Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blogger Get Together Post Mortem

Overall it was a good time, but there were some bumps and scrapes on the way there. First of all, I misread the final e-mail, thinking that the gathering was at 7 pm. When I went to check my e-mail on arrangements, I realized it was 5 pm. The time? 5:24 pm. It was like one of those nightmares where you're running late for a final exam.

Feeling the anxiety creep in, I tracked down the number of the meeting place and asked the hostess to track down the person in charge of the gathering. I let him know my situation. He told me not to worry because only half the group was there. I raced to get ready, and rushed out the door at around 5:45 pm.

I got about just inside I-465 up on Meridian St. and I realized that I didn't have my wallet. So I doubled back and looked all over the house. If I was any more stressed out, I was going to hyperventilate. I looked up and down, around and around. Feeling defeated, I called the gathering place again to summon the organizer, this time to tell him that I wasn't going to make it at all.

As I paced the house waiting for him to get on the phone, I saw a small brown object located in the shelf next to the shower. It was my wallet. When the organizer got on the phone, I told him why I had called, that it was fixed, and that I was going to make it after all, but I would be late.

I rushed into town and made it to the pub where the festivities were going on. Everyone was in the process of getting their dishes delivered. I asked for the biggest glass of Killians they could bring me and a menu. Soon thereafter I got my meal.

There was lots of talking, lots of photographs being taken, a couple of voice recorders made the rounds for reasons I still don't understand, and there were a lot of cell phone calls placed to other bloggers who could not make it to the event. As I watched all of this unfold, the only thing I regret having not done was bringing my work laptop so that I could have live blogged the occasion. I think it would have been possible, too, because the restaurant next door had free WiFi.

We were at the pub until shortly before 10 pm. There was some discussion over what to do. Some wanted to do karaoke, but the only karaoke downtown on a Saturday night was at a gay friendly sports bar about a mile and a half away. We finally settled on the multistory bar/theme park establishment and headed down that way. The place was charging a $5 cover to get in because of a pay-per-view fight, but after some grimaces, we decided to fork it out.

The establishment had bowling lanes, but they were all taken with no waiting list, and no guarantee that we'd get a lane. The group split into three subgroups. Some went to the arcade floor to play games. Some played billiards. The remainder chilled out on the couch. I got my booty kicked in a friendly game of air hockey, did somewhat decent at the skee-ball, sucked royally at the speed boat and stock car race games.

I had an interesting conversation with a somewhat inebriated late 20-something guy who was celebrating a friend's bachelor party. I tend to do well having dialogues with drunks for some reason. Perhaps it's the joy of exploring how thought process become a mixture of declaring the obvious and reaching offbeat conclusions.

We wrapped up our stay there a little after 11 pm. Some wanted to go back to the hotel, but I managed to coax most of the party to walk on up to the Circle and make a trip around it. It was nice to get out into the fresh air and enjoy all of the people out and about, but even moreso, I felt like I was getting a rare chance to share my world with them.

After the stroll, we headed to the organizer's hotel room and played some games on his Wii. Guitar Hero and American Idol were the games of choice. Those who were brave enough to try their hands on the axe did a remarkably good job. No one scored below 60 % accuracy, and no one got booed off the stage. As for Idol, everyone did pretty well, save for me.

I tried doing the best rendition of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" that I could do given a scratchy throat, and I bombed it big time. Not even Paula could scrape up any redeeming qualities. Moreover, my warblings had grabbed the attention of the bachelorette party next door and moved some of them to stop by and offer up their commentary.

One of the bloggers had brought her 4-month-old puppy to the room, and he was adorable. As I expected, my doggie was quite jealous of the scent I brought home. He's now snuggled up next to me, snoring away as I compose this post.

By 1:20 am, everyone was off to bed. There is supposed to be a gathering around 11:30 at a nearby park, and I'll go to that as well.

As I started off the post, it was a pretty good time. I've never been one to handle large gatherings well. I tend to get very self-conscious, sometimes just cowering into the role of passive observer, or possibly firing up a neurotic conversation within the reaches of my mind about whether I'm trying too hard to get attention. In some sense, I feel like I let down the group by not offering a more decisive plan for what to do because there were times in between activities where there was considerable indecision.

These bloggers are a fun bunch, and I am glad I got a chance to meet them. Moreover, I am grateful to the organizer for having chosen my city of residence as the location. The time went by too fast, and I wish I would have had more time to speak with everyone on a more individual basis. I tend to do better in one-to-one or one-to-few conversations because I feel connected. At some point, the crowd gets so large that I feel lonely amidst the chatter. Oddly enough, the most engaging conversations I had were with the spouse of a non-blogger.

The walk from the hotel back to my parking lot was a long one, taking about 20 minutes. There was still a lot of life on South Meridian, with lines formed at some of the hipper clubs. It's a very different world from the otherwise sleepy landscape that I see when I walk those sidewalks on my way the office.

I did manage to help out a couple from Chicago who was visiting the city. They stopped me as I was drawing near and asked me if I was from around here. They were looking for a restaurant or bar that played a lot of 80s music. I told them that I couldn't be certain, but I pointed them southward, saying there was a retro themed bar just down the street off to the left and that there was a 24/7 restaurant just across from that on the right. They thanked me and complimented me on the city.

As I made my way down to the parking lot, I did see a lot of couples, out on the town. Many of them holding hands and affectionate, some of them perhaps the same age or older than me. Prior to being married, I used to look upon such sights with jealousy. Now being out on my own, I don't feel that way, but I do feel loneliness on the emotional and existential levels.

When I courted my STBX wife some 16 years ago, I put a lot of energy doing things that I thought would make her want me more. All of that drowned out the question of what I might have needed from a relationship. I think I've developed a greater awareness of what I want, and I've also come to realize that I am unique in a sense that makes me a hard person to match.

I know many things, but I still too often live within my head rather than doing things. I find myself at a loss at times making connections, usually trying to be humorous to bridge that chasm. You see this played out in the contrast between my solemn tone on this blog and my lightheartedness in comments. It's also very difficult to turn my brain off and just enjoy the moment. I don't know if I can ever truly let go.

It's almost 4 am, and if I don't go to bed soon, I will never make it to the gathering in seven and a half hours. Good nigh... er uh... morning.
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