Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: pop culture

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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You HAVE to like what I like!

I like what I like and don’t like what I don’t like. This is the same for most people, but I do not like anything that is popular. Or very few things. TV-wise, I hate Friends (though I did watch it for several years out of ennui, I think), Seinfeld (the people are awful), Game of Thrones (only saw The Red Wedding episode and was horrified. Read the first several pages of the first book, and the prose, it is so purple), Breaking Bad (only saw the penultimate episode and hated Walter White), and The Sopranos (saw a bit of an episode with the psychologist, and ughhhhhhhhhh).

I’m watching a video of one person who has never played Final Fantasy VII playing it for the first time with someone whose played it before and loved it guiding him (video included below). He’s made a few comments about feeling pressured about his choices and that he feels like he has to like the game, but he’s not really joking. It’s hard enough to stream a game beacuse there will always be backseat gamers in the chat.

I watched Ian play Dark Souls on stream and there was always someone who wanted to give him tips or spoil things. I once told him where a bonfire was, but he couldn’t find it and got really stressed. I think bonfires are acceptable to point out, but in general, I don’t want to spoil a game for someone.

I also remember watching someone stream Bloodborne when it came out and he had to flat-out say that he did not want backseat gaming or spoilers. There were people in his chat trying to argue with him about his rules for his own damn stream. As in why backsseat gaming and spoilers should be OK. Seriously.

If I ever stearmed a From game, I would be very firm about this. Then again, at this point, I would want spoilers from the games because I would be thrilled to find something different about the games that I hadn’t already known. I recently found out something about Dark Souls II….can’t remember what it was…anyway, I like to learn new things.

I don’t care that I like different things than most people, but it gets annoying real quick to have to say, “Yeah, no, I did not like X, Y, or Z.” I have talked more than once about how I got dumped once because I hated Pulp Fiction. Eevn though I told the guy I would not like it, he inisted on taking me to see it and that I would love it. Once it was done, he asked me what I thought. I naively told him what I thought and afterwards, he said that he could not be with someone who had that world view.

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I don’t like movies

Yesterday, I made some confessions that I don’t consider particularly guilty, but I probably wouldn’t go on and on about them in polite company. Today, I want to talk about movies and television because I’m in a confessing mood.

When I was doing my MA in Writing & Consciousness in San Francisco over two decades ago, there was a substitute for a class. She was a fairly prominent writer in San Francisco and I happened to mention that I didn’t like movies. I didn’t think it was that weird a statement, but she acted as if I had just said I ate babies for breakfast.

“That’s silly!” She said. “That would be like saying you don’t like sandwiches. There are so many different kinds, there has to be something you like.” I let it dropped because she was so shocked, but privately, I was thinking that not liking sandwiches seemed reasonable to me as well. Personally, I love them, but I can see why two pieces of bread with meat, veg, and condiments in between may not be your thing. And if you don’t like that format, you’re not going to like any sandwich, regardless of individual ingredients. Or if you don’t like bread in general, say. then sandwiches don’t make sense for you.

The tone of her voice made it clear to me that I was a big, fat weirdo (again), and I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut about movies. I mean, I should have learned that lesson already considering I dated a guy who dumped me because of my opinion on Pulp Fiction. It was his favorite movie, and he wanted me to watch it with him (this was several years after it came out). I agreed, even though it did not seem like my kind of movie. He did warn me about some the rape scene so I could step out when it happened, which I did appreciate.

After the movie was over, he asked what I thought of it. Naively. I gave him an answer which was pretty complicated, intense, and about fifteen minutes long. I hated it. I thought it was pretentious and masturbatory and very self-congratulatory. I also thought it was coming from a very privileged white male point of view, which, of course, Tarantino is. I thought the violence was gratuitous and even though it’s supposed to be, it’s not well done.

I tried to be diplomatic about it, but I had nothing good to say. I truly hatted everything about it, and I never would have gone to see it if it weren’t for him. He was quiet for a few seconds and then said, “I can’t be with someone with those views” and broke up with me.

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Forever a weirdo

I am a weirdo in almost every facet of my life. I don’t drink at all and I don’t want to be around other people who drink. For the most part. Most people vastly underestimate how drinking affects them, and it’s not pleasant to witness. It doesn’t help that because I am empathic, I absorb people’s emotions–especially the negative ones. People are much less able to hide or mask their emotions when they are drunk, which doesn’t help matters.

In addition, I don’t like any of the pop culture that other people like. I saw the Red Wedding episode of GoT and HATED it. Not just because of the brutality of the episode (especially the killing of the dire wolf), but because it just seemed…torture porn-y is the best way to put it. When I watch something that is gritty and realistic, my body doesn’t distinguish it as being made-up. Therefore, I have the same reactions I’d have if it was real. That’s a me-thing, but it’s one of the reasons I don’t like movies/TV.

It’s relevant in talking about games I like because I was watching the Summer Game Fest, and I was bored out of my mind. Granted, I was waiting for the Elden Ring DLC that never came, but it wasn’t as if I was really hyped for the event. I don’t get hyped about much of anything in the first place because that way lies madness. Geoff tried to keep expectations down by saying there wasn’t going to be any surprises this year (not like last year and Elden Ring).

Which, fine. No surprises. Whatever. But everything was tepid. Even things I was mildly interested it bored me. The vampire game was one I had an eye, but it didn’t really do anything for me. Same with most of the rest of the trailers. And it held true for the individual company conferences as well.

There was one game that intrigued me–it was called Pentiment by Obsidian Entertainment and came out of left field. Nobody knew it was coming, and it has a distinctive art style that just grabs you. It’s a medieval murder mystery that is very charming-looking. Do I get exactly what is going on? Hell, no! Am I going to download it on Game Pass Day One? Hell, yes! This was in the Xbox/Bethesda showcase.

Other than that, though, there was nothing that caught my interest. There were so many Dead Space rip-offs, I lost count. I don’t care about sci-fi or horror, so it’s a double no, dawg, for me. Plus the multi games. Don’t care about those a lick, either.

I know it’s not for me, so I don’t get too riled up about it. Nothing is for me. That’s what I’ve learned in my 51 years here on earth. I am not the target demo for anything, and while that can be frustrating at times, it’s also freeing. I don’t expect to like anything, so I’m pleasantly surprised when I actually DO like something.

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(Not so) popular culture is not for me

I’ve always been a weirdo when it comes to pop culture. Most of it leaves me cold and it’s not just because I’m a contrarian. The more someone tells me I’ll like something, the less likely I am to like it. It’s not as if I’m telling myself, “I’m not going to like this to spite you”, but I have very specific tastes that are hard to cater to. Add to that, I don’t like movies and TV in general because my imagination can produce scenes vastly superior to anything concrete and that my brain doesn’t work the way most people’s do and the visual mediums of movies and TV shows leave me cold.

I was dating someone whose favorite movie was Pulp Fiction. This was years after the movie had been released and it was showing at a theater nearby. He was eager for me to see it and I knew nothing other than it was a Quentin Tarantino movie with a lot of violence. I didn’t love violence in my movies, but I could deal with it. I was eager to see what made my boyfriend tick so I agreed to see the movie.

Big mistake.

Now, remember, I went into this movie ready to be amazed and awed. I wanted to like it because it was important to my boyfriend. I was primed to like the movie is what I’m trying to say. It wasn’t like other examples I’m going to mention in a bit because I knew I wasn’t going to like that movie and went, anyway.

With Pulp Fiction, I wanted to like the movie, but I didn’t. I instantly hated it and its faux hipster/edgy vibe. I found it repellant, repugnant, and with no positive value. I gritted my teeth and sat through it, grimly determined to see the end of it. Afterwards, my boyfriend eagerly asked what I thought of it–and foolishly, I told him the unvarnished truth–which took me twenty minutes. Afterwards, he looked at me and said, “I can’t be with someone with that world view” and broke up with me on the spot.

We tried to remain friends and he wanted me to see Titanic. I knew I would hate it, but I ungraciously gave in, admittedly because I wanted to get him back.  Did id hate it? I did, indeed. By the second hour of people running around the ship, screaming their heads off, I wanted to stand up and shout, “Just fucking die already!” Later, he wanted to take me to see Dangerous Beauty, a movie about a French courtesan who is in love with a French nobleman who loves her, too, but cannot marry her. I think it’s set during a war? Supposedly based on a true story and cast as a love story.

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More things I hate that everyone loves (or says they do)

In my last post, I wrote about things I hated that were universally considered good things. You can read about it here. In this post, I’m gonna continue that roll because it’s my blog and I can do whatever the fuck I want!

Side Note: I have a hack for doing a list in Word Press without it automatically going into list mode–which only allows one paragraph per number and indents each point. I hate that as I like to make my lists the way I want them. There’s a way to manually make the paragraphs, but much easier is to simply do the first point in text rather than visual. Then, you can do the list however you want! You’re welcome.

5. Most popular culture. This is a category that completely befuddles me–and it runs across all pop culture. I recently joked with Ian that I reaffirmed my suspicion that I don’t like video games–I just like certain ones. I was joking, but it wasn’t a joke, exactly. I like FromSoft games and two handfuls of indie games, but other than that, I have rejected probably a hundred games that didn’t grab me for whatever reason. They range from Undertale (Toby Fox), an indie darling, to Mortal Shell (Cold Symmetry), a soulslike, to Fallout 3 (Bethesda), a Triple A game. There were games that should have absolutely been my jam, such as Dreamscaper (Afterburner Studios), Coffee Talk (Toge Productions), and Darkest Dungeons (Red Hook Studios).

Conversely, the games I like are the Dark Souls trilogy (From, natch), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall), Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus Games), Cozy Grove (Spry Fox), Hades (Supergiant Games), Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Edmund McMillen), and Cook, Serve, Delicious! (David Galindo). That’s not the full list, but that’s the bulk of the games that I consider in my top ten. And, yes, FromSoft takes three of those spots. The frustrating part is that I don’t know what links these games together so it’s hard to predict what I will or won’t like in the future.

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10 things I hate that everyone loves (or says they do)

It’s hard to express how alienating it can be to be on the fringes at times. Hm. That wasn’t very clear. I am on the fringe in many ways. It’s difficult to tell ‘normies’ how tiring this can be on the daily. This is the basis of privilege, I know, but I’m trying to take it down to the granular level rather than looking at it from a macro point of view. I’m not talking about the biggies–racism, sexism, queerphobia, classism, etc. I’m talking about in the little ways. Here are things that are espoused by society {and/or dearly beloved by many) that I will confess I can’t stand. There may be ten; there may not. I’ll go until I’m done.

1. Traveling. Let me say this straight out. I hate traveling. I hate everything about it. I’m talking about the literal traveling because I have so many issues, it’s really difficult for me to be in a place other than my own home. Let’s start with motion sickness. I get it. Bad. In cars and on planes. Not in trains, oddly enough, but I rarely travel by train, anyway. I can use ginger to mitigate it, but it’s not pleasant. I used to do Dramamine for plane travel, which was even worse.

In addition, I hate heat. A lot. I’m very sensitive to it and walking in anything over 70 F degrees will leave me angry and exhausted. When I was in Malta with no AC and a fan that just moved the hot air around–in the summer, no less–it was not good times. I am my worst self in the heat and it’s not pretty. This is not a delicate snowflake situation (I love snowflakes) in which I’m just whining about how much I hate it; heat enervates me to the point of–it’s like a battery being drained. It’s not a matter of toughing it out–it’s actually dangerous to me. The fact that so many people want to pooh-pooh that is frustrating.

Add to that the fact that I have allergies. So. Many. Allergies. I’m allergic to almost everything outside–and I’ll get to that later–so going to a new place means dealing with new allergens. I have never had allergies as bad as when I lived in the Bay Area for a year. That’s when I gave up on (hard) contacts–my eyes were constantly irritated. I also have food sensitivities that makes it difficult for me to eat. Gluten-free can be found. Dairy-free can be found. Gluten-free/dairy-free is not as easy. There are more vegan/gf products, thankfully, but other countries around the world are not aware of these issues (or don’t care). One pleasant surprise at the monastery in Malta was that they had plant-based milk and gluten-free bread, the same brand I really like (Schar), so at least I had something to eat. The one day I decided to say to hell with it and eat the cheese pasta….that was a bad decision.

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Life is (not) like

E3 is going on right after Summer Game Fest and so far, I have been less than underwhelmed. On Thursday, I suffered through two hours before finally getting Elden Ring. There was one or two other games that sparked an interest, but for the most part, I got gloomier and gloomier because I started thinking there would be no Elden Ring. Plus, there was just so much filler. So. Much. Filler. Then, there was the Ubi conference and there was nothing there for me. Nothing at all. Granted, Eurogamer didn’t find much to get excited about, either, in part because it was all trash.

Here’s the thing. I came to the realization a few years back that I don’t really like video games. Wait. Let me expand that. I don’t like most of pop culture in general. I never watch movies–well, rarely, which is why I’m still salty about how much I hated Knives Out. My one movie last year and I was excited to see it and it sucked so much–and I rarely watch TV. When I do, it’s reality competition shows with contestants who are nice to each other.

My point is that it’s not specific to vide games–it’s just me. I don’t like most of what other people like and most of the time, I’m fine with it. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult because I don’t want to be the joykiller when other people are squealing over something I could not give two shits about. It could be Game of Thrones or the endless Avengers movies or Gone Girl, either the movie or the book. I’ve long since accepted that I am an outlier, but it wears on me.

Not only is it pop culture, it’s just me in general. I’ve listed it all before, but here are the ways I’m different than everyone else: Not married; not cohabitating; no children; agnostic; the list goes on. I’m a freak and I know it. I was able to realize and accept it for most of pop culture so I don’t know why it took so long to do the same for video games. I think it’s partly because the first game Ian suggested to me, Torchlight, I enjoyed immensely. I adored the protag because she could be Asian if you squinted. Then, he suggested Diablo III and once the disaster of launch day was fixed, it was lots of fun. Then, Borderlands 1 and 2, which I played back-to-back for over a hundred hours–each? Maybe? I dunno. It’s been a hot minute.

Then, it was Dark Souls, Dark Souls II (SotFS), Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. On the indie side, Cook, Serve, Delicious! (All three), Binding of Isaac (all iterations, I guess, but mostly Rebirth), Spiritfarer, Hades, and Cozy Grove.

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