Mirror, mirror

I was not irked. I was disgusted. Still, I steeled myself to nod and smile in her direction. She mirrored my movement. No more. No less. 

She wriggled towards me and dared to sit her ass down on my right as I leafed through the document, feigning my busyness, showcasing my importance being on the filmmaking competition’s final jury panel, while she was just there for make-believe photoshoots which would be used when she presents her case later for the US immigration board.

“Get the fuck out, you shameless opportunist” A voice in my head screamed at her. The truth is, since I got myself out of the 9-to-5 system, I also opted out on bullshitting and faking. I got so rusty that I could hear the squeak in between my facial muscles. Fortunately, I was ushered to a different room since I had to share my side of air with her for some 300 seconds.

But wait, why do I detest this woman in the first place? What has she done to deserve my berating?

The first time I met her, I was dragged home from my boyfriend’s just because the woman got to LA earlier than expected and her Airbnb got canceled. 

Our mutual friend gave me her keys before she went on vacation, “She’ll contact you one or two days before she’s in town.” Instead, I got a two-hour notice at best and a total of 20+ missed calls and numerous texts. 

“Shit, I had to go back.”
“What’s the matter?” My boyfriend asked. 
“This girl and her family would have nowhere to sleep if I don’t give her the keys tonight.”

“I’m here.” Finally, I got her text. It was 12:15 am. I struggled to stay awake for someone who’s not my boyfriend, whom I hadn’t even met yet. Honoring my word to my friend, I shivered downstairs in my baseball cap (LA summer evening can be brutally cold) and handed the woman a ring of keys. 

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” She battered her lashes and thanked me in her husky voice from the long drive. Her Chinese relatives crouched in the back, all wide awake. None uttered a word of thank you in Mandarin back to me. 

Since then, the woman and I met at couple of group functions. I learned that she loves bar-hopping, which I had zero interest, or passion, or means, or time to do since I arrived in LA. Now with only weeks left, I wouldn’t start something I never started here in the first place, for the wrong reason, with a dubious person whom I still barely know…

From our mutual friend, I learned that the woman has a wealthy father who spoils his daughter with unlimited monthly allowance. Like, when his daughter crashed a brand new BMW, he rewarded her with an Audi… 

Meanwhile, I cleaned, ditched, wrapped, and packed things up, hugged and said goodbyes to dear friends I grew close to in the last three years.  Worst of all, I had to cut my heart open, bleeding it dry as I left my love behind when I left my LA life behind, just because I had no more left to persist without a legit visa. I ran out of time; I ran out of faith; I ran out of means. I had no other options but to come back home, or the Place of Birth as identified on my passport.

But I know I would go back to LA, again, by crawling, digging, diving, flying, whatever. I just don’t know when I’d be back. One thing I do know is, the day I left LA, I felt like I was attending my own funeral. My love was the only one present. I’d never seen him cry. Now, tears were brimming in his deep eyes. With TSA as our priest, we exchanged no rings or vows. But I would say yes to anything just so he’d ask. I grew up in a culture where crying was shameful, but loving him helped me unlearn that doctrine. Tears washed down on my cheeks. I was a total mess. I wore no makeup or disguise. I refused to and I didn’t give a fuck… My savage heartbeats reminded me that time was running out. Our lips touched for one last time. He nudged me away. Seconds later, the elevator lifted my soulless body up and away from him, the love of my life.

That day, I died.

Later I would I console my patched-up shell that now I know how to describe a soldier leaving his newly-wed behind for war. But if I could just stay in his embrace, I’d rather I keep typing shallow words just so I could un-wrinkle the lines in my weary heart.

But that woman, who’d spent all her life partying, could renew her visa indefinitely until probably she gets tired of the U.S. or she gets married to some American boy. Or her daddy buys her a green card…

Her mere existence enraged me. That I had to end with a screeching halt and she was handed a hall pass from birth… How unfair! The voice bellowed through the bounds of my skull. When I started teaching at her alma mater in Shanghai, a student who’s only a couple of years her junior commented that the woman is well-disliked by peers but well-liked by professors. So she’s a suck-up. A sneer creeped up at the corner of my lips. Probably she picked that up from her filthy rich daddy.

To prove my vicious self wrong, I texted the woman weeks ago asking when she would be in Shanghai. She replied ever so slowly, ever so apathetically, so unlike the cheeky gurl she advertised on social and only fuckable to the bunch she wants to please. 

I had a pair of sunglasses that I left in LA. I asked her for a favor. I asked her for her address and her date of departure. But she simply ignored my texts. It got me. I blacklisted her for good. 

It was hard enough for me not to roll my eyes out when I saw her coming towards me and sat down beside me. It was harder to act friendly. It was impossible to make chitchat. Hell no. I couldn’t. I’m not big enough. And I don’t care if her presence proved that I’m not big enough. I refused to engage. 

But Silly – it’s not about my sunglasses. It’s not about her. It’s not about anybody else. 

It’s about me, my love, my loss, my rage, my issues.

The presence of that woman is a sour reminder of my moment of impotence, my lack of fund, my naive dream…

But most of all, my love whom I had to let go because he has since moved on and asked me to grow where I’m planted. That was three four months ago. So do you get now why I couldn’t blog for two three months without getting any more personal?

Yours truly,
YZ


Who do you do it for

I’ve been real good lately.

Nah, I’m not talkin’ ’bout my diet or my biological clock which has officially gone cuckoo. Why else would you think I’m still awake and typing?

I’m talkin’ ’bout me not checking on the stats, the fans, the subscriptions of my blog and my podcast.

I had a little meltdown on the last week of September. The latest episode didn’t get the kind of attention that I wanted. I got frustrated. I turned to my Podcast Fellowship friends for advice.

Their answers can be summarized into one simple question:

Who do you do it for?

The million dollar question pointing to our true compass.

That made me pause.

To be frank, I remember I did say that even if just one person is reading my blog, listening to my podcast. I would still do it.

So who do I do it for then?

  • I do it to find my voice.
  • I do it to reassure people that “No, my life ain’t perfect. Laugh if you want. But I don’t care. Not any more. I just want to be real. And you can’t stop me.”

When I could answer that question, things became easier, simpler. The suffering became more tolerable and less humiliating.

If you do it for the right reason, you’re invincible.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

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

 

 

 

 

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.

Addicted

Hi. I’m YZ. I’m an alcoholic.

Well, I’m not. I can’t drink alcohol.

So why would I ever attend an imaginary AA meeting?

Because I think I might be an addict.

No, I am.

I’m no smoker. In fact, I hate the smell of burning tobaccos. Growing up in a household with two serial smokers, namely my dad and his dad. So thanks but no thanks.

I’m single so sex is not a viable option. Technically, I can Tinder or Bumble should I choose to. But first dates are as far as I can go. Sorry, Moana.
Full disclosure: I, am the whole package, the brains, the looks, and the butt. And frankly, I’m done getting zilch callbacks when clearly I’m not actressing and they’re no casting directors. I’ve contemplated being bi or gay. Like-minded women would gimme some game. But I’m typecasted. I’m straight through and through. Damn.

I have a sweet tooth. But with my meager income in my brief history of employment in LA, I refuse to buy sweets. When I still worked at that snazzy production company, I had an abundant supply of M&M’s, Kit Kats, Snickers… Why not when they’re free?

I have a humongous stomach. Thanks to my Crazy Asian Metabolism, I’ve out-eaten more than one six-footers on some bad and good days.

I binge TV shows and call ’em my research, because I can. I am an unemployed screenwriter after all.

“I’m an addict, too.” A podcast guest confessed, after I revealed my Salt & Vinegar chips addiction since my England sojourn.

“So what do you do?”

“I get up at four so I can beat everyone else and hit the gym at five.”

Right.

“I run like crazy especially when I’m stressed. If I’ve passed 400 miles in a month doubling my usual stats, I know I’ve had a really bad month.”

Who on earth said being vulnerable is therapeutic? Brené Brown?

I need to binge something. But my fridge is too healthy. And I don’t want to get dressed. 7-11 is literally 50 feet away from my apartment.

I’ll wait for John Doe in SE7EN to come and get me. But isn’t Kevin Spacey banned lately?

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Birds of a feather

Flock together.

Two days in a row I’m writing about birds.

Yesterday it was about Phoenix’s reincarnation. Today it’s about friends of the same feather.

I got up this morning at 4 am. I had a scheduled interview with a most vibrant free spirit from Poland. She, along with her podcast partner, and I met on The Podcast Fellowship hosted by Seth Godin and Alex DiPalma.

Unlike most beige feedback you get from anywhere and everywhere, this team (Poland + South Africa) doesn’t cuddle you with “this is awesome” type of short replies. And neither do I. As our interaction went deeper, so did our friendship. When I proposed interview swaps on the platform, the team reached out immediately despite their crazy schedules. Kudos!

Today, at my dawn, her noon, there she was, ready to open up on my podcast called Rock Bottom with YZ.  Two hours went by in a blink. Without full disclosure, her interview went beyond the jobs, the achievements, the titles, the adventures… and dived into the fear, the unrest, the vulnerability, the psyche.

I said, “I see you.”
It was as if we got cast in Wachowskis’ Sense8, which was uncanny and divine.

As I write this piece and recall the chat that would fuel my day, Nelly Furtado‘s I’m Like a Bird comes to mind. But with a little twist:

I’ll only fly away
I know where my soul is
I know where my home is

 

Yours truly,
YZ