I did something that was about to cost me another wrecked friendship.
I saw it coming. I was stiff on the friend. I could have been more friendly. But I wasn’t.
I’ve been contemplating a way to invite the friend for coffee/lunch to talk things out. But I’ve been struggling.
Is it about the ego?
I wish I could say, “ I don’t give a fuck about my ego.” But I do a little bit.
And yet, someone has to initiate the talk to rekindle a fading friendship.
Why always me?
Is another question I often ask. When in such dilemma, I always do the “Years Later” test — Would I regret not salvaging the friendship that could have survived? If the answer is — Yes, hell yes, I would regret. Then I know what to do.
People are complicated. Sometimes they take your gesture the wrong way. But at least you can try and then judge for yourself. If the friend doesn’t appreciate or respond in the same manner, maybe he is not a friend after all. Your move can be a friendship-worthiness test on the friend too.
For a clear conscience, I will do the deed for my own sake.
Three nights ago, I submitted a scholarship application. The next morning I received a note which goes, “Based on the financial information you have provided your request for scholarship consideration cannot be considered.”
I was flabbergasted. I spent months on the application. That they demanded four recommenders was pretty remarkable — when I applied for grad school, it asked for three. I visited the graduate student writing center with my personal statement materials for six consecutive weeks. And now that was it? I told myself as I submitted the application that I did my best; if for some reason I was not granted anything, it was fine really. C’est la vie. But not like this! If I were not in a financial rut, would I spend hours of my life pondering on “what I can contribute to the world peace” when I can work on my screenplay?
After I calmed myself down, I emailed back stating the fact that the budget policy they mentioned in the previous email was never written on their website. And I certainly was not planning to drop out of school. All I did was being honest about my financial status — You wouldn’t possibly know what grants you are awarded, what waivers you receive, and whether or not you would get TAship months from now, would you? Do I look like a fortune teller to you, darling?
Thankfully, I kept the sarcasm to myself, and begged them for a second chance to send an amended budget.
I sent back the thought-through new budget yesterday after grilling them with detailed questions.
— We have now sent your application onto the Trustees. Good luck!
Then, sheer exhaustion overtook me.
Why do I have to fight for every bloody thing in my life?
I screamed at the top of my lungs — in my head. My brain raced. It took me back to January — Early in the Winter Quarter, I pitched four feature writing instructors. When the rooster was released that Friday, my name was on none of them. I emailed. I texted. I walked about in my room like a caged beast waiting for an explanation. In that darkest hour, my thought led me to the most desperate corner my head could possibly reach — My being accepted was a mistake. I was the mistake. I was Chinese. I was a joke. My story was worthless shit. Nobody liked me. Nobody wanted me here after all. Why the fuck was I wasting so much money moving over here and struggling alone? I cried and moaned for my pathetic status quo. It was only when a beloved instructor texted back having me in her session did it stop me from doing anything stupid.
Talking through what had transpired to my flatmate and to my parents via WeChat, I cried again, uncontrollably.
I never felt this vulnerable. Why do I have to fight for everything in my life? Why can’t I just sit there for things to happen, every once in a while? Why the worst-case scenario always happens to me? Why everyone else can lay back and focus on their work while I have to spend more energy than I wanted on things that are not even about writing? It is not even my fault…
I get it, life is not fair. But when shits happen, they exhaust me. I know there are a lot of things in life that are beyond our control. But I don’t have much memory about me getting lucky, ever. Getting accepted into the Screenwriting MFA program here is the luckiest strike that has ever happened to me. Period. But still, I planned a year and a half ahead working hard toward the goal.
Oh, by the way, have I told you that I haven’t yet had a guy confess his affection to me? And that I have never been in a serious relationship yet? I am 28 years old as we speak. I’ve tried chasing after guys. Guess what, it has never worked. Not for me.
— Am I trying too hard?
— I don’t have the foggiset idea.
A sage mentor says —
There are people born with resources. They take things for granted. They can. You know what’s the most important gift one can be given? Drive. People who are content and have everything won’t have that. Of course, life is hard. You, not anybody else choose the path you are now. You already know it’s not easy. You already are being resourceful solving the problems. When done, move on and focus on things you should be focus on rather than lingering on feelings and things you can’t change. Cliche as it sounds, we can only control our attitude towards what happen to us. People who have a chip on their shoulder think in a way that the universe is against them. Most of their energy is about life being unfair and people are vicious to them. You don’t want to be around those people, do you? Because the energy around them is off.
Granted, you are not born with resources. There are many people who are like you. But when they make it, they are able to say they made it from scratch. It’s exactly because you don’t have much in your stock, you have nothing to lose. But you have to keep fighting. You can’t stay stale and wait for things to happen. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to fight. Because that’s how you gain momentum. Because that’s how you earn attention. Because that’s how chances go your way.
If you don’t, even God can’t help you.
Because you, and only you are responsible for this life you lead.
I promised myself a first draft before I fell asleep (yes, I fell) yesterday. Now I am up and the story is still not quite there yet.
My instructor asked me to be patient with myself as a writer. But seeing everyone else already sprinting away from you, I need more than just patience. I need my sanity.
I don’t usually compare myself with others. I know it’s useless, and pointless. But sometimes in the dark corner of my head, I just can’t help it.
I have friends juggling four courses in our 10-week packed schedule while still finding time to socialize, to go to movies, to Facebook (I shut down mine at the beginning of 2016), to intern, to work part-time, to finish a 100-page first-draft script by Week 5, to complete a 20-page paper within two days. How the fuck is that even possible? “Well, I want to do as much as I can on a single day.” Duh, I do too.
You see, now I don’t envy people with talent. I am jealous of those who use their time so freaking well that it seems God is so generous with them that he gives them 48 hours a day and still have them function like the rest of us who needs some 7–8 hours sleeping time. I try to drink coffee and stay alert. But by 12 o’clock, I climbed to bed like a zombie. Actually, I told myself that I was going to “nap for 15 mins.” I then did another 15. The rest is history. I woke up with the morning alarm. It’s 5 o’clock in the morning. Cue the T-Pain song.
Fuck — was the first word I uttered as I got up this morning. What a fashion to start the day.
Now back to my script. F — . Strike that. I meant Finish.
I have this discussion with my cohort all the time.
Being a writer for life is hard. The rejection, the humiliation, the “you will never ever get there” self-doubt, the looming red in your finance chart.
I have a LA Lakers #8 Kobe Bryant jersey hanging on the rack. It’s the shrine of my daily faith and inspiration.
How did he get there? How did he become who he is today? Well, he wasn’t born this way. Where did he get this monstrous GRIT that all the great masters have? How did he overcome the physical pain day in and day out for the better part of his life? How did he challenge doubt when he failed?
Those might be the questions I want to grill him if I have the chance to meet him. I think I may have the answer already as everybody else does way before you read this rambling post.
You probably know it already when you watched Finding Nemo —
Just keep swimming.
So at the beginning of another gorgeous day in LA, I will breathe in and breathe out.
I thought the world owed me. And I had every right to manifest that rage. I had few friends then. I never wondered why. I took it as a sign that I was simply too good to be in league with mediocrity.
In truth, I was just jealous; jealous of people who were born with good looks, good fortune, good family… In a word, the whole package. What they had was what I had been trying so hard to fight for. Maybe a Mulberry bag. I would calculate how many meals I should skip until I got it. I was hangry the whole time. I let stuff define me.
But what am I really?
Does owning [X number] of Balenciaga bags make me a better person, a happy person, a person of meaning and weight? No.
You see, I live with two younger gals who can afford expensive cars and luxurious cosmetics and clothes. They dine often at posh restaurants. Every day there are packages at our doorstep to be signed. The old me could get easily jealous toward them. Now I don’t.
Because I don’t, I see beyond those materials and see who they really are. They have great manners. One gal had her parents stay over during the Chinese New Year. Her parents always cleaned up the mess after they cooked. They even bought me a new bottle of olive oil since they used “quite a bit” during their stay here. They closed the door when doing the laundry. They kept quiet when in the common area. They invited me to dine with them on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Now I see where she inherited her well-groomed manners. The other gal’s only “vice” is her loving and enjoying the best things in the world. But she also possesses the best of the heart. We share an amazingly great deal of outlooks toward life. We can talk for hours non-stop on random things.
Now, if I were the old me — the gal with a chip on her shoulder, could I have made friends with those two beautiful souls? Absolutely not.
Be open. People surprise you, always.
All I did was loosen up. The world hasn’t changed. Just my attitude. That is all.