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Tuesday August 1, 2006 11:53 am

My Name is Monica, and I Am a Heather Armstrong Groupie

Posted by Monica Edwards Categories: Business, Personal

I have been back from San Jose and my first Blogher conference for a couple of days and I find myself with writer’s block even though I have only been blogging for just over a month. I am at a loss for something relevant to say because of the opportunity I had to not actually meet, but be in on the sessions led by amazing women who blog in their various voices and do it in such eloquent and at times hilariously side-splitting ways. I am feeling very juvenile in my style of writing. After actually reading a few of these sites by these women who are paving a way in the blogging world, I see why they are so well respected in their field. These are not your ordinary online journals, these stylish writings offer humor, history, and a front row seat into the lives of these writers. I found myself engrossed in one particular blog in fact, one written so brilliantly by Heather Armstrong. While I was in the session that she was sitting on the panel for, I was curious to see what kind of woman she was and what she wrote about that allows her to be able to make a living for her family, so that her husband could quit his job instead of working out of the home. What kind of content did she have that was so interesting, day to day in a personal blog? So I clicked on over to her site, dooce.com, and was glued to the screen from the start, I don’t think I blinked for 30 minutes straight, hence the tears that rolled down my face.


Miss Heather, as I will address her with respect, has such a way of telling a story, she grabs you by your earlobes and engrosses you in every word she types…she is not afraid to be a “naked” blogger. She lets you become a part of her world as if you were a fly on her wall experiencing everything as she is. Her words are so picturesque, you can imagine each story she tells as if you were there seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling everything as she is. I was drawn to read one post after another as she was sitting before me along with the other panelists answering questions and sharing a bit of themselves. I found myself snorting aloud while reading the entry for her husband on his birthday. (Have to read this one, if you are a parent, especially). Any parent can relate to the things she writes, especially if you have a toddler who loves Elmo and the Teletubbies. I found myself feeling a oneness with her, as if she were my long lost twin sister- our kids are so similar, it was kind of eerie. Then I realized, this is why so many people are drawn to her site, as well as others like her. We all have a commonality, whether it be in parenting, our daily struggles with a cute but pitifully un-trained dog, living with a loving but at times frustrating husband (especially if he adores clogs), or the struggles of getting through a terrible disease. We all have a link to each other and are drawn to those who are willing to write about it, to share their own piece of life from their perspective, we are drawn to people that can write our lives down for us, so one day we can say, “hey, I went through that same thing, I had forgotten about that”.

I was inspired by these women who dedicate their lives to the love of writing. They all had a beginning and they all started where I am now starting from,  just jotting down something that we feel like sharing with others because it is our way of being connected with them and our community. A man in the audience stood up and commented that our society is afraid of talking to one another on a personal level, that we have all come to just talk to each other superficially, that we don’t delve into each others lives for fear of having to actually get to know that person, or having to take the time to care about that person. It is sad but in my opinion very true. We, on a whole don’t like to delve deeper than surface level because it makes us uncomfortable, and we don’t like to be uncomfortable. I am bad at taking notes, otherwise I would be able to quote this man who made a comment on our lack of caring, because he made a profound statement. He told everyone that when a friend of his had died, by way of committing suicide, that no one talked about how she died, it was just she was here, then she died. So he being frustrated with this, decided to post a blog with the title mentioning his friend, that committed suicide. Wow, what a bold move. This man asked the panels opinion (in my words again, sorry) whether they thought if something was too controversial or too personal to write about, and where that line gets crossed, and if they had all written about something that was personal that received negative feedback or comments from their readers.

This made the hamsters in my head do a marathon sprint around their wheel. I raised my hand tentatively,  shaking like a leaf, (I never do this), so that I could make a comment. I realized at that moment that the main reason I started my blog was not to find an identity for myself other than as a mother and wife, but because I had a life, and thought-changing experience that I wanted to share with other women, with other people. I went through something that was devastating to me, and I was very angry afterwards because one particular individual treated it as though it were a daily routine. It was not routine to me, I was having a miscarriage for the first time and I was scared out of my mind. I realized as I was sitting there, listening to other bloggers share personal stories that they had written about that had touched others, that I decided to publish my blog about my miscarriage after much wrestling as to whether I would get backlash for it being so personal, because I wanted the other women out there who never got to speak about their grief, who went through what I did, and was made to feel as if they were a statistic, that they should not feel pain because “every woman has a miscarriage”, to know that it was okay to talk about it, it was okay to feel pain and to grieve. Forget the statistics, so it happens more than the you think. No one talks about it. Its just one day you are pregnant, next day you arent. No one wants to discuss it, they just want to talk around it. It’s uncomfortable. So I wanted to talk about it and let others know that this is what the typical woman goes through during a miscarriage, not routine.

I had a light bulb moment. The phenomenon of the blogging industry is so huge because of the fact that what the man said is true. We are a people afraid of one another and afraid of feeling. What is life without feeling? The ones that blog about it so in depth remind us all of what it is to care about someone, what life is like with so much time devoted to seeing all that is around you, and it allows the ones that are so afraid to have a connection with someone in their everyday lives, to feel a bond with these writers who they come to know as family because they read about them everyday. 

Heather mentioned during the session that one of her readers sends a cash present to their family every Christmas because this lady has no one else to send a gift to, that she sees Heather as family because of her willingness to open herself up to her readers in the way she does. I told my husband about this and said it is really kind of sad, that someone reaches out to another via a blog because she does not have that person in her own life, and he said “isn’t that a good thing?” and I said, “well, yes, it is good, but also sad.” What Heather is able to do with her writing is incredible, it allows her readers to feel like a part of her family, and that is a wonderful thing, especially for the readers who are alone and crave that bond, but it is also kind of sad to me because our society is so withdrawn to the point that it is hard to make those connections in our own lives. 

I believe that these women bloggers that I was privy to be an audience to, will change the world. We, as women, have a different voice and a different presence in the blogging world than men. I am not categorizing every man as unfeeling, but they tend to hold back, whereas women are not afraid to open the floodgates and let every emotion pour out. They are the link that will bring people together, people that may not have otherwise met. Through the comments on their posts, readers will find commonalities in each other and maybe, just maybe take the time to get to know each other in person.

I have many thoughts in my head, swirling, about my experience at Blogher, and will in the next few days hopefully put them down in type, but this session, the one where HEATHER ARMSTRONG was present, will change my life and the way I write. Heather, if for some insane chance you come to read this post, I want you to know that you are truly an inspiration and so are your husband, Leta, and Chuck. You keep me rolling with laughter with every new post I read and make me aspire to be a better writer for the few, but very appreciated readers I have now. I wish I would have had the courage to introduce myself to you after the session but I might have shriveled in your presence. 

I am from this day forward, a Heather Armstrong groupie, yet, I promise I won’t show up at your door, lest your husband beat me over the head with a bat, or Heaven forbid, his clog.


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