If I know you, and you're reading this blog, you have two choices:

1) Feel free to pretend you haven't, should the contents be offensive, sensitive in nature, or just TMI (Too Much Information).
2) Comment freely or talk to me face to face, and be prepared for further honesty and opinions.

Okay? Okay.

Jul 23, 2008

Blogher The Recap, for me

Nervous Excited Fun Tired

Anxious Inspired Overwhelmed Motivated Impressed

There were so many women, so much noise, so much to take in and absorb. Babies to look at (I even stole Her Bad Mother's son for a bit, with her permission, leaving my conference badge behind, since she didn't know me at all), people to talk to, conversations to have, lunch with Rocco DiSpirito, swag to be had, friends to make, double beds to be shared, rommates to be met, notes to be taken, parties to go to... It was endless. Down time was hard to find. I decided if I were to come again, I need my own room.

I loved my roommates and the noise and atmosphere. I had a great time. Since it was my first year, I think I mostly absorbed it, the pieces that I could. Perhaps another time I'll be able to take more that 9 pictures and really take it all in. Maybe.

And now to address the Closing Keynote.

#1 Vi? Were you there? Did you feel the tension in the room? Or was it just around our tables? And yes, actually, I am a counselor, therapist, trained and qualified. Did I really think I could make a difference? Have you heard the starfish story? The boy throwing them back to the sea...

Here is the scene as I saw it. (I've tried to find a live account, podcast or something, but have been unable) Fabulous interview of Heather Armstrong- Dooce- and Stephanie Klein - Greek Tragedy- by Elisa C. I'm not going to recount the entire interview because I can't remember all of the details, but it was well rounded, talking abut the pros and cons of living their lives and letting parts of it hang out for the internets to see.

At one point, the three women on stage were talking about negative comments, insulting words etc. Heather referred to a post she had just read that was linked to her and that referred to her as a hobbit. She laughed a bit and acknowledged that the woman who wrote the post may very well be in the room and be upset with her for bringing it up. (My words, not hers) One table away sat said blogger, Jenny - The Blogess- . She sat up straighter, tuned in to the words spoken about her, heads swiveled, to watch her reaction. She smiled broadly, pointed to herself, in a 'yeah, that's me she's talking about' kind of way. Not proud, not reveling in the moment, but aware, acknowledging. I watched. And felt the air, the energy, the tension. These two women are strangers to me, I have never met them, I don't read their work... After some processing time, Jenny stood and a microphone wrangler found her. I cannot capture her words exactly, the sentiment was clear. She proclaimed her fascination with Dooce -very famous blogger, 'A' lister, everybody reads this woman- well, except for me apparently- and reiterated some of her post where she had compared Dooce to Santa Claus and Jesus as well as a mythical hobbit. She proclaimed her love for Heather and exclaimed "I even bought your fucking book, I love you" in a nice way.

During the time when Jenny was speaking, Heather hung her head, crossed her legs and arms, and looked at her lap. Jenny finished, the conversation moved forward, no further comment from Heather.

The tension in the air was palatable. What had just happened?

In my view, through my counselor, always trying to help, eyes, I saw two women both hurting. Now, perhaps it was selfish on my part. I'll admit that. I was tense and roiled. And also very aware that this event may be interpreted in many ways, and talked about, gossiped about. I also may have been wrong. I can take that. It was my need to clear the air, or at least try. And as Red Stapler 23 put it I was being a shit disturber. Also very much me- at least if you know me well.

One more thing. A few months back (whoops, last September), I made, what I thought, was a humorous and innocuous comment on a popular blogger's site. My attempt was to point out a possibly outdated and perhaps prejudicial and racial term. My comment did not come across as such. And the next days post was a reaction to my comment. Now, intially I was all like WHOA... and then I stepped back, realized that much is lost in printed words, that which is better conveyed along with facial gestures and body language. Chris reacted to my comment with little knowledge, if any, of who I am or what I meant. Not her fault. Maybe it was the last straw of the day, the month, the week. Maybe she had enough of people commenting on her words, every nuance and adjective criticized. In the end I'm still not sure. I was not attempting to attack and I think she knows that, now- after further explanation. (As a side, I did introduce myself to Chris at Blogher as the 'flesh girl', I'm sure she thinks I'm just a big 'ol whack job).

This experience had a lot to do with why I stood and said
'I'm nervous about saying this out loud and I am doing so because I know words can get misinterpreted when they are written not spoken... I was curious about your response, Heather, to Jenny's feedback for you '.

Probably not exactly those words, but close. Heather responded with the question of whether or not Jenny was still in the room- turns out she wasn't. I didn't know that. Heather then said she didn't want to answer with out Jenny there. Understandable. She doesn't owe me or anybody else... I, unlike others (oh, they're out there, you know they are) did not think that was an unreasonable response.

And after, after the keynote was over, I hightailed it up to Heather, introduced myself, apologized for putting her on the spot, and told her where I was coming from... two women hurting and all. She told me it was okay, and alluded to information that I was unaware of, something about the past, I believe.

Later in the evening, Emily introduced me to The Blogess, Jenny, as the woman who got up and asked Heather for a response. Jenny said that she had spoken with Heather since the keynote and that she thought things were better, okay, even.

So there it is, from my perspective to you. Whoever you all are.

Jeeezzz... all those links, whew.

Edited to add: Somehow I posted a portion of this earlier this morning, I withdrew it, but now it's finished. For real. 2:12 PM


Her Bad Mother said...

My baby was delighted to be stolen by you - and my arms were grateful for the rest.

So glad to have met you!

Recovering Straight Girl said...

Oh admit it, you're just a trouble maker--albeit the NICEST trouble maker in all the world!!!

Deb said...

Very cool perspective.

Humor is risky business. I proposed before the conference a panel about that very thing--the ethics & boundaries of humor--but I got it in too late. Elisa C. said maybe next year. I think there are good conversations aching to be had, and that was my frustration with the whole thing--people end up making conflict about women's feelings and therefore rush to make everyone OK.

I have no idea why Heather took offense at a humorous compliment, or why she lumped it in with acid-throwing and dog-hurting threats. I think she was succeeding in telling us it was hard to be her. But she knew Jenny was there and abused her power as a speaker and a madly popular institution to name Jenny as essentially abusive. Then not to acknowledge Jenny's apology, or to suggest she should have discussed the matter privately, and even to say "Is Jen the Bloggess?" -- that was wrong.

Sorry for the long comment. I'm done.

You are my mythical hobbit with the charming bare feet, and always will be!

gwendomama said...

i just wrote my final post on the debacle. i lurve you with pink puffy hearts and will be your neighbor. next year.

Jody said...

Wow. Well, I would have been the one to stand up and say "Hey, it isn't a party until something gets spilled......now kiss and make up.".....,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and it wouldn't be Blogher without some kind of drama.

Yesterday a group of girls from my old hometown, a group I hardly know, got on my website and left an ugly comment because I called the town "Mayberry" in a post. Um, it is a term I use to protect the towns anonymity online, and it is a term of ENDEARMENT. As in "nirvana", "quaint" "a place to be desired". Shesh. The written word gets screwed around all the time, but in the end people just need to CHILL.

Great post, and I would have sought you out if I had been to Blogher.

Babybloomr said...

I stood next to you at one of the morning keynotes and you offered me one of your two cups of coffee, and if that is not a testament to your generosity of spirit, I don't know what is. Because clearly, you and I both needed WAY more than just two.

I am glad to read your account of the kerfluffle, because my take on it was very similar to yours, but frankly, I totally misjudged your question-- though it was definitely said in a very conciliatory way, I still kinda immediately pegged you for a long time Bloggess friend and supporter who was attempting to clear the air/take up for her. Which would be fine too, it's just that after reading this I can see that wasn't exactly the case. Proves your point, doesn't it?! Misunderstandings do abound in the blogosphere!

lildb said...

thank you for defending Jenny.

thank you so much.

Lola Goetz said...

I think I know love you even more. I didn't realize that you were the one who asked the question, and it didn't even sink in as to what was going on. I must've missed part of it because I was dealing with the baby. I'm glad you posted this.


Amy said...

OMG, Tricia! So I started your post and thought, OK, she doesn't want a roomate next year, but maybe we can carpool down there. Then I keep reading ony to find you deserving of a Golden Shit Stirrer Award? And you couldn't just stir shit, no, you had to stir up Dooce shit!

I am honored to know you! You know what they say, go big or go home!

But seriously, maybe next year I could carpool with you, oh mighty stirrer of the poo!

That is, of course, assuming that I someday get this baby girl off the boob. And into someone else's care for more than a very-occasional 8-hour stint at work.

Glad you had an interesting experience, anyway. I can't quite glean if it was fun or good, but it sounds like it was at least interesting!

Anonymous said...

I like your blog...and I read it al the time. I do have to say this however, and I hope you take it in the spirit in which it is intended.

Like you, I am a trained therapist...over 25 years.

Have you noticed that sometimes folks wrinkle up their noses when we tell them that? It took me some time to figure it out, but after having it explained to me..time and time and time again I got it.

We are therapists in our work...not our private lives. Nobody wants to be "therapized" (I know its not a word) at a social event.

Heather would have her reasons for her feelings...and since I trust that she is well aware of nuances...she sure had been insulted by bloggess' comment. What pray tell would the difference be, between a "mythical hobbit...or just a hobbit?

Perhaps it would have been best to just leave it alone.


Tricia said...

No offense taken.

Perhaps it would have been better left alone. I know.

It is also just the way I am hardwired. It is more that a previous occupation for me. It is the way I'm built...

I know, I know, sign me up for a session or two so I can prevent my self from saving the world. Just bill me! ;)

Anonymous said...

to ask one-on-one, maybe..

but in front of 1000 people? yikes.