November 11, 2009

Conference tradition: the naked blogger

My roommate at this conference, Dancing LitWoman, has roomed with me several times before. She knows what to expect. That is, she knows I’m nuts. She even knows about the blog. That first morning in the room, while we were both getting ready for the day, I explained that she was supposed to pose naked for the blog – it’s a tradition, after all – and she laughed like crazy.

“I don’t know if this is such good timing,” she said. “I’m on the job market.”

She threw open her towel and smiled broadly. “Here I am! Hire me!”

“But my readers EXPECT a naked photo. I’d hate to let them down.”

“Couldn’t we talk someone else into posing?”

Just then a text message chimed in on my cell phone. It was Geeky Mom, a blogger I’ve been wanting to meet for years. She was attending the very same conference, and we’d already agreed to meet for lunch.

I looked up at Dancing LitWoman. “I think you’re off the hook.”

Geeky Mom was as wonderful as I thought she would be. She’s warm, friendly, smart – and loves poetry the way I do. We met in the lobby at noon, and as we left the building, we crowded into the same little portion of the revolving glass door.

“I’m okay with little personal space,” she said.

She’ll pose for me, I thought.

We’ve known each other online for five years, but this was the first time meeting face to face. We found a deli with outdoor tables and sat together in the sunshine, eating sandwiches and talking in that intimate way that women do when they are alone together. We walked to a nearby park to watch the geese swimming in a man-made lake, and then hurried back to my hotel room to take the photo before the conference started.

My roommate was at the desk, doing some last-minute editing on her conference paper.

“Don’t mind us,” I said as I dragged a chair over into a sunny spot near the window. “We’ve just got to take a quick photo.”

Geeky Mom introduced herself as she pulled off her clothes. “Nice to meet you,” said Dancing Lit Woman.

As I yanked on the chair, the back folded towards me. “Hey, it’s a lounger!”

“Mmm. This is comfortable,” said Geeky Mom, as she stretched out in the sun. “I could take a nap.”

We were tempted to just hang out all afternoon in the sun in the intimate atmosphere that somehow arises when women are undressed. So much we could have talked about: gender roles, raising children, self-esteem, body issues, feminist issues in literature. But the conference began in only fifteen minutes. I snapped a few photos, we chose the one we liked the best, and Geeky Mom put her clothes back on. The conversation would have to come later, in moments stolen between sessions and late-night meals in restaurants.

Geeky Mom poses naked for the blog

(Readers who want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.)

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many google hits you'll get for 'naked geeky mom' -- that might be a popular search.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

LOL!

I know BB is eager to pose for you--me, not so much.

Heidi said...

Love, love the sunlight coming in stripes.

LilySea said...

Very tasteful!

jo(e) said...

Mary: We need to get together in WARM WEATHER so we can take that photo!

Jane Dark said...

Gorgeous! But hey, don't I get to be in the history of the naked photos linkfest?

Melissa Sarno said...

This is very interesting. In looking at the history of it, it seems like you have a lot of opposition from young people when it comes to getting naked in front of the camera. At what point in their lives do you think people become comfortable enough with their bodies to do it? I'm not sure I would be. Anyway, it's super interesting, looking forward to more!

jo(e) said...

Jane Dark: Oh, thanks for catching that. (I'm terrible at creating a whole list of html code.) I think you're in there now.

jo(e) said...

Melissa: Interestingly, I had that conversation with a young colleague at this conference -- he did pose naked for me, and he's only 24. He said that just a few years earlier, he wouldn't have felt comfortable posing. He also said that the context mattered: it was easier to pose because he didn't know any of us. We were all strangers.

I was talking with him about how older women seem more comfortable with their bodies than young woman -- you'd think, given the way our culture values youthful female bodies, it would be the opposite. He said, "Oh, but older women don't have as much pressure on them to look a certain way." I thought that was a good point.

Laura said...

Naked geeky mom is one of the most common searches on my site, so I suspect you will get many, many visits for that. :)

That turned out quite nicely. I didn't even really feel naked once I got in the chair. I remember throwing the towel onto the bed and for a brief instant, I thought, holy crap, I'm naked, but then it went away.

Are you going to post the other photo from the conference? That would be cool to see.

jo(e) said...

The other naked photo? Yeah, I'll post that tomorrow.

Laura said...

The other naked photo meaning the young guy's photo, yes?

jo(e) said...

(laughing)

Yes. That's what I meant. Tomorrow I'll post the photo of the Naked Young Man Who Talked About Gaming.

YourFireAnt said...

Really nice, Jo(e). Your light on flesh ones are always gorgeous.

;-)

Lilian said...

Hmmm, very very interesting... Particularly because Laura doesn't blog anonymously and because she's posted photos of her face before (two big reasons I thought would prevent me, for example, from posing). The photo is totally non-revealing, though, so I guess it's cool...

Now, the likelihood of me going to the same academic conference as you is almost non-existent (given my current non-professional status), so I guess I'm safe for now :-D.

Digger said...

Jo(e), I love this series. As far as age, I'm in my late 30s, and would probably pose, even though I'm a little more Rubinesque than any of your other models. The change for me between "OMFG no way" to "mebby" to "yeah, probably" is recent.

Beach Walkin said...

Beautiful photo... gorgeous model... as always!!!!!! If only I could take photos 1/4 as well as you do.....

Songbird said...

I really love these pictures. Even though I would never pose for one, because of what I do for a living and not being anonymous, etc. Maybe when I retire. You'll still be doing this in 17 years, right?

Paige said...

Ah, thank you. If my vanity helps your list proofreading, then so much the better.

I think that 17 more years of naked photos would be brilliant, too.

Billie said...

These are so great, Jo(e)! I want to meet you in person just so you'll take MY photo for your blog. :-)

sherry said...

If you ever make these photos into a calendar that benefits some anti-violence cause, I am in. I will even pay my own way to meet you somewhere for the photo.

YourFireAnt said...

Lilian: you are never safe from Jo(e)'s lens. Believe me, it's everywhere.

;->

BrightenedBoy said...

When I saw post #2 I literally laughed out loud. BB is most certainly NOT eager to pose naked for any blog.

I'm not saying it wouldn't happen, but it would be...difficult.

Then again, my readers have all seen me in my underwear.

You are so awesome and so crazy and now I have to go write a European Union paper that's due in less than three hours.

Lilian said...

I know, FireAnt, I know... particularly because I'm really trying to orchestrate a blogger meet up with Jo(e). I'll probably be accompanied by my two young sons and my husband when we meet -- do you think that circumstance would make it any safer? ;-)