the sabbatical lists…

I’ve never been quite sure why, but particularly in times of stress or uncertainty my brain functions as a long series of lists. I have this mental image of those unending scrolls that would roll out in a movie about Santa neatly filled edge to edge with list after list after list.

All the work I need to do, grocery items, a catalogue of all the handbags I own, all the poetry I’ve written, all the things I need to do, places I’ve been, places I long to see, people I need to check in on, meals I want to try, tasks I need to complete, topics I want to research, movies I’ve never seen, movies I never want to see again, artists whose I work I want to further explore, historic events I want to research, posts I want to write, books I want to read, people I want to visit, art I want to create, tv I want to binge-watch, charities I want to support, projects I want to champion, crafts I want to learn, things that stress me out, goals I have achieved, pet names I will never use, coffee that I’d like to drink again, which places in Portland have the best bloody mary, who makes hollandaise correctly.

The list of lists goes on and on but mostly it just exists to remind me who I am.

Work gets done. Groceries get purchased. Sometimes chores get done. But that’s it. Kind of because that’s what there’s time for. Maybe I’m just super inefficient but  between work and spending time with the people I love and doing the things that need to happen to survive my time is all taken up. Okay okay… there’s s fair amount of movie watching too, but I’m going to slot that in with survival of my sanity.

But in 21 days I have an opportunity to rethink a lot of that. To focus my energy differently. To make other choices. To find out who I am when I’m not completely pre-occupied with work, and if we’re being honest, a bit burnt out.

On May 1 I’m going on sabbatical.

Now allow me to lend some context. Automattic, the company I work for, does a tremendous job of supporting their employees in any number of ways from day one (Yes… we’re hiring). But there are a few added benefits and gifts that surface over time, one of those is that after 5 years with the company (and every 5 years after that) they encourage each employee to take a sabbatical of 2-3 months. At the end of April I hit that 5 year mark.

The end of April is soon. Like… really soon.

And if we’re being honest I’ve been stressed out about it for the past few months. First it was just this passive little whisper of stress in my ear, but the closer I get to the day I stop work for a while the more actively stressed I’ve gotten.

Why? What on earth do I think is going to happen? I have no idea. NO IDEA.

One of the things I’ve come to learn about myself, and that whole thing about the lists might have given this away, is that I like to have a plan. I like to know what I’m doing. What’s in store. How I can contribute. Where I’m going to be. But that’s really something I’ve only come to understand about myself over the past few years. And if I’m reading this situation correctly, I’m mostly stressed because I don’t know what I’m going to be doing.

I mean I have a list but I’m not sure how much of that list is what I really want to do and will do and how much of it is me trying to calm my nerves by thinking of things I could do. What I need to do is take some time to recharge. To reflect. To find the calm center I’m sure is in here somewhere. I’m not sure how some to the stuff on my list of things to do on sabbatical is going to achieve that.

But hey if you have any great tips on home-brewing kombucha or self-publishing poetry or literature please drop me a line. Seriously.

Other than that I’ve not really been excited about any of my plans. My lists are calming my nerves short-term but maybe causing more stress long-term. I was beginning to dread something that I know I should be reveling in. Until Friday that is when my friend and I hatched a plan to go do something “cultured” twice a month while everyone else is at school or work. To visit museums and gardens and other stuff like that… you know. For fun.

And from that a ray of light has emerged. There’s a plan now. Granted it’s a loose plan and is only for every other week or so, but a touchstone has emerged. And it involves art and nature and also a little day-drinking. And leaves plenty of room for the scary scary work of learning about myself.

that time a guy with a red goatee broke into my home…

It started off as a fairly typical Monday morning. Typical within Monday parameters anyway. My kid wasn’t home Sunday night. Rick stayed over but got up early to head into town for a standing Monday morning meeting. I snoozed. And then in typical Monday fashion I woke on my own shortly before 8:00 AM.

I stretched. One of those incredible stretches that leave you feeling as though your fingers might skim the sky while your toes push toward the center of the earth. And then I picked up my phone to gently advance into my workday. I read a few work related posts. Sent a friend a text about shoes. I opened up Twitter and was just starting to read some of my search columns when there was an urgent thud. That thud was closely followed by a few additional thuds. My pulse quickened and every bit of me tensed. But that’s pretty typical too. I’m an anxious person.

I forced a deep breath. I reminded myself that I have two frisky cats and that it’s not at all atypical for them to get into a brawl while I hide quietly in my room. Maybe Rick didn’t feed them before he left. Maybe they were feeling the onset of summer. Maybe Ripper, in the midst of a tense territorial struggle, gorged on one bowl of food and purged into the other to keep Spike from eating. It didn’t really matter. I could hear a flurry of activity out in the living room so I stood up to go negotiate a peace between them. But my heart wouldn’t stop pounding and there was a nagging feeling of otherness. I picked up my phone and scanned my dark bedroom.

What if. Just what if it’s not my cats. And no I don’t mean what if it’s not just my cats like that one time I thought there was a raccoon in my kitchen for no reason at all.

I scooped my jeans up off the floor and tugged them on. They zipped and I was confused because I thought the jeans by the bed were button-fly. And I grabbed my striped shirt from the top of the laundry hamper pulling it over my head. I didn’t want to go out there naked because what if. I picked up my glasses and shoved them hastily into place.

Despite all my thinking and dressing it had only been seconds. Moments. And my hands were shaking just a little as I picked up my phone and stepped to my bedroom door. Because what if?

I stepped out of my bedroom door and looked down the hallway to see a man with a red goatee standing in my living room. He’d been rifling through the odds and ends on top of my entry table.

And one of my cats started meowing. And the man who stood there in my living room in baggy shorts and a baggy shirt with a bandana on his head and a red goatee was standing there in my living room. Just standing there. Staring back at me. And you know, he looked pretty surprised to see me. So I said “Please leave.” And he ran toward my dining area and I stepped back into my room.

FullSizeRender-1And I remember listening to the sound of him trying to open my sliding-glass door. Too much pressure. One heavy clunk followed by another. I was dialing the second 1 on my phone by the time I heard the third clunk. And I hit the green circle to start the call by the time I finally heard the seal on the sliding-glass door open because he had figured out that there was a metal pipe barring the door from sliding.

And my hands were shaking and my throat was tight and I had backed into the walk-in closet in my bedroom because it seemed like a good idea to get as many doors between me and that piece of shit with the red goatee as I possibly could. And the voice on the other end of the phone surprised me when it didn’t ask for the nature of my emergency but instead asked for my address. And I don’t know how I made words out of the sounds issuing from my throat but I told him exactly where I lived. Except that whole city part. “Portland?” he asked. I managed a yes. “I’m transferring you to the Portland call center.” he said.

And I felt trapped. And I wasn’t at all sure what I should be doing or where I should be when another voice came on the line almost instantly and this time she asked me the question I expected to hear “What’s your emergency?” And I told her voice that there was a man in my home.

And at this moment I can’t remember all the things I said but I know I didn’t sound okay because she had to ask me to calm down. Twice. She had thought I’d come home to find I’d been robbed. She didn’t understand immediately that I had been safe and snug in my bed only to hear someone force his way into my home. She dispatched police. She told me they were coming. With sirens. And at some point while I was on the phone with her, still standing in my closet with my foot near the heavy axe that I keep tucked by my file cabinet, I texted Rick.


There was more conversation with the 911 operator. I somehow explained more clearly what happened. She told me there were cars with lights and sirens blaring heading my way. She was very specific about the lights and sirens. Rick texted back. He was on his way.

And I remember that I was holding all the air in my lungs and it was then that I let it out. Her voice told me where the police were. I don’t remember the street but I remember thinking it was close. I worried about starting work and I couldn’t get Slack to come up on my phone so I texted a coworker forgetting that she was off with family in town.

The voice on the phone started asking questions. She wanted a description. I gave her one, but it wasn’t the best. He was a white guy with a red goatee. Not that tall, but I’m a horrible judge of height. Average weight, not heavy. His clothes were baggy. I think he was wearing shorts because I remember thinking shins. It would hurt him if I kicked him in the shin.

And I felt like I had totally failed. Like I should have remembered in that brief moment that I saw him and asked him to leave that I was going to have to describe him to the 911 operator. To the police. To my neighbors and friends.

I calmed down enough to accept that the man with the red goatee and baggy clothes wearing a bandana over his hair had really left and so I worried about my cats. I kept thinking that a man horrible enough to break into someone’s home would not be considerate enough to close the sliding door as he fled. I told the voice that I was going to go into the living room to look for my cats.

She told me she would stay on the phone.

Ripper was there meowing and stressed. Circling my feet. Head-butting my ankle. Spike was gone. I called his name. The voice told me the police were nearly to my place and asked me where I was, where I would be. And I told her I was in my living room looking for my cat. She told me there would be a K-9 unit and asked me to try not to walk where the man with the red goatee had been.

And that’s when I got angry. Really fucking angry. Not with the voice but with that stupid fucked up breaking and entering thieving piece of shit who had forced his way into my home. I couldn’t step where he stepped. I couldn’t touch what he touched. And I started shaking and I told the voice that I would just stand in one place.

I told her that my boyfriend was on his way because I didn’t want the cops to arrest him or something. She asked for his name and for a description. Thankfully I was able to describe Rick more accurately than the burglar. The voice told me an officer had arrived and would like me to go outside if I could. That she would stay on the phone with me until I saw Officer Saunders.

I carefully walked to my front door not knowing where I should step and unlocked both locks, turned the knob, and stepped into the bright sunlight. It occurred to me then that I wasn’t wearing a bra or shoes and I suddenly remembered evacuating my hotel room in Philly a little more than a week ago at 2:30 AM when the fire alarm sounded. Throwing on clothes, running down 5 flights of stairs. Barefoot. With no bra. I was clutching my phone then too.

I saw the officer down at the sidewalk looking around and I breathed. “I see the officer” I told the voice. “You can hang up now.” She said something comforting and I remembered how helpful she had been. I couldn’t remember if I had thanked her and that seemed wrong. I thanked her and hit the red button to hang up. I walked a few steps down the driveway and stood very still glancing at my gate which was wide open.

The officer came to meet me. And we talked. I know we talked. She introduced herself and told me what would be happening but I can’t remember any of it. We stayed outside for a little while and I tried to call my team-lead but the voicemail message was unfamiliar. I wasn’t sure if it was the right number and I hung up.

And honestly it gets boring from there – with a few comical asides mixed in because such is life.

The officer was wonderful. She was careful, considerate, and kind. I asked if I could close the screen door to keep my cat in. She said of course. I mentioned my missing cat and she couldn’t help but notice the cat that wasn’t missing as he mewed for attention, both hers and mine. She asked if the K-9 unit would upset him. Yeah, it would. So I moved him to my room and closed the door. There was more conversation and I shifted nervously feeling naked and exposed in my own home. I asked if it was okay for me to go put a bra on and I felt like I was in grade school asking permission to go to the bathroom. She laughed and told me that it was, of course, okay. That I should pretend she wasn’t there.

If I’d pretended she wasn’t there I don’t think I could have continued to breathe. I told her how relieved I was that my daughter hadn’t been home and she hugged me. I thought it would be awkward she was so laden down with her vest and gear, but it wasn’t. I felt grateful. I felt privileged.

And then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement outside the front window. Rick showed up and as I opened the door he hugged me. I thought he would crush the air from my chest as he held me and I was thankful for the tight embrace. He made coffee and Officer Saunders took more details for the report. I could hear another officer in my yard. Officer Saunders answered a call on her phone. Rick went out to look for Spike.

I think this may have been when I realized that the metal pipe I used to keep that sliding door shut tight, my makeshift metal security measure, was gone. He’d taken in with him. But left the machete which rested by the sliding door. He stole my security pipe?!

Another officer came inside to show me a picture to id. He stood behind my couch and I sat on my knees backwards on the couch like a child. Ripper rammed his furry head into the officer’s hip and meowed for affection. And he showed me a picture of a guy who was quite probably the stupid fucked up breaking and entering thieving piece of shit with the red goatee and bandana who had forced his way into my home by ripping out the window-mounted air conditioning unit in my dining room. He was taller than I thought, but that’s no surprise. I’m bad with height. And I still couldn’t cry but at least I could breathe. Rick came back with no cat. Officer Saunders told him to make sure I didn’t work today. To get me to just sit. To breathe. And then she left. And the door was closed. And it was locked just as it had been an hour earlier.

Rick and I stood at the table sipping coffee. Me staring blankly. Rick rescheduling meetings. Me signing into work to sign off work for the day. Reason for day off?

“Other – I left my bedroom this morning thinking I was breaking up a particularly unruly catfight in which things were being knocked to the floor only to discover a burglary in process in my home. I am more than a little freaked out at the moment and one of my cats is missing.”

We drank coffee as I stared blankly. Rick asked if I called my parents. No. So I called my dad. It’s weird since folks have gotten rid of home phones and moved to cell phones a clear line has been drawn. Even though they’ve been married since before the invention of dirt there are definitely things I call my daddy for and things I call my mom for. Home invasion, be it rodent or human, seems to be a daddy call. But though I called my dad my mom answered. And I was mum on the reason as she called him inside to talk to me. But in that pause things started to sink in and my personality started to take over.

When my dad picked up the phone and I told him what had happened. About the burglar. About the missing cat. Things clicked and I laughed.

“I know Spike is missing but I’m pretty sure the guy wasn’t a cat burglar.”

“At least you still have a sense of humor” my dad said.

I think I’ll have that until they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Because despite the invasion. Despite the attack on my space. Despite real harsh life seeping in. I’m still me.

Rick paced. I got off the phone. “I’m pretty sure Spike is under the couch,” he said.

In a display of super human strength, I tipped the super light Ikea sofa onto its back legs to find my fat black cat cowering. He looked up at me and mewed. He stretched, stood up, glanced from left to right, and then sauntered out of his hiding place. He was still unusually quiet.

And I finally cried.

It was then that Rick went into action mode. Fixing solving safe-making mode. I caught a glimpse of sheer anger on his face. Really, it’s one thing to fuck with him. That’s something he will deal with calmly. It’s something else entirely to fuck with someone he loves. He started pacing the backyard. Trying to uninstall the bracket for the air conditioner in the dining room. Doing the things he needed to do.

He needed to do things.

The bolts holding the bracket in place for my air conditioner were stripped and we didn’t have a Phillips head large enough so I called my daddy again. He brought one out. More action. More movement. More breathing. With the bracket out we moved on. Daddy left. Rick fixed a bolt through my gate latch. Then secured the gate with spare cinderblocks. He uninstalled the air conditioning unit in my bedroom.

And then all I wanted was to rest. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” I told him. He asked if I could sleep then. In the afternoon. With him in the other room working. I tried.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t feel safe. Because with him here I did. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t tired. Because I really was. But I couldn’t sleep. I could close my eyes. I could feel the weight of exhaustion. But I could also imagine a thousand scenarios in which the piece of shit with the red goatee broke into my home and took what was dearest to me. Not my things. Not my stuff. My safety. My security. My peace.

So now with both my window air conditioning units uninstalled, we move into the hottest week Portland has seen in a while. It’s going to be hot. 105 on Saturday. And I’m going to be bitchy. And angry. Not so much because of the sweat. But because I feel like it’s my fault that the scumbag broke in. Because I left myself vulnerable. Because I had not one but two window air conditioners. Because I made it possible for someone to force their way into my home.

I’m engaged in my very own round of victim blaming. But at least I’m wearing a bra and I know where my kid, my cats, and my heart are.

The five stages of brunch line grief…

screendoorBrunch. That perfect lazy combination of breakfast and lunch. Decadent breakfast foods with a lunchtime sensibility served up with steaming coffee, a delicious assortment of carefully crafted cocktails, and a greatly reduced amount of food related guilt. I mean come on, it’s the weekend. And I’m sure that huge buttery meal I just had with 4 cups of coffee and two cocktails is totally a better choice than two separate meals. Just imagine what I could have eaten if I had both breakfast and lunch?

It’s without a doubt my favorite meal. I look forward to it all week – sometimes I can’t wait for the weekend and I sneak one in mid-week just to get a hollandaise fix.

But real brunch here in Portland is reserved for the weekend. For when you have the time to say Fuck it, I don’t have to do anything else today! Because you ate rich decadent food that makes you want to sit around and binge watch cooking shows, you went ahead and had the second Bloody Mary and now it’s nap time, or because you decided today was the day to go to that extra special brunch place and you know after you stand in line for half the day you’ll be out of time to do anything else. Yes, sometimes the brunch lines really are that long. And sometimes it’s worth it. But you need to know what you’re in for.

The 5 Stages of Brunch Line Grief

waiting1 – Denial

You and your partner stroll up to the crowded restaurant hand in hand. You see the crowd waiting out front and the folks seated in the entry but you push through the crowd all smiles. You tell the hostess there’s two of you and when she says “The wait will be about 90 minutes” you say “cool” and she jots down your name with a sloppy number 2 beside it. Sure she said it would be 90 minutes. But there’s just two of you and you said you’d be fine sitting anywhere. That opens up the patio and bar as options. Knowing you’ll probably be seated in 30 minutes you order Bloody Marys and coffee to take out into the warm Portland sun while you wait to hear your name.

2 – Anger  

As you stand out in the sun watching people come and go you start to notice things about your fellow would-be-patrons. Why are all of them wearing the color purple? Did you miss a memo? Are we required to wear 5″ heels or work-out clothes to brunch now? And what’s with all the pleather? It’s February for fuck sakes, why is the sun so bright? It’s in my eyes. Why is it in my eyes? And why does that guy keep using his toddler’s jacket hood like a leash? What an asshole! And why are people hogging the benches. There’s room for like 20 people on those benches and it’s being taken up by 8 folks who are just spreading out all over and setting their shit down. Those benches are meant for butts! And then you notice that someone who showed up after you is being seated. OH NO THEY DIDN’T!

3 – Bargaining

It’s been 45 minutes. That’s half the wait time. It would be silly to leave now because they’ll probably seat you at any moment. You want to go in and check with the hostess because you’re pretty sure that someone swiped your table or that she accidentally skipped over your name but you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to be high-maintenance. If you’re just patient good things will happen. Any minute now. Any minute. “Do you want to leave?” you ask, almost as a requirement. “I mean, we’ve already waited this long…”

empties4 – Depression

The sun is bright and you wish you could enjoy it but your hands are cold and it feels like that will never change. You hate yourself for wearing the cute jacket with no pockets and you’ve been hauling around these empty pint glasses and coffee mugs for an hour. You just can’t do it any longer but there’s no bus tray and no one has come to take them so you just keep holding them because setting them at your feet is causing you too much anxiety. You don’t want to be that asshole who broke a bunch of glasses. As a family of six that was hogging the bench is called inside you give up standing and scuttle over to the bench before someone else snatches it up. With your sad collection of empty cups you perch on the bench leaning on your partner for support. You no longer have the strength to carry on a conversation. You know you’ve been forgotten. That quaint grumbling in your belly has given way to full on nausea.

5 – Acceptance

It’s been 2 hours. You’re in it for the long haul. You’re hungry. You’re weak. You know now that the Bloody Mary and 3 cups of coffee were a mistake but the crowd is thinning. They’ll call your name soon. And hey, if they don’t you can always stop at a drive through on your way home. Damn a cheeseburger sounds good right now.


Yes. Two hours. We waited for two hours to have brunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hearing the hostess call my name was like the gentle tinkling of a chime. “Cami! Cami?” We pulled ourselves from the bench. I can’t speak for him but my ass was asleep, my stomach ached, and I was in some weird trance-like state. We hauled our empty pint glasses and coffee mugs into the bustling restaurant. Where it was warm. And bathed in a yellow light. And there was a soft seat. And an actual table. And clean coffee mugs into which a waiter poured fresh coffee. He, amazing man that he was, took away our dirty mugs and glasses. Brought us fresh lovely cocktails. As we sat with our cocktails after our orders had been taken (while I was away waiting in line for the bathroom) we chatted about the fact that it just isn’t worth it. This long line standing out in the elements. Waiting. For food. When really you can get amazing food all over the city. And we totally have other brunch places we really like.

And then it happened. The waiter brought my brunch plate. A bowl of grits with shrimp and some amazing bacon sauce thing. With green onions sliced on an angle sprinkled on top. And two poached eggs on the side.

And I took a bite. And my heart melted. And I know we’ll do it all again because, damn I love shrimp and grits.

updated: In case you wondered, Portlandia is a documentary.


Waking up this morning there was a chill in the air that was unexpected. August in Portland is drawing to a close and in my memory this is usually the very hottest time of the year here. Anything more than a tank top and skirt is unbearable if we go out in the heat so we either lay in the air conditioned house careful to keep the curtains drawn or seek some other cool place to rest and relax. There are no trips to the park or zoo when the weather is in the 90’s because here in Oregon that’s the worst weather. Better to wait for a day that’s overcast and cool or even rainy than to risk sunburn and heatstroke.

Why would I want to go for a hike with temperatures threatening to reach 100?

But like I said, today came with a chill in the air. Stepping out my front door I was amazed that long sleeves seemed to be a necessity. I know the weather will turn again. It’s not the end of our summer and I’m sure I’ll find a way to enjoy the next warm days that come my way. I’ll lounge on a sunny patio or hide in the cool house. Make sun tea. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Go for a stroll in the park. But this day with its cool breeze and wispy white clouds is a reminder of those mild Portland days that I love best.

They’ll come. They always do.

can’t think… salavating

I’ve been wracking my brain about what to write today and everything is either very serious and involves spending time and concentration on a post… or it’s about bacon.  Why would I be writing about bacon?  Because Saturday is Masterbacon and I’m one of the judges (squeee!) and that means that I get to taste each and every lovely piece of bacony goodness that gets submitted…

I even dreamed about it last night.

I can’t wait to find out who the lucky one will be that takes home this little beauty

Plus I have a totally cute new apron to wear…

more blogs than you can shake a stick at…

I’m going to save the grumblings on how I’ve been the victim of theft not just once, but twice already this year for another day, and instead talk about something wonderful.  Something glorious.  Something downright helpful that happened right here in the city I call my home.


Oh yes, I know I’ve said a thing or two about it in the past, I’ve sung the praises of the Portland tech community and the twittersphere… so try not to be surprised, but I’m going to do it again.

On Saturday Cube Space played host to an awesome event called End Bloglessness.  It was put on by the good people at Beer & Blog and was staffed by some wonderful volunteers, there are too many for me to name (especially since I didn’t make note of who all was there, sorry… my bad).  You may find yourself wondering what goes on at an event called “End Bloglessness”.  I bet you can’t guess.

They weren’t teaching children not to pick their noses in public (though humanity could certainly benefit from that).

They weren’t teaching people how to bake sough dough bread (though a friend brought me a sour dough starter that I may have already killed).

They weren’t training cats to fly tiny airplanes (and for that I’m thankful).

They were helping people set up and upgrade their blogs.  For free.  With beer.  That was free.

I headed over about an hour after the event started.  I didn’t go for the beer as I’m not much of a beer drinker and I already have a blog so you may be asking “Why?  Why did you go to End Bloglessness Cami?”

I went because I wondered if somehow I might be able to help someone and I was hoping that someone there would be able to help me implement a blog for Dr Normal within the pages of the Strange Love Live site.  Plus it was a Saturday and I had no other plans so I wanted to go and ogle some fellow geek girls.  It’s just something I like to do.

In one respect I think I was pretty much a failure.  I don’t recall helping anyone.  I showed someone where the kitchen was, forced a friend to eat dinner with me, ate some wonderful alienveggie bread and looked at semi naked pictures of the bread’s baker…  Those things may have been helpful in some regard but I don’t think I actually helped anyone with a blog.  But by not helping anyone, I’ve also ensured that I didn’t steer anyone in the wrong direction.

My other aims, setting up a blog page for Dr Normal off the Strange Love Live main page and checking out the geek girlies, let’s just say those went very well.

15 hours… what I learned at WordCamPDX

Aside from the reaffirmation that the Portland Tech scene is all love and rainbows and pretty ponies I learned a thing or two at WordCamPDX.

First and foremost I learned that despite my know-it-all attitude I can sit in a room with a ton of other people and learn very very little because I had so little information to begin with that things went flying right over my head.


Which isn’t to say I’m not smart, it’s just that some people are so much SMARTER than I am that it takes me a few years to catch up.

With that being said I thought the best way for you to get a glimpse at what I learned was to give you a look at the lessons themselves.  Here are the talks I attended at WordCamPDX:

Changing Lives with WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen
FairyBlogMothers can scare the living shit out of people…  oh and WordPress is a community.

From Concept to Execution in Eight Days by Betsy Richter
During her session I learned, among other things, that Betsy can’t count and like me, she’s subject to the whim of her child’s artistic yearnings.

Ten Proven Plugins to Make Your Blog Pop by Chris O’Rourke
Where I learned what plugins I should be using, and that the tendrils of Missburrows and her treasurelicious empire are far reaching.

Then there was some chatting and chitting and maybe some eating of lunch while I handed out t-shirts and met some terribly interesting people.  I can’t possibly remember all of them at one time and not just because I have a horrible memory.  Not even because I’m a bad person.  Mostly it was because there were SO many of them and they were mixed in with people I already know and love…  So the lesson of the lunch and other times that were scheduled for eating and talking?  Socialization is Key.

WordPress 2.7 Sneak Peek by Jane Wells
All I can say here is, I want my batch edit and I want it now.

Considerations for Choosing a Theme by Kelly Guimont
Let’s be clear on one point: I talk to and at Kelly a whole lot and I rather enjoy picking her brain for information, but this session was about PEOPLE and not ME…  so what I learned?  Is that in an attempt to get HER husband to read her blog she has made it far more likely that MY husband will read her blog.  Oh, and how to pick a theme.

Feed Your Blog with RSS by Marshall Kirkpatrick
Yeah… this is the talk where I learned the following:  I need to know more about RSS before I listen to Marshall talk about RSS because I wanted to understand what he was saying but I could only comprehend things for 5 minutes at a time.  Also?  Sitting on the floor in a skirt and knee high boots… your left leg may fall asleep.  If that happens make sure you’re in the room with a lovely gentleman friend who will come to your rescue and help your broken down ass off the floor.

Ask the Experts Panel with Lorelle VanFossen, Rick Turoczy, Justin Kistner, Chris O’Rourke
There were some excellent questions and wonderful answers, but mostly I learned that in a pinch I can take pictures of OTHER people with my MacBook’s photo booth function just as well as I can take pictures of myself

Then there was dinner.  It was around that time that I remembered I can’t drink soda all day without falling victim to a massive stomachache.  I had to cut myself off.  The soda machine in the CubeSpace kitchen was just too tempting though so I had to ask my friend to keep me accountable.  I told her she could smack me if she saw another RC in my hand.  Oh and we ate, and drew on each other with sharpies. Next I must mention that Aaron Hockley?  Kick ass organizer.   And then?

Breakout sessions!  In our first breakout session we helped a woman migrate her blog from blogger to WordPress!  That felt great.  In the second we talked with Lorelle about the codex and I tried to contain my exhaustion and delight, but that’s easier said than done and I got a little chatty and a bit too tweety…

Just when I thought I was going to get in trouble for disrupting class Betsy came to the rescue and saved my day by making far too much noise with her iPhone lightsaber.  Thank you Betsy!

There were incredibly brief closing comments and then it was time for a lesson I learned as a child… when you’re done with a play date (or a conference) it’s not polite to leave until you’ve helped clean up…

And so we did.

And so we left.

And so a few of us met up for drinks and then I had to go home and put my husband to bed.

The final lesson for me?  I learned that a 15 hour day on only 4 hours of sleep is fun, but maybe not the best fit if I want to remain upright and seemingly sober.

15 hours… my touchy feely post about WordCamPDX

I woke up at the completely indecent hour of 5:30 AM…

Okay that’s a lie, I was supposed to wake up at 5:30 but really I didn’t wake up til closer to 6 in the morning to drag my snoozey self out of bed. I’d been up all night (til 1, maybe 1:30) and I was tired. Exhausted. Without rest.

I wasn’t going to let a little exhaustion stop me though, there were big things on the horizon and I was going to be there. I rushed to get ready, made a breakfast snack for K (I had a feeling Dr. Normal would be sleeping in while Saturday morning cartoons were enjoyed by the 6 year old) and just after I put on some lipstick I saw Verso’s car pull up in front of my house. A quick hello and then I tossed my bag in her back seat and we were off.

Our destination? WordCamp Portland. We arrived shortly after 7 and the hustle and bustle of the day had already begun. There was no shortage of things to get done before 8 AM, luckily there also seemed to be enough volunteers to get the required tasks done…

And so the conference started and the insanity also began.

And by insanity I mean?  A really well composed gathering of 150+ people all coming together to talk about WordPress.

I was expecting anarchy.  Chaos.  A free for all… or maybe a touch of boredom but what I got was a good day with great people and an education on WordPress worth so much more than the $10 registration fee I paid.

More than anything else though, I saw clearly that Portland spirit at work yet again.  Not only were we there celebrating, educating and being educated on WordPress, we were helping each other.

Whether we’re talking about the organizers, the sponsors, the people who tackled tasks at the conference or the person sitting across the room that tweeted out an offer of help to anyone who needed it, the story was the same: A community coming together.  Everyone seemed to have something to give.

My only regret about word camp is now that I’m writing about it I sound like a fucking hippie…

Enough of this touchy feely stuff, tomorrow I’ll tell you what I learned.