I’d already been in Portland for three days when Vida Vegan Con officially unofficially began. See, my plan had been to hit P-town early, soak up all my favorite old sites and see all my favorite old friends. But pretty much the second my plane landed, I got sick. With a gnarly head cold. Bummer.
Eh, not so much of a bummer really, because it just meant that I holed up in my friend’s house, listening to the rain and getting a lot of work done. Which was nice.
But by the time Thursday night rolled around and brought with it the unofficial VVC meet ‘n greet at the White Owl Social Club (a new and very vegan-friendly bar in SE Portland), I was feeling . . . well, I was feeling pretty dang lousy. Boooo! That’s okay, I didn’t let it stop me from having fun.
The party at White Owl Social Club – can you spot the vegan gentry? I spy: Julie Hasson, Fran Costigan, Susan V, Nava Atlas, Miyoko Schinner, Kittee Bee, Bianca, and Jill Nussinow, and that’s just in the foreground. Pretty awe-inspiring, right? Color me starstruck.
It was a fantastic party, a perfect way to kick off VVC, full of excitement and mingling and joyful recognition – that moment when the person you’ve followed in two dimensions for so long, is suddenly standing in front of you in the flesh. I love blogging functions for just that very reason: the virtual world becomes actual reality and it’s always such a strange, fun feeling.
I got to meet a bunch of new folks – some of whom I was familiar with (online), and some who were totally new to me. But mostly, I got to catch up with some of my favorite friends from around the blogosphere. Joy!
The party wound down pretty early, with most VVCers wandering off for various dinner engagements (everyone was so excited to eat all the Portland foods!). But I stayed put, grabbing a table with my friend (fellow ex-Portlander and vegan-mom-blogger) Joanna and a bunch of her friends who I’d just met. Everyone was so awesome, because you know – obviously. My sister even showed up to join in the fun!
After White Owl, we hopped over to another bar, the all-vegan Sweet Hereafter, where my friends had drinks (fiery flaming ones!) and I had a big bowl of broccoli, brown rice, and nooch-encrusted tofu all smothered in peanut sauce. It was heaven but I was spent. Sick and coughing, I scurried home early to prepare for the next morning – the first official day of VVC!
Friday morning I was up bright and early, with big boisterous butterflies bubbling around in my tummy. I still felt sick as a dog and my nose wouldn’t stop running – which is not so great for public speaking! But, I just tried to pull myself together and go with the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Besides, I was so excited that it sort of overshadowed the sick-ick.
Sometimes people ask, so this is what I wore:
This year, VVC was held at the Portland Art Museum, which was such a beautiful location for a conference. I arrived early and got all registered, grabbed my swag bag, thought to myself “Oh my god, this thing weighs 30 pounds!”, and promptly checked it with the coat check people (bless them). With a few hours to kill before the first classes began (the conference started later – after lunch – on that first day), I ventured out with old-friend Joanna and new-friend Emily in search of food. Luckily, we found a juice and breakfast-bowl bar nearby, where we procured green juice and organic oatmeal. Perfect!
And then . . . and then it was time for the real deal. The conference was starting and I was quaking in my [vegan] boots, because I was speaking in the first time slot.
Luckily, I found the lecture hall about 30 minutes ahead of time. It was empty of course – we were the first panel of the day – and so I was able to sit up there at the front of the room, and look out over all the empty chairs, and take deep breaths. I made some notes. I listened to this Matt Pond song on my iphone, loudly, because it calms and comforts me. I took more deep breaths.
I was terrified.
And then it was time.
I sat on the Compassionate Parenting panel, alongside Dreena Burton and Josh Hooten, and moderated by Michelle Schwegmann. It was a great, well-rounded panel and despite the vastness of the topic, I think we covered a lot of key information. And despite my ridiculous nerves, I think I did pretty good.
That picture up at the very top of this post? It was taken during this very panel. Because during this panel, public speaking turned from frightening into FUN, and by the time it was over all I wanted was to do it again. So hooray for growth!
Immediately after my panel I had to hurry away for a class I’d enrolled in (some of the classes required pre-registration, because there was high demand and limited space) – iPhone Food Photography with Isa Chandra-Moskowitz. This was a fun session, infused with Isa’s characteristic brass, and I left with about a million new photo apps to play with. Yay!
I spent the rest of the afternoon milling about the main ballroom: visiting the sponsor’s tables, sampling delicious vegan treats, and chatting with friends old and new. That guy up there ^^^ is Dan from Chicago Vegan Foods, who I met years ago at Portland VegFest. He is awesome and I was stoked to learn that Teese cheese has been reformulated and is now soy-free! And it tastes a-friggin-mazing.
In the late afternoon everybody gathered in the main ballroom for the official Welcome Address, followed with a short reception sponsored by Veggie Grill. But by this time I was feeling epically exhausted, from the adrenaline rush of speaking, the excitement of the meeting and mingling (fun, but hard on an introvert), and of course mostly because I was still in the grips of a major cold.
As everybody else traipsed over the the vegan mini mall for an Upton’s Naturals pop-up shop at Food Fight and s’mores at Herbivore, I hightailed it back to the house. I happened to be sharing a house with four amazingly talented vegan superstars, but I hadn’t even seen them yet! And I didn’t see them that night either, as I grabbed some takeout pho, ate it in my room, and promptly passed out.
catch Part I here
and Part II here