Last Ditch Effort

For those who follow me on the Tavern, you may have noticed a substantial drought in the articles I’ve written and published since late last year, outside of WordPress Weekly.

In the last 4-6 months, I’ve been in a pretty low place emotionally, mentally, and at times, physically.

The Tavern started out as a fan site, a blog all about WordPress. A place to discuss what was happening. A place to help each other out. In the past five years, the Tavern has grown from a hobbyist blog to a place of professional journalism thanks in large part to Sarah Gooding. Sarah has done an amazing job, has a great work ethic, high standards, and has taken the site to new heights.

I have not faired well in the Tavern’s transition. In the past few years, I’ve struggled to find a place, maintain my written voice, and become more of a traditional journalist. I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not a good journalist and I still feel that way. I enjoy writing how I feel, what I think, and evolving the narrative over time. But with the Tavern becoming a more serious and professional industry source of news, that kind of writing is getting phased out.

The way in which I write stories on the Tavern now a days is akin to Ben Stein’s voice. Dry, boring, accurate, no personality, that I sometimes wonder if it could be accomplished better by AI.

One thing that I’m proud and that I’m good at is WordPress Weekly or podcasting in general. I get to be myself on the show and I enjoy talking to people about WordPress and learning about other’s experiences. I’ve had a few pep talks lately and I’m going to try expanding my reach and produce three different WordPress podcasts a week.

  • The first will be a daily podcast that covers the pressing topics of the day.
  • The second is WordPress Weekly
  • The third will be a Friday night podcast where for one hour, I’ll invite members of the community to join me on a public Google Hangout to talk about whatever WordPress issues they want. I’ll literally be giving people in the WordPress community a chance to have their voices heard.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to expand the Tavern listener base while at the same time, trying to bring back some more community elements to the site. Most importantly, what these shows will do is give me a sense of purpose. Let me tell you, when you feel like you have no purpose, no sense of well being at work, it’s draining.

So, that’s what I’m working on. I realize there are already plenty of other podcasts that cover the things I mentioned above, but only one of them involves me. I’ll still be writing but I’m hoping that the podcasts provide enough time for the site to be redesigned and install some sort of community software such as bbPress. This way, I can move into community management or something and not just a writer.

The Train Ride

As we ride the public transit train into downtown, I stare outside the window and watch brick building after brick building go by. Some with the lights still on while most have broken windows and other signs of abandonment.

I wonder about what’s inside each building, what products were made, how many people made a living working there, and what happened. At one time, the buildings were new, bustling with activity right next to the tracks. Now they’re just relics of a different time period.

Before my mind can wander off any further, it’s time to get off the train as we’ve reached our destination.

WordCamps and I

Later this week, more than 2,000 people will attend WordCamp US in Nashville, TN. It’s the largest WordPress event in the US and is home to Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word. This year, I won’t be in attendance. In fact, I haven’t attended any WordCamps this year. Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. I noticed last year that when I attended WordCamps, I missed being away from home and couldn’t stop thinking about not wanting to be at the event.
  2. I’m expected to report on these events and gather information about things from people. I used to interview people when I went to WordCamps but I recently stopped doing so because the people I wanted to interview were at the event to hang out, have a good time, and talk WordPress without someone putting a microphone in their face. I respect that and agree, WordCamps are for talking off the record. It felt awful when people thought I was trying to turn the Tavern into a tabloid.
  3. Perhaps the biggest reason of them all is that I simply have nothing in common with the majority of the people who attend WordCamps. Outside of maybe a few things in life and WordPress, there’s not much room to be social with people. I don’t have kids, I don’t run a business, I don’t work in an agency, I’m not creating anything or working on any projects. I’m the person who is supposed to write about what everyone else is doing. Quite frankly, I feel lonely at these events and it sucks.
  4. Ever since my anxiety attack before flying to Chicago last year, I have no interest in flying anymore. I’m hoping to get over this some day but it rules out traveling far distances to attend events.

Next year, I hope to attend at least one local camp but these events just arn’t for me anymore and it’s my own damn fault.

Two Things That Have Me Thinking

The first is that, recently in the WordPress community, I’ve read a few posts from people who have decided to move on from the jobs they’ve had for years to pursue new opportunities. I remember when I negotiated a deal that would allow me to write about WordPress full-time and quit working at the local grocery store.

Although it wasn’t a brand new gig, it was an exciting time as it gave me renewed energy and focus to pour into the site I created. There are only a few times in my life where I’ve participated in potential career paths that seemed exciting and opened the door for new opportunities. I congratulate those who have decided to move on and to embrace the freshness that is their new job.

The second is a question asked by David Bisset on Twitter.

I replied that I’m afraid to answer the question. I think WordPress will be around in some form or fashion 5-10 years from now but will I be writing about it? This is a conversation I’ve been having with myself a lot lately. Is what I do for a living something I want to do for decades or is there a fork in my path where I get to choose a different direction.

The truth is, my current gig is the best I’ve had in my working life. Great medical benefits, vacation policy, paid travel, and a salary I never would have gotten had I stayed at the grocery store. The thought of losing that by losing my job or switching jobs scares me and it scares my wife. My wife thinks that there is no way I can get something better than what I have now. But, I’ve been doing this gig in one fashion or another for a decade and continuing on as if it’s a mundane routine without anything new and refreshing comes at the cost of possibly losing the drive, focus, passion, desire, to continue on.

The other thing that scares me is that I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want to do other than what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m capable of and I sure as hell downplay everything about myself. I don’t know what would make me a happier employee. I’ve been struggling to answer these questions for months.

This is when someone says to me, apply yourself and learn something like PHP, JavaScript or whatever and get some skillsets that make you more valuable or open up more opportunities. Yeah sure, I’ll get right on that.

So the days and nights fly past while I ponder my future and career.

 

 

One Month Since Vesty’s Passing

It has been nearly a month since Vesty passed away and while I knew the grieving process wouldn’t be easy, I also didn’t think it would be this difficult.

Both of her beds are in their usual spots except they’re empty. Occasionally, we’ll catch the cat laying in the bed next to the heater which generates a loud negative verbal reaction from my wife. My wife and I have enjoyed a few evenings out together and during the course of dinner, one of us will share a memory of her which leads to one of us crying.

My wife and I have gone through bouts of deep sadness and mild depression. Her death has affected my ability to do my job well. Instead of feeling motivated, I’ve been stuck in a mopey mood.

Coming home still sucks. Even though my wife doesn’t say “Vesty! Baby girl, we’re home!” when we enter the house, I still hear it. We both have a stockpile of Kleenex on hand for the moments when we start crying which there have been many.

Every day that goes by that we don’t have a dog is a subtle reminder that we need one in our lives. We still haven’t decided on a name yet or when we’re going to get one but it will likely be after we file our taxes. Yorkies are an expensive breed that typically costs more than $1k.

I recently had three different dreams about Vesty of which one had me in tears. My wife and I usually look forward to Spring and Summer but not this year. We know what we’ll have to do when the ground thaws and we’re hoping it gives us some closure.

 

So Long Twitter, Hello Again Feedly

Not too long ago, I would be asked how I keep up with all the things that happen in the WordPress ecosystem. My answer used to be Twitter. Generally, anything that was news worthy or sharable would find its way onto my timeline.

This isn’t the case anymore. My timeline is now filled with Tweets and Retweets bashing President Trump and anything to do with him. I thought things would get better after the election but it’s only gotten worse.

I get it, Trump sucks, but the constant barrage of negativity is unbearable. I don’t need any more of this shit in my life. My Facebook feed is not as bad but it’s also a more personal network for me. I was thinking about hiding Trump tweets on Twitter to see if it would make the service useful again but I can’t hide them all.

Then I remembered how it felt when I deactivated my account for two weeks. I felt relieved and so it’s something I’m going to do again only this time it will be permanent. I’m not going to tell people what they can and can’t say or how to use a social network so quitting Twitter seems like the best solution for me. I can always get in touch with people via Facebook or Slack.

I opened my RSS reader for the first time in a long time and saw links to stories that would have been buried in Tweets about Trump if they were Tweeted at all. While browsing through feeds, I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful it was inside the app. Thank goodness Twitter and other social networks didn’t kill RSS readers.

Well, I was going to permanently deactivate my account but I don’t want to reactivate it once every thirty days so I don’t lose the data. So instead, I’ll simply log out, not use it, and remove the account from the app on my phone.