Category Archives: General Society

LGBTQ Folks Are Not Your Superheroes

Ed. note: I started this fairly soon after the shooting, but it’s taken me some time to put my thoughts in some kind of order. This is still pretty stream-of-conscious, free-flowing, but I feel the need to get it out there. So, my apologies that it’s not quite as polished as my normal posts. I’m still pretty raw.

“I keep reading about how the queer community is strong and resilient and will not be defeated. This is all true, but we are also human beings who feel a gamut of emotions, ranging from fear to sorrow to rage. Some people have responded to the tragedy in Orlando by seeking out their communities, taking comfort in being with people who know without words what they’re feeling. Others, bunker down, retreating to mourn on their own.

I just want to say there’s no wrong way of processing what’s happened. There’s no wrong way of responding. As Pride festivities occur all around the country, if you need to go to be with your community, go! If you’re afraid and prefer to stay home, that is fine, too!

We do not have to pretend we are not afraid, angry, hurt, grieving, or any other range of emotions. Feel what you feel, and get through this however best you can.

Most of all, take care of yourself. If the news is stressing you out, walk away from social media. Take a bath or read a book or cuddle with a furry friend (or non-furry one).

We are not obligated to be anyone’s superhero.”

I wrote this on Facebook yesterday afternoon, and I wanted to expand upon it in a proper post. By now, you’ve probably all heard about the horrific shooting at an Orlando queer nightclub (Pulse Nightclub) and read several hot takes on it, both from within the community and from without. Two constant themes emerged from all the pieces and the videos. One was that love will overcome hate and the other was that we mustn’t let fear take us over. I want to address both, starting with the latter.

Continue Reading

Top 10 Things You Won’t Believe Made Me Cry, Gasp, and Laugh in 2015

It’s the last day of 2015, which is surreal to me. Where the hell has this year gone? Looking back, it seems as if so much has happened, and yet, so little. On a social media level, I’ve pulled back from talking about politics as much and have mostly stuck to posting cute cat GIFs and videos, joking with friends, and occasionally bringing up a topic of interest that might or might not be political. I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is not the best medium for political discourse because of the inherent restrictions, and I haven’t regretted not being as politically involved as I used to be. Concerning my writing, I am pleased that I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing on a daily basis. I used to do that effortlessly, and then I stopped writing entirely for roughly a year. There were several reasons for it, and while it made sense at the time, it made me sad because writing is as necessary as breathing to me. I’ve said before that I write, therefore I am, and that’s never been more evident than in the time when I wasn’t writing.

I’m proud that I was able to stick to my goal of writing a post every day in the month of December (assuming that I’ll finish this one, which I will), even if most of the posts were filled with rambling thoughts that didn’t make a cohesive whole. One of my issues is that I’m a perfectionist, which means I’ll quit if I don’t think something is good enough. The problem with that is I rarely think anything I do is ‘good enough’, so I usually can talk myself out of publishing a post that isn’t word-perfect. I have several posts sitting in my drafts folder, languishing, because I refuse to touch them again. By publicly declaring that I would publish a post a day, I forced myself to write posts that I otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s silly that I have to put such artificial constraints on myself in order to make myself publish, but it worked, so I can’t be that mad about it.

I’ve realized that I still have trouble writing and publishing posts that I consider inflammatory, but I managed to do it, even if I had to lock one of the posts in order to do so. I accept that I have to create reasons for myself to do things I want to do, but won’t for one reason or the other. I’m not happy about it, but I will continue doing it if it means I actually get shit done. I mentioned in a previous post that I want to write and edit one or two trilogies in the next year as long as an anthology of short stories, so my short-term goal concerning those will be to finish the first book of each trilogy in January, at least the rough draft. One is already done, and I have about fifty more pages of the other before it’s done as well. Depending on how that goes, I’d also like to finish the first drafts of all the stories I want to write for my anthology, but I think I may need more than a month to do that. I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I also don’t want to stop pushing myself when it comes to writing.

Continue Reading

A Sisyphean Task

I wrote yesterday about some of my mental health issues that I want to work on in the new year, but the post devolved into me navel-gazing yet again. To continue with that musing, I’ve been thinking about boundaries. In yesterday’s, post, I talked about how difficult it is for me to set boundaries, and today I want to talk about how that extends to my brain as well. I know that sounds confusing, but just stay with me, and I’ll explain to you what I mean.

In my family, my father was big on saving face and not losing face. How he was seen by other people was of utmost importance, and he had this elaborate and byzantine set of rules as to what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. The one example that I use over and over again because it was so bizarre to me at the time is when I told a friend of his that he was playing tennis. I didn’t say with someone else, but that part is pretty implicit in the statement. My father blew his lid when he got home and I gave him the message. He was mad because me telling the one woman that he was playing tennis with someone else was somehow insulting to the woman who had called. My father didn’t bother explaining, but later I figured out that he thought it made him look like a jerk for not inviting the woman to play tennis with him. I didn’t understand it at the time, and decades later, I still don’t think I did anything wrong. However, the overreaction of my father made me chary of giving out any information to anyone lest I provoke the same reaction again.

To this day, I tend to hoard information rather than share it, even if it’s appropriate. My father had effectively drummed into me that you don’t tell–well, anyone anything. My mother reinforced this notion, but for an entirely different reason. If I tell her something, she’ll tell everyone or she’ll take over the idea as if it were her own. She has a way of making me feel incompetent, even when she’s purporting to be supportive. By her taking something over, it says to me that I’m not capable of doing whatever the thing is or that I need to be propped up. I know that’s not her intent, but it’s the practical result. I also know that it’s partly her need to be in control, which I’ve inherited in spades, although it manifests in a different way. In fact, my hoarding of information is one of the ways I try to be in control. If I’m the only one with knowledge, then other people can’t act in ways I can’t control.

Another thing that complicates the problem is that because I’m aware of most of my issues, I am constantly second-guessing my reaction to situations. I know I’m needy and clingy, even if it doesn’t always manifest outwardly, so if I feel slighted in a situation, I automatically think it’s all my fault. Sometimes, it is my neurosis talking, but other times, it’s a valid response. However, I’ve been told all my life that I’m overreacting or that what I feel isn’t really what I feel, so now, I’m hopelessly mixed up as to the proper response to a given situation. It’s similar to how I used to not express my opinion at all, then I went in the opposite direction and expressed my opinion all the time. Now, I’m realizing that it isn’t always important to have the last word, but simultaneously, it is important to not stuff down my feelings and opinions all the time, either. I already feel as if my opinion doesn’t matter, so keeping them to myself reinforces that feeling. It doesn’t help that as an Asian American and being bisexual, my opinion actually doesn’t matter to many people who are caught up in the binaries of black and white, straight and gay.

Continue Reading

Taking Out the (Emotional) Trash

I tackled the concrete things in my life I want to do in the next year in my last post, and now I want to focus on the mental health issues that I want to work on in the upcoming year. This is more difficult because I can’t simply say, “I will set better boundaries three times a day–” Hey, wait. I actually probably could do that. It’s just a matter of discerning what boundaries I want to set and then do it. Yeah, that’ll be easy. A better example is, “Just stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself all the time.” OK, yeah, I’ll get right on that. I’ll just eradicate the thoughts that have been in my brain for nearly forty years like that. I”m snapping my fingers in case you’re wondering. That’s where the ‘write down concrete steps’ comes in, but so much of the advice for combating negative thoughts is horseshit. “Just replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.” The problem with that is I feel as if I’m lying when I say positive affirmations about myself. I can’t tell myself I’m beautiful because that is just patently false*. I can’t tell myself that I’m worthy of love because I don’t know what that even means. The few positive things I can say about myself–I have nice hair and eyes, that I’m smart and creative–I can’t even take any credit for them. I was born with them, and while you could argue that it’s up to me to use my creativity and my intelligence to my best ability, I was still born with them.

The other problem is that some of my best attributes are also my worst problems. I’m empathetic and have a knack for getting people to open up to me, which is ostensibly a good thing. I can hear you saying, “What’s the downside to that?” The downside is that sometimes, it’s more about appearances than actually caring about the other person. I’ve explained before that I need to be seen as a caring individual, which is partly why I exert myself in such a fashion, but there’s also a part of my brain that says, “This might be the only positive interaction this person has all day. Don’t fuck it up!” Again, it’s part of my training from childhood that I feel responsible for everyone else’s feelings. Logically, it’s self-aggrandizing to think that if I don’t respond to someone’s tweet or I don’t follow up on a person telling me s/he’s had a bad day, I’m sending that person into an irrevocable death spiral. Emotionally, it’s how I feel. I’ve been trying to work on it, but it’s not easy. Especially since showing concern and asking questions is like breathing air to me.

The thing is, I feel like a hypocrite when I do this and I’m not feeling it. It’s gotten me in trouble when people think we’re closer that we actually are. For all my caring and empathy, I have a coldness at the core of me. I have very few close friends in real life, and I like it that way. I prefer spending most of my time alone with my two cats. They’re enough companionship and sometimes, they can be too much when they’re being especially bratty. Despite my array of issues, I’m comfortable in my head,** and I can entertain myself endlessly. I don’t want to go out every night, and even when I have something planned that I know I will enjoy, I have to talk myself into actually leaving the house.

Continue Reading

New Year’s Resol–

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I have enough opportunities to flagellate myself year-round without the added pressure of being aware I haven’t lost twenty pounds in two weeks, am more likely to be killed by a terrorist shooting lightning bolts out of his fingers than I am to get married,* and my chances for winning an Edgar Award are slim to none. In addition, in our gotta-have-it-now society, it’s easy to think if you don’t succeed in the first month, you might as well give up for the whole year. A few years back, I decided it was better to set goals than to make resolutions, and ‘they’ say it’s actually better to set concrete goals with discrete steps than to just say, “I want to lose a hundred pounds”, but it still didn’t spur me to actually meet the goals on my list. The last week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about missed opportunities this year, and I’ve decided to revisit the idea of setting goals for next year. Some of them are concrete, such as losing weight (or inches in my case) and publishing a novel, but others are more nebulous like setting better boundaries and not being so hard on myself.

I’ve been reading some of my unfinished (and finished but not completely edited) novels, and they’re pretty good. They’re unique just by the dint of the protagonists being Taiwanese American bisexual women** like me. Toni Morrison said:

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

This is why I started writing prose in the first place, and I resent anyone who tells me that my writing is too niche or that I shouldn’t always write about Taiwanese American bisexual women.

But I digress. My point is that my novels have some value just because my protagonists are not ones you see every day or at all, really. Beyond that, my writing is solid. I write mostly mysteries, and I have a good sense of pacing and characterization. My dialogue is pretty spot on, and I’m really good at planting false, but believable clues. I’m weak on description–I hate scenery with a passion, and I sometimes bog down my writing with too much minutia. Still. I find I can breeze through one of my mysteries and still be engrossed in it. I’ve also notice that I’ve been writing different versions of essentially the same story for several novels. I’m currently working on two different trilogies–I like trilogies for some reason–and I’m trying to decide which one is better. Also, more palatable for a wider audience.

When I write a trilogy, I usually have some idea of the second and maybe the third as I near the end of the first, which is good because I can then go back through the first novel and plant seeds for the second and third. When I write a novel, I have the general outline in my head before I even start writing. Mostly. Usually. I don’t outline on paper because I find it to be a waste of my time. If I’m going to write something down, it’s going to be the actual novel. I usually know who the killer is from the very start, though I have changed the villain in a novel once or twice while writing it. Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of having a different protagonist for each novel in the trilogy, and in an earlier trilogy, I was going to kill off the protagonist of the second novel.

Continue Reading

Is It Over Yet?

Brotherly lick.
He’s lucky he’s cute (on top)!

This morning, my problem child*, Raven, horked on the carpet in the foyer and shit on the bathroom floor. He obviously got into the eggnog and partied too much last night. He’s like the teenager I never wished I had, and it’s a good thing he’s so cute because he’s a pain in the ass sometimes. I was grumbling under my breath as I cleaned both up, and of course, he’s acting as if nothing’s wrong. Merry Christmas! What a great way to start off what’s already a trying day. Before I go any further, I want to stress that I am not dissing people who really get into Christmas. I understand that it’s a thing for many people for one reason or the other, and that I’m the weird one for not caring about it. I’m used to being the weird one, but it’s alienating when it seems like the whole world around you is celebrating something you either actively hate or just don’t give a shit about.

Side note: I don’t care about holidays in general, my birthday included. I don’t see the point of putting so much effort into one day. I feel the same way about weddings,** anniversaries, and any Hallmark holidays. Don’t ask what I think about Valentine’s Day unless you want me to get completely apoplectic.

I try to keep most of my distaste to myself because I know my opinion is not popular, and I don’t want to rain on other people’s parades. I just wish that people who love Christmas would at least try to understand why some of us may not find it as merry. For me, it started fairly early. I wrote an op-ed in junior high school about the commercialization of Christmas, and that was, what, thirty years ago? More than that. Good god. Am I really that old? ::checks all the white hairs on head and concludes, yes:: Anyway, it’s only gotten worse since that. I’ve already wrote that post, so I’m going to focus more on how it feels to be an outsider. I like to joke that I’ve been raised by wolves, but it’s not far from the truth. My parents are first-generation Americans, and they didn’t know much about American culture before they moved here.*** As a result, I missed out on a lot of cultural touchstones that other people my age instinctively seem to know.

In addition, things that have mass appeal have rarely been my thing. I know a lot of people**** think I’m a contrarian because I hate tradition and because I’m an asshole. I can definitely be the latter, but I don’t hate tradition, at least not reflexively. Give me a second, and I’m sure I can think of something traditional that I like….Um….well, there’s…how about…damn. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something in a few hours.
Continue Reading

It’s My Party, and I’ll Tear It Apart if I Want to

My team is better than yours.
We’re number one!

I used to be a sports fan, specifically of the Vikings, the Twins, and the Timberwolves*, more tangentially, the Wild!** I’d watch the games and be elated if they won and despondent if they lost. Even so, I’d get over it in a few minutes and go on with my day, so I never was as rabid as fans can be. I rarely went to a game, and I never painted my face in team colors. I didn’t do the wave or chant that we’re number one, and I usually did something else as I watched the game, as is my wont. Over the years, my enthusiasm in sports waned for a variety of reasons, a primary one being the damage that professional sports does to a human body. The news about concussions and the NFL is horrifying, and I can’t in good conscience support a sport that leaves men battered and brain-damaged by the time they retire.

Despite the intro, this post is not about sports–at least not the kind that involves throwing balls around a field.*** This post is about politics and how rooting for a party and sometimes a candidate online feels very similar to rabid fans rooting for their teams. One thing that always amused me about sports fans is how every call against them is bogus and every call for them is legit, but also about goddamn time! It’s not as amusing when it happens in politics because the latter actually matter in the real world, unlike the former. But, just as sports fans can get mired in the minutiae of the rules of their game, so can people who follow politics get hung up on inside bullshit that would leave outsiders scratching their heads.

Side note: I find this to be a problem with the internet in general. It’s too easy to cosset yourself in some niche and then become convinced that you are the norm because everyone around you agrees with you. You could firmly believe that the sun is a puppet of the great overlord, Dragoonish, a Martian with three heads, two noses, and green skin, and you’ll find at least one person who agrees with you on the internet. I’ve ranted about this before, but sometimes, the internet feels like one big echo chamber.
Continue Reading

The Top 10 Ways You’re Playing Dark Souls Wrong

Pretty fly for an Asian gal!
Fashion Souls: My main look

As some of you probably know, I played Dark Souls and beat it, so obviously, I’m an expert on the game. I’ve written several posts about the experience (trawl my archives), some of which are yet to be published. The game is renown for its difficulty, which is well deserved, and I am so stoked for Dark Souls 3, which comes out in April. I haven’t played Dark Souls 2 yet and should, but for some inexplicable reason, they removed the pyromancy class, which is what I rocked throughout the original Dark Souls. I’ve played an hour or two of DS 2, and it just doesn’t have the same feeling to it. I’m going to revisit it again, but not until I finish Skyrim, probably.

I have a love-hate relationship with Dark Souls, but I can’t deny that it’s stuck with me long past the time I finished it. Even though I was just glad to be done with it by the time I beat it, it’s still the game with which I compare every other I play. I’m enjoying the hell out of Skyrim right now, and in part because it reminds me of Dark Souls in some ways. Not in difficulty as the combat is pretty easy so far, but because I’m dual-wielding fire and a battle axe. Or, I was. Now I mix it up, but mostly stick to magick, only switching to actual weapons when I run out of magick.

Anyway, I beat Dark Souls. Let me say that again. I beat Dark Souls. That puts me in an elite class, which means I have the right to tell noobs how to play the game. Hey, I didn’t make the rules, I’m only following them, and according to the Dark Souls forums, if you’ve beaten the game, no one can tell you shit about it. Which, actually, is a perfect metaphor for when people think they’re experts in something in general. Only they know the one true way, and anyone else is full of shit. So, if you have to hate on anything, hate on the fact that this seems to be the accepted protocol that I’ve decided to fully embrace.

I’m joking, obviously, but my desire to write this post was recently reignited as I was watching a YouTuber play Bloodborne. She was cracking on shields and saying how ineffective they are in turtling in Dark Souls. Turtling is when you hold the shield up all the time, and it’s not the best strategy, but it got me through the first half of the game. In fact, it feels weird not to be holding a shield in Skyrim because I always had one in hand in Dark Souls. I eventually learned to keep it down except when I was being directly attacked, but I never gave it up completely, except to beat Super-Biggie, but that’s another post for another day. It’s really with the Biggie & Small fight (Ornstein and Smough) that I started perusing the wikis and realizing that everything I was doing was wrong. Let me count the ways.
Continue Reading

PSA: When You’re Not Feeling Jolly at Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, despite the lack of snow. Everywhere I go, there are Christmas lights dotting the scenery, Christmas ads on the radio/television, and everyone is talking excitedly about their plans for Christmas. I’m sure if I went to the mall, which I wouldn’t do unless I was under the threat of being killed if I didn’t, it would be full of Christmas jingling and jangling as well. There is so much good cheer in the air, I am practically choking on it, and I can’t escape it online, either. FB pages and Twitter feeds are filled with it, and while I appreciate all the food posts, it can be a bit much. Now, if you’re one of those people who bakes ten dozen cookies for Christmas and put up a tree as soon as the last cranberry is eaten from your Thanksgiving feast, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the problem, Minna? That’s what I love about this time of year! It’s certainly not the cold, damn it. Why’s it gotta be so cold? But the eggnog and the lights and the presents, hell, YEAH! Bring it on.”

This post is not for you. Be on your merry way and enjoy ho ho ho’ing on Christmas. Enjoy the holidays, but please understand that some of us are less than enthusiastic about this time of year. We are not being irritable or depressed or grumpy to cramp your holiday style–we really just don’t like the festivities or all the hoopla surrounding them. It’s hard not to be a fan of Christmas and endure this season. Cut us some slack if we aren’t as holly or as jolly as you wish we’d be. We want you to enjoy the holidays, at least I do, but it’s just not the same for us. For those of you who hate Christmas as I once did, spiraling into depression the minute you hear the first Christmas carol of the year, or who are indifferent to it at best as I am this year, this post is for you. I’ve done a post on depression at Christmas time before, and while I think it’s still a solid piece, I wanted to write one that is more in tune with how I’m feeling now.

I don’t hate Christmas this year. Quite honestly, until this week, I didn’t give a fuck that it was happening. But, somehow, this week, I’ve started to become more irritated at the pervasiveness of Christmas, and I’m counting the days until it’s actually over. In addition, the depression is starting to creep back in as well. I start thinking about how shitty my family life was when I was a kid and how I wouldn’t go back to that time of my life for anything. I’m thinking about how I don’t have a family of my own and how, even though I know it’s not true, it feels like I’m the only person in that situation. To make matters worse (for me), there’s no snow on the ground, my one salvation during this time of year. It’s also that it’s close to the end of the year which means thinking of all the things I have not accomplished this year. I won’t do resolutions because I think they’re bullshit, but I will be thinking of things I intended to do this year, but never did. There are two times I think about the futility of my life, and this is one of them*. The world looks a bit grayer than it did last week, and despite my best efforts, I’m experiencing depression around Christmas. Again. It’s a myth that the number of suicides rise during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t get extra-lonely and/or depressed around this time.

Continue Reading