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Valentine's Day/Day 7 of Self Quarantine

I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day, but since this year (by default) I am my own date (not my cats. I’m not that level of crazy cat lady... Yet), I figured I might as well treat myself and contribute a little to local economy. I ordered myself a vase of red roses and broke into some amazing chocolate from Taiwan’s Fu Wan (Yes Taiwan makes its own amazing chocolates).

I left my apartment only twice today, and only went about 15 steps to pick up my lunch and flower deliveries. This is how it goes: When the delivery guy calls from the gate, I grab my keys and put on a mask, head out, and wash my hands thoroughly with soap once I’m back home. I also disinfect the counter I eat at regularly with Clorox wipes.

The compound has become stricter about access, anyone from “key areas” entering must register with their name, contact info, and recent travel history. The same info has been collected by my company and separately by my off-site (not Disneyland) office building, and upon entry at Shanghai Pudong Airport. This is in case anyone in these location is diagnosed with COVID-19, everyone who may have come in contact can be reached and tested.

I’ve heard of neighborhoods with much more restrictive policies. Some compounds are not allowing visitors at all, so cleaning ladies and pet sitters have essentially been banned from these buildings, which is HUGELY problematic for people who have been kept out of Shanghai due to the epidemic, with their pets left unattended at home. The WeChat community immediately came to the rescue, recruiting volunteers and negotiating with building management on people’s behalf.

One expat teacher friend’s compound is basically on lockdown. Each resident is given a card as proof that they live there, and the card allows each person 2 exits a week. I can only assume that happened because someone was recently diagnosed in their district. The friend soon booked a flight out of China.

It’s not an easy time for most people in China right now, and I can imagine these accounts would be really concerning for my friends outside of China. The rules aren’t perfect, and people are doing their best, making it up as they go.

I’ve heard all kind of complaints and concerns over the past few weeks.

“Masks don’t work!”

Yeah masks aren’t perfect if you’re not properly wearing them AND washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, but for me wearing surgical masks is more of a courtesy. A gesture of respect and solidarity. So many are working hard to keep people safe and healthy, the least I can do is cooperate and not make their jobs difficult.

I am also in a privileged situation in that I’m healthy. There are plenty of folks out there where every precaution is absolutely necessary. And there are plenty more whose quarantine do not involve skipping to the gate or off to a cafe.

“They’re underreporting!”

Well, I wouldn’t know. No one can know. But historically, yes, every epidemic is underreported. I’d say employ Hanlon’s razor in this: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. It’s impossible to be omniscient in the middle of an epidemic. There’s too much we don’t know. And I for one find it exhausting and unproductive to always assume the worst of people.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading news in 2.5 written languages and many many sources with varying attitudes and agendas. Out of all that, I do my best to triangulate for the known facts and weed out speculations and conspiracy theories.

One thing I was trained to do while doing my master’s in interpreting was how to cut out the fluff. The words that carry no information. Interpreting is so taxing on the brain, but once you learn to spot the fluff, you lighten your own workload. I’m putting that experience to work at the moment. I feel like that should be part of our education in this age of information overload: Editing. Curating the information you consume. Analyzing it with a critical eye. Knowing your own confirmation bias is at play and read against the grain.

And occasionally, treat yo self to flowers and chocolate. #LivingMyBestQuarantineLife

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