Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Wellness

My journey in Taiji

I hated Taiji when I first started studying it. I had a teacher before my current one, and he was terrible. Flat-out terrible. I only went to him because a friend of mine was enamored with him (he has a very cultlike personality, and my friend needed a father-figure desperately as his own had been very abusive). All my narcissist/predator vibes were pinging, but I tamped them down because I trusted my friend. And because I have my own extreme biases against narcissists that made me wonder if I was blowing things out of proportion.

I wasn’t. He was sleeping with a student. They  were in a relationship but as he was the teacher in his fifties and she was 27 and the student, could it truly be equal? In short, no. Not only was he scummy enough to sleep with a student, but he was very sleazy in his interactions with other women. He made a big deal about respecting personal space and not touching anyone without their consent, but that was a big, fat lie.

I gritted my teeth the entire time I studied with him which was probably a year or so, but I did not trust him one whit. That’s not a good relationship in Taiji, but I was young and stupid at the time. This was around the time The Matrix came out, and he raved about what a revolutionary movie it was. He said it was the essence of Taiji and removing yourself from the system. The message I got from him was that he was justified in being intensely selfish because nothing he did could help anyone else, anyway. Or rather, what was going to happen would happen regardless of what he did. It was such self-serving twaddle, I internally sneered even though I hadn’t seen the movie. Just by watching the trailer, I was sure that he was spouting bullshit, and when I watched the movie years later, I had my confirmation.

The Matrix is a good action movie, but unconventional and going against the norm? Not hardly. I watched it in a theater with my then-boyfriend who liked the movie and wanted me to see it. That was problematic in and of itself because I had a boyfriend dump me when I told him my views on Pulp Fiction, so after that, I kept my opinions to myself. While watching The Matrix, I kept thinking how hot Keanu was and how hot Carrie-Anne was. I did think back to what my ex-Taiji teacher had said about the movie and rolled my eyes because the movie had very predictable and conventional story beats. Then, Neo died and Trinity kissed him to bring him back to life.


Continue Reading

Taiji and me

I have a Taiji confession to make. I do not like the Long Solo Form. This is the basis for everything we do, and it’s the first thing I was taught by my teacher fifteen years ago. I hated it then and resisted it with all my might. I questioned my teacher every step of the way, and I dragged my feet in practicing at home. As in, I didn’t. Practice at home, I mean. It’s the reason I slowly added a second class a week and then a third. I reasoned that if I wasn’t going to practice at home, then I better go to more classes.

The Long Solo Form is the Master Liang form. He was very much into dancing and made everything fit a piece of music. Everything was even counts and the movements reflected that belief. The form hurt my knees and my back terribly. I had to do extensive work to undo both (though, to be fair, I already carried a lot of body pain before Taiji. The Long Form just exacerbated it).

I cursed Taiji. I got my teacher to say ‘Fuck Taiji’ as a way of emphasizing with my disgruntled frame of mind. I had forgotten all about this until my private lesson today. In the backyard in 68 degree weather, by the way. It ‘felt like’ 103 two days ago. Madness! Anyway, we were working on the new Long Form and chatting about how much I hated the old one when I first started Taiji. She said she was working with a new student who was very skeptical about the benefits of Taiji. My teacher said she understood and mentioned she once had a student (me) who was exceedingly skeptical about Taiji, so much so, I drove her to say ‘Fuck Taiji’ about something or the other. I joked, “Did your hand explode? No? Then Taiji can’t be that bad.” That was something else I had said in jest–that I felt like Taiji would make my hand explode.

I have apologized to my teacher for being the biggest pain in her ass about Taiji. She shrugged it off because as she said, she trusted Taiji. She knew it was beneficial, and she trusted that I would realize it at some point. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it, honestly. Yes, it’s mostly the weapons, but I realize that the Long Form is important.

One reason I stopped practicing it is because right before the pandemic, my teacher’s teacher started to drastically change it. Or rather, he started teaching the Medium Form, which is very different. And tweaking the Long Form. I don’t remember how many years ago it was, but I was trying to teach myself the left side of the Long Form.


Continue Reading

Funhouse mirror of flaws

I’ve written about how my self-esteem has skyrocketed since my medical crisis. In general, I am happier with myself. My depression has disappeared almost completely and my anxiety is reduced by roughly 60%. Considering that I first wanted to die when I was seven, this is a massive improvement for me.

In addition, all my body issues disappeared. I can’t overemphasize what a big deal that is. My mother put on my first diet when I was seven. She made frequent comments about how fat I was and what a shame it was. But, because she was an Asian mother, she also insisted on feeding me too much food and making me finish the food on my plate. The conflicting messages did not help at all.

I dealt with two bouts of anorexia with a side helping of bulimia the first time. I’m not the usual person when it comes to eating disorders because…I don’t know how to explain it exactly. But when I decided to give it up, I  swung in the opposite direction and started overeating. It really is a matter of willpower for me and not the disordered thinking that other people get.

I’m not explaining this well. I had the disordered thinking as well, but it was more a byproduct of my willpower and not the central thing. I have read about anorexia and how difficult it is to treat. That it’s distorts a person’s thinking in a way that grooves new brain patterns.

I definitely had disordered thinking while I was dealing with anorexia (thinking I was a fat cow, even when my thighs didn’t touch), but once I stopped being anorectic, well, I stopped the thinking as well. Or rather, I swung in the opposite direction. Which is how I work in general. I swing to the extremes.

After I returned home from the hospital, my opinion of my body changed 100%. I went from being studiedly neutral about it (through many years of Taiji and I wasn’t really neutral) to being positively in love with my body. It might be the drugs talking. In fact, it probably is the reason that I felt kindly towards my body in the first place.

In those halcyonic days (daze?), I could not get enough of my body. It saw me through death–twice–without a scratch. Well, not quite, but close to it. I will sing it from the rooftop all day song. Walking non-COVID-related pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke don’t mean shit to me! I can still walk, run, do Taiji, and drive. Presumably (and I’d like to find out soon), sex would be fine as well. I can sing and dance, and I sleep better than I ever have. Seven-and-a-half hours to eight hours a night, which is unheard of for me.


Continue Reading

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.


Continue Reading

The plexiglass of life

I’ve talked extensively about the many allergies I have. There was a question on Ask A Manager about giving end-of-the-year gifts to the 200 employees. The letter writer asked how to go about it and listed all the different ways they’ve had trouble with the assignment. Including people complaining about having to pay taxes on the gift cards, people not answering questions about sizes, etc.

Many helpful comments, including money. That was the biggest. And time off. But there were also suggestions of frozen cozies, different kinds of snack boxes, clothing, etc. I did not skim all the answers, but from what I saw, there were not suggestions of candles, alcoholic beverages, or flowers. Thankfully.

It seems like every time this subject is covered, people suggest alcohol, greenery, and food. Or clothing. As I commented on the post, I am gluten-free, dairy-free, and alcohol-free. I am also allergic to every flower/plant/tree under the sun. And the sun. And the air. I’m also allergic to all scents, many fabrics, and most metals. This sharply cuts down on what can be given to me. What can’t?

::deep breath::

No food, no clothing, no jewelry, no flowers, and no candles. No bath products, including soap, bath bombs, and oils. No alcohol, naturally. I am also difficult to buy any kind of media for because my tastes are so picky. That’s not an allergy situation, though.

I went to Target twice while Ian was here and got sick. I’m not saying it’s Target, but it’s Target. That also happened when I got non-COVID-related walking pneumonia. I had gone to Target the week earlier for the first time since the pandemic hit. Am I saying that’s where I got walking pneumonia? No. It might have been Cubs as that’s the one place I’ve consistently gone. I can’t help noticing, however, that I have gotten sick two of the three times I’ve gone to Target in the last three years.

There are many reasons to rue the pandemic. It wreaked havoc on the world, and many people have not recovered from it. But. Personally, it helped in one massive way–I did not get any of the bronchial stuff I got three or four times a year in the years prior. I was happy that I did not have to feel like shit for weeks at a time. Now, I’ve been feeling punk for over a week. Sinus hurts, threatening migraine, and fatigue, oh my! It’s not fun, and I hate that I have to worry about that again.


Continue Reading

What’s wrong with me?

I have written many times before about how most of my life is better since my revival from death (twice!). But, there are a few things that have gotten worse, and I’m not talking about the family dysfunction for once (though there is that). There are a bunch of little things that add up to irritation, but nothing serious.

One, my ability to do math in my head. One time, I was trying to figure out the Canadian kid’s age on the RKG Discord. He was saying that he was 12 in 2015 when Bloodborne came out. I kept trying to do the math and came up with him being 22. I literally could not figure it out and was embarrassed (he’s 19). I wanted to say, “I have had brain damage. That’s why I had difficulty with that simple math.”

I pride myself on my brain and my intelligence. I have always had my smarts, even when I felt I had nothing else. So to have issues with it is difficult for me. But, I can use a calculator or pen and paper to do simple math. It’s not a big deal, really. I just don’t like that when I tried to do it in my head, I literally couldn’t.

Another thing is my memory issues. That’s another thing I’m proud of–how good my memory is. I used to have to do intake for classes when I worked in the Diversity unit for the Department of Community Corrections. We had 500 employees, and I probably saw most of them throughout the year. I remembered everyone but two people, which is an amazing feat.

Now, I have a harder time remember names of people or things. I don’t always remember if I told someone something already. It can take me a few more seconds than it used to to remember a word. None of this really bothers me, honestly. I can just explain it with a smile and a ‘brain damage’ before moving along. That’s assuming that people know what happened to me.

It’s hard to feel too bad about anything when the end result is that I’m alive and in mostly fine fettle. i sleep better since my medical crisis, for sure. My norm was 6 1/2 hours before I ended up in the hospital. Now it’s 7 1/2 to 8 hours a night. I wake up once to go to the bathroom, but then quickly fall asleep again.

A bit of my anxiety has crept back. Maybe 10% or so more than before. Which was down 50% or so from before that. Whereas my depression is almost completely gone.

But! We’re talking about negatives.


Continue Reading

It’s COVID, baby

I woke up feeling like shit.

Of course, my first thought was that it was COVID, which is not something I  want to deal with. I know that most people who are triple vaxxed don’t react badly to having COVID, but
I have a shitty immune system. More to the point, I just went through a major health scare that started with walking non-COVID-related pneumonia.

That’s always in the back of my mind, obviously. I was feeling exhausted and skipped my Taiji class that day. I emailed my Taiji teacher to let her know that I had to skip class. That wasn’t that unusual for me, sadly, because of my shitty immune system. When we were in person, I missed classes once every three or four months, but that went way down once we went online.

During the pandemic, I may have missed one or two Zoom classes, but nothing like I did when I went to classes in person. That’s one reason I appreciated online classes–I rarely got sick. Maybe once every six months or so.

So, now that I’m feeling punk, I’m nervous. Yes, it may be an overreaction, but this was now my base. I am extremely tired–am I going to die? That was legit my first thought when I woke up this morning.

I bought and took the CRT. It’s negative. I will check again tomorrow. I’m glad. I will have to check it again tomorrow just in case, but it seems I’m negative. So it’s just something else.

I’m done for today. I hope I feel better soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never normal, always a freak

Reading Ask A Manager, there’s a call for simple potluck dishes. Homemade, not bought. I sigh because I know what is coming. I love reading about food and different recipes, but I make a bet with myself how many of them I would be able to eat. I have an odd list of things that I can’t eat. Gluten and dairy, which aren’t that weird, but it’s difficult to find dishes that are both gluten and dairy-free. Add to that cauliflower, onion and garlic, and cilantro.

Side Note about the cilantro: I realized many years ago that I hated cilantro. I didn’t know why, but it tasted like shit to me. Not like literal shit, but something unpleasant. Any time I mentioned it to anyone, they could not believe that I did not like it.

When the NYT article about cilantro came out, I felt vindicated. Before that, my mom dismissed my feelings about cilantro, saying I must be imagining it. Imagining what, I don’t know. The bad taste? Not liking it? No idea. But she shook her head every time I mentioned not liking it. When I showed her the NYT article, she exclaimed, “Oh, so it is a thing!”

That’s her in a nutshell. Me plainly stating my displeasure with cilantro was waved aside and dismissed. An article by NYT is taken as sacrosanct. At any rate, she never bugged me about cilantro again. It gets tiring, though, all the people who just can’t understand why someone would not like cilantro.

This is how I feel in general about all the things I’m allergic  to. I rarely mention it because the list is long and boring. But, I get a bit impatient when people express incredulity about what people are allergic to/don’t like what they like. There was a thread on AAM about what to give your employees for Christmas (or any other gift-giving occasions). Some people mentioned that it’s best to just give money because of all the things people are allergic to/can’t have. One person said dismissively that those people could just give away the thing or throw it away.

But some people are allergic to being in the same room as something. Peanuts is a big example of that. I am violently allergic to poinsettias (which I found out in a very memorable way). So getting rid of something I’m allergic to could include a violent reaction.

And, more to the point, why the fuck not give money? Everyone loves money! If the point is to make the employees feel valued, then giving them something that they are allergic to/cannot use will not accomplish that goal. I don’t know how this is even a question. And it’s discouraging that once again, people are like, “Fuck the people with allergies. Who cares about them?”

AAM is a blog with very liberal readers, mostly women, and they’re always trying to be aware of diversity. This is a good thing, but the above comment (from a man, btw), shows that there are still areas in which they’re weak–and this is one of them. So many people were dismissive of allergies or more benignly, don’t think anything of it. Not that they should. It’s really not on anyone but the allergic person (or they’re family).

But it’s alienating.


Continue Reading

A feather in my fan, er, cap

I finished the Fan Form! And by finished I mean teaching it to myself. I started it after my medical trauma–two months after at least–and taught it to myself in…six months? Five? Probably more the latter than the former. Either way, I’m super proud of myself–I just looked it up. I got the videos from my teacher on February 15th of this year so it’s not even been three months! It’s not that long, but still. I’m impressed with myself.

I’m trying to find a video of the Fan form I’ve learned, but haven’t so far. My teacher’s teacher has created several forms of his own and I think this might be one of them. The video I’m including is from him, but the form he is doing is not the one I taught myself. It’s similar and I’m sure it’s at the root of his form, but it’s much more elaborate and lengthy. It’s fascinating to watch because his form is much more concise, but still maintains the essence of this form–except the leaning forward and sticking your leg out in the back (which I’m sure is form over function). Master T.T. Liang, one of his teachers, was very much into the beauty of the forms and how they were performed to music so I am not surprised that this form is very visually pleasing. (You can hear Master Liang doing the counts in the background.) That was one of Master Liang’s big passions–dance. So he made all his forms fit to music, which is why they all have even counts. When Sifu Ray (my teacher’s teacher) started creating his own forms, he chose function over form, so the counts are uneven. I like the fact that some of the movements (postures) have been cut down and some have been expanded, depending on what makes functional sense.

Before I learned any weapons, I was drawn to the fan. Why? Because you can’t carry most other weapons around with you. A cane, yes, but not a sword, saber, or double sabers. But anyone can slip a fan into their bag or take it on a plane without any eyes being blunk. Er, blinked. Not the big fan, maybe, but definitely a small one. Which isn’t as flashy as the big one, but it functions in the same way.

I bought a big fan (black) over a decade ago when I was at a demo. It might have been the same time I bought my sword, but I don’t remember. I held onto it throughout learning other weapons first.


Continue Reading