Friday, December 4, 2009
The First Blogger Meetup
I'd been wanting to do one of these forever. I've made many blogging friends in other regions of the country, and every member of my circle seems, with the lone exception of myself, to live in a geographic community of bloggers with whom they are in contact.
Every time I'd read about two bloggers coming together, a jolt of excitement and envy would go through me. The blogging world and the real world are two separate spheres, one orbiting the boringness but intimacy of everyday life, the other entailing all the mystery, crafted images, and speculation of a fable tale.
Many times I wondered at what a fellow blogger actually looked like, or how their voice would actually sound, or if in person they could possibly live up to the aura we all create for ourselves online. Some days I found myself wishing for conversations with Jo(e), or Secret Agent Woman, or Calling People Names (who somewhat alleviated my suspense by recently posting several vlogs), pondering how those meetings might go.
When the opportunity arose to actually come face to face with a writer I'd grown acquainted with through their entries, I was determined to make a good impression. I picked out a nice outfit, exchanged e-mails, and planned on getting a good night's rest the day before.
Not so was my fate.
An extra-large caramel frapuccino consumed at ten o'clock on Thursday evening was enough to keep me bright as a flourescent light bulb all night, and after laying in bed for hours and failing to fall asleep I at last allowed myself to get up for the day at six-thirty.
When I first rose, I looked awful, ashen-faced, red-eyed, haggard-lipped, like Death with a ponytail.
"He's going to think I'm a complete loon," I mused to myself as I bustled around my dorm at a time when some other students were likely just turning in.
After I'd gotten some food into my system and walked around a bit in the refreshinghly cold morning air (I haven't been up so early since high school), my face started to release some of the taught hardness of the recently deceased and assume its more customary condition.
"You should have seen me this morning," I told my blogging buddy when we finally located each other in Washington, D.C. "I was so cracked out. I looked like a common street hooker."
In person, Woozie was surprisingly demure.
If you haven't checked him out, his well-written, informative, funny, and compelling blog is more than worth a peek. In a community where, for better or worse, there are no standards for publication, his site sets a rare bar.
When his words are conveyed through the medium of writing, this nineteen-year-old is witty, observant, and sharp, with a keen grasp for and understanding of current events that exceeds that of most of this country's adult population. Given his deadpan delivery on his blog, and the effortless way with which he tears conservative arguments to pieces, I excpected him to have an outsized personality.
Instead, he was friendly but quiet, suggesting for our lunch a small but very crowded sub shop where we bought sandwiches, chips, and rootbeer. We talked and ate our food on a set of church steps for want of any place to sit inside the restaurant.
"You look like I thought you would," he said.
"Really?" I asked. "It's usually the other way around, that people never look how you'd think they would."
"You act different, though," he told me. "From your writing, I expected you to be really serious and reserved. But you're actually talking like a normal person."
"Thanks," I laughed.
Though we'd never actually met before, we found ourselves in the unusual position of knowing a great deal about one another.
One of us would start in on a story, and then halfway through the other would exclaim, "Oh, I remember that!" even though he hadn't been present when the event occurred.
We'd both forgotten enough, though, or just paid slack enough attention to one another's blogs, that the conversation remained interesting and revealing.
Attempts to discuss mutual favorite bloggers stalled when we discovered that we didn't read many of the same people.
"What about Mo.Stoneskin?" I asked.
"Nope," Woozie answered.
"Oh, he's this really funny British guy," I replied. "How about Ally at Calling People Names?"
He looked perplexed.
"A Woman In Search Of?"
No trace of recognition.
"All of those crazy sex stories?"
"Sorry," he said.
"How about Jo(e)?" I put.
"How do you not know Jo(e)?"
"I just don't."
"Well, you should. Secret Agent Woman? 'Blogging Incognito?'"
"She used to go by Name I Won't Repeat to Protect Her Identity."
"Oh, I know her!"
We shared sexual horror stories (blog post coming soon--and for the record, I did not lose my virginity), discussed issues concerning parents and siblings, talked about our respective friends and schools, and generally tried to keep warm while walking around the chilly capital city.
Woozie at one point had the ingenious idea of standing atop some large vents in the ground near the National Mall, which we did. The metal grates were probably blowing asbestos into our faces, but it was worth losing our lungs to feel the temperature from our feet to our heads suddenly rise by about ten or twenty degrees. It was almost like being indoors, viewing in comfort the shivering citizens of Washington, D.C. who walked the streets around our massive heater.
It was a fun day for the both of us.
At my insistence, Woozie tried sushi for the first time (his reaction was mixed; he liked the taste and disliked the texture, but the restaurant we went to was lower-end), while we bantered back and forth with details of our personal lives and all the normal things that new acquaintances talk about.
He's now one of two bloggers who knows my actual name.
We got along surprisingly well (for which he was relieved, as a previous in-person blogger meetup had not been to his liking), and when the time came for me to return to school to fulfill an obligation at the student paper, I didn't want to go.
"This is going to sound really weird," I said. "But I'm having so much fun that I wish I didn't have to leave. Today should keep going. I kind of want to have a sleepover and stay up late watching movies and eating popcorn and telling scandalous stories."
"Me, too," he smiled. "You know, I'm here until January 3rd..."