My First Business Trip

Okay, the title of this post is a little bit misleading. This wasn’t my first business trip—the trip to New York in 2015 that I forgot to blog about was my first business trip—but this was my first trip with my current company.

The city by night after we arrived

Two of my coworkers and I went to a major city in the southeastern US. We ate some fabulous food, which was great. My prior company had a limit of what you could spend per day on meals. I think it was $25 or $35, which isn’t very much for a major city. My current company doesn’t have that. We are asked to “use judgment” when choosing where to eat, which I interpreted to mean that the five star restaurant I really wanted to go to was off-limits. Within reason, though, we could eat anything we wanted. Swiping the corporate card was very satisfying. 😉

However, the highlight of this trip was the hotel. We stayed in a Four Seasons, which was a first for me. I’ve wanted to stay in one for a while. Allow me to explain.

Several years ago, I started writing a crime thriller. In one of the scenes at the beginning, my intrepid protagonist gets to stay in a Four Seasons with her wealthy cousin (the cousin’s wealth greatly ties into the crime aspect of the book). I stopped working on the book for a while, then came back to it in 2015 and finished it. In preliminary edits, I ended up cutting the Four Seasons scenes—too much backstory—but those scenes still had been fun to write and I harbored a secret desire to stay in a Four Seasons. (Also, that book is one of my favorites that I’ve written so far, so I really need to go back and give it a proper editing and try to sell it to a publisher.)

Anyway, who would have guessed that years later, I would be able to stay in a Four Seasons? It was a very neat experience and I do have photographic evidence to share with you.

Here’s the hotel room: the first photo is at night after we arrived and the second is during the day.

The bathroom was quite luxurious, so I had to photograph that as well.

That’s a five-star toilet right there.

And that, my friends, was my experience at the Four Seasons. I ate the restaurant one morning for breakfast, which was decidedly lackluster, so I went to a local bakery the other mornings. Of course, the whole time I was there working and eating with my coworkers, I kept thinking of the book I wrote and how my trip wasn’t just an ordinary business trip. It doubled as book research, a fact I’m sure all my fellow fiction writers will appreciate.

TGIF.

All I have to say today is TGIF—thank goodness it’s Friday. Even though I was off on Monday, this week was just one of those weeks that seemed interminably long. Rain, bad traffic due to accidents, and general work stuff contrived to make this week not so great. I planned to write a longer post today, but I’m just too tired. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll write something more substantial. 🙂

I Passed My Exam!

Dear readers, I am back. I hadn’t intended to take a week off from blogging, but something came up. I registered to take part two (out of three) of a professional certification exam back in August. The registration is valid for six months, during which time you have to schedule and take the exam, or else forfeit the exam fee.

I’d been putting off studying, but at the end of last year, I finally started on it since I realized my registration window was running out. After I started getting most of the questions right, I knew I had to register.

So I logged into the testing system to schedule my time and saw there weren’t many good slots left. There were some very late ones this week and some decent ones in mid-February, but I didn’t want to wait until then. On Wednesday night, I registered for the one remaining Thursday slot. I think that’s the most last-minute planning ever. Since our department at work really wants all of us to get this certification, I was allowed to take a day off to study and take the exam on Thursday. And I passed! Seriously, I was a bit surprised. I had studied, but some of the questions were really hard. There were quite a few that I could narrow the answer choices down to two possible answers, but I wasn’t sure which was correct.

Anyway, I didn’t do much writing (either on this blog or my fiction) last week. I was too busy studying and then feeling relieved that I passed. I spent the weekend reading and watching a movie and crocheting. It was quite nice. Especially since we have unseasonably good weather right now. Unfortunately, it’s back to the usual grind tomorrow. At least I squeezed in some decent writing time today!

I’m Back!

Yes, I know, I had another semi-unplanned blogging absence. Two things happened: I got lost in some reading (what else is new?!) and my best friend came to visit last weekend. We had a lovely time together, though I wish she could have stayed longer. We ate out at some restaurants and then she spent the night at my place, which reminded me of the sleepovers we had when we were younger.

As for reading, I’ve been immersed in many, many books. It’s actually sort of ridiculous: I’ve read, according to Goodreads, over a hundred books this year. And while that is kind of awesome, it’s also putting a big damper on my writing. At this time last year, I had written many more words than I have this year. I’m going to try to slow down my reading in English, read more books in Russian, and spend some more time writing. I also have a certification exam to study for, so there’s that to deal with too…

Sometimes I wish I could take a month-long sabbatical from work so I could catch up on other aspects of my life. Like blog writing, writing, violin, and this certification exam that is hanging over my head. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone at work would approve of my idea, so I’ll just have to keep trying to stuff everything in and hope that I manage.

There is one way to forcibly stuff writing in, now that I think about it: NaNoWriMo. Remember how I participated back in 2013? (When I was in grad school! I must have been crazy! A part of me still can’t believe I did that.) Well, my writing schedule has aligned (through luck, not through my own doing) so that in theory, I could do NaNo this year. Whether I want to put myself through the punishing schedule that NaNo entails, I am not sure… I will have to think about it further as I outline my next writing project.

‘The Swarm’ Is Out… And It’s Amazing

Found here, modified from original.
Found here, modified from original.

Remember when I wrote about Orson Scott Card’s next book, titled The Swarm? Well, it came out in the beginning of August. I was on a mini-vacation, so I didn’t get a chance to snatch it from the library. Luckily, I remembered it last week and the library branch near work had a copy, so I went during lunch to check it out. You guys, it is amazing. Seriously. Though I would like to say that even though it’s marketed as the first in a trilogy, you really need to read the three prior books to fully understand it. I’m not sure why these six books (four of which are published now) are divided into two trilogies. Maybe that’s the way the contract for the author is written, or maybe he sold the first trilogy before the second. Whatever the reason, they’re not really two trilogies but rather one sextet (I think that’s the right word) of books. Trust me, read the first three before tackling The Swarm.

That being said, it’s nice to return to these characters in The Swarm. I remember them from the prior trilogy and avid readers will understand what I mean when I say they’re like old friends. I think my favorite character is a lady named Imala, an auditor. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past couple of years, it’s that 1) most people don’t even know auditors exist, and 2) auditors never get any glory, ever. In these books, though, this auditor is instrumental in saving the entire planet, and that’s just plain awesome.

Everything I Love About My New Job

I’m happy to say that the new job I started back in March is going amazingly well. I expected it to be good, but it’s been better than good. It’s awesomely, amazingly good. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of everything I love about it.

  • My department is professional and refreshingly normal. No nonsense is tolerated: excessive personal phone calls, rampant visible tattoos (we’re not an industry that’s really into tattoos and weird piercings), and long periods of just not working.
  • I actually have things to do. They give me work to do, I do it, and if I finish sooner than expected, there’s always something else for me to do. It’s awesome.
  • My manager is really, really good. We talk almost every day, even if it’s just a brief chat and some small talk. He sometimes comes over to say hi when I’m at my desk. At my previous job, I could go weeks without even speaking to my manager.
  • My coworkers are SO nice. And they’re very competent, too. (Being competent is one of the highest compliments in my world, so trust me, this is a very good thing!)
  • Everyone at the company is nice, even random people I meet on elevator rides. Overall, morale at the company is pretty high.
  • Did I mention all the interesting projects I’ve been able to work on? I haven’t been at this job for very long, but I’ve already worked on so many interesting things and I love it!

Seriously, I love this job and it’s great! Now if only they’d let me bring my knitting to meetings… I promise I can knit and listen at the same time! 😉

Happy Sunday!

I guess I fell off the blogging bandwagon last week. I didn’t even post anything for Wednesday Music! I know, it’s terrible. I got really busy at work and was uninspired to blog—mainly because a lot of my free time was taken up by reading. That’s right, I went to the library and got yet another haul of books. This week will be busy, too, as it’s one of our somewhat busy times right now. I’ll be scheduling some posts for this week, including one for Wednesday Music.

The good news is I worked on some edits for my novel last week and also managed to study Russian. So all in all, not a bad week!

I hope everyone had a good week and is ready everything this week!