Travel broadens the mind, but coming back home warms the lap

Paul was released on DVD last week, which was a cause for celebration at the Kennedy Compound. Our DVD came in the mail and was quickly watched twice in succession. It's funny and it's clever and it's rude and it's hardly sexy at all, so maybe the R rating comes from Kristen Wiig, who plays woman who never learned to curse properly, saying things like, "Well, ain't that a bag of tits." (Also, have you seen this? I don't want to over-Wiig you, but SO CUTE.) Paul starts out at ComicCon, which takes place every summer at the San Diego Convention Center, and of course since I'd just been to the San Diego Convention Center for the lady blogger conference, I was all, HEY, LOOK! I KNOW THAT PLACE! WAIT! THE FLUORESCENT LIGHTS! HEY! THAT CARPET IS TOTALLY THE SAME CARPET! and other fascinating observations that enthralled my family.

A few weeks ago on Twitter I was all . . .

. . . and an hour later . . .

. . . until several days later . . .

(Note: BlogHer will be in NYC next year. Unskippable.)

And oh, the chore list I'm going to build for Jackson to earn his trip to ComicCon, it's going to be twenty feet long. I'm going to have to buy a roll of butcher paper to list all the strange little tasks I'm going to make up for him to do.

On a side note: Look! I accidentally fried an egg in the shape of a heart.

So, do you want to hear about the BlogHer conference that I went to in San Diego? Then read on about how my trunk was full of Fussy t-shirts, and yet never once did it seem appropriate to haul them into the lobby of the Marriott and start laying them out on the floor to sell (one for $15, two for $20, special conference discount). I'd done it at BlogHer '05 and BlogHer '06 and driven home both times with a smile on my face and a pocket full of twenties. And my hand to God I wish I'd done it this time, too, but my plate was way too full (of eggs) (paleo joke!) to find the time.

It's funny to go over my old BlogHer recaps, because slowly, after yearly exposure to masses of lanyard-wearing women, I am becoming one of those grownups who has learned to talk to strangers and socialize with something that looks like ease. But only because I've had some first-class conference buddies.

Here we see Alice. She is clearly not using her phone to send pleading text messages to God so that her family would arrive at the airport safely so they could limbo off to Legoland the next day. No, she's not doing that at all. She's just being adorable. Alice was my roommate the first night and my breakfast buddy and also my partner in luncheon comedy and book signing at the Bill My Parents booth. The BMP people bought 400 copies of Let's Panic! and set us up with Sharpies and let us sign copies and talk to bloggers and give books away to them for free.

Here we see Erin. Erin is, historically, one of the most dependably funny and incisive bloggers on the Internet, and once Alice took off for Legoland, Erin totally anchored my roster. We talked and talked and talked and then we ate and drank and talked some more. And then we went off and ate and talked to other people, and then we came back together and ate and talked about what we talked to those other people about. I am so happy and grateful and lucky that Erin decided to come. And not only because she gave me a sock zombie.

This year's Community Keynote was possibly the rawest and most unrelentingly emotional keynote we've ever had. (Transcript is here. Individual videos of readers should be posted soon, and they'll be worth watching.) You can read a post online and find it touching, but when the person who wrote it breaks down in tears while telling you about her fifteenth year sober, or sneaking art onto the walls of a cancer ward, or realizing her children were all going to grow up and leave someday? It took me crumbling through four introductions with a runny nose before Sarah leaned over and whispered to me to open one of the little zipper pouch giveaway bags on the table--oh, we had a tissue sponsor this year! Brilliant. I also have to hand it to the humor bloggers, they had some heavy lifting, bringing the crowd up from that deep, heart-softened place over and over again. But they did it.

Friday ended with Erin, Doug and Georgia watching me shovel hors d'oeuvres into my face with the sad understanding that chicken skewers and zucchini niblets would no doubt be my dinner, and then finally pouring myself into bed at 1:00 a.m. I'll have plenty of time to prepare for my panel about how to retain your sanity while running an online community, I remember thinking before I dropped into a black, dreamless, dehydrated sleep. But as soon as the first question came from the audience at 3:00 p.m. the next day, a couple of things came into stark relief before my eyes. One, my throat was sore from yelling over party music for two nights in a row; two, my sister panelists were still actively engaged in running their online communities, whereas in the time between accepting the invitation to speak on this panel (October 2010) and actually being on the panel (August 2011), I had so thoroughly scrubbed NaBloPoMo from my mind that I barely remembered what it was I used to do every day, five times a day, 365 days a year to keep it chugging along; and three, judging by that and all subsequent questions from the audience, a good deal of the women looking to us for advice had far more professional experience on the subject than I did. Also, the room was cavernous, and I still haven't gotten the knack of speaking conversationally to someone whose face is 100 feet away from me. However, I did, possibly, manage to say a couple of useful things, and make at least one person laugh, and not cock up the entire event by falling asleep at the table. [Transcript is here.]

I honestly can't believe anyone but the masochists are still reading, so let's wind things up on a cuddly note. I will not enable your pain another moment, no matter how satisfying you find it!