Saturday, July 5, 2008

When bloggers collide- Parts 3, 4 and 5

Part 3

I was standing on the corner of seemingly the most random street in Chicago. Paranoid about being late, especially given a too rapidly dying cell phone, I had grabbed a cab to outside of Nilsa's gym earlier than necessary, and thus found myself in an industrial-looking area.
I decided to waste time walking around the block, but was only greeted by automotive shops. I wedged myself up against a wall, put on my head phones, only to hear my name being called out from between the beats.

Nilsa is adorable and ridiculously charming. Conversation flowed easily as anything as we hopped into her car, doing the standard blogger tactic of introducing one another to the basics of our lives, and querying about the deeper aspects that we both already knew about one another. She played tour guide of sorts, pointing out notables through the window, as we made our way to Cafe LaGuardia in Bucktown to meet Nichole, who was visiting from California, and 
Dan Mega, another Chicago-ite. In yet another tell-tale blogger move, both were already at the restaurant, but one at a table, and one at the bar, since they didn't have any way of recognizing one another. A server had just figured out the blogger connection between the two of them by the time we walked in the door.

So the four of us sat down to some tasty eats, non-stop conversation, and, oh, did I mention many different kinds of mojitos? There was also loads of baseball talk, as I learned about the viciousness of the in-town Cubs/White Sox rivalry. I tried to interject in with a little hockey chatter, but it didn't get seized upon quite as well.

Overall, it was just a lovely night. There were no awkward pauses, and conversation just flowed across all the variety of topics. It is funny how four people who have all only technically "met" that night can feel like any other group of friends over two hours and a few mojitos. 


Part 4

Things I learned about Damsel in Digress
  • She can kick my ass in MarioKart
  • She is exceedingly skilled at hailing cabs, having mastered the appropriate flail.
  • She never gets the hiccups... well, almost never.
  • She pours the strongest drinks I ever did see
  • We both have love for The Rescuers Down Under, wildly singing and gesturing along to ridiculous songs (Bohemian Rhapsody, anyone?), cheap wine, and making up stories about silly drunk people.
Wednesday night, after much back and forth, I found myself knocking on Damsel's door. It was only after the fact that we realized the level of trust we had shared for two people having only met on the internet, with her providing me with her exact address, and me wandering into a stranger's apartment in a city where I knew no one. 

Foreshadowing: Neither of us ended up being serial killers. 
Or maybe we both did, and set up one hell of an awesome gang.

The initial idea was just to do dinner. However, once we sat down, one of Damsel's signature mega-drinks in hand, we forgot to look at the clock for a little while. A little later than intended, we made it to a different, closer restaurant than planned, where we discovered our mutual affinity for cheap wine by order a carafe of it. I think I may have lamented the lack of a box (mmmm... boxed wine).

My head a little more spinny than when I began, and my belly full of meatballs and other assorted goodness, we then went to a pub in Wrigleyville to meet Damsel's man and some coworkers. There I was greeted by perhaps the most fertile people watching grounds ever-- a bar full of very drunk celebratory Cubs fans. And, let me tell you, there is nothing more entertaining than drunk celebratory Cubs fans trying to be sexy on the dance floor to Jack & Diane. Nothing. 

I was then taken to an apparent Chicago institution-- the Wiener's Circle. Though apparently I was missing it in its full weekend glory, I did get to experience a side of vitriol with my hot dog. The entire premise of the restaurant is essentially verbal abuse by the staff and customers alike.
Example: "Give me cheese fries, bitch!"
"Fuck you, asshole. Gimme twenty bucks."

And that is one of the tamer interactions.

Oh, and another reason Damsel is great? She totally tolerated my enthusiasm to get our photo taken by the Wiener Road sign.

We then (yes, it was getting a little late at this point, and Damsel & her man had to work the next morning- what troopers!!) went back to the apartment for a MarioKart fest with a friend who was apparently the best of the best (and is off work and has been spending his spare time doing nothing but MarioKart) and took pleasure at slaughtering my ass. Eventually, I just chose to see how far I could go backwards in a race, simply because I would place the same whether I was trying or not.

And then, nearly at the verge of passing out, WiiMote in hand, I bid my new fabulous friends adieu, and I went back to the hostel to find my pyjamas had been stolen.


Part 5

Friday evening had left me somewhat grumpy. Not only was I set to be late for the massive blogger meet-up due to the timing of my poster presentation, but due to some miscalculations in space, I'd been relegated to the back of some random room. I thought all was about to be healed when I saw some mini-cheesecakes coming my way, but at one person away from me, my arms already outstretched, another server ran up and said "The organizer doesn't want the dessert served until later." I think I may have actually shouted out "Now that's just cruelty!"

Of course, with the session set to be ended at 8pm, and nearly the entire time being spent pacing like a caged jaguar in front of my deserted poster, it was then than the crowd apparently realized about us poor neglected souls in the random room, and then bombarded me with research love. 

As such, it wasn't until nearly 10pm that I found myself wandering about the streets of Wrigleyville. A quick scan of the massive, multiroomed bar didn't help, so I ordered a drink, and called Deutlich. It was only then that I realized that a corner of the room had been taken over by a veritable blogger extravaganza: Angela,  DeutlichMaxie, Dan,  Jamie,  Jenn,  Jessica, Joy ReneeRachel Kayleigh PeterAngie and Veronica.
I also realized that I had by far the most ridiculous blogger name on the planet, and that it is an exercise in humiliation to introduce oneself as Princess Pointful.

Admittedly, it was a little overwhelming at first, trying to put faces to urls. But, as seemed to be the trend across all the bloggie encounters, things rapidly became comfortable, and we were all hopping to different corners of the table to try to catch up with all the wonderful people that had collided in one small space.

Sadly, the outdoor beer gardens closed at midnight. A few of us tried to convince the masses that bloggie karaoke was the next logical step, but apparently weren't incredibly convincing. Instead, a group of us went to an all night diner, where Jessica and I bonded over over our belief that breakfast is indeed the superior meal, and Maxie wowed us with her singing skills (girl's even got moves when trapped in a booth!). After all my big talk about breakfast, I barely made it through a third of my omelette. 

Unfortunately, that was the end of my bloggie collisions for the week. I know that a group of these fabulous folks had a cupcake crawl the next day, but unfortunately I was stuck in learning-about-important-stuff-land at my conference.


Seriously, though, despite the fact that I am getting more and more opportunities to meet the fantastic people I have had the luck to know first via their words, it never ceases to surprise me how natural each encounter has been. I keep on holding my breath, expecting their to be awkwardness and silence. I keep on doubting that the written word is really enough to have genuinely connected me to all these people, that at some point, there will have to be someone who I can adore online, but not really like in real life. Yet that never happens. I don't know if it is just that bloggers are more friendly, intelligent and funny than average, or just that I read the right people, but it is so refreshing to have these connections translate so well into real life.

The flip side of all this? The bigger a part that blogging becomes in my life, the more I am having to lie about it. I now have my default series of lies about these people that no one else in my "real" life knows about, and it feels like someone will have to catch on that not every friend they don't know is someone I met on last year's two week summer institute. I'm so used to blogging being top secret that I have an automatic negative reaction when people speak of blogging in front of others ("You can't talk about our blogs in front of the server!"). I also realized that I am one of the only bloggers out there who is so neurotic about their anonymity. While everyone else was posting photos all over their Facebook, or talking about how awkward it was when their mom found their blog, I was avoiding posting photos for fear of people querying me about the rest of the group's identity, and panicking about the thought of even a neighbour finding my blog. And, admittedly, I am a little envious of them. A secret identity can be fun, but sometimes I wish I felt more comfortable talking about these relationships and my writing.


And a PS... I know I still haven't even came close to clearing out my Google Reader since my return from Chicago, but now I'm off again! The Duke's parents are coming into town today, and have rented a house on a gorgeous nearby island. We're off for a week of delicious R&R (and for once, one of those R's is not reports. Well, not much, at least). I'm unsure of the internet situation while there, as it is a pretty isolated place, so I may be MIA again. Wish me luck in spending an entire week with the man's parents without doing something humiliating!


Ant said...

Blimey, that's some hard-core blog-meeting! I think the process is self-editing - you gravitate towards blogs you like in the same way that you make friends in real life, so nearly all the meetings are going to have a connection. (I've found the same as yourself...)

Word up though: you are going to get busted one day on the anonymity thing, no matter how careful you are. I don't think it matters too much though, as you tend not to post contentious stuff. (My boss, the only person that I hide my blog existence from, was super-suspicious when I seemed to know so many women in the Seattle and surrounding area...)

Anyways, have fun with the in-laws! You'll be fine... :-)

Princess of the Universe said...

When are you coming to Winnipeg???
I've only met a couple of people irl, but it's been amazing. You're right, the comfort and ease with which it all happens is worthy of some research in and of itself...

lissa said...

wow. how fantastic. i'd love to go to something like that one day. it must be exhausting to be so careful. i hope though that the secret doesn't come out until you decide to reveal your true identity.

Jamie Lovely said...

It was absolutely fantastic meeting you! You should come back soon. Hopefully Chicago will be a little nicer and not try to trap you here forever!

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

What a great experience!!

I wish we had a S. FL. blog gathering...but I don't know any other S. FL bloggers, doh!

brookem said...

im a bit envious of all these big bloggy meetups! ive got one in the works for this summer and im completley stoked.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

My blog is, like, half-secret. My close friends all know about it, but I'm hesitant to share it with family, coworkers, roommates, or first dates. I used to have a secret blog and that was so hard. I wouldn't want to do that again. That said, I sometimes wish that my blog wasn't so public as it keeps me from sharing some of the best stories and rants!

poodlegoose said...

Can I just say one more time how jealous I am of your blogger meet-up. I'm glad you got to have such a good time :)

Deutlich said...

I had SUCH a great time over the weekend, it's not even funny. Wicked glad I got to meet you.

Also? I do understand about the negative reaction. EVERYone I was with over the weekend was SOO quick to talk about how we all knew each other (to servers, to random strangers, to just about anybody) that I had to refrain from wigging out about it... but i did get us a free cupcake on saturday, so I suppose it could have been worse. haha

also? i'm glad the only folks I really want to stay anonymous from are my coworkers.. and only because I don't like them and therefore don't want them to know anything personal about me ever.

distractedspunk said...

It's kind of funny. I think I've met two bloggers at this point that I read religiously - yourself included.

I can't imagine what it must be like having to do the self-censor thing.

At any rate, terrific! Hurrah! And good lord, I need to partake in a Chicago bloggie convention soon!

Have a great time with the Duke and his family. I hope the weather is far more amenable than it is in his hometown!

Tin Ma'am said...

That really is a blogger extravaganza! Wow! Oh, and no worries about google reader :-)

Surfergrrl said...

what an interesting weekend! I probably, in some capacity (if someone hasn't already) given away the identity of where you live. uh-oh! :) There are some people i would seriously crap myself if they ever found my blog. you can probably guess a few of them! lol

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

wow-that is really cool. I look forward to attending a bloggy meet-up one day. Glad you had fun (and minimized your time in the room with your two roommates!)
P.S. Also glad you got the research love you so deserve!

Maxie said...

oh wow I'm not sure that I remember singing or dancing at the food place. HAHA! I must have been a little more tipsy than I remembered.

I'm JUST catching up with my Greader right now. It's at like 70 down from 350ish and at least now I can see the end of the tunnel!

I totally feel ya about having to lie more about blogging as it grows. Every time I tell a story about someone I "know" (from blogging) my mom asks these weird questions about how I know them and blah blah. I know that I should just keep my mouth shut, but I feel like all my bloggy friends ARE my friends IRL.

And I know i've already told you, but it was GREAT meeting you.

~Angela~ said...

The whole anonymity issue is one I think we all struggle with. I'm not very anonymous. Most people in my real life know that I have a blog, but I don't tell them what it is. My brother found mine, but he doesn't care enough to read it. Two coworkers found it (because I was stupid and sent them a link to a blog post that I had commented on using my Blogger identity), but stopped reading it because they felt like they were invading my privacy (whatever, I didn't really care). And I think someone from Tony n' Tina's Wedding may have found it, but they stopped reading it (probably because they realized it takes 3 hours to get through one of my posts).

There are days I wish I were anonymous so that I could blog about certain subjects that I wouldn't want attached to my name. But I like that some of my real life friends in other cities know what's going on in my life without me having to tell them. It's kinda like a short-cut that way. *shrugs* I don't know.

Anyway, it was lovely meeting you. :)

NamesAreHardToPick said...

That is too crazy; I love the Rescuers down under. I must say, that you and Damsel must have had quite a time. I imagine that anyone that can "kick your butt" in MarioKart has to be pretty amazing.

The idea of meeting other bloggers sounds fun, but in its own way can be a little sppoky. Some of these people know us better than many of our good friends do.

Nilsa S. said...

Just imagine how much less fun your week would've been without all these crazy run-ins?! It was so much fun meeting you. And while I'm not an anonymous blogger, I do *get* how weird it is to talk blogging in front of non-bloggers. Nothing a few yummy mojitos couldn't fix. :-)

Jenn said...

I'm happy I was able to meet you! Even if it was for only a couple of hours :)

tmamone said...

Hey, if you're ever in the Annapolis area, give me a ring (or email). I'll introduce you to the fine world of crab cakes and National Bohemian.

Even though my blog is not annoymous, I do sometimes worry about how certain people might react, since I sometimes write at my most naked and vulnerable. I don't want to go into work one day and have every one ask, "Are you alright?"

Yoda said...

That is one hell of a Blogger meet!

Too bad my Chicago trip got skewed a bit. Do let us know if you are in the NYC area!!

Bayjb said...

Aww I love when blogger collide! I'm so bummed I didn't get to meet Damsel but I'm so glad we got to bond over our love of breakfast :) Especially at 1 a.m.

Caz said...

I know what you mean about the awkwardness pre-bloggers-meeting-in-real-life and then how quick you get along... it's suprising and great that you can connect so meaningfully over the internetz.

I also deal with your anonymous-ness issue. I'm not-so-anonymous online but none of my real life friends/family/etc. know I write a blog and I'd rather they didn't know either. From what I gather, my RL friends aren't blog readers so I doubt they'd stumble across mine. At the same time, I'm not sure what I'd do if they did.

d said...

it just kills me that i was out of town for all this. your recap, as jealous as it makes me, is so awesome cuz it's like you were running through a city i know so well, meeting people i do know or sort of know.

so fun.

Brett said...

Great post, how do you find the time to do anything else other than blog!

lspoon said...

I am so incredibly jealous that you got to meet so many wonderful people! Wow! :)

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

ah! sounds like the most incredible trip EVERRRRRRRR AND I REALLY REALLY WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TO PLAY!!!! :( I'm jealous, its official.

Matt said...


its probably a really good thing none of them turned out to be serial killers.

Katelin said...

such a blogger filled weekend, i'm so jealous. sounds like you had a great time :)

Damsel in Digress said...

pp - i seriously just burst out with laughter, reading the part about you driving the course backwards during mariokart wii. i had so much fun hanging out and still haven't quite gotten over the fact you are no longer in chicago. (insert pout)

next time we meet (because of course there will be a next time), maybe it will be the opposite of this last time - we'll stay in, watch rescuers down under, and not drink a single drop of my mega-drinks.

just boxed wine.

have fun with duke and his parents!

Paula said...

I've not met any other bloggers in real life yet and part of me wants to and part of me is terrified to. I never really thought about the terrifying side (apart from being nervous that I might not seem as good in real life as I do in my blog) until I got your point on going to someone's apartment you didn't know. I've only ever met one person via the internet before and I'm surprised I wasn't more terrified! As for the anonymity thing - I've already been busted again in my new incarnation but, like Ant said, if you aren't saying anything controversial or whatever, you'll be fine. These days I try to post things that are things I wouldn't mind people in my real life knowing, as I know for a fact that some people I know are still reading. But that's another story . . . :)

Dan Mega said...

It was great meeting you in real life. Hugs and high fives were excellent.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

That is pretty exhaustive. I like meeting bloggers one at a time. I find it easier to absorc what's happening. I have to try and get to Chicago whilst I am here. That abusive restaurant sounds great.

Kayleigh said...

I loved love loved this post. And I am jealous that you got to meet Ms. Damsel. Harumph! The Weiner Circle is utterly ridiculous, too. I have to work up my courage to go there, haha. Also: if I had heard the hockey convo I would have jumped on that bandwagon. Love hockey. But it is true, summertime in Chicago is consumed with the hatred and extremely unhealthy rivalry between the Sox and Cubs (GO SOX...ok /shameless baseball plug).

It was great to meet you, albiet briefly. And be proud of the PP name: it's great!

Shan said...

yay! i just found you and already feel we are going to be amazing bloggy friends! love it, keep up the great work!

twentysomethingandclueless said...

I totally know what you mean about blogging anonymously/meeting bloggers IRL. I've only met one blogger IRL, when I was in NYC in March, and it was already difficult to explain who I was meeting and how I knew her! We came up with a story, but I got a few weird looks since people who know me really well would know that I'd never mentioned her before in my life!

And, I'm also way protective of my anonymous identity, which is why in the future I think I'll just do blogger meet-ups via my non-anon blog name. :)

Glad you had a good trip, minus the stolen PJ's and that hostel!!

chasinglibby said...

wow that was a huge blog collision!! i missed you while you were away, and i too am behind on reading...probably not as much as you are though!! i'm glad you're back home all in one piece!