Friday, July 31, 2009

hard telling not knowing

The sole goal of this post is to let everyone know that I'm still alive -- but after an insanely early start to the day, a lot of emails/conference calls/general annoyances, and some fun afternoon activities followed by a tasty dinner, I'm too tired to go into any more detail. You will just have to check back tomorrow so that I can go to bed now! Sorry!

that was cool but now and then i heard a rumor

I'm too tired to be blogging right now, but blog I must or my parents will fear the worst. I had an overall very good day -- I went over to Chandlord's in the morning and got rid of a bunch of junk, before making it to work just in time to start my daily gauntlet of meetings. I'm feeling pretty good today about where things are with the conference I'm planning; I'm going to have a whole shitload (pardon my language, but it's the most accurate word for this issue) of work to do in the next three weeks to make sure we're ready, but progress is progressing. But, the head of the department promised that we would have a margarita after the conference is over and discuss my career, so hopefully it goes well so that the discussion is positive and not a "we're sorry we have to let you go" conversation. Then, I had a long dinner with my fellow managers + my boss and another manager visiting from Ann Arbor + our new director, who just happened to be in India when I was there several years ago and was also the head of the temp program when I started my job, so it's been fun to have him back.

It's driving me a bit crazy that all my stuff is still boxed up -- and boxed up it will likely remain, given how much stuff I have to do for work. I still took an hour when I got home to unpack and reorganize some stuff, but then I had to work from 10:30pm until now, and I'm way too exhausted to keep going with this or anything else. So, goodnight!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

he said to only look up

Today was a total mixed bag. On the one hand, I was at work or dinner w/my boss for thirteen hours, and then came home and worked for two hours more. Also, Adit just informed me that I have to listen to "All the Way Up To Heaven" once a night while I live here, which is just a bit obnoxious. On the other hand, everything that I accomplished at work was good, I had a great time helping with production for a video I'm pulling together for the sales conference, and I had a quick impromptu lunch at my workplace with Adit, Priyanka, and John. So, things are going well -- if only I could get eight hours of sleep and awaken to find all my stuff magically unpacked. But, that won't happen, and so I should probably go to bed before I fall asleep on my laptop. Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

and go all the way back home

I've lived with Adit less than twelve hours, and he's already played "All the Way Up To Heaven" three times (until I turned off the speakers that he was playing it on). For those of you who don't know, that particular Guster song was the bane of my freshman year of college for reasons that I won't delve into now. There are advantages to living with someone you've known for ten years (scary that that's how long I've known him), but the disadvantages obviously are that they have a decade's worth of experience on how to push your buttons.

The move was long, slow and painful; I won't go into much detail about that. But, the movers did get my large glass-doored bookcase up two flights of stairs, so I'm pleased about that. Good thing, too -- if we had put it in storage, it wouldn't have fit, since the storage unit I rented is now packed absolutely full. I hope there's nothing in there that I will want this year, since the chances of finding it are slim to none.

I still have a couple of things to get from Vidya's, and obviously I have a ton of unpacking to do here, but the hardest part is over. It's just a shame that I'm so crushingly busy at work -- it's at the point where I might as well take breaks because I'm going to miss deadlines anyway. So I had dinner with Adit, Priyanka (who's in town for the week, and Anton and Amanda (Anton is Adit's former roommate) at this delicious Mayan place a few blocks away. It was nice to stop packing/unpacking/writing emails/failing for an hour, so I'm glad I went, even if it means that I will now only get seven hours of sleep tonight.

Okay, I promise my posts will get more interesting in a few days, but right now I desperately need to sleep if I'm going to survive tomorrow. Goodnight!

what it do, what it do

As you can see by the timestamp (1:33am), I'm up quite late, particularly given the sober, responsible early-riser lifestyle that I have grudgingly developed over the past year. I just finished packing -- that's not quite accurate, since I will need to return after I'm "done" with the move to throw away some stuff, clean, and do a couple of last loads of laundry. But for all intents and purposes, I'm done -- and the movers arrive in approximately six hours! Bleh.

Today wasn't all bad, though; in fact, it was quite good, despite the packing extravaganza. I was successful at work and appear to be pleasing the big boss with my conference-planning skillz, which is always important in these troubled times. Then, I left a bit early to have coffee with Tolu, Erin, Vickie, and Ziv -- Tolu and I go way back, of course, and the four of them were on the team that I adored but ultimately betrayed by abandoning to take my leave of absence. Ziv moved on with his life and went to law school last fall, but he's still in the area, and so we were able to enjoy his presence while we caught up, gossiped, etc.

I drove back to the evil city and spent some time packing, but eventually discovered that I was going to run out of boxes. I made a quick trip to Office Max to get another set of boxes, and then proceeded to Adit's to drop off some clothes. There, I made the critical triumph/error of staying for dinner -- it was great to see Priyanka, I enjoyed experiencing the lifestyle that I'm about to live, and the dinner was tasty despite being from a recipe by a Food Network chef whom I dislike. But, it did set me almost two hours behind on the packing -- worth it, I think, but we'll see whether I feel that way when the alarm goes off tomorrow.

That's all -- tonight is the last night in this apartment! And tomorrow, a new chapter begins...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

getting ready for the showdown

I should probably either keep packing or do some work for the day job, but I'm going to go to bed instead. I made a lot of progress today and can sense the finish line of my move drawing near, but I'm going to have a lot to do tomorrow night if I want to be ready for the movers to show up on Tuesday morning. I think I just ran out of desire to pack anything else because the more I pack, the less available floor space I have in the apartment, and so losing the rest of it on my last night in the place won't be quite so bad as losing it now.

However, the unpleasant tasks (like cleaning my patio furniture and wrapping my big South African painting in bubblewrap) are taken care of. I'm also done with my kitchen, except for the foodstuffs -- really, all that's left are my clothes, shoes, makeup, the books I'm taking to Adit's, and my electronics. The problem is that what's left perfectly matches my obsessions, which explains why I'm still not done.

Anyway, this post is super boring because seriously all I did today was pack -- I took a brief break to get an iced latte, I talked to my parents, and I took another break later to get a chicken schwarma sandwich, but packing was really the only thing on my agenda. While I'm annoyed at myself that I have to pack so much crap, and while I will really miss the windows and the fabulous view, I'm glad that I'm switching neighborhoods -- some crazy dude scared the hell out of me when I went to get my sandwich, because I was waiting for the light to turn so that I could cross the street and he started yelling and slapping himself really hard behind me. While my new neighborhood will undoubtedly have crazies too (this is San Francisco, after all), I'm hopeful that they will be a different type of crazy.

That's all you get tonight -- I need to get up super early tomorrow so that I can make it to work and get prepped for the day, accomplish stuff, and then leave early in order to finish preparing for my move. I was thinking today that I should have just paid for my mom's airline ticket so that she could fly out here and pack for me, but I suppose that if I've moved this many times by myself (I think this is like my 21st move in the past 10 years, counting in and out of dorms, my moves overseas, etc.), I can handle another one. Goodnight!

it's time to make you sweat

The move is going reasonably well, although I still have a ton of stuff to pack and tomorrow is going to be brutal. I managed to pack ~20 boxes of stuff, take some clothes over to Adit's, and go to my new storage unit to sign the paperwork (and make entertaining conversation with zee German who works there). Unfortunately, I also managed to stab myself in the hand with a pair of scissors while I was flattening a box, and that's going to make things trickier since the cut reopens whenever I grip something with my left hand (the cut is right below the bottom knuckle of my left index finger). And, worse, when I moved some stuff in my closet I discovered that there must have been a minor leak at some point in my time here, which was enough to cause the books in my bottom boxes to rot and mold/mildew to grow in the carpet. Bad news bears -- luckily, the books were mostly old college textbooks, and there were only a couple that I wish I hadn't lost (although it's not like I'll want to read about Stalin's industrialization of Siberia, the history of Russian philosophy, or a biography of the head of WWII German intelligence ever again). Given that there were photos and things in some of the other boxes in the stack, I got lucky.

The packing is a bit more slow-going than it might have been because I decided to hire a junk removal service to come after I move on Tuesday, and so I'm sorting and repacking boxes that have sat in my closet or various storage facilities for years. I'm tired of moving stuff that I've known for years I have no need or desire for, and this is as good a time as any to do something about it. Of course, that doesn't save me from the fact that I have tons of stuff that is "useful" but that I don't really need -- and yet I don't want to give up any coffee mugs, even if I have forty of them, because you never know when you'll need them. But regardless, there are plenty of things that I want to get rid of, and I'm quite eager to do it even if it makes the packing more challenging than it might have been.

Okay, no more typing -- I really must go to bed so that I can get as close to finished as I possibly can tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, July 24, 2009

all we can do my love is hope we don't take this ship down

I'm embracing my hermitage and going to bed at ten p.m. on a Friday. This is mostly because I'm tired from the crazy few weeks I've had, anticipating a few more even crazier weeks, and completely unwilling to begin packing tonight. The packing absolutely positively must start tomorrow if I have any hope of being ready for Tuesday -- but for one last night, I want to pretend that I don't have to pack up all my worldly goods and haul them across town.

Work today was okay; I unfortunately still have a to-do list the length of my arm, but I said to hell with it all anyway and left around three to meet up with Vidius Chandicus for coffee in downtown Mountain View. It's quite lovely that she has returned to the area and my heart -- I was down a friend after Terry left, and Vidya has stepped in admirably to retake her rightful place in my friendship pantheon. She bought me a drink in honor of my recent Golden Heart success, and then we went to Target together so that I could pick up some cleaning-related items in preparation for my move. After we parted ways, I drove back to the evil city, sat in traffic for thirty minutes during the last four-mile approach to the city, and then took a nap. I ended the evening by eating takeout Chinese while watching Craig, and now I'm going to bed so that I can be super productive tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

don't look back in anger

Once upon a time, I went on a leave of absence because I got so burned out from my job and realized that I would never write books if I didn't get control over my life and my workaholic tendencies. After much soul searching, much relaxation, and many Midwestern steak dinners, I returned to work almost exactly a year ago, vowing that I would be a calmer, more balanced person.

Tonight I stayed in the office until 10:30pm, so you can see how I'm feeling about my ability to meet this goal right now. Granted, I wasn't at the office straight from 9am to 10:30pm - for one, traffic sucked, and so it took an hour and twenty minutes to get to work and thus I was late for my first meeting. I also had a nice lunch with Adit (some people call him "the cat"), and we discussed all the excitement of our upcoming permanent family time. And, I had an appointment to get my hair cut, so I left around five to scurry over to Palo Alto to get it taken care of.

The problem, friends, was that I hadn't given any thought at all to what I wanted the woman to do with my hair. As it turns out, she did a great job (as I knew she would) -- but since I was annoyed, frustrated, hating the world, and feeling desperately in need of a change, I told her to cut it off. I ended up only cutting it back to shoulder length -- but this is still a far cry from when it was down nearly to my waist, and I hope that I won't regret it when my anger subsides.

Anyway, things are really really ridiculous hectic and annoying at work; I had to kick out my poor intern this afternoon because the head of my department called me from Argentina to give me more assignments for the conference I'm planning. Luckily I got a lot squared away tonight -- in fact, I would be feeling pretty good if I could just get over the teensy little problem that I AM MOVING IN FIVE DAYS AND HAVEN'T STARTED PACKING!!! Apologies for the e-yelling; I never do it, but this merits it.

That's all you get from me tonight -- I'm finally starting to crash, and I need to get up in six hours to make it back to the south bay. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

that's me with a gun

This is a four-minute post. Instead of genuine written content today, you get a few photos from my Washington, D.C. trip (below) -- primarily shots taken at the World War II Memorial. As I've written before, I found that memorial to be extremely moving -- if you ever go to DC, it's a must-see.

Today was a decent day, although I didn't get nearly enough done. I spent most of it putting out fires (and I get called on to put out some weird ones -- my favorite one today was when someone didn't line up anyone to be in charge of setting up the room in my office for a global videoconference, and asked me one minute before it was supposed to start to make sure the A/V was working properly -- I got it working, but it was a touchy few minutes). But, I left the office at six and went to Philz to write for awhile. I'm attempting to rewrite the first chapter of my second book so that I can share it with my agent, and it's slow going -- I can write, edit and polish the middle/end pretty quickly, but it's a struggle to figure out exactly what belongs in the first chapter, what doesn't, and how the pacing/character development should progress. I'm definitely in a better place because I sat down to work on it, but much remains to be done and I need to get back to frantically taking care of day job stuff.

That's all you get from me tonight - it's time for bed!

washington d.c. pt. 2

 












Standing between the Iowa and California pillars at the World War II Memorial - I was originally standing closer to the Iowa pillar, but the light was better from the other direction, so please don't take this as a sign of my loyalties!

 
















The Minerva/Athena mosaic at the Library of Congress.

washington d.c. pt. 1

 












Looking over the center of the World War II Memorial towards the Lincoln Memorial; the Washington Memorial is behind me.

 












There are ~4000 gold stars on the wall, and each star represents 100 Americans who died in WWII.

 












The tower to the war in the Pacific -- Iowa and California are the two pillars immediately to the left of the tower.

 












The Pacific and Atlantic towers both have names of major battles carved into the base of their fountains -- the Pacific tower was particularly relevant to me since both my grandfathers were in that theater.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

i can't keep my cool and still keep you too

This is a four-minute post for many reasons, not the least of which is that I'm falling asleep on the keyboard. You can find more content on the romance website tonight -- while I've decided that I can't devote the time to it necessary to blog every single day, I want to make sure that I include enough posts/info that people feel able to engage with me. That's a difficult balance to strike, but with the day job picking up, I have a feeling that that balance is going to be forced upon me whether I like it or not.

Seriously, I can't stay awake, so this blog post is ending v. prematurely, before any discussion of my endless meetings, my failings as a project manager, or my general issues are recorded. Goodnight!

Monday, July 20, 2009

they left a strange impression in my head

This is a four-minute post. Coming back to work today was very, very hard. This was mostly driven by exhaustion, apathy, and the lingering effects of euphoria. In fact, I didn't make it into the office until almost eleven, and then I left promptly at 3:30pm. However, it's not like I completely slacked off; I worked for the past four hours, but I did it from the comfort of my couch while doing laundry. And, I found that stroking my golden heart pendant while in the office made me feel better, even if that means I run the risk of weathering the pendant more than the average winner.

But, I had lunch with John, and I had entertaining conversations with Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Tania over VC, so that helped to preserve my mood. I also got an overpriced coffee at Philz on the way back up to the city, which was as lovely as usual. While I'm a bit distraught at the idea that I'm moving in a week and the big event I'm planning for work is now only a month away, at least I'm making quick progress in settling back in to the day job so that I can stay sane for a bit longer.

Okay, no more blogging -- I desperately need to sleep so that I can get to work at a reasonable hour tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

anyone could see the road that they walk on is paved in gold

I made it back to my apartment about thirty minutes ago after a completely fun, utterly exciting, ultimately exhausting trip to DC. Luckily, I was able to fly stand-by on an earlier flight, or else I would still be almost an hour away from landing -- and this difference will be huge when I have to drag myself out of bed tomorrow.

Today was an excellent cap to my trip. Terry and I managed to check out of the hotel by 9:30ish, and we left our bags there and went down to the National Mall to check out the monuments. We walked around the Washington Monument first, and then proceeded to the relatively new World War II Memorial. It broke my heart -- as you know, I have an overdeveloped sense of empathy, and the combo of studying and writing my honors thesis on the war in Europe throughout college plus having two grandfathers who served in the Pacific tugged at my heartstrings. I'll post pics later, but suffice it to say that in a strange twist of fate, Iowa and California were commemorated side by side, so I have a nice photo of me standing between my two homes.

After I wiped away the tears, we briefly explored the Korean War Memorial, then went to the Lincoln Memorial. I had seen Lincoln's monument before, but it was worth seeing again, if only to reread the Gettysburg Address and his second inauguration speech and remember how close our country came to tearing itself apart. Then, we walked down the Vietnam Wall before heading back up the Mall and catching the subway back to our hotel.

The final verdict is that I really like D.C. a lot -- it's probably not a surprise, since I adore history and Washington has one of the highest concentrations of American history/culture. But, the city itself is very pretty, very green, and very warm (a welcome change from the frigid San Francisco summers, even if I am sunburned).

Terry and I went to the airport after that, I hung out in the airport for awhile, talked to my parents and Aunt Becky, and then boarded my flight. I don't know that it has really sunk in yet that I won yesterday (although I wore the necklace today) -- or perhaps it has sunk in, but I'm so nervous/hopeful/crazy about selling the book that the excitement of the Golden Heart is taking an unfortunate back seat.

No, who am I kidding -- I'm still pretty excited :) But my excitement will be improved upon if I get some sleep, so it's time for bed!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

in which all is revealed

Tonight was the night that this entire week (and, really, the last two months) has led up to. I managed to drag myself out to some workshops this morning/afternoon, but I was back in my room around 3pm so that I could relax (or rather, nerve myself up in private instead of public) before the ceremony. So, I talked to my parents, painted my nails, hung out with Terry, watched a couple of episodes of "How I Met Your Mother", and ate some pizza before getting all dolled up.

But, the nerves I've felt the past few days, which culminated in a serious case of nausea this afternoon akin to many of my past brain bowl performances, ended up being totally worth it -- I won my category!! This means that I got to go up on stage in front of two thousand people and give an acceptance speech while blinded by the stage lights. I was much shakier than I expected to be; while I didn't cry or shriek, I did have a lot of trouble catching my breath. Luckily, I had written notes out in advance, so I apparently thanked the appropriate people and thanked them coherently to boot.

I didn't really follow the rest of the 2hr ceremony well -- instead, I spent it texting, twittering, compulsively checking email, etc. while still shaking for a good twenty minutes after the announcement. Then, I had a couple of drinks and some lovely hors d'oeuvres with Terry and another Golden Heart winner, had a brief conversation with my agent (who was super psyched), and milled about before coming back upstairs. It was all totally exciting, wonderful, memorable (well, not memorable since I don't remember much of the walk up or anything, but you know what I mean), etc. Tomorrow I will focus on the future, the second book, and everything that I plan to achieve next, but for tonight, I'm happy.

One last thing -- thank you so much to all of you, whether you comment frequently or just lurk quietly, for all of your support. One of the things I said in my acceptance speech was that I'm truly lucky that my family and friends are not just supportive, but proud of my writing. Given how crazy the publishing world and my dreams are, this is truly a gift, and it's one that I'm immensely grateful for. So, thank you, and I hope to continue to do well so that I will have good news to share with you in the future!

Now, it's off to bed -- Terry and I intend to check out in the morning and sightsee a bit before going to the airport, so sleep is vital. Pics are below -- goodnight!

pics from the awards ceremony

 













Me and Terry before the awards ceremony.

 













The awards ceremony -- the woman dressed all crazy is a romance novelist who starred as the emcee.

 













After the award -- with the announcement card from the sealed envelope.

 













Me and my agent after the awards ceremony -- she was quite happy for me!

Friday, July 17, 2009

byoc (bring your own crazy)

I will freely admit that I kind of hit a wall today in terms of my participation/level of engagement/enthusiasm. It wasn't helped by the fact that I didn't sleep well last night and still managed to drag myself out of bed at 7:15am so that I could get dressed, blowdried, made up, and caffeinated for the 8:30am start of the first workshop I wanted to attend. I went to three workshops, a keynote lunch, another workshop, and a reception, then came back to my room and took care of some insurance- and move-related stuff before rendezvousing with Terry for a night o' fun.

Now don't get me wrong -- much of today was quite cool. While I wasn't enamored with every single workshop I attended, I did love the keynote lunch. Eloisa James spoke, and her speech (which heavily featured her relationship with her dead mother, who was a celebrated American author and never approved of her daughter's decision to write trashy romance) made me and half the audience cry. Also, the reception was cool -- we drank champagne and the board of directors handed out certificates of acknowledgement to all Golden Heart and RITA finalists. So all in all, the romance portion of the day was quite good.

However, I'm just a bit exhausted, and I think the stress of figuring out how I'm going to accomplish everything I have on my plate in the next eight weeks (plan/execute a sales conference, pack and move all my stuff, restart production on book two, plan a trip to India, and keep my fingers/toes crossed that the book currently out will sell and not be horribly rejected by every editor who currently has it) is really getting to me. I'm not in the bad state I was in before I took a leave of absence -- but I know it's only a matter of time before my thumb starts twitching. Clearly I need to do something before then.

Dinner and drinks with Terry went a long way toward restoring my good spirits. We wandered around and found a great Italian restaurant with an outdoor patio near Dupont Circle, where we had salad, dinner, dessert, and a whole bottle of wine while enjoying the early evening sun. She regaled me with tales of her European travels, and her account of the cemetery and beaches at Normandy made me cry. Then, we came back to the hotel and had another drink in the hotel bar while she told me about Egypt. Sadly for her, I was really distracted by the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the wall of the bar, and somehow we ended up discussing a possible bid for the 2016 or 2020 presidential election. I will not reproduce any of our conversation here for fear that it will someday be used against me, but clearly I need to be laying the groundwork now!

At this point, though, I really need to go to bed. I'm going to sleep late (if I can) and only go to two workshops (one of which is by my agent, so I feel like I should support her), and then take the afternoon easy so that I can get ready for the awards ceremony tomorrow night. By this time tomorrow, it will all be decided, and I can move on with my life. Yay! As crazy as it sounds, I'm ready for a return to some normalcy so that I can stop thinking about Malcolm and Amelia and focus on Ferguson and Madeleine. Then again, if I sell, I will have to think about Malcolm/Amelia if the editor wants revisions and when it's time to market it -- but I'm quite willing to compromise there, so long as I get a few weeks now to move on to the next project. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

i wanna take a ride on your disco stick

The title has absolutely nothing to do with the content of this post, but that song is stuck in my head for some reason. I had an excellent day -- it started with a keynote by Janet Evanovich, followed by a meeting with my agent, followed by lunch with a speech by Linda Howard, followed by several workshops. Then, Terry arrived, fresh from her European adventure, and so we caught up over dinner at the hotel bar. We went to a cocktail party for current/former finalists, and made friends with a fellow finalist who was super cool. We ended up at the bar, but our energy started to flag around eleven, and so we're calling it a night.

The conference continues to amuse and delight, and there's two more days of it before the awards ceremony on Saturday night. I think I can survive -- but survival won't happen without sleep, so I'm going to bed. No need to check zee romance blog tonight -- I don't have the energy to update it, and so I'm taking the sage advice of many to ignore my social networking stuff for one night so that I can sleep and get as much as possible out of tomorrow. Whether this is a valid strategy remains to be seen, but given that I haven't sold yet, it seems like it makes sense. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

tings are starting to heat up

Yes, I meant to say "tings". It's an homage to my California friends, and a fond memory of how horrified Katie was at our ridiculous grammar. Ironic that I'm a writer and I willingly slip into Adit-speak, but there you have it; it can only get worse when I move in with the dude.

Anyway, I had another excellent day. You can catch up on the details of the conference on zee romance blog, but suffice it to say that I successfully made it out of my first hotel and into the conference hotel. The lines at the conference hotel were v. long, and I wasn't able to get my room right away, so I spent some quality time eating a sandwich in the hotel pub and chatting it up with some people sitting near me. Then, I went to a very interesting afternoon activity for current/former finalists, and it was a good way for me to ease into the conference. Then, I eased right back out of it by meeting up for dinner with Stephanie; she was Ritu, Renee, and Connie's drawmate, and she lived in Loro my senior year. It was great to catch up with her, since she's a journalist and I heart journalists even if my company is slowly and unintentionally destroying her livelihood.

I won't blog here for long because I really really REALLY need to go to bed, but I will say that this conference already feels light-years different than last year's conference. It really boils down to the award nomination, I think; it encourages me to chat with people, probably because I feel more legitimate than I did last year when I attended without a completed manuscript and with no real ties to anyone in the entire hotel. This year, I've interacted with many people online already, and so I run into people whom I've either chatted with online, or who are current/former finalists themselves and so willing to say hi. And, since I now have an agent and saw all the superstar novelists' talks last year, some of the pressure is off, and I can focus my workshop attendance on topics like craft and marketing rather than hitting up all the "famous" speakers just to see them in person.

So, I'm having fun, and tomorrow will be even better because Terry arrives in the afternoon! Wish me luck as I try to stay awake through the day tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the sound of settling

If you want to know what I did today, read the romance blog. Hint: I went to the National Archives, saw an exhibit called "Tsars and the East," and had dinner with some fellow writers. But, I can't write my day up for the romance blog and then write it up again for this blog, even if the styles (and, more importantly, what I include/don't include) aren't quite the same. You'll just have to deal this week, and expect a return to my usual verbosity on this blog next week.

However, if all you do is check this blog to make sure I'm still alive, consider your quest fulfilled for another night.

Now I'm off to bed -- the conference starts tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2009

it's all in my mind

Craziness -- I almost forgot to post here tonight! I wrote a really long post on the romance blog, and you will have to check it out there if you want to read about what I did today (including the Library of Congress, the Museum of the American Indian, and the best burger place in DC) as I will not be reproducing the same details here. In fact, you can expect that the detail-heavy posts will go over there, since it's a great opportunity to build out content, use Twitter to start engaging with other authors, etc.

But, I will tell you that today was a great day, even if I probably should have gone to bed three hours ago and have now screwed myself over in terms of the jetlag. I really like what I've seen of DC -- granted, since that mostly consisted of a library, museums, and food, I would be hard-pressed not to like it. But I'm glad that the conference is here and giving me an excuse to visit. I think every American should come to DC at least once; I know that I'm a bit more patriotic than some, but seeing drafts of the Declaration of Independence is almost a religious experience (which the Founders might find ironic, given their attempts to split out church and state).

Okay, I really must go to bed -- check out the romance blog for more!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ms. Wampler Goes To Washington

I barely made it to my flight - between my own stupidity, some
annoyances with my usually stellar parking lot, and the fact that
Virgin America takes off from the international terminal and so I had
to contend with long lines, I didn't have any time to spare. And
surprisingly, only five minutes after the scheduled start of the
boarding process, I'm one if the last ones on.

But, Washington (and tons of adventure) awaits! I shall blog more when
I arrive!

you're hot then you're cold

Today was a bit brutal - I basically worked all day. I spent the morning running personal errands, such as buying packing supplies and going over to Adit's to measure my room and check out what kitchen implements he has and what I will want to move with me [example: I need my mixer and my bundt pans for the Olympic Rings Cakes(TM)]. Then, I took care of some more stuff around the apartment before settling in and working on day-job stuff for about six hours, with a brief break to eat a chicken schwarma sandwich from the Moroccan place down the street.

In less than twenty-four hours, I will be on a plane bound for our nation's capital. I still have much to do before I leave for the airport (laundry, packing, errands, more day-job stuff), but I'm getting really excited. It's been such a whirlwind few months, and while I trust that my writing career will continue beyond this week, it's only a week from now that this episode in the saga of my life will be over. This week promises to be very busy, but hopefully very fun -- what with the parties, dinners, workshops, and meetings that I already plan to attend, it is almost like I'm as heavily-scheduled as I am in my "real" job, but at least this stuff is all related to my hopes and dreams.

I would blog more about this topic, but I'm totally exhausted, and I can't sleep in if I'm going to finish everything in time to get on the plane. Goodnight!

Friday, July 10, 2009

swimming through sick lullabies

I had an excellent day today. Sadly, I didn't get nearly enough real work done, and so I will need to work this weekend so that I can get caught up before I leave for DC on Sunday. But, all of my meetings were good, and I feel like the conference that I'm planning will continue to progress in my absence next week. I also had lunch with John at my favorite cafe; I ate way too much because of the temptation to have a full plate of salad and fruit salad while waiting for my sandwich. But, lunch was entertaining, and then we got ice cream and sat out in the sun and watched the crowd and for some strange reason ended up discussing children, which, given my aversion to commitment and my dislike for baby vomit, was an unlikely topic for us to end up talking about. It was still fun nonetheless, and it restored my spirits so that I could make it through the rest of the day.

After I got off work, I scurried home (with a quick stop at Whole Foods) and cleaned like a madwoman so that my place would be presentable for Lauren (aka Subz) and Nathan's visit tonight. Happily, I was totally successful, and now cleaning the apartment is checked off my list for the weekend. I also made a caprese salad using the recipe from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook -- it yields possibly the best caprese salad ever (and I know -- I also had caprese salad at work today, and mine was way better even if they were using special heirloom tomatoes).

Then, Subz and Nathan arrived, and we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate many exciting things -- Lauren's nonprofit foundation is launching next week and she's starting business school in less than two month, Nathan's start-up was featured in The New York Times, and I signed with an agent. We hung out for a couple of hours, taking our time and catching up. When we were slightly recovered from the salad, I made another recipe out of the same cookbook -- this one for tagliarelle with truffle butter. It was insanely easy and quick -- heat half a cup of cream, melt 3oz of truffle butter into it, add some salt and pepper, and keep warm. Then, boil the pasta for 3-5mins (depending on the directions), drain it, and stir it into the truffle butter/cream sauce. Sprinkle some chives and parmesan on top and you're all set.

I can't express how delicious this was -- even better, it took less than fifteen minutes start to finish, and yet was special enough to serve to my very important guests. So, I think Lauren and Nathan enjoyed the food, which was my goal. They also brought v. tasty desserts, in the form of individual carrot cake cupcakes.

All in all, it was quite nice to see multiple "old" friends in the same day, particularly since I intend to spend the rest of the weekend in hermit mode. And since I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, it's clearly time for bed!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

some people call him the cat

On the surface, today was a bad day, but I'm actually in quite a good mood. I overslept and so had to rush to get downtown this morning; instead of going to the office as usual, I had to go to a hotel to do a site visit for the big sales conference that I'm planning for my department in August. I'm not in charge of rooms, transportation, or meals, which is awesome -- but I am in charge of content, so I needed to be there to say how rooms should be set up for different activities, etc.

It was a completely different experience, which I thought was kind of exciting; I've never done bona fide event planning before, so it was interesting to meet the hotel staff, security, the vendor we're using for the production, etc. Also, a big mental health conference was going on in the space while we toured it, so I saw some people whom I would politically-incorrectly label as "crazies". All in all, it was a good time, and since I'm planning it with Natasha, we had fun debriefing on the drive down to the south bay.

Once at the office, I worked for another 4.5 hours, with a brief break to talk to my parents. I had an absolutely awful headache for reasons unknown, but it slowly subsided, and was erased altogether when I had dinner with Adit, John, and Jessica. We spent two hours sitting in one of the cafes at work, which was quite fun; despite his insanity, I'm looking forward to moving in with Adit. And, since some people call him "the cat", and since all roommate pairs need a nickname, it's likely that our combined name will be "swampcat". Isn't it catchy?

After dinner, I sat in my car for a few minutes texting and taking care of some tings. Then, I whipped out of my parking space -- but the amount of time I spent texting meant that I forgot that I was parked next to a curb. My RAV4 is big enough to handle going over a curb -- but the unfortunate part is that the curb was protecting a tree. Luckily, the tree was fairly small, but I now have a lovely dent over the left front wheel well.

When I scraped my car against the garage wall last year, I wanted to throw up. When this happened, I basically shrugged it off; and, luckily, when I got home and used a wet cloth to wipe it down, I discovered that what looked like scratches was just dirt, and luckily I didn't break the headlamp. The dent is still there, of course, and it cracked the paint, but since the car's already been damaged once, I didn't take this one quite so badly (although I did feel stupid, of course).

I think the fundamental problem is that I drive my SUV like a sportscar. It has a V6 engine and plenty of speed, so it's possible to accelerate and drive aggressively -- but my downfall is that it doesn't have the turning radius of a sportscar even if it has great acceleration. So, when I speed out of a parking space, and the turn can't keep up with the speed, problems arise.

Now I really need to get it fixed, though -- one scrape is one thing, but two scrapes on different sides of the car make me look like a maniac. And while I'm not eager to spend the money on fixing a scrape and a dent and repainting multiple body panels, the bigger issue is that I just don't have time to take care of it, what with the romance conference, my upcoming move, the sales conference I'm planning, the time I want to spend in Iowa in September, and a likely trip to India right after that. Sigh. Thinking about all of it just exhausts me, so I suppose I should go to bed!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

don't you know your kingdom's under siege?

Today was quite an excellent day, helped along by the fact that I made a major breakthrough with the event that I'm planning for work -- I scored professional production help for all of the videos that we're playing between different speakers, thus minimizing one of the biggest headaches on my plate. After that unexpected coup, I was almost giddy the rest of the day. Even better, I took of at 5:15pm and went to Stanford Shopping Center, where I got more tinsel put in my hair in anticipation of next week's romance conference. I went with this dark reddish-pinkish (burgundy?) color that looks nice, although I think I may have liked the purple better. But it's still pretty cool, and I love the way it looks, so I'm a pretty happy camper. I also treated myself to a pedicure after the tinseling, and I'm glad I did because my feet were getting pretty hardened and nasty from my incessant flip-flop-wearing.

While I was getting a pedicure, I started reading a book about he power of Twitter on my Kindle. It's a lot of pressure to start twittering full-time as my romance novel alter ego; while whatever I do will inevitably contain glimpses of my real life, I need to start building content so that I can build followers. The book is good so far, although I haven't gotten into the real meat of it, so I'll keep you posted.

That's all for now - I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, which is a v. bad thing. Luckily I get to sleep in a bit tomorrow, as my first meeting is in SF at 10am. Goodnight!

we're all alright

This is a four-minute post. I'm totally exhausted, and unfortunately I've seen that stupid trailer for "The Orphan" too many times - I'm sure the movie is dumb, but they made that little girl look totally creepy.

Anyway, I worked all day today -- I got to the office at 8am, left at 5pm, spent a couple of hours driving home/talking to my parents/eating frozen pizza, and then watched a couple of episodes of Craig and an episode of "Rescue Me" (which I've never seen before) while slogging until midnight. How sad is that? I've officially relapsed to my old awful ways, what with my 200+ unread-message count, my to-do list the length of my arm, and all the other personal things that I desperately need to take care of and don't have time to.

But, it will get better eventually -- and if nothing else, I'll be in DC next week, which is totally exciting! So, I'm going to go to bed and dream about it, and hope that the next three days go quickly. Goodnight!

Monday, July 06, 2009

i'm trippin i'm caught up in the moment

This is a four-minute post. I made a critical error tonight -- rather than going home and working as intended, I had a two-hour dinner with Adit and Vidya instead. I don't actually regret it; I hadn't seen either of them in awhile, I had a lovely time, and they're two of my closest friends (luckily, since I'm living in Vidya's apartment and shortly moving in with Adit).

The downside is that I didn't get home until ten p.m., and now I'm too tired to slog through the hundreds of things on my to-do list that I intended to make a dent in tonight. That just screws me for tomorrow...but rather than stay up another hour and then sleep for six hours, I'm going to sleep for six hours and then get up. Neither option is particularly appealing, but that's how I roll these days.

Luckily I prewrote a post for the romance blog over the weekend, so I was still able to post there tonight without expending any energy. But as for this blog, my four minutes are up, so it's time for bed!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

too bad i don't know the words to "la traviata"

I had an excellent day, but I'm totally exhausted and it's not made any better by my dire contemplation of the week ahead. I only slept for six hours last night, which didn't help matters. But, I successfully dragged myself out of bed and onto the bus down to the wharf, where I met up with my uncle/aunt/cousin for a helicopter tour of the bay. It was totally awesome -- for starters, we took off from the executive helipad/jetway at the San Francisco airport, which means we got to hang out in the executive lounge. The rich really do live differently from everyone else, judging by the lounge space. Then, the tour took us all over the city (I spotted my apartment building from the helicopter). The best, though, was that we flew over *and under* the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn't know you could fly under it, but we did; luckily I took Dramamine beforehand, or else I might have vomited. Finally, the pilot dropped us off in Sausalito, and a van was waiting to take us back to the city.

So, the helicopter ride was cool. After that, I parted ways with the family and made my way back to my apartment, and from there down to Samovar in Yerba Buena Gardens. For once, I didn't go by myself; instead, I met Tammy and Shedletsky, and we had a totally awesome, very relaxing, almost coma-inducing two hours of tea and food and more tea. I had my usual English service with smoked salmon quiche, salad, fruit, scone, and masala chai; Shedletsky had the same; and Tammy had a delicious-looking tea soup with some oolong tea. I followed that up with a pot of lapsang souchong, so it's a sign of how tired I am that I'm contemplating going to bed now despite the massive caffeine injection.

It was great to hang out with both of them, particularly in such a fabulous setting, and I appreciated that it felt just like old times as we spent a couple of hours brainstorming how to find me a rich husband so that I could have someone to support my writing (and, if we're lucky, them as well). My favorite idea was trying to score a thoroughbred owner at the Kentucky Derby, but I'm not sure I'm up to the task. After all that, we went to Nordstrom, where Shedletsky acted as a consultant while Tammy and I each bought a handbag. We then parted ways, and I managed not to cry over the thought of not seeing Tammy again for an unknown period of time :(

I came home around 5:30 with the intention of getting stuff done, but instead talked to my parents, did a bit of mindless surfing, ate some enchiladas, watched a bit of Craig, and read the latest edition of the RWA magazine. My brain's just too fried to work right now -- so I'm going to go to bed super early (it's still dusk here), then get up early tomorrow to start cracking on the week. It's going to be a mad dash to wrap stuff up before I get to DC, so we'll see how successful I am. Wish me luck!

today is our independence day

I had an absolutely fabulous Fourth. Tammy and I successfully dragged ourselves out of bed and down to Millbrae, where we met up with Shedletsky at our favorite Chinese restaurant/opium den for a delicious dim sum brunch. We totally gorged ourselves on multiple types of shrimp families and pork goodness, to the point that we all felt somewhat uncomfortable and bad about ourselves. Following the epic dim sum adventure, Shedletsky dropped me off at my apartment, where I did some work and inadvertently napped for half an hour. Then, I went to Peets, where I had a delicious iced latte and did some more stuff for zee romance novel.

So, the afternoon was not a complete waste. Things picked up again in the evening; I met up with my family at seven p.m. to get in line for the boat to see the fireworks. It was a good thing that I left early, since the bus service cut off seven blocks early and I had to walk the rest of the way to their hotel. We stood in line for the boat for 45 minutes, then waited half an hour on the boat for it to take off, and then cruised around the bay for over an hour waiting for the fireworks to start. Spending an evening on the deck of a ferry in San Francisco Bay is possibly one of the coldest ways in the continental US to spend Independence Day. But, I went below to stand in line for an overpriced, non-standard "cappuccino", and both the enclosed space and the warm beverage helped me to get through the rest of the voyage. I wasn't even as bad off as some -- I was wearing a short-sleeved dress over a long-sleeved thermal, with a jacket on top of that, but there were some fools in tshirts and shorts. Still, the rule of thumb should be to dress for cold and then add an extra layer beyond whatever you think you'll need.

Despite the chill, the fireworks were quite lovely. They were slightly marred by the idiot next to me who kept trying to photograph the fireworks with a flash -- a complete exercise in futility that ensured that every awesome firework would be marred by his bright flash going off in my eye. I almost harassed him about it, but decided to bite my tongue; if he can't recognize that he could a) enjoy the fireworks more without trying to photograph them, and b) that he will never ever watch that footage again anyway, then my words wouldn't change his stupid mind.

After the fireworks, the boat docked, I said goodbye to my family (and ignored their concerns about whether I should walk back alone), and met up with Tammy and Shedletsky again. They v. kindly offered to pick me up, and while I still walked ~14 blocks to get to them so that they could avoid the worst of the traffic, it was a totally welcome gesture. We went back to Shedletsky's friend's place, where we drank some delicious mixed drinks and listened to music. All in all, it was quite a lovely evening!

Of course, knowing me, something absurd had to happen -- and it came true in the form of my cab driver. He told me in halting English that he didn't know where I live (even though I live on one of the most major thoroughfares in the city, and my cross-street is pretty well-known as well) and that he was new to the city. Thank goodness for my iPhone -- with the help of the map that uses my phone to pinpoint my exact location, I was able to direct us home despite my lack of directional sense. He also flirted with me, expressing shock after discovering that I'm 27 because he said I only look 20 or 21. So, despite his complete incompetence as a cabbie, I still tipped him well.

Okay, I have to get up at eightish so that I can meet up with the fam again. Goodnight!

Friday, July 03, 2009

i'm living in an empty room with all the windows smashed

I'm a tired camper and I'm going (back) to bed immediately -- I had accidentally fallen asleep, but I just got back-to-back phone calls, so hopefully I can fall back to sleep. Yes, it's totally lame that I'm going to bed at 10:30pm on the Friday night of a three-day weekend, but I can't help it that I want nothing more than to fall into my fabulous bed and stay there until sunrise.

Today was great, but very busy, which likely explains why I'm tired. I woke up around 8:30, talked to Tammy for a bit before she left to spend the day with Shedletsky, and then puttered around the apartment. I rendezvoused with Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, and Andrew at noon, and proceeded to take them on a tour of my place of work. After that, we went over to Stanford and spent some time walking around my favorite places. I took them into downtown Palo Alto for ice cream at the Peninsula Creamery, but this ruined our appetites for an early dinner, and so we drove over to Half Moon Bay. We spent half an hour or so on the beach watching the waves, which was quite lovely; then we took the Pacific Coast Highway up through Pacifica to Daly City before switching over to the faster freeways to get back to my apartment.

They made the mistake of letting me pick where to eat, and so we ended up eating Thai food. I made the mistake of thinking that I remembered which block the place was on, since I usually order delivery service from them and have only been to the restaurant once, which had the unfortunate consequence of adding six blocks to the two-block walk. It turns out that Drew ain't exactly the most adventurous eater out there -- so the net result is that while everyone walked away supposedly full, I also have plenty of leftovers for the weekend :)

I dropped them off at their hotel around 8:30, and I've been decompressing ever since. Tammy called and asked me to come and hang out with her and Shedletsky, but I refused; if I don't get some serious sleep tonight, I'm going to be really cranky tomorrow, and crankiness is not my friend. So with that, it's time for bed!

torment and delight

Today was fabulous. Work was highly stressful, but I survived my three p.m. meeting regarding the big event that I'm planning at work, and I appear to be doing well (although at the end of the meeting the head of my department mentioned that she was going to watch her toddler's swimming lessons and I mistakenly told the "amusing" anecdote about the time that I fell off a kickboard and almost drowned during a swimming lesson -- it was clear she wasn't entertained).

But, after work was over, I had the great pleasure of reuniting with Tammy, who is visiting me this weekend. We've had a fabulous time so far -- her whole reason for coming up here (other than to see me, of course) was to see "La Traviata" at the San Francisco Opera. So when we got up here from the glorious south bay, I quickly dolled myself up (Tammy was already looking quite lovely), and we walked to the opera. It's only six or eight blocks from my current apartment -- and of course I've discovered a newfound love for the opera now that I'm moving out.

The opera venue is quite lovely, despite its insalubrious surroundings. Tammy and I had a glass of champagne before going in, which provided for some good people-watching. As it turns out, Tammy selected excellent seats -- we were in the second row on the left, and so we had excellent views of the performers. Also, unbeknownest to us, tonight was the last performance led by the current principal conductor; he has had the role for seventeen years, so there was quite a bit of clapping for him at various points in the evening.

The performance was absolutely stellar, and I am so pleased that "La Traviata" was the opera that made me lose my opera virginity. The main performances by the soprano, tenor, and baritone were all great. And, the music combined with the great casting and the tragic story line ensured that I cried throughout the second and third acts. It was embarrassing how much I cried, particularly when I started audibly sniffing -- but the music was so moving, and the singers so fabulous, that I couldn't help myself.

So, perhaps I will need to start going to more opera in the future. Tammy insisted that we ask someone to take our picture, but we did it *after* the opera, which means I look all puffy and ridiculous. Then, we went to Mel's Diner and had a late dinner, catching up on each others' lives and discussing the opera in-depth. Now, though, it's time for bed -- I haven't been up this late in awhile, and I desperately need sleep. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

i've got so little left to lose that it feels just like i'm walking on broken glass

This is a four minute post. I made it to the office by seven a.m., *voluntarily* AND *wearing high heels*. What the hell is wrong with me?!

Of course, getting there early was good for my productivity but v. bad for my desire to stay awake in the afternoon. I slogged all day, although I took a few moments in the afternoon to kick off my heels, talk to my parents on my fancy wireless headset, and pack up most of my office. I'm switching offices tomorrow, and packing my office is always entertaining because it looks like a dollar store exploded all over everything. For context, I say that because my office is decorated by things like feather boas, random postcards, small toys, stress balls, confetti, and a Bon Jovi poster. If I ever get a job at a "real" company, I will have trouble adjusting.

After work, I got another overpriced coffee at Philz to fuel myself for the drive home, and then talked to my parents again, which was nice partially because it helped me to stay awake and alive. When I got home, I cleaned up around the apartment, did some administrative stuff, picked up and ate a chicken schwarma sandwich from the Moroccan place down the street, and then did some work work until now. Boo.

But, the good thing was that my agent loved the new titles and blurbs, and decided that my stuff was ready to send out today! So, the next phase of my publication odyssey has officially begun. You can check out the new blurbs under "Books" on my sararamsey.com website, and I'll keep you posted. But, four minutes are up and I need to write a romance post as well, so it's time for bed!