Sunday morning. I actually woke up early enough that I wasn’t scrambling to get ready. Of course, I didn’t have the same challenge as Saturday, when there were scheduled events I needed to be on time for–in fact things were still pretty much up in the air. All I knew was that Demetrius and I, and a few other people who had expressed interest, were planning to have an alternative blogger’s breakfast. For many of us, the words “bloggers’ breakfast” had come to mean an event headed by Darrell in Iowa, and focussed around our blog community. Not only was Darrell not attending Deanfest this year, but the planned breakfast was apparently going to be Jerome-and-Markos-centric. Nothing against Jerome and Markos, but it just didn’t sound like it was going to scratch that particular itch for many of us. There were the learning and networking focussed events, and the huge entertainment/socializing events like at Threadgill’s and Stubbs, but when would there be a real opporunity to commune with our blog family?
Oh yeah, there was also the matter of this breakfast being an additional charge, not included in the original cost of the weekend. And, like Howard Dean, we’re cheap. I mean frugal.
Nothing was carved in stone as far as our plans, other than the fact that we would most likely be going to the Cafe Magnolia , which was the most frequent recommendation people had offered when we asked for one. It was described, in a local restaurant listing as “Hippie Tex-Mex”. We’d given Rich our cell number so that he could call us in the morning and firm up plans. When he called, we agreed to meet in the lobby and then track down other members of our party.
We ended up being a smaller group than anticipated. Oscar, who had originally planned to join us, wanted to attend Sunday morning training sessions. We wouldn’t have been back from breakfast soon enough for him to be on time for that, so we just dropped him off at the university on our way to the restaurant. TeaTimeTim had originally expressed interest in joining us, but I think he ended up going to the breakfast with Markos and Jerome. I called Vicki upstate Ny’s room, and she said she was still interested, and would meet us in the lobby in about half an hour.
While we were waiting, I got a cup of orange juice and a pastry from the hotel café. Having only grabbed a quick sammich before staking out territory in front of the stage at Stubb’s, I was pretty darn hungry by morning. While I ate, Marcia Moody (who had been one of my roommates at least year’s DeanFest, and is now a state representative in New Hampshire) and some other people (refer back to my blanket apology at the beginning of this diary series, all ye whose names are now escaping me) were finalizing plans for what they would be presenting at training sessions. I asked Marcia if it was still possible to take a look at the scrapbook she had put together for Howard Dean. She said that it was already packed away and would be mailed to him, but then remembered that she had copies of the pictures that were included. So after I finished my food I paged through the huge stack of photographs, which chronicled Howard Dean’s life from early childhood, through his election to the position of DNC Chair.
I was exremely impressed. Shortly after Demetrius and I were married, we put together a photo album for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. I remember what a huge job that turned out to be, but Marcia had taken on a much bigger project, and had really done a beautiful job.
Eventually, it was time to leave for the restaurant. Vicki had not yet come down to the lobby–at least not that we had noticed–so we decided to give one more call up to her room. There was no answer. I couldn’t imagine how we could have missed her, but we figured maybe she hooked up with someone else. We ended up being a cozy little group of just Demetrius and I, Rich Kolker, and TigerMom in NM, and were thus all able to fit into Rich’s rental car.
We arrived at Cafe Magnolia and got our names on the list to be seated. It was going to be a good half hour or so before a table was available, but we could browse their gift shop next door. Since it was owned by the same people, we’d be able to hear over the speaker when our table was ready. as we walked up to the gift shop, I thought it was odd that it had a sign that read “Sorry, we’re open too”. On our way back to the restaurant wheen our table was ready, I noticed for the first time that it bore a sign that read “Sorry, we’re open”. After seeing a number of “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers, I could see that there was definitely a theme of celebrating weirdness.
We had a good breakfast and conversation. I didn’t take advantage of the “Tex-Mex” theme, as I am a “fussy eater”, which George Carlin says is a euphymism for “biiiig pain in the ass!” Demetrius, on the other hand, when he first ate huevos rancheros a few years ago, discovered that eggs were meant to be eaten with salsa. Whatever you say, dear. I opted instead for the cherry buttermilk pancakes.
We talked a bit with Rich about his involvement in local campaigns, as well as the new Citizen Campaign 2006 project he was launching. I got to talk with Tigermom in NM about some of the parallels between our religious/spiritual paths–both starting out in the Catholic church and ending up happily Episcopalian.
On the way back to the hotel, Tigermom mentioned that she was having dinner with fellow DeanFesters at a local seafood restaurant, and that people were meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 p.m.
That sounded like a plan…after all we’d had a nice intimate little breakfast, but on our last day we really wanted to fit in as much fellowship as possible. And when headed back inside the hotel and saw Tara and franster and–(insert Renee’s standard apology/disclaimer here)–they agreed. They said the disappointing thing about the breakfast was the missed opportunities to connect. It was structured such that bloggers didn’t stand up to introduce themselves (an indispensible Blogger’s Breakfast tradition) until the very end. But at least, there in the hotel lobby, we had an opportunity to talk to Tara for the first time at length. As I mentioned earlier, so many people had been, until the weekend of June 16-18, a name and some words. Now we got to sit down, the real flesh and blood Renee and Demetrius (and franster, Tigermom, Rich, and…) with the real flesh and blood Tara. About the blog, and the upcoming changes, our thoughts about Howard Dean being DNC Chair, about the Democratic party…
Demetrius had promised to give Donna a ride to the airport, but now knowing that we had dinner plans at 6, we knew how much time we had to work with. We still hadn’t gotten anything “Texas-y” for the kids, so we figured Sunday afternoon was our opportunity to finally do some shopping toward that end.
We found a mall in Austin, but the trip was not as productive as we’d hoped. There was a place called The Texas Store, which, before I really thought things through, had seemed like a good place to find souvenirs for the kids. Once we got there, I realized that, yeah, t-shirts at an Official Souvenir-type Store are going to be overpriced because–well, they just are, you know? So I tried to think of where else in the mall we might find something that would work. We made our way through the Sears and JCPenney’s type stores to see who might have t-shirts or hats or something that would make good gifts for the kids.
For our son, we found a t-shirt for some Texas team. Yeah, in the world of diminishing expectations and our desire not to come home empty-handed after all of this, that would work. We had a harder time finding something for our daughter. We did see this t-shirt that truly made us cringe–it was in a pre-teen size and the writing on it said, “Soldiers are Hot!” I found the concept of putting that on a t-shirt for pre-teen girls so offensive that I insisted that Demetrius take a picture of it so that we could post it in this diary. Unfortunately, at least at this writing, that particular picture seems to have gone missing. Darn.
I decided to do a web search to see if I might find an image of that shirt online somewhere. So far I haven’t found it, although I did find this in an a 2003 entry on a blog called Body and Soul:
U.S. soldiers are hot, tired and homesick. They face attacks every day from an increasingly organized resistance that melds into the local population and does not care about civilians.
Ohhhh! Maybe that’s what the shirt meant. Rather than offensively combining the sexualization of prepubescent girls with the crassest form of jingoistic patriotism, it was something much more noble. My daughter, wearing this shirt, would be reminding everyone who saw her, that, when we are celebrating our 4th of July barbecues and the retreating into our air-conditioned homes, we should not forget the plight of our brave fighting men and women in Iraq, who are hot, tired and homesick.
Needless to say, we took a pass on that t-shirt, and when we left the mall we still didn’t have anything for our daughter. (We eventually found her a cool stuffed armadillo in, of all places, the airport.)
So it was back to the hotel, and we’d be there in plenty of time to meet up at 6:00 with the other bloggers who would be going to Pappadeaux for dinner. Except, when I checked in on the blog…
SylvieNYC wrote on June 19, 2005 05:45 PM:
As is typical with Progressive organization, I have heard of two plans about the Blogger’s Supper: one is meeting at the Chapel at 5, and the other, meeting at the Doubletree at 6.
Are they two different dinners, or the same dinner with two plans?
Jessica, you around???
rich^kolker wrote on June 19, 2005 05:49 PM:
You got me… 🙂
I heard Doubletree at 6 in a conversation a little after lunchtime today in the Doubletree. I believe the plan is to go to Papadeaux’s.
Chapel at 5 may be another plan. I haven’t been at the campus much today, so if it was planned there, I wouldn’t have heard of it.
SylvieNYC wrote on June 19, 2005 05:53 PM:
Looks like there’s a disconnect between the beloveds, the lushes, and the beloved lushes. Any way we can organize a bloggers’ dinner (with drinks?).
Anyone at the chapel there to report?
Renee*in*Ohio wrote on June 19, 2005 06:43 PM:
We were told 6 pm in the Doubletree lobby. Y’all better not leave without us!
rich^kolker wrote on June 19, 2005 06:45 PM:
We’re in the bar
Here’s the blog thread where that conversation took place. I haven’t included all of it, but at a certain point somebody felt compelled to dis us for our disorganization. But yet, here’s the thing–while there was a bit of confusion at first, we got it all sorted out quite easily–by communicating via the blog! Imagine that. Kenya believe it?
So we met in the hotel bar worked out the last minute details–getting a map/directions and thinking if there was anyone else who might want to come but hadn’t heard about the plans (and hadn’t yet caught their flight home). We thought to call TeaTimeTim, who was not staying at the Doubletree, but his number was still in Demetrius’ phone from calling him that morning. Demetrius called, let him know where the restaurant was, and we looked forward to seeing him there.
Once we got to the restaurant, we gave the name Dean (hee hee) and said we would need seating for twelve. We had quite a wait ahead of us, but it was more time to hang out and talk. I mentioned the “Soldier are hot!” t-shirt, and Demetrius showed Tara the picture on his phone. She agreed that the concept was pretty darn offensive. From there, the conversation turned to other things that are marketed to kids way too young, like the Barbie cell phone designed for girls ages 8 to 14. Demetrius and Tara went on to have a fascinating discussion about the kind of cell phone and service parents might appreciate for their children. Creative techie-type people with kids–gotta love ’em! 😉
Finally it time for “Dean, party of 12” to be seated and we ordered our food, we chatted, our food arrived–and Demetrius’ phone rang. It was TeaTimeTim, who was on his way to the restaurant, along with, um, how many people was it again? Help me out here, Tim…
TeaTimeTim*in*NEOHIO wrote on July 19, 2005 09:52 PM:
13 in our group Renee. Man that was funny, and we all cheered when they Said Howard Dean Party of 13.. LOL
So yes, in the end, there were some 25 of us at Pappadeaux that Sunday night. Dean, party of 13 was being seated just as Dean, party of 12 was finishing up. Some of our party stayed on, planning to go somewhere else after dinner. Some, like Demetrius and I, who had to be up at o’dark-thirty in the morning to catch a flight, had to say our good-byes and head back to the hotel.
rich^kolker wrote on June 19, 2005 05:37 PM:
A conference or convention is ultimately about the interaction among the attendees. Meeting and talking to people here has been my highlight. More than seeing the Doc again. More than all the entertainment and the training.
It’s about us.
Tara Liloia DFA wrote on June 19, 2005 05:43 PM:
You’re right, Rich. More than any training or workshop, for me this event has been about connecting with people.
The human beings behind our usernames are amazing, dynamic people. I hope everyone eventually gets a chance to gather with other BFA’ers — it’s incredibly energizing.
Amen to that. My only regret is that there were so many people, like Annatopia, and Glenn Smith, and many others that I had hoped to have a chance to sit down and talk with but never did. Oh, and today when I was looking at the DemocracyFest 2005 schedule again, just to jog my memory, and I noticed for the first time that Eugene Hedlund was one of the presenters at the training. I had met Eugene of Truth and Hope.org at last year’s event, but Demetrius hadn’t. Dang–yet another missed opporunity.
Well, there’s always next year.