Filtering by Tag: work

Do Me a Flavor and Recover From Work

Have you ever experienced the sheer terror and exhilaration (but mostly terror) of trying to meet a deadline? More specifically, like writing an essay due by midnight and you're still madly typing your conclusion at 11:58? That was what my job was like these past two weeks.

Deadlines don't go away after you're done with school. In fact, the stakes of not meeting those deadlines only increases. When we write stories, our characters have deadlines. Our own lives are much the same. At work, I'm part of team, and we function like cogs in a great big timepiece. A timepiece that stalls a lot, doesn't tick when it should, and chimes deafeningly at the most random of times (think surprise emails and fire drills).

In an effort to meet our first big deadline, I spent a good couple days inputting information as the speed of light, which required my hand to produce the same set of actions over and over and over again with my mouse. Cut, hover, right click, paste, open tab, cross the thing off the list, continue. I did not stretch my legs, talk, or go to the bathroom for a good few hours. My deskmate, who is a kind woman who enjoys feeding me spicy Indian food, was appalled that I wouldn't try one of her snacks. "If you don't eat today," she said the following morning, "I'm going to give you an IV drip."

And yet, with the looming deadline, all I could think and feel was:

By the end of those days, My hands were kinda numb. And hurting. I think my left hand only hurt because its sister-hand was in pain. Sort of like how my brother cried and screamed when he saw me crying and screaming after Alien Encounter (nightmare fuel for a little kid, I tell you. There's a reason why Disney replaced that ride).

At times like these, it's important to try to maintain what they call work-life balance. Impossible, yes. But can you come close? If you try. I've been reading a lot. Writing a little. Watching movies and TV shows that had long been collecting dust on my Netflix account. Most exciting for me, as usual, is getting to try weird food. If you haven't noticed, the Lay's Do Us a Flavor contest is upon us again this year.

I was thrilled. I submitted my own flavor idea (obviously, this year is not the year of the prawn-flavored chips, aww) and couldn't wait to taste the finalists' chips.

Last year, I had a hard time finding the chips where I lived, to the point where I tried special ordering them (and failing). Two of my friends ended up mailing me the chips - it was the only way I got to test-taste them last year.

Preparing for another chip-hunt this year, I was relieved to see that Lay's got it right: all four flavors were in my grocery store (in fact, they are everywhere). An awesome co-worker even went ahead and bought small bags of each; we ended up turning our lunch hours that week into exciting taste-testing sessions. The best distraction from work, haha.

Bacon Mac & Cheese:

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with this flavor, except that it doesn't taste like bacon mac and cheese. At all. Can't taste the bacon. Or the cheese, for that matter. If you close your eyes and ignore what the bag says, it tastes like honey barbecue - and that already exists.  

Mango Salsa:

When I saw the commercials, this flavor was the one I was most excited about. I wanted it to win; after all, I love everything mango. And mango salsa. Of course. How could this go wrong? Mango Salsa is still my second favorite choice, but I think the wavy shape of the chips don't lend well to the distribution of flavor. And as other reviewers said, it smells just like a Bath & Body Works product. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you. 


... no. I swear I tried it. I don't like coffee. My co-workers inhale it. Yet I was the one who made the plunge and ate the first chip *shudders* I don't know how to describe it. Like something plain, stale, and non-edible. 

Ginger Wasabi:

Top choice, right here. At first, I wasn't very excited about Ginger Wasabi because it's already been done with Triscuit (wasabi and soy sauce, but you know, same principle). The Lay's version is more delicate, allowing you to eat a ton of chips without suffering from watery eyes and the stinging of the nose, haha. I think it's tasty. I also love sushi, so I may be biased. 

Have you tried any of the flavors? Voted? What did you think? 

Just like my coverage of Disney's Food and Wine Festival, I think this Lay's contest is going to be a regular thing. 

Meanwhile, I've also been celebrating the release of Sandy Hall's debut novel, A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Sandy's book was the first chosen by Swoon Reads for publication. I enjoyed reading the ARC, but nothing beats holding the real book in your hands. If you haven't gotten your copy, you need to get on that. Or at least, go to your local bookstore and pet the cover. You'll be glad you did.

Publication News: "Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family"

Admittedly, I haven't been struck by the blog muse this month. The only part of my life that seemed even remotely blog-worthy was that the summer rainy season has hit Florida - but I talk about the weather all the time. Surely you don't want to hear about how, for two weeks straight, the rain clouds stalked my car and unloaded only when I was one street away from reaching home.

I starting watching Dominion  if only for the world-building and Tom Wisdom's portrayl of everyone's favorite archangel, haha. Catching up with Sherlock, Doctor Who, and MST3K as well. And slowly making my way through the stack of books stacked underneath my bedside table. Then there's work. My job's been getting pretty exciting, but until I get comfy with my new role, I've been buried in manuals and training.

After a month of not much writing, not much blogging, and itchy eyes from staring at the computer at work (oh, and one paper cut), I'm thrilled to say that Gingerbread House, an online literary magazine that publishes poetry and fiction with magical elements, has just launched their 7th issue today... and one of my stories is in there: "Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family."

The coolest part about being published in Gingerbread House is that each piece is accompanied by artwork. Even cooler? The artwork used for my story was specifically created for the magazine by artist Natalia Pierandrei. Natalia's artwork is gorgeous; I can't express how honored and fangirly I felt when I first clicked on my story's page and saw a mysterious, melancholic harpy guarding her eggs (Georgina, for sure).

"Mr. Fauntleroy's Flying Family" is a favorite of mine. I have a thing for birds as a writer - I'll never get sick of writing about them, same as with stars, hearts, and other ethereal (and kind of creepy) things. Mr. Fauntleroy's quiet hope for a human child, despite loving the family he has, struck home with me the minute he tentatively stepped into my head. After a few years of trying to find this story a home, I'm so happy that Gingerbread House was the right place.

How has June been treating you? Any epic thunderstorms?  

Robert Southey and the Art of Gathering Everything

April begins with Romanticism. Not because I'm trying to be cute or that I'm testing out some kind of metaphor. It's true. For me. 

It's so secret that I love the Romantic Era. I cried like a baby while watching Bright Star. I wish I could get away with wearing a poet's shirt in public. And, for sure, I open my heavier-than-an-elephant college textbook way too often just to read snipits of closet dramas and love letters (Oh, Keats. You're so charming). 


In fact, while we're on the subject of English Romantic Writers: Second Edition by David Perkins, let me just tell you that this book if hefty enough to kill someone - like, in the way that Clove gets it in The Hunger Games. But the anthology is an excellent collection (even though I stub my toe on it way too often). My graduate textbook can't come anywhere close to being as cool. 

A project in my grad class is finally coming due, and so, with my head high, I'm working very hard to prepare it. It's strange to be in a literature class when my goal in school is to study and produce creative writing; it's fun in some ways, but stressful in others. The gap between college literature classes and graduate literature classes is a big one. And I've always been a tiny person. 

The most important man in my life right now is Robert Southey.

“It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”
—Robert Southey, Poet Laureate of England, 1813 - 1843.

Robert Southey:
the man who is causing my fingers to cramp from all
of the research I've done.
All of my research, my sleeping hours, and the duration of driving to and from school is dedicated to him. After all, the due date is fast approaching, haha. Southey is one of those underdogs, I think. He's not a part of the big canon of popular poets and writers of the time, like Blake and Wordsworth and Lord Byron. Even though he actually knew them and even though he had written a ton of work and was named Poet Laureate. Well, good for him. Southey should be proud. 

A quick search will tell you that he explored almost every avenue of writing - from epic poetry to travel narratives - and he's written tons of letters in between. Being ambitious but distracted by too many ideas, Southey became a very interesting person the more I read about him. 

The one thing I learned about him that stood out the most is that he was an avid collector of words. He loved obscure texts and strange things, and kept common-place books to store everything he found in his research. He was also very meticulous, giving each scrap of text he squirreled away a proper citation and heading. Wow. When I look at my own chaotic collection of ideas, I can't help but feel like a slob. However did he gain such a habit of keeping everything so organized?  

I am a OneNote addict and I'm sure that if Southey lived today, he would be too. Whether I've found a really striking quote or an idea that keeps me up all night, planning, I put it in my OneNote files. It's such a great program where you can drop and arrange words, images, and links like you would if you were creating a scrapbook - that kind of manageable chaos is appealing to me. Before OneNote, I kept a dozen little notebooks and scribbled stuff in there. Never to be found again. I was always missing my notebook when I needed it. Now I have tabs for each book I'm working on, with subtabs underneath so that each character gets his or her own huge blank page to fill up with inspiration and notes. But I've gotten out of hand. Spring cleaning for me also involves cleaning those tabs up. 

When I write my stories, I usually start by mashing up different images or ideas. It's really fun. But by reading about how Southey tried, and sometimes failed, to patch what he collected into poetry, I felt like I met a kindred spirit across the ages. In one of the articles I'm looking at called "Poetics Of The Commonplace: Composing Robert Southey," author D. Porter said that Southey recognized the weaknesses in his hoarding tendency - that he collects too much because he thinks he'll use it someday, when really he hasn't used half of the quotes and tidbits of information he's gathered already. Ah, word-hoarding. Not quite like the physical television show. His theory, Porter explains, was to read and collect, “the ‘skeleton’ of a work, which he then made into ‘flesh, blood and beauty’ by arranging and digesting the materials he had transcribed in his notebooks” (28). 

I love that image. Because I love skeletons. It makes perfect sense, haha. 

Even though I think I'm getting sick and I've been away from writing anything creative in the last couple days, I'm still glad for the opportunity to have studied Robert Southey. I'm adding his common-place books to my summer reading list, for sure. 

That's right. He's that cool.
BAM! Citation:

Porter, D. "Poetics Of The Commonplace: Composing Robert Southey." Wordsworth Circle 42.1 (n.d.): 27-
33. Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Web. 4 Apr. 2012.