Posted by: Hannah | 10/07/2013

first impressions

I don’t know where to start.

I’m exhausted but energized. I’m inspired but stifled. I want more people to read my writing but I want to change the whole blog and start over again from scratch.

I keep wanting to be cynical and snarky but then I think no, be positive, you were mostly positive all weekend and it felt nice, and you smiled a lot, so knock it off.

I feel like I need to stop spinning my wheels and take some chances. Dust off the old journalism school skills and try pitching some stories. Finally stop saying I wish I could write a book and just write the goddamn book. Use Twitter to connect to more people. Take more pictures and share them.

Then I think about some of the posts here, posts that I wrote when I was angry, or burned out, or depressed. Posts that were not kind, or nuanced. Posts that were me ranting. I don’t want some of those to come up again. I’m feeling like I need to purge. But then that feels dishonest because at the moment when I wrote them it needed to come out and what the hell, where is the line between expressing my voice and splattering shit all over the internet?

So. Things may start changing here, although I don’t know that for sure, or what form that will take. This is not a warning that I’ll be all sponsored-posty up in here. The bloggers I met this weekend that I was most impressed by were Elan Morgan and Julie van Rosendaal. They blog, and their blogs look great (note to self: spend some money and get a personalized blog design), but it is their other projects that they are known for – books, speaking engagements, articles. It was so affirming, to hear that. I see the sponsored-post type bloggers and if they can find personal & professional satisfaction from that I am happy for them, but it’s not for me. I don’t ever want this space to turn into a sponsored post-a-thon, but I have decided now that I want a blog that I can be completely proud of. This is not 1999 and this space is not LiveJournal. I need to adjust accordingly.

Before you think I drank the sparkly-tiara Kool-Aid – not everything about Blissdom was good. In fact the first day started off feeling suspiciously like a complete waste of time except for the pure joy I experienced finally getting to meet Nicole and Allison (and it was joy, because they are thoroughly delightful, funny, warm, generous people, in case you ever wanted to know).

The opening keynote was incredibly polarizing; people either loved it and saw nothing bizarre in Eric Alper’s assertion that “bloggers are the heroes of the modern world”, or they thought it was self-aggrandizing cheerleading that was creating a roomful of egomaniacs. I fell into the second category. Blogging is not special. The very fact that 400 bloggers were at this conference underlines that. Being a blogger does not make you a precious snowflake. Shortly after the keynote address started I got the giggles – the horrible giggles that happen when you are at a funeral. I was exhausted and over-stimulated and terrified that the whole conference was going to be like Bill Maher’s Republican bubble – a bunch of like-minded people telling each other how fabulous they were, probably while wearing tiaras and using flushable wipes.

I think I only lasted five minutes in the one session I tried to attend after lunch. The meeting room was overcrowded and hot. I felt claustrophobic. The information was really basic. I made my escape and headed for the hot tub. After all, one of my reasons for going was to rest and relax.

The afternoon keynote was about being responsible on social media, and one of the speakers was Glen Canning, Rehtaeh Parsons’ dad. Sorry, no. Cut too close to the bone. As a resident of Halifax, I’ve been living with that story pretty well continuously for months now and I just did not want to hear it again. I know a lot of people spoke very highly of the session but it just wasn’t for me.

Oh, and the sponsorships! One thing I learned this weekend is that corporate sponsorships can either be brilliant, or a disaster. Not brilliant – the bathrooms were sponsored by a company I bloody well refuse to name but you all know who it is because they keep trying to get a hashtag discussion about adult toilet time to be a trending topic. There were huge posters in every stall telling me that for maximum effectiveness I ought to be using first a wipe, then regular toilet paper! OH MY GOD NO. The conference talked a lot about being “green” but that message totally conflicted with that sponsor. It was… just dumb. I found myself going back to my hotel room just so I could pee without having a commercial inflicted on me. On the flip side, Canadian Lentils sponsored a lunch on day 2 when everyone was starving and that was sheer genius. People raved about the lentils and everyone got a free package of lentil soup (just add vegetables!) and the centerpieces were beautiful glass jars full of lentils that we were encouraged to take with us… I’ve been tweeting about lentils, researching lentil recipes, and otherwise doing exactly what the Canadian Lentil people wanted since Saturday.

HATS OFF TO LENTILS, IS WHAT I’M SAYING HERE.

But! I cried twice. I CRIED. Me. Good lord. Jully Black performed live on Friday night and that was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. That woman turned me inside out. I ended up kicking off my shoes and dancing like a mad thing, and it was outside so it was cold and it turned out I was dancing on a bunch of broken glass and I was so transported that I didn’t notice until I got upstairs and saw that my foot was bleeding. I cried at the show from the sheer overwhelming feeling of letting go. I really did dance like no one was watching, and it felt so good.

Then when Schmutzie gave a short talk during the power hour on Saturday, BOOM! I cried again. Here are the slides. When she said “it is not a failure to be in the middle of your story” I just lost it, and sitting here now I am welling up again. Because I have been feeling like a failure, at so many things… I don’t have words for this yet and I will be coming back to it in the weeks ahead.

Bottom line? I had fun. I had so much fun. I learned a tremendous amount and I spent the whole entire weekend outside of my comfort zone. I pushed myself and was rewarded. It was more than I’d hoped for, different than I expected, and transformative in some deep ways that I haven’t fully processed yet.

I appeared in public in my pajamas and I LIKED IT.

I appeared in public in my pajamas.       AND I LIKED IT.

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Responses

  1. Thanks so much for posting the link to the Schmutzie slides. I just loved them – even without hearing the presentation I think it’s a powerful message. So glad to hear you had a great time, wish I had been there too!

    • The presentation was pretty much exactly the slides – I think her whole talk was six minutes. Incredibly powerful.

  2. When I go to blog conferences, it is most often the people, the one-on-ones, that I carry with me after. Cott*nelle’s desperate to make a thing happen that runs against environmental concerns? I shake my head. #letsNOTtalkbums This kind of weirdness happens at every conference, it seems. I hope it’s a corporate learning curve.

    That aside, I had a brilliant time, and I feel refocused and recentered about what I want to do and why.

    And I got to meet you!

    • Yes, the ‘smaller’ the interaction, the more meaningful it was for me. The big keynotes just left me cold. But the cuddles on the couch outside the pajama party were excellent.

  3. HATS OFF TO LENTILS INDEED. Please see my next zillion YMC posts wherein I will be discussing lentils. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I FUCKING LOVE LENTILS. I loved them before but I love them more now.

    It was so great to finally meet. And see – I didn’t smother you in your sleep. I’m not a serial killer or ANYTHING.

    • And you’ll only use the recording of her snoring if you really, *really* have to…

      • And she actually *did* teach me how to tie a scarf. And she put up with me watching her do her hair in the morning because SO FASCINATING OMG.

  4. I read the “bloggers are the heroes of the modern world” bit and rolled my eyes so quickly and completely that my eyeballs got suck up inside my sockets for a good 60 seconds. WTF.

    Not that I’m trying to persuade or dissuade you in any fashion, but I am on my third blog and can attest that purging an online indentity and hiding away old posts is very invigorating.

    I love lentils, too! We eat them a lot. Here’s what I do: I take a casserole recipe, double the amount of vegetables suggested, half the amount of meat and replace it w/ pre-cooked lentils.

    • I have now purged a few posts that were just shitty & mean, and edited some other ones. I’m a little embarrassed by some things I found back in the archives. I need to make a Solemn Vow to never hit “post” when I’m still mad.

  5. I didn’t go to the conference, but I could very easily have written your first few paragraphs. I’m glad to hear that you had a good time and spent a lot of it out of your comfort zone. Knowing your limits and when to leave when something wasn’t working for you is a good spidey-sense to have. That hot tub session was probably way more valuable than any tidbit you could have picked up in the basic-level session.

    As for all the bumtalk, if you need a wipe *and* toilet paper, you probably aren’t eating enough lentils. 😉 Hope the hotel bathrooms didn’t get completely clogged up.

    Best of luck on processing all the information you took in. I’m hoping to do some vicarious learning through you and other attendees.

    • All I could think whenever I went in the sponsored bathroom was that story about the 15-tonne ‘fatberg’ of flushable wipes and bacon grease that nearly brought down part of the London sewer system. *shudder*

      I’ll share as much as I can about what I learned!

  6. Agh! I shouldn’t have read this in the middle of writing my post. Screw it, I’m just going to say “go read Hannah’s”. You did this SO WELL. You deserve a lentil biscuit.

    • Yours was lovely, too! And remember – you’re not fucking William Faulkner, Allison. You are YOU. (Thanks, Schmutzie).

  7. Don’t purge those rants. Relentlessly positive people are sick inside, I’m sure of it. Besides, a lot of famous bloggers are hilarious in their negativity.

    • I kept many rants, but anything that was pointlessly mean, or directed at specific people (see: clients), or that belittled children is now gone.

      • That sounds fair.


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