balance Archive

Dorothy may not be in Kansas anymore. But I am.

April 18th, 2011

Greetings from Emporia, Kansas!  The claim to fame of this small college town two hours South of Kansas City?  It’s the founding city of Veterans Day! Woohoo!  Party!!

Since my last update, I premiered CAT LADY in Houston.  It was exhausting, expensive, though went over extremely well.   Two and half years of hair-pulling and tens of thousands of dollars later culminated in a three day run that went by in a blink.  Yes yes, art is a journey, not a destination… I still felt like I crashed from the world’s most pricey heroin binge after the show closed. After feeling sorry for myself about the ephemeral nature of my work, I thought: Yes.  I did it.  I got it up.  The show got made.  It was to my liking.  And now I don’t have to sit in that never ending creative gestation period.  Hallelujah.  Time to have a private life!


I don’t much to say of the city of Houston because I barely saw it.  Touring hardly ever means getting to be a tourist.  I did meet one of my longtime blog readers who lives in Houston–Chris Lopez and his wife Lily.  They took me out to awesome sushi and even sent me money to make CAT LADY!  Lily was so cute and treated me like I was actually a celebrity, not just a woman who got her 15 minutes by getting dissed by James Franco. Shout out Chrisnlily!

Here’s some press on the show… 8 Asians, Culture Map, Yellow Magazine, and the Houston Entertainicle.  I also did an article for Sexy Voices of Hollywood which I have yet to listen to myself in.

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I went to New Orleans after the show closed. It was my first non-work related vacation in YEARS.  I really must schedule more vacations which is why I dropped five years of airline miles for a seven week trip I’m taking to Southeast Asia in the summer.  My first VISIONQUEST!   I’m excited now that I have six full length shows under my belt, four of which I can still tour.  I finally get to give myself a break and absorb life again.

New Orleans was wonderful.  I didn’t open my laptop once. Ignored most calls.  I just consumed, consumed, consumed.  Stayed at a private house via Airbnb just outside the Quarter and discovered all sorts of music clubs in the neighborhood.  I rode a bike to Lake Ponchartrain and as far out as the Lower Ninth Ward (btw, there’s still a lot of post-Katrina damage in New Orleans, keep them in your thoughts).   I didn’t call any friends in New Orleans.  I didn’t want to have any conversations about art or how my show went.  I just wanted to be an anonymous fat tourist, and I got my dream come true!

The best part about my Houston premiere?  It felt like I had finally taken the trash out on the last 2 1/2 years of my life.  The creative process sometimes stilts the passing of emotional trauma because I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s happening in my life and how to share it with an audience in a viewer friendly way.

Some people mark time by jobs, homes, kids they’ve had.  I mark the Dynasties of Wong Adult Life with my shows and creative projects.  There was the bigbadchinesemama.com Era (2000-2001), Emerging Voices Fellowship/Novel that has yet to get finished Era(2002), Miss Chinatown 2nd Runner-Up/ Flailing around Hollywood Era (2002-2003), Free? Era (2004-2006), and of course, the longest dynasty of them all Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Era (2006-2010, though THAT Era seems to keep leaking into the present).

I sent a lot of ugly to the stage in CAT LADY, found ways to reflect and transform it artfully and so it’s become something else I can manage and understand better.  What’s wrapped up in the Cat Lady era?  My existential crisis, bouts of depression from touring a show about suicide for four years, many empty hook-ups, and several failed relationships that includes a relationship I’ve not talked much about before on my blog…  a really traumatic relationship with a verbal abuser.

And somehow… I made it funny to watch.

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The only show I’ve allowed myself to get addicted to this season is Celebrity Apprentice. (I get addicted to shows quickly, so I choose from hulu carefully.)   I hate the idea of celebrities playing for charity, and how one charity wins per episode, but that’s Hollywood and capitalism and amazing drama.  Anyhow… I started crying when Nene Leakes bursts into tears in the boardroom.  She was the Project Manager and her team was at risk of losing (and they did) and she confesses to The Donald that she wanted her domestic violence charity to win because it’s a cause that hits home.  Nene, Latoya Jackson and Marlee Matlin (who I’m quickly becoming a superfan of and is my pick to win) all admitted to Trump to being a abusive relationships.  (Of course, the following episode Nene goes off on a verbally humiliating tirade on Latoya…  rather ironic considering Nene’s cause…)

Trump’s Obama birth certificate antics aside — I find Celebrity Apprentice a fascinating opportunity for always under-documented social issues to have a bigger presence.  And while I’d rather nobody have had to experience it, felt somewhat comforted that these “celebrities” were so openly admitting their domestic violence experiences because the subject of domestic violence I had considered shameful to share publicly.

As brazen as I seem to be about sharing my personal life with strangers, I’m pretty guarded about speaking openly about private experiences I’ve had with violence.  And I’m especially private about talking about my relationships, I usually just hide under the persona of the tough talk funny perpetually single cat lady.

But I’m feeling more and more compelled to share with strangers that I survived and escaped a verbally abusive relationship not too long ago.  I want to “come out” about this because domestic violence is unfortunately not that uncommon.  And domestic violence victims are rich, poor, educated, not educated and come in all colors.    I am hearing that many of my friends have been in abusive relationships. One friend’s experience was so extreme that she had things thrown at her while pregnant and had to run into hiding with her son.

I never knew what it meant to be in an abusive relationship or even thought that I could be in one.  My friends work for social justice non-profits and so I’m constantly educated on equity, I’ve read a million and a half books on self empowerment (I’m married to myself for Christsakes), and this verbal abuser was someone I was introduced to through friends who (I thought) had my best interests in mind.

What I thought was a runaway romance quickly became a Lifetime Made for TV movie.  He’d keep me up in the middle of the night, screaming at me, berating me, picking fights with me as I tried to sleep.   He’d yell constantly at me, sometimes in public– yelling was his volume of choice.  He’d control parts of my life  and my behaviors by constantly correcting me.  I was terrified what would happen if I didn’t follow his demands carefully, and found myself lying to friends to avoid situations where I’d incorrectly perform his directives.   My secrets, my family members, my shows– were all the subjects of his cruel put-downs.   I knew something wasn’t right when I began to compile a list of who I could call to rescue me if he ever got out of hand.  It got to the point that he was called me every derogatory word imaginable as he almost drove me off the road  and then threw a can of soda at me– that’s when it was clear I had to get out of the relationship.

As it turns out, the person who introduced us knew he was unstable and had a history of psychological meltdowns (one that actually got him fired by the same person who introduced us… a minor detail that would have been nice to know earlier). I actually hung out as long as I did (eight months) because I thought:  “We’re of the same community of friends, so this is supposed to work, I’m supposed to endure this.  This yelling is just him being passionate.  My friends would not put me in a dangerous situation right?”  He would call me names until I cried.  It was his way of making sure I was still emotionally invested in him– if I could take his anger and still come back to him, then he had control and my love.  Sick sick sick.  And so characteristic of verbal abusers.

I’ve read that violent unstable people prey on people like me who do live ambitiously and pursue our joys– artists and activists. I think this verbal abuser thought I’d fix his miserable life– he was not in a profession that made him happy.  Nor was he courageous enough to travel, let alone, clean his room in over five years.   But I couldn’t fix the fundamental misery of his life.  In general, nobody comes into your life to fix things.  I have learned that when you enter a relationship, you need to COME CORRECT not broken like my last partner.  A good relationship is one that inspires, not compromises.  And I was not inspired. I was scared.

As I finally move past that chapter in my life, I am becoming more vocal of sharing with audiences and friends that I am a survivor of domestic violence, specifically verbal abuse.  And it’s been a very long and heartbreaking road to recovery.  Over a year out of that relationship, and I’m just learning I’m not this piece of crap person who does everything wrong. That I am actually quite an amazing person.  And yes, that I do deserve to be loved by someone who is brave enough to love without cruelty.  And yes, that I need to screen these candidates WAY better.  And yes, there are actually nice people in the world who know how to be generous and act without anger.

We live in a world where the angry customer gets their way (though now, selfish corporations trump them).  Where democracy can only be achieved by violent upheaval of the government.  Where cat fights don’t get the ratings that fist tossing bar room brawls do.  Violence is embedded in our personal and global histories.  It’s how change is incited.

Even in the Asian American community, domestic violence is commonplace.  Unfortunately, it’s shameful to talk about it and so women are suffering silently rather than reporting it.  Some (not all) Asian men think that it’s ok to yell at women.  That girlfriends and wives are “property.”

As an artist,  I was not seeking an abusive relationship.  But I was broken.  I was depleted from touring a show about suicide and needed comfort.  I needed someone to be my rock.  I was tired of dating broke people that I was always underwriting.  I saw in this verbal abuser someone who might be my rock in my continued pursuit of a financially tricky and emotionally draining profession.  Instead, I was bait and switched, pummeled with words, and knocked way off my horse until I was forced to figure out who I was again.

He did not take me away though.  And I am learning that it is possible to be brave and love again.  First myself.  Then someone else.  Someone who comes correct and has earned the privilege of my love.

It is actually possible to be in a relationship where loving communication does not happen with screaming, verbal humiliation, threatening gestures, throwing things, hitting, intimidation, forced sex or hurting. It might take a few tries to find a partner brave enough to act with kindness (or to even find it within yourself), but it’s possible. Love can suck, but it is not supposed to hurt.

(Wow, quite a lot of revelation for having been in Kansas for just one day!)

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Category: a shot at love with kristina wong, artist life., balance, Blog, cat lady, empowerment, i'm kristina wong, New Orleans, vision

Zen and the Art of surfing panic?

March 23rd, 2009

I’ve decided to do the only thing that one can do when everything seems to be slipping out from under you– surf the chaos. Can’t fight it, can’t submit your fear to it. Just surf it, flow through it. And it’s working.

Reading the paper and all its agonizing news has actually become quite normal. And now, comes the task of having fun despite all circumstances.

Look at all the senior citizen things I am doing in this economy to stay busy and happy.

After my 3 hour sushi class at Santa Monica College (which is an excellent thing to do if you have the money or time, btw), I’ve been making sushi at home. And now, just as the teacher says, am never in the mood to go out to eat sushi. It’s not bad when I make them. Though it would probably help if I had a knife that cost more than 99cents because my rolls aren’t very elegant. My friend Bangbay came by this weekend and we rolled up tons of sushi (using raw salmon and tuna!) and ate it all, then wandered around the promenade in a food coma.

You can’t tell there is a recession. Because there is still a line of people buying crap at Anthropologie. I wanted to scream out to the people stocking up on $8 tea towels: “Have none of you heard of the 99 cents store?!”

Next week I’m doing an excerpt of my show in Las Vegas. The pay is absolutely terrible, but I need to get out of town and my friend Greg is coming and will also perform. Bangbay is coming too. We’re looking at it as a workcation. Our hotel room was only $21.80 a night(which includes the tax). I’m feeling generous and will be splurging for the room for the three of us (even if it may be missing a wall or has a chalk outline of a body on the floor).

Greg does this piece called “Spit” where he talks about men who have spit on him during sex and has people spit into a cup and drink it. It’s so gross.

I can’t think of a better travelling partner.

In other news, my friend Candi taught me how to use my sewing machine. And now I’m going to spit out felt dolls like nobody’s business.

By the way, that volcano in Alaska finally erupted. We were scared it would blow when we were there.

Yay! Old lady hobbies!

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Category: america makes me numb, balance, cat lady, crafty, magic powers, vacation?

The Good Life.

June 10th, 2008


When I was a lil’ girl, I imagined having a big beach house to live in. Steps from the sand. And now, that dream is true… well… for at least six weeks. This is one of those summers where life looks the way I’ve always wanted it to be.

That’s right kids. A year and half ago, I got a mysterious letter in the mail saying I had been nominated for the Hermitage Artists Retreat on the Manasota Key off of Englewood, FL. I was nominated by one of their board members. I cried when I got the letter because pretty much the letter said that without an application or particular project, that the space and time to create was mine if I wanted it. The pictures of this mysterious retreat were breathtaking. It’s pretty much the MacArthur of artist retreats– well… in that unsolicited gifts from heaven kinda way..


That would be my house behind the palm trees.


That would be my backyard.


The view from my office/ writing room.


The steps out the door.


There are big seashells washed up on the shore.


RESPECT.

It’s amazing to be here. It’s my first day here and I feel like I’ve been here for two weeks. I am also the only artist here. The next artist doesn’t come until July. So I’ve got this two bedroom cottage to myself and have my run of the kitchen, living room and big house on my own. I hope that time continues to stretch like this so I can make progress on the book. And there’s absolutely no commerce on this key. I have no car. And if there are any singles out here, they are all over 65 years old.

It’s going to be a ripe environment to get work done.

I also saw an iguana today on the walk back to the beach. It was funny because I was like, “AAGH!” I thought it was like a mini dinosaur. I want to get a book about the animal, flora and fauna in Florida so that I can stop referring to things in terms in of TV shows. (“Oh wow, those cottages are like the ones on LOST.”)

*******
And just in the last few days, I was in Minneapolis, MN for the Asian American Theater Conference. More on my fake panel later. But here are my fun tourist pictures.


Paul Bunyan mini golf at the Walker Art Center.


Sticking it to the man at the Mall of America theme park ride by not paying for their photos, but instead taking a picture of their picture of me on the screen.

Cheese bras with my friend Sam.

Cheese hats.

Some random kid I picked up and photo’d with at the airport.

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Category: artist life., balance, i'm kristina wong, road wong, winnings

And as my legs open… so do… the doors!

January 24th, 2008

Well, here’s the brief update.

It’s over! The giant 4-week leg of work that started last week of December, went through those two crazy weeks in Miami and then five days here with the CBS showcase finally is over!

And I’m supposedly taking a break now by doing paperwork for my upcoming shows, admin, bill paying, etc. Blech Blech.

I wasn’t sure what to think of the whole showcase because my performance went by very fast. It was very uncharacteristic of the work I do to be dressed so scandalously and speaking in an annoying voice. All I knew is I opened my mouth to say my first line (“Hi Kids! I’m Tila Tequila!”) and before I knew it I was almost done (“Remember! Faculty meeting at noon, in my skirt!”)

Afterwards, the friends who came to see me were like, “Damn Kristina! We didn’t know you had a body like that!!!”

Indeed. Many do not realize that within this hypocritical post feminist exterior lies the body of a washed up belly dancer. I guess my philosophy was, “Well, if I am going to be in this showcase for all of two minutes, I might as well give them something to look at.”

Sorry, no pictures.

I was so glad it was over when it was over. Too much pressure to have to “showcase” myself. I think my solo shows are so much more an indication of how I perform and what I am capable of pulling off. My manager (Oh did I tell you, in my rapidly changing life… I now have a manager… yes, que Hollywood) says that we will prepare a showcase in the Spring that shows off all the guns.

But already the sky has opened nicely. I got a call for an audition tomorrow at Universal. A series regular role on a sitcom pilot. The character has never gone on a date, works with cats, and is obsessive.

Hmmm….. such a stretch.

Hopefully these opportunities will keep pouring in. Not bad considering we are still in the middle of the writer’s strike. Then my life will move forward as planned. Get big ass tv jobs, buy house, buy a child from China to call my own, give money to awesome gay charities and artists, end global warming, and relax.

Relax? WTF is that?!

I think the big crossroads that comes up more and more as this Hollywood Wong thing becomes a reality, is how to balance my vision, ethics, and craft within the heartless machine that is the entertainment industry. Well, the ethics part I seem to have all but completely lost in the last few weeks (so no need to fret over that!), but what I’ve never figured out is how I will bridge all these different identities and still be the awesome Wong who blogs for you now.

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Category: balance, hollywood wong, vision, winnings

The Highest Highs, The Lowest Lows

January 20th, 2008

So I went from being the big Kahuna in Miami to being the doormat du jour in Los Angeles. The CBS showcase is Tuesday and I swear it’s crushing my soul. I appear in one sketch (even my one liner role as Ming the Burmese handjob giver was cut). I never remember theater being so cut-throat. It truly is a business. I don’t regret the experience of the showcase and it really is thickening my skin.

During yesterday’s rehearsal I had the following thoughts. Like really, I had these thoughts…

* “Where can I buy drugs like coke?”
* “Maybe I should call my sex worker friend and see how I can get into her line of work.”
* “Is the bar in my closet high enough to hang myself from?”

I also called my hypnotherapist friend during the rehearsal to schedule an emergency appointment. I’ve never tried hypnotherapy, but right now I need all the magic fairy dust I can get to maintain my sanity.

I was also caught trying to poke my eyes out with my own finger during the rehearsal.

If anything, I am really understanding how important it is that I do my own work and how lucky I am that if this acting stuff never pans out, I will always have performance art to lean on (how freaking strange is that?!). And as much as I want to retire from performance art and make tons of money in ONE city rather than roam the globe for pennies, at least I have my own artistic vision at the end of the day.

My friend, the famous playwright Alice Tuan said that she felt my blogs made it seems like my life was really charmed and easy-ish. Which is so crazy because despite the perks, my life is totally insanely crazy. It was really good seeing Alice last night after the monster day with CBS. I cried and cried and then we laughed together.

Anyway, I’ve been up looking at my press from Miami. Check it.

Miami New Times
(Yet again, I find another opportunity to call out the Korean Pick Up artist like the psycho freak bitch I am.)

Anyway, so I’m planning to go to church today. I need to pray. I don’t care what god. I just need to pray.

I also seem to be on Miami time still. As I’m blogging at 5am and going to bed at 9pm.

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Category: artist life., balance, hollywood wong, i'm kristina wong, losing my mind in los angeles, miami, neediness., press, stamina, vision

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