I had the weirdest dream:
I’m sharing a couch in a hotel bar with “I Just Want to Pee Alone” NYT Bestselling Author, Jen Mann. Our conversation meanders from our mutual admiration for Hugh Howey to me giving her shit about the fact that her rental car has manual roll-down windows. We then somehow make the connection that I was in the PTA with a book blogger that she follows. The next thing I know, Kim Bongiorno (Let Me Start By Saying) is next to me dressed up as Urkel performing a “Dancing With the Stars” worthy number with Frugie from Frugalista Blog.
This dream is so much fun that I don’t want to wake up!
But this isn’t a dream.
This is Blog U.
When I signed up for the Blog U conference on a (wine inspired) whim a few months ago, there wasn’t even a schedule in place, let alone a list of presenters. All that was on the BlogU website was the registration form and this picture of Kim Bongiorno, Nicole Leigh Shaw and Kerry Rossow.
My fan-girl obsession with Kim Bongiorno seemed to be a good enough reason to fly half way across the country and miss my kids’ last day of school to attend the 3-day blogging conference so I put down my wine and filled out the registration.
As the months passed, and the details of the conference were revealed, it became clear that I should start making more of my career decisions after 2 ½ glasses of wine. In addition to Kim Bongiorno, the ‘faculty’ list now included Jen Mann (People I Want to Punch in the Throat, I Just Want to Pee Alone), Nicole Knepper (Moms Who Drink And Swear), Jill Smokler (Scary Mommy), Anna Luther (My Life and Kids) and Ilana Wiles (Mommy Shorts). And they were just a few of the amazing talents leading classes, (please see them all here.)
The excitement of the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented and successful women in the blogging world could only be matched by the thrill of finally getting to meet many of the bloggers that I have grown to admire and care for during my nine-months of blogging.
But there were still some doubts:
What would they be like in real life?
Would conversations still come naturally when there weren’t 1,000 miles and a computer monitor between us?
What if they didn’t like me?
Was this going to be awesome or was it going to be awkward?
Some of you, (okay, two of you), may remember one of my very first posts, “I’m a Facebook Girl Living in a Twitter World”. The post is about how terribly overwhelmed and nervous I was about trying to ‘break in’ to the world of blogging. (And oddly enough, just as he did with my dream-like conversation with Jen Mann, Hugh Howey played a prominent part in the story.)
Here’s a brief excerpt:
“The first thing I realized was, Holy shit, I think every mom in the world has a blog, (and some of them even have two!) The second thing I realized was “Holy shit, I think all of these mom bloggers are all besties who have been partying together for years” and immediately felt like the new girl at the party who keeps wandering around trying to squeeze my way into a bunch of circles of conversation only to look down and realize I’m not wearing any pants. Super awkward, super humbling. I have been fortunate to make it through all levels of school without a socially awkward phase and at age 42 I thought I was safe….guess not.”
Coincidentally, the theme of the dress-up party that Nickelodeon hosted on Saturday night was #MiddleSchoolAwkward. I hoped that this wasn’t some cruel foreshadowing that all my fears from that original post would materialize during the conference
In one sense, it turned out that part of my post from back in September was correct: Many of these bloggers are besties who have been partying together for years.
Fortunately, the part that I had wrong was the belief that I would need to “squeeze” into their tight-knit conversations. The reality was that no matter how tight the circles were, they opened right up to welcome me when I arrived. They were friendly, generous, smart, kind and so damn funny.
As for the part about looking down and realizing I wasn’t wearing pants….that was also accurate, but only because I went and removed my leggings from under my skirt half-way through the Nickelodeon party after almost having heat stroke on the dance floor.
I originally intended for this post to be more of a true recap of my weekend at Blog U, but every time I started writing, I felt like I was trying to describe a dream: It wasn’t so much the individual moments or the events, it was how they all tied together to create a feeling that I’m simply not able to describe except with the word grateful.
Grateful for the weird inspiration, while brushing my teeth one night last August, which led me to start a blog about beginning a job search after 10 years as a stay at home mom.
Grateful that this new direction has given me the opportunity to meet so many new friends who share my interests, weird sense of humor and unusual combination of extreme-emotional-introvert/extreme-sharing-extrovert.
Grateful that I have a family that supports me (both with their love with their cash-money) so that when I suggested going to Blog U so I could spend the weekend with these new friends the response was an enthusiastic “you should totally do it!” (Except for my 9 year old, who continues to remind me that you’re not supposed to meet up with strangers from the internet.)
Grateful that after all my fears that the Blog U might turn out #MiddleSchoolAwkward, instead it ended up being #MiddleAgeAwesome.
And since a picture speaks a thousand words, I’ll let these do the rest of the talking.
Goodbye Blog U – I can’t wait to see you next year!
Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.
Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the upcoming books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.