While the dance sometimes makes me uncomfortable, blogger meet-ups RAWK! This year's event was almost twice as large as last year's, and I have a feeling that the breakfast time is what made that so. Sadly, that might mean that this non-morning person will have to drag her ass out of bed and be groggily social again in future years. (Side note: if anyone else wants to take over organizing it next year, feel free. It's not onerous at all, but it shouldn't always be me or else it will become my thing instead of a group thing.) It also might mean, sadly, that Eileen Joy will never come, because she told me later that she is simply not able to get up that early (I think she's definitely someone who works as well as plays into the wee hours). So perhaps it should be a movable feast.
Anyway, there were so many people there that I didn't even quite figure out who was who -- in real life or in the blogosphere. Among those I could identify with their blogs were J. J. Cohen, Karl Steel, The Cranky Professor, Another Damn Medievalist (Blogenspiel), Scott Nokes of Unlocked Wordhoard, Michael Drout of Wormtalk and Slugspeak, Medieval Woman, Mary Kate Hurley of Old English in New York, New Kid on the Hallway, Dr. Moonbeam, Tiruncula, History Geek, Holly of Hollyism, S. Worthen of Owlfish, Lisa Spangenberg, aka Digital Medievalist, Elisabeth Carnell, Eulistes, and bloggers and friends associated with Making Light. If I forgot anyone or didn't quite meet you because you were at the other end of our trio of tables (grouped in an appropriately medieval trefoil/clover leaf/trinitarian kind of way), let me know. My apologies!
I was really pleased that this year there was a real mix of people in different stages of their careers, and also a better gender mix. I think it says something about the status of blogging that we had such a mix, and that bloggers from all those stages of career were willing to come and meet other bloggers. In other words, blogging is becoming less of a sub-culture and more of a mainstream culture. It also says something that there was also a mix of pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous bloggers, and that if asked, people generally revealed their pseudonymous blogs. Somewhere someone noted that when rounds of introductions were made, we didn't identify our blogs, but I think in my case it was more a worry about our voices carrying to tables of non-bloggers. I still worry about non-bloggers' attitudes towards blogs. Who knows if we have an Ivan Tribble among the medieval crowd. But one-on-one I don't think people cared that much.
On that note, Karl mentioned that when he was still "Karl the Grouchy Medievalist," he was more prone to live up to that moniker than he is under his own name. Likewise, I often think that since I'm easily identifiable if you already know me (if you're my friend, colleague, or student), I try not to write things that I wouldn't want associated with me. That may explain, too, why everyone seemed so darn nice in person (on which, see more below).
I met a number of these people last year, and at least one of these bloggers is someone I knew in real life before I started blogging (though it was amusing to both of us that we only just figured this out because of this breakfast!). And many of them have been blogging or real life friends with some of the others for many years. So in many ways the breakfast was a reunion for many people. (I hope that didn't put off too many of the bloggers who were completely new to each other. There are some tight and deep friendships in that group, but it's also a really friendly and welcoming group.) But there were still delightful new real life acquaintances to make all around. I hope this can be an annual, informal event.
There were some conspicuous absences. As mentioned, Eileen Joy is not a morning person. And though Sir John Mandeville was at the conference, he wasn't at our breakfast as far as I know. And LLCoolCarlIII of Got Medieval reserved a copy of Christine Chism's Alliterative Revivals before I could (damn!) so I know he was at the conference, but apparently he's too cool for breakfast. :) Or also not a morning person. And if Geoffrey Chaucer was at the conference, I wouldn't have expected him to come to the meet-up, since he's a shy man who generally "lookest as [he] woldest fynde an hare," and who "evere upon the ground...stare[s]. "
Speaking of staring, JJC does indeed stare intently at you when you speak (see Liza's comment here). It's a neat trick because it gets people to babble things they wouldn't otherwise say. I recall at one point Jeffrey asked me something about whether or not as a graduate student I was super-anxious in my presentations about being potentially revealed as a fraud, and I replied, at first, that I wasn't all that anxious as a grad student (and though I didn't say it, I thought that maybe I'm more anxious as a prof, actually). And then he stared and I felt compelled to say more. And I did, but not anything of substance. And then I worried that I must sound like an idiot. And then I started to get anxious, at which point I thought, "yup, definitely more anxious as a prof." It's like he's my therapist or something! How do you do that, Jeffrey?! But other than that moment, I wasn't the least bit anxious or intimidated by Jeffrey or any one else at the table. As people have been commenting around the medieval blog world, people you might expect to be cranky or prickly or intimidating in real life, because they construct themselves as such in their writing, or because their writing is just so damn smart and authoritative, even on their blogs, all turned out to be...well, for lack of a better word...nice. Really, really nice. Smiley and friendly and kind and easy to talk to. Take The Cranky Professor, for example: in real life he's not in the least bit cranky, but rather cheerful, especially for 7:30 am! We were two of the first people there and had a funny moment of suspicious eyeing of each other until I saw his name tag and recognized his real-life name, at which point we both said, "Are you a blogger?" It was hilariously cloak-and-daggerish.
Other things I learned either at or because of this breakfast:
- Apparently I look like Scott Nokes's grandmother circa 1930. Since I also get told I look like my mother in the '40s and '50s, that didn't suprise me. Faces have fashion, too, and certain people have looks that evoke other eras. It may also explain why I get hit on by older men a lot (not just at K'zoo). Scott -- any Swains or Gaylords in your family tree? Maybe we're distantly related.
- Rumor has it that Ivan Tribble is a woman!
- The French Revolution was fought against the Germans, and England invaded the Free Colonies of America, thus starting the American Revolution. (This was from a delightfully so-bad-it-was good final exam someone had just graded.)
- Medieval Woman looks very modern in real life and not at all like a grumpy kitty, Karl Steel doesn't look anything like a breakfast food (which I already knew, but that picture cracks me up), Mary Kate Hurley is not a landscape, and Jeffrey Cohen's hand is not permanently placed in front of his face.
- We might need a bigger place next year! I do like the convenience of Mug Shots, however, especially for those without cars.
- Next year I really should get up and mingle instead of sitting in one place the whole time, so I can meet and talk to people at the other end of the tables.