Withdrawing Symptoms. Notes from Limboland... (yes this is my BlogHer post)

A post-BlogHer-post is long overdue, and my reasons for not tackling it yet are manifold. The first is the practical one. Life is kicking my ass, what with The Move and only four weeks left at work and one million projects to tie up with a pretty bow before I leave. That and sell the house, sell the minivan, sell the other car, sell, give, sell, trash, sell, sell, sell our lives out from under us. (sobs...)

Yeah. It's that kind of post. I'm a tad melancholy. BlogHer was Awesome, Inspiring and completely Overwhelming. When I blithely (and a bit snottily) left a post last week about how I am not shy and I am woman hear me roar I was not fully prepared for how a situation like BlogHer can make the most extrovert among us get a severe disorder of the socially anxious variety. HBM has written at her place about how she feels a sense of regret and guilt about not being able to touch base meaningfully with people she knew. I have only a fraction of Her Bad community, and I still came away with some pangs over people I had not had a chance to really have a juicy talk with. Women who write so brilliantly, and who make me laugh and think, and who I am likely to never, ever meet again (because BlogHer from the UK is likely to be rather dear and not entirely easy to justify)--it felt like there they all stood among a sea of brilliants. And the sea of brilliants was busy yak yak yaking to one another. Noisy. (insert linky love here...)

(If you were not there, you should know that the blogher "speed dating" ice-breaker exercise just about put me over the edge, and I actually had to leave the room before my head promptly exploded off my neck).

By the time Friday night rolled around, the idea of chatting in a quiet room and eating pizza while the babies slept was extremely appealing. These were the gals who had started blogging at the same time as me, and we had all cheered each other on in those early months when you don't think anyone is reading and just about shit a brick when you get a comment. Meeting them in person was so fucking affirming. (Yes. I said "affirming." Piss Awf). Anyway, we were all quite giddy with it. Some of us to the extent of passing out. Well. You all know how that went.

But I feel I should point out in regards to that incident (and perhaps I should be ashamed to say this) I was not even drunken. I was actually quite sober, after determining that I would *not* overdo it like I did the night before, when I boozed so badly I ended up buying a pack of smokes [don't tell my husband] and puffing away enough to feel absolutely dreadful the next morning.

(Just so you know, I don't smoke, but apparently being completely ass-faced on an empty stomach around a bunch of newly discovered BFFs triggers me to regress to a teenage state of rebellion where I binged on all life's evils. There's nothing quite so sobering as a 7am hangover while you "pump and dump" as discretely as possible while your (similarly hungover) roomates lope around the room looking for painkillers. But what delightful roomates they were).

Anyway. Apart from a certain person (who was wasted, wasted tired, bless her) we were all quite clear-headed. It was the food of love, you see, that made us all turn into such idiots. And yes, we were idiots, giggling, crying, peeing our pants silly people. And it was quite wonderful. When Catherine said her only regret was that she was not actually "there" to be part of it, I sensed a real pang. She totally meant it.

Because, how often do we really get to be that silly? Not often enough. I love silly so so much. I want to be that kind of silly when I am a grandmommyblogger. Please.

So now I am suffering from what SlackerMamma calls it BlogHer Lag. So much talking talking talking about blogging blogging blogging, and the idea of coming back and trying to synthesize something in words feels just impossibly exhausting. (sidenote. I now know why people don't write a lot about blogher. Blogher itself sucks the very blogging lifeblood out of you in this regard...)

But I do want to make a few comments about the panels. I was both a speaker and moderator, and on Thursday afternoon there was a training session for all of us in that boat. (There I met my co-panelists, who were so very nice, and so very smart). During the training, a great deal of emphasis was put on interactivity. That the audience should have opportunity to contribute as much as possible. That each person in the room should come away with something, a sense that they were part of it all. As a teacher, I fully concur, and as an academic I can quite honestly say that there is nothing quite worse than being talked at by four consecutive panelists, but Karrie summed up the problem with the approach much better than I could:

"While many interesting positions were expressed in other sessions, the sheer number of bloggers present made it difficult to participate, and the discussions were (understandably)somewhat limited, since so many voices were clamoring to be heard. In my personal experience with larger groups, many people will sit waiting to pose a question or share a comment, and by the time their turn to speak comes around the discussion may have veered in a completely different direction, or the participant loses their train of thought."

If I had any complaint (let's call it constructive criticism, shall we?) it was that in the interests of including everyone, a lot of extremely interesting issues that were raised ended up getting lost in the chorus of opinions. As a moderator, I myself attempted to reach every hand that was raised in the room, eager not to leave anyone out. Though it was an excellent discussion, and the time flew by, I came away feeling that we only scratched at the surface, that we flitted about various topics but did not get our teeth into any one of them. Which is probably fine. I suppose that's what blogging is for.

But an exemplary incident of this was at the State of the Mommasphere panel, which was by far the most interesting to me. Mocha Momma raised a crucial question about diversity in the mommasphere, challenging the marketers present in the room to explain why women of color were not targeted for advertising dollars. Her comment was both bad ass and incendiary (God, I love that woman) and promptly lost as the next person got to voice an opinion--on something completely unrelated (though I should say that CityMama managed to pick it up again, if fleetingly).

This is no criticism of the moderator, Jory, who was working that room and creating a fabulous energy in the process, but an observation that as the community grows and passions escalate, at a certain point it's not necessarily possible or even desirable to allow everyone to have their soundbite, you know? [Aside--Mocha and Glennia from Kimchi Mamas have both agreed to write on this topic for BlogRhet.... so, I guess the conversation will continue. Stay tuned.. ]

So. A lot more to say. But I need to click on publish before this gets hopelessly out of date.


Lisa Stone said...

Gingajoy, as I suffer through my third annual episode of BlogHer lag, I find myself nodding at your post (dogs and child looking at me with raised eyebrows). It's ... a lot. A meaningful lot. And I've felt much as you describe feeling every year.

I haven't discussed the mommyblogging panel with Jory, nor did I attend it, but I did see people crammed into the room. I think Mocha Momma raised an essential issue, and I'll go comment on her blog. At the same time, I have found that Jory is a kick-ass moderator who tries to get as many ideas out in the open, who sees panels as a beginning, not an ending. Which makes me think we might have the beginnings of a panel on race and mommyblogging here...after all, if both Stefania and Kelly want to take it on, it'll be superb.

Thanks for your post. It was great to meet you finally. Hope to see you next year. And apologies for the head-exploding speed-dating exercise...

Marmite Breath said...

Huh. You think I care that I did not get to go to Blogher? You think I am bovered in the slightest? Look at my face.

I am so bovered.

Wish I could have been there.

PS) Why don't you be the founder of Blogher UK?

sarah doow said...

Marmite Breath, Gingajoy, Birchsprite and co. - I reckon we should start Custard Creamher or something over here. An annual conference where we sit around and eat biscuits and chocolate. What say you?

karrie said...

For future BlogHers I wonder if they would consider breakout sessions, where people submit topics prior to the conference and can join smaller, more topic specific conversations? One other time waster I noticed was lengthy intros--beyond "Hi, I'm ____ and my blog is _____ and the question I have is ______."

Probably just nerves on the part of most, but to me it felt a bit like speed dating revisited, which also made my head spin. :)

Lindy said...

Oooh I'd attend Custard CreamHer!

I do hope that the issues Mocha Momma brought up are addressed. I've just been to her sight and I don't that woman will let this issue rest- good for her. I love that she doesn't pull any punches.

Also glad you had a good time- I'm not jealous at all. Nope not me I didn't want to go to no stinkin' BlogHer!

gingajoy said...

ladies. I think a custardcreamHer/mummybloggers/UK BlogHer is most definitely in order. Most definitely.

Anonymous said...

I agree with pretty much everything you just said.

I promise to get silly with you when we are grandmommy bloggers.

S said...

Thanks for the review. I alternate between being jealous of all of you who were there and relieved that I was not there.

But that kind of on-the-fence thinking is not new for me. ;) No, not new at all.

ewe are here said...

Sounds like you're not going to get a post-Blogher break, and it sounds like everyone who got to go needs one. What fun!

Now why can't we have a BlogHer UK? I had a mini-teent tiny one over here while everyone else was partying hard in Chicago. We just need more people to fly this way!

Anonymous said...

I was too darn scared to ask a question at the State of the Momosphere panel, and by the time I got up the courage the subject had changed and I'd feel stupid to ask my question then.

I agree...OVERWHELMING. But still so grand.

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you how happy I am to have met you and talked to you.

I have been thinking about you and all that you have going on and I just wanted to wish you the best of luck with The Move and The Selling of The Stuff.

NotSoSage said...


You nailed the way I was feeling the whole time...that (for the most part) the topics were too broad and the rooms full of too many people for any meaningful discussion. I respected the idea of allowing that interaction, but felt it was really hard to do in a room of 40 people.

You might just be able to host BlogHer UK and have us all visit you!

Mom101 said...

I love your assessment that we could be both smart and silly in one fabulous, overwhelming weekend.

And I love Lisa's response that these panels were the beginnings to discussions, not the discussions in themselves. That's cool.

Up next: Race and marketing.

Well, sleep. Then race.

gingajoy said...

just realized i did not respond to lisa--and did not want my "silence" to be misinterpreted(!)

I hope the post made it clear that I can find no fault with Jory--who, like me, was working the room as requested/suggested. There were many many hands raised in that room, and i am sure many got missed. Just not possible.

I do like the idea that this is the beginning of discussions, and not the end of them. Like many others, though, I wonder how the format for sessions can be tweaked to focus discussion a little more.

Liz. Race and Marketing. Hellz yeah.

Lawyer Mama said...

BlogHer Lag is the perfect term for it. Left to my own devices, I might not blog about BlogHer at all. It was so intense and so *real* that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was blog about it. I'm not sure why. Exhaustion? A need to internally reflect first? The difficulty of transforming the many ideas and personalities into 300 words? It's probably a combination of all of them.

My community is smaller than yours & HBM's, but I still felt the same pang. For instance, I didn't get an opportunity to harass you for pics of your children. We keep hearing that they're beautiful & I trust you, but still, I wanted to put faces to the stories & your personality to this blog. I wanted to do that with so many people & just didn't have the time.

The format was also a bit frustrating to me. It's certainly not the fault of the moderator. In fact, Joy, I think you did a fantastic job of getting to many of the issues in your panel. It's a limitation of time and so many people. I also think that some are intimidated a bit by the large group of opinionated women and don't speak up. Although, I've never had a problem speaking out, I can see why others do.

I also think Lisa's idea of a panel on race and blogging (of any sort, NOT simply mommyblogging) would be fantastic.

I can't wait to read more about this topic on BlogRhet.

Julie Marsh said...

Jory had her hands full at that panel. She did extremely well at dashing around the room to catch as many people as possible.

I do think that BlogHer is growing fast enough and large enough that even in the planning stages, it's difficult to predict how much interest there will be in each session, even when the topic seems rather specific, and how interest in that topic will evolve. So I like what Lisa said about beginnings - a lot of great dialogue was started on a variety of topics, even though not all of us were able to weigh in.

Mocha said...

*Head in hands* what did I do? What did I DO?

You know I'd love to take it on and should probably comment on my blog about this as well: I don't find Jory at fault. That is a difficult job and I had already spoken to Lisa about it the day before. Karma? Hmm. Perhaps.

Do you know what honors me the most? The fact that not only Stefania and Valencia (they are SO wonderful - a great opportunity for me to meet new people) have agreed to join hands, but that women like you (again with the WONDERFUL) and Liz (ditto, ditto, ditto) and Catherine (must I? Really, this LoveFest could use some condoms by now) and so many others are supportive of it.

That warms my heart like you wouldn't believe. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just want to cry reading your words...how I miss you and your flaming locks.



I'll try to be intelligent the next time I am back, but I do so miss you. Allow me to wallow, will ya?

Heather B. said...

We only met briefly and only because I have a big mouth and like to hear my obnoxious voice. ANYWAY...what I'm trying to say is that for that brief moment I thought you were wonderful and now that has seeped into now and I'm feverishly reading your archives and am going on and on (in my head) about online communities, etc. after checking out blogrhet.

Le sigh.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Ditto what you said. Because I know, just from the little time I had with you, that you are brilliant. Why argue?

And sexy. Did I mention sexy? ;)

Her Bad Mother said...

I cannot even begin to formulate a sentence that anywhere near coherent on this topic because, because, because OH GOD am crying AGAIN.

Am a weeper. And a passer-outter. I admit it.

Julie Pippert said...

In large sessions I have always appreciated the pass the note thing. Sure, those of us who have No Trouble ATALL with our voices don't get our limelight moment..but it does provide a solution for that graze over issue (and the choked up voice issue).

I have---as a non BlogHer---vacillated between...no, it's more like journeyed from wanting to be there vicariously through stories and photos, to feeling a tad relieved that I didn't have to process such an overstimulation, to feeling a bit peeved now because the honest and real discussions are starting and I *have no part* in them.

Moreover, I see the new bonds, evident in blog comments and topics.

So now I am to really, really sorry I missed it and regretting hearing intriguing things such as this...

Ruth Dynamite said...

And somehow, I didn't get the chance to meet you. My loss.

Great recap. I agree agree agree. Good luck with your move!

Redsy said...

Totally agree! I have so much to say about BlogHer that I haven't really said a thing. Too many people, too much talking, my brain hurts thinking about it.

And I only stayed for Friday.

OhTheJoys said...

I haven't written anything about it. The more I try to formulate what I'd say, the more stuck I get. I think I'm letting it go.

However, since we talked at the final cocktail party about the round table discussion approach I had a new idea.

But first, the back story...

Before Blogher I was talking with Laura from Blog Con Queso about the fact that I felt like I had no goals what-so-ever related to my blog. It made some of the workshops seem abstract to me... I don't strive to make money from my blog for example. Laura said, "Well, if you don't have goals related to your blog now, you will soon." I thought, "Wha?"

Turns out, I have had them all along.

I have had a goal to build a community of women around myself - specifically a community of mothers, women who could help me shape my identity as such and help me understand what the f*ck I'm supposed to be doing with these short and loud people in my house.


I wonder how Blogher could be different if the mommy blogger "track" (or community building track) involved real community building activities. What power exists in the idea of sitting with the women you read every day and talking about the same things - motherhood, grief, marriage, divorce, etc. I wonder how the communities of support we create for ourselves could be further strengthened.

Did I really write this in your comments?

This may be my all time record longest comment ever.