MidLevel Esculators

NIKE PROJECT Our Nike project finally wrapped up, here are some highlights.

- Joe: (staring at his hand, palm up) 女人,你在哪里?女人?? - Record heat wave in Shanghai's history - Strongest typhoon in ten years in Guangzhou - Photographer got food poisoning and was puking his guts out before a location shoot and contemplated "how am I going to tell Qing Qing that she's going to have to find another photographer?" - Plan A: No Rain. Plan B: Rain with tarp. Plan C: Rain all indoor locations. - Feedback from client: "best local shoot we've done."

All in all, waking up at 4AM, 5AM consecutively was a killer, but I'd do it in a heartbeat. I love my job, because it forces me to grow as a leader, woman, thinker, and decision-maker. Also I'll be just too bored otherwise. Embrace experiences that flip you inside out and poke at your guts and push you to your limits. That's all I'm saying.


At some point of the night, we high-fived. The instance to what we high fived to is completely irrelevant to the analogy I'm about to make, which is the day and half we spent in Hong Kong felt just like that: a high five in the middle of somewhere in between, a cameo between lovers, a quick peck in another realm of the unfamiliar.

I guess Hong Kong is station #5. Beijing was a meeting of two people across the worlds. Tianjin was love and magic, our bubble of unreality. Shanghai was mutual resignation to a place we loved to hate on. New York was home, and Hong Kong, well Hong Kong was riding up the midlevel escalators until we hit the clouds. He in his dress shoes and me in my sandals, we climbed up the 75 degree incline until we hit mist and the only thing we could see were mainland tourists.

Of course the only proper way to finish the day is shopping, and the only way to shop are Rick Owens leather wedges. I wore it out to some improv jam session place and felt like a queen. He says, “People forget that clothing can be an armor.”

In my Rick Owens leather wedges and red lipstick makes me feel like one of those cliched scenes where the ugly duckling becomes all powerful and beautiful, and “what is power?” the topic of our dinner conversation, ultimately rested on freedom for him. For me, I don't even know how much freedom a girl needs having crossed from China to Ohio to New York and back, I'm blessed enough. Here's what I think, I believe in betterment.

I believe power is having the ability to create better systems to bring out the best in others. I believe in creating a world where others have a chance to be powerful. That's meaningful work for me, and that's what will keep me going. I believe in working quietly, steadily, and making incremental changes.

As for the girl who somehow stumbled into owning a Rick Owens jacket and shoes, I don't know if she's slowly being transformed, if her perspectives are skewed, if in five years she will be a woman unrecognizable to the 22-year-old she was.

“I'm wearing all black so you don't look tougher than I do,” says my lover. Nothing sexier him, and the way we move through the crowds of these anonymous cities we dwell.


The last time I saw Ari we walked from the Bronx all the way down to Battery Park. He was just in the beginning of scrambling to get his company started, a pharmaceutical thing that has its arms and legs on the Internet. We made three lobsters in the tiny one bedroom in Sunset Park.

Four years later he and his girl are riding it out in Hong Kong. They are doing well, and our conversations somehow circled around accounting, business, real estate and how Hong Kong must be a miserable place to bring up kids.

“What did we talk about when we were kids?” We barely remember, and maybe there's nothing wrong with being ambitious and weird.

Seeing him again made me see a reflection of myself, and how much time and experience have changed us. “What will we be talking about in three, five years?” I asked. More business? Kids? Life moves on. Make dents. Crash into cul de sacs. If it feels like you are not sure where you're going, remember those escalators at mid levels. You'll never know what the scenery might be like up there, but make sure you're going up.


Coming home is the biggest relief of the month. Even the smog makes you feel a little grounded, along with the traffic, the unruliness of it all. At some point I wonder if this means I'm adverse to adventure, but a friend corroborated that Hong Kong is no place to relax. The entire place made me edge close to an aneurysm - the endless stretch of malls, all this business talk, all this concrete.

Thank God I'm home. All I'm going to do is stare at my wooden ceiling.