XOXO thoughts

So in the closing remarks, one of the Andys said to go and set up a blog or whatever, if you don’t have one, and to write about the experience, and then to share it with them.

I took a deep breath, thought about this site that I’ve had since ~2000, and tried to remember the last time I wrote a “real” blog post. (What’s here now is all automated posts from Ravelry and Goodreads.)

[stares into space]

[keeps staring]

[tries not to cry]

Someday I’ll write something about the careful balancing act of having been a person on the internet, but a nobody of a person, who then has to lock everything down. I don’t know if I have anything new to contribute to the genre; I’m not living with hate mobs or death threats, so it’s a very quietly strange experience. Those who know me can guess how anxiously and cautiously I’m gauging every single word I write.

And that was the thing about being at XOXO: not feeling careful and compartmentalized, feeling whole with strangers in a way that I didn’t think was possible. And also with friends; I got to spend quite a bit of time with Dylan, and with Meri Williams, who I hadn’t seen in thirteen years. Conversations were deep and silly and weird and ranged all over the place.

From almost the very first moment, too: a woman asking me about the socks I was knitting who then drew me into a card game where I got to tell my favorite family story, then checking off the first item on my to-do list because Lucy Bellwood was in that game, and I had a poem ready to trade for the Boat Gnome pin. (Humpbacks, by Mary Oliver, copied into a Google Doc from my college copy of American Primitive, because apparently it exists absolutely nowhere online in full.)

Selfie of the author with Brian David Gilbert
Yeah, that happened. I was shockingly chill, went into Hostess Mode and asked how he was enjoying Portland. Before of course asking if I could get a selfie, and then telling him that he “made a bad winter less bad.” Which might be the understatement of the year.

My to-do list for the event, by the way:

  • Poem <-> Boat Gnome
  • New Unraveled
  • The Adventure Zone tabletop game playtest
  • Talk from the authors of Burnout (spoiler: I bought a signed copy of the book)
  • McElroys fan meetup (saying “Munch? Squad!” IRL is very satisfying)
  • Knitting meetup

All of these were good, in some cases better than I had even imagined. (I have sworn an oath, btw, not to talk about the TAZ game playtest, although I will say: it’s fun and not just for fans.)

I’ve made some notes (inspired by having done the same thing when a friend visited recently) but in my head it’s all this kaleidoscope of little moments, sun and rain, donuts and tacos, breakfast sandwiches and mochas (some very good, one remarkably bad), crying and laughing and hugs, and a steady drumbeat of revelations that I’m going to be working through for a while.

Maybe I’ll write about it in more detail? It might not be here — maybe I’ll use my Dreamwidth, where I can fine-tune the privacy settings — but I do think I have more to say. In classic fashion, I got home and was wiped out by some combination of a cold, allergies, and exhaustion, so I spent my 45th birthday hiding out, napping, and watching YouTube. Which means I haven’t even really finished making notes for the last day or so of the experience, and there’s a lot in there, too.

Either way, I’m going to be thinking about this a lot, and I’m grateful that this is how I got to spend the days leading up to my birthday, because I think it’s just what I needed to launch into a new year.

PS: I just tossed out my carefully crafted design with its custom background image and coordinating colors…….from 2010. Feels good, to be honest. Maybe I’ll redesign, maybe I won’t, not sure yet.

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