So I Never Got to BlogHer

To cement a new friendship, especially between foreigners or persons of a different social world, a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person, and cut across the accidents of place and time.

~ Cornelia Otis Skinner, The Ape in Me, 1959

BlogHer. That annual get-together where bloggers from across the nation meet and greet one another, swap cards, and drink a lot.

It swung through my neck of the woods this past year and so I considered going. Only no one told me you had to register two years in advance. And spend lots of money. And drink a lot. So out of protest, I stayed home. Listened from a distance. Probably what I would have done had I actually been there, being a wallflower of sorts.

I just don’t do crowds. Much more my style is the informal rendezvous, somewhat haphazardly planned, with no fanfare and a very short agenda:

Meet up. Chat. Go home.

Ed and I had been planning just such an encounter, and we managed to pull it off Christmas week last year in Dayton, Ohio. His five kids, my four kids, some tagalong relatives, and an Air Force Museum seemed like the right amount of chaos for a lovely and lively time.

It just so happens that another blogging friend, one Daisyfae of Trailer Park Refugee, lives near Dayton, so she came along and brought a friend.

Headcount: Seventeen people, the majority under three feet tall. Did I say I’m not much of a crowd person? Ignore that part.

Highlights:

Ed and I met in the blogosphere because we both have daughters named Zoe. Zoë in his case. Mine has no umlaut. These two young ladies are only a month apart, and they hit it off like long-lost sisters reuniting over coffee. Nigh inseparable they were. The chatted about girl stuff and might have even noticed a plane or two hanging around.

That, my friends, is an SR-71 Blackbird. Daisyfae? She likes her some Blackbird. She saw it sitting there, all black and impressive in the hangar, and raised her arms in the air and exclaimed, “My God! Look at it! It’s like sex in the sky!” I interrupted her reverie for a picture . . .

Ed looked happy to be there for the most part . . .

. . . despite the fact that he’d spent the night before tending to his very sick child, wallowing in the sick that naturally spread his way as the morning progressed. Tucked in his back pocket is a map of the museum with all the restrooms highlighted in bright yellow. He’s a trooper, that Ed. He and his clan ended up leaving early so he could go home and pass out on the couch, curled up in a fetal position. We’ve agreed the next meet-up will be in a park. Lots of fresh air and plenty of places to hurl should the need arise.

After a quick tour through the exhibit on rockets and space travel, Daisyfae and I decided to pack up the remainder of the party and retire to the local Bob Evans for some lunch before heading home. I made a gift of some homemade Chex mix and, being the more stubborn of the two of us, she insisted on picking up the check. Being the least stubborn of the two of us, I let her. But next time, girlfriend? I’m buying.

***

Well, needless to say, I found myself hooked on meeting blogging friends. And it just so happened that my wife and I planned on taking the family to Minnesota to spend a week after Christmas. And pray tell what city should the road lead us through on our way to Points Northwest?

Madison, Wisconsin!

The thoroughly-cheesified Home of Maggie (Okay, Fine, Dammit), and a hop, skip, and a jump from Erika (Be Gay About It). After much emailing back and forth, trying to pick a time and a place to pull in for a pit stop, it was Erika’s wife Jenn who came up with Rocky Rococo’s, a pizza joint complete with a game room, comfy leather seats, and bottomless pitchers of pop. Or is it soda in Wisconsin? Regardless, it was perfect.

These are two of my blogging heroes. And yet meeting them felt completely . . . normal. Want to see my favorite picture?

Erika recently broadened her site to include a section titled BGAI Together, “a grassroots storytelling project where LGBTQ persons and their allies unite to counter adversity with positive stories of love and affirmation.” My daughter helped her design the badge for the site (you’ll find it in my sidebar, over there on the left) and here they are meeting for the first time. Notice how Erika, who is much taller than I ever imagined, gets down to Aryn’s level. Doesn’t stand over her, but instead allows Aryn to shine.

Erika’s heart is large, my friends. And meeting her in real life, hugging her neck, listening to her laugh, and sharing in her joy as she told the story of her and Jenn’s Christmas miracle, made this mid-trip rest stop a miracle all its own.

She also made me a “stud tape,” a two-disc set of some of her favorite music. It was the soundtrack for our trip, and I am now a huge fan of Band of Horses . . .

***

And then there’s Maggie.

We left Minnesota on the morning of January 1st and planned to drive straight through. But, as you might have guessed, I have become a fan of sidetracking. I tweeted that I might be available for dinner, and Maggie wasted no time in inviting us over for ham sandwiches.

Only Maggie lives in . . . how did Sarah put it . . . oh yeah!

Waythefuckoutsville.

That’s somewhere along Country Road Death, as my kids now call that meandering road leading to her back porch. They also refer to her as Maggie in the Middle of Nowhere.

GPS be damned, we found it!

The kids romped and played and colored pictures. Ty impressed Maggie’s husband with his Rock Band skills. And Maggie’s husband laughed at me when I shed my coat and revealed my IPFW sweatshirt. Apparently they’ve experienced the suck that is IPFW Mastodon basketball.

We sat and talked for a long time. About blogging. About writing. About iPhones. And about ham. And then . . . glory of glories! I made it past the outer court and found myself worshipping in the inner sanctum.

Where this . . .

. . . begat this!

Maggie and I laughed until we cried. And then, my head, tummy, and heart full to bursting, I drove the clan home.

Notice my hat? That’s an SR-71 Blackbird.

Notice my Unibrow? Yeah, it’s back. And sexier than evah!

***

This is my first post in exactly one month. It was a planned hiatus. A chance to recalibrate my brain and settle a few things that needed settling.

While I was away, I missed you, dear Cheek Tweaker.

We might have crossed paths on Twitter or Facebook, but nothing compares to the interaction that happens here. Or over there, on your blog.

Meeting these friends in real life made this place so much more special for me. For here, because of this, across the accidents of time and space, I have found a few friends. And I am better for them . . .

***

Oh! Before you go . . .

Did I tell you about the newborn in our house? NO?! Well, you’re in for a treat . . .

[Flickr photo is by lepiaf.geo and is protected]

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29 thoughts on “So I Never Got to BlogHer

  1. You are hilarious – and a d*mn good reminder of the many, many, many beautiful gifts of blogging. CONGRATS on the new addition. (I hope you don’t mean Frozen Hulk Hogan.) 🙂

  2. So, who is the new addition in your house? You will tell the story, won’t you?

    I absolutely love the way you meet bloggers. It’s much more personal than a convention. Even in a crowd, I tend to try to talk one on one, rather than to a group. I’m not really big on crowds, either.

    Thanks for the photos. They make your story even more interesting.

    I see I’m not the only one who take a break from blogging. Nice to know that others also need that time away. Glad you’re back!

  3. Time with you & your family and Maggie & her family beneath the larger than life portrait of a pimped-out Rocky was a definite highlight of 2009 for me. I’m sad the time was so short, is all. 😦

    Love this post…and loved meeting you and yours in person. Thank you for the friendship (and let me know about the music).

  4. I’m due to meet Ed this july when he flies over to the UK to go on a rather long walk with me. I’m glad it’s recommended 🙂

    Also, I met up with a blogger in Madison too – went to stay with him and his family for an entire week. Twice.

    Small world.

  5. Best post ever.

    Who needs a big conference? I’ve done it both ways and hanging out with you (and Rocky Rococo, as Erika so beautifully put it in her comment) was a definite highlight.

    Your family is really cool, Brian. Your kids are so centered, so self-aware and comfortable in their own skins, something you don’t usually see in adults, let alone people so young. Your wife is awesome. The two of you are clearly doing something very, very right. I feel downright blessed that you were in my home.

    And good on you for the break. Breaks are GOOD.

  6. yee-HAW! Great tales! Kinda like “On the Road – Blogger Style”! i will second (and third and fourth) Maggie’s comment about you and your family – an absolutely ASTONISHING posse of lovely people! So very nice to meet Ed and his troupe, too… and for what it’s worth, the Chex Mix i was supposed to share with my partner in crime? ummm… notsomuch. it was yummy. i subsisted on it for a few days….

  7. I went to Blogher once. Can’t say i’m sorry i did, but it wasn’t for me. Spent most of my time hanging out in Chicago with my two bloggie roomies and had a great time. Skipped most of the conference.

    You did it the right way.

  8. It was such a pleasure to meet you and your family. And yes–that smile was forced because I really felt like poo that day. Still feel terrible about that. But we’re not that far away and can surely plan another outing.

  9. If you’re ever down my way…

    I’ve met a half dozen or so bloggers now and without fail it’s been great. That surprises me, but I don’t really now why it should! Good to see a post from you, btw!

  10. I’m not big on crowds either. I’m actually rather anti-crowd. And I know this is totally off-topic, but if the above pictures are any indication, it looks like you’ve probably got a pretty kickass teeshirt collection.

  11. I have yet to meet any of my blogging friends. You make it sound fun though…I might have to look into doing it. Sounds like you had a great trip.

    If you ever get to Utah…

  12. hey! there was Chex mix? [chortle] very wonderful meeting the clans. especially fun was watching the interaction of the kids. and it was wonderful having an audience as we went through the museum. i’d forgotten i remember so much of all that stuff.

  13. Hey ‘cuz, glad to see back treading the bits again. Always interesting to put faces with names. Looks like Winter was good to you.

    Be well!
    -D

  14. first off, i hate crowds to. but i didn’t realize it until i hit 30 or so.

    second off, i’ve only been blogging a few months, but i met “melisa with one s,” and i love her. it was awesome. reading about your positive encounters makes me wanna meet many more.

    and it also makes me wanna work on my unibrow.

    i enjoyed your post!

  15. you could’ve photoshopped the unibrow out. i used to do that for my hub until he finally succumbed to the occasional pluck. also, i am entirely JEALOUS of this entire post in ever entire way.

    entirely.

  16. Damn, I’m jealous…I would so love to meet some of my blog buddies…if any of you out there are ever in the greater Nashville area, PLEASE let me know. I’ll make ham sandwiches! Country ham sandwiches, that is. 🙂

  17. We have a local bloggers group that tries to get together every other month or so. It’s amazing how normal most of us are in real life.

    If you work up your nerve, I’ll see you in NYC in August.

    All Hail, King of the Unibrow!

    K

  18. That was awesome! I’m with a few of your other commenters… I feel a little jealous. Sounds like your family had quite the adventure. Next time, head to Utah!

  19. Awesome stories and amazing how small the world is, I’ve recently read every single one of the bloggers mentioned here.

    Now what’s up with the newborn?

  20. Sounds like that Blogher thing is just a commercial exercise for those who want to “network”. Why should things cost so much and be booked so far in advance?

    Last year when I was in Europe, I visited four fellow bloggers. Three in Slovenia and a Kiwi who lives in London came to Paris to meet up with us.

    No networking happened, just plenty of really good conversation. It came as no surprise to me how nice these people were and how easy it was to talk with them, because through their blogs I felt I’d known them for years.

    As for the SR-71 Blackbird, I saw one in flight at an air show in Toronto Canada back in 1978.

    The announcer said, it would fly low enough and slow enough for us to see.

    The SR-71 flew past, over Lake Ontario near the shore where we stood, so low that we could see it’s various panels and it was so black it seemed like a huge negative space in the sky. It sent shivers down my spine.

  21. Yes they do call it soda in Wisconsin, and I do although Pittsburgh is not very happy about it. I spent to much time with my cousins growing up and somehow switched over from pop to soda. My friends yell at me all the time to stay true to my city and stop calling it SODA!

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