I have always wanted to go to New York City. But I was also terrified to go to New York City. As I packed my bags and wrestled with sleep, a nervous ball settled in the pit of my stomach and wouldn’t leave, like when you’ve eaten too much queso, except that’s ridiculous because there’s really no such thing as too much queso.
It would be easier to just not go.
We paid for your trip. You’re going, whether you like it or not.
Travel itself doesn’t scare me. I like flying, and the people-watcher in me loves a good airport (side note: LaGuardia is NOT a good airport. It’s the asshole of all airports.). What made me nervous was being in a huge, scary new place. I get anxious about figuring out how to get from the airport to the hotel. Cabs, Lyft, Uber, creepy guys in suits who try to lure you into a parking garage. The sometimes optimist in me who tries to always see both sides of the story turns into a hardened cynic, totally certain everyone is trying to take advantage of me. No, I do NOT want a Rolex at good price, dear sir!
But I got a cab, thanks to the blogger I met at the airport who remembered there was a magical taxi stand around the corner that no one else knew about. I made it to my hotel, met up with my friends, and exchanged hugs and squeals. It all worked out fine and no one tried to mug me.
Last year, 2014, was my first BlogHer conference. I met a lot of people I had only known online. It was fun and surreal and exciting, but I felt like the in-law at a huge family reunion, following around my friends and allowing them to introduce me to people. I left the conference happy and full and very, very tired. That 2 hour time difference from central to pacific is no joke.
But 2014 me didn’t feel like the real me.
At BlogHer ’15 my friend Angela and I came across a booth in the expo hall for a company called My Intent, displaying simple and cool washer necklaces and bracelets. Pick a word, they said, a word that you love, a word that defines you, and we’ll stamp it for you.
I chose the word REAL.
Much hemming and hawing went on over this decision, and full disclosure, it only came to me because I found myself walking behind directly someone with the phrase REAL FOOD on the back of their t-shirt and my first thought was Hey, I like food! But then my second thought was Hey! Real! That’s my word! Because if life has taught me anything, it’s be yourself, and also to always go with the second idea that pops into your head.
This year, I felt REAL. I was myself. I felt comfortable.
I felt at home. At the conference. In the city. With my people.
New York City allows you to be another person, or at least another version of yourself. In New York City I was the version of myself that didn’t hesitate to run up and hug someone I’ve only met online. I was the version who made midnight runs to Ray’s Pizza, sitting and cackling with my girlfriends about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. I was the introvert who loved hiding in a sea of faces in Times Square. I could have sat for hours and just watched all of the amazing people passing through. Like this guy.
I’ve always strived to be real. But sometimes we need a reminder to stay true to ourselves and what we believe in. What I learned last weekend is that these women are creating some of the most important work in today’s media. I learned that I believe in so much more than I put out there. I learned that I stand for more than I vocalize, and maybe that needs to change. And I care so damn much about these people that share this little thing called blogging with me.
First up, I can’t believe I waited this long to attend BlogHer. Since I started blogging more publicly in late 2010 (I’ve been blogging since 2008), I’ve seen 3 BlogHers go by. At first I would say things like, “Too expensive,” and “I don’t belong there,” and “Who cares?” But as the conference rolled around, I certainly did care. And when I saw pictures of all my friends at BlogHer ’13, I was insanely jealous and bought my ticket for the next conference the minute they went on sale.
It’s hard for me to process my thoughts, because this was part conference, part vacation. I attended keynotes with amazing speakers like Arianna Huffington, Kerry Washington, Tig Notaro, and Jenny Lawson. I sat in sessions on publishing and parent-blogging. I love talking about blogging in all forms and fashions, and I had the opportunity to do that endlessly.
And every time I stepped outside, I practically shouted, “OMG, y’all, the WEATHER here!” Seriously. Amazing. Cool breezes. No humidity. I want to live in San Jose. Except the California air was not kind to my curls, so I went around looking like I was in serious need of a curl intervention.
I’ve been struggling here lately. In a session on parent-blogging, my friend Tonya said, “How could anyone ever stop writing about their kids?” And I admitted that at 6, 6, and 4, I don’t really write about my kids as much. Maybe there’s not as much new stuff going on. Or maybe I’ve just been ignoring my writing filter. Or maybe I’m so used to writing about my kids, I just can’t figure out what to write if I’m not. Because stuff is ALWAYS going on. And I need to turn my inner voice back on that wants to write about it and squash the one that says “Are you sure anyone would care about that?” Because I didn’t start this blog for anyone. I started it for me.
I felt like I belonged, which is hokey and silly, but whatever. It’s encouraging to hear that personal blogging still has a place in the internet, in the midst of so much “A monkey stole this mom’s minivan. What happens next will bow your mind!”
Best of all, BlogHer connected me with my people. It’s hard to justify the costs of a blogging conference sometimes, but I don’t feel like a single penny or airline point was wasted. Along with conference talk, I got to hang out in the pool, watch karaoke, and share a few cocktails with my blogging buddies and meet so many people that I’ve known online for years.
I stepped out of a session so I could give moral support to my roommate before she went on stage for Voices of the Year.
I gave up the chance to attend the LTYM Open Mic because I found myself in an impromptu conversation with a blogger I really loved, and I knew I wouldn’t get the chance again.
And I got to dance to music DJ’d by Rev Run of Run DMC, so you know. Your average, everyday mom experience.
And as we got up at 4 am on Thursday for my flight out, my husband kept repeating the mantra:
“The flight was $5. The flight was $5. The flight was $5.”
Did you attend BlogHer ’14? What did you think?
Also, thanks so much to the BlogHer team who worked so hard to not only put the conference together, but also to keep us all on the up and up via the Facebook group. So good to meet Melisa in person and see Momo again. I can’t wait to do this next year.
If you’re an avid blog follower, you likely subscribe to your favorite sites so you can keep up with their content. Some people get new posts in their email, while others prefer to use some sort of reader, a place where ALL of their subscriptions can be found in one place and filed into various categories. You can usually read directly from the reader, without even visiting the site unless you want to leave a comment or give the blogger the satisfaction of a pageview.
Until lately, THE reader has been Google Reader, because Google pretty much runs the world, and your blog reading along with it. But the Google gods announced earlier this year that as of July 1 2013, they would be sending their reader to sleep with the fishes, along with its friends Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Google+. Oh wait. We’re still trying to use that last one, aren’t we?*
That means that if you’re using Reader, you need to find a new method to corral your favorite content from around the web. Here are a few suggestions:
I just started using Feedly, and I love it like Claire loves her preschool boyfriend. Feedly allows you to import ALL of your current subs directly from Google Reader, so really you don’t have to do much of anything. I took it a step further and used it as an opportunity to clean up and unsubscribe from a bunch of subs that weren’t relevant to me anymore (not yours, of course).
Feedly shows images from the posts in your reading list, which is a nice improvement from the somewhat utilitarian looking Google Reader. I also love that they have an iPhone app, which Google Reader didn’t (although they did have one for Droid). Best of all, you can share a post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or email straight from Feedly. Really it’s the best lazy person’s reader.
Note: I had tried to unsubscribe from certain blogs over and over again in Google Reader, but they kept coming back like a bad case of herpes. I used to be in Blogger back in the day, and turns out I had to go in and manually unfollow all of the blogs that I had originally subscribed to through the Blogger dashboard FROM the Blogger dashboard. It wasn’t all that quick, but it didn’t take a whole afternoon, and my nice, clean herpes-free Feedly reader makes me uber happy.
I don’t know a lot about bloglovin,’ but I do know some who use it and like it. You can follow your favorite blogs and apparently discover new ones. Hooray! I haven’t signed up, so I really have no experience, but you should know that it’s out there. They also have iPhone and Android apps.
If email reading is your thang, feel free to sign up to receive all of your favorite blogs in your inbox. Most of them should have an email subscription option in the sidebar (mine is right over there…just under my social media icons, or enter your email addy below). I check my email so sporadically throughout the day, that any and all blogs would get lost until I had a chance to sit down and devote time to reading them, and that ain’t happening. But a lot of people prefer it.
Not only do I deliver my posts via my Facebook page, I talk all kinds of nonsense over there too. It’s fun. But while I definitely think you should like my page, I don’t recommend making it your prime source for keeping up with your favorite blogs, since Zuckerberg likes to play around with algorithms more than his…you know. Basically out of all of a page’s fans, only a certain percentage of people will actually see each post due to both timing and fancy Facebook math.
Some days I log onto Twitter and it’s nothing but #giveaways and #reviews and #noise. And the inspirational quotes….BLECH. But other days I log on and it’s tweet after tweet of great content from awesome bloggers and all of the sudden I have 30 tabs open on my computer.
How do you keep up with your favorite stuff from around the web?
*For a really interesting article on Google’s failed products, check out this post on the Failed Google Graveyard. Pretty interesting to see what they tried to get off the ground.
Time again for Old School Blogging! Come hang out with us at The Miss Elaine-ous Life. Side note: I recently got to meet Elaine when she passed through Austin. Her parents live like 10 minutes away from me. No joke! She’s so fun and has the most lovely Louisiana accent.)
What was one of your favorite shows as a kid? Why?
As a family we watched the Golden Girls. For me it was You Can’t Do That on Television. Double Dare. Mickey Mouse Club. Never ending reruns of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Growing Pains. I really loved He-man and Hulk Hogan. But I think my all time favorite was Family Ties. I had a mad crush on Michael J. Fox, and even printed out a God awful computer generated dot matrix greeting card (do you remember that program? Floppy disc, yo!) to prove my love.
Apparently I watched a lot of TV. ‘Twas the 80s.
Which actress(es) do you see on the red carpet and kinda wish you could be for a day (or three)?
I have a hard time with these questions because NOW, I don’t watch TV. For reals!
Okay, fine. It’s Tina Fey. All the way.
Which actor do you wish you could, um… hang out with?
I’ll take some Daniel Craig, with a little Kevin McKidd on the side please. And I have this strange, yet enduring crush on the hilarious and quirky Simon Pegg. So apparently accents are kinda my thing? (And if you only know Kevin McKidd from Grey’s Anatomy, he sports a lovely Scottish accent.)
If we’re going American, I’ll have the Jeremy Renner please. But only if he promises to stop making movies like Hansel & Gretel.
Don’t look at me like that, Jeremy. You know it’s the truth.
What is one (or two or some) of your favorite movies that you have seen in the last few years?
I have not seen enough movies worth writing home about. We just recently reinstated the DVD part of our Netflix subscription since the online streaming pretty much sucked for the over 5 set. My God I sound lame not knowing whether or not I’ve seen any good movies lately.
True Grit, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, Hunger Games…you know. The usual suspects.
I did get to watch some really great documentaries (I’m a sucker for a good documentary!) when we only had online streaming. If I had laundry to fold, I watched me a documentary. My favorites were Being Elmo (you will fall in love with Kevin Clash), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices (will definitely make you think twice about shopping at that sh*thole), and Bill Cunningham: New York (about the fashion street photographer who is like in his 80s and completely adorable. I wanted to adopt him.)
Who is one celebrity out there now that you could totally do without? That you wish would just disappear?
Starts with a Kar, ends with a Dashian. And any and all of the Teen Moms.
Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, who? What did you say/do when you met them?
Kind of? I rang up Ross Perot when I worked at a sporting goods store in Dallas in high school. I met Rhett Miller of the Old 97s at ACL Fest one year. I think I saw Matthew McConaughey at UT football game. It was a long way to see from the lowly student seats up to the fancy sky boxes.
Last but not least, I was lucky enough to be in the 2012 Listen to Your Mother Austin cast with Catherine Morris, an amazingly talented writer who you may remember as Julie from Dazed and Confused.
She’s so stinking adorable and sweet. I could just eat her up. But I won’t. You should totally watch her LTYM reading. Grab a tissue.
Which shows do you look forward to watching every week?
I only watch TWO shows right now! Told you I don’t watch TV. I watch Grey’s Anatomy when I can, and right now we’re getting into season 6 of Mad Men. And I am DYING for season 4 of Downton Abbey.
We watch everything online because after we cancelled our cable my husband never even hooked up our TVs to antenna. I haven’t watched live TV in almost 2 years. Possibly related: I waste a lot of time on the internet.
Now…I want to know which celebrity YOU want to “hang out with.”
1. How did your husband pop the big question?
Oh geez. This is a story, and not a very romantic one. It was December 2001. I had just graduated from UT Austin, we were apartment living, and both working retail. We had absolutely no money, and I was stressed about Christmas shopping, work, and life in general. We had plans to go see the Trail of Lights one evening, and I had some strong suspicions. But here’s how it really went down.
We went to see the Lord of the Rings (nerd alert! I love those movies), where my now brother in law told us about how he had proposed to Christian’s sister just a few days before. “That ring was burning a hole in my pocket,” he said.
“I know what you mean, man,” Christian said as he leaned across me to look pointedly at Scott. “Hey…I know what you mean.”
My husband…he is not a subtle one.
After the movie, we were at our apartment, I was still stressing, and right smack dab in the middle of our tiny, ghetto living room, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
I said yes. Duh.
2. What are the three most surprising things about married life?
- It’s not a fairy tale.
- It’s work.
- I never imagined I could be so incredibly close to a man that I wouldn’t think twice about pooing in front of him. (see the first point about it not being a fairy tale)
3. How did you find out you were pregnant for the first time?
I was crazy hormonal and unhappy and searching and tired. I cried all the time, for no reason. I broke down one morning on the way to work when I realized I had left my water bottle at home. So I took a test and then cried at the sheer terror of becoming a parent (yes, we were trying, but still…SCARY.).
I thought I was unhappy in my job, but turns out I was only growing 2 tiny humans. While being unhappy at my job.
My second time was not all that different, only totally different.
4. How did you choose your first baby’s name?
Oh I love talking baby names. Claire is named after my grandfather, James Clare. I adore the man, and I adore that name.
Rachel is named after my husband’s sister, who passed away from leukemia at the age of 17. I so wish I had met her.
I wanted to use both names so badly, so we toyed with the name Claire Rachel, or Rachel Claire. So thank goodness we had twins. Both names were meant to have their own limelight, you know? Gah, I’m such a sap.
5. Describe where you see yourself 10 years from now…
10 years? I don’t even know what I’m doing 10 minutes from now. (Side note: 10 minutes from now, I’m still working on this post. I came back from the future to tell you that.)
In 10 years I will have TWO fifteen year olds and a thirteen year old. So I will likely be in the nut house.
6. Describe how you find bliss either by using words or images.
I find bliss when I hit my bed in the evenings. When my husband and I settle in to watch a much anticipated movie after the kids have gone to bed. In those rare moments when we’re out and about with our children and we suddenly realize we’re acting like a family instead of a pair of zookeepers corralling a pack of wild animals.
But nothing — NOTHING — compares to the bliss of my husband getting up in the morning, going out to shush the OMG SO ENERGETIC kids, and shutting the door behind him. Sometimes Mama needs her sleep, amirite?
Oh, and also this.
***Winners of the Name That Kindergartener Contest have been contacted! Check out the new collage below for the answers, and thank you for playing!***
Let me tell you a few things I remember about kindergarten.
I went to a very small private school that had a pool, horses, and a badass roller skating rink, complete with skate rental. What, every kindergarten doesn’t have that?
My teacher’s name was Miss Barrow, which we remembered by calling her Miss Wheelbarrow. She had the most fabulous Farrah Fawcett haircut. I thought she was so pretty. She got married during the school year, but I can’t remember what her new name was for the life of me.
Everyone always wanted to visit the listening station with the record player.
I could read, and none of my other classmates could, which I totally didn’t understand.
I struggled as a lefty. It seemed there were never any left handed scissors in the room, or if there were, they were rusty and falling apart because safety is totally first in kindergarten. I remember crying one day at my desk because I had immense trouble cutting out a beard for a creepy leprechaun project. Everyone else had already left the tables to move onto the next activity. To add insult to injury, I couldn’t get the damn beard glued on straight, and I pitched a little kindergarten fit. And thus my craft perfectionism was born.
This one time I found a square of green tissue paper, and during reading time I thought it would be funny to fold it in half and line my mouth with it. Until the teacher told me that now my lips were all green and I needed to go outside to the water fountain to clean it off. #embarrassing
Seems I remember some weird things about kindergarten, right? Well in the spirit of kindergarten reminiscing, some blogging friends and I present:
It’s simple – just match the picture with the assigned letter to the blogger whose blog is listed below. Other than getting to know us all better and having a good laugh at our awesome photos, you could win a $300 Amazon gift card!
Here’s my before and after:
Enter your answers here on this Google doc. Now go play! That $300 is calling your name…
Participating bloggers, in alphabetical order:
Angela of Angela Amman
Angie of Angie Kinghorn
Deborah of Ask Doctor G
Robin of Farewell Stranger
Poppy of Funny or Snot
Leigh Ann of Genie in a Blog
Greta of Gfunkified
Jennifer of Jennifer P. Williams
Tonya of Letters for Lucas
Kiran of Masala Chica
Laura of Mommy Miracles
Natalie of Mommy of a Monster (and Twins)
Brittany of Mommy Words
Jessica of My Time as Mom
Kimberly of Reflections of Now
Tracy of Sellabit Mum
Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life
Sarah of The Sunday Spill
Galit of These Little Waves
Kristin of Two Cannoli
Arnebya of What Now and Why
Kristin of What She Said
Alison of Writing, Wishing
Terms and conditions apply:
- You must be 18 years or older to enter.
- This contest is only open to residents of USA and Canada.
- This contest is open from March 11 – 15, 2013 (closes at 9pm Eastern).
- Visit the link above, where you will be able to enter your guess for each blogger pictured. (All information will be kept private.)
- The first person to correctly match all the faces with their blog will win a $300 Amazon gift card. The two other closest guesses will each win one $80 Amazon gift card.
- If more than one person correctly matches all the faces with their blogs, we will randomly pick a winner via random.org.
- If no one guesses all the faces correctly, the winner will be the person who made the most correct guesses.
- This is not a sponsored post. Prizes are paid for out of the participating bloggers’ own pockets.
- You CAN enter more than once!
- Winners will be announced week of March 18.
Name That Kindergartner” was inspired by the “Name That DIY Blogger” contest, over at My Blessed Life.
You know when you’re young and fresh and 18, heading out on that big adventure called college? Leaving home for the first time, we felt like we were making the leap into adulthood.
I’m reliving those days a bit over at Letters for Lucas, where Tonya has graciously asked me to share something for her Letters to You series. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and reach out to my young, naive (oh so naive!) freshman in college self. I’m not a huge fan of letters to our younger selves. I think they’re a bit overdone sometimes. But I found I had a lot to say to myself. Mainly, don’t accept that piggy back ride…
I can’t believe we are winding up 2012 already. Seems like just yesterday I was still trying to write 2011 on everything.
What I found interesting about 2012 is that I don’t really remember any of it. And maybe that’s because I took less photos to jog my memory? I’m not sure. I just know that when I recapped 2011, it seemed like I really had a good memory of each month, and here? Well, I’m lucky if I remembered to feed my kids.
I also went through some uncertainties about my writing for 2012. Looking at the big picture, I didn’t really think I published much of merit, and maybe I didn’t. But as I reviewed my posts to choose my favorites — and I really do choose MY favorites, not my most popular according to stats — I had a hard time choosing just one or even just two. So I guess I really did like what I had to say this year, even if no one was reading.
Let’s start off with January. At the start of the new year I started writing part time for Free Fun in Austin. Feels good to work my brain a little. And she hasn’t felt the need to fire me yet, so there’s that.
Fave posts of the month: The One Where I Emerge as the Nerdy Old Person, Is Motherhood Really the Hardest Job on the Planet?. I also did a guest post for my friend Missy at Wonder Friend about The Ultimate Housecleaning Checklist. Being on of my most shared posts evah, I think it’s worth a click over.
February brought Zoe’s second birthday. She’s always looked so babyish to me, but I can clearly see the changes in her over the past year.
March is always lovely here in Austin. Spring came super early this year and we were already getting in the water I believe. Sometimes even the toilet water.
Fave posts of the month: Soften the Blow, along with And That’s When I Knew it Was Time to Hide the Plungers.
In April we borrowed a Tahoe and took a little road trip down to SeaWorld San Antonio, courtesy of the fine folks at Chevy. The park was fun, but all my girls really cared about was the hotel pool. I also started contributing for This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff, where I get to…wait for it…make fun of stuff! Actually we do funny and honest product reviews, DIYs, and recipes. It’s a really fun site and team to be a part of. Last but not least, I was honored to be chosen to take part in Listen to Your Mother Austin, along with 14 other incredible writers. I know the word amazing is totally overused, but it was amazing.
May. Preschool let out. I knew it was going to be a long summer up ahead. We joined the YMCA to give us something to do and to save my grass a little from all the water toys. It didn’t work. For the grass, that is. Also, I killed Pearl, my poor Mac.
In June we had a little staycation opportunity in nearby Lakeway, where we learned we are not near fancy enough to even eat hamburgers in Lakeway. Still an awesome time. Oh, and it was hot. Go figure.
July was still wicked hot, but we braved the YMCA pool often. Swimming lessons with twins were SUPER fun.
Fave posts of the month: Around the Bonfire: Cut the Kid Talk (a guest post I did for the lovely Gigi of Kludgy Mom), and Swimming Lessons! Or something of the like, where I try to make you feel better about your life.
Oh look! August was still hot. I’m telling you, this was the longest summer of my life. I love my kids, but by this point, being home all the time with them was driving me crazy. It was too hot to do anything NOT in the water, and taking 3 kids to the pool was doable, but kind of stress inducing. I didn’t realize it until later, but I really did start to get a little depressed and anxious towards the end of summer, being together all the time.
Fave posts of the month: It’s Just a Thing, where I realize something I truly treasured had been destroyed, If You Should Ever Meet Me, my answer to my extreme BlogHer envy, and Anatomy of a Photo Shoot.
In September the big girls started their second (and last!) year of preschool. I repeat: This is their LAST year of preschool before they start kindergarten. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. My husband and I also got a lovely night away at Austin’s oldest and fanciest hotel, The Driskill. Big thanks to my MIL who was visiting and volunteered to take care of the kids. I don’t think she’s quite recovered, but I know she loved every minute of it. This is also when I got my iPhone, so that along with my not really having a computer to call my own, I started picking up my DSLR less and less.
October always brings my birthday and Halloween, but this October was better than most. My husband and I completed the Austin Tough Mudder challenge — his second, my first. There is hardly a thing I stare down now that I tell myself I can’t do. Certified Badass.
Fave posts of the month: Tough Mudder Austin: the Course, the Takaway, and Lots o’ Photos; Do You Oxford? (grammar and marriage…a dangerous combination)
November was sugar and spice. My girls took Daylight Savings Time hard this year, but things eventually came full circle, and they stopped waking up at 5 a.m. Then, Thanksgiving (in Instagram photos)!
Fave post of the month: Because That’s What Mommies Do? Part Two
December has been pretty mild until these last few days. We Texans don’t do cold well, I’ll tell you that.
Christmas this year was really fun. The girls got the concepts more, both the true meaning of the holiday and the secular. We took photos of their most sought after toys to send to Santa in leiu of writing letters, because ibviously Santa has an iPhone too. Probably a 5, the jerk.