Things your mother never taught you

There are so many things you need to know as a woman. Things your mother never taught you, while she was busy teaching you all the other essential skills for daily life.

Things like:

- how to stretch your end of pay cycle dollar to include something new to wear to that date/event/outing and a mani-pedi – my favourite is forgoing real food and living off what’s left in the fridge.

- alternatively to the above, how to give yourself a great mani-pedi/wax/facial when you can’t afford to go to the salon

- how to find a great gynaecologist, psychologist/psychiatrist, lawyer

- how important it is to know how to get yourself off so you don’t have to rely on a partner to do it for you

- that the order in which you achieve the following is completely negotiable, and more to the point, their inclusion in your life is also up to you: marriage, mortgage, baby, career

 

What did you learn that your mother never taught you?


The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Megatron of Galleries

Flashback to Friday last week – to my first foray into the Megatron of Art Galleries – the Metropolitan Museum of Art or as it’s affectionately known, the Met.

Megatron (Transformers)

Megatron (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mum – Megatron is a really, really big Transformer. He’s kind of bad, which the Met clearly isn’t. But he has the ability to shift into different things depending on what universe he’s in – kind of like the Met, which is so big and diverse you could easily have a different experience of it every time you go there. But more on that later.

I was implored by a dear friend to venture out after having spent the week in bed and I suspect, after complaining profusely of boredom (I know, how can you be bored in NYC? Well, spend a week after week within the same four walls and you can be bored anywhere, bay-bee!). It happened to be the one day that a very disturbed man let loose on his ex-boss at the Empire State Building so of course Midtown was completely shut down as they assessed the situation.

My guide-to-getting-everywhere, the iPhone app HopStop suggested I take 3 buses to get there. I begged to differ, chose to wait a half hour instead and the subways opened up again. Hey presto!

My first glimpse of the gallery was like a vision at the end of a long residential street. Spectacular.

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This was probably the second time I experienced the giddy feeling I got when I first got to New York. The girly, excited, ants in your pants “I can’t believe I’m really here” kind of feeling that lets you know instantly you are exactly where you are meant to be. I was so glad to have been ordered out of the house, even though I didn’t feel quite 100% it didn’t matter anymore.

The building itself is sensational – built in the 19th century – it is a work of art in itself. I took these in a stairwell – so this is just one tiny corner of the fabulousness that is ALL OVER the damn place.

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If you’re visiting New York you definitely need a day (or two if you can) to get around to all of the exhibits that comprehensively span the continents, centuries, ideologies in a seemingly endless corridor, room after room. I’m planning on visiting regularly to take it all in. As it was I let my mood dictate the exhibits I visited. I think I saw about 15% of what was there in 4 hours.

You definitely need refreshment stops. And bring your camera. Possibly the most surprising part of my visit was that you are ALLOWED to take pictures of the artwork and exhibits. Obviously not with flash (though I saw lots of people do it anyway). I thought it was nice of the Met to allow it, but in another way I wondered how much you could really enjoy an artwork if all you did was point and shoot at it then go on to the next one and do the same (saw so many people doing this!). You could have just picked up a book!?

Here are some of my favourite visions from the day:

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The last picture, the painting, is of Joan of Arc. I found myself drawn to several representations of her scattered throughout the gallery, different styles, times and places, and when it occurred to me, I thought it was a lovely coincidence and reminder of the strength I have.

It’s not so much that I feel I’ve forgotten my strength but that I haven’t been living in it. Using it to create change. In the last week, SO MUCH has already changed. So I like to think maybe Joan’s little wink at me made all the difference.

Now I’m paying it forward: remember your strength today. If you feel like you’ve forgotten where it is be sure to keep your eyes open so you don’t miss the wink I’m sending your way.

x


Finding a voice: Who shot literary sex in the balls?

De cuerpo presente 1

Just a little outside the box today – in subject and approach.. De cuerpo presente 1 (Photo credit: Paula Amador)

It’s been a while since my last post, and I haven’t “done” much but boy have I been busy. I’m gorging myself on texts, music, films, things that inspire me. I’m gestating a hell of a baby that I hope will reveal itself in time with an outpouring of words on a page.

What’s been foremost in my mind is the fact that women’s voices (for there is not an Everywoman to invoke, but there is certainly truth to be found in each and every diverse female voice that is published) are so bogged down with cultural, religious, medical, institutional expectations and limitations even when they are trying to be ‘free’ of those, and write outside the box.

I know this because when I try to write something truthful about women, and therefore female sexuality, I notice immediately there is a hesitation, or a repositioning, or a way of speaking, that I have to consciously grapple with. What words do you use to describe ‘down there’? Every word I know is courtesy of somebody else. Or some cultural phenomena. Medical description. Shakespeare, even. If I had to come up with my own word for it, it wouldn’t be of the ‘beef curtains’ or ‘gash’ variety. I agreed when the Vagina Monologues told us to reclaim the c- word (excluded here because maybe you don’t agree). But what would your word be? From the prosaic, to the poetic, I don’t feel there is one ‘correct’ way to define it. I agree with the Mills and Boons of the world – there are a million different (some hilarious) ways to describe female junk depending on context (haha – that’s got to be one of the most prosaic). It harnesses the existing and historical values attributed to the word, and adds another important one, in -my- context.

So much for my idealism. Now, when it comes to writing a truthful textual, sexual identity, I don’t think it’s possible to be truly divorced from the context an identity is formed in (or desirable). The only way to be authentic is to claim it as your own. Acknowledge the sources. Embrace what empowers you. Dispense with those that limit your expression. Intense self-investigation is required. It bears thinking – how has your sexual identity been shaped by your history? Your upbringing? Your schooling and Phys Ed classes? Your local clothing store?

A great litmus test that I have just discovered, is to consider your ass. How do you feel about your bottom? Do you think it’s beautiful/functional/sexual or all three? Have you noticed how many texts blatantly ignore bottoms – even in sexually explicit narratives – as if it doesn’t exist? (According to this illuminating text by Tristan Taormino how many women have tried anal play – over 50% – and depending on which study you read from 20-45% of women have anal intercourse regularly. More than gay men – fewer than 30%) Because apparently women aren’t supposed to like it. And heterosexual men are supposed to be the ones who instigate it – but not too much – then they’re judged for being closet homosexuals. But there are up to 60% of women out there, maybe including you, that enjoy it. So why the hell can’t it be included? I recall @HelenRazer calling out 50 Shades for threatening sodomy at every page and never fulfilling it. I have a dear friend, who is another author, told by their editor to cut out a mention of two main characters enjoying anal intercourse because… it wasn’t “necessary”. But it was an important part of the characters’ dynamic. And.. hang on.. it’s just a bottom. It’s part of your body. As much a part of your body as your hands, and just another of your natural born tools for living, playing… whatever you want to do with them… as any thing else. So why the silence?

The other problematic aspect of textual sexual identity is the tendency to fall into genre. I don’t like genre, because I feel it is too limiting. But audiences, publishers, PRs love it. Some authors love it. Everybody wants you to fit into a pigeonhole because it’s easier to describe you that way. It’s easier to sell. And safer – easier to understand. I want to divorce myself from that – at least in the creative process – it’s necessary. If it so happens that what I say or am means that I fall into one, or many categories, so be it. Extrapolate this to my personal identity – I refuse to live my life in a category. I have nothing against those who self-identify with one particular gender, genre, or other definition. But for me, all my life, I have struggled with not fitting into a particular expectation or narrative just as a person and it’s taken years of my life in worry and wasted effort. I now have shrugged it off. As a very clever William Tindall puts it in A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce (Syracuse University Press: 1984) describing Ulysses apparent inaccessibility:

“It may seem a pity that a book celebrating mankind and its virtues, should separate itself from men by obscurity. But if, in the sense of separateness, Ulysses is less responsible than its theme, so is most good literature of its time; and if morality in this sense means conforming to the habits and expectations of foolish men, this kind of immorality may be a virtue…” (p 126)

So I hope that I can write truthfully, I pray that I can write – at all – and I wish that something in this post has opened a dialogue within you and affirms for you whatever you think, have been told, or want to say – it’s all ok.

Yours thoughtfully,

x


Brands and Blogging: more BlogHer’12 take home value

Now that I’ve had a chance to digest the BlogHer’12 avalanche of information and ideas I thought I would tackle a rehash of one of the most interesting panels I attended. In a way that won’t bore everybody else to tears, including myself.

Brands x Bloggers

The Brand Blogger Connection featured panellists both from successful blogs and PR and Marketing professionals with (obviously) experience dealing with bloggers.

The whole thing got a little tense when the subject of getting paid to work with a brand was brought up and it’s that moment that I wanted to unpack a little.

Disclosure.

As a PR, obviously I am coming from the marketing/PR point of view rather than blogger perspective. I make no claim to be experienced as a blogger on this topic and in the interest of being completely transparent, I also want to say I was a little dismayed at the way some bloggers responded to the panel, almost as if it were a call to arms against brands who don’t offer cash every time they approach bloggers. It made me think – maybe there’s been a bit of miscommunication (excuse. the. pun.).

And this is written in the spirit of wanting to get everyone to hold hands, not start WW3 – though of course, feel free to comment.

Media and PRs – why can’t we all just get along?

Can I just point out – media and PR have (have always had) a symbiotic relationship out of necessity. And in an increasingly specialised communications industry, I venture a pretty good guess that they always will.

Media rely on PRs to help them source information, images, access appropriate people to interview, loan or receive free product. PRs rely on media to help spread the word, as a platform to address criticism or other issues, or rally support for a cause.

There shouldn’t be animosity – unless (as with any relationship) expectations are not communicated, and boundaries defined and maintained on both sides.

Here’s what the PR is thinking…

To give a little background, a PR strategy is usually (but not always) separate from the marketing/advertising strategy. That means there are a certain number of hours allocated (by the brand/client) for PR activities. A strategy is written by the PR, then approved by the client. It may involve tactics to achieve one or several of the following: education, promotion/straight publicity, consumer engagement or dialogue, community and stakeholder relations. Or others. Depending on the product, client expectations, and the ability of the PR. The strategy may also include “budget” for some of the tactics which could be product sampling, sponsored posts, or a launch event.

An example of part of a PR strategy for a consumer brand could be:

Brand X is releasing a new flavour of pasta sauce. Because grocery purchasing decisions are mainly made by mothers, the brand’s PR strategy is focussed on promoting it in media outlets (including blogs) that are read by (and written by) mothers, and liaising with interest groups or opinion leaders that have previously been in dialogue with the brand to find out what they think (this should include dissenters as well as advocates).

The tactics within the PR strategy include promoting the news – that there is a new flavour, as well as educating existing customers/potential new ones about the health/diet credentials of the product range or unique selling points (what makes it different to other products on the market). It may also involve attempting to engage mothers in a dialogue about their grocery shopping and meal planning to create meaningful feedback for the product developers. And starting a dialogue (two-way discussion) with the interest groups or opinion leaders that previously have rated or hated the brand. The last two tactics might take place on the brand’s Facebook page, or in face-to-face meetings with stakeholders or interest groups, or involve a VIP event. But for the first tactic – to promote the new flavour and educate about the brand – the PR will almost certainly attempt to write one or several news releases for the product: and if they’re clever they’ll research the hell out of it until they find a really interesting (TRUE) story idea like “new pasta sauce flavour saves lives” and that’s when, dear reader, it gets sent to your inbox.

Manners are important.

Ignore if – If a PR writes you an email that starts “Dear Blogger” or similar – please, PLEASE, feel free to laugh at them. DELETE the email. And move on with your life. Obviously their campaign is going to bomb – big time. If their client, superiors or even colleagues knew they’d written an email like that, they’d be in a world of pain. Feel free to dob them in. Or just let the universe take care of them.

Get paid if - they are asking you to be an advocate or ambassador for brand, write a whole piece on it, or host a banner/graphic on your site – and you feel it is a good fit for your audience and you want to be involved with the brand – do respond with your media kit that hopefully includes a clear outline of your audience demographics, sponsored post prices, advertising rates etc.

Here’s the grey area.

If the PR is trying to promote a ‘news’ item (ie. they send you a release about a new brand or range or product) and they don’t piss you off with their lack of manners, there are a few ways it can go:

No dice - If you don’t feel it’s a good fit for your audience, trash it. If you’ve got time or want to build a relationship with the PR, flick a quick email back to say thanks but no thanks, here’s why. Or not. Believe me, they won’t take it personally. And they’ll appreciate ANY feedback you give them, especially if it will improve their understanding of you and what’s important to you. And definitely tell them if you object to, or have had a bad experience with the brand or product – this is invaluable feedback.

Get paid - If you think it’s really a good fit for your audience, and you want to take it further, find out if the PR strategy has “budget”, and try to upsell them. For example, you could tell them you’d like to run a 4-week campaign on your site that includes some sponsored posts, or an ongoing series of posts on a relevant topic (product mentions must be exclusive to their brand AND they will expect editorial control/final sign off on the copy), you could add in some ad placement, etc. Be clear with the price breakdown and be prepared to back up your proposal with examples of your work with other brands as the client will most certainly want the PR to prove it is worth the investment – as with any advertising spend.

IMPORTANT – many PRs will not have budget for paid placements, but they WILL be able to direct you to the media buyer/agency that takes care of advertising spend. This is where maintaining a positive, open dialogue with the PR agency can open doors. And like mum said, mind your manners. Politely declining a pitch or ignoring a release is more than ok but a bad attitude could mean the difference between you being remembered when there IS budget or not.. and word spreads FAST among PRs. They’re professional chatterboxes, remember?

It’s news - if a PR has sent you a media or news release (whether it’s promoting a new product/new brand/new angle), and you feel it suits your audience, and you want to write about it, then that’s great! Use it as a jumping off point to do your thing. If you need images or product to review, ask and ye shall receive. Mention other brands if you want to. Create a conversation amongst your readers about their favourite healthy quick dinner – or whatever it is. Basically, do what you like. A news release is designed to do the same thing for bloggers as it does for newspaper journalists or television producers or magazine editors. Educate the writer/content producer about a product or event or brand, start a dialogue with them to gauge their opinion (I always like to tell clients what perception is of their brand so they can improve on it), and potentially (hopefully) generate enough interest in the STORY IDEA to get a piece up about it. Often this involves other products being thrown in for balance. But that’s fine, as long as there is a mention for the client in there somewhere. This mention, however small, is the payback for the PR that says thanks for the idea. Or nice image. Or free product.

Content is key.

My favourite part of PR is connecting great brands with great media to create amazing content. I have a media background (before I worked in PR, I worked in television and online content production) and still love seeing an idea come to life in a beautifully crafted post, or video, or interview. I have no interest in seeing my media releases copied verbatim (this has happened in so called newspapers before, it’s not as fun for me as it is easy for the publication). And I really love getting to know bloggers in particular – some of my favourite media contacts back home are bloggers that I will keep working with because of their professionalism, their integrity (defined as much by them saying ‘no’ as yes), and crazy sense of humour.

Yeah – I saw those BlogHer’12 party pics… ;-)

You can read a full transcript of the panel here.


Real Housewives of the 21st Century

housewife [derogation]

I’ll stop short of offering you lifelong slavery, but I will happily make you a Bloody Mary when you get home (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Today one of the most exciting developments of my housewife-in-Brooklynlife occured.

To backtrack a little, yesterday I once again had to sweep our polished concrete floors with a dustpan. Hands and knees style. Which is no easy feat when you’re trying to collect a month’s worth of dust and pet hair from a fairly decent sized apartment with two dogs and a husband residing in it.

Fed up, and contrary to the h’s insistence that we purchase nothing (though I noted he has purchased both an Amazon Prime membership for the year and continues his Rdio subscription – both rather unneccessary expenses) I looked on Amazon and found the perfect solution.

Introducing the BISSELL PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum.

I propose two major reasons this is the invention of the housewife century. 1 – it’s completely self contained, but still powerful, in a small upright design that is self supporting. So you can walk away from it when it’s upright, and it stays there. 2 – IT PICKS UP A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF PET HAIR, DUST, CRUMBS and other filth instead of just pushing it around the floor like the joyful spoils of the nastiest pinata ever.

Now, it may be shocking to you to see me rejoicing about an appliance but let me let you in on a secret. Despite my incredible coolness, the amazingly aspirational aspects of my appearance, the fast-paced career I have just left – I LOVE the trappings of housewifery.

Case in point – at this moment I have a casserole simmering away on the stovetop, to parcel out and freeze for a ‘rainy day’. Because I like home cooked food, and I enjoy preparing nutritious meals.

I get immense satisfaction from ‘everything in its place’.

I have an unnatural obsession with perfectly folded towels and colour coordinated clothing in wardrobes. And ALL MATCHING HANGERS. (And I am not OCD, but I am very house proud).

It is a surprise to me, actually, that I love these things so much. I have always considered myself quite a modern woman. I am in a situation where I am forced to be at home. But even when I work 10-12 hour days I obsess about the same things. I get so much satisfaction from fresh linen on the bed, throwing open the curtains to greet the day, spring cleaning the cupboards. I also get great of satisfaction from nailing a new business pitch, landing the perfect PR placement for a client, or hurting like hell yet pushing through a pain threshold I didn’t know existed while I’m working out.

So I am happy to revel in my housewifery as another gleaming pearl on the necklace of my personality. Tea, anyone?


Welcome Back Vodka Sauce

Today I attempted and I believe accomplished my first vodka pasta sauce.

Vodka sauce is somewhat prolific here in NYC and features my favourite beverage – vodka – in a creamy, tomato concoction that tastes like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. I’m sure it will be one of my strongest culinary associations with this city – it appears on pasta, pizza, meat.. anything.

The reason for the vodka is the same as the reason many Italian dishes call for red wine – to unlock the flavours in the tomatoes that are otherwise hidden. Or because you just love vodka like I do.

My version does away with the heavy cream base and still gives you a lovely rich consistency that coats the pasta in pure, sweet, creamy deliciousness.

I made mine completely from scratch because I had some overripe tomatoes I wanted to put to use, but if you are stuck for time – tinned tomatoes can be substituted for fresh. For this qty I’d say 2 tins would be the equivalent.

Welcome Back Vodka Sauce

Qty for 4 portions. I refrigerated half before plating up to stop us going for seconds. :-)

Ingredients:

10 small very ripe vine-ripened tomatoes

1 onion, chopped fine

1 small tin tomato paste (the single serve size, don’t get too pedantic, it can only improve the flavour)

2 bay leaves

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup vodka (I used Absolut – which is crazy cheap here – but you can use any reasonable tasting vodka. I would avoid super cheap vodkas even though you’re cooking it – you don’t want to compromise the balance of flavours for the sake of a few measly dollars..)

5 teaspoons grated parmesan reggiano cheese

1/2 cup no-fat Philadelphia cream cheese

Teaspoon of sugar (optional)

Fresh basil, shredded, to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Pam cooking spray or similar

NB – You’ll need a blender or similar to blend the sauce into its trademark velvety consistency

Now what?

Spray a medium sized saucepan with a light coating of cooking spray. On medium heat, brown chopped onion, then reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, whole, with bay leaves set atop, to the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally to redistribute tomatoes and allow all to cook evenly. By the end of the hour they should be just falling apart with the skins and seeds falling into a gorgeous melee of aromatic tomato mush. Of course, if you’re using tinned tomatoes you can simply add these to your browned onion and move on to the next step.

Now you can add the tomato paste. Fill the can or container that the paste came in with water*, and add to the mixture, and repeat – keep doing this throughout the process if you feel the sauce is getting too thick as it boils and reduces away. By the way – don’t be scared if the water does keep disappearing – this is what you want! It means what’s left is even more concentrated and will be even more delicious. Also add at this point the garlic and vodka, bring to the boil for 5-6 minutes and then turn right down to a simmer again.

*If you’re a meat eater – you can substitute water for chicken stock to add another layer to the flavour of the sauce. Just be sure to taste your sauce before you add additional salt – bought chicken stock is usually loaded with sodium.

Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes then remove bay leaves and stir through the grated cheeses and Philadelphia. Once combined – at least mostly – you can pour into the blender. You know that useless removable clear plastic part of the blender lid? Take it off the lid so steam can escape, and place a piece of paper towel on top to prevent splatter. Blend the sauce until you no longer see pieces of skin, onion or those pesky tomato seeds floating past.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan, and keep it on a low simmer. Here’s where you can have a bit of a play and add seasonings to your taste. I added a hefty pinch of cracked black pepper and ground sea salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of shredded basil – but it’s completely up to your taste. I think that’s the fun part of cooking – making a carefully nuanced balance of sweet, salty, sour to suit your taste. If you’re not sure and it just tastes bland start with salt and pepper in small proportions, and add in tiny increments until you’re happy. If you’ve used tinned tomatoes you will definitely need the sugar to balance out the acidity. The aroma and natural sweetness of basil will also help lift the flavour. Stir and keep warm until served. The extra simmer time will not hurt the sauce, trust me. Tomatoes looooooove a long cooking time.

I cleaned then chopped four organic (& hormone and antibiotic free) chicken thighs into strips and cooked in a frypan before adding to the sauce. This plus the Quinoa pasta spirals made for a really amazing, relatively guilt free dinner to warm the heart and fill the stomach. Perfect welcome back… or don’t leave me.. dinner.

Now, what to do with the rest of that vodka….. ha!

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Yep – still eating off plastic plates. SIGH.


BlogHer, Obama-loving and Health Marketing

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was my first day at the BlogHer ’12 conference. It’s technically not the first day of the conference, it’s actually a “pre” conference day, but two specialised streams of the conference took place that I did not attend and the most awesome thing I have ever seen – a live video cross with POTUS himself – I did.

The trip in to the Hilton New York on 6th Ave takes around half an hour on the M-train (walk included) and I figured I should get to the conference by 3.30 to give myself time for registration and a bit of the old faffing around. A reasonable combination of nerves, excitement and general nerdiness contributed to my 2pm arrival despite a pit stop at the most awesome bakery I have ever eaten in.

Magnolia Bakery.

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Magnolia cupcakes also offers a monthly CUPCAKE CLUB where you can receive 6 or 12 cupcakes delivered to your door. Is this the best idea ever, or what? For posterity, it should also be timed to your cycle.

For the uninitiated, the Magnolia Bakery is like mecca for cupcake lovers, where you should go if you’d like to know what it would feel like to have an angel shart in your mouth. I won’t explain what sharting is because there are ladies reading this, but just be happy with the angel reference. I had a vanilla cupcake with vanilla bean frosting (blue) and sprinkles (multicolour) and of course, my new favourite beverage, iced coffee.

Nutritious requirements for the day fulfilled, I proceeded to trounce up 6th Ave (or down, I’m not sure which is the correct vernacular) and on the way spotted this awesome place. The design of the signs in this city just blow me away.

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Radio City Hall baby!

I also passed NBC studios (sweet) but I’m saving that pic for the day I catch someone awesome walking out. Or maybe tomorrow. It was too much excitement for one day and I didn’t want to peak too early on Instagram.

The Hilton New York is a grand old dame, a little brassy but not without it’s charm. The actual conference itself is in it’s 8th year and now has around 4000 blogettes attending, plus a handful of male blogettes, which equals a lot of very excited and slightly tipsy women (and some men) snatching up a giant motherload of product samples and wifi usage.

Registration was so fast (bonus points for efficiency!) I barely had time to whip out my NSW driver’s license before I had a lanyard and program. The great part of that was it left me with plenty of time to wander the halls and wonder what on earth I have gotten myself into.

You see, attending the BlogHer conference wasn’t part of my grand plan. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I really should attend. Yes, there is my recent blogging activity. My long standing obsession with social media. My PR background and interest in all things marketing. My looking for a job. The abundant opportunities to network. My love of hotel buffets. And wanting to make new friends here in NYC. All good reasons to attend.

So you can imagine my delight when I found out that the President of the United States (POTUS!) himself would be addressing the conference LIVE via satellite link.

And you can also imagine my horror and impending sense of doom at being at a conference of thousands of (mostly) women, recreating a scenario not unlike the all-female school-type institutions I attended. I’m one of those people that shudders when people say “school – ah the best years of your life” because if you paid me $10,000,000 to go back to school I would say no thanks and stay happily in my 30s – in fact, I’d possibly even take an additional 10 year penalty and go into my 40s, just to further distance myself from it.

Why the melodrama, Adriana? I think it’s summed up with a few more A-words: awkward, acne, anxiety, adolescence and also just being told what to think and how to be by teachers, parents, and mostly peers frankly sucks. Alright, so I don’t have the acne (just the scars) anymore and I’m not an adolescent, so this should be a cinch? Hmm. If female-dominated workplaces have taught me anything it’s that women, en masse, require Survivor-like skills to be endured. Sadly western culture and the glass ceiling have not done great things to the sisterhood. Corporate life teaches us “eat or be eaten”. Some decide they didn’t get enough of the popularity contest in high-school and keep recreating their sorority in each new environment they encounter. The bitching endemic in mostly female workplaces kills me.

So you can imagine my (pleasant) surprise when nobody I encountered today was even remotely like the people I’m referring to. My first encounter whilst waiting (an hour early) for POTUS-link to commence, was with a lovely lass, a health writer for a medical website from San Francisco. My response to her question “Can I sit here” was “Yes please!” and quickly trickled into a lovely discussion about the state of FDA regulations in the US and the fact that you only have to prove your product DOESN’T kill anyone, not that it does. And the fact that San Fran really does seem lovely and she was staying recently in Nantucket which I thought must have just been a funny hick-town’s name they put in a limerick but it turns out it’s actually an island.

I KNOW!

Crazy. The next women I met were both contemplating a glass of wine after POTUS-link at the bar. We each drank a glass of white wine and discussed the state of our careers and what we wanted out of our blogs, which was all rather different but as it turns out we all had sage advice to share, and really if you think about it, most women do a wonderful job of being nurturing so why the hell don’t we nurture each other more rather than tearing each other down?

DIGRESSION! (I just re-read Catcher in the Rye, so if you don’t understand the reference, you could read it. Or you could guess what that means. You’d be right)

President Obama filled the grand ballroom at the Hilton New York today. Actually his projected image on 3 video screens did. President Obama also won me a $10 Starbucks gift card (THANKS, MR. PRESIDENT!) because I was the first person in that entire ballroom to live-tweet a picture of his head on Twitter.

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My wining twit pic. I LOVE YOU OBAMA!

THE FIRST! In a whole ballroom of bloggers.

I didn’t even know there was a competition on.. But I can guarantee you that seeing as I have finally received the remuneration I deserve for my rapid and unrelenting social media over-sharing, that I will surely continue it, and then some.

Mr. President Obama’s speech mainly addressed the female health aspects of his campaign, pointing out that Romney is planning on closing down Planned Parenthood (BOO). Several grown women hollered out “I love you Obama” like he was a rockstar. He also acknowledged the term “Obamacare” was thrust upon him but that he was glad to accept it as he was proud of the reforms he has been able to bring in. Lots of people stood up after his speech and clapped the video monitors.

And the most beautiful part of it was that the two event organisers that were there – Lisa and Elise – both hugged each other afterwards, because for them it had meant the achievement of something really special – to have established a community of bloggers so highly regarded that the President himself would bother to address them.

Really inspirational stuff.

We then had a couple of hours to explore the exhibitors stands which, let me tell you, are equal parts marketer’s dream and nightmare.

I will regale you with more stories about the loot later but here’s the loot so far:

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Lots of stuff I needed. Clearly.

And just because I cannot understand what they were thinking, booby prize goes to this effort from Poise:

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Targeting menopausal women with a fan I get. But what is the light for? To watch your fertility wither? To check your underpants for leakage? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!

Tomorrow I have to be up early to take full advantage of the buffet breakfast before a full day of workshops/seminars so I’m going to sign off now.

TOODLES! x


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