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.