Archive

Uncategorized

April 8 – March 15

Yep – it’s been almost a year since I made a post. And a lot has happened in a year! Here are the highlights….

May-June 2019: London.

Ryan and I went on an amazing vacation to London to celebrate Lyn and Gaurav’s wedding. It was a fantastic trip. We did all the best touristy stuff (including tea at the palace, a visit to stonehenge, touring the Harry Potter studio, and seeing the Harry Potter play). Lyn and Gaurav’s big day was definitely the highlight, and I am so looking forward to seeing them again as well as doing more travel with Ryan.

June 2019: E3.

In June, I attended E3 for the first time with Facebook. Turns out the Exhibitor badge is the best VIP status – exhibitors got to (perhaps obviously) head into the conference space before anyone else. The whole experience was incredible.

September – October 2019: Safari.

But definite highlight of 2019 for me was our big family trip to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Ryan and I finally got to go on our dream honeymoon and Nancy, Kiki, and Alyssa joined us 🙂 We had an incredible experience (though most of the best pictures are not on my phone – used for pics below). We stayed at the Giraffe Manor just outside Nairobi, explored the Serengeti and Masai Mara, saw the great wildebeest migration, watched so many animals stalk and kill other animals (apparently it is pretty rare to see so many animal kills … and we saw a lot!), got charged by a mama elephant during breakfast, went cage-diving with Great White sharks, and enjoyed some of the best meals we’ve ever had (although you’d have to bug Ryan for those pictures :)). If you ever take a safari trip and want tips, hit me up. We had a fantastic time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

December 2019 – January 2020: Moving.

At the end of this past year, I made the incredibly difficult decision to leave Facebook and move back to Orlando to work for my mom. It was the right move for me professionally and personally (and finally the right time), but it was very very hard to leave my team at Facebook. I’ve never left a job I enjoyed so much (the work, the people, the space, my mentors/managers). But the prospect of potentially leading my family’s business one day and helping to support and better the lives of all my cousins and siblings and our future children was too enticing to pass up. I am excited to learn more about real estate development and investing and to continue to build a future for my extended family that is financially secure. I want to make sure the next generation has the same opportunities my generation did.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

January 2020: Sundance.

And finally, the last big trip we took in the past year was to Sundance (the Film Festival). While our travel group has been to Park City a few times now for skiing, we’d never gone for the film festival. And wow was the festival fun! We certainly weren’t pros whatsoever, but we saw some very interesting films, enjoyed some quiet skiing, and definitely plan to be back.

Looking ahead, 2020 is going to be a year of learning and growth for me. I have a lot to ramp up on in my new job but I’m very excited to dive in and start building a new expertise.

On the Writing front, the last year has been slow but steady progress:

  • I finished my second novel and it is thisclose to being query-ready. I am hoping to start querying it with agents in the next few months. I really like this book (name still TBD AH!). The story is an ~80,000 word near-future science fiction novel set on a live-in tech company campus. When workers start mysteriously dying, a software engineer, a dev ops, a security guard, a data scientist, and the compound CEO must band together to solve the mystery before the death toll climbs. Still working on the pitch 😉 But I’d say it’s Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty meets the TV show Westworld.
  • I’ve made a few more short story sales! Reckoning 4, Flame Tree’s A Dying Planet anthology, and Hybrid Fiction have bought stories since my Apex Magazine sale. Unfortunately Apex Magazine had to suddenly shut down only a few weeks after my sale and so the story I sold them won’t be published there. This was a huge bummer as Apex was one of my dream publications (and published the Hugo-award winning stories of the last two years!), but so it goes. All I can do is keep writing and submitting.
  • BUT the aforementioned sales listed above were enough to bump me from Associate Member status with SFWA to Active Member – this is the highest tier of membership in SFWA for a writer. I’ve wanted to be a SFWA Active Member for as long as I’ve known SFWA existed and achieving this milestone is a huge accomplishment for me 🙂

I also have one really really big writing-related announcement to share, but I have to keep it secret for now. I’ll make a standalone post about this once I’m able to reveal it. I am so excited to finally shout this announcement from the rooftops!

Story Recs

I’ve read A LOT in the last year. Here are the standout stories, I’d recommend:

+“Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey published in Diabolical Plots. This story is hilarious and really resonated with me given my own affliction of being one of those darned millennials who are ruining Everything.

+ “Dandelion” by Elly Bangs published in Clarkesworld. Bangs interweaves the lives of three generations of engineer/astronaut women in a truly haunting and touching story.

+ Jade War by Fonda Lee. Whoa! Can Lee land a sequel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a sequel I enjoyed more than the first book in a series. And multiple POVs is SO hard.

+ The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. This book is beautifully written. I want to be Harrow when I grow up (even though I think technically I’m older than her … oops). The prose in this book is just utter perfection.

+ White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo really opened my eyes to how harmful it is that we aren’t comfortable openly discussing race and racism. I’m always striving to do and be better.

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. This book was incredible and poses the question: does doing something evil in the service of something good, make you evil or good? I haven’t read a book that’s made me think this much in a long time. Maybe one of my all-time favorites now.

As always let me know if there are any books, video games, comics, etc. I should be adding to me to-do list. Excited to share my good news in my next post! Stay safe out there.

September 11 – October 1

Back to school! My last year at Kellogg is shaping up to be a great one so far. Not only do my classes seem more than manageable (at least as of now), I have huge gaps in my daily schedule which are perfect for writing and reading. While I haven’t written anything noteworthy in the last month, I have been marathoning through my reading list (mostly in preparation for Viable Paradise – two weeks away!)

My last first day of school:

IMG_6482

I’ve also officially signed my offer to return to Facebook, and I could not be more excited! I requested a bit of a late start date in order to free up my July / August for Clarion (which I will be applying to in December). My team approved the September start but for a date a little later than I wanted (9/17). When I mentioned this to Ry he suggested we use the few extra weeks to get married (<— yep, that’s how he said it).

So, even though we aren’t officially engaged yet, we’ve already started planning a Labor Day wedding. Honestly, the lack of romance doesn’t bother me – I really like the idea of getting married before starting work. That way we can just enjoy our time with family without me being a total stress pot. So far, wedding planning has been going like this:

Mom: Sydney, what do you think about X

Me: Okay.

Mom: And what about Y

Me: Okay.

Is there an opposite of a bridezilla?

Also, looks like the wedding will be in the same venue I had my Bat Mizvah – circle of life?

Last exciting update: Nancy and Kiki got a puppy! Excited to meet Gator over Thanksgiving!

IMG_6498

My next post will be after VP – can’t wait to share how the week goes!

July 5 – July 31

What a busy month!

First: the good news. I got into Viable Paradise!!! This is my first writing-related acceptance ever, and it is a BIG one. VP (for short) is a SFWA-recognized writing workshop. Only 20 students are selecting each year and apparently this year was very competitive (I know a few folks that sadly didn’t get in). Forgive my lack of humility, but I am really proud of myself. I found out about VP at the Nebulas, ~2 weeks before the deadline to apply. I would need to submit 2 short stories that I hadn’t already submitted to a professional market (which I usually do right after finishing a story). This meant 2 weeks for 2 brand new stories. AND those 2 weeks overlapped with my final exams.

In an exercise in aggressive prioritization, I hunkered down and wrote two short stories I am actually pretty proud of in what was a very quick turnaround for me (at my best, I’m usually churning out two submittable stories each month).

The workshop is in October (1 week in Martha’s Vineyard :)). I CANNOT wait.

After this great news early in the month, Ryan and I went to LA to visit his family and ring shop. This trip was fine (we picked out the design for the ring), but this month is shaping up to be travel / family heavy and I am going a little crazy.

The second big trip was two weekends ago. I flew back to Orlando last minute when my mom took Keno to the vet and they found a pretty malignant tumor in her left armpit. I won’t say much about Keno here because it’s still pretty raw, but we ended up putting her down on my visit. She was the sweetest dog and I’ll miss her a lot.

IMG_6344

I don’t really know if there is an afterlife (Ryan says I’m silly for even questioning – he says there obviously is not), but I like to think that Keno is with Nuni somewhere playing.

Other news: Nancy + Fam are visiting me this upcoming week. The Keno trip was unexpected, so I’ve just seen everyone, but it will still be nice to spend time with them (even though it’s getting down to the wire at work – AH!). Ryan’s family is visiting next week so lots of family / social time overall (ugh.) – I’ve also given up on veganism. I’m just trying to eat more green veggies and less red meat.

This vegan “hot dog” was served at the office a few weeks ago. It is literally a carrot on a piece of lettuce:

IMG_6333

We’re doing Lazy Bear Friday, so look for those amazing pictures next blog post 😉

May 22 – June 18

The last month has been crazy good busy.

First, I had the esteemed honor of being a groomswoman at my friend Chris’s wedding. Chris and Lisa’s wedding was beautiful! I feel so lucky to have been a part of their great day. I love them both so much!

Then back to Evanston for exams, which I …. made it through. Actually my PM class group knocked our client project out of the park. I feel really proud of the work we did and ended the quarter on an academic high!

After, I flew to the Bay Area for my summer internship and Mia’s wedding.

As per usual, I was awful at taking pictures, but Mia’s wedding was amazing! I also got to see all of my old Khan Academy pals and had an amazing time catching up and sharing stories.

This past week I also started at Facebook. Only one week in and I am loving it. I have an amazing team and am excited about the work I’ll be doing.

A month of great news and happy moments has been punctuated by a bit of a wrench though. I got some labs done to get a routine check on my health and apparently my cholesterol is a little high. To be honest, that’s not super surprising considering I eat red meat basically every day.

Sadly, I am going to actually try to take the warning seriously and cut back on steak. Where has my youth gone?

IMG_6295.jpg

Goodbye 1lb burger “salads”

April 19 – May 21

I just got back from the Nebula Conference (where the Nebula winners are selected each year). The conference was GREAT.

In addition to the most amazing swag bag I’ve ever received (books on books on books) …

IMG_6237

… the conference programming and attendees were incredible. I’ve never met such a generous group of people before. Everyone I spoke with was super eager to help me, invite me into their communities, and share the advice that helped them succeed as writers. Also, I got to meet some pretty incredible people (authors of books and short stories I love, editors of the magazines I read, SFWA legends). And Neil Clarke was there (who I technically didn’t build up the nerve to talk to, but one day!).

I feel like one weekend with a bunch of fellow writers has done more for helping me navigate the genre fiction world than years of attempts on my own. I was jazzed about my future as a writer before, but now I am euphoric!

Sadly, I lived in the moment slightly too much and took basically no pictures. Here is one of the robots at the awards banquet:

IMG_6253

Lots to do now looking forward. I am totally 180’ing my editing process given feedback I heard from the very generous authors who shared their advice with me. I need to crank out two new stories for a VP workshop application (due in 3 weeks!). And, I need to really up my reading game (time I share the love and put more novels into my regular rotation of short stories).

Next weekend is Chris’s wedding (#groomswoman) and more Ryan time 🙂

March 1 – March 22

These last two weeks I’ve been on spring break, so forgive me for not having much to say about the end of winter quarter. I seriously don’t remember being stressed over finals (nor studying much for them tbh). I’ve been in break bliss.

Just prior to heading off, I did accept a summer internship offer from Facebook (Monetization Product Marketing Manager Intern on the Media Monetization Team — try saying that 10 times fast). It was a really difficult decision, one I can get into more detail on in a one-on-one convo if you’re inclined to reach out. I do feel like it was the right choice for me this summer among numerous great choices.

For spring break, Ryan and I decided to head to Park City, Utah for two weeks of reading and writing. Halfway through, a few of my friends from b-school stopped by ahead of a national park road trip and we got to watch Northwestern play in their first-ever NCAA tournament!

Northwestern unfortunately lost (but it was a second round game and they really did show up in the second half), but that has seriously been the only low point of my entire vacation.

I’ve read a ton of short stories and novelettes (mainly the Nebula nominees – a good list with links here: LINK). I’ve also finished Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky. Honestly, I was a little disappointed given how many great things I’d heard about it, but understand that punk-hipster-hacker novels just may not be my thing. I’ve also started (and plan to finish in the next few days) Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. This book as at the exact opposite end of the sci-fi spectrum to Anders’ and is more my speed, but maybe still not quite my speed. The novel is heady and highly philosophical (if you like Voltaire and/or Jack Vance, I recommend rocket-boosting Too Like the Lightning to the top of your list).

I’ve also (obviously) done a ton of writing — will have at least 2 (maybe 3) submission-worthy stories by the end of the trip – feeling GREAT about that!

Oh and Ryan and I have definitely had a chance to up the nerd ante even more when the SLC Comic Con came to town:

I seriously wish these two weeks could just be my life ……

Well, it is the day after the elections and I am still feeling pretty numb over the outcome. But, this numbness has been qualified by a disappointment I honestly didn’t expect.

I am disappointed in many of those who voted for Clinton with me.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read so many posts and overheard so many conversations that have reduced Trump supporters to racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQA, white xenophobes. Is there an element of the Trump political movement that represents each and every one of these characteristics? Absolutely. But, were these qualities alone the fuel that propelled so many to vote Trump and hand him the presidency? I’m not convinced.

The reality is many Trump supporters are angry, feel disenfranchised, and have been ignored by our political system. I think too many of Clinton’s shocked supporters (and I include myself in this) never reached across the aisle to dig beneath the Trump-supporter stereotype and find some empathy and understanding for the more moderate Trump supporter’s perspective.

To be fair, I don’t think many Trump supporters reached across the aisle to us, but (as we all learned in Kindergarten) two wrongs don’t make a right.

Both halves of this country have been living in echo chambers. All the shouting and outrage we’re individually exposed to exactly aligns with our own views. We never engage in true civic discourse. We never ask why someone else might disagree. We never try to get to know each other.

Today I decided to break this cycle for myself. I invited those in my MMM program and beyond who voted for Trump to explain to me why (and I promised to be respectful and listen). I heard some interesting and often very personal stories.

Who would you vote for if your family lost their home and your father their job in the Great Recession, yet no Wall Street bankers were punished and then these very institutions supported the opposing candidate?

Who would you vote for if the jump in your insurance premiums over the last year due to Obamacare made an important, life-changing surgery prohibitively expensive for you?

Who would you vote for if your friends back home all recently lost their factory jobs because new technologies could automate their work?

Now, I’m not saying I agree with the choices these few ultimately made, but I think I understand a little bit more why Clinton might not have been their obvious pick. When I pushed these few on the very disturbing things Trump has said about Muslims and women and Hispanic Americans and on and on, those I spoke with said the rhetoric troubled them too, but ultimately they thought it was just that, rhetoric.

While my biases as a Jew tell me that rhetoric is always where tragedies start, I found it difficult to argue with the real pain that these individuals and their families were feeling.

So, here are my hopes:

+ We all try a little harder to empathize with one another

+ We actively engage in constructive conversation with those who do not agree with us

+ We be informed enough to explain our perspective effectively and clearly

+ We respect that Trump won

And finally, though I have plenty of doubts, we now judge Trump by his actions as President, good or bad, giving him the credit should he prove so many of us wrong, but also holding him accountable should he prove so many of us right.

Though today was admittedly a difficult day, I still love America, my country. I still care about the Trump supporters in my life that I cared about 24 hours ago. I still have hope for our country over these next four years.

flag

July 5 – August 7

Man the summer has blown by fast! Here is a quick recap:

Classes:

To be completely honest, I’ve been a bit disappointed by our classes this summer. The Kellogg classes we’re taking (Strategy, Accounting, Statistics) are all subjects I have experience in. Due to this, I’m not learning a whole lot (but maybe this is on me for not waiving classes? not planning to make the same mistake with marketing in the fall). Our two design classes are okay, but I think our teachers tend to show us more sausage than teach us how the sausage is made (which is what I am eager to learn). We have been exposed to some new technology through this coursework though (e.g., software for 3D printing, the Adobe Suite, etc).

IMG_4703

IMG_4750

One exciting outcome of our Innovation Frontiers class has been the idea for a new startup (named Trove). I like the idea a lot, but, as this is a required class (not opt-in), I think a few members of my team just want to deliver the minimum (in this case, write-ups describing the idea). It has been frustrating at times feeling like I and 1-2 others are pulling the weight for the entire team. I’ve spoken to everyone about carrying the idea forward after the class is done and, I have to say, I wasn’t exactly disappointed when it seemed as though no one else wanted to help. I would have been open to one teammate in particular joining me, but otherwise I am not excited to carry the weight of an entire team moving forward, particularly if it means sharing equity.

IMG_4877

Social:

The people in my program are great, but I have yet to really click with anyone. I am not big into drinking, going out late, and partying multiple times a week. I worry that not having this type of social-leaning in business school is going to hurt my ability to make friends. But, after having spent a few weeks living the aforementioned lifestyle, I know I don’t have it in me to do that. I really hope I find my crew relatively soon. And, who knows? Maybe they are in MMM and I just haven’t figured it out yet.

IMG_4888

Ryan is visiting next week (yay!). I have my finals while he’s here and then off to the Galapagos for KWEST (a pre-term Kellogg trip). Excited to share more when I return!

May 26 – June 3

Before the big move to Chicago, I spent some time at home celebrating my cousin’s high school graduation and the wedding of a high school (and middle school and elementary school) friend.

All in all it was a pretty relaxing week.

Got in some pool time:

IMG_4455

Took Ryan to Universal and IOA (with Phil!):

IMG_4526

Explored Orlando with Ryan (he seems sold on potentially living here one day — kind of crazy that that is a potential option for us now!):

IMG_4544

And of course danced the night away at Traci’s wedding (what an amazing band!):

IMG_4578

Next up is the big move to Chicago. Excited for what’s next (even though I’ll miss Ryan a lot). More to come on the move soon!