Hustle Hard Interview Project: Gene Hong



To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I started the Hustle Hard Interview Project. Each month for the next year, I’ll be interviewing one Hustler who embodies a skill or a quality I admire. I hope to uncover some gems that bring me one step closer to being a fully-formed adult.

#3: HUMOR
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I discovered Gene Hong while clicking around on Twitter instead of doing honest work. I’m not gonna lie: Reading one tweet turned into checking his entire Twitter stream. I appreciate a good laugh, and Gene’s tweets are refreshingly original and consistently funny. Gene is an accomplished writer, actor, and producer who majored in chemistry and environmental science in college, but decided to pursue a career in writing after a summer writing internship. “If you’re spiritual, you can call it a gift. If you’re not spiritual, then you can call it a skillset. But whatever it is that you’re good at, you have to do it, and that becomes your contribution. “While I search for my own way to contribute, it’s thrilling to see others like Gene who are dedicated to honing their talents and taking “big things poppin’” to a whole nother level.

EJL: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, personal or professional?

GH: I went to Six Flags last year and rode X2 four times in a row. It was awesome, but it gave me a huge headache, so my friend gave me a few over-the-counter pain relievers. My headache was immediately gone. That’s probably the best Advil I’ve ever been given.

EJL: I think you misheard my question. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

GH: Oh. No matter how little or much success you get, always be kind.

EJL: And writing advice?

GH: Writers write.

EJL: So do you write every day even when you don’t feel like it? Do you go by time or word count?

GH: Yeah, I pretty much write every day. Weekdays, I write for a TV show, so the only time I have to work on other projects (features, pilots, etc.) is nights and weekends. I don’t go by time or word count as much as the general feeling of having accomplished enough for the session.

EJL: The TV show you’ve talking about is NBC’s Community, right? How has your experience been this season?

GH: Community has been great. I’ve met some incredibly talented and nice people. I got to write an ambitious musical episode this year, which has been a blast.

EJL: What are some challenges you’ve faced in Hollywood?

GH: The biggest challenge I’ve faced in Hollywood is understanding San Vicente Boulevard, which curves diagonally and cuts through both the north-south and east-west streets of Los Angeles.

Also, racism.

EJL: You don’t seem very crazy to me. Strike that. It came out wrong. English is my second language, and I have trouble communicating sometimes. Wait, was that racist? Let me try that again. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

GH: This might be one of those “the answer’s in the question” questions because actually, being a writer can be therapy for certain people. There is so much out of our control in Hollywood, especially if you’re an aspiring artist. Writing at least gives you some semblance of control, something tangible to quantify your work, which can be therapeutic.

Also, racism.

EJL: Your tweets are hilarious. I have to make a concerted effort not to retweet every single one. Have you had any interesting opportunities or interactions because of Twitter?

GH: I’ve actually become real-life friends with a couple of people through Twitter, which I think is awesome. The coolest interaction I’ve had is finding out that Jerry Seinfeld follows me, then tweeting back and forth with him. I didn’t have to humblebrag that to my friends, I just straight-up-bragged about it. So cool!

EJL: I recently saw a friend tweet, delete, and rework a tweet three times. Do you ever do this?

GH: All the time. No.

EJL: Your longtime best friend/roommate happens to be Maroon 5′s Adam Levine. In what ways does having a friend committed to his own creative pursuit influenced you?

GH: You know those people who after you spend time with them, you feel drained? Energy Vampires? Adam’s the exact opposite of that. He’s extremely energizing and positive which makes for a great creative environment.

EJL: Do people in your personal life get nervous you’ll include your shared experiences with them in your work?

GH: I don’t think so. I’d never share anything negative about the people in my life. But that does remind me…this one time, I watched Adam kill a hobo.

EJL: Tupac or Biggie?

GH: “Ain’t a woman alive that can take my momma’s place.” -Tupac Shakur

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I FUCKING LOVE PRESENTS giveaway #2. I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I’ll be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page, on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress), and on Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu) for updates and random (t)hug life thoughts.So many of y’all raved about this skull necklace on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page that I’ve decided to give one away.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with your favorite TV comedy show. What makes it a stand-out show to you? Only comments left on THIS blog post will count. I’ll announce a winner next Monday. LAST WEEK’S MYSKIPPER GIVEAWAY WINNER: Carolyn Hampton. Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com.

Monday Dare (& Giveaway!): Happy Shanksgiving

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: Trust my first instinct

This is actually the second Monday Dare I am writing today. I finished the first, read it over, and then scrapped it. Something didn’t seem right to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I decided to take a break and browse the Honeybaked Ham website to clear my head. I made a list of all the delectables I intend to buy one day when I’m rich and successful. My plan is to refer to the page from time to time when I feel extremely discouraged or lazy. Hopefully, the promise of the HoneySweet Chutney Duo will propel me to work hard and stay focused. Losers don’t deserve the $43 Malibu Marvel featuring an irresistible assortment of tropical fruit, toffee, and almonds, I will tell myself. Be a Winner. 

Perhaps it was the promise of katrillion dollar hams in my future, but my razor sharp focus came back. I understand now why the first Dare didn’t work.

I challenged myself to reach out to the family members I no longer speak to and make amends. It seemed like something a Real Adult would do- someone with a bigger heart who has the capacity to forgive and recognize that family is forever.

The holidays are always a weird time for me. I see my friends grinning and bearing it, spending time with people they dislike, making small talk and generally being tolerant while secretly thinking of ways to slash some motherfucking tires with a shard from a broken eggnog glass.

I just can’t. I refuse.

For years, I have felt a tremendous amount of guilt for our small family get-togethers. Then, of course, the guilt is temporarily replaced by relief and happiness as I enjoy those precious days with the people I love- eating shitloads of food not purchased from Honeybaked Ham, feigning surprise as I unwrap gifts I forced them to buy me, and decorating our fake Christmas tree with fancy ornaments I got at Pottery Barn one year when I was actin’ a fool and feeling flush. Then, the guilt again.

This morning, when I made the commitment to bridge the gaps in our family by being the first to reach out, an ugly dread settled over me, but I ignored it. I convinced myself that I was just being childish and immature. But, no matter how hard you work to make your head believe something, matters of the heart can only be resolved by the heart.

I allowed myself to remember all the reasons why I no longer consider these people my “real family.” These bits and pieces aren’t something I ever allow myself to dwell on for too long, but I gave myself a pass to root around in my past today.

I tried to trick myself into doing something I didn’t want to do. Something that would not have been good for me. All for the sake of being a Real Adult, whatever that means. Fuck that shit. There are some doors that need to stay closed. There are some people who don’t deserve a place in our lives. It would be a waste to spend any more time or thought feeling guilty. I’d rather give that space to my real family instead.

Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I will be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page, on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress), and on Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu) for giveaway updates, (t)hug life thoughts, pictures, and other random shit.

MYSKIPPER GIVEAWAY!

I ADORE Mariella Bowman’s MySkipper dolls. Cal is the lucky owner of several of her creations, most recently an Anne of Green Gables doll that Mariella custom designed for Cal’s birthday. When I opened a surprise package from MySkipper last week to find a Tupac doll, complete with a gold chain and “THUG LIFE” tattooed on its stomach, I laughed until I cried. She totally got it right and gave my day such a boost. I’ll be posting a picture of Tupac on Instagram later today.

MySkipper is giving away one doll to a lucky reader. YOUR CHOICE from any pictured above. Mariella’s Etsy shop is regularly updated with new dolls, but she is also currently taking custom orders until the end of November.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with your favorite holiday tradition. Only comments left on THIS post will count. I’ll announce a winner next Monday.

Monday Dare: Harvard, Hoodrat style

(Working the late night grind.)

 

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Work the Ivy League (not really) grind

Wait just a goddamn minute. How is it the middle of November already? No, you’re right, I guess it’s not exactly the middle of November. CLOSE ENOUGH. FIGHT ME.

It’s been a struggle keeping track of the exact date this year. My insurance agent didn’t send me a calendar AGAIN (That’s three years in a row, William. Don’t think it’s gone unnoticed.), and I’m too cheap to buy one. I try to hit up the bookstores around January 15 to see if they’re unloading any calendars for extremely discounted prices, but I usually miss the sale because, well, I don’t have a calendar to tell me it’s January 15. Do you see the Vicious Cycle action going on right there?

A few months ago, I registered for an online computer science class offered by Harvard’s Open Learning Initiative. It appealed to me because it was free, and upon completion, I would receive a paper certificate from HarvardX recognizing my achievement. I had plans to frame that bitch (double matte, gilt trimming) with a small brass plaque underneath:

HOODEST HARVARD STUDENT OF ALL TIME

Sure, it’s probably not going to be as satisfying as a legit undergraduate degree that involves actual live class time and tuition, but let’s be real…I can’t commit to working the Ivy League grind for four soul-sucking years.

I only know this because the online course is already starting to wear me down. It’s stated clearly in the course description before sign-up, so it’s not like I got tricked or anything, but the self-paced course involves: 8 Problems Sets (15-20 hours each), 2 Quizzes, and 1 Final Project. Not only do I not have a calendar, but I also don’t own a calculator. I didn’t realize that 8 multiplied by 15 or 20 is way more than 3…which is the maximum number of hours I was willing to devote to my pursuit of higher education.

GUYS, 120-160 hours is NOWHERE near 3. And that time range is probably an estimate for someone with a functioning brain. My course requirements should read: 8 problem sets (FUCKING FOREVER), 2 Quizzes (FUCK YOU, YOU’RE FUCKED), 1 Final Project (FUCK YOU SOME MORE, HAHAHA).

Class started October 15. I have until April 15. I have yet to finish Problem Set #1. It’s not that the set is too difficult, it’s just really hard to see the computer screen through all the tears. If this is what it’s like to become smarter, than I’m a-ok remaining as dumb as a sack of rocks.

Have you ever been in over your head? Committed to something out of your league? Did you quit or see it through?

P.S. Instagram just launched a web interface, so you no longer need a smartphone to peek accounts. Since joining Instagram a few weeks ago, I’ve been outta control taking pictures of shit that probably shouldn’t be documented. Username: flourishinprogress

P.P.S. Dumb people still like to have friends. Let’s connect on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page.