Today was about three in one

When I went to kiss Jack goodbye before I left this morning, I peered into the hermit crab tank and gasped when I saw what looked like Darth Vader's helmetless head. You know when he takes his helmet off when he's dying at the end and his head is pasty white, bald, veiny and all-around not good-looking? Well, that's basically what appeared to be perched in the water bowl. I scurried in to kiss Tom and whispered that he might seriously examine the crab -ironically named Yoda- when he awoke; perhaps it needed a larger shell?As it turns out, Yoda had been dismembered -cannibalized for chrissakes- by his tank-mate and fellow crab, Max, and T had to dispose of his little claws which were scattered about. He has not informed Jack of this murder. I cannot tell you how grateful I feel not to have had to deal with that today.

Fast forward a bit, and I'm on the plane with an empty seat next to me. And then I was at the start of BlogHer '13's pre-conference day, Pathfinder. I heard a witty, candid interview with Maria Ross, brand-mastress (yes, I know mistress is the feminine, but that sounds so unsavory) extraordinaire, aneurysm survivor, feisty and funny Italiana who's written two books- one business, one post-aneurysm. Here she is with interviewer Lesley Pinckney.


Then it was time to head into our tracks -me, "your blog as a book proposal"- for the first break-out session with the terrifically knowledgeable, utterly approachable team of Melissa Ford and Hannah Kaminsky, both published authors and bloggers. Perhaps forty of us gathered in a small room lined with tables; I felt like a student again, and admittedly felt that small burst of enthusiasm I always feel when I'm wearing that hat. Computers and notebooks were placed at the ready, fingers and pens poised to take notes. And let me tell you, I took some.

The publishing-industrial complex, my term, is dense and pretty flipping scary. In about five minutes, I'd written down three sites I need to scour, advice on writing a query letter, the definition of a query letter, how to reach out to agents, yes, you need an agent, the differences (many) between agents and publishers. And like I said, that was in five minutes.

It was all extremely informative and helpful though, and I could not have enjoyed Melissa and Hannah more. Melissa's irreverent wit was totally engaging, and Hannah is a hell of a photographer in addition to having written FOUR vegan cookbooks while maintaining a beautiful blog.

Oh mon dieu, my little student hat slumped a little, became a bit bashful and intimidated, but then I went through the whole, "E, you are a strong writer with a lot to say, you're enthusiastic and willing to work hard, and gosh darn, people like you." Ok, not that last bit, but you get my drift.

Our lunch break came just at the most-needed moment -our heads spinning, our brains blaring holy shit!- and we headed down to meet up with different track Pathfinders. After a bit of chit-chat, during which time I met two great gals (A and C, I loved meeting you!), we heard from a panel led by Elisa Camahort (one of BlogHer's cofounders; I swear I'd love to work for BlogHer; everyone is smart, sassy, funny, and the signage at the conference is over-the-top awesome; I hate when enormous convention places aren't labeled with helpful directions) and featuring Bryant Terry, an author/chef/activist, and Nataly Kogan, founder and CEO of Happier, Inc. What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? How do we feel good and do good? I enjoyed this discussion too.

And then back to the Cave o' Publishing for further information and pitch-writing. Suffice it to say that I did not successfully hone a thirty-second pitch, but I've always enjoyed homework so will look at this as thus.

chicago from the 16th floor

At this juncture, I began to feel tired. Really tired. And so I did the smart thing, called it a good day and returned to my hotel. Because we booked this room using Tom's ridiculously good "status", I received a riDONKulous upgrade to a King Suite which is soo roomy and comfy and nice. The bathtub is a small pool, a fruit plate was waiting, a view of the Chicago skyline loomed. I feel both grateful and deserving of this treat of a room and am now snuggled in some bizarre cheetah-print robe looking forward to some shuteye asap.

I did realize that Frontera Grill was two blocks from my hotel so I scooted out for a prickly pear basil mojito, some snacks and a double flan. Solid.