Thursday, June 11, 2015

Zoe vs. the Middle School Dance at Blog U

The Middle School Dance. Otherwise known as the trial by fire for the socially awkward. This past weekend I went to Blog U in Baltimore and one of the highlights---or horrible reminders of my childhood (six of one)---was the Middle School Dance sponsored by Nickelodeon.

Remember when Susie's water broke
at the church social in 7th grade?

It brought me right back to being thirteen years old and going to a dance in the school basement. How I'd cling to the edges of the dance floor and, because it was safer out where conversation wasn't expected, I would keep dancing, no matter how sweaty or tired I became, no matter how many times they played Rockwell's "I Always Feel Like (Somebody's Watching Me)." Whoa-oh-oh-oh.
Of course no one was watching me. Which was good because I hate attention.
And yet . . .
We all need validation, or at least a sense of belonging.
One of the main themes at the conference this weekend was finding your tribe. Hard if you're not really a tribal sort.
Or if you avoid attention.
Or if you have this issue when you're talking to people where you become hyper aware of your face and feel like it's growing until it seems like it might explode and then face will get all over everyone's clothes. It's very hard to get face out of silk.
Imaginary exploding face issues aside, I'm so glad I went. I learned a lot, even if one of those things was realizing I may never even make lunch money from blogging. I may never do a sponsored post or be a brand ambassador. Because that wouldn't feel authentic for me. Though, I will say that the myCharge portable charger we received as part of our swag is truly awesome.
Should I ask them to pay me for that sentence?
Too late.
Though maybe I could structure a whole post about the myCharge Energy Shot and get all metaphoric, like how a device to recharge my phone reminded me of myself and how in social situations I need time by myself to recharge my mental energy. Maybe I'd even write them a haiku.

Dearest myCharge, you
get me, you really do, you
beautiful bastard

Also after Blog U I now want to drop the phrase "up sell" into every conversation thanks to Julie Nowell's inspiring session on Collaborative Blogging. Though when she first said "up sell" my brain went all Dr. Seuss: "Up sell, down sell, hard sell, soft sell." Soft Cell? Wait a minute, Nickelodeon didn't play "Tainted Love" at the dance!
And so we've circled the periphery of the dance floor, maintaining our chill expression the whole time, and now we're back at the beginning.
Nickelodeon did an outstanding job. Just the right mix of music and antics for a group of mostly women, most in their thirties or forties, many of them moms, many of those with surprisingly flat stomachs (which frankly felt like a personal betrayal! Seriously, fellow moms, cut it out!), who were self-aware enough to give in to memories of our own lameness but wise enough to embrace it, not care, and dance.

Linda Roy from Elleroy Was Here
channeling Mary Katherine Gallagher,
noted Superstar

I don't know if Zoe will grow up to be as awkward as her mom. Right now she loves a good party; you can always find her in the middle of the action. And since she's come into my life, I've noticed she pulls me out into the world more than I've ever been before. And when I am out there, people don't even seem to notice that giant goiter on my neck swelling up till it might explode if you poke it. Don't poke it!
Overall, at Blog U, I learned a lot, got out of my comfort zone, and met several like-minded people, whom I'll enjoy getting to know in my own slow way. Meanwhile, when I'm not craving complete solitude, I'm just happy spending time with the two main members of my tribe.

My tribe

Zoe: 96; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 
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  1. Awwww what a great and sweet ending! I'm glad your face didn't explode.

  2. I love the ending too. And holy shit, I was gonna poke your goiter with my selfie stick, but thought better of it. You could get arrested for that in some states.

  3. It IS hard to get face out of silk, isn't it?
    Feel the same way, but I'm learning you gotta get out of your comfort zone. EVERYTHING is out of the comfort zone.

  4. Of all the people at Blog U (other than Momus) you were the one who felt most in my comfort zone. Thanks for making it a little less scary for me! (and making sure my face didn't explode either).

  5. jocelyn @ the home tomeJune 12, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    Yes! Love that ending photo, loved meeting you. Getting the opportunity to dance to that music? While wearing vintage? Priceless.

  6. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    Me too! It's always a relief when that doesn't happen.

  7. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    Thanks for your restraint!

  8. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    You are so right. And you seemed like a pro!

  9. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    You're welcome! You guys did the same for me.

  10. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 6:34 AM

    Thanks! It was nice meeting you too. We'll have to dance again soon!

  11. Yay! I'm part of your tribe!

  12. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 12, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Of course, babe. As long as you remember I'm the alpha!

  13. Kristen Miller HewittJune 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    It sounds like an awesome time I'm sorry I missed! And I would totally be in your tribe and make you talk to people!

  14. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 13, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    Haha! It would definitely take a tribe of enforcers!

  15. You totally make me laugh..getting all Dr. Seuss on a sales session. While I did and still do love a big ol' dance floor...I hear what you are saying about being authentic to your self. I went to a blogging conference where I learned a TON but found the focus wasn't really my focus. I take nuggets of information from everywhere and make them relevant for me. Sounds like you do, too.

  16. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 14, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    Thank you! Yes, exactly the same for me. Just have to find what I fit and what works for me. Otherwise what's the point? Besides rolling in money. haha.

  17. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 17, 2015 at 6:56 AM

    Next year! Would love to meet you as well!

  18. I went last year - bummed to miss seeing you this year! I admittedly spent most of my time with bloggers I already knew instead of reaching out to meet new ones. The whole thing reminds me of middle school a bit!

  19. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 18, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    Oh! That's too bad! Maybe next year. I'll be the awkward one. ;)

  20. I missed this post somehow! It was wonderful meeting you. I enjoyed talking satire. And I understand the "exploding face" feeling. Mine's more of an aversion to making eye contact with people, so when I'm talking I tend to stare over their heads. On more than one occasion, the person I'm talking to has actually turned around to see whatever it is I'm obviously fascinated by in the distance. Awkward.

  21. Elizabeth CatalanoJune 27, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    Haha, well, I totally didn't notice that. But probably because I was busy with my own self-consciousness! There's probably a lesson there. Wonderful meeting you as well. Satire for the win!