And what I learned most in those four hours is that I am just not a joiner. I want to be. I try. I pay and I show up and there I am, my name on the list, my car parked safely in the garage, a plastic badge of honor pinned to my lapel. And yet. There is that voice in my head that constantly critiques. That mean little voice that asks me what the hell I think I'm doing at The St. Francis Hotel on a Sunday morning at 9am all by my lonesome and without knowing a soul. What the fuck are you wearing? the voice wants to know. That pink scarf? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And your glasses? it says, Your glasses are on crooked and wait, is that your bladder? Do you have to go to the bathroom? Now? Like right now? And just what do you think you're going to do with that plate of cantaloupe? Bring it into the stall with you? It just won't let up, the voice. You have to go poo now, don't you? You filthy girl. Why nobody else here poops! Ever! It's true! You're the only one! You're sick! And you're standing all alone in case you haven't noticed. Quick! Look busy! And don't poop! I'm telling you, that voice is a real meshuganah. To be fair if I were part of a group that had somehow solved global warming and attended a conference on "The International Committee For Good Job Everyone! The World Is Saved And Now Go Enjoy That 95% Off Sale At Anthropologie Exclusively For Members Of The International Good Job Everyone Committee!" the voice would critique that, as well. What? Don't you like Indian Summers? It would say. Don't you want your house to someday be zoned coastal? Do you honestly think the world actually needs polar bears? Do you really think you can pull off that block-print skirt even if it IS only $9??? It's mean, that voice, the way it seems to breathe just a little harder onto the zit on the side of my nose so there is no way I could possibly forget it is there, both the zit and the voice. But I went. I sat through two round-robin sessions where what I would like to be my peers (but who are we fooling?) spouted off terms like analytics and algorithms. It wasn't until just now that I googled the word "algorithm" to find out what it means that I realized it is not, in fact, spelled "algorhythm" and has little to do with rhyme and meter and everything to do with data and mathematics and arbitrary finiteness, words that mean nothing to me except that they feel pretty inside my mouth. The arbitrary finite. See? Such a poetic concept in the abstract, but in reality? In reality there are integers and equations and variables, all words that chip at my teeth. Oh my! So I went. I ate what ultimately amounted to a $348 croissant and learned that I should maybe join Kirtsy. BlogHer Ad Networks. NaBloPoMo, Google Reader, Stumble Upon, Blogburst and Twitter. And I learned that people following my tweets is not as pornographic as it seems but really quite wholesome.
And then I got in my horse and buggy and clip-clopped back home where I have been ever since, churning butter and crafting Zoey some shoes out of banana leaves and deer meat. Next year? Next year I either go big or stay home. Next year I'm going to drown out the voice with some cocktails and see if I can't interest anyone in an algorhythm, a poem that says, fine, "I'll go."