7/4/13

What The Heck is #VOTY ??

That's what I was thinking. 

I'm gonna be upfront about this: I'm not a big BlogHer gal. Don't get me wrong: I don't dislike it. It's more a case of me not GETTING it. 

When I first started this blog, three years ago (yep..run the numbers, folks. I get about 30 new readers a year. Jealous, Dooce?), I went over to BlogHer to see what it was all about. All I knew was that BlogHer was THE place to go and hang out and promote yourself and network.

Two key words there? PROMOTE and NETWORK. Neither of which is something I do well.

I write my stories here because if I didn't, my head would explode or else I'd be a huge bitch in real life (yeah yeah, I'm Polly-freaking-Anna, right? Shuddup.).  I write about divorce and betrayal and being poor and raising teens and sometimes I write about vaginas and tampons. 

So when I packed up my bloggy diaper bag and ventured into the BlogHer playground, I was overwhelmed. It was a lot like going to your inaugural Mommy and Me class with your firstborn in tow. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. Everyone else had already made friends. Everyone else had experience and connections and yes I'll let my hopelessly insecure 14 year old speak: it felt kind of cliquey. 

The cliquey part of it was most likely stemming from my harrowing lack of self confidence, paired with feelings of never quite being "good enough" that have hounded me my whole life. I don't like cliques, even imaginary ones I've made up in my head. I've never been part of one (that I know of...mayhap there is a clique made up of women who have to lift up body parts to get clean in the shower..if there is, ladies? I don't want to know). 

But it seemed to me that everyone knew everybody. There were groups and women with clever blog names and funny posts. Lots of them seemed to be BFFs and for a newcomer like me (read that as: a newcomer with some issues) it was daunting. I took my diaper bag and left. 

Only recently have I ventured back there. Partly because some of the writers I was lucky to meet through Listen to Your Mother post on BlogHer and I like to read what they write, partly because I find myself armed with more self confidence than before, and therefore, a new-found desire to PROMOTE and NETWORK. 

One of my LTYM friends posted something about "submissions" and "voices of the year" on Twitter a while back. I had to click "can't remember your login name?" on BlogHer but I got on there and decided What the Heck. And I submitted a couple of my posts. 

Cut to a couple days ago. I received a facebook message from one of my aforementioned new friends, Nina Badzin (I love this woman. Read her stuff, okay?). She sent me a note that said "Congratulations on your BlogHer VOTY!". Bear in mind that this was at 4:00 a.m. and I had spent the evening with my BFF. Her husband was out of town and we were sampling a new Absolut vodka flavor, "Cilantro with Lime" (meh. Kind of grassy.). So when I read Nina's message, and the couple of congratulatory Tweets I'd gotten from other dear women, I was like, "Huh?".  Truly. I had no idea what they were talking about.

I checked my email, and there it was. A message from BlogHer, congratulating me and telling me that out of over 2,600 submissions, my musings on all things vagina was chosen as one of their Voices of The Year in the Humor category. 

And still, I was like, "Wow. That's pretty cool." I read further into the email and it started dawning on me: this BlogHer thing was kind of a big deal. No, not my being chosen, but the actual CONFERENCE and the Voices of The Year and all that stuff. Like, a super big deal. 

As I read more during the day (the blog posts and the comments and the tweets, oh my) I began to realize that yes, it was indeed a big deal to be chosen. There were a lot of big feelings out there on the interwebz. People were so excited to be part of this, present company included. People were sad to have not been chosen. There was genuine mourning and a little bit of snark. I'm still reading blog posts about it, and the semi-enormity of this thing is becoming very real to me.

I read one very nice, very introspective piece by a woman who had wanted to make it, and hadn't. She mentioned, at one point, something about MY category, Humor. She said that after perusing the titles in the Humor section she decided to avoid it because "certain body parts don't need to be discussed." If you take a gander at the titles in Humor, you will see there are just two titles that contain body parts: Mine, which you know by now is my homage to lady gardens, "A Post About Tampons, Vaginas and Episiotomies" (by the way, spellcheck doesn't approve of the pluralization of "vaginas". Is that wrong? Should it be 'vaginae'? OMG. It is. Ooops..where was I?)...oh yeah. So it was my post and another one by my new blogger BFF, Darcy Perdu

I read that, and I felt a little offended. There, I said it. My panties were somewhat wadded up about this comment.  There was some more talk about potty mouths and swears and stuff like that.  And I took mild offense. I mean, really, the worst I say is vagina. I don't drop the F-bomb, hardly ever, I usually spell it out. Like, mother-effer. I'M NOT A POTTY MOUTH, I SWEAR! Wait, that came out wrong. But I digress. The adult Jenny prevailed, and I wrote a comment to her, praising her decision to make this a learning experience. There's no ill will. We're all just clickety-clacking out our feelings and hoping they stick, somewhere, to something. 

I get what it feels like to not "make" something. My senior year of high school, I didn't make cheerleading. After two years of being on the squad, a couple of the mean, older girls decided they didn't like me and they rejected me. That hurt. When my husband rejected me as a wife, that stung, too. And the crickets I'm hearing from the literary agents to whom I've submitted my book idea, they aren't pleasant. Just a day or two before all the BlogHer hoopla, I received a short and sweet "NOPE" letter from Brain, Child magazine, in regards to an essay I submitted to them (oh did my inner juvenile have a field day with that one..in my head I composed a bitchy reply, 'Sorry I'm not intellectual enough for you, homies. Next time I submit I'll wear my Tina Fey glasses and have a cup of organic green tea cupped in my gluten-free hands'). See, I know what it feels like. It sucks. It HURTS. I'm the last person on this blessed planet to diss anyone's reaction to their feelings. I'm a lover, not a fighter. 

There have been many beautiful posts written about Voices of the Year, and rejection, and how we handle ourselves when faced with the fact that something we created, something we loved writing, something that is kind of like part of US, is turned down. My friend Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary wrote a great post about it. Ann Imig, who is speaking at BlogHer this year, wrote another lovely post about it.

So that's what I'm thinking #VOTY is. It's a chance for each and every one of us bloggers, whether we have big huge popular blogs or humble little blogs, to feel PROUD of ourselves for everything we have accomplished. Do you know how big and brassy your cajones have to be in order to hit "publish" on one of these things? HUGE AND SUPER BRASSY. It takes guts to offer up a piece you've written and say, "Here. Hope you like it." 

And now you'll have to excuse me. I'm going to go back and play Tetris with my checking account. I want to go to BlogHer in Chicago so badly...I want to be able to say "Thank You" in person to the folks who had the impossible task of reading over 2,000 submissions and making the heartbreaking choices they had to make. I want to hear the awesome speakers speak, I want to go play with other bloggers. I want to rub shoulders with people who live in this goofy world we call the Blogosphere. In a way, that's what's giving ME my biggest feelings about all of this. I have been given this honor, and because of financial limitations I'm most likely going to have to give my thanks from afar. So if any of you have a connection with the Chicago Sheraton, let them know that there is an extremely grateful-but-poor woman in Minneapolis who would do just about anything for a discount. Almost anything.

Okay, let's be honest. ANYTHING.

Congrats to those who were chosen to read, and my fellow honorees in all of the categories. And a special congratulations to every single person who took the very brave step of submitting their work. It's truly an honor to be in your company.





17 comments:

  1. Look at you, over there swimming with the big fish. Bravo, girlfriend!

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    1. Ha! I think I'm the one still sitting on the steps in the shallow end. Them big fish is intimidating!

      Thanks Lin :)

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  2. I read that post too and had the same reaction. I was offended that she felt the need to put down the people who did make the list. It's poor sportsmanship, plain and simple. You say "Nice game," shake hands and walk off the field with your heads held high knowing you played your best game.

    Okay. My best game may be a bit dirty, goddammit. But that's okay. I like me, I like my sense of humor and I don't think it makes me cool or "hip" or anything. It just makes me, "me."

    I wish you were going to BlogHer because I would love to meet you!

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    1. Mandy..my best game is clean on the outside, filthy on the inside.

      I am digging your self affirmation stuff. I like me, too. And if I want to say vagina and sometimes mother effer, I'm going to do so. (BTW I do think you are very cool and hip but not because of the swears).

      I wish I was going, too. We shall see. If the stars and planets somehow align themselves and I do make it there, we'll have to say howdy for sure.

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  3. Congratulations! Love your blog - you have a great sense of humor and a lot of hard-earned wisdom to share.

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    1. Awww thanks SC. Likewise to you, on both counts.

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  4. Congratulations! That post was HI-larious! You deserve it.

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  5. I just checked out blogher. Wow, that has got a lot of content on it! A little overwhelming. I'm going to have to spend the next 8 hours reading it.

    I hope you can get the money somehow to go to the conference!

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    1. Yes, it's HUGE and overwhelming (to me, at least). It is reminiscent of twitter, in some ways. I think you really need to toot your own horn and be VERY consistent with commenting. Plus I just figured out that you can post ON BlogHer, simultaneously with your blog. That way the editors can see your stuff.

      And that information may be wrong. See? It's taken me three years to even begin figuring it out. Mama just doesn't have the time.

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  6. Yea for you! That post remains one of my favorites. It was just like some girlfriends sitting out talking about stuff that girls have to deal with, just in a cyber-way :) Congratulations on your recognition, you totally deserve it. I don't anything about Blogher or blogs or stuff, but I know I would never have the guts to put my thoughts out there for everyone to see (or put them so eloquently as you do). So double kudos to you for your guts and the glory!

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  7. Congrats! I'm also impressed that you managed to squeeze in a nod to the side of the genitalia aisle (cojones) in this post, as well ;-)

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    1. C O J O N E S

      I've been spelling it wrong my whole life (says the woman who took French). Well hot damn, you learn something new every day.

      Glad you caught the testes reference. I try to toss those in every once in a while. Equal time, and all.

      Thanks Trent :)

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  8. Now how did Blogspot/Google neglect to notify me about this post?? (I don't expect you to answer that.) I just now saw it when I went to read your "letter to Kotex" one, today. This is AWESOME and so very well-deserved -- congrats congrats congrats Jenny!! I LOVED "Vaginas, Tampons, and Episiotomies" and am delighted BlogHer had the good sense to choose it as a winner for VOTY. Now I so hope Kotex has the good sense to sponsor you so you can go rock this conference!
    As for the person who said, snippily and gratuitously, that "some body parts shouldn't be written about..." you know what that's called? SOUR GRAPES. That woman is so jealous her hair is probably even green...but how sad for her that she had to express it by trying to cut you down. It just shows she's the one with major issues, not you so much. I know, easy for me to say...but believe me, I'd have been offended and mad too, in your shoes. But, this person is again only making herself look bad, plus, she's flat out wrong! I see nothing wrong whatsoever -- and in fact, a lot right -- with women bloggers writing about all kinds of women's issues, and that includes our, ahem, nether regions! It's the only way we show the world that we need to get over hang-ups about our bodies and discuss them matter-of-factly (and humorously!)
    And, kind of related...I share your sensitivity to rejection, and feeling like groups of people who know each other can be clique-y and exclusionary. When I'm around people like that, I flash right back to middle school (or actually, graduate school...a lot of the peeps in my program were that way.) That's always been an issue for me...and in fact I remember that you were one of the peeps in our class in high school who was ALWAYS nice to me and ALWAYS tried to make me feel accepted and included. That's why I've always thought you were cool! I hadn't known the reason you weren't in cheerleading in 12th grade...man, that sucks. I'm so sorry. I hope the mean girls who did that to you wound up very sorry too.
    I'm rambling all over the place...must be the Harmon Area Twinkle still talking! Anyway. CONGRATS again my friend!

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  9. CONGRATULATIONS! Your post was hilarious! I'm also intimidated by Blogher, so I'm nervous about attending my first Blogher conference this month. Hope you can make it so we can be newbies together!

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  10. I just found your blog through Huffington Post and you are Hilarious (Captial H). I MAY have gotten sidetracked at work today. Anyway, you should really think about monetizing your site! All the food blogs I am addicted to advertise so that they can do this sort of thing full time. I definitely think you are good and could generate a little casho-ola for the kiddies!

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