Not feeling great today

Those I saw who predicted this election outcome the earliest and most clearly are those who study history and hate. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement — there’s always been “conservative” backlash to social progress in the US. A Black president? Same-sex marriage? Americans will once again get to learn from the forgotten history they’re repeating.

People of colour always knew that this is what America looks like. So did Muslims, Jews, women, and others. (White, Christian women apparently decided they were somehow different.) If you’re still not clear, if you’re still shocked, it’s never been laid out for you in more clear primary colours. Charts, graphs, it’s all there.

When those previous movements happened, though, straight, white, Christian men still had their traditional privilege and supremacy. In the workforce, at home, in society. The cracks had started by the 70s, though. And now these demographics are decades older and more scared. They can’t provide the way they once did, they aren’t respected like they once were.

And a world that doesn’t look like them or agree with them or believe in them is leaving them behind. But there are still millions of them, and they have lashed out. You can’t point to or blame one group. This wasn’t solely about race or gender or socioeconomics. Though it was each and all of those things. It took a whole lot of people buying into very scary messages to make this happen.

But millennials and those younger didn’t make this happen. The majority of people of colour didn’t make this happen. And the Baby Boomers are senior citizens now. The backlash is small, comparatively, though it is going to have some ugly consequences well beyond one term in office.

What will come from children who have been terrified that their families could be torn apart and their parents or grandparents deported? What will come from those who are not part of the ever-shrinking white “Christian” minority? What will come from women who don’t accept that any or every man could or should get to act like their creepy uncle? What will come will not be comparatively small.

But it also won’t happen tomorrow. America now has four years to see what damage will be done. Those who clung to blatant lies will learn to their too-sad-for-irony dismay just how big and voluminous the lies were. And that they are not getting their privilege and supremacy back.

Today, 300+ million people get to look their neighbours and co-workers in the eye. And have awful conversations with their children.

So you voted and were active online and that didn’t work this time. For those who aren’t happy about this result, you’re not done. Your family needs you. Your communities need you. Your country needs you, whether it realizes it or not. And it needs you in person. Not just Facebook statuses or tweets or what have you.

It needs money and time and bodies to volunteer. It needs protection and protest and lobbying. If you hate what this presidency stands for, get out and fight it. If you’re not sure how, there are plenty of people already doing the work. Look to them. Women fighting for their reproductive rights. Indigenous people fighting for their land and environmental rights. Black people fighting for their right to live.

It needs friendship and learning and love and abandoning comfort zones.

Be careful how you use your anger, though. Misdirected anger is a good part of how this mess happened in the first place. Loving thy neighbour isn’t always easy. But little about getting through this will be. Because America has shown itself and the lid can’t go back on that box. And you can’t just move to Canada.

Now no one can claim they don’t know it’s broke. Back when Obama and Clinton ran against each other for the Democratic nomination, there was the question, almost bitterly joking, of whether the US was more sexist or more racist. Now you know.

I woke up this morning thinking, “What have you done?”

But it’s done. The question now and tomorrow is: What will you do?

Close the bathroom door

This past week having brought us Valentine’s Day, of course the digital landscape was awash in content about relationships and sex and being more successful at both of those and whatnot. This was one of them.

As I read it, I got a little twitchy, as I am still wont to do, recalling the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship even this many years later. The Internet was getting mainstream then, but it was primitive. We mostly communicated online via telnet programs and email. Not too many people had cell phones yet, and those phones didn’t have cameras, apps, or any of the other key features that enable you to be connected 24/7. Hell, we wrote letters to each other.

But what I found really interesting about that article is that it’s a lot more broadly relevant than just for long-distance romantic pairings. I don’t know how many times it’s happened at this point where I’ve run into someone, or have intentionally met up, and they’ll inquire about something that we’ve never talked about before. Now, I freely admit to my senility, so my reply is often, “Did I tell you about that?” And as often as not the reply will be that they saw me mention it on Twitter or Facebook. Right.
Continue reading “Close the bathroom door”

Raging and gently, night and light

This year is the 10th anniversary of my friend’s death on December 22nd, 2003. A number of years ago my aunt’s sister died on Christmas morning. A friend’s father-in-law died this morning.

This isn’t terribly unusual. People die all the time. But it feels like it is. In this season of togetherness and celebration and relatives stressing you out, it feels like a sin of some kind for people to die, or come close to it. It seems more tragic. And then I feel disrespectful for everyone who gets sick or into accidents or dies around the other 50 or so weeks of the year.

And does that feeling of Yuletide tragedy get pushed back further every year like the retail-drive Christmas season does?

It’s vaguely like how I feel bad for anyone born between mid-December and mid-January. Well, your birthday’s going to suck. Like that’s the worst thing that could happen around your birth, or like there aren’t other “inconvenient” days to be born throughout the year.

It feels like we’ve done this to ourselves. And by “we” I mean those who celebrate Christmas. If you don’t celebrate anything in late December/early January, someone’s death doesn’t necessarily take on extra and somewhat manufactured weight. Though western culture has done its damnedest to infect everyone with the Christmas spirit. I mean really, can’t we just leave the Jews alone to enjoy their movies and Chinese food?

Perhaps there are also historical ties. In the day, when people died in the winter (and this still may be the case, depending where you’re at), they couldn’t be buried right away. They pretty much literally had to be kept on ice until spring thaw when the body could be interred. So you had however many weeks or months of being indoors more, with more darkness outside (until December 21st, at least), and possibly more aloneness, to grieve, to think, and kind of… wait. There was that bit of closure that wasn’t possible because when spring came you were going to have to go through it again to some degree, if you chose to.

If you go way back, you have Solstice taking place around the same time as Christmas (not a coincidence). So there are ideas of the shift of darkness and the return of light and new life. You don’t have to look very hard to find where Christianity got its metaphors… But winter cold and darkness and loneliness and other seasonal hazards are real, and there’s little question why not all elderly or isolated people “don’t make it” til spring.

Blessedly, I have not had that many friends die throughout the year. I don’t have enough of a basis of comparison for whether I dwell on it more this time of year, or it makes me more sad. I do know the season comes with more baggage than most times of the year — for me and many others. This is why I have friends who don’t celebrate at all. In fact, they’ve taken years to divest themselves of obligations on The Day, in favour of eating badly, drinking heartily, and enjoying geeky and/or trashy entertainments. I admit to a certain envy.

Ultimately, though, right after a death during the holidays, there’s one concrete thing that would make a death you’re close to harder. The administrative details. You’re supposed to be winding down at work and gearing up for baking and shopping and all manner of social occasions. And all of a sudden that has to come to a screeching halt, replaced by hospitals and funeral homes and decision after decision. Except that all the festive stuff doesn’t entirely go away. The people and the decorations and the food. And you don’t get any time to exhale, to start processing.

I’m sure funeral directors and the like can verify that death doesn’t take holidays, nor display any particularly religious or secular affiliation at this, or any other time of year. But I suspect there are some things different about managing the mortal coil departures lounge this time of year.

The point of these musings? Nothing, really, beyond a brain dump of things on my mind lately, having had both birth and death wander by in close proximity. (That makes it sound like I recently miscarried or something. I didn’t.)

It’s December 21st, the shortest day, and longest night, of the year. Thomas never did tell us what we’re supposed to do about the return of the light…

Uptown 21 Takeover Dinner with Beast Restaurant

Last evening the food creators and food lovers gathered at Uptown 21 for the second in their 21 Takeover dinner series (hashtag: #21takeover). This time the host was Scott Vivian from Beast in Toronto, and his wife/partner/pastry chef Rachelle.

The lovely Paula and I were invited to join in the festivities, and so we arrived with bells on, tummies empty, and smartphones at the ready. (Many thanks to her for most of the photos, which were quite superior with her camera vs. my iPhone.)

So, what were we in for? A sneak peak…

Dinner menu - Beast 21 Takeover

And what is a lovely dinner without wine?

Beast wine pairings - 21 Takeover

As it turned out, Paula and I were seated with Krystina from Rosewood Estates Winery and her guest, Amela, who were charming and knowledgeable company. (Krystina arranged the evening’s pairings.)

After some intros and welcomes and such, we were off to the races, beginning with the Tawse Riesling Spark paired with a tangy and crunchy morsel of scrumptiousness that was the amuse.

The amuse bouche was pickled onions and Brussels sprouts with crema on Taco Farm tortilla tostadas. It was a snap, crackle and pop of a starter, and the plate (we were served family style) was quickly bare.

the amuse bouche

Next up were some of Rachelle’s breads, and I could have eaten either of them alone… or just the butter, too. So soft, so rich.


In his opening remarks, amid less important business, Nick addressed the elephant in the room: all of the terrible moustaches. (His, of course, was very manly and could only increase his chefly powers.) 🙂

After the breads, Krystina introduced the evenings wineries: Rosewood Estates, Tawse, and Lailey, and the wines we’d be enjoying (for those who chose pairings). For the first of the courses on the menu, we’d be enjoying 2010 Rosewood Pinot Noir.

First up of the courses was the cauliflower and croutons with a gorgeously bright salsa verde. The warm “brown” roasty flavours and all the bright green flavours were good friends, and the Pinot was just the right weight and complexity.

cauliflower and croutons with salsa verde - 21 Takeover

Next up was one of my favourite salad ingredients: smoked trout, with Greek yogurt, beetroot, and quail egg. I could have eaten the whole plate by myself, easily.

smoked trout Greek yogurt beet root quail egg - 21 Takeover

Whew, one course under our belts, and our appetites thoroughly whet for what was to come. To prepare us for the next round, the Tawse 2011 Chardonnay arrived. Might I note, I’m not a big Chardonnay fan, but this was lovely, subtle stuff.

Then things got serious as the “poutine” arrived: fried gnocchi with wild boar and cheese curds. Epic. (The gnocchi was described as tasting like “the best Tater Tots ever”.) 🙂 The Chardonnay had just enough body and brightness for the richness of the poutine. An oakier variety would have been “funny”, as my Dad would say.

poutine - gnocchi wild boar cheese curds

After pillaging that plate with vigor, things got a bit more ethnically inspired. (Is something Quebecois-inspired ethnic for us? I guess…) It was time for the battered and fried squid with fish sauce vinaigrette, Thai basil, and pomelo. And might I note here that I am not generally a big squid eater, but this was fantastic, and I happily ate tentacles — even for the camera. The Chardonnay was lovely with the tangy, Thai-inspired flavours at work.

squid fish sauce vinaigrette Thai basil pomelo - 21 Takeover

Next up was the special wine, the Lailey 2011 Syrah. Glad I got to try it, because Krystina finagled the last of it from Derek. Amazing stuff. Rich, well rounded, and not a hint of that overbearing “green pepper” I worry about with big Ontario reds.

So naturally the next course got its meat on in a big way. Venison with mushrooms on a bed of pine nut grits. And again, not a venison fan, but this was perfectly cooked and so flavourful. I ate my share and some of Amela’s this time. Yum! Even more crazy was that I happily wrapped each bite in mushroom, and anyone who knows me knows my utter abhorrence of the things. I don’t even know who I am anymore, and I don’t care. 🙂

venison with mushrooms and pine nuts - 21 Takeover

Next up we went back to the veggies and sweetened things up a bit with squash, pepitas, and feta with a wonderfully complex maple glaze. The smell of it was intoxicating. So perfectly “fall”. (We argued over what was all in the glaze. It was almost… Moroccan.)

squash pepitas feta maple glaze - 21 Takeover

And with that, my friends, we’d completed the main menu. What remained was the announced sticky toffee pudding (I have not words for how much I love that stuff) and a mystery dessert made with chocolate that had been delivered by Ambrosia Pastry that afternoon. (If you have not tried their many varieties of bean to bar chocolate, you are SO missing out.)

Another first arrived next: mead! Not that I’ve never had it, just that I’ve never liked it, typically because I find it cloyingly sweet. (Same issue with ice wine.) But this was a dry mead (yes, it exists!) and was a whole ‘nother ballgame. This was a 2011 Rosewood Estates Harvest Gold Mead. And the honey it’s made from is from Krystina’s family’s own bees.

And lo, with coffee and tea and such served if mead wasn’t enough, the desserts arrived. The announced sticky toffee pudding positively SWIMMING in toffee sauce, and a beautifully simple chocolate tart. People… it was a miracle that every table did not come to fisticuffs over these desserts. Rachelle is made of magic.

The tart let the chocolate shine. It was rich and complex and just sweet enough. Even the pears garnishing it could have been their own dessert. I hurt me to my core to cut it in half for Paula to have her share. 🙂

chocolate tart with pears - 21 Takeover

And the pudding… moist and festive and the sauce… well, people did shooters of the sauce. ‘Nuf said. (Seriously, I ate sticky toffee puddings across the UK and could have stayed right here for the finest.)

sticky toffee pudding - 21 Takeover

And with that, the meal came to an end. But not a belly was left unstuffed nor a taste bud untantalized. Huge thanks to Nick and Nat for the invitation, and to Scott and Rachelle for the meal, as well as all the kitchen and front of house staff who made the evening run flawlessly.

Next up in the 21 Takeover series is the gents from The Bauer Butcher. It’s gonna be a meat-tastic (and magnificent!) menu. Take a look. (And Nick wasn’t even kidding about the bacon fat baklava…) That one’s December 11th and it’s selling out FAST.

Pictures of You

Update: I thought this quote from a review of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be fitting:

Think about eulogies for a moment. They’re impossible things, meant to recapture something while simultaneously acknowledging the irrevocable loss of that same thing. Eulogies try to bring somebody back so we can remember them properly, even while communicating the fact that they aren’t ever coming back.

My parents and I were both at funerals last weekend, though nearly 400km apart. In both cases we were there as friends of family of the deceased. As these things do, I was reminded of past funerals I have attended, what I might like or not like to occur at my own, and how I might handle those of my parents. Morbid? Perhaps, but apropos given the circumstances. Memento mori and all that.

I was also intimately reminded that while funerals are really for the living (or surviving), without a reasonably solid knowledge of the deceased and balanced focus on their surviving loved ones, they don’t bring much comfort.

For whatever reason, to me a sign of a good funeral service is learning something about the deceased. Information from a time before you knew them. A funny anecdote from an event you hadn’t attended, etc. Funerals are supposed to celebrate life, and I love learning about the different ways in which people have lived. That said, it then makes me a little sad to know I won’t really have opportunities to learn more of those stories. Certainly not first hand.

At the funeral I attended they played a slideshow of photos throughout her life, which got me thinking about symbolic items. A selection of little things that could be displayed like photos often are to represent the person or some of their favourite things or pastimes. I think coming up with those things could be fun, or at least nostalgic and a little comforting, but would be much harder to do in a grief-addled state. So something to consider well in advance.

Although, sometimes improvising works out okay, too. Every church kitchen has spoons. 🙂

So, right. The deceased and their “presence” at the service. One thing that makes me really uncomfortable is when the officiant clearly didn’t know the deceased. This isn’t uncommon when the person wasn’t religious, for example (i.e. didn’t have a “home” church and pastor). It’s just awkwardly obvious that the person is cobbling together a service from a few shared tidbits of information.

Usually the officiant has the good sense to make note to the assembled of how well or how little they knew the deceased, but it’s also pretty obvious really quickly. Sometimes that’s ok and they are clearly doing their best. Sometimes it’s really not okay and can cause lasting damage. I realize that in cases like that it would in some ways be better not to have a stranger officiating, but realistically, how many people could make it through an entire service for a loved one? Any profession that shoulders burdens most of us can’t handle (and wouldn’t want) is a noble one.

The pastor at the funeral I attended commented that he didn’t get to know the deceased as well as many. Fair enough. But he was her home church pastor, and I got the impression that he didn’t know her that well in comparison to the family or many friends present, many of whom had known her 30-40 years in some cases. I’d give him a pass. The service went smoothly and was personal enough, and was in good part directed at her family, as was appropriate.

At the service my parents attended, however, the officiant was clearly attached to the funeral home where the service took place, since the deceased’s family was not religious. The officiant didn’t know the deceased at all, and cobbled together the service from a few, obviously hastily provided, details. Awkward. But it gets worse.

Because he didn’t know the deceased, he didn’t know her family or friends, either. He almost exclusively referred to her husband and children and their loss, almost entirely ignoring her mother (her father died some years ago), siblings, etc. That was very poorly received, and rightly so. Her family was part of her life, and they’d lost a daughter, sister, aunt, etc., and they had been part of her long struggle with cancer as her husband and children had been.

The last thing a funeral service should do is cause MORE pain. You don’t get a do-over.

The only thing that stuck out for me about the funeral I attended was that there was no singing. I know not all denominations make music and songs a central part of worship, but coming from a Mennonite background, a service without singing seemed downright incomplete. Perhaps had it been a non-religious service like the one my parents attended it might have seemed less odd, but I was in a church.

The pastor mentioned a couple of the favourite artists of the deceased and her husband. Had I known any Vera Lynn songs, I definitely would have sung one in her honour in the car when I left.

A friend who’d been at the same funeral I attended told me a story as well of another funeral he attended, where, despite having been estranged from the family for over a decade, they were the ones who handled (and paid for) the funeral and other arrangements. But as a result, the funeral was essentially for the person the deceased had been before their estrangement. So basically, for someone who hadn’t existed in some time, and wasn’t who most of the friends and non-family assembled knew. There were a lot of hard feelings. However, from a purely practical standpoint, the family had arranged and paid for the proceedings, so how the service took place was their right.

In life, we more or less inhabit different personas in different times, places, and company. You’re not quite the same with your parents as with your friends. Or the same with co-workers as you are with siblings. So it’s not really reasonable to expect all of your personas to be represented at your funeral. One can try, having various people speak and such, but ultimately life is very messy, and some sanitizing tends to be necessary.

This is why I am a fan of handling funerals like marriage is handled in some places like the Netherlands. The “real” wedding is a civil service, but you can have a religious ceremony, too, if you like. (But if you have only a religious ceremony, you’re not legally married.)

If it is appropriate for you and the life you led, and your family and/or friends, to have a religious service upon your demise, that’s cool. You may even want to contribute suggestions for content. But afterward, I think it’s equally important to loosen the ties and take off the pantyhose, hoist a pint and tell stories that will have people crying with laughter, and play music that sounds best loud. And probably serve ice cream. 🙂

A bird may love a fish…

Humanity is going to become extinct. Not, as you may suspect, due to environmental catastrophe, nuclear holocaust, or zombie apocalypse. No, our extinction will be the result of a species-wide inability to woo. And shallowness, apparently. Yep, we’re all doomed and it’s those whippersnappers’ fault.

Recently I read the article A Million First Dates, which filled me in on the fact that young people are growing into adulthood relationship-impaired. Basically, thanks to technology, young people don’t have to do much work to find partners (sexual or relationship), and so they don’t know how to communicate well, learn compromise, and generally commit to doing the work that long-term relationships require. Why push through the rough or boring times when there are Plenty of Fish in the online (pun intended) sea?

Additionally, according to The End of Courtship, apparently that same technology, combined with soulless hook-up culture, has left young people clueless about how to go about wooing and dating at all. Which hasn’t left anyone very happy (and has even spurred some backlash!) Apparently eventually you have to pursue something more than casual, meaningless (and often recreational substance-enhanced) sex.
Continue reading “A bird may love a fish…”

So that’s how that went

I find some of my mildly obsessive tendencies come out on December 31st and January 1st. I ritualize little things, as if that will affect how one year ends and the next begins. Pink sweater or green? Latte or flat white? Meaningless, ultimately, but we humans do love our patterns and to try and convince ourselves that we have some control over our world. (I went with the pink sweater.)
Continue reading “So that’s how that went”

Next door

Many thanks to a number of friends who shared their experiences, thoughts, and insights, helping me round out this post and give me the sigh of relief that these reactions were not Just Me. Also, this post includes a variety of experiences based on relationships with a variety of people over time. Right now I am fine, and my people are doing alright. This generalizing is as much to protect individuals’ privacy as to try and make sense of dealing second-hand with mental illness.

Wednesday, February 8th was a day to talk about mental health. Why it was sponsored by Bell, I don’t know. Why it was February 8th, I don’t know. But hey, getting people talking about mental health and raising money isn’t a bad thing.

Unsurprisingly, it brought to mind my own experiences with mental illness. I consider myself fortunate — any depression I’ve dealt with has been situational, and temporary, and I always remained at least somewhat functional. Those who have helped me through it have my eternal gratitude and are immediately welcome to anything I can do for them when they need it.

But depression and I have been close, sometimes very close, off and on for a lot of years. I kinda… live next door. I’ve seen many strong voices online talk about their struggles with depression, which has helped a lot of people. I haven’t seen much, however, from the people around those who struggle. There are some good reasons for that. A lot of what you think and feel seems either utterly futile, or makes you think you must be a complete asshole.

Mostly I’ve been depression’s next door neighbour, but sometimes other neighbours show up: anxiety, mania, substance abuse… And you would think, after all these years, that I’d know how to be a good neighbour by now. I’d have figured out How To Help.

Nope. I suck.
Continue reading “Next door”

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft

If you take this gig, I think you should pour your heart into it, but I want you to remember that you’re going to have another five to ten other jobs in your lifetime just like this one. This means that for each moment you spend being pumped about the new gig, you’ll have an equal and opposite moment at the end of the gig where you can’t wait to get the hell out. — Rands

Sometimes you hear or read something and it gets stuck in your head. Perhaps because it totally resonates. Perhaps because it expresses an opinion so diametrically opposed to your own. Perhaps because there’s just… something to it, but you can’t yet put your finger on it.

When I first read that quote, I’d been working at a job I didn’t like for about eight months. I’d never really liked it, and, in fact, my manager quit a few weeks after I’d started. Things didn’t go uphill from there. However, about six weeks after I read that quote, I met the PostRank folks and started on a new adventure, one I liked much better.

But for the past while, since I’ve known that I’d be leaving Google, that quote has come to mind a fair bit. Especially when you come from a startup where there’s always more to be done than bodies to do it, being in a position of not being particularly useful isn’t easy. Or when you’re among people who claim to need/want X, but then make decisions and plans that will never accomplish X. Being informed that their attempts to make me permanent had fallen through wasn’t terribly surprising, nor was it emotionally crushing by that point.

I don’t want to give the impression that I found my time at Google horrible. Anything but. It’s totally not the real world there, and that’s a lot of fun. Googlers are insanely well taken care of, and that level of geek-centric culture can be a great time. The people I worked with, both on the Analytics Marketing team and the operations folks I got to know just by being there, are all great, highly capable people. I just didn’t happen to fit the prevailing structure. When you get far enough away from high school, eventually you realize it’s okay not to fit in everywhere. 🙂

Hindsight gives you a considerably broader point of view, and so one can indulge from time to time in the What Ifs. I’ve never for a minute regretted saying no to moving to Mountain View, but what if I had gone there? It would have been pretty much the only chance I had to find somewhere to “fit” at Google, simply because what I do is done there, but not here. At the same time, though, the way they handle community management, for example, is very different from how I am used to working, and how my personality prefers to work… so would I have been happy there? Would I have loved living in the Valley or San Francisco, or would I have always felt painfully un-hip? (Kidding.)

Ultimately, Google is a big company. A very big company, no matter how much they try to believe and market themselves (especially internally) as something scrappier, more nimble, or “startup-y”. I’ve told numbers of people that working at Google felt more like working at the insurance companies I’ve worked for than any of the tech companies I’ve worked for. Nothing wrong with that — the company has around 32,000 employees. But as you grow you have to accept and adapt to how your growth affects your employees, culture, communications, etc. as well as your products, customers, and the market.

So, what if I hadn’t tagged along on the Google adventure? They never really needed or wanted all of us, so what if they’d said thanks, deposited a few bucks into our accounts, and we went our separate ways back in June? I recall seeing a couple of really cool jobs back then, and waffling over whether to apply and push my brain into the direction of moving on, or to settle myself in the saddle for whatever ride Google would bring. Needless to say, I chose Google. I think a lot of people would. I am at least grateful that KW is a tech-strong area and desperately thirsty for talent. I’d be a lot more freaked out if we’d had a crash between June and now. (Especially given how many cool gigs I keep seeing for Toronto, Calgary, and the Valley…)

Unsurprisingly, I have been constantly asked the last while what’s next. Perhaps if I’d had a quarter for every ask I wouldn’t have to look for a new job at all… Short answer is: I can’t say. I have some great opportunities that right now mostly just require patience, I know my skills are valued, and I am superstitious enough not to talk about it all in much detail in the open without Is dotted and Ts crossed and where the capricious gods of fate may hear me… Most importantly, I feel fine about where things are and are going.

I am also very grateful to everyone who’s been supportive and helpful. I’ve received leads, introductions, and whatnot from many people who didn’t surprise me, and a number who did. Sounds a bit self-serving, but you hope that by being active in your community and making yourself useful that they’ll be there for you when you need it, too, and that has very much proven true. Fellowship: it ain’t just for Mennonites! So thank you all.

I’ve also enjoyed getting a closer look back into the startup scene recently. It’s certainly grown and changed since PostRank was one of those scrappy, nimble companies with six employees and computers on folding tables. For every story like this I see that makes me weep for the future, I have also seen, heard, and talked to brilliant folks who are passionate, fearless, and who just happen to have recently graduated… or not. It’s also heartening to know their mentors and know that those are folks who’ll kick their asses if they get uppity. 🙂

At the same time, I see the mistakes they make and am becoming ever more aware of the value of experience (especially my own), and for access to business mentoring that reflects that. It seems to be easy enough to get insight and information from great people about the tech, the financing, and all the “hard” skills, but the worst errors I see being made are about people. And it’s not that these folks are sociopaths or lack social skills, it’s just that being the CEO of a company is very different from doing hacking projects with your buddies, or being low enough down the totem pole not to be responsible for a lot of things. I look forward to seeing how these folks grow and change over the years the same way I look forward to seeing how the tech scene here does.

The end of the PostRank era has been hard at times, but it would have been harder had it ended back in June. Having had months to get used to the team being flung to the four winds has provided separation time, and having suspected a permanent position wasn’t going to work out has provided the motivation to send my brain forward, rather than miring it in the present or pining for the past.

I’ve been in much worse places — still working at a company that was crumbling around me, laid off a week after my birthday — so I’m in a very okay place. As I told a couple friends, my main challenge currently is working on my patience, which has never been my strongest of virtues. (Given that it’s my sister-in-law’s name, perhaps she could impart some wisdom?)

Hopefully, I’ll have awesome news to share in one of my all-too-infrequent posts soon. Watch this space. 🙂 In the mean time, a few snippets from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go, which has been on my mind a lot lately, too (and the title of this post comes from it). I thought it important enough to make a parting gift for the Googles.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.


You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.


Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

Almost nothing?

Courtesy of the Timehop service, I get an email from time to time letting me know what I was up to a year ago on a given day, based on my activity on my social accounts.

The only thing I was up to a year ago was this, apparently:

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a year where NOTHING happens. Well, almost nothing… 🙂

2010 was a year of constant change. Some good, some bad, but it just wouldn’t stop. So by 2011 I was good and ready for some stasis. Oh, how naive January 1st, 2011 Melle was…

2011 began with some ugly family stuff, but also with a new relationship that kept me sane and renewed my hope in a lot of things. But not so much with the stasis.

In February, Carol and Ilya had some interesting meetings in California, which led to being informed at a “routine” company update meeting in March that Google was buying PostRank. And the only thing that makes huge news more fun is not being able to say a damned thing about it to anyone. Until June. Including a trip to California for interviews in April. Nothing like lying to your friends and family for business purposes.

Should anyone have doubted that I can keep a secret… 🙂

June 3rd was the announcement and party, June 11th was my birthday, and June 12th the team flew back to Mountain View for orientation. June 17th I started working in the Kitchener Google office.

From time to time I still have moments where my mind boggles at it all. And other days I really miss my little spot in the back corner of the office on the fifth floor at King and Allen and those 15 other people with whom I helped build something cool.

Per my prior blog post, my adventure at Google will be coming to an end on February 2nd, or when I resign for another position, whichever comes first. I wish things could have worked out well, but I leave there knowing it was never in the cards. And I am grateful that the whole adventure leaves me in a financial position that I don’t have to panic if I don’t have a job on February 3rd. (Though I plan to hustle my ass off to ensure that I do.)

The abovementioned relationship wasn’t easy. It seemed like everything conspired against it to make things way harder than they should have had to be. Due to certain circumstances, I wasn’t expecting 100% clear skies and smooth sailing, but I also wasn’t expecting a never-ending series of spanners in the works. I still believe things happen for reasons, though.

We finally admitted defeat in November, long after we really should have. But it’s a testament to both our personalities and needs that it lasted so long. Now? We try to figure out what we should have embarked upon back in December 2010. I’m not eager to throw myself at any new relationships just yet, though me, myself, and I have a few things to work out.

I didn’t write very much this past year, which bothered me and still does. I aim to rectify that. I’m good at it and it feels good to craft stuff, and sometimes just to get it out of my head. I’ve figured out things like blogging, and I’ve figured out social media, to the detriment of my own blogging and other writing. Now it’s time to figure out how to manage it all in proportions that work for me. And hey, there’s still that book stuck in my head. I can’t believe it’s been two years since the presentation that sparked the idea for it in my head.

No stasis in 2011 for those around me, either. Friends’ startup was also acquired, new jobs were begun, new homes were moved into, new cars were driven. Babies were born and loved ones were lost. I am grateful that the deaths mostly passed my family. Goodness knows we had plenty in the preceding year or two.

I remember, years ago, seeing my doctor back home after she and her family had returned from a year in Israel. I commented that it had been “quite a year to be there”. What with assorted bombings, assassinations, government machinations and the like. She basically shrugged off my comment with the reply that “isn’t it always?” Which was very true.

It may seem like 2010 and 2011 were constantly changing and that seemed somehow unusual, but I’ve come to realize that that’s all years. It just seems like it more and more as I get older as I have more life and more perspective and a greater sphere in which change is always happening.

The best I can do is to take care of myself and those I care about, make the best of whatever comes, and embrace the best parts wholeheartedly. Or when things happen beyond my control, attendre et espérer. (I got an important tattoo in 2011, too.) Yeah, it’s January 1st, and I’m supposed to be full to bursting with optimism, resolutions, and plans for the new year. I shall leave that to others. Never really been my thing, and I’m a little beat up right now.

Sometimes a quiet New Year’s Day is just as necessary as a quiet New Year’s Eve.