Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: normal

Private and personal

I was reading some old Ask A Manager posts and came across one that was from a manager who was curious about their report, Adam. The letter writer (LW) said that Adam never volunteered anything about his personal life despite having worked on the team for six years. Two months before the LW wrote in, they noticed a ring on Adam’s left third finger and wondered if he had gotten married. In the past, whenever he put in for time off, LW would casually ask if he was going on vacation and he would say yes. Nothing more.

The LW, while emphasizing several times that it was fine that Adam was private, really, really wanted Alison to give them a way to pry. No matter how many times they said it was fine that Adam didn’t want to talk, the undercurrent was that it was very much not fine. Not in a ‘it’s bad for the tieam’ way, but in a ‘I really, really want to know’ way.

Which, I get. If you’re around someone eight hours a day, then it’s natural that you want to know something about them. But, I’m on the other side because I’m the freak. If I were in an office, I would have nothing to talk about. I don’t hate the snow–I love it. I hate the summer and the heat. I don’t watch movies or TV shows. I haven’t read a book in quite some time. I really need to start that up again, bu even that would be me just reading Asian women writers. Which, I can tell you, is not ‘normal’ at all.

I’m not partnered and have no kids. I don’t take vacations. There was a weekend thread asking for small talk questions. The ones people were suggesting were right out for me as well, such as food. What’s your favorite food? What my favorite food is and what I can actually eat are two very different things.

I am not religious. I do not want to talk about religion. At all.I am agender, not into monogamy, marriage, or anything like that. Someone in the commentariat said that they would be more inclined to go the extra mile for someone they knew something about. People argued, but I got what she was saying (I don’t like her in general). I don’t necessarily agree with her because you can have a warm relationship with someone without it being personal (so many people think I’m their best friend when I tolerate them at best), and a big part of it is listening. Most people want to talk about themselves so it’s a good way to seem engaged. Asking a few well-timed questions can aid this process.

In addition, my hobbies are writing (currently struggling with a memoir about dying twice), FromSoft games (video games in general, From in particular), and Taiji weapons. The first in general is a suitable topic, but then I have to explain the background if I want to talk about why I’m writing about it. Which I would not want to bring up in a workplace.

K likes to remind me that my dying (twice!) is a big part of my life story and that I should be ok with talking about it. Which, yeah, but in a work setting, it’s way too heavy. I guess if it’s one I’d been in for years, they would know what happened to me. At least the basics. It’s weird, though. I was up and walking in less than two weeks of the initial incidences. So in theory, I could have been back at work within two weeks. I would have been a hot mess and could not do anything for more than five minutes, but I could have been there. In a month, I would have been back to ‘normal’.

Side note: I’ve realized more and more how the stroke has affected me in small ways. My short-term memory is dodgy. I can take in some information, store it away, and then promptly forget it. It happened in my last private Taiji lesson. I wanted to learn some Bagua (a different internal martial art), so we’re walking the circle. I already knew how to do it with the DeerHorn Knives, but she’s teaching me the basics.

There is the Single Palm Change and the Double Palm Change. I’ve done the former and assumed the latter was, well, changing the palms twice. It’s not. It’s hard to explain, but single and double palm changes are called that because they have the palms doing one thing and two things respectively. One turns to the inside and one to the outside.

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Set phasers to neutral

I’ve been watching a lot of reaction videos to Tim Minchin songs lately. Why? Because! I’ve been into Tim for decades and I thought he was pretty niche. Well, he was. He’s gotten bigger (and, sadly, more conservative not in politics, maybe, but in ideas) over the years.

My favorite to watch is White Wine in the Sun because people do not expect it at all. Tim is hilarious in a dark way, saynig things you don’t say out loud. He’s an atheist and very outspoken about it. So you’d think the song would be bitingly acerbic. You might not even know it’s about Christmas–which it is.

Then, there’s the dawning realization that while it des have a few digs at Christianity, it’s mostly a heartwarming song about his love for his baby daughter. It’s just a really sweet song and one of two Christmas songs that I actually like. It makes me tear up every time I listen to it.

Last year and this year, however, it hits especially hard. See, I think of it as an atheist Christmas carol, but it’s really an ode to family. And family is something I have written endlessly on, about how dysfuctional my family is.

I’ve also mentioned a time or a hundred that it was when I died and came back again–

By the way, I want to get a t-shirt that says, “I rose from the dead twice” on the front and “That makes me better than Jesus” on the back, but I won’t because that would be rude. But it’s funny. I told it to K and she burst out laughing. And she’s spiritual!

Anyway, dying puts things in perspective. It can bring out the best in people like my brother. He was my rock and held it down while I was unconscious. He did it all without a word of complaint. He talked to my medical team every day, and it was on him to make decisions for me because I did not have a partner.

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Can’t ignore the family dysfunction

Last night, I was talking to my mom. My father had been in a minor fender bender while in a taxi, which is bad, yes, but he didn’t even need to go to the hospital. Still, I was properly sympathetic because it’s scary to be in any kind of car accident for most people. Me, I ended up comforting the young woman who ran into the driver side of the front of my car, but I’m a weirdo. Plus, I am really fucking good in a crisis because I’m always prepared for something disastrous.

After she talked about that to her heart’s content with me ‘uh-huh’ing and ‘oh, that’s scary’ing, we turned to the topic of how hard the last three years have been in general. She said that the pandemic had been the worst thing. I immediately said, “I died last year. That was pretty bad for me!” Twice, by the way, as I never tire of saying. I died twice.

My mother immediately glossed it over by saying how grateful they were that I had survived (presuming she meant herself and my father), but that did not redeem the statement to me. When I messaged Ian about it later, he responded by asking if they did not realize that it had been a traumatic experience for me?

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. My parents realizing that something may have affected someone who wasn’t them? Ha! Surely, you jest. Even in that statement, it was about her and not really about me. It’s hard to explain the difference, but trust me, she was talking about how it had affected her and not me.

It’s similar to how the second day I was home, my father and I got into an argument about me having someone live with me. He was pushing it, and I was saying I didn’t want it. He raised his voice and yelled, “You don’t know how hard it was for your mother and me!”

Excuse me? I don’t know how hard me dying twice and having walking non-COVID-related pneumonia that triggered two cardiac arrests and an ischemic stroke was on YOU????? When I said, “How hard it was on YOU?”, he started blustering and attacking me for daring to question him.

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Flip it and reverse it

One phrase that is guaranteed to send me into an instant rage is “But if you reverse the _____ (genders, sexual orientations, races, etc.), then people would be up in arms about it!”

I hate it with the intensity of a thousand suns. Why? Because it strips all context from a situation. “A woman can catcall a man on the streets, but let a woman do it, and suddenly, he’s a creep!”

First of all, the vast majority of women do not catcall on the streets. I’ve not seen a gang of women standing on the corner and hassling random men as they walk by about the size of their package or how they would like the man to nail them hard. And, by the way, let’s assume these women are large, tough, and not the kind of women the guy is sexually inetreested in. It’s not Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, or Uma Thurman wanting to climb their rods. And there is a history of women violently attacking men who turn them down. And men in the workplace were treated like eye candy who were only there as visual decoration. And to be harrassed.

Oh, let’s not forget the sexism of women being held to a double standard at work, too. She is supposed to not be too soft otherwise she’s giving into her girly side. Too cold, however, and she’s a bitch. Women are expected to sooth men and make sure not to rile them up, but they can’t be too diffident about it either.

Then, let’s not forget dress. There are so many pitfalls a woman can fall into with dress, including makeup, stockings, nails, jewelry, hair–and that’s in addition to the clothing itself. There are so many hiddens dos and don’ts when it comes to dressing while female.

So, yeah, add all that to the equation and then maybe you’ll have a point. Otherwise, simply flipping the genders is lazy and doesn’t make the point you think it makes.

This comes into play often around this time because of Christmas. It’s a Christian holiday, but many Christians like to pretend it’s not. They say it’s a cultural holiday and not a Christian one. I’m not disagreeing that ti’s a cultural holiday at this point. But the roots of it is Christian and it’s infuritaing when Christians try to pretend it’s not. Doubly so because we the ‘war on Christmas’ is now a thing that some Christians are waging specifically because they think we have gotten too far away from Christianity during the Christmas season.

This comes up every year on Ask A Manager because of holiday parties. One year, a manager said she put up a small Christmas tree in the lab in which she worked with grad student workers. She asked ahead of time (a few hours) by Slack or Team and claimed no one saaid they had a problem with it. She admitted that she didn’t really give much time for an answer and acknowledged that maybe the students might feel uncomfortable bringing it up, but glossed by it pretty quickly.

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My little bubble

I am a weirdo and I’m fine with it. Hell, I embrass it. My friends are on the fringe as well, though they can interact with normies on a more consistent basis than I can. But in general, I relate best to creative poeople. People who are on the left (waaaaaay left), who want to seize the means of production. Er, I mean, fuck capitalism! I don’t mean that seriously, obviously. I live in America. I am a capitalist by default. I can’t walk five feet without tripping over capitlism. I just went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of capitalsim. So, yeah, when I saw fuck capitalism, it’s mostly symbolic.

I do try to limit my intake and reuse rather than continuously buy, but it’s not easy in such a wasteful country. I do think that unlimited socialism has its problems as well. As does any other system. That’s why I would like a socialist-capitalist system that covers the basics for everyone, but also allows room for innovation and personal growth.

I also like people who look at issues from different angles and go deeper than the surface. It’s not easy to find, though, and I have to remind myself that many people aren’t able to think on several different levels at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that I read several advice columns at Slate. The advice columnists vary in degrees of helpfulness and insightfulness, but the one tihng I have to remind myself to do is not read the comment section because they are awful. Not everyone, but many of them. They are really terrible at any ‘ist’ issue, making excuses for the offenders. Except sexism. Sometimes, they will catch that and call it out. But racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other isms? Nope. Those don’t exist in America!

Another thing is that so many people in the comments think they are hipster comedians.”Ooooooh I’m being so edgy by making a racist joke.” No. No you’re not. You’re just being a dick. You got to say the racist/homophobic/sexst thing without consequence. There’s a commenter on the site who does this with every letter, and it gets old really fucking fast.

I’ll just point out that Ask A Manager’s commentariat is roughly 97% female. I don’t have a stat for Slate, but there are significantly more men. And, I’m going to bring up my theory of dudes. The more dudes you add to a group, the grosser it gets because of toxic masculinity. (There are issues with all-female groups, too, but that’s a different topic and not the one at hand.)

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Back to normal?

Shadow is in fine fettle. So fine, indeed, that he hopped on the kitchen counter, which he is not allowed to do. He likes drinking out of sinks, but normally, he ignores that one. I had to give him his last dose of antibiotics, which was a chore. I gave him his breakfast first. 3/4ths a (small) can of his normal wet food. He scarfed it down and then I grabbed him to dose him. Which he was not a fan of.

Side note: It is snowing. Big fat flakes gently wafting to the ground. We only got a few inches yesterday, unlike most of the state that got up to a foot (and maybe more). We got maybe three or four inches, but I’m just happy to have snow at all.

Shadow struggled as I tried to dose him, even though I had him scruffed. (Grabbing him by the back of the neck as a mother cat would, though she would use her mouth, obviously.) He was happy about second breakfast which was the rest of the small can of wet food, a tube of ground up meat, several Temptations/soft treats. I also put some salmon, but he’s no longer interested in it because it’s been a few days and it’s cold. Plus, all the juices are gone. He ate all the treats and the ground-up meat and about half of the wet food. I gave him several of the soft treats. He seems to self-regulate when he’s done eating, but he’s definitely eating much more than he normally would.

I think it’s partly because he’s ravenous from being sick, but I wonder if it’s also just that he’s not been getting enough in general. He does have a bowl of dry food from which he can free feed at any time. I’m committed to giving him more food because why not be spoiled even more in his older years?

He’s back to normal. He’s meowing when he needs something or when he just wants attention. He has a lively step that was absent when he was sick. He snuggles with me when he’s cold and fucks off when he’s had enough. Right now, he’s snuggling in one of the cubbies in the big cat tree, which is one of his favorite resting places.

It actually reminds me of when I came home from the hospital. The first few days, I was just exhausted and didn’tĀ  want to do anything. That’s how Shadow was when I took him home from the vet. He was lethargic and didn’t really want to move. He ate a bit, but he was more interested in sleeping. That was partly because he was pumped full of drugs as I was when I came home from the hospital.

I did not have a leaky bum, thankfully. That was one thing that was under my control. Having to force liquid antibiotics down his throat every 12 hours was not fun. The first few times, he didn’t have much strength to fight it, but as he got better, the anger grew stronger.

I found the best way was to scruff him from the back and jam the syringe between his lips. One quick squirt and we were done. At least that was how it worked in theory. In reality, he would wiggle or turn his head at the last moment. I dribbled the liquid down his cheek more than once. One time, I didn’t manage to fill the syringe properly. Another time, I didn’t depress the syringe the whole way. In general, though, I got the hang of it by the last few days.

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Knowing you’re a freak

I am a freak. I know this. You know this. There is no disputing this. In terms of all the societal norms, I fail them. We’re not even talking about the biggies such as married, children, religion, etc. Those are a given, and it’s not something I think about much (despite my voluminous blogging about them). There was a time in my thirties when I was wistful about that part of my life. I was telling K that sometimes, I got jealous when I heard someone else had gotten married or had a kid. Admittedly, more the former than the latter. Actually, not the latter at all. I have never wanted kids. Ever.

But the former, yeah. Or someone who was promoted to a high position. It would stir a ping of envy in me that I could not articulate. When I brought it up to K, she said, “Minna. You don’t want any of that. You would be so unhappy if you had that life.” She was right, too. It made me think about what I really wanted–and it wasn’t a spouse with kids in a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. I do live in the suburbs and don’t have an issue with that part because I have access to the cities while also the quiet of living in the suburb.

She was right in that I wasn’t pining for the actual things that these other people had–but for meaning in my own life. It’s easy to overlook that because I don’t have any of the societal benchmarks to gauge my life by. I’ve seen some YouTubers talking about this because their job as content creator is a fairly recent thing. It’s not easy to explain to people who aren’t in the industry because “I make videos for YouTube” sounds simultaneously mundane and incomprehensible. It’s like writing is some ways. Everybody writes, so they think that everyone can do it. Which, yes, many people can write–but it doesn’t mean they can do it well.

My friends are all on the outside more or less. They may fit in for certain aspects of life, but they’re all creative types. I don’t get along well with normies. Or rather, I don’t feel comfortable with normies. I can get along fine with them because of my superior people skills–by the way. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I can read people in a way that other people can’t. I wrote about it yesterday or the day before, and I have to say that it’s the core of my personality. I was born with the talent, but I honed it when my mother forced me to be her confidante when I was eleven. She had all these emotions that she forced me to deal with, which meant I couldn’t deal with my own. It also meant that I became even better at honing in on people’s emotions. My brother talks about me being really good about reading people–and it’s partly innate, but mostly nurtured out of necessity.

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Advice no one wants

I’ve been thinking about normal lately. The word and the concept, I mean. It’s something that I ponder from time to time because I’ve never been normal, have never considered myself normal, and have never had the luxury of passing for normal. I have been a weirdo from the time I was a little kid, and I’ve only gotten weirder since.

There was a question on the weekend thread over at Ask A Manager about what a person in their (probably her) 30s can look forward to as they grow older. Things people had wished they’d been told. Something like 90% of the commenters are women, so there were a lot of answers from that point of view.

There was talk about things sagging and things hurting. Also talk about needing more beauty products as you got older. It was odd because it was exactly the opposite of what I’ve found to be true. There was a thread about Botox as well, and it just all made me really sad.

Now, I want to preface this by saying I have really good genes. I’m Asian, and we do not age (until 70s or so, and then it doesn’t really matter). I look ten years younger than I am and have not used any beauty products in decades. No moisturizer, no toner, no tonics or anti-aging creams. I don’t even use soap on my face except when I take a shower, which is every third day or so.

I have done some research, and it is becoming more acceptable to state that the beauty industry is peddling a big lie. There are some doctors who think we don’t even need to shower at all because our bodies balance by nature. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I only shower as I said every third day or so.

If I spent more time outside, I would use sunscreen for sure, but that’s about it. and my skin is great. Still resilient and supple. Not dry and thin as many older people have stated. The back of my hands are a bit more crepey than before, but that’s it. I look a good ten years younger than how old I am, and my boobs are as bouncy as before. My hair is shiny and glossy, and it’s lusher than it was before.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m better than before. And I’ve given up using any products. I never used them much, but now I’m as free as a bird. I don’t care. I am not spending that much money on a bunch of tosh.

Also, some people were mentioning your body just starting to hurt more when you got older as if it were inevitable. It’s true that the body slows down, but it’s not necessarily true that you have to be in pain. I’ll get to that in a minute.

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Knowing what I know

I’ve been musing for some time about being a weirdo in a word full of normies. Of course, we can debate normal for days, but there are societal norms such as getting (het) married and having children.

I realized when I was 22 that I neither wanted children nor had to have them. It was such a relief and quite the revelation. I grew up in two cultures that mandated a woman had to have children. It did not matter if I wanted them or not (most emphatically did not), but I was expected to have them.

I have documented time and time again that the realization that I did not have to have children was formative for me. Until that point, I just assumed I had to have them and oh my god. I am so glad I realized that wasn’t true before I actually, you know, had a child.

That was the first time in my life that I realized that I could actually go against the grain and not do what I was supposed to do. And I got a lot of shit for it, especially from my mother. As an AFAB person, I was expected to have children, no questions asked. My mother guilted me over and over again, crying about the bond between mother and daughter when the daughter has children. She pressured me for 15 years to have children, and it was only when I turned 40 that she gave up. Then, she started bothering me about getting married to a man so he could take care of me when we got old.

Which was rich coming from her. Given her marriage, she was the last person who should have been pushing nuptials, especially for that reason.

Being who I am and realizing these things about myself over the years plus my natural ability to read people enhanced by decades of having to be my mother’s emotional support person makes me have a unique perspective on life. It’s one that makes me question myself more often than not, but it’s also helps me see many different points of view. Which can lead me to being contrarian at times. Sometimes, I have to bite my tongue because I don’t need to voice every thought in my head.

It’s hard, though. There’s someone in the RKG Discord that many producers (second-to-top-tier level) loathe. He is not a producer, so he can’t comment in the producer forums. He says a lot of ignorant things, but he also just states opinions that are not popular. I only know this because then a handful of producers will go in a producer forum and bitch about him. The first time I saw this happening, I hunted him down to see what he had said that was so terrible. And, I have to say, it wasn’t that bad.

Let me be clear. He’s ignorant and apt to spout off bullshit that doesn’t hold up. And one time, he said something that was eye-rollingly thickheaded. And sexist, but in an every day sexism sort of way. But, here’s the thing. It’s extremely mild in terms of the internet and he is entitled to his own opinions.

Every few days, someone will complain about him in the producer forum, and I don’t think they realize how it comes across to those of us who are not as invested in him being the Discord villain. There is one woman who has him on mute, but will unmute him when anybody gripes about him so she can join in.

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What it’s like to be normal

Most of the time, I don’t care about being a freak. In fact, dare I say it, I revel in it and don’t mind rubbing it in others’ faces from time to time. Not often, but once in a while, just pointing out that not everybody walks down the well-trodden path is not a bad thing.

However, once in a very long while, I get a hankering to be normal. Or rather, more mainstream. It can be frustrating not to be able to talk about anything while in the company of normies. Or talking about normal things without any real knowledge of said subjects (I am very good at mimicking others).

I dream of being married with 2 kids, a dog, and a house in the ‘burbs (got the last one at least). Going to church on Sundays and then going to a fast food restaurant afterwards. Honestly, that was my favorite part of gong to church as a kid especially as we were not allowed to have fast food at any other time.

Side note: I didn’t realize untilĀ  I was out of the house that my mother did not like to cook. She made us dinner, but it was very basic. I remember cow tongue once, but her staples were Indian curry and potato, rice and veggies, and other simple Taiwanese foods. They were filling, but not memorable in any way. I’m not being critical, by the way. I don’t like to cook, either, and I feel for her that she had to cook even though she didn’t enjoy it. As a kid, I was unhappy by her cooking, but later I realized what a chore it was for her and felt some empathy.

She was raised with the idea that a woman was less than a man, and that a woman’s worth was in being a wife and a mother. This despite the fact that her own mother was a highly-accomplished woman–who also pooh-poohed the lives of women. She was the first woman to attend a certain college in Japan, and she was the first woman to be a senator in the prefecture in Taiwan in which she lived. She was a powerful personality, but she also gave lip service to how much better men were than women (and left all her money to her four sons and none to her four daughters).

When my mother wanted to go on a date, her mother said she had to be engaged before she went on the date. So she got engaged to a young man before even dating him. Then, she came to America and was swept off her feet by my father and dumped her fiance through a letter. I don’t even know if she kissed him before dumping him (so were they really engaged? I guess?), but that was just the way it was back then.

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