Today I head to New York City for a two-day conference on blogging. Which is an expensive way to demonstrate that I take myself way too seriously.
As ashamed as I am of my misperception of reality, I am quite excited for this conference. The two days are jam-packed with sessions on writing, techy bloggy stuff, and social media. There will be thousands of other bloggers in attendance, and lots of sponsors giving away free stuff like Tide To Go and snack bars. There's also a line-up of big-name speakers that you're going to think I'm lying about, but which is the God's honest truth: Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Soledad O'Brien, Christy Turlington, and Malaak Compton-Rock (Chris Rock's wife). Also, some guy named President Obama. Given that I never took a class on writing, have no technical acumen whatsover, and haven't hobnobbed with Presidents in AGES, I'm hoping to learn a lot and get offered one, if not multiple, cabinet level positions.
The only downside to the trip is that I'm going alone. Me, in a sea of 4,000 other people (mostly women). That part has me terrified.
Over the past month or so, the conference organizers have been stuffing my inbox with event updates, information, and checklists. Some of these communications have been directed to conference "newbies" like me. They blah-blah-blah about all the friends I'll make, about how the conference is about learning but also about bonding with fellow bloggers, about all the fun parties that will happen after our daily sessions. There was also an essay titled "What To Wear."
God in heaven, I've signed myself up for middle school all over again.
I lost middle school.
One version of my hell is simply being returned to middle school. Now I've signed myself up for just that experience. Indeed, I am PAYING to have just that experience.
I spent middle school wearing too much Liz Claiborne perfume and perming my already curly hair. I learned that I should be shaving my legs only when a group of girls teased me for not shaving my legs. I went shopping at Levinksy's with my mother for corduroys and knit sweaters, only to have my "boyfriend" dump me the next day, tarnishing my new outfit forever. I spent my time in class watching the interpreter sign to the deaf girls, thereby teaching myself sign language. Not surprisingly, my circle of friends looked exactly like my family tree (because the circle only consisted of family members).
Now I'm feel as though I'm re-entering that lion's den. In my mind's eye, I see 3,999 women mingling in a large ballroom. They're perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, and perfectly fit. Each of them is clutching the book they've just written, and their business card is several layers thick, as it lists all the writing accolades they've collected over the years. I open the door to the ballroom, and the happy chatter stops. I've got 3,999 pairs of eyes trained on me. 3,999 brains registering the fact that I'm sweating profusely, that my hair is sticking out vertically from my ears, that my outfit is wildly out of fashion, and that there's a piece of toilet paper stuck to the underside of my foot. 3,999 readers who have checked out my blog and reviewed it as a crime against humanity. I watch myself tuck my chin into my throat, stumble over to a far corner near where a busboy is standing, and silently count backwards from 100 before I crawl under a table.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you envision the worst case scenario, then whatever actually happens -- even if it's pretty awful -- won't seem all that bad. This means that if someone sits down even near me at lunch, I'll consider myself a contender for Miss Congeniality. If someone even asks me how to spell "reserved" (as in, "for the cool girls"), I'll consider myself short-listed for a Pulitzer. And if someone tells me they like my earrings, I'll skip my way to the buffet line.
Hey, wait a second. Writing this has actually made me feel immensely better. Going into today, I was already confident that the substance of the conference would be strong. Having now broken down my very low standards for the social aspect of the conference, I realize that I've got a good shot at calling that a success as well.
Well, color me surprised. Middle school has come in handy after all!
By the way, one of the things I'm supposed to have ready for the conference is a one-sentence description of my blog. So that when I meet other bloggers and big-wigs, I can have a concise way to explain to them what I write. The one sentence I'm currently fly-specking is: "I write about lots of different stuff and sometimes I try to be funny and sometimes I am sentimental and sometimes I'm opinionated."
I'm not really sure that's my best work. I am open to suggestions.
(Unless your suggestion is just a list of all the ways I'm a disappointment to the Internet. I know some of you are at the ready to share that list, but I'm mostly hoping to present my blog in a positive light to other people. Some of you might call that "lying." I am going to let myself call it "marketing.")