Friday morning I found myself wandering around San Jose, California, lost, with a rubber chicken sticking out of my purse.
I passed a bus stop just as one was stopping. A beautiful black woman stepped out in her brightly colored outfit and smiled widely at me. I was wearing a bold yellow dress and a vintage turquoise and yellow infinity scarf. “Girl, you look good!” she said, the immediately “What’s with the chicken?”
I've been a writer as long as I've been able to write. But I've also suffered from writer’s block, general fear of failure (and success) and outright laziness. When I took a full time I job I assumed would involve writing I thought I finally had something to throw myself into that would use my talents to earn a living, and that would be it. I’d squeeze in my own stuff from time to time of course, but maybe the fire in my gut would slowly die out and I could just be normal.
When I realized that wasn't the case I knew I had to push forward. I've developed a keen interest in comedy and personal memoir over the years, and I want to give myself over to that but found my personal point of view felt cowed by changes in responsibility and politics. I wanted to cleanse my palate and start fresh.
Enter the Blogher ‘14 Conference. I heard two of the keynote speakers would be Jenny Lawson of “The Bloggess" whose star rose with a story about a fight with her husband and a giant metal chicken, and Tig Notaro, a comedian who found a new level of fame when she spoke with utter transparency and wry humor about her cancer diagnosis. Two of my favorite funny women, who are changing the world the way I want to change it.
My husband sent me in an elaborate gesture of love and goodwill that I do not deserve. Plane tickets and hotels...and it was all too much. I was so overwhelmed I could barely muster up excitement or gratefulness. We couldn't afford it. Why should I go to a blogging conference when I barely ever blog?
Like most people I suffer from imposter syndrome. No matter how many people I have on my side (and it’s a lot. More than I deserve. THERE I GO AGAIN!) The day before I was to fly out to San Jose I was so terrified I laid awake all night, woke up and vomited blood. From sheer fear. Not fear of leaving my kids. Not fear of flying. Fear that somehow, I’d mess this up. Fear that the money spent would be wasted a sack of garbage like me.
But I made it, and I took a cab to my hotel and I didn't mess anything up.
Until the next day.
When I got lost in San Jose with a rubber chicken sticking out of my purse.
Being a huge fan of comedy, and wanting to peruse it myself, I felt the need to have some concrete expression of this passion. When I had the opportunity to meet Jim Gaffigan after doing a phone interview for Evansville Living I went to our local costume and joke shop and bought the quintessential representation of comedy in our American Culture. Hildy the rubber chicken became my talisman, and I hoped with every signature scrawled on her yellow flesh would also absorb some comedic energy. “You have to take Hildy” my husband told me, and I was slightly worried I’d be the first person the TSA detained for suspicious poultry in luggage.
On Friday morning I left my hotel and attempted to navigate my way to the convention center based on my memory from the night before even though it was dark, I was walking with friends and I have ZERO SENSE OF DIRECTION. Hildy was sticking out of my purse because I didn’t think to bring a bag she could fit in, and I was wearing a VIVID yellow dress. Between the dress and the chicken I could not hide.
When it became apparent I was no where near the conference center I pulled out my WAZE app and attempted to navigate from it. Another bad idea, because WAZE is designed for cars, not pedestrians. It never gives you the chance to turn around either but will take you in a gigantic loop. Also, it did NOT EVEN TAKE ME TO THE CONFERENCE CENTER. It took me to the Ramada Inn.
I would up calling my husband in Evansville and asking him to please help. Using Google Maps he was able to direct me to my hotel and I thought, number 1: This is what I was afraid of. I’m a terrible adult who confuses everything and flies by the seat of my pants and hits cars in parking lots and number 2: That’s why I am a writer. To give meaning to my inept foolishness because it’s just going to keep happening, it’s how I’m built.
I made it to the conference. Jenny Lawson LOVED Hildy.
The dear lady in charge of Blogher behind the scenes (whose name escapes me) took Hildy back to Tig Notaro, who scrawled “Tig’s Autograph.”
Mission accomplished. In more ways than one.