25 July 2008

The GM people did not pay me to say the Tahoe Hybrid rocks

I haven't been posting or doing much of anything else, as I have gotten the BlogHerBola virus that is going around. In reality, it is the flu - no flesh-eating is involved. If you went and got sick, I am collecting info in a survey for my own amusement: Click Here to take survey. Please pass it along.

I already mentioned that I got to take a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid to BlogHer. If the folks at GM had known me, they would not have picked me for this assignment. I am one of those people who roll my eyes and make nasty comments when a shiny new SUV pulls up next to me at a stoplight.

I say things like "Ooh, don't CARE if your grandchildren have air to breathe?" or "Is that the Ford Valdez you are driving?" Of course I only say these things in the privacy of my own tiny Honda Fit with the windows rolled up, but I am pretty sure the people in the SUV don't think I am singing along to the NPR news when I say it.

Even a hybrid SUV seemed like a fairly stupid idea. Kind of like "Chili Fries Light with Extra Cheese."

But I love free stuff, and GM was providing the Tahoe with a full tank of gas AND paying for parking in SF, a savings of $49 per night. I KNOW I could have gotten a nice hotel in Albuquerque for the same price it takes to park ONE car in downtown San Francisco, as far as I know, Cowgirl Creamery and Acme Bread haven't opened branches in Albuquerque, either, and BlogHer has never seen fit to hold a conference there.

So. Free Car. I had been worrying for a few days because, being a big fat chick, my back was hurting and my sciatic pain (in my left leg) was getting out of control and 7 hours in the car seemed like a bad, bad idea. But BlogHer beckoned with its promise of sisterly love and free drinks a-plenty.

Karoli picked me up on Thursday morning in a gleaming white Tahoe with "HYBRID" written on the side in 8-inch letters and little green "H" logos scattered on every surface.

After exclaiming over the beast's size and shininess, we took some photos (we ARE bloggers after all) and hit the road.

The trip was nothing less than great. Being of a like mind about the environment, Karoli and I decided to eke as much mileage out of the thing as we could, and we ended up with trip mileage of 24mpg, pretty dang good. We drove between 60 and 65.

We put $74 gas in it in San Jose on the way up and still had gas left when we got back to Ventura County.

The best part was that it was deeeeluxe. I'm used to a rattly, tiny car (and I LOVE my tiny car) but the big-ass leather seats with an amazing adjusty thing, backup cam, OnStar, DVD player, XM satellite radio...I am not ashamed to say I liked it. The 8 hour trip did not feel long at all. It felt comfy and fun.

What made the trip even better was the attention we got (we ARE bloggers, after all) everywhere we went. People wanted to know about the Hybrid, pointed, gazed, stared and asked about it. We loved it when people in other giant SUVs pulled up next to us on the highway. We would say "Jealous!" to each other and laugh.

The only moments of terror came when I was trying to manuver it out of the miniature St. Francis parking garage on Sunday morning as half of the world checked out. For the first time, it felt like a BIG car. The other thing was that it was so quiet that the people on the sidewalk outside the hotel didn't realize "Hey! I'm driving here!" but we got out without squishing anyone, thankfully.

I am floored that a company like GM would drive a $53k vehicle up to a stranger's house and drop it off so they and their quite possibly dangerous unseen fellow blogger could drive it across the state.

I gotta give it to the marketing department, though, because they turned me, a total SUV hater, into someone who has real admiration for at least this one product. Miracle of miracles.

23 July 2008

The other BlogHer thing

This year I was lucky enough to participate in the first BlogHer Community Keynote. Twenty of us bloggers were selected to read posts that were supposed to be 2-3 minutes long - some were much longer, but it was really all good.

We read in the St. Francis Hotel Grand Ballroom in front of an audience of about 500. If I live to be 100, I am sure the experience will rank in my fondest memory file right up there with the time I got to swim with the U.S. Men's Olympic Water Polo team.

Backstage with all the others, I was very nervous until I had the sudden realization: "Hey, I used to read my POETRY in public. So I have read much, much worse crap than this before." Then I was only twitchingly nervous, as is evidenced in the video.

Still, I was so spun by the experience that when I looked at the red stapler photos I took of my fellow readers backstage, there were several people I could neither remember reading nor could identify. I had to look at the BlogHer website to try and parse their names.

But it was good times. People were brave. They read stuff that was heartbreaking, tender, funny, good, scary. Check out the video, which didn't get it all, but is as good as it gets if you weren't there. Next best thing: Fussy has links to all the readings and you should really not miss Lesbian Dad, Mr. Lady and Casey of Moosh in Indy. Oh and Yvonne of Joy Unexpected, who made me cry in a ugly, sobby, palm-biting kind of way. Thanks, Y, for making me ruin my mascara. No, really, it was great.

You also need to go read Jenny the Bloggess's post and THEN watch the video because the sound quality really sucks a bit and it is much easier if you have gotten the gist of it first. But baby, that woman is FUNNY.

I hate to say "you shoulda been there" but you shoulda been there.

In other excellent news, I FINALLY decided which SuperHero necklace to buy (the lovely "Sea Glass" model, which is modeled on the site by the lovely Karen Wolrond). Only took me 3 years, and I am wearing it here with Dana of The Dana Files.

22 July 2008

I DO have a lot to say about BlogHer 08

First and foremost: the Red Stapler portrait set is up at Flickr with 107 photos, a new record. If you have an urge to see your favorite bloggers holding an office tool, you can fulfill it there.

Going to a women's blogging conference with 1000 women is kind of like immersing yourself in melted dark chocolate. It is entirely delicious and entirely too much.

I think I will try to take it in small bite-sized stories, if you don't mind. I don't feel like I could do it justice in one large roundup.

My modus operandi this year was to have fun and to not get overwhelmed. I succeeded at #1 and did not quite do as well at #2, though I experienced vast improvements over the two years prior.

I only had two duties this year: to participate in the panel on being childless in the blogosphere and to read at the Community Keynote.

The panel turned out great, though I had almost nothing to do with it. None of us panelists did. We barely said anything because the audience was so fired up and ready to talk that the discussion happened with little input from us. It was 75 minutes of going all over the childfree map, from infertile women who really wanted children to women who did not have children, did not want children and who did not like children very much at all (for instance, boycotting baby showers. I did not know that was allowed!)

At the end of all of this childless introspection, there came a very odd moment indeed, one that I am still scratching my head about.

Moderator Teri Tith had reserved the right to ask the panel the final question. It was something like this "People say they get a lot of satisfaction from their children. What is it that YOU get satisfaction from?"

She looked at me.

I asked that the others answer first. I sat there like a stunned mullet, my mind churning, as the other 2 panelists answered with the usual stuff about work, family and hobbies.

It came back around to me and I blurted out "That question took me aback because I kind of feel like that question contains the same kernel of "What is your life about if you don't have kids?" that we have been talking about."

I know she meant well, that she wanted to end the panel on a happy note, but I felt like I had been sucker-punched. In my mind, there IT was again - if you don't have children, somehow you have to justify your existence because making children is the main reason for living.

Interestingly enough, my biggest support in that moment came from Denise Tanton of Flamingo House Happenings. She has 3 kids of her own and I think 3 of her partner's. She said that I didn't have to answer the question and gave me a big thumbs-up. She had talked in the discussion about how she really believed and understood that having kids wasn't the end-all and be-all. It felt good to have someone say aloud what I knew in my heart.

Clearly us childless folks have a long way to go, even among ourselves. Humans haven't had a choice about childbearing for very long and it is going to take some getting used to. The more reason to talk and talk some more.

21 July 2008


Does the world really NEED one more BlogHer post today? I didn't think so. Instead, here is a picture of my dog's tail as she hunts in a bush. This cracks me up every time.
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