Monday, August 15, 2022

Lunch date in downtown

 Checked out a cool Japanese restaurant in downtown and used it as an excuse to dress up.

Coat: Thrifted
Pants: Uniqlo
Scarf: Dog ascot from Mexico
Bag: Mansur Gavriel

Monday, August 1, 2022

When the curtain came up: The "End" of the Pandemic

The sign greeting us at our favorite cafe, June 30, 2021

I must have begun writing this post 20 times. Of course the pandemic has not ended - only the restrictions on the pandemic have been listed. 
The “end” of the pandemic is a goalpost that keeps moving back, but after several starts and stops, the end of restrictions is something I can finally document. 

First attempt I want to document was in June 2021. I wrote of it in my diary here:

“On June 30th Oregon opens back up. That means no masks, no social distancing, no capacity limits. It feels incredible. I am so excited. We have sacrificed so much, and like Camus [from The Plague] we are finally emerging from the walled village. It you had told me back in March 2020 that we would not 'open up' again until June 2021, I would have despaired, but now I have survived the 'long winter”'[Game of Thrones reference] and we are on the other end of it. I will travel this year to Mexico with my friends one day. I will go out to bars and clubs again. I will return to this life I love.”

Then on June 30th my family ventured out to our favorite café where we had not been in so long:

“This morning we walked to Good Coffee, not knowing what we would find. The COVID-19 restrictions lifted on June 30th - the official end to quarantine. No masks, no social distancing, no capacity limited. I didn’t know if Good Coffee would be any different, but it was. No one wore a mask inside. The indoor tables were open. Two dudes were sitting there on their laptops. We three sat at favorite table and ate croissants and scones. The bathroom was open, the plexiglass and 6-ft floor markers were gone. It felt like before, only better, because now I will never take it for granted. I will return to all my favorite cafes and restaurants and indulge in drinking lattes from a cup. I will love seeing strangers dressed up on the city streets. I will dress up too. Life, we are back. The pandemic is not over, other countries are still wrestling with high numbers and other states in the US are struggling with the delta variant from India. We don’t know how immune we will be for how long. But I wanted to capture here, for an eternal, the timeline of the end of quarantine in Portland, OR:
March 16, 2020 to June 30, 2021"

Unfortunately it was not to be. Masks came back on July 26, 2021 (my birthday) and then a summer wave of infections came, followed by another in winter. In Portland we didn’t go on lockdown again, but I know some countries did. It would be another 9 months for us before masks came off, in March. 

At the time of this writing, I am on a flight with no masks, though I have two in my carry-on just in case things are different in Europe. But I still face a risk of infection, and presently, if I test positive for COVID-19 I would be unable to enter the US – something I seriously fear. Is this the end? If not, when will it be? When will COVID-19 be something we no longer fear? 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Winter Errands

Went out to run some errands and used it as an excuse to wear this awesomely gaudy sweater and my new Mansur Gavriel tote. 

Jacket: Vintage from Goodwill
Sweater: Vintage from a thrift store 
Pants: Uniqlo
Shoes: Vintage
Scarf: Made by my mom
Bag: Mansur Gavriel

Friday, July 1, 2022

2020 In Numbers

One of my favorite photos from 2020, taken mid-day in autumn in downtown Portland. 

I have not done a good job of documenting the extraordinary time that has been the last two years. Between the pandemic, the U.S. election, the great social reckoning, and the Russia-Ukraine war, I have also been juggling an explosion of work and the ever-expanding duties of motherhood, but I want to capture this moment in the pages of this blog, like I’ve been doing for over 10 years. In fact the 10-year-anniversary of this blog came and went without me noticing

2020 was just such a year. Up until the pandemic hit and we were in the worst of lockdown, my journaling has been sporadic, a sort of “whenever I feel like it” activity. But then by April 5th, 2020 I made a new routine for myself: to wake up on Saturday morning, drink coffee on the porch and write the highs and lows in my diary. 

“I think during this strange period of quarantine I will keep track of my lows and highs, and try to write at least once a week. Keeping a format like this will motivate me to write and to record this experience in a systematic way.”

I revisit the pages of those entries now as I write from an airplane en route to Dublin, my first flight in over two years. It feels so distant and yet we are still not out of its clutches, even though my plane ride feels unbelievably pre-pandemic with no masks. 

Writing the highs and lows each week allowed me to capture things as they were happening, and despite not going anywhere, so many many things happened. The lows of course, were the lockdown, the quarantine, the dreams put on hold, the depression, the deaths, Donald Trump’s fuckery, and (for me) the weight gain. 

But strangely, there were so many highs too. My business tripled (and the next year in 2021 it tripped again) and I started pitching my novel to agents and got 4 requests for full manuscript. While so much was ending, so much was also beginning. I really grew into my role as a consultant. 

So here is 2020 in numbers:

1 International Business Trip: Ethiopia, pre-pandemic in February 2020, just before things got bad

2 Domestic Business Trips: Chattanooga, Leavenworth, also February 2020

3 Average number of miles I traveled in a day after lockdown 

4 full manuscript requests I got from agents for my novel

5 Trips cancelled: Dublin (went in 2022), Tokyo (still closed at the time of writing), San Francisco (I presented virtually),  Washington DC (I presented virtually), and Santa Fe (going in 2022)

6 miles walked each week

7 New clients in 2020

8 lbs gained during quarantine

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Date night in the pandemic

Right before the Omicron variant created a second wave of panic, I got reservations at Voysey, an underground speakeasy. It had been so long since I went out that I dressed up for the occasion. 

Coat: Vintage from Goodwill
Shirt: Guess
Suit: St. John
Bag: Mansur Gavriel

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Bar life in the pandemic

Over the summer we had a rare and beautiful month of no pandemic restrictions. My friend and I took advantage of our newfound freedom and met for drinks at Raven's Manor, a zany horror-themed bar in downtown. For a brief moment, it felt like everything was back to normal again.

Dress: Zara
Bag: Chanel

Friday, April 15, 2022

Tropicale in Winter

Tropicale became my instant new favorite restaurant in 2020. They opened bravely in June of that year with all outdoor seating. If you didn't get there early, the seats would be taken and there would be a line around the block. I loved the vibe of summer, but also insisted on going there in winter when the crowds thinned and I had my pick of seats. 

Jacket: thrifted
Shirt: American Apparel
Skirt: Zara
Shoes: Target
Bag: Louis Vuitton 

Friday, April 1, 2022

I live here: My Home Office

I realized recently that I've done a number of these "I live here" posts,  but ironically, none in the United States and almost all in more temporary dwellings than the one I have lived in now for years. 

When the pandemic started and everyone began working from home, a wise friend told me we are not "working from home" but "living at work." How true. 

So I thought it would be fitting to post a tour of my home office in my "I live here" series. I have been in this office for over 4 years. I "moved" into it in January 2018 when I knew I would quit my full-time job and work for myself as a consultant. I couldn't very well work from my kitchen counter top or take important calls from the bedroom (though I respect that people had to do that when office work suddenly became virtual overnight). 

In the last 4 years I have had countless iterations to the layout. My computer has faced nearly every direction and the bookshelf has been moved against every wall, but finally this version is the one I like most of all. 

I decided not to "stage" my office for these shots. Sure, I cleaned up a little bit, but I otherwise wanted to present it exactly as it is. This exercise of photographing my office and decided what to write about it has revealed to me that I am no minimalist. Instead, I like to be surrounded with treasures that remind me of who I like to think I am. 

I realized that my office houses some deeply personal artifacts. This is strange  because I consider my office a place of business, and I have such a big divide in my life between the business and the personal.  But maybe the divide is all in my head - apparently my office is the most personal room of all! If a biographer were to investigate my home to learn more about me, they would find the most revealing artifacts in my office. 

This first photo is a view from the doorway when you walk in. You are greeted by a large fig tree and light from two windows. The big free soaks up the light from the window, and provides privacy from my neighbor's house. 

The black and white rug is from Ikea. I got it on sale but it is impossible to keep clean with a toddler. It is also 2 inches too long for my office. Once my daughter is older and makes less messes, I'm going to buy a nice custom rug that is easy to keep clean. 

The large Japan Railways poster to the right was a gift from my best friend 20+ years ago. I still display it. 

Only one wall has neither a window nor a door, so we built stationary bookshelves and a magnet board. I actually don't like the board very much and I want to replace it with a white board. 

I sit facing out to the street. Usually the blinds are down but I opened them up to take pictures. 

These past two years  I have collected photographs from Alex Thomas, a photographer who lives in Tokyo. Her photographs are so nostalgic and bring me so much peace. 

More Alex Thomas photography on the other side of the window. 

And even more Alex Thomas on the other wall. 

I have one shelf devoted entirely to anthropology books...

The top shelf is very narrow and cannot fit any books. I display a fan purchased from a street vendor in Yangon Myanmar, a photograph of my family's hometown in Greece, two skeletons from Mexico, and the Anna Sui Starbucks mug from Japan. 

My Monocle Magazine collection from 2008 to present. 

I purchased "City Pillow" from a local artist in Shimane when I lived there. Everyone thinks it's ugly but I proudly display City Pillow on my shelf. 

Above the pillow is the "Scary Times" Success Manual by Dan Sullivan, whose lessons have kept me afloat throughout the pandemic. 

Along the other wall I have a calendar and several postcards from museums I visited in Japan and Qatar. 

Here I keep my Delfonics agenda and favorite pens for everyday use. 

The plant window features a small collection of animal pots. Unfortunately the succulents look very sad and I will need to have them replaced. 

The other side of the plant has a salt rock land and some geodes. 

Close up of my actual desk. I keep my Hello Kitty Pez collection off camera. 

This is one of the best purchases on my adult life: The Herman Miller Sayl Chair. I have been wanting this chair since I sat on it at a client's office 6 years ago. I could have saved a lot of money ordered a black chair with a black cushion, but I wanted the custom white one with grey armrests and a red cushion. I am so glad I splurged and got exactly the one I wanted because I sit on it every day and love it!

There are the five daruma I bought in Japan in 2017. With daruma, you are supposed to set a goal, then color one eye in. When you achieve your goal, you color the other eye. You will notice that the two on the right have both eyes colored in. One is for starting my consulting career, and the other is for having my daughter. 

These daruma have gotten very beat up because my toddler like to throw them around the house. 

On the far left corner of my desk I keep a mirror, comb, and stash of make up for quick touch ups before or in between Zoom calls. My schedule is often so packed I don't have time to run upstairs to the bathroom to put on makeup. Keeping it at my desk is so convenient. 

This is my actual computer: a 2020 Macbook Air. Also pictured, my headset, mug warmer (which keep my coffee from going cold during meetings), and computer glasses. 

A look at the shelf to the right of the desk. 

The shelve behind my desk is off camera, and a little messy. Every 6 months or so I try to reorganize it. It's mostly office supplies, journals, agendas, notebooks, and stationary. 

This is a tote bag I bought at the Mercato in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and I use it to store my poncho (for when it gets cold) and printer ink. 

Lots of books on strategic planning and consulting. 

Monocle book collection.

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