Podcamp NY 2.0


I’ve been slow to write my thoughts on PodCamp NY & Boston. Today I was reminded why my perspective keeps changing. These two conferences continue to affect my life in unexpected and random ways.


It was slow going on the A train this morning heading from Brooklyn to Manhattan for work.  I had a 9am teleconference which could not be delayed or missed.  I found myself underground on the subway with the conductor explaining that someone had pulled the emergency brake on another train and caused it to basically fall apart on the tracks ahead.  As a result – it was going to be awhile.  The train crept toward the East River and I decided I needed to get out while still in Brooklyn to take the call on the road.  I got out at Jay Street, knowing exactly where I could find some quiet.  The site of PodCamp NY, in April was at Brooklyn Polytechnic University and I rushed toward the same exit which brought me to the “un”conference in order to cross the familiar campus and seek quiet in the Marriot across the street.  The conference call was a success and no one knew I hadn’t yet made it to the office.


I found myself walking with a goofy smile and fond memories of the two days I spent at Polytechnic and generally thinking on the past few months.  At the time, I knew that something had “changed,” but I’ve been trying to fully understand all of it since.  It’s both complicated and totally simple.


The story leading up to PodCamp is a long one.  I suppose the easiest place to start is with a podcast I started in June of 2006.  I’d long been a listener of podcasts and wondered if I were to start one – what I could possibly have to talk about.  I had a lot to talk about, but didn’t know where to start – my personal life was in a ruins of my own making and I was in unfamiliar despair and tired of my own self-pity.  My original intent was to spare my loved ones from my pain and just put it somewhere, and maybe find the motivation to continue forward.  I wondered if anyone would listen and thought that if I saw 7 downloads I could somehow feel as though I got it off my proverbial chest.  I suppose I needed a public record to relive my personal burden which though I found selfish I also found I really enjoyed talking to myself.  I talked about heartbreak, I babbled about starting over, I looked for a job and I was buried in what it meant to me to have to live with my parents at 28 years old.  It was a learning experience to sort it out aloud with only the opinions and advice of strangers with far less context of who I was (and who I felt I was before what was the most gorgeous experience of my life and prior to that).


Many (many) hours of that story is told here.


And so I met Dana, aka WankerGirl.  We became fast friends and I found myself making and in the midst of one of the most magical relationships of my life.  I learned that as an adult you can still meet people and want to know them like when you make friends as a child.  The fact that in my current state I was even capable of doing so gave me hope for all things that were important to me (and some I didn’t even know were).  I could go on at great length about this too, but that is also documented in audio and video all over the place.  I learned to celebrate and care and I began to truly love my life again.


Since we both podcasted and had even started a co-“show”, and since Dana was visiting NY every few months, attending PodCamp in my own borough was a no-brainer.


However, there was a big part of me that was terrified.  I had tried very hard to stay anonymous, even considering “Anonna Mouse” as a moniker before settling on “Miss Something” as I did.  I was reminded at every turn…when registering, when excitedly telling friends and family I was going, when announcing it on our podcast… Nicole, in person, would be talking about and being Miss Something, and vice versa.  Because I never created a character it should have been seamless… I found it harder.  I never thought about personal and public identity the way I did leading up to the end of April and certainly a year before I never imagined it would even have been a consideration.


Dana arrived in Brooklyn from New Foundland, Canada a week before PodCamp.  It was only our second visit where logistics were of no concern…I finally lived on my own again and I made my common mistake of not taking enough time off work.  We spent time with other friends, gallivanting around the city and doing what Dana and I do when we get to sit next to one another…we talked and talked and talked.  And we drank wine and we were merry.  It was about 4 days before the first session that we had a conversation with another mutual friend Dan, (@creepysleepy) and tossed around the idea of presenting a session.  I’d considered it in the growing part of my brain that was still getting my bearings on real (sustaining) self confidence again.


Again, I must give some context on Nicole/Miss Something in April of 2008.  I am not shy, yet I am painfully shy.  I “present” all the time at work, but it almost has to be disguised as something else. If you ask or require me to stand up before a group of people where preparation is expected, the nerves kick in, and I run the risk of choking.  I’d found my track record to be a crap-shoot based on lunar charts and who knows what else…and so I found it better to be safe than sorry.  Always easier not to “try;" I always wanted/needed an “out”.  I didn’t have an aim with my podcast and so I was able to put myself out there.  But, to put my name on a schedule (OMG what name do I even use?) and purport to have something valuable to say?  The desire to use quotations overwhelms me, but I think you get the point.


I was drawn to do it.  I wanted to do it.  I knew in my heart that my story of meeting my best friend is special and I enjoy sharing it and so I focused on that. This wasn’t just about me, it was about us and wasn’t without endless laughter and unforgettable conversation.  Over Jamaican food in Prospect Heights we started to draft notes.  The next three days we were a virtual graphics crack-team until deteriorating near sunrise – poetry and playing show and tell with my favorite books and historical objects with my favorite person in the word.  We were going to a small little grass roots conference and yet I was going to battle with some serious personal demons with my best friend at my side.


Since we were burning candlelight leading up to podcamp, we started the first day as slackers, arriving just before lunch.  We took the A train to Jay Street.  We registered.  We went to the bathroom and as with all the little time-markers we make when she visits, we were excited that this one was beginning.  This was beyond meeting friends of friends, we were throwing ourselves into a pool of strangers.  Though Dana was the one furthest from her zipcode – she had a number of people she knew online that she set out to meet at PodCamp.


They met…in a flurry of camera shutters and video shudders.  I stood back exhausted and totally thrown off.  Of course everyone wants to meet WankerGirl, she’s gorgeous, awesome, and fearless and there I was…wondering what on earth I could do to avoid awkward situations and strained conversation with strangers.  PodCamp was starting with the two of us trailing some people she knew, and me questioning why we were following them.


There was lunch.  There was laughter.  There were people who talked…a lot…just like us.  There was video.  If you have only recently met me, you can see just how overwhelmed and self-conscious I was here. There were sessions, there was more talking, there was a lost seesmic video of me in a chemical closet, there was drinking, there was one of the most intense exchanges with the phenomenal Jeff Deskovic, there was dinner, and then more time with a group of folks I’d only met that afternoon…and I’d begun to loosen up.  I had fun, I forged new connections and my tired brain was on fire… and I liked it.



Our “Relationships 2.0” discussion was on Day 2.  All those amazing faces I met the day before came and supported us, adding to the conversation and otherwise making it something I was so rewarded and honored to share.  We wondered if anyone would come or leave quickly and I was humbled to find that we had a roomful of people who came and stayed.  It was fun and barely a “big deal” at all.  It was one of the many impactful memories I have from that weekend.


There was a short blissful nap for me between the closing session and heading back out to meet everyone for dinner.  I remember only dozing off for a few minutes and waking up with my cat, whom I’d only barely known for a few weeks, snuggling up to me like she never had before.  I hate to put forced meaning on things – on a weekend, an event, a place, a person, or a group of people – but I knew it was no small part of why I lay there beaming, realizing my own personal chaos was not only over – but that I was motivated and happy again, and I had been far longer than I realized or gave myself credit for.


Dana witnessed a peek as she came to wake me up to set back out and enjoy our last night with this amazing group of people that I could not wait to sit amongst and simply talk to.  I was surprisingly refreshed having had 4 hours or less sleep a night the preceding week.  I barely recall the conversations, nuances or the proof my cynical self didn’t need.  It felt like summer camp, college orientation and spending long nights with family around the kitchen table.  It was the reason people see me as a social person and nothing to do with why I’d come to think of myself as antisocial.


The weekend culminated with a 2am walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.


Or was it Ground Zero at 6am? Or brunch at noon the next day? Or going on seesmic without abandon nearly immediately?


Or everyday since…


I suppose this is less about PodCamp and more about what went on in my brain leading up to it and during.  I found myself open-hearted and awed by everyone I met.  I realized that what made this group so special is that they are communicators.  We challenged each other socially and intellectually.  There is a sincere sense of support and motivation in this community that inspires me.  It is truly wonderful stuff that can be hard to explain without bordering on the cheese. And as I begin to sort through the fun that was Boston…it starts with just being so grateful for everyone I met at PodCamp NY. Thank you for being amazing.


Spin the Bottle Live

Recorded at Podcamp Boston by Phil Campbell
another angle by Philippe


Episode #8 – Boys Online


The topic of “online relationships” yet again becomes the main theme of the latest Spin the Bottle episode. WankerGirl and Miss Something attempt to dissect the fun and frustrations of diving into the murky waters of “online like” and “online lust”. Both tell their tales of their latest online interactions and how sometimes it leaves you feeling blue and other times it leaves you feeling wonderfully confused. Enjoy.