It started off so great. I had tallied the word “vagina” 13 times and it wasn’t even halfway through the first day of the conference. These were clearly my people!
But throughout the day, I could feel my voice starting to falter. And by mid-afternoon, it was completely gone.
And then—oh no—the session leader wanted us to go around the table and introduce ourselves.
“Hello, I’m Leslie, and my blog is The Bearded Iris,” I hoarsely whispered with as much force as I could muster. It sounded like a bag piper with a tracheostomy being eaten by a wounded animal.
“Her name is Leslie, and her blog is The Bearded Iris,” the lovely Katherine Stone, sitting next to me, graciously jumped in to interpret my strained noises for the other bloggers at our table.
“I’m also the Editor in Chief for In The Powder Room.com,” I struggled to continue.
“She’s also the Editor in Chief for a powder room” Katherine rapidly interpreted aloud.
“I’ve never felt so handicapped in all my life,” the dam began to crack, “…but I’m happy to be here,” I resigned.
“She feels handicapped, but she’s happy to pee here,” Katherine guessed.
Okay, I just made that last part up, because I’m totally mortified and I tend to make bathroom jokes to avoid dealing with scary feelings.
Honestly, I really don’t remember what Katherine said after my last tortured sentence because I was trying my best not to cry. You know that feeling when your face and your brain have ceased to communicate? And your lips start to quiver uncontrollably, making it even harder to fight back the tears? Holy shit. I hate that feeling. I’d rather pogo-stick naked across a Broadway stage than lose my composure in public like that.
But there I was, trapped at a blog conference with no voice.
And it wasn’t just any blog conference. It was the Aiming Low Non-Conference. For the 100 bloggers there who could actually talk to each other and participate in events like the Super Hero Costume Party, the iPhone camera walk with Neil Kramer, or the olive-eating extravaganza at the bar with Ree Drummond, it was obviously pretty awesome.
But for me? Not so much.
I felt helpless and frustrated.
Like what a surgeon might feel if you put her in an operating room with nothing but a wooden spoon and a parakeet.
Actually, it was more like going to a whore house but forgetting to bring your penis. (Just guessing, obviously.) Not that any of the bloggers at Non-Con were whores, per se. Well some of them probably were—statistically speaking, I mean. No, you know what? Scratch that analogy, because on second thought, I don’t really want my voice to be compared to a penis, even though they’re both really hard to listen to at times.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is: last weekend was really difficult for me.
I was surrounded by people I admire but was completely incapable of effectively communicating with them. And unlike bigger conferences like BlogHer (5000+ bloggers) where you’re constantly standing in lines with throngs of grouchy swag-hags who will cut a bitch for taking the last honey bun at the breakfast buffet; none of the 100 laid-back Non-Con bloggers were wearing a shiv. And it was in a gorgeous and very relaxed setting—perfect for making new friends and strengthening bonds with old friends.
But, I couldn’t. Because all I could do was this:
So I sat there, like a bump on a log for most of the conference, unable to connect, or make wise cracks or share stories/ideas/best practices with my peers.
I felt invisible.
It was my own personal Dante’s Inferno, bloggy style.
And it got me thinking…
…is this karma?
…is this a sign from God?
…is this a lesson that I must learn before I can continue on my journey?
…am I being called to listen to others more and speak less?
Because, oh my God…that’s really fucking hard!
I obviously should have just stayed home when I felt that first twinge of sickness. But I didn’t, because I was afraid.
I was afraid of missing out. I was afraid of missing the opportunity to network. I was afraid of creating extra anxiety and hassle for my roommate and another friend who I thought would be stranded at the airport if I was a no-show.
So I put on my big girl panties and I went.
And I struggled.
And I got other people sick.
And now I feel like the turd in the Non-Con punchbowl of love.
I offer my most sincere apologies to anyone at this conference who took home the bonus swag of viral laryngitis. Apparently, when I bring the funk to a party, I REALLY BRING THE FUNK.
Please forgive me, Non-Con friends. The universe has spoken, and I have heard the message loud and clear: speak less; listen more; and bring your penis or stay the fuck home.
Very humbly yours,