I sometimes think the universe has a very offbeat sense of humor. It likes to zig when I zag. Witness last night. I drove up the peninsula and into San Francisco to attend the BlogHer Holiday Meetup. Since I use an avatar as my photo online it would be the first time I’d ever connected in public as anything other than a cartoon. It was a pretty big move for me. I’m actually a bit shy in public and avoid get-togethers where I don’t know a soul. Compounding matters, I was decloaking. I would be attending in the role of a real live infertility blogger. I tried to imagine how the conversations would go.
Me: Hi, I’m Pamela
Stranger: Hi, I’m XXX. So what do you blog about?
Stranger: Huh? or Well, uh, that’s too bad. See ya.
I also was interested in meeting some of the avid mommy bloggers (it being a large category in the BlogHer network). I was curious to see how they’d respond to the infertility topic. I gave myself a pep talk. “Okay, champ, you can do this!”
The lounge where the event was held, the Cafe Royale, was just starting to fill up when I arrived. I spied two women at the bar, one younger and the other older than me. I plunged ahead. It went something like this:
Me: Hello, I’m Pamela
Young Woman: Hi, I’m Marie
Older Woman: Hi, I’m Wendy. Is this your first time at a BlogHer event?
Me: Yes, and you?
Older Woman, Younger Women: (Simultaneously) Yes.
Older Woman: What do you blog about?
Me: (here I go…):Infertility. What about you?
Older Woman: Menopause
Younger Woman: Excuse me, I’ll let you two talk…
The irony was not lost on me. Here I was looking to engage with fertiles and the first person I met was someone who can’t have children for different reasons. We had a lovely chat. I explained that infertility bloggers and women blogging about menopause share one very big thing in common: plumbing that makes us insane at times. Those of you infertility bloggers in artificial menopause as part of treatment might find her blog very useful!
I also met with one of the BlogHer cofounders. I’d been emailing her about a small beef I have with the site — categories. One in particular: Mommy & Family. I’ve been arguing that it’s unfriendly to a large contingent of blogging women — those trying to start a family or those who are part of a family, but are not “mommies.” She told me she’s heard similar complaints from women who are childfree by choice (not to be confused with my kind — childfree because biology and science failed).
On my way out the door (I was parked at a one hour meter), I met a woman who contributes to the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog. Now there’s someone I wanted to talk to … only right after I introduced myself a rather loud and pushy guy arrived and wanted to sell her on a political cause (among her other claims to fame she writes a well regarded politics and society blog. I’m guessing she doesn’t sleep). Suffice to say we didn’t get a chance to exchange more than a basic pleasantry, but as I excused myself she leaned in to say, “I’m sorry. I know a number of women who are fighting with infertility.”
I was genuinely touched (and, I admit it, surprised) by her sincerity. I arrived at the event expecting to be surrounded by a group of self-righteous mommies. I came away instead thinking there’s hope for a more meaningful participation in BlogHer.
December 14, 2007 4:34 pm
The 3rd BlogHer held since I started blogging came and went w/o me attending (I really should have gone to Chicago as it’s an hour flight), but I didn’t want to find myself being pulled out of the smaller, less recognized IF blogging arena to Mommy Bloggers just because I have a child. My blog’s intent is not specifically about already having a child, but the pursuit of another b/c of infertility.
I’m very proud of you for attending and adding your voice when I’m am just too self-conscious to do so.
December 14, 2007 5:59 pm
I went to a show business schmoozy boozy thing and I was encouraged to meet 15 new people by my business coach. It was hard work and brutal, but I was supported by friends and it did net me an audition. So keep at it, the connections you make with people are invaluable.
December 14, 2007 6:02 pm
Oh, I’m so sad I didn’t end up attending! I would have loved to meet you and give you a hug. Next time I’m at the home office, maybe we can grab a cup of coffee.
December 14, 2007 6:25 pm
Good for you for going! I’m glad it went relatively well.
December 14, 2007 6:36 pm
I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet last night.
So, what’s interesting to me about DD’s comment (and your post, though more indirectly) is the idea that the BlogHer MommyBloggers are perceived as such a dominant force. They are, certainly, a large constituency, but not the only one.
I first attended BlogHer in 2006 as a single (childless) woman, simply because I’m a woman and a blogger. There, I met lots of women whose parental status is/was/remains irrelevant to their blogging. The mommybloggers were there in force, but so (it seemed to me) were all of us “others.”
Now I’m the conference & event organizer for BlogHer, and I don’t feel any differently. I still blog about my life and read many other BlogHers’ blogs on all sorts of topics.
So, again, I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet, and I’m also sorry you weren’t able to have more of the kinds of conversations you were hoping for. Hopefully you’ll join us for the annual event in SF?
December 14, 2007 8:20 pm
Ya done good.
December 14, 2007 8:28 pm
I think it’s super cool that you went, but even cooler that that woman said that to you. Wow, some people actually DO get it (something I’ve been commenting a lot, that they don’t…).
December 14, 2007 9:45 pm
I think I’ll check out the BlogHer. I LOVE San Francisco, and I miss visits – Q’s grandparents moved back to the East Coast of the U.S. (sigh, nice snow but not as good chocolate), so now I would have to pay for a hotel (or buy a pony):-)
I cannot imagine a person who would not wish to speak with you my dear.
December 14, 2007 9:55 pm
I think you’re very brave for attending. And it’s nice to hear you were met with some empathy too. I’m relatively new to the blogosphere (longtime lurker though), also in the SFBA, so maybe next year…
December 15, 2007 12:16 am
Totally something I would go to if I lived within 1000 miles of it. No chance of having to prove it, right? 😉
Anyway, I say kudos to you for going outside your comfort zone!
December 15, 2007 3:04 am
Haha, a very brave chica you were…! I remember when I was invited to decloak (not BlogHer, but a group of IF bloggers), about 3 years ago. I went to that lunch with mucho trepidation… and came away with contacts of whom at least one has become a sort of a friend. We’d probably be closer friends if we lived nearer each other. It was a great support network for a while. Now that we’ve moved onto DE (I think), I’m seeking a new network, I find.
It think it’s super that you did this… more proof of your new state of mind and how far you have come. I laughed about the younger woman saying ‘I’ll let you two talk’… like it’s a disease she didn’t want to catch…? Given the seeming rampancy of infertility, I’m surprised you didn’t meet more IF bloggers… but at least you had a good experience. Kudos, indeed!
December 15, 2007 4:45 am
I don’t think we give enough credit to “outsiders” sometimes. I mean, it’s hard not to go into super-protective mode when a thoughtless comment can hurt so much. But sometimes I have found myself railing over insensitivity and I’ve had to stop and think about how many people have said that sort of thing to me in *real life* and the answer is often “none”.
A lot of the worst ones seem to come from online comments. I wonder which – real life or online – really reflects society’s attitudes?
December 15, 2007 11:54 pm
I often wonder what other bloggers would appear like in person. I form such vivid (and probably entirely erroneous) ideas about people from their words and it’d be fascinating to see how close to the truth my mental image was. Kudos to you for turning up and putting some faces to the writings,
December 16, 2007 4:53 pm
I too had to laugh over the “I’ll let you two talk” line. Glad you had a good time!
December 17, 2007 3:45 am
Thank you very much for talking to them about this. It would require absolutely ZERO effort for Blogher to do this, and even less for them to allow us to cross reference and be listed in multiple headers, like for me, infertility, politics, media…reality is that I don’t solely blog about one subject, and yet I also will never ever feel comfortable blogging with the average mommyblogger. We just don’t see life at all the same. I have to hide and edit myself in real life everyday in the schoolyard just to avoid scaring the crap out of the other moms, and I effin’ hate doing that in the blogsphere.
As for political bloggers? They usually reel back in horror after reading any of my blog, because I discuss FEELINGS, and VAGINAS.
Again, thank you for bringing this up. At over 1000 blogs on Mel’s list, we aren’t a small section anymore, and we deserve a little credit. Those young women who run away? They’ll be us soon, and they need to know how to find us so they don’t feel all alone.
December 17, 2007 11:57 pm
I know exactly what you mean about avoiding get-togethers where you don’t know anyone. What courage to have put yourself out there like that! And I’m glad you were able to get some good things out of it.
December 21, 2007 1:06 am
How cool that you went to a BlogHer event – even if it was odd for meeting folks. Also – thanks for the holiday card :)!!!
February 27, 2009 5:15 am
I hope you had a great time there!