It struck me that what I'm writing here is an excellent derivative of my life. That is to say, it doesn't really describe what's going on, it describes the changes in what going on. I first noticed this when I got concerned about the lack of technical content (and tech-related content, like - say, engineering education) on this baby, and then realized that this was because I already saw that as an innate part of my identity and thought "but of course I'm doing some technical stuff, and of course I'm still doing some engineering education stuff," and assumed I didn't have to put that in for folks to know I was doing it.

So that's... kind of nice, actually. I do think of myself as an electrical engineer, albeit one in training. That's new, and I didn't expect it to happen for a very, very long time. I wish Chandra was around to explain this in terms of identity theory; it would make more sense that way.

On the other hand, I still haven't come to think of myself as a language learner, or a member of the Chinese-Filipino culture, so I keep writing about that. I'm also not used to thinking of myself as a young woman, so... well, you can read about that now.

Longish hair is fascinating to have. It's still quite short by most criteria, and I can't quite sweep my bangs into a ponytail (I can barely gather enough for a stubby thing at my nape) but for someone used to a short black crop, it's a little weird to have hair brushing your shoulders. It also takes longer to shampoo, which is why I'm going to cut it again once I grow it long enough to give me an idea what long hair is like to have (not sure how long that will be yet).

My hair also has red streaks in it - the one concession I was able to extricate from Operation: Make-Over-Mel. My hair has been trimmed "in a comely fashion," and yes, it has highlights. This, I learned, involves getting your hair foil-wrapped in pasty grey froth for several hours while a dryer revolves around your skull, making the air smell like hydrogen peroxide and making you wish desperately that you were anaerobic.

Alas, said highlights are a subtle red*, not the "blazing neon" I asked for. This, too, was a compromise. I usually wouldn't get highlights; they said I should try it. I groaned and said as long as I was in for one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences I'd give bright red streaks a shot. (This is a wink on my part; hypothetically, red is off-limits since we're in mourning. However, if I have red hair, nobody will make me shave it off, as my mother has forbidden me to get another buzz cut.) They looked horrified and said highlights should be dark brown so they wouldn't show.

"Why would I get highlights that don't show?" I asked. "That's like putting on makeup so you don't look like you're wearing makeup." "Of course!" they said, as if that was the entire point. There is apparently some sort of parallel twilight zone of estrogen where these things make sense.

My eyebrows are also, ah... shapely. I'm not entirely sure why they're shapely, but my aunt claims that ripping out portions of one's eyebrows with thread makes your eyes look like a woman's eyes ought to. As far as I can tell, ripping out portions of one's eyebrows with thread gives one sore eyebrows. ("Where are they?" I whimpered afterwards, running my fingers across my now-much-smoother brow. "My eyebrows! Where did they go?") They brought out the fashion magazines and pointed out that all the women in them had shapely eyebrows, therefore it must be normal. I am not entirely convinced.

I also possess twice the clothing I arrived with despite not having purchased any further clothing myself. Some of the new arrivals have lace. Some are dresses. I am washing my t-shirts and cargo pants repeatedly in an attempt to minimize the occasions on which I have to wear these Things With Lace.

Next I am supposed to have a manicure and pedicure. This is apparently to clean my nails. I am not sure what that means, as I've told them that I trimmed my nails yesterday and they're quite clean and I can go at them with a brush if they needed to be even cleaner. They say it's a different kind of cleaning, but don't worry, they wouldn't make me put on nail polish. Thank you for the nail polish decree, I said, but what the heck was there to clean from my nails if I already cut them?

That will also be interesting to see. I am putting up with this because I'm filing them under the category of "once in my lifetime" experiences, emphasis on the "once."

In happier news, the 60-something-year-old ladies at the Tai Chi group can totally kick my butt. They've been (ever so patiently, bless them) reteaching me how to walk. It takes about two weeks to learn how to walk, they say. After a few hours of just putting one foot slowly in front of the other, I was drenched in sweat - more soaked than I would have been after running a few kilometers or lifting weights in the gym.

As I struggle to balance in a straight line with aching legs, they wave swords and fans around with impossible grace as they stand on one foot. Then again, some of them have probably been doing this for longer than I've been alive. Huzzah for pursuits that take a lifetime to master - they're what make a lifetime worth having.