Day 4 of Self Quarantine

February 11, 2020

Just dropped my phone into a bowl of popcorn. Starting to think this little diary is a very helpful routine to keep me from becoming completely useless.

 

Again, I have it easy. Some of my friends in Shanghai have barely left their homes in 3-4 weeks, not to mention the healthcare professionals on the frontlines. The whole country is on a mission to battle the coronavirus and stay sane while doing it. Schools, gyms, and other organizations are doing live streams and teleconferencing, many offering free classes to keep people healthy and occupied while they’re stuck at home. Many companies are experimenting with remote work for the first time.

 

I went outside this morning to let my cleaning lady work in peace (she already has 2 cats to deal with, she doesn’t need me in the apartment, too). Yet another privilege, that I can afford a cleaning lady (who’s been with me 6 years) AND that she was permitted into my compound. Some of her clients haven’t returned, and some that are here, their buildings refused to let her in because she only got back to Shanghai 11 days ago instead of the required 14. There are stories of people who have been effectively evicted because of... Well, fear and discrimination.

 

 Many cafes and restaurants are take-out only still. After a few tries, I found one tiny cafe with a solo barista who only “recommended” orders be to-go. On her wall was an award, “National Barista Goddess.” I ordered an oat milk latte (with a side of K-pop and Pokémon merch), removed my mask, sprayed my hands with my trusty bottle of 75% alcohol, and started staring out of the glass door.

 

Barely any cars went by, and the few pedestrians were all masked and stared at me, again, being a rebel with my coffee and no mask (only while I drank the coffee!!!) I myself have become unaccustomed to seeing people with their entire face exposed.

One of the quirks of being bilingual is that I consume news and information in 3 written languages: English, Traditional Chinese (used in Hong Kong and Taiwan), and Simplified Chinese. It’s been fascinating just witnessing 3 very distinct narratives on the coronavirus from the international, mainland, and Taiwanese media. Somebody should write a thesis about this (cause I ain’t doing it).

 

Some days it’s almost too much information, so managing my own mood and news intake have been two major efforts. Our world has become so intricately connected that it can feel like I’ll never know enough of and do enough for the world. I’ve had to learn to draw up new borders in my mind, learning to be informed on the world without investing my energy in every single issue. Learning what’s within my power of influence and doing my best within those boundaries... That’s the challenge today. Not every issue requires my opinion.

 

We’re not very good at this globalization thing yet. We’re not wired to know and care and feel like it’s on each of us to fix the whole world. It isn’t productive. Future generations will have to learn to be conscientious consumers of information as well as goods. How to distinguish facts from clickbait.

 

Like Maya Angelou said: When we know better, we do better.

 

By which I mean: I believe I am doing my best by my little corner of the world, lying on my sofa with a bowl of popcorn on my stomach 😂

 

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