circle back vol. 2

Computer Screen: Friend or Foe?

Before diving in, we want to acknowledge that since our first circle back, the US continued to witness heartbreaking, infuriating, horrifying and deeply disturbing acts of terrorism, racism and violence. You don’t need us to tell you that.  

circle back is free (and we hope it always will be!), so we encourage you to use that $1-20 and donate it to a worthy cause supporting the AAPI community.1

Here a few resources if you’re not sure where to start: 

What You Can Do to Fight Violence and Racism Against Asian Americans (PBS)

How to Support Asian American Communities (Bustle)

AAPI I Love Taste Bud Shirt (Everpress) 

(IC) On Chrome and silly self portraits

When I added Glance Back to my Chrome, I breezed over its one-liner bio: “You spend so much time staring at your computer...doesn't your computer deserve a chance to glance back at you?” I was intrigued only by the opportunity to document myself.2 Think of Glance Back as a photo diary whose sole requirement is for you to be [in front of your computer]. Before Glance Back, I thought nothing of the brief interlude of blank screen between opening Chrome and my destination on the www.3 My machine does not “deserve” to look at me, or so I thought. 

Glance Back4 was created “to capture the moments shared between you and your computer” and programmed to randomly “snap a photo of you and inquire: ‘What are you thinking about?’” upon opening a new tab. Before my first-ever Glance Back photo, I envisioned that my archive would eventually be full of effortless soft smiles and inspired thoughts, a collection of photos that would be ‘cool’ to share on a curated feed. However, three months into using the extension I have, without fail, forgotten about this daily photo op (computer, I am SO sorry for the looks I’ve given you and for the many, many crumbs) and captured an unedited and raw version of myself, the type of brutally honest and startlingly accurate self portrait that is taboo on the internet and social media. An un-curated and spontaneous feed full of ‘your best angles’ and frantic thoughts is novel and refreshing and something we could all benefit from in an internet full of highlight reels.

Give Glance Back a try5 and relish the opportunity to strike a pose, flash a smile, and confess what’s on your mind, you just might learn something about yourself because maybe your computer does deserve to look at you, but you definitely deserve to look at you too!

(SF) On sitting (and eating) alone

I love the idea of going out to eat out alone. I also, often, love the act of doing it.6 The appeal for me is the anonymity. I relish in the idea of sitting at a bar, no-one knowing who I am, what I do, or why I’m here; jealous of the confidence I exude, content in the company of only myself. 

In the early weeks of the pandemic, it dawned on me that I’d never felt less anonymous, but I’d also never felt so alone. There’s a special type of intimacy that comes with the kind of anonymity I’m referring to— the feeling of being surrounded by strangers, making eye-contact across a bar, or asking the person sitting next to you what they ordered because “it just looks so good!” I longed for those moments in the early weeks of the pandemic, but slowly, the idea of being anonymous began to feel terrifying, strangers became a toxin, potentially a literal disease.

In February, a newsletter from Gossamer7 included a link to I Miss My Bar, a sort of VR, sensory experience from Maverick, a restaurant and bar in Mexico. On this site, you can create your own bar— design an oasis of shaken ice, crickets chirping, sodas cans cracking open, even full standing bar capacity audio, if your heart so desires. My personal favorite is a combination of “bartender working,” “people talking,” and “night ambiance.” It feels like I’m sitting at a neighborhood spot on a summer night, as the evening service is winding down, and the front window is open onto one of those magically quiet side streets.8

There’s something bittersweet about the experience. On the one hand, it’s the perfect background music, the perfect representation of “normal” life. But on the other, I’m desperate to sit at a bar, order wine and french fries, and get through nearly two pages of a book while watching first dates, and friend dates, and old dates. This site reminds me of yet another thing lost this year. If I’m being honest,9 part of me fears it will be some time until I can feel that anonymity again. When will the fear of strangers' bodies (and my own) go away? When will I stop feeling like I’m going to unintentionally infect the ones I love the most, despite them being vaccinated? 10 

With sites like this, I can briefly remember the feeling of anonymity again, arguably the best and worst part of living in a place like New York City. If you turn your back to your apartment, pour yourself a glass of chilled wine,11 and turn up the volume real loud, for a moment you can remember what that felt like, too. And that’s kind of a miracle.

So, I guess this is all to say that until we can comfortably and safely sit on cracked leather bar seats again, we’ll just have to make due mixing the ambiance ourselves. 12

Leaving you with…

From the long distance desk of Ilana C. and Sylvie F., see you next time!


so far, we’ve donated to the Red Canary Song and Asian American Feminist Collective, if you need even further guidance.


perhaps this could be an opportunity to capture myself growing in the most pure and honest way?


probably Instagram


created by Maya Man, the good friend of a good friend (👋 thanks Alia!)


please let me know if you do!


although, I do it far less often than a person who loves something usually does said things, so I’ll let you sit with that one.


a website and brand whose products and content I highly recommend you check out


if you listen close enough, you can even hear the people talking in Spanish and pretend you’re in a foreign place where you really are a stranger and the whole city is left to discover. Ooh-la-la, remember when we traveled?!


which we always try to be here…


who knew french fries could hold such heavy weight?!


I recently had a glass of this juicy orange one that would pair perfectly with a slightly “too-dressed-up-for-this-occasion” outfit.


In the meantime, I highly recommend finding a safe sidewalk seat at your nearest bar and getting your (purelled) fingers on some french fries, the food I’ve missed the most after months of take-out and home cooking. The first salty, greasy bite is mind-numbingly satisfying.