Continued from Part 2
The third thing I learned at WordCamp 2015: I’m a closet Vegan.
My first exposure to being vegan occurred over twenty years ago. While working at a summer camp, I noticed one of my charges had dry, cracked lips, so bought her a Chapstick at the camp store. (Vegan readers…wait for it…)
When her mom arrived for pickup, she took one look at her daughter’s healing mouth and turned to me. “Did you give her something to put on her lips?”
I smiled and handed her the lip balm. “Yes, Ma’am; don’t worry—I bought her a new tube.”
She. Went. Postal.
Shocked beyond words, I stood mute as she blasted me for not calling her first. A naive eighteen, it never occurred to me that she’d be anything but happy her kid’s lips were no longer bleeding.
“We’re Vegan. This is against our beliefs. Bees made the wax.”
I didn’t know what she meant.
Vegan…like Spock on Star Trek? No…wait. That’s Vulcan.
Searched mental files…nope, nothing.
After she relaxed a bit, I asked her to tell me more about it. To me, a committed omnivore, the vegan way sounded a little crazy.
Two decades later, I still consider eating a TRYathlon.
If it’s edible, it’s fair game. New food? I’m in. (This is why I gained 15 lbs during a month in Trinidad.)
Lovers of all things fuzzy, close your eyes for this next sentence: in Peru, I checked out a local delicacy—guinea pig ravioli.
I say this not to induce death threats from PETA but to prove that I will, in fact, taste almost anything once. Chocolate covered ants are high on my “try it” list.
If you told my camp-counselor-self that I’d someday adore vegetarian or vegan dishes, I might have laughed. It’s true, though. This try-all-foods-at-least-once attitude has led me to love meatless meals.
Attending WordCamp US brought me to a life-altering culinary discovery.
At lunch on Friday (FYI, the food was FABULOUS), I spooned a couple different Philly-cheesesteak-style meats onto my plate without checking the tags.
One of them was the most tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth beef I’ve ever had.
I raved about it to my friend Ruth, who laughed.
Apparently there’s this thing I’d never heard about. Seitan. Ruth, attempting to assist me in pronunciation, explained that it sort of sounds like “satan.”
Me: “So. Somebody chopped the devil into little bits and it tastes like heaven. Who knew?”
Ruth: Eye roll. (All my friends have this same weird tic. So strange.)
- a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten.
Originorigin uncertain: perhaps from Japanese shokubutsusei tanpaku ‘vegetable protein.’
I understand “cooked wheat gluten” and “vegetable protein” don’t sound enticing—or, for that matter, even palatable. But trust me on this one. Go back and look at that picture above. Yep, seitan. It’s mouth-watering.
Friday evening, I had seitan prepared to taste like chicken. MMMM. At Saturday’s lunch, seitan barbecue. SO good.
I ate a LOT of seitan, skipping “real” meat for the rest of the weekend. Having had…occasional issues…with new foods, I had concerns about potential…repercussions. I’m happy to report that all systems remained in proper working order.
Unless you’re allergic to wheat/gluten, you’ve gotta try it.
Researching my new obsession, I’ve found several recipes to make seitan at home. I haven’t attempted yet (mostly because my kitchen has been upside-down for the last month, but that’s a post for another day). Although you can buy it prepared, DIY sounds more fun.
Check out the Post Punk Kitchen for an apparently foolproof recipe. Isa has a number of other vegan recipes that look incredibly yummy.
For many reasons, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to attend WordCamp US 2015 (and if you’re interested in attending next year, click here for a 2016 ticket. Trust me; the food alone is worth the price).
Finding a unique new fare might not be a major motivating factor for you, but it’s just one of many great reasons to attend.
I mean, where else can you cut the devil into tiny little pieces and chow down?
Wait. Did you just roll your eyes?
You should totally get that tic checked.
I never manage to keep resolutions I make for the New Year, but this year I’ve set a record!
Resolution: Post every day in January.
Day One: TANK.
I don’t think I’ve ever failed so quickly.
In my defense, a migraine attacked AND we poured concrete countertops in the kitchen, so…my day was a bit full.
Excuses, excuses…I know.
To make up for this, I’d like to give you a special treat: the story of WordCamp US 2015, in pictures.
Actually, I was planning to give you the link anyway, but now I can tell myself yesterday wasn’t a complete wash. Oh, wait. Not lying to myself was also a resolution. Doggone it!
Maybe I can make a resolution to break a resolution every day…now we’re talking!
The event photographers were beyond stellar, both as individuals and as snapshot extraordinaires. Working with them was unbelievable.
I hope you enjoy the story as much as we enjoyed documenting this amazing conference.
This is my imagined reality: you, sitting at your screen, waiting with impatience for my next post and thinking, “Whyyyyyyyyyyy did Casey stop writing? What could possibly be keeping her from us?”
Real reality: you, sitting at your screen, thinking, “Who’s this Casey person again? When in tarnation did I follow this blog? I definitely need to adjust those auto-follow settings…”
It’s cool. I’m fine with it. Except when the person asking how to unfollow the blog is Hubby. Out loud. From the armchair five feet away. Then…it feels just a little personal. But it’s been a long month; I’m a little over-sensitive. (Just kidding. Pretty sure he’s at least fifty-three of my followers.)
I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. NOTHING is finished. I tried using the blog as my carrot. “I can write when I finish…”
Photo Credit: Clay Junell
And yes, if I’m reaching for the carrot, I know what that makes me.
Exhausted and desperate for motivation. That’s what it makes me.
Why—what were you thinking? HEY!
Anyway, life has been nuts. WordCamp US 2015 was fabulous. I still have pending (read: I need to sit down and write them) posts about what I learned. If you’re able to attend next year, I highly recommend the experience.
I’m still working through the pictures from WordCamp because as soon as I came home, Hubby and I began demolishing our kitchen (also a planned post…more later).
I keep telling myself that I can write a post once I get through a certain number of pictures. I can edit pictures when enough work is complete in the kitchen. And the day-to-day tasks don’t go away. Laundry, school, shopping, packing for family gatherings.
The above paragraph sounds like a list of complaints. Not the case, I assure you. I’m ridiculously happy when busy.
However, I realized today that I’m getting a bit twitchy. My carrot is just a little too far out of reach. I need to write almost as much as I need to sleep. (In fact, I’d much rather write.)
The kids have been good today—exceptional, even—and I still found myself wanting to withdraw from everyone to a dark, quiet space this evening, to write. Craving a keyboard.
Instead, I forced myself to participate in “building night.” Hubby and the boy assembled a K’nex roller coaster on the table while the girl and I sprawled on the floor nearby and snapped together an elfin Lego kit.
Three minutes in, I felt better. Spending time with the kids one-on-one (and together) has been on my subconscious “list of things that are making me antsy because they aren’t getting done.”
It’s so easy to put off the things we want to do because of everything demanding our time, and in many cases what we have to do must come first. Sometimes, though, doing something you want to do can give you the boost necessary to get through harder work.
Time with the kids, now blogging with you.
I feel the “we will never finish any of this and our house will always be a wreck and the laundry pile will never deplete and the list will only grow and…” panic dissipating already.
I am so ready for tomorrow.
Here’s the #2 thing I learned at WordCamp.
Continued from this post.
It’s okay to “just be a blogger.”
Which is why this blog is now BACK AT WORDPRESS.COM.
I do not have to learn code.
No need to be a developer.
Although learning about SEO is fun and I like it, I don’t even have to do that.
My Thursday train arrived with an hour to spare. Ruth (see earlier post) convinced me to join the volunteer party instead of disappearing to my hotel.
I met Dennis. In addition to being an event speaker and all-around good guy, he’s also a Happiness Engineer.
And he spoke those eight little words I’d been dying to hear.
“There’s nothing wrong with ‘just’ being a blogger.”
Ever since the last WordCamp (around 98% of attendees were technical, not writers), I really, really REALLY tried to follow their advice. “Get a domain and self-host.”
I got a domain. (This, actually, IS a good idea.)
Joined BlueHost to have a self-hosted blog. (At least for this gal…not so much.)
Although I’m truly interested in SEO, I just want to write. Gaining a clearer understanding of search and meta and how things work isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t want to do that every day.
I’m no quitter. Not usually. But today, I called to cancel my BlueHost account.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Get your own domain. It’s your brand. I still own caseyalexanderblog.com for a year, but from here on out, you’ll be seeing hypervigilant.org as the new brand. If you’ve been around a while, you know why. If you’re new, I’ll explain sometime soon.
- Don’t self-host unless you enjoy the work. Self-hosting is only fun if you want to handle everything yourself. If, like me, you just want to write, you don’t need that.
- Get your domain through WordPress.com (no, they’re not paying me to say this). You get to keep all the cool features I lost when I went to BlueHost. There were no “reblog” or “follow” buttons. No community of readers and bloggers. I had ZERO new followers on the new blog. WordPress is where it’s at. (Yes, that’s bad grammar. Hush.)
- Reach out to a Happiness Engineer. Check the forums and help pages first, but if your issue isn’t resolved, check with a Happiness Engineer. Making people happy is what they do. No kidding.
So…if you’re new, welcome! I’m Casey, occasionally called hypervigilant. I like to write. I’m a blogger.
Thank you, Dennis, for saving my love of blogging.
Also, big thanks to Dean, Praveen, Zandy, Nicola and last but CERTAINLY not least, Naoko, some of the best Happiness Engineers in the Land. In the world, for that matter. You guys rock.
Click here for #3…
How about a free cheesesteak?
In Philadelphia, PA. From me.
Just sign up for WordCamp US, then let me know you did in the comments; I’ll choose someone at random and buy you a cheesesteak. In fact, I’ll let one of the kids pick a name out of a hat or something, just to be fair.
If you don’t eat meat, we can go for coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, well ARE YOU EVEN HUMAN? Oh, sorry, I mean…we’ll figure out something. Pigeon tipping, maybe.
Haddon Musings has already signed up! Don’t miss out.
WordCamp US will be phenomenal, and here’s why.
10 Reasons You Won’t Want to Miss WordCamp US
- Super-cool sessions. You don’t have to be a developer or coder to benefit from WordCamp US. Sarah Blackstock wrote an excellent piece about the best options for bloggers and writers here. If you’re still waffling about whether to take your small business to WordPress, check this out. If you are a coder, designer or developer, you can find more information here on the main page.
- Amazing people. Have you noticed? Everyone with WordPress connections is just, well, SUPER! I’m not kidding. I haven’t met ONE person I don’t like. Granted, I’m sort of an extrovert and I like people in general. But in a group this large, there’s usually at least one individual with whom I would not enjoy sharing a cheesesteak. Not in this crowd. Come network, learn and make great friends.
- Happiness Bar. According to people in the know (Ingrid and Liam), the volunteers sharing their technical expertise are “fabulous” and “stacked deep with loads and loads of WP knowledge.” Having recent experience with Happiness Engineers, I agree. Questions about being the master of your domain? Plugin won’t plug in? App making you unhAPPy? (See what I did there? Genius, I know.) The Happiness Bar is your new happy place.
- Philly Cheesesteak. Steak. Cheese. Philly. Need I say more? Well, okay. Here are even more reasons for foodies to flock to WordCamp. Chinese, Italian, coffeehouse, seafood, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, like—seriously—anything your hungry heart desires. Oh, and let’s not forget the pretzels!
- After Party. I mean, seriously. Who hates a party? Well, okay, a couple of my friends are not fond of parties. Or people, for that matter…but for the rest of us crazy kids, check out Alx Block’s take on our upcoming fun.
- Swag. No, not sweeping fabric drapes or stolen goods. We are neither interior decorators nor pirates. Most of us aren’t, anyway. WordPress swag rocks. Who can resist Wapuu?
- CHOCOLATE. Several places wait to amaze you, but Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar is UN-BEE-LIEVE-ABLE. I’m pretty sure those chocolatiers use magic. And maybe Oompa-Loompas.
- Be famous. I’ll be one of the volunteers behind a camera. Say “cheese” (or “coffee,” or “whiskey,” or whatever makes you smile)…you never know when one of my photos will go viral! Hey, it could happen.
- You could win a cheesesteak.
- And BONUS, you can find out what happens when I ask Hubby what he’d like for Christmas this year and he answers, “A redhead.”
People are arriving from across the ocean and down the block. Don’t miss your opportunity to join the networking, learning and celebration.
If you absolutely can’t make it, here’s an option to join the fun from the comfort of your own space. You can even get an official t-shirt.
See you next week!