2018 Automattic Grand Meetup, Orlando, Florida

What a week! From the guest speakers to an advanced development class to meeting new people to Harry Potter world to playing Pokémon to touring Disney Springs, it’s hard to say what was the best part of this year’s Automattic Grand Meetup.

I tried to split my time between my new team and my old team when I wasn’t attending class or various presentations and sessions. These events have gotten so huge that it takes some serious effort to find and hug every person I know over the course of the week, let alone have meaningful conversations.

I made new friends raiding in Pokémon Go, and spent most of my downtime wandering around Disney Springs. I had a great one-on-one with my new squad lead at the Star Wars VR experience, and now I think all one-on-ones should involve shooting Stormtroopers. XD

Automattic arranged a special event dinner at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios mid-week. That in itself was impressive, but the afterparty remained my favorite. Epcot fireworks, the ever-present photo booth, and the Automattician-powered band was a great way to round out the week. Just when you think your colleagues couldn’t get any more brilliant, they get on stage and blow you away with musical talent.

And of course, there are the pictures; my favorite souvenirs:

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Hawaii, 2017

For those counting, this is my third trip to the most beautiful state in the country. But as lovely as it is, this was a work trip; there was only one dip in the pool, one brief trip to the beach, and a tiny bit of sightseeing. The rest of the time I was head-down with my group, learning the ins and outs of Gutenberg and working on a new theme.

The view and the company made up for the lack of time spent in the wild, though. I don’t use the word lightly when I say I’m blessed to have these opportunities. Thanks for a memorable week, Hawaii!

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Whistler, BC, 2017

The Theme Team and our poop, less one Richard.

The week before last I met up with 570-ish of my Automattic colleagues in Whistler, British Columbia for our annual Grand Meetup — and what a Grand Meetup it was! I’m still tired and I should have posted this a week ago, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Photo booth shenanigans with the Theme Team

Theme Team in Montréal, Quebec 2017

What a week! Last week, my team met in Montréal to work on projects and planning.

Since it’s fairly close, I rented a minivan and drove the 7+ hours to Montréal. My first meetup road trip! Huzzah! After a brief and unexpected pit stop at the border for some paperwork (harrowing but successful), I was off. There was a lot of Tim Hortons coffee and a Stephen King audiobook involved, and I spent a fair amount of time arguing with Google Maps.

We stayed at a cute boutique hotel downtown, where we could walk to most places. When we couldn’t walk, I also drove the group around, which was an experience. I managed to shatter the right-hand rearview mirror on a narrow detour at night, but I also parallel parked almost perfectly one time, so I figure I broke even (pun intended).

I spent most of my work talking with my teammates in 1-1’s and feedback sessions. We also found out that there are some major changes happening in our division — namely, the dissolution of our division! Thankfully our team is still together, but the announcement gave me pause. I’m also stepping down as team lead when I come back from my leave; it’s bittersweet. I’m still struggling with pre-sabbatical FOMO and anxiety, but I’m sure that will resolve itself as I find other things to occupy my time.

We had a lot of fun in the city, though, braving the cold and rainy weather to go out to eat and activities. There was a storytelling show, a lively ceramics painting session, a tour of the local marketplaces, a craft fair, and a fun group game of Codenames to top off the week.

The trip home was “eventful”. At one point I was stopped at the Quebec/New Brunswick border for a random police check and asked if I had any alcohol, tobacco, or dead bodies in the vehicle. I’m still not sure if he was being serious about that last one…

I also came thisclose to running out of gas in an area with no cell reception and few gas stations; that was exciting, but I made it with 4 miles to spare. Rural NB is no joke!

I’m glad I got to see most of my team one more time before I leave for the majority of the summer. I have no idea what I’ll come back to, but I know it will be positive. Thanks for a great meetup, team!