There I was, standing in the student union of the University of Wisconsin Madison, in front of someone I won’t mention yet, next to PZ. On the other side of PZ were Richard, Matt, and Brianne. JT should have been there, but he’d already left when someone got the bright (obvious) idea to put all the FtB bloggers together and take a picture. As punishment, JT will have some interesting picture of himself composited into the group.
In front of me, surreally, were half a dozen people with camera phones and a small crowd gathered to watch the proceedings.
My brain completely refused to accept and deal with that situation. I managed not to think about anything except hanging out with cool people doing work I admire until I got back to the hotel. Now, it’s more of a problem, though I can deal with it if I think of it in terms of work to be done.
Sure, Sean Faircloth, we can have a conversation about why Minnesota doesn’t have a statewide secular organization to coordinate large-scale action. I’ll take some questions back with me and find out what happened after your meeting with some local leaders.
Yes, Valerie Tarico, your generous support for our program is most appreciated and gives me some ideas I need to follow up on.
Say, Darrell Ray, now that you mention it, Jerry DeWitt and Recovering From Religion would be an excellent fit for Atheists Talk. I have a couple of potential ex-religious interviewers in mind. I’ll have to recruit someone for that when I get home.
In fact, Amanda Johnson, we do need to make it easier to talk about feminism in different places, and here are some things people are doing in other parts of the blogosphere. There’s no reason we couldn’t set up a parallel system.
All right, James Croft, we can have a conversation on the challenges of trying to persuade people who have experienced some of the worst of religion that they have an interest in keeping the best. We can talk about how to get your message out to the atheists who take their atheism for granted without alienating or invalidating atheist activists. Or we can debate whether that’s even possible.
When you ask me, however, why I’m not delivering one of the speeches at this conference…I have no idea how to cope with that. None. I can answer it, but the answer is just something that sounds plausible and might even accidentally be right, because I can’t even integrate the question well enough to think intelligently about it.
No more can I integrate the fact that other bloggers on FtB are looking to meet me the same way I’m looking to meet them. Surely (surely!) they must have other demands on their time at a conference where most of them are speaking.
No more can I integrate the idea that podcasters might want to interview me about what I do. Me? Talk about me? I…uh….
Then there are fans of the blog. There are faces that light up in recognition and “Oh! That’s you!” and “I just wanted to mention that I read your blog.” Comprehending them isn’t any easier, but at least hanging out with pro writers has given me the solution to that. As much as my brain wants to reject what they have to say about me, I also know that doing so is rejecting their tastes and preferences. So this time, the impostor syndrome doesn’t win. “Thank you” and “I’m glad you like it” are the only appropriate responses.
Oh, but what a strange (lovely) weekend this is.