August 31, 2010

Don't mock the Mockingjay (Spoilers, Ahoy!)

I have sent a little bit of my thoughts on Mockingjay to a few folks, but thought I would put it out here as well.  If you are one of the lucky hoards to whom I emailed recently, this will be a snoozefest.    Sorry 'about that.

For me, Collins completely and utterly delivered on Mockingjay.  I had high hopes for the ending and she did not disappoint.  In fact, I believe that Collins has elevated herself to premier author and I will be following anything else she writes here on out.  I am sold on her.  Done.

I thought it was appropriate that she ended up in District 12 and that overall,  the ending was brilliant.  It made sense with keeping Kat in character and was written in a tone that was slightly melancholy and with that usual reservation about her that ultimately carried throughout her life.  A person who has experienced such extreme loss at the hands of her own decisions should realistically not get a pitch-perfect ending because that would be trite and ultimately, undersell her experiences.   She bore full responsibility for being the Mockingjay - with all of the loss and triumph that it entailed. But mostly, the loss. 

Also, I was particularly touched with how Kat referred to her own children as "boy" and "girl".  It seemed that even in motherhood, she held her emotions in check for fear of being hurt, too invested.  Growing up in the era of Hunger Games shaped (or rather, squashed?) her maternal side and that did not change, even after peace was finally achieved and even after Peeta convinced her to have children.   It could also be argued that with losing Prim, Kat was never willing to invest of herself that much again in a child.  And who could blame her?

Ah, Peeta.....  Yes, I was on Team Peeta and yes, I loved that she ended up with him - it just made more sense to me.  He was the only person in her life who could bring her any measure of peace, I think (remember all of the rooftop scenes and "Peeta comforting her at night scenes" in Catching Fire?  They were the few moments in the entire trilogy where Katness seemed to be anything resembling "happy".)  Yes, happiness would be overstating it, but the description of "peace" fits for what Peeta could do for her. I did have more fondness with Gale this time around, but ultimately, I think he and Katniss were too much alike, both warriors both at war with their own hard edges.  She was never fully content with herself, with anything, when she was with Gale.  Even all of their times together in the woods were fraught with the background tension of them being caught or with the worry of the fence being turned on.  So, Peeta was the better fit for her.

I am not even sure where to begin with all of the ethical/moral ramifications of this series - a high school English teacher could have a field day with this.  I did appreciate Collins' portrayal of the Kat's inner dialogue and turmoil when it came to her decisions.

This series was emotionally brutal, yes brutal.  But also brilliant.  I am keeping this series and not selling it, I want my children to discover it someday as they thumb through all the other books I have kept for them.

August 26, 2010

Young Adult Lit Thunderdome:
The Hunger Games vs. Twilight

Note: There are absolutely NO spoilers about Mockingjay in this post.  If you want to discuss Mockingjay in any shape or form in the comments, please put SPOILER in large! gargantuan! letters and leave some leading blank space for good measure. Let's not ruin it for folks, okay?

I have seen various conversations and comments going on about the Hunger Games series vs. The Twilight series.  Which I find laughable, quite frankly.

Seriously?  The Hunger Games series vs the Twilight Series?

As I have commented on another site, there is no comparison. Well, not unless you are the sort to also examine the differences between the Sweet Valley High series and anything that Judy Blume has ever written. Francine Pascal and Judy Blume are both authors who wrote books that made you want to read, but Blume actually wrote things that made you want to think . Pascal just made you reach for your Bonnie Bell lip gloss and mourn being a teenager.  Ah, but I kid Jessica and Elizabeth, those wacky identical twins.

But.  Still.

The Hunger Games series is like Judy Blume - you will read, you will read again and you will think. Twilight was fun, oh sure. But there was not much substance going on there.

The Hunger Games?  Atwood-esque, speculative fiction set in the future that is action-packed with a delicious Love Triangle?  I am so there.   But!  Within a seemingly simple series lay some earnest questions.  How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Is it better to be loyal to a cause, or to one's self first?  If caught in a war zone, is it better to just run away to safety or to stay and fight the enemy?  If you stay, is it better to turn the other cheek?  Or to live by the old rule "An Eye for an Eye"? 

This is not to discredit Twilight for what it truly is: a fun romp through some typical teenaged angst, save for the special "sparkles".  And the vampires.  And the wolfpack with their six packs.  Okay, okay, perhaps Twilight was a little more unique than Sweet Valley High, after all.  I will grant all the Twi-Hards that much.

As a reader? I am fine with both series - both were entertaining, albeit offering different merits and quality of writing (Meyer is simply not qualified to hold Collins' inkwell.  Ahem.)

As a mother? It gets trickier.  I am totally down with difficult questions and serious material.  My own parents did not monitor my reading material and while I probably should not have been reading Sidney Sheldon at the age of 12 or for that matter, Gone With the Wind at the age of 11, I am still grateful they let me read whatever I wanted.  And I plan (or hope?) to do that with my own kids.

However, as a mother, I did have one major issue with the Twilight series - the violent, consensual sex in Breaking Dawn when Bella was still human.  Bella's insistence that it was okay, despite the fact that Edward was distraught with himself, really, really disturbed me.  I firmly believe it is incredibly dangerous to romanticize such a situation for impressionable young teenagers and I was so furious at those scenes that I put the book down and did not pick it back up for another 6 months.  I have to wonder how many mothers out there do not even know that their daughters read such scenes -- such graphic scenes that really should be discussed. Can I repeat?

Edward was contrite over the violence of sex and Bella still insisted it was okay.

Seriously folks, that is some extremely malignant thinking and you will have difficulty convincing me that violent sex ever belongs in a series meant for teenagers.  Ever.

Will I let my kids read Twilight if they want?  Yes.  Absolutely. 

And then, I will gently nudge them towards The Hunger Games.

August 24, 2010

And now, back to our regularly scheduled
programming of Perfect Parenting.

The last few weeks have not all been screeching and rending of garments.  There have been some sweet spots.

For example, we went to the Kansas City Zoo to meet Nikita, the new polar bear. Nikita seems aware of the fact that he is an official spokesbear for global warming and therefore, must be on his very best behavior.  He did not disappoint.  I believe that bear could charm the panties off a nun.

Nikita the Polar Bear at the Kansas City Zoo! from Kelli Oliver George on Vimeo.

We made construction paper monsters, then waited anxiously for Daddy to arrive. 
We hoped he would be too frightened to enter The House of Teeth and Tentacles.

We ate some late season cherries wearing our Official Cherry Stain Resistant Dress. The only piece of clothing she is now allowed to wear while eating cherries.  Ahem.

On Saturday, we went to the Lawrence Busker Fest!  We watched the guy from The Flying Debris Show do an incredible job - not only was he hilarious, but he was a damned fine juggler.

Arun fought for the honor of a damsel in distress with his balloon sword unsheathed.

We watched the Tribal Fusion Belly Dancing Troupe.
Pssst!  Look closely. 
Yes, that is what you think it is decorating her head.

We admired their tricked-out tip jars.

Even Anjali got into the mood.

 I took advantage of the lighting to get a snap of my son's gorgeous, jewel-tone eyes.

We watched a bluegrass band and admired someone's unique mode of transportation - a hand-welded contraption using two different bikes and a shopping cart. 

Damn, y'all.  I simply adore Lawrence, Kansas, a bright spot of Blue in a bloody state full of Red. 
Let it never become urbane or God forbid, normal.

August 23, 2010

Screaming in tongues.

This site is my Happy Place, the spot where I throw glittered confetti as I squee over my kids and this sweet life I have happened upon.  However, in this quest of keeping it light, I feel like such a fraud.  In reality, I am quite impatient and quick to anger - anyone who hangs out with me in Real Life on a consistent basis knows this.  Yes, I do think there is value in keeping things light around here on Rancid Raves - I want to remember the good stuff, not the fact that I often nag my kids and sometimes, sometimes, unleash my inner posessed soul that Screams in Tongues (or speaks in the Voice of Zuul, as my friend Jenny calls it)

Last week was one of Those Weeks.  Every morning, I would wake up and declare a Fresh Start, determined to keep my impatience and crabbiness on high alert.  By afternoon, I would fail.  Miserably.

How do the kids react?  Well, it depends.  If they have actually done something wrong (say, for purposes of illustration, they have marked every door in our house with a bright! red! X! as if it were Passover (my special punishment for taking a shower?)), then the kids get their act together quickly.  But the worst is when they have not really done anything wrong and I am just irritated.  When I scream, they look away and ignore me because they know I am just plain crazy and that ignoring me is the most efficient escape route.  As if to say, "Lady, you are insane and we know better than to engage."

I know that venting my anger is not healthy and actually serves little purpose.   I want to be one of those perfect moms I keep reading about - the ones who do not get irritated when her kids are just being kids.  The ones who have it all figured out.  The ones with endless stores of composure.  Dammit, I want all of the answers, too.

Anjali and Arun deserve it.

Do not fret, Team Chaos.  Someday, mama will have it all figured out.

August 19, 2010

Crossing lines as I am drawing them.

The other day, Amy posted a hilarious bit about Pillow Pets ( It's a pillow! It's a pet! It's a Pillow Pet!  Best advertising earworm EVER.)

In her post, Amy observes:
My kids have never been exposed to many commercials. Though only in the strictest sense of the word: I am fully aware that NickJr. advertises the shit out of other NickJr. shows and products under the guise of: 




Apparently, someone reading Amy's post missed the Satire and Parody Boat and instead, hopped on the Literal and Sensitive Yacht when they commented that they were miffed about the Anchor Baby reference.  Of course, me being me, I hopped on that chain gang and commented:

Dude, we have Anchor Babies and we LOVE our Anchor Babies. (They are particularly delicious when deep-fried). You should really think about getting your own Anchor Baby and quit mocking mine, Amy.
That said, my anchor babies have been denied pillow pets. I fear they will seek revenge by reporting Manoj's ass to the INS (or worse, Ari-FUCKING-zona), but we try to keep a close eye on them and limit their Internet access and phone usage. Anchor babies are a sneaky lot. Still, they are TASTY.

And then I went about my business.

But after awhile, I realized that perhaps, just maybe, my comment was also over the line and offensive.  It is difficult for me to gauge these things because Manoj, my own little Guest Pass into the Immigrant World, appreciates my twisted sense of humor and lets me push buttons - huge, gargantuan, RED buttons.  Therefore, while Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the Death Eaters at Faux News were decrying the salacious practice of birthin' babies on American soil to secure status here, Manoj and I were busy mocking such a stupid, ignorant proposition.

Quite simply, a baby does not grant you security in this country.  Ever.  And until Manoj is an American citizen, I will not rest easy with his so-called "permanent" resident status.  Period.  So yes, the concept of Anchor Babies is so very laughable - a joke with a myriad of simply irresistible punchlines.   And yes, to be honest, Manoj and I are the sort of couple who follow current events in lieu of religion and when fun needs to be poked at something, we are more than happy to Poke, Poke, Poke ourselves into giggles (remember the George Allen Macaca Debacle?  We had much fun with that one.) 

But I am my father's daughter - he taught me to make fun of everyone, including myself.  However, at times, I do take it too far and Manoj will not hesitate to call my pale posterior on the carpet over it.  For example, when he told me it was absolutely rude to tell people that my Catholic Indian husband was "Not Feather, Not Dot".  Apparently, it is acceptable to mock-complain that he does not do the Asian Head Bob or wear a loongi or babble in a sing-song, Apu-worthy accent.  It is also okay for us to giggle when it is clear that "Gary", our recent customer service rep at AT&T was talking to us from the sweltering depths of Bangalore.  And realistically, we will watch the new TV show Outsourced and at least give it a chance to tickle our wicked funny bones.  But that one bit?  The Not Feather, Not Dot bit was over the line and I must concede that my Guest Pass has restrictions, after all.

Still, I stubbornly maintain that deep-fried Anchor Babies are magically delicious.

August 13, 2010

Whirled peas in my mah belly.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
~Mahatma Gandhi

Last month, a church in Florida announced plans to hold a Qur'an burning on 9/11.

When I first read about this, I felt nauseous.  For one,  will this really help in accomplishing a bridge of understanding amongst people?  For another, all of this is going on during the Ramadan, the holiest of months for Muslim (ironically, a time when Muslims are supposed to be thinking kind and charitable thoughts).  But most importantly?  A Muslim's treatment of the Qur'an is radically different than that of a Christian's treatment of the Bible.  I have seen many worn-out Bibles in my time - Bibles marked up with high-lighters, pens, pencils, post-its, markers.  I have seen Bibles strewn about homes, lying on tables, wherever.  This is not, in any way, shape or form, implying that Christians respect their holy text less, but they do treat it differently.  Differently, I say!  (Did you see how I said "Differently" which implies "difference" and not "importance"?)

In short, in my so very humble opinion, Muslims tend to treat their holy text as if it were an actual embodiment of God's word (my words, my interpretation!) and as such, the degree of respect with which the Qur'an is treated is ratcheted up to an extreme level of "High".  For example, a Muslim must be in a clean state of mind, spirit and body.  This means that a Muslim must perform the cleansing ritual of wudu before even handling or reading the Qur'an.

From my days as a Muslim (yes, you read that correctly - I was a Muslim for a few years in the early 1990s. I prayed as a Muslim and even attempted fasting during Ramadan in which I fasted only about 10 days. Apparently, I like food more than God, a theme, for me.  I suppose.) Of course, during that time I learned the proper, respectful handling of a Qur'an.  I still have my Qur'an and it is kept on a high shelf with my other religious books, a few Bibles, etc.. Why?   

Despite my turning away from Islam and ultimately, Christianity, I do have a certain respect for these religions

Religions themselves, without actual humans, tend to have pure intentions.   What I do not have a respect for are the actions at the hands of some of the followers.  Dude.  Any Muslim I know, would never claim an alliance with the 9/11 bombers any more so than any of the Baptists I know would claim an alliance with Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church here in Topeka, KS.

Can you please read that paragraph again?  It is sort of important.  Perhaps.

So yes, I have a Qur'an in my house and I do question whether I should still be in possession of it.  I treat it respectfully as a non-Muslim and keep it on a high-shelf, so it cannot be grabbed capriciously.  Still, my treatment is still not up to par with the exacting standards of Islam.  I am sentimental about this book, to be sure, but also, I want it as an example for my own children that they must never stop learning and exploring.  That it is okay to study other religions, to consider the other point of view but that they must never use that belief as a fuel to drive a pre-existing hatred or prejudice.  I try to resist the urge to rant against religions, but any long-time reader here can attest to how very often I fail at this.

But still, I try.


I was not the only one sick at heart about this Qur'an burning.  Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks was enraged at this and if you have even an inkling of Karen or what her site is about, this should come as a shock to you that she would be enraged.  However, rather than perpetuating the hatred, Karen wants to send a huge package of photos depicting peace and love.  

A photobomb.

I had the chance to speak to Karen over the weekend regarding this.  She was very calm and steady in her descriptions of what she hoped to achieve in this exercise, but there was a fire in her eyes.

I have decided to send a copy of our Christmas card - Manoj and I are not a religious people at this point in our lives, but I do see the holiday as an ideal time to reiterate a message of peace.  Therefore, our Christmas card usually has a message in that vein and is ideal for the purpose set forth in Karen's Photobomb Plan.

My children and pets (yes, pets!) bring so much love and tranquility into our home and for me, it was the perfect expression of how I find peace in my own life.

May peace be upon all of us.

August 12, 2010


On Sunday, I toted home 50 lbs of Play-Doh.  Oh, wait.  I need some sort of disclaimer in fine print:
I am under the impression that I can legally mention my ardent adoration for Play-Doh here without the FTC confiscating one child (or both, if I am so lucky) OR having my ads yanked OR a Gentle Reader questioning my ethics OR relinquishing my box seat in heaven to the Dark Lord because Hello! I have spent a small nation's GDP on Play-Doh   already.  Are you with me?   And yes, I thought to myself as I crammed box after box of chewing gum into my bags "Kelli, we already have enough Play-Doh at home, why lug yet more home? Is fresh breath not more of a priority here?"   Then, I answered to myself "Kelli, you are cheap and cannot leave $20 worth of Play-Doh.  Be one with your frugality, Kelli. BE ONE." 

So! Anyway! Whatever!

I load up the Play-Doh in my suitcase, bring it home and then watch my kids completely lose their ever-loving minds over this stuff.  Imagine chimps having a Feces Fest.  Arun and Anjali's reaction was along similar lines with the same amount of teeth-baring and shrieking, albeit far less malodorous (mmmmm, PLAY-DOH .  The very smell of childhood, no?)  It was a crazy sight to behold - you would suspect Team Chaos had never seen Play-Doh before.  As if there was already not pink and green Play-Doh firmly entrenched in our carpet (The same carpet also known as "The Jackson Pollack tribute")  

As I pry hardened pebbles of dough off the soles of my feet, I cannot help but remember the Play-Doh Hair Salon from my own childhood.  I would carefully cram dough up the character's butt, then slowly turn the crank to squeeze the mush through teensy holes in the character's head.  After using thick plastic scissors to cut the squishy tendrils, I would zhoosh the hair into something resembling a "style" (or so I thought)  But alas, Ken Paves I was not, so I put the scissors down and eventually ground my way through business school.  A better use for society, to be sure.

It is Thursday, all of the free Play-Doh has dried and hardened.  Loose lids are strewn about, forlorn.  I dig more dough from our never-ending cache out of the hall closet, lift off the lid of a fresh container and inhale.

The smell always takes me back.

August 10, 2010

BlogHer 2010: The Year of the Chewing Gum

I came home from BlogHer with so many packages of chewing gum, I began to fear someone was giving me a hint.  Excuse me while I check my breath in a cupped palm (my palm, not yours. No worries.)  .

Well, I tried to be kind to my liver.  Truly!  However,  I fear it may be updating its LinkedIn profile in a desperate move to jump ship and score another corporeal gig.  I feel slightly guilty, but if my liver had ears, I would tell it to lighten up and take one for the team.  After all, BlogHer is only once a year and those drink tickets were meant to see the sparkly beam of a disco ball before they turned into ordinary scraps of paper come Sunday morning.

So! Last night, I had a dream where I was wandering through a brightly lit hall chock full of chirpy, taut, wrinkle-free Booth Bunnies trying to force Iam's 20 lb cat food bags into my arms.  No, the BlogHer Expo center was not brightly lit and I am not sure if Iam's was actually there.  It struck me as odd that I would dream about the Expo when I only made two brief rounds of it, mostly to talk to a few folks in whom I was actually interested.  I turned down free things left and right because these days, I am Totally Wise Old Yoda when it comes to freebies, swag and samples.  Yes indeed, I was more judicious this year and primarily schlepped things back for Team Chaos.  The one freebie I was really excited about was a significant chunk of really nice lotion and cream that I forgot to pack into my checked luggage.  Ah yes, Brainy McBrainy that I am, I inadvertently tried to slip them past the Mad Eye Moodies of the TSA.  Oops.  'Tis a Martha Stewart-worthy "good thing" that I am a lovely shade of Pasty Pallid White, that I hail from the Midwest and that I sport a patriotic last name because the TSA lady merely cackled at my stupidity as she merrily chucked My Precious into her trash can already brimming with other travelers' transgressions.  However,the last laugh was on me since "George" is actually my veddy brown, veddy Indian late father-in-laws FIRST name.  *Huge Raspberry*


A mere fraction of the folks I met this weekend.

So!  BlogHer!  Was most excellent.  A weekend full of inspirational sessions and hanging out with women of all shapes, sizes, colors and walks of life.  Lovely.  Absolutely lovely.  I have not heard of any drama this year, I did not witness any myself. This year's BlogHer post will be a total yawnfest liberally sprinkled with kittens and rainbows.  And unicorns.

My Plus One to the Sparklecorn Extravaganza
After all, the one-horned wonder deserved a vacay, too.

So, as I mentioned I did not score loads of goodies this year and you may wonder, why would I bother with navigating the hell that is Delta to make it to teeming urban jungle of New York if I did not come home with presents?


The Hilarious, Drama-Free Roommates
Celeste! The Other Kelli! Dawn!  We had such a fun, low-key room.  I laughed, shared stories, giggled (and snored!) and laughed some more.

The Sessions
I was really excited about the sessions this year and focused primarily on the writing labs.  I blog because I love to write - I am not creating any sort of media empire here, but I do enjoy this incredibly fulfilling hobby of mine. So, I carefully examined the agenda and chose topics that I thought might help me gain a richer experience from my wee site. My favorite sessions?
  1. Writing Lab: Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity My friend Rita was a speaker and it was enlightening to hear how others find their writing groove.  The takeaways?  Exercise, read your writing out loud for different perspective, activities such as taking a walk and focusing on one particular element in your environment (say, anything the color yellow) and writing in the active, rather than the passive voice.
  2. Writing Lab: ROYO - Dear Abby 2.0: Giving Advice in the Blogosphere No, I am not planning on an advice column - I thought this would be an entertaining session and oh my, I WAS NOT WRONG. Indeed, The Mouthy Housewives were hilarious.
  3. Passions: Family Foodies: Creating a New Generation of Gourmands I relished being in a room of like-minded gals who are equally passionate and excited about cooking and food.  It is about so much more than feeding one's body - it is about feeding your soul, finding some creativity in your kitchen and sharing it with loved ones.  I have debated how I want to go about the writing of this topic and I really appreciated City Mama taking a few minutes after the session to talk about it with me.
  4. Change Agents: Radical Blogging Moms: Don’t Even Think About Not Taking These Moms Seriously After several negative experiences in "expressing my opinion in a public manner", I really wanted to hear what these gals had to say.  I really appreciated hearing about the differences between well-thought posting and emotional rants (which sadly,  I have a tendency towards writing.)
  5. Personal: ROYO - Little Fish in a Big Pond: Understanding, Accepting, and Loving Your Small Blog Hands down, this was my very favorite of the sessions (and not just because the aforementioned Celeste! was a speaker) Years ago,  I accepted my little blog for what it was - a place for me to be creative and a spot for me to record my hopes, dreams and sweet memories.  The speakers had another good point - a little blog allows for participation in our blogging community that is far richer than just commenting.  It is your space for reaction and interaction. Even if your footprint is small, it is still there.  If you are a frequent commenter in the blogosphere, but are not actually blogging yourself, I highly recommend you read the transcript of that session and reconsider not joining us.  We all have Voices, no matter the size or breadth of reach.  Six years ago, on August 10, 2004, I began this blog. I have absolutely no regrets for the time I have spent on this space, no matter that I will never find fame or fortune through it.

The Community Keynote
Quite simply, the crowning jewel in the BlogHer Conference Series is the Community Keynote.
  • Susan Niebur (aka Whymommy) from Toddler Planet read In the Name of Awareness: It was her thoughtful take, as someone battling breast cancer, the Facebook meme whereby folks were posting as their status the color of their bras.  Read this post, please.
  • Faiqa from Native Born read Welcome to American:  This was the post that forced me to use my entire stash of tissues as I did the Ugly Cry (and there is a reason for that adjective. No one is pretty after the Ugly Cry.  Believe me)  This post was very personal to me, as Faiqa, a native-born American of Pakistani heritage, put into words, for everyone to hear, why her Indian-born husband was hesitant about getting his American citizenship. She also explained how her husband was not actually running away from anything necessarily bad or terrible (and again, believe me, Americans are often quick to romanticize the immigration experience in such a manner.)  Indeed, Manoj and I have often laughed ironically how easy our life would be, if we were to move to India ourselves - with his credentials, experiences and educational background, life would be much, much simpler there.  It is so very difficult to explain to folks that the opportunities here are different, but are not necessarily shimmering as if in a field of diamonds.  How lucky am I that Faiqa wrote such an eloquent post for me (it was for me, right, Faiqa?) so that I can just point to it for you. I am nothing, if not lazy.  From now on, when people wonder why I do not get giddy with excitement about the prospect of Manoj's citizenship, I will just direct them to that post.  Make no mistakes --  I do want Manoj to get his citizenship (The whole Arizona "thing" drove that point home for me.)  And just like Faiqa, I will thank my husband with a quiet sincerity for giving up so very much for Arun, Anjali and me. 

The Parties
I had the privilege of attending one private party and several of the BlogHer sponsored parties.  Although Sparklecorn came close, squeaking into1st place by a unicorn tail hair was my favorite party -  the BlogHer Voices of the Year Gala and Art Auction Curated By Kirtsy. Obviously, I was very honored that my post, Pissing off people Left and Right, was included in the BlogHer Voices of the Year honor (I was in some seriously awesome company which was very humbling.)  After the initial reception cleared out and folks headed down the hall for the party/dancing/karaoke, the rooms displaying art became very quiet.  Quiet enough to hold some low-key conversations with some lovely folks.

The Bloggers
I am not going to fill this with namedropping - someone always gets left off the list and no one wants to hear how I talked to Super Popular Blogger A and how Really, Really Popular Blogger B made me cry (just like she did last year) and how Somewhat Popular Blogger C was standoffish yet again and that I may just give up on her.  Truthfully, I talked to too many folks to list everyone and therefore, I am going to choose to list no one.  Well, except for Jodi, with whom I had so much fun whispering in sessions and shouting at parties.  Okay...okay and Kelly - who I seriously forgot was going to BlogHer because she is a "real-life" friend and I actually forgot that hey, we are blogging buddies, too.

For all the talk of swag, goodies, freebies, samples and coupons, the bloggers still remain the very best part of the conference.  I have made some incredible friendships through the years via blogging. Attending BlogHer conferences has helped in that - meeting folks in person has a tendency to take things "to the next level".

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some gum that needs chewing.

August 3, 2010

This one time, at BlogHer.........

So, one of my roomies (not mentioning names, but we do share some initials. Ahem.) has referred to this Conference-That-Must-Not-Be-Named as a "three-day bender".  At this point, my liver is cowering in fear and threatening to boycott the whole thing.  While I have promised no repeats from the BlogHer 06 "incident" and have sworn that I am now a kinder, gentler drunk, my liver is wary.  As well it should be, I suppose.  No, I do intend to be responsible - I learned the hard way during BlogHer 06 that blearily staggering through half of the first day seems to miss the entire spirit of the conference.

Also, cotton-mouth is not pretty on anybody, folks.

So, I have been scribbling notes for myself about what I would like to get out of this year's BlogHer.  For me, this conference has always served as a State of the Union for myself with the key question to be answered "Why do I bother?"  Because seriously, the primary purpose of this wee site is Sheer Enjoyment since the Monetization stage coach trundled out of the depot years ago.

A few thoughts I would share with this year's vestal virgins attending BlogHer10?
  1. Comfortable Shoes, Natch - everyone includes it on their list for a reason.
  2. Popular Bloggers Are People, Too - every Popular Blogger will declare emphatically they want you to talk to them and they are not just paying lip service.  Personally, I have had great interactions with popular bloggers (Overall.  Ahem.)  I do recommend having something to say to a Popular Blogger.  There is nothing wrong with a "Love you, love your blog", but you may find the conversation will lead nowhere after that, trailing off into awkward silence.  Keep in mind, you may know many, many details about your favorite bloggers, whereas, they may be aware of your own existence for the very first time (a tangible benefit to being a frequent commenter is that your favorite blogger may actually recognize you.)  So, yes! Introduce yourself to your favorite bloggers, but tell them something specific - maybe, specifically what you appreciate about their blog, a post that particularly struck you and why.  Give them a talking point to which they can respond with something other than "Thank you."   I can think of two bloggers in particular that I am hoping to see and I do have specific topics I want to mention to them.
  3. Introverts, Be Kind to Yourself - If you are an introvert like me, give yourself permission to exit the action, escape to a quiet spot and re-charge.Also, you may find yourself alone.  A lot.  In a room buzzing with 2400 people, that can be overwhelming.  See your aloneness as an opportunity. At BlogHer08, I found myself alone at lunch.  I sat at one table and quickly realized I was being frozen out.  I actually cut my Social Losses and moved to another table whereupon, I met Velma -this will be our 3rd BlogHer hanging out together.  In line with my usual Moth Strategy for socializing (like a moth to a flame, I find someone I know even just remotely, then stick to them cat hair), meeting as many folks as possible is how someone like me survives.  Try it!
  4. Make Your Own Agenda - What do you want to get out of this conference? Anyone who has never attend BlogHer probably just thinks it's about parties and freebies, but there is an actual conference going on.  Really! Pinkie swear! I have already considered the BlogHer schedule and decided upon the sessions I want to attend.  Overall, my strategy for this conference is that I just want to reflect on where I am going with this blog.  Past BlogHer Game Plans have been to Not Go Into Labor (the last trip of my pregnancy with Arun was to BlogHer 05, I was a little nervous at 7 months pregnant), to Hobnob and Mingle (that failed spectacularly, I am so not a networker), to See My Friends (BlogHer 08) and to Just Have Fun (that was last year and by far, the best BlogHer I've attended yet)
  5. Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Bomb - every BlogHer seems to manufacture some sort of drama that gets blown up and exaggerated as post after post highlights THAT particular event.  Usually, something that was, in reality, a very tiny part of the overall weekend.  Folks, stop fretting and just relax.  Currently, my biggest stress is that the skirt I had planned for Saturday night appears to have put an Engorgement Charm on my ass. But hey, plump rumps are small potatoes in the realm of Worries, no?
  6. Swag - I love free stuff like anyone else, but consider what you take home very, very carefully. Folks, this is not Mt. Everest, have a reason for everything you take home. Well, unless your intent is to fully stock your next garage sale, then fine, knock yourself out..  This year, my suitcase is going to be crammed with clothes, shoes and accessories since I have decided to have fun Dressing Like A Grown-Up.  I will not even have room for swag and I was not expecting to get much anyway.  Besides, sometimes the very best swag does not react kindly to being stuffed into one's suitcase.

I know quite a few of you have attended past BlogHers.
What are your best bits of advice?  
What did you love most about the experience?  
What did you love the least?