As the flight to San Francisco landed I heard a woman behind me talking about attending the BlogHer conference. I thought I recognized someone in Newark before we took off, but I wasn't sure. Going to BlogHer is like some kind of weird reunion where everyone looks familiar. Did I meet this person last year? Do I know them from a photo on their blog? Or maybe I recognize them from real life and OMG now what do I do? If I say hi will I be outing myself as a blogger? Wait, I am at a blogging conference, obviously I am a blogger. What the hell am I doing here anyway?
The decision to attend this year's BlogHer conference was very difficult to make. Not that I am that great with decisions anyway, but I really stressed out about how much it cost to fly there, pay for the hotel and the conference fee. Last year, I felt justified in being there because I had won the contest. I also felt an obligation to WhyMommy to get the most out of it since she couldn't come. This year, I initially didn't think it was going to work out. Matt's Iron Man Lake Placid race was taking place on the same weekend. But as the months wore on and it became clear that he wasn't going to race (too busy with work to train), I started
harassing Matt hinting that I'd like to go to San Francisco.
Finally, Matt said I should go because it was what I really wanted and I could consider it my birthday gift. I immediately felt so guilty I was sick to my stomach and couldn't sleep. If I went, I'd feel extravagant. As if I was wasting his hard earned money. I don't contribute any money to our family income. **edited to explain that Matt does not consider his income, "his" money, it is ours. He does not tell me what I can and cannot spend money on. We just so happen to not have a lot of money right now, for many reasons. What I wrote reflects my guilt about not contributing, which I think is a fairly common feeling for SAHMs, especially those that used to make a decent living. Regardless of how much money we have available, I still have trouble spending it on anything besides house and kid stuff. That is all.
I am an inconsistent and not very good blogger anyway. But I followed through, made my reservations. I don't spend much money in general so I justified this big splurge as an adventure. There was also a nagging feeling that if I didn't go, I'd be severely disappointed. Missing out on one of those life altering opportunities.
The first panel that I sat in on at the conference was MommyBlogging: Is MommyBlogging Still a Radical Act? When I first saw that Mommy Blogging had its own track, I was excited to hear more about the issues that were touched upon in 2007. I knew the regular, high profile, MommyBloggers would be there to chime in. I generally agree with Her Bad Mother and Mom 101 and certainly enjoyed hearing them speak last year.
As I listened to the discussion I wondered, well, what do I really think? Is Mommy Blogging a radical act? Last year I had expected the majority of bloggers to be Political Bloggers, but found out that a good percentage of attendees were actually writing about parenting. This year the sponsors included Sprout and LeapFrog. Mommy Bloggers had taken over. How can the majority be radical?
When I hear people say that they never knew being a mom would be so hard. That it would suck a lot of the time. I shake my head. Were they not listening? Didn't they have any honest friends or relatives? I knew plenty about the dark side of parenting by the time Scott was born. But if new moms were really that clueless, or in denial, than I am glad they have the internet to inform them.
This "lifting the veil" of the ugly side of motherhood, does not seem radical to me. There are books out there that expose how difficult it can be.
But I do think blogging itself is radical. Regardless of the topic. Because blogging is, in its purest form, about capturing the moment. The immediacy. About being able to find a post that speaks directly to you at the time you are experiencing something. And about connecting with the author. Sharing your story and offering support. A place for anybody to write about anything.
Especially blogging for someone like me. I am not a writer. I have no training as such, having avoided all writing courses in the past, including typing. But I had a story to tell. I realized this forum was the perfect, really, only venue, where I could put myself out there and people could find me.
I quickly learned that I had just as much, if not more, to gain from reading what other people wrote.
I don't think of myself as a feminist. I am a rules player. I was a business major in college and have towed the line, followed the path through adulthood as expected. I am not boring, just a regular person. But I've always dreamed of being part of something more important. Cutting edge. A phenomenon that brings the regular people to the forefront.
I am still more comfortable remaining semi-anonymous here in the blogosphere. I want to write honestly and not be constrained by knowing that people in my real life might read.
As I was deplaning (a funny word I wanted to work in), I looked for the woman, Kristen. She was meeting Nina, a real life friend met through blogging. The BlogHer magic had already begun. Here were people I didn't know at all that I felt an instant kinship with. On the BART train we hooked up with the absolutely lovely Flutter. At every turn there was another person, another meeting. More on all the people in another post.
Blogging and going to BlogHer lets me mingle with other bloggers, each radical in their own way.
I get to be the person I want to be. The one who takes chances.
My own radical.
** If it would just stop thunderstorming here and I could get a decent night's sleep maybe I can write more about the amazing experience of BlogHer 2008. I am still recovering from my flight back to Newark where I arrived home at 3am on Monday.