Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Quebec City in Cuisine & Clouds

I am finally finished with The Project from both heaven and hell. Funny, just as I finished, a month of 12-hour days, hunched at the computer, I read a forum where this lady said:

How can I get a job like Rick Steves and and Samantha Brown, travel around the world, and be PAID for it?”

If the forum wasn’t four-years old, I would reply: There is no job like that. And also, although I like Rick Steves, I am pretty sure Samantha Brown has no idea w-t-f she’s doing. Now Anthony Bourdain…

(Side note: Rick Steves and Expedia rejected me, so really, there is no job like that, even for me who has been travel writing for 2 years now.)

I also don’t REALLY travel the world, I expatriated and became a specialist in one specific region.

Travel writing, especially guidebook writing is A LOT of hard work. So please, think of us writers next time you toss a guidebook in the garbage. I like to save them, take notes on them, sort of like a journal of the trip. I imagine if you’re creative enough, you can make a cool collage or poster out of their innards.

I understand eventually, they’ll get tossed or (hopefully) recycled, but I hope people really appreciate and use them. Unlike with certain review sites, the writers are (theoretically) trained to taste-out the best restaurants, sniff out the best hotels.

Also, please don’t say, I Could Do Your Job. It’s insulting, like I just waltzed into it with no prior experience. The devaluation of writers is something I plan to tackle in a future post.

Travel writing, by far, with the exception of literary writing, the most rewarding type of writing I’ve ever done. I enjoy getting rid of restaurants who are obviously serving terrible food. And replacing those with ones I know visitors will have a great experience.

Here is a photo narrative of Quebec City cuisine.

Quebec City in Cuisine and Clouds

Want to look like a brilliant photographer? Take more aerial shots and stop using Instagram!

 

If you don’t like croissants, I question your status as a human.

 

Food porn, Quebec City restaurants

The best fish ever. Salmon in a cranberry sauce.

 

All baguettes should be presented like this.


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Confessions of a Former Hater

haterade, hateraide

I drank this during most of my early twenties. Must have been haterade.

Confession: I used to be a HATER. For those who don’t know what a hater is, the Urban Dictionary, (the place where I find all my mad slang) describes it as this:

A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person. Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesnt really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch.

I feel like, in general women haters hate on other women more so than they hate on men. Why?

Do we view men as naturally smarter than us and assume they’re just going to beat us in everything anyway? Do we view women as competition? Is it a problem of directness because we don’t want to hurt feelings? It’s not just writing, it’s with many things. Motherhood, I’ve heard is rife with hate, judgement, and mid-wife vs. doctor wars. I am as feminist as they come, and I too have been lost in the ugly bog of criticism. (Do I really hate her, or do I hate her because I want to be her?)

I have also been the subject of this brutal adult bullying. Your friends don’t talk to you anymore, but don’t tell you why. Your coworker starts picking apart everything you do. Someone calls you Hitler in an anonymous comment.

It Started with a Lightbulb

I’ll bring you back to five or six years ago to my first full-time writing job, when I spent eight hours a day writing catalog descriptions of lamps. Our office was housed in a mustard-yellow-and-burnt-orange building flanked on both sides by railroad tracks. We sat in gray cubes and the office lighting was dim. Picture me, hunched over my desk under florescent fixtures that were clogged with the carcases of flies. You think, being the headquarters of a lighting store, they would have at least sprung for swivel-head desk lamps, but NO.

(This, in case you haven’t guessed, is my uphill-in-the-snow story). Continue reading


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My War Against Weak Words

Bees pollination lavendar

Just a wee bee. Aren’t we all?

I decided to eliminate a number of words and phrases from my vernacular.

I think

I will never write “I think” in a work-related email again. I didn’t realize how weak it made me seem. Especially if I use it when I don’t think, I know. Would you rather take directions from someone who said, “I think the store is that way” or, “the store is that way?”

French eliminated superfluous words from my vocabulary, because well, my French vocabulary is so limited. In French, I will say, Oui! After everything. When I am explaining something, most of the “likes” are replaced with “uhhh” as I struggle to find the word in French. If I let an “uhhh” linger too long, the person will just start speaking English to me. That feels like getting kicked in the chins.

I did get in a bad habit of saying, “Je pense.” Beaucoup.

Ps. did you know, ponce (how I want to spell it) is British slang for a pimp?

Think about I Think in a professional context. Who wants I Think Sheryl managing a department or business?  “I think we’re about to go bankrupt.” “I think we should lay-off Jerry.” “I think this ad campaign will get us more revenue.” Way to fill us all with confidence there. Continue reading


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Travel Writing on the Road

travel writing tips

This is me on vacation (smiling)

 This is me on work (smoking)

(The 1960’s version of me smokes. Judge away!)

I am here. In Quebec, four months after I moved. What am I doing at this exact moment? Sitting in a plush, King-sized bed, surrounded by pillows and chocolates like a Sultan.

Jealous? Don’t be.

This is the part of travel writing everyone knows: The food. The comps. The attractive, overly-attentive staff who hang on your every bite.

The power is exhilerating. I must tell you.

But before you quit your office job, remember this is actual work and takes a lot of patience, attention to detail, and very strong calves. And that the perks make up for a very significant lack in pay. Continue reading


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Now Hiring – Agency of Misunderstood Writer Weirdos

Emily-Dickinson-poets-writing-job-tips

Would you hire her?

‘T was a long parting, but the time 

for interview had come  – Emily Dickinson

After suffering through another job rejection (so close!), I might start my own writing agency: The Agency of Misunderstood Writer Weirdos. Or something.

I would hire one or two sales guys or gals. And the rest of you would have to have demonstrated experience in things like getting last picked in gym class and being a running target for spitballs.

Things preventing me from getting a

J-O-B

  1. I can’t seem to muster the appropriate amount of enthusiasm in interviews. I am somewhere between screaming Yippee or staring blankly at the wall.
  2. My family banned bragging about accomplishments early on. No trophy case. All ribbons and awards were to be shoved into dresser drawers and forgotten about within seconds. Sure, there’s some fanfare, maybe a celebratory dinner if you graduated law school or something, but boasting is quickly met with: Whatdoyouthinkyou’rebetterthanme?
  3. I have trouble talking about my writing process. I sit down and um….write. And then I pet the dog. And then I Facebook stalk my old classmates. And then I edit whatever I wrote before.
  4. I can’t lie. So if you ask me about my interests, I am going to tell you I am obsessed with “Sister Wives,” I own at least four pairs of giant sunglasses, and that I could be a lipgloss hoarder.
  5. The Weakness question terrifies me. I have a weakness for salted-caramel anything. Post-its cover my desk. My handwriting is illegible.
  6. I haven’t figured out how to dress on interviews in fashion-unconscious Seattle. Last time I wore a power suit, a fedora gang made fun of me.
  7. I have two-thumbs-up Tourrettes. I hear Fonzie and Dave Coulier suffered the same aliment.

Brief Imagined Interview with Emily Dickinson

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog! ~ Emily Dickinson

Hopefully, for all you other unemployed but amazing, thumbs-up-giving weirdos, this will make you feel better (or maybe worse): Emily Dickinson would never get a job today.

Emily Dickinson rarely left her house and wore all white and was all kinds of crazy. Also brilliant. And yet, no company would hire Emily Dickinson to write their copy because Emily Dickinson could never get through the first interview. Marketing teams don’t want a Dickinson. Newspapers don’t want a Dickinson. She probably couldn’t even get my old dog-washing job.

“Tell me about your biggest accomplishment?”

“The pedigree of honey/does not concern the bee/A clover, any time, to him/is aristocracy”

“Uh – ok. I see you have some great references, but can you point to a time you’ve had to deal with criticism?

“The pretty people in the woods/Receive me cordially.”

“Thanks Emily, I think that’s it. We’ll let you know.”

Comment with your interview tips for Emily Dickinsons of the world.


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Fifty Shades of F-This: Why I Won’t Join Your Book Club

fifty shades of grey

So not fifty shades of grey.

Dear friends,

I am sorry to inform you I will not be joining your book club. Although I fully support reading more, drinking wine, and venting about our husbands, I must decline for the following reasons:

1.) I always pick snacks no one can eat because they’re pregnant and I forgot. Or because when you said “snack,” I heard “pulled-pork slider.” Or because when I bring my famous cherry scones, you’ll go on and on about your diet as if nibbling on one will end the world. I don’t know why the snack process in all girl groups confuses me, but it does.

It is not my job to coach you through chocolate cheesecake. Just indulge and diet later, like the commercials say. Or tell your bookclub attendees that by snack, you mean fruit.

2.) I already read Eat, Pray, Love. 

3.) I refuse to read any of the books below. I know you’re going to be hurt when I tell you I don’t want to read books about shopaholics, bored housewives, abused kids, or seductive vampires. I know it wipes out half the books and I am screwing everything up.

So let me be more specific:

Book Club Books I’ll Never Read

1. Fifty Shades of Grey

I won’t read it because this blog about why we shouldn’t read it is probably better than the actual book. I won’t read it because if I wanted to read about heaving bosoms and ripped pantaloons I can get a pile of Harlaquin Romance Novels for $1 each at our Goodwill. I won’t read it because I am amazed that a writer who has their character look in the mirror and describe her “disrespectful hair” got published. If you google “Top mistakes new writers make,” that’s one of them. Also, controversial sex scenes don’t do much for me. They pave a cheap road to success for the self-published.

2. Water for Elephants

I did read the first chapter. But I didn’t believe the protagonist would  hop a train to the circus the day after his parents died.  No way. Not even during the Great Depression. He doesn’t have an uncle? A cousin? Why not write a story about an old carny-hobo shit shoveler with a bindle and a scruffy mutt?  You know – the kind of person who would really join the circus. Oh that’s right – he needed to be a Veterinarian, world’s sexiest job so that he could impress and subsequently get the girl. What a surprising plot twist when the elephant only he can tame dies tragically, or so I’ve been told.

3. Twilight

I am just never going to read it. And you should be ok with me not reading it. Why do you want me to read this?

I know the premise: virgin chooses between vampire and werewolf. Written by repressed Mormon.

I never got the whole vampire thing. Dark, pale and brooding isn’t that sexy.

“Hey, we should, go try that new ice cream place”

“I can’t go out in daylight, remember? God, you’re so forgetful”

“Ok, we can go after sunset.”

I’m a fucking vampire remember? I only eat blood.”

4. Game of Thrones

I MIGHT read this. Everyone I know says it’s fantastic. But as an English major, I suffered through enough Beowulf and Gawain, the Green Knight and roundtable stuff to know I don’t like medievil literature. And I heard it’s a tangle of characters, plots, sub plots, mixed in with spectacular feasts and the occasional torture or rape. No thanks.

5. The Da Vinci Code

For months in 2003, everyone I knew asked, “did you read the Da Vinci Code yet?” And I kept having to say no. And no. And no. I don’t know WHY I never read it, just didn’t get around to it and kept buying other books.

The trend finally petered out and I would look so behind, so provincial reading it now. Sometimes I pretend I read it to avoid this:

You didn’t read that yet? You must not read a lot.

Actually, I read quite a bit. But thanks for your concern.

I’ve been avoiding mysteries since I read those Encyclopedia Brown books and they made me feel like a nimrod for not solving the case of Sally’s Stolen Pencil or whatever. I always assumed it was the bully and skipped to the end. EB taught me two things: I am impatient and I harbor a slight prejudice against jocks.

I assure you, my refusal to join yet another book club does not mean I hate you bitches.

Sincerely,

Anglo