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Northern Voice

I went to my first Blog Conference today.  It was fun.  I felt like I had stepped into an alternate universe.  Everybody was packing portable laptops, and using them.  All over the place, on seats in the hall, during the opening speaker’s lecture, when the speaker paused for breath, K.C. Dyer leaned over to me and whispered, “Listen.”  I listened and I got the biggest smile on my face.  It was the tapping of a million fingers skipping across their keyboards, writing god-knows-what. 

And even though I only understood around 1/4 of the words that came out of the speakers mouth, that 1/4 was sort of fun, and it was a fun feeling.  Like I was a little kid playing dress up and somehow I passed for the real thing.  I mean, I am a blogger, but I’m a blogger by default.  I don’t know ANY of the lingo.  I don’t know what software I’m using.  I don’t know what streaming is or if I’d like to do it.  I DID know enough to laugh at the joke about pooh.  So that’s something. 

After the Keynote speaker it was a coffee break, so K.C. and I went down the street and bought ourselves some hot chocolate and chocolate and caramel covered pretzels because we could.  Then we went to the “Why I slowed down blogging and started drawing on walls”  BIG MISTAKE! 

It wasn’t the speakers fault.  She was quite interesting, an engaging speaker, it was the second part of the session.  The I’m-going-to-throw-something-out-there-and-you-draw-it-be-fearless.  The topic she threw out was ice cream.  How innocuous is that?  A light happy subject right?  Who could have a problem with ice cream?

Me.

However, a coward I am not.  I would be fearless, even though my drawing skills royally suck.  I would not censor myself.  I would draw what came to mind.

Unfortunately, what came to mind was not what I’d call a happy memory.  It was a stick drawing of my mother holding out a bowl of ice cream, with a smile and a dialogue bubble coming out of her mouth, “Meg gets ice cream because she’s good.”  Then I drew a little tiny stick figure of me sitting at a stick table and a bubble coming out of my mouth saying “I hate having to eat ice cream.”  And crowding around behind me were the floating heads of my brothers and sisters with a bubble coming out of their collective heads saying “We hate that f___ing goodie two-shoes.”

“Done,” the speaker said, tape your pictures up on the wall.  What?!  I scribble out the “Meg”  I do a thorough job of it.  Then I join the swarms of other people taping their pictures on the wall.  Not only does my scribble feel intensely private, but the skill level of it would make a kindergartner blush.

And I’m not sure what happened next, the speaker said something about, imagining posting these pictures on our blog, I snorted, she heard it, asked who did.  I considered pretending someone else had snorted, but I am a grown-up, so up went my hand, so wouldn’t you know it, she had to know which drawing was mine.  Then she had to read the words, out loud.  Great.  A lot of good it did, scribbling my name off and being anonymous.  She finds something positive to say about it, then moves on, and I’m sitting there, unable to look at anybody.  The minute her back is turned and discussing something else, my childhood floods me and my eyes fill up.  Which is a ridiculous response.  I am 48 years old, I drew a stupid picture, so what.  I had to eat ice cream.  Big deal. 

I will not cry.  I rummage around in coat pocket and unwrap the last of my chocolate pretzel, chew on it.  See Meg, I say.  Life’s good.  You are eating a yummy chocolate pretzel.  How lucky is that.  But the thing is, the chocolate pretzel doesn’t taste good anymore and it’s not helping stop the tears, so I have to make my way around two sets of knees to the get to the aisle and then keep my head down as I sneak out of the room. 

Dammit all!  I’m supposed to be on the From Book to Blog or Blog to Book panel in a couple of minutes.  I sit in the ladies room and blow my nose.  Force my stupid-bad-timing eyes to stop their stupid-soppy-slopping and then use my information sheet to fan the redness from my face.  I can hear the bathroom fill up with the other participants of the workshops.  Damn.  It must be time.  I fan more desperately.  Breathe.  Breathe some more and then flush the toilet, like I was doing real bathroom business in there and exit the stall. 

I take a quick glance in the mirror on the way out.  Not that I could do anything about it, but luckily, other than my slightly red nose, my face isn’t too bad.  And my shakiness is gone.

Our talk is fun.  I actually have a blast.  It’s nice when there are five other people on the panel because you share the load.  Robert Wiersema is VERY funny.

Anyway, that was my day.  Will bought himself a new drum kit, so he is rocking up a storm in the basement.  Dinner was tasty, the dogs are sleepy.  And I have no more public appearances until March 21.  Bliss.