Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The good news is, we have a couch

I realize that this has been an exceptionally long dry spell of posting, even for a guy who has been known to skip town for a few weeks at a time.

The thing is, life has been busy. Busier than it has been in a long time.

For one thing, Mrs. Blog and I are in the midst of the biggest nesting endeavor ever. In Abu Dhabi, a place that always felt oddly temporary to us--and the millions of other imported workers--we were content to furnish out place in the yellow-and-blue wonderland that is Ikea. It was cheap, smartly designed and gave us an L-shaped sofa that turned into a guest bed. Hooray for Swedish innovation.

But everyone else in the country had roughly the same idea, remember. So inevitably, no matter whose house we were visiting, we inevitably encountered some of the same Ikea influences that shaped our own living space. (Our orange living room, blue bedroom and pink office, however, were singular and awesome. Have I ever told you about how we picked out the colors over Skype, with me in the 'Dhabs and Mrs. Blog in the Windy City?)

Hong Kong, whatever your intentions are when you arrive, feels like a much more permanent place. It has a reason to be. For thousands of years before the British showed up to colonize, the islands were dotted with fishing villages; the sea and a safe harbor made it a good place to live. Much later, after China decided it did not want much to do with the rest of the world, Hong Kong became an obvious and successful conduit for trade. As a place that was "almost" China, it had a foot in both worlds.

Which brings us to our apartment. It is fairly large by Hong Kong standards. It was also mostly devoid of furniture by any standard. But we made a decision, a pact--we would not use Ikea furniture. Sure, it was one-tenth the price of other stuff and you could see every bit of it in a showroom. But if you go there for anything other than meatballs (or hot dogs--enormously popular at the Hong Kong Ikea), you can't miss the fact that a pulsating throng of other people are attracted to those same qualities.

Hong Kong has permanence. So should our furniture.

That has led to treks all around Hong Kong trying to track down an elusive couch or coffee table. Mrs. Blog has deployed her considerable design instincts and invested even more time on her own in the hunt. It has been a slow process, but it has brought us interesting pieces like these rearrangeable shelves, which may or may not remind you of a certain Slavic video game:

Try as I might, though, I can't remember the theme music.

So that has been a big part of our life, eating not just time for blogging--sorry, Dear Reader--but other stuff like seeing giant Buddhas on mountaintops. Don't worry, though, that's on our agenda.

I also have a job here. It's a good job, editing for a big, international media organization whose stories are read by millions worldwide. It has given me a face-to-face introduction to the global news cycle, which went something like this:

Hi, I'm Gerry.

Hi, I'm the global news cycle.

Nice to meet you. So tell me a little bit about yourself--

It's always overnight someplace. Which means the readers there are asleep. Which means they will wake up and see the news that someone else sees before they go to bed. Big election in California? Los Angelenos will see the preliminary results on the evening news and maybe the full story in the next day's paper. Hong Kongers--if they care about California elections at all--will get the full story online during their work day and get analysis in the morning paper. A story that starts in Hong Kong will be read last in California; a story that starts in New York will be read last in Hong Kong.

Hey, I didn't say it was a gripping conversation. But it's tough to wrap your head around, at least at first.

The job also meant at least dipping my toe into a lot of different skill sets. I have been editor of the sports section, editor of the business section, early news guy, late news guy, copy editor, deputy this and that... pretty much everything but Chief Coffeemaker, a title currently held by the office Nespresso machine.

Now I'm settling into a more steady role as a business editor. And this is a new thing for me. I filled my notebooks with hard news as a reporter, and as an editor I seldom came across a story with arcane terms like "basis points," "three-year money" and "Sachinidis" in close proximity. Or at all. But Hong Kong has changed all that, and I am enjoying it immensely.

This is the center of the financial universe at the moment, at least in terms of news. Everything that happens in China affects the rest of the world; there are too many people buying and manufacturing things there for their actions to go ignored. A tiny change in a key interest rate affects how many people borrow money, and how much money they borrow affects how much they spend, and that affects how many iPhones Apple sells. I am helping tell stories with nuts-and-bolts cores, and draping them with flesh that anyone, anywhere, can consume and appreciate.

Plus, insinuations of zombieism aside, check out the view from my office window:

A little of everything: sailboat racing, barges and tugboats, with a cruise ship watching.

And that brings us back to one of the major effects of all this nesting, learning and exploring. I haven't had much time to blog. Or, on some days, even take a deep breath. But here's the thing, the silver lining in this storm of activity: It means when I do sit down to write--and I have an office to write in now--my brain is nearly overflowing with new experiences that, whether I know it or not, are begging to be let onto the page.

Which is just a long-winded way of saying, "Don't worry, I'm going to blog more. Sorry about that." 

No comments: