That’s me, in the bottom-left corner. Pink cardigan, emerald green dress, flapping my hands around my head like a crazy person. I only talk with my hands when I’m really feeling what I’m saying, when I don’t fully trust that my words are making you understand what I’m trying to say. My wonderful friend Kim Bongiorno took this picture at BlogU last June. It’s one of my favorite pictures from the conference, and I come back to it often when I’m working on things for BlogU ’15. For me, it’s like that moment when you’re looking at pictures online, and for a few seconds after you click on a picture, it’s still slightly pixelated, and then suddenly it snaps into focus and becomes clear. This picture is the exact moment that everything about the creation of BlogU came into sharp focus.
While we were planning for BlogU earlier in the year, someone brought up the idea of having an open mic night at the Friday night cocktail party. “Great idea!” we all agreed, and it very much was a great idea. Several people got up and read their favorite post as their name was pulled from a fish bowl. Some of us wanted to read very, very, much, but realized this was the time to step aside and let the attendees shine.
And shine they did. I mean, the pieces ranged from side-splittingly hilarious to achingly poignant. But it was over far too soon, as most charmed moments are, and everyone shuffled back to the dorms while the BlogU staff cleaned up, gathered signs and banners for the next day, and generally marveled at the realization of so many months of hard work and planning becoming real. When we finally came back to the dorms after a long first day, what we found blew us away.
As it turns out, Open Mic Night wasn’t finished. The attendees decided they wanted more — more words, more voices, more laughter, more tears, more sharing, more of all of those things, and they wanted them out loud and together. So they circled up on the second floor of the dorms, some wearing pajamas, some still wearing their fancy party dresses, and they started reading. There was no discernible system, as far as I could tell. It was seamless — one person stopped reading, and another person began. Those not reading kept the bag of Doritos moving around the circle. Everyone got hearty applause when they finished reading their piece.
As I approached the group, I could see my fellow faculty, my sisters who together are the embodiment of the spirit of BlogU, standing across from the circle in the shadows, watching the magic that was happening right before our eyes. We were a group of bloggers who became friends as we shared the struggles of finding our own versions of success as writers and bloggers. BlogU was intended to be a celebration of our tried-and-true philosophy: finding a tribe of like-minded writers and using that bond to improve and succeed together. Seeing this group of talented women standing in the shadows, next to a brand-new group of talented women sitting in the lights, becoming a tribe right before our very eyes? I couldn’t decide on the right word(s) to describe that moment.
I decided I’d sure like to try to find those words, and after silently squeee-ing with the faculty that stood their soaking up the good karma oozing from the circle, I marched back downstairs to the lobby and grabbed one of the signs from the Open Mic at the cocktail party. I dragged it back upstairs with its accompanying easel and set it up right next to the circle. But that wasn’t enough, because I AM A LIBRARIAN, GODDAMMIT. If something needs a label, I’m going to give it a fucking label, and these women needed to know that they were doing something special and earth-shattering and life-altering and shimmery all at once.
Hence, the picture you see above. I told those beautiful bitches that the faculty lined up behind them couldn’t have been happier to see what was going on. I told them that this moment, the one they were living right at that very second, was what BlogU was all about. I probably also said thank you at some point. I said a lot of other words that repeated these three concise statements in a much more rambling and not coherent way, which further illustrates the fact that I am much more verbose and coherent on paper than I am in real life. This also explains the hand waving, because I just needed these women to feel the passion I was feeling at that very moment.
Big moments deserve big hand gestures.
This year, I am proud to say that the tradition of Open Mic Night, so wonderfully initiated by the women in the picture above, will continue at BlogU ’15. It will be, once again, held after the Friday night party. There will also be Doritos, as there was last year, but there will be much more than just Doritos, thanks to That’s What She Said and their gracious offer to sponsor the snacks required to keep the party going as late as it needs to go. It’s so appropriate to have That’s What She Said as the sponsors for this event, since their show is “a social venture to showcase women living boldly, truly and fearlessly.” That’s what I see in this picture. Women coming together to live their truths out loud, without fear of reactions or judgment.
I can’t wait to share my words and my Doritos with you this June in Baltimore at BlogU ’15.
Registration ends May 15, so register today!
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter so you never miss a post. Better yet, pop your email address in the box at the top of the page and subscribe! Also, you can read my essays in I Just Want to Be Alone, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth!