Pandemic journal: 2020

In the first six days of 2021, I wrote a stream-of-consciousness appreciation list for the good that still happened in 2020, with one item for each day of this leap year. This is a revised, condensed version of that list.


The uprisings

A list of names of Black people killed by police, stencilled in yellow on a sidewalk

Stacey Abrams

The jubilation of Election Saturday

Biden’s cabinet picks, including Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior and Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security 

Harris and Biden in the White House (instead of that fucking national disgrace) 

People who made me happy on the internet: Sarah Cooper & Nathan Apodaca & Maria DeCotis

Friends’ cooking/baking photos

Local restaurants, bakeries, food makers and purveyors: Firebrand Bakery, La Farine, Little Shin Shin, The Spanish Table, Oaktown Spice, Mägo, Lin Jia, Vegan Mob, Oakland Bread Studio, Yuen Hop

Bay leaf passionfruit meringue pie from Angela Pinkerton / Pie Society

Local shops and makers: Umami Mart, Heath Ceramics, Occasionalish, Cuppa Fog Designs, Mask the Bay

People sharing resources

Public health workers & epidemiologists

Restaurants pivoting so hard: online ordering, curbside pickup, takeout as a way of life, groceries and pantry supplies, pop-ups, new places opening, free food, discounts for essential workers

Humanitarian and volunteer efforts, large and small: Team Midnight Munchies, everybody postcarding, Good Good Eatz, World Central Kitchen, Buy Nothing groups, the food bank, all the grassroots racial-justice fundraisers

Slowing down & waking up: Not having to rush places, most days & more community and neighborhood and civic engagement

Good newsletters, including Terri Coles’s early-pandemic emails 


Murals and artwork outside Cam Huong Bakery in Oakland Chinatown, reading "Black Lives Matter" in English, Chinese, and Vietnamese

Owl having three good options for kindergarten

Local journalism: Oaklandside & The Chronicle

Neighbors’ yard and window signs, signs on the avenue


Clearer skies

So many shops starting online ordering and curbside pickup

Public transit is still running (so far)

Everything is less crowded

All the restaurants and small businesses that are still standing

Window sign reading STAY STRONG OAKLAND


Gaga People

Yoga with my regular teacher from a decade ago

Dance with a teacher from a decade ago

Shaunna’s class (and taking her class with JM in the before-times)

Dance improv

Walking Well

Walks around the lake

View of Lake Merritt, Oakland, California, from the colonnade

Trying new dance forms


Getting a skateboard (which, in 2020, I hadn’t yet fallen off of!) 

Short-haired Asian person in sunglasses and layered outfit holding a skateboard


Being this happy to be with my parents and sisters

My birthday Zoom

Virtual moms’ groups (including Zoom meetups and a Secret Santa)

Reconnecting regularly with KK


Selfie of two short-haired Asian people with glasses and face masks taped at the bridge of the nose

N: Planning a writing workshop & starting meditation together

Getting to be better friends with W

Podding, and that our friends wanted to pod together

Friends who love me as I am

COVID cancellations I’m still glad we tried for: Owl’s birthday party & family camping

My in-laws

A masked Taiwanese-American family  sits in a backyard near sunset

Learning to use they/them pronouns with Owl

Trying perfumes with Y

Our dear sitter, A

Interacting with our neighbors, new & longtime, and their cats (including one named Pickles!)

Exchanging mail with SE, AS; new penpals LL & A

Elders: Our elderly next-door neighbor is still doing well & so are many other elderly people I know

Chats and calls: regular, out of the blue, catching up after years

Healthcare workers, teachers, and overt public appreciation for both

Typed sign in a cafe window: "Free Coffee for Health Care Workers"

Inspirations: Mushim Ikeda, Andrea Tsurumi

Our co-op preschool community, including: the board, diversity committee, meetings with JM, book parties, Friday micro-pod

So many people in my life who aren’t afraid of feelings


Roses, sunflower, cosmos from W

Three different-colored roses in a jar on a desk

Meal swaps with ME, family-recipe cookies from AS, spiced peach jam from H, apples from AV

Farmers, farmworkers, grocery workers, and delivery drivers

Owl: their verve, self-confidence, imagination, and resilience; their art; that they taught themselves to read during SiP

My nephews

Virtual figure drawing: BIPOC & Spirited Bodies

Figure sketches of life models in a Zoom gallery

W answering my call when I needed to vent, friends like SD I can cry with

Care workers: homeless, child care, elder care

Community for friends who live alone

All the foster pets finding homes

Owl’s calls with SD & A

My sister’s cat, Darcy

Short-haired Asian person pets a black and white cat on their lap

Birthday tulips from J

Asian American food writers: Soleil Ho & Luke Tsai

Masks as the new gifts of care


Meeting up with SY

E getting me a snack and water after a particularly emotionally taxing conversation 


Daily journaling with fancy pens & lovely journals (and being able to use large notebooks again — because of not needing to carry them to cafes, etc!)

Weekly call with RL

Mending circle & learning to darn

Restarting a visual practice, even in a small way

Watercolor of a fox doing sashiko stitching, by Lisa Hsia

Writing with AS & HB

Talking weekly with J

Drawing and writing birthday and holiday cards, including to a handful of senior citizens, and a lovely collection of cards from Lea

Date nights, before and during pandemic

Pre-COVID: facials & massages, play dates, Saturday morning routine with parent/kid dance class + Nest of Comforts + Funky Elephant + clothing outlet

Christmas cookies & satsuma candles


Green, blue, and purple collage in torn paper, watercolor, wax-resist pastels, by Lisa Hsia

Seasonal food love: Masumoto stone fruit & apple season & satsuma season & Japanese sweet potato 

Phone calls (after hating the phone for so many years!) & walking phone calls

Outdoor evenings with friends: Sitting fireside with N & hot drinks on the steps w/TY

Springtime cherry blossoms

A de-ritualization: Quitting some games


Our apartment with its space and its big windows, and learning to use our deck more

Low table, journal, and floor cushions outside on an upper-story deck

Discovering quiet/work time in the bedroom

New kotatsu 

Cozy sweaters

Weekly CSA pickup, weekly fish share, & buying a share of acorn-fed, lovingly raised local pork

Heirloom whole grain flours and beans, and using more whole grains in baking



A long-awaited trip to Yaoya-San


Nights/weeks when I don’t have to preside over a meeting

Evening view of a Northern California urban/suburban skyline

E’s employer

Living in a walkable neighborhood (and no catcalls for 10 months)

Venn chair


Massively upgrading my self-care toolbox, getting to talk to Tiha weekly, & honoring my HSP-ness more

Very little (maybe even no!) sunburn this summer

Getting an AC unit finally

A new appreciation for freshness and acidity: Radishes, lettuces, arugula, fennel, vinaigrettes, pickles, cultured foods


Fresh air


Being elected preschool board president and so much growth there: working with my board members, learning I’m a good facilitator, having my peers’ respect and praise

Getting chosen for Celebrate Your Body again (even though it got COVID-cancelled)

Tonlé photoshoot

Lisa Hsia, a short-haired Asian person, stands outdoors in the sun

Getting asked to lead movement at SI’s virtual start-of-year retreat in 2021

Dance videos and how people have responded to them

Stepping into leadership at preschool and also with my Meetup group, realizing I have potential for more


Books I loved, both newly published and not: Ace, Essentialism, Something to Talk About, How to Do Nothing, The Book of Delights

Work in Progress

Met Opera streams

New music: Adam & Red Note concert

Online dance performances

Everyone watching Bridgerton

Watching Hamilton with Mommy & A

Berkeley Art Center

East Point Peace Academy’s year-end email

Ed Yong & The Atlantic


Feeling so sexy without the fear of unwanted attention out in the world

New clothes

I can still have shaved sides

Nail polish

Lisa Hsia, a short-haired Asian person with glasses, shows very dark painted nails

Braless since March 

Gender discovery 

Getting firmer about my boundaries 

Leg warmers

Lisa Hsia, a short-haired Asian person in glasses, shows off black leg warmers over striped leggings

Prioritizing pleasure

“Italy” towel

How much I loved myself and my life just before COVID



NYT Crosswords

That I splurged on so many vanilla beans before this!