Category Archives: Late Night

I. Am. Back. Bitchez!

It’s been a very long time, hasn’t it? Two and a half years since I waved a tearful goodbye to y’all, clutching a sodden hankie to my chest. So much has happened in that time, and yet, so much hasn’t changed. It’s a weird dichotomy, but it’s one I’m willing to embrace.

When I shut down my blog, I thought it’d be for good. Well, never say never or forever and all that ::JAZZ HANDS:: because here I am, revving up my blog again. I’m not sure exactly what I want to say because I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with my personal blog. But, if you bear with me, we can figure this out together.

I don’t blog politically any more. I burned out after the 2012 elections, and I haven’t yet recovered. I still keep up with politics, but I’m not nearly as involved in them as I once was. I started feeling like I was spitting in the wind, and, honestly, I didn’t have the fire I once had for it.

I gave up on writing for a while – or rather, it gave up on me. I couldn’t write blog posts because I was censoring myself as I went, afraid to let the real me speak. What posts I managed to write were antiseptic and devoid of life – something that my writing has never been. In turn, that inhibition stifled my ability to write fiction as well so that I couldn’t write anything at all. I was too aware how some of my opinions weren’t popular or could be perceived as problematic, and I allowed it to silence me. It was only when the Suey Park/#CancelColbert mess happened on Twitter* that I felt I had to speak up. I was appalled that she was becoming the face of Asian American activism, and I needed people to know that not all Asian Americans agreed with her.

That’s when I realized that I was sitting on stuff that needed to be expressed or I would have a coronary holding it in. I’m still nervous because what I have to say may piss off people on my side, but I can no longer keep silent. There’s some shit that I need to say, and I don’t want to be restrained in how I say it, so I figured that dusting the cobwebs from this place and hanging out my shingle out again would be the way to go.
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Truly, Madly, Deeply, Part IV: An Ode to Joy

Hello! You know the drill by now. Go read the previous posts of this stories, especially part III in order to be caught up with this thrilling tale of love, danger, espionage and–oh wait, it’s mostly about love.

Where was I?  Oh yes, musing about having Idle in my life.  More on that later.  For now, more on the rest of his visit.  We’re up to Wednesday, and I have to share with you an odd detail about me:  I hate the end of things with a passion.  If I’m watching a TV series on DVD, I will delay watching the last episode because then I have no more left to watch!  It’s so bad, I start the countdown when I am halfway through the series (if there are not a large number of episodes).  Take, for example, Miracles.  There were only 13 episodes made of the show.  When I hit 7, I became increasingly morose with each episode viewed because it meant I had less to watch than I had already watched, if that makes sense.

I’m the same way with trips (at least, ones I want to take).  When the midpoint arrives, I start becoming depressed thinking about the end of the trip and how soon it’s approaching.  It’s funny because my friends were shocked I’d let Idle stay in my house for eight days (so long!), and all I could think of was, “I wish he were staying longer.”

Wednesday was the halfway point of his trip.  I pushed it to the back of my mind because I wanted to enjoy his company to the fullest, but it was lurking like an evil, lurky thing.  We went to my therapy session–or rather, I went to my session and he wandered around St. Paul, the lesser-known of the Twin Cities, in the ninety-plus weather we were having at the time.  After my session, I joined Idle in the wandering, and we checked out some of the local shops.  Oh, he also got excited about the Snoopy statue we saw in front of a nearby vet’s office ‘coz he’s a big Peanuts fan.  Charles Schultz is from MN, and they did a series of Snoopy statutes to commemorate something or the other in relation to him.  We saw another one further down the street that had been vandalized.  Poor Snoopy.  Idle didn’t have his camera with him, so I said we’d do a tour of the statues.  We didn’t get to that, but hey, it gives him added incentive to visit me again, amirite?

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The Tempus, It Fugits

I cannot believe how fast this year has sped by.  It seems like just yesterday I was standing on the edge of the Taroko Gorge and contemplating jumping off.  I had escaped death there many years ago, and I thought maybe it was my fate to die there.

As I looked down, I was aware of how fat, hot, and miserable I was.  It was the first time our family had been together in years, and it was not on my home turf.   I wanted to end it all.

Somehow, I managed to not kill myself on that trip.  I survived, though barely.  My parents sent me ‘this is everything that’s wrong with you’ emails that nearly broke me.   This was in March of this year, and I sank into a depth of despair.  Why the fuck was I alive?  How the hell could I ever make my family proud of me?

This took up much of my therapy sessions early in the year.  At some point, though, I just snapped.  Or rather, my despair snapped.  As my therapist pointed out many months later, going to Taiwan, however hard it had been,  was the event that triggered many of the changes I made in this last year.  I realized that all the hiding of my true self I did around my family wasn’t enough–they were never going to be happy with the fake me, so I might as well let the real me come out to play.  It wasn’t a conscious decision–I just couldn’t pretend any more.

It was actually a relief to realize that the fake-me wasn’t good enough, and I could toss her away.  (Like it’s that easy.  Yeah, right).  Even if the real me isn’t good enough for my family, I haven’t lost anything, anyway.  And, it’s easier, if scarier, to be the real me than to be the fake me.
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The Ugly Truth

It’s my father’s birthday today.  Or rather, it’s the day recorded as his birth.  October 1st.  His parents didn’t really know when he was born, so that’s the date they picked to put on his records.  I had forgotten about it until approximately ten minutes ago, and then I thought about what to do.  Normally, I send an e-card and am done with it.  One year when I first started grappling with the molestation issues (over ten years ago), I didn’t send him anything.  I heard from my mom that he was ‘so hurt’ by that, even though my brother sends them nothing.  Ever.

This year, I was flummoxed as to what to do.  I decided to send a card, but what would it say?  I looked at different cards, and they were all too sappy for me.  I mean, I am not a sappy person anyway, and most certainly not when it comes to my father.  I found a simple one and wrote something like, “Happy Birthday, Dad.  May your year be filled with peace, happiness, and love.  Love, Minna.”

That’s all I could muster.  And, strangely enough, I meant most of it.

You see, in my last therapy session, I talked a bit more about my father’s lack of enjoyment for life.  As I’ve said, he’s traveled around the world, eats the finest food, and doesn’t care for any of it.  He can be excused for his lack of enthusiasm for the countries themselves because he’s mostly in conferences while he’s there, but he gets treated to the best food each country has to offer, and he appreciates none of it.

It got me thinking about what he does enjoy.  He likes watching war movies.  He liked playing tennis (though I think it was more the social aspect than anything else).  Other than that, nothing.  His life is pretty joyless.  Even his affairs were more about validation than for actual enjoyment.  As I have also documented, he doesn’t have much use for women.

The more I talked about him, the more I felt a…stirring of…sympathy for him.  But I will get to that in a minute.

On a wildly different track that isn’t different at all (bear with me), my aunt died a few months ago.  This is my father’s sister, a woman who had nothing but contempt and disdain for me for not speaking Chinese/Taiwanese (but, not for my brother.  Double standards runs in that family, I see).  When my mom emailed me to tell me the news, I felt nothing.  A few days ago, Kiki emailed me to tell me that someone with whom we had both worked many many years ago had died recently.    I had had a crush on him when we worked together, and he had been kind to and admiring of me as well.  I haven’t seen him in 16 years.  Kiki saw him a couple years ago, and she told me then that he had asked about me.  Just a few weeks ago, we were wondering what had happened to him.  I Googled him, but I found nothing, and believe me, that’s very unusual in this day and age.

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Dismantling Illusions

I am exhausted.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My sleep has been even more sporadic than usual, and I even when I get sleep, it doesn’t make me feel refreshed.  I know it’s because as my therapist said, I’m doing some fucking heavy psychological work here.  No, she didn’t say fucking, but she implied it, I could tell.

When I walked into my session, I was heavy with grief.  I have written about it before, but it’s lingering.  I have never had someone close to me die.  I have never felt this kind of grief before.  I am not sure what to do about it.  My body is heavy, physically.  I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open, even when I’ve had relatively enough sleep.  I have been crying on and off and at the silliest things.  My emotions are battered, and my spirit is frayed.

As I was recounting my feelings to my therapist, my voice was low and a bit deadened.  I have numbed out somewhat in order to take the edge off the pain.  She asked me where the grief was and what form did it take.  I said it was raw, pulsing, and almost a sentient being, and it was residing here.  I tapped myself on my chest where my heart is.  And, I immediately teared up.

In the days when I was depressed, I prided myself on not crying.  I hated to be seen crying in public, and I tried not to cry even when I was in private.  Now, I can’t seem to stop myself from crying–and I am deeply ashamed every time I do it in the presence of someone else.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a trusted friend; it still feels shameful to me.

I see it as a weakness.  I hate being weak.  Correction:  I hate looking weak.  And, many of the things I excoriate myself over fall into that category.

In the session, I was saying how I know that I could not keep living the way I had been (using the term living very loosely) and that the changes I have made were not conscious choices–I just could not do the same old shit any more.  I know that the changes in my family are a good thing, but it’s so fucking hard.  She pointed out that I am dismantling the whole fabric of my family’s dysfunction.  When I refuse to do the same old, same old, I am demanding that my family change with me.

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Killer Compassion

It has been noted that I have not blogged in a bit.  Yes, this is true.  I have been dealing with some really heavy grief since my father’s last phone call.  That happened Friday morning, and I let the machine get it because I just couldn’t handle it.  He said he had made it home safely and not to worry.  Well, fuck me.  I hadn’t been worried.  And that, of course, made me feel guilty.  His voice had that new tone–the one filled with hurt, worry, and uncertainty–that he’s acquired since his visit here.  I do not think he’s being manipulative (and believe me, I know how he gets when he’s manipulative); he really is hurting and trying and wondering.

And, again, I could give him nothing.  I did send an email to my mother telling her to let him know I got his message.  He doesn’t have a personal email, and he got home on a Saturday.  He probably went into the office, but I wasn’t sure.

At any rate, I started reeling again.  I feel like the clock is running out (he does not look good at all), and I would really like to give him a moment of peace before he dies.  I feel some pity for him, and I want to have some kind of grace for him–but I do not.

Now.  I have had two disparate ideas running through my mind, and I realize they are tangentially related, so I am going to discuss them both here.  Even if they weren’t related, I would still tie them together because it’s my blog, and I can do what I want.

The first is the idea of compassion (closely linked to the idea of forgiveness).  TNC wrote this lovely piece on compassion on Thursday.   He’s writing a book on the Civil War, and he wrote many thoughtful, engaging pieces during Confederate History Month (April).  A shout-out to dengre at BJ who also wrote many thoughtful, enraging pieces on the South during CHM.

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The Long Hard Road

The visit from my father is over.  It was really difficult to get through, but it wasn’t impossible.  Until the airport and dropping him off.  I will get to that in a minute.

The night I went to get him, he arrived around 11:30.  We got home after midnight.  We chatted some, and then I went to my computer room to hop online.  I had the door mostly closed (but not all the way so the kittehs could come in if they wanted), and I was startled the fuck out when he entered without knocking.  He said I didn’t have any food.  I said I did.  He said there was no milk or bread.  I said I don’t drink milk any more because of my dairy allergies, and I did have bread–it just wasn’t made of wheat.  He half-laughed and repeated that I didn’t have any food.  I repeated that I did.  I had just gone shopping that day and had plenty of food.  He left.

During the night, I heard him get up around two, go to the kitchen, rattle around the fridge, and then return to bed.  When I went to bed at 4:30 a.m., the light was still on in his room.

The next morning, I got up around 8 a.m.  He told me he had only two hours of sleep because he’d been so hungry.  I said that was too bad.  He had an  appointment in the morning and came back for lunch.  Then he started in on me about something, but fortunately, my brother dropped by.  My brother is seen as an adult because he’s married, and, quite frankly, because he’s a man.  Even when my father is lecturing my brother, he (my father) doesn’t demean him (my brother).  Oh, and my father asked my brother to fix a closet door.  My brother said, “You didn’t try to fix it yourself, did you?”  He and I exchanged conspiring eyerolls and grins because my father is horrible at fixing things.  He also has a magnetic field that kills all electrical things, but that’s another story.  It was nice to have that moment with my brother to lighten the mood.

Then, after my brother left, my father took a nap because he was ‘so tired after only getting two hours of sleep because he was so hungry’ before going to his afternoon appointment.  Then, we went to my bro’s house and to the Olive Garden for dinner.  Wouldn’t be my choice, but the kids aren’t very adventurous in their eating–nor is my SIL, actually.  Or my father.

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Quietly, She Weeps

This is more like early-morning (pre-sleep) musing, but whatever.  In the past few weeks, I have tried to change the way I do things.  I did a few of the things I planned (like submitting fiction to contests and a bit of cleaning), but for the most part–not so much on the hopey-changey thing.   And, quite frankly, it’s bringing me down.  I hate the fact that it’s so difficult for me to change my behavior, even when I know it’s for the better.

I have realized that I can’t just have a general schedule because I will push things off until later, with later being postponed indefinitely.   Because I have such a fluid schedule, I keep thinking, “Oh, I can do that later.”  Then, of course, it doesn’t get done at all.  I have realized that I need to make an hourly schedule in order for me to really get anything done.  But, something inside my rebels from making the schedule.  Then, I metaphorically kick myself in my flat ass for being such an idiot.

Putting that aside for a minute, though I will probably get back to it, I’m quietly starting to freak out about my father coming.  11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.  I have to clean the house, which is the least of my worries, but which I really don’t want to do.

My aunt died about a month ago.  She was my father’s favorite sister.  In his family, you don’t talk about death, so no one told her she had cancer (same with his other sister when she was dying of cancer as well).  To make matters more complicated, they are Buddhist and follow all the folk traditions of the religion.  The son decided that now was not a good time for a funeral because it’s when the ghosts are out.  The daughter had no say in the matter (she’s a mere girl, after all), so they delayed the funeral until September 13th–after my father is leaving the country to come here and to go to a conference in Canada.  As is the custom there, someone is sitting with the body 24/7.  This is costing a shit-load of money, which they do not have.  My father is distraught at losing his favorite sister as well as not being able to go to the funeral.

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Shaken, and Stirred

I just finished Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Warning, if you have not read the book and are planning to read it, I am going to include spoilers in this post.  Huh.  I just read on Wiki that the original title in Swedish is Men Who Hate Women–which is a much more apt title.  Anyway.

I have had several people recommend this book to me, and I have been intrigued by what I’ve heard.  Plus, I enjoy the mystery genre very much, and I enjoy mysteries set in other countries, and there were tattoos!  (At least, I assumed there would be).  This book sounded tailor-made for me.  Because I was going to read it, I didn’t look to see what it was about.  I rather not read blurbs if I know for sure I am going to read a book.  If only I had read a bit about it beforehand.  Then again, I just read the Wiki entry, and it wouldn’t have been enough to put me off my feed.  A pet peeve of mine, but I will get to it later.

Now, I bought the book some time ago.  And I meant to read it at the time; I really did.  However, I kept putting it off, and then, I never read it.  Then, the books and the movies became a sensation, and I felt compelled to pull out the book and read it.  Someone at BJ jokingly asked if I was one of Lisbeth Salander’s alter egos (titular character).  Briefly, Stieg Larsson wrote three books (his Millennium trilogy) before dying.  People have mourned that he hadn’t been able to write more.  Intrigued, I dug out the book and started reading.

The first thirty pages were deadly dull.  I struggled to get through them, and I almost put the book down several times.  However, I plowed through, and I was soon glad I did.  The story really picked up steam, and the introduction of Lisbeth Salander was…well, let me put it this way.  I have not identified with a character like this in some time–and, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I’m going to get all spoilery below the fold, so again, if you want to read the book without knowing what happens, leave now.

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Tempus Fugit

I had my therapy session this morning.  First of all, the temp has dropped considerably, which makes me a happy camper.  Autumn is definitely here–and it’s my second favorite season.  No, you get no bonus points for guessing my first since I’m not exactly reticent about it.

Anyway, I walked into my therapist’s office and started blathering about how I’ve lost my momentum since my mom left.  After my therapist listened to me list my dissatisfaction with myself, she asked a seemingly non sequitur question.  She said, “Minna, what are you going to do after I’m gone?”  I looked blankly at her.  She said, “Not on my vacation, but after I retire.”  I stared at her, and she hastened to add, “I’m not sick or anything, but I’m a month away from 61.  I want to retire when I’m 65.  4 years is not that long.”

I admit, my first reaction was sheer panic.  I have been with her for some time, and it freaked me out to imagine not having her in my life.  But, that was her point.  I have been steadily gaining momentum in the last year and a half or so (with setbacks, of course), and I can’t afford to slide back again.

Four years ago, I was saying I would have a house by the time I was forty.  Well, I’m going to be forty in eight months, and I will not have that house.  It’s not that I couldn’t have a house by then, but it’s that I am not prepared to make that decision by then.  Am I closer to making that decision?  Definitely.  Am I there yet?  No.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t had to be a full adult yet in my life.  I haven’t had to face the consequences of really failing.  Now, it’s time for me to put away childish things and be an adult.  And, if there is no external reason for that to happen, then I have to make it internal.

Back to my therapist’s question. After my initial panic faded a bit, I thought about it.  I said that what I got from her was clarity and a new perspective.  However, I had other people in my life who functioned in similar ways, and what’s more, I often times know ahead of time what her response will be (though it’s not as elegant in my head as it is when she says it).  We have been together so long, I know what her basic tenets are.  She is not always going to be there.  And, I tend to think, “Oh, I am going to bring this to therapy and talk about it” before making a decision.  That’s not a bad idea with big, tough, grappling issues, but it can be a way for me to avoid having to make  any decision at all on my own.

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