Someday, when we finally have a vaccine for this pandemic and the world returns to normal (or as close to normal as we can get), I’ll think about what I did to get through it. In the midst of pondering my mortality and my relevance to the world, and reading books and binge-watching Korean dramas and working out thanks to my friend Chloe Ting, I staved off my anxiety by online shopping. After all, as a participant in this economy, I have to do my part in helping save it. Behold a list of things I bought.
When news came out that quarantine was getting extended, I decided I needed nicer loungewear, instead of the ratty pantulog I was forever wearing. The most comfortable things I bought were the Lounge Cropped Top and the matching Lounge Shorts in ivory and olive green from Patton Studio, Patty Ang’s brand of office and lounge wear appropriate basics. I love them so much I buy a new color (they also come in black, taupe and sage) each time I get a notification that my salary has arrived. I also found myself buying “event clothes” even if I knew there would be no foreseeable events in the future. First was the Hiraya dress from the brand Hinhin. There’s been a proliferation of Little House in the Prairie-esque/Midsommar-esque dresses in the market (because as women, we’re tired of being oogled so it feels wonderful to wear shapeless sack dresses and also, #aesthetics) and I am forever trying to convince the events team of One Mega Group to throw an event with the theme “cult-prairie look” but so far I have failed in this endeavor. At least I have the dress now, just in case. My favorite local brand, Wear Anika, has been having periodic drops of their easy, effortless pieces. So far, I’ve bought the Una Dress, and just today they re-launched a few pieces from their 2016 collection, so of course I purchased the Eames Top and the Silverlake Top. Most of the things I’ve been buying are from local brands, because I am all about that #supportlocal life but I also live in fear that some of my favorite international, independent brands are in danger of closing down because the economic situation abroad isn’t getting any better either (look at Need Supply co. and Totokaelo). So I recently panic bought the Standard Jumpsuit in Cotton from Alex Mill NY and The Heel from Margaux NY. Jumpsuits either suit me, or they don’t, but fortunately the last time I was in New York, I had been able to try it and figure out my size. I convinced myself it was a needed purchase “because it functions like a PPE” (it doesn’t). As for the heels, no one needs to wear heels inside the house, but sometimes, the thought that this might all end and I can wear heels again is the only thing that gets me through the day.
I have always been a pearl-earrings girl (in my all-women’s college in Massachusetts, all my friends thought I was a snob because in the US, pearl earrings are very much an east coast, Grace Kelly of Main Line Philadelphia affectation but they didn’t know you could easily get a high-quality pair at cost from Greenhills), but recently I’ve started getting into dainty gold jewelry. It started with the Dot Necklace from Mejuri and I’ve since become obsessed. I ordered the Twin Hoops from the brand, and then followed that up with the Gold Claw Studs and Gold Double Chain Bracelet from Missoma. My latest purchase is a vintage bracelet from Vagabond PH, which sells all sorts of accoutrements sourced from estate sales in the US and locally on Instagram. It’s first come and first serve, and the rush of buying reminds me of the rush I get when booking bike 8 at Electric Studio for a popular instructor, a feeling I miss and won’t get back until it’s safe to go back to gyms (so at this point, never).
Makeup and Skincare
After week one of Enhanced Community Quarantine, after I recovered from what I suspect might be a mild case of COVID-19 (impossible to tell in this country if you aren’t famous, or a government official), I realized my skin was getting worse. I ran out of my favorite chemical exfoliant a few months ago and figured that as long as I kept up with my skincare routine it would be fine. Well, folks, due to what I thought was going to be the end of the world, I stopped washing my face and moisturizing. I then realized my skin had grown rough and uneven. I panic ordered the Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution by Versed Skin and a back up of my favorite night oil, Pai’s Organic Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil Thankfully, my skin is back to thriving. No one needs makeup inside the house but that didn’t stop me from ordering Glossier Skywash in the shades Echo and Terra from Skincare MNL. You never know, it might perk up my face and help me look less dead for weekly meetings on Zoom.
When my parents scold me about my frivolous purchases, I tell them I buy a lot of books too, which is a surefire way to get them to support my spending endeavors, because they raised a bookworm and this is technically their fault. I’ve been ordering books on Amazon and through Fully Booked, ever since their website opened to orders. The final order they processed before Enhanced Community Quarantine went into effect was probably Severance by Ling Ma, and is a pretty ironic choice considering its plot about capitalism and the millennial condition (the front cover is decked in the zeitgeist-shifting shade of “millennial pink”) during a pandemic. After that, I ordered The Other Americans by Laila Lalami, which I didn’t like as much as I hoped to, followed by The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (writer of Station Eleven, the other great pandemic novel of our time), which I loved, less for the characters (who are terrible) and more for the ability of her writing to soothe my brain. It’s like the physical effect of ASMR but through my eyes. I then followed up with Lily King’s Writers & Lovers which is THE book to read if you’re ever debated dedicating your life to the pursuit of writing, and The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, which I liked less than I expected because her writing left me less immersed into the topic than I thought it would. Coming soon in the mail is Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, Know My Name by Chanel Miller, Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski and The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. I occasionally toy with the idea of just buying myself a Kindle, but I love the physical weight of books (and their smell), and my biggest fantasy is to have a living room where all my books surround the space, like Hanya Yanagihara’s. So I need all those books to do that.
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For the Home
In the beginning of lockdown, I figured I might as well clear out and clean my room, which for the last few years has resembled a bunker, if bunkers were filled to the brim with PR gifts and not canned goods in preparation for the apocalypse. So thanks to the tips and tricks of Marie Kondo, I now have a space that is habitable for living and working. It’s also led me to want to redecorate. I like my room (now that it’s clean) but don’t love it, because when I went to college my parents populated it with furniture they no longer thought suited our house (we moved the summer before my freshman year). It’s a constant source of tension because I don’t understand why my brother ended up with integrated open shelving in white and I have a wooden file cabinet. Who needs a wooden filing cabinet? I digress. The point is, the decorating bug has bit me and I want to order new sheets and new prints for the walls, but those are things you need to physically see before buying so right now, I’ve been purchasing smaller pieces, like the Body Vase from Bondi Studios. I read an article on The Cut about the trappings of millennial décor, and I suppose this falls under that (“Search your brain. Swap out the monstera leaf for waxy red anthurium, WORK HARD & BE NICE TO PEOPLE for GOOD VIBES ONLY. Maybe the pillows were succulent-print; maybe the ceramics had boobs. IT WAS ALL A DREAM, says a neon sign in schoolgirl cursive. You hadn’t noticed that before.”) but I’m in the mood to make design choices that someday I might regret. As the current situation proves, life is too short to agonize over whether or not I should buy vase with boobs.
For all the friends who I hope to see someday, I’ve been ordering Birthdate Candles, candles that are personalized with each day of the year, combining astrology, numerology and tarot. I’ve ordered for my birthday (August 4) and for my colleagues at Lifestyle Asia, even if I might never get to see them again in person.
Next month is my birthday, which means a naughty splurge at Gentle Monster. Again, who needs sunglasses in the house? But I have fantasies of looking like Yoon Seri, and they need to be fulfilled. Please let me know if I should purchase the Her 01 or the Jack Bye 01. Or yell at me for buying too many things, since all we’re doing nowadays is yelling at each other on our keyboards.