The rest is history

I just saw off my friends, the couple who let me stay at their apartment for my last month here in LA.

By the time they are back in mid-Nov, I’ll be long gone.

They’re going to East Coast for a long business trip. They wanted me to stay longer so I could say goodbye to them after they are back.

I couldn’t.

Barbara, my friend back in shanghai is leaving for Australia in early November. My student visa may be shaky since I’m not enrolling for any classes. I have to go even though I don’t want to.

Sitting in my friends’ spacious living room, now even more spacious without the two of them and their dawg, I tried to do my daily meditation. I couldn’t. Something stuffed in my chest. My breath has been shallow for the last few weeks for all kinds of reasons.

Today there is something more.

I first met the husband at Trader Joe’s when we were in the queue. I asked him about the LA June Gloom weather. That extended to an half-hour conversation outside the grocery shop until his wife called asking where {on earth} he was.

And the rest is history.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

 

 

 

My

The Customs – Part 2

Thirteen boxes are resting at the Shanghai customs.

My parents tried to claim them yesterday. They were told that they would have to pay RMB 200 a piece. And I have 13 boxes there. Feel free to do the math.

But the good news is, they’re in good hands and the customs would keep them safe, and most importantly, free for me until early November. By then, I would already be home.

If I show the customs my entry stamp back into the country, I would get my stuff back  tax-free.

But I would have to pay for the ride from the customs to my Shanghai home. I will need to rent a van and do it all over again. This time with my parents.

Win some. Lose some. All interesting.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. New episode out today. Check it out by clicking here.

The Customs – Part I

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

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

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

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

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