Fall Foliage: Maroon Turtleneck + Black Open Back Sweater

Turtleneck, thrifted L.L. Bean | Shorts, sponsored by Tobi ($54) | Necklace, Love Nail Tree
Sweater, sponsored by Tobi ($35) | Shorts, Kohl's | Boots, Amazon ($30)

More thesis writing:

..I grew up with two linguistic mothers, but Mandarin and I had drifted. English, after all, was my primary language, the language I used most. It was the mother who gently rocked me throughout the day; she was the language of my everyday rhythm at school, the language of my teachers and classmates. At night, I would curl up into her warm embrace, devouring countless anglophone novels. Her lullabies were the hum of the radio and the murmuring of my favorite TV shows. And so I clung onto the first thing I could hold, the mother who was most familiar...
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Classic Colors: Wine Red Button-down + Black Cross-Back Dress

dress over button down outfit
backless dress outfit modest
subtle ombre wavy medium hair asian
dress over button down outfit
dress over button down outfit
gemstone necklace
Dress, sponsored by Tobi ($88) | Button-down, thrifted Primark | Shoes, Target ($17)| Necklace, street stand in Oxford, UK

"Have you been writing lately?" 

"Yeah, for my applications and thesis," I chuckled wryly.

Things have been beyond hectic lately as I tackle two theses (one in math and the other in French), fellowship applications, marathon training difficulties, a part-time job with a startup, and other unexpected challenges. I've been writing quite a bit lately, but not for leisure.

My French thesis, however, is one part creative writing and one part analytical. The creative writing will focus on my quest for the French language and my identity questions as a Chinese-American. 

Here's a little excerpt for now, until I get back to normal life blogging.

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“What do you want to eat?” My grandfather prompted me.

I felt panicky. We were at a neighborhood noodle bar in Hangzhou, my mother’s hometown. I was a high school sophomore, and it was my first trip to China in seven years. What do you want to eat? I would normally respond to such a question with unabashed eagerness, but deciding what to eat here meant reading the menu—a menu written uniquely in Chinese. The enigmatic characters danced dizzily across the pages. I frantically searched for familiar words, preferably “vegetable” and “vermicelli.” My grandfather couldn’t know that I was essentially illiterate in Mandarin. He would surely be more ashamed than I already felt. Mandarin was one of my mother tongues, yet it felt so foreign.

I found my vegetable vermicelli, and my grandfather barely raised an eyebrow. But I was solemn during the meal, and pensive during most of my three-week family trip. I had assumed that our stay would mean scrumptious street food, misty landscapes, and an inordinate number of mosquito bites. Instead, I found culture shock and uncertainty...
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Hugs,
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"Welcome to America": Maroon Blazer + Black Criss Cross Top

Cleveland, OH, USA
maroon blazer outfit, black criss cross shirt outift
maroon blazer outfit, black criss cross shirt outift
maroon blazer outfit, black criss cross shirt outift
navy tie knot shorts outfit
Blazer, LC Lauren Conrad | T-shirt, sponsored by ZAN.STYLE ($27); also on Amazon ($14) | Shorts, thrifted Mango | Shoes, Target
Photos by my brother

I received this t-shirt from ZAN.STYLE in exchange for an honest review. I wrote a more detailed post on ZAN.STYLE a couple weeks ago, but didn't get a chance to feature the second piece they sent me. I'm incredibly happy with the t-shirt--the material is so soft, and the cut is versatile and edgy. If you haven't already, take a gander at my previous OOTD with my thoughts on the site!
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It's been awhile since I've written my life here. Since launching Thank You for the Tragedy, an online collection of romantic tragedy memoirs, I allot my free time to skype essay editing sessions instead of photoshoots and daydreaming. 

I've been writing, but elsewhere; I've penned my personal love tragedy, a reflection on my year abroad, postgrad fellowship essays. I've been writing, but it's been awhile since I've let myself write aimlessly. My thoughts yearn to waltz across this blog again--unrehearsed, clumsy, and free.

So I'll take these 10 minutes for myself and write.

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"Welcome to America," says the man passing by.

"Thanks, but I was born here..." I reply, bewildered.

The witty response always comes too late. Dang, I should've said "You, too."


On my walks and runs, I almost always greet any passersby with a smile and "Hello!"

This time, I wish I hadn't.

"Hello!" I smile at the older trio strolling through campus.

"Ni Hao," one of the men replies.

I'm too dazed to respond.

Perhaps these words are meant to be well-meaning and compassionate. Instead, they feel malicious.

If I'm greeted with "Ni Hao" before I speak, then that person has assumed my identity from my appearance. It's ignorance at best--they're not wrong, but there's much more to my identity than my ethnicity. If I'm greeted with "Ni Hao" after I speak--in English just like theirs--then they are refusing to accept me as a fellow American. That's a step beyond ignorance, and is far from well-intentioned.

The witty response never comes. Sorry, I don't speak Chinese? That would be a lie. Bonjour? Well, that would sure confuse them. But I already said hello. Have a good night? Too polite. You, too? Even more confusing, but all the better. Not you too.


"Welcome home," says the immigration officer when I clear customs in Boston.

"Thank you," I smile and tuck my navy passport back in my coat pocket, "Have a good night."

Funny how one word makes all the difference.

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