Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What you want and what I want

…is to be seen.

shadowscapes kings 1

 

I drew the King of Wands today as my daily card. Fitting, really, because I’d just been talking to my mother about husbands and so such and I like the KoW best out of all the kings.

Golden. Charismatic. Warm. Fearless and all encompassing. Creative, with a flair for life.

Thene prefers the King of Cups and said that she knew one. “A kid who knew what he was doing.”

I consider him. Wise. Patient. A listener. Calm arbiter of justice and mercy. Quiet.

Her husband, M, has many of those qualities, in fact.

We both don’t like the King of Pentacles as much. I wonder how much of that is our experience with a man as the sole source of bounty? Thene comments, “I guess I am just not that interested in what the King of Pentacles is selling. Personally.”

I think him both too inflexible and sweet, too single-minded.

I like the King of Swords fine. “Be wise, be just, do what needs must and crush some skulls if necessary”, but then again, I’ve always identified with the Queen of Swords myself.

Even as I would prefer to be the Queen of Wands.

I like the QoS, but I fear that she can just as easily be an obstacle to happiness as for. Thene: “I have never got the impression that the queen of swords perceives happiness as a reasonable or even attainable goal. she is Not About That.”

I don’t know as I agree. I just think that the QoS’s idea of happiness might be a bit cold for most. Perfect justice. Perfect logic. Perfect black and white. Perfect knowledge.

I think that’s why I like the KoW, myself. The QoS needs the KoW to draw her into the sunshine and have fun. The KoC might just sink into mutual angst-fury with the QoS if they’re not careful.

 

 

 

August YNAB analysis

Without further ado:

August YNAB

 

So. Books. Still a problem. Obviously.

Me, in pained accents: “Katia, what am I going to do with you?”

Entertainment was not too hot either. Kev got me into playing Fallout Shelter and I totally went and got some microtransactions going. *sigh*

Me: “You know, self, there’s only so much you can play the depressed card, right?”

Total outflow was $189.58, so technically still within bounds, but meh.

Quantum of Solace

Thene mentioned this before:

The Governor paused and looked reflectively over at Bond. “You’re not married, but I think it’s the same with all relationships between a man and a woman.  They can survive anything so long as some kind of basic humanity exists between the two people.  When all kindness has gone, when one person obviously and sincerely doesn’t care if the other is alive or dead, then it’s just no good. That particular insult to the ego – worse, to the instinct of self-preservation – can never be forgiven.  I’ve seen flagrant infidelities patched up, I’ve seen crimes and even murder forgiven by the other party, let alone bankruptcy and every other form of social crime.  Incurable disease, blindness, disaster – all these can be overcome. But never the death of common humanity in one of the partners. I’ve thought about this and I’ve invented a rather high-sounding title for this basic factor in human relations. I have called it the Quantum of Solace.”

Bond said: “That’s a splendid name for it. It’s certainly impressive enough.  And of course I see what you mean. I should say you’re absolutely right.  Quantum of Solace – the amount of comfort.  Yes, I suppose you could say that all love and friendship is based in the end on that.  Human beings are very insecure. When the other person not only makes you feel insecure but actually seems to want to destroy you, it’s obviously at an end. The Quantum of Solace stands at zero. You’ve got to get away to save yourself.”
It’s become a sort of shorthand, a touchstone, a reminder.
It’s not just a reminder that humanity is a goal, not a guaranteed state of being, it’s also that everyone’s line in the sand is different.
What X defines as being adequate humanity might not make the cut for Y and yet it might be the height of coddling for Z.
The smallest possible unit; the baseline below which if you fall, everything shatters.
I was talking to my cousin the other day, exploring the idea of being in a relationship and when it’s worth it. I finally summed it up for myself thusly:
Assuming that your own baseline while single is either at zero or plus one, adding another person should always raise it to at minimum plus two or three for the relationship to be worth staying in.
I’m not currently looking for a relationship because I’m currently at zero with the needle wavering between plus and negative one.  I’d only want to look when I’m at a solid plus one heading towards a plus two. There has to be something in the tank before you go diving because there’s always going to be something out there that’s going to drain you before buoying you and the latter isn’t guaranteed.
I admit, there’s also a wee bit of man-hating going on right now, so that cynicism isn’t something I want to bring to a new relationship either.  Also, let’s be frank here – no one really heads into a relationship with someone who is knowingly a zero or a negative. It’s not fair to anyone and it’s mostly a waste of time and effort. It could be a learning experience, but seriously, how many of those does any one person need?
No matter what that person brings to the table, no matter what requirements you or they have, no matter any of the standard quantifiable stuff – the real question is “am I happier with this person than I am single”?
If you cannot answer that with a solid “yes”, then it’s time to get the hell out of the relationship.
Something else that took getting out of a relationship to figure out: if you can’t see yourself marrying the person in question, then you need to grow a spine and some guts and break it off.
I didn’t understand that at first and I don’t think my ex really did either.
It’s another line in the sand that I looked at and didn’t see for what it was. He might have known, but either I didn’t understand what he was trying to say, or he didn’t know how to distill his feelings into something that I could comprehend.
It went both ways, which was the funny part. He kept dragging his feet on talking to my parents about getting married and threw a hissy fit in the ring store when I dragged him there and  I told him verbally I didn’t see being able to marry him towards the end. We hurt each other with our reticence, but we were both unwilling to really step back and say “yep, not working” and abort.
If you can’t imagine marrying someone, then something’s wrong there. If there just isn’t that urge to “put a ring on it”, then the emotion just isn’t there. And when the emotion isn’t there, then clearly the two of you together isn’t anywhere near a sufficient positive balance.
That simple. It’s not even math.
Are you really happier with him? Or is it just fear and habit?

The sins of our fathers

More on babies and love and marriage and general shit.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but in my self defense it’s only been, oh, about four or five months since I really resigned myself to the end of a ten year relationship. If I go by what I’ve heard before, which is a month for every year, I figure I still have more than half a year to go.

Seriously though, this came up the other day when we were at lunch. I was talking with my aunt and my cousins and of course, significant others came up again. And of course, there was that song. And then there was that lovely, depressing, uplifting, heart-shattering book by Barbara Bretton…

I heard from someone once that we are our forefathers, that we reincarnate endlessly as our own descendants so long as we fail to learn our lessons, that we can never get away from the cycle until the day we achieve enlightenment.

Wow. Okay. That brings the whole “sins of our fathers” concept to a whole new level of crazy.

I don’t know if I believe it or not. Color me agnostic.

What I do know is the trope of families reenacting the same dramas over and over again, of families beloved by tragedy, of families who can’t seem to get on HEA train, so on and so forth.

My family, both sides, fall into that trope.

My mother’s side is exhibit A of “what not to do” in terms of marriage. My grandfather abandoned my grandmother early on, after getting five children on her, and proceeded to spend the rest of his life with various “secretaries” and mistresses and “housekeepers”. My eldest aunt married someone who gives her stomach ulcers and they seem to lead mostly parallel lives. My mother seemed to have an okay marriage, up until the point where my father really went off the deep end with his midlife crisis, and it’s now kinda at the point where much as I love my father, I think it might almost be best if they divorced. My third aunt married a man who pursued her relentlessly, thinking that he would be good to her, and he was frolicking with another woman while she was bedridden with their children. Then she had a sequence of boyfriends, none of whom worked out, and now she’s with a man who doesn’t really make her truly happy. I don’t know much about my little aunt’s love life, but she and her husband mostly seem happy with each other. Then again, they both work more than sixty hours a week, so god knows when they would have time to get on each other’s nerves. Then there’s my uncle. His wife left him for another man, came back because she (no joke) had lupus and was on the verge of dying, and he succumbed to the blandishments of another woman while she was gone/recuperating, and now the two of them seem perpetually caught in some twisted kind of limbo where he apparently still hangs out with his mistress and yet is still married to his wife and lives in the same house as hwe.

My father’s side…

Welp, there’s my fourth uncle, who probably drove his wife to religion (devout, devout Buddhist) because, dude, that man can be a pill (said by his own brother). Loud, abrasive, judgmental, impatient — yeah, it runs in the blood. Good man, despite all that, but just not the easiest person to be married to.

There’s my aunt, the eldest in their family, with five boys trailing after her, who caught her husband cheating with a woman in their bed.  She’s who I think of when I think that it does a woman no good to be all blade and no sheath. A lovely woman, generous to a fault, and active in the community, but… I suppose her husband tired of her being a fishwife, deserving of it or not.

If my father’s recollections of his parents’ relationship can be believed, his mother was an endless nag and his father long-suffering and their fights legion and legendary. If he can believed, his father went to his grave complaining about what his wife had kept him from achieving.

Then there’s all of their friends and relatives. I don’t think I know of a single happy marriage in any of my grandmother’s circle of friends and I can’t think of any happy marriages in my parents’ generation either.

Then there’s my generation, with my cousin and his wife who is at best indifferent towards his family and my other cousin whose wife loathes his family and then there’s me. We don’t seem to be doing so hot either. Before you ask, there’s a lot of drama going on with the daughter in laws. It’s not so simple as saying “fuck it” and leaving it alone except for holidays.

So let’s not talk metaphysics and quackery. Let’s talk about environment and learned behavior. Let’s talk about role models and expectations and failed expectations. Let’s talk about the society they grew up in and the world we grew up in and whether or not we take on their broken dreams through osmosis.

In a way, it’s not about just me. Of course I want a happy ending for myself. Despite my airy words and casual gestures, of course I want it all.

But it isn’t just for me.

I want something better, something more lovely for my children if I have any. I want them to be happy, to be secure in a world where they know that their parents love each other and them and would do anything within their means to cradle their family in safety and love for as long as they reasonably can.

I’m not talking helicopter parenting. I mean that bone-deep assurance of being loved, of knowing that you are loved for you, that there is someone waiting to catch you if you should fall. I mean the knowledge that there is possibility of a HEA out there for you, that it can be done, that not every marriage and relationship has to end in bitter acrimony.

Sure, I know there’s the lottery winners, but in the same way that people often don’t believe that what tragedies that touch other people will descend upon them, it’s hard to believe in fairy tales when everyone you know intimately says otherwise.

It’s not so much a happy ending for me. I think I could live without the traditional happy ending. I could probably get over it and deal, eventually. I just don’t want this for anyone after us. If our family doesn’t know how to be happy, if our family can’t figure it out, isn’t it in a way better to just cut everything short?

I just don’t know.

 

 

I will be… Beloved

Yep, the capitalization is intentional.

I heard a song today, a song that made tears sting my eyes. In sorrow, perhaps. In rage, maybe.

白狐 White Fox

我是一隻愛了千年的狐  -  I am a fox that has been in love for a thousand years

千年愛戀 千年孤獨 –  A thousand years of love / a thousand years of loneliness

長夜裡你可知我的紅妝為誰補  -  in the long nights, do you know for whom I apply rouge

紅塵中你可知我的秀髮為誰梳  -  in this world, do you know for whom I comb my hair

我是一隻守侯千年的狐  -  I am a fox that has waited for a thousand years

千年守侯 千年無助  -  a thousand years of waiting / a thousand years of helplessness

情到深處看我用美麗為你起舞  -  let me use my beauty to dance for you (in my love)

愛到痛時聽我用歌聲為你傾訴  -  when love is painful, let me use my song to speak for you

寒窗苦讀 你我海誓山盟銘心刻骨  -  (when you were) studying by a cold window, we vowed forever to each other
金榜花燭 卻是天涯漫漫陌路殊途  - (when you) succeeded at the exams and married, we were lost to each other

能不能讓我為愛哭一哭  –  may I cry for (our) love?
我還是千百年前愛你的白狐  -  I am still the fox that fell in love with you a thousand years ago
多少春去春來 朝朝暮暮  -  how many years have passed, how many days and nights
生生世世都是你的狐  -  I will be your fox for all of my lifetimes

來生來世還做你的狐 — (repeat of the above and then…) next reincarnation I will still be your fox

Additional clarification:

The lyrics said that she has 守侯 waited for a thousand years. But, really, that phrase is more than that. 守 can mean to guard and 侯 means to wait (often with anticipation), so it carries connotations of safe-guarding and expectations. It’s not just waiting, essentially. It’s not sitting around doing your own thing, with a book or your own life, it’s waiting with anticipation for something eagerly awaited, something precious that she is keeping safe.

寒窗苦讀: to study by a cold window – usually used as a metaphor for how difficult it used to be to be able to pass the Imperial Exams. Usually used in conjunction with ten years, as in cold window ten years, as a shorthand.

It seems that he saved her a thousand years ago, when she was a fox, and now that she was able to take on human form, she came to him while he was still in his poor, struggling days, and they vowed their love to each other. The usual is that for most scholars back in the day is that they had to spend a lot of time studying and was thus often starving/broke because they didn’t have the spare time to work. That’s part of the whole “cold window, bitter study, ten years” thing.

Then, he made it, passed the imperial exams, and then got married. Back then, it was not uncommon if you were first or second in the exams, that the emperor would give you a princess or a noble to marry, or often if you had a sponsor, the sponsor would give you their daughter in marriage. It’s implied that he married someone else because of that sort of thing and so she made like the little mermaid and turned to foam or something.

Just …no. No. No no no no no no no no.

Thene and I were talking kink the other day and she mentioned that some people have a kink for pining. I came back with the retort that I got over that kink by the time I graduated from college.

I really want to take that fox by the shoulders and shake her. A thousand years and you haven’t learned better? Get your heart broken, be betrayed, and you haven’t learned enough to say “fuck it” for next lifetime?

This is what’s considered romantic, which is the frightening thing. Talk about socialization and brainwashing.

No.

If I had a thousand years, I’d do something with myself. If nothing else, I’d teach myself to be self-sufficient. I’m a fox who has managed to break the laws of the universe enough to be near immortal and take human shape – dude, I have much better things to do than pining over some wretch who doesn’t appreciate me properly.

You get one chance. You betray me and we’re done. What’s this bullshit about doing it all over again? No. Just no.

Jesus.

I need some “fuck you and the horse you rode in on” songs to get that out of my head. So much nope.

On the other hand, I totally want to fanfic this now. Of course, she’s going to dump his sorry ass once he betrays her and find some other hot fox to run off into fairyland with.

Soft. Softer. Softer still.

What’s in a name?

My cousin said the other day that she liked 君 (jun), word for ruler or lord or gentleman, the word that our names share, because it was more 霸氣,  more domineering, more confident, more more, all those things that a girl might want in her life in this world.

I love that word too, but I don’t know that I want to keep it.

What I thought, but didn’t ask was: what has being hard brought me anyways?

A reputation for being a force of nature. Broken expectations that shattered my love. Ruined health from all the anger and despair I choked down with the notion of being strong. A bitter spirit and a cynical mind. Being thought to be impervious and thus fair game. Simultaneously the person who surprises people with my love of long hair and longer skirts and the person once compared to a declawed kitten.

The thing is, it’s not enough to be hard. It’s not enough to be domineering, arrogant, and unrelenting. Not unless you’re prepared to go all the way, dive off the edge of the world, and declare yourself to be an island unto yourself.

Logic. Reason. Sobriety. All tools that I used to keep myself safe when in actuality I was drowning in denial.

According to the Chinese stars, I carry three tigers, a torch, and three knives; the horoscope for my faults say that I “possess a significant capability for damage”.  Essentially, I’m a walking arsenal, a one-person army. My brother laughed and said that my new nickname should be Godzilla.

The thing is, like I said, it’s one thing to be Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, but it’s another to be Cleombrotus or Napoleon. Or worse, someone who isn’t even noted in the annals. Either you go all the way, or history will sing of someone else.

All of the fortune-tellers that I’ve met have looked at my stars and shook their heads. One of them, more recently, said that my independence and stubbornness was … all right in this day and age. His tone said it all, that it was good that I was born in these times because if I were born in an earlier age, I would have been sent home to my parents in disgrace as a wife discarded for lack of virtue.

I know it.

I look in the mirror and I see a hard woman. An unhappy woman. The lines between my brows. The grooves that bracket my mouth. The downward tilt of my lips in rest. The awkward way a smile sits on my face when it’s not buoyed by genuine mirth.

Ignorance is bliss. I’ve always thought thus, but in the past I would push past it with the thought that if I could not be soft and content in my ignorance, I could persevere, could push past with sheer will and surmount everything that stood in the way of my happiness.

But no.

In my stupidity and youth I made a fatal mistake.

I thought I could be a sword, lethal to obstacles and a sharp tool to gain me what I wanted, what I needed. But I wasn’t. I was a dull chef’s knife, one prone to slipping and cutting into the hand wielding it, inefficient and cursed.

No. I don’t want to be one of those women who use their femininity as a weapon. I don’t want to be demure and resigned either.

However, there has to be a happy medium, one in which I can set aside my constant need for revolution and be content with defending what I want and need.

I don’t want to be a broadsword, nor a needle, but perhaps I can be a soft sword. I’ve always been fond of that (mythical?) weapon and I should have taken a hint from that. Soft enough to be used as a belt when at rest, resilient enough to be wielded as a whip, but capable of driving into stone when infused with will.

The key right now is deciding what I want, what battles I will fight, and what lines are drawn. If nothing else, at least I have the enviable chance of being able to figure that out right now.

There is a poem that goes “ten years I have honed my sword/ never has it been tried/ now I show it to you/ and ask what injustice is there”.

What sword have I honed and what injustice is there?

Updates, things and stuff

So. August was a bit of a wash. By which I mean all of my plans and good intentions ran into reality the way Typhoon Soudelor wrecked Taiwan.

Which, by the way, was kinda awe inspiring in the sense of watching a volcano erupt really puts a human in their place. Half the trees in the city are gone because they got uprooted. Windmill blades were torn away. The winds blew so hard that glass shattered in their frames. Huge numbers of people lost power and water and a good number of people lost their homes entirely. The person who came up with the saying “human perseverance can triumph over nature”? I don’t know what shroom he was on, but it must have been the good stuff.

The good news is that all the visitations should be all done now. I went to Japan with my family for our annual “quality time” trip, then to Guangzhou China to see my grandfather, came back to Taiwan and took a train down to Hualien to see my aunt.

All that travel was exhausting and literally sickening; I spent about five days in bed to recover and I think I’m only now over the worst of it. Mixed up somewhere in there was the worst depressive episode I’ve had in years and that alone took about a week to get past.

Tangent: I no longer get peevy about authors dropping off the face of the planet, leaving unfinished series behind. It’s upsetting, yeah, but I got no room to talk, and if the statistics are true about writers having some of the highest depression/suicide rates around…

The bad news is, of course, that almost nothing got done.

Welp. September is a new month and I’ve decided to mute everything except the writing until I get at least one thing done, even if it’s just a short. No more accepting dinner invites, no more travel, no more visits, no venturing out from the writing cave.

The other good news is that I think I know what’s wrong with the second book now. I remember how I struggled with book one until I woke up, slapped myself, and cut it from 122k to about 62k. There’s a lot going on in the book right now that I don’t think strictly needs to be there and I was running myself ragged trying to pay equal attention to all the things that needed it.

So. Characters are going to get trimmed and events are going to get pushed back. The latter is kind of problematic because I really don’t want this to turn into a ten book series. Especially because the cover artist who did my first two covers has disappeared off the face of the planet with my third cover and I can’t manage to get in contact with her. I might need to suck it up and just have a different style of cover for the latter books in the series, but right now the uncertainty is killing me and any motivation for the project.

Yeah. I’m a ghost shrimp. Everything has to be just so or I start freaking out instead of being productive.

Then again, Phoenix Chosen is currently quietly sitting in the corner in terms of interest and sales, so I might be able to just shove it in a corner and ignore it for a while until I figure out the artist.

Or, I just might release an epic-length book and have it in parts, with each part being a discrete book.

*flails*

We’ll see.

My Kelly-darling has come up with crits and edits for the first portion of Goddess in Waiting, so that will probably end up being what I concentrate on in September.

*stares up at the heavens* No more typhoons, please.

 

A question of false scarcity

I was reading C.L Stone’s Ghost Bird series today and it got me to thinking. A lot. And unfortunately, not in a great way.

I blew through all seven available books, so I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed them. I also signed up for the newsletter so I can one-click as soon as I get news of the latest installment.

Despite that, I have these faint sensation of …I don’t know, guilt?

I almost feel like I shouldn’t like them on principle. Despite the funny. Despite the great writing. Despite a lot of things that C.L Stone did right.

Main reason?

There’s this notion, perpetuated throughout the books thus far, of scarcity. The idea, that Sang is so very special in so many ways, and she is so absolutely sweet and adorable and amazing, that all nine men are completely crazed about the fact that she might be stolen from them.

Because, you know, of course, there’s no other sweet, adorable, amazing, wonderful women out there. And of course, these incredibly hot, gifted, able, sexy young men have this one shot at having a relationship and if it falls through, poof, their romantic lives are over.

So the guys are all part of the The Academy. And they’re all involved in doing a lot of undercover, kinda dangerous, could pull them away at any moment kinda things. Their team is considered their chosen family and they’re expected to interact with each other in perfect love and perfect trust and they share almost everything and are pretty much so deeply in each other’s pockets that they can’t breathe without jostling everyone else.

It’s sweet, really. The whole thing is really adorably sweet and funny and it’s why I love it, but still.

They meet Sang and immediately every. single. one of them is smitten with insta-love and this need to protect her and keep her for always.

At some point they adopt her into their family, without letting her know precisely, IIRC, and then shit gets real. Shit being that she’s a “ghost” because her familial circumstances, really truly oddly enough, made it so that she has almost no documentation of her existence. And shit being that she’s so amazingly special and wonderful and awesome and talented and clever that all the other teams of the Academy are almost certainly going to want to entice her to their teams.

This is a huge part of the drama, guys. Huge.

So because they don’t want to lose her and because apparently there’s only one instance in which a girl (bird) joined an all boys (dogs) team, they start freaking out over how to keep her. This instance, apparently, in which the girl married all four of the dudes and they lived happily ever after. In all other instances, apparently either the girl left the group, or the group got split up (oh noes!) or something equally tragic happened. And of course, if there’s a bird in the group, the guys can’t have outside love interests because of course the outside love interests would never be able to cope with their man being so intimate (say it with me folks, perfect love and perfect trust) with another woman.

*heaves a sigh*

I have a huge problem with this. I really do.

It doesn’t help that Sang literally doesn’t not have any close female friends for the entire series thus far. She meets one nice girl, but she still isn’t capable of actually opening up to her. ONE. One of the love interest’s sister is also nice, but she clearly portrayed as younger, so not really in the picture either. Her half-sister doesn’t care for her, betrays her, is envious of her, etc. One other girl that shows up a lot is really villainous to the point where she’s almost a caricature and the other one is just …yeah no.

Then whenever the boys talk, it’s nothing but how awful other girls are and how the rest of them are shallow, manipulative, gold-digging, evil creatures and Sang is like the last drop of purity on this benighted earth.

…okay.

I have a lot of “hell the fuck no” here.

We women are already trained to endlessly compare ourselves with each other from a really young age. We’re trained by society to believe in scarcity.

Scarcity of high level jobs open to women. Scarcity of “good men” to go around. Scarcity of a lot of things, including deep and abiding friendship between women as equals.

Media teaches us that other women are out to get us. Our indoctrinated world view teaches us that it’s always the female’s fault, either our own or the fault of the other woman, never the man’s.

Husband strayed? Must have been enticed.

Passed over for a job opportunity? The other woman must have slept her way to the top / been a complete and utter ball-busting bitch.

Bosom buddies? Think frenemies instead.

If all else fails, it’s clearly our own fault. We weren’t nice enough, pretty enough, sweet enough, skinny enough…

I’m not saying blame the guys. I’m not a man-hater.

I’m just frustrated by this atmosphere of fear that many of us live in and I’m frustrated that often, instead of campaigning for equal rights, instead of insisting on higher standards for significant others, we instead are encouraged to compete for the few golden seats. As if it were some kind of preordained shit, that there only be so many female CEO positions, that there be only so many good men to go around, that women were made to backstab each other while smiling sweetly in each others faces.

And I cannot help but feel that even if the Ghost Bird series doesn’t contribute to the problem, it also doesn’t try to solve it. Oh yeah, don’t forget that they keep brushing off the idea of her joining an all bird team because apparently there’s a lot of in-fighting and catty shit that goes on with those teams and the guys just don’t want her mixed up in that.

*face palm* ORZ

For one thing, I get that Sang is amazing and all — but do compliments to one woman really necessitate putting down all the other women in the world?

For another thing, it’s really, truly, not helpful to encourage women to disbelieve that men can have non-fucking friendships with another woman. The whole intersection of this with bigoted views of homosexuality is another rotten kettle of fish. Just because someone could fuck someone doesn’t mean they would or would want to.

For yet another thing, I hear SEAL teams need to really trust each other. I also hear that they don’t have like a 100% divorce rate. I’m pretty sure that of the ones that do have their HEA, they don’t need to share wives to make that happen.

Yeah, yeah, the idea is that guys and a gal working together somehow creates this magical alchemical process that pretty much necessitates wuv, true wuv. Not buying that either.

And again, can I repeat my utter disbelief that these nine hot guys can only find true happiness with this one person? Nine?

…really?

And having nine men worshiping at her feet isn’t sufficient, but somehow this one small woman is going to be irresistible crack to all the Academy guys?

*shakes head*

You know what? I would have loved to have read that the all bird teams were just as amazing with each other. I would have loved to see Sang join an all bird team and then have them go on awesome adventures together and then each find a “dog” to pair up with. Or two. Or three. Or four if it just had to be done.

I’m just going to point out that there is such a lack of female companionship in this series that it is one of the love interests who plays with her hair, puts on her makeup, and does her clothing makeover. *sighs* It’s also not-great that they keep driving in the point about the Academy being mostly guys. Well why is it mostly guys? Seems to me that a lot of what they do could be done just as easily by women and since Sang does appear to be good at things… again, why/how is she so special? Does she really need to be that amazingly special? And truly, again, do we really need to rub in the whole scarcity complex to death? There is not a dearth of amazing women out there. There is, also, in fact, not a dearth of women warriors. As someone said once, women fought; they have always fought.

You know what else I would have adored? If even two of the guys weren’t interested in her romantically. Two out of nine ain’t bad, right? And hey, it could have been the two older handlers. Show that men don’t need to be romantically interested in a girl to find worth in her. That men can cherish a woman without his smaller brain prompting it.

*sigh*

Again, I really like the series. I do. I really like Stone’s writing style and her sense of humor.

I just wish that instead of painting this view of the world, she could have done something else. Something more hopeful. Something that could serve as a blueprint for happiness for more women, not just the one.

 

Messaging 101 on OKCupid

Really, I should have titled it Messaging 0.1, but hey, I’m feeling nice today. Btw, this is directed mostly at guys because, surprise surprise, being het means I get guy messages, but this applies to women too.

1. Read the damn profile. Seriously. For reals. Just read it. There’s nothing that turns me off faster than realizing that you didn’t take the time to read the profile. Especially the “you should message me if” part. You know, the part that says I’m not open to random hookups or sex. And you know what? This feeds into #2, because if you knew enough not to commit #2, then at least you’d know enough not to send me a one-liner proposition for sex and you might have gotten further even without reading my profile.

2. This cannot be reiterated enough: do not proposition a woman for sex in the very first sentence. Triple no-no points if that’s all you send. Quadruple bad-dog points if you do it in a slimy way that’s also ridden with grammatical errors. Just don’t, okay? We all know that if you had the charisma/wit to get sex with one line, you’d be doing it IRL. Even if it did work and I believed that you’re just that awesome, you wanna think about STDs and how those are totally gross? If I think that your bedposts look like beaver munchies from all the notches on it, I’m going to request a full physical before even thinking about kissing you, much less sex.  I don’t know how guys logic, but if you can’t manage to walk up to a woman in a bar and pick her up with “hey sexy, wanna fuck?” then I don’t know why you think that’s gonna work on the internet. Of course, all bets are off if you’re a billionaire, but then I’m guessing if you are, you’re not on OKCupid.

3. Don’t just say “hi” or “what’s up” or something completely inane like that. It’s boring and it makes you apathetic. Which, hey, if you’re mass-sending “hi”s to everyone you vaguely think is attractive or everyone who you think maybe could be persuaded to bone you/give you a blowjob in the restroom of a restaurant, maybe you are, but there’s no need to let your quarry know. I’m at the point where I’m tempted to just unload my real feelings about the day to anyone who asks that.

Look, we’re on OKCupid. That gives you a bit of an in, a wee bit of leeway, if you will. So charm me. Persuade me that you’re cool, that you care, that going out on a date with you is going to be fun.

For that matter, don’t ask me what I’m doing. If I’m sitting around, able to respond to your messages, I’m unlikely to be doing anything too scintillating. Sad, but true.

4. Desperation is not hot. Repeat to self as necessary. Cockiness isn’t either, not unless you’ve got something to back it up with.

5. If you initiated contact — it’s on you to actually start the conversation. I’m sorry if that seems like a terrible, unjust, horrible thing to have to put on you, but if you messaged me and you’ve given me little to work with, that’s your problem, not mine. I’m not saying make like a dancing bear to attract the female, I’m pointing out that since YOU messaged me, presumably there’s interest on YOUR part, so now you need to rouse interest in ME.

6. Having a complete profile really helps. If you message me and I go to your profile and it’s a whole lotta blank, then guess what? Your need to carry the conversation you just started just got more imperative because I have no earthly clue how to even begin to talk to you. Having a complete profile that is written properly, without typos, is a huge plus, also.

7. Try to seem like a person, okay? I know we’re all huge bundles of awkward and we have no idea how to interact with other live beings to get what we want, but at least try to pass the Turing test. If I can get better convo out of a chat-bot, then we have issues. Also? We’re on the internet. If I use a word you don’t get, Google is your bestie.

8. I get a lot of “let’s just talk, because reading someone’s profile is lame/boring/inefficient”. Yeah, well, honey, I got news for you. I spent time on my profile. I actually put thought and shit into crafting it. So when you tell me you can’t even be arsed to read that — you’re telling me you don’t respect me or my effort or my time. If I don’t feel the love from you, guess how much love I’m gonna return? Yep, that would be zip, nada, zilch.

And dude, if you can’t be bothered to read a profile that’s oh, less than two pages, how much do you think I believe you when you say you’ll actually put effort into getting to know me, in OR out of the bedroom? Life’s too short to date someone who you know probably can’t be bothered to make sure you orgasm if you have sex. That’s all I gotta say.

9. Do not try to move things into meat-space immediately. I’m female. I’m petite. I’m also super aware of all the crazy lunatics out there and I have absolutely no wish to just be a statistic. You might know that you’re not an ax-murderer, but I don’t know that. I have zero desire to go out, spend money/time/energy on a date that might end in fire before getting a sense of how cool/uncool you are. And yeah, that includes calling/texting. I’m not about to give my number out to people willy-nilly. By immediately I mean one convo does not mean we’re friends. Maybe if that convo was an intelligent conversation that spanned hours, but maybe not even then.

10. If you don’t wanna play, don’t initiate, okay? Before I get screams about how this is all a lot of bullshit work, I’m gonna tell you that being in an actual tru-fax relationship is going to be a hella lot more work than this. Everything has a price. Do you or do you want to find someone to be in a relationship with? Get that clear first. If you’re just lonely and that loneliness can be filled up with video games/booze/drugs, then better save yourself and others some time.

 

 

Expatriating, repatriating, and “sea-returning”

Thene mentioned someone at work talking to her about sea turtles.

For the record? Us Chinese love our puns. Love love love.

Sea turtles (海龜), pronounced exactly the same as sea-return (海歸), which I think is short for “海外+歸來” which means returned from abroad. Ocean-out, obviously, meaning abroad.

So, many kids who went out for a degree/work experience and came back are called sea turtles. So technically I am one. Except I’m not. Yeah, really, I’m not.

I’m not even repatriating, really, because the overall consensus is that “repatriation means returning to a country you call home/ once considered your permanent home.” 

Yeah, no.

I was born in Taiwan, lived there for two years before my parents brought me to the US, and then they brought me back between the ages of eight to twelve. That’s a grand total of six years, which is a fraction of my age at this point.

So…. I’m expatriating?

*cringe* It feels really, unbelievably strange to say that, but in many ways I am. Part of it is because I’m technically first-gen Chinese American, so telling anyone that I consider myself expatriating to Taiwan is one of those “it’s a long story that I’m not sure I can explain adequately without bringing out way too many citations of studies” things. It doesn’t help that most people have little to no sympathy for the emo-angst-crazy that is currently frothing in my brain.

One of my friends pretty much told me not to whine about anything once I got back because it was my choice. Yeah. Well. Many of them are giving me the kicked-puppy look of “you’re leaving???” and at least one of them, a housemate, is all “you’re turning my life upside down“. So talking to them about how kicked in the gut I feel to be leaving is …well, awkward buttons abound.

My relatives are universally thrilled that I’m returning, which is another whole bucket of awkward considering how very ugh I am about having to do so.

This is the point where I feel like I should be building a .gif library because I feel like this is a post that would be better with ten times more gifs. Preferably made up of gifs, just to lighten the mood.

Because, really, I’m not …depressed, per se. I’m not angry. I’m feeling a fuck-load of resigned and a butt-ton of gratitude in addition to a fuck-ton of “oh god international move oh god why me oh god”, but I’ve made my peace with the need for it and most of the “oh fuck me now” stems from the horror that is packing up your life, distilling it down to maybe six large suitcases, and saying farewell to everything you’re leaving behind.

(I’m still grieving over having to give up my car. I love my P-chan…)

In case it didn’t become clear, this “author blog” is likely to turn into an “omg, expatriating to Taiwan as an Asian” blog. I vaguely debated setting up an entirely different blog for it, but eh. Might as well add in a topic that I can talk about a bit more so my blog doesn’t feel like it’s in hibernation 99% of the time.

So, expatriation.

- I have no friends there. Like none. Any friends I made were in elementary school, which means pre-facebook, probably pre-myspace, pre-whatever, so I have no way of getting in contact. Also, like, who really hunts down their elementary school friends to hang out after more than a decade of no contact?

- I have my relatives, but dude, I don’t really know them either. Whatever memories they have of me are tragically focused around how crazy I was as a rebellious teenager and welp, that’s not really me. I’d say it isn’t me “any more” but really, it wasn’t me back then either. I wasn’t rebellious, I was having conniptions about being dragged from the life I knew in the US to a place where I knew no one and was functionally illiterate when I had been reading adult level fiction. Then I was having fits over failing to integrate, being bullied, dealing with a school system where the teachers could punish you by caning your palms publicly in a show of pain+humiliation, culture shock, and the complete lack of sympathy and help from my family. So yeah, I kind of consider those three to four years that they knew me as one huge protracted mental breakdown.

(Truly, I need some funny gifs for this post. I really do. Hey, suggestions welcome.)

- I won’t have a job and I’m really, totally foggy about how even to begin to get one. Whether or not I can physically hold one down is a huge question, but other than that, I’m uncertain what my CV can do for me there and what channels are open to me.

- I won’t have a car, I won’t be able to drive there for a LONG while because Taiwan has some crazy shit going on with their drivers, and I will have to learn stuff like whether or not google maps will work for the public transit there or not.

- I have no idea where to buy groceries. Where should I go to buy block Gruyere and Parmesan? Where can I find salami? Where should I go to find spices that I want? I know there’s Costco and Welcome, which had a good portion of what I needed last time to make seafood spaghetti, but would I be able to find grass-fed beef, sausage, and bacon? I’m spoiled from living in Boston, where if I want grass-fed oxtail, I can go talk to my butcher friend, who is more than happy to trade me a pound or two for some banana bread. Considering that I think over 90% of the beef consumed in Taiwan is imported, would I even be able to find sustainable grass-fed beef? (Yes, yes, first world problems, got it, but I really do try to make an effort to eat much less meat and eat meat that is organic/ pasture-farmed when I can. All of my shopping and eating habits will be turned on its ear and I have no idea how to begin to adjust right now.)

- I’m going to be living with my parents. Like I said previously, I haven’t lived with the both of them together since I was maybe seven. It’s going to be a whole new learning experience to be back in the home and balancing their seeing me as a child while expecting me to be an adult and coping with their relationship dynamic. We’ve made great strides towards understanding each other in the last year or so, which is the only reason this plan is even slightly viable, but really, I don’t feel like we know each other. Suffice to say my parents and I were pretty emotionally estranged from each other for the majority of my life.

- …I have no earthly clue if I’m going to be able to come back to the US. This part is huge. There’s the matter of the health issues. First they’re going to need to figure out what it is, which might take some doing. If it does turn out that I do have some kind of autoimmune disorder, then it might take another bit of doing for them to stabilize it, make sure it’s stabilized, and for me to learn how to cope with it and not accidentally cause it to cascade. Then there’s the fact that even if I found a job in Taiwan, earning NT to try and make enough money to move back to the US might be a wee bit difficult considering the exchange rate hovers around 30:1. Then there’s the process of repatriation back to the US, which is unlikely to be simple or easy for multiple reasons.

…but, really, it’s not all gloom and doom. For one thing, it helps me when I hash out my thoughts and feelings. Knowing that I consider it expatriating and knowing that I’m unlikely to get a whole lot of support from people I know for whatever lies ahead is useful. Understanding what challenges lie ahead will, hopefully, prompt me to actually find solutions for them rather than just dwelling in self-pity. It’s also better for me when I allow myself room to be stressed, to grieve, and to allow myself the slack I need to keep moving forward.

I just need to remember that ultimately, even though I hated almost all of the moves I’ve made in the past, particularly the international ones, I have ended up in better places as a result.

Next post will be more light-hearted, I promise. (Again, I need gifs!)

Now that I’ve gotten the gloom and doom bits out of the way, there’s actually lots to anticipate about going to Taiwan to live. For example, the fact exists that if I wanted to, I have a good shot at getting into Taiwanese medical school without having to test in, simply by virtue of having eaten more than eight years of fries. I consider that absolutely fucking hysterical, by the way. I don’t think I stopped laughing for hours after I found that out.

I’m also getting cautiously excited about the Europe trip that I have planned with my friends as a farewell thing this summer. So there are definitely good things in the future.