Saturday, August 21, 2010

The BlogHer10 reflections of a very. slow. newbie. blogger.

OK, I’ve done it again. Let a post I “have” to write sit and simmer inside me, getting written and re-written over and over in my head and not feeling like I can move on and write anything else until it comes out.

And I have so many other short, sweet posts jammed up behind it that would have been timely “this happened today” moments but by the time they can flow, the “today” is no longer today and then it all feels weird turning the present into the past, losing the immediacy. See, this is how I tie myself up in unnecessary knots.

This is why I am such a damn slow blogger. I haven’t gotten the hang of it: letting the magic just be. This is the supposed beauty of blogging, letting what bubbles up, bubble up; shape it a bit and then let it go float out into the world: here it is, look at its beauty…pop…move on.

Maybe I am too old, old school, too tied to the idea that my words will live forever in the inter-ether. Maybe I’m too linear. I really felt like I had to get my BlogHer wrap-up post out (2 weeks ago!!!) before anything else can come. Kind of like… well… if you’ve ever had kids, and they’ve ever eaten too many bananas…. I don’t need to elucidate the analogy, but let’s just say it will feel good to get this out and move along.

So, unfinished, raw, barely still relevant: Here is my BlogHer10 Post-mortem-wrap-up post. For those of you with no interest in this world, I once again beg your forgiveness for this navel-gazing blog post about bloggers and blogging and my experience at the weird, wild, wonderful thing that is the BlogHer Conference.

It’s over, and after this post I will seal my lips, never to speak of it again… until next summer that is (but that’s a really long time away, honest) and it will be safe to come back and read me after this, really.

Let’s start off saying that the reason it has taken so long to get this thing off the ground is that I had an odd, strange, mixed bag of an experience at BlogHer. I had some amazing moments. I didn't mope. I had a generally great time. I don’t really know what more I was expecting, magic, maybe? And it didn’t quite happen for me. And I know for a fact that it wasn’t the conference, it was me.

I managed to be in the right place at the right time, much of the time, like here, in the women’s room outside the People’s Party on Thursday night.

I walked in, introduced myself to Jenny, The Bloggess (helps that I am no longer shy) hugged her, and hung out while Annissa and a few dozen others slowly filled the room. It was awesome, and yet…

I met up with some amazing women that I had only known online before, like Sandie, aka UrbanMama (who also blogs about grief, although we mostly gossiped about movies) and many, many more…

I met some amazing women I had no idea existed until I met them at the conference, like Christine Moers who became fast friends with my new friend Sandra, the kind of connection I have always made at conferences, but not this time…

The beyond lovely and talented Karen of Chookooloonks wrote on my arm: “Evolving” because I was definitely a verb, not a noun, in a thorough state of flux …

The special needs parenting community was fierce, starting with the “Blogging Autism” panel, the first morning. Meeting and connecting with BlogHer special needs parenting editor Shannon Des Roches Rosa of Squidalicious, and Stimey, and Ellen, and Julia, and... (too many amazing women to name here, see Shannon’s post) was a definite higher than high point…
Suddenly, Neil was there, and I was shocked, knowing that he had gotten the call that his father-in-law had died just as he was about to board his plane from LA a few days earlier. He looked a little shell-shocked himself, and has written his own “there and not there” post about the conference. Reading it, I realized that even though it’s been almost six months since my father has passed, maybe I had still not been quite ready for the big noisy happy...

I went to a lot of parties. I had fun. I danced. But not with wild abandon, not like I meant it…

I was standing next to Jory, 4 feet away from Greyson Chance as he charmingly sang his heart out….

It was an AMAZING conference, and I am so glad I went. But I was not completely inhabiting myself. I have never felt so present and remote at the same time. It was like this photo:

There, but with something between me and what’s right in front of me, and a bit out of focus, to boot.

I have been worrying at this tangled mess ever since, picking at threads, trying to figure out why. Part of it was that going home to my own bed and family every night left me out of that “being out of place and time” magic, kept me too tethered to my real life: lunches to pack, children to kiss and cling to me, husband anticipating me home at a certain hour.

And the Sunday after, when the city was everyone’s playground: my kids owned me lock, stock, & cranky mommy barrel.

But that can’t be the whole answer.

I don’t know if I bring all of myself to anything these days. Part of me is still in that little room holding my father’s hand, watching him die a little more each day.

Part of me is still sitting in the little room where they first tested Jacob six years ago, where the psychologist asked if I noticed that he climbed on me like I was furniture, that he didn’t seen to care when we called his name, that in spite of the obvious joy that suffused him, that’s not the same thing as relatedness; the room where I was told that my happy, loving boy was not just speech delayed, not just “dreamy” as a rather useless speech therapist had reassured me, but was actually Autistic.

I leave parts of me behind in so many places, and silly me, I forgot to pick them back up again, finding myself rather less than my full self for some time now. And it took BlogHer to make me see it.

And I could blame it on the ADD, but that’s too easy. And I know, now, I need to gather those pieces up and stitch myself back together. I’ll need a few patches.

There’s going to be some hot glue involved. Maybe even a little wholesale reinvention. But that’s what they made the internet for, now, isn’t it.


  1. I did not make it to BlogHer, so am still reading this posts with eagerness!
    I love that you took your time to digest your feelings and write from the heart. It is very hard to live in the moment, yes? I learned a lot about you from this post! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I wonder where I got that beer from. I think I must have stolen it from Jenny?

  3. @ Miss Grace -- you know the one thing that bathroom was missing was its own bartender. I was told someone (Jenny?) had actually asked and was told "no" by the Hilton. Bastards.

  4. Varda, it was a gift to meet you. I had no idea the meat of your story, but knew I adored you. Maybe I can smell fantastic ... ness? Or maybe you just had on some really yummy lotion.

    When I first realized the extent of the trauma within my most recent two adopted children, I was in a complete and utter fog for almost two years. I could parent them this very intense, very specific way, or ... one of them could very well end up being the next Son of Sam. NO PRESSURE.

    It clouded everything. I existed, but never stopped thinking of it. Ever. Like ... ever.

    I understand. Just letting it be what it is, when it is, for as long as it needs to be.

  5. I know exactly what you mean when you say little bits of you have been left behind, I feel like a reflection of myself sometimes rather than 'me'. Jen

  6. Varda, oh was it good to see you. I love reading your work, then seeing you was a quintessential BlogHer moment. As someone who has experienced grief during decidedly happy moments I know that feeling of being outside oneself looking at you having a good time. It's still a good time; it's part of the process. I'm glad you came.

  7. In response to your comment posted on Zippy Chix Chair Court blog, I wanted to follow up with a suggestion. Varda,

    Aside from blogging, I am an occupational therapist and work with chilren with autism. Although your son is limited in his verbal exchanges, I have often found it helpful to provide picture communication symbols as a means to communicate simple ideas and feelings. Both of your sons may gain some valuable information from each other by sitting across from each other with you or another adult to mediate the conversation. Simple phrases can be provided using sentence strips such as “I don’t like when you______(push, yell, insert action word here)” . The word to fill in can be a picture of a behavior that bothers either of your sons or can be a list of spelled words on velcro…depending on your child’s reading skills.
    As simple communication exchanges are mastered, more complex exchanges can be added.
    You are right, in this instance an adult would have to model and prompt the exchange to facilitate problem solving, but over time this may help alleviate some of the fighting and yelling. Hope that helps, and if you ever need resources, feel free to contact me.
    I know you, being the parent, are more of the expert than I am, so I only offer this as an idea. You may not find it to be appropriate for your home. I hope you have a good school year ahead!
    Zippy #2

  8. I'm still mulling over what I got out of BlogHer... what happened... what it all meant to me.

    I had my moments of being in the thick of it... right place right time. Maybe my nerves got the better of me?

  9. Great post, I have read a lot about BlogHer and love that you took the time to digest and reflect.

    Havent been yet, am hoping to go next year. And then write a post like this one. Or just copy yours and pretend I went.... (kidding)

  10. I loved meeting you, Varda! I felt so scattered and rushed the whole time that sometimes I also had a feeling of disconnect. I felt I couldn't take a moment of downtime because I wanted to get the most out of my too-short visit.

  11. Hey, you! If it took you two weeks to write the post, feel better that it took me two weeks to slog through my reader to comment on it.

    It's interesting how different environments can bring seemingly unrelated emotions and thoughts to the surface, huh?

    It was an absolute joy to meet you at BlogHer. You were one of those people who kept popping up where I was and I loved that! Sandie/Urban Mama is one of my good friends. I absolutely adore her. I'm glad you were able to meet her.

  12. I think this will be me.

    There, but not there, as you so perfectly put it, with that photo.

  13. So are you going again this year? We did the Aussie version in March. It was surreal to be in the same place as all those bloggers. Thanks for Rewinding this Weekend x


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