Monday, May 29, 2017

We’ve been told that all good things must come to an end. Even things that feel permanent. Stuff that maybe we take for granted. Like this town. Or for me, my mom. So how tightly are we supposed to hold onto the stuff we love? Really tightly? Or not at all? Should we be sad when they go away? Should we fight? Or is letting stuff we love go inevitable, like the old adage says?

- The Last Boy and Girl in the World, Siobhan Vivian

I’ve been reading young adult fiction a lot more lately, but it’s the frank, endearing, non-simpering kind of young adult that I swallow in small bites and finish feeling satisfied. I think it’s because I finally relate to it, the catch and release, even though I still love middle grade fiction.

One such book is The Last Boy and Girl in the World, by Siobhan Vivian, and I couldn’t put it down. You can, of course, google the blurb and read what the publisher says it’s about, but for me, it was a story about a girl who was trying to do everything and anything to compensate for things she couldn’t control and feelings she didn’t know. There’s a boy in the book, but it’s more about the moment than the boy itself--the feeling that, in the face of The End of a town and a lifestyle and a stage in life, really the only thing you can do is ask “why not?” and leap forward.

My town isn’t being flooded by river water. I’m not having a breezy romance with someone I wouldn’t have a chance with in any other circumstance. But these past couple of weeks, I’ve been collecting moments, moments where I feel like Keeley, the last girl in the world, trying to do whatever whenever because I can.

I’m listing my collection of moments down here. They might seem small. I’m not one for doing actually crazy stuff or getting in trouble just for the heck of it, but I’m also not one to lose control, either, so for me, these were exhilarating and spontaneous and everything that I don’t do on a regular basis.


Breathing in dollar store fumes as my friends and I plaster someone’s car with Saran wrap, Silly String, and Post-its. When she comes out, we hide behind a car, then surprise her with an air horn that only has two horn noises in it. It’s an eight-dollar prank with a thousand-dollar value. We’re a little too loud, but I blame it on the fumes.

Quick, syncopated heart thumps, because the garage door opens and our friends jump out, squirting water guns at us. Two minutes later, more people pop out from the backyard and dump buckets filled with water on our backs. I’m wearing jeans, but it’s hot out, and I’m laughing.

After they ambush us, we hop in our cars and go to Yogurtland. On our way back, we race, wind whipping through the open windows. They’re blasting some kind of trap music, but we’ve got Jesus music from Air1 going on, because my bluetooth isn’t working that day.

Accidentally lighting my marshmallow on fire, then squishing it between two halves of graham cracker and Hershey’s chocolate as my family roasts marshmallows literally and each other figuratively.

Sitting in the car after a good gym workout, muscles aching pleasantly. I only exercise for the endorphins.

It’s too hot to do anything else, so during our youth group picnic, I dig out the water balloons and start a fight. Everyone targets me. I feel attacked, but in a positive and uplifting way.

I finally convince all my Asian friends to dress up as bananas for our last high school dance ever. I’m pretty sure only we get the joke.

Chocolate-chip banana bread, waffle fries, fried chicken, s’mores, cookies, ice cream, three days full of junk.

My mother wakes me up at six-thirty to go to Newport Beach. I go from sleeping in my bed to sleeping on the sand, listening to the waves crash.

So far, this is my collection. There are plenty more that I haven’t thought of and many I don’t remember, but it’s the ones that you do remember that count.

What’s most important, however, is the fact that moment collection spans across one’s entire lifetime. Because even though this is a small list, more will be added later, throughout different sections of my life. Once I move past the Last Girl in the World stage, I’ll add moments from the Reality Bites stage, moments from the Always & Forever stage, and so on.

It keeps going, and the fact that it keeps going keeps me going, too.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

I’ve spent the past few weeks of my life tossing crumpled dollar bills into car cupholders, laughing so wide my cheeks force my eyes to close, drinking caramel frappes at midnight, scribbling on car windows with markers bought at the ninety-nine cent store, talking to people I’ve never talked to before in my life. Some say it’s living; some say it’s life; some say it’s the last few weeks of high school.

The wifi at my school cut out, because all the juniors are doing state testing, so I haven’t been able to work on the writing course I signed up for. And when the wifi is on, I don’t know what to write, because you can’t write about what you’re doing when you’re in the moment. You just have to live it. Sometimes you have to sit there, in a silent classroom, and stare off into space and think about what you’ve been doing and what why you’re doing it and what more you want to do. Thinking is scribbling things on the chalkboard in your head—at least, that’s how I justify doing nothing.

The last day of school, for me, is June ninth. After that is a week of senior activities, June fifteenth is graduation, and after that, we’re done.

I’m done.

I’m relieved and I’m screaming and I’m exhausted and I’m exhilarated and I’m everything I have been in the past four years and more, because I’ll be done and we’ll be done and and I’m sad, but also, I’m not.

I’m not.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

I’ve long hated how I look. Asians, as a whole, have features that don’t adhere to modern beauty standards, and my features, at times, feel more markedly different than normal. I have a list of complaints that I’ve long typed out but never had the energy or guts to genuinely write about: my eyelids aren’t creased, which makes makeup a chore. My eyelashes are practically invisible. My body structure is short and stocky. If you look at me from the side, you can see how flat my face is. My cheekbones are hidden under a layer of face fat that I cannot get rid of, and when I smile, they shift and make my eyes disappear. When I stand with my feet together, my thighs fight for room. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I think to myself, I’m freaking ugly. Most times, it feels like the truth.

The disparity between me and the conventional standard of “beauty” has bothered me for a long time, especially with the onset of Instagram culture. Every day, I scroll past pictures of people with long, straight hair and big eyes and slender bodies, and for the short moment that I absorb the picture, I am them, in their Vsco-edited worlds and trendy clothes and thrilling, exciting lives. It’s not even so much about the people themselves as it is what they exude: confidence, regality, well-being, wanderlust, independence, youth. It’s everything that everyone wishes he or she could have, and nobody has all of it, even if it seems like he/she does.

And I think that’s the key. We like the way attractive people look because, well, A) they look good, and B) we like the things they represent. If I only look like that, I’ll be more confident, we think, or, If I look like that, I could do anything. We have an “outside-in” mentality, one that states that our outward appearances dictate how we look.

But in truth, we should have an “inside-out” mentality. What’s inside of us should affect how we act and how we present ourselves. Confidence founded on one’s appearance is shallow and unfruitful; confidence founded on faith, on assurance of one’s standing with God and in the world, is fathoms deeper. Beauty fades, but character stays.

It’s only been more recently that I’ve begun to find contentment with how I look. I’m seventeen; I’m not going to look any better than this. My metabolism will only be this fast once in my life, and I can still eat pretty much anything and not suffer too significantly from it. I’m learning to treasure what I have and not focus on my own exterior too much, because I’d like to people to see me for who I am, not for what I look like.

But here’s what I do like about myself, physically: My bones don’t ache when I walk and run. I’ve never suffered severe injury. My taste buds love fruits and vegetables. I love to exercise. I like the fact that my voice isn’t too high. And I do like my smile, and my laugh.

But more than that, I’m thankful for all the people I know, all of whom are some kind of beautiful, and for the gifts they’ve given me: of friendship and grace, forgiveness and understanding. That is beautiful, the kind of beauty that will only deepen as it ages.
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