When we get to the mountain

There’ll be a way through.
When the boat gets to the pier-head,
it will go straight with the current.

It’s a famous Chinese saying, which means let the nature take its course.

Being the rebel, I often fight against the current, or chisel my way through the mountain.

Mellow just isn’t in my DNA.

I’m always on guard, watching out for those who might take advantage of me, exhausting myself before I’m met with any real resistance.


Two potential buyers for my furniture bailed out on me at the last minute yesterday.

One didn’t say she had moved on until I asked her if she still wanted the vanity set. “Yes, you may release the hold.”

Hold my foot. Why don’t you just say you can’t afford it?

Another girl rescheduled twice and was an hour late when she arrived with her mum. She studied and felt the bookshelf.

“This seems a little wobbly.”

“It’s the floor.”

“There is nothing on the back?”

“Just like what’s shown in the photos.”

The mum and the daughter conversed in Farsi. The girl seemed embarrassed.

“Do you do discount?”

I pursed my lips and shook my head.

“What if we only buy the bookshelf. Maybe you can sell the filing bins to others?”

My eyebrows arched. My kitchen knife was but five feet away.

“Look, I’m moving, too. I have other stuff to take care of.”

I could have spent 20 more minutes in the gym.


Half an hour later, was the showdown with the landlord. He and I would decide on how much he would pay for the furniture.

“I will give you $1500 for your furniture. Is this all of it?”

“No, only the ones without yellow stickers. You can refer to the itemized receipt I sent earlier.”

“Okay. How much do you want?”

“Look, the receipt says $4025 inc. tax, but I know the nature of the pricing. So I can live with $2500.”


“Let’s make it easy on both sides. I’m moving out by September 15. A month earlier than the 60-day notice. Plus all the stress with the move-out.”

“But you’re moving back to China, yes?”

“Believe me, I planned to stay longer originally. Just look at this place. Does it look like a temporary setting?”

He paused for a moment. “$2500?”

I nodded. I was adamant.

We shook hands.


Things did work out in the end.

How? I hear you ask.

Full disclosure: I paid around $2800 for those items last year. A friend, small-business owner, tailored the receipt for me. As for the more student-friendly pieces, which are not on the list, I’m selling at a discount.

So I think I can break even, more or less.


Yours truly,


Not the city in Arizona. But the long-lived bird that obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.

But how do we know we can rebirth? What if nothing comes after the ashes? What if we’re just the mere mortals as reflected in the mirror?

To succeed as an artist, I thought getting the work visa is the one and only way. I was blindsided by my otherwise strength, my laser beam focus.  I cast myself off to the island of desolation when I was convinced that it was where I could find freedom, a free pass for life.

Since yesterday, I started to disassociate myself from the place that I’ve been staying for the last three years of my 20s.  I gazed at the books,  the clothes, the craps I’ve hoarded, and pictured them neatly lied in the dark beige moving boxes, ready to be shipped to China.

What had been so hard to accept is now something I’m aching for. I’m thrilled to see my parents on a daily basis, to be stuffed by dad’s Michelin-standard cooking, to have my mum’s nagging as my soundtrack, and what’s more charming than to be awakened by kitty Michael’s morning meow?

I would see my best friends in Shanghai again, and more regularly.
I wouldn’t need to worry about the ticking bomb, the date to have to exit the country.
I would be able to [Drum rolls, please.] work again, legally!

My root is calling. I have a business idea. I want to test out my entrepreneurship. I want to be my own boss and call my own shots.

Friend asked, “Does that mean you’re a sell-out now?”

Here is the thing, before I’m a writer, I was a hustler. It’s still in me. It’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

Maybe the only way to prove I’m a Phoenix is to be one. And Phoenix the bird, or the city, would both agree with me on this one: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

To quote the mantra from author Reema Zaman which she revealed in the Dear Sugars podcast:

I’m the author of my life.


Yours truly,