The new norm

I went to the hospital yesterday after four days of being sick…

After the blood test and CT scan, it turned out that I had pneumonia.


How is it even possible to get pneumonia when I only got back for a little more than a week?

I sat there and watched the IV dripping into my veins. Ten days ago, I was in LA bathing under the California sunshine and that was the norm.

As I was standing in the queue to pay for the examination fees, I noticed the one thing I disliked most about my fellow countrymen: disrespect for the personal space. That is, no sense of personal space, which is borderline intrusion.

Before I could get the receipts back from the clerk, the next person was already at the counter a few inches away from me as if I didn’t exist.

“Ma’am, could you step back in line? I’m not done yet.”

She did her Shanghaiese trademarked eyerolling and shot back.

“Mind your own business. I’m waiting here just fine.”

Right, right. I’m not in LA. Now this, is the new norm I’m dealing with.

Against the neck-breaking changing speed of cities like Shanghai, some other things lags behind. Three years isn’t enough to change everything.

You worship Burberry trench coats like a religion, hang Hermès silk scarves around your necks like crosses, sling your Chanel purses like grenades. But the minute you start talking, I know you’re still in the ditch.

“But it’s a ditch full of gold and dinero!”

I have no counter-arguments. Money talks here more than anywhere.

Some things take time. But time is the one thing people here don’t have.


Yours truly,

The show must go on

9 days ago, I landed in Shanghai.

7 days ago, I recorded this episode with Barbara Kiao.

6 days ago, I reemerged on the worldwide web.

4 days ago, I fell sick and couldn’t make a sound…

15 seconds ago, I was still coughing my eyes out.

It feels like The Shawshank Redemption sequel…

But the show must go on!

Thank you for sticking around!

And here it is!


Yours truly,

PS. I’ll post the show notes here tomorrow.

Thick skin

I don’t understand why someone would keep the same hairstyle for so long.

Well, I like my short hair.

But don’t you find it boring? Don’t you think this manly haircut is partially why you are still single.

I let it slide.

I don’t think you’re that flexible.

What do you mean?

You almost always play by the book that you forget that what you get but focus on how you get it.

Could you be more specific?

Well, that’s how people say about you.

How can I come up with another rebuttal when I’m against the ‘people’ no matter if it’s two or three people?


I grit my teeth to sit through the preaching of this well-meaning ‘mentor’ who seems to always have tons of issues with my traits and my core values. I was too tired and bored to get into an argument with her.

She is right about this one: I’m not able to get the O-1 visa within my three-year sojourn in LA.

I wasn’t aware how painful it is to come to terms with me coming back home in order to go back soon enough after granted the O-1 visa.

But I have to swallow my pride in a mouthful, tuck away my ego, and refrain from barking at the people who revel in pinching and pissing on my open wound.

I need extra layers of thick skin to sustain me through the bone-cold Shanghai winter and as an unknown artist who is building a name for herself and for the immigration board.

Bring it on.


Yours truly,


Time travel

It’s almost a week since I’m back in Shanghai.

For one, I feel like someone who was abducetd by the aliens for experiments to their advantage.

To my own disadvantage, I got disconnected from the world for three whole years.

Now three years later, I finally paid my dues and got sent back to the Earth.

To everybody else, it is as if the time hasn’t passed, as if nobody knows that I’d been gone for this long.

Better yet, I’m supposed to fit in again.

But constantly I’m in awe of the changes here in Shanghai, a city that is evolving at the neck-breaking speed.

I thought only in Beverly Hill you bump into women who beg to get their features altered. But now Shanghai has caught up just fine. Young women donning photoshopped faces, they’re so proud, so blatant, so unapologetic.

I’m mesmerized by the expansive transportation system. Do you know that now we have this bus called 71 which runs on electricity and has its own bus lane? Pretty darn cool, isn’t it?

I feel like I’m still locked in space, watching this city, this place where I once called home, twisting and turning. And only those who can keep up with it get to stay.

Then it dawned on me, three years ago, it was not the alien who abducted me after all. It was I who decided to board the alien mothership… and told Shanghai it can go fuck itself.

I guess it’s still holding grudges.


Yours truly,


Shanghai has changed a lot in three years.

I couldn’t find where to swipe the oyster card.

I had to study the stops before I get into the metro.

I almost always have a friend to guide me when cruising the city.

The city seems even more sleepless than three years ago.

And yet, there are things that I truly care about that haven’t changed one bit.

  • People still don’t respect others’ space.
  • People cut off lines all the time.
  • People smoke outside all the time.
  • People are loud when they talk in public.
  • The list goes on…

Some say things like the above take several generations. It may change and it may not.

I miss LA’s spaciousness and politeness.

To begin with, I miss LA’s coffee.

The coffee here is ridiculously expensive. My friend and I had two small coffees (Americano, Latte) for RMB 66. That is almost 10 dollars.

All I know is, Shanghai is an exciting cup of tea that is nutritious, fresh and presentable.

And yet, it’s not my cuppa tea…

Because of the things that are hard to change exactly.

Or I’ve come to love coffee.


Yours truly,



I bounced off the bed within five minutes after I woke up.

Bounce, a verb that I haven’t used to describe myself getting off the bed. It has been a drag for the last few months.

Right now, I’m charged with a new sense of purpose.

I know I want to go back to LA sooner than later. I know the list of things I need to do in order to get my back, like creating a portfolio.

What was invisible has become tangible.

I think I can do it. So I will start planning.


Yours truly,

PS. I recorded a new episode with Barbara Kiao. I will ship it next week. This week, I need some proper rest while I wait to get back on Google.



Ain’t fun when you’re excluded from the globe of Internet.

I’m awaiting the machine tomorrow that will get me reconnected to the world.

Hopefully by then, I’ll re-enter the world with Google and John Oliver.

Sometimes you don’t know your privilege until you’re stripped away from it…

It took me three years to appreciate and love LA.

As if once I fell in love, I’m plucked away from it.

Separation is a good test on how much you really love somewhere, someone.

As I mourn the loss of La La Land, it finally dawns on me, that I need to get back.

Sooner than later.


Yours truly,