I Went to a Conference for Women, and All I Got Was a Big Rash

JOCK ITCH. The “big rash” was actually jock itch; I just didn’t have the nerve to stick it up there in the title.

It was only midway through the first full day of BlogHer — a ginormous conference about blogging and social media, started by and primarily for women — when I realized I was miserable. I’d had more than my normal level of big-guy-thigh-chafe discomfort (AKA “Chub Rub”) from all the walking around, and I couldn’t stop scratching myself. I was, in fact, on fire.

I skipped whatever session I was planning on attending, and approached the concierge at my hotel to inquire about the closest drugstore. “There’s a Walgreen’s not too far away,” he said cheerily. He gave me quick directions and added, “It’s about a 15 minute walk.” Uh, no.

Getting desperate, I made a beeline for the taxis out front. And for whatever reason, said to the cabbie, “I hurt my foot and need to go to Walgreen’s to pick up my medicine. Can you wait for me there and bring me back?”

I’m sure I could have just asked him for a round-trip to Walgreen’s without adding my ruse. Perhaps I didn’t want to appear lazy. Or I wanted to make sure he understood I was crippled so he wouldn’t drop me off at the drugstore and abandon me. In any event, I was committed to it now, and I’m nothing if not committed.

As the cab stopped in front of the store, I told the driver I’d be about 5 minutes, then exited the car and proceeded to pull a reverse Keyser Söze, adding a slight limp to my few strides up to the drugstore’s door.

Once inside, I hurriedly searched the store for the JOCK ITCH section. I was asked a couple of times if I needed help (I clearly did) but I said I was just looking around. Seriously? Who browses a drugstore? But I finally found what I was looking for, in the backmost, bottommost shelf of the store, lumped in with the treatments for ticks, lice and crabs.

Just to be safe, I grabbed both a spray can and a tube of Lotrimin. I headed for the front of the store, trying to hide my shameful purchases behind my hand without looking like I was trying to steal it. As I was waiting in the excruciatingly long line, the loudspeaker started playing “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” Did I mention I was in San Jose? This was getting really weird.

I got to the counter, paid the cashier, turned down both of his offers for a bag and limped back out to my cab. When I got back to the room, I put the AC on full blast, gave myself a “treatment” and then texted my roommate to please let me know before he came back. Because I was laid up like I was in stirrups, sympathizing (a bit) with the sense of exposure women must feel on a regular basis. Not exactly the BlogHer experience I was anticipating.

Before too long I found relief and was able to rejoin the conference. But my malady continued to flare up, causing me to miss out on other sessions, potential connections, trips around the expo floor and many a late night shenanigan.

As I was packing my bags to leave Sunday morning, I started to get a little a lot bummed out. I thought about the list of companies I’d wanted to make contact with but hadn’t; the fact that I missed hearing both Ariana Huffington and Kerry Washington speak; that I didn’t get to play Cards Against Humanity or dance in the cheesy hotel bar into the wee hours of the morning. And I was worried I’d wasted this long (and expensive) trip across the country. The feeling gnawed at me up until I got on the plane to head home.

This was the longer of my two flights, so I thought I’d start by recounting my weekend in writing. I began chronologically, but quickly got things out of order, frustrated with the gaps in my schedule, and abandoned that route. As the negative thoughts started to creep back in (yes, like an annoying rash) I put my mental foot down and decided I’d document everything good that happened at the conference first, then circle back to the negative afterwards.

So I started to write.

I wrote about all of the fun I had with my posse of dad bloggers — the trailblazer, the Wonder Twins, the poet, the fisherman and the chef. I recalled the wacky video I filmed with a young lady who never stopped making me laugh. I jotted down quotes from the hilarious and inspiring talks given by two of the most powerful, female, LGBTQ voices on the Internet. And I remembered the stories told during the Voices of the Year ceremony that left me heartbroken, dumbfounded, side-splitted and uplifted.

And I wrote down all of the details from the conversations I had with many of these (and more), putting stars next to topics I wanted to take action on, underlining new things I wanted to try, question marks on thoughts that needed revisiting. I had to stop every few minutes to make sure what I was writing was legible — while I’m always sketching, it had been a while since I’d put this much pen to paper solely for the sake of writing.

When I was finished, I had filled NINE PAGES with ideas and inspirations, to-do lists and doodles. I never got around to the negative part.

So while I had perhaps missed some of the more “official” parts of the conference, I’d gotten out of BlogHer exactly what I’d needed. I was inspired to write more. I was allowed time to have conversations I’d been longing to have, without the distractions of everyday life. I shared ideas I’d been mulling (and got immediate feedback) from those I admire as writers, designers, LGBT leaders, parents and friends. This time helped me focus and recommit to this adventure in writing that has already been so incredible.

And I got to have some much-needed “me” time, kick up my heels, and allow my thoughts to air out a bit.

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A few pics & things from my first BlogHer! To see more, visit Designer Daddy on Facebook or Instagram.

BlogHer - dads in a bar
BlogHer’s Dad Blogger Annex, AKA the hotel bar
BlogHer - Lesbian Dad
Lesbian Dad dropping wisdom
BlogHer - VOTY
Posing with my Voices of the Year-winning poster-sized post

Here’s the wacky video. Please follow this woman on all of the Internet things you can.

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This post was not sponsored by Lotrimin, though it might as well have been.

Upon further exploration, I did not in fact have epic jock itch. Trust me — and don’t look it up — I got off easy.

For lots more conversation about parenting, design, pop culture — and WAY less about fungal infections — follow Designer Daddy on Twitter or like Designer Daddy on Facebook!

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