If you have read even ONE of my posts or tweets in the last several weeks, you’re VERY AWARE that I was one of the lucky 60 that kissed my babies goodbye and headed to New Orleans
last weekend over a week ago. I can imagine this post will not be very interesting to anyone that didn’t attend this year’s Blathering (unless you’re like me, in years past, quietly sitting in the corner wondering if YOU should go to a blogging event sometime… and now that I’ve been I say YES YOU SHOULD!) (or maybe not! depending on your personality!), but that’s ok. I’m writing this for me, and for the other ladies who I spent the weekend with. No worries, I’ll be back to posting about how I don’t have TIIIIIIIME for blogging shortly.
So, anyway, THE BLATHERING.
It was awesome, you guys.
I hopped on a plane in Minneapolis and flew into New Orleans late Thursday night. I arrived after 10pm. I remembered that I DO NOT LIKE landing in a new place after dark because I had no idea what the landscape was like. I felt like I had been dropped into an abyss. The next morning when I stepped out of our hotel in search of coffee, I was so PLEASED to see palm trees.
At the airport, I met up with Stephanie, someone who I had not previously followed. We made arrangements to meet via twitter. Thanks to the Blathering App, I was able to text her when I landed, and she told me what she was wearing. Another attendee, Jess Raven, also ended up landing around the same time as we did, so we had agreed to wait for her before catching a cab to our hotel. Meeting these ladies was a little surreal, but also felt strangely… NORMAL (??) to hop into a cab with two strangers.
When we arrived at the hotel, several of the attendees were congregated in the lobby. Seeing all those familiar faces was so crazy! I don’t even remember everyone I met that night, but a few people stand out. Sarah in Ottawa and Natalie were SO welcoming and outgoing. I felt at ease right away. Kammah was funny because she wanted a DRINK, NOW, and everyone kept getting stalled with introductions.
My roommate (Jenna) was supposed to meet me in the lobby (I didn’t know our room number, and the room was in her name), but she was no where to be found. I was a little concerned when NO ONE had seen or met her… I kept texting her but no answer. After hanging out in the lobby for quite awhile, still unable to get ahold of Jenna, I decided to try to get a key and our room number from the front desk. That was no problem, as Jenna had added my name onto our room.
So up the elevator I went… I got to our room, knocked, then banged my way into our room, door slamming. The TV was on, and there was someone lying on the bed, and I hoped TO HELL that I had the right room… but she didn’t immediately turn around to greet me. I was just deciding what to do when she JUMPED UP, SCREAMED, and then saw it was me. We hugged and laughed. She had fallen asleep and didn’t get my texts. I scared the crap out of her. What an introduction! We ended up staying up and talking for awhile before going to bed, for real. It felt… totally normal (and wonderful!) to be sharing a room with Jenna, like we were old friends, which we ARE but… you know what I mean.
The next morning was the first “big group” gathering: the Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. Jenna and I decided that we could not wait until 11 am to EAT BREAKFAST (I eat lunch at that time, at home), so we hit the streets looking for some food much earlier. The concierge was very nice and helpful and directed us to Daisy Dukes, which was cheap and delicious. We found it after making ourselves look like COMPLETELY LOST TOURISTS, including standing on a street corning, squinting at a map and pointing. Ha ha. At this point, much of the trip still seemed so SURREAL. I was still a little shocked that I got on a plane to hang out with my internet
crushes friends for the weekend.
Later, on our way to the jazz brunch, I especially felt how surreal it was. Jenna and I stopped and took a selfie before going in, and I remember thinking “This is IT! I’m really DOING THIS! I’m meeting these people!” …And it WAS surreal! It also was not the best arrangement for meeting people for the first time. I kept seeing people ahead or behind me in line for the buffet, hands full of plates, that I wanted to introduce myself to, hug, and squee over. There were LOTS of familiar faces, many people I knew right away. But there were lots of familiar faces that I couldn’t quite place. And, as is expected with so many people, there were lots of people who weren’t familiar at all.
Jenna and I sat with Manda for brunch, and she charmed us right away. She’s super outgoing and funny. Maggie and Arwen (two of my top 10 people who I was DYING to meet) also sat with us for part of the meal, and they were both exactly like I expected, but better. In general, the meal was fun but also overwhelming as I was trying to put everyone’s name with their blog or twitter handle. As I look at the Flickr pool NOW, I know who everyone is, but that morning it was all still a puzzle. The courtyard where we were eating brunch was beautiful, but I could hardly relax and enjoy it since my brain was spinning spinning spinning, trying to piece it all together.
After brunch we headed out to explore the French Quarter. I was excited to meet Heather (she’s from Minnesota too!) and Laura (no nail polish! the HELL?) and Lacey. Megan also ended up in our group, and she was just as lovely as I had thought she would be (and her HAIR! I could write an entire post about her hair!). These ladies, as well as Elisabeth and Rebecca (so stylish and just classic beauties, the both of them), snagged a horse drawn carriage tour of the Quarter. Our driver was friendly and informative and funny. We got to see Nicolas Cage and the Jolie-Pitt houses, as well as hear about our driver’s involvement in the HBO series Treme. It was definitely worth the money.
(And here’s where I’m panicking, because… DID I FORGET SOMEONE? If I did, I’m so sorry. My memory of who I did things with where is pretty fuzzy, especially that first day when I was still getting to know everyone.)
In fact, the rest of that day is sort of a blur to me. I know we had beignets at some point, and that we wandered around Jackson Square, looking at the street performers and street art. Eventually, Jenna and I headed back to the hotel for a nap and to get ready for dinner. Also, at some point in here, I met Sara and Katie, and in my excitement to hug Sara, I somehow knocked her phone out of her hand and sent it clattering to the marble floor of the hotel lobby, where it gave us the blue screen of death. I swear, I couldn’t even breathe for HOURS replaying it (I can’t breathe NOW, writing about it.) She assured me her phone recovered, but STILL. Gah. (SO SORRY SARA! I’LL TRY NOT TO BREAK STUFF THE NEXT TIME I SEE YOU.)
The first official gathering of The Blathering was at the organizers (rented) house on Friday night. Many of us decided to take the city bus to dinner, which started off feeling like it might be an adventure (bus was late! Bus was “not in service!), but ended up very uneventfully dropping us off for dinner. Michelle got separated from our group (15 or so of us, dressed up) on the bus, and some guy leaned over to her and asked “Y’all headed to church?” Well… not really?
Anyway, the party Friday night was really fun, and so beautifully put together by the organizers but still a little overwhelming trying to put everyone’s names and faces together. I really, genuinely wanted to meet and talk to everyone, and I TRIED, but there were so many fabulous people and so little time! I remember meeting Stephanie and loving her right away. I loved talking to Emily. I had a great conversation with Jennie about something we’ve emailed about before… but man, in person is so much better. I was totally charmed by Little Miss Mel (I had such a hard time calling her Elizabeth.) Jess was just as sweet and kind as I predicted she would be. I learned that it’s REALLY HELPFUL if a person’s avatar looks like they do.
I loved hearing about Amy’s job in the cab back to our hotel. I could have listened to her talk about it for hours. I *thought* I was tired and headed to bed, but when I saw Becky and a group of ladies were leaving the hotel as we arrived? Yeah, ding dong, hello, SOCIALLY MOTIVATED and suddenly full of energy, so of course I totally joined them for “just one more drink.” I’m so glad I did, because I finally got a chance to talk to Arwen and Hillary, and it was one of my favorite conversations of the weekend.
What’s weird is, as surreal as Friday was? By Saturday, it felt TOTALLY NORMAL to be hanging out with everyone.
And here’s where I confess to you that I was 1) locked out of my laptop for the past 3 days (thanks Olive for changing my password! Jerk!) and 2) when I pulled up this draft, only the first half was saved. Yep, that’s right, effing WordPress ate the last 700 words. So here’s where I also decide to very briefly sum up the rest of the weekend, surely forgetting even MORE people than I did the first time, and call it a day. I mean, at this point, everyone is over reading these recaps anyway, right?
So the highlights from Saturday: shopping on Magazine Street (but not seeing the Real World house, as I know you are all wondering), getting to talk a little bit (but not enough!) with K while we walked the French Quarter, more beignets where I got to fall in love with CharlieSue and finally got a civil conversation with Sara, dinner seat assignments that allowed me to get to know Lauren and Kat a little bit, and ending the day by a stroll down Bourbon Street, dressed like nuns in our little dresses and cardigans and stone sober, with Jenna and Shalini. (Sigh, Shalini, how was my main interaction with you on BOURBON STREET? I just want to sit down over a cup of tea with you!)
Sunday started with brunch at the house (where I failed to swindle Elizabeth into flying to Minnesota to decorate my house, dammit), which was the last official Blathering event. It was bittersweet; I could tell everyone was ready to head home but also a little in shock that the weekend was already over. Over lunch I finally got to talk more with Susie and Dawn and Jess and of course Arwen. I also got to fret over those I didn’t talk to enough (Tara! Miranda! fellow twin mom Erin! Michelle! AAAAAHHH! ETC ETC ETC BIG SIGH.)
Anyway, it was a great weekend. Did I meet my new bestest friends? Well, maybe? I loved everyone I met, which is pretty amazing considering all the people who I met, and I think this kind of weekend is a BEGINNING point, as someone said (I forget who, sorry!) a place to start. I’m reading so many blogs in a different way now, my twitter conversations have more meaning. I imagine next year the weekend will be less overwhelming and friendships– marinating over the coming year– will deepen in flavor. Some people are a no-brainer (For example, Jenna was the perfect roommate. We stuck together but each of us talked to so many people. I knew we were friends before and I KNOW we’re friends now and I can’t imagine a more perfect “newbie” to do the Blathering with for the first time.), and some people piqued my curiosity and opened my eyes to new friendships.
For me, it was a wonderful weekend. Those women– the organizers– are not lying even a little when they say that everyone is made to feel welcome. I feel so indebted to them, not only for all the work they did to pull off such a fantastic, beautiful, and well-planned and -organized event, but to ALSO share THEIR weekend with THEIR friends with all of us and and and pant pant pant…
I’m stopping now. I am. And this post is not at all like I imagined it would be. But it’s time to hit publish and MOVE ON FOR THE LOVE. If I didn’t mention you, it’s because I didn’t get to spend enough time with you… come and sit by me next year!