Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: family

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.


Continue Reading

Sickness in the time of COVID-19

I don’t get a temperature. I have to start out by stating that so the rest of this post will make sense. Let me be clearer–I have a base temperature of 97.5, and I have never had a temp higher than 99.5. This is important because one of the main symptoms of the COVID-19 (I always want to call it ‘the COVID-19’ for whatever reason, and I’m never quite sure if it’s COVID-19, covid-19, or Covid-19) is a fever. When this started to become a world-wide concern, I tried to figure out what a temperature for me would be. Since I started a base of 1 degree lower than most people, was a fever for me 1 degree lower than it would be for others or would it be the same? I’ve seen arguments on both side, but very sparingly because it isn’t something that scientists seem to care about. In addition, I read denigrating comments about ‘those people who claim to never have a fever’ and it was really disheartening. I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to know if I have a fever if I don’t know the definition of a fever for me?

To me, the fact that I start 1 degree lower should mean that my fever is 1 degree lower than other people’s, but the (slight) consensus is that there’s a hard line as to what a fever is. It seems to be over a hundred? I don’t know it’s also difficult to find what exactly is a fever. Apparently, 100.4 is a low-grade fever, but anything over 103 is cause for concern. On the Minnesota Department of Health website, they say that 100.4 is considered a fever for COVID-19. And a fever is a big marker of COVID-19, though not everyone with COVID-19 gets a fever. I jokingly asked if I wasn’t able to get a fever of 100.4, did that mean I couldn’t get the COVID-19? I know that’s not how it works, but it’s my way of dealing with the frustration of not knowing what a fever means for me.

I woke up with my sinuses bristling. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that, but I’ll do my best. It feels as if there are a thousand little needles pricking my nose and theĀ  area around it. It’s very minimal at this point, so it’s the start of something. I do not have a dry cough, but I am fatigued. I’m always fatigued, however. But it’s been even more than usual. Also, the fever thing is baked into recovery of COVID-19 as well. What I mean is that if you’re three days free of fever, you’re considered well enough to go out again (if you’re also free of respiratory problems). It’s frustrating that yet again, I don’t have the easy touchstone.

In addition, I have plenty of sinus issues. I’m having a problem with it at the moment. I don’t have a dry cough or shortness of breath. I do have a headache, but I always have a low-grade headache. I have diarrhea on and off, but that’s a food sensitivity issue.

Side Note: I was watching an episode of Docter Mike, whom I had been enjoying for the first few episodes I watched. The third or fourth one I chose was about food allergies, and he had an expert on. The guy was affable, but it was soon clear that he was disdainful of anything other than true allergies. He said sensitivities were not a thing and that everyone had to deal with some unpleasantness. Doctor Mike joked about everyone having a leaky gut, and they both had a hearty laugh. I had a visceral negative reaction to the video because it summed up how doctors can be so incredibly callous. Neither of them were sneering openly, but they made it very clear what they thought of people who complained about food issues that weren’t allergies.

I’ve spent years dealing with food issues. I’ll call them intolerances because that’s what they are. They are not allergies. I don’t have Celiac, and I am not going to die when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me. I will, however, have to sit on a toilet for an hour, feeling my asshole getting progressively rawer and rawer. I get dehydrated and exhausted, and I don’t feel like moving for the next hour or so. Is it life-threatening? No. Is it debilitating? Yes, even if it’s brief. No, it’s not a life-and-death matter, but it definitely is a quality of life thing. Oh, and I would say I’m allergic to alcohol because I get a shortness of breath when I drink it. But, again, I probably won’t die from a single gin and tonic, so the good doctors probably wouldn’t classify it as an allergy, anyway. In addition, it’s strange to me that allergies related to foods are deadly whereas allergies related to, say, nature aren’t necessarily.


Continue Reading

I vant to be alone

Day Five

go. away.
I’m ready for the apocalypse.

It’s day five with no end in sight. Life as we know it is over, and I may not make it out of this alive. If I don’t, tell Shadow I love him.

I’ve been up for almost three hours, and I’ve had to answer four tech questions for my father already. Now, I know this isn’t a big deal because many of us have older parents who are uncomfortable with technology. Let’s throw some additional wrenches into this shitshow. One: I don’t read Chinese; my father’s phone is in Chinese. Two: I don’t use cell phones for any serious work because it makes me angry, scared, and confused. I like a full-functioning keyboard and all my keyboard shortcuts. Three: One of the problems has to do with PowerPoint, which I don’t use at all.

So. We have the comedy of me pointing at something on the screen and asking my father what it says. He doesn’t speak English on the regular any longer and hasn’t for at least two decades, so he struggles to translate the Chinese into English. Then, I try to figure out the equivalent in English before poking his phone, mostly in random.

This is fairly funny, but it’s also irritating because both my parents expect me to drop whatever I’m doing and help them RIGHT NOW. Yes, I know their emergency is not my emergency, but Asian parenting training is real, yo. You don’t say ‘no’ to your Asian parent. You just don’t. I’ve gotten much better at it, but it’s hard not to slip. Plus, my mother has a singular mind when it comes to, well, anything. And she has no ability to rate how urgent something is. If she wants it done, then it’s urgent. It’s hard because my ‘office’ is my couch, which is in the living room. So they feel free just to wander in and ask for whatever it is they need or just to chat.

Small annoyance: My mother is like a caster of her own thoughts. You know that inner voice that is constantly narrating what you do and think? That’s my mom. “I’m going to cut the vegetables now. First I have to soak them, though. I soak them for twenty minutes to get the–what do you call it?” That’s an actual question which she waits for me to answer. I know what she wants, but I’m not going to give it to her. I am not. No, no, no. I am not going to say toxins. “I leave it for twenty minutes, and–” I cannot tell you what follows because by this time, my eyes have glazed over, and my pulse is nonexistent.

I know that I’m making all this sound amusing (and it is in retrospect, it kinda is), but it’s mostly irritating at the time. The last few times they’ve been here, I’ve been able to let this shit roll off my back, but for whatever reason, it’s been harder this time. It started when my mom called me a few days before the visit. We were just talking about whatever, and then she said something that was patently a statement of denial. I was telling my brain, “Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it,” as my brain formulated a statement that I knew wouldn’t make things better and might actually make things worse. My brain wouldn’t let me not say it, and, yes, it didn’t make things any better.

Continue Reading

Break From the Ordinary

I had another post planned for today, but sometimes, reality takes precedence. My mom fell this afternoon, twisting her knee. She tried to tough it out by icing it, but it was really hurting. I took her to the Twin Cities Orthopedics (Coon Rapids) because they have Urgent Care that is open until 8 p.m., and I’m relieved that nothing is broken or torn.

However, because of it, my whole schedule is in shambles, and I’m not up to writing the post I was originally working on. Therefore, today, you get Shironeko (white cat with orange markings in the background) and his buddy just chilling.

I could do with a little serenity, and Shironeko helps me get there.

Odlly enough, however, for all my PTSD worst-case scenario catastrophizing, I’m actually pretty good in a real crisis. Instead of overreacting as I normally do, I’m calm, focused, and relaxed. I concentrate on what needs to be done, and I’m not upset or flustered by what is happening. I think it’s because I’ve practiced in my mind for a disaster so many times, actual terrible things are easier to handle.

It’s also taiji. I’m always going to give credit to taiji for making me calmer and more able to deal with stressors.

The doctor told my mother that all she needed was ice and Tylenol. She (the doctor) did give my mother crutches, which she’s using to hobble around. The doctor looks twelve, by the way, but she was terrific, as was the technician and the front desk person. All in all, it was an easy and smooth experience, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs orthopedic work.

Here’s an extra video of Maru relaxing in a hammock plus various other activities, including laying flat on his back with his tail lazily swishing back and forth. Bonus appearances by his sister, Hana. I can’t with the cuteness!

Learning to Bite My Tongue

finding my peace.
Just breathe….

Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you to count to ten before saying anything when you were angry? Or maybe she was a ‘think before you speak’ kind of woman, instead. Basically the same thing. If you’re like me, you probably scoffed it off as trite. Well, it is trite, but I’m finding value in it these days. Sort of. I’ll explain.

In the past, my relationship with my parents consisted of them saying something and me immediately snapping back defensively. It didn’t matter what they said–I would take it as an attack and respond accordingly. It’s partly because my family is highly critical is the way we talk to each other (me included), so there is a sense of being on the defensive baked into any conversation between any of us. In addition, I have PTSD for several reasons, so I’m prone to lashing out, anyway.

The basis of taiji is to respond to any action with an appropriate reaction, using just enough force to repel the attack and nothing more. It’s called the lazy martial arts because you want to expel the least amount of energy possible for the biggest result. It’s not something I consciously dwell on, but after eight or nine years of study, I’ve soaked it in. In the past, I was near suicidal when one or both of my parents would come visit. You might think it hyperbole, but it isn’t. I couldn’t sleep for days before they came*, and I thought about killing myself to get out of it. I was tense the whole time, and I felt as if I had no control over my anger. I would tell myself to be chill, and next thing I knew, I’d be flying off the handle over the stupidest thing. That would make me feel worse about myself, and I would quickly spiral downwards into the abyss.

Now, I’m tense before they come, but not to the point of wanting to kill myself. It’s more because I really, really, REALLY like to be alone. I’m a happy single, which is one reason I never want to cohabitate with someone, not even a partner. Come to think of it, especially not a partner. A friend, maybe, but not a romantic partner–hell no!

The thing is, I’ve noticed that while I still get irritated by my parents, I’m not flying off the handle nearly as much. I may snap at them one out of ten times, but that’s better than ten out of ten. Half the time, I can give them a calm and reasonable response, and the other forty-percent is filled with a terse, but not angry answer. I find that after they say something, my brain automatically tells me just to digest it a second without saying anything. I’m not consciously telling myself to count to ten or to think before I speak–I’m just automatically doing it. It’s one thing I’ve learned about the way I learn things. I think/work hard about/on it for years, and then it just ‘suddenly’ takes. I don’t consciously decide to do it–it just becomes a part of me.

Same with my interactions with my parents. I’m more able to be calm and to give a reasoned response. Even when I’m upset about something, I’m mostly able to talk about it without shouting. I’m using my words finally! It’s easier with my mother because she’s a psychologist and I was a psych major. We speak the same language, even if it’s her third language and not her first. We can talk about projection and codependency and shit without having to explain the terms. It really is easier when you have the jargon in common.

Continue Reading

Patience, Grasshopper

I forgot I was taking Wednesday off social media and immediately checked my mentions and notifications when I woke up. When I remembered, I stopped. I hadn’t looked at my FB feed or Twitter TL, and I don’t plan on doing that today. I feel bad about it, but in my defense, I’m discombobulated by my parents’ visit.

Speaking of which, one of my biggest pet peeves is being talked at the second I wake up. This is an ongoing issue with my parents. They’ve been up for hours (usually) by the time I get up, and they have a list of things they NEED to discuss with me the SECOND I wake up. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my favorite things about living alone is that I don’t actually have to talk to people most of the time. I work at home, so I don’t have coworkers, either. I don’t sleep well, either, so I’m usually groggy when I wake up. I feed Shadow his breakfast (which he didn’t care for this morning. Probably because it’s a day old and had been in the fridge. This is a new pet peeve of his); I smoke half a cigarette; I do my taiji routine. After that, I start on my big vat of Coke Zero (sob, we didn’t have enough time together), and I slowly start feeling like a human being.

After an hour or so, I can do any communications I need to do as long as they’re electronic. To actually talk to people in real life, I need at least two hours of silence. I’m not saying this is a good thing, nor am I saying it’s optimal. I realize I’m privileged because I can set this schedule for myself on a regular basis. That said, I hate having questions pelted at me the second I walk in the vicinity of my parents. Not only haven’t I had the time to wake up yet, my brain isn’t yet functioning. It’s yawning and grumbling and slowly stretching its metaphorical arms.

I’ve given up coffee for several reasons, one being that as I get older, it’s harder on my stomach. The downside is that I don’t get the boost drinking coffee gives you. I love my Coke Zero (noooooo don’t gooooooooooo), but it’s just not the same. I’m sure there’s nearly an equivalent amount of caffeine, but it doesn’t kick in the same way. I want a punch to the gut, which coffee delivers. Coke Zero (why, Coca-Cola, why???) is more like an ivy drip with its steady stream of caffeine.


Continue Reading