January 25, 2021

I have an idea: WFH digital coworking space

Hello! I have an idea. It's been such a difficult, isolating year for so many people, and I wonder if a drop-in digital coworking space would be an interesting idea to explore.

Initially I'd thought about logging onto YouTube for a daily lunchtime livestream, but I wonder if that idea could be expanded to something more community-driven, something along the lines of an online co-working space where anyone working from home could work... but, online, "around" other people. There are so many "study with me" videos on YouTube that perform so well -- and I've noticed there's been a recent uptick in "writealong" livestreams in the writers' community. I've always worked in media, so that's the work environment I'm most familiar with. I think the concept of an online coworking space / wfh with me could work well for writers and digital media people -- maybe there's a way to stitch breaks or some kind of recurring downtime, collaborative brainstorming, interactive career development sessions, or other programming into the day. I wonder if something like this would appeal to both freelancers as well as people who are on staff at publishing companies. Anyhoo, just throwing this idea out there because I've been thinking about it for a few weeks.

January 09, 2021

Cultivating a morning routine


One week into the new work year and I'm starting to nail down (and enjoy!) my new remote-WFH morning routine. The first few days I felt a bit anxious because of the chasmic eight-hour time difference between Oxford and Hong Kong, but no emergencies yet (knock on wood). It's important to me to get to a point where my work day does overlap with the Hong Kong office by at least two hours, so I'm going to continue refining my routine so I'm ready to be fully into my work day by 8 a.m. GMT. 

I've also decided to shift my focus in 2021 to self-improvement and self-awareness, something I think I need to check in on in my mid-life years. To that (selfish) end, I talked to a bunch of life coaches and mental health professionals to find out what their best tips are, and published these listicles on the Tatler Hong Kong site, just in case they can be of help to anyone else!

January 03, 2021

I'm a squirrel

One of the most surreal/weird things about being a writer/editor and working in media (or as a "content creator" as the kids call it these days) is that every work day for the past two decades, I've woken up in the morning, dumped the contents of my brain onto the web or onto paper, hit "publish," and then... those ideas, words, images, and videos are just out there. Like, in the world.

There's a lot to unpack here, like the responsibility of having a platform and all that (I'm looking at you, media outlets, humans, and clickbait websites that put irresponsible information out there into the world that encourages people to make badly-informed decisions that could impact their own health and lives and the health and lives of people in their communities). For readers and content consumers, I'd encourage you to read broadly, look with your eyes, consider science, think critically, and develop at least some basic media literacy. In the fictional but wise words of Patrick Melrose's very terrible father: "Observe everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." 

But I don't really want to talk about that today. Today I'm thinking about fiction writing. I've never fiction-written in any meaningful way, not even in school. In college I tested out of freshman writing and was placed directly into a freshman (writing) seminar, which I tried to plead out of, asking the college to place me back in freshman writing because even though I'm a really good standardized test-taker, that didn't mean I was good at writing. That request was denied. So I found myself in a seminar about... Cold War spy literature. (What? I know.) It was a disaster. Coming out of a high school that placed overwhelming emphasis on its math and science curriculums, I was unprepared for expository essay writing and had retained almost nothing from history lessons on the Cold War. I barely scraped by in that spy lit class; in my assessment, the professor wrote that I should steer clear of English classes, especially writing, and... that was that. I was complete spooked and never took another college literature or writing class again.

Kind of ironic, then, that I've built a career on writing and editing. It's always been non-fiction, though. Until last week, when I decided to start a (little) personal fiction project of just a few thousand words, just for fun (and a potential learning experience). It feels super-weird, just making things up and writing them down, but also pretty cool, just making things up and writing them down. For the past 20 years, I've only written things down if they had already happened and/or were (probably) true (or "not untrue," ahem, early career at a tabloid newspaper). I'm definitely not good at fiction-writing, and I don't even know if I have the bug, although there's something about writing down whatever I feel like writing down and advancing a story however I want to, just through the act of typing, that feels thrilling. 

So yeah, I think that's all I have to say about that right now: that the biggest/smallest revelation I've had about fiction-writing as a very novice fiction-writer is that, right now, for me, fiction writing is: Making things up and writing them down. Which is a totally new experience. And somehow, after 20 years of writing-as-a-job, feels the same-yet-different and, also, a little bit exciting.

December 28, 2020

I moved to England!

After nearly two years in Hong Kong, I've decided to move back to Oxford, where I was born and where I've always wanted to live. I'll continue working with Tatler Asia remotely as International Editor at Large based in the UK.

November 16, 2020

My only vacation of 2020

And then it was December. Well, not quite, but almost.

I haven't taken any vacations this year, just a day or two off here and there, and I've spent those days off just walking around Hong Kong, taking ferries back and forth across Victoria Harbour, and exploring malls and other manmade places around the city. This weekend I thought I'd finally do a staycation, and I was lucky enough to score a last-minute reservation at the Adventurers Suite at the Explorers Lodge at Hong Kong Disneyland, where I spent 24 blissful hours basking in the escapist world of Disney. OK, overstatement, but it was great. 

October 04, 2020

Doing meaningful and unmeaningful things

We've had a four-day long weekend for mid-autumn festival, so I've had some time off over the past ten days to do both meaningful things (moving), less meaningful things (visiting random tourist attractions), and not meaningful things (going to more malls). I'm working on improving my vlogging output, so I made some videos about my week!

I moved! Here I talk about my move, how I felt about my last apartment, and give an empty apartment tour of a corner one-bedroom unit at The Luna in Wan Chai.

I visited Noah's Ark! I had no real plans over the long weekend, so on the first day we had off, I visited the Noah's Ark attraction that I've been meaning to see for a while now.

I wandered around a mall. No plans over the long weekend continued, I took the MTR out to Yoho Mall for a wander around. Later that night I had dinner at Bibi&Baba, the new Peranakan restaurant in Wan Chai.

September 25, 2020

Hong Kong Disneyland reopens (again)

Hi guys! I'm a huge Disney fan, so I was so excited that Hong Kong Disneyland finally reopened today, September 25, after more than two months closed because of the coronavirus and social distancing regulations here in Hong Kong. Two of my friends were also super-excited for the first day of HK Disneyland's reopening, so we all took the day off work and spent the day at the park.

I was *especially* super-excited to see the progress on Hong Kong Disneyland's Castle of Magical Dreams, which they've been working on over the past year and is slated to fully open to the public later this year. (I know this is such a repetitive video because, well, I just went to Disneyland in July when it reopened the last time, but I love it there and was so excited to go on reopening day!)

September 04, 2020

What happens to stress and anxiety without the usual outlets?

Something really difficult I've been working through over the past year and a half is how to cope with stress and anxiety as a new expat, without a local support network and, in a year of civil unrest and Covid, an inconsistent routine and constantly changing access to resources and community gathering spaces like gyms and restaurants. It's been really hard! I've also been thinking a lot about what the near-ish future could look like—on a personal level. The circumstances of 2020 have changed my perspective on a lot of things I used to take for granted, and I've been trying to answer three questions about myself, which I think will help me find my path forward.

  1. What makes me happy?
  2. What am I good at?
  3. What have I failed at?

August 23, 2020

My weekend writing routine

Over the past few months, and especially during the semi-lockdown we've had in Hong Kong, I've tried to create a weekend routine and a little bit of structure in my downtime by doing pages every Saturday and Sunday. In this video I talk about why and when I started doing pages and how writing helps my mental health during the Covid crisis.

August 22, 2020

Tweaks: Caffeine and artificial sweetener

My caffeine and artificial sweetener intake has gotten slightly out of control over the past few weeks—especially as I'm  coping with changes in my routine and drop-off in training sessions during the semi-lockdown here in Hong Kong. I used to think I wasn't very sensitive to things like caffeine or red wine, but I recently started wearing an Oura Ring and, I don't know if it's been like this all along or if it's just because I'm in my 40s, but even the slightest adjustments in my diet and supplement intake can drastically affect the quality of my sleep. That or it's stress and anxiety.

This is my Oura Ring sleep report from last night. I didn't consume any alcohol yesterday, but I have been pushing my caffeine intake all week, so my sleep has been on a downward trajectory for the past five days. Yesterday I had 200 mg of caffeine in the morning and then a grande Starbucks coffee around 3 p.m. I was tired at 10:30 p.m. and went to bed, but woke up at 4 a.m. after a pretty poor night of REM sleep, thus the poor recovery score. I'm going to try to slowly tamp down on my morning caffeine intake, starting with today. I've only had one venti Starbucks drip coffee so far today and I didn't even finish it. That said, it's 7 p.m. and I would happily crawl into bed right now.

I've also been trying to wean myself off artificial sweeteners. Pre-lockdown, when I was training three times a week and getting on treadmills on weekends, I got hooked on artificially sweetened supplements like pre-workout and BCAAs. Maybe it was OK then because I was expending so much energy and metabolizing the sweeteners faster, I'm not sure. But lately I've been putting more Equal in my coffee than usual and drinking more Diet Cokes than is healthy (all of these things are stress coping mechanisms for me) and I think the sweeteners can't be good for my palate or for my hormone levels overall.

So those are the health-related tweaks I'm making this week.