2017 Year in Review: Career

I put off this edition of my Year in Review for last because it’s the hardest one to write. It means admitting failure, something I hate doing. That hardly makes me special; nobody likes feeling like they’ve fallen short.

And yet, here I am. I have a pile of W2s waiting for me to do my taxes. Let’s find out why.

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It’s 2018 and already the score is Barcelos 0, Perfectionism 1. In spite of my best efforts, I couldn’t quite get my second blog post for last week into a state I considered for public consumption.

But if you follow me on twitter, you knew that already.

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New year, same(ish) me: 2018 resolutions

We’re six days into the year. The new car smell of 2018 is still there but slowly fading away. Now’s as good a time as any to talk about new year’s resolutions.

Between the two extremes of “NEW YEAR, NEW ME!” and “Ew, new year’s resolutions are dumb,” I think there’s a happy medium for everyone. Sure, the fact that January 1st is the day where one year turns into another is somewhat arbitrary. On the other hand, there’s something I’ve always liked about trying to plant the seeds of change in the depths of winter so that they’re in full bloom by the time spring rolls around.

(Never mind that it’s a humid and sprinkly 65 degrees in San Jose as I write this while the East Coast deals with Snowpocalypse 2018—it gets too dark too early and that’s what I mean when I use embellished purple prose like “the depths of winter.”)

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On Writer’s Block and “Serious Writing”

Almost two months ago — yikes — I was working on a blog post for Treat Yo Self Day (which I celebrate whenever the mood takes me, tbh) when Northern California caught fire. Here I was, writing about bath bombs and shower beers while one of my best friends couldn’t sleep because he was constantly being evacuated, allowed to go home, and told to evacuate again.

(He and his family are fine, in case you were wondering.)

“How can you write about such frivolous things when people are dying,” scolded my Inner Critic, better known as my Inner Saboteur. “Don’t you want to be a serious writer? Don’t you care about real issues?”

With that, I lost all desire to write anything fun. I buckled down and focused on writing for work because I was a serious writer.

And I seriously hated it.

Here’s the thing: there are always terrible things happening. Sometimes they are as close to home as Santa Rosa. But most of the time, that’s not the case. Writing about terrible things doesn’t make wanting to write about fun things less legitimate.

If anything, it might be more important. I can’t get on Twitter without wanting to throw my phone at the wall. I can’t listen to NPR without screaming at my poor defenseless car radio. Small victories like figuring out my personal style and finding pants that fit me are more important than ever. Terrible things happen every day, and sometimes I will write about them, but there’s no reason not to write about my everyday life and its little joys, too.

So here’s to being a serious writer who happens to write about fun, frivolous things. Because the alternative turned out to be not writing anything, and that’s the worst outcome of all.

Byline Brag: September 27, 2017

While I’m normally the editor of the Schools and Business & Real Estate sections, this week I was responsible for three sections. Last week was my first time running our Your Home section, which usually runs every last week of the month.

Scrambling to fill three sections had me freaked out at first, especially since I didn’t have anything from our usual columnists. But by the end of the week, I managed to pull it off. Bring on October; I already have it scheduled.

Your Home

Any day I can comment on the craziness that is the Bay Area housing market is a good day.

If you don’t know what an Eichler home is, think Midcentury Modern. Think Mad Men. Think clean lines and lots of glass. You get the picture. If not, then here’s a picture:

Eichler Plan

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Liz, what do houses designed and built before your parents came to America have to do with today’s housing market? Aren’t you just stretching so you can get on your soapbox?”

Well, Eichler’s vision of inclusiveness didn’t stop at trying to bring the outside into the home with open designs and glass everywhere. He built for the middle class. He built for everyone. He had a nondiscrimination policy back when other developers were trying to keep minorities out of the neighborhoods they were building. That was many angle.

And now his homes sell for millions and are sought after by collectors. That’s Silicon Valley irony for you.

Read more about Eichler Homes: Modernism for the Masses here.


It was a bit of a slow news week for schools (unlike this week, which has had me running around town every day), so I took two events that happened independently of each other and brought them together into something more substantial than they would have been alone. Los Altos High and Loyola Elementary hosted green commutes last week, which was the thread I used to weave these stories together.

Business & Real Estate

A local couple donated 50 million to Iowa State’s business school, which is now being named after them. Just another day in the Los Altos Hills.

Byline Brag: September 20, 2017

Welcome to this week’s Byline Brag! I’m not super thrilled by that name for this series, so if you have any other ideas, let me know. Bonus points for puns and/or alliteration.

Today’s featured article is the profile I did on a Foothill college grad who’s also a DACA recipient. Community colleges and working class immigrant families are two subjects close to my heart, so the chance to be able to share this story with the relatively privileged readership of the Los Altos Town Crier consumed me.  It’s not just the best thing I’ve written for the Crier; it might be the best thing I’ve written in a long time.

Read more about Liliana here.

As for the rest of my stories for the week, because I poured so much of myself into this article—and because the Business section was small this week—Liliana’s story wasn’t just my favorite byline; it was my only one! But that doesn’t mean I just spent the week hanging out in the office. I covered some school events and brought my camera with me. I’m still not the best photographer, but it has been nice putting the skills I learned from quidditch together with getting to know the community that I’m supposed to be covering.

You can find my images of Los Altos High’s Green Team electric car exhibition and Hausner Jewish Day School’s Dinosaur Dig in the PDF version of the paper.

Oh man, it’s been just over a month since I posted. I swear I haven’t been lazy. If anything, it’s been the opposite problem. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to in the last month:

  • Portuguese school started again!
  • I joined the board of the Silicon Valley Portuguese Education and Culture Foundation.
  • I traded in being a non-playing manager for the Argonauts for being a playing manager of the Skrewts.
  • I started coaching SJSU Spartan Quidditch.
  • I returned to NCQC after applying unopposed for the community commissioner position.
  • Oh, and the day after I flew home from the MLQ Championship, I started working at the Los Altos Town Crier as a reporter covering schools as well as business and real estate.

Phew, just looking at that list is exhausting. It’s mostly been the last thing on that list that’s been keeping me from blogging. I’m definitely writing, just not necessarily here.

It’s taken me about a month to (mostly) bury my impostor syndrome and get used to working at the pace of a weekly print newspaper instead of a purely digital publication, but I think I’ve got it under control. Mostly. I have moments sometimes where I feel like I’m punching above my weight class, but let’s save that for another post.

I’ve decided to update my blogging schedule (yes, again) and not let all this content I’m creating elsewhere go to waste. I still want to write two original posts a week. Those will be published on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, I’ll be linking to my stories in the Town Crier, and most likely giving a little background info on one or two of them.

Spoiler alert: I am pretty damn proud of something I wrote for this week’s paper. Come back Wednesday and check it out.

Barcelos Knows turned one sometime in the last month; I only know that because got billed for another year of owning this domain. A year ago I was struggling with unemployment and wondering if I’d ever make it professionally as a writer. I’ve gone from intern to blogger to reporter in that time, with a few relapses into funemployment sprinkled in there, but that mostly upward trajectory wasn’t all my doing. There was a lot of luck involved, but also the support of you, my readers.

Every time you tell me about something I’ve written, in person or in the comments section, helps validate me and what I’m trying to do with my life. That’s kept me going when I’ve felt like quitting, which has been more often than I care to admit. Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to figure myself out. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of your support.