April 26, 2020

The new normal - Hong Kong

With new daily infections in the low-single digits all week, there seems to be a newfound optimism in Hong Kong—probably most evident this weekend in shopping neighborhoods around the city that were packed with near-pre-coronavirus size crowds.

Sogo in Causeway Bay, 25 April 2020
I'm not going to lie: it felt weird to be out among hordes of shoppers again on Saturday. Even though 99 percent of people out and about are wearing masks, anytime someone coughs or sneezes, I feel myself twitch a little and look around for the perpetrator. Because even though the city feels like it's almost in the clear... we've been here before, in mid- to late-March and then, boom, 800 new cases returning from overseas. I guess we can be optimistic, cautiously.

This past week I recorded the first episode of a podcast I'm hoping to launch next week. In my head I'm calling it "Danica Lo & Company" with the podcast logo art reading: "Danica Lo & Co.". I love listening to long-winded conversational podcasts between people who know each other well and I had this thought a few weeks ago that (1) I miss my friends, (2) My friends are spread all over the world and most of them are in home lockdown right now and (3) My friends are pretty spectacular human beings, some of the best thinkers and voices in their industries who may fly just under the radar (we're Gen X, flying under the radar is our thing, I guess), and I think the world needs to hear their ideas. So yeah, I recorded one episode this week, I think it went well, it took a heckuva long time to edit (much harder to edit a podcast than it is to edit a video for YouTube, surprisingly!), and now I can't wait to schedule more conversations. It's a great excuse to talk to my friends longform, 90s-phone-call style. I'm really loving it, maybe podcasting will be my new hobby.

April 19, 2020

Sunday blog

On weekends I like to go for walks. Mostly it's to get my steps and Vitamin D in, but also I like to spend some of my free time browsing shops, getting coffees, and people-watching. I'm not really into trails and plants and bugs, so I usually prefer walking around the city: in, through, and around man-made structures like malls. This morning (Sunday) I went to Pacific Place for a coffee and was really heartened to find that after weeks of abridged opening hours, half the shops in the mall were already open by 10:30 a.m.. I want to believe that this is a good sign we are slowly, carefully inching towards a return-ish to normal-ish, at least in the retail sector in Hong Kong, where we've been very lucky, after the hard work of both the government and the community, to have only had single-digit infections every day this past week.

April 11, 2020

Sometimes I miss myself

This (above) is my favorite social media comment. It came from my friend and former coworker Lindy via Instagram DM in response to an IG story where I posted photos from a 2013 trip I took to Big Cat Rescue (yes, that one, the same one that's featured in Tiger King, run by the woman who everyone thinks killed her rich husband and fed him to her tigers. That Big Cat Rescue). I like to think I know, though really I don't know exactly what Lindy means about Brand Danica but, at the same time, I think I sort of do know what she means. And she's right. I do have a personal brand that people who've known me for a long time are familiar with. I think it goes something like this: I think Brand Danica has something to do with a matter-of-fact resolute pursuit of being a slightly ridiculous human. Not, like, on purpose. I've never really been someone who intentionally sought out adventure (even when I've tried to seek out adventure, it doesn't usually pan out at all the way I think it will). I like to think that I'm open-minded to things that seem unconventional or odd to other people; left-field options and paths have seemingly materialized out of nowhere throughout the course of my life and the way my brain works, I consider opportunities in silo, and if it seems like it could be interesting, I usually say yes.

In early days I used to think things happened "by accident." Like, when I applied to seven colleges in senior year of high school: six schools for med programs, and undecided to Dartmouth, sight unseen and only because one of my best friends had gotten in early decision. All the med programs rejected me, but Dartmouth (by leaps the bounds, the highest-ranked school I applied to) reached out to me with an early acceptance offer in January. Or when I went through the whole corporate recruiting process in senior year of college, failed to get even one job offer, went home after graduation unemployed, and then wound up in a teaching fellowship program at the American University in Cairo that fall. In retrospect, I can't even imagine what would have happened if I'd gotten a job at an investment bank instead. Living in Egypt and working in the journalism department at AUC was a pivotal moment for me, without that year I would never have been accepted at Oxford, and without that masters in Women's Studies, I would never have pivoted to Fashion at Central Saint Martins, without which I would never have entered journalism, or have written a book a year after graduation. Fast forward 20 years and... yeah, like I mentioned a few posts back, that Forrest Gump movie doesn't seem that weird when you're in your 40s because, while life is super-bizarre, somehow it all kind of makes sense in the end.

This year, 2020, has been a really strange year, obviously, for the entire world. On a global scale, for everybody on Earth, everything is going to be different from now on. But the way things are right this minute for every single human... I don't know, but is Covid-19 forcing everyone to focus on their own private personal interior lives and immediate relations in a way none of us have ever had to before? With so many people on lockdown, monitored, restricted, dying, sick, grieving, alone or with only one or a handful of people around. Does everyone feel like life is standing still? I don't know.

On a personal note, I feel very grateful and lucky that I'm living in Hong Kong at the moment, where the spread of the coronavirus has been more-or-less strictly monitored and well-contained (at least in comparison to what is happening in New York City right now). I've been taking these past few months of restricted travel and limited recreational options to really buckle down and focus on work. I try not to think about it too much, but I sort of miss the freedom and randomness that I always felt was at the core of my "brand Danica"-ness. But then I think about how selfish and unimportant that really is, when communities everywhere are grappling with this disease. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and I hope the world sets itself right, very soon, so we can all get back to feeling like some semblance of ourselves again.

April 05, 2020

Supermarket trip to Don Don Donki

Here's my Sunday rainy day walk around Hong Kong and trip to Don Don Donki vlog.

Thank you so much for watching! Wishing you all the best and hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe wherever you are.

Re: The current situation in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, we're working from home and there are some social distancing regulations that are in place in restaurants (plus gyms, bars, and group recreational activity spots are closed until further notice), but stores are still open and people are still taking walks around the city in their spare time, taking into consideration personal distance and social distancing precautions. I feel super-grateful that Hong Kong is in the position to be mostly open and operating. We're all hoping the situation improves soon, all over the world.

I tried out a new kind of face mask this weekend: It's a non-surgical paper-cloth face mask that's made for consumers (don't worry, it's nowhere near a surgical-grade or first-responder mask, we have been super careful about making sure we're not consuming resources that should be allocated to hospitals and front line professionals). I like it a lot: it's called the n94 mask and it's made in Korea. I bought mine at Sasa, the beauty products store here in Hong Kong.

April 03, 2020

Night walk, Central HK

Central Hong Kong
I moved to Hong Kong one year ago this week. My how the city has changed. One thing that remains consistent: Hong Kong's spectacular vertical architecture, especially all lit up at night. I'm trying to take walks through city center a bit more now, partly because all the gyms are closed and I'm nowhere near hitting my step target everyday, but also because it's just about to turn into rainy season. I think last summer it rained every day for, like, four months straight. I think I wore Tevas the whole time? I don't remember. I might need to pick up some Gore-tex sneakers this year.