Surviving BarCamp 2011

“What are you doing today?”

“Going to BarCamp.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s basically a day of douchebaggery and business card distribution, thinly disguised as a day of informative seminars.”

As you may have guessed, I was less than enthused about the idea of spending my Saturday attempting to mingle with people I’d never met. Three years of working from home has made me weird(er), and I wasn’t much of a mingler in the first place. Thus, the idea of being thrown into a room of total strangers and expected to mingle is right up there with “mow the lawn” and “go to baby shower” on the list of things I would rather not do.

I went because I have finally realized that working by yourself at home is perhaps not the best way to stay on top of what people are talking about. Yes, there’s twitter. There are blogs. But neither of those involve BEER, so I went to BarCamp. If nothing else, I would suck it up and perhaps learn how to mingle. Or at least watch successful minglers (aka “marketing people”) in their natural habitat. As I often do, I psyched myself up in order to develop a positive attitude:

“It’ll be like Big Cat Diary. In your head, you can narrate in a British accent. If all else fails, you can do what all other socially awkward people do: you can mess around with your phone and pretend it’s the most interesting thing ever.”

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. While not all of the panels I went to ended up being super exciting, I did actually end up meeting some cool people. I had some very pleasant and non-fake feeling conversations. Yes, I gave out my business card to a few people, but all but one of those people asked for said card. I tend to get into a conversation and completely forget to even OFFER the card, being too distracted by whatever’s being said and the general sensory overload of being in a room full of people.

I ran into a couple of people I know from the coffee shop, one guy I dated for a while and a couple of people I know from Twitter. The surprisingly pleasant day was topped off at the after party, held in a karaoke bar. When one fellow got on stage to sing “Purple Rain,” the initial crowd response was, “hey, he’s actually pretty good.” By the time the guy on stage was hitting the super-high notes at the end, the reaction had grown into “stunned, awed silence.”

“That’s the guy who played guitar for Prince in the 80s!”

“That’s Dez Dickerson?!”

(Of COURSE I knew the guy’s name. Are you new here?)

After he was done singing, I went over and showed him the pictures inside the locket I always wear. Purple Rain-era Prince on the right, Morris Day on the left.

I survived mingling, and I’m glad I didn’t peace out early. I believe this BarCamp thing will have to happen again.

How We Roll

It hadn’t been the best day. My pay had been cut, and then I put a serious dent in Pseudo Date Day by almost crying, having a panic attack or bursting into flames while watching a movie.

You know how it is: someone tries to take your mind off of a bad situation by getting you out of the house, and the result is just you pissing all over someone’s attempts to cheer you up. Then you feel even worse because you’re screwing up someone’s attempts to be nice. It’s a swirling spiral of suck, and mine was still bubbling just beneath the surface.

I didn’t actually have a panic attack in the movie theater. I didn’t even really do any proper crying at lunch. However, lunch ended up getting spent discussing work troubles instead of discussing puppies and rainbows or whatever you’re supposed to talk about when the sun is shining and you don’t care how many calories are in your Chinese food.

I think there was a huge part of my boyfriend that really wasn’t interested in discussing work trouble for an entire meal, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. You have a new problem to walk through? Fuck yeah. That makes me feel useful and needed, like you care about whatever advice I might give. Like I’m useful for something other than making ugly banner ads and mowing the yard. We can cover last night’s episode of Mythbusters later. Or never. Never works just fine for that.

So, we’d seen a movie and had lunch and were sitting in front of Whole Foods eating post-lunch tiny tarts when we both notice the parking lot across the way.

As you may have guessed from the fact that we were eating outside whole Foods, we were in the more bourgeois part of town. It’s that area where everyone hates to go because the people there all drive luxury cars and think that THEIR errands are way more important than yours. That area where beige brick buildings are practically mandated and women in Life is Good shirts gather to drink $5 lattes and complain about their plastic surgeons, the wait time for the valet at the mall and how there’s no proper cell phone pocket in the new line of Vuitton purses.

As for the aforementioned parking lot, it was barely big enough for two rows of parking and 2 lanes of traffic, 1.25 of which was being occupied by a woman in a Soccer Mom Assault Vehicle (S.M.A.V.) who had decided that it would be much easier to block traffic than pull into one of the three available spots.

As people pulled up behind her, she would wave them around, not realizing that attempts to go around would result in other drivers being wide open for head-on collisions with people turning the corner into the lot.

“I can’t believe she’s just SITTING there.”

“I kind of wish someone would yell at her.”

“Dude. Dare to dream.”

So, while munching on our tiny tarts, we forgot about work drama and enjoyed the reality tv. One by one, cars pulled up behind the SMAV. One by one, they would honk or stare as they maneuvered around. Eventually, one car just pulled up next to the SMAV…

“YOU CAN’T PARK HERE!” Yelled a man in the passenger seat, his wife leaning over from the wheel to add two cents the boyfriend and I couldn’t hear.

The woman in the SMAV paused her phone conversation to offer some reply, but it didn’t matter. As the man and his wife drove away, the man stuck his head out of the car in order to keep yelling. The car behind the man and his wife followed suit to a lesser degree.

“Oh shit! Awesome!!” (The boyfriend and I are wishing we had DVRed this particular episode.)

The SMAV finally gives up and pulls into one of those three parking spots and its driver emerges, huffy, hot and bothered. Honestly, we’d never seen such angry swinging of purse and whipping of mom bob. As the boyfriend and I did imaginary voice over of her phone conversation (“Well, Beth, I swear! What IS the world coming to? I just came down here to exchange little Madison’s yoga pants and now this!”) the woman disappeared into a shoe store.

Having sated our needs for Chinese food, tiny tarts AND street justice, the boyfriend and I headed back to the East Side.

Since I live on the East Side, I wrote a blog about the whole thing. Passive-aggressive blogging: it’s how we roll.

Consumer Reports: Patterson House

We spend our entire childhoods sitting around fantasizing about all the cool stuff we’d be doing, if only we could drive and didn’t live with our parents. Then, we grow up and find out that adulthood is just shorthand for “people keep sending you bills, the cat puked on the rug, and the woman in your office thinks 80 degrees is room temperature.” Well, ok. You can eat cookies for breakfast and then call your mom to tell her all about it. “Hey, mom, I just called to say that I’m lying in bed, eating Lucky Charms with no milk. Love you! Bye!”

Being an adult also allows you to go to bars like Patterson House. It feels strange to even call this place a bar, though. It’s not smoky, not filthy, not filled with Tool Academy rejects and not a place where you have to throw your breasts on the bar to get a drink.

The foyer has shelves of books accessorized with lists of rules such as “preserve the sexy” (the dress code) and “no shenanigans.” Once you make it past the foyer (it may be a while, especially on a Saturday), you’ll be seated by a hostess and presented with an embossed, ribbon-tied menu.

The drinks in that menu are made with a certain level of pride and class. They’re sorted by flavor and designed to work with the alcohol, not in spite of it. In short, this is not a place you go to get drunk and exchange numbers with people (another of the rules is that guys aren’t supposed to talk to females unless the females speak first). This is a place to go and have an experience that happens to involve alcohol. Taste and experience is the endgame, not getting trashed.

As you may have guessed by now, all this means that the drinks cost a little more, but not much. A drink that would cost you 8 bucks at the Red Door is about 11 at Patterson House. That’s if you could get a Winter Sidecar at Red Door, which you can’t. Besides, you don’t drink a Winter Sidecar in a PBR-themed room while being pelted with Led Zeppelin and cigarette smoke. It would be wrong.

Because I’m a goth stereotype, I got something called Corpse Reviver #2. It’s not a Patterson House specialty drink, so technically it would be possible to get it at a regular bar, but I doubt that it would be the same. It’s citrusy and a bit like a punch in the face, but has a slight licorice aftertaste because of a smidge of Absinthe.* It’s a bit like a Blue Valium’s more interesting cousin. No, wait. It makes a Blue Valium look like a stripper who’s going to community college to learn data entry.

Aside from specialty drinks which will make you want to return several times so you can taste them all, the menu has some food. No chili cheese fries and nachos, my friends, but there are s’mores and sammiches. The cinnamon donuts we ordered were slightly crispy outside, hot and soft inside, and fairly akin to touching the hand of God.

Now that I’ve told you about the wonders of Patterson House (who, by the way, should let me do their web site), let’s make a deal. You guys will agree to not flood the place at times when I want to go, and I’ll agree to go early to avoid standing in the foyer for an hour. Deal?

*So the goth folk won’t bombard me with similar comments, I’ll point out that American absinthe is really just anise-flavored liquor. If you want thujone/wormwood, you’ll have to have it shipped in from Europe.

Consumer Reports: Gigi’s Cupcakes

For somebody who doesn’t make cake for a living and doesn’t really get excited about food in general, I sure care a lot about cake. I don’t need an occasion. I don’t need candles. I’m a little racist against ice cream cakes, but who isn’t? Then again, ice cream cake is still a dessert (if not actually a cake), so it is my friend…or at least my frenemy.

Given my love for all things sugary, several people have asked if I’d had a cupcake from Gigi’s. Jen and I had meant to go, but never got around to it, which was probably just as well. Gigi’s makes different flavors everyday, so there was the potential that I would become like a kid collecting Pokemon: I’d have to taste all of them. It could be dangerous. Like locking Christian Audigier in a room with glitter and a glue gun.

Alas, Audigier did get his glitter (thus giving the world Ed Hardy) and I got some cupcakes. I only ate half of one. See? I was good. Ish.

The cupcake in question was red velvet with a creamy vanilla filling. I won’t tell you my exact words, but I may have compared the filling to a substance that would be expelled by the son of God in a moment of joy. Since the cupcake itself was so soft and moist (this keeps getting more and more unladylike), I held mine by the icing. The icing had a little crust on it after sitting until evening, so it was totally holdable.

After nomming through the red/creamy goodness of the bottom, I was left with a palm full of cake icing. A palm full of cake icing. That sounds like something I would want engraved on my tombstone. “Here’s lies (evil)amy: lover of a palm full of cake icing.” It was delicious, and so sweet it made my dental work scream a little. “Oh my God…I think I need to be alone with this cupcake for a moment.”

As I was telling my mom of this wonderfulness, I looked up the Gigi’s in Lexington, KY. “Mom, you’re so screwed. It’s two streets from your house.”

“I’ll have to check that out sometime. Do they have carrot cake? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Tomorrow is carrot cake day.”

“Oh, well, I have to get a cataract removed, and Kelly is driving me. Maybe some other time.”

“I bet Kelly likes cupcakes.”

“Stop it!”

(Cupcake day schedule is available at Gigi’s site.)

Hellblinki Sextet Rock My Lame Ass

Oh, Nashville. We can’t have goth night without winding up with a room full of giant chain pants, but if a show is on a Thursday and tornadoes are in the forecast, attendance sucks. Fine, the show was on short notice and, if I had a more Lohanian social calendar, I wouldn’t have made it either. Then again, half the people on my social calendar would have wanted to go to the show and the other half would have been totally cool with me flaking on plans with no more reason than “dude, top hats.”

“Amy, haven’t you been bitching about work hours being cut? Why were YOU going to a SHOW anyway?”

Consult the memento mori ribbon on my wrist. Life is short. Sometimes, you have to eat ramen for a week so you can not sit at home watching So You Think You Can Dance. Besides, the cover was only five bucks. If a bunch of people can drag their asses to Nashville for a last-minute show in a tornado, by God, I can take a shower and slap some makeup on my pasty flesh.

What did most of you you miss? A typically energetic set from everybody’s favorite band of accordion-toting, cymbal-with fist-playing, sideburn-having miscreants. I just like saying miscreants; Hellblinki are actually good kids, but don’t go telling anybody. Reputations, you know.

Since I felt kind of bad for the poor turnout and my own lack of ability to buy merch, I wanted to make up for it by offering up my place as a crash venue. It’s kind of like when you’re the oldest kid in your class Sophomore year; it’s your job to pick up your friends so they don’t have to ride the bus with the freshmen. So it is with crashing space. Now that Company doesn’t have to sleep in my kitchen, I’m able to say to friends, “hey, if you come to town, I have space…just don’t let the cat out.” Besides, people my own age are much more low maintenance than certain older, “gave birth to me” people I could name. When mom comes to my house, she just stares at my array of coffee mugs and points out that there are no glasses to drink from. Being bourgeois is a continuum; compared to mom, I’m punk rock. Compared to my friends, I’m Mariah Carey. How do you expect me to put on my shoes standing up? I need a settee!! Also, people who drive around in a van are usually too tired or polite to ask why the fuck you keep canned goods in your fridge (old habits), why there’s a tripod set up in your bedroom (shooting blogs, not porn) or why there’s a dismantled wire hanger on your bathroom floor (see “Widowmaker: The Horror”).

Rambling must stop.

Hellblinki will be at Dragon Con; say hi and buy some merch, for God’s sake.

(Sidebar: did you know there’s a “Juggalo Convention” every year? Somebody pay for me to go so I can write about it. Nothing says “comedic potential” quite like a hotel lobby filled with Insane Clown Posse enthusiasts.)

(Sidebar 2: After getting badgered about it, Andrew Hellblinki apparently set up a Twitter account, but it never really took off because, as he says “I do not text.” I cannot wrap my head around such a concept. It’s like when a friend in high school told me that he’d never eaten fish. “What do you do? TALK to people? WTF?!”)

Of Tattoos, Cops and Funyuns

I try to stay away from plot summary on here, but this weekend actually contained some adventures other than “go to starbucks and work on stuff,” so I thought I’d share.

I got Baby’s First Tattoo on Saturday, it being a black satiny ribbon that pseudo-ties around my right wrist. Tattoo guy at Black 13 was super nice and the whole thing didn’t hurt as much as I’d thought it would. I was expecting some kind of crazy, holy fuck pain, but really it just felt like an Epilady from Hell. Since I currently own the more modern version of said torture device, the tattoo wasn’t that bad. It’s mostly the length of time it takes that’ll get ya. Five minutes? Nothing. An hour? Dude, so annoying that I kind of want to punch you. Nothing personal. Anywho, I didn’t pass out or hurl, so I should get some points for that. This is good, as I sense that Baby’s First Tattoo will eventually have some friends. (You get pictures as soon as the skin stops being angry.)

After I left the tattoo place, I stopped by the drug store to get some after-care supplies (fragrance-free soap, fragrance-free lotion) and some celebratory Scooby Snacks (Funyuns and trail mix). On the way home, I got pulled over.

“I pulled you over because your tags are expired. From June.”
“I know! I’m a sinner! I need to get that done!”
“And you ran that light back there.”
“Dude! That was totally yellow! Swears!”
“No, it was red.”
“Duuuuuude. Yelloooooow.”

While I’m digging my license and insurance card out of my wallet, Cop says “so, are we goth or are we punk?” “Um….we’re goth.”

When I was digging through the contents of the glove box looking for my registration, I also pulled out a couple condoms. Jen and I went to Louisville for goth night about a year ago. Their goth night is held at a gay bar which features punch bowls full of condoms. Naturally, Jen thought it would be hilarious to hide these all over my car on the drive home. The best one was when I flipped down the sun visor and got pegged in the forehead by a “magnum.”

Anyway, Cop ran my info and came back to the car.

“Where did you go to high school?”
“In Kentucky…”
“Oh, I just wondered cause we’re the same age and I’m a metalhead, so I thought we might know each other.”
“Oh…no, probably not.”

“Well, this is your lucky day, cause I’m going to let you off with a warning.”
“Yay!!! I swear, I’ll totally get those tags updated!”

So, I headed home to watch tv, veg out, and nap for the rest of the day. Funyuns were delicious as always.