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:

Montréal Comiccon

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:

David freakin' Duchovny (and me)

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.

The X-Files Poster Print Fan Art - The Light in Dark Places by Calobee Doodles

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.

Dotcom Design in San Diego, May 2018

Remember how I said I was poised at the tip-top of the proverbial roller coaster a few weeks ago?

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.

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!

Gallery

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!

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!