to celebrate national novel writing month (or the unfortunately nicknamed "NaNoWriMo") this year i will spare myself the white-hair-inducing effects of writing 50,000 words in the month of November by writing a story a day.
these stories will be of any length and veer into any territory i wish. the idea is for me to write one a day for every day of november. these will be first drafts with minimal editing.
if you are into any of it. please comment below! perhaps you can help me figure out if there's ANYthing in these stories worth adapting or polishing into something awesome.
story 11. cornrows hurt (by jenny yang. monday, november 11, 2013)
the cornrows hurt. they seemed like a good idea at the time.
my face was burning with tears and i couldn’t stop running. i could barely feel my legs as i ran through the dark of the quiet neighborhood. no one was going to stop me. i could’ve been just a late night jogger for all these suburbanites knew. except i was an Asian girl with cornrows wearing a bright silver motorcycle jacket over a poofy pink cocktail dress with sneakers. how did any of it make sense?
all i knew was that i needed to run as far away from the party as i could.
torrance, california was not the most likely place for a raging party but the entire school was going to be there. this was going to be the first time i was going to show the other students that i was my own person. i am not just another shy asian girl in a sea of straight-edge banana republic wearing asians.
school was so boring! going to my high school was like clocking in and out of a factory job. we all had to fit into this idea that we were going to have 2.5 kids and a dog and buy a house in Torrance just like our parents. but not me. i was a chinese girl in the middle of a bunch of japanese american and korean americans. i learned how to eat spam musubi before any of my friends knew about what it means to light incense and bow to an alter of my grandparents photos. i had a real name that no one was going to pronounce correctly. Yee-Fahng. But it’s spelled Jih-Fang. (I know. makes no sense.) i felt like a sparkle of silver in a sea of beige.
this was the party where i would debut my new hairdo and awesome outfit. but when i showed up, it was my own friend key-arnold poitier who would laugh at me in front of everyone. i had known key-arnold since i was in the second grade. she was my first black friend and the closest friend i would have until that freshman year of high school. even she never got cornrows, always relaxing her hair into a cute straight bob. but i wanted them. because they made me feel different than all the other asian girls with straight black perfect hair.
“you got some kink in your hair, jenny!” key-arnold would say, whenever i complained about my hair being wavy and outta control.
“i wish i had asian hair,” i would complain.
“um….” key-arnold would give me a side eye. i couldn’t even begin to understand what she had to do to style her hair.
so when i showed up to the house party, at the very least i thought maybe key-arnold would be happy for me. i was finally doing all the stuff i told her i wanted to do but was too afraid of what people thought. she knew i was getting my hair done, but she didn’t know it was gonna be corn rows.
“hahahahah! what did you do to your hair, jenny!? you look carazy!” is not that reaction i was looking from my close friend. granted, she had already gotten a little tipsy. but still. the moment i walked in the front door and she said this to me everyone looked at me. it may have been better if they all just laughed out loud the way key-arnold did. instead, they got really quiet and just stared. this felt infinitely worse.
“please tell me you are not trying to be black, jenny.”
that was the last thing i heard from key-arnold before i bolted back out the front door and just started running. i couldn’t call my brother to come pick me up so soon after he dropped me off. my house was probably more than six miles away. but i didn’t even know if i was running in the direction toward my house. i just had to run. this was going to be the debut of the new me. i failed at being a good, quiet, fit-in-with-the crowd girl. no one would have me. i had just asked out the cute japanese american boy greg to sadie hawkins. he was way in with the crew of third generation dudes who had super american first names and long ass syllabic japanese last names. he said no, in front of the whole lunch table. i was mortified.
i was never going to really be a part of them. it’s like they knew that i was always going to be weird inside; that i wasn’t really being honest when i would giggle and nod at what the boys were saying.
and then, that night of the party, i wasn’t even doing a good job at being different.
i kept running until there was nobody left to run away from.