But I have some news to share that I’m really excited about! As I approach my 10th anniversary with Automattic, I’m about to embark on a new challenge.
In just a few weeks, I’ll be leaving my beloved team Jupiter to join a newly formed team of three Happiness Engineers, called Comet. Our time over the next year will be devoted to helping with the WordPress.org project and giving back to the open-source community as part of Five for the Future.
Since my pre-Automattic WordPress experience includes working on self-hosted sites and volunteering in the WordPress.org support forums, I’m particularly excited to return to my roots, in a way. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
Last weekend, I attended my first live-theatre show since the Before Times: Sweet Charity, a musical I’d never seen before, performed by a group of local university students.
There I sat alone – my would-be companion sidelined with Covid, natch – the audience fully masked. Even the performers wore masks, except when singing a lead part.
A 1960s Broadway musical based on the Federico Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, the original Sweet Charity came with a book by Neil Simon, choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and the lead role filled by Gwen Verdon as a bubbly “dance hall hostess” who meets a shy tax accountant when they get stuck in the same elevator.
The show makes it pretty clear that being a “dance hall hostess” commonly involved an income-supplementing activity for some of the women that, these days, would be referred to as “sex work.”
When the musical number Big Spender started up, a strange familiarity started to come over me. I knew that song. And not just from decades’ worth of pop-culture references. I knew it.
And then it hit me. I sang that song. Back at a children’s arts camp I attended as kid, in one of our group performances.
Was it a bit odd that a bunch of 12-year olds were taught to sing a song about showing wealthy men a “good time”? If it was, we certainly didn’t realize it at the time.
Anyway. That wasn’t even the song that’s stuck with me the most since the show. That honour goes to Rhythm of Life, a mesmerizing earworm that just won’t leave, especially after I listened to this version by Sammy Davis Jr. from the movie adaptation. Check it out, if you dare. And tell me what you think.
As I approach the new self-checkout area at a local supermarket, a clerk comes over to guide me. She is probably at least a decade or two older than me, although my sense of age is probably not as sharp as it used to be.
“Be sure to put your bag on the scale and add each item after you scan it. Do you have your own bags?”
“No, for the avodadoes, you should click the ‘enter code manually button.’ See how there’s a number on the sticker?”
It’s not like I’m new to self-checkouts, but as she deftly corrects a few of my actions, it does facilitate a smoother transaction. Usually I have to click the “Get help” button at least once during these things, but today I don’t.
After it’s all over, I make my way to the exit, rolling shopping cart literally in tow. With its turquoise pseudo-Moroccan tile pattern, I think it’s cute – but by its very nature, it can never be hip. Even the word “hip” is un-hip, I fully acknowledge that.
Even though I leave feeling about a hundred years old, the whole thing was somehow quite a satisfying experience.
You hid out for four days, undoubtedly terrified, waiting.
Then one morning, you plucked up every ounce of your feline courage and found your way back home at five o’clock in the morning. You walked through the door I’d left open and into the kitchen and scarfed down as much food as you possibly could. You looked up at me when I saw you, seeming almost puzzled as I burst into sobs.
Since then, you’ve curled up with me at night while I slept with my elbow tightly around you. You’ve tucked yourself under my arm while I typed on my laptop with the other. You’ve dozed soundly on your bed while I worked a foot away on my desk.
You diligently caught mice in my old apartment and have enjoyed bird- and squirrel-watching vantage points at my new condo.
You don’t meow excessively and you haven’t broken or scratched things, only adding some wear and tear to the couch… a small price to pay for your constant companionship throughout the pandemic.