Posts by Jen Seriously

Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Jennifer’s passion for reading began at the tender age of 3 when she enjoyed flipping through her father’s electronics catalogs to pick out the words she knew. That budding obsession with the written word progressed into late nights under the bed covers with books and a flashlight – and a reputation as the only child to be reprimanded for reading. Her fixation continued into adulthood when, while living in Moscow and spending several hours a day riding the Metro, she devoured almost an entire book every single day. Jennifer lived in 8 different countries over a period of 6 years. While overseas, she worked as a teacher of English as a Second Language for students ranging from toddlers to businessmen. She also worked as a translation post-editor, curriculum developer, and freelance writer. She has a passion for international affairs, primarily refugee and microfinance issues, but she is interested in domestic politics as well - primarily taxation issues, states' rights, and third-party politics. Jennifer moved to Denver in 2008 for graduate school. Seven years later, she realized that the furthest away she wanted to move was Boulder. During her free time, she can be found reading a book by Javier Marias or Alain de Botton, planning her next international vacation, watching ice hockey, cuddling with her Finnish Lapphund, or dabbling with embroidery or colored pencils.

Blogging from A to Z: 2018 Theme Reveal

The A to Z Challenge theme reveal was technically yesterday, but I’m still recuperating from two weeks out of town (stay tuned for my next post), so here I am a day late already and the challenge hasn’t yet begun. Not good! Fortunately, over the years I’ve become wiser about participating in the challenge and all my posts for this year are just about finalized already. Is that cheating? Maybe. Or maybe it’s about making sure I have 26 thoughtful, well-written posts that I’m proud of.

A to Z

Continue reading →

The Novel: Tough Topics

Progress continues, full steam ahead! We have written 31 total scenes now, and we started doing some compilation and review work. I’ve also been doing some more research and thinking in general about this book.

Our book deals with some heavy themes, so I’ve been reading some of the most popular YA books from 2017 to get a feel for how certain topics are being handled. I haven’t read YA in such a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I remember reading YA when I was in the target age. I seemed to skip from Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden when I was in middle school right to Stephen King and other very adult books in high school.  Continue reading →

What’s New for Dinner?

I can’t resist making an easy buck. Some part of my mind still thinks I’m in my early 20s, earning $25k a year, instead of being nearly 40 and earning much, much more than that. So, I take on freelance work and odd little side gigs, as long as they pay enough. I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this hustle; I have friends in their 30s who still babysit, dogsit, or do other little favors for cash or beer. I mean, I don’t have kids, so what else am I doing to do with my free time? Go out and spend money, or stay in and earn more money? Plus, I get to work on some really cool projects!
Recently, I had a taste-testing gig for a market research company. The session itself was only 25 minutes long, and with driving to the place and back and checking in, I was all-in for 40 minutes. And it paid $50 just for eating some food and telling people what I thought about it, which was worth it to me. Fifty bucks fills up my tank and buys me a beer (or two on happy hour!). And it certainly was an easy buck.

Continue reading →

Small Town Strikes Again

When I rejoined the single life at the beginning of last year, all the gals in my usual group, except one, were right there with me, or about to be, and that was a lot of fun. A gaggle of thirty-something women with money to burn and time to spare? Plenty of opportunity for getting into shenanigans! Naturally, over the last thirteen months, our relationship statuses have diverged, merged, and diverged some more through summer flings, painful breakups, unhealthy obsessions, and genuine connections. Now, at the time of writing this, three of us are in long distance relationships (how odd is that?), one is in a rekindled local relationship, and one is swiping left and right to make plans for the upcoming weekend.

So, although I’ve officially been out of the dating pool for over five months now, there are still dating stories I could share, and one recent event involving a friend’s date reminded me so much of my post about all my coincidental run-ins, good and bad, in Boulder that I had to. Continue reading →

A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

The Novel: 16 Drafted Scenes

It has been one month since I posted about the New Year’s resolution that happened to me, so it seems to be a good time for a status update. Posting about the novel and talking to people about it helps keep me accountable and working on it, though my co-author is also doing a really good job of that too. If it were up to me, I probably would have quit already. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying writing this book, because I very much am. I believe the story line is engaging and relevant to teens, and I know we have the writing chops. I just have a strong history of failure at keeping myself working on any of my projects.

So far, we’ve written 16 scenes. By written, I mean we only have a very rough first draft, but we’ve got the basic conflict and tension in each scene, and know what purpose each serves in driving the plot forward. Some of the details of these scenes will undoubtedly change, but it feels good to have this amount of work laid out. We have 20 more scenes planned out, with copious notes and ideas for each, ready to be written as soon as we have the time. We spent hours each day on our Big Bend trip talking through plot points we were stuck on and characters we didn’t know that well. We had planned to write actual scenes during that time, but stepping away from the writing for a bit to talk out the story, to get inside our characters heads and be them for a little while, was extremely useful in terms of moving us forward. Continue reading →

Feats of Endurance

Big Bend is the least visited of our national parks. In 2016, it saw just 388,290 visitors, compared to the 11,312,786 who went to the most visited, Great Smoky Mountains. This is not a surprise, given its location in an almost-forgotten corner of Texas, an 8.5 hour drive from Dallas, if you speed and don’t stop to eat or gas up. The drive down is a wasteland of oil fields and abandoned towns. But don’t be deterred; the park is worth the effort it takes to get there.

What to do when you get there? You can stay in the lodge and hope to see a javelina. You can cross to Mexico, legally via the Boquillas entrance or illegally by wading across the Rio Grande. But mostly, you go to Big Bend to hike. My first day, I did a four-mile hike in the morning up the Lost Mine trail and a five-mile hike in the afternoon to the Window. The second day I did a 15 mile hike up to Emory Peak, down around the South Rim, and back to the Chisos Basin via the Laguna Meadows trail. The last morning was only a quick two-mile (if that) walk to the end of Santa Elena Canyon and back. I would have loved to spend more time lying on the banks of the Rio Grande, soaking up the sunshine before heading back to the 20-degree Boulder weather, but that 8.5 hour drive lie ahead. Continue reading →

Primal Screams

Most days, the sun shines down on me. And that’s not just because I live in Boulder. I live a fairly easy life and whatever is difficult, is generally self-imposed. But once in a blood moon, everything goes horribly wrong.

Last Wednesday night, I had to catch a flight to Dallas. I’ve traveled enough over the last few years that I have my airport timing mastered so that I walk through security, take the train to my terminal, fill my water bottle, use the ladies room, buy an in-flight snack, and have just 5-10 minutes before boarding starts. I see no need to sit around the airport for an hour twiddling my thumbs. To adhere to my plan that night, I had to leave my house that night at 5:45. Everything was in place. The dog was already at his boarding facility, the dishes were done, my coat and shoes were on, and everything I needed was sitting in my suitcase. All I had to do was zip it.  Continue reading →

What Is It I Do Exactly?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s taken me years to really remember/know/understand what most of my friends do for a living. Some of them don’t really know what I do either. And hell, I dated someone for many years and never quite understood what he did. Probably that’s because he generally slept in until 10 am, surfed the internet all day, and then took people out for drinks and dinner, but there must have been some kind of work in there somewhere. The friends whose jobs I can actually describe well are friends who I’ve worked with or whose industries I’ve worked in.

Well, if you’re following my blog and wondering what it is I do, I write technical manuals. User guides, upgrade guides, installation guides, and all kinds of other technical content for a cyber security company. At least, that’s what I do in the current iteration of the full time employment phase of my life. In other iterations, I’ve been an ESL teacher, a localization/translation project coordinator, and the managing editor of an elearning company. So, I’ve always worked with language in some form or another. Continue reading →

Keep Your Nose Up

There are no spoilers in this post but there are spoilers in the links I’ve provided. Click at your own risk.

A few weeks ago, I watched the latest season of Black Mirror. Like all seasons after the epic first one, it had some episodes that blew me away (Hang the DJ) and some I could have done without (Metalhead). For me, the primary brilliance of Black Mirror lies in how close we are to every dystopian terror they depict becoming reality. Yes, some more than others, but the technologies highlighted in the episodes seem to me decades away or less, rather than the centuries implied by shows with long-distance space travel and flying cars. The kidnapping/ransom plot in the brilliant debut, The National Anthem, could easily happen tomorrow. And although I vow to always resist any attempt to implant surveillance technology in my body, there are millions out there willing to be early adopters, making many of the show’s other plot lines right at our fingertips. Some of the technologies probably are already in beta testing in a lab somewhere close to home. Since I was going to have nightmares anyway, I decided to rewatch some of favorites from other seasons, such as Nosedive from season three. Continue reading →