I survived my conference!

I’m back from almost four straight days of socializing. Of leaving my comfort zone in the hotel room and actually introducing myself to people. My brain is still sort of spinning.

To back up a little, for those unable to keep up with my leap-frogging brain…

Last fall, I decided to sign up for a big deal blogging conference called Mom 2.0 Summit. I had read about it the year before, and how it seemed to be geared towards all sorts of bloggers, and that it wasn’t as huge as the other big blogging conference that shall go unnamed right now, and smaller seemed better. I decided I was going to take blog writing more seriously and to do so, I signed up for this conference.

Then I spent the next six months stressing about if I should really go. Luckily, my cute travel agent made all the arrangements at the same time as I bought the ticket, so there was no “forgetting” to buy a plane ticket or book a hotel. He also threatened to put me on the plan himself if need be.

The conference had a Facebook group for those of us going to chat beforehand. In my “go big or go home” style, I put myself out there, all over the page, with a “If you’re new and alone, FIND ME! I know no one either and am friendly!”

Go figure, that worked. Except I play it really cool sometimes, so when the one group of ladies passed by me in the lobby, I looked all calm and confident while scrolling through Facebook on my phone. But after walking by me, they doubled back. “Are you Phoebe?” And I made my new conference friends, and we three made sure that we constantly met up again for meals and the awards.

Quickly, I figured out I had chosen well for my first foray into the bigger blog world, because everyone was friendly. All I had to do was be friendly back. Or as my husband kept saying “Just be yourself. You’re awesome.” (He’s also been hired as my PR guy btw.) But still, I fought feeling self-conscious at times. It’s my MO. Didn’t help that I was in the land of the Beautiful People in California, and I am the antithesis of the California Woman (but damn if I don’t blend really well in Italy, so, you know, it’s cool.) And the more confident, successful ones of the conference were not the ones blending into the woodwork, but standing out proudly with their uniqueness – so by Friday, I was wearing my Ampersand Cat shirt proudly, and dancing in my Doc Martens at the awards show.

By Thursday afternoon (first full day of the conference) I could feel myself getting overwhelmed. So I walked down to the beach, stuck my toes in the sand, got my jeans wet with ocean water, picked up a couple rocks and just allowed it to calm me enough to get through the afternoon. But once down time hit again that night, I realized, I was done. I went to my room (even though I was invited out) and ate pizza and watched Netflix. My brain tried to tell me how this was all too much, and I tried to ignore it.

The next morning, I got up and babystepped my way through getting dressed and ready. I was not mentally ready, but I forced myself out of the room to breakfast. I stood at the buffet and this lovely woman looks at me and goes “You look stressed. Are you stressed?”

I said “Well, my prozac hasn’t kicked in and I haven’t had coffee yet.” Because I’m honest. Or filterless. Whichever.

“Would a hug help?” the lovely woman named Karen said.


And we hugged. Because you know what? When a person is stressed or flustered or whatever – reaching out to them and being a nice person is always helpful. Later on, I realized I was hugged and helped out by Karen of Chookooloonks. I am totally following her now.

After that, I found my groove. I went to a few sessions and suddenly I’m ready to podcast and write a memoir and then I made art with addyeB – aka A’Driane, the ONE blogger I was hoping to meet at this conference as we chat a lot on line. And wow, she is a beautiful soul, in writing and in person.

Yet after having a fantastic day, I went back to my room and suddenly the anxiety rushed me. I wondered, should I even bother going to the awards? But last year, they pulled out Andrew McCarthey to help out, and I am just too damn curious for my own good, so the lure of the surprise guest got me moving again.

Of course, this led to my near death experience because I slipped climbing into the shower, caught my leg on the very tall wall of the tub, and am now sporting a bruise the size of my hand on my calf. It also explained why the fancy schmancy Ritz had a bathtub mat rolled up, waiting to be used. Because damn, their tubs are slippery!

But I didn’t die in the shower of the Ritz-Carlton hotel room and taped my top on securely like a Kardashian, and made my way down to the awards, where I met another lovely person as we chatted about our barely name-brand outfits and avoiding the photo shoot on the red carpet. Yes. There was a red carpet. Where they took photos. We avoided that…but not the free champagne being handed out. And my two conference buddies found me, and we three made our way into the awards ceremony.

Where the emcee was Alfonso Ribeiro – I got to see Carlton do The Carlton! And halfway through the awards, he called for a dance break, Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” came on, and I got on my chair and danced, not caring who was watching. Because when that song comes on, dammit, you get yourself on a chair and dance! Anything else would be untrue to myself.

(BTW, Alfonso’s wife, Angela, also blogs. There’s you’re fun fact of the day.)

Yes, going to the awards show was totally worth it. As was the party afterwards, if only for the conversation with the Lego Dude who is a fellow South Side Chicagoan. He looked at me and said “Cubs or White Sox?”

I said “There’s only one right answer to that – White Sox.”

And we high fived and talked about how which Chicago baseball team has won a World’s Series (NOT THE CUBS) and the Sears Tower will always be the Sears Tower, and how even though they have passed away, my grandparents still vote Democrat in Chicago elections. Because Chicago.

And then it was all over but the taxi ride to the airport. Which was eventful for me when I opened my wallet and found that the hotel coffee shop must have mistook my $50 bill for a $20 because they gave me change for a twenty. Which meant in splitting the cab fair to the airport with three other ladies I totally just met, I was short a few dollars. And these women instantly were all “Don’t worry! We got it! This happens!”

And for a moment, I wanted to be horrified, because being short on cash is one of my anxieties. But I let it go. Because you know, I would be the first to offer to cover someone else who was short. I would have reacted just like they did if the role was reversed. So I promised to pay their kindness forward – because that I can do. That I shall always do.

Eventually, I arrived back into Seattle, where traffic had me cussing within five minutes. I pulled up to my house, and saw the curtains part. Maura was there, then she was flinging the door open. “MOM! YOU’RE HOME!!!!”

She ran out, the tiny dog ran out, the big dog ran out, the teens ran out to grab the dogs, and I herded my cats back into their pen, where Maura and I snuggled and watched cartoons for the rest of the day.

And so, I survived. I may have even thrived. I got through my anxieties and made some new friends and connections. I danced on a chair and ate two slices of really good cake. Because sometimes, that is what life is all about. Other times, it’s all about eating Chipolte on the sofa with your awesome kid as you watch Penguins.