Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Just Another Manic Memoir

Just Pretty

There is beauty in the everyday.

Everyone’s doing it. Entire sections of the bookstore are dedicated to it. Blonde-woman-leaves-routine-life-for-abroad-or-the-wood memoirs. Think: Cheryl Strayed. Elizabeth Gilbert.* To stand out from other travel memoirs, you need to set sail all by yourself to Antarctica, Ernest Shackleton-style and survive something horrific like eating your own dogs or do some peyote in the desert and be able to clearly WRITE about that experience. Pen name: Huntess S. Thompson.

For the reasons above, I’m starting a new genre: the stay-put memoir. Lists of dull things we do everyday, written with a certain flair.

Consider the untold story in the soggy French fries curled on the bottom of my CRV, in the struggle of trying to get to my dry cleaner before it closes, in bagel dust between my keyboard letters. That’s real stuff. Bonus: I don’t have to do anything difficult to write it. I just keep on keepin on. It would be relatable, that’s for sure. Low-risk. Yes. Dull? No way.

Future memoir titles: 

  • Is It Weird To Smell Your Own Hair On The Bus? And Other Concerns
  • Skeptical Of Your Gluten Allergy, So Totally Sure Of Mine
  • Copywriter’s Dilemma: Having A Nervous Breakdown One Exclamation Point At A Time!!
  • Checking The Door Twice: Confessions Of A Public-Bathroom Phobic
  • Fear And Loathing On A Train. Mother + Daughter Ride The Rails Cross Country. (Read the sneak preview here).
  • Tears On My Mcdonald’s Cheeseburger. What Happens When You Get The Wrong Gender-Specific Toy.
  • Facebook Lies: That Time I Said I Had A Great Time Kayaking When It Was Actually Just Ok

Which one should I start on first?

*I like Elizabeth Gilbert.

**I’m actually headed to the desert next month (New Mexico + Texas). Where should I go? What should I do? Comment below.

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My Résumé, the Mad Skills Edition

Skill #105: Finding spring before it actually begins.

Skill #105: Wildlife spotting.

Let’s be honest. Resumes aren’t meant to show off our real skills. You know the unseen stuff, the stuff your boss never includes in a performance evaluation, but probably should.

I’ve listed mine below, just in case you want to hire a drum-miming-broom-dancing-popcorn-making writer.

And so you don’t think I am bragging, I’ve listed the stuff I am not so good at. Comment below with your own mad skills!

My mad skillz résumé: 

  • Balancing a 600-page-plus tome on the treadmill as I run

-Drum miming as I run
-Imagining myself in an action movie as I run

  • Interpretive broom dancing

-Car dancing
-Elliptical dancing

  • Creative theme party planning
    My latest: Turtleneck & Chains (Inspired by The Lonely Island’s hilarious hit single. It’s BYLB. That’s Bring Your Light Beer).
    Previous: Nautical Night. Or I Think I’m On a Boat.
  • Dawson’s Creek Trivia
  • Popcorn making
  • Recognizing relatively obscure Biggy Smalls songs
  • Doodling Venus flytraps in the margins of my notepad
  • Deconstructing every nuance of My So-Called Life
  • Moving cross-country/international (3 times and counting!)
  • Finding freakishly good new snacks at Trader Joe’s
  • Identifying a good doctor by their magazine collection. (I.E. You’re a Doctor & you want your patients reading Web MD Magazine? GTFO.)
  • Making fairly elaborate quesadillas.
  • Jump roping.
  • Sweeping
  • Occasionally dice games & poker. I don’t play often enough to find out if I am actually good. So we’ll list this as a maybe.
  • Sprinting through airports
  • Finding the best pizza in any neighborhood, city, or small town
  • Picking hotels

Things I need to work on:

  • Balancing my mug of coffee in the car
  • Parallel parking. Spent most of my life in or close to various metro areas. Still not happening.
  • Eating produce before it gets moldy
  • Remembering reusable grocery bags
  • Dressing for the weather
  • Holding those handles on the bus for long stretches of time
  • Walking in heels, uphill/downhill. I firmly believe Seattle’s massive hills were the impetus for grunge fashion.
  • French accents.
  • Trapezing. Because you actually have to move your body when you trapeze. Who knew?
  • Carrying lots of stuff and arranging it properly before trying to open the door
  • Driving small cars, like FIATS
  • Finding my keys
Copenhagen


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Before You Apply to the Amtrak Writer’s Residency, Let’s Talk

As a travel writer/literary scribe/nonsense poet, I know what happened when you read Amtrak’s description of their new writer’s residency. Oh you haven’t heard? Amtrak is offering writers the opportunity to ride the rails for a few days. Must have mad writing skills and a substantial social media following.

Sound like you? Great. But there were also some questions about the rights of submitted writing samples that might have you rethinking jumping aboard. Last I heard, Amtrak is working out the legalese.

I’ll let you decide whether it’s a good idea to apply or not. I am here to talk truth about train travel.

The Truth About Train Travel

Me on a train. Don't laugh. No one looks good on a train.

Me on a train in NYC. Don’t laugh. No one looks good on a train.

You visualized yourself sitting in a plush, reclined seat, scenery zipping by your window, glass of wine in hand as you type the next great American novel. You picture telling the other oh-so interesting passengers you’re there to write a novel, a play, a…blog post.

Don’t lie. Some of the fun of being a writer on a residency is saying you’re a writer on a residency. “I wrote it all…on a train!” Cue applause at the well-attended reading of your new train mystery series, Snakes On A Train.

The passengers you picture come straight out of the golden age of train travel. Everyone carries a boxy suitcase and has a charming old-timey accent. The gals wear mink shrugs and derby hats; the gents don fedoras and skinny ties. Except for the ting of silver spoons and platters, it’s quiet as the train chugs along, breathtaking scenery zipping by out the window.

You have more than enough space for your laptop or even (guh) your typewriter. You put your feet up and type away to a special playlist you created for the occasion.

Runaway train, never goin’ back
Wrong way on a one-way track…

That is what I envisioned before I took a four-day train cross country from Chicago to San Francisco. That’s not quite what happened. I am not saying train travel is awful, not at all. I am simply saying it may not be what you think it is.

No stranger on a train.

Strangers-on-a-Train-still-good

What I envisioned.

At age 21, I rode the rails from Chicago to San Francisco and back, paying for it using my paltry tax return.  It was a family trip; my mom, younger sister, uncle and I headed out to California to watch my oldest sister graduate from law school.

My mom refuses to fly and so she takes Amtrak everywhere. None of the following experiences have anything to do with Amtrak or Amtrak service. From what I remember, the service is pretty darn good, the people are nice, and it is a unique experience that everyone should do once.

This is about my romanticized view of train travel, what I thought it was (the Orient Express) and what it actually is (not the Orient Express).

The Deluxe “Sleeper” Car.

Train-Travel-Amtrak-Writer's-Residency

THIS is exactly what happened to us.

When my mom said she booked a deluxe car (for the three of us), I envisioned a hotel-sized room with a big window. I pictured plush beds and chocolates on pillows, gourmet food on silver platters, a little table set up next to the window with a vase and a single rose. Along with little luxuries like a ceiling high enough so that I could stand completely upright. Continue reading


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How Not to Write a Book Proposal

Eat,Pray,Love En Francais, Seattle travel Blogs

I hear she writes historical fiction now.

If I learned one thing in my writing career, it is to pay close attention to those contributor guidelines. I wrote these after reading editors’ complaints about bad submission practices.

Dear The New Yorker:

Attached please find my aritle on “10 Pig Mating Rituals You Weren’t Aware Of.” I don’t read The NEW YORKER, but I have heard you’re a quality, top ten literary journal. I really, really want to be a Writer because I want a heap of money to show up at my door along with beautiful women and I can tell all of my friends I am a PUBLISHED WRITER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay. You can submit payment to 1244 Monkey Sock Street, NY, NY.

Cheers,
Billy, “the Pen” Henderson

Dear Hiring Editor Person:

I AM HOPPING YOU COULD PUBLISH MY WORK. Oh sorry about the all caps, I am just super excited that excited about the possibility of writing for your website. Well really it’s the work of someone named Mark Twain only I replaced 20% of his words and sprinkled 30% of keywords related to your website in. this stolded article will get you losts a website traffic. please let me know how and when I will be paid.

Yours truly,

Sal Forrester Continue reading


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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Seattle Beach

Back in Seattle. Energized and resolutionized.

I have a problem: I make too many New Year’s Resolutions. I am that person in the gym on January 1st, jump roping until my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest.

Every year, I swear off sugar, Starbucks, fruity cocktails, library fines, needless pedicures, wearing mismatched socks, Cookie Chips, etc. etc.

And then comes February 1. My resolutions are busy collecting dust like that unread copy of Moby Dick. I am feasting on Valentine’s Day treats, running up a huge library fine because I can’t seem to finish the Golden Notebook and no, I haven’t signed up for Yoga.

This year, I decided to scratch all that stuff and make solid New Year’s resolutions related to my passion for writing. Continue reading


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Haiku Challenge, Here We Come

Weekly Writing Challenge

Taking on the Haiku Challenge. Step 1: Get out in nature.

When I saw the DPchallenge to write five haikus, I thought, “well, why the heck not?” And so, instead of doing my Thanksgiving shopping, I wrote the poems below.

In October, I went to my first-ever literary retreat on a scholarship for young poets. I find this funny, because my hair is almost as gray as it is black. Young? And when I went, I glimpsed into my future. At fifty, I am going to be the lady with yellow tights and purple hair.

While there, I attended an hour-long workshop on haiku and fell in love with the form. It’s great practice. You get rid of pesky adverbs and articles clogging up your writing and focus in on a single natural image. The instructor recommended sitting down outside and writing twenty haikus in a row.

“Be in the moment. And don’t try to make it good. That’s the fastest way to kill a poem.”

So when I saw the Haiku Challenge, I wrote these. Some of them are holiday themed. Some of them are silly. 

Haikus for You

Monday
A dusty can rolls
from the empty cabinet
Yes! We do have peas

Tuesday
A lone shoe sits in
center of a puddle that
clearly reflects two

Wednesday
Casserole charred
sweet potatoes turn to mush
but, perfect turkey

Thursday
Leaf flutters in a breeze
Plume of smoke from a chimney
The November dance

Friday
Kids run to dinner
Sidewalk shadows long and black
Gold leaves wave them by


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Adventures in Freelance Writing

 

Freelance Travel Writing Tips

This makes it worth it. Kind of.

So…we meet again, home office.

I’ve come back to freelance writing and travel writing after finishing up my long-term contract in a mega corporation. I know a lot of very talented writers and bloggers who long to do the same thing. I don’t know if it’s the right choice for you, but I think it’s right for me. For now. 

This blog could document my downward spiral from very gainfully employed writer to That Peddler in the Parking Lot Who Writes The Best Cardboard Signs. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Freelance writing tips:

Very little time will be spent writing. Most of it will be spent checking email and refreshing it again and again to see if those query letters and job applications you sent out got a response. Nope. Just another email newsletter advertising Socktober Fest. All those socks. All on sale…

You need to know… math. Oh yeah, we writers think we’re all cute and funny and stuff when we can’t calculate tips or do taxes because we’re “word nerds.” But as a freelancer, you need to know some basic business calculations figure out if you’re making more or less than you would if you collected cans for a living. This is an essential skill.

That’s why writers make such miserable salaries. The Man thinks we can’t do math.

Your new exercise = pacing. The last time I worked as a freelancer I lost about 10 pounds in a matter of weeks. Friends asked why I looked so svelte. It wasn’t a change in my dietary habits—certainly, I inhaled a few less donuts. But my magical weight loss was due to my pacing around the room whenever I faced a looming deadline.

You will need to improve your social skills. I have the social graces of a T-Rex. I am clumsy, loud, and thanks to Invisilign, might spit when I talk.

Days go by where I don’t see humans. So when I meet a prospective client for lunch, I have to remind myself that she’s not my therapist and now is probably not an appropriate time to talk about last night’s dream where I wore a purple tri-cornered hat onto the bus and everyone laughed at me.

Your 9-5 friends will scare the crap out of you. Things not to say to a freelance writer:

-You may never work for “real” again. 

-You’re doing what? IN THIS ECONOMY?!

-Why couldn’t you make it as a real writer?

Just avoid phrases that can be punctuated with an interabang.

Did you ever quit a job to follow your passion? Do you freelance? Ring in with tips below.