It is what it is

Be open, wide open. Be clear, crystal clear. It is what it is.  Nothing more. 

A journey of a thousand miles… Begins with a single step.

Says Lao Tzu.

  • Who would have thought I would start podcasting myself when I couldn’t bear the sound of my own voice for the longest time?
  • Who would have thought I would start interviewing folks in different sizes, colors and genders about their most vulnerable moments, their Rock Bottoms, which they might not have shared with their loved ones, or even with themselves?
  • Who would have thought I would start baring my souls here and call myself a Blogger Anonymous? Who the fuck is ‘YZ?’  I still have trouble answering to my new id when I connect with my lovely guests on Skype.
  • I don’t know yet where my future holds, here or back home. But I love connecting with people again through this little project I created from scratch.
  • I know I’m more more than just a writer. I’m meant for something grander.
  • Maybe I’ll share my story on TED some day. Surely a lovely goal to keep!

 

As I launched #RBYZ podcast on iTunes and shared it amongst family and friends. A friend called me up and said she was blown away by the sheer awesomeness of my podcast trailer, from the cover art to the delivery…

This woman is someone whom I feel a gap in between us. She is the third-generation of an established Hollywood family. Her long list of credits in movies and TV shows. Her fierce work ethic. Her level-headedness.  And she is only four months older than I am!

“Let’s grab coffee next week!” Her enthusiasm oozed out of my iPhone speaker.

“Yes. Let’s!”

“Have you shared it with XXX?”

She meant my former boss, also her former boss.  She left the job last April.

The company threw her a surprise farewell party. Hugs were exchanged. Tears were shed. Selfies were snapped. Pro photos were posed.

“I was let go two Fridays ago.”

No party cake or balloons. Only hush hush and WTFs.

“No way.”

“It is what it is. I’m leaving for China in mid-Oct.”

“You are?!”

“Yeah. I need to recenter myself. I called my psychologist friend two days after I got sacked. She gave me total mental clarity in just two minutes…”

Yep, my psychologist friend Barbara Kiao is also featured on my podcast, coming soon!

“I know it must be painful. But I’m so glad you’re getting something extraordinary out of this Rock Bottom! You know what, we should see each other more since you’re leaving in mid-Oct!”

“Yes!”

 

Two things I discovered after I hung up, thrilled.

  • Between the woman and myself, we’re finally closer in this new friendship, which wasn’t possible when we were both employed there.
  • How easy it was to talk about the would-be should-be disgrace when I choose not to give power to that experience.

 

Be open, wide open.

Be clear, crystal clear.

It is what it is.  Nothing more.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

RBYZ: Trailer (#000)

You ready? Let’s rock from the bottom!

Introducing Rock Bottom with YZ, a new podcast for and about anyone and everyone who has spiraled downward and doesn’t know which end is up.

Premiers August 28.

You ready?
Let’s rock from the bottom!

 

Listen and subscribe via:

Listen to Rock Bottom with YZ on RadioPublic

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Click here to see ways to help #RBYZ to grow.

 

Welcome to Wall Street

Your country won’t spare me. So why shall I spare you?

Friend and I were on our way to a famous ice-cream joint called Fosselman’s in Alhambra.

It was still rush hour. Friend decided to cross downtown instead of taking the I-10 highway.

Lo and behold, he got us to the armpit of LA.

Congested rows of tents, makeshift camps with umbrellas as rooftops.
Pretty creative.

Men and women, meandered the street.
They were here. But they weren’t really here.
They weren’t depressed, depleted, or deprived….
But numbness, written all over their faces, mostly African-Americans.

I didn’t need to roll down the window of the BMW to smell the air they were breathing in.
My hand grabbing the leather door handle.
My back tight against the car seat.

I glanced over at my immaculate African-American friend behind the wheel.
My eyes screaming, “Get me outta here.”

“For a country as wealthy as ours, I still can’t figure how we have allowed this to happen. It’s a disgrace. Sorry”

Friend hit the gas.

Before we sped off, I caught sight of the street sign.

It reads: Wall St.

 

Saturday afternoon is my Grocery Day.  I walk to Trader Joe’s in Westwood. I would pass this kind-faced woman with a tender voice, “Could you spare any change?”

Only a recent LA dweller in Fall 2015, I would stop and apologize because I only carried credit card.

Later I exchanged notes to quarters for laundry. But I found myself ignoring her with my bagful of changes… Or any homeless people I passed by.

I couldn’t spare any. Because I had nothing to spare. I was just a student, I reasoned.

But that’s a lie.

Here is the voice in my head barking back—

They’re fortunate enough to be born into this free country but they still let themselves descend to begging?

Your country won’t spare me. So why shall I spare you?

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Second chance

Now I’m leaving. Soon.  Hope I’ll be back soon again. I promise I’ll treat you better.

It may sound crazy, but I didn’t start to appreciate the good weather in Los Angeles until most recently when I’ve decided to part ways with the City of Angels.

To me, everything here was either too much or too little.

The sun was too much.
The rain was too little.

And yet, two years in a roll, we’ve had some fierce LA winter rains.

That day, I had to submit the printed script on campus. I made a trip to Staples. Then mounted my bike as usual to UCLA.

It was drizzling.
Drizzle in LA? Gimme a break.

Five minutes in, the rain started pouring buckets right above my head, pelting against my face.

Of course I didn’t give in. I was dashing against a deadline and I didn’t want to go home now when I’ve gone this far. So paddled as I did. I shall outlast it.

Yep. Two hours later, the rain stopped.

Looking around, I was not the only sorry ass on campus who was wet. But I was pretty sure I was on top of the Drenched List. Everything about me was soggy.

Then, the journey back home.
The wind…
Down the hill…
On a bike…

I empathized with Jack Dawson.
My teeth clattered.
My body trembled.
My will withered.
But I got home, alive.

 

I didn’t appreciate a lot of things in LA. Certainly not this rain even though I heard LA had been suffering from the worst drought in years. The rain came in time.

And don’t get me started on the Sun.  The Sun was always mocking me when it was not raining.  I couldn’t see past my personal mishaps. It was always about me, me, me, me, me.

Now I’m leaving. Soon.  Hope I’ll be back soon again.

I promise I’ll treat you better.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Babies for sale

One item after another.  I detached myself from them. I have to stop loving them before I say goodbye. They are out in the world on display. Because I can’t protect them any longer.

Craigslist is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, for sale… Today, I finally posted some for sale on Craigslist.

My Oxford-green bike…
My plywood coffee table…
My sturdy drying rack…

Over the course of three years, I bought them all fresh out of the beige boxes.

A single child at heart, I was never a fan of hand-me-downs.

Friend helped me buy everything on Wayfair and the rest from IKEA. We even bought canvas paintings to give the apartment a little more flavor…

IMG_1785

I asked her if it was worth it.
Friend brushed my doubt aside, “You would stay in this apartment for three years at least.”

I believed her. I wanted to. And I chose to.

Truth is, I didn’t want to doubt my future in America. And I didn’t want to be the one to doubt. Secretly, I thought I could blame my friend for wasting my money later if things went south.

Now is later. A full year later. 

When I got up this morning, I made a decision.

One post after another, I listed my babies on Craigslist.

One item after another.  I detached myself from them. I have to stop loving them before I say goodbye. They are out in the world on display. Because I can’t protect them any longer.

I don’t have to rely on the fishy landlord to give me a decent price for my babies.

At least now I may have some leverage, some control in this life that is pulling me in all directions.

I still need to take photos to make the ads more believable…

But now, I just want to take a moment and hold my aching heart.

I vow that I won’t be this ‘lavish’ again until I have $1m in my bank account.

Let’s see how long that might take.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Life as a podcaster

When the podcasting gets tough, the tough keep podcasting.

Next Tuesday, my podcast Rock Bottom with YZ will hit iTunes.

I just re-did a line for the trailer. My composer friend Vincent Lin, who created my podcast theme beats, will lock it in.

I also found the ideal visual for my podcast logo and art cover. My graphic designer friend Mikkel Aranas would help to visualize.

It’s been quite a journey.

The podcast idea hit me in late January. I told my dad first, who was staying with me in LA at the time.

“Go for it, kid.” Dad said.

There was nothing else going on at my nine-to-six anyway. By early February, I researched and bought the equipment. But it was not until near the end of March did I record my first interview. A brave friend from my film school agreed to be my guinea pig. [You will hear his story soon!]

It was slow at first. I wasn’t sure how serious I was, how committed I wanted to be. I was afraid of running out of guests. I feared that I just didn’t have it in me. I wondered if anyone would listen.

Then around the same time, I saw Seth’s blog about the Podcast Fellowship. Right there, I didn’t give myself a chance to doubt when I enrolled for the course, or another moment to pause when I paid for the tuition. Quite a lot for my meager salary.

Let’s see how Seth is really like in person. I thought.

As the fellowship started, I had a shitty few months. My visa; my work; my finance; my apartment… Every possible aspect of the LA life I had endeavored building was crumbling down on me, in dust and smog.

I wasn’t in the mood to talk. But I was doing this Podcast Fellowship, so I had to! And my theme was… Rock Bottom!

Fuck it. I opened up. Then magic began. Praise poured in. New friendships were fostered. It is virtual, but it feels so much more real than most folks you meet in this quote and unquote, City of Angels.

So I am, another interview to rock in roughly 30 mins.

When the podcasting gets tough, the tough keep podcasting.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Click here to see ways to help #RBYZ to grow.

Listen to Rock Bottom with YZ on RadioPublic

 

Thank you, truly

Tears trickled down from my face and splashed me in sheer surprise. I thought I was just updating my yet another mishap which I though I cared less and less. But they cared and showed me love. 

Two hours ago, we had our last Zoom meeting for the Podcast Fellowship.

Seth, yes, the Seth Godin, spoke straight back to those who wanted to share.

When Seth called my name, I was starstruck. I went off script and said that this has been a difficult period for me, from being let go last Friday to being given a short notice from my landlord yesterday…

And etc.

I might have called it quits already were it not for the love and the rock solid support from this loving community.

Then Seth looked into my eyes and said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I then noticed the notes sent to me via the Zoom platform:

“We are right here with you, YZ!”

“You’re the best, YZ!”

The second the meeting ended, I lost it.

Tears trickled down from my face and splashed me in sheer surprise. I thought I was just updating my yet another mishap which I could care less. But they cared so much and showed me their love.

 

And to everyone who has been checking in on this blog:

Thank you for making my summer free of boredom and seclusion.

 

If you’re curious, here is my testimonial to the one and only Podcast Fellowship.

As Seth and Alex always say at the end of each session:
Go make a ruckus!

 

Yours truly,
YZ