It’s always hard deciding what to bring on a trip. Are you really going to go somewhere nice, and you need that nice dress? Do places really require five pairs of shoes? If you might accidentally stain half your shirts on a two-week long trip with your plane traveling at 500 mph, intersecting with your train at 40 mph,how many shirts do you pack?

And, of course, the hardest question: what do you bring to read?

My recommended list:
-a couple of trashy magazines, easy to read and throw out
-a more serious magazine (such as Monocle or The New Yorker), also throw-outable
-one book. Not too intense, and one that you won’t develop a sentimental attachment to and want to keep. This works particularly well when you’re visiting a hostel or b&b, where they often have book exchanges.

Of course, the effort is wasted if you bring all these reading materials and just play around on your iPad. Good thing I’m not doing that. At all. Nope.


Passwords are super annoying.  Like, SUPER annoying.  The ones you can remember aren’t strong enough, and ones that are strong enough you can’t remember.  But, at least, now I know many obscure uses of the symbols on my keyboard (such as this example password: “whydoIalwayshavetocreatenewpasswords:(:(:(((((!!%$#*” ).

Recently I came across a good suggestion (though this might be an old suggestion, showing my old Internet age): using sentences.  It’s easier to remember than random characters, and harder to guess than a single word.

I’ve come up with a few helpful suggestions for my readers, listed below:

“Elizabeth is the greatest.”

“I can’t believe how great she is.”

“Wow, she’s so great.”

“I wonder if she will make me popovers?”

“She probably will if I ask nicely–that’s the amazing type of person she is.”

etc. etc.

Please feel free to use! 🙂

It’s always exciting to learn of new authors and books.  But sometimes–not very often, but sometimes–I suffer from book fatigue.  “That author? Again?  That genre? Ugh.”

Looking around my bookshelf, I can see why.  Below is a photo of all the books I own* that are not in the western canon.



And even Rohinton Mistry’s is an Oprah pick.

Even with globalization, buying books by foreign authors can be difficult.  When you browse at a bookstore (because who browses online?), you’re limited to what is available in that bookstore.  And most of us are guilty of only browsing the genres we already like. 

This is one reason I like making new friends.  New friends can turn you on to new books, and to international authors.  Authors that you haven’t dissected in your high school English class.  Authors that you might have been afraid to impulse buy before.  Authors that make you feel super hip introducing to others (“Oh, you haven’t heard of him?  Here, you can borrow my collection…you know, he won the Booker prize.  Oh, you don’t keep track every year?  Huh.”)  Authors that relieve your book fatigue and re-discover the joy of reading.

So what are some authors you like that aren’t in the western canon?  


*To be fair, this is just in Boston, which is a portion of what I own.  But I would maybe find five titles between the two places that aren’t in the Western canon.

I have an intense relationship with the Internet.

Who doesn’t?

I’m fine going without Internet, as long as it’s there, and I know I can access it.  But when you have no choice, and are stranded cruelly without Internet, you can take desperate measures.  Lion Kinging until you find an unsecured network.  Contemplating paying eight dollars for wifi on an airplane.  Watching some commercial for super-slow thirty-minute limited access.

And, of course, with computer device usage, there’s also battery issues.  Are you in a fancy airport, with armchairs that have built-in outlets including USB outlets (making up for the fact that you have the worst airport floor plan ever–Kansas City, I’m looking at you)?  Or are you one of those airports that likes to entertain travelers with fun games of hide-and-go-seek-electricity?

Or are you a horrible airport that offers NEITHER Internet or easily accessible outlets?

Now, I’m not going to name names, but famous airport in a major metropolitan area on the West Coast that caters to the movie industry that has its initials lined up in front of the entrance and may rhyme with ‘LAcks’, get it together.  I see on your webpage there’s free wifi.  I call shenanigans.   

To be fair, maybe it was just having an off two days when I went.  Though I also remember two years ago arriving in said airport without a cell phone (I had been traveling internationally), assuming said airport had free wifi and trying to connect to my ride (hi mom) via email.  Luckily I found my ride before I had to resort to remembering how a pay phone worked.

Anyways, wifi.  Is it that hard?  Now, I know that wifi isn’t going to lure someone to a specific airport (location and cost tend to factor more predominantly in choosing departure and arrival places), but still.  Geeze.


PS. I may or may not be suffering from iPad withdrawal and an overdose of Tyler Brule transportation opinions, so take my grumbling with a grain of salt.

PPS.  My Internet randomly disconnected while I was composing this blog.  I’m feeling a really weird feeling–mostly of fear of our robot overlords.  Chromebook, can you understand what I’m typing?


: – [

Tomorrow I’m off to a writing conference, The Muse and the Marketplace, put on by my favorite Boston writing hangout, Grub Street.  Emotions always run a bit high leading up to a conference (full disclosure: I do conference planning for my actual job), so I decided to make a list of everything I should bring, so I’m not running around last minute trying to stuff random useless things into my purse (full disclosure: I am late to EVERYTHING).

So, with my background as a conference planner, one-time writing conference attendee, and overall over-packer, what is on my list?

  • Purse big enough to hold everything
  • Business cards (I just got fancy ones!)
  • Phone & charger
  • Notepad
  • Pens
  • Granola bars (I never believe anyone when they say they will have vegetarian options.)
  • Water bottle (Trick I learned after doing three three-day conferences in a month, 5 am to 10 pm–DRINK WATER.  Do not drink caffeinated beverages after your normal amount.  Caffeine is dehydrating.  Hotels are dehydrating.  With their powers combined…you feel awful.  Drink water.)
  • Chromebook (maybe.  Depends on how much I love back pain.)
  • Registration confirmation email
  • Folders to hold things in
  • Wallet
  • Gum and mints
  • A-Game and confidence (if I can find it…I know I put it somewhere around here…)

I’m almost all packed.  Now the really hard question–what to wear?

PS. I can’t guarantee that my purse contains only what is on my list

Sorry, faithful readers!  I’ve been busy with work, writing, and classes–writing classes, of course.

I’ve been taking them online, which is a bit of a strange and maturing experience, through UCLA Extension (I’m in their Fiction Writing Certificate program).  I say maturing, because the classes require you to post on a discussion board and interacting with fellow students (I’m more the type to sit quietly in class for a few weeks, before getting annoyed enough at others and share my opinion), making me ‘add to the conversation’ earlier (earlier, probably, than most people want).  Most of my teachers have required a minimum amount of postings per week.

For anyone who is considering pursuing writing, particularly if you don’t have a local writing group that offers classes (like the wonderful Grub Street in Boston, or also awesome San Diego Writers, Ink), the online program can be a great way to give yourself the structure and accountability that’s so hard to find when you’re just sitting at the computer (and going and fixing some tea, and looking up just that one thing on wikipedia, and, oh, hey, is it lunch time?, and rearranging books).  

But, along with the online classes, I also take a ‘live’ class.  Online classes just don’t offer the same casual atmosphere, the chance to make writing friends, the candid conversations.  No community.  The backspace button is just too tempting.  

So, would I recommend it? My answer: Yes*.

*see above comments.**

**Also, one of my teachers is also a psychic, so…

Writing is a lot like baking.*  

You have ingredients: life experience, pen and paper, ego. 

You put the ingredients together in a mix.  Which takes a bit of work (as writing does), is a bit sticky (as writing is), and makes your arm tired (as writing does).

You let the ingredients rise in a warm environment:


And then someone comes along and punches and folds in half your idea ‘to build your character’ (pun not intended, but appreciated after the fact):


But hopefully, after all this, you end up with a delicious story…and bread.  (Final bread photo not yet available).


*(Apologies if anyone thought this was a half-baked analogy.  Also, no Elizabeths were harmed [or involved] in baking the bread in the photos)