I blame it on WordCamp Austin. I was doing fine until that weekend — chugging along at my work, building e-commerce and membership sites using WordPress, maintaining legacy custom themes and plugins. When I had a few minutes at home, I found ways to contribute to the larger WordPress community — creating plugins, writing patches for core, editing the Codex, contributing to the forums at WordPress.org and Stack Exchange. I’ve always been a bit of a generalist, and WordPress has a lot of different places to contribute, so I jumped in when and where I could. I got excited about being part of the community, and decided to attend my first WordCamp. That’s when it all started to fall apart.
If you’ve ever been to camp as a kid, you may recall the feeling of coming home after a week or two of a “mountain top experience” and being seriously disappointed to return to normal life. You feel different, but the people around you who didn’t have the same experience don’t understand how you feel, which can be easy to get frustrated with others. This is where I found myself after a weekend at WordCamp: energized and eager to dive deeper into WordPress, but back at the same place I was just days earlier and disenfranchised with the idea of implementing another site, when I really wanted to get back into creating and developing.
Before going to WordCamp, I had been encouraged to apply for a job with Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and several other WordPress-related projects. That didn’t work out, but the fire was lit. I started looking for other opportunities, finally landing an interview with 10up, one of the leading web development agencies with a love for WordPress. The visits went well, and it felt like a great fit, so I’m happy to say that I’ll be joining #team10up as a Web Engineer this week.
In 2002, I became the CIC Officer for the USS Hurricane, a Patrol Coastal ship home ported in Coronado, CA. I had worked with the ship and her crew briefly at my previous command while we were deployed in the same operating area. At that time, she was part of the Navy Special Warfare Command, but when I got there she had taken on a new role: Maritime Homeland Security in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Our job was to patrol the west coast of the US and work to prevent terrorists from attacking vital assets like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in SoCal, and submarines transiting Puget Sound in Washington State.
We deployed twice to Puget Sound that year, with an extra brief “surge” deployment to take part in and protect Fleet Week in Seattle. During one of those deployments, we made a short visit to Esquimalt, BC — an absolutely beautiful place.
I’m not a cowboy. I like cows — medium, please — and I like to ride horses, but that’s as far as it goes. I have friends that are honest-to-goodness cowboys and trick roping wonders, but that’s not me.
So why do I wear boots? Because my dad did.
My dad grew up on a dairy farm, getting up early to milk the cows before school, working the fields during harvest, riding horses and tractors, and doing general farmer/rancher stuff growing up. He wore boots, because that what you do when you do farmer/rancher stuff in the California Central Valley.
I sit (or stand) at a desk and write code. I have no need of boots, but I wear them anyway, because that’s what was modeled for me as I grew up.
I remember the days when I would dig into the shoe shine kit in the closet, grab my dad’s boots, and shine them up. It was fun, and shining my own boots brings back those good memories. I remember putting on those too-big boots and trying to walk around in them, just like my daughter does with my own boots. She’ll often decide to put her own boots on when she sees me wearing mine. I guess it’s a family thing. 🙂
I hope that one day someone will ask Joanna (or she’ll ask herself) “Why do you wear boots?”.
I expect her answer will be “Because my daddy does.”