The show must go on

9 days ago, I landed in Shanghai.

7 days ago, I recorded this episode with Barbara Kiao.

6 days ago, I reemerged on the worldwide web.

4 days ago, I fell sick and couldn’t make a sound…

15 seconds ago, I was still coughing my eyes out.

It feels like The Shawshank Redemption sequel…

But the show must go on!

Thank you for sticking around!

And here it is!

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. I’ll post the show notes here tomorrow.

RBYZ: Hollywood Inside Out (#005)

If you were born into a Hollywood family, would you do anything else other than film?

My guest this week is an aspiring visual artist. Last year, she quit her job, traveled around half of the globe for four months before moving back to LA, starting afresh.

Her bio is quite unique—

I can write upside down and backwards; I always say hi to left-handed people; I helped dress the models at the Elie Saab Summer ’06 Couture Show in Paris; Blair Waldorf wears a headband I made when she says “I love you” to Chuck Bass in Gossip GirlI have a pretty good relationship with my cell phone and technology; and I love reading children’s books as an adult.

Meet Amee Carter, who dares to differ even it means hitting rock bottom.

What you’ll hear:

  • Is groundedness even possible for someone born in Hollywood?
  • What are the disadvantages to be in the family business apart from its clear advantages?
  • How to look at the world like a production designer?
  • How does she find courage to break out of the familiar world? What’s the drive behind that choice?
  • What does it feel like to have 17 home bases in four countries in a year?
  • How not to be fazed working with the greats? What’s the advice?

It’s not about you. It’s about the work.

Links from the episode:

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.

RBYZ: On my terms (#004)

“Feel the fear and do it anyways.”

Says our guest this week. She had been a successful hospitality manager until she decided to study psychology when she was two decades too old. That is, according to the norm.

Seven years later, after getting her degree and license, she walked away from the broken marriage, accepting her own Rock Bottom.

Meet Barbara Kiao, the therapist who practises what she preaches.

What you’ll hear:

  • Can one really switch from hospitality to psychology?
  • Is there such a thing as “too old to learn?”
  • What does age have to do with… anything?
  • What does a calling feel like?
  • How to stop the stigma around counseling?
  • What does a clinical counselor’s day-to-day practice look like?
  • How does a psychology pro deal with crises and rock bottoms?
  • And much more!

Links from the episode:

 

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.

RBYZ: I have a voice (#003)

Your host YZ, a stutterer-turned-storyteller, talks about writing, podcasting, her own Rock Bottoms, and her latest situation.

My guest today is myself.

Truth be told, I’ve been wanting someone to interview me for sometime now. I know I’m good. Since I’m not quite there yet, those interview invitations have taken a tad longer than I thought to hit my inbox. 

So fuck it. I had my friend from UCLA interview me after we packed three boxes of books for Goodwill.

What you’ll hear:

  • What was the first few weeks/months like after she landed in LA?
  • How difficult was it for her, a foreigner who doesn’t use English as her first language to survive one of the toughest screenwriting MFA program in the world?
  • Where does the podcast idea come from?
  • What does Rock Bottom mean to her?
  • What does it take to be a writer, a podcaster?
  • What skills can she apply to writing from podcasting?
  • How did she conquer discomfort in the early stages of her writing and podcasting?
  • How to unlearn the stuff we pick up from our culture?
  • How does she deal with rejection these days?
  • How did she learn English?
  • How did she cure her stammering?
  • What’s the goal for the podcast a year from now?

Links from the episode:

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.

RBYZ: I’m gonna still be writing (#001)

From Midwest to LA, a teacher-turned-screenwriter’s California dreaming and dreading.

My first-ever guest is a teacher-turned-screenwriter who likes simple stories, complex characters, and real-life absurdism.

What you’ll hear:

  • What has teaching got to do with screenwriting?
  • Why did he choose film school after years of writing screenplays since he was 16?
  • Write what you know is a cliche. Write what scares you.
  • How does he deal with frustration, Rock Bottoms? Two words. Angry run.
  • Celebrate the wins. Celebrate the successes. But then, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
  • How to get the writing workshop going after film school? Consistency and the right mindset.
  • How does he process friends’ successes? Acknowledge it’s there and try not to let it consume you.

It’s hard to be successful at anything you do. You just have to like being unsuccessful. If you can do that, then you’re in the right line of work.

Your students are your audience. You’re not owed anything. If you fail to grab their attention, they’ll let you know.

If you think you’re writing something that is going to be successful or popular, it ain’t.

Wherever I end up in the world, I’m gonna still be writing.

Link from the episode:

 

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.

Lost in translation

China has a counterpart of everything the world wants to sell her.

  • Alibaba > Amazon (inc. Amazon Studio) + eBay;
  • Baidu <<< ∞ Google (you see where my loyalty lies);
  • Tencent >>> ∞ Snapchat + Instagram + FaceBook + PayPal:
  • Xiaomi <?> Apple;
  • Ximalaya FM #wtf? Podcast.

 

Let’s talk about Ximalaya FM for a moment.

I just created my own Ximalaya [pronounce: Himalaya] account. Uploaded a photo with YZ holding her passport. It’s how IoT is done in China these days, making sure you’re legit before you get to be read, heard, or seen.

So dude, if you say anything inappropriate, we know who you are, where you live and your cell phone number. No pressure, just wanna make sure you watch your mouth.

That is to say, we show you the box and want you to think inside.  We’ll cut off the protruding tentacles if you dare try.

But that’s not my concern.

For my podcast, it’s interviews. And yet, when I select genre on Ximalaya, the best fit is actually “English.” Yep.

I clicked on the English section and see where my, quote and unquote, competition lies, they’re all about teaching English from grammar to American culture. The cover arts are in Chinese too.

What about the show description?

Here is what #RBYZ looks like in English:

Rock Bottom hits anybody at anytime and anywhere. The good news is, it discriminates no one. The bad news is, it’ll hit again. But the worst news is, nobody talks about it. Your host YZ bugs folks from all walks of life and zeros in on their Rock Bottoms. So we all gain some 20/20 before it’s hindsight.

In Chinese, it has to be one-sixth of the Twitter word limit (120 divided by 6) and let’s be catchy, shall we? Or at least, try.

That said, every Chinese word will carry the weight of some six English words, or more.

It’ll be something like this:

Shanghai-born bilingual screenwriter gurl (trying too hard?), chasing dream in LA, zero in on rock bottom, w/ creative souls around the globe.

Well, you get the idea…

Let’s see how my future Chinese fans would respond to my show. Soon I think I should record some Chinese intro to ease them into the program.

Gotta get Crazy Rich and find a PA like Andy Sachs.

And in my pitch-perfect Miranda Priestly impression:

That’s all. 

 

Yours truly,
YZ

It is what it is

A journey of a thousand miles… Begins with a single step.

Says Lao Tzu.

  • Who would have thought I would start podcasting myself when I couldn’t bear the sound of my own voice for the longest time?
  • Who would have thought I would start interviewing folks in different sizes, colors and genders about their most vulnerable moments, their Rock Bottoms, which they might not have shared with their loved ones, or even with themselves?
  • Who would have thought I would start baring my souls here and call myself a Blogger Anonymous? Who the fuck is ‘YZ?’  I still have trouble answering to my new id when I connect with my lovely guests on Skype.
  • I don’t know yet where my future holds, here or back home. But I love connecting with people again through this little project I created from scratch.
  • I know I’m more more than just a writer. I’m meant for something grander.
  • Maybe I’ll share my story on TED some day. Surely a lovely goal to keep!

 

As I launched #RBYZ podcast on iTunes and shared it amongst family and friends. A friend called me up and said she was blown away by the sheer awesomeness of my podcast trailer, from the cover art to the delivery…

This woman is someone whom I feel a gap in between us. She is the third-generation of an established Hollywood family. Her long list of credits in movies and TV shows. Her fierce work ethic. Her level-headedness.  And she is only four months older than I am!

“Let’s grab coffee next week!” Her enthusiasm oozed out of my iPhone speaker.

“Yes. Let’s!”

“Have you shared it with XXX?”

She meant my former boss, also her former boss.  She left the job last April.

The company threw her a surprise farewell party. Hugs were exchanged. Tears were shed. Selfies were snapped. Pro photos were posed.

“I was let go two Fridays ago.”

No party cake or balloons. Only hush hush and WTFs.

“No way.”

“It is what it is. I’m leaving for China in mid-Oct.”

“You are?!”

“Yeah. I need to recenter myself. I called my psychologist friend two days after I got sacked. She gave me total mental clarity in just two minutes…”

Yep, my psychologist friend Barbara Kiao is also featured on my podcast, coming soon!

“I know it must be painful. But I’m so glad you’re getting something extraordinary out of this Rock Bottom! You know what, we should see each other more since you’re leaving in mid-Oct!”

“Yes!”

 

Two things I discovered after I hung up, thrilled.

  • Between the woman and myself, we’re finally closer in this new friendship, which wasn’t possible when we were both employed there.
  • How easy it was to talk about the would-be should-be disgrace when I choose not to give power to that experience.

 

Be open, wide open.

Be clear, crystal clear.

It is what it is.  Nothing more.

 

Yours truly,
YZ