A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

And then I whipped out my lady-balls at BlogHer ’13

I’m back from BlogHer ’13 in Chicago and have no less than 372 stories I could share. Some of those stories are funny. Some are bittersweet. Some are so incredibly filthy they cannot be repeated… like… ever. But trust me when I tell you that I can now die a happy woman knowing I made a table full of very funny women laugh this hard even once:

Kim Bongiorno and Kerry Rossow laughing at BlogHer13

Kim @LetMeStart and Kerry @HouseTalkN

I’ve struggled all week with how to write a good BlogHer conference wrap up. There were so many moments I’d love to share, but I’m terrified of leaving anyone out. So instead, I’m going to pick one story to share, and only one.

It’s the story of how a series of awkward mishaps helped me reconnect with my “inner Iris” and change my fate. It’s the story of my BlogHer ’13 Voice of the Year Keynote and Reception experience.

But first, some back story…

Last year I was chosen as one of the 100 BlogHer Voices of the Year. I actually hadn’t planned to attend BlogHer ’12 in NYC for financial reasons, but when I found out I was going to be publicly honored for my writing, I bought a fancy dress and  booked a trip.

Know this: the BlogHer VOTY Keynote is the Academy Awards of the blogosphere. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to be awesome.

I was a bundle of nerves the entire day. I raced back to my hotel, changed into my new dress, touched up my hair and makeup, and booked it back to the ballroom where my friend Nora had saved me a seat so we could watch the 12 select keynote readers share their winning posts on stage. It was absolutely magical. One of my other friends really had to pee but didn’t want to leave the room and possibly miss the moment when the rest of the honorees were called on stage.

And then, the keynote readings were over. “OMG. OMG. THIS IS IT!” I thought to myself, throat parched, heart beating nearly out of my chest. I was about to be called on stage in front of 5,000 peers with the other winning writers!

It’s coming!


Do I look OK?

Is there any food in my teeth?


And then…

Instead of calling us up there, or even having us stand in the audience for a quick round of applause, this slide was displayed:

blogher12 voty honor


That’s it?

Do you see my name?

Yeah. Me neither. But supposedly it was on that slide along with the other 99 honorees’ names.

Not gonna lie, I was crushed. And I felt like a fool.

Yes, I know I’m an asshole for saying that out loud because everyone knows the only appropriate response in this situation is “I’m just so grateful to be chosen!”

I am grateful. If I could write “VOTY Honoree” in scratch-n-sniff rainbow glitter on my LinkedIn profile, I totally would.

I just felt like I had been duped into a very expensive trip when I could have felt equally honored at home with my face in a bag of Lays® and my boobs on my lap.

But God bless the BlogHer event coordinators! They really heard all the feedback  and knocked themselves out to make this year’s Voice of the Year Keynote and Reception a much better experience for everyone!

I was fortunate enough to be selected again, for which I am truly humbled.

The official announcement email got us all really pumped:

All honorees will have assigned tables at the front of the Voices of the Year Community Keynote on Friday at BlogHer ’13, and you’ll all be invited to join us on stage along-side the 12 Voices of the Year Community Keynote readers to take a bow and take a group photo. Directly after the keynote, there will be a reception in honor of all 100 Voices of the Year. We can’t wait to see you there!

SWEET! This is going to be AH-MAY-ZING, I thought…

But what’s that they say about the best laid plans?

There were no tables. There weren’t even specially reserved rows up front for the 100 honorees. It was open theater-style seating.

That’s okay. These things happen. I’m sure that was as much of a surprise to the BlogHer event coordinators as it was to us.

At least I was going to get called on stage afterward in front of my peers for a bow and a photo with our celebrity emcee, Queen Latifah!

Only, Queen Latifah, who was 45 minutes late and admitted she stopped for Lou Malnati’s pizza on the way, must have forgotten in her deep-dish-delirium that she was supposed to call us up on stage at the end and closed the show with a rousing “GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY! THANK YOU FOR COMING.”

Oh yes she did.

The majority of the audience got up and headed for the exits as my jaw hit the floor.

BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page kindly tried to salvage the moment by calling the VOTY honorees up for a photo, but getting up on that tiny stage against the flow of traffic was like being in a Beijing subway station during rush hour.

And then trying to get 100 bloggers arranged for a photo? Herding a pack of French feral cats would have been easier. (Mad props to Erin & Ellen, Lisa, Sandra, Lois, Janie, and Julie for their speed, agility, and aim with the kidney punches. I’m proud of you, ladies!)

Not pictured...Leslie Marinelli and about 80 other bloggers.

Not pictured: 90% of the VOTY Honorees.


Not to be outdone, I got my own great shot:


My view of Queen Latifah at BlogHer 13

Don’t hate.

Hey. No biggie. I shook it off and headed for the reception where I had heard there were life-sized posters honoring each of the 100 VOTY winners! I couldn’t wait to get my photo taken next to mine!

My friend Jennie and I walked around looking for our posters together. We found Jennie’s right away:


Is that awesome, or what?! Way to go Jennie!!

Oh look, here’s my friend Kim Forde’s! She couldn’t be there… just had a baby.


So exciting! It’s like being in a gallery of awesomeness. BlogHer really hooked us up this year. Everywhere I looked, radiant bloggers were posing for pictures next to their posters. Here’s my girl Kim:

BlogHer13 #VOTY Kim Bongiorno @LetMeStart

I was chomping at the bit to find mine.

The posters were double sided and spread throughout the ballroom and hallway, so it took a while to wind our way through all 100 of them. But no matter how hard we looked, we couldn’t find one with my name on it.

Really? Would mine be the one they forgot? Oh snap.

Finally, “Oh no, do you think it’s on the back of that one in the corner?” Jennie asked with trepidation.

“No. No way. Even I don’t have luck that bad.”

Holding our breath, we approached the very last one, over in a dark corner, up against a pile of storage trunks…


I took a deep breath and cautiously walked around the back…


Oh crap.

It’s mine.

In the dark.

Next to the conference debris.

<Sad trombone>

Dammit. Not again. I can’t. I just can’t do this emotional roller-coaster again.

For a split second, my mind started to cross over to the dark side: Goddammit. Why me? Of all the 100 VOTY posters, why is mine the one in the very worst possible spot? I am such a loser. I wrote about my gecko’s penis! Of course I’m in the dark corner. I’m an abomination. I don’t belong here. 

And then…

…something clicked.

I had a choice.

I could take it personally, sulk, and feel bad about myself; or I could give people the benefit of the doubt and change my fate.

Didn’t I just hear the inspiring Kelly Wickham encourage us to stand up for ourselves, demand what we want, and say “That is unacceptable“?

And didn’t I also tell a conference room full of bloggers earlier that day during my session that being an anonymous blogger when I first started gave me the courage to do things I wasn’t normally brave enough to do?

I’m not anonymous anymore, but what would that brazen Iris Beard do in this situation?

She would say, “That is unacceptable.” Then she would Sheryl-Sandberg-Lean-In to that motherfucker and move it to a better spot.

And so we did (Iris and I).

Location location location

And Lady Jennie got it all on camera. (Thank you, Jennie!)

Leslie Marinelli BlogHer Humor Voice of the Year Honoree 2013

There. That’s better. You know what they say: location, location, location.

Now if I could just apply that same chutzpah elsewhere in my life, there’d be no stopping me.

Thank you BlogHer. Thank you for choosing my piece; thank you for wanting to make this a special night for us; and thank you for inadvertently giving me the opportunity to “Lean-In,” reconnect with my inner Iris, and publicly whip out my lady-balls. I needed that.

The VOTY program is incredibly important to bloggers. It is the ONLY opportunity we have to be validated and acknowledged publicly for our work without begging for votes or page views. It always bugs me when someone complains without offering a potential solution, so I have an idea. How about bringing on one more person to serve as a dedicated VOTY coordinator who can take some weight off the BlogHer Event Staff? This person would tend to all the little details like making sure people get their blog badges, fiddling with the links in the announcement piece, ordering pizza for the emcee to nibble on backstage, coordinating smaller group photos by category, positioning posters, etc.

I know just the person who would rock the shit out of that job…

My BlogHer '13 VOTY Reception Experience on Make A Gif

(You like that? It’s my first GIF! Special thanks to JC Little, The Animated Woman,
and DJ Paris of Thoughts from Paris for encouraging me to make it. I feel fancy.)


  1. Jennifer

    Exactly. I was so disappointed about the seating. I mean, how hard it is to reserve a couple of rows in the front of the room, point to us, and say here are our VOTY honorees. I left that in my conference feedback. It means so, so, SO much. Like you wrote, Academy Award of Blogging, let’s treat it as special as it makes us feel.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Jennifer. I fews rows up front roped off for each category would have been perfect, and so appreciated.

  2. HouseTalkN

    Oh, how I love you! You would rock that job. You are the most attention to detail, make everyone feel like a special schmooky person I know.

    • The Bearded Iris

      STOP. IT. (Don’t.) I definitely do have a freaky eye for detail, that is true. Thank you for noticing and liking that about me, Kerry. Just please don’t tell my husband I make other people feel special… he will be so pissed I’m not paying the same attention to detail at home! 😉

  3. 3 Monkeys and a Martini

    This is the funniest thing I have read in months!! It makes me feel not so bad for not attending 😉 Actually, no. I still feel bad and losery, but I feel like I was right there with you! And if I was, and I was lucky enough to have a poster (we’re totally dreaming now) mine would have been found in the ladies room. So funny!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! Now, if mine were in the ladies’ room, I would not be complaining because that would be the perfect fit for my sense of humor! 🙂

  4. Anna

    This.Is.Awesome. And while I know this is a literal story, if it wasn’t I like the symbolism of moving your writing out of the corner and where it should be for all to see.

    • The Bearded Iris

      That is deep, dude… and I like it! Nobody puts Baby in the corner, dammit.

  5. Leigh Ann

    This is awesome! Not the being stuck in a corner next to conference debris thing, but the connecting with your inner Iris. Maybe next year you’ll be next to the bathroom.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Leigh Ann! That would totally be a step up for me and actually quite fitting since I’m 2 for 2 on the genital-related VOTY posts. It seems to be my speciality, and I’m fine with that. #write-what-you-know

  6. SocialButterflyMom

    Good LEANing, lady! Atta girl!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks, Butterfly! That Sheryl Sandberg knows her shit!

  7. Elaine A.

    I love that you changed you fate and moved your own post!! I don’t love that I didn’t get to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Er, I mean meet you, yeah, meet you, that’s what I meant!! 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      I know – what is UP with that?! It is ridonkulous that our paths never crossed even once, Elaine. Let’s call a do-over!

  8. Kathy at kissing the frog

    Okay, so now I know. And now I don’t feel so bad that I missed it. Thank you for being honest and writing this. The point is, we were still honored and that rocks! And so do you for getting your poster out of that damn corner. Go girl! You’re my hero!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Amen, sister. Being selected is the most important part, and something we can cherish always. Everything else is just gravy. (But I have to say, I do like my gravy hot, and not lumpy, m’kay?!)

  9. Sharon Greenthal

    You know that’s exactly what would have happened to me. Good for you for moving that thing. I only wish you’d been one of the readers!

    Glad we got to meet and hug for a minute.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Aw, thanks Sharon. Being a reader is my dream, that’s for sure, and I would love that so much it would be illegal in 7 states. I loved getting to meet you too. Our little EIC “Lean-In” circle is going to rock.

  10. hollow tree ventures

    Hell yeah you’d rock it! Actually, aside from the backstage pizza, you rocked a lot of that job description without even getting the title! I wish I’d been able to stay late and see the whole production, though I feel my experience is complete after seeing your stellar shot of the Queen.

    • The Bearded Iris

      HA! Oh Robyn, you always make me laugh. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t get within 20 feet of the Queen. I don’t think she’s ready for this jelly. #restraining-order (“ERMAHGERD! QUERN LERTERFER!”)

  11. Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity

    Can I say that your post made me feel better that I chose not to go this year?

    I had this exact same experience the first year I won VOTY – in San Diego.

    What’s worse, is that I had experienced the most unbelievable Voices of the Year Party ever the year before – they had COMMISSIONED ARTWORK that went with each winner’s post!! And The Bloggess was writing people personalized poems on the spot!! And other things too wonderful to even say!! It was beautiful, touching, and stunning. So I flew to California expecting to see some art that had to do with my post – and there was nada.

    So I feel your pain! But at least you got to see eight-foot-tall posters. I am a little sad I missed that.

    • The Bearded Iris

      WOW – this is fascinating! I had no idea the program had changed so much over the last few years. It has to be simply unmanageable at this point. The poor committees had to read over 2600 posts! That was over 200 posts a piece. It’s no wonder it took them so much longer to announce the winners this year than last year. I have a feeling they just need to reel it in, set some submission limits, and hire an extra body (or two) to focus only on this event. It really is the heart and soul of the conference and should be the kind of thing people look forward to attending. The posters really were cool. I’m glad I found mine eventually 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

  12. Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity

    And, by the way, I LOVE your response to the whole thing.

    And your gecko.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Well thank you! And my gecko loves you…with half of his remaining hemipene.

  13. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla

    You need ABBYGOAT! She would butt the hell out o’those folk.
    You deserved better.
    Good for you for taking your gecko penis back

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Pricilla, you sweet thing. It’s okay – no butting required. I have to believe that the hotel staff or the printers randomly placed those posters and it was just bad luck that mine was the red-headed-step-child of the group. I HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT. Have to.

      I just hope that next year they’ll have someone doing quality control so that nobody else has to go through this humiliation again. I guess if it had to happen to someone, it’s probably a good thing that it happened to someone like me who could find the funny in it and not let it crush my soul. Maybe this all happened for the best.

  14. Laura

    I’m so glad you made that choice. The poster looks way better in its new location, especially with your pretty face beside it!

  15. L. Hewitt

    I am so very glad you took Iris with you. I am very proud of/for you and all you have accomplished. Once again, you have handled yourself with grace and humor. Blogher continues to disappoint me.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you, Lisa. You have been such a good friend to Leslie and Iris over the years and we both love you.

      I think BlogHer does a lot of things right and I am a fan overall. I think this conference and VOTY have just grown to the point where they are difficult to manage. But for the most part, my weekend at BlogHer ’13 was wonderful and I’m so glad I went. I will definitely return for BlogHer ’14.

  16. Abby

    Damn straight! Nobody puts Gecko Penis in the corner! Even though I was on my couch that night and not being honored, I would have done the same thing. In fact, I would have worn that bitch like a sandwich board and pranced around.

    I guess that’s why I have never been invited to BlogHer… 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Abby – that just made me SNORT LAUGH! I need to make that into a t-shirt! “Nobody puts Gecko Penis in the corner!” You complete me.

  17. Menopausal Mother

    Seriously??? Damn, I wanted to go just to hear you give a speech!! Good Lord, in my opinion you should have been the star of the show, for crying out loud. Good thing I wasn’t there…I probably would have had to go onto my crazy menopausal lady phase and kick some ass……maybe next year?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oooh, now THAT I would pay cash money to see: “crazy menopausal lady kicking ass.” I’m definitely sitting next to you next year, Marcia!

      I did get to co-facilitate one of the conference sessions this year (on “Blogging and Anonymity” with my Internet wife, The Suniverse) and that was a blast. LOVED. EVERY. MINUTE.

  18. Carrie

    You’re kidding? The back. The way dark back.

    Let me tell you something, sister. If I was there, we would have mounted that puppy on top of a cab and cruised around for HOURS. For the whole world to see.

    Between you and Kerry at HouseTalkn…I am gonna have to pack my crap and go next year.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Well that settles it, you’re coming next year. And you and Kerry and I will have to bring extra bail money.

  19. Darcy Perdu

    Leslie, you absolutely rock!! Your post summed it up perfectly! This was my first BlogHer and my first VOTY — and I felt exactly the same way.

    When BlogHer annoints you as the VOTY Wrangler (and I seriously hope they do), please consider this suggestion:

    I love that they blew up the winning posts, but cramming all 100 of them into the VOTY reception room for a short period meant that no one really had the time or energy to read more than a couple.

    So if they blow up the posts again next year, it would be so cool if they posted the boards throughout the convention center so that while attendees are waiting in line for meals, gathering outside the session rooms and keynotes, or milling around outside the ladies room — they can leisurely read the posts over the 2 or 3 days of the conference.

    It would mean so much to the VOTY winners to have their work shared and celebrated like that.

    Thanks for your awesome (and as usual — HILARIOUS) post!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Darcy, you are the pinnacle of awesomeness. The way you reached out to all the other humor VOTYs and joined us into a community leading up to BlogHer was like nothing I have ever seen before. You could give Sheryl Sandberg lessons on Leaning In. I was so looking forward to sitting with you and the rest of our crew.

      I really love your suggestion about spreading out the posters throughout the conference. That is BRILLIANT. You are spot on…I never read any of them, but I bet I would have if they had been more strategically placed.

      I was also thinking it would have been neat for there to be some kind of special colored lanyard or sticker or something on our badges so that we could find each other more easily. I like how they had the special “SPEAKER” label for the speakers. It made me feel really special and helped me to start conversations with people in lines, “Oh you’re a speaker? What is your topic?” etc.

      “VOTY Wrangler” – best. title. ever! I would be on that like a duck on a june bug! Mind if I use you for a reference? 🙂

  20. jessica

    I’m so glad you wrote what was on your mind and moved that sign, very few could form such a classy response while still saying gecko penis.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Well, it’s not much, but it’s what I do. 😉 Thanks for the support, Jessica! XO

  21. tracy@sellabitmum

    Stop making me love you more. Congrats, my friend. xoxo

    • The Bearded Iris

      As if you could love me any more, Tracy. AS. IF. 😉

  22. The Animated Woman

    I was one of the one hundred “blink and you’ll miss it” last year and that kinda sucked. This post is living proof and affirmation of the most prevalent message throughout the conference: Lean In, Just Frikkin’ Write it, and Call That Shit Out.

    You have big lady balls.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Dude. You are so right! I heard all of those messages loud and clear last weekend, and I integrated what I learned! FOR ONCE! Omg, my high school teachers would never believe it.

      Loved loved LOVED your pin worm post. You give me hope that if a post about wormy bumholes can be chosen as one of the 12 keynote posts, surely a perma-boned gecko penis or a Magic Creamed vagina post could be chosen someday as a read-aloud too! Bless you.

  23. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    I love this response. You said it all so well. Disappointment reigned at VOTY and that’s not how it should be. Yes, I did elbow my way into standing near the ever-so-late Queen, but I had to literally climb — in a dress, mind you — onto the stage. Climb and claw and lift my legs for those not climbing to see my grandma briefs. How regal, honorable, VOTY-recipient-worthy is that?
    Yes, BlogHer ’14 needs a VOTY coordinator. That coordinator needs to be you. Or at least have you as their adviser. And I’m pretty sure YOU or whomever it may turn out to be will remember we like bling, too. Blog bling in the form of a VOTY badge for our blog. We didn’t even get that. sniff (Some of us did, though, get minor cases of food poisoning due to the sausages and more that sat far longer than they should have because of the late start.)

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Lisa – I would have paid cash money to see you climb onto that stage in a dress!!! Dammit, I can’t believe I missed that! Well now I know the secret to how you gals got all up close and personal with the Queen. Hear that folks? Next year, wear pants!

      And you are a braver woman than I if you partook of the Miracle Mile of Sausage! Oh Lordy. I couldn’t even look at that meaty buffet without giggling. Sorry about the food poisoning. 🙁

  24. Todd

    You had me at “lady-balls”.

    Congrats. Is there an award for least known dude blogger? Is there a man-blog equivalent? Like Blogger-Balls 2013? Can I be a lady? I have delicate musician hands and I don’t really watch sports…does that work?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Todd, don’t even get me started on the balls jokes. I’m like a 12-year-old boy when it comes to raunchy jokes. (Pull my finger!)

      You are totally in the club. BlogHer has given VOTYs to dudes in the past! Neil Kramer (Citizen of the Month) was one of the readers last year and he was great!

      Also, do you know DJ Paris (@tfpHumorBlog) – he would be a good contact for you. He’s working on a project just for dad bloggers. Check him out!

  25. A Pleasnt House

    Ya know, everyone has been sharing all goody-goody- you’d think it was the perfect affair. I appreciate that YOU have taken the time to write about what pissed you off and moved that Damn poster.. Jeeeeesuuuuuus!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha – yeah, I needed a unique angle so I went for the pissed off non-goody-goody opening! Busted. 😉

      Thank YOU for taking the time to read this monster of a post. Great to meet you last weekend, Cheryl!

      • A Pleasnt House

        This Monster was worth the time.

  26. Julie Chenell DeNeen

    I am so glad you wrote this. You did it with style and humor and class and articulated exactly how Sandy and I felt. And you noticed my face, and you pulled me aside to tell me that you had felt what I was feeling back in 2012. Thank you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yeah – but that was before I saw you mugging in those pictures with the Queen. Now I don’t feel sorry for you anymore. 😉

      Seriously though, I knew exactly what you were feeling and how much it hurt. That was me last year and I had to fight back tears throughout the entire reception. This year I was much less surprised, so it didn’t sting quite as much.

      Just read your VOTY piece on Surrogacy and Abortion – WOW. Mind blowing. Congrats, Julie. So well deserved. XOXO

  27. Lisa Perry

    You rock! And I love you. In a crazy, twisted warped kind of way. LOL Congratulations, and hang on to those lady balls!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Lisa! Crazy twisted warped love is my favorite flavor! #Balls

  28. Amy

    You so deserve to be VOTY every year, and you and your lady balls should be front and center always. I plan on being at BlogHer next year, and one of my favorite things will be meeting you. I’ll bet your hair smells nice.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Amy – that made me laugh. Thank you! (Note to self: buy really awesome smelling shampoo for next year!!!!) You are a doll. Can’t wait to meet you in person and get to know you better!

  29. Roshni

    Go you for being so honest!! I didn’t see a single other blog post that brought these issues to light and am so grateful that you had the lady balls….no!, The Vagina (a la Betty White) to point it out!!! 😀

    • The Bearded Iris

      VAGINA!!! It takes a licking and keeps on ticking, right?! 🙂

      Seriously though, thank you Roshni. I was very nervous about posting this. Almost didn’t. Had two different friends help me edit it, I was so worried about it. But in the end, I’m really glad I did, because it is ALWAYS those gut-wrenching posts that seem to click most with others. I really need to remember that and whip out my lady-balls, no VAGINA more often!

  30. Lady Jennie

    I laughed so hard. And I commiserated.

    The new VOTY coordinator can also make sure the mics are in the appropriate places for each reader so it doesn’t cover the noses of the vertically challenged.

    Also, they called everyone on stage who ever won VOTY (I believe), not just us 100 from ’13. I think that’s why it was madness. One of the reasons.

    • The Bearded Iris

      They did?! Oh Jesus – what a fucktastophe! No no no no no. The new VOTY Wrangler will be in charge of much smaller group photos, like at a wedding. And yes, the vertically challenged should not have to putz around with their own mic. They are probably too nervous for that anyway!

      So glad you were there with me to help me laugh it off and not spiral down to the dark side! You are a life saver, Jennie. I have big love for you, girl.

  31. Sandra Sallin

    Julie kept on talking about The Bearded Iris. I had no idea who you were or why you were so special. Now I know. You are saying what all of us were feeling. I personally nominate you as Voty Wrangler next year. It really was handled poorly, I’m sorry to say. And here was the 72-year-old-blogger scrambling on stage. No stairs, nada. Just heisted my legs up onto the stage. I had the same experience you had about not being able to find my VOTY board. Forty Five minutes later found it, turned it around and brought it out into the light. I thought I was clueless because there is no Voty ’13 pin to put on my site. But I guess that’s the way it is. You are one funny woman. No wonder Julie talked about you endlessly. Go lady-balls!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Sandra – be still my heart!!! I am SO GLAD you hurled your fabulous 72-year-old blogger booty up onto that stage and got to be all up in the Queen’s armpit like that. If anyone deserves to be in that money shot, it is YOU girlfriend. I had no idea there were people actually climbing onto the stage. Thank God nobody got hurt. (But day-yam, that is FUNNY!)

      I am hopeful that the VOTY ’13 badge is on the way. I think it just fell through the cracks.

      Sorry to hear you had trouble finding your board too, but very glad you brought yours into the light. Three cheers for lady-balls!!

      So glad to meet you and hugs to Julie for sending you my way. She’s a doll!

      • Sandra Sallin

        Well, no wonder julie loves you. You are a certified Hoot!!!

  32. Susan Williams

    I would have TOTALLY felt like sad trombone girl, if I were you.
    There ought to be a better way!
    There’s got to be a better way!
    Dang, how we want others to read and applaud our work.
    That we mostly do, for free!
    But the trouble is, *everyone* wants *everyone else* to read their work.
    But so few of us return the favor, do we?
    Because…we’re busy trying to create MORE great content of our own. Or to generate an income.
    It sucks.

    • The Bearded Iris

      So true Susan. It is SO hard to keep up with reading other blogs when we feel so much pressure to keep producing and marketing our own content. I think that’s why the VOTY thing is so special…it’s a chance to be read by a committee of peers. And getting picked? It’s such a Sally Field moment: “You like me! You really like me!” Pathetic, I know. 🙂

      • Sandra Sallin

        You hit the nail right on the head ” You like me. You really like me!” Perfection.

  33. Alison

    Okay, I love your dress.
    And I think you would totally rock as VOTY person for 2014.
    Also, why would someone hide gecko penis in a corner?!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Alison! I like that dress too – it’s really comfy and it hides all the food stains I always accumulate whenever I wear it. #classy

  34. Janel

    Your lady balls are shiny and amazing. Thank you for speaking up for all the other nominees. And seriously, PERSONALIED POEMS, WHAT THE HELL?!?!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you for appreciating my lady balls, Janel. That means a lot to me. And yeah, we totally got into this blogging game a few years too late, eh? I bet those personalized poems are worth BANK today.

  35. Lois Alter Mark

    You are awesome! Notice that all of us who are bookending the Queen herself are Generation Fabulous bloggers who are too old to care about being proper or sweet or quiet. We decided, like you, that it was unacceptable not to get on that damn stage even if we had to climb and crawl and put ourselves into awkward positions in a roomful of writers/photographers — which we did. Good for you for moving that board! We tried to brings ours home but that turned out to be a better idea in theory than practice. Wish we had the GIF to prove we tried! Next year, we hold our own ceremony. Congrats on your award and your lady-balls. xo

    • Sandra Sallin

      I sent an email to someone at Blogher asking if we could have the images that the printer’s used sent to us, so we could enlarge or do what ever we wanted with them. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

      • The Bearded Iris

        GREAT idea Sandra! I just made a temporary VOTY blog button for myself. Would be happy to make one for you too, just email me a pic of your post to iris@thebeardediris.com if you want one!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Lois! Pleased to meet you. And I’m so impressed with your celebrity photo mugging skills! I saw your pics on your blog with Sheryl AND Queen. You have mad skillz, yo.

  36. Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0

    That is exactly what I would have done.

    • The Bearded Iris

      …which is why you are my people.

  37. Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real.

    I am SO glad you wrote about that, and even happier that, spurred on by your vicious lady-balls, you moved that sucker. My friend Katia flew from Canada at the last minute as she was a VOTY honoree as well, and we were all a bit surprised at the anticlimactic acknowledgment that night. It was a total gong moment. Way to put it out there, and I think your idea for next year is excellent. And by the way, it was lovely to meet you in person, you are simply adorable. (Is that weird to say? Hmm.) In case you are wracking your brains at this moment, I took that charming photo of you and DJ birthing Jen.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh I totally remember you, Stephanie, of course! That was a funny photo! I hope your friend Katia got a lot out of the conference to make up for that “gong moment.” One of my other blogging friends flew in from AUSTRALIA after getting word of her VOTY honor. I debated about telling her not to come based on last year, but it sounded like this year was going to be so much better. I’m still glad she came and it looks like she had fun, but still…tricky situation.

  38. The Sadder But Wiser Girl

    Maybe your big poster was in the shadows because Queen Latifah wanted to take it with her… right??? Seriously though, I’d have been po’d too!

    More importantly though, did you get any free lube? I understand it was the slickest BlogHer conference ever… 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      I did not get any free lube! I tried really hard to travel light this year and not get caught up in all the swag. Although, it would have been fun to have to put a big bottle of lube through the airport security scan.

      Queen Latifah would totally love my uni-pened gecko if she got to know him. 😉

  39. Amy

    I wasn’t there and I haven’t read many recaps, but this one is golden. Yay for you and your lady balls! Man I do still love that gecko post.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Amy! I am still really shocked at how popular that post is. Who knew gecko penis would be such blogging gold?!

  40. Debbie McCormick

    OMG that is horrible and hilarious at the same time. Where they placed that sign was just wrong. I’m surprised someone in charge didn’t realize that. Or maybe they did and they just don’t like penises. Who knows. Good for you, for taking charge and moving it.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Debbie. It definitely took the wind out of my sails for a minute there. I’m just glad it was so easy to pick up and move! 🙂

  41. Kate Hall

    Oh, Amen, Sista! What was with Q being 45 minutes late – screwed up my, and everyone elses, entire evening – total bull crap. I wasn’t a VOTY, but I have friends that were and I thought they got the shaft. No special seating, no recognition – totally lame. Like you last year, one of my friends wasn’t planning to go until she learned she was an honoree. She flew in for that?? Thank goodness there were all the other benefits like meeting friends and taking classes, etc. And way to lean in on moving your poster to a better location. On a less ranty note, I really enjoyed getting to meet you! 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Right back atcha Kate! Great to meet you too. That’s my favorite part about BlogHer: getting to meet new friends and just hang out. I hear you on the late emcee bullshit. Totally unacceptable. It definitely screwed up the timing for the rest of the night. A number of my friends had to leave early from VOTY to get to their next event and they missed some dynamite readings and the reception. Sad.

  42. Joy

    Good for you. Your gecko’s penis deserves the SPOTLIGHT!

    • The Bearded Iris

      That made me laugh, Joy. I’m totally imagining a great big Hollywood style spotlight on my poor little gecko’s man meat right now.

  43. Jackie

    I organize conferences…100, 8′ signs…OMG!

    Because other people’s conferences fascinate me, I looked at all 138 pages of the conference guide. I plan to go back and read all the winning posts which were so nicely linked from the guide.

    It would be great if the organizers extracted those pages and shared a link with the winners so you could share the wealth with your readers. It would show us what a big deal this is while introducing us to other award-winning bloggers.


    • Sandra Sallin

      Sounds like BlogHer could use some of your skills.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Jackie! I know, those posters were incredible. I shudder to imagine the cost of those things. I think I actually would have preferred something smaller, more portable, & not double sided, so we could all take them home. Nobody really read the posts anyway (on the posters), so I would cut that too. Just have the BlogHer ’13 VOTY logo, the author name, category, and title.

      There is a place online where readers can link to all 100 winning posts from one place: http://www.blogher.com/announcing-voices-year-13-community-keynote-honorees-and-readers. Thank you for your interest! I created a button on my sidebar that links to that page too.

  44. Michelle @ They Call Me Mummy

    Gecko Penis was my favourite humour post of the year last year (are you surprised, given my apparent fascination with all things phallus-related). You really shouldn’t be complaining though, the gecko-penis-ladyballs debacle gave you the perfect fodder for what is the kickassest (It’s a word) BlogHer ’13 post to date. Oh, and the fact that I gifted you your very own pair of very hairy three-dimensional balls AFTER this incident is just PERFECT – it seems the Universe had the theme all planned out.

    Also, getting to say I’m in the same 100 incredible writers as you makes me grin in a painful way.

    Sorry for the gooey mush – couldn’t help myself. Won’t happen again.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Michelle – meeting you at BlogHer was one of the highlights for me! And such great material because my daughter just told all the girls at a slumber party that her mom went to Chicago and brought home a hairy Kangaroo scrotum/bottle opener. Apparently she then had to explain to 75% of the other 10 year old girls there about the difference between a scrotum and testicles. So yeah, we are pretty popular around here this week!

      Seriously though – you are a DELIGHT and I absolutely loved getting to meet you and hang out with you! G’day mate! XO

  45. lisa thomson

    Fantastic, Leslie! You plus the Bearded Iris have some great Lady Balls. Very inspiring. This event looks like so much fun. I hope to get there one of these years.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oooh, Lisa, I hope you do too. I would LOVE to meet you!

  46. Sue - The Spin Cycle

    SO very glad to have met your talented self, Leslie…and kudos on your much-deserved recognition.

    ps – Want to rearrange my living room for me? You’ve obviously got the skillz.

    • The Bearded Iris

      You know what, Sue, don’t even tease me like that. I GET OFF on rearranging furniture. I do it constantly. I am convinced it has to do with my sensory issues, and that moving heavy things around is a great de-stressor. So yeah, just say when and I’ll be there. I even have special tricks…like the “full bookshelf onto the beach towel and pull” maneuver. I’m not even kidding. It’s a sickness.

  47. kim @the fordeville diaries

    First: Thank you for including me in your post. That photo is the closest I got to BlogHer this year.

    Second: Whoa! What. The. Hell.
    I am annoyed for you and for all of my fellow VOTY honorees. The biggest shame of it all is that the whole situation is just not that hard to fix.

    Third: About your gecko in the corner. GO YOU for taking charge and bringing that awesomeness into the light of day (or light of conference room).

    • The Bearded Iris

      Dude, it’s the least I could do for you. I was hoping you’d show up with that sweet new baby and I could huff his head a little. Missed getting to meet you (both) and hope to see you at the next one!

  48. Julie

    Yay for those “lady balls”. I would have done the same thing! Congratulations to you on the accomplishment, not only for writing about gecko junk, but for getting recognized in a positive way for it 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Julie! I appreciate the kind words so much!

  49. The Dose of Reality

    I literally scared my dog with the war whoop I did when I saw you moving your poster!! THAT IS FULL OF AWESOME!!! You go, girl! –Lisa

    • The Bearded Iris

      LOVE THAT! The “war whoop” is one of my favorite noises! Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

  50. Tricia O.

    You are a bad ass. That’s some motherfucking Leaning In. Good job.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Trish! (Because, you know, just plain leaning in doesn’t have the same oomph as a good strong motherfucking-lean-in! Right?!)

      • Tricia O.

        No, it does not. Which is why I like to add MF to pretty much everything. Shows I mean biznaz.

  51. Anne @ Domesblissity

    Oh good for you Iris! You remember what Johnny Castle said, right? You know, its a small world. An Aussie blogger friend of mine was raving about meeting you on her visit to Blogher. Michelle Bourke from Farmer’s Wifey? If I knew she was going to see you I would’ve asked her to give you an extra squeezy hug from me. You’re awesome. So happy for your success Lesley.

    Anne xx

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hey Anne! It really IS a small world, because when I showed up at the VOTY keynote, expecting to see a table of my fellow humor VOTY winners to sit with and then wandered around like a lost child looking for a friendly face, I ended up sitting down between two strangers. Luckily for me, one of those strangers just so happened to be Michelle of Farmer’s Wifey and I recognized her friendly face from earlier that day and within seconds we were chatting away like long lost sisters. Is that an Australian thing? Because I swear, between you, Imbi (@TheNDM), my friends Mike & Katrina, Michelle B., and Michelle @TheyCallMeMummy, y’all are some of the kindest, friendliest, warmest, most wonderful people I’ve ever known, online or IRL. BIG SQUEEZY INTERCONTINENTAL HUGS ALL AROUND!!! XOXO

      • Anne @ Domesblissity

        Well, you’d be right in saying that us Aussies are a friendly bunch but there’s fierce rivalry between the States and Michelle, a fellow Queenslander like myself, are the friendliest of them all! A big intercontinential squeezy hug right back at ya!


  52. Arnebya

    Holy shitballs do I wanna make my own GIF! And you’re right, you know. It’s all in how you choose to look at a situation (and lift a big ass board to move it to the center of the room). I have to admit I was a bit crestfallen that there wasn’t designated seating and that Latifah didn’t ask the honorees onstage. But then I had to check myself with a swift “YOU HAVE NO PLACE TO COMPLAIN, BITCH. YOU ARE ON. THE. STAGE.”

  53. KBar3

    THIS is why I love you! You rock lady!

  54. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    This was perfect. So funny! And thank you for making me feel like less of a dork when I sat through the whole VOTY waiting for my name, only to feel that sucker punch when the “Goodnight everybody” happened. It’s only because BlogHer VOTY means something that we care.

  55. Elaine Griffin

    That’s the best! I would have done the same.

  56. Estelle

    Thank you for this so much. I was a VOTY last year (one of the 100), and I, too, was so excited for the reception, the honor, the ability to meet other VOTYs. Since the reception was picked over awful food, and we were not honored on stage and we could not even meet each other (except for when we took pics by the signage which included in teeny, tiny print our names and the names of our pieces), the whole thing was a bit of a letdown, and I admit I cried in the car on the way back to NJ. I also wrote to BlogHer about it and said how to make it a better experience. While yours was far from perfect, it was sooo much better than what they did for VOTY’s who were not readers this year. So congrats on that, and on “leaning” in to find a better spot for your Gekko piece. I would have done the same. Hope to meet you in the future (maybe next year’s conference).

  57. Dresden

    ROCK ON!!!
    No one puts the Bearded Iris in the corner

  58. Norine of Science of Parenthood

    Wowzers! I have never been more proud of you. You are just that AWESOME. Well done for pulling on your big girl pants, picking that poster up and moving it to where everyone would see it. NO ONE PUTS LESLIE IN THE CORNER!

  59. Kristin @ What She Said

    Thanks for writing this, Leslie. It only validated my decision not to attend BlogHer this year. I knew I didn’t have the money or the time off work or the patience, really, to fly out to Chicago and spend three days trying to ignore my loathing of large crowds and the resulting social anxiety, but I admit that when I heard all VOTY honorees would be recognized with VIP seating and a trip up on stage, I felt sad – for the briefest of moments – that I wasn’t going to be there. And considered – again, for the briefest of moments – trying to find a way to go. And reading this, I’m glad I trusted my gut.

    I’m so sorry you got stuck in a corner, so to speak, and I applaud your chutzpah in moving your storyboard. I had no idea they were even doing those poster boards – and I think many of the honorees who couldn’t be there would have appreciated being notified so that they could have had the option of of requesting either the poster to be shipped to them (at their cost, of course) or at the very least an official photo of it. I’m grateful to Katie Sluiter for taking a nice picture of mine to send to me. So, that would be my suggestion to the VOTY powers that be – have someone be in charge of communicating with all the winners exactly how they’ll be recognized and what that means for them.

    After all, I never even got an official notification that I *was* a winner.

  60. Jennifer Bilbro (@Jennifer_Bilbro)

    I would have totally helped you move it! Nobody puts baby in the corner!!!

  61. Chris Dean

    Hellz yeah! Thanks for reminding us “quieter types” that it’s not only okay, but good to show our balls when we need to!

  62. Chrisor

    Even though I’m not an anonymous blogger, I went to your session at BlogHer13. It was my first exposure to you and I was so impressed. I can’t believe they tried to hide you in a corner. I’m so glad you moved your blog board to a place where you’d be seen and given the recognition you so richly deserve! 🙂

  63. Bethany @ Bad Parenting Moments

    I am fist pumping the air so hard right now. Fuck yeah.

    “You have a choice.”

    Damn skippy, my friend.

  64. Dawn@LightenUp!

    Congratulations, lady! I am so proud of you, both for your two wins and for having the ‘nads to fix such a disappointing situation. Things like this have happened to me – both years ago and recently – and these days, I think I’d have done the very same thing.
    If it’s any comfort, BlogHer staff members have broken my heart twice in the past few months for various reasons. (But luckily, I recently also received GREAT professional news – that cheered me up immensely – from one Leslie Marinelli 😉 )
    Seems like BH is a young company that will grow and improve. In my day jobs, I’ve helped put together several corporate conferences with award ceremonies, and honorees should never be brushed aside that way. People pay a lot of money to attend – and they’re proud of their accomplishments – as well they should be – and should be honored as the winners they are. Good for you, Inner Iris!!

  65. Tracy in Suburbia

    So bummed I miss this epic lady-ball moment. In fact, I’m pretty bummed I didn’t have any hang out time with you pretty much at all. Next conference I’m blowing EVERYBODY off and sticking to you like gorilla glue!!

  66. Julie the Wife

    *Standing up and slow clapping*
    In the past, I’ve only talked about humping your leg, but honest-to-Cindy-Brady’s-ponytails, I will absolutely do it the next time I see you because of this post.
    I love your Lady Balls. I love your writing. I love your attitude. But most of all (deep breath for non-snarky moment) I do love you, Leslie Marinelli. You are a peach. And I’m not just saying that because you’re in Georgia.

  67. Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit)

    This post only confirms everything I said to you that weekend as I tried not to act like a bumbling moron in your great presence. In the immortal words of Macklemore, you Rocked. That. Motherfucker. I’m so glad that you stuck up for yourself, did the bold move, and owned that moment that you deserved. Brava, Lady. Brava. Ditto goes for your Lady Balls.

  68. Julia's Math

    Those are not only lady balls, they are AMAZEBALLS. good for you! Hope you brought that sucker home. It should be displayed prominently in your yard.

  69. toywithme

    Congrats on being a VOTY honoree! Wish I had been there to watch you whip out your lady-balls!

  70. Tracy @ Momaical

    Bahahahahaha you are so much awesome in one kick ass package. If I was there I would totally have been your troubadour announcing your arrival with some song. Although – I can’t sing worth a damn. So, it’s probably better I was not there…

  71. Donna

    First of all, I was so happy when I saw the posters with the full winning essays in the reception — this was so much BETTER than what we did last year. You all deserve the recognition and the honor for your wonderful writing. Good for you for moving your poster into the light!

  72. Jenni Chiu @MommyNaniBooboo

    I wandered like a lost child too looking for the “reserved seating”. Then I skipped the reception and went to the movie screening. I made it for the last ten minutes of the reception, though… and found my board all the way in the back in a dark corner next to a trash can. I could’ve used some of your lady balls at that point! You’re kind of my hero now.

  73. Michael Lombardi

    Wow. I read this and my heart breaks. Not in that, “the feral kitty population is exploding” kind of way. My heart breaks because I live that life.

    Ok, so no one has ever honored me publicly for anything. But if they did, it would totally be like that.

    And I would feel like absolute shite when my name was displayed so small.

    I’m not one to cry, but I think if the following year I found my story in the back I would have wept. Of course, you were surrounded by friends, so that helps. Even in the alternate universe where I am a VOTY honoree, I’m still Eeyore.

    I wouldn’t have even thought to move the damn poster myself.

    Also, I know you didn’t mean it that way, but good for you calling out Queen Latifah. I was surprised at the number of people on Twitter that probably never saw her in a movie or, better yet, know a song of hers that were tripping over themselves to kiss ass. Queen Latifah isn’t as awesome as some of the bloggers I know that attended.

  74. deborah quinn

    They should hire you for way more than VOTY wrangler; you’d rock the shit out of anything. And while you should know that I admire the hell out of you AND Lady Jenny for your writing, I have to say that you both look fabulous. (I know, I know, it’s shallow, but there you go. Complimented. Deal with it.)

  75. Bliss

    Ha ha, you’re a funny lady, so now I guess I’ve gotta go read about gecko penis. Wasn’t really how I thought I would be starting my day, but I’m not one to wanna miss out.

  76. Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered)

    We connected briefly last year, (at the BanShe [did I make that name up?] party – I think?) and I have to admit something. I felt slightly shy. And I’m not shy. And I also felt like a lame slacker since I never made the time to follow through on the inthepowderroom “store/product” stuff because I was kind of confused and didn’t truly grasp the concept, and that was also not me. Awful. I still feel like a crapola for it. And look here – you’ve shown how normal and real you are. And I want to hug you. Would that be weird? Sigh.

    I’m so glad you whipped out your ballsy self and moved your poster. That rocks. And I had no idea about what happened last year except I was SO excited to know some friends who were picked for VOTY and I sat there excited only to never hear them called or see them on stage reading. I was confused and felt like I didn’t know and must not have known, it was my first BlogHer. But now I see. I get it. I’m sorry it was a bit rough again this year, but yay for being recognized, all the same.

    And if I ever see you IRL again? I WILL hug you. 😉

  77. Andrea

    You rock so hard. Yes, that is an indirect reference to your lady-balls.

    Congrats on the VOTY and for taking your well-deserved recognition into your own hands. Sometimes a girl’s gotta be her own advocate.

    As I was reading this, I wondered who the details-person was who dropped the ball on this one. I think you’re perfect for the job in ’14!!

  78. Stephanie Scott

    You carry that sign to a better place, girl.

    If this had happened to me, it’d be my mother’s voice in my head to go on and move that sign. She and my aunt, no question, would scoot that over to a better place. Women who know how to get it done, well they do.

    Thanks for such a funny write-up!

  79. PetiteJ

    I just stumbled upon your blog. In a strange coincidence I follow the blogger on the other side of your sign, Lauren Gallagher. She took a picture next to it as well and it looks like it’s after you repositioned it. If you want to find out the ultimate destination of your sign, here ya go: http://www.filing-jointly.com/2013/07/brushing-up-on-my-social-niceties.html

  80. Jeneral Insanity

    I am crying tears of joy AND disappointment right now. Why in the world would your post be in the back corner of ANYTHING when you’re obviously one of the most awesome bloggers in the universe?! I’m SO GLAD that you decided to move it! Also super happy that it was caught on film. I heart your bearded face.

    You are awesome.

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