There's something about this picture that really speaks to me.
As you all know by now I went to a big blogging conference in NYC called BlogHer. In a nutshell, its purpose is to bring together female writers for networking, skill-building, and fun.
(And here I just SIGHED trying to collect my thoughts. This is gonna be a long one...)
I don't really know where to begin. First off, it was amazing. Absolutely fucking amazing. Women everywhere you looked laughing, hugging, talking, squealing, conversing intensely and seriously, drinking, eating, dancing, looking uncomfortable, nervous, happy, stressed, lost. You name it and you only had to look to a different pocket of people to see something new and real come to pass.
I had two sets of two different roommates for my three days there and so felt doubly fortunate to share close quarters with twice as many people as everyone else might get to. I also made connections with women who (for reasons I can't really speak to because it still seems a total mystery to me) actually (and truly) wanted to meet me as part of their conference experience. - Even typing that now still makes me smile and shake my head. Hearing those words and knowing them to be heartfelt and true makes my heart swell. It feels like fucking magic. If I say it too much a genie might appear and demand repayment, so I better stop.
It was nothing short of utter chaos. Beautiful, overwhelming chaos. I did everything I wanted to do. I skipped almost all of the parties, instead preferring to be under-scheduled. I'm about 90% certain it was the right thing for me to do because it allowed me to go at my own pace, though the other 10% is me missing hanging out with friends who were going to scheduled events.
One of the very first people I got to meet on Thursday was a woman whose writing touches me and challenges me in the most fascinating ways. She tweeted about being barefoot in the lobby in a green dress and I looked up and there she was, rushing past. I called her name and we hugged. Fiercely. Multiple times. I was just SO happy to meet her finally even if it was in a crowded lobby and all we got to do was hug.
Then I dressed in my favorite blue dress and went down the initial BlogHer party whose lone purpose is to help everyone relax. I saw bloggers I'd met at pre-BlogHer meetups and we hugged and laughed and drank wine bought with our limp little drink tickets. I thought to myself, "I definitely need to hang out with her again! And her! And her, too!" Then it was time to meet up with the DinHer ladies and catch a cab to a trattoria a stone's throw from Times Square. I ate, drank, made lewd disgusting jokes about having "the COCK---les" for dinner and inadvertently made everyone take a group photo again when they realized I had missed the first round due to taking a phone call. Later, I'd roam the streets surrounding the hotel in stilettos looking for the dive my roommates were in eating pizza, order a drink they couldn't/wouldn't make, and then happily head back home blistered and sober in the company of two nice smelling girls.
Friday I hit up a session about inspiration, then ducked out after lunch and hid in my room for a while chatting amiably with my roommates as they did a quick outfit change before dashing off to party #13 (or maybe it was #27 -for real, their party schedule was inspired). I showered, relaxed and then headed off to the NYC public library to meet a friend I hadn't seen in a decade. We hugged tightly and I noted his hair had thinned a tad and he very much looked the part of a distinguished and handsome librarian. (I'm sure he noted the years on me, too.)
As the head librarian for the rare books division he gave me a personal grand tour of the archives and the library itself. Each room filled with volumes of leather-bound books and each room having a distinct scent of worn paper and ink from the previous. (Michael's office, sequestered in rooms stuffed full of books all about tobacco, reminded me of the way my grandmother's encyclopedias used to smell.) I saw The Columbus Letter with my own eyes, inches from my face, and original art, historic pieces, and craftsmanship that were awe inspiring to say the least.
The library closed and we took the subway to Lombardi's and drank wine and ate pizza cooked in a coal-burning oven. Then we walked through Little Italy, SoHo, Greenwich Village and Washington Park to grab a drink at The Algonoquin. - Actually, we grabbed three drinks. Side Cars for me, Stingers for him. - We talked, caught up, shared. We talked about my situation, my life, Life in general, his life. It was incredible and rejuvenating.
Then, we walked some more, filled my eyes with art deco paintings and tile work in atriums and lobbies, swung by Rockefeller Center and finally dropped me off at my hotel exhausted and happy. Only for me to head back to the hotel bar and hang with more new friends, laughing, and cussing more than I think I ever have in my entire life (if that's even possible) because, I thought to myself, when will I ever get to do this again? I didn't care how exhausted I was or how even more exhausted I'd be the next morning, I was determined to wring out every scintillating second out of this weekend if it killed me.
Saturday I caught a session with a woman I greatly admire (and who earlier in the conference got to hear me gush about how I loved her work), but had to leave early to check out of my old room and into my new one. Then, down to the lobby to meet with another great woman who wanted to come to the MOMA with me. We ate paninis with bread too hard and crusty, and swapped sandwich halves like an old couple. Roamed the halls filled with Matisse, Pollock, and Rothko, women's photography, and different languages filling the spaces overhead. Eventually, we were spent - done filled up with art and beauty, as it were - and sat out in the courtyard on the stone steps and talked. And I mean really talked. It was incredible to share with her in ways I can with only a select few.
Later that night, I'd do it again, with a different, wonderful woman sitting on the lobby floor under fluorescent lights wishing I could pack myself in her bags and go live next door to her, too.
I didn't cry as I spoke about the pain and confusion of my life right now. I only gritted my teeth and sunk down into a trove of strength I didn't know I had. I was so proud of myself for finding this new reserve even I didn't know was there as I let my words flow with big, bold emotion. A new me was found, it seems.
And even later than that, I would continue to spend time with a woman who tucked me under her wing and was lovely, wonderful, hysterical, and real and who I hope like hell comes to visit me some day.
Peppered into all of this were more dazzling conversations with other women; stolen moments sitting on marble retaining walls smoking frou-frou cigarettes and watching all of humanity roll past; drunken toasts; ass-shaking to music clearly spun by someone born in the 70's, too; picture-taking; elevator-bay SEO sessions; Swag Mountain; meeting bloggers with tens of thousands of followers and a heart and hug so big and warm you'd never know it she was a blogging giant in her own right.
I could go on. And feel like I have, but I still haven't gotten to the point of all of this: What I learned about myself from this weekend.
Well, a couple of things: 1) I am a sensitive woman-of-my-word who is a wine-drinking, foul-mouthed, feminist-mother, who practices attachment parenting, is a breastfeeding activist, occasionally uses the word "retarded," who likes to be connected to a select few, but part of a bigger group, too, and who also likes light-hearted and not always politically-correct or personal-belief-aligning blogs, and 2) that that's all ok.
For so long now I have tried to be too many things to too many people because that's me. I want to please everyone. I want all the feminist writers I admire to admire me, too. To consider my blog as "feminist" and to list me as so and not think I'm frivolous or don't care about changing the world, too. I want the humor writers to not think I'm a drag and so fucking serious all the time. I want the life bloggers to think I'm well-rounded and good at just, well, being.
I'm actually this close to getting rid of my blogroll just so I can start fresh and clear my head. This blog is for ME, after all. Not for anyone else. If it resonates with anyone else that is purely lucky, amazing, spectacular mojo. Not intentional.
So I hearby have a new Blog Mantra:
I will no longer feel bad when I blog about something silly or otherwise "meaningless." I will stop trying to prove myself to people who, I'm certain, don't think twice about it one way or the other. I will write about whatever I want with honesty, clarity, and a vision of filling my own shoes, and proudly so. I will write about causes that I care about. I will share things about my life as I see fit. I will let this blog be as much a representation of me as I like. I will assume that everyone else does what I do whenever I read their writing: just read and enjoy. That simple.
Wow. This ended up being really fucking long.
Oh, that reminds me, I'm also going to start swearing on here more. Deal with it.
BIG LOVE to everyone who made BlogHer so unbelievably special for me. I hope you know who you are. If not, then I've done a terrible job painting the picture.