It was four hours past the the day I turned 41, and I stumbled into a dark hotel room covered in the smells of whiskey, Texas, and things best forgotten. The night had grown stale and suddenly quiet. I threw my clothes on the floor and I fell asleep immediately.
The morning found me relatively fresh and thankful for it. I was at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin, Texas, and I had a reputation to live up to — the drinking was only part of it.
The other part was crying in public, which is something of a running joke among those that have seen me speak on the topic of parenting. Turns out I’m a freaking sap. (Also a sap, Robert Candelino of Dove Men+Care, a sponsor and speaker that lost it on stage. I’m only bringing it up because a) it was quite touching, and b) hello? When Doves Cry). Luckily, I managed to forgo my own tears this round (barely), much to the chagrin of those that enjoy such things. Rest assured, I didn’t let them down on the drinking.
But it wasn’t all beer and bourbon.
The Dad 2.0 Summit was an amazing meeting of parent bloggers and brands — a public place for parent relations, which sounds weird now that I typed it, but I’m leaving it in. Somewhere in the distance that’s what she said.
Blogging conferences seem to appear at just the right moment. I have been in this space for a long time by most standards, and I find that my passion for it tends to wax and wane like so many moons and other things that cows jump over. It is safe to say that recent events and the lack thereof had me on the wane. There was thought of turning away.
I am as unemployed as I have ever been, leaving me embarrassed, stressed, and flirting with depression. I thought about skipping the conference. It was only due to a series of phone calls with an impassioned Doug French, one of the founders of Dad 2.0 (also, John Pacini), that I somewhat reluctantly decided to make the trip despite the funds involved and the lack of them coming in. I’m glad I did.
I was greeted by familiar faces (lots of the DadCentric team!) too numerous to mention here (plus I know I would forget someone and subsequently feel like a jerk), and many new faces that became fast friends. What can I say, I’m a people person.
There were engaging conversations about parenting, dads, writing, media, brands, and peanut brittle. Who decided it was a holiday thing? Peanut brittle is awesome all year.
There were things to do, things to learn, and things that I will never forget. There were also plenty of things that didn’t apply to me at all, which is fantastic, because they were presented in an open and honest manner, allowing for curiosity and contemplation when needed, or judgmental silence where warranted. And sometimes I was just looking toward the distance and thinking about my family.
I managed to find room in my bag for a big box of Legos and pinned my newfound focus next to the heart on my sleeve. I had gone to Austin in hopes of finding what I wanted, a job, which didn’t happen, but I came home with something equally important (though less help financially) — I came home with what I needed, and that feels pretty damn good.
No, it wasn’t peanut brittle.
This is the only picture I took. It is the only picture I needed.
And a couple of photos that Charlie took so that he could enjoy me at his leisure:
Here I am blowing (save it) out the candle on my birthday cake thing which I then shared with the 10 other bloggers at the table. Yes, I’m eating soup and salad. I believe I have already established that I am sensitive like that. Special thanks to Bruce and Charlie for buying my birthday lunch!
And this is what Andy (Betadad), Charlie (How to be a Dad), and I do when we sit outside a gas station for two hours waiting on a cab. Yes, we were posing for album covers. So what? The band is called DadShart. We’ll be touring this spring. Mostly smooth jazz.
For the purpose of total transparency, let me say that I stole the following thank you list of sponsors from John Cave Osborne. Literally, I broke into his blog when he was out grilling eggs or whatever the hell they do in Tennessee and just took it. He had it coming.
Also, I got shot. Thanks to Stacy for reminding me of what was, obviously, a very dark time for me.
Don’t worry, I’m okay. Relatively.
Photo by Caleb, who was, as always, exceptional.