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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
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Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« All right, winter, SERIOUSLY. Enough already. | Main | We are having a rough time. »
Monday
Feb222010

Back from Texas

So I celebrated the latter half of Winter Break: The Breakening (alternate title: The Sky is Gray, the Days Are Cold, and Life is Joyless and Yet Too Brief; in Germany: Tod Kommt Für Uns Alle) by getting the hell out of here and hightailing it to Texas for the Mom 2.0 Summit. Sorry, Scott and Henry. Enjoy the rest of your Winter Break! So long, suckers!

(Very smart to have a conference during the winter doldrums, when everyone is desperate for escape. Take note of this, Other Conference Organizers! Next year: BlogHer 2011 at the end of January, in the Bahamas. All panels will take place on the beach. The lunch buffet will feature giant urns of daiquiris and piña coladas. I am onto something.)

It’s always hard to sum up a conference when my own experience is so colored by my wacky internal landscape that it’s kind of hard to say exactly what went on. (Did I really take my top off during my panel, like everyone says I did? Seems hard to believe. But when everything went black and I woke up wearing only a hotel blanket, who can say what happened in the interim?) (That part is a joke.) (You know that. I know you know that.)

I can say for certain that the panels I attended were illuminating, that I was thrilled to spend quality time with some of my favorite Internet people, and had some amazing conversations with people I hadn’t met before. (Apologies for not calling these people out specifically, but you cannot know how terrified I am of forgetting someone and having that person wonder why I didn’t mention them, do I secretly hate them? Which is what I would do, because I’m like that.) (I am allergic to hurting people’s feelings, did I mention? Literally. I swell up.) (Not literally. Which, also, you know.)

What always gets in the way of me talking objectively about the kick-ass conference and all the amazing people is the fact that—how I do put this—I don’t seem to do well at these things. I mean, I get by. Do not pity me. But I find them emotionally overwhelming, and spend the whole time shaking like a rained-on Chihuahua. After the last BlogHer I attended (which, okay, was a few months after a miscarriage, when I was suffering from some kind of post-miscarriage postpartumness) I determined that I would never again attend a conference. But I was assured that Mom 2.0 was different—smaller, more intimate. And it was. It was lovely.

And yet. I spent most of the time hiding in my hotel room, and when I walked into one of those giant conference rooms I felt the floor spinning. When I spoke to other attendees, all I wanted to say was, “Don’t you want to run away?” And they would say, “I’m having the best time!” and I would be all, “Me, too!” And then I’d sit in my hotel room and shake.

This puzzles me, because I’m typically a sociable person. I like people! Well, mostly. I mean, let’s not get crazy. It’s not like I shy away from attention, you guys. I enjoy the stage. I am comfortable with a microphone. (Anyone who saw my panel will know I had a hard time giving up the mic.) I had nothing but great interactions, and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I don't want to avoid conferences, because then I'd miss out on discovering all those great people. What I could do without is the inability to sleep and the low-grade nausea and the, well, the trembling and sweating. What the hell, me?

I would love to know if any of you have similar experiences. Maybe I’m simply a delicate flower. Maybe I’m reacting to the wall-to-wall carpeting. That’s it: it’s dust mites! Next time I will attend in a plastic bubble.

Reader Comments (63)

I cannot add to what anyone else has said, so I will just say that your German title for your Winter Break experience made me laugh out loud. Death comes for us all, indeed. Especially over winter freaking break.
February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCara
YES I know exactly what you mean. I am always so excited about conferences, and think I will go to everything, but the whole experience is just so panic-inducing that I'd rather hide under a blanket in my hotel.
February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
I'm an introvert. I freakin' hate conferences unless I go with a bunch of people I know, in which case, why go to a conference? Why not save the money and stay home? This is why, when everyone is raving about BlogHer, I'm all, "Suckas! You think you're having fun but it's a CONFERENCE." I'd love a few hours alone in a hotel room, preferably with some books and a room service dinner, though.
February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline
You're crazy. Oh, but so am I. Of course I can relate. I didn't go to Mom 2.0 because I'm just catching on to what's all going on around here, and who's who besides Dooce. So thanks for sharing your human-ness. I used to attend conferences and try to buddy up to the Hot Dogs and now I'm too old, tired and gray to bounce around like that. OK, I'm not that old, and I'm only gray 1 week a month, but still. I am so glad I found your blog. Thanks for sharing. I'll be back for sure.
February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
I do that on vacation. I know I'll enjoy myself and relaxing will be had, but I fret. Before hand I will at some point tell my husband my best escape-from-the-inevitable-terrorist plan and I'll mentally say goodbye to all.

I've sat smiling and laughing and SUFFERING by more swimming pools than I can count.
February 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthe other leslie
Oh, oof, I've been going to conferences for almost 20 years, and the first 10 of them I'd get the dry heaves every morning before descending from my hotel room and then somehow becoming Ms. Chatterbox.
February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
I understand that many many many people feel this way. I suppose I did during HS and college but I got a job in sales and after a few instances of feeling like this, voila...no more. But it does surprise me to hear you feel this because Alice, it did not show. Not ONE bit. You were effervescent, and your panel was THE best. You are beautiful in person and clearly a genius. I'm sure that doesn't really help, but I'm saying it anyway. I hope we cross paths again.
February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah aka MainlineMom
I am one of the most extroverted people on the planet and I almost lose my lunch trying to get up the nerve to walk into those ballrooms. (I experience the same thing before going on stage to sing as well).

The first morning I looked forward to breakfast like getting a fork in my eye.

And you saved me at breakfast.

You were familiar to me and man...was it comforting to know you wanted to sit by me so I didn't have to go through the heart pounding of finding someone to sit by.

Breakfast RULED.

It was genuine. And fun. And hilarious. And embarrassing as all get out, Brady. ;P

Walking into that big ballroom was totally worth it for me. I'm so glad I made a better friend.

It was of the best moments of Mom 2.0 for me. Well...that and when you took your top of. It was hawt.

:)
March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLoralee
I also think your feelings are normal and that there are probably alot of people out there who feel the way you do (but everyone thinks everyone else is so cool and confident). I was lucky enough to work with my husband and so we two wallflowers would attack the crowds together. I think picking out one or two seemingly nice or like-minded people you could be friendly with helps, as does alcohol (okay, as a last resort. But if it is served at a reception or dinner I definitely take advantage.)
March 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCecilia
I am, it seems, a secret introvert. I can happily rant on and on about whatever intrigues me at the moment, and I am never short of opinions or questions or insights or advice. But when I step into a room and it has more than three or four people in it, I have this momentary desire to climb under the nearest table with a shot of tequila. People who know me a little, like through work, will assume that I'm a very social person, and they're not entirely wrong. But I still remember the day I knew my future husband really knew me. We were attending a 4th of July party held by a close friend of mine, and an hour or so after we arrived, I realized that not only were there twice the number of people there, but I didn't know any of the new people. He told me later that I suddenly looked like a deer in the headlights, but at the moment he calmly suggested that we head over to an area that was a little less crowded. He was the first person I ever remember being able to see that being very social and intensely introverted can go together. It's rough and confusing sometimes, but you're not the only one.
March 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKendra

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