about him shouting at me. She said I had shouted, too. I looked at her in amazement and said I shouted at him because he was yelling at HER (and she’s the one who brought the fight into the living room where I was), and she said, “Oh, right. I forgot about that.”

That’s the moment I knew that she was too far gone for reason. I’ve always known that she’s on his side, but that moment really told me all I needed to know. I had been defending her and she still somehow wanted it to be my fault. Or ‘both sides’. When in actuality, it was my father having a paranoid delusion that he was a slave of the family because we refused to let him drive (he really can’t) and that we were all keeping him here against his will. Which would be hilarious if it weren’t so fucking insulting. My mother does everything for him and I’ve been helping when I can in the last two months.

When I was in my twenties and thirties, my mom badgered me to have kids every time we talked. When she visited, she brought it up every day. I wanted to scream every time she rattled on and on about how having babies was a woman’s duty or how precious being a mother was. I never said it to her, but she had a very fraught relationship with her mother and we were not close at all, despite her belief that we were (rose-colored glasses again). One good thing about turning forty was that she stopped talking about me having children, but then started saying I needed to get married so I’d have someone to take care of me when I’m old. Which, I mean….

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I’m in the middle of my training montage

I’ve been frustrated the last few days because I’m not making progress. Intellectually, I know that I can’t be making progress all the time (because there is a a ceiling to my abilities; I’m not superhuman), but I hate feeling as if I’m in a holding pattern. On my morning constitutional, I go a little farther each day. Yesterday, however, I was feeling a bit peaky and went as far as I had the day before. Maybe a tiny bit farther, but not much. And I have maxed out many of the warmups–I don’t want to do more just for the sake of doing more. Part of Taiji is not doing more than is strictly necessary, which is my guiding principle. Hey, I know my strengths and being lazy is one of  them. I am a champion lazy person!

Still. Deep within my lazy soul, there is a burning kernel of perfectionist that flares up every now and again. When that happens, it’s as if I flipped a switch from lazy to Energizer bunny who goes, goes, goes until his batteries run out.

I know it’s part of being a perfectionist, really. If something isn’t what I deem perfect, then it’s pure shit and I want nothing to do with it. Taiji has helped tempered that impulse, but it hasn’t completely eradicated my perfectionism. See, Taiji is not a miracle cure even though it can seem as if it is now and again. I’ve had a hell of a time trying to explain it to my parents, especially my father, who seems to think that he should be able to do a Taiji exercise or two a few times and be cured of all his aches and pains. I try to explain to him it doesn’t work that way, but to no avail. Taiji is great and I credit it with many things, including being the main reason I came back from my ordeal with such minimal damage. But that’s because I have practiced it for fourteen years (or so). When I explained a back warmup to my father (the one that stopped my excruciating back pain after a year of doing it every day), he said that he didn’t have a year to do it. I said he could do it when he went back to Taiwan as well. It took two or three months to see a noticeable difference and a year for the pain to completely disappear.

Side note: Now that I’m sleeping in my bed again (I used to sleep on the couch), I’m getting back pain again. I do the exercise twice a day and it goes away, but it comes back after sleeping on my side in my bed. I didn’t have this issue when I slept on the couch, but that is neither here nor there.

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The good and the bad of The Surge 2

oh dear. it's coming.
What fresh hell is this?

The Surge (the original) was a surprise hit for me when I played it back in 2018. I even gave it an award and everything! I will never argue that it’s a great game, but I had a blast playing it. The RKG group (members of the group, not RKG themselves) hates it almost uniformly, and they got mad at me for saying I liked it better than Nioh. They argued that Nioh was a better game, and they seemed befuddled when I agreed. I know Nioh is a better game than The Surge. I mean, it’s more technically accomplished, it looks better (though there are some UGLY levels in Nioh–I’m looking at you, snow world–and the combat is more complex. Actually, that was part of my issue with Nioh, though I’d be curious to see if I felt the same way now that I’ve finished Sekiro. It’s more imaginative, and I like the demon/fantasy theme much better than the sci-fi world of The Surge. However, when it comes to which one I enjoyed more, indeed, which one I actually finished, it would be The Surge.

It was such a success that a sequel was inevitable. I was hyped about it, but also nervous. Why nervous? Because I was hyped about it. See, I wasn’t expecting anything from the first game. Why? Because Deck13 Interactive’s first game, Lords of the Fallen, was a hot mess. The reviews ranged from lukewarm to downright excoriating. Me, I hated the game. A lot. It was fantasy, and should have been right up my alley, but all they seemed to take from Dark Souls was ‘heavy’ combat. They were transparent about their love for Dark Souls, but they didn’t seem to understand what makes it such a transformative game*. It’s like looking at the Mona Lisa and thinking the smile was the only thing important about the painting. Yes, it’s an integral part, but it’s not the whole. I feel the same about Deck13 and Lords of the Fallen. Yes, the combat is weighty, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Dark Souls. Also, the magicks is shite in LoF, at least in the first hour. Also also, just throwing a mob of enemies at the player isn’t a great way of making a game difficult. My biggest complaint about LoF was that they seemed to go into the game thinking, “We want a game that is hard” and built everything around that instead of having a vision that integrated elements of a challenging game.

When The Surge was announced, I wasn’t anything more than mildly interested. Nothing about it screamed, ‘come here!’ to me, and I let it go until it went on sale on Steam. Then, I tried the demo and had a reasonably good time, so I bought it for like ten bucks. I wasn’t expecting anything from it, and I was pleasantly surprised. There were several things I did not like about the game, but overall, I had a decent time with it. When the sequel was announced, I was stoked. But, as I said above, also nervous. Was I expecting too much?

Fast-forward to September 23rd when the game actually dropped. I bought it four hours before it released and pre-loaded it. I was excited and ready to roll by the time the game was installed. Graphics looked better than the last one, and the environments were more varied in the first few hours than they had been in all of the original game. I got to make my own character, and, yes, I made her an Asian woman. There wasn’t that much customization, but the fact that they allowed me to do any at all was a step up.

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Boundaries are only effective if I actually enforce them

As my parents’ trip comes to an end, I find myself ruminating over the concept of boundaries. Why? Because they are unheard of in my family. Or rather, they are set up haphazardly and followed only when the person feels like it/wants to/can be stuffed to do it.

Let me start by saying my mom is a psychologist. Theoretically, this should mean that she knows about boundaries and is enthusiastic about setting them. The reality is much different as she is often the worst offender for many reasons–which I’ll get into later. In addition, she’s Taiwanese, and the culture is different when it comes to boundaries. Family is paramount (though it might be changing as all cultures change), and children are expected to put the needs of the family first. I remember one time several years back when I was still in therapy and my mother expressed concerns that my therapist was putting a wedge between us. It took all of my will not to blurt out that it was necessary and that my therapist was keeping me from screaming at her all the time. This was during the time where talking to her (or my father) for more than ten minutes made me want to poke my eyes out, and it’s not hyperbole to say that it depressed me for hours after each time.

That’s part of the problem. Yes, the Taiwanese culture has more porous familial boundaries, but my family is also dysfunctional. The two are not mutually exclusive, but I didn’t realize any of this until I was in my twenties. Of course, you think the childhood you grow up in is normal until you get out of the situation and then you realize that your family is banana crackers crazy. For example, my father has a bizarre idea of saving face. Now, most people know that saving face is a big thing in many Asian cultures. My father takes it to an extreme, however, and it’s partly because of his narcissistic personality. I remember a time when I was a teenager and one of my parents’ friends called to ask for my father. I innocently said he wasn’t home because he was playing tennis. My parents were big into tennis when I was a kid, playing with their friends from church. When my parents got home and I gave my father the message, he exploded at me for telling the (female, and it’s important) friend that he was out with other friends. He went on this rant on how it made him look bad and she would feel excluded. Even as a teenager in my dysfunctional family I knew it was out of line, but I didn’t really suss out why he freaked out to that extent until much later.

You see, my father is a serial cheater. He’s been having affairs ever since I can remember. I can’t tell you when I first realized this fact about him, but I know he started staying out until midnight ‘working late’ when I was as young as six or seven. My parents had epic fights over this until my father gradually accepted this was the price of admission to her marriage. I figured out in the tennis situation, not only did it feed my father’s rabid obsession with his personal privacy (only for him), the woman who called was probably his ‘special lady friend’ at the time, and he was probably playing with another woman who could be considered attractive. To clarify, he and my mom were playing, but that never stopped him from paying special attention to his lady of the moment.

Everyone knew. It was a poorly-kept secret, but no one ever talked about it. People in my extended family mentioned they knew, and it’s only been fairly recent that I have had discussions about it with my mother and my brother (separately). He currently has a mistress, possibly two, and, yet, my mother still dances around him, catering to his every whim. I will get to that more in a minute or maybe in another post depending on how I feel after writing about boundaries.

The background: My parents get up much earlier than I do, so by the time I get up, they’re ready to chat. To be fair, my mother is ready to chat all the fucking time, but I’ll put that aside with difficulty. And, as they’re getting older, they’ve become more clingy and needy. I understand that part is natural of the aging process, but I just can’t handle it the minute I wake up. I live alone, and I can go days without actually speaking with someone in person. They would pelt me with questions, requests/orders, and whatever else was on their minds. I finally had to tell them that I needed to do my morning routine first before I was in any shape to talk. I enforced this by going downstairs to do my morning routine. Did that help? Yes and no. Yes because it kept them away from me in general. No because if they really wanted something, they just went downstairs to present me with their pressing (to them) concern.

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How to write like a (im)proper author

write it down!
All acceptable ways to create.

In the weekend threads of Ask A Manager, there are always one or two about writing. The writers always have solid tips…and they always rankle me. On the face of it, it’s ridiculous because it’s good advice, such as, have a set writing time, make sure your sentence structure is varied, and have beta readers. There is nothing objectionable in any of that advice, but I have two issues with it. One, it makes for bland and safe writing. Two, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s tended to be presented as The One True Way of Writing.

Addressing the latter first, I used to freak out any time I read these kinds of lists because I inevitably fell short on each one. I don’t plan my writing. At all. This is one of the near universal tips when it comes to writing–have an outline. Me, I laugh at your outline! I don’t, actually, but I’ve never written one. Anytime I try, I give up after one or two bullet points. I write mysteries, and you’d think that would be prime fodder for lists. It is, but not for me. The way I ‘plan’ a novel is by having the idea come to my mind or fixating on something and thinking it’s a good idea. I let it marinate for a day or ten, and the ideas slowly start flowing in. For example, the idea of a protagonist who follows her boyfriend because she thinks he’s cheating on her sprang to mind. The first scene of her seeing him snuggle up with a blond in front of his apartment as the protagonist sat, fuming, in her car immediately came to me, and I wrote it in a fairly short amount of time. As I was writing, the idea that she was from his past seemed logical, and the details started filtering in as I was writing. He went missing, and I knew from the very beginning who did the taking. That’s something that has been a constant for me when I write a mystery–I know who the perpetrator is from the start. I may not know exactly why or the reason may change as I’m writing, but the perp remains the same.

I guess you could say I do an outline, but I do it in my head. That may not be an option as I get older, but it’s easier for me that way. It also keeps things fresher, and whenever I try to force my characters to adhere stringently to my plan, they rebel by becoming flat on the ‘paper’. Yes, I’m an Old. I still think of writing as pen on paper, even though neither of these things is true any longer. I know it sounds woo-woo to say that my characters shimmer when they’re fully realized, but it’s true. There’s an energy that emanates from the paper when I keep true to their spirits. When I don’t, there’s nothing I can say or do to coax them to be real people. That’s why I like to say that I’m merely a conduit for my characters and not the actual writer. I don’t feel as if I have control over them, even though I do shape their worlds.

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