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!

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Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 2016

Theme Team in Barcelona's Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

Theme Team in Barcelona’s Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

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.

It wasn’t an easy trip, but as always, the people and the city made it worthwhile. Until next time, Theam!

Theme Team bringing the drama.

Theme Team bringing the drama. Photo by Tammie Lister.

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Boston, Summer 2016

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.

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 am such a dork. I love it. And my kid has been blessed by Mother Gillian.

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.

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.

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?

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Summertime, and the living is busy.

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:

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An X-Files Tour of Vancouver

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.

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.

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.

WORTH IT.

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