Whose shit is this shit?

Dad saw a husky owner who didn’t pick up the dog shit. He called after the guy before he was led away by his dog.

“Sir, forgetting something here?” Dad pointed at the hot mess. Nerves on his temple bulging.

“You lost your marbles? Mind your own fucking business.” The man barked back and refused flatly.

Dad asked the Residential Committee to even things out. Its office is right beside where the shit show happened, fortunately.  And yet, not a single soul came out.

A staffer hiding behind her desk replied sheepishly, “[Dog poop] is NOT our job.” 

The man snickered at my dad, “See? It’s not their job. So what’s the fuss here? You’re a CPC member or what?” [Translation: CPC Member = Boy Scout with a twist.]

It was not until my dad threatened to call the police that the man dared to taint “the good name of CPC” that the man finally gave in and picked up the shit and apologized.

Dad told the story during dinner and added, “That’s why I warn you not to mind these monkey business. It does you no good.”

“But now we have one less shit to worry about, eh?  So who’s job is it when it comes to… dog shit?”

Dad didn’t have an answer. I don’t either. 

Truth is, you can’t expect every dog owner to remember pick their puppies’ shit up. Maybe another law will suffice?

Or maybe more folks like dad who is getting discouraged when he did the right thing.  Sometimes, if you meet people whose last layer of dignity is gone, there is nothing left for you to do. 

Did I mention that every person working in the Residential Committee is a party member? Yep, here comes the twist. Go figure.


Yours truly,


Chinese Single’s Day

Shopping can be therapeutic after all.

November 11th… 11/11… One-one-one-one…

Aka. Single’s Day, the day where a bunch of single people moped on and offline.

Singles’ Day, or Bachelors’ Day, originated at Nanjing University in 1993. Singles’ Day celebrations spread to several other universities in Nanjing during the 1990s. via Wiki.

Then Taobao (under the Alibaba Group, the Chinese Amazon) started the “Double 11” campaign in 2012, coping its Western cousin Black Friday, where lots of things go on sale at insanely low prices. It did so-so that year. Media mocked Taobao’s wacky marketing strategy even though it sounded rather catchy.

But the following year, the year after that and so on, more and more people, sellers and buyers, joined the party. When word got out that on Double 11 Day one gets the biggest saving of the year, everyone is psyched.

In 2012, I was in Shanghai doing marketing and branding. I saw it from inside out and outside in, as a skeptical consumer and a skeptical marketer. As we come to the end of 2018, it has been going on for six years. Double 11 is only getting stronger.

So much so that Alibaba coined “Double 12” (December 12). It caught up instantly. More online platforms like JD.com tried to emulate the campaign. Lo and behold, the term “Double 11” was trademarked by Alibaba on December 28, 2012.  The company threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term.  They are fun to play with, but deadly to play against.

By now, 11-11 just doesn’t feel like Single’s Day any more. It has officially become Shopping Spree Day. “The event is now nearly four times the size of America’s biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.” according to Wiki.

Guilty as charged, I stayed up late today till after midnight just so I could join the other hundred million online shoppers in China… Of course, people will complain the next day, “Yeah, I did save a little. But it’s not worth staying up late like this.” And yet, by next year, like every year, people would do it all over again like clockwork.

Why did I do it if I sounded so ‘smart and sophisticated.’

First off, some things I’ve been planning to buy are slightly cheaper on Double 11. So why not wait a little till Nov 11?

Second, there are things I did want to order early but I couldn’t place the order as the dates got so close to Double 11 when the prices were changed ‘back’ to freaking ridiculous high “original price” just so they can make the savings on 11-11 seem even more…

No matter how much you save as a consumer, no matter how much you make as a seller, we are all playing Alibaba’s game.  Since Alibaba is the House, it will report and boast the next day in the news that “this year we have made some trillion yuan” which gives the the country a proper moment to say, “See? Our economy is greater than ever. No worries, people.”

It takes a group of delusional people, myself included, to be willing to play this game. But then, in China, one thing you don’t lack is people. One word that would get you undivided attention and unified action is: discount.

What’s the upside? Well, as a single person, I can speak for us: we don’t feel that lonely on this day anymore. We are so busy buying, we don’t have time to feel melancholy.  Shopping can be therapeutic after all.


Yours truly,


You can always start by fixing your fucking cough. 

Has been the new norm for me for the last two weeks.

So when I didn’t cough all that much today, I felt something was fundamentally wrong.  You’re right, my brain and my lungs have been used to and was totally coughed the fuck up.

Or think about this one: a bunch of past-middle-aged Chinese ladies flooding over at the counter when I was actually the next customer.  I was too proud to go down the ditches, so I abided by the one-meter courtesy distance.  When I pointed out to them, they rolled their eyes in unison and called me “Bullshit.”

Here is the inconvenient truth, Mr. Al Gore, cutting the line is right amongst these Chinese aunties and uncles. “Everyone is there. So I need to be there” is their inner voice and logic.

It’s like coughing your head off for 24/7.  Then getting a brief quietness for 15 mins, you start to feel something doesn’t feel right or normal.

Or, consider this: Trump makes both lying and orange the new black. Or white, in his defense.

Or, when the air is so polluted that a tad of blue is newsworthy…

To get your sense of rightfulness back, go to the doctor, get some cough drops. So you have a choice to see if you genuinely like coughing your marbles out.

  • Or, see if you like fighting your right for instances like waiting in line to be served when you can actually watch another cat video;
  • Or, go marvel at the blue sky for a change when you choose to travel outside China;
  • Or, elect someone else than Trump in 2020 to make the world a better place.

The list goes on. But it begins with this one:

You can always start by fixing your fucking cough. 

I did. Knock on the wood.


Yours truly,

PS. Check out my podcast’s latest episode featuring an aspiring writer from the UCLA Film School.  The interview speaks to me on a deep level. Because the guest also had to move out from LA for now.  His optimism and resilience give me a shot of strength as I need it the most.  Quit dilly-dallying, check now for yourself!

Last day of September

I feel the resistance, daily and hourly.

Is not September 31st. But I do wish it has 31 days like October or December.

Rather unfair, wouldn’t you say?

That makes my remaining days in LA about one day shorter.

I never think it that way early in my journey in the US. Reaching the end of this chapter, I want the time to slow down, to freeze.

“With your experience in America, you would do great back in China.”basically summarizes what everyone has been telling me thus far.

I wonder how much of it is sugar-coated encouragement given how much confidence they have in my capacity, to which I know I deserve.

I have been driving myself crazy about my future back home, as if I have a much better idea if I still got to stay in LA.

Here is something I’ve realized: I’ve been a pessimist since I got to America. With every hope, my reaction is: Really? Are you sure?

Even when I landed the ‘dream job,’ the looming fear had been: when I would be let go. Until I was. A nightmare came true, more or less.

I’ve been guilty of tracking the subscribers as if it’s an arms race against the likes of Tim Ferriss. I was so upset when I found out that the first day playbacks has dropped significantly with the last episode, largely because the freshness has worn off amongst my families and friends. Or that my blogs don’t get enough reads.

Honestly, I feel the resistance, daily and hourly. The snarly voice [Think: Brett Kavanaugh, or Lindsey Graham] nags in my head, “So what? You ain’t no writer. Get out of my lawn.”

With that in mind, I’ll keep showing up here, with my blogs and my podcasts just to show Brett and Lindsey are very, very wrong.


Yours truly,

The Customs – Part I

Let’s see how things would unfold…

Mum texted me that she got notifications. From the Chinese Customs.  Thirteen letters in total.

But you have fifteen boxes, right?


What does it mean? What shall we do?

Calm down.

But my stomach tightened up. I felt queasy already.

Is it the two boxes of books?  My mind starts racing. I have a book about Chiang Kai-shek and two on Soong Mei-ling. I was hesitating whether I should take them with me on the plane when my friend was helping me with the packing.

I asked for his opinion. “Do you know how many packages are coming in and out of your country at any given day? They wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about your stuff. They have bigger fish to fry. Don’t worry about it.”

Let’s see how things would unfold…

One way or the other, the joke’s on me.


Yours truly,


Opt out

But I’ll be back, in my own way, on my own terms.

Definition: to choose not to participate in or carry on with something.

But when foreign students in the US talk about opt (out), they mean something else.

According to USCISC (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services):
OPT (Optional Practical Training) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.
[Translation: banking or waitressing is off limits if, say, you major in journalism.]

  • Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion).
    [Translation: 12 months, 365 days, is all you have.]
  • All periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.
    [Translation: What to do next? a) go back to where you come from; b) get someone to sponsor your work visa; c) become a genius/master/guru in whatever you do in 12 months.]
  • If you have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization.
    [Translation: non-STEM art folks, you are not needed in the U.S.  Switch major before it’s too late.]
  • If you transfer to another school or begin studies at another educational level (for example, you completed a bachelor’s degree and are starting a master’s program), your authorization to engage in OPT employment will automatically terminate. SEVP will inform USCIS of the termination date, and USCIS will terminate your EAD accordingly.
    [Translation: there is no such species as a foreign student who works full-time at the same time to pay off her tuition. Work or study, pick one.  Save sufficient dinero, or be born Crazy Rich/Smart.]


With that in mind, let’s eavesdrop into a conversation:

“I just realized I can’t get another OPT just by doing UCLA Extension.” My friend from Egypt texted me. “Thought you should know too.”

“I just booked my one-way ticket back to China yesterday.”

“I think I may need to do the same thing!”

My friend and I will meet this Thursday for our opt-out gathering.

“The POTUS may stay for four more years because the people who would vote for him vote for the Party. It’s where their interest lies.” A friend quoted her political science professor when we dined at my writer friend’s for her farewell dinner yesterday.  I sure don’t need that to be the last straw to break my back.

I may have to opt out this time
but I won’t check out
I’ll close the door on my way out.

But I’ll be back, in my own way, on my own terms.


Yours truly,

Lost in translation

In Chinese, it’s one-sixth of the Twitter word limit. Good luck.

China has a counterpart of everything the world wants to sell her.

  • Alibaba > Amazon (inc. Amazon Studio) + eBay;
  • Baidu <<< ∞ Google (you see where my loyalty lies);
  • Tencent >>> ∞ Snapchat + Instagram + FaceBook + PayPal:
  • Xiaomi <?> Apple;
  • Ximalaya FM #wtf? Podcast.


Let’s talk about Ximalaya FM for a moment.

I just created my own Ximalaya [pronounce: Himalaya] account. Uploaded a photo with YZ holding her passport. It’s how IoT is done in China these days, making sure you’re legit before you get to be read, heard, or seen.

So dude, if you say anything inappropriate, we know who you are, where you live and your cell phone number. No pressure, just wanna make sure you watch your mouth.

That is to say, we show you the box and want you to think inside.  We’ll cut off the protruding tentacles if you dare try.

But that’s not my concern.

For my podcast, it’s interviews. And yet, when I select genre on Ximalaya, the best fit is actually “English.” Yep.

I clicked on the English section and see where my, quote and unquote, competition lies, they’re all about teaching English from grammar to American culture. The cover arts are in Chinese too.

What about the show description?

Here is what #RBYZ looks like in English:

Rock Bottom hits anybody at anytime and anywhere. The good news is, it discriminates no one. The bad news is, it’ll hit again. But the worst news is, nobody talks about it. Your host YZ bugs folks from all walks of life and zeros in on their Rock Bottoms. So we all gain some 20/20 before it’s hindsight.

In Chinese, it has to be one-sixth of the Twitter word limit (120 divided by 6) and let’s be catchy, shall we? Or at least, try.

That said, every Chinese word will carry the weight of some six English words, or more.

It’ll be something like this:

Shanghai-born bilingual screenwriter gurl (trying too hard?), chasing dream in LA, zero in on rock bottom, w/ creative souls around the globe.

Well, you get the idea…

Let’s see how my future Chinese fans would respond to my show. Soon I think I should record some Chinese intro to ease them into the program.

Gotta get Crazy Rich and find a PA like Andy Sachs.

And in my pitch-perfect Miranda Priestly impression:

That’s all. 


Yours truly,