How to Use Quidditch to Start Your Career Without Sounding Like a Complete Nerd

Earlier this week, Major League Quidditch published an article I wrote when I was trying to convince people to join the Argonauts staff this summer. I’m not going to repeat anything I wrote there. I just want to expand on it because not everyone wants or can apply for an MLQ position.

If you’re reading this, you probably have some quidditch volunteer experience. You’ve probably wondered if it’s worth all the time, effort, and risk to your sanity. Will quidditch actually help you get a real job?

Yes. Maybe. Depends. But it’s not impossible.

Continue reading

Shameless Self-Promotion: Joomag Design Academy

Sometimes I get asked why I write this blog, but that’s another post for another day. The tl;dr version is that I want my writing out in the world where people can find it. I want to make a living as a writer and that doesn’t happen by firing up WordPress when the muse strikes and calling it a day. I write 3-4 posts a week, I research topics and think up new content ideas, I have an editorial calendar, I share my posts on social media, and I try to find other places to share my work. In other words, I treat it like a part-time job.

I learned a lot of this from my internship at Realtor.com, and between that experience and the work I put into my own website, I landed the full-time, salary/benefits/all the bells and whistles writing job I have now. After two months here, I’m stoked to announce that we’re (finally) launching the Joomag Design Academy blog!

I worked on magazines a lot in college, so I’m stoked to bring that experience to my work. Joomag is a digital publishing company and our platform makes it easy for anyone to create their own digital magazines, ebooks, catalogs, etc. But just because you have the means to design something doesn’t mean you know where to start. My vision for the blog was to create a place where you could learn the basics of magazine design and grow from there. It’s been so rewarding to go from having that pitch accepted to actually making it happen.

Eventually, we want to grow to the point where we have other writers and designers contributing to the blog. But for now, I’m just sitting here pinching myself.

#BarcelosClothes: My First Stitch Fix

Back when I was figuring what to call my blog, I eventually landed on Barcelos Knows for two reasons: I love a good slant rhyme and I’m known for being an insufferable know-it-all. While writing what you know is one of the oldest pieces of writing advice, I don’t know everything.

But you know what? There’s nothing stopping me (or anyone else, really) from writing about what I don’t know. In that spirit, I’m starting a new series on my blog: Barcelos Doesn’t Know. I’m pretty clueless about some things but I want to change that, one blog post at a time.

Continue reading

Realtor.com Wrapup

It was only a few months ago that I poured my heart and frustrations out to the internet on how it seemed impossible to find a writing job and make a living in Silicon Valley as a not-quite-fresh-anymore college grad. This Is My Life in Silicon Valley is still my most popular post, but it did more for me than get my blog a couple thousand hits.

It got me a job. As a writer. Well, an internship, anyway. But a paid one!

While my internship has come to and end, it helped land me my first full-time writing job. (That started today!) I couldn’t be happier about being able to take the next step in my career, but I’ll always look back fondly on my first stepping stone.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from my time at realtor.com and the stories behind them.

A Grand Dame Gets a Makeover in the Berkeley Hills

This was the first thing I was ever paid to write, so it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. Being able to visit the house I was writing about would prove to be an exception, not the rule.

It’s Rude to Ask the Age of the Oldest U.S. Home for Sale (but We Did)

Is the title on the clickbaity side? You know it. It worked, though. Surprisingly well. I got a shoutout for it during our weekly meeting from our editor-in-chief and I could have died happy right there.

Zamboni Not Included: 6 Homes With Their Own Hockey Rinks

Every good content writer’s gotta know how to put together a good listicle, and this was my favorite. One of these places is even in San Jose!

Calling Harry Potter Fans: Build a Wizarding School in Your Own Home!

#notallquidditchplayers are Harry Potter nerds, but I am. So getting paid to write about it was pretty great. Utah friends: check this place out if you’re ever in the Provo area.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 71

I lost what little belief I had in time traveling heroes today. If they were real, they would have done something about the Darkest Timeline by now.

It’s been a while since I’ve revisited the Darkest Timeline here on my blog. The big picture got too overwhelming to turn into >1000 words every few days. I’ve been trying to focus on my small life with its small victories instead.

My internship and my website helped me land a full-time writing job that I’ll be starting on February 1st. (a decent salary! benefits! vacation time!) I’m moving into my new apartment with Jim (relationship milestone! adulting!) on January 31st. I’m finally playing quidditch inside Spartan Stadium on February 4th. (It’s gonna be a busy week.) I’m blogging at least twice a week and my 52 in 52 challenge is coming along well. I got my first pitch accepted and I hope to see it in print soon.

In any other timeline, these would be thrilling developments. Considering how down I was only a few months ago about the trajectory of my life and career, I should be over the moon over how much things have changed for the better.

I did a good job of ignoring things for a while. This week came around put that to an end by battering down the fortress of small accomplishments I was trying to build around myself.

The funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities is on the chopping block. That’s .002 percent of the national budget, so it’s less a cost cutting move and more of a plot by a strongman to silence the dissenting voices of artists. He wants to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Or, y’know, make Big Bird and friends turn a profit to earn their keep. Between Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, that’s how I learned English. Then I grew up to get a degree in it, not exactly the most profit making enterprise. Oops?

Speaking of learning, I doubt the Betsy DeVos hearings will stop her from being approved by a Congress eager to rubber-stamp whoever whatever President Trump (ugh, that’s the first time I’ve ever had to type that) puts before them. There goes any hope I had for going back into a career in education for the next few years. (I’m really starting to like this whole “getting paid to write stuff” thing better, anyway.) What the hell kind of schools are my nieces going to enter when the time comes?

Then today happened. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. I didn’t watch, but not watching doesn’t make Trump not-President. I did read Vox’s annotated version, though. It was same Trump, different day. Divisive rhetoric, a dystopian vision of an America that was actually improving. The Big Lie that a large-enough-for-the-Electoral-College minority of Americans bought.

The past eight years made me believe in MLK’s conviction that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. How could I not? I voted for the first black president after voting for the first woman nominated by a major party. We made a huge step forward in making sure all Americans have access to healthcare. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a stopgap measure at best, was finally repealed. Any two consenting adults can be married. A woman won the popular vote in a presidential election. There was a lot left undone, but the slow progress we made was still progress.

I am still desperately clinging to that conviction. I have to believe that this step back we’ve taken—no, this catastrophic fall—is the last, desperate gasp of a dying idea of America. Most of us don’t believe in that, if the popular vote counts for anything.

I still reject the idea of making America great again. Our greatness is in progress, in what’s ahead of us, not in the whitewashed past. This isn’t his America or your America or their America, this is our America. No one man alone can fix it.

But can we do it together? Yes we can.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 30

It’s been a month since Election Day. A month since we broke away from sanity and branched off into the Darkest Timeline.

Yep, I’ll let that sink in for a moment. You good? No? Don’t worry, I’m not, either.

Trying to keep up with every off-the-cuff tweet, international dustup, and terrifying cabinet appointment is beyond the scope of my blog. Consider this my post-apocalyptic log instead.

I’m still bouncing between the anger and depression stages of grief. There’s no ability to engage in denial because I work in the media. It’s not like I can bury my sorrows in my work because Trump is a big part of my job. My second-most popular article is about Ben Carson selling his house; you don’t think people would care about a soporifically-voiced surgeon turned failed presidential candidate if Hillary won, do you?

While the Electoral College has yet to convene, hoping that enough electors revolt and elect Clinton is delusion on the level of Sanders supporters spending the summer saying that superdelegates don’t vote until July 25th. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it’s probable or even likely.

Here’s what I think will happen, in order of how likely it’ll come to pass.

  • Within the first year of his administration, Trump steps down much as Sarah Palin did when she resigned as Governor of Alaska. He’ll say he can serve the country out of office better than by being constrained by the office, but really it will be him being unable to handle the intense scrutiny of being president.
  • Within the first year of his administration, Trump will be impeached, probably because the conflict of interest will be TOO DAMN HIGH.
  • Trump somehow manages to last all four years.

I’m not making these audacious predictions from a place of hope. If this clusterfuck of a month has taught us anything, it’s that the President-Elect had no idea how much work goes into being President before stumbling into office. He’s used to being the kind of executive that rules unquestioned with a big mouth and an iron first. Being chief executive of the United States comes with far more restrictions than he realized, and already he’s chafing at it.

He has no real interest in separating himself from the gilded brand he’s built, either. He’s gotten so used to running his empire through his children that he’s somehow managed to have them run his business and have them on his transition committee. Because that’s not a conflict of interest at all. But it’s the little things, too, like the Secret Service being used to help sell condos in Trump Tower.

One day before the Darkest Timeline, I refused to accept the idea that I’d live in President Trump’s America. One month later, I’m writing what will be, at best, an “I told you so!” blog post.

I guess I’ve reached the acceptance stage of grief. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to blindly accept whatever happens; it just means that I’ve finally accepted that a Bad Thing happened. If my grief is behind me, then I have to figure out how to fight and push forward.