Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: invisible

Invisible like me

I am invisible in several ways. First, Asian as a race is usually ignored in America. When racism is talked about, it’s always about black people. I get it. Racism against black people is the worst, literally, in America. And Latinos will get a mention now and again. Oh, and when the pandemic hit, there was a hot second of concern for Asians who were getting bashed (because of the “China” virus), but that was it.

And I get that what Asians go through in general is not as bad as what blacks go through. But. At the same time. It was difficult to grow up in the seventies in Minnesota as an Asian girl. My food was laughed at because it was decades before Chinese (mine was Taiwanese, but similar) became fashionable. I was awkward, fat, and miserable. I had no friends, and I was the proverbial fish out of water.

In addition, we have been considered the model minority beacuse waves of East Asians came to America for college/grad school. I have been told in all earnesty that Asian people are so smart. Back in my twenties, my cheeky reply was that all the unintelligent people were in Asia. Not a nice thing to say, but not untrue, either. Not meaning that Asian people are less smart than Westerners, but that with nearly 2 billion Eastern Asians, there are bound to be some who are not as smart as Westerners.

In the sixties and seventies, many East Asian people came to America to study. Many stayed here for opportunities and did not return to their home countries. This is called a brain drain, and it was a big problem back then. In addition, people who come to Ameria from Asia to study are very driven and the cream of the crop (school-wise). In my parents’ case, my father was extremely driven and got a Fulbright Scholarship. In my mother’s case, she’s very smart and worked hard to get here as well. They both had to be at the top of their game, schoolwise to even be considered to be allowed to come to America to study.

In Taiwan, you have to declare your major for college as you enter high school. Plus they went to school for something like ten hours a day. It was brutal. As my mother expalined it to me, school was hard until grad school where it’s then a party. She found it bizarre here that school was pretty much a breeze until college.

Other categories in which I fit that have no place in this world: religion, gender, suxual, generation, marital/parental status. In order, i’m areligious, agender, bi, X, single and childfree. Concerning religion, it’s often Christian, Judaism, and Islam that are the big three. Atheists are known, but reviled. Gender, it’s male, female, and nonbinary (with trans people being acknowledged, finally!). Generation-wise, it’s Boomers and Millennials and nothiing between. It’s fascinating, really, how both Gen X and Gen Z have been erased from the conversation. Boomer is shorthand for old people and Millennial is shorthand for kids today. The oldest millennial is over 40! I mean. Come on. They are married and have kids. But, yes, tell me about kids these days, those millennials.


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I am, but. And, again, but.

I’ve struggled with identity all my life. Growing up as a fat, brainy, weirdo Asian chick in a very white Minnesota suburb was all but guaranteed to make me feel like a freak. I got picked on almost every day, and the days I didn’t, it pretty much was me wandering around lost in my own thoughts and never quite understanding what was expected of me. I like to joke that I was raised by wolves, but it’s pretty true. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in sixth grade. The first movie I remembered seeing was Star Wars (the original, whatever the fuck it’s called) when I was seven or eight, and I hated it. I also saw Superman at the time with my youth group roughly around the same time and had nightmares for a month.

I’m just going to say it. I don’t like movies and TV for the most part. I once told a professor I had in grad school that I didn’t like movies, and she looked at me as if I said I ate puppies for fun. She said it was like saying I didn’t like sandwiches, which was a bad analogy for me because sandwiches are delicious. I realized then that my opinion was objectively Bad, and I should keep it to myself.

Side note: I wasn’t going to get into why I don’t like movies and television shows for the most part, but it’s actually an integral part of this post, so here we go, the Cliff Notes version. I have a vast imagination, and I like to let it run wild. It’s one reason I can write fiction almost endlessly, and I’ve only had one serious writer’s block in my life. Tandem to that is that my brain never. stops. thinking. Worrying, ruminating, chewing over every goddamn thing. It’s exhausting, but it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life as well.

Put these two things together, and you might be able to see why I don’t really care for movies or television. The whole time I’m watching a movie, the criticizing part of my brain is chattering on and on about what is wrong whatever I’m watching while the other side of my brain, the creative side, is thinking of a dozen ways it would have done the scene differently–and better. I can never forget that I’m watching a movie or television, and I never really get into it.

To that end, most of the shows/movies I like either are based on the premise that the theatricality is part and parcel of the show (one reason I love musicals), or the writing is good enough to pull me in and allow me to override the chattering in my brain.


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Fringe Benefits?

Most of the time, I am perfectly fine with being on the edge of American society. I am *deep breath* a Taiwanese American, bisexual, fat, old, unmarried, childfree, agnostic teetotaling, makeup-free, taiji-practicing/sword-loving woman with four tats who hates shopping, cooking, and clothing, but likes video games, graphic novels/comics, and sports*. ┬áIt’s just who I am, and it’s not something I think about most of the time.

However, once in a while, I can’t help but think it’s would be easier and less lonesome if I were a bit more mainstream. Take alcohol, for example. I grew up in a non-drinking household, and I never had the desire to drink. First of all, I’m allergic as are the majority of Asians because we don’t have the gene that breaks down alcoholic enzymes, but that obviously doesn’t stop other Asians from drinking. I’m sure I had the random glass of wine or beer when I was a teenager, but I didn’t really experiment with alcohol until I was in college. Even then, the thought of getting smashed every weekend didn’t appeal to me. I had heard about beer that you just had to keep trying until you found one you liked, but that seemed stupid to me. Why dedicate so much energy to something that was so distasteful to me just so that I *might* discover something halfway enjoyable? It didn’t work, anyway. I remember a chocolate raspberry beer that was tasty, but that was because of the chocolate and the raspberry. I did find one beer that was acceptable to me–Bud Lite. When people found out that was my favorite beer, their usual response was, “It doesn’t even taste like beer!” To which I would retort, “That’s why I like it! It’s water with a waving of beer running through it.”

Wine is even worse. I hate it, and I’m the most allergic to it. I don’t know if it’s the tannins or what, but there is something especially repugnant about wine to me. When I did drink (infrequently, maybe twice a year, three times at most), I preferred hard alcohol–it’s the one I’m least allergic to. Gin & tonic or rum & Diet Coke were my go-tos, with an amaretto sour thrown in for variety. Even then, I disliked what the alcohol did to me–made me red all over, and I became short of breathing. It all came to a head when I was celebrating a birthday, I want to say my 40th, and I had some kind of ‘dessert’ drink with chocolate, whipped cream, and probably Kahlua and/or Irish whiskey. I found myself thinking, “This is tasty, except for the alcohol.” That’s when I realized that I could have a delicious dessert drink without alcohol because I was a fucking adult, damn it, and I could drink what I pleased.


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Stereotypes and Representation in Popular Culture

In my quest to find a game I can enjoy as much as Dark Souls, I tried a game called 1954 Alcatraz. It’s a point-and-click adventure game set in–guess which year!–1954 and centers around an African American man who is in Alcatraz for a heist he committed. You can control him and his (white, beatnik) wife who is on the outside trying to figure out what happened. It has all the trappings of a point-and-click, both good and bad*, but there was something there that kept me playing. Until I met the landlady, Vivian. She’s Chinese and owned a restaurant. Now, I don’t mind that she owned a restaurant as many Chinese people did back then. What I do mind is that she spoke in that cringe-worthy pidgin English accent that people who don’t speak Chinese attempt when trying to imitate a Chinese person. The minute I heard it, I gritted my teeth and cringed, but I tried to play through it. She gave me a ridiculous request of bringing her winter melon soup, which only increased my dislike of her.

Side note: This is one of the worst mechanisms of point-and-clicks, and I have to describe it to you in full so you can realize how truly terrible it is. I went down to the kitchen and found the soup on the stove. I brought it up to her, and she asked in that horrid accent for some winter melon. I went back down to the kitchen and started clicking on everything in the environment. I found herbs and spices on one side, and when I clicked on it, it told me that it’s in Chinese. Stumped, I started clicking on everything else in the room. Nothing. I went back up to Vivian and suffered through her horrible accent some more but no further information, I went back into the kitchen. Nothing. After a few more minutes, I looked for a walkthrough and found out I had to go into the dining room, pick up a menu, read winter melon in English and Chinese, and receive the Chinese symbol for winter melon. Then, I had to go back to the herbs and spices and place the symbol on the area to receive the winter melon. Then, I had to combine the winter melon and the soup before bringing it up to Vivian.

That’s utter bullshit. If I reach the point in a game where I’m referring to a walkthrough more than I’m actually playing the game, I know it’s not worth my time. For whatever reasons, point-and-clicks revel in their enigmatic puzzle-solving, and it’s my least-favorite part of the genre.


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