You’re about to see the Internet explode with praise and enthusiasm for a blog conference called BlogU (and it is well-deserved praise and enthusiasm, I might add) that I attended this past weekend. This was the second year BlogU happened, and I couldn’t make it last year, but I’ll be making it next year and any other year they'll have me. BlogU offers “classes” on subjects of interest to bloggers of all kinds—subjects like SEO, collaborative blogging, and building a brand. There were many fabulous faculty and guest speakers, including New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She’s also the editor the anthology in which I was published, so I was looking forward to
meeting her. The story I’m about to tell you is really only funny if you know
who she is, so if you need to pop over to her site and familiarize yourself
with her (although why don't you already know her? Because she is hilarious), be my guest. Maybe buy a book while you're there. I’ll be here when you get back.
Ready? OK, Jen Mann is very down to earth, funny, and approachable. She posted a comment in the Facebook group for the conference on Thursday evening that she was in the lobby of the hotel having a drink if anyone wanted to join her. I had gone out to dinner with a few folks, and saw it when I got back to the hotel. I messaged her and said if she was still there, and still looking for company, I’d be happy to join her.
“Sure! Come on down!” she responded.
I got to the lobby and joined the group of ten or twelve women. I introduced myself to a few of them, and we chatted. Jen was involved in a conversation with someone else the whole time I was there, and I didn't want to interrupt. I finished my wine and headed back upstairs because it was getting a little late, and I knew have other chances to meet her, so no big deal if it didn't happen then.
As I sat down in front of my computer for one last social media check, a message popped up from Jen.
“Are you coming down? We’re wrapping up here.”
I replied that I’d been there and had just gotten back to my room. I asked if she wanted me to come down, that I was still wearing regular clothes and so forth.
“Yes!” she said. I went down and we had a lovely chat about this and that. I assume I gave the impression I was a normal person. That wouldn't last.
Friday morning I was sitting in an almost-empty auditorium waiting for the first session to start. Two ladies a couple of rows back were discussing the upcoming parties (one on Friday night, one on Saturday night). They were a bit alarmed that we’d been given only two drink tickets at check in. Was that it for the weekend? Only two drinks? Of course I couldn’t help but overhear them, so I turned around and joined in their conversation.
“I think it’s a budget thing and it’s only two drinks tonight, but on Saturday it will be unlimited. I wasn’t here last year, so I’m not a hundred percent sure, but that’s what I’d guess. I mean, you know, don’t quote me or anything…”
One of the women began (jokingly) grilling me. “Yes, what’s your authority on this? I am going to quote you. What’s your name?”
I held out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Jen Mann.”
Since everyone at the conference knew who Jan Mann was, and I clearly was not Jen Mann, we all had a laugh at that.
Fast forward to the Friday night party. I found Jen and said, “Hey, Jen, can I tell you something funny?”
“Sure!” she said. I told her about my conversation with the women in the auditorium and that if she heard of anyone going around campus impersonating her, it was me. Thankfully, she thought it was funny.
The next morning the first session I attended was one Jen was teaching. Because I clearly have anxiety about stupid things, I got there early to get a seat. Jen and her lovely co-presenter JD Bailey (of Honest Mom) were getting ready. Brown nosey teacher’s pet that I am, I picked a seat in the front row. JD was doing something with the computer, so Jen had a free minute.
I said, “Hey, Jen, can I tell you something funny?”
“Sure!” she said.
And I proceeded to relate to her the exact story I told her at the party the night before. When I finished, she just looked at me without blinking for whole seconds (yes, seconds are short, but several seconds strung together are very, very long, especially when you’re sitting in front of a New York Times bestselling author whose next anthology you'd like to be in—trust me).
“You told me that story last night, and I laughed.”
I swear I wasn’t drunk, wasn’t stoned (I don’t even do that anymore), was completely in what’s left of my right mind. I just have a terrible memory at this point, which is why I write down anything I really need to remember. Apparently now I also need to start writing down things like, “Told funny story about impersonating her to Jen Mann at Friday night party. DO NOT TELL HER AGAIN.” Talk about embarrassing.
However, I will say this, I got a lot of mileage out of the How I Humiliated Myself in Front of Jen Mann story for the rest of the conference. And in another conversation, Jen mentioned that a few times she’s met people and said things like, “Great to meet you!” and they’ve said, “We’ve met before—we had lunch together last year” or something, then she feels sheepish for not remembering them. I don’t think that’s going to be my problem. I think next year when we meet (assuming she doesn’t avoid me the way you avoid a hyper chatty semi-stalker who for all you know is a psychopath and can’t remember what they said twelve hours earlier), she’s going to say, “You’re not gonna tell me that fuckin’ story again, are you?”
She’s probably hoping I won’t even remember her. But I will.
Because I wrote it down.