if it were only cat calls…

img_7636Yesterday I worked. I ran errands. I worked some more. And then when I realized it was time to head out the door to a happy hour I threw my jeans and a black tank top on, put on my sandals, ran a flatiron through my hair, threw on some bb cream, mascara, and chapstick and then I grabbed my purse and stepped out the door to start my 6 or so block walk to catch a bus.

As I was waiting to cross the street at the cross walk  a block from my home some guy in a big white truck stopped so I could cross. As I often do I waved and smiled in thanks as I was crossing the street and once I made it across and he began to drive away he wolf whistled at me and yelled out “Oooh baby…” The rest of what he said blew away in the wind of traffic as I walked west and he drove east. I didn’t take the high road, I flipped him off.

A block or so later another cat call from another car.

And after that a man, very likely with some mental health issues for which he was/is in need of assistance, had thrown himself on the ground screaming about bitches and cunts and how much they hurt him.

And then on my bus ride on a mostly empty bus a man decided he needed to sit next to me. Despite all the empty seats. I told him to sit elsewhere.

That’s enough, right?  That should be it.

After I got off the bus, as I walked toward my destination, another guy decided he just needed to know where I was going. Followed me asking.

All of those incidents happened in the span of 45 minutes in close-in Southeast Portland.

And while each instance occurred my first thought was to blame myself. Had I worn something revealing? Had I put on some item of makeup or clothing that screamed  for folks to harass me? Had I suddenly gotten so super amazingly hot that folks just could not control themselves? I wanted to grab the baggy sweater from my purse and put it on but it was 80 degrees with the sun beaming down and I was already sweaty.

And then I thought about my kid. If some asshole catcalled my kid would I think they’d worn the wrong thing, had on too much makeup, needed to put on a sweater? No. No I’d just be pissed off that in this civilized world people still can’t walk a few blocks without the judgement of others being loudly passed. Without being sexualized. Without being harassed. Without being objectified. Without someone making sure that we all know where the balance of power lays.

I soon arrived at the pub to meet two guys prior to the happy hour. And I was relieved to see them. My partner and his friend sitting in the well-lit pub. The waitress came over and I was relieved to see her smiling face. When she asked if I needed a drink all I could say was yes. And my drink order included an “and” as I had a cider to be social and a bourbon to settle my very frazzled nerves.

That was the end of the overt stuff. The aggressive display of societal power. The end of the intentional reminders that I am less than. That I am other. That my body is just there to entertain those who pass. Those who have the power. That was all I had to take from street harassers yesterday.

But the problem wasn’t quite over. The balance of power, of societal control, was still front and center.  At the happy hour I attended for a startup blog and the maker community I was the only woman at the table. Guys came and went. Some really nice guys with whom I genuinely enjoyed conversation. There were a couple of people, one in particular at the other end of the long table I would have liked to connect with but didn’t have the chance before I left. Many I did speak with. A few I avoided as I listened to them dominate their conversations.

But each time a woman walked out onto the patio I waited hopefully to see if she would join us. If perhaps I could cease being the only woman in a sea of men. There were about a dozen folks, give or take, who showed up for the meetup and for the most part they were white dudes.

As my partner and I headed toward home I just started to rant. About the creepy guys on the way to the happy hour. About all the men at the event. About all the men and white folks at all the events in Portland. I had no point. I had no conclusion. I had fear on one hand and disappointment on the other.

And I had had enough social time. I was tired. I was done. I just wanted to get home with my kid and my partner and have a meal and watch a mindless show on tv and sleep.


12 hours later and I’m sitting at the airport. I’m early for my flight and I’ve already eaten breakfast. So I sit by the window a few gates away from my departure gate waiting to meet my teammate. When I sat down here an hour ago it was just me. Me in my big black boots, my quirky polka dot skirt (it has pockets!) and my WordPress t-shirt. The sun is streaming in. Glaring. So huge sunglasses hide most of my face. As I’ve been sitting here working the gate has slowly started to fill. The seats are mostly still empty but those that are filled are filled by men waiting for their flights. Again I am the only woman. And as I’m at the airport and clearly going somewhere all these guys make me think about all the guys where I am going.

I’m headed to my company’s yearly grand meetup. A week where all of us in a wide-spread distributed workforce gather for 7 days to work and play in one location. This year we’ll be in Whistler, BC.

I’ve been really looking forward to this trip as a time to connect with my teammates and those in the company I have the honor of working with. To meet coworkers with whom I haven’t had the chance to connect. To laugh, to think, and to have important discussions.

But as I sit here I’m reminded that most of those coworkers are men. Most of them. Automattic works hard to ensure that it is a safe and positive place to work for all of its employees, but I am still aware that I’m walking in a minority. Which usually isn’t something I mind. I’m used to being the only woman at the table. I’m used to being the exception and not the rule. I grew up with a brother. My friends have always been boys.

I’ve never exactly felt welcome in a community of just women. A community of sisterhood.

But after last night I’m tired. I’m tired of being the only or the exception.



I have to travel? I get to travel? I travel…

There’s this set of commercials that was playing constantly for a while on a video streaming service we use. Commercials that in my youth I may have found grating, but that grown-ass me finds charming. Entertaining even. I can’t remember what they’re for exactly, but aren’t those sometimes the best?

In the commercial two or more travelers are put in a difficult circumstance, but one of the travelers always has an advantage. An amenity. Something to pass the time nicely. Like the rugged cowboys riding on the trail, grimacing with each bump. Wincing thinking about the long road. And then one of them lifts up a delightful glass of wine and a cheese plate.

My dad traveled a lot when I was growing up, and it was hard on all of us. It was hardest on my mom, of that I have no doubt. But it was hard on my brother and me. And though I had some abstract acceptance that it was hard on my dad, I didn’t really get it.

But now that I have to travel for work I get it. I really get it. When I was stuck for an extra day on my last trip (though it was in an amazing place). And as I said goodbye to my kid today and entered into a somewhat sour mood knowing I wouldn’t see them for a week. I really felt like I have to travel. But that’s not the reality.

bbwI mean it is, I have to travel. It’s part of my job. But if we’re being real I get to travel. And I want to. I signed on for this surreal gig where it’s part of my job to travel to amazing places, talk with inspiring people, and to learn more about this world and the project I work in. And as much as I miss my kid, my partner, and my Portland I wouldn’t trade this.

So as I sit here in a branch of an amazing little Portland restaurant that happens to be located in the airport sipping very nice bourbon and eating an amazing meal on my way to another adventure I’m thinking that my daddy didn’t get to travel. He had to.

Back to those cowboys. The ones on horseback on the bumpy trail. That cowboy with the cheese plate (and a sunny disposition) gets to travel. So do I.

And honestly I can’t wait to keep exploring the world. Cheese plate optional.



I’m only online to write a blog post…

Earlier today while chatting with my friend as we whiled away the hours at work we got to talking about our blogs. Which really makes complete and total sense given who I work for and what I do. Of course blogging would be a topic of conversation with my friends and coworkers. And in the course of our conversation about blogging in general and our blogs specifically a lot of things were said.

I only remember two of them. Sure I could go back and check the chat logs but the point is the only two things I remember are clearly the two important things.

  1. We use the same theme. In pink.
  2. We both need to blog more.

I used to be a prolific blogger. I blinked and fully written blog posts fell out of my tear ducts and published themselves. People begged me to post less. Seriously. But over the last several years I’ve slacked off considerably. Now it’s not that I got any less interesting. I wasn’t that interesting to begin with. It’s just that seven things led to ten others and I stopped posting.

So after glossing over the fact that we both use the same theme. In pink. I made a demand. Or maybe a promise. Or perhaps a declaration. It could have a proclamation. I stated very seriously that we both needed to put up a post. Tonight. For real.

And then we got back to work making the internet a better place for others. Because we’re good like that.  And then the day came to a close and I did the whole mom thing and there was bonding and dinner and cats. And then the kid started in on homework and I was faced with only two real possibilities.

I could clean the kitchen.


I could get online to see if my friend had posted anything on her blog in the hopes that I would be off the hook and then spend my evening window shopping polka dot dresses on-line.

Here’s something you should know about me. Cleaning the kitchen rarely wins when there is any other option. I mean I’ll always clean the kitchen at some point. But if I can possibly find something else to do so I can reasonably procrastinate I will.

And since she hadn’t posted and I was already online I totally took the time to look at dresses. And maybe answer just a couple of work pings. And catch up on the facebooks. But eventually I realized that at this point I’ve probably seen every polka dot dress that the internet has to offer. That I don’t need to work tonight. That there is no end to the facebooks. And that kitchen, it’s still waiting.

So. a blog post it is…


wishing for a green thumb…

There are few scents  more soothing and restorative to me than the perfume of Star Jasmine on a cool breeze. Growing up my family moved around a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. The few people I know who moved around as much or more than I did as a kid are all military brats. But as I was entering 5th grade my family moved as a unit “just one more time” again. And that time it took. I lived in one town from my 5th grade year until the middle of my 12th grade year. In the 2nd home in which we lived in that town my parents built a front patio. And on the end of that front patio they built a lattice wall. And at the base of that lattice wall they planted Star Jasmine. My bedroom window, which led to a small section of roof, was directly above that porch and in the evenings when the world was a bit too much for my teenage self I would open the window and climb out onto the roof to sit and think and write and brood. And to inhale that sweet fresh scent as it wafted up. It was a reminder to me that the world really was a beautiful place. Even there in the suburbs that I loathed so much.

With no offense meant to my family and friends, that is what I missed the most when I moved away. The scent of Star Jasmine felt like home.

And so over the weekend while shopping for a screen door at the local hardware and garden supply superstore when I stumbled upon and awesome planter that was on sale for a reasonable price and clearly wanted to come home with us to live in my backyard, you’d think I would have automatically known what I wanted to plant in it. But it wasn’t until I walked out into the garden section to grab a bag of soil that I knew. I didn’t see the plant, but from an aisle away I picked up the soothing scent. It played on the breeze like a gentle melody and I had no choice but to wander the isles searching for the source, pluck it up, and place it into my cart.

Since the rain on Sunday was heavy and unrelenting I haven’t had the chance to plant it yet. And so it sits protected from the elements just inside my open sliding glass door. As the breeze flows through from the door to the living room where I sit working on the sofa I keep picking up the faint scent of Star Jasmine. Sadly being a houseplant in my care is like a botanical death sentence so I know better than to try to keep it indoors.

But I have hope that, left unchecked and untouched by my deadly hands,  it will become the mighty plant I know it can be. Growing big and strong. Scenting the air I breathe and making my corner of the world a bit of a better place.

Of course, if it dies I can always got back to the store for another.

what to do when you lose a contact lens. in your eye…

eyeFirst of all, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. It’s all okay. I did eventually manage to get the contact lens out of my eye. I know you were worried, you’re nice like that.

And I know the thought of a contact lens floating around in someone’s eye unanchored is a little unsettling. The ick factor here is high. I know. I lived it. But it’s cool because I’ve totally figured out how to handle it. How to get it out right away. If by right away you mean after 15+ minutes. And all it takes is 5 easy steps.

Step One

Don’t panic. I know I said it before, but I’m saying it again. Don’t panic. Focus on something else. Whatever else you happened to be doing when the lens went astray probably deserves your full attention. Driving? You should totally be paying attention to what you’re doing out that other eye, the one in which the contact lens isn’t pulling a disappearing act. On a business call, you should keep listening. Keep talking. Focus on the goal of the meeting not the fact that you can feel that little piece of flexible plastic rolled up on the top curve of your eye making its way back toward your brain.

Step Two

Wrap it up. Whatever it is it’s time to end it. Ignore what I said before. Whatever it is you’re doing is significantly less important than what is happening in your body. I mean your contact lens is just floating around in your eye socket. That’s so gross. I mean, what is going on?! Is it folded in the shape of an origami swan? You can’t drive like that. You can’t talk. You need to focus. Pull over to the side of the road. Excuse yourself from your meeting. End your call. THERE IS A PIECE OF PLASTIC LOOSE IN YOUR HEAD! It’s okay to take a moment.

Step Three

Panic. Burn the world down with fire. Rub your eye furiously. DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYE YOU’RE MAKING IT WORSE. Text your boyfriend and tell him you think you are going to die from this loose contact lens. What if it makes its way to your brain? Choke a little on the thought that you might throw up and choke on your own vomit. Pace around. STOP WALKING. Lie down on the couch and don’t move a muscle. Slowly roll your eye with the lid closed. STOP MOVING YOUR EYE YOU’RE MAKING THIS WORSE. Stop breathing. Or breathe into a paper bag. Isn’t that what they do in the movies? Rub your eye to see if you can dislodge it. STOP RUBBING YOUR EYE!

Step Four

Have a moment of clarity. Why would you text your boyfriend to find out how to get the contact out? He wears hard lenses, not soft. Also he’s not a doctor of any kind at all. That may also rule out your parents and most of your friends. So where did you get those lenses to begin with? Ah yes. Take a deep breath, close the affected eye, pick up your phone with intent. Intent to call your eye doctor.

Step Five

Blink. If your experience is anything like mine, your lens probably came right out. Feel it there in the corner of your eye? Yeah just swipe at that little thing with your finger. Doesn’t that feel better? Oh look, it’s folded up into a little triangle. Kind of like a napkin. Phew. I’m glad that’s done.

So how did I get the damn thing lost in my eye in the first place? I shove a flimsy piece of plastic onto my eye every morning. This kind of thing was bound to happen eventually.

And a big ol apology to the person with whom I was meeting if I seemed a little distracted at the end of our call. It wasn’t you. It was my fricking contact lens. Sorry.


meeting Bert and Ernie…

A few months ago on one of our neighborhood walkabouts the kid and I stopped in at a favorite little shop to browse. Tilde is one of those shops that really doesn’t have anything you would need but tends to have a lot of stuff that you want. Really really want. They curate a great minimal selection of cards, a few twee home items, fantastic well crafted purses and wallets, airy scarves, the odd hat, some miscellaneous gift items, and stock the rest of the store with jewelry that is a feast for the eyes. Usually I stop in when I need a card or have a strong desire to part with my money and for a new pair of earrings.

On this particular day I wasn’t even planning to go into the store. We were walking past. We were on a mission. I don’t remember what that mission was. It was probably just a mission not to go in there. But as I was pretending not to look in the window of the shop but totally looking in the window of the shop something caught my eye. A bag. A black leather bag. A bag that I can best describe as looking like an origami version of a doctor’s bag.

All other thought stopped.

matt_-_nat-vegan-leather-doctor-bag-black-9d484572_lI stopped my kid from taking those next 10 steps that would lead to the coffee shop and we ducked into the store. There was some eye rolling. We don’t share a love of bags and shoes. That’s a me thing. So the fact that I walked inside and made a beeline to the most beautiful bag that ever there was caused a lot of sighs and there may have been a reminder about how I just got rid of a bunch of purses and you know what, that’s right!! I had just gotten rid of a bunch of purses. To clean things out. To purge. To make room for something new, better, perfect. A black leather origami style doctor’s bag. Okay a black vegan-leather origami style doctor’s bag.

We walked out of the store without purchasing the bag, strolled over to the coffee shop next door, ordered some tea, and as we were leaving the store just as my kid went to turn left I turned right and marched right back into the store, picked up the purse, placed it on the counter, and gleefully handed over money to take home the best damn purse in the world. That very day I named him Bert and we’ve been together ever since.

Sure sure. Sometimes I have to switch to a backpack or laptop bag, but that’s to be expected. Most of the time it’s me and Bert.

And yes, I was thinking of that Bert when I named him. That grouchy lovable felt guy was a huge part of my childhood. And yes, now that you mention it, it is a little sad that Bert the bag didn’t have an Ernie.

IMG_4364-3And so yes, yesterday when I walked into the back room (affectionately known as the shoe room) of a favorite local consignment store and found the PERFECT little black shoes with all leather uppers in my exact size that had never been worn and looked like they could keep my feet relatively comfortable for hours but be adorable with dresses for sale at a hugely discounted price, yes I did snatch them up, call them Ernie, and bring them home so Bert could meet his soul mate.

Look out world, Bert and Ernie have never been more fashionable. And my kid has never been more embarrassed by my naming of inanimate objects.





the saturday workout…

I distinctly remember a promise I made to myself this morning. It was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. Before I showered. Before I threw on jeans and a t-shirt, coaxed my kid out the door, caught the train, met friends for brunch, walked to a cute little shop with tons of sundresses, walked to a restaurant for cocktails and coffee while we waited for the dress shop to open, and walked back to the dress shop. It was also before we spent an hour trying on dresses and tops and sandals. Before we decided to head to my favorite little consignment shop to try on even more dresses.

So it was definitely before we went grocery shopping, grabbed tacos and margaritas for lunch, went to the beauty supply store for a bright new bottle of hair dye. And before we put away the groceries and settled down on the couch to continue season one of X-Files.

Like I said, it was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. I promised myself that I would fit a workout in today. Lift some weights. Do some cardio. At the very least, I lectured myself, do 45 minutes on the stationary bike.

And I really fully intend to do that. Just as soon as I find my sneakers — sadly the only shoes I can see from the couch are my wedges…


I have a way with animals – or – there’s still not a possum in my kitchen…

Long long ago at a table at a restaurant about 5 miles away I sat eating some chicken wings. I must have been eating them daintily because one little girl sharing the table with us told her dad that I looked like Snow White. Another little girl heartily agreed.

I’m not gonna lie. I was flattered. Tremendously so. Is Snow White the princess I would choose to emulate were I in the position to be a princess? No. But I have been dying my hair black as coal for the better part of my life. I do avoid the sun or wear a thick smear of sunblock to protect my delicate skin. And I do imagine that I rock a red lip like nobody’s business.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for those two, though I doubt either of them remember me or even each other. And if my similarities to Snow White ended with the black hair, pale skin, and red lip I’d probably be pretty happy. I’ve discussed before that I don’t have a need to clean up after 7 miners. And the thought of having to fear an evil witch’s poison every time I take a bite of a big juicy apple, well that’s a bit too much stress for me.

But there is this weird thing with the animals…

I wouldn’t say I’m an animal person so much as I would say that for an urban girl I seem to have an awful lot of run-ins with animals. Now Portland isn’t really your typical urban city setting. Yes we totally have a lot of plants and trees and stuff. And those come with animals. But still. Sometimes I think I’m an animal incident magnet. Or maybe I’m just a little paranoid and overly dramatic.



But at least twice a year a murder of crows will follow me on a walk. And when it’s just a crow or two about they’ll walk at my feet. Or call to me from power lines, hopping from line to line, following me all along the way. At times it makes me worry they know something I don’t know. Am I about to drop dead and they’re waiting to peck out my juicy eyes? Do they love my shiny black hair and want to line their nests with it? Am I the crow whisperer?

And then there’s the occasional run-in with squirrels. Or that time a mama raccoon chased me for blocks and then I had to jump over a snake. 

And all the times that my neighbors dog gets out and goes straight for my door instead of hers. It’s even learned to knock so I’ll let it in.

And when I was a kid and we were camping there was this one time that a squirrel who we had named Cookie climbed up into my lap, looked me right in the eyes, and then plunged her little squirrel hands right into my bowl of ramen noodles, grabbed up a big ol squirrel armful, and then shoved them into her chubby cheeks and ran away with a noodle still flapping out of the corner of her mouth.

And you know, I had rats that one time. *shudders*

But I won’t count all the times the tiny little birds have harassed me on the patio of the Mexican restaurant down the street because I’m pretty sure they just wanted chips… but really, who knows?

And then there’s the possum. Well possums. Maybe it’s because of the years I spent in Texas as a child but I seem to see possums everywhere. Hanging in trees. Skittering along the sidewalk. Sometimes squished in the road. And then there are all the times that for some reason I have imagined that there’s a possum in my kitchen.

Now I know what you’re going to say, “Cami, you never told us you thought there was a possum in your kitchen.” And you know, you’re right. I’ve only written about the time I thought there was a raccoon in my kitchen.  Spoiler alert: There was not a raccoon in my kitchen.

To make an unreasonably long story even longer, this morning as I stood at my sliding door sipping my coffee and surveying the vine farm that is my back yard I saw a possum stumble out of the weeds in the back corner and onto the patio. It stopped on my rug for a moment as if to appreciate that someone had so thoughtfully placed an outdoor rug there for its paw comfort and then looked around. That’s when it saw me through the door. It’s tiny little black eyes looked into my sleepy blue eyes and I am pretty sure I took another sip of coffee before I fully comprehended that there was a possum just feet from my kitchen and it was staring at me.

I imagine it was making the difficult choice between making friends with me, playing dead on my rug, or running for its little possum life. I don’t think it realized that I am more afraid of it than it is of me and it made a run for it into the vines that run along the side of my house on the external wall of my kitchen. The last thing I saw was its skinny little possum tale disappearing into the vines.

But I could hear it. The vines were rustling as it ran on its four little possum paws. And they moved in as they pulled against its pale possum pelt. So now I can’t feed my cats in case it finds a way to get into the kitchen. And obviously I can never go in my back yard again in case it tries to make friends. Which is a shame because I really love sitting at the patio table enjoying the outdoor rug someone so thoughtfully placed under my patio table.

Also, Rick will have to do all of the grilling from now on.


and then my brother turned 42…

42 years ago  today my brother was born. I guess that on the day of his birth he was not yet my brother. I wouldn’t come into play for another few years. So, technically it wasn’t my brother’s birthday. It was just Matt’s birthday. But 8 years later when this picture was taken it was my brother’s birthday. And there was yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And jelly beans.


Now I’m going to be really honest. I hate jelly beans. I mean I really hate them.  We’re not talking about Jelly Bellys, those are pretty good. I mean those plain old jelly beans that taste like some gross sugar and color combination that no human can identify. They’re awful.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about my brother. An advocate for the underdog. A strong feminist. An animal lover. He appreciates books, comics, and most of all Transformers. He’s an adoring husband to his wonderful wife. A loving son to our long suffering parents. A supportive brother to me. And the best uncle my kid could ever hope for. And those who call him friend are lucky indeed to know him.

On this day, his 42 birthday, I’m wishing that life return to him all the goodness he’s given to others. And that he find the answer to life the universe and everything.

Happy birthday, big brother.

when the binge watching ends…

That moment where Netflix pauses play on your show and asks you if you’re still watching? Yes I’m still watching!

Yes. I know it well. You know it well. We all know it. We’ve all been there. Deep in the moment of annoyance meets shame meets I’m-a-grown-ass-person-I-do-what-I-want! Half the time I have to scramble to find the remote control to prompt it to continue.

And then I can’t find it. Because I’m snuggled down in a pile of blankets and cats and the only thing I can reach is my phone. So I just pull up the Roku app on that and use it as a remote.

No judgement. This is a judgement free zone. Binge watching is a thing now. And it totally has a place in our society.

But sometimes I long for the olden days where tv shows are meted out. Trickling to the viewing public one episode at a time. Week by week. And yes I totally know that’s still a thing that happens on television. But for the purposes of this post it doesn’t matter because I’m talking about what happened to me last week.

We snuggled down on the couch with a carefully prepared dinner. Probably pokè since I request it for dinner 6 times a day or so. We flipped through a few options and settled on a show. Typically we have a few shows going at one time. Variety is important. But mostly it keeps us from running out of one show too quickly. I’d been particularly savoring Luther and so we’d been watching it an episode or two at the most at a time. That night it was a choice between House of Cards and Luther. Why? Because there were no new good cooking shows.

Yes. Cooking shows. I have a cooking show addiction. That’s not what this is about.

We opted for Luther. Less ruthless. Less blood-thirsty. More tweed. Just my speed that evening. I sat enthralled for an hour. Finishing my dinner. Snuggling into the couch. Invading my partner’s space.

And then it happened. The end. They walked off into the bright gray sky and that was that. The show was over.

The same thing happened to me over the weekend with another show. I mean, they drove off into the blue instead of walking off into the gray but same same.

Which is why last night after watching only one episode of House of Cards we opted to watch nothing in particular whatsoever for an hour afterwards to avoid watching the last episode. These things come on so suddenly. I’m not ready to start looking for a new show…