August 11th, 2010
BlogHer. For years, YEARS, I’ve heard people speak of it. I remember reading recaps — albeit less of them than this year — from 2001 on, when it seemed like only Dooce and her friends attended the conference. I’ve long been fascinated by what actually went on at BlogHer. It seemed more like a giant group hug than educational sessions, but I’m into that and so always wanted to go. Given that this year the conference was in New York AND my brother and sister-in-law live there, it seemed as good a time as any to check the whole thing out. And except for my flying terror and the million-dollar-drain on the bank account, I have to say the trip was worth it, although for reasons* I didn’t expect.
Let me break it down for ya.
The Flight There
It was much as I thought it’d be. Blind panic. Too many drinks. Sweaty handholding with my seatmate as the plane rose into the air. For five — FIVE — hours, I knocked my knees together and prayed for my salvation. Of course, I’d met the pilots beforehand because otherwise I’d wonder about the monkeys Sugar said can fly planes (She said that. She said even monkeys could fly planes. Well-trained monkeys. But monkeys nonetheless. And so there I sat, hoping the pilots’ opposable thumbs worked if we suddenly started plunging toward the unforgiving ground.) Not soon enough, our red-eye flight landed and I lurched off the plane, ate something yellowish with toast, and was thrown into a cab. By 9AM, I was in bed while my crazy traveler friends took off for the Today Show and a stroll around the city.
Natalie and I. What’s that you say? You’ve seen this photo 29,000 times already? Yes. Yes. You see, that’s because I only took ONE picture the whole time I was in New York. Like an un-recording-of-life’s-great-moments dipshit.
At about noon, I emerged from my tranquilized, post traumatic stress-induced sleep to a desire to walk around town. Luckily, Natalie joined me and we visited Central Park, a pizza place (broccoli pizza on whole wheat crust! be still heart, be still), the Apple store, Duane Reade, and some sweet-smelling place that washed our hands for us (a lotion boutique of some sort). Then it was time for a shower and texting all the San Diegites for a meeting place. We retired to the Warwick hotel lounge to be served by an insanely rude server lady and chattered each other up for an hour or two.
Soon enough, it was time for the parties. Let’s see. There was the party where I introduced myself to my idol, who I am not even going to link here because I don’t want her to put two and two together and figure out who the blubbering huggy dumb ass was who very nearly smushed her itty bits to death, unbidden and with robustness. Let’s just say she is awesome and wrote the kind of book I would like to write one day. Also, she was delightful and did not say a thing (to me) about the smushing.
After that, there were more parties. And my brother and sister-in-law came to see me at the hotel bar, wherein they both proceeded to wonder what the hell it is these bloggers do at conferences when all it appeared we were doing was smushing people and drinking martinis.
This was the first official day of the conference. There were writing panels (my favorite) and geek labs and all manner of sessions designed to make you a better blogger, photographer, person. Here, I must say? I didn’t find the panels I attended as much informative, as entertaining, As a writer, like I said, I enjoyed the panels dedicated to the art, but the branding/monetizing stuff made me a bit uncomfortable. I suppose I’m more a people person than a business person, much to the befuddled chagrin of my significant other. Still? I must say it and emblazon it on my blog like graffiti on a bridge: MORE CONTENT, LESS PANDERING! Please.
I managed to also make it to the Expo Hall and the sponsored suites. In both places, the swag was plentiful and flowing like a mighty river. I picked up books, and Play-Doh, and make-up and etc., etc., until I felt gross and wasteful. At one point, after I complimented an exhibitor on her necklace, she offered to give one to me, and I had to leave. It felt wrong. And I don’t have the necklace. I’m still not used to the idea of advertisers pitching products to me like I’m some kind of authority. It feels uncomfortable (Look for my review of a personal microdermabrasion device soon! Not kidding. I’m still navigating these waters. And I have shitty skin.)
One of the best suites of all time? The Align suite, where I learned about my poop and healthy intestinal bugs. Also, there was reflexology. And although my feet stunk to the highest heavens imaginable, I couldn’t pass this treatment up. My reflexologist was a lovely, zen, moony woman who told me to breathe deep and lose myself behind my lavender-scented eye mask. Despite the yoga-esque “Does that feel goooooodddddd?s” I DID lose myself.
High point for sure.
After that? More parties, I’m not even kidding you. There was the HP party and the Savvy Sassy party and BarHer and holy crap, I forget.
This day brought the best yet. First, a pizza lunch organized by the inimitable Suzanne, which brought together many of my favorite bloggers I’ve been reading for years and hadn’t met yet. Also! I made two new best friends there. (Would you not say anything? They don’t know yet and I’d like to be the one to tell them.) They wrote a book. I don’t have it yet. But I know it’s brilliant. And touching. And enormously funny. (Like them.) In addition, I managed to share a cab with well, my two new best friends, AND this lady and THIS lady, who I’ve long admired and adored from way afar. In related news, my admiree did not make me feel silly for my crush. This possibly may be because I did my best to not collapse her internal organs with my strangely muscular hugs.
Finally. The best part of the whole thing? The humor panel partially moderated by my favorite person in the funny world. THIS session closed the conference and it was jam-packed, hysterical, and touchy-feely. How they managed that, I don’t know. Fortunately, they did and it ruled hard core. If you can, Google the transcript for this panel. I can’t find it yet or I’d put it here. But trust me, it’s worth it. (If you’re funny.) (If you’re Amish, drive your horse cart on by.)
The Flight Home
Dudes. All I can say? Is thank GOD that the next BlogHer is in San Diego.
Cuz up in the air at 36,000 feet?
Homey don’t play that.
*Reasons include but are not limited to: getting real, putting flesh and blood on online personas, getting to know people I thought I knew better, becoming inspired, and general hijinkery.
P.S. I almost forgot the best part! I finally met this lady, who I’ve loved so long, I can’t even count the years. Also, I stole this picture from her. Because I’m pretty sure we’re best friends now too and she won’t mind sharing. I only wish I could also borrow her clothes like best friends do, but first I’d have to become an adorable size 0. Maybe she’ll give me her earrings instead.