Dear, Adolescence

Dear Adolescence,

As it is my last year as an undergrad, our relationship seems to be coming to an end. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. Because of you, I was always moody; I never knew why I felt the way I did. Because of you, I got fat, lost a crazy amount of weight, and put on the pounds again. Because of you, my skin has never looked worse. Because of you, I could stay in bed for 14 hours, wasting my day away. It was really stressful, you know? So, don’t take this the hard way, but I’m looking forward to something else.

But before we say our true goodbyes—I know I’m going to have my weak moments—I have a few questions for you. Will the good parts be as good as the times we had together? I’ve heard a lot and people seem to just want to get back together with you. And the sleeping less thing. I’m particularly interested in that. We wasted a lot of time together in bed and I would really like to need less sleep.

It’s been a good run, A, and I’ll never forget the good times we had together. You taught me a lot about myself; I love to laugh, to be immature and silly, and that I can’t possibly survive without friends. You gave me the energy to rage for three consecutive days at Lollapalooza on five hours of sleep each night while still attending aftershows and such. You gave me courage to pull off a spontaneous hair dye that was a little too bright for my skin tone. And being with you was like hiding in a safe haven; never did I have to worry about paying rent or if I could make it on my own.

You know, on second thought, maybe we don’t have to completely cut it off. In fact, why don’t you stay for another, let’s say, 10 years? Does that sound good? … please? I promise we’ll do fun things like travel around the world, go to all these music festivals, etc. Yeah? Ok, great! You promise?

In that case, I’ll start writing a letter to Adulthood.

Yeah I know he’s a bore.

Love,

Michelle

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My Inner Hermaphrodite

When I was little, I used to be a tomboy. Ok, maybe that’s an understatement. I may have, at one point, said to my grandmother one day, “There are two parts to me: one’s a boy, and the other’s a girl.” In my defense, I was talking about fashion. 

I don’t even remember what led up to that point of the conversation, but it was out there.

She may have been asking why I didn’t dress nicely, or something silly like that. I didn’t see the point—as long as I was properly clothed, nothing was wrong, right?

Ok, sure, sometimes I shared a wardrobe with my grandmother. And by sometimes, I may mean that everything I wore I had stolen from her closet. Oh, and did I mention that I wore the same sweatshirt and jeans every day? For two years?

Anyways, as I was telling her, there was a boy part and a girl part (not physically speaking). I think I was trying to say that at that moment, I was more boy than girl… in a fashion sense. Which is still a pretty strange thing to say.

That was also the day that I became certain that she loved me (sure, she’s said it before, but from the way she refused to let my gorge myself to obesity, I had my doubts). There’s no other explanation why, upon hearing that, she did not immediately bring me to the nearest insane asylum. Also because Asians don’t believe in insane asylums.

I think we would all agree that the fact that I still had friends was a miracle in itself.

Unhappy Anti-Father’s Day Tribute

See? Totally being ignored.

So. Today’s Father’s Day, huh? You want me to celebrate your being a father, Dad? No, and I will tell you why.

Remember winter, 10 years ago? You thought you were being such a great dad when you started that snowball fight with me. I did too—for the first few pebble-sized snowballs.

You still thought you were doing your job when you got way too into the game. I should’ve seen it coming. It’s happened before. When you were trying to teach me how to play soccer and ended up bowling me over to score a goal. When we were racing and I tripped and instead of stopping and picking me up like a good dad, you made sure to win before coming back and helping. I’m also sure you may have been chuckling but the giant splinter the size of a chopstick was distracting me.

So here you were, being all into the game again. I couldn’t tell the snowballs you were making were getting bigger and bigger. I was 10 5. My visual judgment of size hadn’t yet developed—the snowballs still looked pretty small in your hand! I should’ve left then, but we had just started playing!

It took you less than 5 minutes to score a face shot.

Who does that to their child?

I’m pretty sure that on that day, the snow was basically ice too.

Sobbing, I ran back into the house—you were still chuckling (seriously, have you ever stopped since I tripped?)—and you chased after me. Ok, that part, I have to give to you. It took you less time to chase after me than before (but since I technically forfeited that snowball fight, you had already won, so there was no point in dallying).

And, while I was examining the damage done in the bathroom mirror, you apologized.

Well, at least you apologized.

And I guess you even made me some hot chocolate afterwards.

Ok, you got me. You might not have been the worst dad. I’ll celebrate Father’s—

—Wait. You didn’t make me hot chocolate. That was just something my brain made up to make me feel better. Instead, you made fun of how red my face was and told me not to let it get in the way next time.

Nope. You’re not getting it. You’re not winning this time.

I’m winning this time, old man.

Unhappy Anti-Father’s Day.

Ha.

How Fear Stopped Me From Finishing Swim Lessons

They were bouncing. Again. Those boobs. They stared me in the face, bobbing, as if waving hi. Yes, the swim instructor was jumping up and down on the diving board, but that doesn’t give them permission to just flop around like that. I couldn’t stand them.

Shivering, I stood there, clutching the rail, wondering–the way little girls do whimsically when they don’t know how harsh a blow reality is capable of–what I would do if I was assigned that swim instructor.

I loved swimming and I did it well. I passed the levels faster than any girl my age ever did. I was the youngest person to finish 10 levels by the age of 9. There were only 2 more levels to go until I made it to the top; when I become top dog. Nothing was standing in my way. Not even my friend who secretly competes with me because she let our parental rivalry get to her.

The whistle blew. It was time.

I watched as each girl get paired up with someone other than that swim instructor. Even when there was only one other girl left–two girls for two different instructors–I still didn’t comprehend.

“And… Michelle, you have Jack!” 

I blinked.

No… it couldn’t be. I was paired up with that swim instructor. And the eyes on his chest were staring at me.

Do you understand now? I was afraid of MOOBS. 

Maybe I thought it strange because he wasn’t even fat. He just had a pair.

My prodigal-like swimmings skills now worked against me. I was a pioneer of the Porpoise Level. I went where nobody went before–and that lead me to one-on-one lessons with Manboob Jack.

I spent the next 3 weeks trying to blind myself. I kept my eyes in close range to the water, allowing quick escape down under. When he showed me how to perform a certain technique, water would always be in my eyes. While swimming laps, the further I’d get, the slower I would swim.

I say 3 weeks because on the 3rd week, I wouldn’t come out of the locker rooms. My mom found me in there crying because my mental health couldn’t tolerate any more of the moobs.

She took my misery seriously and braved the manager and somehow, I got assigned a petite woman. I went on to successfully complete all 12 swim lessons, which led me to… absolutely nothing in high school.

I was very lucky to have a mom that would defend her child when she had an illogical fear of moobs. Years later, when I asked her about it, she told me that her excuse was that I was uncomfortable around men–even though I’ve been successful in swim lessons taught by men before. She also said that she was lucky to have thought of the excuse because the boy was the manager’s son.

I’m still unsure why I was so scared of moobs. Some people are scared of spiders; others are scared of snakes. But me? I was (am?) scared of moobs.

Love, Fanfiction Style.

Thanks to fanfiction, I had a very clear idea of love by the early age of 11. I wholeheartedly believed that my soulmate was nearby, possibly in my class and spent a majority of time trying to seduce said soulmate.

My soulmate would have a heightened awareness of my presence and find my irresistible, due to the way I smell, laugh, and possibly breathe. Even the particular way my clothes wrinkle. And my clothes wrinkled beautifully.

Sometimes, I would sit down with someone and talk to him. It didn’t matter what I said, I was sure that by the end of our encounter, he would be smitten with me.

Occasionally I’d throw in a lip-bite here and there as the bazooka of my arsenal.

Now, I didn’t just throw my seductive wiles out there aimlessly. If you thought that, shame on you; you should’ve known better, seeing how well-prepared I was up till now. I had a couple of targets chosen carefully to meet the criteria of a real man, according to the Hermione/Draco fanfictions I preferred: aloof, emotionally stunted, and generally loathed me.

There were many reasons for the hate requirement. First, it would make for the best kind of love story, one filled with angst, emotional rollercoasters and the hard, rough grip of a fifth grader’s definition of passion.  Second, I was sure that he hated me only for appearances and the fact that he hasn’t gotten to know me yet.

But until he realized I was his soulmate, I figured we’d fight with each other and be unnecessarily snarky. I went through all three years of junior high as a hyper-agressive WonderWoman without her sense of justiceI was proud when I gave one of my potential love matches a 3-inch scar on his shin from where I kicked him.

In junior high, I also put my hair up every day to invest in my big reveal. I was trying to make everyone forget what my beautiful self looked like with my hair down. And then, at some big moment some years later–preferably at a big dance with a double staircase entrance, wearing a yellow dress and holding the hands to a giant animal-like prince–they would see me with my hair down and then I’d have a hard time getting the guys off me.

Strangely, after all this trouble, I never met my soulmate! I became quite frantic–if I wasn’t able to find someone while I was 11, how was I supposed to meet anyone later on? I’m getting behind on the game! Some people in my fifth grade class already had steady girlfriends and boyfriends!

My day finally came one eventful day in 7th grade.

The big reveal. 

It was everything a girl could dream of.

A few boys ganged up around my desk during passing period. Somehow, I knew this was it. My heart started pounding in my ears. This was my moment! But which one would it be? At this point, I’d be willing to take any of them.

“Why is your hair always up?” 

Shyly, I shrugged, blushing demurely like a fanfiction heroine. The key here was to be alluring yet mysterious–this makes them want to know more about me and soon they would be caught in my web.

He reached over and took off the elastic on my ponytail. I acted horrified, throwing my hand up to catch my hair before it cascaded wonderfully down my shoulders, blinding them with my beauty. They needed to work for it a little more.

“Come on, let me see,” he insisted.

Well, what’s a girl supposed to do? Deny her soulmate? That’s ridiculous.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes momentarily before releasing my hold on my hair.

A long pause. I heard Cinderella birds chirping, marriage bells, and a crowd.

The shrill sound of a bell screeched in my ears. Passing period had ended and they walked back to their seats.