What a year it’s been. And it’s only the end of January.
I’m exhausted and most days I’m content to just curl up in bed doing absolutely nothing. That rush of energy and determined optimism that comes with a new year was barely a flicker, and it faded away fast before the first week was over.
A lot happened this month. And I did close to nothing. So anyways, here are some vignettes from the longest month ever.
I started off this year at home, or at least, what used to be home. In the tranquil warm suburbs of LA. I took advantage of my first two days of work in the new year being on the west coast but keeping east coast hours. It was hard waking up before 6am after two weeks of spacing out, but it was worth it to be able to step away from the computer by 4pm and drive to the coast, cutting straight west through farmland to PCH and making it in time for the sunset.
I almost felt sentimental. But I didn’t have the energy to process. After all, I’ve said goodbye so many times before, it feels almost like a routine. But PCH never disappoints.
the coast up malibu
westwood & century city
marina del rey
the east side
culver city & the west side
glendale + atwater
pasadena (rose bowl)
Just when we thought it was almost over, we had a culmination of four years of anxious chaos in the form of a violent insurrection on the Capitol. It still makes me feel sick to the stomach thinking about this and all of the underlying issues that blew up into this. And this marked a tumultuous beginning to an otherwise pretty quiet transition back to life on the east coast.
From our home in suburban California, we parted ways. I came back to New York City, where I was asked to quarantine for two weeks, in my home. I was texted everyday (for the first four days) an automated message, asking to confirm whether I was quarantining. I was called once, on day three, by a real person, verifying my quarantine address. I was sent a letter, postmarked a couple days after I landed, but arrived a couple days after two weeks, informing me of the quarantine mandate. Oh New York. You try. But this isn’t a good look.
It’s easy to stay quarantined when you work remotely and have an absurd workload and it’s 30 degrees out. So easy, in fact, I didn’t have a chance to leave the house until week three. A couple grocery orders, some food delivery and it’s like the outside world is but a picture on the wall.
Meanwhile, over 7,000 miles away in the opposite direction, my parents landed in Taipei. They had to get tested two days before flying, showing proof of a negative test in order to board the plane. Upon arriving in Taiwan, they were tested again and escorted by an approved and sanitized car to their quarantine hotel, where they were passed off to a special attendant who checked them in, got them situated, and then closed the door to their two week prison (which was a hotel room bigger than my NYC apartment, with a bathroom bigger than my NYC bedroom, and a view of Taipei 101).
Everyday, they would receive an automated text and a real person call. They are not allowed to turn off their phone or location services. Meals are delivered to their door three times a day. A government care package was given to each of them. They were allowed to order food delivery and have things dropped off at the front desk for contactless delivery.
Honestly, like night and day.
While they were served Din Tai Fung for dinner, not allowed to so much as open the door without reason, their daughter, who can move freely outside, continues to eat carrots and hummus for meals.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
I can’t even begin to process the past four years. It’s like a lifetime. So much has happened. Both in the world, and personally. I still can’t really register that it’s over. This was the new beginning I’ve looked forward to since November 2016, and yet now that it’s here, I’ve long grown numb. But that inauguration, so unprecedented in so many ways (no crowds, heavily secured, and of course a historic moment with Kamala Harris), it healed me in some way.
For the first time in a very, very long time (ahem, approximately 4.5 years). I felt compelled to stand for the national anthem. For the first time in a very long time (ahem, the past 10 months have felt like 10 years), I felt captured in a moment of inspiration with Amanda Gorman’s poetry. Thoughts provoked. A glimmer of hope. A shadow of an idea.
I had two days out in the sun this month. No literally, I spent 25 days of this 31 day month fully at home. I spent of 20 the 24 days I had in New York within 20 feet of my bed. And of the 4 days I went to ground level, two of them were just for neighborhood errands.
But the other two were a strange orientation not only to the city, but to how to exist as a real human, and not a hermit.
And the perfect sub 30 COVID-safe activity: museums. Most museums in New York are open. Most require advance booking for timed tickets so that they can limit the number of people inside. Masks are required at all times. But all that aside, stepping into a museum was probably the most “normal” thing I have done in a very long time. To be able to walk inside a place. To exist among other people, though keeping a safe distance. To just look at art and forget about the weight of reality around you. It’s freeing.
The irony is, now is the perfect time to museum hop. I can play tourist in my own city, without the crowds. I can have space to explore, unhurried. And I’m hungry for more.
As for outdoor dining in the winter? Well, let’s just say I’m too Californian to stick it out for any longer than a coffee. Plus I don’t mind huddling in a warm home. But with indoor dining opening up in a couple weeks, and the promise of more vaccines, things are looking up.
A few things I learned in my first experience of winter:
the broccoli reuben from court street grocers
aka the sandwich i have wanted to try for over a year. but couldn’t because the location near me (literally a 3 minute walk) had been closed since March 2020. And it was 100% worth it.
honorable mentions: my unhealthy “healthy” snack addiction: Popcorners kettle cooked pop chips, Dang original rice chips, Terra plantain chips, Justin’s peanut butter, dried cranberries
tbh I didn’t buy much this month besides groceries but I did buy this space heater from amazon
I mean, first of all, it’s cute
but mostly it’s something that i use every day while working at my desk, so v practical
honorable mention: fleece hoodie and heat tech from uniqlo, coming in handy for my outdoor excursions
like the rest of the world, I gave in and watched Bridgerton, but I had a lot of issues with it.
what I didn’t have issues with was sobbing while watching Soul. I mean, f*#$ me up.
1 down, 11 to go. 2021 off to a… start.