The Annual PodCamp Dilemma

Monday Update: As much as I feel the change of focus and session topics will benefit me, I will have to wait until next year to attend PodCamp. Something else came up that makes it pretty much impossible for me to go. The scales tipped in favor of the kids, and I’m cool with that. I hope that PodCamp moves back to September. The move to October (because of a venue conflict) had me — obviously — feeling like I was shoehorning it in.

Also, my mom’s comment made me LOL. Thanks, Mom, mostly for calling me a young person.


This year’s PodCamp Pittsburgh (#pcpgh7) is next weekend.

PodCamp is always a dilemma for me. I’ve been to two of them, and they are super enjoyable and educational. I meet new people (or meet people IRL for the first time). Last year, I even presented, and it was awesome.

PodCamp is moving from a personal-type event toward a business/professional type event this year (the topics, I should say). Sessions are about social media marketing, blogging for business, social media for non-profits, entrepreneur-ship (and I would like you to know I spelled ‘entrepreneur’ right on the first try, BOOM), and so on.

And I would desperately like to go. I am having a real “what do I want to be when I grow up” phase in my life right now, and social media and social media marketing are part of that. (Incidentally, this has been going on since I attended my first PodCamp in 2009.)

I registered (General Rockstar) about a week ago. I’ve been dithering ever since and here’s why:

1. Logistics, logistics, logistics. I can’t get a babysitter for all day Saturday. I could probably go to the afternoon sessions, and maybe a couple on Sunday.

2. Sunday would require bribing my husband substantially. It is his only day off every week, and for me to decamp to what he views as a social event (leaving him with the three children) verges on traitorous.

3. I see PodCamp as an immersive event, and I just can’t be immersive this year. So is it worth it to go? I probably can’t network much. I probably can’t stay to socialize after the sessions are over. (Okay, maybe one drink.)

4. Since it’s changing focus, I may not know that many people going this year. I know more personal bloggers than professional social media marketing people. That’s neither a pro nor con, but see #3. (And I’m shy.)

5. All the other stuff going on in my life right now. I am planning two birthday events (Flora’s classroom party, and the kids’ party — I’m doing ONE family party for all three children); the holidays are fast approaching; THE BATHROOM IS BEING REMODELED, which if you can’t tell from me yelling, is a big huge deal/nightmare; three kids to manage.

What is pulling at me to attend at all is the fact that I want to move toward being a professional in social media. (Gawd, does that sound naive or pretentious? I can’t decide.) And I don’t mean I want to be a Justin Kownacki or Chris Brogan. I would kind of enjoy, however, being Dana Sheehan. (I don’t know if Dana knows that, or if she even remembers meeting me.)

So. Should I go, even though I can probably only do about 5 hours/sesssions total? I really need to decide this weekend. It’s a free event, technically speaking, but it still costs me a lot (energy, points with Dan, time, time with my children). I’m still trying to figure out if it’s worth it.

What say you?

My PCPGH Recap in Three Lists

The Great Parts

1. As a first-time presenter at PodCamp Pittsburgh, I got a ton of encouragement and support. It helped a lot that two of my sessions were panel discussions, and really, I was there more to introduce the topics than anything else. I give my panelists (Eric and Mike did the bulk of the trolls panel, and Lisa, Danielle, and Andy did the bulk of the bully panel) all of the credit. Especially Eric, as he put together the majority of the slides and did the majority of the talking.

2. People actually showed up for my solo session! I mean, only about eight people (I started with more, but I think a few realized they were early for the Troll Panel). But as I was there to talk about blogging about grief, I did not expect a huge turnout. Props to @Mr_Ski_Pgh and @Firemom (also: squeee, I finally got to meet Firemom!) for having great questions. (Adam also had a great question, but I only got his first name.) I really hope that the people who came learned something. If nothing else, maybe they learned they were not alone in whatever grief they have.

3. Also, I did not puke or cry during any of my sessions. I don’t think I visibly sweated through any of my clothing. I survived, and even had fun. (My solo session wasn’t fun, per se, but I think it had value, and I’m glad I did it.)

4. Meeting new people. I can’t list them all here (mostly because I’m afraid I will leave someone out). But if I met you for the first time at either the @alphalab Meet and Greet or at the Saturday Podcamp sessions or lunch — I’m so glad. You are lovely. Thank you for your encouragement, your hugs, letting me play on Team Nice, and/or anything else you did or said to me. You are the best. I’m not kidding.

5. Seeing people I haven’t seen in a while. Most of my interaction with people in social media is through social media, primarily Twitter (with this here blog and Facebook in the distance). Because of my “real life” (mom of three, lovin’ wife, house maven, suburb dweller, full-time employee, etc., etc.) I don’t get to get out more to be social without the media. Podcamp is my big opportunity (even though I can hear my husband rolling his eyes from here) to completely be out IRL with people I like a whole bunch. I got to have more and longer conversations with Pittsburgh tweeps (and some non-Pittsburgh tweeps who made the trip). *Group hug!*

6. I cannot say enough nice things about the organizers, the volunteers, and the people who did the sessions I managed to attend (not enough, and more on that below).

The Missteps

I didn’t introduce myself to enough people. I don’t know who is going to believe this, but I’m actually shy.

I didn’t take any pictures.

I did too many sessions, especially the way they were grouped (one after the other Saturday afternoon). I had started out wanting to do a panel on Trolling and Cyberbullying. Once my panel of five other people came together, we discovered there was so much to say about trolls and about cyberbullying, that we spilt into two sessions. And then I had the bright idea for my grief session. I should’ve held onto that for next year.

I only went for one day. I hired a babysitter for all day on Saturday, and she was worth every penny I paid her. But I should’ve bribed my husband with whatever he wanted so that I could go back on Sunday. That price, too, would have been worth it.

I went to Bar Louie too early. Should’ve followed the cool kids to Las Velas for better food and better drinks. Plus, I haven’t been there since their re-opening. Saturday was a perfect opportunity. I could’ve skipped Bar Louie all together.

Although then I would have missed @mattieflap telling some helpful co-eds that Miller Lite tastes like goat piss. That was pretty funny.

The Future

Daycare: PodCare (see #9), PodCamp Jr.
Being an organizer or volunteer.
Having ONE really good session idea, and doing it.
Okay, maybe two, but not back-to-back.

The Upshot: Go again. And get more people to come! I’ve got some Twitter peeps I know could have benefitted from PodCamp, and I’m dragging them next year. (@YouPickToo, I’m looking at you. *ahem*)

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

I have plenty to say about Podcamp Pittsburgh (most of it good), but I need a day to regroup, recharge, and hang out with my kids. Gosh, I missed them so much yesterday!

Oh, and clean my house. Going to get on that right now. Once I’m not out of breath from exercising. My strength and tone is improving, but my cardio is shot for some reason.

Stay tuned for more.

Repost: The Worst Day(s) of My Life

Today I am giving a talk at Podcamp Pittsburgh about Blogging Grief. This is a repost of one of my earliest posts about Gabriel, in November 2007. He was already 4+ years gone, but that doesn’t mean this was easy to write. It’s still not easy for me to read. And, fair warning, there are pictures at the end. They may be tough viewing.

On June 4, 2003, I had a pre-natal visit. I was pregnant with our first child. Everything seemed to be going fine.

Twenty-four hours later we were a long way from “fine”.

I first noticed that the baby was quieter than usual that evening, June 4. I didn’t think too much of it because I had literally just been at the midwives and had heard his heartbeat (at the time, we didn’t know he was a boy, and we didn’t have the name Gabriel picked out). But even after a vanilla milkshake from Bruster’s with a banana added that night (can’t drink those anymore; frankly it’s a wonder I can visit a Bruster’s at all), he wasn’t kicking around.

The next day, I went to work. At the time I was working part-time as a receptionist at a hair salon, and as a freelance writer. I had decaf coffee, a Pop Tart, and then some grapes. Nothing from the baby. I called the midwives, and told them my concern, that I hadn’t felt the baby moving.

It had been less than 24 hours since my appointment. They were mystified. The midwife I spoke with suggested I have a high-carbohydrate snack and see what happened. I explained I had already done that. She asked if I would like to go to the hospital so they could find the heartbeat or do a sonogram.

We really thought everything was fine at this point. I could say something dramatic like, “I already knew my baby was dead” because in retrospect I know that now. But I didn’t think he was dead. I just thought he was quiet.

(Look, I don’t want to go into a blow-by-blow of this experience. I am going to pick the strongest images and emotions from the next few days and give them to you. We’ll go from there.)

The worst words in the world that a pregnant woman can hear: “We can’t find the heartbeat.”

The worst words a pregnant woman has to say: “I lost the baby.”

The worst moment after the worst words: When DearDR rushed into the hospital room with “that look” on his face. “That look” was so lost and scared and vulnerable. It was the look, that when you see it on someone’s face after they’ve lost someone, that you want to say, “I’m so sorry” or — worse — “It’s going to be okay.” And I couldn’t say either of those things to him. I was sorry, sorry for all of us. But it certainly wasn’t going to be okay.

The worst pain: After the epidural wears off, and they won’t bolus it anymore because the next time they turn up the pain meds, it’s because you’re getting a C-section.

The worst memory: Not having much of a memory of the hours after they hook you up to a morphine drip.

The worst denial: Denial is a powerful thing, my friends. Denial says, “They are all wrong, and this baby is fine, and when I finally get this labor started, I’m going to push out a fine, strong, healthy baby. Won’t everyone be surprised? It’s going to be great!”

The worst of everything (aside from the obvious): The look on everyone else’s face. The expression of sorrow and pain on most, and the resolute expression that your father has because he’s here to comfort you, and the pity on other faces, and the fear that everyone is hiding because why is this taking so long and why don’t they just do a C-section already, and if I have to be here one more day I’m going to lose it. The force of good cheer some of your visitors bring with them mistakingly thinking this helps you be strong.

The second worse: The waiting. The pain. The drugs.

I delivered Gabriel on Sunday June 8 at 2 a.m. in the morning (that time is not exact). It was Pentecost Sunday.

To paraphrase (a lot): “The Lord said, ‘I will send my Holy Spirit to you in your hour of greatest need. And he will make you strong.'”

And the Spirit did. I would be lying if I didn’t add, I wish I hadn’t needed the Spirit quite as much. God could have kept the Spirit if I could have had my son. It was, indeed, the darkest hour in my life. I am pretty sure DearDR would second that.

Gabriel was 5 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long. He was a beautiful baby — he truly had the most gorgeous hands, with long, long fingers.

I wish I knew what color his eyes were. I wish I had heard him cry. I could fill pages and pages of all that I wish in relation to Gabriel. You get the idea, I’m sure. If you are a parent; if you have lost a child. You know.

Gabriel was the name that DearDR and I picked before the morphine hook-up, when the epidural was still working. We picked a girl’s name, too, but I don’t remember what it was. Gabriel means, “gift of God”. And if that sounds weird, well, I’ll explain it another day. I’m pretty wiped out right now.

You can imagine why.

Repost: Photograph

It is actually possible to grieve for someone before they die. I’m doing a Podcamp session tomorrow on Blogging Grief, so I’m reposting this today. As an illustration of how I have grieved, and how I have written about it.

My grandmother died more than a year ago. I’ve been missing her a lot longer than that.

As the nurse was helping her into bed that night, she discovered a photo in her pocket.

“Oh, look, Olympia! Your great-grand-daughters are beautiful!”

She looked at the picture, a little creased from spending the day in her pocket. Two little girls smiled out of it: a blue-eyed, dark haired beauty, and a green-eyed blondie with mischief written all over her grin.

She wondered whose children they were. Certainly not, probably not her own. She was an old lady now. Her daughter’s? She did have a daughter, she thought she recalled. Had her daughter had children? Her daughter’s daughters? Her daughter’s daughter’s daughters?

“Do you know their names?”

Oh, she thought, oh, they probably aren’t mine, she thought. Someone probably gave that photograph to me by mistake. But wouldn’t it be nice if they came to see me, too? I would hug them and give them cookies. They look so sweet. Such sweet little girls. I wish I knew who they were.

Return to PodCamp Pittsburgh

I know I mentioned this before: I am going to PodCamp Pittsburgh this year. It will be my second PodCamp.

And, er, I’m doing three sessions in a row on Saturday.

Technically, I’m only doing one session solo. The other two sessions are panel discussions with some awesome people: @michaeldpound, @lisaj77, @funkydung, @techburgh, and @askthedivad. We had a meeting last night at my house to hammer out a few more details.

And I’m quite excited. Also, I think Mike has a picture of me perched on a little blue chair looking quite excited. (Ahem. Cough it up.) I promise not to go on (too much more), but PodCamp is one of the reasons I am waking up at 3 a.m. even when a kid is not. I have a lot to do. (Another reason is my sister’s wedding. I have a lot to do for that, too. It’s all good.)

Looking over the schedule, I wish I could go to every single session. I’m especially interested in the podcasting sessions, because that is something my husband would like to incorporate into his business. I’ll have to watch the videos later I suppose. Or make Dan come with me.

Side note: Because of his profession, being present on Twitter and Facebook would be… tricky to say the least. He is on LinkedIn, and at this point we feel that’s most appropriate.

Back on point: If you are interested in any or all of the following, you really should come to PodCamp: Pittsburgh social media, SEO, podcasting, blogging, new media, journalism on the Web, talking to people, listening to people, social media and journalism, social media and non-profits, and, er, #craftbeer.

Did I miss anything?

Are you going? You should go!