Lottery of birth

Full disclosure: I won.

It usually means you were born into the Kadashians, the Gates, the Ellisons, the Bransons.

I realized that I won that lottery of birth too.

My parents let me pursue creative writing when neither of them is in this trade while both understand what a long shot this is.

“I just want you to keep a healty state of mind while you are at it. Don’t compare yourself to others, like why someone else got the visa but you didn’t; or someone else is making more money.  Just do your thing if that brings you joy.”

My dad revealed to me this morning while we were sipping coffee. I nodded.

Later in the day, he asked: “When are you going to sort out your tourist visa?”

“Maybe soon. I don’t know yet.”

“Get it done so you can fly back to LA whenever you want to. Shanghai winter is too brutal. Spend the winter there and write.”

“What about the Chinese New Year gatherings?”

“I already told your grandpa that you would be travelling.”

“Really?”

“Don’t worry about it. Go.” My mum chimed in.

You can’t choose your parents, but if you have parents who are willing to let go and trust your choice even though it sounds crazy? Isn’t it the definition of jackpot?

I confess that I still want to make a lot of money. Because I want to show them the world as I see it.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. I knocked out the second draft of the short film and the assignment for a company. I feel pretty good. Tomorrow, I will start the feature rewrite after I ship this weeks’ podcast.

 

 

Revelations

My dear friend Barbara taught me the term “extreme self-care” recently.

I was going to her Farewell Party. But I got sick three days before the scheduled date. Then we tried to reschedule for a few times until it was too close to her departure of November 4, which is tomorrow…

I could have dropped by her place as I stopped my eight-day IV treatment on Thursday. But she suggested that I listened to my body.

She was right. I was still weak. Plus, I was having a huge reaction to the medication that I was drowsy and depressed.

“In times like this, we need to exercise extreme self-care.”

That means that Oct 17 was the last time I saw her before her final departure…

I wish I didn’t stay up late every night for the last month I was in LA. I wish I rested more when I was on the plane. I wish I didn’t get up at 1:30 the first night I was back…  But I was too distraught to feel or act otherwise.

How many times do we ignore the signals from our body before we get struck down hard? My latest pneumonia episode should be a cautionary tale.

Like the world’s worst coach, we demand our body to go the extra mile for us when it’s at the verge of collapse.

“Where there is a will, there is a way” has been my mantra as long as I can remember before my health gets in the way…

Is it worth it? Is it faster to dash and get sick in the middle, or go steady and rest?

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t fully enjoy LA until it was time for me to leave. Am I going to do the same for Shanghai when I leave yet again later?

I told dad this evening when we strolled in the neighborhood park that I wanted to exercise with him every dawn as I recover. I shared with him my fears, my anxieties – just like the way we talked via WeChat when I was in LA.

I vowed that I would be more patient with mum regardless of her hoarding pet peeve or her poor sense of fashion…

Honestly, how many more moments do we get to spend with our parents 24/7 as we become adults?

Enjoy while you can.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Dear parents

Since I moved back to China, I’ve moved into my parents’ apartment, which for the record, I played a big role in paying off our mortgage before I left for LA three years ago.

Excuse my ego, it finds it crucial to point this out. But no matter how much I want to spin this, I’m living with my parents as a fully functioning adult.

It is also crucial to point out that in the Chinese culture, especially in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing that ‘kids’ don’t move out until they get married due to a) strong family tradition; b) devoted parents who are terrible at calculating their ROIs; c) the wacky housing market and unpredictable species called landlords.

Since I’ve had my fair share of landlord sagas (from negotiation to small claims court), I find it almost therapeutic to not to worry about rent and lease and among other things.

And yet, mum and dad can sometimes love me a little too much to my likings. Mostly, my mum…

“Go to bed. It’s almost 10.”

“Finish your rice. We ain’t rich.”

“Why are you throwing away this bag when it’s in perfect condition? Are you out of your mind?

“Why don’t you take a shower now? So you don’t wipe your greasy hair onto my floral pillowcase?”

“Why isn’t my phone working? I’ve done absolutely nothing.”

In some portions of my dreams back when I was in LA, I begged hearing those lines from my parents. “If only I could be there with you in person. I will never get bored.” I remembered crying myself to sleep on that Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Well, as it turns out, be careful what you wish for.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Far, far away from home

Picture Credit

I got a credit card bill notice stating that a large sum of money was spent in a Shanghai hospital. It had to be my parents, I concluded. Only they have access to that card.

But the hospital?

It was 8 o’clock in the morning in Shanghai. What could go wrong? What was going on? And most important, who was in the hospital?

My heart was pounding. My thoughts were racing. My body was quivering. I began praying, please, please, please…

I tried to call their cells. No one picked up. I called one of my aunties. No answer. I then texted a friend in Shanghai giving her both of my parents’ numbers.

“Could you check on them for me? Please?”

I waited. No reply. I then tried calling another auntie, my Mum’s eldest sister. She picked up. Thank God. And thank Chairman Mao for not implementing the One-Child Policy.

— Talk to me!
*I demanded. My voice was shaking.

— Oh, it must be your dad.

— My dad?!
*Last year in January when I was still in Shanghai, it was Mum who was hospitalized.

— What happened?

— Just a minor surgery.

— A surgery?! What kind of surgery? Be specific!

— Oh, he’s been having this condition for well over two years now.

— Two years? Why don’t I even know?!

My tears poured out. I felt I had failed as a daughter.

I want to be filial. But me in Los Angeles, and them back in Shanghai, how filial can I be when all I do is to call them once a week at random and strange hours?

My savings are now dried up and I haven’t been employed since last August. I now practically live on my parents’ meagre savings while they haven’t seen much of the world yet. And they are pushing into their sixties. The clock is ticking.

I want it so bad to give them back, give them the best. To thank them for their nurturing, for their teaching, for their selflessness, for their understanding, for their encouragement and for their support. I want to become rich and famous — Not because I want them for myself. But I can stop worrying about money, stop missing my parents in the darkness of the night. So they can start to enjoy their life and worry less about me and my expat life in the U.S.

This has become part of the source of my drive — To give them a better life. I don’t really care what people think about me, how I dress. But I care how people view my work. Because that’s what defines me now, that’s what will bring something tangible and meaningful to me.

But what about love?

Love is only so transient. Another cousin of mine is getting married this June. I am going to miss her wedding. She is one year older than I am. I am 28, and I haven’t yet had a boyfriend till today. Pretty pathetic, right? I feel that no matter how sincere, friendly, gorgeous, put-together, versatile I am, no one is ever going to get serious about getting into a relationship with me. I’ve met four guys since I arrived. None were serious players. I think next time, I might just cut to the chase and ask, “Are you serious, or are you just fucking around? Because if you belong to the latter, please just fuck off.” I just can’t afford to waste another ounce of my energy on chicken shit like this.

My parents won’t say it, but I know what they are thinking. They want me to find someone who deserves me. They want me to start a family so my significant other can take some burdens off my shoulder. And unlike my rebellious younger self, I want to be their trophy daughter. I want to exceed my parents’ wildest expectations of me — even though all they ever want for me is my happiness.

All I want for them is their happiness, and to join with me here in the U.S.

If God’s design for me is to live alone, work alone, and die alone. So be it. I will then gear all the energy to work till the last breath I take. I will work my damnedest so I can show my parents the world they’ve missed out while supporting my life here. That’s the least I can do.

— A wish from a child who’s far, far away from home.

 

Yours truly,
YZ