Every community professional knows: the hardest thing about job changes is leaving your community and team. Leaving the people you’ve met, interact with daily, and hopefully, have been able to help along their paths. Saying goodbye to your community, and to the team(s) you’ve worked with, is bittersweet because, at the end of the day, it’s the people who matter.
After two and a half years, last Friday, July 5th, was my final day with CMX/Bevy. When you work at startups — the incredible ups and downs — can feel even more impactful. In my time with two major programs, CMX Summit and the CMX Pro membership program, the team went from 0 to 100 mph, iterated in different ways, led with our hearts, and joined the Bevy crew.
I’ve been lucky and privileged to work in the most meta of communities: a community of community professionals. Which means putting together programs and working with the best minds in the industry — those tackling huge problems or on the innovated edges — like those at Amazon, the Coral Project, the Alzheimer’s Society, and more. They pushed me to be a better community manager. Continue reading “Bittersweet Goodbyes and New Trails”
Patreon functions like a subscription to art. If you like what I’m doing, you can support me on an on-going basis and get access to exclusive content. Patreon’s mission is to support creators for their art in every form, especially that which we often publish on the internet for free.
You can set up a monthly subscription to creators on the platform. Most creators, including me, allow you to do as low as a $1 monthly pledge. That’s less than a single issue comic book! 😉 Of course, you can always cancel this subscription at any point. Patreon takes credit cards or PayPal.
In exchange for support, you — the patrons — are given different levels of access, previews, exclusive content, or really anything a creator decides to do. For myself, I currently have four levels: $1, $5, $10, and $20. These levels will have different access to different content. At $1, you’ll get previews of what I’m reading/watching. At $5, you’ll get a follow from me on Twitter, plus $1 level. At $10, you’ll get sneak peeks at what I’m working on, a look inside my process, and likely some cat photos. And at $20, you’ll get to be my librarian, or help decide what I read/review next and get exclusive content, plus $10 tier stuff.
Why am I using this platform?
I’m using it to help me as a creator expand my reach and ability to create art. Recently, I had two major life events that made me decide to try Patreon.
1. I was laid off from my steady, full-time job. This worked as a kick in the pants (motivation) to consider my current path and what I wanted versus what I was doing. This also means the financial support of Patrons, like you, is even more critical to continuing my writing.
2. I’ve written over 800 comic book reviews on my blog since 2007. It’s a great milestone. But those reviews were all published for free, and actually cost me money as I buy the books to support creators I love.
At the end of the day, Patreon is an experiment to figure out if it works and fits into my creative process. If it works to help connect me to my community and enable me to focus more energies on creation, then it will be a success.
What many people likely don’t know is that working at Moz was my dream job. Back in 2006/07, I discovered the e-commerce site I worked on really needed this thing called SEO. I stumbled upon then SEOmoz’s blog and the well-loved Beginner’s Guide to SEO. I dug in. Everyone on the blog seemed so smart , and little did I know that most of them were in the same boat as me, figuring this stuff out. When I started looking for a new job, I thought “wow, it’d be so cool to work at Moz.”
I spent the next two years knocking on various Moz doors. Sure, I applied some other places — but nothing much panned out. Height of the recession and all. Then I landed an interview with Moz in their cramped offices above the Elysian Brewery as they prepared to move to their first Downtown Seattle location. I interviewed with Adam Feldstein and a couple other folks. I was elated to be given the opportunity.
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t hired. Adam told me I wasn’t quite the right fit job-wise, but he thought I’d make a great Mozzer. He encouraged me to apply again.
Most people don’t try again. But I did. For another role on Adam’s team, which I only made it to a phone interview.
Okay, I’d tried. It didn’t work. Instead, I co-founded an all-volunteer nonprofit called GeekGirlCon. I kept reading, learning, and even bravely answering some Moz Q&A questions.
This newfangled social network called G+ launched, and I poked around on it a bit. Followed this guy Rand Fishkin, seemed kind of cool. (Obviously, I knew who he was.) He posted about this hard-to-fill, ridiculous role called Community Attaché. This person needed to have both community building skills and enough SEO chops to help community members. When I was read the description, I thought “holy mother of god, that’s actually a job I’m super qualified for.” Rand asked applicants to email him directly.
I nervous, late-night typed out an email cover letter to Rand. I made some jokes, talked about my skill set, how I loved the community, how I was working to put on this GeekGirlCon convention (outcome TBD at the time), and read it over 100 times. I was sure I’d call him “Fishking,” which to this day, I always type out and then hit the backspace. Continue reading “Community Manager Seeking Dream Job 2.0”
Grandfathers are put into our lives in order to make better sense of the universe. And my Grandfather certainly shaped the universe for myself and the rest of our family. Astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller explains our position in the universe with the eloquent, yet literal sentiment — “We are dead stars, looking back up at the sky.” Grandpa now having returned to the sky.
My Grandfather, like all of us, was a complex person. He was someone many people would describe as gruff and serious. He didn’t always make the best first, second, or third impression, but his heart was always in the right place, whether he was ushering here at St. Mark or helping me clean rabbit cages or my cousins with their Boy Scout projects. But today, I want to talk about the Grandpa that I knew.
My Grandpa was the one who smiled for my photos — which he never did for Grandma —; he always made sure to hop on the phone and say “I love you”; and he liked to joke that I was his favorite. (But let me pause here and draw back the curtain to spoil you for Grandpa’s hand. He said this to all his grandchildren. Sorry, brothers and cousins, if this takes away the magic.)
My Grandpa found his joy with his grandchildren, and it’s something that almost wasn’t. I’m the oldest grandchild. When I was born over 30 years ago, my mother told him he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink around me. My Grandfather in all his infamous stubbornness took a “5 Day Plan to Stop Smoking” class from the Seventh Day Adventists and quit cold turkey. Grandma recently gave me the certificate from the program, and I laughed a lot. Of course, Grandpa made something lots of people sincerely struggle with look like a day in the park with his granddaughter. Everyone now knows no single addiction can be curbed in five days. But Grandpa stopped a 40-year-old habit because of his love for his grandchildren.
Last Friday, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage for all adults regardless of gender, Moz was one of the brands who decided to rainbowfy their social media icons.
Now, you might be surprised to learn I wasn’t behind this decision. I am one of the community team members, and yes, we’re responsible for social media. Instead, my manager Jen, with a thumbs up from our CEO Sarah, made it happen. The rainbow was all done before I was even in the office. Or had a cup of tea.
For the most part, Moz’s community was very supportive. However, a few community members and a handful of customers complained. They spoke to typically “arguments” about gay marriage — everything from it being political to outright saying they disliked queer people and yes, the illogical jump to sex with ducks. (Don’t worry, it’s a humorous music video.) Poor Roger even had his sexuality mislabeled. He’s asexual because he’s a robot!
I am the community team member who’s point for responding to “situations that require escalation” aka when someone’s having a freakout, legit or otherwise. And I could talk about how I responded, what I did as a representative of the brand, and what I really wanted to say to those particular bigots.
I am my maternal grandfather’s favorite grandchild, or so goes the family joke-truth. I was the first grandchild. When I was born, my grandpa quit heavily smoking and drinking, which he’d done for 40 years, cold turkey. My mother had given him an ultimatum; but let’s be clear, he didn’t stop because of her or my grandmother or his own health. He quit because of me. This is one of the heavy realities of my birth.
Luckily, for grandpa and I, we’ve pretty much always gotten along. I spent an enormous part of my childhood at my grandparents’ house, and my grandpa even lived with my family for many years, on the weekdays anyway, when building two of my childhood homes. He taught me how to hammer nails and developed my love of cheddar cheese. Grandma often comments that I’m sometimes the only one who can make him really smile. (Both grandpa and I are prone to resting bitch face; it’s a thing.)
My grandfather is notoriously stubborn. And I can dig my heels into the sand with the best of them. But being grandpa’s favorite, I learned that sometimes it was better to ask for forgiveness and count on unconditional love than ask for permission when I knew there was a ‘no’ attached. Grandpa always seemed more lighthearted when I asked for forgiveness. Even if it was just changing the TV channel with his remote.
Almost every year as an adult, I bring my cat “home” for Christmas. Now my grandfather grew up in rural South Dakota and believes that animals should only be kept for work. If my cat was out in a barn killing mice and other vermin, fine. But my cats are pampered, indoor creatures. As a child, I dressed them up in Cabbage Patch Kids clothing, and as an adult, I feed them higher quality food than many people eat. I learned long ago never to ask my grandfather or let him know I was bringing my cat. And he still acts like it’s a surprise every year to see me carrying in my feline companion along with my Christmas gifts.
However, it’s always be crystal clear that my cats were not allowed in grandpa’s room or to do such horrible things like snuggle up to him.
One year, I was taking a shower after everyone else had gone to bed. When I got out, my grandma was knocking rapidly on the door. She was in a panic. After grandpa had gone to sleep and grandma was still getting ready for bed, my cat Winston had wandered into their room. When grandma had tried to remove Winston, he’d growled, hissed, and snapped at her. This was very un-Winston like behavior.
Apparently, we’re having another round of “that’s just fanfiction.” Implying that fanfiction is below prowriting quality standards and should be dismissed, and that if you want to insult a prowriting piece, just call it fanfiction.
For those that live under rocks, fanfiction or fanfic is a derivative work of another creator, usually created out of love for the original work. More often than not written for fun and just because. Fanfic is largely created by women for women. And fanfic is infamous for its explicitly erotic stories, which do constitute a significant portion, though not all fanfic. Erotic fanfic often falls into Rule 34: if you can think of it, there’s probably erotica/porn on the internet about it.
For a year I wrote obituaries for my hometown newspaper. There I learned one thing: if someone lives a great long life, don’t just remember their last few years, remember their entire life. Not just the times where they were ill, had lots of wrinkles, maybe watched too much Wheel of Fortune, or did the sanctioned things we allow our elderly to do. Don’t list their past times based on only classes they signed up for at the senior center.
My paternal grandma, Evelyn, passed away in the early am this Christmas at age 87. She’d received a terminal cancer diagnosis earlier this year, and after spending the year before battling breast cancer, she decided to enjoy her final days instead of going for a treatment that wasn’t likely to succeed. Grandma was able to live her final moments as she wanted: in her home and with her family. And I can’t help but wonder what the family will list as her hobbies and interests.
I hope they write about my Grandma’s travels. How age and the dreams of the travelers, who crashed at the bed and breakfast she and my Grandfather started after they retired, propelled her across the world. How she went to Scotland to seek out genealogy and relatives. How she discovered that there are 22 different spellings of our shared last name. How she saw castles while the rest of us stayed safely within the confines of Oregon.
When I was 12, my Grandmother took myself and my two cousins, Sean and Kristen, to Alaska. While it was the second time I’d flown, it was the first time I remembered being on a plane. My cousins and I looked out windows for mountain peaks and entertained ourselves by reading magazines. My Grandmother remained calm and nonplussed as we pinned flying wings on our lapels and met the pilot. When I travel for business, I imitate my Grandmother’s attitude about being on a plane and being on airports. It helps with the stories in my head.
In Alaska, we met and stayed with distant relatives Grandma had met on her dives into genealogy. We stayed up all night getting to know our relatives, but also unsure what time it was in the constant light of summertime in Alaska. Even our relatives laughed when they realized it was 2am and they still had neighbors over after a Club Scout meeting. Before we headed on in our itinerary, we met more distant family, and I remember the first thing that surprised Grandma about Alaska was finding out we had black relatives.
Grandma navigated our travels in Alaska as if she’d taken the holiday already once herself. She had maps and pre-made plans. This was before GPSs and when only early adopters had cell phones. But we made our way from town-to-town, and Grandma had used her bed and breakfast connections for the rest of our stays. The places were overly frilled with tacky wallpaper and pillowy beds. Pinks and blues and Victorian prints seemed a theme.
Before Alaska, I’d had my hair cut short. I wanted to look like Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but instead I sported the infamous bowl-cuts of the era. My hair matched my brother Jonathan’s and my cousin Sean’s. I was as tall as I am now and as thin as a beanpole. In Alaska, it seemed that girls and non-elderly women all had long hair. They had curves and fat, and I had none of these things. And when one odd, ginger B&B owner told my Grandma that the two twin boys could share the candy caned stripped room, I flushed with embarrassment, but my grandma, not for the first time, correct the man that I was a girl.
We went on a day cruise to see icebergs and whales. As we loaded the bus, it was clear my cousins and myself were the only ones under the age of 60 on the tour. A man started to comment on the twin boys, but then he shouted, “oh, one’s a girl” when he noticed I wore a white jersey dress with pink and blue striping. Though this may have given away my gender, it was not appropriate clothing for the deck of a ship near icebergs. But I didn’t care the moment I saw humpback whales.
My Grandma and I were never close. To say she didn’t get me was an understatement and perhaps I didn’t understand her that well either. She was like the icebergs we watched, barely peeking above the surface with more below we never saw. She seemed accepting of the hand that life dealt her, in a way I don’t think anyone born after World War II is. Practical to a fault. But I imagine there were many things she just chose not to say. My Grandfather may have died when I was four, but I always felt this specter of the patriarch lingering. And it wasn’t the huge portrait of him and my Grandma, in full McGillivray tartan regalia, hanging at the end of the darkened hallway. I often felt like an outsider in this no-nonsense place for boys: my father, three uncles, two brothers, four male cousins, and our grandfatherly ghost.
I visited my Grandma about two days before she died, and she asked me if I remembered playing with paper dolls at the B&B log cabin house. How I’d sit for hours, creating new fashions for the paper dolls of Li’l Abner and Daisy Mae. Dolls my Grandma had kept from her own youth and packed away for decades until her sons gave her five granddaughters. She seemed surprised that I remembered this and eager to connect over this feminine activity. Because even though she rejected it, my practical Grandma never realized just how much we’d both needed feminism and how we were just different failures of stereotypical femininity. I kind of wished we’d talked about Alaska and icebergs instead.
I remember lying in the upstairs loft in the log house, staring back at the heads of moose and deer lining the walls. Looking for hidden specters and creepy monsters, listening to the great clock ticking away all throughout the house. While it felt cabin-like, I’d never describe my Grandma’s log cabin as cozy or warm. There were drafts and the strict tidiness of always having guests. (Even after she sold the B&B, my Grandma’s house remained utilitarian and uncluttered.) Only at Christmas, when 20+ people arrived and my cousins and I tore through our gifts littering the place with wrapping paper and new toys did the log house become warm and full of life. Perhaps that was why Grandma chose Christmas Day to die.
I said nothing as the woman sitting across from me mused that shaving one’s legs in the sink was the ultimate defining moment of womanhood. Whose womanhood? Perhaps only her own, perhaps only the other socio-economically privileged, mostly white women present. Perhaps she thought this expression resonated with all of us or perhaps it was to separate the superior kind of woman she wanted us to be.
With few exceptions, I try to only dig enough into other people’s own psychodramas to interact with them or make them characters in stories. But I can tell you this barrier she set up affected others; it affected me. It’s never a flaming sword of body hate. No, it’s just tiny little jabs collected over months of similar comments, environments, and messaging that eventually make you bleed, face-down on the ground.
I spent a whole half year unhappy with my wardrobe choices. Staring in a mirror of unhappiness. Nothing looked right, and I didn’t seem to own what I needed. Or it wasn’t clean. My mornings just dragged out longer than necessary. And no amount of shopping or wardrobe purging seemed to fix it.
“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” – Lawrence Kasdan
In the evenings, my partner Jacob often asks me the question, “Are you done yet?’ Usually, I’m knee-deep in a project, gazing at my true love: my laptop. More often than not that project is my writing. A never-ending project that on good days is a swirl of joy and on bad, a petulant child who won’t stop screaming. Or perhaps won’t start screaming if I’m blocked.
My writing is sadly what I save for those stolen moments. When my work inbox nears the mythical zero. When I’ve called my grandma, cleaned the house, made dinner, and finished watching all of Orange is the New Black. (Which is really good, by the way, go watch it.) When I’ve finished with all the other very important things that I also do truly care about.
At first, I thought I’d fallen into the procrastination trap. The I’ll do it later… But I know what that looks like, there’s a failure of launch. My mom is a self-described A+ procrastinator, and my harddrive doesn’t resemble her barely-started project remnants that have a room devoted to them. You procrastinate on your taxes or finally fixing that door that doesn’t shut right, not the thing you crave, the thing you dream about, the thing you roll melodramatically around in bed and tell your partner you’ll die without. You’ll fall over dead if you can’t write. You’ll come down with a cold if you don’t get out of bed right now and write. This is a scientific fact you’ve proven. Proven.