I don’t mean to leave anyone out. If we met and I’ve omitted you, please don’t take it personally. You made this experience better than I ever dreamed possible.
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Hi, remember me? I know, I know. I haven’t posted in a while. And then there was BlogHer. And then my site decided to hate me. Faydra fixed me up right good and fast, though, so to end your breath holding, I gives you mah BlogHer ’12 recap. Sit.
I’d waited (or, my money was funny is more accurate) too long to get a reasonably priced train ticket to New York so I opted for the bus. I shall hereby and henceforth never ever ever ever ever as long as I remain breathing opt for the bus again (at least, not Bolt Bus). It was over an hour late. We were waiting in a line outside that meant nothing depending on your seating letter. It was 90 degrees. There was traffic in Jersey. There was traffic at the Holland Tunnel. I was due at 4. I got in at 6:20. I missed the president’s address. I missed the Voices of the Year rehearsal. Correct map reading is for people who are not me, so I misread the map. I walked from 33rd to 54th. Yeah. Not a good start.
My roommate was none other than the amazing Ananda Leeke. Use those BlogHer-provided conference forums, y’all, because that’s how we connected. She was looking for a roommate, I was looking for a room, she lives in DC, I live in DC. Match made. It was nice to room share with someone I genuinely liked though we’d only spoken on the phone (even if she did make me do a podcast interview with stank morning breath). We walked into the Expo and turned back around. Overload! Too much on the first day! Must find food! Left without snagging a free vibrator! We had dinner and could have talked about anything in the world yet we wound up talking about Victor Newman because we are that damn steeped in reality.
I went to The People’s Party that night and happily met up with Kim, my first “blogger I love and follow connection” of the weekend. I didn’t stay long because I needed to find Alexandra and Suniverse.
I attended the Newbie Breakfast where I speed dated with other bloggers. The only session I was able to squeeze into was Turning Your Blog Posts into Publishable Essays led by the remarkable Rita Arens, Jennifer Armstrong, and Susan Goldberg. I left with information on how long to give print or online publications to respond to a submission or query, how often to nudge them if they’ve shown a bit of interest. I had information on sources that could show me how to pitch Redbook (!).
I had lunch with Martha Stewart. Sure, I was about six tables back from her being interviewed by Elisa, but, well, semantics. Martha is inspirational. Business savvy, funny, and smart, clips of her site on the iPad made me want one like never before. Clips from her new show on PBS made me want to find some damn cupcakes to frost and salmon skin to remove.
I tried to attend a few other sessions in the afternoon, but they were too crowded. I was amazingly comfortable, though, so I just walked around New York. My oldest daughter asked to see Fifth Avenue. “Show me the stores, Mommy, not the sky or buildings. And Bryant Park. I need to see Bryant Park.”
The Voices of the Year Community Keynote was phenomenal. I got to full body hug Shannon with a deep inhale of her hair. I had the bubble guts all day leading up to when we had to meet. As I walked onto the stage, I thought I’d surely throw up on Polly’s wing tips (they probably aren’t called wing tips). The minute I was at the podium, though, I was fine. I read those words like I’d just won a damn Pulitzer. I was proud. And then I was afraid. What if this is all just a fluke? What if they made a mistake selecting my piece? What if I tripped up these tiny ass stairs and got a rug burn on my knee? Sure, my husband will believe that.
Afterward, I was spoken to, congratulated, and hugged by all shapes, sizes, and color of women from all over the globe. There is no way to describe the feeling of having people seek you out, ask other people who you are, and introduce themselves to say how your words inspired them to feel, to think, to act (or later, to laugh at you getting shit on your shower curtain).
I decided to go to the Listen to Your Mother open mic session. Threw my name in a hat and was chosen randomly to read a post. I chose this one. Again, the fear. Will they think it’s funny? Will I hear crickets when there should be laughter? Who chooses to read a post about shit anyway? Apparently, it was a good move.
I acted a fool with Dr. Goddess after a bartender professed his love for me through tequila.
I was mistaken twice for Issa Mas (because we’re brown and curly headed and I have a lot of ass. What?).
I called Issa Rae an awkward black girl.
Amy (amalah.com) recognized me. Let me stop here a minute and explain what this feels like. You read someone’s blog for years. You love it. You love her writing, her humor, her what kind of syrup did you drink to make boys that cute kids. You finally stop lurking and leave comments pretty regularly. You have no idea that she thinks your comments are funny or that you “bring it” every time you leave a comment. You are vaguely aware that she follows you on Twitter and Instagram, but you’ve never considered the possibility that she’s read your blog or knows your avatar well enough to recognize you in a semi-dark party near a robot unicorn cake. You think her following you is obligatory, not something she has purposely done because she HOLY SHIT THE REALIZATION likes you. You shut down when she starts talking because no. No, she is mistaken. Yes, you are who she thinks you are but she can’t possibly think you are who you are because you are just you and she is her and YOU like HER and OMG not the other way around and I’ma just walk away now, okay cute red headed white lady smiling like you like me? Then you sit at a table and lament the fact that you have let someone you genuinely wanted to meet think you are a flake. Or drunk. Possibly high. You send her a direct message on Twitter apologizing and she runs back over because she was just right behind you. And then you cry because Carrie’s mom’s voice that you’ve been hearing for weeks leading up to the conference was wrong: they aren’t all gonna laugh at you.
Comments work, y’all. She was the third person to say I leave memorable comments. Not long ago I decried other bloggers’ messages to me about how they love my comments. I want to be known for my writing, dammit! And then it hit me: I’m writing the comments. I am thoughtful and compassionate and sometimes funny. People remember that. They remember me. I’ll take it.
Deborah of Mannahattamamma found me and I screamed in her face (with delight, not like damn! back up off me).
I met Amanda from Parenting by Dummies (finally!). I am in love with her third son and intend to have another daughter just to betroth to him.
I ran into SocaMomDC, who I’d met earlier in the year at Blogging While Brown.
Tracy humped my leg.
Leslie may have groped my bootyliciousness. Or not. She can’t remember.
I had lunch with Katie Couric (see “lunch” definition with Martha Stewart above. God, you are so determined to kill my joy). Katie has a new show this fall as well. She is such a motivational, determined, intelligent woman.
I almost had lunch with Soledad O’Brien, Christy Turlington, and Malaak Compton-Rock. But, Malaak was, um, challenging to listen to. I believe it was just stage fright (though she’s been interviewed before; what made this time different?), but my embarrassment for her overpowered my love of Soledad and my desire to learn about Christy and Malaak’s philanthropic efforts. I left as Soledad was trying to coax Malaak into being able to complete a coherent sentence.
The first BlogHer fashion show was nothing short of magical: beautiful gowns, flawless, confident women, and dogs!
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I’d read so many pre-BlogHer posts on what to wear, what to expect, what not to do, that I didn’t have specific goals in mind. I knew it would be overwhelming, but as a newbie, the thoughts you conjure do not do justice to the sheer amount of THIS IS HUGE. I went into the conference expecting to connect in person with bloggers I follow, want to follow, should follow. I expected to exchange business cards with women who don’t blog but want to, women who don’t blog and have no intention of starting, and to talk about missing my children. I expected to walk the streets of New York (which I did many times). I got exactly what I wanted, needed, and more. I got so much more. I did not, however, get a free vibrator from Trojan. I did get one from Lady Estrogen though, so I’m good. While I didn’t leave with much swag, I left with stuff I wanted and needed, like nail stickers for my girls, a Hot Wheels car for the boy, and toothpaste and Lysol tub and tile cleaner (that shit is expensive, yo! I took two).
Complaints? Sure. The session rooms were too small. But, I have no doubt that BlogHer will fix this in coming years. The wifi in the hotel rooms was $15 for 24 hours. I simply didn’t use it. So see? Even though I have two complaints (sure, I could bitch about slow elevators but come on, y’all, there were 5,000+ people in that hotel pissing off non-conference attendees who were just trying to get to their rooms and were tired of seeing our damn badges everywhere), they barely even register on the scale of awesome that is this conference.
I cannot explain to you what this conference did for me, for my self esteem. It is amazing what other people can do for you. Sure, I should be confident enough to know my own level of awesome without needing external confirmation. But having others who have no vested interest in your feelings tell you without provocation that your writing is meaningful, thought provoking, and/or funny? Yeah. If it were crack, I’d be strung out.
I left the hotel with a tickle in my throat, the realization that a cold was coming on. All the hugging and hand shaking was like daycare: new germs! New germs! Attack! I walked to the nearest convenience store and bought a box of DayQuil. By Monday morning I was fully ensconced in the BlogHer flu. Over a week later, I still have a nasty cough (I call it the consumption), but I’m also still so high off of emails and tweets that I truly refuse to complain.
BlogHer ’13 is in Chicago. I have a whole year to prepare and still show up unprepared for what I know will be an even better year. I’ll bring the Airborne.