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!

Just trying to earn some gas money

Hey, I'll be at the BlogHer conference in a couple of weeks, will you be there, too? It's going to be a busy one. Friday noon I'll be up on the dais during a lunch sponsored by Bill My Parents, I'll be chatting in a sort of comical but useful way with Alice, Kristen, and Liz about children and all the clever ways we can think of to keep them from spending your money. I'll give you a hint: surveillance. I'll give you another hint: monkeys. "Oh, sure," you say, "I've already got surveillance monkeys, tell me something I don't know."



Friday night I'll be MCing the Community Keynote, where twelve lovely people will read the good stuff or show us the good stuff they've been posting online lately. Saturday I'm part of a panel that will discuss what it's like to manage an online community, which I used to do with NaBloPoMo before I sold it to . . . BlogHer. Full circle!

So, if you're going to be in San Diego and you see me strolling around, please say hello. It seems they aren't going to have a have a room set up where people can sell stuff this year, but if you want a copy of Let's Panic! or one of my t-shirts, let me know, I'll be selling them out of the trunk of my car. Because the monkeys spent all my money.

Bill My Parents will be sponsoring me to talk about just about anything other than monkeys at BlogHer. Click here if you'd like to come to the lunch! Tickets will be given out on a first come, first served basis.

Bliss, I say

I was in New York City last weekend for a couple of . . . all right, maybe seventy-five reasons. Each of them was a compelling one! Behold the dearth of my photography! 1. The annual BlogHer conference which, as you probably know, is a conference for bloggers. Mostly women, but also men, a fair portion of whom seemed to be parents. BlogHer is awash in parenting bloggers, of which about 71% rarely get out of the house (including me). So when you then take these rarely-out people and put them in giant rooms filled with disco balls, unicorns, art, and cheeseburgers, magical things happen. And as long as I have a brain cell to my name I will treasure the memory of Luvvie stomping her feet and shouting while Jenny worked the entire Single Ladies dance at the end of the Sparklecorn party. (That is a video of her SECOND shot at doing the dance, at the subsequent CheeseBurgHer party, which you might have already figured out because of all the people wearing McDonald's bags on their heads. I can't explain that. It's just a thing.) 12. One of the huge, enormous benefits of figuring out how to MC a big event at BlogHer where people are chosen to read their writing in front of hundreds of other people is that BlogHer provides reimbursement for a portion of your travel expenses. So, yes, it was New York and I could have asked to stay at my mother-in-law's apartment for free, but then I would've been 40 blocks away from the conference, all alone, and that would've been no fun at all. So when I got an e-mail from Antonia that said, Hey, I'm going to book a room at the Chelsea Hotel, do you want to split it with me? I shouted YES, YES I DO, CAN WE GO THERE RIGHT NOW? I KNOW THE CONFERENCE IS A MONTH AWAY BUT THEY HAVE RATES FOR LONG-TERM TENANTS.

We were on the tenth floor.

Our room was painted blue and had wood floors and we didn't turn the TV on once.

We had also a peep hole.

And that is the door to John Malkovich's brain.

The Chelsea is known for its ghosts and its murders and its literary despair, but whatever may have happened there in the past did nothing but make the place feel -- I don't know, grounded? There was a real safety and warmth there. You may think that's silly, and that's fine. You will never have a suave man at the Chelsea front desk take your bag with a smouldering look and say, Anything for you, Mrs. Kennedy. Unless, of course, your name is Mrs. Kennedy, too! Then you can have that.

42. One of the inevitable fuck-ups I get to make every year at BlogHer is to have someone walk up to me and say, "Hi!" and for me to respond, "Hi! I don't think we've met. I'm Eden," and I stick out my hand and the person looks at it and says, "Yeah. I read in the Keynote last year." And I look at them in utter horror and it all comes flooding back to me and I shout, "OF COURSE, HOW COULD I FORGET? HOW ARE YOU?!" but by then it's too late. What had been a memorable highlight in someone's life was now tarnished by the fact that I, who ran the event, who read and helped evaluate and deem worthy their post, who introduced them with anticipation and glowed all over them when they walked off-stage -- a year later, I couldn't pick them out of a line-up. I could probably pick their template out of Google image search, no problem, but in this situation it's faces that count.

However, Friday night after this year's big reading, after I realized how much I sucked and took photographs of every reader AND PASTED THEM INTO MY MIND'S EYE, after the genius Kirtsy party where I got to meet Jessica and Cindy and Alana and Diamond and Meagan, and catch up a little bit with Polly and Rita and Karianna and Julie and Diane and Isabel, a bunch of us went to the Carnegie Deli because Maggie needed soup.

This is actually Alice's soup.

But those are Maggie's pickles.

As you can see, Danielle is motioning for a giant slice of cake to JUMP into her mouth. It didn't work, though, and she had to eat what she could of it in the conventional manner.

55. I had used my entire flight from LAX to JFK to review the copyedits for the Let's Panic! book. To have that much confined, uninterrupted time was bliss. BLISS, I SAY. On Saturday, I finished the last chapter while sitting on Alice's couch, after eating an egg salad sandwich with her on the roof.

94. Saturday evening there was a meet-up at a bar on the Lower Upper East Side where I drank two beers and got to reconnect with Bossy and Karen and Angella and Susan and Chris and Doug and Heather and Laura and Kelly and Liz and Holly and Helen Jane and more people whose names I can't remember or I didn't get their cards OH GOD, WHO ELSE DID I FORGET? And then I got to watch some interesting things begin to evolve . . .

That's Antonia on the left looking pleased with herself; Krystyn in the middle; and Danielle, whose Life List included the item "Have your picture taken in Times Square wearing full KISS makeup." Also, that's the last time my flash functioned for possibly ever.

At this point everyone went off in different directions, and because I ended up walking slowly back to the Hilton talking with Kristy, and then became occupied talking to Palinode and Schmutzie and JenB and Tracy, and of course watching Jenny dance, I can only link to Zan's wonderful photos of what happened in Times Square that night, and I'm sorry I missed it. I'm sorry I have not yet evolved the skill to be in two places at once. But maybe it's for the best.

Because then it was time to go home.