And now I have a new tribe. Addition, not replacement. My life is a set of Venn diagrams that are getting so complex they will soon be a mandala.
I spent last weekend in an airport hotel in Chicago, within sonic distance of O'Hare, talking and laughing and eating and drinking and hanging out with librarians, teachers, moms, writers, and illustrators who tell the rest of the world about the wonder that is Children's Literature through blogs.
Okay, anyone reading this knows that I'm a lurker. I even lurk on my own blog. So I decided to go to Chicago and de-lurk, FTF, with the people whose words I read with my tea every morning, because they're cool and smart and funny in pixels, and because the blogosphere has been very, very kind to me and my work his year (Bumpersticker? -- The Blogosphere Changed My Life).
Boy, did I have fun. A bunch of people had gathered in the lobby Friday evening. I wore my Onion "I can read" t-shirt, figuring that if the group giggling by the potted palms was a bunch of insurance agents (rather than the conference folks *I* was looking for), they'd look at me as if I was strange. Nope. "Great shirt," was the first thing someone said, and I knew I was home.
Friday night was a mass dinner at a Chicago pizzeria, and some good chat in the hotel bar. Saturday, from 8:00 in the morning (yes, I was up, and I'd even dressed myself, and my socks matched) until 5:00, about 60 people sat at one giant ring of tables in a hotel ballroom and talked about books and blogs and how to connect them. I learned about podcasting, from Mark and Andrea and sometime later this month will attempt to post an audio bit of me reading something from Portable Childhoods. Technology may yet be my friend.
I'd met Betsy (Fuse #8) before, and knew Gwenda (Shaken and Stirred) and Ysabeau from our SF lives, but the rest of my new buddies were strangers five days ago. Laini (of the beautiful pink hair and stunning new book) and her illustrator husband Jim were great companions and had *the* coolest accessories. Robin not only organized this whole shebang, but had a sense of humor while still keeping things running like a Swiss watch. I sat next to Kelly (Big A little A) at the afternoon sessions, and was able to put a face to her always illuminating words. Pam (Motherreader) was great fun, and Sunday morning Esme (Planet Esme) put on a fabulous brunch in the most inspiring book-filled apartment ever. Lots more people, lots more talk and laughs; this is just a sampling of some of my memorable moments.
Hard to believe, when I hugged my goodbyes at noon on Sunday, that I'd only known these people for 36 hours.
Next family reunion is in Portland. I can hardly wait.