Self-consciousness and BlogHer

Perhaps, just maybe, it’s ironic that I’m speaking on a panel about overcoming introversion at BlogHer this year and I find myself feeling rather, well, introverted about it all?  I don’t know.  I never could really pin down the definition of irony, after all.  Dang that Alanis Morrisette.  She totally screwed me over with that one.

Some of you who are going to BlogHer this year have met me at past BlogHer conferences.  Some of you have not.  For those of you who have not, I want to be sure to tell you what to expect when and if you see me there.  What to look for.  We don’t get a really good physical representation of ourselves on these blogs and I so rarely ever take pictures of myself.  So here goes:

  • Despite the hip, new haircut, I’m really rather dorky.  It shows in my physical personna.
  • I am tall, about 5’8, and awkward with it.  I don’t wear heels because I don’t want to emphasize it.
  • I’m also large boned which makes me feel like a hulkish freak at times.  Tall and Large.  Fantastic.
  • Add to that all the excess baby weight that is hanging around.  So yeah, that’s my way of saying I’mon the chunky side.  I definitely have some extra padding (read: back fat, jiggly arms, thunder thighs, floppy belly, big ol’ boobs… you name it).
  • I wear glasses.  I take them off usually for pictures of myself but I do wear them all the time.  I can’t see, otherwise.
  • My clothes are either out of fashion or ill-fitting or both.  I’ve never been very good at knowing what looks good on me.
  • I have big feet, which will probably be wearing flip flops.  Unless I’m wearing jeans. Then I’ll wear sneakers.
  • My nails are messed UP.  I hope to have them painted and hopefully looking halfway presentable but they’re an issue for me right now.
  • My teeth aren’t so great either.  I have an enormous mouth and big teeth and they don’t look THAT great.  I see myself smiling in pictures and cringe half the time.  I hope to whiten them before going so at least they’ll be white, you know?
  • I’m not entirely sure I know what to do with my new ‘do.  I’ve tried a couple times so far and so far it looks pretty sad.  Plus, you know, mah hairs is all gone!  I’m not used to it yet.

So there you go.  Paints a pretty picture, huh?  I’m thinking I did one of these last year too.  Shows you what a self-conscious twit I can be.  But… there you have it.

Also: Am still stressing the budget.  I SO want to stay at the Westin on Friday night.  But Kile keeps hemming and hawing.  He tells me to raise the money.  RIGHT.  And how would I do that?  Perform a little magic trick and it’ll appear?  Voila!  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I’m going to try to sell some of my maternity clothes (now that I don’t need them anymore) that still look nice (the rest are getting donated) and see what that brings in.  I have my latest ad revenue check from BlogHer.  But beyond that?  Ehhhh…

I hate to even SAY it but I considered putting up a PayPal donate button in the sidebar.  You know one of those, “Help me go to BlogHer!” type deals.  But I don’t know, that just feels… weird.  I hate to even think it.  Still, it may come to that.  Perhaps I could offer up some swag to donators come August when the budget has righted itself once more and I can make it to the post office.

I don’t know.  I hate to ask anything of you guys.  You’re all so fabulous and I’m just amazed that I have any readers here at ALL.  You guys, for lack of a better word, ROCK.  I should be sending you guys swag just for showing up day by day.

What happened to compassion?

Are we, as a people, losing our compassion for each other?  I see and hear things all the time that just make me feel ILL.  People have so little regard for each other anymore.  Where did this come from?  When did it become “ok” to ignore those in need, treat each other with disrespect and laugh at other’s misfortune?  As far as I’m concerned, it is just as important as it ever was to look out for my fellow man.  Moreso, maybe, now that things are so rough out there in the big, bad world.

I saw a story on the Today Show this morning that turned my stomach.  A woman in a waiting room collapsed and was left on the floor until she died.  People saw her.  People who worked at the hospital saw her.  And no one helped.  Until it was too late.  Should it matter that it was an emergency room in a psychiatric hospital and not a standard hospital?  NO.  Should it matter if she was homeless?  NO.  What mattered is that she was essentially ignored and left to die because no one wanted to deal with her.

And what about the seventy-something year old guy that got hit by that car in New Hampshire about a month ago.  It was a hit and run and there were people walking the street.  NO ONE helped him, no one ran over to see if he was okay.  What is wrong with this picture?  I can’t fathom seeing something like that and just going on about my business.  I simply could not.  How is it that other people CAN?  That scares me, folks.  It really does.

And what about online?  Oh, you hear it all the time.  Stories about cyber bullying, etc and so forth.  Those are the obvious examples.  But what about the little moments, the small ways in which we turn our backs on each other on a daily basis here online?  Why is it okay to ridicule someone on Twitter just because you’re online and consequences be damned?  Even if you would do the same thing in person (perhaps moreso, because that in my opinion makes it even WORSE), WHY would you?  What would you get from tearing someone else down?  Does it honestly make people feel better to do this?  I don’t get it.

Do you see in my sidebar where it says “kind blog”?  I still try to hold true to the ideals of that badge.  Sometimes it’s really hard.  I get snarky like the rest of them.  Boy, howdy, do I!  But I try to limit myself, especially on this blog.  Because it’s not doing myself or anyone else any favors.  You all have my permission, by the way, to call me out if you do catch me disrespecting anyone here.  I just don’t want to be that person.

I wouldn’t hit and run in real life and I won’t do it online either.  I wouldn’t turn my back when I saw it happen in person and I’m trying not to do it online either.

Let’s all try to remember that we’re all in this together.  We’re all people, we’re all human beings and we all have feelings.  Lets show a little compassion, now, before it’s too late.

Obligatory BlogHer Post

Everyone else seems to be posting about BlogHer this week, so I figured I should join suit.  I’m such a follower.  It’s amazing that I have a single original thought in my head sometimes, isn’t it?  I really should be ashamed of myself.

Oh, and if you are one of the unfortunate ones who isn’t able to attend this year and posts like this are making your head hurt?  Feel free to skip this one.  I give you a free pass.  I understand.

So.  Where was I?  (I had to take a small break to entertain Evie, who was requesting some face-time.)  Oh yes.  BlogHer.  The conference with which to end all conferences.  The Big Kahuna.  The Drunk Tank, if you will.

Every year, as much fun as I have, I always walk away with some regrets.  This year, I vow, will be different.  I’m sure there might be a regret or two (or three), but I am hoping they are NEW regrets and not the same old tired issues I had the year before.  After all, I want to foster personal growth and expansion here, don’t I?

With that in mind, I vow:

  • NOT to duck out on sessions on Day 2 like I always seem to do.  I was better about this last year.  But there were still a few times where I just hung out instead of going to a session and I feel, afterward, like this was time wasted, somehow.  This said, I do not regret missing the “speed dating” dealie and hope to miss it this year as well.  I’m all for putting myself out there this year, but even I have my limits.
  • I will introduce myself to more people and get more business cards, etc.  I was better about this last year, again, but there is definitely room for improvement.  This is like one of the major reasons for going to BlogHer in the first place and to let my insecurities prevent me from enjoying the legions?  Is just goofy.  I will spread myself around a lot better this year, I PROMISE.  I hope to return home with NO business cards left this year.   And a huge passel of cards from other people.
  • I will NOT be weighed down with tons of crap this year.  Now, I’m a lot less certain about my ability to uphold this one.  The future of our Westin hotel room is in jeopardy, after all, and I’m hoping to be able to dump swag there as needed.  I plan to carry my husband’s laptop (which is itty bitty and I normally detest it but for such an event, I can definitely see it’s merits) in the diaper bag.  Because, yes, I will have Evie with me.  I’m hoping to having her in a carrier, but I’ll still need a diaper bag.  Especially if I’m planning to have her in cloth.  Which I am.  So the less crap to carry around?  The better.  I will try to offload the swag as soon as I can.  Perhaps during the speed dating! (Two birds, one stone!  Sweet!)

Yep, Evie will be with me the entire time.  I will be putting Liam in childcare.  Harry will be staying in San Jose with my parents.  Kile will have Blessed Time To Himself.  I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.  I’m a little bit nervous about having Evie with me the entire time, but I’m sure she’ll be a good girl.  I’m thinking I’d like to find a good nursing cover so I don’t have to wrangle a blanket to cover her every time she wants to eat.  As for my own session (first thing, Friday morning!), I’m hoping that maybe I can foist her off on some good-hearted soul.  Tell me, if you’re going to my Introversion session, would you be willing to Evie-Sit?  Also, for the record, if anyone wants to hold her or something (particularly if they want to hold her so I can eat), PLEASE ASK.  I will, chances are, be more than happy to hand her off.  You know, provided you’re not an axe murderer or something.

Evie stands to be the better dressed of the two of us too.  I’m okay with that, at least for now.  Chances are the morning of Day One I will be fretting that I don’t look nearly cool enough to be seen amidst such an amazing group of women.  I’m thinking, however, that I’ll rock jeans (perhaps capris) and t-shirts.  Maybe a blouse.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to make any cocktail parties, but if I were, I would probably change for them.  As for shoes, comfort is key.  I will probably wear various and sundry flip-flops.  But if i’m wearing jeans, that might look silly.  So we’ll see.

I’m ordering business cards from Zazzle this year.  They have “Moo” shaped cards but you can order in smaller increments.  I’ve always had 100 cards and always come home with about 90 cards left.  Even if I hope to pass out more cards this year, I still doubt I’ll pass out more than 60.  So that’s what I’m going to get.

Wow, this has already taken hours upon hours to compose.  What a geek I am.

I guess my point (do I have one?) is that a) yes, I’m excited about going to BlogHer and b) I’m hoping to not make some of the mistakes I’ve made in years past.  I had other things I was going to say, but Liam woke up from his nap and he’s in a Mood.  The whining is seriously blocking any coherent thought from my brain.  I’ll leave you here and if I have anything else to say, then… I guess I’ll say it.  Later.

Oh!  One last thing:  Can I have breakfast with you on Day 1?  Please?  I’m all by my lonesome at this thing!

It's not all sunshine and roses

I’m as guilty as anyone of writing sappy posts about my kids.  The mommy blogging world is full of such posts, in fact.  Sickly sweet posts, dripping with ooey gooey love and laced with fuzzy focused pictures detailing smiling faces, dozing babies and chubby cheeks galore.  At the same time, you have posts where date nights are detailed; delicious hours spent away from home while the kids are happily cared for by doting grandparents while the parents are able to eat out at decidedly non-child friendly restaurants and view entire movies (uninterrupted!) in movie theaters and spending exorbitant amounts of money on popcorn.  And then over here you have the mom who has gotten a fabulous writing gig at a fabulous website and soon will be making fabulous money.  Or something like that.  And what about that blogger over there who is either publishing a book or is included in a book or knows someone firsthand who has a new book out?  The fulfillment they must feel!  How about those ladies who blog about their girl’s nights out and seem to have so many beautiful, wonderful and fun friends to hang out with?  They sure have it all, don’t they?

No.  No, they don’t.

The thing is, I’m as guilty of feeling these things as anyone else.  It’s easy when you read a plethora of blogs to see these little glimpses into someone else’s life and feel jealousy.  To wish that you had a little piece of their life.  If you had what they had, after all, then maybe you’d be happy.  Or happier.  Life would be better.

The thing is, no one has it great.  In fact, I wonder if “great” even exists.  The blogger who waxes poetic about their cherubic infant is probably doing so in order to keep from tossing them out the window after they kept them up all night the night before.  The gal who scored the fabulous writing gig is probably feeling either a lot of pressure to write for her new bosses and bring in the traffic or is feeling burnt out with blogging altogether or worries that the money she’ll be making won’t be quite enough to cover all those bills that keep pouring in. The people who have ready and willing babysitters every time they turn around don’t always have the money to go out in the first place or have to deal with the inherent consequences of having relatives living nearby.  They probably wish, at times, that they had less parental influence in their lives.  And the women who seem to have a never-ending supply of buddies to hang out with?  Probably deal with their own issues and social politics and whatever else is required to keep those friendships running smoothly.  That or their spouses give them untold amounts of grief for wanting to spend time away from their families.

I guess my point is that we shouldn’t look at someone and think they have it all just because of what we read on their blog.  These blogs are merely snapshots of our lives.  A moment in time.  A still life portrait of what life is like.  When I talk about how adorable Evie is getting (boy howdy, is she ever getting adorable), I’m not mentioning the half dozen other issues that keep me up at night with worry and stress.  The blog is an outlet, after all.  I can write about whatever catches my fancy, diffuse frustration, find closure and distract myself from whatever is bugging me at the moment.  And believe me, there is just about ALWAYS something bugging me.  That’s just the way it is.

We’re all in the same boat here, aren’t we?  We’re all mothers who question our choices and our lives just about every single day.  We all love our children.  We all have hard days.  The great thing about these blogs is that through it all, we have each other to support us when we’re unsure, to cheer us on when we experience good fortune, commiserate when we’re frustrated and give us a boost when we’re feeling down.  And God Bless it too, I don’t know what I’d do without it all.

The straight poop

You may have noticed I have toned down, somewhat, the cloth diapering talk.  This is because I was afraid I was scaring ya’ll.  And I don’t want you to think I’m going to be “one of those” moms.  You know the ones, the ones who believe all other moms need to adopt their beliefs, otherwise they are not fit parents.  And we all know by now (at least, I hope you know) that I’m not one of those moms.  If you’re into it, fine.  If not, then oh well.  We move on and we can still be friends.

So I haven’t given up cloth diapering.  In fact, I have fallen in deeper through the rabbit hole.  Yep, that means I’m trying out prefolds and diaper covers.  As far as I’m concerned, if you can tolerate prefolds and covers and still love it?  Then you’re good to go.  Then again, the next major hurdle is toddler poop and I admittedly haven’t had to deal with that yet as we’re only using cloth on Evie for the time being.   I’d like to get into it with Liam too, but some things have to change first.  I won’t get into it here, because this isn’t a cloth diaper blog (believe it or not).

HOWEVER: I do have a cloth diaper blog upon which I hope to discuss the above issues and much, much more over the months (and years) to come.  This way, I can babble on and on about cloth diapers over there and if you aren’t into it?  You don’t have to read it.  But if you ARE interested?  Then you can sidle on over and make yourself at home.  It’s as easy as that.

I’m also interested in having other cloth diapering mamas join in the fun with me and participate in Cloth Diaper Mamas.  So if you are cloth diapering or just starting or have any particular insight?  Drop me a line or leave a comment here and let me know.  I would LOVE to have lots of awesome mamas together on that blog.

In the end, if you are at all interested in cloth diapers, please go take a look.  Trust me when I say: It’s not as hard as you think it might be.  And if I can do it and still remain sane?  Anyone can.  AND, yes, it’s a lot of fun.   Seriously!  It is!

This ain't junior high, ya'll

You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. Women bloggers referring to this community we all are a part of as being rather like junior high on occasion. It’s not just the mommy bloggers, though admittedly, we’re a rather large part of the community and a vocal one at that. Anyhow, this always comes up when people are invited to events that others aren’t (CampBaby and the RealSimple dinner party, to name a couple) or at the national BlogHer conference or any other such thing. People feel left out, is what it boils down to. And that reminds them of junior high.

Do you remember junior high? I sure do. It was AWFUL. Except that for me it was “middle school” instead of junior high. Same thing. Anyhow, it was the worst three years of my young life. Of course, eventually I grew up and gold older and realized what a really bad time was all about. For those early years, middle school was the worst that I’d experienced. There was such uncertainty, insecurity and awkwardness.

As far as I know, no one ever misses junior high. Well, except for that one girl in my carpool freshman year of high school. She always said that she missed it, but then again, she was a cheerleader in middle school so she totally doesn’t count. (Yes, my middle school had cheerleaders.) (GAH!) It’s pretty much an awful time for everyone. Which is why I guess that people are extra sensitive to junior high rearing it’s ugly head once we are safely ensconced in adulthood.

Still, I think that any perceptions of the blogging world being like junior high are a little off. And, if you’ll excuse me, a little manufactured. I think we’re doing this to ourselves, ladies. If you think it feels like junior high, well, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “If you think it, it will come” (Or some such rubbish, you get the point.)

Look, I understand that it sucks to be left off the “invite list”. It’s awkward to be at a conference full of hundreds of other women and everyone seems to be leaving you out of their little groups. It’s easy to get jealous when you see other bloggers getting lots of fabulous swag that you would have loved to get. And what about the paying gigs? Those are sure nice too. I’ve felt that way a little myself from time to time. Shoot, I used to write posts on this very blog about how I felt about being “left out” of the cool kids and lamenting not being an a-list blogger.

But I’m over it now. Because I realized two very important things: 1) if it’s meant to happen, it will. Just give it time. And 2) that’s not why I’m blogging in the first place. When I wrote my very first blog post, I never in a million years thought, “It’ll be no time until I start earning the big bucks!” or “I wonder when I’ll invited on an all-expense paid trip to collect fabulous swag?” or “Book deal, here I come!” No, I keep this blog for me, first and foremost. I like writing for it every day. I can’t imagine my life without it. If you told me that if I wanted to keep blogging I would have to forfeit any income opportunities, swag, invites, book-deals, etc then I would say, “Okay, no problem.” Because it isn’t any problem to me. Sure, those things would be NICE but they’re not why I’m here. And I suspect that they’re not why you (those of you with blogs out there) are here either.

BlogHer conferences are a lot of fun. They’re intimidating as heck, I sure know that. But if you open yourself up, introduce yourself to a few people (just remember, they’re probably as nervous as you are!) and really just enjoy for a moment that you’re at the greatest gathering of women bloggers ever conceived, well, then you’re just bound to have a great time. And maybe the invites and book deals and swag and jobs will eventually come your way. And maybe they won’t. You just need to be okay with that.

There is enough to go around. As long as you are blogging because you love it and that shows in your writing, you’ll see opportunities start to come your way. But the more you whine and complain and have yourself a little pity party about what you’re not getting, well, the longer it might take to trickle down to you. In the meantime, let’s all be happy and excited for those of us who are getting the book deals, the invites, the swag and the newspaper interviews. Not only is it awesome for our fellow blogger who has worked long and hard and deserves it, but it sets a great precedent for the rest of us. It means more opportunities for the rest of us.

So let’s graduate, shall we? Leave junior high behind once and for all? Sound good?

Hate "Church"

I’ve wanted to post about this for about two weeks now, but have put it off.  It’s not a happy topic, that’s for sure.  It’s an ugly, mean and disturbing topic.  Which means it makes me angry and sad.  And, chances are, it will make you feel angry and sad too.  So I apologize in advance for that.  It’s hard to write about this, but I know that I should.  I should say something.

Intrigued yet?

Clear back in January, a young woman was abducted here in town. Her name was Brianna Denison.  The thing is, stuff like this doesn’t often happen here in Reno.  Not to a college student, at least.  She didn’t attend the University here in town, but she grew up here and her family lived here and she had friends here.  She was staying at a friend’s house one night when she just disappeared.  Someone came in the front door (unlocked) and took her from the couch where she had been sleeping.  A little bit of blood was all that was left on the pillow as evidence.  As the weeks wore on, it became apparent that the blood on the pillow matched DNA from attacks made on several University students the last couple of months.  It would appear that this guy was escalating his attacks.  He started out trying to rape, then raping, then abducting and raping (and then releasing) and now a violent abduction with no end in sight.

The community was mobilized.  You just about couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a sign with Brianna’s picture on it.  Businesses, casinos, the side of the road… all carried the same message: “Bring Brianna Home”.  Search parties gathered every weekend to comb parks, fields, open areas… anywhere that might give clues.  Vigils were held and prayers were made in her honor.  We discussed her at our own church, though her family had never been to services there.  The thing is, it was an issue that mobilized this community.

I’m assuming you’ve all heard of the “Westboro Baptist Church“?   Chances are, you have as they have spread their bile all around the country rather efficiently.  Most recently and most high profile is the death of Heath Ledger and their promise to picket his funeral with their disgusting signs and chants simply because the guy starred in “Brokeback Mountain”.  This is an anti-homosexual group like no other.  Plainly put, this group hates EVERYONE and EVERYTHING in our country.  Every tragedy is deserved.  You can read that Wiki-Pedia page I linked to above if you want more details but trust me, it may just make you want to puke.  The people are filled with nothing but hate.

After Brianna’s disappearance, this group released a statement saying that “God Hates Reno” and Brianna’s disappearance was clear evidence of that.  When her body was found (as more and more people were starting to fear the worst for the girl), they planned to picket and protest her funeral.  My pastor brought it up at church on Sunday and I was glad that he did.  He told us that he was greatly disturbed that this group used the word “Baptist” in their name (as they are in no way affiliated with ANY Baptist convention anywhere in this country) but even more so that they used the word “Church.”  He worried what people driving by our church, who heard the horrible things the WBC had been saying, would think when they saw our church sign, calling us a Baptist church.  Would they think we felt the same way?  Would they think that all Christians felt this way?  What could we do to fight this reckless hate?

Last week, Brianna’s body was found in a field in the south part of town.  It was the moment that pretty much everyone was dreading.  How awful for her family.  How awful for everyone who has spent countless hours trying to bring her home safe.  And how awful that the maniac who took her and murdered her is still on the loose.  I can’t imagine how scared some of the students at the University must be.  I went to school there myself, I can only imagine how I would feel.  And amidst all this?  The WBC plans, still, to protest her funeral (our pastor, in fact, is quoted at the bottom of that article).

This upsets me greatly.  That this family who is going through a singularly agonizing time and could use every ounce of support they can get will have to worry about this cult of nutjobs using their daughter’s funeral as their own bizarre and disgusting platform.  There is no happy conclusion here, unfortunately.  I certainly don’t have any answer for this.  No way to make myself or anyone else feel better.  Still, I felt I needed to share the situation.  Because I DO believe that the truths about this group of haters must be spread.  Others need to be aware of what this group is doing.  They may come to your town next.

Narcissistic? Yes. Lame? No.

So there’s a lot of rumblings going on in the blog community (or at least the blog community that I pay attention to) that blogs are lame and narcissistic. I take except to that. Well, not the narcissistic part (and please don’t make me type that word out again) because DUH, that’s the nature of a blog. If blogs weren’t self-centered (whew, thank you thesaurus), they wouldn’t be blogs. That’s their inherent nature. You don’t write a blog about someone else… unless you write a celebrity blog or somesuch. But personal blogs are rife with navel-gazing because that’s the topic at hand. So, whatever. I’m over it. I’m focused on me because this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want, especially if that topic happens to be me and mine.

But lame? Ouch, that stings! I’m sure these comments were initially made in full self-deprecating fashion, but when such things are said there is often a nugget of truth at the center of it all. Meaning, whoever first said it (and I don’t really remember now who that was and I’m far too lazy to look it up) probably believes these statements to be true, at least a little bit. And ya know, that’s cool. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions. But if I really thought blogging was lame you can bet that I wouldn’t a) be writing three of them or b) spend good portions of my day reading other people’s blogs. So obviously, I think blogs rock my socks.

So I don’t really get why bloggers themselves, especially anyone who makes a job out of what they do would think or even suggest that blogs are lame. Still, I can understand where the discussion is coming from and what the whole stink is about. A lot of bloggers worry about losing their authenticity (or worse yet, have lost it already), about losing the initial passion that made blogging such a wonderful thing for them. I’m pretty fortunate, I haven’t had that sort of problem. I know that having ads on their sites tends to stifle other bloggers but I’ve never once had that issue. Again, I’m lucky. And who knows what lurks around the corner. Things could change for me, in the grand scheme of things I’m still a relatively new blogger. And I definitely don’t want to come off as holier-than-thou either.

What I really wanted to say was that with all the discussion of narcissism (damn, there’s that word again) and lameness and boring blogs that I’m not buying into it. I don’t thing posting a meme makes my blog unbearable (you may, of course, think otherwise) and I don’t think that ranting about the television show I watched the night before is especially unremarkable. I do know that I’m not the best writer in the world. If had more talent, I would probably be writing best-selling novels and wouldn’t have a lot of extra time for blogging. And that lack of talent might make this blog pretty lame to the outside eye. But to me, it is a slice of my life and because of that, it’s precious to me.