Sleepless in Shanghai

Clusters of night owls smoking, vaping, snorting the city’s night vibes, musing on their next stop.

My LA friend landed in Shanghai two nights ago for a 48-hour visit.

No matter how tight the schedule, we had to go to the Bund, which is must-must-see for any tourist. Along with my friend, I was also blown away by the views.

Three years away from Shanghai is like three decades everywhere else. I still remember the dirty and disorganized Bund when I went there as a child. Fast forward two decades later, I couldn’t find one litter on the ground. New state-of-the-art traffic signals installed for pedestrians to cross the streets. New skyscrapers sprouted out on the Pudong side (aka. Pu Jersey) across the Huangpu River (Think Hudson you’re from the States; or Thames if you’re from Britain). The Pudong Shangri-La building used to be part of the Shanghai skyline.  Now it looks like a spoiled chocolate granola bar that need to be thrown away.

We ended the night at Mr. & Mrs. Bund, a buzzy French restaurant. The food and the price match the standards of the best of Beverly Hills and Fifth Ave.  Since after the anti-corruption campaign, Chinese don’t frequent pricy places like this anymore.  As I roughly surveyed, 80% of the diners were non-Chinese.

By the time my cab arrived, clusters of night owls smoking, vaping, snorting the city’s night vibes, musing on their next stop, some hippiest nightclub that is beyond me, that is out of my league.

When I woke up this morning, my body smirked at me, “You ain’t party animal material.”

 

Yours truly,
YZ

 

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Shanghai skyline
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The Bund

Daylight Saving

Something to look forward to

As of today, America move its clocks back an hour.  That makes LA 16 hours behind Shanghai.

You see, we don’t do that in China. We don’t even have multiple time zones. Beijing time for all. But I recalled we did try changing time when I was in pre-school. But to no avail.

When I lived in LA, regardless of my inexperience with changing time, I didn’t need to do it physically.  My smartass phone keeps me on time automatically.

Gaining an extra hour can be exciting. I usually would try to go to bed “an hour early” so I can start becoming an early bird finally.

However, shrouded in darkness as early as five p.m. put me right into depression.  So much so that when I was packing to leave LA, I tried to convince myself that not having to deal with “daylight saving depression” was something that I could look forward to when I got back in Shanghai.

By now, I can say this much with confidence: escaping from dusk depression just isn’t good enough.  My heart throbs at the palm trees in movies; my ears perk up at the mention of LA.  Even my parents and my cat aren’t heavy enough to anchor me here.

I need to go back. I want to go back. I have to go back. Five pm pitch black or not. We always have March to get it right.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. I’m happy to report that I’m close to finish the second draft of the short film that I’m working on with a student director. The pay is, of course, chicken-shit.  But I will collect another credit for my artist visa as the student completes the short in the coming spring. Beat it, I know it’s not winter yet. But let me fast-forward just a little… so I can make some sense out of the bone-chilling Shanghai winter… which I’ve long forgotten when I did time in LA.

Time travel

It’s almost a week since I’m back in Shanghai.

For one, I feel like someone who was abducetd by the aliens for experiments to their advantage.

To my own disadvantage, I got disconnected from the world for three whole years.

Now three years later, I finally paid my dues and got sent back to the Earth.

To everybody else, it is as if the time hasn’t passed, as if nobody knows that I’d been gone for this long.

Better yet, I’m supposed to fit in again.

But constantly I’m in awe of the changes here in Shanghai, a city that is evolving at the neck-breaking speed.

I thought only in Beverly Hill you bump into women who beg to get their features altered. But now Shanghai has caught up just fine. Young women donning photoshopped faces, they’re so proud, so blatant, so unapologetic.

I’m mesmerized by the expansive transportation system. Do you know that now we have this bus called 71 which runs on electricity and has its own bus lane? Pretty darn cool, isn’t it?

I feel like I’m still locked in space, watching this city, this place where I once called home, twisting and turning. And only those who can keep up with it get to stay.

Then it dawned on me, three years ago, it was not the alien who abducted me after all. It was I who decided to board the alien mothership… and told Shanghai it can go fuck itself.

I guess it’s still holding grudges.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

The hardest goodbye

You found the light in me that I couldn’t find

“Have you told your parents that you were sad to leave here?”

As I sobbed, my friend probed.

“No.”

“Why not?”

I didn’t give an answer. But I had one: How can you be sad when you are going to reunite with your family and friends back in your hometown after three years without one single visit?!

I felt only if I left on my own terms, I would feel better.

But the more I’ve lived, the less things are done utterly on my terms.

“Just accept it.” My friend kept on going.

To be utterly frank, right now I don’t feel an ounce of joy going back.

Home is always here. But my dream? How long would that last when the bubble bursts and now I’m stark naked in front of my parents’ porch asking them to let me in.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents are overjoyed to have me back. So am I to see them as often as I want.

When I’m back home, I know I would be safe. I would sleep well and eat fine. I can have not a worry should I choose to…

But right now, this suffocating feeling is crushing down on my chest. I’m dying the speed of the reality.

It’s past one. And I’m still wide awake.

It’s Saturday the 13th. By 14th noon, I’ll be forced to delete the last line of code I’ve written here in L.A. by catching the flight before Homeland Security catches me. Would anyone remember me, my existance, two months from now, two years from now?

Shanghai has written me off its menu. Now would it let me back in?

 

I’ve been single-looping Lady GaGa’s Always Remember Us This Way from her latest movie A Star Was Born; a film I went two days ago, at the end of which I sobbed till I throbbed.

It’s buried in my soul
Like California gold
You found the light in me that I couldn’t find

You look at me and babe I wanna catch on fire
So when I’m all choked up and I can’t find the words
Every time we say goodbye baby it hurts

When the sun goes down
And the band won’t play
I’ll always remember us this way

The hardest goodbye
Thus far
But I’m not even home yet
And yet
Why am I mourning
Why am I crying

It hurts like a bitch.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

RBYZ: Lovin’ LA (#007)

Your host YZ works on her au avoir to the city she didn’t care for and now the city she calls her second home…

My guest this week is myself, again. 

Ye shameless self-promoter. I hear you.

I do it for two reasons.

  • First of all, I wasn’t able to edit a full interview this last week because I was ‘party too hard.’ [Translation: Those who know me know that I don’t usually party. So it’s a joke. You can laugh now. Or don’t.] Truth is, I just felt too restless to be able to do my guest justice.
  • Secondly, I realized that by next Tuesday, I will be in Shanghai. So I gotta say somethin’. And it’d better to now.

Then the natural woman in me got emotional. I broke down sobbing for more than a few times when the clock was ticking and I was determined to air by 00:00, Oct 9.

And I made it!

My thick nasal voice gave myself away. But I’m proud to be sharing my raw emotions  with all of you people out there. Nobody said rock bottom is all soft and fluffy.

Jerry Seinfeld famously said that he couldn’t understand people who write books/blogs because you can’t get a reaction from your readers right away. Instead, you find people approach you about the book you wrote five fucking years ago.

“It changed my life.” And you went, “Where the fuck are you five years ago?” Indeed, writers can use more encouragement like that.

But truthfully, I just want to pause my crazy life being the collateral damange to Trump’s trade war with China as I deal with the Shanghai Customs and say:

A gigantic THANK YOU to y’all, especially to the City of Angels for your sunshine and friendship.

And most of all, to the people I’ve met who are now officially my friends and families!

 

Next week Tuesday, I’ll be rockin’ this podcast back in my hometown Shanghai.
Well, my Shanghai cat Michael may try to tank my taping.
Let’s see how that would go.

Michael in 2015

One more thing, don’t you think you can get rid of me this easily. In the name of Terminator, I’ll be back. 

Most important, remember to VOTE.

 

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,
YZ

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

One less day

Would I be doing this after I’m back in China? You betcha.

Is what I’m thinking about as I’m typing here.

Another friend and I said farewell to each other today.

The reality hit me hard. At one point, I almost bursted into tears (again).

I’m not dreaming. I’m leaving for China…

 

UCLA Extension found out about me not actually enrolled into the program, they gave me an ultimatum asking me to pay for my tuition by October 8. I told them that I’m leaving on Oct 14 so don’t bother. They replied that I had, not 30, but just 14 days to exit the country that I had been residing in for three whole years.

It was like the bouncer found out that I was underage and I didn’t pay for my own drinks, so they tried to pluck me out of the crowd.

Then I said, “How dare you. I’ll walk.”

But after I walked the walk for about a mile, I couldn’t talk the talk. Because I broke down crying, missing all the pals whom I wouldn’t be able to say proper goodbyes “under the influences.”

Would I be doing this after I’m back in China? I hear you ask.

You betcha.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Check out the latest #RBYZ episode featuring myself. It reads narcissistic. Hope it doesn’t sound so. Judge it for yourself.

Cry me a river

For now, let me just lie down on my back and cry some more. 

Three years ago, I told myself I would not look back and try to make it—

  • In Hollywood;
  • As a legit screenwriter;
  • Livin’ an American dream.

Then 2016 happened… To look beyond my personal low after I discovered my landlady’s scamming scheme—

  • Obama left.
  • Hilary lost.
  • Trump became the POTUS.
  • My former mentor, whom I’ve estranged since, once told me Trump doesn’t look crazy at all in person. That wise man, out of anybody, was considering taking a job on the Hill should the opportunity presented itself.

I witnessed the student potests on the UCLA campus. I bantered with a policeofficer and I shrugged off.

I was just an outsider. At least I thought I was. It was none of my business, just the way I was taught growing up how to react to the P word. [Translation: Politics.]

I didn’t know the impact of Trump’s shitshow to me, a total bystander, until I did.

What to do apart from screaming WTF?

I started to follow news commentators like Rachel Maddow. I realized that nobody is in anything alone. I would know how to talk about the P word more intensively next time after I’m back. And I’ll be back.

For now, let me just lie down on my back and cry some more.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. Latest #RBYZ episode out now. I’m my own guest. This time, I talk about how I feel about leaving LA head-on.

WARNING: It’s pretty raw.