The sight of this door nearly killed me dead.
I was at the BlogHer '08 conference in San Francisco last weekend, which was a brave move for me. I might be a candid and often over-sharing character here, but there are two things I have kept to myself over the last almost-five years of writing on this website: my real name and my real face. My anonymity has been extremely important to me. I come from a religious family with conservative values, and the things I talk about here would, and will at some point, I am sure, cause a lot of upset. While I have been figuring out what I might do if my writing ever came to light, I have been careful to hide my identity.
And then, because I am capital-S M R T smart, I agreed to take part in the BlogHer '08 Community Keynote on the first night of the conference. I don't know what I was thinking. Getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people as Schmutzie went against my first and most important rule when it comes to this website. The only thing that would make my decision to out myself last weekend make sense would be if I were off my psych meds, drunk, tossing back roofies, and feeling particularly self-destructive when I submitted my weblog post for the reading. At any rate, it didn't occur to me that I was going to be advertising my face to hundreds of people in the audience and thousands of people on the internet until I saw that stage door.
The stage door gave me a steely stare that said very clearly YOU ARE KIND OF AN IDIOT, with which I kind of agreed.
Back stage was vertiginous stew of nervous tension. When I am struggling under immense fear, I tend to become hyper-focused on details outside myself. I forget my beating heart and my shallow breathing and instead follow the lines of clothing and the fluttering of hands and the dry shift of paper against paper. Novels outcrop at people's edges and flirt with my paralysis.
While I sat backstage and my body melted away into the general hum of elbows and hair-grooming and ancient fluorescent lighting, it occurred to me that I was ready for this. I felt completely unstable and dissociated from my body, but there was something so very right about being there right then to do the only thing I fear more than dentistry, public speaking.
Or, the message my brain could have been sending was likely something along the lines of YOU FORGOT TO TAKE YOUR MEDICATION THIS MORNING, HAVE BECOME SOMEWHAT DISSOCIATIVE, AND ARE SLIPPING INTO HIVE MIND, YOU GIT.
I'm kidding about that, though. When Eden of Fussy took the stage to MC the Community Keynote, the time had arrived, and I new that this thing that I was about to do with twenty-one other writers was right. I was exactly where I was supposed to be for the first time in many years.
I was sixteenth on a list of twenty-two speakers and thought I would never be able to maintain consciousness through that long wait. I was sure I would swoon, and I curled and uncurled my toes in my shoes to remind myself that I was standing. There was too much magic backstage for fainting, though, and I was compelled to inhale all of it, every shaky knee returning from the stage, speech through emotional throats, and anticipatory sighs. We quickly fell into a natural community there. We comforted and congratulated, hugged and held hands as we dealt with the rise and fall of high emotions.
As a person who is used to a certain level of detachment, this was a true oasis after great thirst. These were my people in a way that I am not used to having people, even if only for ninety minutes.
Watching all those talented fellow bloggers take the stage and share of themselves with a rapt audience made me remember why it is that I do what I do here and why I love it so much. In its best state, its most ideal form, blogging provides a freedom through honesty on a level that I do not think has ever before been accomplished in human history. I am not being hyperbolic here. As with anything on this earth, there are negatives as well as positives when it comes to blogging, but that does not negate its incredible potential for both private and public revelation/revolution.
Without Eden Kennedy (Fussy) and her creation of the Community Keynote at BlogHer '08, I might have lost the faith. Thank you, Eden.
The following are the weblog posts that were read at the BlogHer '08 Community Keynote. Enjoy.
Megan Smith: "Michelle Obama Enjoys "The View:" A Recap"
Heather Barmore: "Guess who wants Typepad for Mother s Day"
Blogging About Blogging
Liz Gumbinner: "I'm official! Hooray!"
Suebob Davis: "Blogging makes you lose your mind"
Stephanie Bergman: "Has Twitter Ruined Blogging?"
Doug: "Five going on fifteen"
Polly Pagenhart: "Thanks giving"
Lindsay Ferrier: "Every Mom Needs a Little Wiggle Room"
Letter to My Body
Yvonne: "Life Changing Words"
Laurie White: "Letter to My Body, Letter to My Face"
Antonia Cornwell: "Christmas Poem"
Jenny Lawson: "High"
Evany Thomas: "Say my name!"