Conferencing

I’m getting on a jet plane later this week, bound for Los Angeles. I’m going to a conference. Conferences often make me feel like this:

Because usually at conferences all the conference-goers are saying to all the other conference-goers, What do you do? What do you do? Here's my card. What do you do?

And during all of that, what I actually feel underneath is more like, I’m a gooey human being.

I’m a gooey human being who works from home every day while wearing black fleece sweatpants tapered at the ankles. And I sit there in my home office and spontaneously I look up from my desk and say to my dog, “What do you think, girl?”

And so the danger of going to a conference is feeling hyper anxious about wanting to appear to be anything other than a gooey human being whose natural habitat is fleece sweatpants and whose regular mode of communication is conversation with a dog.

Because once I'm there, at the conference, it’s hard not to get swept up in things. I see everyone swapping business cards and I think, Everyone is so accomplished; look at them all. And then at the very same time, at the very moment that I'm thinking they're so accomplished, I start judging them.

Look at all these motherfuckers in drab suits, I think. They're networking till they're red in the face.

And I feel a certain resentment towards them, and in my head I rehearse the way I'll describe the whole thing later, when I get home: Oh, you know, a lot of blah blah blah, a lot of people talking about work and taking themselves too seriously.

And so there I am, the bustle of the conference going on all around me, and I'm judging everyone and at the same time feeling anxious about my gooeyness – which, as we all know, is really one in the same.

Meanwhile I've left the sweatpants at home, as social mores require, and I'm wearing a blazer. And I shake hands with lots of folks, and I talk about The Things I’m Working On, and oh, here, let me give you a business card.

But... here’s where the good news comes in.

This one is going to be different.

I'm headed to BinderCon, a conference named for the time Mitt Romney actually said – in response to a question about hiring women for his campaign – that he had “binders full of women!” So that, right there, means we can crack jokes. We can laugh; we can take ourselves less seriously.

And, though it’s not typically associated with taking oneself less seriously (but maybe it should be), I’m going there because I’m talking about writing about loss. And that means it’s my job to acknowledge the fact of being a gooey human being, and that we’re all gooey human beings, in our different ways.

And that’s something I can do. I can definitely do that.

It sounds pretty cool, actually. I'm heading to Los Angeles to go to BinderCon – where a woman who writes for Family Guy will be speaking, and where sessions include How To Keep Your Story From Getting Sucked Into An Internet Black Hole Workshop – and where I'll be talking about writing about loss. Plus it’s nice, on occasion, to have a reason to change out of the sweatpants and to put on big-person clothes instead. (Though, obviously, I wouldn’t want to do that all the time. Like, five days a week? Whoa, no, let’s not get carried away.)

So, actually, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be neat! And if you should you find yourself in Los Angeles this weekend, why don’t you swing by UCLA, and join us.

(Side note: For the next week and a half I’ll be on the road, from California to Colorado. So you won’t see a post from me next week. I’ll be back the week of April 6th. Until then, my friends. Until then.)