What to write about when there is nothing to write about

Lately every single phone call home has been the same – “How are you?” “The same. Fewer people are wearing masks” “Here too”. “Okay, don’t get covid, love you bye’

It feels like we are stagnating here. Life in Shanghai is more or less back to normal – people are back at work, back at restaurants, back at the gyms. But it’s not the same. Last weekend, we canceled a trip to Inner Mongolia because of the Beijing outbreak. Having been quarantined for fourteen days once, I have no desire to do it again. The rules can change at any day, so it feels safer to be in Shanghai. There are still no sports, no performances, no music. And museums are opening up, but so slowly. I feel like there is nothing to do but to hedonistically brunch. We have so much energy from being pent up in the city, but no real way to express it.

But then, there is also this guilt, because why should I be complaining, sitting down writing this in a coffee shop, sipping on an overpriced Americano? I don’t know when the next time I will be able to leave China, or even Shanghai.


  1. As someone I knew in a support group once said “Your broken leg doesn’t make my sore toe feel any better.” You really can’t compare situations. I am currently in the fourth month of a slow recovery from Covid, still so ill I miss almost nothing.

    But I know my situation is nothing compared to people who spent weeks on a ventilator, lost a loved one, etc. And I’m keenly aware this is all so much harder on younger people and working parents of very young children.

    Your entire life has been disrupted. The very focus of your blog has been disrupted. A trip you looked forward to for personal and professional reasons has been cancelled abruptly. There’s no reason you should be happy about this. It does suck, right down to the last drop of overpriced Americano.

    Keep writing. I’m living in Ireland and would find it interesting to read about your life in Shanghai, even in its current truncated state.

    Best wishes.

    1. Thank you so much for the reassuring words! I hope your COVID recovery continues to go well, I had pneumonia a few years back and it took close to three months to fully recover.

      It really does feel like everything is in limbo – I am sure many other people are having a lot of trouble making decisions that are long-term with all of this uncertainty, so we’re trying to get through this one day at a time.


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