This Culture

Today, I was washing the dishes when my mom’s phone rang—I yelled her name, and she came to pick it up. It was Mrs. Q. Aw, they haven’t talked for like a year—they’re catching up! I thought. My mom always takes calls through speaker phone, so as I returned to scrubbing a particularly stubborn spot on our wok, I heard the words “two honors programs at UT.” Uh oh. I should have known better. This wasn’t just any how-are-you-doing call. This was a Kid Call.

A Kid Call is characterized by a very, very brief greeting (in this case, less than 10 seconds)—perhaps a long, drawn out “Heyyyyy”—followed by a question about your kid—in this case, “Where did Isabella get into college?” Two honors programs at UT. I don’t really know what they are, haha. I haven’t really been keeping track of what she’s doing. “But where did she apply early action?” Harvard! She didn’t get in, haha. (It continues.) “Ohh. Where else is she applying?” “Who from Westlake got into Harvard?” “What about Stanford?” “Wow, Westlake’s gotten so much worse, they used to have so many more Harvard admits and Stanford admits.” (N.B. This dialogue is translated from Chinese.)

I remember now. The last time Mrs. Q called was in February 2017. She had seen my name on the list of the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards winners and called my mom to ask how I did it—perhaps my parents had hired a writing coach, in which case could they please tell her the name and phone number of the coach? Or perhaps I took after-school lessons, which perhaps might suit her son as well? This was also a Kid Call.

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Unselfish Vulnerability

Today, in Capstone Research, we continued discussing a research article analyzing the movie Big Hero 6. It thoroughly examined the setting of the film and its characters, making the argument that the film doesn’t fully realize its potential to move us forward in deeply accepting other cultures. A main sentence from the paper’s abstract: “Big Hero 6‘s agenda to promote hybridity is undermined by latent hierarchies suggested by the process of its world construction and binary oppositions constraining the development of its secondary characters.”

I didn’t like it for the primary and petty reason that I found the writing style was eloquent at best and almost overbearingly dense at worst. Therefore, going into the meat of the piece, I already had preconceived notions—that the author was pretentious. That then helped me see the piece as a ‘Social Justice Warrior’-type perspective on race—did the author really need to find fault with something as basic as the landscape of San Fransokyo? Did the movie directors really need to fully explore each side character’s backstory in order to fully promote a message about race? Continue reading

How To Enter Senior Year

(Disclaimer: I speak recognizing my place as an incredibly privileged, upper-middle-class student. More on that later.)

1. With trepidation.

Because we’re human. And we’ve been waiting for this. I know that for me, I often think, “I’m never going to be 30,” or “Yeah right, people get married, but that’s never going to be me.” Throughout middle school, I lived in an “I’m never going to be a high schooler: that’s crazy.” Throughout high school, I’ve convinced myself, “I’m never going to be a senior—never going to reach the college application stage and face those beasts. That’s crazy.”

Here I am.

Time works real weird when we quantify and personify it like that, and so here I am, much too quickly, near the end of my high school career. Tomorrow is going to be my last first day. This is going to be my last HS fall semester. It’s mind-blowing to think that I’m at the ’12’ in ‘K-12,’ and simultaneous with the thrill of being on top and in sight of the tunnel-end light… is some variation of fear.

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Thought on Race on the 4th of July

Imagine 3rd-grade me, little quiet skinny Asian girl, sitting cross-legged in the Music Room, feeling snarky.

Now, listen to the chorus of this song:

 

Now, imagine little me singing (quietly and self-satisfied-ly):

“Me, and me, and me and me and me and me and
Me, and me, and me and me and me!
I am part-American, part-American, part-American, me and me!
Part-American, part-American, part-American! Me and me!”

 

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The second great wave of immigration from Europe was largely comprised of Irish and German immigrants. The Irish tended to settle in large cities on the eastern seaboard, looking for low-paying menial jobs in factories and such since they were generally very poor. The Germans, on the other hand, tended to settle more inland, since they came with a good amount of money. Low-income Americans, black and white, hated the new Irish because they were making the job market much more competitive. They were generally more ok with Germans, according to APUSH.

Today, do you know the difference between the Irish-Americans and the German-Americans (or whatever-percent Irish/German someone is)? Do you care?

Maybe I’m late to this realization, but here’s my thought. The same is going to happen to Chinese people in America. Continue reading

Advice to Future Juniors

Junior year is hard. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again, and soon, you’ll be saying it yourself. I just came out of it alive, as a student at Westlake High. Here are my two cents on junior year survival.

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1. Treat your time like money. 

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Bra Fitting

Early November

 

I got a bra fitting for the first time last Sunday.

Hey, I’m 16 years old and I’ve always kinda joked that my chest is too small to need a bra anyway. I’ve more than survived on ‘training’ bras and bralettes. I guess that looking at enough girls at Westlake High School, models on Instagram, fashion sites; breasts that look good have a roundness that you can really only get with padding. Besides, everyone has real bras; no, everyone has bras, and I’m the only teenager in her right mind that has never hooked one before.

My mom is very supportive of my transitioning (from Asian to white). Continue reading

A Semester in Review

I’m going to start off by saying that this was hands-down, no-doubt the worst and hardest semester of my life. But I’m going to continue by saying that much of that has had to do with my selfish attitude, more than anything.

It seemed like everything I earnestly tried, I failed. Even the things I’d taken for granted that I’d obtain (Latin Club elections). So many things going wrong, that nearly every week there was a new crisis (I must sound so pathetic and self-absorbed right now; sorry). Each crisis would prompt a full-on crying session in Latin (1st period) or APUSH (8th), and if the latter, it’d usually continue into the car with Marika who has had to comfort and calm me too many times this semester. Continue reading