You guys, I am so sorry it has taken me this long to finally write about my experience at last week’s Mom 2.0 Summit in Houston, but, um, well … this is kind of embarrassing, so I’m just going to say it: I had to spend the week working off my bill at the Four Seasons. Yeah, there was this whole “I’m sorry, Mr. Scratches, but you can’t settle your account with your library card” incident, and the next thing I know, I’m changing sheets and cleaning toilets for five days straight.
Fuckers Bastards. (See? Mom 2.0 made me more marketing-friendly.)
So where were we? Oh yes: according to my crystal ball, Parallel Universe Daddy Scratches was destined to schmooze the Royal Women of Blogging, whom for so long he had admired from afar — knocking them dead with his witty repartee, bowling them over with his high-powered charm, dazzling them with his suave and debonair style. And Real-Life Daddy Scratches was jealous of the fantastical scene captured in said crystal ball, which looked something like this:
Yes, Real-Life Daddy Scratches would have been thrilled if, in this universe, his own experience had turned out even remotely as well as that suggested by the above photo, but … hey, wait a second … HOLY SHNIKES! That photo DID really happen!
Alright, here’s the scoop: I didn’t shell out hundreds of dollars, empty out my frequent-flyer account and travel halfway across the continent to attend a conference where I knew no one simply to lurk about and blend into the woodwork; I went there to BRING IT.
And so, there I am, at the Mad Men party, decked out as promised, and flanked by the lovely and vivacious likes of (l. to r.): Laurie Smithwick (Kirtsy and Leap Design), Susan Wagner (Friday Playdate), Loralee (Loralee’s Looney Tunes), Leah Peterson (Leah Peah), Alice Bradley (Finslippy), Heather Armstrong (dooce), Joanne Bamberger (PunditMom) and Amy Turn Sharp (little alouette and doobleh-vay).
And since men in black suits were in short supply, I also served as a prop for…
But my good fortune didn’t end there. Oh no. Why, the following night, Leah, Loralee, Julie Pippert (Using My Words), Colleen Pence (Social Media Mentoring and Baby Potential) and I made our way over to the spectacular “Mom 2.0: Defining a Movement” art exhibit at FotoFest … and when I say “made our way over,” I mean we, along with Heather and Rob Morhaim (Momversation), spent 20 minutes sitting on a parked bus before we all discovered that the reason it wasn’t taking us to the art exhibit was because we were on the wrong bus (I shit you not). After an equally ridiculous quest to land a cab in front of the Four Seasons (an act you’d think wouldn’t require divine intervention), I then rode shotgun and used Julie’s iPhone to guide the woefully lost and strangely uncooperative cabbie — whom, at one point, I essentially had to beg to just fucking trust me and TAKE A LEFT — to FotoFest, where the schmoozing continued.
But wait: Did I mention that, just prior to the whole bus incident, I educated Loralee on the wonders of tequila? This seemed like a FANTASTIC idea … until she tasted my margarita and decided she wanted one of her own … which would have been fine if not for the fact that tequila contains way more alcohol by volume than Diet Coke, the latter of which is about the strongest thing Loralee drinks.
Fortunately, Leah, the waitress and I all recognized the potential disaster that would unfold if we didn’t reign in our lovely, innocent friend, so when she ordered a second margarita (GAH!), the waitress brought most of the tequila in a tumbler on the side, Leah shot it right down like the booze-swilling pro she is, and I “tasted” the entire contents of that second margarita glass. Phew.
With that disaster averted, I was free to focus on other things … like my encounter with the endlessly charming Alice:
(Of course, Alice is far too kind to exude such hostility, even toward as deserving a target as myself … but imagine my surprise to later read that she is equally as intimidated by these types of social situations as am I.)
Thankfully, the lovely Ms. Woolf (Girl’s Gone Child) refrained from having me carried off the premises … which is why I subsequently was able to have a photography shootout with the effervescent Maggie Mason (Mighty Girl) …
Who won this digital showdown, you ask? Well, considering the positively BADASS photo I captured of Maggie and her spectacular hair, I think it’s pretty clear that EVERYBODY won:
Can you say “FIERCE!”? Because, if you can, you will never again, for the rest of your life, find a more appropriate time at which to utter that word than while looking into Maggie’s eyes in the above photo. Go on, try it. Right now. See? I told you so. FIERCE.
As if taking The Mightiest Mighty Girl Photo Ever Taken wasn’t enough to help wash from my mind the whole Alice/Rebecca gaffe, I then had the absolute honor of meeting Karen Walrond (Chookooloonks) and her family, whom Leah captured in this adorable photo…
And I will say more about Karen shortly, but for now, just take me at my word when I tell you that meeting Karen is like meeting the offspring of the moon and the stars and the sun. She is light and happiness and positive energy personified. Seriously.
But back to our story, which continues with our post-FotoFest dinner, where I
quite purposely situated myself fortuitously found myself seated near none other than Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, a.k.a. the woman whom my crystal ball predicted I would save from a choking death by administering the most spectacular Heimlich Maneuver in the history of obstructed airways … though she apparently doubted my powers of clairvoyance:
Skeptical though she may have been, my efforts clearly paid off, because she totally did NOT choke to death that night, and, as a result, was able to not only return to the conference on Saturday, but make a completely epic appearance during which the Mayor of Martindale, Texas (who, not so coincidentally, is the mother of Mom 2.0 organizer and all-around delightful person Laura Mayes (Kirtsy and Blog con Queso)) officially crowned Jenny the Czar of Nothingness … a coronation that never would have taken place had it not been for me and my preemptive approach to saving Jenny’s life. (You’re welcome, Jenny … you ungrateful shrew.)
Outside the restaurant after dinner, I decided to give the self-photo thing another try, this time with Julie, Leah and Colleen, all of whom I had to bribe into smiling by promising to secure transportation back to the hotel.
As you’ll soon see, the results turned out better than did the following morning’s photo with Heather, whom I grabbed as she was wheeling her luggage past me, which led me to believe she was heading home … and though I had managed to avoid photographically accosting her during the previous two days, I kinda felt like I should go for it, since getting a photo with the woman who inspired me to start a blog seemed worth the effort … plus, I figured if anyone would be understanding of a blogger photo-op, it would be Heather.
Unfortunately, unlike Bossy (woefully absent from Mom 2.0 due to a surgically induced and unexpectedly painful mummification problem), who has perfected the art of self photography, I am not very skilled at the whole self-shooting thing, and I accidentally pulled the trigger a bit prematurely, which resulted in this masterpiece:
Thankfully, Heather, being the delightful soul she is, suggested I take another, but this time I was hyperfocusing on the fact that holding at arm’s length a camera atop which was mounted a heavy external flash (which — bonus points — I decided to not use in a situation that clearly would have benefited from the additional light) while sporting a semi-hangover and having eaten little more in the preceding 12 hours than a dainty cinnamon roll was causing my camera-holding hand to shake, and then I started wondering if Heather thought my hand was shaking because I was a star-struck nervous tool (which, OK, I am, but that’s not why I was shaking), and I got so lost in my neurotic fog that I kinda forgot to smile, which resulted in this companion to the previous masterpiece:
And then I said, “Have a safe trip home!,” to which she replied, “Oh, I’m not leaving yet,” to which I replied, “Oh, well now I feel silly for accosting you on your way out of the room,” at which point she smiled, a gesture that I have chosen to interpret as one of magnanimous understanding, even if its true intent may have been to affirm the accuracy of my self-douchebaggery assessment. So thank you, Heather. I think.
After the conference closed, I found myself poolside with some of my new friends, among them Karen, who decided she wanted to shoot a number of us … and when Karen says, “Come here, I want to shoot you,” you move your ass, my friends.
Having Karen photograph you is an AMAZING experience. She casts a spell upon you with her words, and makes you feel like you’re the most beautiful and important person at whom she’s ever pointed her lens.
OK, so maybe the image on the right only serves to highlight why, when the dentist tells you at age 16 that you’re going to need to have your wisdom teeth removed, you shouldn’t wait until you’re 21 to finally do so … and perhaps it also exposes my long-kept secret about being a vampire … but my dental issues are no fault of Karen’s, and if revealing my undead status to the Internet is the price I must pay for having been graced with the privilege of her time and talent, then it was well worth a potential stake through my heart.
As if taking the time to photograph me wasn’t enough, Karen included me in her own Mom 2.0 recap at her blog, and another that she wrote for CultureMap, as well as in her newly launched life-list endeavor to shoot 1,000 faces … all of which feels akin to having a ray of sunshine break through the clouds and focus squarely upon me. (Thank you, Karen.)
Karen also captured this shot of me and Leah:
Which brings me to the mushy part: Up until the night before Mom 2.0, Leah and I had never communicated in any way. That night, she sent out a random tweet, in which she asked if anyone wanted to share a cab from the airport to the hotel. I have long been aware of Leah and her work, and I follow her on Twitter, so I threw my hat in the ring, figuring it would get lost in a shuffle of similar replies. I was pleasantly surprised when she took me up on it.
Heading into Mom 2.0, I had — save for a delightful encounter with Cecily — spent exactly zero minutes in person with any of the attendees. Believe me when I tell you that it is an intimidating prospect to attend an event like this without knowing anyone, especially when your XY chromosomes make you even more of an outsider than you otherwise would be (just ask Ron Mattocks of Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, whose presence at the conference I didn’t learn of until after the fact … a shame, since I could have used a supportive dose of testosterone). And while I would have understood if Leah wanted little more to do with me than to have someone with whom she could split her cab fare to and from the airport, I feel beyond lucky to say that, during the time between those two car rides, she became a true friend. I could not have found a better person to latch myself onto like a big, obnoxious barnacle, and I can’t thank her enough for not scraping me off.
Thank you, Leah. We’ll always have Panchito’s. (Yes, I just showed a total disregard for everyone reading this by referencing an inside joke that will mean absolutely nothing to anyone but Leah. That should tell you something about how much I think she rocks.)
And now, if I can zoom out for a moment, I would like to thank all of the women at Mom 2.0, especially those mentioned in this post, but also the rest of you, all of whom welcomed a big, smelly boy into your midst for what was a truly amazing experience. I learned a ton, laughed a ton and generally felt honored to be among you.
My biggest thanks goes to Wonder Woman, who was OK with me running off to Houston for a three-night stay at the Four Seasons without her, all because she supports my involvement in this public display of narcissism and neurosis known as “blogging.” (We’ll make up for it in Mexico, honey. And I don’t care what Julie and Colleen say: Despite its shady-sounding name and 18-plus age limit, the resort we’re going to is not some debaucherous, clothing-optional, swinger’s haven … I don’t think. I probably should have looked into it a bit more thoroughly.)
Now, the question is: Do I dare press my luck and register for this summer’s BlogHer ’10 conference? Hmmm…
[Click here for some more of my Mom 2.0 Summit photos.]