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Suburban Island

JournalCon 2004 - The Suburban Island View
Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004, 9:22 p.m.

QUESTION: Why didn't I go last year too?

WHAT I LEARNED: There are always new friends to be made.

Lucky me! I was able to attend JournalCon this weekend. I was pretty charged up about it too. Finally, I was going to get to meet some of the diarists and bloggers that I read and admire. As if that weren’t enough, there were programs to attend (something that always appeals to the lifetime learner in me), readings to enjoy (something that appeals to my unquenchable urge to identify everything wonderful on the web), and lots of eating and drinking to be done (something that appeals to my stomach).

There were two things that nearly kept me from attending. First, my lips got sunburned at the beach. No big deal? Actually, it was because this was not just a little sunburn but a spectacular sunburn - and when I woke up Saturday morning my bottom lip was swollen to at least twice its normal size. It was somewhat akin to waking on the morning of the big dance and seeing a huge pimple sprouting in the middle of your forehead. My sun-swollen lips did not make me look hot. Nor did they make me look pouty. Instead, I looked like I had lost a fight with a swarm of bees or fallen victim to an errant collagen shot. I did want to go to the conference though so I overcame my vanity. I carefully applied the palest beige lipstick I owned in the hopes that it would camouflage this lip disaster and headed out to face the world.

I had hardly left my doorstep when I found myself back upon it again. I was back home again because I was suddenly penniless. My bank did not love me it seemed or perhaps they loved me too well (as I was to find out later). Either way, my bankcard did not work in the ATM, which meant I had no money to pay for JournalCon and also now possessed a seemingly defective ATM card. Only later in the day did I discover the reason why my well-worn old friend did not work – someone had swiped my ATM card number and had tried to use it online. Unfortunately for them, they were on the bad kid list and the bank caught it. Consequently, my husband had to pony up the funds for sunnflower’s big day in the city.

The upshot of my procrastination and the devastation of the morning was that I arrived unfashionably late, without any cool swag, and without knowing too much about what lay before me. In my earliest journaling and blogging days, I imagined huge conferences with big A-list types standing in exhibit halls chatting to their adoring web-based reading public in between attending programs from dawn to dusk. This wasn’t like that image in my head at all. It was so much better. It was small, low-key and informal. There was no exhibit hall. Everyone was approachable. One aspect of my vision and the reality of the journal/blog conference was the swag. Give-aways were the bridge between fantasy and reality and I had none to give away. Not even business cards that said: Suburban Island – Sunshine 24/7 and what about one that asks the eternal question: Little Island - Got a Suburban Strategy? Now who wouldn’t wait to tack those up on their wall for future reading reference? What was I thinking arriving empty-handed?

Unmused checked me in and she was kind enough not to raise an eyebrow about that little faux pas. A moment later I got to meet russiagirl. I was able to use the only sentence I can still remember from my two years of college Russian which basically translate to – Hi, how are you? Life is filled with small accomplishments such as this. I am sure my dad would be glad to know that all that tuition he paid for me to go to college and take 2 years of a foreign language came in handy during my first 5 minutes at the conference.

As to the swag offerings at JournalCon this year – it was cool creative stuff like CD compilations, red foam noses, beaded bookmarks, bumper stickers, little flowerpots, and postcard offerings. I might have blown it on bringing the swag but as a seasoned professional conference attendee, I understood that one must gather the giveaways (aka: swag) you desire before the giveaways were gathered and gone. Next year, I’m bringing swag and lots of it. Live and learn.

Although I got no cell phone reception at the beautiful Helix, I was so overcome by the funky cool environment of this hip little hotel that it hardly mattered. There was also champagne in the late afternoon which makes one feel a bit more forgiving of such failings and makes a trek outside the building to the curb just to place one’s calls an acceptable accommodation to endure for the sake of such a chic environment. There was even some champagne in the early afternoon – thanks to Mo Pie, whom I think is quite charming and knows the path to good panel moderation can and perhaps should include some alcohol along the way. I won’t go down the list of all the panel presenters at JournalCon but I found the programs interesting and informative. Bozoette wrote up a good summary of many of the panel presentations.

One of the best things that I got to do at JournalCon was to indulge in lunch at the swanky Firefly with Cosmicrayola, Summer-Gale, Bozoette, and JuJu. How lucky am I? I can’t begin to tell you how amazing each and every one of these online creative entities are. Later on in the conference I got to meet TancJen (who looks beautiful in black), Weetabix (who provided interesting insights as a panelist), and beinsoul, (who did a beautiful reading).

I also sipped exotic drinks in the cool Helix bar with conference attendees including Dawn who had some work versus blog problems, amazing resilience, and a delightfully outspoken cat, and Pratt who understands the appeal of bunnies. Later, I stood in a smoky bar called Hamburger Mary eating a fabulous blue cheese burger and drinking an almost toxic-by-way-of-Tabasco-sauce Bloody Mary that I eventually set aside for something that didn’t require a gallon jug of ice water on the side. I also got to talk to davetepper over the music video din. He's a legal whiz who shared his knowledge of legal issues for bloggers with us earlier in the day as a presenter on one of the panels. During all this eating and talking, I saw music videos featuring Madonna and Britney and Christina A that may have traumatized me for life – some things are better on the radio. The karaoke never happened while I was there but that might have been for the best because I can’t sing at all and might have attempted to do so anyway. The next day I needed the largest coffee possible.

I would like to give my compliments to the planning committee. They did a great job!

I am going to point out some of my new favorite finds over the coming weeks on my blog: Little Island. My one regret is that I didn’t see more of my Diaryland pals there. Maybe next year!

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