Reinforced reality

Two updates buoyed me today. 

  • First, the short film I wrote for this other student director got great reviews from the student’s chair and screenwriting professor, saying that it was lovely and cinematic.
  • Second, the feature director read my rewrite and said, “Great work.” 

Both would require some level of follow-up and touch-up, but I think I can finally conclude that I’m a legit working screenwriter now since I played with the notion roughly four years ago…

Yesterday I was still in the dark of what was going to unfold with these two projects.  I was scared to be exposed as a fraud, that I was sub par of what the feature director was looking for; that the student’s revered department chair and her seasoned screenwriting professor would frown at my speedy but shoddy script. 

But fear no more. I got the right amount of validation I needed. They didn’t come in the shapes of plaques or trophies or human figurines. But those intangible words measure up my “pipe dream” as a screenwriter. 

Just now, I calculated my writing earnings since the sudden halt of my California dreamin’. At this rate, I think I can move back to LA and survive and maybe even thrive. 

My current challenge is:
How shall I take on interesting writing assignments to make a living as a writer while still keep producing my own work, shaping my creative voice and style?

As you may have noticed, I still haven’t shipped my latest episode. It took more time than I am willing to allot to edit each episode. It would mean that I would have to postpone yet another catchup meeting with my old Shanghai friends. It would mean that I need to budget my time and use it with caution. Or it could mean that I need to find an assistant with I have some extra bucks.

Through a podcast friend’s referral, I applied for this Google Podcasts creator program a few weeks ago. Apart from the friends I made through Seth Godin’s podcast summer fellowship, I think this program that markets itself with the keywords like diversity and minority (I am both a woman and Asian – the rare occasion I hit the jackpot) may help my show to get to the next level. 

When I was fretting about the possible disasters of my projects for the last couple of days, my friend pointed out, “Dread or not, you have no control over what others think about your work. But what you can do is a) work as hard as you can; b) get enough work so you won’t cuss about the lost opportunities, the water under bridge.”

Whoever we think we are, whatever we think we can or cannot do, we are reinforcing that notion about ourselves. Just think about it, it goes both ways; it can be either empowering or utterly demoralizing.  And the choice is all ours.


Yours truly,

PS. My own case in point would be: read (almost) any of my blog posts in the summer and you will get an utterly different vibe. It was my reality then. It was my rock bottom.


Woman in short hair

Almost always I’m the only short-haired woman in the room. I thought if I can’t stand out with my petite statue, I might as well do something about my hair.  It’s not crazy short, but it’s short enough for most women to make it their to-go hairstyle whenever they survive a major breakup.

I’m no Tomboy either. So why this short? I find myself trying to explain myself whenever people venture that question with me. The short of it is low maintanance.

But before I can relax, otherperiferial questions pop out as if they are the itches they are dying to scratch.

  • Why do you become a writer?
  • Why are you acting so different (aka. werid)?
  • Why are you so straightforward?
  • Why are you so subtle?

For the better part of my twenties, I tried to become someone else just so I could avoid being asked those pointy questions altogether. But I didn’t realize just how taxing acting was… until I was in the film school.

And yet, the minute I put my mask away, those voice come after me like a swarm of bees. As I had the Aha Moment, it finally dawned on me that instead of fight or flight, the best way is to sit still and chill.

There I found the answers to all questions in that nature.

I earn it. I own it.


Your truly,

PS. I’m so proud that I uploaded this week’s podcast quite ahead of time. Stay tuned! It’s coming Tuesday midnight PST.


RBYZ: On my terms (#004)

“Feel the fear and do it anyways.”

Says our guest this week. She had been a successful hospitality manager until she decided to study psychology when she was two decades too old. That is, according to the norm.

Seven years later, after getting her degree and license, she walked away from the broken marriage, accepting her own Rock Bottom.

Meet Barbara Kiao, the therapist who practises what she preaches.

What you’ll hear:

  • Can one really switch from hospitality to psychology?
  • Is there such a thing as “too old to learn?”
  • What does age have to do with… anything?
  • What does a calling feel like?
  • How to stop the stigma around counseling?
  • What does a clinical counselor’s day-to-day practice look like?
  • How does a psychology pro deal with crises and rock bottoms?
  • And much more!

Links from the episode:


Listen and subscribe to Rock Bottom with YZ:
A weekly podcast for and about anyone and everyone who has spiraled downward and doesn’t know which end is up.

Listen to Rock Bottom with YZ on RadioPublic


Yours truly,

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

If no one is watching

Something I thought I had internalized, but I’m far from mastering it since I started this blog and podcast—

I don’t need to feel bad about how many people who have not responded to my art.

Since I’m competitive and comparing to the real influencers, my stats are pitiful,  I’ve tried to sell my stuff to the folks who haven’t seen it, shared it, who may find my art interesting and become my evangelists.

I have a group of podcasting friends whom I’ve met at the Podcast Fellowship. I try to be fair.

Here is my definition of fairness: if someone see my stuff and comment on it, I’ll reciprocate. On the other hand, I get frustrated if I comment on others’ stuff and don’t get the same treatment.

That desire of garnering every “You too, hon!” comes from a needy place.

My psychologist friend Barbara Kiao, who will be featured on my podcast next week pointed out to me.

Here is the thing—

If nobody is watching, would you still be doing exactly what you’re doing now?

Does it matter, at the end of the day, how many people see it, like it, share it?

Of course it helps me to spread the word. But it’s not my drive. Nor my purpose.

Plus, people won’t shut up about the art if it’s truly remarkable.
[Translation: Am I going to make a remark about it?]

But first and foremost, I do it for me.
Then, to those who show up for my art, on any given day.

What an honor.
I thank you.


Yours truly,

PS. I’m my own guest for this week’s podcast.
You may find it interesting if you’re also contemplating these things:
a) study abroad;
b) go to film school;
c) become a writer;
d) start podcasting;
e) all the above;
f) fear of the things above.

I hear you. I’ve been there. I’m still working on it.


It is what it is

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!”



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,