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?

Yes…

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,
YZ

 

The coolest girl

Everyone else is taken. Every other label has been used.

In the crowd… Do you know one of those girls growing up?

I do.

She has taste. What she throws on is effortless, timeless.

She has brains. What she says is witty, funny.

Everyone wants to be like her. But nobody can but her.

Every girl wants to be her friend.

Every boy wants to take her hand.

But only the lucky fews get to be near her.

That’s the trick. That’s part of the game, the fun, the pain.

She reveals just enough about herself. The best side. The coolest side. The perfect side.

The rest leaves to her fans’ imagination…

 

When I watched South Korean’s 2011 female friendship movie Sunny,

I knew who I was. Na-mi, the protagonist.

Na-mi got it all. The friendship. The respect. The love. The acceptance.

My own version of the movie would be somewhat different:
I was without the guidance of the coolest girl. Choon-hwa, who’s also as pretty as it gets. Or the accompany of the prettiest girl. Young Soo-ji, who’s also as cool as it gets.
What I got was cold shoulders, the no-response responses…

I couldn’t find myself in any of those happily-ever-after movies. Maybe that’s why I wanted to be a storyteller in the first place…

One day, not too long ago, I got up and a voice whispered in my ears:

Everyone else is taken.

Every other label has been used.

I’ll be myself. Cool or not. Pretty or not.

I’m done pretending. I’m done trying.

I’m just me. Take it. Or leave it.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

A million things

Doesn’t everyone, at any given moment, have a million of things to do, to worry?

To do before my departure on October 14.

Today is September 21. Already?!

People start to text me for the final meet-ups.

“We haven’t seen each other for ages” is usually the icebreaker line, the way-in for the lost connection.

“Yes, indeed.” I took the bait.

“Let’s meet for [coffee / lunch / dinner, depends on the other side’s perception of our relationship.]”

“Sure.” I’d say.

Sometimes I wonder if people would ever meet if they don’t make an effort and meet on a regular basis until something’s up. For instance, the person is leaving, like me.

Usually people just drift apart. Life happens. [Translation: You’re not my priority. Right now.]

I look at my schedule next week. The most interesting one is this: I have a dinner with my former company.

What shall I wear? What shall I say?

I’ve decided that I’m grateful for all the attention I’m showered.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who picks up the tab. Or how much is the tab. But the person makes the effort and shows up.

Come to think of it, doesn’t everyone, at any given moment, have a million of things to do, to worry?

Here is the script I’ll stick to:

Thank you for your time.

And I mean it.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Zzz

That’s what a good night rest should feel like. 

I woke up this morning with a splash of sunshine on my face. Traffic started to pick up down on the street. Eight floors down.

I opened my eyes. This is not my apartment. Sitting up, I realized that I was at my friends’ place, their spacious apartment.

For the first time, they didn’t have to drop me off. They helped me make the bed.

And I knew that the next morning I didn’t have to pack all of my stuff by a certain time and leave. At least for the next month.

“If we are up, you don’t have to. You’ve had a rough couple of weeks.”

I nodded.

“I’m going to make you some All-American breakfast tomorrow. Some maple chicken breakfast sausages. Scrambled eggs. Avocados.”

I beamed.

We were watching The Informant! It was past 10 pm. My lower eyelids were rioting against my upper ones.

“May I have a shot of espresso?”

“No. You’re going to bed. You’re wiped out.”

“But I want to finish this movie with you guys.”

“You’re wiped out.”

For the first time in a month, I fell asleep before 11. It felt good. The Zzz.

I felt relaxed when I got up even though my bones were cracking. The monthlong tension.

I would need more rest to set things straight. Now it looks I can get there.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Breakfast!
Breakfast!

Why always me

When I get beaten the shit out by life, I scream, “Why (the fuck) always me?”
When I get lucky, I never ask the same question… until now. 

At 1:45 PM, September 15, 2018, I walked out of my studio apartment for one last time, call it mine for one last time.

 

In front of my landlord’s premium Range Rover, he handed me the pen and the paper. I signed. He tore the check and gave it to me.

The amount was exactly what we had agreed upon, including the six-piece furniture which I sold to him at a great price, including the move-out incentive, including the full security deposit.

Wait, can it be true? It felt surreal.

Is the check real? Will it bounce back?

I was breathless. I was a woman on a mission. I held on to the check, scooted to the bank, deposited it, double-checked that it landed into my account.

Then I texted my friend who helped me negotiated the amount.

“I got the check. It’s done. It’s finally done.”

Like a quarterback, I sandwiched my bedsheet that I forgot to remove earlier with me towards my friends’ apartment.

The husband had already loaded and unloaded the rest of my junk into their lovely apartment, the place I would stay for the next month… He slipped off the staircase earlier when we were loading. And yet, all he needed from me was “Are you okay?”

Who said Americans sue people to death?

The lovely couple charged me nothing for the month accommodation for this prime location.

The husband is making us dinner now.

The wife is helping me with some eBay shit I’m selling.

Angels, after Angels in this City of Angels.

I’m warming towards this city I’ve begrudged for the last three years. Why now, when I’m leaving.

When I get beaten the shit out by life, I scream, “Why (the fuck) always me?”

When I get lucky, I never ask the same question… until now.

Yeah, why always me?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll join the Michelin Star Chef into their open kitchen and observe “how sausages are made.”

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Great view from the balcony on Wilshire Blvd
Great view from the balcony on Wilshire Blvd

Again? Again.

Let me begin with a brilliant quote from JK Rowling —

Humans have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them. 
via Albus Dumbledore

I don’t know why people make the same mistake again and again. But I just caught myself repeating the same stupid mistake recently. Worst of all, I don’t even regret it, or think it is ‘stupid’ or a ‘mistake.’ To me at the time, it was a conscious choice.

Oy.

You see it coming. You know the consequences. But still, you do absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening. You just let it happen. You even encourage it to happen.

But why? I was tempted. I didn’t try to fight it. I felt good even — at least for a while. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do it ever again. But if circumstances allow, it may happen again. I don’t trust my judgement. I need to call upon my stronger will, my higher self to interfere.

In most cases, if you don’t stop it now, the collateral damage may be too much to cope with later. That I know.

Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, the happiest man in the world says —

Happiness is not the pursuit of an endless succession of experiences. That’s a recipe for exhaustion more than happiness. 
Happiness is a way of being
The challenge is to let that way of being overtake all other emotional states.

I will try. I will try.

This time, I mean business.


I will end this note with another quote from JK Rowling —

We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. 
What matters is the part we choose to act on
That’s who we really are. 
via Sirius Black

La vie aux Amérique

It’s easy to get laid en Amérique. Not that I am a sexpert, but the environment here seems so much more tolerant. The pressure back in China about women wanting to relax and have fun is mind-boggling. Plus, you almost live right around the corner to, if not at, your parents’… An immediate turn-off.

I haven’t yet found my way around Chinese men. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m not their cuppa tea. All the guys I’ve been with are non-Chinese. So I really won’t know what the Chinese fellas are thinking. I find guys in America won’t judge you (or so I assume) if you two are just having fun. But, there is a price to pay. It hurts when the guy doesn’t contact you as often, or at all, after you’ve been this sizzling close. I try to be cool about it now. If dudes can handle it, I can too. Or so I think.

I was seeing a guy. We had a good time. I then came to realize that I did not dig him that much after all. His attitude towards love is the biggest bummer — He was dumped thrice comparing to the five times as the ‘dumper.’ That three times he claimed that he was in love. It took him the longest to recover, and it hurt (Duh). He now decides that no more love for him, ever. He’s only 27; I just turned 28, and I barely started — See that? The gap between China and the United States. Then and there my crush on him was squashed. And poof! It evaporated without a trace. I just can’t be with a love cynic.

Most girls get men in bed because they (sort of) like them and probably want the men in question to like (aka. love?) them back. On the other hand, guys often get women in between sheets just for fun and nothing else. I find this particular sport a good tool to observe the true quality in a man — whether he’s generous, whether he’s tender, whether he’s thoughtful, whether he’s creative, whether he’s energetic, whether he’s bold, whether he’s seasoned, whether he likes to be dominant, whether he knows about women, whether he’s a good listener, whether he’s patient, whether he’s a good communicator, whether he really exercises as much as he claims he does, whether he’s sans judgement with his partner’s kinks and etc.

Those intel could take girls a much longer time to gather if they persist to just observe their men’s table manners.

At the end of it, you will know if the man is a good fit to start a relationship, or you should just get it over with and get on with your marvelous life. I delete and shred their contacts once my guts tell me that they’re not the boyfriend material. Women, observe cats. They are our role models.

Having fun is one thing; hanging around is another.

After all, life is too short to dance with wrong guys.

 

Yours truly,
YZ