On The Blathering 2012

The Blathering.  MAN.

I knew of the event in its first year, but it was just far enough away and I was just too shy and too removed from Internet life to feel comfy enough to meet these lovely ladies who were meeting so closeby.  I wanted to be in Chicago, I REALLY wanted to be in Austin, but NOW.  I finally made it to NOLA.

The benefit to (probably) being one of the last recappers for the weekend means that I can kind of see what everyone else has written and STEAL THEIR IDEAS.  Don't think I won't, new friends.  I CAN TALK A LOT, you might have noticed this by now. 

I think the thing about the Blathering is this: you will meet the most amazing ladies.  And you will LIKE them, you will want to know more about them, their families, their accomplishments.  You'll find insane senses of humor that match yours and people who like to just walk around as much as you do and people who don't think it's weird that you know more about their kids than you know about your coworkers kids.  And these people will know you, at least a little, and when they ask to meet up to get a meal or wait for a cab it will be NORMAL. Your inbox might grow a little and your texts might increase and your Twitter feed will explode.  You'll find your newest role models, people who you can reach out to, ladies that will inspire the crap out of you and make you want to be better and more and, at the same time, exactly who you are.

Here are the things *I* will not forget: 

– I have met lots of people at airports.  People I KNOW in REAL LIFE and have MET BEFORE.  And I've been awkward and uncomfortable and very "oh, remember me?! Now we're going to hang out and I haven't seen you in ages!"  This was NOT my experience.  I get off the plane, my almost-dead phone starts buzzing (with ANONYMOUS numbers because even though I STARTED the Facebook cell number posting, I didn't DO anything with it).  I meet @jayesel (happy and charming), @lauradiniwilk (hilarious and comfy instantly), @happilyeverme and @littlemissmel (GORGEOUS AND from near me- stealing her) and instantly we're talking about Blathering alibis and Jen's due date and BAM.  Four people I could comfortably rely on for the rest of the weekend in case everyone else was insane.

– @happilyeverme and I walk forever (STARVING) before… deciding on a lunch spot across the street from the hotel.  Po' Boys.  Talking to M about her babies and her work and, you guys- SHE IS FUNNY.  Beautiful and sweet and down-for-you in the way that makes you want to have many adventures together because she would never, ever leave you in a dark alley.

– I meet my Th night roommates (@rambleginger (of the perfect hair and famous politics who oozes kindness and smarts) and @barbetti (a great mom role model who is tall and sweet and is SERIOUSLY pretty)) for five minutes before caving for a supposedly quick nap.  Wake up and am walking around disoriented-ly when they come back from the evenings plans.  (Whoops.)  But it's ok because we stay up talking and laughing and I finish their drinks from Port of Call and I'm pretty sure I tell them about taking family road trips in a one-ton truck and sleeping on a shelf made for plants.  You can tell them anything.  Also, ask them about books you should read.

– Friday brunch at the Court of Two Sisters.  Light on the jazz, heavy on the cake options.  I give @shelikespurple (my internet soulmate) her first hug, order a screwdriver and luck into a table with her, @kristie999 (HOT and CLASSY), @rambleginger, @jesabesblog (BE HER FRIEND, she is wise) and @ebj123 (you adorable crafty genius, sorry about that bird poop).  Eat a biscuit in line, have too much (impossible) cheese on my omelet.

– Stroll with @snoozical (SO funny, completely down to Earth, AWESOME) and @megglesp (SHARP, so pretty, also instantly comfy).  Find a chandelier slightly out of budget ($185,000) and a gay wedding complete with a second-line parade.  Make a new friend at Lush who invites me to his drag show.

– Friday night dinner.  Meet almost everyone.  People are rad.  @twoadults (totally understands how much I want to squeeze her babies, GORGEOUS, funny) hangs out with me, even when @polkadot_hippo (Alligator Poem reader, RIDICULOUSLY witty, coming to a city near me) comes over and makes fun of my life-long desire for a Segway tour. 

– Saturday morning tour of Sucre, the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery #1 with @happilyeverme, @mamabub (BEST roommate ever, sassy, AMAZING hair, SWEET as can be, FUN IN A MAJOR WAY) and @justexpressive (another of those people I've wanted to meet since forever, just as genuine and great as can be expected. This is repetitive, I KNOW, but she is also SO PRETTY.)  @justexpressive and I basically take the same exact pictures.

– Beignets with @mamabub, @lifeinatinytown (another super-mom, warm, incredibly friendly) and @sarabelleplaine (covet her hair, HILARIOUS, SMART).  Followed by headshots with @smmollahan (cute!, manages to be everywhere at once, very caring).  My MINOR Blathering regret is not shooting my headshot people FIRST THING because this ended up being my only shoot over the weekend and I'm so sad to have missed @mauralessa, @shelikespurple and @snoozical.

– Saturday night dinner.  Hanging out with my table ladies (all mentioned above except for @psuedostoops who is TALL and STUNNING and smart and @hbapothecary who is JUST AS ADVERTISED plus an EXTRA dose of awesomeness and sweetness).  Meeting @narmalie who is not only gorgeous and talented and funny, but in LOVE with her job, passionate about her family and New Orleans and education and GAH, listening to her and @psuedostoops? I WAS IN HEAVEN.

– Sunday morning breakfast goodbyes at the B&B.  Quick headshots (which are lovely) with @justexpressive, I'll show you soon.  Realizing that I missed so many ladies, some of who I spoke to a little, ALL of who I sincerely was excited to meet.  @booksnchickens, WHAT HAPPENED.  I HAD SO MUCH TO SAY TO YOU and you just IMAGINED ME A HUSBAND!  With photographic proof!  @Amy_Estes, you live close and thus CANNOT escape! @LittleLeafAsh, you didn't get to practice with my 50mm and I didn't get to fawn all over your bangs and Gabe and nerdy photo nerdiness.  @laurenpetron, @arwenelizabeth: We barely spoke, but I'm pretending we got more time in because I consider you BOTH internet bright spots, INTERNET SUPERNOVAS, in fact.  We'll catch up on all that unnecessary "talking" later.  

– I mentioned my MINOR regret, but my MAJOR regret? The same as everyone else: not getting to speak to everyone I wanted to and put them on speed dial.  Missing @simplykat and @stateiamin, not talking enough to @aprilapryll and @bearca and @andreaunplugged and @cluelesshopeful and @mrsdangelo and @tubasheila.  Sitting at a table with @notraisingbrats and @hillarycopsey and not saying MORE, because I LOVE them.  Not making @ericahuff adopt me.  Letting @regan talk me into her signature drink (The UBER classy Sparkling @Regan), but not making her tell me her running secrets.  Meeting @mauralessa after YEARS of considering her one of the sweetest and most LOVELY people on the internet and wanting to adopt her mom and make her let me shoot her wedding BUT THERE WAS NO TIME, I AM SORRY MAURA.  I need to go to PHILLY.

-Sunday.  The SAINTS/FALCONS game (thanks to @ericahuff and @regan, SERIOUS SERIOUS THANKS) with @smacdo03. Pretzels.  I don't have to say more because I WENT TO A SAINTS GAME AT THE SUPERDOME.  And Sarah is AMAZING company who sang the Star Spangled Banner like a foot away from me with the voice of an angel.  She is SO GREAT and easy to talk to and thank YOU too because it would NOT have been the same with anyone else.

– Staying with @snoozical and @Incog (seriously.  This gal is SO thoughtful and funny and delightful.  SO MUCH DELIGHT.) for one last night.  A perfect wind-down complete with a reappearing @rambleginger for another dinner and more beignets.  Even MORE Sucre the next morning and I bought a photo of a little girl (which didn't sound creepy until Susie pointed it out. "Oh, you went to New Orleans and you bought a little girl?" THANK YOU, SUSIE.)

* I was one of those people who really didn't want to name names because GAH! What if I forget someone?! So, please, forgive me if I did and let's text or something.  REALLY.

Also! I used Twitter handles because it seemed the most… anonymous? If you'd prefer different, PLEASE tell me and I'm happy to change or unlink ASAP.

UPDATE: DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I just had to get out of bed because I MISSED A VERY, EXTREMELY important section.  I BASICALLY SKIPPED THE ORGANIZERS.  The very people who go OUT OF THEIR WAY to make our time awesome and special and organized and pretty.  I wish that I could have had more time with @adellstevens, @mightymaggie, @notthatyouasked and @insidedog along with the organizers I did get to hang out with a bit and mentioned up above.  Seriously, your committment to this event and to making everyone have a great time is phenomenal and SO appreciated and I know that YOU all are the very reason that WE all had so much fun.  THANK YOU.


This gorgeous dog (and his/her gorgeous friend) were somewhere in the Garden District.  I wanted to steal him, but then they started growling so maybe it was a good thing I didn't.  Also, my luggage was big, but not THAT big.



On trophies



1. I am miserable at receiving compliments.

Everyone is SO nice and says such nice THINGS and I… cringe.  And I'm so thankful for your lovely words, really, I AM.  But as gracious as I like to think I am, compliments leave me frantic and I don't know how to respond like a normal human being.  

You are all very nice.  THANK YOU.  Times a million.

2. I apologize a lot.

My awesome friend, A (who is my very first friend that went from BEST FRIEND/PERSON ON EARTH to blog reader instead of the other way around) pointed out that I apologized a lot in my video.  And it's true, I apologize a whole heck of a lot.  I'm sorry.

3. I was once tricked into going to a rave and it's kind of a fun story.

I don't really have anything against raves and it would have been fun, maybe, IF SOMEONE HAD WARNED ME.  Except for the 16 year olds in what amounts to underwear because I am worried about them and there are MANY dark corners and hordes of people and a lot of them are probably on drugs.  (It is ENTIRELY possible that I was one of maybe three people who were NOT on drugs and I am kind of old enough to be their PARENT and I wanted to give them all cardigans.)  There was very little to eat, drinks were CRAZY expensive, it didn't feel like there was enough water for this BLAZING hot evening and lots of people were so out of it that they just sat down where ever they were and everyone kind of… stepped on them.

Please don't feel judged if you ever invite me to a music festival and I ask lots of follow up questions.


One of the outrageous things I said in my video yesterday was "Look at my ACHIEVEMENTS" with a sweeping arm gesture.  Followed by "next, I will show you my trophies" and a stage whisper of "I don't actually have any trophies." This is a lie and so here it is: my trophy.  Now you've seen it all.


On first videos

FIVE. (It's going to be mandatory now, sorry.)



I promise my chin is not as scary in real life.

Be gentle.



This shot has been the background of my phone since I took it.  One of my favorites ever taken on a cell phone.


On happy police

FOUR DAYS.  Clearly, this daily numbering is going to get old.  But, FOUR DAYS.  I cannot quite believe it.


1. I did not go on a beach vacation until I was 28 years old.

I was born with genes that make it a little bit impossible for me to relax.  It feels comfortable to work with a packed schedule and no wiggle room with lots of demands.  I clean my bathroom for fun.  Washing dishes is delightful, as is laundry.  Busy is good.

I had done plenty of traveling by the time I was 28.  But every place was to a destination where I had a plan and an agenda and a stack of places the I Needed to visit.  Not much time for relaxing, although I will admit that the one traveling companion I had who made me get up at 5:15 am to walk 4.5 miles to the train station for a day long trip with 8 hours on a train was EVEN A LITTLE MUCH FOR ME.

But then I was invited to a girlfriend's parent's time share in Mexico and it was like MAGIC.  I had two choices for my daytime activity: beach? Or POOL?  Did I want to make myself a steak salad or have someone cook for me at the on-site restaurants.  Yes, I WOULD like a margarita!

Since then, I usually rent a car so that I can get around to take pictures and experience the location.  But on NO schedule with FEW expectations.  I highly recommend this variety of traveling.

2. I have less hair on one side of my head than the other.'

Significantly so.  To the point that if you simply place your hands on my skull you will notice that one side is sufficiently padded and the other side is "oops, you may be knocked over if a pigeon poops there."  I'm not sure why or how or when it happened, but it's true.  One hairdresser tried to pretend it was a "thing" that people just didn't know about (kind of how "everyone" has one larger foot?) except… I think she was messing with me.  I have never met anyone else with this ailment.

My superpower is inadequate hair and clogged drains.

(PS. THIS bullet point explains yesterday's post title.  I LOST the original and had to re-write and MISSED the tidbit.  QUALITY CONTROL was OBVIOUSLY taking one of those DO NOTHING BEACH VACATIONS.)

3. I'm really, really good in an emergency.

Considering my use of capitalization and emphasis, you might think that I'm really animated.  And you would be right!  

But not in emergencies.  In emergencies, I am different.  I will calm you down and get you help and stay with you so you will not panic.  I will not be grossed out or overwhelmed or faint.  I will be EFFICIENT!  And SOOTHING.

I mean, don't HAVE an emergency, seriously.  But… you know.

(I am really a nurturer by nature.  I want to HELP you.  And make things BETTER.  LET'S TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING SO YOU FEEL NICE AGAIN. )

4. I have two namesake items: Carla-bombs and Carla-Mel Squares.

The first is the result of having my first car bomb on a grad school trip to New York City.  I posit that I did not EVER hit TRUE DRUNKENESS that evening.  I had approximately thirteen.

(Also, I think perhaps no one calls them car bombs anymore?  Like, it's offensive or something?  I am not sure…)

The second is the world's most delightful treat, which I make every year for the holidays.  If you're British or know someone who is British or just like… Britain, you might know of these: caramel squares, usually eaten along with tea. (Or, if you're me, shoved into my mouth at any point during the day because DELICIOUS.)

Not many people know of them here, so when I started making them they became a little famous and one thing led to another and, well, SIGNATURE DESSERT.  It is not so bad to have one of these, especially when they're quite easy to whip up and people act as though you've gifted them gold bars upon receipt.  I suggest that you limit the supply of your signature dessert because I'm pretty sure 95% of the reason people act as though these are GIFTS FROM HEAVEN is the scarcity.


I traveled to St. Thomas a year or two ago to shoot a wedding.  We happened to arrive on the last day of Carnaval and I was caught off guard by an amazing street parade downtown.  These pictures are some of my favorites, particularly the second shot where you can see the policeman capturing the moment.


On thinning hair



1. I would like to eat all your cheese, meat, carbohydrates and vegetables.  I would TECHNICALLY love to eat all your fruit, but I won't.

I, well, I can't stand the texture of fruit.  I don't like pulp or seeds or little fuzz.  It makes my mouth forget to work right.  Which is a DAMN SHAME because fruit is DELICIOUS.  Thankfully, I can do most any fruit item without the textures and consume plenty of apples and grapes and sometimes bananas.

2. I really, really love clean cars but I've kind of come to the conclusion that I will never actually HAVE a clean car on a consistent basis.

I tend to be the type of person who lives out of my car a lot: an overnight bag, extra gym clothes, close-toed shoes, a beach chair (you never know when you'll go to the beach! Or when you'll need extra seating!)

3. I have developed a taste for roller coasters which sadly did not develop when I was a teenager and could actually SPEND TIME and GO TO PLACES WITH ROLLER COASTERS.

I remember going to Six Flags parks and going on SOME rides but not the BIG RIDES because (and I have discussed this somewhere before) I'm NOT an adrenaline junkie.  Even skiing scares the shit of me.  I like to prevent moving my body forward rapidly because everything in my head starts to scream that THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE, DUMMY.

I've gotten over this, mostly, with fun and fast and exciting roller coasters.  I have not forgiven skiing for it's lack of safety.


A few months ago, the space shuttle Endeavor was making a retirement tour of the US.  I happened to be photographing an adorable little family the morning that it was scheduled to (unknowingly) be flying over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Tons of people were out and it was honestly, one of those very cool and exciting things that you know you'll remember forever.


On Harry Potter

TWO DAYS! This is UNPRECEDENTED blogging going on here!


1. I like Harry Potter.

Ok, so I know this isn't some sort of radical, polarizing statement.  Lots of people like Harry Potter (except for those people who are too 'Grown Up' and think that there can't possibly be anything of VALUE in a BOOK written FOR CHILDREN, no matter what I say.  And that's ok.  Those people can go and do whatever they want and read John Grisham. ) (I don't know anything about John Grisham.)

A few years ago, my hire date at my current company coincided with the release of the first installment of the last Harry Potter movie.  I am one of those wackos who goes back and re-reads all the books up to the current movie before I go see it.  And I had TICKETS and twenty-ish pages left before I finished but I HAD TO GO TO WORK because I had a job and a JOB, however I might prefer it, is NOT less important that reading the LAST TWENTY PAGES OF HARRY POTTER BEFORE SEEING THE MOVIE.  So I brought the book with me and sat in my floor's lobby.  There are chairs there.  It seemed to be something you could do, read the last few pages of your young adult novel at work on your lunch break.

Fast forward to today: I'm having the first quarterly meeting with my director since she came back from maternity leave.  I'm terrible at talking about myself and even MORE terrible at setting goals with my managers, so I wasn't entirely sure how this whole meeting was going to play out.  A few minutes in, after noting that I was about to come up on my two year anniversary, she said "remember when you first started working here and you read Harry Potter in the lobby? I thought you were so weird."

SO.  Not ONLY was my director convinced I was the world's most ridiculous nerd, but she went BACK to her desk and IMed all the OTHER MANAGERS to TELL them that I was READING HARRY POTTER IN THE LOBBY.

Basically, I only included this point so that I can tell you that I'm a success story and I have risen against the biases and first impressions of my workplace.  You can too.

2. People like to hate on Jennifer Lopez, but everyone secretly loves her.

Jennifer Lopez puts her name on the only perfume I've worn which makes people stop me on the street to tell me they love it.  It's Glow and they sell even sell it at Target now.  I'm REALLY glad she chose to include the "w" in that title because doesn't THAT just seem like something Jenny from the Block would do?  Exclude a "w"?

I would like to wear the world's best smelling scents and I want everyone to tell me what they like to wear so that I can wear it too.

This reminds me of a story of a former coworker, which reminds me of a story of ANOTHER former coworker.  They are short stories, sentences really:

– I had a coworker who used to call her father in prison collect from her office phone.  On speaker.

– I had a hippie coworker who was BEAUTFUL and VERY sweet and also wore Quelques Fleur. $120 for 1.7 ounces.  It seemed incongruous with her whole personality/look.

3. I have never seen a Star Wars movie.

I've seen PARTS of Star Wars movies.  But never a WHOLE Star Wars movie.  I barely know what (who?) a wookie is.  Princess Leia seems nice and capable.  Someone has a father who is a bad guy.  The end.

4. I can tell you what I was wearing on most days in history with any significance. 

I don't know why and I wish I could remember more IMPORTANT things like how to create a pivot table in Excel efficiently on the first try or statistics around flossing your teeth.  But the truth is if it was something I WORE I remember it best.  See:

I got my first ever pair of boots on a work trip to Seattle when I was 20 at Nordstrom and wore them to sing karaoke ('Ironic', Alanis Morrisette and 'I Do', Lisa Loeb PLUS an extra special appearance as a backup dancer while a coworker slaughtered Sir-Mix-A-Lot) and I had to wear white socks because I didn't KNOW I was going to be buying boots and you couldn't SEE them anyway, but there you go.  THE STORY OF MY FIRST BOOTS.

5. I hate running. I've also completed three full marathons and (I think) seven half marathons.

I still hate it.  EVERY DAMN RUN.  I have had ONE amazing run in my life, ONE time where I felt anything that could be described as even CLOSE to a runner's high (and it was in a blazing hot forest in the open sun on VERY steep hills during a 98 degree day so I could have ACTUALLY been about to pass out).  

I will probably run as long as I am able to.  Because I don't think that you have to love everything that you do, I think you have to love what it means to you.  Maybe one day I'll be a really, really good runner and I'll have fast times and I won't be fluffy (like I am now) and I'll really learn to love the ACTUAL running part.  But for now I think it's ok that I just love the part where I do it.


A few details from a recent wedding in Napa:


On writing more

I'm trying to do that thing with the funny name where you write every day in November.  Go, blogging!


Since I've got The Blathering coming up next week (next week!), I thought I'd spend the next couple days adding a few tidbits about myself.  Never hurts.

1. I have offended Canadians by not appreciating Shania Twain and Celine Dion. 

Ok, so, my view on these ladies has softened considerably in the time since I offended my very first Canadian with this information.  Let's get a few things out of the way: I LOVE Canada.  I have never met a Canadian I didn't like.  Montreal is one of my favorite cities in the whole world.  I don't dislike Shania and Celine BECAUSE they're Candadian.  It just happens to be an interesting correlation, I swear.  I realize that it's strange to put these two artists together, but you may remember that there was a Superbowl somewhere around the year 2000 where Celine sang God Bless America and Shania sang at the halftime show.  


Now that I've said this, I will have you know I know quite a few of their songs by heart.  I would scream-sing the crap out of "It's All Coming Back To Me Now".  I also want to know whose bed your boots have been under.  

And I really love Justin Bieber, so I'm considering myself a reformed Canadian-artist offender.

2. I have a theory that people with small hands progress through life with a slight amount of bitterness.

When everyone gets a handful, their's is inherently smaller.  Think about it.

3. I completely believe in ghosts. 

I believe in ghosts for lots of reasons.  Because I think my mom really did see her mom the night before her First Communion (who had died giving birth to her sister when she was a baby).  Because I think that some people literally stick around to watch over us.  I think ghosts are comforting, that maybe babies see them.  I also think ghosts are effing destroyed because of movies and oh, shit.  I NEED TO STOP TALKING ABOUT GHOSTS.  ANYWAY.  POINT #3.

4. I have another theory that people who dress AMAZINGLY don't always brush their damn hair.

This came up on Twitter recently and I have to agree: put together is one self-care chore at a time.  I know people with meticulous hair routines who wear a lot of yoga pants. I know people with amazing wardrobes who have little unkempt rat's nest hair.  This is confusing to people who are just trying to look relatively decent because magazines show people looking like Beyonce all over.  Except people DON'T look Beyonce all over.  Heck, we think of Britney Spears as having had a come back, but have YOU SEEN THAT POOR GIRL'S HAIR?  She has a tremendous bank account, stylists, hired artists of all sorts and also… some of the worst extensions the world has ever seen.

(I wear tons of knit lounge wear and try to avoid my hair.  I use only two makeup items every day. I am a different animal.)

5. I really like overalls.  I also have lots of bad dating stories.  And since I've worn a lot of overalls, sometimes they overlap.

Like the time I went on a first date with an Argentinian pre-med student to a pizza place where he didn't offer to pay for my meal, kept talking about the Spanish language music sensations Mana and was a boring and pretentious jerk.

And then we walked back to campus. (I was 17. On a college lunch date.)  And he took the half-full root beer *WHICH I HAD PAID FOR* and poured it down the back of my overalls.


And now, a photo!  Because I love them!

(This one is from my gorgeous friend's pre-wedding makeup/getting ready party.  She's stunning and I brought my camera.  Good combination.)