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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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

On Shaving, pt. 2

I wrote “Smooth” as part of a collection I’m working on about Asian-American-ness. Actually, I workshopped it at the New England Young Writers’ Conference a few weeks ago; the conference required workshop pieces to be one page, max, or I probably would have expanded it.

Anyway, when I wrote it back in March, I was hunched (unhealthily, I guess) over my laptop, sitting cross legged on my bed, remembering when this actually happened (i.e, my mother touching my legs the first time I shaved). I meant to make it creepy, weird, because that’s how I felt—completely creeped out and weirded out. Continue reading

On Shaving, pt. 1

Smooth

The lack of light was striking—I bore my eyes to the cool air, staring forward into the ceiling. The blackness was oily and flowed into my ears. I sucked in the damp, summery fresh-shower scent as my mom crawled onto my bed. Suddenly her cool and rubbery fingers pricked my kneecap, then pressed down my shin and trailed upwards to my thigh.

“Whoah, so smooth…” her voice tangy and thick like strawberry puree, coolness smoothing down my leg, tracing up the shin. “No hair!” she murmured. Her fingertips slid down, up, down.
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