I Brought My Heart to San Francisco (CM Week 2018)

Ahoy-hoy!

I’m back from a week in uncharacteristically-sunny San Francisco! Every year, they bring together all of Yelp’s Community Managers (99% of us work remotely) for a work summit at Yelp HQ, and this year’s was our best yet!

Of course, that statement isn’t exactly unbiased, considering that I was 1) on the planning committee for this year’s CM Week, and 2) I brought these two suckers along for the ride this year:

Yes, I did, in fact, drag my husband and baby 2,800 miles across the country with me on this work trip. Some of you may not be particularly surprised by this — I mean, I’ve barely spent like, 8 hours at a time away from Penny since she’s been alive. You think I was going to be able to handle being apart from her for an entire week?! I was having anxiety just thinking about the separation anxiety… that I, myself, would have experienced. Penny, on the other hand, probably would have barely noticed I was gone — much to the delight of my coworkers, stranger danger just doesn’t really seem to be her thing.

It was an awesome, if admittedly exhausting, conference. My amazing coworker who was also on the planning committee with me managed to score Andrew WK as the guest speaker, so that was freaking epic, and it’s always just such a treat to see my coworkers whom I normally only get to follow from afar.

 
Aside from a hiccup at the beginning of the week, the whole trip felt like a win-win on most fronts, really. Sean and Penny got lots of special bonding time exploring the city together, and I got to reunite with them at the end of each day. And since I wasn’t super distracted fully missing them the whole time, I was better able to focus on the conference, so I came away from the week with lots of new ideas and invigoration that I want to implement back into my role as Yelp Community Manager here in Northern VA.

 
AND it finally gave me a reason to do all the fun touristy stuff that I’ve always intended on doing out in SF, but just never got around to. Can you believe I’ve been out here FIVE times for this annual conference, and yet this was my FIRST trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge?!

That aforementioned hiccup though? Involved Sean taking our poor little Penny-poo to the frickin’ HOSPITAL on the first day of my conference! I woke up that morning and noticed her eyes were really red and puffy, which was alarming but we were like, okay, maybe she’s really tired, she didn’t sleep that well, there’s a big time difference, etc (this was at like 4 AM San Francisco-time.) But then I unzipped her sleeper and saw that she had a crazy rash ALL over her poor little body. And that’s when I really freaked.

 
Since it was the very first day of the conference, I had Sean rush her over to the children’s hospital right away and tried to hold it together while awaiting an update with baited breath. Honestly, having to keep my ish together because I was literally part of the team leading this conference, while my poor baby was being taken to the hospital without me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Apologies to my two coworkers who almost certainly were not expecting me to break down in tears when they asked me how Penny was doing, lol.

Luckily, the doctors said that despite it looking quite shocking to us, it actually wasn’t a huge deal. PHEW! Official diagnosis was a viral rash — a reaction to either a cold she had previously developed, or something she picked up on the flight. It had pretty much resolved on its own 24 hours later, and also luckily, this all happened so early in the morning that I received the update before Day 1 of our conference had even officially kicked off.

So yeah, I can definitely say that while I learned a lot job-wise on this trip, I learned even more parenting-wise. Because holy mackerel, between crazy early morning rash eruptions,nd just the flights there and back in the first place, I definitely felt like I was put through my paces.

The flights, man. I mean, I knew that flying with Penny as an almost-10-month-old would be different from every other time I’ve flown with her (the most recent being back in March), but I still don’t quite think I was prepared. It certainly cemented the fact that the golden window to travel with your baby really is when they’re still a sleepy little lump, that’s for sure.

This time around Penny was just a little energizer baby — she was so interested in everyone on the plane, so uninterested in staying still, and got so bored. Which I mean, okay, sure, that’s fair. These were the longest flights she’s ever done by quite a bit, and being trapped in a metal box for 5 hours is boring!

But regardless how much I understand why she was hard to manage, it still didn’t make dealing with it in the moment that much easier. There’s the fact that it also took quite a bit of effort to get her to sleep on the plane — she straight up refused to rest or stop moving or basically quiet herself in any way when Sean had her, so getting our little nugget to close her eyes fell solely on me. And unlike in trips past, when popping her on the boob was a surefire way to get her to go to sleep, she is just far too busy and distracted these days to nurse pretty much at all during the day (which is its own issue that I’m dealing with, but that’s for another post methinks.)

Anyway, on the way out to SF, we had an empty seat in our row (HEAVEN!) so I was able to lay back at an angle and drape her over my torso. So despite the fact that we had to get the airport at like 5 AM that day (0_0), the trip out to California wasn’t actually that bad.

Our return flight, however, was completely full, much later in the day, and, of course, happened after a loooong week, so it was a little bit of a different story. Thankfully our row-mate was a super skinny 12-year-old boy, so he really didn’t take up much space and had very large headphones because Penny was a literal handful the entire flight. She didn’t cry all that much or anything, but was just, well, a baby.

Climbing all over us, trying to go back and forth between Sean and me incessantly, and just not. wanting. to. sleep. The only way I was finally able to get her to pass out was by strapping her into her carrier and bouncing in my seat for like half an hour. Ever bounced a 20-lb weight for thirty minutes straight?

Every single muscle in my body is sore today, lol. I’m guessing it also has something to do with all the walking, holding her, and general stress/craziness that the week as a whole entailed, but I feel like I did back-to-back Crossfit sessions. I really need to get back into better shape if I’m going to be able to continue keeping up with her!

Anyway, with that, I actually think I’m going to sign off here. I usually write my blog posts the night before they go up, and miraculously, Penny went to bed at 7 PM EAST COAST TIME, despite sleeping in until at 11:45 AM yesterday. So basically, she might actually be some kind of magic baby who can get back on schedule after just one night?! Which means even though my jetlagged body thinks it’s only 9 PM right now, it’s actually midnight and I should already be sleeping (as my wakeup call is sure to come sooner than I’d like.)

I fully intend to chat about what it’s like living in a hotel with a baby in my next post though, so let’s just consider this post Part 1 of our San Franciscan adventure. See you back here soon!

Jet Set Life

Um, can we just talk for a minute about how it’s basically already August? I know people say stuff all the time like, “This month has just flown by!” and “I can’t believe it’s already _____!” but this time it really is true — I am actually having trouble believing that as much time has passed as it has. It feels like the Fourth of July was like, last weekend! Oyyyy.

But I guess that’s what seven days in Ottawa, half-a-day in Montreal, one day in Toronto, and five days in San Francisco will do to you!

Yep, the past couple of weeks have been awesome, if not exhausting, haha. First was a trip down memory lane back in Canada, where I graduated from high school.

My week in Canada was pretty low key aside from all the driving we did between Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, haha. I saw friends (including one of my bridesmaids, Holly!), ate lots of poutine, got my souvenirs in the form of ketchup chips, and all was well.

Then came the epic once-a-year Community Manager conference at Yelp HQ in San Francisco — what we call CM Week. This year, CM Week was superhero-themed, which really tells you all that you need to know.

I loveloveloved getting the chance to see my fellow Community Managers from around the globe (Yelp is in 32 countries!) and getting to brainstorm and get fired up for more projects to come! But try to imagine what it’s like when you basically put like 160+ Gretchens together in a room — all that energy! All that enthusiasm! I love it, but it is a lot to handle. And these folks really embody the idea of work hard, play hard, so even after a long day of sessions, so many of them were all up for going out all night, too. I tried to keep up, but I also knew that I had to take it relatively easy since…

The travel’s not over yet! As you read this, I am probably waiting in line at security to board yet another flight. I’m on my way back to Savannah, GA, for work. Yep, after being home for like, I dunno, three days? And after an Elite Event last night, to boot!

Don’t worry, the event was awesome. It was at local Falls Church eatery Pizzeria Orso, and there was a whole lot of selfie stick action happening, and I loved it. Buttttt, again, exhausting. Are you noticing a theme here? Hahaha.

So, alas, I’m on my way south and I am already tired of traveling. I don’t mean to sound whiney or ungrateful, don’t get me wrong!  It’s not that I’m not looking forward to GOING to Savannah. It’s a seriously boss city, and I love the Yelp Community Ambassador that I hired there, and it’s awesome that my job sends me there at all. Plus, because Savannah is so close to Macon, GA, I also will get to see my favorite niece (okay, my only niece… for another month or so!) and my sister.

But as much as I love all of those things, and as much as I know I’ll have a great time once I’m there, I just really, really, really don’t want to have to get on another plane.

Now, I’m no stranger to flying. I was on my first airplane at just a few months old. It’s not that flying bothers me or is scary to me or anything, I just am tired of doing it. I don’t know how people who travel all the time for work do it — I guess it just becomes the new normal? Because as much as I love travel and visiting new places (and old places!), visiting this many places in such a relatively short amount of time is exhaaaausting to me.

I just want to lie in my bed with Harry and Daxter for like, three days straight. I want to catch up on my DVR and be able to actually answer an email about my wedding (wedding stuff has taken a definite pause as I’ve been jet-setting around the continent), and I want to sleeeeeep.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m totally one of those people that gets sick basically every time she travels. Last year after CM Week, I got hit with what we call the CM Week Plague. I was basically bedridden for an entire week afterwards. So this year, I took it easy and tried to go to bed early(ish) most nights, and drank a LOT of beverages with extra Vitamin C… but I can still feel it coming. Pretty sure once I get back from this trip, I’ll be in a sad state.

The silver lining there, though, is that I think I will get to do all the aforementioned schnauzer snuggling and TV-watching I’ve been craving! In between the multitude of events I have lined up for August, that is, haahahaha…ha…ha.

Okay, anyway, no point dwelling on all that. C’est la vie, and regardless of whether I whine about it the whole time, I am gonna be plane-bound for just a little bit longer! I should be grateful (and I am!) that I’m afforded the opportunities to get to see old friends (in addition to seeing my Canadian buddies, I caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in ELEVEN years while I was in San Francisco!), go to sweet events (which is the reason I’m headed to Savannah in the first place), and eat lots of awesome food (which is really what I’m in all this for, after all.)

So, until next time, my friends!

Whirlwind Week

Oh what a week, what a week, what a mighty fine week!

When I last left you, I was on my way to not-quite-sunny-but-wonderfully-temperate San Francisco for a week of Yelptastic shenanigans with the other 150+ Community Managers from ’round the globe. We called it #CMWeek14 and, as you can imagine, it was just as awesome as you’d think.

 

1. Goodies from the hotel welcome bag; 2. Beer + dark chocolate sea salt popsicle at the welcome party

There was a lot of learning, waaaaayyyy too much eating, a decent amount of me trying not to be the awkward “new kid” in front of so many seasoned Yelp vets (obviously I failed at that one, ahaha), and just generally a whole lot of good times.

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1. Sushiritto: IT EXISTS; 2. Personalized latte from the Yelp barista

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am extremely blessed to have this job. I mean, to not only be able to do things that I love everyday, but to work with such amazing, talented, creative, and awe-inspiring individuals to boot? Those of you who are Yelp Elite Squad members in other states (maybe even countries?) know exactly what I’m talking about.


My Regional Team: NC, DC, MD, PA, and VA in the hooooouse!

Our days pretty much consisted of nonstop sessions, group lunches and dinners, and then me being dragged into the party hardy fray after all of that. Don’t get me wrong, it was a BLAST, but I rarely go that hard on my own turf, let alone with a wonky time difference thrown into the mix. The night we took over a karaoke bar was 100% worth it alone, but believe you me, I suffered afterwards.

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In fact, it seems like the second I set foot back on northern Virginia soil, my body was like, “BWAHAHAHA. AND NOW I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE.” I got sick, and I got sick harrrrrd. Maybe it’s just the symptoms of CM week withdrawal, but it feels more like bubonic plague.

Of course, the train never stops rolling these days, so I didn’t let a little thing like being on my deathbed stop me from pulling off another swell Yelp Elite Event! On Sunday, just two days after I got back from SF, was Yelp’s Social Petworking!



Since having Daxter at an event has pretty much been my goal from the very beginning, it wasn’t too hard for me to rally for this one. That said, I’ve pretty much spent every other moment — both waking and sleeping — in bed, trying to shake this dang plague.

And why is it so important that I will myself back to health? Because tomorrow I’m off AGAIN! This time, it’s back to Macon, GA for my niece Mia’s FIRST BIRTHDAY! (Do you guys remember when SHE WAS BORN?! Yeah, an entire YEAR HAS PASSED SINCE THEN. Crazy.)

Life, man! It’s happening! Oy!

Anyway, that brings you all back up to speed, and with this next trip being hopefully a little less pedal-to-the-medal (I can’t imagine Mia wanting to go balls to the wall on her first birthday, but you never know…) I’ll be able to get back into the groove with blogging, eating, weight loss, and all that good stuff.

On a related note, I gave up potatoes for Lent this year, so let’s see how that goes, shall we?