Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Meeting Kate

Tomorrow, I will writing a review of The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, written by Kate Inglis, who blogs at Sweet l Salty. I wanted to use today’s post as a disclaimer, explaining to you how I got to be reading this book about Canadian pirates, as well as to assure you that that I did not receive any money or sexual favors in return for giving this blogger any special attention.

Basically, it is the story of how I met Kate.

But this is more than a story about one blogger. It is a tale about online relationships. I could write a post like this about so many of you. I’m the one always complaining about the lack of real contact online, and you are the ones always scolding me, insisting that relationships online are as valid as those in real life. So, if we are going to consider these virtual friendships as “real,” no matter how limited they are because of the great distances between us, what is wrong with retelling our stories of first encounters in the same way that we do those cherished stories of meeting a IRL buddy in that sixth grade gym class?

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Last spring, Sophia and I took a trip to Las Vegas. One night, we had dinner with BHJ, the talented writer/blogger, and his cool wife, Jenna. At the time, I was a little testy at this blogger because even though he had only been blogging for six months, he seemed to know every big-shot writer in the blogosphere. I noticed that my readers were attracted to his writing. There was a meme going around where you were supposed to list “the five bloggers you most want to have dinner with at a private party.” Let’s just say that I noticed that he received a lot of dinner offers while I wasn’t even invited to share a foot-long sandwich at Subway.

At dinner, we talked about blogging, much to the boredom of Jenna and Sophia.

“Do you know X,” he asked.

“No,” I answered.

“Have you ever chatted with Y?”

“Uh, no.”

“Have you read Kate at Sweet l Salty? Isn’t she great?”

“Who?” I asked.

“She’s Canadian.”

“Bleh.”

I had absolutely no interest in reading another Canadian. I already had plenty of Canadians on my blogroll, and I promised myself to only “Read American” from now on.

A week later, I caved in and read Kate’s blog. It was very well-written I particularly liked that she separated her ideas with “+++,” something I blatantly stole from her blog without her permission.

I left a comment on her blog. Days passed and there was no response.

“Bitch,” I muttered to myself.

+++

I knew this “type” of literary snob who never returned a comment. I was an English major. She was clearly the type of snooty priss who only dated the guys in the berets who wrote about “inner pain,” and wouldn’t be caught dead interacting with a guy who talks to his Penis.

I hated her.

I secretly read her blog a few more times, without commenting. I thought of becoming a troll, but I was afraid that she could follow my IP address back to Queens.

In August, I attended BlogHer. Kate was involved in a session with Kelly about “writing passionately.” Kate was an amazing speaker, and as she talked about the tragedy of losing a child, the entire audience was in tears. There was something different about this too-pretty, too-educated literary snob bitch. There was a white glow surrounding her, protecting her from evil, and she seemed to spread a message of goodness, reminiscent of the heavenly aura around the virginal Lady of the Lake as she rose from the deep to protect the young King Arthur. During this one hour session at BlogHer, I went from intense hate to wanting to be her BFF!

The next day, Amy and I were slated to do our own session on Storytelling. Unlike Kate’s heart-felt dialogue, our talk was filled with comic shtick and “story structure.” I wanted to scrap the entire script and rewrite it. I wanted to be as inspirational and honest as Kate was that morning.

During lunch, I saw Kate on the other side of banquet room, and decided to approach her. I was nervous. The lunch that day was sponsored by Ragu. The entrees were lasagna and spaghetti. The tables were decorated in the colors of the Italian flag. I had spilled some tomato sauce on my faux bowling shirt, so I walked with my hand to my heart, like Napoleon, trying to hide the stain.

“Hello,” I said to Kate, my voice wavering in fear, much as it did on the infamous afternoon when I tried to talk to Tammy Weingold in high school about pairing up for the math team together.

Kate and I stood directly under a huge plastic sculpture of a Ragu tomato sauce jar that was propped up on the lasagna table, next to a stack of coupons offering a free sample of Ragu’s new “Spicy and Hearty” sauce. I will never forget this giant Ragu jar for the rest of my life. This is where I had my first real conversation with Kate Inglis. The setting was as dramatic as when Humphrey Bogart said goodbye to Ingrid Bergman at the airport in Casablanca.

“I loved your session,” I said.

I told her how I was going to change my session, because it was “a superficial pile of shit compared to what you did.”

Kate sat me down in front of the giant tomato sauce jar and told me NOT to change the session. She said that in writing, structure is as important as passion.

“You can’t write a story without a beginning, middle, and end. I’m looking forward to being there!”

I could not believe that she was coming to our session!

She told me about this book she had just finished. She was about to enter the “promotion” part of getting a book out and self-promotion did not come easy to her. She had barely mentioned the book to anyone at BlogHer.

I related to this writer. I have a huge fear of self-promotion. On the other hand, pushing other shy folk into promotion mode is a great joy for me, as long as they are the ones suffering, not me. For the next two days, whenever I passed Kate in the hotel, I bugged the hell out of her.

“Tell people about your book!” I would say.

I grabbed strangers to tell them about Kate’s book, even though I wasn’t quite sure what the book was even about, or when it was coming out.

I grilled Kate with questions.

“Do you have a website for the book?” “Can I read it?” “Can I review it on my blog?”

I saw myself as her Mister Miyagi and she as my Karate Kid, even though in the real movie — Mister Miyagi actually had some KNOWLEDGE. I knew nothing about book promotion, but I knew Kate had to step up to the plate. She was an amazing, passionate writer – and I wanted this woman standing next to the Ragu jar with the halo around her head, this blogger who I once thought was a snooty bitch, to succeed.

Tomorrow: The Book Review

23 Comments

  1. Canadians call them Crews eh? In Florida they’re Krewes.

  2. I’ve missed you writing!

  3. look how unexpected the results of once vague internet relationships can be! very cool.

  4. I like that you are honest about the neuroses surrounding IRL blogger relationships. It makes me want to give you and your Ragu stained bowling shirt a big hug.

  5. I don’t remember if I did get around to meeting Kate in Chicago, but I am super psyched that I get to give ZoĆ« an autographed copy of the book for Xmas. She is one of the bloggers that I’ve never deviated from calling a writer.

  6. Whymommy (Susan)

    December 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I wish I’d met you at Blogher!

    Kate is amazing, isn’t she? (as was the giant jar of spaghetti sauce, but in a completely different way.)

  7. The best part about being at BlogHer was working as a bartender. Man those women can drink. Woo.

  8. Dear Neil,

    Until I met you, I was oblivious to all the politics and social jockeying of the blogosphere. You introduced me to the sometimes brutal social hierarchy, the cliques, the controversies, and the pot stirrers. You showed me that the only way to get ahead is to grab onto the coattails of someone with a better Google page ranking than you have.

    This why I welcomed you into my home and my life–because my mousy, artsy, literary blog was completely overshadowed by your Bigger Blog Presence. While I was disappointed, my stats have not shot up since I leaked news of your visit, I have found a new way to cash in on your celebrity. I’m going to put the sheets and pillowcases you slept on on eBay and see what I can get. Because I’m “classy” and protecting my upscale brand, I refrained from trying to sell the Kleenex you used to control your drippy nose. However, I reserve the rights to sell any hair that was stuck inside the hat you borrowed.

    Ever your true and noble friend,
    V-Grrrl

  9. This is one of my favourite posts ever of yours. I think because I had the same reaction to Kate. That woman just glows and is all pretty and stuff. She won’t even let me stalk her properly, because she keeps inviting me to Nova Scotia.

  10. I think the glow is from her skin being so porcelain-like from the lack of sun up there. That and being such a heavenly writer. I’m halfway thru her book, so I know of what I speak.

  11. Kate is for real!

    +++

    I did not receive any Ragu coupons while in Chicago. How many did you take, Neil?

  12. You didn’t mention my white glow, you jerk. And you’re welcome for the Kate.

  13. Shit, now I have to write a post about V-grrrl, too. She put me up in her house for two nights and fed me! (but no book to pimp… but she does have brainy kids)

  14. This is gorgeous babe. This is a perfect way to do a review for someone.

  15. I’ve been waiting for the post about your visit with V-grrrl, it’s the least you can do! I’ve never met Kate but I think she’s fantastic. The book looks amazing, too. I’m only this second realizing how many bloggers I read because of you. You’re like the Yenta of the blogosphere!

  16. Whatever you do, Neil, please don’t tell everyone that we cuddled in our pajamas. The last thing I’d want is for everyone on the internet to know that we cuddled in our pajamas. So please don’t do that.

    Just to correct the literary snob bitch misconception, I should make it clear: I can’t read for shit. Unless it’s The Gruffalo. I’m only snooty about vinyl siding and American tea.

    I hope you bug me forever. Also hoping you always fall for the halo trick. I’m honoured to return the favour.

  17. I hate all of you snooty, talent-having, writer types. Okay, I don’t.. but jealous? Absolutely!

  18. Yeah, what the hell is with Canadians and blogging. I realized today that I follow a lot of Canadian and women bloggers. Am I less of a man/American? Nah, I’m cool.

  19. Ok one, I am very jealous about your dinner with BHJ, although frankly I’m also jealous that he had dinner with you. Two, I have loved Kate’s writing (her blog) since I started reading it 3 years ago, which sadly coincided with Liam’s death. I would sit in bed and bawl. I wrote to her back then saying “You are the most amazing writer ever! Write a book, please!” So, I guess what I’m saying is that you all can thank me for her new Opus.
    And you’re welcome.

  20. Well, I for one, would be thrilled to pieces to get to meet any of you in real life…

    Can’t wait to read the review (and yes I’m guilty of lurking here).

  21. Great story. It makes me want to actually leave my house and meet bloggers.

    Someday.

  22. Danny is right, you are the Yenta of the blogosphere. You personally hooked me up with more writers and blogs than any other source. When you say, “I think you’d like so-and-so, I always do.” And hey, you hooked me up with Danny too. Ha ha ha.

  23. God this is great. I love everything about it. Don’t go changin’, Neil. (Not that you planned to, or that you ought not to because I said, or, oh shit, another Billy Joel reference dies a slow, painful death.)

    I missed both of your sessions and it is my dual white-hot regret of BlogHer09, which all the same was my best one ever so I guess it went down the way it was supposed to. I’m glad I can catch up with all of you now.

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