Archive for the ‘blogher 08’ Category

In Which My Son – Clenching My Heart In His Little Fist – Eclipses Me Utterly

July 27, 2008

And why not? If you were publishing a story about a certain blogging conference in the New York Times, and wanted an eye-catching photo to complement that story, the image of a heart-clenchingly adorable infant draped over his mother’s back as she bogarted a microphone at one of the sessions is far more arresting than the front view of said mother bogarting said microphone, no question.*


Front page of the New York Times Style section at ten weeks of age. The heart, it bursts with pride.

*No comment – YET – on the fact that the article makes women-bloggers sound like a bunch of sappy doofuses – doofi? – in which case, arguably, pictures of said women clutching their adorable babeez just underscores the relentless media focus on estrogen and vaginas and flowers and unicorns and shit when it comes to women bloggers, instead of the fact that we’re writers and tech-geeks and business-persons, but whatever. I’m still chuffed about the picture.

That’s Me In The Corner

July 24, 2008

Two years ago, after BlogHer ’06, I wrote this:

I left behind something that I think that I am going to miss… the me who was happy and fulfilled in the absence of the loves of my life. The me who could assimilate the quiet ache that is that absence, the pressing ache of those missing limbs, into another kind of energy and move, happily, despite that ache. The me who felt both quieted and stimulated alone (sans child, sans spouse) in the company of other women, other writers, other mothers who, for a moment, put the activity of motherhood or whateverhood aside and said, now, what about me? What about us?


That experience? That was missing for me, this year. Because I did not and could not put those other parts of me aside. I did not attend BlogHer this year as the me who has a passion that extends beyond and away from her family, the writer, the friend, the woman who can compartmentalize her manifold selves and carry on, and flourish. I attended BlogHer as a mother, with babe-in-arms and lactating boobs and head fuzzy from lack of sleep and heart sore from guilt and anxiety and all that tremendous and challenging mother stuff that distracts one from the business of being anything other than a mother, full stop. And that was hard. Really hard.

And so I felt, for much of the conference, as though I was watching from the sidelines, from the other side of the curtain, from behind my locker door, my baby clutched like so many books – my vulnerability, my shield – to my chest. Which is to say that, yes, there were moments, some moments, when my experience reminded me a little bit of high school, albeit the kind of high school experience that you see in low-budget after-school specials about how having a baby at sixteen means that you’ll be left out of all the parties and your cute-girl clothes won’t fit and you will feel like an outsider and omg why did you not cross your legs like your mother told you?

But those were only moments, and they had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than me and my own issues and insecurities. It was hard for me to expose myself as a mother at BlogHer, because being a mother in real life is not the same thing as playing one on the Internet, and all of the vulnerabilities that roll onto the screen so easily don’t play so comfortably on a real life stage. No matter how exposed we are on that screen, no matter how bravely, fiercely naked we allow ourselves to be, we are still, end of day, behind the screen, sharing fragments of our whole selves, preserving whatever other parts need to be preserved as private in order to protect our self-regard. So while it was one thing for me to bare my breast and nurse my child in front of the audience attending my panel – because, of course, I knew that everyone would be glad to see it – it was quite another to attempt and fail to soothe my child in public spaces, or succumb to a panic attack in the presence of friends and strangers, or to admit to exhaustion and frustration and sadness when everyone else was trying to party. And so I kept, mostly, to the sidelines, and observed.

And what I saw was this: friendships being formed, friendships being renewed, friendships being celebrated and revelled in and enjoyed. I saw love and tenderness and warmth; I saw women cheering each other on, and men cheering the cheering. I saw all of the things that I’d seen that first year – “women who are, like me, trying to use found moments of lived fearlessness to navigate the murky waters, the frightening waters, of womanhood and motherhood and writerhood (here be monsters, here be monsters. We know this. Still we fly our sails). Among women who are willing to say, out loud, that they don’t know how to always be fearless. Among women who walk with fear, but who carry wit and intelligence and charm and strength as rods and staffs for comfort” – and more.

But I also saw insecurity and anxiety and nervousness and reserve. I saw another mom with babe-in-arms keep to the sidelines, like me. I wish that I’d done more to connect with her, beyond waggling my baby at her baby (an effort that made her baby scream, which, you know, can really make someone feel like a fuck-up), because I wanted to ask her, is this as hard for you as it is for me? I heard a woman crying in the bathroom, and another woman soothing her, and wanted to say something, but I didn’t, because I was embarrassed, having been soothed myself the night before, and still feeling awkward about it. I saw, many times, women sitting by themselves, and sometimes I approached them, and sometimes I didn’t, because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was working the room – don’t laugh, it happens – or demanding attention (oh mah gahd have you seen mah BAYBEE?!?!) or, sometimes, just because I felt stupid and awkward and who knew when the baby was going to start crying again or the front of my blouse go wet and what would I say then (oh, hai, I’m HBM, pleez to excuse the sloppy mammaries and squalling infant)?

I saw a wonderful woman, anxious and hurting, defending herself in front of a crowd of a thousand. I saw a crowd of a thousand wonder, some of them – wrongly, wrongly, so wrongly – whether it was all an act. Actually, I didn’t see this, because I was on the other side of the doors, tending to my baby, my heart, wondering what was up, what was going on, what was I missing now? only hearing the details after the fact, and watching the video, and wanting to wrap virtual arms around my hurt friend, too late to help her in the moment that mattered, because my attention was divided, and while one hurt woman stood up to another (because, yes, it all had to have come from a place of hurt, it just did, and that sucks for everybody, for real) and the conference fell into a hush I was outside the room, in the corner, ruminating on being on the outside, lost in myself.

We all feel on the outside, all of us, sometimes; even the biggest and brightest of our stars feel their distance (let’s mix metaphors and wonder whether, if you prick them, stars bleed their brilliant light and burn holes in the sky. Is this what happened?) Whether we know a hundred people in the room, or one, or none, we feel, in certain moments, lonely. Misunderstood. Lost. Alone. We’re women, we’re human. We can be surrounded by love and still feel isolated. We can project love and still feel empty. We can be friends and make friends and still yearn for friendship. We can be inside and still feel completely outside. We’re internet geeks, girly ones, some with babies, some without, most with vaginas, all with hearts. We’re complicated.

I love us for that. I love this weekend for that. I love BlogHer, and BlogHers, for that. But there is still the ache. So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other, this week, next week, and in all the weeks and months to come?

Thank you.

Grover knows. He did the whole conference with a hand up his ass. He gets us.

(THE LOVE. I do not do this exclude. I really, truly, do not. But I can’t and won’t censor my impulse to send warm hugs to the people who really took care of me this weekend, and/or who just added a special degree of awesomeness and oh god I am going to forget somebody really important I just know it but here goes: the spectacular lady who offered the loveliest, most welcome haven from the fray, the wonderful, baby-whispery heart-breakingly sweet man who snuggled J and cuddled J and crooned him to sleep with baseball stats, the lovely, lovely guy who stretched his arm to the breaking point swinging an infant-laden car seat on multiple occasions, the gorgeous young woman who snuggled the babe until his need for boob overwhelmed my entire session, the beautiful pregnant lady who stole my son’s heart – while he was still on the tit oh god – I may now have to call him Jasperalah – and who I was unable to rescue from partum faintage because I have no life skills – and who always makes me laugh even when my head is about to burst from anxiety, THIS beautiful woman whose very presence with her even-more-beautiful daughter made me cry, and the amazing, truly amazingly big-hearted woman who rescued me from my corner and insisted that it was okay for me to cry it out and OH GOD I cannot even refer to her in the third person without tearing up, and this super-smart chick who I wish I could spend way more time with in Canadaland and the amazing women that I hadn’t met before but now will be stalking relentlessly and her and her and her and her and her, oh lord, my girls, my bosom buddies, my heart-friends, my (oh sob) total BFF comrades-in-arms, my hearts… *collapses in tears and smiles*)

Let’s just all cling to the love, kay?

By Guy Kawasaki’s Swimming Pool I Sat Down And Wept

July 19, 2008

Dear Internets: my name is Catherine Connors and I am a writer. I am also a mother.

Maybe it’s the other way around: mother, writer. This weekend, I’m not sure. This weekend, I am trying to be both, and more: mother, writer, friend, acquaintance, business woman, community advocate, self-promoter, thinker, drinker, writer-mother, mother-writer, woman, self. I am trying to be all things, and I am struggling.

I’ve struggled before. I struggle everyday. Everyday I wake up and immediately put tit to the mouth of a tiny human being whose survival, whose well-being, whose flourishing depends entirely upon me, and I throw my arms around a slightly larger human being whose heart is my own, and as I nurse and hug and love I gaze at my laptop and wonder when the moment will come that I will open it and record this love, this work, this love and craft it into words. And my heart strains in those moments because I know that I cannot have both immediately at once, my motherhood and my writerhood, just as I know in those moments when I share love with my husband or sisterhood with my friends or writerly solidarity with my peers (who are also, so many of them, my friends) that I am doing so as my self but not practicing my whole self – I am not being a mother in those moments, or a writer, or what-have-you – and that’s fine, that’s totally fine and that’s good because that’s life, even if it sometimes feels hard because you so often want to be or feel you need to be all your selves at once. You can’t be everything at once.

But ordinarily, the moments that I struggle with wanting to be all or some my selves at once are private ones. This weekend, they are public – they are public because they are exposed, because I am exposed, because I am wearing my heart on my sleeve, because I am carrying my heart around in a red-and-white polka dot sling and sometimes he cries and sometimes he shits and always I want, I need, to protect him, and that want, that need, that him makes me vulnerable because it puts my fears, my love, my anxiety, my hope all on full display and demands that I deal with those here, now, NOW, while I am surrounded by people, my people, my peers and role models and friends and sisters, while I am trying to be so many parts of myself all at once, and that. leaves. me. raw. It leaves me feeling exposed, it leaves me feeling vulnerable to every flutter of emotion that moves through the room – the triumphs of others, the hurts of others, the vulnerabilities of others, the love of others – because I am carrying all those things of my own, in my arms, and I am doing so in a three-day long moment that demands many other things of me – things that I want to give, want to share – and so I am tired, vulnerable.

And so the other night, I sat down by Guy Kawasaki’s swimming pool, heart in my arms, and I wept, and as the crowd – my peers, my idols, my friends – buzzed around me I tried to close in on myself and shield myself – my mother self, my weepy self, my stressed-and-scared self – from exposure so that I could keep these selves detached, keep these selves from muddying the water of my other selves – my writer-self, my friend-self, my woman-selves, the selves with hopes and ambitions that have nothing or very little to do with the little heart cradled in my arms, head damp with my tears. Those selves, my public selves, the selves through I distill and present my messier selves in my craft as a writer/blogger, those selves fell away and I was left with all the messiness – no words, no screen to hide behind – and I cried. As my heart squirmed in my arms and my soul ached in my gut, I cried.

I have cried, again, many times since then, in moments of inspiration and love (so many of these, here) and anxiety (can I cope, here? should I even be here? am I brave to be here, or am I stupid?) and fear (oh the fear). I will cry many times more. I will be the girl – the woman, the writer, the mother – in the corner, crying, yearning to be seen, and yearning to be invisible. Yearning to feel comfortable in my wholeness, in my love and hope and ambition and fear and tears and baby-shits and all.