The Great Aussie Blogger Meeting – Coffee, Laughs and a Neurotic Cat

So how was it?????

That’s what you’ve been wondering, right? What happened when the Great Margaret-Rose and the Nervous MOSY finally met in person? Were there earthquakes in Sydney? Did the Space-Time Continuum tear open? Did the sky rain with meteors?

Nah. We just had a fabulous time.

The following is a recounting of the experience from both sides. M-R has decided to close her own blog next week and will no longer be posting on it but you deserve her side of the story (she says nervously) as well as mine.

MOSY’s Version

Although I stepped into the lift in her building with a heart beating hard enough to make the walls bounce, I stepped out of it to be greeted by an old friend.

And that’s what it’s like, folks. That person with whom you’ve got along like the proverbial incendiary dwelling out in the Blogosphere is, in my experience at least, the person you will meet in person (so to speak).

Of course, M-R made the smart first move of offering me coffee almost as soon as I got in the door so how could I not love her?

So what did you do?

We hung out. That’s it. We talked, we ate, we laughed, we drank coffee, we went to lunch at lovely little places. It was just two friends hanging out together. We ventured out for various things that needed to be done and had a great time. Even a visit to the optometrist brought joy. While I waited for M-R, I wandered over to the bookshop across the road. Outside the door on the Sale table was another of those addictive 1000 Dot-to-Dot books! Score!

I didn’t need a tour of Sydney (I’ve seen it). I didn’t need to be ‘entertained’ (our conversations covered that). Just the chance to be together was payment enough for the journey and I was richly rewarded.

Oh, plus I got to eat a rather substantial amount of that delicious bread she makes.

But what was M-R like?

You’ve read her blog. Or blogs. (She’s had a few.) You’ve read her comments on your blog and those of her many friends. THAT is what she is like. The personification of WYSIWYG, as Su Leslie so cleverly described her in a comment on the last post.

Actually, that’s not quite right. In person she is actually more than you get through the ether. A life-giving force of humour, knowledge, passion and most of all, generosity. Margaret-Rose has a heart as big as that new apartment monstrosity she so despises. I practically had to push her over to let me take the dishes to the sink.

Did you meet the fabled Lui Stringer?

Yes I did. He hid in his little hidey hole in a credenza when I arrived but not to be outdone, I slid open the door and reached in to give him a scratch under the chin. I think he must have been paralysed by the audacity of my actions because he allowed it. Then, as I slid the door across again, he hissed at me.

This was to become a theme.

It’s rather disconcerting to spend three days being looked at by a cat as if you are a visiting serial killer.

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This was when we came back from lunch on the last day. “Oh gods, you’re still here. I thought you’d left.”

Three days flew by all too quickly and it seems odd to know that I can’t just pop over for coffee and a laugh whenever I feel like it. Thank heavens for Mr Bell and Mr Edison and Mr Turing and Mr Sir Berners-Lee and their ilk that we can still stay in touch. And a little thanks to the Wright Brothers for the ability to ‘pop’ up to Sydney without a 10-hour car journey.

So, thinking of arranging a meeting with a favourite blogger? Do it. Do it now. You won’t regret it.

M-R’s Version

Having been apostrophised by Mrs Dempsey regarding the lack of need to meet her at the light rail stop at Central and been suitably cowed (I am a very nervous person, after all !), I waited in the little flat to hear the intercom sound and H’s familiar voice be heard – I have terrorised her by ‘phone on more than one occasion …

And then, as I stood outside the lift, anxious as buggery*, she was suddenly there ! – slim, vital and smiling, looking about 25!!! At which point I knew instantly that it was all OK: here was H, just as I knew she’d be, and life was good.

Much coffee from the Gaggia Classic, and many cups of tea. Some food, too, every so often. The only momentous example of that was when she took me to lunch yesterday, and we went to visit my friend Tino at his restaurante português, where we ate his mum’s delishus cannelloni (it’s very confusing, Portuguese food …) and drank a glass of the wonderful Terras d’el Rei red each.

Did I take her all around Sydney ? Did I even take her to, say, the Maritime Museum and Darling Harbour ? Did I show her the sights ? – did I what ! Oh, no, sorry – that was a lie: the real answer is no, I didn’t! I did take her to North Sydney/Blues Point, but only because I had to visit my adored optometrist and his even more adored optical technician; and there H was given many examples of my habit of smooching on the men who mean a lot to me. (Well, why not ?!) But that was more or less the extent of what she saw in Sydney.   :-/

I believe the rest of the time we talked. Amazin ain’t it ? 🙂 I think I gave her some talking time of her own; but to be truthful it seems upon reflection it was entirely the sound of my voice that was heard in the land (just like the turtle-dove).

H and I have many extraordinary similarities in our lives. We’re both quite mad, of course; and we’re separated by something like 26 years … but she makes me feel as if we’re the same age, and start wondering if I shouldn’t think about doing <X>, just as she has done. Dangerous, that ! [grin]

I can add only that when we realized she had a bit left on her Opal card (bus, train, ferry and light rail transport) and no way of reclaiming it, and she said “I can use it next time” that I understood her to have enjoyed herself in the company of this whingeing, grumpy old fart. REALLY mad, then …

I wait for the next occasion on which her family feels they can possibly do without their motivating force in their midst for a couple of days: it can’t come soon enough.

I LOVE HEATHER DEMPSEY !!!

*you’d be anxious too, if you were an almost 72-y-o living a VERY unadventurous life on her own and about to meet an amazing young woman who can do anything and often does, as well as being someone who knows tons of stuff and is a wife and a mother of three boys. Why on earth would she not think “How did I let myself in for this boring time ???” …

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Do I Really Want To “Meet The Blogger”?

Don’t we all?

Haven’t most of us, if not all, at some point expressed the wish that we could meet in person those with whom we have become friends in this online community of bloggers?

Some have already taken that step. Some have met bloggers who live nearby. Some have journeyed half a world away to clap eyes on the one who has loitered in their comment box for some time.

For those who have experienced this oft-expressed desire, how was it? How did you feel before the meeting? Excitement and anticipation? Or anxiety and fear? A bit of both?

How was the actual meeting? Was the blogger who you thought he/she would be? Did you talk as easily as you do at the virtual dinner table?

And what about afterwards? Was the online relationship the same or changed? Did you remain online friends or did meeting in person change your view of the other (or vice versa) so much that you are no longer in contact?

On Tuesday morning I will board an aeroplane bound for the City of The Great Iron Coat Hanger and The Iconic Operatic Sails to face my first “Meet The Blogger” occasion. Am I nervous? Only to the point of feeling like I’m going to throw up.

Lui

This is who I’m going to meet!

M-R

Sorry. Actually, this is The Blogger.

A little while ago I wrote in another post how I believe we can present the best side of ourselves in our online persona and that it is so much easier to hide the faulty parts of ourselves from those who only know us out in the ether. So what does that mean if we cross the border to personally meet friends who only know our online selves?

Will we be the person they expect? Will the irritating sides of ourselves that we have so carefully kept at bay rear their heads to shock our companion? Will our friend, by four o’clock in the afternoon, regret the offer made to stay with them??

Perhaps the title of this post should actually be “Does The Blogger Really Want To Meet Me?“.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

 

(Images Copyright to Margaret-Rose Stringer.)

 

 

 

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“And Then Like My Dreams” by Margaret Rose Stringer (Not A Review)

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This is not a review. I don’t like book reviews. To me, reading a book is such a subjective act, how can one assess the quality of a book with true neutrality? With a book, one person may snort with laughter, drawing attention from fellow commuters on the train while another gets only ten pages in and wonders what was so funny. Or one may find the richness and sophistication of a narrative inspiring while another has no idea what the author is talking about.

Those who have already stumbled across the blog of Margaret-Rose Stringer (better known as M-R out here in the Blogosphere) will know that she has written a book. She claims she began the blog as a publicity vehicle for her book. Whatever the reason, I am glad she did. She is a fresh, wicked voice in the Blogosphere and book or no book, long may she reign.

I’ve read her book – And Then Like My Dreams {a memoir} – the story of her life with Charles ‘Chic’ Stringer, master stills photographer in the Australian film industry. But I’m not going to review it. What I am going to do is offer a response – the depths of my feelings while reading this remarkable book.

I must first confess that I had to put this book down twice before I got to page three. That’s not M-R’s fault. She describes the impending death of her beloved Chic and the news of her father’s death on those first two pages with such raw emotion that I, having lost my own father mere days before, could not read those passages without time to recover. But such is her writing that it was only minutes before I just had to pick it up again to see what else she had to say.

I feel I’ve got to know M-R’s voice pretty well through her blog and reading her book was like an extended conversation. Well, okay, she was talking and I was listening so it was a somewhat one-sided conversation, but as she had such a great story to tell, I didn’t mind.

This book made me laugh loudly, cry quietly and – being a sheltered wallflower – blush frequently. I moved through anticipation of the beginning to dread of the ending.

It almost drove me mad that my life went crazy just as this book arrived in the post. It meant little time to read and this was a book I didn’t want to put down. So desperate was I to keep reading, more than once it fell out of my hands late at night as I squeezed in what reading time I could before my eyes got the better of me and closed against my wishes.

Some of her memories are described in film script form. I loved these, having grown up reading and memorising Monty Python and Goon Show scripts. It set the scene perfectly and gave me a visual response to whatever memory she was conveying.

Her pithy little footnotes were also a delight. I do so love a pithy footnote.

I was insanely jealous in parts – of her experiences, her travels, her oh-so-capable husband (he builds their house, for Pete’s sake!).

The last quarter of the book is a difficult read. In fact, I almost contacted M-R to tell her the promised review would not be forthcoming as I wasn’t sure I could finish the book. Having watched my father’s deterioration and death less than a year after his diagnosis of mesothelioma, this section of their story hit a little too close to home. I can imagine it an emotional read for anyone who has watched a loved one battle cancer.

But I felt I owed it to M-R and to her beloved Chic to finish the story. To know and to understand the whole story.

So, after a not-so-little cry and a good blow of the nose, I pushed on. I’m glad I did and I encourage anyone who feels the emotion too much to keep going. There is hope and light and laughter to be had in the ending of the story.

I know that M-R did not write this book for fame (it is so often fleeting anyway) or fortune (she assures us this is certainly not forthcoming) but because she wanted as many people as possible to know about her wonderful and amazing husband. I encourage you to read this book and meet this most remarkable of men.

M-R, thank you for sharing your story and your ‘Stringer’ as you loved to call him. I am so glad to have met him. I am only sorry not to have shared one of Chic’s meals with you both over a bottle of Italian red. I do so love an Italian red. And what fun that would have been.

Check out Margaret-Rose Stringer’s blog here for details on how to purchase this book. Then buy it. Then read it. Trust me.

 

 

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