Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Wellness

How to deal with my broken mind

I have a broken mind. This has been true since I was a kid. Or rather, I’ve always been different. I loved to read and always had my nose in a book. I devoured them rapidly, moving from one to the next the second I was done with the first. A part of the reason why was because I hated life with every fiber of my being. I can’t remember a time when I thought it was a good thing to be alive and is it nature? Is it nurture? I don’t know. Or, more to the point, it’s a complex mixture of both. By my mother’s account, I was a happy and cheerful toddler–though she is an unreliable narrator. She looks at things in the past through rose-colored glasses, mostly so she doesn’t have to deal with the negative ramifications that linger.

I am pretty sure this is one of her coping mechanisms in dealing with my father because he’s pretty unrelentingly negative. I also know that her childhood wasn’t the happiest and that she never felt like she was loved by her mother. Who, by the way, was a real piece of work. Probably shouldn’t have been a mother, but it was expected of women of her generation and culture (Taiwanese). She definitely favored her sons over her daughters and for whatever reason, my mother was her least-favorite.

All that is to say that my mother came into parenting with some faulty ideas as to what it takes to be a parent and what it meant to be a parent. More specifically, a mother. I also think one of the reasons she decided to have children was to have someone to love her unquestioningly, which was destined to fail. You don’t have kids for what they can do for you–ideally, that is. Many people do, much to their own detriment.

Ever since I can remember, I was not happy in my own skin. My mom made dresses for me, which is so not my jam. I like a long flowy skirt and I wore a dress now and again in my twenties, but it never felt right. It wasn’t a gender thing, but a sensory thing. I hate clothing and try to wear as little as possible. Dresses generally cover more than other clothing and is restrictive to boot. I liked to climb trees when I was a kid–which was also something that I was told I shouldn’t do as a girl–and that’s really hard to do in a dress. I was considered a tomboy and frowned upon for being, well, too much.


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Limitless possibilities

Here’s the thing about taiji weapons. They’re like Lay’s: you cannot eat just one. Er, I mean. It’s really addictive–at least when it finally clicked in my brain. My brain is broken on many levels. One, I have a hard time doing anything—even things I like. Someone in the weekend thread on Ask A Manager asked how to make themselves do exercise on the regular. Other people gave good advice, but the one that I had to counter was to do it when you felt like doing it. Why? Because I never felt like doing anything. I related how when I first started practicing taiji at home, it was literally five minutes a day. The way I did it was to put it on my to-do list. Get up, brush teeth, feed cat, do taiji. I emphasized that it wasn’t a YOU HAVE TO DO THIS YOU LAZY ASSHOLE, but more matter-of-fact like, oh, right. Do the taiji thing. It expanded to ten minutes, then fifteen, and now, with my new-found love affair with the weapons, it’s 45 minutes to an hour.

I didn’t get into it, but the five minutes a day was so resentful on my part. In fact, before I started practicing at home, I went from one to two to three classes a week because I wasn’t practicing at home. When I started practicing, it was a quick section of the Solo Form (or part of a section) and then some stretches. The stretches were fine, but the Solo Form was not. I still am not a huge fan, but the Medium Form is way more my jam than the Long Form.

I’ve documented how I fell in love with the sword and it’s still very dear to my heart. Then, my struggles with the Sabre Form that has turned into a deep appreciation. Currently, I am intoxicatingly infatuated with the Double Sabre Form. It’s my everything and I would do it all day long if I could.

When I think about the weapons, it’s all about the feelings they invoke. The sword makes me want to dance and Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe is the perfect song to dance with the sword to. I mentioned in the aforementioned forum that before taiji, the only exercise I liked was dancing. Weightlifting was tolerable and I hated the rest of it. Now, I’m pleased to be able to combine dancing with taiji weapons because they are my two favorite physical activities (well, excluding sex*). I have chronic depression and it’s hard for me to find joy in anything.

I can find quiet moments of contentment such as chilling with my cat. I can be engaged by activities such as playing video games. I can be pleased chatting with friends. My brother came over last night and we tried the new Thai restaurant down the street. That was a really enjoyable time. But all of these are very muted. Which, to be fair, is my style in general. It’s partly just my demeanor and partly the depression.

All that changes when i grab my double sabers and wait for the music to start. Or not. Even when I practice with no music, there is joy in my heart as I move the double sabers in the air. I am someone who feels chained in so many ways, but when I do the Double Saber Form, I’m free.


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When the student becomes the master

I’m still bothered by my doctor’s insistence on my weight, but here’s a weird thing. My clothes are fitting better. A pair of shorts that were tight on me months ago are now swimming. There’s the possibility that they stretched, but not that much. My weight is still high so my guess is muscles. My body is made for muscles, thankfully.

Side Note: I am insanely pleased with my biceps. And my ass. I’ll get to that in a second. Yes, I know I’ve blathered about it before, but I don’t care.

When I had to use my desktop briefly, I loved having my dual screens. It was so nice not to have two sets of browsers squished side by side. On the other hand, my desktop does not have an SSD so waiting for it to do anything was torture.

Side Note II: It’s really funny how tech rapidly goes from ‘never in a million years’ to ‘ how the fuck did I ever live without this?’ in a heartbeat. I still remember when I vowed I would never let emails replace handwritten letters and when I vowed that I would never use emojis. Then, when SSD became a thing, I scoffed at it because how much difference could it really make? A lot as it turned out. It’s funny because I am a weird mix when it comes to technology. On the one hand, I use it heavily and know more about it than most people. I said to my brother that I know a bit more than people in general and he said I knew a lot more. It’s hard to judge because I just use it the way I use it.

I rail against new inventions as being intrusive before unwillingly adapting them and then fully embracing them. Currently, I’m thinking about my next laptop because this one is on its last legs I think. I need my brother to take a look at it. I’m also thinking about getting a sit/stand desk with an ergonomic chair because I want to be more active without, well, being more active. I hated actively doing exercise whenever I tried it. I hated the gym. I hated brisk walking. I hated yoga. The only things I didn’t hate was lifting weights and dancing. Or more to the point, I liked the results of weightlifting and didn’t actively hate the activity while I loved dancing.

Taiji has been a godsend now that I’m obsessed with weapon. Not only is it something I really enjoy, but it’s excellent exercise. There’s a weightbearing set that I used to do, but I stopped when I got in my car accident. I would like to pick it up some day, but in the meantime, the weapons are an excellent weightbearing exercise.


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Tricking myself into being healthier

I’m fat and I know it. Don’t like it, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers my doctor. Which is a lot. I’m going to have to change my doc again, sigh, because she is way too fixated on weight, pushy on me taking drugs I don’t want to take, and just not great in general. I had to pick a new doc during the pandemic and I basically closed my eyes and threw a dart. I chose someone I thought might be more holistic and compassionate, but, no. I’m not too mad at her because it’s so endemic in our society (thinking being fat is the worst thing in the world and morally wrong), but I’m certainly too old to put up with it.

At any rate, I want to lose weight because I hate the way I look. That’s it. I don’t care about the health implications and I never have. I know it’s all the vogue to say that I’m getting in shape for my health, but that’s just not true for me. Except one thing. I want to be sturdier and not so out of shape. I hate losing my breath just from walking more than I’m used to so I want to work on that. A few problems. One, My lung capacity isn’t great. Two, I have never been good with walking up and down stairs, probably because of aforementioned bad lung capacity.

I don’t do well with putting myself on a diet because I tend to become obsessed, much to my detriment. For me, the line between diet and eating disorder is exceedingly thin and easily crossed. Even when I know about the dangers, I feel myself getting pulled into it and am helpless to stop it (I know I’m not actually, but it feels like it at the time.) The way I trick myself is to focus on eating better, not specifically looking for weight-losing foods or diets. I can’t count calories or weigh myself because they become obsessions in and of themselves. I tried to do inches as a substitute for pounds, but I know the conversion and that didn’t work, either.

If I do anything that smacks of dieting, I start spiraling. How do I get around that? By focusing on the foods themselves.

Side note: It seems that the lactose-free foods I’ve been imbibing are no longer sitting well in my stomach so I’m going to have to go completely dairy-free, sadly.

I started the journey by cutting out dairy and gluten. Caffeine is up and down, and I’m still not sure if I should imbibe it or not. I don’t want to talk about it again because I’ve nattered on and on about it, but there are pros and cons to me drinking caffeine that have to do specifically with my migraines. Anyway, eating vegetarian/vegan doesn’t necessarily mean eating healthy because a lot of the subs have oils and such, which means calories. I’m trying to cut out on plant-based mayo, plant-based cheese, plant-based butter, etc. It’s not easy, however, because there’s a part of my brain saying, “You can eat so little, why not gorge on the things you CAN eat?”


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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 knew I loved you before I met you

I have a confession to make. It’s really hard for met to admit this because I feel as if I’m cheating. I have had one love for several years and now….There’s a new game in town and I can’t help but be drawn to it. I’ve tried to deny it, but I have to let my feelings out. I’m just going to say it so I don’t have to have it preying on my mind, unspoken, any longer.

*covers sword and puts it away in a safe place*

I am in love with the double sabers.

Whew! I feel so much better now that I’m gotten that off my chest. I can move on with my life now.

I know it sounds silly, but I do have mixed feelings about the double sabers. Let me rephrase that. I have mixed feelings about my feelings for the double sabers. There’s no mixed feelings about the double sabers themselves.

I feel a passion for them I haven’t felt in ages. When they’re in my hands, I am filled with a joy that I can’t describe without being reduced to using trite soundbites. And, it’s different than the feeling I have about my sword–which is the same with the different energy each weapon has. The love I have for the sword is deep and abiding. Holding it in my hand is coming home again, wrapping myself in a cooling weighted blanket, and sipping a cup of raspberry tea. The double sabers, on the other hand, are an exhilarating kind of love. It’s a put on your fanciest outfit and dance the night away before having hot sex for hours kind of love.

If I were in a monogamous relationship with  the sword, I would definitely be cheating on it with the double sabers. So, I feel a bit guilty because I have always said that the sword is my true love (jestingly, of course) and while I wasn’t being serious about it, it was the weapon that changed my life. It’s what got me to totally buy into taiji after five or six years. It felt so natural in my hand as if it was meant to be there. It was an extension of my arm and learning the left side of the form was as natural as breathing to me.

When I saw my teacher demonstrate with the double sabers, I felt an excitement that I hadn’t felt–well, ever. As I said, my love for the sword is different and I never had that NRE with it. It has always been like a long-lasting and stable relationship in which there is happiness, deep satisfaction, and an emotional fulfillment, but not the passion, the butterflies in the stomach, and the sense of  naughtiness.

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Running in place

Ian and  I recently talked about a thing in video games that is annoying. This is in games that are continuous, such as Destiny 2 or any other ‘game as service’ game. There is a thing that when the season ends and a new season begins, all the caps are reset and you basically have to start over again. Not exactly, but it’s close enough. I felt that way with Monster Hunter World. I took it to surprisingly and poured hundreds of hours into it. I really liked it until the Tempered Elder Dragons and quit cold turkey. Then, Iceborne, the DLC came out. I was hyped, but it was only on consoles at first. I want to say just PS4, but I’m too lazy to look it–ok, it’s both PS4 and Xbox One. I had to look it up because that’s my nature. The internet has been a boon, but it’s also been a curse. In the olden days, if I didn’t know something, I just had to deal with it. Now, I can look it up whenever I want. It’s almost a compulsion, but a benign one.

The basic armor you are given in Iceborne is better than anything I had crafted in the entire base game. Same with the base weapon. I know why they did it–because they wanted the newbies to be able to try the new content without having to grind in the base game. Truly, I understand. From a business standpoint, they want as little obstacle to entrance as possible. If newbies had to play hundreds of hours in order to even get to Iceborne, well, then it would be Dark Souls. So I can’t blame Capcom for doing that. However, it was deflating as fuck to get that good shit and realize that my time in the base game was all for naught.

I know that’s not the case. I know that the enjoyment I got from the base game is something in and of itself. But, it still left a sour taste in my mouth and I could never really get into Iceborne. Part of that was because it so much harder than the base game (which was another reason for the better gear), but it was also because it felt like those hundreds of hours I put into the base game were for nothing. N00bs who were playing for the first time had the same equipment as I did, so why even bother? If I had just picked up the game as a whole, I could have cruised through the entire game on easy mode. Again, I realize that the experiences I had with the game wouldn’t have been the same and would probably have been trivialized, but it’s hard not to feel bitter.

It’s the same struggle I have with taiji. My teacher’s teacher is changing things up, especially with the Solo Forms. I’ve explained this before, but we used to do the Long Form by Master Liang. Which I hated. Then, he developed the Medium Form based on movements by Master Choi. He decided the Medium Form was going to be the main form so my teacher put the long form aside and began teaching us the Medium Form. Her teacher also developed the Fast Form, which was based on the Medium Form and she started teaching that to us as well.


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I’m slicing and I’m dicing

My thumb is nearly 100% and I can’t get over how great it is. When I had trigger thumb, I rationalized that it wasn’t that bad. I rarely had to use my thumb so as long as I babied it, it was fine. Not great. It was always tender and I always had to be careful about bumping it, but it was fine. Or so I thought. Now that it’s back to normal, I can’t believe how much I had to accommodate it and how much it low-key bothered me. It’s only in retrospect that I realize how restrained I was by it.

In a metaphysical way, it’s the same with any flaw a person has. It’s hard to see how much it hampers you while you’re in a situation where using it doesn’t seem so bad. Or working around it. It doesn’t help that I have an insanely high tolerance for pain plus my mother’s mentality of stiff upper lip. When I got my steroid shot, the doctor warned me that it was going to hurt because it was in a very sensitive spot. I exhaled as she pushed the rather long needle into the base of my thumb and it was nothing more than a sting at the site of the needle. I didn’t react and we went on with the appointment. At the end of it, she asked how my thumb was feeling. I said fine and she gave me a strange look. She said I was very strong (or something similar) because that was a very sensitive spot for a shot.

She sounded almost admiring of it and I wanted to tell her it was not a good thing, but I just nodded. Someone accused me of humble-bragging when I tweeted about my reaction to the second shot or rather trying to garner sympathy. I wasn’t, but it made me think about how we’re supposed to react to medical things. In a letter to Ask A Manager today, someone who suffers debilitating migraines (of two different types) and was wondering if when they returned to the office, she could get away with crawling on the ground. She worked for a huge company and the vast majority of the commenters were appalled at the idea. The few who pointed out that it was akin to a disability ask were shouted down.


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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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I am a delicate flower, damn it

The heat has finally broken–somewhat. It’s 75 right now, which is still outside my comfort zone, but it’s way better than 107. My parents were shocked when I told them because it’s actually hotter than where they are–which almost never happens. They asked how I’ve been dealing with it. With AC, a fan blowing on high directly on me, iced water, and ice packs. Also, taking off my shirt when the sun goes down. I’m a less is more kind of gal in general when it comes to clothing in part because of hating clothing on my skin and partly because I hate being hot. Oh, also constrained. In my idea world, I would  be naked all the time in a 50 degree world. That’s not gonna ever happen, though, because that’s not the world I live in.

My energy has been sapped even for the few minutes I’m outside when I’m taking a few puffs. It’s just so oppressive, especially when you’re not used to it. It’s similar to how the South deals with an inch of snow–it’s no big deal unless it only happens once every five years or so. We get over a hundred on occasion, but not for a solid week as we did this time. We’re supposed to get back up in the nineties this week, which is just not right. I mean, yes, it’s June and yes it’s summer. But this is Minnesota! We’re not built to deal with sustained 100 degrees.

Even though I’m inside most of the time, I’m still affected by the heat. My sleep has been worse than usual and my brain refuses to think. I’m grumpy, which, admittedly, is my normal state of mind, but it’s also extra with the heat. I feel like a dope for being so susceptible to heat, but it’s the way I am. I love the cold with all my heart and feel alive when the temperature is around zero. But anything over sixty is not fun for me and past seventy, I want to throat-punch somebody. Eighty? Grrrrr. Ninety is unfathomable and a hundo is personally hurtful.

I’m drinking iced water and iced coffee like they’re going out of style, which is helping a bit. But mostly, I’m just mad. I know it doesn’t help, but it’s how I feel.

In better news, my left thumb is roughly 92% right as rain. That steroid shot was a miracle worker, but I’m glad the doc clarified that it might take up to two weeks to work. I had been expecting it to be like magic and work instantly. Knowing that wasn’t the case meant I didn’t freak when it didn’t get better right away. It took a few days for it to improve at all and by the one week point, I was at roughly 60%. Now, I can bend it with very minimal pain and it’s only slightly sore when I touch it. To be honest, I’ll be happy if it stays like this and doesn’t get any better. I’m just so relieved I can use it again.


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