Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: WWDTAOL

WWDTAOL: cultural gaslighting and pretending to be normal

There has been plenty written about microaggressions and how they can add up. Most of us have at least heard of code-switching and what a toll it can take on a person. When I was in college, i got asked all the time where I was from. Since I was a bitch, I would say with a straight face, Minnesota and wait for the following question. “No, I mean where are you really from?” Normally I would say something along the lines of, “My ancestors are from Taiwan” and that was usually enough to get people to shut the fuck up. Once in a while, someone would continue with something even more insensitive such as, “My adopted daughter is Korean.” Ok. Well. What am I supposed to do with that? There are so many levels wrong with that. First of all, I’m not Korean. Secondly, even if I were, it wouldn’t mean I’d have an instant connection to all Korean people. I’ve had people ask if I knew this other Taiwanese person they know, which is also grating. It shows that I’m a category, not a person to them.

I’ve had well-meaning white people ask me why that’s so frustrating. Or saying that people are just being curious. I hate that because it’ll take too long to explain the whole background of being a minority in an overwhelmingly white state and it’s why so many minorities don’t want to do Racism 101. (Or women and Sexism 101, etc.). It really does boil down to trust me after a lifetime of living as me, I know the intent of people doing this kind of shit. I don’t think they’re being malicious, but it’s ignorance and it’s intrusive. Also, when you have it happen over and over again, it’s a not-so-subtle hint that I’m viewed as an outsider.

That, by the way, is another microagression–people constantly questioning what you experienced as real. That’s the cultural gaslighting I mentioned in the title and it’s exhausting. “Are you sure that’s what happened? Maybe that person you thought mistreated you because you’re Asian was actually just having a bad day!” It’s as if the person who actually has the experience is considered biased BECAUSE they’ve had the experiences so often. You see it all over the place, such as in trials. If you’re black (as a potential jurist), it’s assumed that you can’t possibly be neutral if it’s a case involving a black victim. Same with women and sex crimes. Or, in a more common phenomenon, a man is described as being creepy and so many people, mostly men, fall over themselves to explain why he’s just misunderstood.


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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video games edition, part four)

me standing by campfire leveling up my tent.
I’m an empress leveling up my tent!

Here we go! Part four of WWDTAOL: vidya gaemz! Here’s part three. First, some more talk about Cozy Grove and BoI: Repentance. These are the two games that I play every day and they could not be more different. Cozy Grove is like slipping on a pair of fuzzy slippers, sitting on an overstuffed couch under a fluffy duvet and sipping a cup of raspberry tea. I mentioned before that once I could wrap my head around the fact that the game was very much about taking it in little chunks and not mainlining it as I would most games, my frustration just melted away. There’s something charming about a game that isn’t trying to be massive, grim, and gritty. It knows what it wants to be and is more than happy to do exactly that. Not everything needs to be open world and hundreds of hours. Though, this game can be hundreds of hours, it’s not open world and it’s not meant to be played for hours on end.

In the beginning, I spent a few hours a day just wandering around and fishing endlessly. Now, it’s about an hour, but that’s because I have so many resources to gather. Many many flower/fruit bushes/plants and fruit trees. By the way, I have one niggling complaint about the game, a very small one. The interactive function can be wonky. I have probably thirty plants close to each other, plus decor, plus deer and birds. Clicking on the one that needs to be harvest can be hit or miss. The reason they’re so close to each other is because they ‘like’ being next to x, y, or z, and the radius isn’t that big. Nor is space that plentiful. I can deal with that, but what really frustrates me is that sometimes, it’s impossible to interact with certain items. I can’t even get the prompt. It was really noticeable when it happened to the campfire and it’s doubly frustrating when I had just been able to interact with it a second before.

The only thing I find that makes it better is to exit to the menu and restarting. If that doesn’t work, then completely shutting down the game and starting it up again sometimes help. I don’t understand why it suddenly stops working, but it’s frustrating as fuck. It’s a little irritation in the grand scheme of things and it’s an indie developer so I’m apt to be more forgiving.

Now. Let’s talk about BoI: Repentance. It’s funny because I call the former iteration BoI: Rebirth, but this one Repentance. Shorter, I guess, and I just assume everyone knows what I’m talking about. Anyway, there is so much there.  I think it’s the best iteration of the game since Rebirth, but it’s also…not the worst, but so fucking hard. Is it too hard? I don’t know. I think I’m less likely to want to quantify ‘too hard’ in general and just say that I’m reaching the ceiling for myself. I took Apollyon out for a spin because I hadn’t played them in aaaaaages. I don’t hate them–I just don’t find much interesting about them. They’re the one I always forget even exists. I managed to unlock Tainted Apollyon, however, and that’s an interesting character–more interesting than Apollyon.

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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video games edition, part three)

I think I need to uninstall Repentance because I can’t stop playing. This is part three of hard/unfair games and you can read part two here. I have now unlocked 9 of the 17 Tainted Characters and here’s something funny. I was trying to remember all the characters when I wasn’t playing it and always came up one short. I looked up the characters’ names and came across Apollyon. Oh, right. They’re a thing. I never remember them even though I’ve done their whole Post-it Note. They are just so boring. It made me wonder if maybe they were my least-favorite character, but, no, that’s still The Keeper. Well, maybe *spoilers will abound* Jacob and Esau (one character, technically, but two moveable bunches of pixels) will end up being my least favorite, but I haven’t taken them out for more than a short spin.

Of the Tainted Characters, I’ve unlocked Tainted Isaac, Tainted Maggie, Tainted Cain, Tainted Judas, Tainted Samson, Tainted Lost, Tainted Forgotten, Tainted Azazel, and Tainted Eden. Having to do more of The Keeper is going to make me very sad. I’ve taken each of the tainted characters out for a spin and they range from fun to confusing as fuck. Tainted Forgotten is tons of fun as you play as the secondary character, (flying blue baby), while tossing a dead The Forgotten around. Tainted Cain is confusing as fuck because every item you get is tossed in the Bag of Crafting and….profit? Supposedly, if you follow the recipes, something is supposed to come out of it, but I don’t know what. Oh, wait. I’ve been doing it wrong? Simply trying to pick up the items breaks them down into consumables. I have to swipe with the Bag of Crafting to put them in the bag. Same with pickups on the floor. Anyway, too much for me, though I will try it out again.

ETA: Ok. You cannot swipe items at all. They have to be broken down, I guess. This is just weird.

ETA II: I am completely on board now that the first time I did it properly, I crafted The Book of the Dead, one of my favorite items. Granted, it got nerfed in Repentance, but it’s still amazing. I thought it would be harder to craft something, but it’s not. I didn’t even look up the recipes–I just threw stuff in my Bag of Crafting. Will have to play with it more, I guess.

In general, though, I’m not sure I want to learn seventeen new characters and do all the achievements again.


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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video game edition, part two)

In my last post, I wrote about difficult games. I was going to write about the thin line, but then got caught up in actually writing about the games. I have a confession to make. One of the reasons I quit playing Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is because I was playing too much of it. At this point, a full run can take an hour or more. Then, I do the rerun (victory lap), which can take another half hour. There is very much a ‘just one more run’ feel to it–but a run isn’t fifteen minutes. At least you can save now–that’s a relief.

Anyway, I resisted Repentance until I didn’t and now I can’t stop playing. Partly because it has so much new content, but also because it still has that ‘just one more run’ feeling to it. I read the Steam reviews when it came out and while most people were positive, there was a vocal minority of dedicated Isaac fans who declared the game had jumped the shark. Personally, I thought it started declining with Afterbirth and hit the nadir with Afterbirth+, so I was inclined to believe those minority voices. They qualified their credentials (True Platinumed the game) before saying they thought Repentance was too hard.

If you had asked me a few hours after I started playing Repentance what I thought of it, I would have been firmly in the minority voice’s camp. it felt hard just for the sake of being hard and the new character wasn’t any fun. Then, I got a good run with Bethany and managed to beat ??? (the boss of The Chest) and was able to tick off three achievements. And, yeah, I was still playing on hard so yay for me. Suddenly, I saw the appeal of Bethany and took her on a victory lap. Now. We’re going to get into really spoilery territory so fair warning. All the stuff until now is not completely new because the alternate path is basically Antibirth (mod) made official. This, however, is a secret path, much like Hush or the Void with Delirium as the boss. Or MegaStan.

I will fully admit that I had to look up this shit because there was no way I would have found this on my own. I don’t know if someone data-mined or actually figured this out, but that’s not me. I am forever grateful for those who are more diligent than I am. Anyway. I’m bringing it up now because I decided to take OP Bethany on this alternate path. I had fought the boss(es) of this area with Azazel with sick damage and The Wafer (half-damage taken) and still could not beat the final boss. So, yeah. I wanted to take Bethany up there because even though it wouldn’t count for the achievements, at least it let me see the boss again.

By the way. I just have to mention something I’m pissed about. I made it up to this boss and unlocked the Red Key. What should I do with it? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to completely spoil it for myself, but I wanted to know so I skimmed the wiki on it. Apparently, you’re supposed to use it in the hallway between Mom’s bedroom and the living room.  Oh. I should back up and explain that. Ok. The new secret path goes like this. On the 2nd floor of The Depths (or the equivalent), there is a door with a ‘glass’ panel in front of it. You can only unlock it after beating Mother, the final boss of the alternate route, which I did with Azazel and unlocked the second new character–Jacob and Esau. Yes, two characters in one and fuck that character. They may be my least-favorite character in the whole game, including The Keeper.


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WWDTAOL: The thin line between hard and unfair (video game edition, part one)

In today’s edition of WWDTAOL, I want to focus on hard video games. Why? Because, well, look at the games I play. FromSoft games, to be specific. But also NL hours into Binding of Isaac in all of its iterations. That’s why it’s endlessly amusing to me that I also like games such as Cozy Grove (Spry Fox) because it’s the exact opposite of demanding and curse-inducing. I’m really digging Cozy Grove now that I’ve completely accepted it for what it is–a bite-sized chunk game in which putting an hour into a day is the way to play. I love doing my little chores  and making the rounds, talking to my friends and trying on the new clothes. I have a real problem with hoarding all the items and it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to make myself sell clothing that I know I will never wear. I can buy new slots, but it’s 30,000 old coins for ten spaces. That’s chump change these days, but I’m still cheap.

Anyway! Tough games. Let’s talk Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen. Normally, I would call the game Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because that’s the best edition of the game in my opinion. I’ve played them since Wrath of the Lamb–well, I actually played the first version, but hated it–and, man, has the game changed so much. I’ve 1001%ed the game and I played it every day as my relaxer. If I played as Zaz or Eden, I could reliable win most games. With Isaac, Samson, Judas, or Laz, as long as I got decent damage upgrades, I win more often than I lost. I knew the items like I knew the back of my hand and I could play on automatic. Then, at some point, I got burned out on the game and uninstalled it. I’ve done that before and then gone back to it, but this time, it stuck. It helped that while I really dug Rebirth, I was less than enamored of Afterbirth and Afterbirth+. I did play the mod, Antibirth, for a bit, but I didn’t get too into it.

Then there was the announcement of Repentance. I think it was before the pandemic. I noted it and moved on. In the last few months, it was announced as coming out for realsies. From what I knew about it, it was Edmund taking Antibirth and incorporating it into the game. By the time the official announcement happened, I was over the game. So over it. I messaged Ian and told him that I was NOT going to get the game, nuh uh, no way. I was so over it and I didn’t like the way it sucked me in for way too much time. He gently reminded me that I didn’t have to get the expansion, which was true. I wasn’t going to do it and the day of the release came and went without me buying it. Then, I started watching Northernlion play Repentance because, I don’t know why. I just couldn’t let go of the game. Watching NL play it made me want to try it.

Long story somewhat shorter: I bought it. I was just going to try it out–yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I know how I am with this game. That’s one of the reasons I quit playing it. Anyway, It’s fucking hard. It’s brutally hard. Now, I probably should have started out with Isaac just to ease myself into it. However, I wanted to unlock the new characters as quickly as possible. There were two new characters in the game and I know one of them was in Antibirth. Let me just say that spoilers will abound. That’s just the way it is. Anyway, Bethany was the one with the explicit requirements–beat the game with Lazarus without losing a life (he comes with an extra).


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WWDTAOL: I don’t forgive or forget

I hate the word forgive. Or rather, I hate the way it is commonly used in America–as a bludgeon to beat about the head of victims while firmly keeping the systems of abuse in place. Oh, and it’s deeply rooted in the Christian background of our young country. I am reminded of this every time there’s a discussion about forgiveness and I’ve been gratified to see over the years more and more people willing to vocalize feelings similar to mine.

Let’s start with the first problem–the loose definition of the word forgive. Now, it’s true that most words mean different things to different people. It’s both the beauty and the frustration of language. So when we talk about the word forgive, we have to first tackle what we actually mean when we say forgive.

First up is, sigh, what seems to be the current Christian definition. Fair warning, this is interpreted by me, someone who has a complicated history with Christianity. I was raised evangelical Christian. Through many years of therapy, I came to realize that the particular brand of Christianity I imbibed was fundamentalist in nature, which gives me extra reason to be pissy about Christianity in general. I never truly believed the tenets of Christianity while I was a kid/teenager, for which I felt terribly guilty. I’ve told this story many times before, but it was when I first had sex that I completely lost my faith. I was told repeatedly that sex was a big sin, perhaps the biggest of all. It was evil and terrible, until you got married and then it was beautiful and holy with angels descending from heaven to sing as you orgasmed.

When I first had sex, I actually thought, “This is what’s sending me to hell? This?” Once the scales fell from my eyes it was impossible for me to trust anything else my church had told me. Let’s face it. When the floorboards are rotten, the whole house collapses. For several years after this moment, I was furious with Christianity for being a big, fat lie. It was at this same time that my mother was at her most religious. Not spiritual. Not thoughtful about her region. Just flat-out strident. There was the ‘can we lay hands on you as we pray at you in tongues’, but I don’t want to get into that right now. Oh, and my mom kicked me out of the car when I said I didn’t care about her fucking god after she would not shut up.*

Then, sometime in my thirties, I just…didn’t care any longer. Most of my rage had mellowed out and I could see the benefits to Christianity for people. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but I didn’t feel the need to fight everyone about it, either. I still have to remind my mom from time to time that I don’t pray, but I can live with that.


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WWDTAOL: But faaaaaaaaaamily!

Today in What We Don’t Talk About Out Loud, family edition. I know I said I would write more about women and the patriarchy, but that’s not what I want to write about at the moment. I may get back to it at some point, but we’ll see. This post is about praying at the altar of faaaaaaamily and how we’re supposed to revere it above all else (while also not doing anything to support it). Fortunately, in the last several years, there have been more people speaking out as to the problem with this mentality, but it still seems to be the default. There is something the matter with YOU if you are estranged from your family or low contact. There are several reasons for this so let’s dive in.

The first is the same as in my post about women and the patriarchy–holding up the status quo. For people who are invested in doing what they’re supposed to do, it can be a kick in the posterior to have others not doing the same thing. It reminds me of an old letter on Dear Prudence (they run old letters on Sundays). The letter was from someone who had spent the past several years (from when the letter was written) taking care of their deteriorating and abusive mother. The Letter Writer (LW) mentioned that their brother had cut off the family once he turned 18 due to the abuse he suffered at their mother’s hands. The crux of the matter was that the mother had come into a large amount of money. The LW was seething that her brother would inherit a portion of it despite walking away. The LW wanted to know if they could somehow get their mother and other relatives to cut the brother out of their wills because he hadn’t “manned up” and taken care of the mother in her late years. The LW glossed over the abuse, barely acknowledging it existed in their rage against their brother not doing the right thing (according to them).

This was Emily Yoffe and I hesitated to read her response because she was all over the map when it came to her answers. She had a stubborn streak of misogyny especially against sexual harassment victims. In this case, she was spot on. She rightly took the LW to task for being pissed at their brother for doing what he needed to live his best life. She astutely intuited that perhaps the LW was mad because they had made a different (and not healthy) choice to stay in contact with their abusive mother. This is the point I wanted to make. The LW held up the status quo because it’s what expected in our society. They did what they thought was their duty and was resentful because their brother didn’t do the same thing. In other words, misery loves company. I understand why the LW felt bitter about it, but she was directing her ire at the wrong person.

It reminds me of a metaphor I heard of relating to this topic. A dysfunctional family system is like a leaky boat that is rapidly taking on water. Or rather, the abusive person is the leak in that boat. Everyone on board is frantically bailing out water with equally-leaky buckets, trying to keep the boat afloat. At some point, one of the bailers realizes it’s futile and jumps overboard. They manage to swim ashore at great detriment to themselves. Everyone left on board, instead of being impressed and perhaps inspired that someone made it out alive, they become enraged at that person for escaping the situation. Why? First, because it leaves the ones behind with more water (abuse) to bail out (deal with). Second, because it busts the illusion that there’s nothing to be done but bail out the water (put up with the abuse). It can make the left behind people feel like they’ve wasted their lives up to that point. Third, and this is where the analogy falls apart, it’s difficult to be angry at the abuser because you know the abuser is not going to change. It kinda fits. The boat isn’t going to fix itself in the analogy.


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WWDTAOL: Women upholding the patriarchy

Welcome back to WWDTAOL, my new series on What We Don’t Talk About Out Loud. This is my series in which I can explore all the things that don’t get said in polite society and how we would be lost without the unwritten standards our society holds up. In this post, I’ll be springing off the last post and my example of it being vastly women who asked me about my reproductive choices. When we talk about the patriarchy and how the man keeps us down, well, there’s an unspoken addendum that there will always be women who are desperate to hold up the patriarchy as well.

Before I get too deep into the weeds, I want to mention that I won’t be talking about nonbinary and/or genderfluid folks because the recognition that they exist is fairly new and I don’t know how they fit into the patriarchy. My instinct would be to say they don’t, but I know people. I am sure there are some NB/genderfluid people who also hold up the patriarchy in some way or other. Anyway, I’m limiting myself to men and women for the purpose of this post on gender determinism and sexism.

In reading my advice columns, I run across certain responses from women towards other women that are sexist in nature and depressingly common. One. The whole children thing I mentioned above. Almost everyone who questioned me when I was in my twenties was a woman, which surprised me at the time. Another big area is looks. Women are mean to other women about how they dress, how much makeup they do/don’t wear, how much they weigh, etc.

Again, I’d like to stress that I know guys do this as well. The point of this post is to note how many women buy into those same toxic beliefs. With the kids thing, I had hoped it was a relic of an older time (nineties/aughts). Sadly, women who are currently in their twenties report that they still get the same pressure. Doing a quick Google, I see that there 15.4% of women age 45 to 50 (my age) do not have children. Honestly, that’s higher than I thought because of how constant the child beat is smashed into my face in popular culture.

One of the reason I find this issue interesting is because I’ve felt very much not like a women all my life. I’ve never been interested in traditionally girly things. Here’s a long list of things that I eschew. Cooking, sewing, makeup, fashion, shopping, weddings, and children. I don’t like rom-coms, romantic movies, or basically romance in general. I did play with dolls, but mostly to make them have sex with each other. I much preferred stuffed animals. I hate pink and other pastels, and black is my favorite color.


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What We Don’t Talk About Out Loud

Hello! I have decided to start a new series called What We Don’t Talk About Out Loud, abbreviated as WWDTAOL. This came about from my passion for advice columns and because I am not exactly neurotypical. That means I have to think about things in my head before saying shit aloud. In addition, I was taught as a kid that I had to control my emotions to the point of never displaying them–unless it was unquestioning loyalty to my father. To this day, I have to process things really quickly in my brain in order to know the appropriate way to react when someone gives me news of any kind.

I had this idea simmering in the back of my head for some time. One thing the last president showed very clearly is how much our society relies on the social contract. Which, ok, I guess for most harmless interactions*, but doesn’t work that well for the President of the fucking United States. Part of the reason he was able to get away with so much shit was because he simply ignored the social conventions and did what he wanted. It’s hard to say whether he ignored the conventions or just didn’t know they existed. He definitely didn’t care. And his almost feral ability to detract from his bullshit by throwing a hissy fit about everything else until no one remembered the initial incident didn’t help the situation.

But what it underlined for me was how much of social propriety is built upon everyone agreeing on basic principles and following the rules more or less. I’m not talking about actual laws but the social rules that coalesce over times. What we call etiquette and something I give the side-eye to in general. For better or worse, however, we have agreed on a general outline of how we should behave on the daily with more specific rules for specific circumstances.


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