Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: weirdo

I’m such a freak

I’m a freak. I know that. I’ve known it since I was in my twenties. I just didn’t realize to what extent until, well, now. And I’m still realizing it. I wish I had known the extent when I was younger because then maybe i wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling like there was something wrong with me. And being deeply depressed about it.

One thing I’m still coming to terms with or realizing is…well, it’s more of a question. How much of my weirdness is an actual disability. I’m some flavor of neurodivergent, but I have never been tested because I can mask it well enough for government work. This actually took me until I was in my thirties to fully grasp that people do not think the way I do. Not just in opinions, but in the actual way of thinking.

I have a very high EQ, which is how I can make myself look like a normal person. Something I have difficulties with, though, is very dry humor. Since I use facial and body cues to read someone, it’s hard when they mask that–or make a joke in writing that is very sardonic. My brother does this all the time, which makes it difficult for me. I can usually know when he’s making a joke, though, because I know him well.

Back when I was younger, I was numb all the time. I had to suppress my emotions to the point where I no longer felt them. There was a time when someone could tell me the best news in the world, and I would feel nothing inside. Same with the worst news in the world. “I’m getting married!” Nothing. “My mother died.” Nothing. “I got a promotion at work!” Nothing.

Part of that was because you can’t always tell good news from bad. “I’m pregnant!” is usually good news, but not always. Not if the baby is not wanted or an unpleasant surprise. Or, god forbid, the result of forced sex. “I’m getting divorced!” looks negative on the surface, but for some people, it’s the best thing to happen to them.

Back when I was completely divorced from my emotions, I would have to follow a very elaborate system so I could display the proper emotions. So. Let’s say someone told me they were pregnant. My first step would be to scrutinize their face to see if there were any signs whether they were happy or not about it. If I got the news by text/email, I would pore over the rest of the email/text for clues. Exclamation points? That meant something. Exuberant words? Good. That helped as well. Then I could match their emotions with simulated emotions of my own.

This took less than ten seconds on the average, and I was able to make it seem as if my reactions were natural. With practice, I got it down to two or three seconds. It appeared like an organic reaction, but it wasn’t. With the help of Taiji, I’ve been able to inhabit my body and feel comfortable in it. Dying twice has cemented my love for my body.

I’m still shaky on emotions, but I’m able to feel them more than I ever have. I still go through the process I mentioned above, but it’s at lighnting speed now, rather than several seconds. It’s as if I have a Rolodex (I’m old) of emotions in my head that i rapidly flip through until I find the right one.  So it’s still not organic, but I’m not bothered by it.

It’s interesting. Even knowing that I’m different, a freak, and a weirdo, it’s astounding how far out of the norm I am. And, this is something I have a hard time discussing, that I might actually have disabilities. Believe me. It’s not something my family would have accepted. My father cannot handle the idea of women who actually work outside the home (even though he saw plenty of them when he was the VP of TIER, the Taiwanese Institute for Economic Research) let alone whatever the fuck I am.


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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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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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Mary, Mary, most contrary

I am not a contrarian. Not deliberately so, anyway. I know that my mother believes I do it on purpose, but I really don’t. It’s not like I wake up and choose violence. I don’t think, “Hm, what is the most contrary position I can take?” and then voice that.

My mother once said to me in exasperation, “Something isn’t bad just because it’s tradition.” To which I replied, “That doesn’t make it automatically good, either.” She did not like that. At all.

It’s true, though. Just because something is tradition, it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. I don’t see anything wrong with questioning something in order to time-test it. If it’s good, then continue to do it. If not, then let it go. I don’t think that’s controversial, but I know it is.

The biggest examples in my life are having children and getting married. Let’s add to that being in a long-term hetero relationship. Let’s lump all that together under the umbrella of family shit. I knew since I was young that I was going to get married to a man and have children. My mother made it very clear that it was my duty as a woman to have children and to take care of my husband. In the other order, actually.

When I was 22, I was madly in love with my boyfriend at the time. We were talking about having children and I realized that I did not want them. At all. I cannot tell you how great that felt. My heart lifted and I was free! I didn’t have to have children. It’s still the best decision I’ve made in my life, by the way.

Along with the biggies, though, there are the more medium choices that I’ve made that are weird. Like my hobbies. Taiji isn’t weird in and of itself, though it’s less popular in the States than is yoga. I had to Google that because while it feels true, I didn’t know for sure. Roughly 2.5 million people practice Taiji in America versus 37 million people and yoga. So, yeah, I was right. Taiji is way less popular, which is of no surprise to me. Hm. Another resource says 3.7 million practice Taiji in America. At any rate, it’s roughly 1/10th the amount that practices yoga or less.

I can only guess that those who study Taiji weapons is even less. This makes it a very niche hobby, which isn’t surprising to me. I did not choose it because it’s the lesser-practiced meditative practice, but it’s not surprising that I’m drawn to it in part for that reason.


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Free to be me

I’m weird. I have known this since I was a young kid, but back then, I thought there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? It wasn’t just a little bit different or in a few ways–it was in nearly every way. I read all the time, which many considered strange. I even read the dictionary (I stopped at ‘I’ because I lost steam) and started calling my bullies ‘unintellectual imbeciles’, which, not cool, but I was pushed to it, and did not do anything because they did not know what I meant (I was seven or eight).

I was fat and awkward, and I knew nothing about American culture. We only watched Scooby-Doo, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat in our family. I don’t even know what other shows existed at the time. We never went to the movies and I didn’t hear my first pop song until I was in the sixth grade. It was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant.

Here’s the thing. My parents, especially my father, did not like living in America. My father was fiercely Taiwanese and came here for his studies. He and my mother met in grad school and fell in love. Or rather, my father wooed my mother and won her over. She was engaged to a man in Taiwan–

Fun fact: She was engaged to him because my grandmother had very outdated notions about dating. She refused to let my mother go on a date if she wasn’t engaged to the man.

My parents had a whirlwind romance. My mother finished her MA and would have had to go back to Taiwan if she didn’t find another way to stay in the country. My father’s American housemother urged them to get married, so they did. Then they moved to Minnesota so my father could pursue his PhD in Economics.

I sometimes think about the sliding door version of life where they didn’t rush to get married. I fully believe that if they had dated for another year, they probably would have broken up. Or maybe not. I mean, they’ve been together for nearly 55 years. So, even though it’s deep dysfunction that binds them (not to mention codependency), they have established a lasting routine.

I used to think that my mother would be happier without my father, but now I don’t think that’s true. Her sense of worth comes from the fact that she’s a martyr (and that she’s superior to my father in almost every way). In other words, she needs him to feel good about herself, even though he’s abusive. If she weren’t with him, she would just find someone else like him.

Once in a while, she’ll let the mask slip and display her utter contempt for him and how little she expects from him. Such as when she said she realized he wasn’t smart. It’s true, but it’s not a nice thing to say about your husband, especially to your child. I will admit that it helped me see him in a different light. Arguably, a more realistic one.


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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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More than one deviation from the norm; part two

My I wrote about being weird all my life, but not really realizing it for several decades. You can read part one here. The realization did not hit all at once, but it came in drips and drabs over time.

I came out publicly during an acting class. The two leaders were queer Asian women, and I thought, “What the hell.” They told me later that they looked at each other and were like, “Is she coming out?” Which, I was, indeed. I naively thought that telling my mother would be if not positive, then at least neutral because she’s a therapist and because she had just listened to my cousin come out as gay and was very supportive.

I wish I could have told the younger me to not come out. At least even then, I knew that I should not bring it up in front of my father. I’m not even sure he knows about it now–that I’m not straight, I mean. At the time, I reluctantly called myself bisexual, though I was never completely comfortable with it. I couldn’t find a descriptor that I actually like, so it was more default than anything else.

When I was in my twenties, I declared I didn’t want to be in a relationship, which was a lie. I wanted it desperately. What I didn’t want, however, was to get married. That realization really hit me in my thirties and that started me really questioning the whole romance bullshit. In our society, it’s still considered the normal trajectory to get married in your late twenties/early thirties and then to squeeze out children soon thereafter. I’m really discouraged that this hasn’t changed much at all. In fact, when queers fought for marriage equality, I wasn’t enthused about it because it was still upholding a rigid traditional institution that I did not believe in. I really wish the first push had been for workplace equality, but that’s neither here nor there.

So I don’t care about marriage at all. It seems more misery than pleasure, but I will fully admit that’s my bias. It’s partly because I read advice columns and they are never letters about happy marriages. It’s also because of my parents’ marriage, which is fifty-plus years in the making, which is a sticking point with my mother. I know she thinks that I’ve repudiated her entire life–and she’s not wrong, but she’s not right, either.


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More than one deviation from the norm: part one

I’m a weirdo. This is not a shock to me or anyone who knows me. I have been a weirdo all my life, but I didn’t realize it until I was…well, that’s a complicated answer. Here’s the thing. I never felt like I fit in, but I just thought it was because–well, I wasn’t sure. I was depressed from a young age. I was six when I first remember being miserable. I was in first grade and got teased by a much older girl every day on my way home from school. I learned to dread the walk home because she would be hanging out in front of her apartment with a sneer on her pretty face. And she was pretty. To little me, she was so glamorous–why the hell did she need to pick on me? My stomach started knotting up every time I saw her. One day, she started in on me, which made me burst into tears. Instantly, she stopped picking on me and started complimented me. She told me how pretty my hair was as she brushed it from my shoulders. She never picked on me again after that, but it still confused the hell out of me. Why did she pick on me in the first place? Many years later, I realized she probably had a shitty life of her own and was taking it out on me. Did it make me feel any better? No. I’m very sympathetic to other people’s woes–until they take it out on me. But that was an early indication of the cruelty of my fellow kids. Kids are assholes, yo! It most certainly wasn’t the last, though.

I was shunned by others for a variety of reasons. One, I was Asian. This was before we were exotic and/or trendy., so I was viewed with suspicion. My food was stinky. I dressed funny (my mother made my clothes). I didn’t know any of their references because I didn’t  watch TV or movies. Everything was wrong about me, and I was miserable.

I first wanted to kill myself when I was seven–right around the same time I realized that death was a thing. That began a decades-long love/hate relationship with death that governed most of my behavior. I wasn’t actively suicidal most of the time, but I  wouldn’t have been sad to die if it did happen. Until I thought of what it actually meant.


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Dating is scary–at least the idea is

I haven’t dated in over a decade. The last time I was with someone, he love-bombed me to the point that we were planning on forever being together. It was all him, honestly, and my desire to be with someone  (and to please the person I’m with) that made me go along with it. I’m not a good partner, which is one reason I haven’t dated in a decade. After a whirlwind romance and a heartbreaking dump of me by him, I vowed off dating for a year. That year stretched out into several years.

Right before the pandemic hit, I started thinking about dating again. Obviously, that went on the backburner when the pandemic hit, but I had given some thought into what I actually wanted. I don’t want a lifetime partner; I enjoy being by myself too much. Me and Shadow work really well together; that’s all I want in my day-to-day life. He’s on my legs right now, his left forearm extended over the edge of the couch. He’s taking his fifth nap of the day and enjoying life to its fullest.

Here’s the bottom line. I like to do my own thing. I don’t like having to compromise. I don’t want to do what the other person wants to do all the time. Some of the time, fine, but not all of the time. If I want to eat cereal at three in the morning, then that’s what I’m going to do. If I want to play Elden Ring for four hours straight–hell, yeah! Nobody better say boo to me. Part of the reason I’m so adamant about this is because I tend to let people take advantage of me. I was taught at a very young age that my feelings don’t matter. My only purpose was to serve others–especially my parents. They are both narcissistic in their own way (sometimes in confusingly opposing ways). Add to that the fact that I can feel other people’s emotions, and, well, let’s just say it’s better for me to be on my own or with a trusted person.

So when I started thinking about dating, I had to really consider what I wanted–and more importantly, what I didn’t want. First of all, I’m an outside the norm in almost everything. I’m fat, middle-aged, Asian, queer, genderqueer/agender, apathetic about religion, apathetic about gender, apathetic about, well, lots of things that other people seem to think are important. Movies and television shows fall under this umbrella as well. Most of music, too. I just don’t care.

I’ve pulled back on the pandemic. It just doesn’t terrify me the way it used to. In part because I’m fully vaxxed (no booster yet), but more because, well, my perspective was turned 180 while I was in the hospital. Suddenly, I had more important things to worry about–more immediate things. That’s something having a death-defying experience will do for you–change your priorities in a hurry.


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Chuck out the framework entirely

I can’t stop thinking about my brother saying of course I didn’t like movies because I was two steps ahead of the plot at all times (because of my high sensitivity to people’s emotions). Funnily enough, that’s why I enjoy mystery books–because I know who the perp is halfway into the novel. I usually know why they did it, too, but not always. And, counterintuitively, I like musicals because of how obvious people’s motives are and how theatrical musicals are. There is no way to mistake them for real life, which is nice.

My brother and I were talking about his inability to distinguish more than the base emotions. He can tell if someone is happy or unhappy, for example, but not to what extent or why. He can’t pick up on their emotions if they are masking to any extent, which made the first few years of his real estate career rocky. He wanted me to help him interact with other people better, but it’s not easy to coach someone on it. He’s the type who’s used to doing anything he puts his mind to do. I gave him a few tips and he was like, “Yeah, yeah, can do”, which made me smile in amusement. Ingrained behaviors are difficult to change. It’s not just a matter of putting your mind to it, which my brother soon learned. One thing I told him was that he talks too fast. So do I, but I’m able to slow it down when needed. He’s not. Another is that he never used to show any interest in other people’s emotions. He was my ride to the airport when I needed it, and he never asked me how a trip went when I got back. Until several years after he started in the real estate business. One time, I came home from a trip to visit Ian and my brother actually asked how it went. I was so gobsmacked, I didn’t answer for several seconds. Now, he’s gotten to the point where he will ask how I am on the regs and such. So he has the basics down of social oiling. Er, you know what I mean.

It’s funny because I’m so attuned to other people’s emotions; it’s one reason I don’t like to be in a crowd. I’m better now that I know how to erect an emotional shield and keep it in place. I am better at maneuvering through crowds so I don’t feel like I’m trapped, largely in thanks to Taiji. I’ve been bringing up the Dunning-Kruger study often in the past few days, the lesser-known effect (people who are good at something underestimate how much better they are at it than other people), and I’m bringing it up again because it fits here. I have always been perceptive about other people’s emotions and motivations. I can see through the veneer that people put up 9 times out of time. Hell, I’d say 97 times out of 100.


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