WordCamp US 2015

WordCamp US is over and I’m watching scores of recap posts slide by on my feed. I don’t have a recap of the content, which will 100% not cause anyone to miss vital information, but I do have a recap of my experience.

It was my invitation to this event last year that changed everything. In my five year plan (yes, I have my own five year plan) one of my major goals was to speak at WordCamp San Francisco, a place where the cream of the WordPress crop could be found. My plan had that set for 2016, so when I got to check that off my list in 2014 I admit that I wasn’t sure what to do next in that arena. My time spent at WordCamp San Francisco and the accompanying events was the most enriching experience I’d had to date. Thinking back on it, and the renewed admiration I had for this community, I couldn’t imagine that this year would be any less fantastic.

Which brings me to WordCamp US.

I spent much of my time with contributors and collaborators who build and guide the WordPress project and my heart and mind have been irrevocably expanded. This may seem like an incredibly difficult way to spend a week, but I truly feel more invigorated for it. Being around this community, even if it’s a small subset, always reminds me of just how wonderful they are.

What do I love so much about them? I have a short list here.

  • They are giving, but self-aware. Most don’t give more than they have, but all of them give what they absolutely can.
  • They are passionate. We don’t all have matching things we’re passionate about, but that only makes me want to hear about what they love so deeply.
  • They question things when they don’t know or don’t agree. The willingness to question where you are, no matter how you arrived there, is an admirable thing and one that takes an immense amount of courage.
  • They look out for each other. I have no other things to say about this one. It’s just wonderful and true.

There are other things of course. There are things that aren’t so great, too, because we’re all people. People are delightfully complex no matter how well they work together.

So, here’s to all you wonderful WordPressers out there. May you never cease to amaze.

Painting Poppies


Yesterday I took a break and did one of those group painting classes. I’m a little over-precise at times, which you can see by my initial background work. Halfway down with the blue part, the lower left and lower right, all in very clear quadrants. I promise I tried to be a more casual than it appears.

By the time we got to the poppies, though, I had sort of chilled out.

Sort of.

Siteground notebook swag

Sightseeing in Brisbane

I had planned to make this a collection of sites and sounds of Brisbane, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to record video on my camera. So, here we have a collection of photos from my trip and WordCamp Brisbane.

Learning to Fail

Failure is inevitable for most of us. Throughout our primary and secondary education we are given no option but to get into situations where we are guaranteed to fail. Everything from debate classes to cheerleading tryouts and, if you were like me, all the way back to the monkey bars is designed to challenge you to the point of failure build character. Most of us found areas where we clearly succeeded and some even go on to make a living doing those things. Some of us just avoid what they found failure in.

The startup culture values the concept of failure, saying that no great successes were ever achieved without failure. Fail fast, fail often is a common mantra in a world that values quickly finding flaws in a product so that you can find the subsequent solution.

I’ve been known to shy away from failure.

Far from that, I have made a habit of avoiding things I know I’m not any good at. A handful of years ago, I realized that this habit wasn’t based on any real evidence that I would not succeed. I would worry and worry leading up to the onset of a project and get so distraught over the possible outcome that, as often as not, I wouldn’t even begin.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose application of the word. Consider the flea! — incomparably the bravest of all the creatures of God, if ignorance of fear were courage.

Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson

The idea that courage is the ability to overcome fear was somewhat foreign to me. It’s not that it sounded odd when I heard it laid out, it’s just one of those things that was not clear until I’d seen it. Avoiding what I wasn’t guaranteed to be good at was actually just me being a coward.

So I’ve taken up, and really failed at, a lot of things: kayaking, West Coast Swing, coq au vin, and sewing an Armani design… just to name a few. The only way to learn is to boldly try. I’ve been learning to fail, and therefore broaden my horizons just as my teachers promised, by boldly trying things that I have no prior knowledge of. My next guarantee-free hobby will be learning Spanish.

I am starting with Duolingo to get some basics under my belt, but after that I will move on to conversation groups and Spanish radio.

If not radio, then something equally immersive!

Talking to Strangers: The Elevator

“May I call you Dental Claims Girl?” he asked, reaching around me to push the elevator button.
“Only if I can call you 11th Floor Guy,” I replied, removing my gloves.
“I have a name, you know,” he replied. I turned to look at him.
“So do I.”

He asked my name and said “Ah. You’re French.”
“You’re Armenian.”
“Tunisian,” he said, shrugging.
“So you speak French.”

He asked why I thought he was Armenian.

I didn’t really have a reason, I guess. I told him as much, too. It was suddenly like I’d entered an episode of Sports Talk. Only sentences with five words or less.

The elevator reached my floor.

“To be continued?” he said, holding the door open.
“Yea,” I called over my shoulder, “serial elevator conversations!”
“It would be a best selling book!”

Talking to Strangers: The Market

I got some Greek yogurt at the market this evening. I was just reading this morning how I could make some for myself and had gone to get the ingredients. Clearly I intended to make some for myself.

I should mention that I do not, as a general rule, choose to make yogurt in my kitchen.

I’ve been wanting Greek yogurt for some time – I’d safely say months – and haven’t been able to find any. I therefore took to the internet in search of recipes. I’d made my way through a fair number of them and had chosen one that seemed authentic yet fairly simple and made my way to the grocery store, armed with this information.

I had to be directed to a number of items.

Halfway through this, I ran into one of the stock boys that I always see on Wednesdays. He asked what I was doing and I explained the whole thing about the yogurt.

“Greek yogurt?” he asked, playing with the diamond stud in his ear.
“Yea… it’s yogurt but thicker.”
“We have Greek yogurt…”

I looked at him through squinty eyes, head half-cocked.

“You mean to say,” I started, gesturing with my bag of Twizzlers, “that you’ve had this all along?”
“No, I just stocked it last night. C’mere”

I followed him to the “Health Market” and smiled as he made jokes about it being my favorite section. He reached behind the fruit and produced Greek with Honey and Greek with Blueberries. One in each hand.

“Organic… I know you like that,” he said, chuckling, “and Greek and single serving for my favorite single lady.”

I smiled back as he took my basket.

“I’ll put these ingredients back.”

My Experience with Laughing Gas

“I’m nervous,” I said to the nurse as I went in. She had already taken my glasses so I couldn’t see anything and that’s probably for the best. I don’t really know why I made that particular announcement. It’s as though I thought I was the only one of sixteen people in the day who would be afraid of oral surgery.

“Oh are you?” she said, with surprise. “Well sit down here.” I sat in the chair and she placed the nitrous over my nose, asking me to breathe deeply. I told her it tasted funny. Like cotton candy flavoring.

I don’t know if anyone has ever told you what being under nitrous oxide is like, but it is an odd sensation. The first thing to change in how your head feels. Your ears begin to ring and your head starts to feel as though it’s vibrating. I imagine it what concussion feels like. Shortly thereafter, your hands and feet start to feel the effects and the feeling travels inward until your whole body feels like it is a buzzing, electric mass.

It’s cool, frankly.

What happened then, though, is that my body had slowed down without notifying the old brain so that I continued to need to talk. I can imagine you’re not surprised that I wanted to talk. So in a voice slow and deep I told the nurse about myself. Each word was hard to manage, as though they’d been lashed all together with salt water taffy, but I pressed on.

“My best friend is out there,” I said, slowly. “She’s taken the day off. Isn’t that amazing? Aren’t I so lucky to have such a good friend?” The nurse agreed that I was. Just then the doctor arrived.

“I’m nervous,” I said to him as he came to the chair, “but it’s not your fault. You seem lovely!” I turned to the nurse. “Doesn’t he seem very nice?” I asked before turning back to the surgeon and telling him that, yes, I felt he seemed very nice. I also told them how many people had referred me.

The doctor told me I had two impacted teeth to which I replied “That’s exactly right, doctor!” as though he needed my help. He then asked if I was was ready for my IV and I informed him that if he wanted my ID he’d have to ask my best friend to get it from my purse. He told me I’d feel a poke on the count of three.

He got to two before I said “Ouch… that’s… quite a poke.” They all laughed, as they should have since he hadn’t done anything yet. I assume this is the part where they would have asked me to count down from 100 except that I had never really stopped talking.

It’s not as though it would be hard to tell when I was officially out.

Which took about two seconds.