I’ll be honest, this was a rough trip. I know it’s hard to feel bad about visiting tropical climates in March; that part was definitely A+. And I always enjoy meeting with my colleagues and spending time with them in person.
Travel-wise, I got off to a rough start. My first flight out was canceled due to a winter storm, so I spent an extra day and night at the airport hotel. I was already anxious about the trip and kind of homesick to begin with, so the extra time to sit around and wait didn’t help. My rebooked flights were packed, of course, and added an extra flight to the mix, so that was frustrating.
When I finally did get going, I just felt off. When my second flight of the day landed in Miami, I stood up and felt like I was going to pass out. Thankfully I didn’t, but that feeling of lightheadedness persisted throughout the trip. (More about that later.)
I did appreciate the change in scenery, though, and our meetup home at Palm Cay was perfectly situated on a white sand beach. I felt like we spent the time productively with team building, problem solving, and plenty of laughs.
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:
Last weekend I flew to Montréal for Comiccon. It was huge; definitely bigger than the one we went to in Boston a few years ago. There were costumes galore and lots of places to sit quietly and people-watch. I’d originally planned this trip because David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both slated to make an appearance, but Gillian had to cancel. I decided to go anyway; I still wanted to meet David, and this con would be easier to wrangle than NYC.
Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) and William B. Davis (Cigarette-Smoking Man) were also there. I bought a selfie with Mitch; he was incredibly nice about making time for everyone, asking questions, etc. He’s very kind, and doesn’t talk through his teeth at all. Apparently he reserves that stoicism for Mulder and Scully.
The three actors also did a Q&A panel, which was underwhelming — it was advertised as a “Special Event” and tickets cost extra, which probably should have been a red flag. The moderation was sub-par and the fan questions weren’t screened, so there were a lot of repeats. I cringed, a lot. It wasn’t worth the cost of admission, but oh well.
Of course, I got a photo with David:
It’s a picture of a picture so it’s not great quality, but who cares? JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE. I got a side hug. I’m never washing my sweater again.
He also signed one of my prints (I don’t have a photo of the print with the signature handy, so you’ll just have to trust me!) Eventually I’d like to get Gillian Anderson’s autograph on the same print. Between that, and a photo with both GA and DD, and I think my fandom life will be complete.
But the best part of this trip arguably had little to do with Comiccon, and everything to do with my friend and colleague, Kathryn, who made for excellent company while I was in her home city. We had a couple A+ meals (sushiiiiii) and she showed me the most amazing dessert place.
In a wonderful bit of serendipity, she also found these two artifacts while cleaning her house this weekend:
The first is an August 1995 sci-fi magazine with the infamous all-white photo shoot. The second is a script for an X-Files episode that doesn’t appear to have aired. Maybe a spec script from Tim Minear, who wrote a couple X-Files episodes in 1998 (and wrote for a bunch of other shows as well). I can’t wait to read it!
I also had a chance to walk around the city a bit. I haven’t done much solo travel for fun, but I could see this becoming a thing in the future.
Well, I’m finally at the bottom of the ride. I came home from our meetup on Sunday afternoon and promptly crashed for several hours of much-needed sleep. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a couple days off to recover. Monday was spent in a time-zone-befuddled daze, and yesterday was spent in Bangor for appointments.
…okay, maybe I’m not entirely at the bottom of the ride, but I’m getting there.
Most of the meetup itself was spent planning and thinking and brainstorming, which explains the relative lack of pictures this trip. Sticky notes lose their visual appeal after one or two photos.
Up at 3:30 am to catch my flight. Joy.
Hello, San Diego
It’s windy on this boat.
A little time with family
When in San Diego with five hours to spare…go to the zoo!
Pretty fly for a pink guy
The kids struggled with my absence more than usual, and I’m feeling the sharp divide between work and motherhood. Pulled in multiple directions, it’s hard to know if I’m doing enough on either front. But it was good to spend time getting to know my team, and I enjoyed working against the backdrop of ocean air and spring sun.
I met up with my aunt and cousins for lunch on my last day, and a late flight out afforded me the chance to have some alone time in the city. I wandered around the San Diego Zoo, taking pictures of the animals so I could share them with the kids.
All in all, a successful meetup, but I’m glad to be home!
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.
This is what I left behind, for your reference.
I found a KP at SFO!
The view’s alright.
Someone was interested in the remote work lifestyle.
Early morning walk, cute flower.
So many delicious breakfasts.
No filter necessary.
Sunset game on point.
Thai beef salad at TK Noodle House.
Team bonding over Thai.
Delicious plum liquor.
When life gives you ugly lemons, give them away.
Farmer’s market papaya
Obligatory beach selfie.
Theam in the water.
The life, I am living it.
Dipping the toes in.
Partial Theam portrait by Jeff.
A day out at the markets. (Photo by Jeff)
Cheers! (Photo by Jeff)
Dinner under a canopy of flowers.
Richard’s amazing Banyan tree
Time to say goodbye.
Hot tub Theam machine. (Photo by Allan)
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!
What a week! Last week, my team met in Montréal to work on projects and planning.
Gwen and Ellie sent friends to keep me company <3
A Shirley Temple for the DD (that’s me)
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.
I kinda forgot to take a pic before I dove into this poor cupcake.
“Spicy” lemonade, as my kids would say.
Themers with a cupcake!
Montreal at night
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).
The frothiest, yummiest iced coffee ever with my cupcake.
Fully painted; the colors darken significantly in the kiln
Ready for firing!
The team and friends!
The finished product! So pleased. 😀
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.
72% dark chocolate ice cream
Authentic dining at Mikado
So much sushi. We powered through it.
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.
When in Rome…eat Tim Hortons.
I enjoyed a Canadian delicacy on my way home.
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!
The day after the U.S. election, I flew to Barcelona for a team meetup. It was a bittersweet trip; on one hand, I was happy to have the distraction of travel, for the opportunity to escape to a foreign city and immerse myself in something that wasn’t U.S. politics.
On the other, I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to go home, curl up under a blanket and hide.
The election results were a frequent topic of conversation throughout the meetup, but we didn’t let it completely overshadow our fun. Besides, the trip itself threw its own interesting obstacles our way; lost (then found) wallets, viruses, a stolen laptop bag, and only one fluent Spanish speaker in the group, which made for some unique exchanges.
Hotel Praktik Bakery
Casa Sera, our home away from home for the week.
View from my room.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…oh, right, it’s a bird.
The obligatory “We really do work on these trips” picture.
Barcelona’s architecture brings its A-game.
Catalonia Sq. at night
La Sagrada Familia
Cathedral windows lit by the sun.
I could get into church if it involved this many rainbows.
Ceiling or alien spaceship? You decide.
Gaudi was a busy guy.
View from the Nativity Tower.
Walking in the park.
The tile mosaics in Park Guell are my favorite thing.
Views of Barcelona from Park Guell.
The cool kids.
So much color!
Gaudi knows how to dress up a ceiling.
It wasn’t an easy trip, but as always, the people and the city made it worthwhile. Until next time, Theam!
We made this trip last year with a minimum of fuss, and once again, it went off without a hitch. I think we might be getting the hang of this traveling-with-kids thing, or maybe we’re just lucky. iPads and a portable DVD player for the win! We took our time on the drive down, leaving early in the morning. Someone (cough ELLIE cough) was awake at 5 a.m., so we had a head start.
After crossing into Massachusetts, we stopped for dinner with long-time friends Sarah and Tim and their kids, which gave Ellie and Gwen a chance to run around and play with Toys That Are Not Theirs And Are Therefore Fascinating.
I’ll admit, I came home feeling pretty bummed that we don’t hang out with most of our friends on a regular basis. Like I said in my previous post, we only see each other once or twice a year, and I miss them! I love Maine, and I even love living in the country, but my friends and family in the south make a strong case for migration.
Fuddrucker’s with the Donahue / Paterson clan.
Running in the Seaport park.
My brother and his fiancée let us take over their apartment for the weekend. We didn’t get as much time with them as I would have liked because they were away that weekend, too, but we’ll get plenty of face time at their wedding in October (!)
Sunday meant Comic Con! It was my first con. The kids were excited at the numerous costumes (“Pikachu! Mulder! Scully! Wonder Woman! Batman!”), and they met one of the artists who works on the My Little Pony comics. We let them pick out a couple prints of favorite cartoon characters for their room.
But I had other priorities; I was there to meet Gillian Anderson, which meant standing in long-ass lines while Tim went exploring with the kids. Next time we do a con, I’ll plan to stay at least two days to soak it all in.
I paid for an autograph and a photo op, because why not? I have no regrets, but I think I’ll skip the celebrity extras next time (unless David Duchovny is also there, in which case, gimme). Meeting her at Streetcar was more intimate, less rushed, and she seemed more relaxed. It was still a cool experience, though, and Ellie was thrilled to join me for a photo with “Scully”. Ellie told her the X-Files was one of her favorite shows, which was cute, and GA asked, “Doesn’t it scare you???” Ellie shook her head, of course, and then we posed for the picture.
Gillian’s Q & A panel was amusing. She was feeling pretty snarky, apparently, and gave the moderator hell. She swore, apologized for swearing, and then kept swearing anyway. She talked a bit about being a mom, having “mom guilt”, balancing work life and parenthood — all things I can identify with. She recounted some fun moments from filming The X-Files last summer. It was neat to finally be in the live audience instead of watching from a shaky iPhone video on Tumblr.
The highlight of my Comic Con experience.
OMG JUST LOOK AT HER RADIANCE.
My signed print got a booboo. :-/
Fixed it, sorta. The print coating rubbed off, and it will probably never see life outside that frame.
After the fangirling, I went looking for my friend and former high-school roommate Sheryl, of Noadi’s Art fame. She is a ridiculously talented sculptor and painter, and you can see how much effort she’s put into building her business. I’m commissioning a Scully painting from her “kickass women” series whenever she’s available.
We headed home because the kids were getting grumpy and it was hot and my signed print got a spot, which soured my mood for the afternoon. Dinner at West on Centre cheered me up a bit, though, as did laying like a beached whale in an air-conditioned bedroom for several hours.
The next day, we went to Assembly Square and Legoland. We were able to get our tickets for cheap online, and the facility wasn’t crowded, so they let us in early. The kids played, tried the rides, and took the “Master Builder” class. It was blissfully cool and relatively quiet, which was a nice change from the swarm of people at the con.
Pre-Legoland lunch at Earl’s Kitchen.
Big man, tiny chair, don’t care.
LEGO my kids!
Bunker Hill Memorial bridge, LEGO version.
He looks pretty good holding a baby, huh?
We also visited with our friend Amanda and her new baby boy. Tim and I are out of the baby-making game, but there’s nothing like holding someone else’s adorable four-month-old to get my ovaries all whiny and mopey. Sorry, ovaries, you’re out of luck.
Amanda and her S.O. co-run a new restaurant, so we had tasty pizza for dinner. If you’re in the Malden area and need a bite to eat, try Sillari’s Pizza. We over-ordered and took home a leftover cheese pizza, which was promptly devoured by the adults for breakfast the next morning.
After one more night in Boston, we headed northward, promising the kids a stop at Target to get the LEGO sets we couldn’t find at Legoland. When we finally got home and staggered from our tiny car like road-weary zombies, we were coerced by small children into building said LEGO sets until our fingers were sore and our eyes were red. Not a terrible way to end a long weekend, right?
We’ve had a jam-packed few weeks! I’ve been on vacation since the beginning of August, and have spent much of that time outside with the kids, playing Pokémon Go and supervising at the lake or the park. In the past I planned activities and set goals (because vacations are all about goal-setting, duh), but this year I’m winging it. I haven’t done much creating, although I’ve taken many photos while out and about.
We just returned from a few days in Boston, where we managed to fit in all sorts of fun, visiting with friends, hanging out at Comic Con, and setting the kids loose on Legoland. The whole trip left me feeling a bit nostalgic and melancholy, even though we had fun; there are so many people I only see for a few hours each year, and I miss them!
I’ll write more about everything once things settle down; in the meantime, here’s a sneak-peek of our adventures:
Vancouver was the filming location for the first five seasons of The X-Files, the second movie, and the latest season. I had a late flight out on Sunday, so I wanted to spend some time getting to know the city as an X-Phile.
I relied on moviemaps.org, and pinned locations that were within walking distance of our hotel. On our last day, Tammie, Thomas, and I walked around the city, and occasionally stopped so Tammie could take dorky photos of me standing in front of various X-Files filming locations.
Orpheum Theater from Young at Heart
Vancouver Art Gallery from multiple episodes, including Conduit and Young at Heart
Christ Church Cathedral (foreground) was under construction, used in Conduit
Channeling Sad!Mulder in front of a picture of Christ Church Cathedral
Scully’s apartment exterior from Squeeze
Channeling my inner Scully – “Mulder, it’s me.”
Alleyway from Founder’s Mutation
Sidewalk from opening scene of My Struggle
Not on the list was the Vancouver Aquarium (used in Fearful Symmetry), which we passed during a tour of Stanley park, and Brix & Mortar restaurant, which was one of our group dinners. I couldn’t figure out which episode it had been used in, though.
Cates Park was the only location that was significantly out of our way, so we hailed a taxi from Gastown, and I paid a cab driver named William (!!!) an inordinate amount of money to haul us there, keep the meter running, and take us back to the city. The things I do for fandom.
Tammie made me make faces. I think this was supposed to be skeptical.
I am not entirely sure what I was doing here.
Arch Alley from Home Again
Ovaltine Cafe from Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”
It was really fucking cold.
Two very tolerant colleagues in the rain at Cates Park.
Log at Cates Park from Home Again
By this time, it was pouring rain — not cute, drizzly Vancouver rain, but pissed-off, stormy, blustering rain — and we got soaked during the scant five minutes we spent at the beach, all for a shot of the iconic log from Home Again.
Tammie and Thomas have my eternal gratitude for accompanying me on this spiritual journey of sorts. I can tell they were also moved by my unending devotion to this godforsaken show:
“Caroline, we hate you.” – Actual quote from my teammates as we stood in the pouring rain. I don’t think they meant it.