This post was supposed to be about a stuffed fish. But then BlogHer ’12 happened, and now the fish has to wait until next week.
BlogHer is the mack daddy of all blogging conferences. I was very fortunate to have it in my own backyard this year in NYC, just me and 4,999 other super awesome, mostly female bloggers. The President (of the freaking USA!) gave the opening address, it’s some pretty serious shit. There are already hundreds of blog posts floating around out there about the experience that was BlogHer ’12. I’ve read some really fabulous ones, like this post by my friend Ado over at The Momalog. Or for a different take on it, this one by Rock & Drool. The conference was simply amazing, I learned a lot, I was INSPIRED, I met an incredible number of really fabulous women, I drank a little too much, and had a blast hanging out in NYC with my sister Erin, who writes over at A Book for My Daughter. And… that’s about as much as I’m going to go into a recap of BlogHer ’12. If you want more than that, you can go on Twitter and search for #BlogHer12 and I promise you will find all of the awesome stories I mentioned.
I do have one very specific thing to tell you though, about something that happened to me at the conference, along with a bit of a back-story to give you some perspective.
My Funny is broken. Or maybe just very damaged. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but let’s just chalk it up to LIFE (i.e. pain, heartbreak, loss, fear, etc) I wasn’t actually aware that this tragedy had occurred though, until my boyfriend pointed it out to me. In just that way. Your Funny is broken. And my son completely agrees with him, though I don’t know if he remembers me ever being very funny. Maybe my Funny got broken when being Strong was all I could focus on? I don’t know.
I do have a sense of humor, though it might be a bit on the darker side. I laugh out loud, when something is actually funny. I’m not a big fan of most comedic movies, though I loved The Hangover, and anything with Dane Cook is just AWE-SOME. And intelligent comedy, give me that any day. I stopped watching sitcoms when Friends went off the air, and have only recently found an appreciation for them again through watching The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, which is a part of my boyfriend’s prescribed therapy to fix my Funny. See, he is really funny. And he really likes funny things. And he wants me to be able to appreciate those things with him, almost as much as he wants me to fix and embrace my own Funny.
When it comes to my writing, the stories in my head are funny, at least the tone I try to tell them with is, even if the content is not. Not haha funny, but the darker sort of funny that comes with life’s lessons learned. The kind of funny that comes from just having survived some bullshit or other. But I don’t think it translates very well. I mean from my head to my fingers, I think something gets lost along the way.
So, I’m working on it…
Following the Voices of the Year program at BlogHer ’12, Violence Unsilenced sponsored an Open Mic night called Listen To Your Mother. It was a spectacular idea, to give random bloggers a chance to read one of their own blog posts to an audience of fellow bloggers. There were three topics you could choose from to submit a post for: Life, Funny and Rants. Not that I cared, because I was just there to listen. No way in hell was I going to get up there on stage and read a post. Especially after listening to the women I was with discussing which posts they would submit, because I knew both of their stories and they were awesome! And funny. My stories are not funny like that. You know, the kind of funny that people want to hear after they have had a couple of cocktails and are out for a good time? And… I have this sort of enormous fear of public speaking. So it just was not going to happen.
But then, well, ugh. I realized that I was here, at BlogHer, to promote, celebrate and grow my blog, and I knew for damn sure that if I didn’t go throw my name in the hat I would regret it forever. And then I heard my boyfriend’s voice in my head, encouraging me as he does, in his own very unique way, by refusing to speak to me until I finish writing a post, or whatever it is that I am working on at the time. I imagined him sitting there ignoring me until I went up and submitted my name. And then I thought of my son, and the thought of him not putting himself out there for something he really cared about, because of fear, was just too much for me. So I did it. I felt like I was going to throw up the second the paper was out of my hand. And as I looked around and saw the room REALLY filling up, I mean, all the tables were full and people were sitting on the floor, wall to wall, I realized two things. There were a couple hundred people here maybe? And 15-20 of them would be picked to read, so my odds were really good for not getting picked. And O.M.G., this is a full house, and I saw more than a few members of mommy blogger royalty in the room, I seriously better not get picked!!!
I. Got. Picked.
I walked to the front of the room to wait for my turn. I focused on my breathing so I wouldn’t pass out, wishing that I hadn’t been so late for cocktail hour, and sat there praying that I didn’t have to follow someone really funny. The post I had picked was A Boy Making a Man’s Decision, and needless to say, there wasn’t much humor in it.
As it turned out, it was a solid combination of funny and serious blog posts that were read that night, and the one I followed didn’t cause mine to become a total buzz kill. Somehow I read the words of my post from my mobile phone without throwing up or passing out. I read it way too fast and without much emotion, or at least that’s the way I heard it in my head, but all I wanted to do was get through it, without going too far over in my allotted time of 5 minutes. I have no idea how long I took or how I really sounded, all I know is that I DID IT.
I left that room filled with emotion. My cheeks hurt from all of the laughing that I did at some of the stories. My heart hurt from the stories that made me cry. I was elated that I was able to get up on that stage and tell my story. I was also more determined than ever to find my Funny, to get over the shit that’s held me back, to heal the part of me that still couldn’t laugh as loud as it wanted to, for whatever reason. I was determined to find my true voice, and tell my stories with the humor from lessons learned, with the tone of those words as I hear them in my head, with laughter, and without taking it all so damned seriously.