For the last three years I have been dreaming about going to SXSW Interactive. When I was living with Ms Jen, she would come home from her Texas whirlwind and regale me with all kinds of stories and pictures of whom she met, what parties she went to, and the interesting panels she attended. I promised myself that when I finally found a job that paid enough money, I would go and see this magnificent spectacle for myself.
Well, last year I found a job in interactive media, booked my trip to SXSWi, found out there was no training budget to support my educational effort, lost said job, found a temp job, couldn't wait to get out of said temp job, found a permanent position with another interactive ad agency two weeks before I left for Austin, and almost fell over backwards when they agreed to cover my expenses for the trip. Did you get all that? Does it blow your mind to realize that this was all within a span of four months?
Here is my not so brief recap.....
* Arrive in Austin and spend the day with Jorie.
* Try boba for the first time. Those tapioca balls are a bit shocking at first, but you miss them when they're gone.
* Participate in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sing-a-long at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is the absolute perfect way to kick off SXSW. Be surprised by how well I remember the songs from an episode I only recall seeing once. It's a little disturbing, but I roll with it.
* Meet up with Jen and a few SXSWi veterans and make a field trip to the Whole Foods Mothership for lunch and the week's provisions. Wine, water, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, and crackers. While waiting at the front of the store I give into the temptation of fresh gelato and get myself a small cup in pomegranate flavor. Mmmmmm.
* Head over to a local restaurant and wine bar for dinner before the first semi-official event for dinner and drinks. I meet a lot of people also attending SXSWi and am introduced to the geek practice of tagging. Not the virtual tagging that we all know and love, but "real" tagging. Someone passed around filing labels and a pen and we "tagged" each other. I get "likes younger men" and "I view source." Neither of which is true, but what the hell, right?
* Panels, panels, and more panels. Particularly enjoyed Digital Convergence with David Pescovitz of BoingBoing.
* Have lunch with Jen, Leslie, and a random smattering of testosterone (one of whom was particularly handsome, but stayed as far away from me as possible). Leslie and I scarf down our lunch so fast it would make an Ethiopian cry and run back to the convention center for the keynote.
* Have a wine and cheese party with the Brit Pack and a few honorary members in our spacious suite.
* Go to the Frog Design party, dance a little dance, drink a little free beer, and make a quick social round before heading off to the South by Northwest party.
* Arrive at Iron Cactus and see fellow BlogHer, Grace. I yell at her and she hands me a beer. I yell at and scare the bejesus out of Jason, who only vaguely knows who I am. Inebriatedly flirt with inappropriate men and top the evening off with a shot of tequila. Unwise, but I survived.
* Wake up with a surprising lack of hangover.
* More panels. My highlight - Everyware. How can the ubiquitous web be so exciting and scary at the same time?
* Attend the interview with Henry Rollins and can't get over the giant vein that intermittently bulges from his neck. Hypothesize that this magical massive vein is where he stores his impressive rage.
* Go straight to the Yahoo! party for free food and drink. Apparently I arrived just in time for Dot Com Bubble 2.0. I introduce a couple Brits to the wonders of good tequila and am praised for my knowledge and good taste. It helps to be in one's element.
* Time for the Fray storytelling party, but not before seeing MJ "tag" that handsome gent from lunch the other day. Suddenly all the girls are reapplying their lipstick and going in for the kill. Somehow his recent divorce is mentioned and while everyone else keeps a respectful silence I have the poor manners to audibly cheer. He doesn't leave my side for the rest of the night and I am smitten.
* And more panels. I make a last minute decision to start my day with Cluetrain and it just goes downhill from there.
* I make a solo run to the Whole Foods Mothership for more supplies so that Jen and I can host another wine and cheese party the next day.
* I have dinner with a very large party and fret to Jen about the possibility of not seeing the Zen Master again and not knowing if he actually wanted to see me again. She suggests I text him and it isn't until that time that I realize I even have his number at all. We text each other and I meet him later on with a small entourage in tow.
* We leave as soon as I arrive to go to the Consumating/AdaptivePath/Odeo We Sold Out party. It was a crowded drunken mess and it was wonderful.
* The last day of panels. ZM convinces me to see the Microsoft vs. Apple OS Smackdown and I goad him into seeing the Convergence in Advertising Sales Event. Who knew that his choice would be more interesting? We end the conference with a dark yet hopeful state of the union by Bruce Sterling, and I am left both stirred and touched.
* We have our last wine and cheese party with a much larger crowd and toast Ms Jen for her gracious hosting skills and laugh and talk until the vino runs dry and so we take our party across the street for dinner and more sparkling conversation. Camera phones abound as people record the last of our time in Austin.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect week, and now I can hardly wait for next year.
Thank you Faceless Corporate Entity!!!