Voice Up

I prepared for the conference by eating lots of ice cream and fudge.

This week I am attending a conference for bloggers, spreaders of sparkle and DIY extraordinaire. I don't really fit the mold for the festivities. I don't wear glorious clothes freshly flown in from New York, I don't know how to create magnificent landscapes out of paper mache and a little luck and I have never used a glue gun. However. The people are nice and the opportunities are shiny. I write for Caravan Shoppe occasionally so when they said, " Hey Meg, you want a ticket to that Alt thing?" I was like, "yes, please, thank you."

Last night I went to one of the opening dinners at Settebellos. First, can we talk about how glorious that place is? Their  misto plate comes with  mini balls of goat cheese rolled in nut slivers. The accompanying artichoke hearts are cured in house. THERE ARE FIVE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CURED MEAT PILED ON A WOOD BOARD OF DELIGHT. I am sure there was conversation occurring while the first course sat on the table, but I did not hear much of it because, you know, MINI BALLS OF GOAT CHEESE.

Once I came up for air I spent the rest of the night trying to hold back tears. Yeah, I was that girl. Can you imagine the collective conversations on the way home from dinner?

"Did you see the brunette at the end of the table? Yeah, the one that practically made love to the mortadella and then kind of looked weepy the rest of the night? What was her deal? Should we be concerned?"

Anyways, the cause of the tears. Here was a group of women I had never met. All different backgrounds and different hopes. As I sat in front of the battlefield that was my plate ("Was she angry at the pizza? Is that why she ate it so ferociously and unnaturally quickly?"), I marveled at my circumstance. Fifteen years ago, I didn't think my voice, my hopes, my thoughts - my person! - was worth anyone's notice. Which I suppose is sad. But I also didn't think I was worth my own care, my own understanding. I was below my own notice. And that, fair reader, is sad. If statistics have anything to say about it, a few, if not a majority, of the the women at that table last night have been below their own notice at some point or another, too. And yet, in a grand statement of hope and worth, we had all put on lipstick and gathered around that table to hear and be heard.

My tears, my gratitude for the circumstance had nothing to do with the world of blogging. It is a place that doesn't always fit me. Rather it came from the fact that I think in this moment of light and understanding these lipstick shined dinners are happening so many places for so many women. We are finally coming together, finally utilizing this magnificent sisterhood to support our voices and lend support to the voices of others. We are seeking our tribes, understanding the power of being heard in our workplace, our communities and most importantly, our homes. The forum doesn't matter, the gentle power behind each voice does.

So, dear sisters, today while I shy away from photo booths and try to figure out how to walk graciously in heels for more than three hours, I ask this. Please. Take notice. Your fellow women need you and you sure as hell deserve to be heard. Gather, talk, listen and seek. And for the love of heaven, if you happen to be wearing red lipstick while you do it all the better.

Goat cheese optional, but strongly encouraged.


At the Press

I went to a conference for bloggers way back in January. It was full of fabulous people with fabulous hair and fabulous ideas. Many of the attendees were of the design/craft blogger variety and, while I felt totally welcome, I also felt a bit out of place. I am writer that doesn't own a glue gun or one piece of neon clothing. No, not one. Everything those great girls with red lips and top knots talked about was a little outside my realm of understanding. (Wait. I am supposed to style my pictures? How is washi tape any different than scotch tape? What the hell is a bounce rate and will it affect my credit???)

By my third class, I had decided that I would leave the conference with good friends, good memories and very little practical (for my pursuits) knowledge. It was not such a bad realization. I like good friends and I like good memories. Also? The food was included in admission and there was a lot of it. A recipe for success, as far as I am concerned.

On the first day we were all gathered into a big ballroom for a meal and our first key note speaker. I sat next to my dear friend Ashley and chatted with her in between enormous bites of clear broth soup, sushi and salad. I would like to defend the amount I ate at that meal by pointing out that the food, while delicious, had about the same mass and stomach filling potential as a large bowl of air. However, I eat that way anytime I am presented with free food....it could have been steak and eggs, I would tucked in just as prodigiously.

Anyways, somewhere between my first bite and the sushi roll I stole from Amy ("are you going to eat that?"), I started listening to the speaker. The good man was saying some very interesting things.

He talked about this amazing age of industry we have entered into together. A time of around the world flights and 3D printers. It is the first time in history that the means of production have belonged to the single man rather than just the ruling body or giant business. He talked about innovators and dreamers.

And then he talked about movable type.

The Gutenberg Bible was published around 1454. The first major book printed on movable type in the west, it was a work of genius, beauty and complete exhaustion. This masterwork, this leap into a world captured on print, didn't just take some time, it was the work of a lifetime.

Of course, once Johannes Gutenberg had perfected the art of movable type, the real work began. Each printing of the bible required an estimated 100,000 individual sorts of type. Setting a single page could take as long as half a day and the intricacies of printing required at least 25 craftsmen working on the bible at all times. The simple act of publishing one book took the combined effort of nearly thirty individuals, immense sums of money and a certainty that the book published would be of interest to enough people to justify the man labor and printing costs. It is estimated that the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible cost 30 florins, the equivalent of three years wages for a clerk at the time.

Consequently, the only major works published for centuries were the ones that were of interest to and approved by the ruling classes.

Today? Today we each have the power of creation and dissemination in our own homes. The days of approved messages and limited information are long gone. We live in a time when those 25 craftsmen and long days of type setting have been replaced by the "publish" buttons on our blogs, websites and phones. My goodness. The glory of it all! The joy of creating a message and sending it out into a world! It is such a great gift and such a great responsibility. It leaves us each to beg the question, what are we creating each day? And, perhaps more importantly, what creations do we partake of each day?

At this point I was crying into my plate, my tears puddling into a dark pool of soy sauce. It was not pretty, but it was happy. I know I will never create anything as beautiful and lasting as the Gutenberg Bible, not even close. But I am blessed to live in a time that allows me, and others, to try.

I learned two important lessons that day,

1.When you are surrounded by people who are passionate about their craft, even when it is so different than your own, you will always learn something.

2. It is always OK to cry into a plate of free food. Especially when you know they will be serving lavender hot chocolate and cookies within the hour.

Here's to a day of creation and passionate consumption (whether of food or books or both is completely up to you).