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Tag Archives: Travel

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.

October 18 – April 7

Wow it’s been awhile since I blogged – it feels like both a lot and a little have happened since I last checked in.

On the job front, work has definitely ramped up. I got the option in October to switch my focus within the team and man did that change my world. The amount of impact I was able to have on the new team was leaps and bounds above what I was able to do on my first team, but with this change in scope came a pretty significant change in responsibility. Months later I am still trying to figure out how to deliver on the impact I know I can have while not sacrificing my entire life to do it. Honestly, I’m still struggling with this one – as my work performance has trended up, my writing and health have definitely trended down. I’ve spent the last few months brainstorming how to permanently fix this problem in a long-term way. I am pretty sure I’ve landed on the answer, but won’t share more until the moves have been made 🙂 Stay tuned.

Travel-wise, the last few months have been packed! I headed to Cartagena in Colombia for Briggs’ 30th bday, back to Orlando for Alyssmas, Park City with the gang for New Years, and a bunch of places in Asia for work-related travel (can you figure out where based on the pics?).

 

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Ryan and I have also continued our adventures in cake-baking. The latest was a black forest cake for Stef’s bday (pro tip: whipped creme does NOT travel well – cake almost didn’t make the drive from San Mateo to SF)

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On the writing front, I actually have an exciting update. This past week, I sold a story to Apex Magazine ! Apex is a pro-market (meaning it is SFWA-recognized and pays at least $0.06 / word for accepted stories). Apex has also published several short stories that have won the Hugo Award in the last few years (including this past year). Making this sale is a pretty big deal for me for a couple reasons:

  1. I can now apply to be an Associate Member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). I’ve wanted to be a member of SFWA since I first started writing – the networking opportunities are enormous! If I sell 2 more stories to pro-markets, I can apply for Active Member status which would be even better, but Associate Members still get a lot of great perks. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty, check out this link.
  2. Once my Associate membership application goes through, I can say I am a member of SFWA on all future story submissions and novel queries – this plus noting my sale to Apex should help boost my work in slush piles. Readers will give my stories more consideration and a better chance to woo them. I’ll have a sense shortly of how much this does or does not matter.
  3. Apex is a really hard magazine to make a sale to. This is probably the first time ever I’ve felt like a real writer. 😀

I’ll share more about the story itself when it’s closer to its actual publication date (TBD) – and of course links to the magazine and links to the story once it’s made free online.

Story Recs

I’ve continued to read a lot, but honestly, not too many stories have been standouts for me lately 😦 Here are the few notables since my last post:

+ The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency, #2) by John Scalzi. Scalzi continues to impress with his new trilogy about a collapsing space empire. The second book stood up well against the first (even though my favorite character from book #1 was noticeably absent in this second go-around). Book #3 is supposed to come out in the next year (man Scalzi writes fast!)

+ Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. I picked up this book for a failed book club at work. It isn’t speculative at all and very much outside of my wheelhouse, but it was great. The stories about the different families struggling in a Mumbai slum were incredibly heart-wrenching and the twist at the end of the book bumped this one up to a 5/5 for me. Definitely recommend this one (and it’s a pretty fast read).

Again, no new video games that have really grabbed me. Though Ryan and I did buy a subscription to Nintendo Classic on his Switch and playing Super Mario Bros 3 has been nostalgically fun. Let me know if you are reading or playing anything good I should pick up 🙂

March 7 – April 2

What a busy month! The highlights:

Joe Biden came to Kellogg! I enjoyed hearing him speak. His strongest part centered around what he believes have always been America’s key core strengths:

  1. A willingness to challenge tradition and status-quo
  2. An unyielding stream of immigrants (some of the best and brightest) from other countries

I agree with his stance and left the talk with a more positive impression of Joe (though I know he’s not perfect).

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My Business Innovation Lab team presented our findings to Hormel, our big client this quarter. The presentation went well and, while we were in Austin (Minnesota), we got to visit the SPAM museum. Turns out (surprise) I don’t like SPAM, but maybe I haven’t given it a fair shake?

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Finally, I flew back to Orlando with Ryan and his parents. His parents got to meet my family (O_O!). I think it went well. And of course we also did a bunch of wedding stuff including our food and cake tasting. Everything was delicious, and I am so excited for the wedding (food). I also locked in hair and makeup as well as music and invitations. But the real highlight, was hanging out with this special rascal:

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One more quarter of school and then I get my summer of writing 😉 (oh and moving and wedding and moving again)

PS – I also added a new page to my website where I plan to post writing resources I collect along my journey. Definitely check it out if you’re interested!

November 27 – January 4

This holiday season was filled with travel travel travel (and unfortunately not as much productivity on the writing front as I would have hoped).

First up: Back to Orlando for my birthday (28!) and more wedding planning (sarcastic yay). Turns out planning weddings are stressful – surprise! I consider myself pretty low maintenance, and I’ve already had at least 2 wedding meltdowns. For my single friends: I recommend town hall and a nice honeymoon. You’re welcome. Anyway, we officially have the date, venues, dress, invitations, photographer, videographer, invite lists, and are about to confirm menus. My latest project is the wedding website which apparently needs to be finished before we can send out the save-the-dates (gulp). Unsolicited advice for grooms (or the less ‘involved’ of any same-sex pairing): you are not doing your partner any favors by deferring all decisions to them – that just means they now have to do more work. Heaping more stress on someone is not a gift >_<

Venue spoiler:

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After that ‘fun’-filled week, I headed off to Telluride, CO for Kellogg ski-trip. Unfortunately, there was very little snow and not a whole lot else to do if binge-drinking isn’t your thing.

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I ended up bagging on the trip early to go spend some time with Ryan in San Jose before heading to Tokyo (but really I just wanted to see star wars). While hanging with him, I did get some good news on the writing front to wrap up the year: a story I wrote made it to a final round at Clarkesworld (something like 30-40 stories out of 1200 each month make it this far) – that felt like a pretty big win (though I’m still waiting to hear back on if it actually sold). Unfortunately, after sharing the story with Ryan post-this good news, we’ve discovered a few typos in the prose – whoops. Too late now. I also heard back from Odyssey Online (a writing organization that has online workshops in the winter). I was waitlisted for the class I applied to – which bummed me out for half a day, but I now consider a pretty big honor. I’m getting closer! The waitlist notification also included a couple book recommendations that I’ve started – so far these have been helpful!

Come Christmas, Ryan and I headed off to Tokyo. Needless to say, the food was wonderful and Japan remains one of my favorite countries to visit.

For New Years, we headed to Seoul to meet up with a few friends and explore the city. I was very impressed with the people of Seoul and enjoyed learning about South Korea’s history and culture. I definitely recommend a visit (particularly to the War Memorial Museum), but maybe schedule your trip for warmer months (at least Seoul prepared me for my return to Chicago!)

After such a long time away, I was excited to get back to the US and (finally!) work on some writing – so of course I got super sick and now am pretty down for the count. Still, I’ve thought up a new book idea I am pretty excited about and hope to get more subs out the door before starting back at Northwestern next week.

Hope everyone had a great New Years! Looking forward to 2018!

August 1 – September 10

What an incredibly busy last month in the Bay!

First, my family came to visit, and we went to Lazy Bear. I’ve been to this award-winning restaurant three times now, but my last visit was 2 years ago. This may be a controversial statement, but I was actually pretty disappointed this time around. I remember feeling wowed by both the service and the dishes my last two visits – each bite feeling like some new explosive flavor I just had to have more of. This time, it felt like many dishes leaned into a more polarizing flavor (e.g., let’s really bring out the fishiness) and overall was less ‘umami’. The service was also a bit lackluster – my mom ordered a drink she never got and it took way longer than usual to actually get seated downstairs. I don’t think I will be back.

Here are the photos anyway (the best dishes for me were the corn grits and the peach-shaped ice cream dessert):

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I also finished my internship with Facebook. My entire internship was great, but my last month was exceptional – I got to be the PMM for a new product and work in a truly cross-functional team. I loved our product, our team, and how much we accomplished in the month I was there. I am sad to have left but am eager to see where the product goes (likely to be launched in the first half of next year :D).

Oh – I also got a return offer for full-time 🙂 AND, while I am still ironing out the details of the offer with my recruiter, I am fairly certain I will accept. This summer really exceeded my expectations and I genuinely enjoyed working with everyone on my teams.

Right after I finished, I went on a week-long vacation to Hawaii (Kona) with Ryan and his parents. The trip was fine, but it became clear to me very quickly that Ry’s parents had a very different “ideal Hawaii vacation” than me. They wanted to go to every national park on the island and all the major museums – I just wanted to read on the beach (where we spent a cumulative 45 mins in the whole time we were on the island). Different strokes for different folks I guess – I think for future vacations, I need to be a little more in control of my own itinerary than I was for this one. Group vacationing while introverted is generally challenging anyway.

Speaking of vacations, we’ve officially decided our annual New Years trip location for this year: Seoul! I’ll send a message out to the group shortly, but please ping me directly if you’re excited to join us 🙂

Now I’m back in Evanston (doing homework 😦 ) – tomorrow is my last first day of class ever!

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.

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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:

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

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 ……