Thanksgiving Musings

I’m not one to get all sappy around Thanksgiving.

For most of my adult life, I never had plans on Turkey Day. My sibling’s in-laws were so insistent on having the holiday on the holiday and my parents didn’t care when we got together as long as we got together. This usually meant that we had Thanksgiving the weekend before or the weekend after the actual holiday. Don’t get me started about Christmas…we once had our family Christmas on January 15th. :D

Back to Thanksgiving.

This year, I do have a lot to be thankful for.

Family.

I have an amazing family. I didn’t know how much I missed them until I went back home to see them this past weekend.

Last year at this time, my Mom was knee-deep into her battle with breast cancer, but this year, she’s getting awesome test results from her oncologist and she’s still cancer free. I’m very thankful for that.

In fact, she’s doing great!

me-and-mom

I also had a great visit with my siblings. It’s not often that I get to talk to them one on one, but the way things ended up this last weekend, I had a good visit with most of them. My brother and sister plan on “road tripping” out to see us next year too! :)

I’ll always be in debt to my family for all their help – especially this year with our move to Oregon – and I’m thankful I was born into such a great family.

Health.

Again, with Mom’s cancer, I’ve been really trying to get healthier. CrossFit, which you can read about on my other blog, has been really important in helping me get back in shape. I’m amazed at what one month of it has done for my fitness level and general overall mental and physical health.

Friends.

While we left many good friends back in MN, I’m thankful for the connectivity that social media and the internet provides us to stay in touch. I look forward to visits from them in the future – and you know I’ll be heading back to MN to catch up too! :)

Tim.

I’m so thankful that he let me follow my wild idea of moving to Oregon. It took him some time to get acclimated, but now he’s as happy with Oregon as I am – especially now that winter is on its way. Our morning CrossFit workout was done in 60 degree weather. If that’s not the greatest thing ever, I don’t know what is. :D

Although we’ve had our ups and downs, he’s my soulmate and I can’t believe we’ve been together over eight years. Seems like yesterday…

Thanksgiving Dinner.

Oh who am I kidding, I love Thanksgiving dinner. Every year, even though we never have plans, I cook Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. With our new focus on health, we cut back on a few of the sides we didn’t really need (I don’t miss mashed potatoes) and decided to cut out dessert. Even with those cuts, I didn’t want for anything at all.

Get in mah belleh. Om nom nom nom.
Get in mah belleh. Om nom nom nom.

There are a multitude of other things I’m thankful for, but the siren song of wine, video games (Persona Q), and the couch is calling me and I must answer that call.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Right to Vote

For the first time in my entire adult life, I cannot vote.

It’s not because I have a statement to make about our current electoral system or that I have a problem with voting. I just didn’t get my voter registration changed soon enough. :(

Back in August, my husband and I moved from Minnesota to Oregon. We never paid any attention to changing our voting registration because, first off, it was August. Secondly, having lived in MN my entire adult life it wasn’t something I hadn’t worried about.

Why?

Because Minnesota has same-day voter registration. As long as you can show proof of residency the day of the election – you can vote. Usually you can show a recent utility bill that’s in your name (and that has your current place of residence) with your drivers license and that’s enough.

You can also change your voter registration when you renew or update your drivers license. However, it’s that same-day registration that I’ve know my entire life.

I-voted

We got a voter information packet in the mail here in our new home and we thought “wow, that’s so thoughtful. A booklet that explains all the different measures, who’s running for office, and everything!”

We missed one tiny detail.

Voter registration deadline: 21 days before the election

By the time we thought about that mere detail, it was 19 days before the election.

nerdrage

Thus, for the first time in my adult life, I could not vote in an election. I couldn’t vote in Minnesota because the primary way to vote is to go to your precinct. Secondly, it was too late to get an absentee ballot – and besides, voting where you no longer live seems a bit disingenuous and wrong.

It makes me sad that my voice could not be heard this election season, especially since there were so many ballot initiatives and candidates that I felt strongly about supporting.

Never again.

A Day in the Life of an Automattician

A number of my colleagues at Automattic have been writing “A Day in the Life” posts about how they work throughout the day. I took notes of one of my workdays a few weeks ago and am finally writing them up here. :)

mydesk

This is my desk. Yes, I cleaned up a LOT of stuff off of it before I took the photo. It’s not as dark and depressing as it appears in my office.

See?

office2

Ok, fine. It’s a really cloudy day today, so sue me. :P

Now without further ado, a day in my life at work.


7:00a: Get out of bed, shower, brush teeth and get dressed.

7:15a: Grab breakfast and coffee. Start opening all the P2 posts (one of our internal communication tools) I want to read. I’m up to 40+ tabs open now. Eat while catching up on team chatter in Slack (another internal communication tool).

7:45a: Uh oh – cat barf emergency with Roxy and the daily medicine routine for Pixel.

8:00a: My team chat which normally starts now is pushed back a little bit. Instead, I start reading all the P2 posts I opened in tabs. Have to also deal with another cat barf emergency. :(

8:20a: Team chat! Normally we do a video chat, but this time we do text only. I am bummed because my hair looks good for a change.

9:15a: Time for a break to relocate from my kitchen table to my office. Spend some quality time with the foam roller to work out some soreness in my legs from the long run I did the day before. Refill beverages.

9:30a: On Fridays, my team doesn’t do any ticket work from morning in our time zone until lunchtime, but instead we work on improving documentation for both internal / external sites. We update screenshots, write new copy, and create new documents if we find something missing. Also had a brief conversation with my husband as he was working remotely today.

9:50a: Finally get working on the docs project. Roxy still is having tummy trouble.

11:15a: Impromptu trip to the vet due to the barfing kitty.

1:00p: I got back from the vet, grabbed my lunch, and went back to work. I don’t normally eat at my desk, but as I was reading through documentation, it wasn’t a big deal to eat my salad and read documentation at the same time.

???: Taking another break to monitor Roxy (she had been dehydrated and got subcutaneous fluids and anti nausea medication) and had a phone call from the vet with test results. It happened pretty fast, so I’m not sure what exact time that all happened.

2:30p: Finish up the documentation projects I started this morning.

2:45p: Start working on some Guided Transfers. This process involves moving a user’s WordPress.com site to their own new self-hosted site. This involves a lot of work with hosts, FTP, and checking to make sure the transfer is seamless for the user.

3:15p: Took a break to return a phone call from my sister.

3:30p: Back to Guided Transfers and helping some of our Happiness Engineer trials in Slack.

5:00p (ish): I’m pretty sure that I ended my day around 5pm. All the Guided Transfers were completed and I had been caught up on all the reading I wanted to do today.


The great thing about working remotely and for a company like Automattic is the flexibility that we’re given to get our work done. There’s no time clock to punch, no “middle management” keeping tabs on your every move, no 8-5 workday. Ironically, I did have an 8-5 workday on this “Day in the Life” – but I also had the flexibility to take my kitty to the vet as soon as I could and there wasn’t an expectation that I would have to “make up” that time I missed.

I have coworkers who don’t even start their day until 10-11am and others that work in 2-3 hour chunks – it’s all what works best for each individual. The benefit of working where you live means you have coworkers around the globe and with the communication tools we use, everything happens all the time – a sort of organized chaos – and time ceases to be the primary focus of being productive. There was a great piece on our CEO Matt Mullenweg on how things work here that explains it much better than I ever could. :)

Are you jealous yet? We are hiring! ;)

My Best Friend

Chester. Cheezy Chester. Chester Man. Chezza Man. Silky Smooth. Silky J. Silky Johnson. Lando Calrissian. Ladies Man. Buddy Boy. Booka Man. Booka. Dooka. Asshole. Orange Bastard. El Tiegre de Naranja. Orange Man. Sunshine.

Chester went by many names. But the one thing that didn’t change was that he was one of the best friends I ever had.

I got Chester on Halloween 1998. He was six months old and at the Humane Society in Clay County, Iowa. The name tag on his cage: Mischief. Boy was that accurate.

I took this rambunctious orange tabby kitten home with me. My then husband K and I had lost the day before a three year old tabby to an accident. While that cat was more K’s cat than mine (the cat wanted nothing to do with me, really), I still felt a loss and a hole that needed to be filled. Love that I needed to give another cat.

Enter Chester.

I changed his name from Mischief to Chester because I’m the kind of person who gives cats people names. Since I was completely unoriginal, he was named after the then Cheetos mascot “Chester Cheetah” – lame, right? But the name seemed to suit him.

Remembering back, he was the naughtiest boy. In his twisted logic, if he didn’t see you then you couldn’t hear him. An assortment of his naughty behavior:

  • Making himself comfortable on top of the dinner plates in the cupboard.
  • Getting up on a table and throwing glass beads out of a decorative candle display. He’s toss one out, watch it clang down the stairs of our split level, lather, rinse, and repeat.
  • Sleeping on my spider plant to the point of it being squashed. He never dug around or did his business in it, just slept on it.
  • Playing “splashy-splashy” in the toilet. It sounds like exactly what you think it is. Stand on toilet seat, splash the water everywhere. Repeat.
  • Stealing the straw out of any fountain drink I ever purchased. Most of the time, knocking said fountain drink over in the process. I would only turn my back for literally 5 seconds and BAM! Straw was gone and Diet Pepsi would be running all over the table and floor.

He would sleep on top of the water heater. He’d get in the ceiling and run around in the rafters, then yowl when he got “lost.” He’d chase wet clothes into the dryer and got a couple of thumps on the head after I turned on the dryer. (that actually happened only once – after that I was super paranoid and would check the dryer for an orange cat before starting it)

He would play fetch with a teddy bear that was almost as big as he was. This started because he wouldn’t stop attacking my legs when I was on the computer so I threw this bear that was on my desk to get him to chase and beat up something other than me. He brought it back a minute later. So I threw it again. Brought it back again.

He’d steal balled-up socks and make little piles of them all over the house.

He’d knock the Christmas tree down in the most spectacular of fashions (running the full length of our L-shaped sectional couch and launching himself off the end of the couch onto the tree like a flying squirrel) and afterwards give you this look of innocence that we would eventually call the “hey, did you see that cat knock that stuff over? I was just here minding my own business” look.

Most cats meow. Chester never meowed. He’d make a squeaky chirp whenever he would carry around his bear or his sock and other times he would make this “merrarowll mowww” sound that he would sing to his sock. Yes, he had a sock – named Sock – and carried it around like it was his baby and sang to it. But he never meowed at us.

Chester, from the moment we brought him home, was my shadow. Wherever I went, he went. He was totally and completely a mama’s boy.

In 2001, K and I split up. He was from the town we were living in and my plan was to move to the West Coast (eventually). The day after I quit my job in Iowa was 9/11. So my plans were thrown for a loop and since I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, I – with great sadness – decided to let K keep Chester.

Fast forward to late February 2007 when I found this comment on my then blog’s about page:

Hi,
I’m a cat lover too!! However, my wife has become allergic to cats and wondering if you knew anyone interested in a loving, fetching, orange male cat that goes by “Chester” If you know anyone I would be able to deliver, Thanks
K

At the time I already had two female cats in a tiny two bedroom townhouse, but I couldn’t let my boy go to someone else.

Thus on a Saturday, I spent 5 hours round trip driving in a blizzard to meet K halfway between his house and my house to pick up Chester.

Needless to say, the two girls were not impressed. Chester was like a stranger to me – but after a few days of hiding, I think he remembered who I was, because he was my big orange shadow again.

Tim and Chester became buddies and I fell back into being Chester’s mama. Gone were the antics of a kitten and now the assholery of an adult. He was super-picky about the litter box and would pee on the floor if the conditions weren’t up to his standards. He would get up on shelves and knock things off. He would make sure you saw him before he fully knocked things off too – the little jerk.

For the first few months we lived there, he would not jump on the bed. We had the joke that the “bed was made of fire” because even if we placed him on the bed, he’d be right off again in a flash. Then one day, he jumped on the bed, draped himself over my ankle, and fell asleep. Guess bed wasn’t made of fire anymore!

This brought on other “let’s lay on the mama” games such as “trapping mama’s legs” and “kitty backpack” – which sounds exactly as it sounds. I would be snoozing on my stomach, and he’d drape himself on my back like a backpack. Super adorable.

He would also high five. Like people thought we trained him to high five. He would just high five – no training necessary.

He also had the most amazing eyes. Gorgeous green eyes that he worked to his advantage. We always joked that he got away with so much shit because he was so handsome. And a giant flirt. He loved the ladies. :)

Then, once I started traveling for work he was having none of that business. Tim said he would destroy things, knock things over, pee everywhere – all because he was pissed I was gone. When I got home, he was sweet and lovey and would sit on me as soon as I sat down on the couch.

He was a trooper when we moved to Oregon. The girls we had to sedate, but Chester just hung out and rolled with the punches.

He was settling in nicely, when he suddenly he started to slow way down in the past week – we could see it in his body language and actions that he wasn’t feeling well. We took him into the vet and on Friday came back with the diagnosis of renal failure and diabetes. If it were just one of those things, we could probably treat it. But both? We cried and agonized and came to the decision that we couldn’t put the old man through all that for a possible 6 more months. He was already 16 and a half years old! What was the quality of life were we talking about here? Just so we could feel better about things?

We spent the past 24 hours hanging out with him, giving him all the wet food (which he loved) and treats he wanted, giving him all the pettings and loving that we could give him. I took some pictures of him today too – the one at the very beginning of the post was one of them. It perfectly captures his spirit and attitude.

It was with hearts full of love and sadness that we said our last goodbye to our Sunshine around 2:45pm today. He went very peacefully, without any pain, and with the two of us there until the very end.

It’s been so fucking hard coming home without him. Seeing little remnants of him still around the apartment: Sock. A wet footprint on the floor by their food bowls. A cat brush with orange fur still in it from the brushing we gave him earlier. Sitting on the couch without him sitting next to us. Giving Pixel her thyroid medicine (which always gets her treats afterwards) without having Chester lurking about wanting his own treat.

Memories. Ghosts. Feelings that don’t just fade away and cause you such gut-wrenching pain. Feeling like your heart was torn in two. Feeling like a part of you is missing. Wanting to cry and scream and curl up into a ball. It’s not fair. It sucks.

But it was his time to go. And anytime we lose someone we love so very dearly, the time we had with them was never enough. Ever.

This is my tribute to my best little furry friend. It says so much, yet doesn’t even scratch the surface of how awesome he was. I loved that little orange bastard so very much.

Here are some of our favorite photos of him. Rest in peace, little buddy.