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Tag Archives: Family

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!

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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.

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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.

May 24 – September 11

I know I know. I wasn’t good about keeping up my blog this summer. Chalk it up to living in the moment because this summer was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C!

First I wrapped up my time at Kellogg. It was bittersweet (and I suck at goodbyes). Since I skipped graduation in order to kickoff the move process with Ryan (and clear the way for writing this summer), Kiki came to visit me before I left to celebrate. She dragged me to a T Swift concert – which was actually pretty good. And then we went to Alinea, one of the best restaurants in the US. We were blown away!

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After I left Chicago, Ryan and I immediately started apartment hunting. Unfortunately, very early on, we got attached to the idea of a townhome (having a front door, big kitchen, etc.) – this blew up our budget a bit as well as limited our options. BUT we were lucky and found the perfect place in San Mateo pretty early in the summer. We’ll do a housewarming at some point, and I may share pics.

I’ve also been pushing pretty hard on the writing front. I worked on a near-future new adult novel for most of the summer (pitched as Friends meets Black Mirror in Silicon Valley). I got 30,000 words into it and realized it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. Too serious, too message-y, too disjointed … the writing isn’t bad, but I’ve decided to put it aside for now and work on a few shorts as well as a new, more entertaining and more fun novel (outlining in process). After spending a lot of time with writers this summer (including at some great conferences – Readercon, Worldcon), I’ve realized that being so focused on publishing / external validation is just a setup for disappointment. In general, I’m trying to take it easier and make sure writing remains a stress-reliever not -inducer for me.

Of course, the biggest summer highlight was my wedding to Ryan! The weekend was beautiful and perfect. I’ve never been so filled with love for so much time. It was the best experience of my life, and I’m still riding the high. I love Ryan, his family, my family, our friends, and I can’t wait to one day be in a position to spend more constant time with the people I care most about. I’ve posted most of the wedding photos on my facebook page, but here are a few of my favs:

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Next up is officially starting work at Facebook. I am excited/nervous and eager to learn what product I’ll be working on.

Writing Update

Official update: I’ve had two more final round bumps at Stupefying Stories and IGMS (the latter of which was eventually rejected – boo!). Three new short stories written (two on sub, one still in beta). Novel worked on (~30k words) and benched. New novel outline 90% done. I slush-read for Cosmic Roots (another slush round starts in 1.5 weeks). And I’ve beta’d a few shorts from friends.

Story Recs

I did a TON of reading this summer. I crushed the Hugo nom list and then some. The highlights from my summer reading are:

+ The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. This is non-fiction and a must read for every American. I knew that African-Americans didn’t have the same opportunities in this country as others since the end of slavery, but I had no idea it was this bad. Could not recommend this one more.

+ Down Among the Sticks and Stones by Seanan McGuire. This is a prequel to her Hugo-winning Every Heart a Doorway, and I enjoyed this one more. It tells the origin story of two of the original book’s most interesting characters, Jack and Jill. It is a novella (so quick read).

+ The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. This was my first Scalzi book, the first in a new trilogy. This one is just entertaining space opera fun. I want to write more in this vein.

On the video game front, I’d also recommend Last of Us if you haven’t played it. I picked up the remastered version and was blown away. Sequel should be out sometime in the next few years (also looks great).

October 29 – November 26

Big news this month is Ryan finally proposed! With some help from Kiki and Alyssa, he popped the big question at a romantic and private lunch. “Will you marry me?” was written on custom plates (made by Kiki!) and revealed once we finished our meal. I love Ryan so much and am so excited to be marrying him! Labor Day Weekend 2018. Now for wedding planning….

Other than Thanksgiving and the big engagement, this past month has been filled with revisions revisions revisions. After VP and a weekend workshop with Mary Robinette Kowal, I’ve been revising 6ish stories and preparing for more submissions. In January, I’ll be applying to both Clarions (Clarion and Clarion West), so will need to pick my 2 submission stories for each (I have 3 stories in mind, but one is in serious need of revision). I am very anxious about these two workshops – going to one would be a dream come true: 6 weeks of focused writing instruction, critiquing, and drafting. But, as is the case with any “best of,” these two workshops are really freaking competitive to get into. I’ll know officially in March how I did!

Other than that, I’ve decided to switch my focus to a new novel post-applying-to-Clarions. I’ve had a few friends secure agents recently (nearly all of whom haven’t published a short story in a pro-market). As crazy as it sounds, I keep hearing that getting an agent for a novel is actually slightly easier than publishing a short story in a SFWA-qualifying magazine or webzine. Now all I have to do is think of a novel idea lol.

The next month is filled with tons of travel: 11/26 – 12/1 Chicago, 12/1 – 12/8 Orlando, 12/8 – 12/15 Telluride, 12/15 – 12/17 Bay Area, 12/17 – 12/28 Tokyo, 12/28 – 1/3 Seoul. Hopefully a lot of writing and reading will happen in there.

Here is Ryan and my sister’s new puppy, Gator:

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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:

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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!

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

December 9 – January 26

Sorry it has been so long since an update! I thoroughly enjoyed my winter break and then have been thoroughly not enjoying recruiting since coming back to school.

But, let’s start with the good stuff.

After my finals, I flew to CA to spend time with Ryan. I was a pretty bad friend and told no one I was in town so I could get some quality time with him. It was nice to have no interruption, especially since I see him so rarely 😦

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After a week or so, we traveled to LA to spend the holidays with Ryan’s family. I think all went well (although I did not hide my anti-socialness as well as I thought). Ryan’s parents were also very generous with their steak dinners 😉

I ultimately left LA festivities soon after Christmas and traveled to Mexico City for the annual New Years trip. A few of our regulars couldn’t make it this year (:(), but two of my college friends joined us and Joel brought a whole crew (though, we didn’t see much of them to be honest). Chris, Briggs, and I generally got our exploration on and I left Mexico City thoroughly impressed. Good food, good people, good prices, great culture.

Since New Years, I’ve been very focused on recruiting. So far I’ve received some good news from a few companies (3 final rounds, potentially a fourth, and 1 offer). Interviewing (and preparing for interviews) is a lot more tiring and stressful than I suspected it would be, but I’ve been lucky to have a really good prep group with friends. I am also lucky to be drawing so close to the other side of this whole beast.

Next I just need to figure out where to go for spring break 😉

November 17 – December 8

Well another quarter (and birthday!) done.

Thanksgiving was great. There were (almost) no fights although certain people in my family did seem awfully eager to pick some (*cough*mom*cough*). Got to hang out with all my favs though, including these two:

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I also happened to be highly productive – applying to all of the on-campus tech roles I am recruiting for. I find out if I’ve been invited to interview for most of these over the next few weeks. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh! And I celebrated my 27th birthday. While, it does feel strange to be ever further away from childhood, I actually feel like a lot of good things in my life are coming together (in other words, I don’t really feel the pressure of a ticking clock). I am in a great relationship (with Keno, my dog, obviously), have great career opportunities, feel more and more satisfied with myself as a person, and have really invested in skills (both professional and personal) I find myself using often and deliberately. I think each year has been better than the last for a few years now. Hoping to keep up the trend!

Speaking of great feelings, I just wrapped finals! (Did I say great feelings?) — Finals went …. uh …. yeah. Let’s just say, I think I’ll be getting B’s in MORS (our leadership class) and Operations. The B in MORS is pretty silly – I actually did well in the class, but my teacher has a rule that only 40% of his class get A’s. This doesn’t really make sense to me if the averages on assignments and exams are above 90%. My scores were good (>90% on most graded activities / exercises), but I probably was too close to the average to get an A (boo!). On the other hand, I totally deserve the B in Operations. Didn’t find the class too enthralling, so I basically stopped going about a third of the way in (wrote a lot of fiction though :)). I DO think barring any major surprises, Research-Design-Build (RDB) and Accelerated Finance will be A’s.

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Ultimately, I ended the quarter on a high note I think. In RDB, we got to present our final projects to Harley-Davidson’s CEO (pictured below!) and I was really really happy with my team’s work. It was a great end to a bumpy quarter.

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Now to the break! It will be a mix of relaxing and working. Goals: 1) Prep for behavioral interviews (ugh ugh ugh), 2) write 3 submission-worthy stories (probably the biggest challenge listed here), 3) impress Ryan’s family over Christmas, and 4) have a great time in Mexico with the crew (Briggs! Chris K! Chris M! Joel! Stefan!) — see y’all in 2017 (O_O)

October 5 – November 16

Well the rest of the quarter went by fast – whew!

October was a great month though. Aside from recruiting craziness picking up, I feel like I am getting better at the whole balance thing.

I also had two friends (Chris and Stef!) come visit Halloween weekend. It was so great to catch up with both of them. We also saw Hamilton in Chicago that weekend (it was AMAZING).

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Kellogg’s big fall formal also happened in October (Fall Ball). The event was great, but my favorite part was definitely the two hours my crew spent hummer limo-ing around Chicago before the event.

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November kicked off with the election (see my last post for more detailed thoughts there). I am still not quite over the results. Don’t support Trump. Not impressed with some of the cabinet members being floated around nor his ideas around policy. But, we are where we are, so still hoping for the best there.

Otherwise, November is going well. Everyone on KTech exec went to Michigan last weekend for a retreat. It was so nice to spend a night away from Kellogg with no technology and just each other. I feel closer to everyone who went and can’t wait to go again (hopefully soon).

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(love folks’ faces in this pic :P)

I am really really excited about the Thanksgiving break. Though I will be spending most of it writing cover letters and working on projects for school (boo!), I will also get some quality time with Ryan. I haven’t seen him in two months and am going utterly crazy over the whole separation. I am equally (if not more) excited to also get some time in with Keno:

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(don’t know why that edit & send is there :/)

Not looking forward to the political drama that will inevitably erupt among my politically-split family over Thanksgiving dinner, but at least I’ll have the food to comfort me 🙂

After, I’ll have a week of class before finals then will be off to the Bay for the holidays. Looking forward to all my Ryan time ❤

August 15 – September 8 – Family Time

Well, I took a break from my travels to come back to Orlando for my cousins’ b’nai mitzvah. Aside from the requisite (and quite fun!) family time, I had a fairly productive few weeks in the States.

Checked off:
1) Wrote and submitted all my business school applications (6 schools)
2) Applied and was admitted to Dev Bootcamp (wahoo!!!)
3) Got into (really into) crossfit
4) Checked off all my doctors’ appointments (including more vaccines yay!)
5) Unpacked and repacked a much smaller suitcase for travels

A few pics from my time home:

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Next up: XOXO in Portland! Then off to Japan 🙂