01 January 2020

New Year's Resolutions 2020

Back in Hong Kong just in time for the new year. Here's what I'm thinking for resolutions this year:
  1. Set boundaries
  2. Don't get stressed
  3. Find a creative outlet
Thing I'm doing today: Trying meal-prepping using my slow cooker. 

29 September 2019

6 Month Update

I've lived in Hong Kong for six months now and this weekend I moved out of my first-ever Hong Kong apartment in West Kowloon to a new place on Hong Kong Island.

To be honest, I'm not even sure how to begin dissecting the past six months. Overall, it's been wildly positive—I love living in Hong Kong, the city is beautiful, the infrastructure is fantastic, and Tatler has just moved into brand new offices on the Southside (my office has a full greenery view). Whenever anyone asks me what I dislike most about living in Hong Kong, I... I can't really think of anything? I feel so lucky to find myself in my current living and professional situation, I have no real everyday-life complaints. (When did I become so boring? Who knows, maybe it's middle age.) It took a few months, but I think I really knew I made the right decision to move here just last week, when I was in New York for a few days and in Portland for a friend's wedding—and I really missed the feeling (or, maybe, how I feel?) of (in?) Hong Kong.

How do I feel? It's a mish-mash of stuff.

I feel like I finally have some distance and perspective from all the context that's been endemic in my personal and professional life since I was 5-years-old and moved to New York as a child. Sure, as an adult, I had to move halfway around the world to get it, but I think all the time about how there's no boundary between myself and New York: I am New York, New York is me, and all my lines feel blurry. My sense of self-actualization was late-blooming. You know those people who know exactly who they are and exactly what they want to do when they're, like, 16? I don't think I had any clarity around anything at all until I was at least 26, maybe 27 or 28. So even though I was lucky to have started traveling pretty intensely from the age of about 18, I didn't really know myself—I had no perspective on difference, on culture, or any self-awareness. When I think of my pre-26-self, I envision a personality blob. And it was probably those four years in grad school in England, away from New York, that really helped me chip away at understanding the beginnings of my sense of identity as an adult. In retrospect, I feel that Oxford was who I wanted to be, when in reality Central Saint Martins was who I really was. Now, years later, when I travel, and especially in these early days of living abroad (again), I understand my edges, where I begin and end and the liminal space between not only myself and the city, but myself and other people.

It's weird to be my age, living in a new city where I don't speak the dominant language, and not having any friends. But I think it's good? For now, at least. I don't know.

Friendship in the age of social media feels different to me than before. It's so much easier to keep up with people, you never really fall out of touch, because passive scrolling through someone's Instagram counts for something, I guess. So in a way, friendships don't wane as easily as they used to if someone stopped calling or writing, and I never really feel truly alone, even when I am. I did have a really jarring sad moment a few months ago when I signed up for a gym and they asked for an emergency contact and I realized I didn't have anyone in the country to list. But besides once-in-a-while moments like that, I feel OK. I've tried to mostly lay low, focusing on work, on cultivating one-on-one relationships with the rare people I feel might share a wavelength or worldview, and trying to find the tiniest bit of work-life balance by embarking on a personal physical wellness journey (more on that later this year).

So yeah, that's my high-level very vague summary of the past six months.

If there's one tl;dr takeaway from this jumble of thoughts/feelings, it's something I've noticed about how my mood has changed. When I lived in New York—my whole life, really—I always just felt a little bit... low, flat, maybe a bit like I was just going through the motions of growing up and then, later, working in offices. But here in Hong Kong, over the past six months, I haven't felt that at all. Now, instead of feeling the same every day? I feel free.

31 August 2019

I went on an Alaska Cruise with Holland America

Since spending a week cruising the Inner Passage on the MV Sikumi in August 2015, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Alaska. Finally, this month, I got to go back—this time with my parents and sister for a week aboard the Holland America Westerdam. Here's what happened:

29 July 2019

Where I like to eat in Hong Kong (so far)

Here's me and my friend Ben (a.k.a. @hungryeditor) talking shop (food) in Forbes about where I've been eating in Hong Kong. I've been so lucky and have had so many amazing meals here that it was hard to narrow it down to just a dozen or so spots. This is definitely a list-in-progress, but a pretty solid starting point, I think.

01 July 2019

This passage from Tina Brown's memoirs speaks to me

From The Vanity Fair Diaries, pp. 90: "As soon as the rest of my furniture arrives I guess I am going to have to start having dinner parties. I realize new things about New York all the time. You have to be seen to be social. And if you don't go out, you have to be KNOWN for not going out. I saw this when I had lunch with Bob Gottlieb, the editor in chief of Knopf, who is such a legendary literary figure around town. He has made himself Famous for Never Having Lunch. So I went to his office for the revered sandwich. I found him, as everyone describes, a taller version of Woody Allen, self-consciously idiosyncratic (he sat on the floor), as if he is working overtime on being famously eccentric. Everything in New York is about personal marketing."

23 June 2019

I moved to Hong Kong

Hello, I moved to Hong Kong in April and it's been an adventure so far. I haven't had a ton of free time to explore, but I have gone out of my way to buy season passes to both Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, to see the pandas. Priorities. During the week I work (a lot) and on the weekends I work (a lot) and also try to catch up on sleep and reading. Right now I'm slowly working my way through Tina Brown's The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992, which I picked up because the book starts off with Tina Brown leaving Tatler UK after it's sold to Conde Nast in the 1980s. It's great.

Since April we've been on a handful of trips—to a dinner party in Shanghai, to Los Angeles and New York to meet with digital design agencies. Hopefully I'll be able to get to Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia this fall.

After properly getting settled—I'll probably feel more grounded in the next few months—I'd like to make time to do some fun things I miss doing on the side, again, like YouTube videos and weekend trips and... making friends? It's not easy to make friends in your 40s—especially when you're looking for like-minded people you might have something in common with abroad. Maybe I can import some of my friends in the meantime. I'm feeling very unsettled-in at the moment, but I think that's normal, living in a short-term let and getting ramped up at work and all that.

21 March 2019

Subjective list of favorite places to eat in NYC

Tomorrow is my last day at Food & Wine, where I've been the digital editorial director for the past two-and-a-half-ish years. While I spent most of my career in fashion, I was also previously the executive editor at Epicurious. And I grew up in New York City. So I have some pretty specific thoughts and opinions on where I like to acquire and eat food in town. People always ask me where they should eat, and this is where I tell people I like to go (when people I don't like ask, I'll just give them any old internet list). This probably isn't a list of usual suspects, it's very my-taste. Also, it's random, but I think of it as the places I'll miss eating the most after I move to Hong Kong next week.

My go-to pizza place: On Seamless, I always order the pepperoni-jalapeno pizza from East Village Pizza. Once a year I'll get sit-down-restaurant pizza with some friends, usually it's somewhere like John's of Bleecker, Patsy's, or Grimaldi's, but these aren't the pizzas I crave. The pizza I crave is New York by-the-slice corner pizzeria pizza, with pepperoni and jalapenos.

My go-to neighborhood restaurant: Cafe Loup, RIP. Nothing else compares. If it ever re-opens, get the roquefort salad and bavette frites.

My go-to Chinese restaurant: My favorite American Chinese food spot for the past 15+ years is Sammy's Noodle Shop on Sixth Ave. I like everything, but when I want to feel especially weekend-y, I'll order the General Tso's Chicken or Fish and a noodle soup. They make a good hot and sour soup and a good sliced beef and peppers dish, too. If I feel like something a bit more regionally-focused, I'll have weekend lunch at Le Sia in the East Village. The lobster sticky rice at Congee Village is great, too (and available via Postmates).

Best steakhouse: Pretty sure I've already told everyone I know my opinion on this, but the Beatrice Inn is my favorite steak restaurant in New York City. I would go so far as to call it my favorite restaurant experience, overall, in New York City right now.

Best sit-down tacos: This is a tough one for New York. I know there are good spots at Chelsea Market and in Murray Hill and stuff, but in my neighborhood, I'll always choose Empellon Taqueria, which has never failed me.

Where I get my bagels: I probably eat the most bagels from Black Seed, because they have a kiosk in Hudson Eats, just downstairs from my office. On the weekends I'll swing by Murray's Bagels. I like a salt bagel with lox spread or egg salad. My parents like the whitefish from Murray's.

Favorite breakfast: If someone fancy is taking me to breakfast on an expense account, we'll go to Norma's in the Parker. It's very extra and one time I sat a table away from Hulk Hogan, who was a hero to me when I was a kid and became kind of an anti-hero to me after he took down Gawker using some billionaire's money. On my own, when I'm jet lagged, I'll head to Chinatown for rice rolls and Eggo-and-condensed-milk sandwiches from iM Star Cafe or pick up pork-and-thousand-year-old-egg congee and some fried bread from Big Wong.

Best work lunch spot: There's no good answer to this question.

Best seeing friends you don't see a lot dinner spot for a small group: I think, with groups, dietary restrictions and preferences is always the hardest thing to deal with, so I like to pick somewhere that has options—like Fig & Olive in Meatpacking or the new Standard Grill, which I tried a few weeks ago and think is pretty great. There are a lot of options on the menu that don't involve sauces or dairy or wheat, which is great for your dining companions who don't eat those things.

Best fun bar for grown-ups where you can sit down and actually have a conversation: My go-tos are Japanese-inspired bars, Moga on Houston and Katana Kitten. I also used to take a lot of drinks meetings at Cafe Loup, but RIP, see above.

Oh no, you're in midtown: Eat katsu curry at Katsuhama, I like the location on 47th and Fifth.

OK that's all I can think of right now, off the top of my head.

19 December 2018

My history with long train rides

I remembered last night that I've previously taken two long-form train trips, spanning states, provinces, countries, and days, that were some of the best journeys of my life—for completely different reasons.

In 2013, I joined Levi's on the brand's coast-to-coast #StationToStation adventure, where they commissioned an artist to curate a multi-city art-meets-music pop-up event series—with the entire crew, plus artists, musicians, and media, traveling between each city by train.

The Levi's team started in NYC, but I joined them in Santa Fe and rode all the way to Los Angeles. In between we stopped in Winslow, Arizona, where Ed Ruscha's brother made us omelets and Jackson Browne sang his Winslow, Arizona, song.

Then Barstow, where Levi's booked out a massive drive-in theater in the middle of the desert, I saw Beck perform for the first time (wow), and a massive faux-UFO blew in overhead lighting up the sky at the end of the night.
There was a lot more to the trip that I'm not remembering right now—catching Linda Perry at an open mic in Pioneertown, driving down Route 66, a crochet museum at Joshua Tree National Park, and wrapping up the week ensconced in a suite at Chateau Marmont. But it was epic. And epic is an understatement in this case. I'll never forget the feeling of crossing the Southwestern part of the U.S. on a train with a dozen famous musicians, everyone and everything kitted out by Levi's; and I was lucky to make some lifelong friends on that trip, as well.

Then, in 2016, after leaving WWD and before joining Food & Wine, I rode the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff—and, for me, this trip was less emotionally epic (I had fewer *feelings* on this train ride), but mind-broadening and visually stunning in a way that only a luxury glass-domed cross-country journey through the Canadian Rockies can be.
This was also the first time I was introduced to the Fairmont Hotels in Canada, and wow, Fairmonts in Canada, especially the tranformed railroad hotels the chain operates throughout the Rockies, are some of my favorite properties in the world—especially the haunted one in Banff.

18 December 2018

I'm on a 30-hour train ride

The last time I tried to sleep on an overnight train was more than ten years ago—September 2008, when Tuomas, Chris, and I booked a "private triple cabin" on the 23:35 from Milan to Paris. We thought taking the train would make it easier to carry Tuomas' collection from the show (in Italy) to the showroom (in France). LOL on us. Our room on the train was minuscule—probably the same size as the Viewliner Roomette I'm in right now, but with three bunk tiers instead of just the two, and only a communal toilet in the hall.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning. It's my first day of real vacation—I have the next week-ish off, including Christmas—and I hadn't planned anything because I've been traveling a lot: the Celebrity Edge launch a couple of weeks ago straight into Art Basel in Miami, then back in New York for just a couple of days before heading out to Aspen for EMP Winter House. I hate wasting vacation days, though, and I'd just done a mini-staycation ahead of Thanksgiving, so over the past week I've been casually looking around for something to do, maybe just for a few days. I looked at quick trips to Asia, Dubai, Aswan—all too expensive because I was booking flights so last-minute. There was one point where I was thisclose to boarding a cruise to Antarctica for New Year's—but that fell through at the last minute, it's OK, everything happens for a reason.

But this morning when I woke up, the first thought that popped into my head was: I've never been to New Orleans. Fast forward eight hours and I'm boarding the Amtrak Crescent for the 30-hour train ride from New York's Penn Station to New Orleans' Union Terminal. Right this minute, I'm about to head to sleep—this time I'll probably really sleep, not like the Milan-to-Paris journey ten years ago when I was younger and could stay up all night looking out the window into the dark as we sped through Switzerland. I love train travel, especially long-distance—the longest train trip I'd been on before this one was a 15-hour trip up the East Coast from Savannah to New York a few years back (the fashion publicist in charge of booking was horrified I wanted to take the train rather than fly and almost refused my request to travel by land). In college, my New York friends who couldn't drive (like me) and I would take the Amtrak Vermonter the seven hours up to White River Junction, back and forth during school breaks. I love how long train rides hold the promise of endless hours of possibility—of doing nothing at all or something potentially really productive (I have two books with me along with the latest issue of the New Yorker—I had a moment today when I thought I might want to bring my laptop so I could bang out a book proposal while on board).

OK, that's all for now. More from New Orleans to come.