Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Annette & Jordan/Yuan-wei: Graduation

Annette:

This probably comes off as a little weird, but since both Jordan and I graduated from college a couple weeks ago, we figured it would make sense to do this as one post together, rather than bore you guys twice.  We were going to do it right after my graduation, but we got really busy - I'm moving in with her for the summer, and that takes some effort, we've both been looking for work, she's got immigration things to figure out...

Jordan:

We really need to get an Inn person into ICE so that we can say "I was born here" and they'll believe you and find a way to make everything work.  Sure, I'm not the sort of person those fuckers target, but who knows whether Americans will freak out about Chinese people by the time they can send me back to Hong Kong for overstaying my student visa in a couple of months.

Worrying about that sort of stuff was part of why I thought about skipping graduation altogether.  I'd done it before and it seemed kind of strange to invite those who remembered back for another one, and it also meant that Chen-ai was going to be there.  We avoid having to pretend to be family these days, but some things can't be skipped without people hitting you with way more pity or suspicion than you want to deal with.

Despite switching up my studies after my first year as Yuan-wei, graduating late or the like was never going to happen.  I didn't get the marks I'd hoped for on "I, Fembot" even though there weren't a whole lot of complaints about technique.  Someone thought it was tacky for me to use those themes and dinged me for that. 

Annette:

If only they knew!

Jordan:

Whatever; all the folks I've shown it to who have been turned from men into women and had to deal with new urges like it, and it gives me something to show prospective employers on Vimeo.  Freaked Harmon out to see the finished product, though.

And Ernesto seemed to think it was pretty decent.  He jokes about the best part being the brain he made and seeing "Alicia" vamp it up after being so prissy off-camera, and kind of doesn't entirely get that he does a lot of the "guys expect too much of women" stuff we're spoofing, but he thinks it's funny anyway and is impressed that I did some coding for some of the effects work.  He wanted me to show it to his family on Saturday night, but his grandmother seemed like she wouldn't be amused by the sex stuff.  On the other hand, not showing them stuff we'd worked on together made them positive that I was his girlfriend.

Annette:

You should be his girlfriend.

Jordan:

Even if I was interested, Chen-ai would destroy him and you know it.  You notice I haven't heard from Jacky at all since dumping him?  You'd think he'd be at least try to win me back rather than just giving up.

Annette:

Apparently not having a penis for four years doesn't get "no means no" to sink into a guy's head.

Jordan:

You're a fuckin' riot.

Anyway, Sunday was the big day.  I got a bunch of texts in the morning, half congratulations and half asking what was going on later.  I didn't get to meet anybody who had come to town for it before heading to the building, dressed a little nicer than I initially planned to.  It was hot and humid enough for cutoffs and a crop-top, but Romain was going to be there, so I did wear a nice dress under my robe.  It would have been nice to send Chen-ai home with pictures of me looking trashy, but Romain deserved better.

Annette:

Is it weird that I've got a crush on Romain and René as a couple?  Like, I want to figure out how they could fit me in?

Jordan:

YES.

Anyway, graduation was, like, pretty much the same as the first time, only longer, and I was doing it in heels this time.  Not a huge deal - I've made stilettos my bitch by now - but not ideal.  Ernesto's folks waved, Chen-ai nodded, and that was that.  I was kind of glad Romain had decided to forego sitting in the audience (even with a couple of seats between him and Chen-ai, it would have been fucking torture for him), even though he'd wanted to be here.

Chen-ai had a list of places where she wanted pictures with "her graduate", so we ran around town for the rest of the afternoon.  I think the only time we really spoke during it was when she decided she wanted a snack at Flour and set out what sort of budget I should adhere to in various cities.  We had the conversation in Mandarin, at her insistence, leading her to say Beijing was out about halfway through.

Annette:

What's the furthest from her you could reasonably go?  New York?  London?

Jordan:

You joke, but...

Annette:

So, did she just fly in for the ceremony and then leave?

Jordan:

If she did, she's got a demonic ability to avoid jet lag.  But, no, I think she arranged some business things, and I figure she wanted to talk with Bingbing at some point.

Annette:

Must have been later in the week, because I was fifth-wheeling it with her & Max & Romain & René until you got to The Changeling, and she didn't even get a text.

Speaking of, how awesome was the cake Ashlyn and Jonah got for us? 

Jordan:

FUCKING INSANE. 

Like, I know Ashlyn likes to doodle and draw, but five or six pictures of us as we were from before we went to the Inn until we're in caps and gowns printed on a lenticular card and put on the top of the cake...

And it was a damn good cake!

Annette:

Plus, the look on Max's face when you mentioned carbs...

Jordan:

The hotness does take more than good genes and yoga to maintain, sadly.  But I guess that's another thing I've learned and gotten better at these past four years, right?  Learning how to handle my body so that, no matter how it's shaped, it looks and feels right and shit.

Annette:

To tell the truth, I'm still not sure what I want to be like that.  Sandra left me kind of skinny and living with a bunch of judgmental sorority sisters after I'd just come off three years of eating like a guy.  Like, that was kind of tough on me, and it really messed me up a lot this year, trying to catch up with low blood sugar all the time because I felt like I'd forgotten how to be a woman and tried to follow their lead.

Jordan:

And yet, you brought your GPA up over your senior year.

Annette:

Not by that much, but I've got to admit, it felt good.  My    was never actually disappointed with how Sandra or I was doing, but when you come back to your original life, you want to do better, make them understand that what they've been seeing wasn't the real you.  And I think that's why all our friends from the Inn who threw us that graduation party did it as a combined thing, because they knew that I'd want the end of the week to be just for me and my mom, even if Max is the only other one I know who's really been able to come full circle like that.

Anyway, I didn't have a hot/humid commencement like you did, and guest tickets were really at a premium, but it was kind of amazing.  I felt really lucky to be graduating from such a top school, kind of pinching myself as we got closer to it.  It's stupid, I know - everyone else in the class has kind of taken going here for granted after four years, and I've experienced literal actual magic three times, with half my friends being part of a secret club that even the most elite legacies here don't know about.

But I did it!  I did it despite strange supernatural forces sending me onto other paths.  I did it despite having to spend my first year doing it from afar, living vicariously through a girlfriend, and then having to catch up.  I don't know if a tag-team post is the right place to say it (feel free to delete this paragraph when I hand you the laptop, Jordo), but there were a lot of times where even though Jordan was the person who understood what things were like for me the most, I really resented her.  Every visit to the Inn made her younger and more attractive and was like a second chance, while mine seemed to take me further from where I wanted to be, making me older and with my options seemingly narrower, and really just a stroke of luck getting me back to my real life and worried I wouldn't fit in it any more.

But I did it.  Even if I don't know what I'm going to do now.

Jordan:

Me neither.  It's kind of fucking terrifying - I don't know what country I'll be living in by the end of summer, and the whole thing with Romain the past few weeks has been goddamn weird.  He wants to be here for me finishing what he started, but he and René don't want to take back their old lives.  But that's an improvement; at least he's willing to talk with me at all now.  I think he's kind of curious what I'll make out of his old life.

Annette:

I think I'm going to wrap it up because I've got a Skype interview early tomorrow, but I want to make sure you say the thing before we hit Publish.

Jordan:

Ugh, does it have to be a fucking announcement?  (She's nodding)  Okay, fine.

I changed my name.  Back, sort of.  When I watched the finished cut of "I, Fembot", it didn't feel right, but it didn't really hit me until later that it didn't feel like mine with "A Missy Lee Film" on it.  I fucking hate being called "Missy" - not even "Melissa", just plain "Missy" - and no offense to Romain, but I can't see putting it on my résumé or in credits for movies and the like.  I can deal with "Lee Yuan-wei", but a lot of folks here want a Western name, and since Jordan can be a girl's name, I decided to reclaim it.  I'll be "Jordan Lee" from now on.  First use of that is on my diploma.

Annette:

And, honest, I think that's a way cooler graduation/commencement thing than just moving a tassel on your hat.

Jordan:

Says the person who's not filling out a bunch of forms.

Annette:

And with that, I'm going to bed.  Wish us luck as we try to figure out what tomorrow is going to bring, but in a perfectly normal way!

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