Being in the Present

Last night I was snuggled into bed when I suddenly remembered I hadn’t set up the coffee to make itself magically and automatically this morning. There’s nothing more depressing than waking up in the morning and having to fumble around making coffee, and then WAITING for the pot to finish brewing, when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a steaming mug. So I popped right back out of bed to take care of this important chore.

By which I mean I reluctantly dragged myself out of my warm and comfortable bed to go back to the dark kitchen to grind some stupid coffee beans.

By which I mean I thought really hard about getting back up and then decided to just deal with it this morning.

Okay fine. I thought “screw that. I’m not getting up!” and rolled over to go to sleep.

This morning while I was cursing previous night me mightily, while sleepily setting up the coffee to make itself somewhat less magically, it occurred to me; present tense me is a real bitch. Present me is constantly adding crap to future me’s to do list. Further, present me often has some pretty rude thoughts about past me. Take this morning! Poor past me just wanted to be comfortable in bed. Did she deserve all the homicidal thoughts I was heaping on her head this morning? Certainly not. And when past me was present me was she sympathetic to the plight of future me? Not at all.

I’d like to put out a PSA to anyone reading this. If you ever find yourself thinking, “Cat is so annoying” or “bitchy” or “grumpy” or “lazy” or “insertwhateverdreadfulthingI’mdoingatthemoment” please be kind. You’ve unfortunately found yourself in a situation with present tense me. I promise you that once I’m a past tense problem I’ll look a lot better.

I wish I had written this

I’ve never reblogged a post before. Then again, I’ve never before read a post that I wanted to jump up and start waving around and saying “This! For the love of God! Read this!” Siobhan McKeown, you’re amazing. Everyone else, for the love of God, go read this:

http://siobhanmckeown.com/which-siobhan-is-it-anyway/

I am completely enthralled with the WordPress world. I love this community. I am in awe of this culture. I also know for a fact that there is a gender bias in the WordPress world just like there is at most other tech companies and in much of the tech world at large. I know this from stories I’ve heard from other women here since I started. I know it from things I’ve seen and read, some of which were deliberately offensive and some cluelessly so. I don’t know it from any personal experience, thankfully, but that doesn’t make it less real.

I think that last point is important, so let me say it again:

I don’t know it from any personal experience but that doesn’t make it less real

Amongst some of the more thoughtless examples of gender bias I’ve seen here are a collection of comments along the lines of disbelief that gender bias exists in the WordPress community in general and at Automattic specifically. The general implication is always something along the lines of the commenter (who is always a man) has never seen such bias himself (see above) and that any discussion of gender bias and possible solutions is actually just man hating and reverse discrimination, or at the very least an unnecessary waste of time. “We should just want the best person and not care about that person’s gender at all,” has been said more than once.

I agree. We should want that. Which is why we need to talk about gender bias in the WordPress community; as long as it exists we are never going to get to that point.

Kudos Siobhan for writing this amazingly articulate piece so clearly illustrating the problem. I hope everyone reads it. I hope it kicks off the discussion we really need to have, the one that isn’t why women hate men but instead focuses on how we can strive to build a community that’s better. That’s a discussion I’d really like to be part of.

Social Anxiety Stops Aging in Middle School

My office, being a distributed company with employees located all over the globe, has an annual week long get together that we call The Grand Meetup. This year’s Grand Meetup starts a week from today. It is also my first Grand Meetup.

This meetup, like any meetup at my company, is split between work time and ‘funsies’ time. How the work time will be spent is predetermined by the powers that be, but the fun stuff is slotted into blocks of time that we are expected to fill ourselves. The way this works is pretty straightforward. A spreadsheet is created for us. We are notified via email that we should add any activities we want to do (and be the leader responsible for making happen) to the spreadsheet. People then sign up to attend activities other people have added to the spreadsheet.

Since part of the Grand Meetup is happening in San Francisco, I thought it would be fun to go see Beach Blanket Babylon with a group. The only time it fit in the schedule was at the same time the epic baseball game event was occurring, which meant that right out of the gate 75 of the 180 people at my company were out of the running. But I figured surely in the remaining 100 someone would want to go see this silly spoof of a musical revue.

So far only 5 people have signed up.

My brain has several salient things to say about this fact:

  • Having a really big group sign up would have been a hassle to coordinate
  • There’s no guarantee there would be enough tickets available if a larger group had wanted to attend
  • Most people prefer sports to theatre. This has not been news to me for a long, long time.
  • Some people probably haven’t even looked at the spreadsheet since it was first announced

My inner 13-year old has something to say about it too:

  • WHY DOES NOBODY LIKE ME??

Is this a popularity contest? No. Are people choosing not to come to this because I’m the one that added it to the spreadsheet? No. Is this entire post a ridiculous example of hyper-self-focused anxiety and narcissism? Yes.  Does any of that make my inner 13-year old feel better?

Of course not.

The Big Win

In case you somehow missed it, today is Election Day.  I can’t imagine how you could have, I live in the least contested state in the country (anyone think California is going to pull a surprise win for Romney out of its hat?), in the 200% liberal democrat Bay Area, and don’t own a TV and even I have been inundated with political ads.  Even if you don’t care about the election at all you surely care about the fact that tomorrow those ads go away, right?

I voted for President Obama today.  Well.  Not really today.  I voted absentee a couple of weeks ago because they moved my polling place and driving to the new place with the baby in tow was harder than voting in my living room after the baby was put to bed. But I voted for the President.

But I almost wish I hadn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not regretting my choice.  I think President Obama is not perfect, but that he has done a fine job leading our country for four years and hasn’t given me a reason to vote him out of office.  I have every reason to believe he will continue to work hard for our country.

HOWEVER.

Should Mitt Romney prevail today I will not threaten to move to Canada.  I will not rend my garments and declare the world at end.  I will not take to Facebook with an angst ridden diatribe about stolen elections and America being returned to the stone age.

But many, many, many of my friends and family will.  And that. makes. me. crazy.

Part of America’s drive to succeed comes from a culture that believes strongly in winning and losing.  We are a country of people that create opposing sides out of nothing (I’m going to “take on the world!”) that then fight unto the death to emerge victorious.  We do it for big things, like fighting to create a newer, better company.  We do it for inane things, like fighting to get into the best preschool money can buy.  And we do it for elections.  For most people today isn’t about choosing who will take the helm of our great country for the next four years, it’s about “our guy” winning against “the other guy.”  And while our drive to win makes us great, it also makes us ugly.  Nowhere is that clearer than in our drive to win at the election game. And boy is it ugly.

This focus on ‘winning’ rather than ‘deciding’, with its accompanying nasty rhetoric, this is why I feel a mild regret that I didn’t end up voting for Mitt Romeny. I like to believe that if I was voting for “the other guy” my friends and family would have to stop and reflect on their demonizing of people whose only crime is to think differently. Who needs big brother? The government doesn’t have to tell us how to think. Facebook is around so we can do it to each other directly.

The irony of this election year ugliness is that liberals have spent the past four years complaining continuously about President Obama not being liberal enough, while conservatives spent their primary race trying to find the “Romney alternative” because they were so loathe to nominate someone who wasn’t a die-hard conservative in all areas.  These men, while they have some areas of genuine disagreement, are both moderate, middle-of-the road choices.  We’ve built them into imaginary icons of liberalism and conservatism, but when the election glitter falls away they are just ordinary moderates.  Men who asking for the opportunity to strive for extraordinary.  They are devoted patriots.  And they are not that different.

Both of these men are wonderful examples of what the American struggle to win can produce.  They are extraordinary examples of the kind of individual success that our national culture encourages, fosters, idealizes, and trumpets. No matter which one receives the 270 electoral votes needed for the nomination, then are both winners.  And we as a country should thank and respect their willingness to sacrifice themselves for us.  Because that, the fact that we are lucky enough to have two committed, passionate, talented, intelligent individuals as our nominees to the Presidency, that is the real win.  For all of us.

In search of myself

I started two blogs at the same time. The other one, therymerfamily.wordpress.com, was just a place to stick photos of my son and short stories of our lives. It was horror of horrors a mommy blog. Though I am loathe to admit I’ve sunk that far it is unmistakably indicative of that genre. So fine. I was the owner of a mommy blog. I could li e with that. It was just for the grandparents anyway. I was still me! And just to prove how still me I was I started this blog too. This blog that is not a mommy blog. This blog that’s supposed to be about what I think rather than what I do.

This blog that I haven’t had a single post for since the day I started it.

In a poignant bit of irony I find that I don’t know what to think about the fact that I no longer seem to have thoughts that aren’t about family, parenthood, or when absolutely necessary, about work. I don’t think parenthood has subsumed my identity. I don’t feel like I’m less of a person. And yet. Here’s this blog. This empty page. Waiting for thoughts that won’t come. I don’t have an answer for that. And as a person whose brain has never failed to supply me with an answer that scares me most of all.