Tag Archives: BlogHer

Post BlogHer Blahs, a Welcome Reality Check and a Ridiculous Picture of Me in a Boa

In the past, I’ve followed up my BlogHer weekends with a blow by blow of each day. This may be more closely tied to mild OCD tendencies than a belief that my comings and goings are really ALL that interesting to whomever is reading… But there is something very satisfying about recording the details of a brief span of time entirely devoted to ME.

Seriously – when was the last time that happened? Now life is all about “us” (and more often when children are involved, “them”) so there is very little time for “me.” And that’s fine. I love us. I ADORE them. But having that one weekend of “just me” is pretty fantastic and worth celebrating with a long and self indulgent blog post.

And I’m not doing that this year. Not because there aren’t countless moments to immortalize in Times New Roman (Verdana? I’m terrible with fonts…) It’s just that even during BlogHer last weekend, I kept thinking “then what?” This was oddly ahead of schedule, as it typically happens days later, after that feeling of being able to achieve anything I set my mind to starts to wane. Which invariably coincides with reentry into a world of never ending house cleaning and constant financial stress.

It’s a bummer.

Insert that scratchy needle being dragged across a record sound here. (If you were born so far after the age of vinyl that this doesn’t ring a bell, I suggest Googling “record players” or “Olivia Newton John”)

After typing those first few paragraphs, I decided to shake off the gathering blahs by checking my Twitter feed. Pithy remarks…witty observations…pictures of toddlers unintentionally making rude gestures…bright shiny object! bright shiny object! We can always count on social media for a good distraction. And instead, I found links to BlogHer posts. All about “ME!” All about the extraordinary experiences. All expressing thoughts and feelings that I have thought or felt myself. And none that reflected my own slide back into self doubt.

Except one. And even if you are feeling GREAT today…even if you have never attended a conference of any kind – let alone the giant sorority rush party that is BlogHer (please note that I have never actually attended a sorority rush party – so my metaphor may suck)…I really think you should read THIS.

Thanks Amy. I needed that reminder that I’m not alone in this. And more importantly, THANK YOU for reminding me that time is fluid and that there isn’t a deadline when it comes to finding your way. Which is a good thing because I’m already 40 and still completely clueless.

SO instead of subjecting you to a long winded excerpt from “Kate’s Journey to Self Actualization,” you can check out some pictures of my super fun weekend!

Since each year I take approximately three pictures with my own camera, I was smart and didn’t bother bringing one. My iPhone provided a nice back up.

Here is a shot of my roommate, Anna and me from Thursday night. There were a number of people waiting in our cab line going to the same party, so we all ended up in a limo.

It’s been years since I’ve been in a wedding, but I really felt like I should be wearing synthetic taffeta and holding a wilted bouquet… Actually that was a pretty good picture considering the rest looked more like this.

Apparently, limo lighting isn’t ideal for photography. Oh well – at least we have one decent picture of our fancy New York limousine.

Then this happened when we arrived.

Yeah – I have no idea. Sometimes my alter (i.e. more fun) ego makes an appearance, but it’s rarely captured on film.

I couldn’t stay long at the party though, since I had a date with these lovely ladies.

Left to right: Elizabeth McGuire, Melisa Wells (from her camera), Amy Wilson, Me, Stephanie McCratic, Lela Davidson, Lisa Page Rosenberg, Ann Imig and Varda Steinhardt [not pictured: Holly Rosen Fink]

Big thanks to Ann Imig for hosting a fabulous happy hour for the Listen to Your Mother producers. And let me tell you, I was VERY happy to be sitting at that table since I couldn’t find a cab, and had to walk 15 city blocks under a blazing sun to get there. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I spend less time traipsing around the city in heels than driving around suburbia in flip flops, so this didn’t end well. By block 14, I thought I was doing a fairly good job of faking it…but when a semi-homeless looking man asked me if I was okay, I knew it must not look good. Luckily, I got more of a wave from the table than get up and hug each other kind of welcome. So my advance decision to request air kisses only wasn’t necessary.

Later in the evening, Anna and I hit the conference parties and ended up in a picture or two:

Anna, Me and Amy Windsor

I think the giant name tags really make our ensembles. I’m pretty sure that we posed with other people for other cameras…but Amy is the only one who posted hers online for me to steal.

The next morning, there were a couple of celebrity photo ops at a brunch hosted by Iconix in the lobby of our hotel.

Anna was a little nervous meeting Snoopy, but I think she played it pretty cool. He would never know.

Then we got to shake hands with, oh you know – a couple of fashion icons…

Totally worth the fifteen minutes in line. They were lovely.

Actually I spent half of our wait laughing because of this little exchange… While looking at the Snoopy shots, Anna was exclaiming over how unphotogenic she was. In fact, she wasn’t even bringing cameras into it – just flat out saying that she looked terrible in every picture she scrolled through on her phone. The grainy limo pictures were particularly repulsive to her and she cringed at each one like they were images from a grisly murder scene. Finally she held up one that she thought I took of her saying, “look at me, I’m hideous!

And what could I say? I had to tell her the truth. I looked at the picture. And I very honestly told Anna, “that’s me.”

True story.

Moving on… I also got a couple of pictures with new friends in the Serenity Suite the next morning.

Me with Annie Prenni (I linked to a recent post because the story is funny and the image is priceless!)

Me with Lady Jennie (Oooh la la – all the way from France!)

I spent a lot of time with each of them over the weekend, so I’m very glad we got those “just met you, but it’s Friday morning and we’re so excited to be here, LET’S TAKE PICTURES” photos. With my giant name tag.

Later that evening, Melisa (of the LTYM producers above) took a picture of me before the Listen to Your Mother Open Mic Salon.

I feel a little weird posting a picture of just me…but I do love that dress and it’s the only time it’s ever been in a photo. I feel the dress really deserves its day…and my shoes. I really like those shoes.

And here’s where my access to BlogHer pictures kind of fizzles. If there are more – I don’t have copies (and haven’t seen copies that I can steal from other websites).

These are kind of cool though.

I was trying to take a picture of my pretty green dress in the window. Didn’t really work – but I like the half image effect.

This is a family in front of me on the sidewalk. Hopefully they won’t sue me since you can’t see their faces.

Can you believe that I happened upon a wedding party just strolling down the center of Fifth Avenue on Saturday? Not sure what that colorful character on the left is doing but hey – that’s New York for you.

Oh wait! I do have one other celebrity pic from the conference. How could I forget?

And that pretty much sums up what BlogHer has to offer. Just kidding – unless you’re into that kind of thing.

So that’s it for this BlogHer recap – just the pictures and a few funny stories. No millions of links to people I saw/loved/hugged/missed this year. There are too many. And really – how do you follow up a giant orange furry?

BlogHer ’13 or bust!

See you next week!

 

I’m leaving for BlogHer in NYC on Thursday and won’t be back until Sunday – so I won’t be posting or commenting on blogs for the rest of the week.

What’s that? It’s only Monday? Well – true…but seriously, I need to clean my house. Also? I got a major dose of guilt from Eleanor yesterday. She  heard me talking about going away and burst into tears. We told her about all the fun she would have with Daddy (the beach! the water park! candy at all hours of the day!) and that seemed to cheer her up. But later she said, “Mommy, I’d rather have you than all the fun.” Probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me…but, OH my heart…

I’m still going. But I’m going to try to spend a little extra time with my girl.

If you’d like to see what I’m going to be wearing and hear my thoughts on packing for conferences, visit my Wishing True page (this is not to be missed by people who have absolutely nothing better to do!).

Otherwise, I’ll be back on Monday.

For those of you who will also be in NYC, please let me know. I’d love to see you.

In fact, you can count on me being in one place for a full two hours Friday morning. I’ll be working in the Serenity Suite from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This would be a fantastic time to actually talk since it’s a little oasis in the midst of conference madness. To hear more about this suite where you can escape when you’re overwhelmed and need a break or if you’re feeling lost and need a a friendly face – full details are HERE.

I could include my itinerary for all three days (and you know I have one) but who knows how much of it will stick. I have a plan, but in the end, I’ll probably just see where the day takes me.

In general, you can expect to see me with the two lovely ladies on the right:

Can’t wait to drive up with Anna and Jill on Thursday!

And for those of you not coming (like the friends/roommates who had to pass this year – I’m looking at you Christy, Heidi and Chrisy!) – you will of course be missed.

Let’s catch up in August – okay?

The Importance of Being Earnest. And Listening. And not being a Whiny Bitch.

I started writing about my BlogHer ’11 experience with the intention of NOT chronicling my every second – like I did in a three-parter “series” of recap posts last year. But even while purposefully attempting to just feature a few highlights, I still ended up with a mess of anecdotes and links (OHMYLORD the links…) And I finally had to cut it off.

[By the way – if we had a meaningful exchange and I neglected to link to you, it was unintentional. Shoot me an e-mail and I’ll add you to the melee.]

The truth is, aside from all of the planned group dinners, impromptu gatherings and general whirlwind of fun, I did have some more serious discussions both during and after the conference.

About the conference.

What makes it so extraordinary…as well as what makes it so disappointing sometimes.

And as tempting as it is to just forget all of that now and get back to the business of daily survival, I do think it’s worth working some of that out here. For myself – and maybe also for others who have had the same thoughts.

So I’ll start with the extraordinary. I think it’s important to always start with the good – just in case, like me, you have a tendency to get sidetracked.

There were two moments at BlogHer that transcended my carefree vacation expectations. Experiences that while fun, also made me feel part of something much bigger than the activities and frivolous merry making. And they both involved just listening.

So much of that weekend was about talking. Meeting and greeting. Learning. Debating. Actively participating – taking part in an exchange of ideas.

And all of this racing around so closely mirrors the busy pace of our everyday lives and responsibilities. We all spend our days trying to achieve so much in so little time. And we don’t have many opportunities to just sit quietly and listen. Or more accurately, we have to make time for those opportunities. And we seldom do.

A blogging conference schedule offers no exception – just a different set of goals and responsibilities. After almost two days of non-stop activity, I was so happy to finally sit down at the Voices of the Year keynote. To stop talking, walking, looking around…to just stop. And listen.

And the primary reason for my enthusiasm was that a friend (one of the first friends I made through blogging) was a keynote.

I remember reading that particular post, Listen when it appeared on her blog. And while I found it beautiful the first time around, hearing it spoken aloud was a thousand more times more powerful. This piece about not judging others resonates very strongly in my life. It’s a lesson I’ve learned on a daily basis as a mother, and especially as the mother of a special needs child. I’ve found that earnestly expecting the best of people generally brings out the best in them – both in their actions and in my personal perspective.

I loved having this sentiment so close to my heart validated in such a public way.

And to hear it while sitting in a room full of thousands of people with such different backgrounds and life experiences made the subject all the more relevant. It’s so easy to judge the unfamiliar and not acknowledge the good intentions. To focus more “being honest” than being earnest. To have strong opinions about choices. Life choices – parenting choices. We all do it.

Lack of personal connection seems to make us forget about empathy and diversity. And more importantly – we forget all about benefit of the doubt.

I’ve written before about how I rarely get angry. This is usually attributed to my more subdued personality. But that’s not really it. Honestly? I think the real reason is quite simply that I believe in good intentions.

It takes a lot to enrage me. Because no matter how incensing the transgression may be, I just have to believe that the target of my ire most likely meant well enough. And that knocks the fight out of me. I’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt – assume the best – because in my experience, this is usually the case. So I try not to judge. And I also listen when given the opportunity hear the other side of the story.

To sit quietly and listen to a friend speak to a rapt audience of thousands about the value of keeping an open mind – of listening – was extraordinary.

It’s extraordinary that thousands of people would be so willing to just sit and listen to her. To forgo the parties and the freebies and the cocktails and cupcakes for two hours (okay so there were cupcakes on the table…but we didn’t know they would be served…) To put personal biases aside and just listen. And maybe even learn something. How often does this happen in your day-to-day life? I think you can guess what my answer would be.

It should come as no surprise that my favorite conference event by far took place a couple of hours later in the Listen/Letter to Your Mother salon. This event offered an open mic to anyone who wanted to take the stage. And I was blown away by how truly talented these random “takers” were. They didn’t audition – no panel of judges scored their work. They were just lucky to have their names pulled out of a bowl. Some made me laugh so hard I cried. And some had me fighting tears.

Not every single reading held personal relevance for me. But I loved the idea that everyone in that room might be worthy of attention. And even more so, the discovery that they actually were.

And isn’t that an extraordinary concept? That everyone has something important to say – to contribute – to teach. And to then give them a platform. To give them our attention for no other reason than their request to be heard.

Everyone in that room had a story to tell, a perspective to offer, and most importantly, a desire to share a piece of themselves. And the welcome given to those who did step up to the microphone was like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was like sitting around a campfire – taking turns with the proverbial peace pipe. There was a stage, but it wasn’t a production. It was spontaneous. It felt like community. Like family.

Then, as if I could feel even more included in something so special, my own slip of paper was the second to last one pulled from the bowl. I read a post about my son Oliver. And I wasn’t nervous or worried about stumbling over un-memorized lines. It didn’t matter. No one there had any expectations of me. They were just there to listen and accept whatever was said as it was offered. With the best of intentions. 

****

I deleted the rest of this post when I received a comment from someone who was very hurt by it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so terrible about something. No matter how good my intentions may have been, it doesn’t change the fact that I hurt people. And I will always put feelings first. Always.

Since then, I’ve had an extraordinary opportunity. Instead of doing my usual thing – avoiding the problem altogether – I faced it. I didn’t get many comments (thank god) but I approached everyone who did leave their thoughts. I apologized for offending or hurting them. Or I thanked them for seeing my good intentions. But no matter what – I owned my consequences.

And that was hard. It really hurt. It hurts to hurt other people. At least it does for me.

I don’t think I can just leave it at that as I had planned though. What I really want is to take the whole thing down – pretend it never happened. But that’s not owning it.

I also hate the fact that my original words aren’t here, so that anyone looking to see the worst in me can assume the worst. But I can’t put them back up. It’s out of the question – risking that someone else may be hurt.

So I decided to come back here and briefly explain what I was trying to say when I hit publish last week.

I had these amazing experiences above, and as I thought about them over the next week, I realized that I had missed out on what should have been an extraordinary experience. I sat through the Voices of the Year keynotes simply “enjoying the show.” I didn’t really feel like I was part of a community – and it was entirely my own fault.

Then in a similar event where the speakers were chosen at random, I really listened to what they had to say, recognized that they were handing me a piece of themselves and felt honored to be included. This is exactly what I should have done several hours earlier, but didn’t. I didn’t actively look for the extraordinary in that room of thousands. And my disappointment in the experience was my own fault.

I had a revelation about something that should have been obvious. If you want to feel like you’re part of something extraordinary, you have to actively participate. You have to be earnest in your intentions, but you also have to back them up with action. I realized that I had been passive. And I wanted to write about that.

I also did a lot of thinking about why I would behave that way – and about the excuses that I used. So I wrote about one: the idea of favoritism in judging. Just bringing this subject up is what was so incredibly hurtful to others. Because to assume such a thing is ugly and unfair. And ultimately, it’s not really true. And I wanted to write about that.

I tried to offer a different perspective of “favoritism” – one that is human, and well meaning and fair enough. This is what I said: “we will always be more deeply touched by something spoken in a familiar voice.” And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It’s the reason that we’re all here – making connections and listening to each other’s stories. The words of a single post can be powerful, but it’s the writer, and their story – and our history with them – that gives a those words life. And that’s a beautiful thing.

It also creates room for people to hide behind the excuse of favoritism. I used that excuse. I was the “Whiny Bitch” in my title. And I’m very ashamed and somewhat humiliated by the admission.

Unfortunately, my natural verbosity seemed to confuse the issue. Particularly since I thought I’d be SUPER helpful in coming up with a few solutions for the BlogHer judging process that could eliminate some of those easy excuses.

Well – my suggestions were kind of a waste of time, because they weren’t really relevant. I won’t go into detail, but the bottom line is that a great deal of thought was put into the judging process and the ideas I proposed have already been taken into consideration.

The other night in an e-mail, I wrote that nothing will ever be 100% objective. There will always be a different set of circumstances to dictate an outcome. But when people make well thought out decisions with good intentions, then the right decisions are made. And if you only focus on disappointment in the outcome and chose to be ungracious about it – then YOU are the one who misses out on something wonderful.

That pretty much sums up what I wanted to say. I wish I had done a better job of it.

This was hard to write and I feel nauseous just thinking about it. I’d rather not. So much easier to focus on the lovely e-mail exchange I’ve had with the person to whom I wrote my first apology. And the hand holding-heart healing phone conversation with the friend who received my last apology.

But as much as I’ve made my peace with this and know that time will do its work on the knots of guilt and remorse that still fill me, this lingering aborted post felt like a loose end. I had to come back here and rewrite it to have real closure. To let anyone who wanders over here know what happened and what I learned from it. Because “learning experience” would be an understatement.

So having had that intense learning experience, I have to ask myself – if I was given the opportunity to go back and do it all differently, would I? And the answer would be….HELL YES! In a heartbeat! Hand me the keys to THAT time machine – because I would give ANYTHING to make it all go away.

But I can’t (stupid scientists and their inability conquer the space-time continuum…) So I have to look for the positive take aways. And I can think of several.

I learned a lot about myself and the kind of person I want to be – and not be. I managed to avoid unnecessary drama. I lost five pounds (KIDDING! Though I really did). I made a new friend. And I was given yet another opportunity to see how truly wonderful and supportive my friends really are.

So wherever you may fit into that… Thank you.

****

I decided to delete and close comments on this. But please feel free to e-mail me if you’d like to discuss any of it.

My Second trip to San Diego this Summer…

…was very different from the first. A friend (I think it was Christy) once told me that you go on trips with your children and take vacations without them. So as much as I loved my first “trip” to San Diego this summer, my second visit proved this sentiment to be apt.

Because that is exactly how I viewed my trip to BlogHer. I didn’t go to connect with brands (although it’s almost impossible not to do some of that!) or to learn the latest and greatest social media venues and strategies. I went to see friends, have dinners at restaurants without kid menus, wear heels before sunset and sleep in the middle of my own bed without ONCE having to get up to the sound of crying.

It was one hell of a vacation.

And I almost didn’t write about it. Mainly because there would be too much to say – or not say… But after being back for a week, I found that I was still thinking about it.

What the hell – I’m just going to write and see what comes out…starting with links and pictures – of which there are few since I never remembered to take any. [Note: due to a crappy netbook that operates at the speed of a 1992 office PC, it’s taken me A WEEK to get this thing done! For those of you who have been asking – sorry for the delay.]

So without further ado, let the linking and image stealing from other sites begin!

I had a crack of dawn flight requiring that I wake up around 3:00 a.m. This, in a word, sucked. But I am so Type A about packing and travel that I probably wouldn’t have slept well anyway. And I could sneak into my babies’ rooms to give them kisses goodbye without having to look them in they eye – something that always knocks me flat with guilt and worry.

Then I skulked outside in the dark, loading my suitcase into a sadistic blue van that insisted I get up THREE HOURS before my 6:00 a.m. flight. But I never had a moment of my usual latesolateohmygodwhydidn’tIleaveearlier panic…so bygones.

My flights were uneventful, barring the last minute cancellation of my first flight, the subsequent switch to a different connecting airport and an hour delay on the second flight. I still made it in by 11:00 a.m. and I even managed to get a little sleep.

I shared cab with two other attendees I met in line. And continuing my streak of connections to Voices of the Year keynotes and honorees, I would later find out that one was an honoree and one was a keynote. I’m telling you – anyone who plans to submit their work for Voices of the Year should befriend me or rub my head for luck or something… Or just get into a cab with me, since I also randomly shared one to Penn Station last year with a 2011 “voice.”

Just saying…

Anyway – the rest of the day was filled with lunch (including my unofficial roommates, as well as some old and new friends)…

Renee, Me, Christy and Chrisy

…catching up with some of my favorite people (one who was much better about suggesting photo ops than I was…)

Me (appearing to have just arrived from an intense Crisco cook off with Paula Dean) and (an annoyingly ungreasy looking) Loukia
…a pedicure, a late afternoon private party, a group dinner (with the some of the ladies above and a few others) and finally a drive-by of the conference parties (where we met up with another dear friend) before I realized that at midnight West Coast time, I had officially been up for 24 hours!

I also managed to pick up a roommate in the midst of all of that meeting and greeting.

I was bitterly disappointed that my planned roommate had to cancel two days before the conference (hot on the heels of having to come to terms with the fact that my good friend and 2010 roommate wasn’t able to make it this year…). But during lunch, I heard about someone’s last minute add-on who would be sleeping on a cot – and suddenly, I had a new roommate! One whom I had never met IRL or online…

Luckily, she ended up being one of my new favorite people. Though I still can’t imagine what possessed me to say, “oh sure – I’d LOVE to share my hotel room with a virtual stranger.” I blame it on the BlogHer fever. It’s a three day long group hug – and even a non-hugger like me can’t resist the love.

Here we are test driving a mattress I could never afford:

Jen, Me, Christy’s huge pregnant belly, and Renee

That? Is one of the five pictures I took at BlogHer. Seriously – what is wrong with me?

Other conference highlights from Friday included catching up with one of my favorite DC bloggers over really bad convention center eggs, hosting the Serenity Suite with a friend who actually thought to get a good picture of us…

“The Bitchin’ Wife” Amy and me – missing the Flash Mob taking place during our shift.
… then attending From Page to Stage, a fantastic session in which Ann Imig and Amy Wilson discussed taking written work and adapting it to be read aloud. This included both editing and performance tips, AND volunteers from the audience were encouraged to read blog posts and receive feedback. Of course I was the first volunteer. I read an old post of mine, I’ve Got Disco in My Soul.

And I’m so glad I did, since it provided me with an opportunity to meet some fabulous new people.

This was kind of a theme for my weekend: seeing and meeting people. People who made me drop the veil of appropriate responses, reserved interactions and general concern about whether I’m overstepping, being a bit too much or assuming intimacy that isn’t there.

I danced my ass off at Sparklecorn and wore a rather unexpected dress to boot. No pictures of course, but believe me – it was not my usual semi-conservative style. In fact, with all of the front and back “plunging” going on, the only bra situation that would work involved sticky silicone. This had the added bonus of bumping me up an entire cup size and making me feel positively obscene. And then of course, being scoffed at by friends more genetically gifted in this area…but that’s beside the point. It was rather splashy for me. And I would probably have looked pretty hot if I wasn’t so inept in my, um…application of the support system. Early in the evening, I was informed that I was a bit lopsided. But in a room that had a 90% female population – I don’t think anyone really cared.

Moving on from my boobs…(probably the first time I’ve ever had to say that)…

I also picked up two new friends at the lobby bar afterward when Jen and I decided to grab a quick drink before turning in for the night. We all bonded over trying to NOT be picked up by truly icky, much older men stalking the parade of BlogHer attendees heading back to their rooms. This resulted in another hour of laughter and over sharing. By far, one of my favorite conversations of the weekend.

The next day, I went to a luncheon hosted by women I hadn’t met before and I completely ignored every wave of shyness that washed over me. It’s intimidating to walk into at room full of people who are so well known and well thought of – to arrive late and alone when everyone is already immersed in animated conversation – to sit down and make yourself talk to people you don’t know…or people who you’re pretty sure don’t know you. In situations like this I immediately become that little girl at a new daycare, watching the other kids play, barely able to speak above a terrified whisper in response to even the friendliest of overtures. It’s hard to push that aside. But I did. And I had a wonderful time, getting to know lovely new friends and spending some time with others I admire but have never had the chance to meet in person.

I spent the rest of that afternoon doing another shift in the Serenity Suite, eating cake pops, catching up with more friends I had not yet seen and NOT being shy around the “big name bloggers” hanging out there. Then trying to introduce myself to Nie Nie at her panel – only to have one of those horribly awkward high schoolish moments when you realize that you’ve approached someone at the absolute worst time and inevitably find yourself standing there like an idiot while you watch them talk to other people. Basically, I thought she was surrounded by other admirers, when in fact she was having a last minute chat with her fellow panelists just before they went on stage. So I didn’t get to meet her. But I was brave about trying – and that counts a lot for me! And of course, I got to hear her speak…

All of that not being shy will take it out of you. And make you hungry. So I was feeling very ready for a relaxed group dinner:

Issa, me, Renee, Stacey, Christy, Megan, Chrisy, Galit and Zak


Thanks to Kim for taking that picture (she’s behind the camera)! And for the life me, I can’t remember why Jen and Joy weren’t there… But this is a good representation of the group I kept coming back to over those few days.

While there were still a couple of evening parties on the schedule, this was probably last time I really sat and talked to people. And after a couple of margaritas, I had a lot to say. That seems to be a pattern for me when cocktails are concerned: share now, cringe later. All worth it though.

I honestly can’t believe that I put on another dress and heels that night (yeah – no, I don’t have pictures – we’ve been over this right?) AND danced. My poor feet… But again – worth it. Especially since the dance floor is where I met yet another charming lady. She saw me speak at Listen to Your Mother (more on that in a minute) and the fact that she made the effort to say hello made me want to cry. Why can’t real life be like this?! I mean to this degree. It’s so incredibly heartwarming.

I don’t even remember the next morning and slept through most of my 6:00 a.m. flight so I think I’ll just stop there. For this post I mean.

I’m going end here and write a separate post on my two favorite moments/events at BlogHer. I attended both the Voices of the Year keynotes and the Listen/Letter to Your Mother open mic salon. And I’ve been thinking and talking about them ever since. And if I’m going to write about that, it will require a separate post. One with very few links because I am LINKED OUT.

Sorry for the abrupt ending but it’s late and I need to get to bed. I’ll try to wrap the next post up all pretty-like with a yellow grosgrain ribbon. Until then!

Flies Like a Butterfly and Stings Like a…Cicada Killer? (AND BlogHer ’11!)

I’ve written recently about our front lawn and all of the varieties of butterfly bush we planted. And not much has changed. Our foliage is still attracting more bees than butterflies.

Luckily they’re mostly cute, fuzzy bumblebees. But still – our front steps are flanked by insects that sting. So that’s not really ideal.

Then a week or two ago, we acquired a new mascot that may just be the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my life:

Can you imagine if that thing buzzed around your head every time you left the house?! I think it’s close to two inches long!

I’ve had to be brave for the children and try to keep it busy while leaving the house, so they can make a hasty departure behind me. But I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me.

And it doesn’t help that it literally stands sentry – perched on a particular bush, and zooming over to check out anyone walking up or down our stairs.

Also? It looks at you. With those hideous red eyes.

It’s an intelligent monster.

Chris said that he was pretty sure he had seen pictures of this thing before and that it’s called a Wasp Killer: a wasp that looks like a bee and kills other wasps. I assume this means it kills other types of wasps and not its own kind. Aren’t all species hard wired to preserve their own bloodlines while they systematically exterminate everyone else? One would think this applies to Wasps Killers as well.

ANYWAY – one morning Chris sent me an e-mail asking me to take a picture of it so he could show a friend. A super fun activity, since another Wasp Killer had apparently challenged our guy and they were locked in mortal combat right in front of our door. I hid behind the screen door while poking my camera out to snap pictures every time one of them would land on the bush.

Oliver tried to step around me to get a better view and I shoved him back so hard you would think a great white shark had just chewed its way out of the concrete in front of us.

No kidding – even the bumblebees looked scared.

But I did manage to capture the two images above. They don’t really convey the sense menace we all feel in this bug’s presence…but they do provide a good representation of its appearance.

Later on I got a reply from Chris telling me that we are not in fact being terrorized by a Wasp Killer.

His friend, Blake saw the pictures and immediately recognized the beast as a Cicada Killer. He, said that when he first saw one, he ran screaming like a little girl. But later he found out that they look scarier than they actually are.

Not at all dangerous to humans, the males are aggressive when defending their territory against other males, but have no sting. The females do sting but only as a means of paralyzing cicadas. They rarely sting people – and only if they are “grasped roughly or stepped on with bare feet” [as if someone could miss one of those dinosaur-sized bugs!].

So it appears we are currently hosting a male. One who is just defending his (our) territory and can’t sting us anyway.

That does give me some peace of mind – and little inclination to call an exterminator… But really, couldn’t we just have a BUTTERFLIES guarding our front steps? It’s not like we planted a bumblebee bush or a Cicada Killer bush. Sheesh. On to happier subjects though – I leave tomorrow for BlogHer 2011!

I attended for the first time last year, and wrote a pre-conference post that pretty much holds true for this year as well. So I won’t duplicate that. Instead I’ll list a few things that I wouldn’t miss for the world – just in case you want to find me. These would be good places to look:

My two Serenity Suite shifts: Friday 12-1 p.m. and Saturday 2-3 p.m. I did this last year too and it was definitely highlight. It was so nice to have a quiet place to hang out with people – catch up with friends and meet new ones… Even though I’m scheduled to be there each day, I’ll probably still drop by if I have some free time.

The Friday 1:15 p.m. session: From Page to Stage.  I can’t wait to hear more about how the speakers used their written work as inspiration for stage shows. And if you bring a post or something else you’ve written, you can read it there and get their feedback. I’m definitely volunteering. Why not? Everyone can benefit from public speaking training – and this would be a good opportunity to get a few ideas about your strengths and areas that need improvement.

Voices of the Year keynote. Everyone goes to this – but I mainly want to be there to hear a good friend (and fantastic writer) read one of her beautiful pieces. Last year I knew THREE out of the 15 readers and this year there is another friend to support. And I’m all about feeling special by association…

Listen to Your Mother open mic event later that evening. This may be the one thing I’m most looking forward to. A few years ago when I first read about BlogHer and saw pictures of the “Community Keynote” (as the VOTY keynote was previously called) I envisioned something like an all-day salon where anyone could get up and read. From someone quietly slipping in to listen for a while – to groups of friends daring each other to “get up there!” A bit like karaoke? I’ll put my name in the hat – but assuming that there will be many of us, it’s likely that I won’t make it out of the audience. That’s okay though – I’m far more interested in listening than speaking at this. And of course, when it’s over, I’ll just make all of my friends sit down outside the room and listen to me. I’m calling it “Voices of the Lobby.” I think it’s really going to catch on…

The Conference Receptions – particularly Sparklecorn and Aiming Low. Last year I overdid it and was too tired the last night to dance. This time around I know better and plan to take it easy – maybe even sleep in. No drifting around fun parties like a zombie!

And finally – I will definitely drop by the Queen Bee Market taking place at the Bayfront Hilton all day Saturday. Support Handmade! [insert fist pumping here] Soooo looking forward to discovering new artists.

Of course I’m going to a few private parties and have various dinners and lunches planned with friends – but I wanted to steer clear of any name dropping this time around. There are too many and I can get a little link crazy.

If we haven’t met before but you recognize me from my profile picture, please say hi! I’ll admit that I don’t look like a real sparkler – but that’s just a mild case of chronic bitch face. I’m actually very friendly. And I’ll appreciate it since I have a shy streak and am subject to inconvenient bouts of insecurity. I talk a good game on my blog – but I do my fair share of time travel back to high school. And you know what they say about BlogHer…it’s a lot like…

Anyway – if you’re going, I’ll see you there! And if you’re not, you’ll be missed! And if you have no idea what what I’m talking about – maybe it’s best left at that.

See you next week!

The Good News and the Bad News (New Writing Opportunity and BlogHer 2011 VOTY)

First, the good!

I’m going to write regularly (twice a month) for a new website, HealthNews. And no – I don’t have any knowledge of or experience in the health industry. Unless you count two maternity ward stays and a hernia repair surgery in the hospital. I haven’t confirmed this, but I actually don’t think that counts… There is a blogger community growing there though – people who write about all things parenting. And I DO have knowledge of and experience in that!

I’m honored to be part of this, and just posted my first article: I Didn’t Know.

Here is the beginning:

I have three children and my oldest, Oliver is six. He is a big boy – tall and strong – and all boy. He climbs trees and hurtles into swimming pools. He loves nothing better than a good patch of dirt. We jokingly call him Pig Pen since he will often return from such a spot, haloed in dust – his clothes emitting puffs of dirt with each step. Ice cream cones are a full body experience. Napkins are a joke. This degree of messiness requires a wash cloth at minimum. His requests to “come look at this,” often involve a worm.

These are some of the qualities and quirks that come to mind when I think of Oliver. They are so defining. And they are almost all related to sensory integration disorder. Which includes auditory processing disorder…which translates into significant language and communication delays. It also affects his motor planning. My amazing son who can walk a balance beam like a gymnast – who taught himself to swim – who can carry a full basket of folded laundry up the stairs…can’t hit a tennis ball. He can’t follow simple directions to touch his left hand to his right ear and his right hand to his left ear. He can’t process that kind of information – hear it, understand it, do it. It gets scrambled. For all of his strength, coordination and love of physical activities – he can’t play sports. Or even tag.

This can change – but it will take time. And hard work. And money. And a label recognized by the public school system.

It’s both encouraging and daunting.

Having a special needs child is not something I ever thought about when I was pregnant with Oliver. Everyone knows that it’s possible, but I think we tend to see that possibility the same way we do car accidents and winning lottery tickets. We know it could happen, but we don’t expect it to happen to us.

And many of us don’t even know that it’s happened to us until our children are long past the early months of worry. The more serious worries over SIDS and their “ability to thrive,” and the less serious (but all consuming) concern about sleep schedules. Oliver was two when we discovered his delays.

Click here to read the rest…

So that’s exciting…

In other news – meaning “the bad” – I got my “thanks for submitting, but…” email from BlogHer for this year’s Voices of the Year today.

And just like most others in the same boat, I find it more disappointing than surprising (if that makes sense). And a small disappointment at that since I saw submitting my work more as an act of self validation than a request for recognition.

You see – I’ve already thought it through. Last year in fact. And I wrote about it then. I’d like to repost (most of) that here so anyone feeling rejected or slighted (or generally shitty about things) might drop by and feel validated by me. For having the courage to put yourself out there. To think you’re worth recognition, and to let others know about it.

Anyway – here it is for what it’s worth:

BlogHer Voices of The Year Were Announced Today! My Reaction: The Good the Bad and the (Sad But True) Ugly

First the good!

When I glanced through the list of finalists this morning, I was thrilled to see that some of my very favorite bloggers (and even friends) will actually present in a couple of weeks at 2010 BlogHer Voices of the Year. I can honestly say that I’ve read pretty much every post from some of these writers (I mean – since I’ve been blogging…their pre-2008 material is before my time), and to think that they have been honored for words that made me laugh and/or cry makes me feel part of something bigger than my own little piece of Internet real estate.

So the very first thing I want to do is congratulate…

[blah blah blah – love her – link – blah blah blah – love her – link…]

I can’t wait to hear them read their words on stage AND to see the art that will be auctioned off reflecting each piece.

[blah blah – friend contributing her photography for the auction – link – blah blah… seriously – I am congratulating my ass off here…]

But what about the bad? What could be bad about that?

Well – here’s the bad.

One of MY nominations that I was so confident would be in the top 15 didn’t get picked. But it’s not all bad…

[blah blah – that friend and some others WERE actually in the top 75 and would be recognized at the reception – blah blah – GO TEAM!]

So yeah – many wonderful blog friends have been recognized in one way or another. I’m really happy for them – and can’t wait to tell them so in person.

But.

There’s the ugly…

I’m sorry – but I’m trying to keep it real here because…well no reason really – I just feel like it today. And lucky you – you get to hear about it!

Before I get into the muck and grime, I’ll start with a little tale about a three year old angel of a girl named Eleanor. Eleanor is a delight. She’s lovely and full of fun (and – cough, cough – my daughter) – and she is at a very impressionable age.

The other week, we were in California on vacation with my in laws who had a fantastic time being a very bad influence on my children. Late night baseball game outings…unlimited snack food that they never get at home…special presents just because they want them… You know – grandparent stuff. And one evening my sweet little girl was lucky enough to have their undivided attention. They played a kids’ bingo game with the odds drastically stacked in Eleanor’s favor.

And then the sh*t talking started.

Mama Sue: Eleanor – we’re not going to let Papa win! YOU’RE going to win.

Eleanor (very much liking this line of thought): Yeah! YOU’RE not going to win Papa. I’M going to win. You CAN’T win!

And so on and so on and so on [insert uproarious indulgent grandparental laughter here].

SO CUTE, right?

I actually thanked them at the time for my own future hell to come when faced with the next preschool gaming situation.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we are playing another bingo game at home (what is it with us bingo anyway? We may as well hustle on over to the community center for seniors’ night out this Friday…) Anyway – we were playing a very fair game that included Eleanor, a semi-involved George and a completely disinterested Oliver. Eleanor immediately started in with her “I’m gonna win” talk, even though her brothers couldn’t have cared less. Since no one was getting special treatment, George (who may have been in the kitchen looking for snacks at the time) won.

Chris said, “Hey look! George is the winner!” And…Eleanor fell to pieces. She really believed that she would always win. No one ever talked to her about the reality of losing. So after some piercing glares and and semi-subtle head tilting from me, Chris took Eleanor aside to talk about what it means to lose.

And as I listened, it occurred to me that the bottom line is the same for everyone regardless of age. If you lose – you have to keep trying. Don’t get mad – just try again. It’s not anyone’s favorite answer. In fact, it’s tedious at best…but it’s very simply true. You really can’t win them all. In fact you might lose them all – but you have to try to have a chance.

SO that brings me to the ugly involved in this year’s BlogHer Voices of the Year selections. As much as we are over the moon excited for the winners – it’s unavoidable that some others were very disappointed.

Because you know what? I’m one of them. And I’m hideously embarrassed to admit that.

When a good friend asked if I’d like her to submit anything for me, I honestly hadn’t considered even trying. I mean, I like what I write, and my small circle of friends and readers give me positive feedback – but I’ve never been the one picked out of the crowd. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride and all that… And really that’s been kind of fine with me because I’ve always felt far more comfortable in the faded perimeter of the spotlight.

But just the idea of submitting something of mine gave birth to “what if.” And that is a very powerful concept. So for once I was bold and asked for recognition. I forwarded two links to posts that mean a lot to me – ones that fill me with emotion when I read them – and said “send them in.” Doesn’t sound like much – but it’s a BIG deal for a mild mannered girl such as myself.

Then time passed and my “what if” was put into the proper perspective. It was a “wouldn’t that be nice – but it’s highly unlikely” (the overcompensating, insecure hope of “what if”).

Most of the time, I really didn’t consider it, but every once in a while something would be mentioned about Voices of the Year, and I’d notice that pretty little “what if” sparkling on my right hand ring finger. I’d taken it for granted, but was happy to admire it now and again.

At some point last week, I read that the 75 finalists as well as the 15 winners would be announced today. And I did something previously unthinkable.

I hoped.

I dreamed.

I even planned.

Why not? I typically live so small – what would it hurt to think big for a little while. Even knowing that disappointment was probable, couldn’t I weigh the universe in my favor with my longing? The Secret said it totally works! Ah well…I think we all let our imaginations get the best of us sometimes.

Last night when I was talking to Chris about BlogHer and the agenda (he’s in the conference planning world, so he’s actually interested), I explained how the Voices of the Year session was planned. I mentioned that I had a couple of posts submitted, “but – they’re two out of a thousand – so you know…

His reaction was a little more positive though. He said “why not you?”

And that small part of me that wants to be bigger than I really am thought, “that’s right! Why NOT me?” So for one whole night I believed in myself. Not just “what if” – but “why not?”

Well – I don’t need to give too much detail on the obvious outcome. Even if you’re not familiar with the list of finalists, you can pretty much guess that I wasn’t one of them.

And I was disappointed. Not so much that I wasn’t one of the top 15 (remember – I like the peripheral area of the spotlight), but more so because the words that once poured directly out of my heart weren’t even an almost.

It’s not pretty – but it’s the truth. And we’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, so I’m not afraid to put it out there. I would be very surprised if there was anyone who couldn’t relate to this on some level.

But you know what? I don’t think disappointment or jealousy or envy are so bad. They’re just feelings. And at the very best, they are a sign of trying. Of wanting. Of putting ourselves out there and risking rejection. There is honor in that. And I’m proud of my battle scars.

Envy isn’t a particularly attractive emotion – it’s even classified as a sin (one of the top seven!). But a little green eyed monster never hurts anyone if kept on a short leash (and kenneled as quickly as possible). At worst – it shows our ugly. At best, it keeps us real.

So for anyone else who felt a little “why not me” today (or even “why never me?“), I’d like to honor you for trying. It takes courage to try. You’d be surprised how many people never do.

And in return, I’d like to ask you one thing. Please read my own small attempts:

I Never Thought I’d Wear Sunglasses (Alternatively Titled: Shooting Practice Starts Tomorrow)

I am so proud of those words. This blog is the first real writing that I’ve ever done outside of work documents and personal e-mails. I always lived so small – never tried to be noticed. I had ideas but didn’t bother to recognize their value.

Then I started a blog. A small thing really – but so big in my own cautious little world. Putting words online is literally putting yourself out there. Asking to been seen and heard – and it’s opened my eyes to endless possibility for me.

I may never win anything – but I’ll keep trying. Because “what if” holds far more power then “why bother.”

And what about you? I want to hear your voice too. Did you submit something there or elsewhere? Did you find out that a friend did so for you? OR did you not even try for fear of disappointment or exposure? Send me a link to the words that make you proud, the ones that make you believe in yourself – or should. I will read them.

I still believe in myself. And I’ll probably submit something of my own next year. I hope you do the same.

Have courage. Be bold. Keep trying.

Hey – it worked for Susan Lucci.

So that’s what I had to say about BlogHer VOTY in 2010. It’s how I still feel in 2011.

And you know what? I totally submitted that.

BlogHer is a lot like… (Part III – The End)

I have to confess. As much as I really loved BlogHer, even I’m finding my super long recap posts a little tedious… I’m trying to fit too much in – much like I did now and again at the conference. I woke up in a cold sweat last night when I realized that I forgot to mention a few friends I saw at the Mouthy Housewives party, like Carolyn who calls me “KATE COVENY HOOD!” and Debbie who always seems to magically appear when you need a friend.

I’m not kidding. Okay – except for that “waking up in a cold sweat part.” It was probably more like “while I was watching the first season of Glee on Netflix” – but that doesn’t have quite the same dramatic impact.

SO instead of trying to follow an exact itinerary, today I’ll just go with highlights. Not to worry though – it will still be long and tedious.

(Oh yeah – and don’t forget to read Part I and Part II. Or at very least, the disclaimers I included at the beginning of each since the same applies here.)

Saturday:

On Saturday morning I slept in a little and really just wandered around on my own, catching up on e-mail and visiting exhibit hall booths I missed the first day. I mean – there were all those great contests to enter. I could have won a Balenciaga bag! Or an ipad! Or…well there was a lot of good stuff to win. Unfortunately – my luck wasn’t in and I didn’t win anything. But hey – I have all of those marketing e-mails to look forward to!

After only making it to one session the day prior, I was determined to do better. And there was no way I was missing the “How to Edit Pictures and Make Them 10x Better” panel. Mostly because two of my girl crushes, Amy and Pauline were speaking, but also because I need some serious help in this area. The session was maybe a little too advanced for me (since I’m on the below novice level), but it did give me some ideas for what is possible. AND Amy talked about Windows Live Essentials beta software. It allows you to write, edit and schedule blog posts without actually being online. Amazing! I’ve downloaded it and can’t wait to try it out.

Other take aways from the session included…well everything that you can find in this link to to Amy and Pauline’s presentations (too much to list here) and their co-presenter Ryan’s photoshop demonstration and down to earth advice that you should just “try to take a good picture” before starting the editing process.

Later that afternoon, Anna and I had an hour shift in the Serenity Suite. It was more crowded than the day before and felt more like a party than a quiet place for escape. But no one was complaining – especially not when the cupcakes were delivered. It was then that I finally got a chance to meet my longtime, twenty-something blogger friend LiLu!

LiLu and two other twenty-something bloggers (aren’t they cute?)
That’s her in the middle wearing the unicorn tee-shirt (it’s tooting “magic”). I didn’t take that picture myself – I pulled it from her site. To be honest, I really didn’t take any pictures all weekend… Luckily others did, so everything you see in these BlogHer posts is pretty much stolen from elsewhere. *Photo credit: not me.

The highlight of the afternoon BlogHer events for me was the Humor panel. Since we had to go straight there from the Serenity Suite, Christy and Jill saved us seats. Thank goodness since the room was packed and I didn’t want to miss seeing one of my very favorite online friends, Jessica Bern. Since I’m not currently a humorist nor am I trying to break into that, this session was straight up entertainment for me. With three hilarious speakers, two of whom are professional stand up comics, it was like an evening at the Improv. And I loved meeting Jessica when it was over. I only wish that we had actually found some time to sit and talk (something I find myself saying about many people…)

After the panel Anna, Christy, Jill and I all grabbed a seat at the hotel bar and that was another one of my favorite conference memories. Someone (other than me) actually captured it on film (or memory stick? what are we saying these days?)

Me (apparently offering you my paw – good doggie!), Christy and Anna


Me (new and improved with E.T. hands), Christy, Anna and Jill
With no plans for the next couple of hours, we were happy to join a group going out for Chinese. This included Stacey, Issa, Kari, Jonna, Lisa and a nice young girl who only stayed for a drink. I was going to write about this, as she ended up being a speaker from one of the more, um, splashy sessions…but Anna beat me to it. All in all it was a perfect way to close out the day before running back to the room to change for the evening parties.

We ended up at Sparklecorn, which was kind of a blur. For some reason, I never made it to the dance floor which is too bad because there is nothing I love more than an opportunity to embarrass myself with drunken misconceptions that I’m an awesome dancer. I think I was just kind of tired. So no dancing – just a lot of talking and laughing. I especially loved meeting Cara who thinks I look like a famous TV/movie star. I don’t get that very often (or, you know – at all) so it was a nice bonus to an already super-fun night.

I also had another chance to see Gwen, Nora and Deb, which also kind of made my night. Especially when Deb complimented my navy and white ensemble, calling it very “nautical.” How did she know I’ve always had a thing for sailor suits? My head was getting quite huge.

Christy finally had to collapse in her room. Mothers of three month old babies need to embrace uninterrupted sleep whenever possible, so we didn’t hold the Cinderella act against her.

Jill and I wanted to go out, and Anna said she could rally – but in the end, we found ourselves lounging in the lobby with a big group including both old and new faces for me. Jorja had joined us along the way, and the four of us pretty much agreed without discussion that we weren’t going anywhere. It was the perfect way to wrap up the night. Why go out when the party is right in front of you?

Just one more picture from the night (via lovely lady on the left, Pauline):

When everyone started to scatter around 1:30, I knew I was done. Even though I was tempted to stay up a little bit longer when I saw Amy and others on my way to the elevator, I really didn’t think I could make it one more minute.

Other than some schoolgirl laughing in our beds with Anna and some quick goodbyes the next morning (and a REALLY long trek home), that was it. The End.

So how did I like my first BlogHer conference? I loved it. Truly. Even though there are a number of things I would do differently the second time around, I can’t really regret much because I probably would have felt like that no matter what. Sometimes I over scheduled myself…sometimes I was at loose ends… But I took responsibility for all of that, learned my lesson and moved on.

Which kind of brings me back to the issue I brought up twenty years ago at the beginning of my first BlogHer post. Everyone is right – BlogHer is just like highschool. Because just like high school, it’s simply what you make of it. Like anything else in life. Focus on the nice people and give the rest the benefit of the doubt. Live in the moment without concern about what you may be missing. And when you see a random opportunity that doesn’t fit in with the schedule you are following, grab it – because it’s those moments that keep things interesting.

I absolutely regret not making more of an effort to spend time with some (and you know who you are since I keep telling you…), but I couldn’t be happier with the rest. In fact – I wouldn’t change a thing.

BlogHer is a lot like… (Part II)

*See my last post for a full BlogHer post disclaimer. I know these are annoying and writing multi-parts constitutes pushing the envelope… But I promise I’ll try to keep it interesting (to me).

This is day two of a three part account. I’ve already covered Thursday, my first day in NYC, and am now picking it back up with Friday. So if you’re still interested [I just finished reading through this and it’s LONG – so get ready to skim]

Friday:

Friday morning I woke a little on the early side. I had plans with Stacey to grab coffee since her baby, Nate (who accompanied her to NYC) is usually up at the crack of dawn. Sadly (for me), Nate decided to be a mother’s dream over the weekend and slept a full 12 hours every night. So Stacey wasn’t available. (Honestly – babies are so selfish! No regard for anyone else’s plans…)

Instead, I just went down to the hotel Starbucks for a little quiet time to myself. I also exchanged some “let’s meet up” tweets with Scary Mommy (whom I will refer to by her blog name, as another Jill figures prominently in my BlogHer experience). But that never happened, as I had barely started to sink into the couch before I got a call from my close friend for many pre-blog years, Christy. She had just arrived at the hotel and was hoping to store her luggage in my room until she could check in.

We then discovered that Christy’s roommate, Jill had also just gotten to the Hilton. So I took them both up to my room to talk loudly around Anna who was trying to sleep in. Since this was rather rude (and Anna pulled a pillow over her head and broadcast a very loud silence indicating that she was not interested in joining the coffee klatch just yet) I accompanied Christy and Jill down to breakfast. And it was there that we actually did run into Scary Mommy and took a couple of pictures:

Christy, Scary Mommy, Me

Me, Jill, Christy

Shortly after that, I met Anna to check out the exhibit hall. While waiting for the hall to open, I randomly started talking to Shauna from Piece of Cake. Do you know her? People confuse us all the time…I think it has something to do with our facial expressions and coloring. Anyway – that was a kind of funny coincidence.

I enjoyed strolling through the booths, though I tried very hard to NOT procure too much junk to bring home. I’m not going to cover my hours (yes – it was quite the time warp in there) that I spent talking to exhibitors in these posts. I’m not much of a brand blogger (unless of course, a sponsor out there wants to pay me a lot of money to become one – call me!) and my BlogHer ads contract wouldn’t allow it anyway. If anything of note comes to mind, I’ll put it on Wishing True or possibly my review/giveaway site, As Good As Cake.

While cruising through the exhibits, I kept an eye out for the people on my “must see” list but it was kind of a zoo. I was quickly realizing that if I wanted to see anyone at all, I would probably have to ask them out on dates with promises of really good swag bags. But it was pretty early in the day, and I always had Twitter to help me figure out where I could find my scattered friends. Note to self: walking through exhibit halls while typing on an iphone will make you very dizzy.

And here is where my second BlogHer fail occurred. I completely lost track of time and missed the first round of sessions. My DC area friend Jean (Stimey) spoke on the Autism panel, and that was one I had planned to attend. So second lesson learned: don’t let the shiny objects in the exhibit hall distract from the rest of the conference. While I’m super excited about my Mission tortilla warmer, I would have much rather seen Jean speak.

There was little time for lamenting though since Anna and I had to leave for our half hour shift in the Serenity suite (the travel time required for catching the elevator from the third floor to the 43rd was, oh…about a half hour). There, I had a chance to to catch up with Carrie, talk to Amie about the new DC Moms blog that will be launched soon, and even meet the S’mores (sponsor of my train ticket to NYC) suite reps. My only complaint about the Serenity Suite was that my shift was just a little too early for the afternoon cupcakes. I was told there would be cupcakes…

By the time we made it down to lunch, I was famished. I have this really bad habit of not eating a good breakfast and that morning was no exception. So instead of finding a group of friends or sitting at a table full of new people to meet, I dragged Anna to an empty table where I attacked my meal with caveman-like attention. It’s not that I was feeling anti-social – I just can’t eat and talk at the same time, and talking usually takes precedence. This would be the reason that I’ve often found myself quite drunk at weddings (I have no problem consuming beverages while chatting).

Once I felt ready to interact with people again, it was time for afternoon sessions. And I had planned to attend Dear Abby 2.0: Giving Advice in the Blogosphere. I don’t actually have an advice blog, but a few of my favorites were on the panel: Kelcey, Marinka and Wendi (otherwise known as The Mouthy Housewives). They were joined by a blogger I’ve heard of, but haven’t actually read before, Aunt Becky. As expected, this was a very funny group and a couple of times I got confused and thought I was in the humor panel. But this didn’t last since all of the people standing up to ask questions started with “I find that I’m often asked for advice on…” Apparently many bloggers who did not start out with the intention of giving advice to readers are e-mailed questions on a regular basis. Like personal questions about whether or not to end a 20-year marriage. Talk about responsibility!

A lot of great advice and suggestions were given by the panel (surprise!), but Aunt Becky provided a bottom line reality check with the statement, “you don’t owe anyone anything.” Actually – this was kind of a break in character, serious moment that I think resonated with everyone. Whether you give advice or not, anyone who writes a blog feels some level of expectation from readers. So that was probably my biggest take away from the session – that I’m not responsible for the feelings and decisions of the people who may solicit me for advice. That, and the fact that no one ever asks me for advice. Hmph!

I would have liked to attend another session after that (AND catch up with friends I was thrilled to see there like Ann and Pauline), but I rushed off to embark on my third big BlogHer mistake. I had an appointment to get my hair styled at the Pantene station in the exhibit hall.

I had been wearing my hair pulled back in a low ponytail all day, but planned to wear it down for that evening’s events. Between the humidity and my inexpert styling skills, I knew that it would probably be a frizzy mess – so the professional help seemed like a fabulous idea. And it would have been if I hadn’t made my appointment for 15 minutes into the Voices of the Year keynote. Sigh. AND – by the time I realized my error, and returned to change the time, all that was left was the slot immediately after the the Dear Abby panel. So there was no time to wash my hair. I would have to just see what they could do with the flat, greasy mess.


Twenty minutes doesn’t buy you much magic time when it comes to hair styling. So what I ended up with was a very stiff coif of waves that didn’t last five minutes into my OCD poking. Ultimately, I had to pull it back into the low ponytail again and just wash it later. That was a lot of time wasted… Lesson learned: don’t prioritize hair appointments over precious conference time. (Although I DID enjoy chatting with the adorable Aussie stylist – glass half full….)

The next big event of the day was Voices of the Year, and Anna and I made sure to get a good spot in the general session room. Before the speakers began though, I got the most astonishing comment on my pre-BlogHer “see you next week” post from my friend Nancy (the one I had met for lunch the day prior):


I had no idea what to make of this and e-mailed her immediately: “What’s up with the X-rated comment? Typo?” Of course, she was puzzled and looked to see what she could possibly have written. It seems to have been a truly bizarre iphone spell check malfunction.


Either way, it gave me a good laugh, as well as some ‘splainin’ to do to Chris when I got home.

The keynote was fantastic. I truly expected to be a little bored by at least some of the speakers, but that didn’t happen at all. I was really there to see these three…

Marinka (the funniest woman online), Scary Mommy (the…I don’t know – she can do everything, but was recognized for her design work) and Amy (the chanteuse who performed her hilarious satire, “The ‘Wicked’ Popular Blogger“)
…but I enjoyed every single one of the 15 presenters.

After the keynote, we had a little time to relax (and do our own hair) before that evening’s events. Anna and I planned to meet Christy and Jill at the Kirtsy Voices of the Year gallery and check out the art created to accompany the 75 finalists. This was something I was dying to see (I even wrote a rather angsty post about it) so I really wish I had more time to spend there.

But we did have other plans starting with The Mouthy Housewives’ party at a lounge around the corner. And this is where I started doing EVERYTHING right.

On the way though, we ran into another attendee who had just that second, realized that she had left her wallet in a cab that was now several blocks away. Poor Jorja… But a girl after my own heart, she just did whatever she needed to do to cancel credit cards and inform a not exactly thrilled husband, and then went on to enjoy the rest of her night out. Which pleased us very much as she spent some of it in our company.

The party was possibly the best part of the whole weekend for me. I met some fantastic new people (including Dre, Jillian, Joy, and Kim), caught up with friends (including Amy, Loukia and Maura), enjoyed delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres AND was informed that I would be shipped a free LG vacuum cleaner. But the best part was actually staying in one place for a couple of hours and talking to wonderful people:

Christy and Anna

Christy and me

me and Dre

Our lovely hosts: Kelcey, Wendi and Marinka

When the party ended, we were all pretty hungry (man cannot live on mini grilled cheese hors d’oeuvres alone), so our little group of four got a bite to eat at a French bistro around the corner from the hotel.

Then (and I SWEAR I am wrapping this up soon), we dropped by the Kirtsy Gala room to see if the art displays were still up. Regrettably they were not – but we did run into the adorable Carina of The Jet Set. And she offered to take some pictures of us that just may be my favorites from the whole weekend:


In case you were wondering – yes, Christy is always laughing like that, and yes, she really did semi-seriously consider taking the balloons back to her room.

You will now be thrilled to know that this concludes the chronicle of my every move on Friday, August 6, 2010. I am just as exhausted in the telling as I was at the end of that day.

Tomorrow I will finish up with Saturday, the last day of BlogHer and I will do everything humanly possible (for me) to exercise better editorial skills. Until then…

BlogHer is a lot like…

UPDATE: Seems I’m not quite as funny as I think. I’ve deleted some things that were meant to be humorous but apparently came across as bitchy. So if you’ve already read this – please know that I didn’t mean ANYTHING I’ve written in a negative way. In fact – I wouldn’t mention anyone in these BlogHer posts unless I really did like them very much. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

*Disclaimer: As I’ve mentioned before – this is the first year I’ve attended BlogHer, but in the past, I’ve loved reading all about it. So this will probably be long and possibly annoying to those who didn’t attend. Or maybe not. No idea what I’m going to write yet – you’ll have to be the judge.

Last year, when I read all 1,000 BlogHer posts, I noticed the obvious theme of “BlogHer is just like high school” – and I could totally see that. But I also think that this message was strongly balanced with the sentiment that it’s exactly what you make of it (much like high school in which I made great friends regardless of social hierarchies – much like BlogHer… Just love me some circularity, you know).

But this year, I saw a #blogher tweet from one of my favorite people, Gwen of Not Really that I thought pretty much nailed it:


Seriously – EXACTLY how I felt. Totally displaced on day one, feeling the love on day two and then exhausted on day three. Forget about “what I got out of it“…I was far too preoccupied by the fact that my tired, red eyes wouldn’t stop tearing.

But I’ve always been known by my friends for my ability to rally. So not only did I stay awake as long and as late as possible on Saturday night (in bed by a respectable 2:00 a.m.), I tried very hard to just be in the moment and enjoy the company of whomever was directly in front of me.

So if you feel like rallying (a term originally applied to my willingness to be dragged from my bed and join forays out for late night diner food) for yet another BlogHer post…I’m adding my own to the mix. And it will be long. And include repetitive pictures. And links. A lot of links. This will NOT be lyrical or profound. It will be a blow by blow of my BlogHer 2010 experience.

You say our blog is a “virtual scrapbook” of your children? My blog is a “virtual scrapbook” of my blog. So here we go…

Thursday:

Having shut down activity on all three of my sites until, um…Monday (ooops – guess it’s time to start posting again), I woke at FOUR A.M. to meet up with a group driving to a sponsored train ride from BWI. Of course I was wide awake because if you can’t rally at the beginning of a trip, then you really can’t call yourself much of a rallier (I don’t care what spell check says – it’s a word).

I just wrote several paragraphs on the ride including links to everyone I could think of that even “almost” made eye contact with me – but really that’s link overkill. So let’s just say that I had a great time talking to Amy, Bailey, J.J., Linda Kerr, Linda Rihani, Michele, Roni, Stimey, Sue (and more! If I’ve left you out, let me know and I’ll add you) on the way up to NYC.

After a quick cab ride to the Hilton, I checked my bag, saw some familiar faces in the lobby, and then ran out to meet my non-blogging friend Nancy for lunch. Nancy, like my other non-blogging friends, thinks I’m a blog superstar and wonders when I’ll be getting that book deal. I KNOW Nancy – that’s what all 50 of my regular readers think…

Then I helped stuff bags for the CraziBeautiful party that I planned to attend later at 4:30. There I met more lovely people including hosts, April, Joanie, Julie, Loralee and Stephanie. And with a quick check in and change at the Hilton, and then a check in at registration (where I saw the exuberant force of nature that is called Vodka Mom), I went back to CraziBeautiful to talk to the super cool sponsors and pick up the best swag bag at BlogHer.

Suddenly I realized that it was well after 6:00 (p.m. that is…the CraziBeautiful party was good but not THAT good) and I was already running late for the Martha Stewart party downtown (private party disclaimer: I simply asked for an invitation to this and like anyone else, was given one upon request).

And this is where I started doing everything wrong… What? You navigated through your planned BlogHer schedule effortlessly and flawlessly? Well good for you – maybe you could host a ROYO about it next year. Anyway…

I wasn’t all THAT concerned about the time until I got into the cab line, which was looking like it would have me at Martha’s by 11:00. Clearly, that wasn’t going to work for me so I decided to walk over a few blocks and get my own cab. Which is really easy to do in midtown rush hour.

After another ten minutes of walking backwards down Fifth Avenue with my hand up, looking like a cross between a hitchhiker and a hooker (high class thank you very much), I was starting to consider hopping into one of those rickshaws. But finally Lady Luck smiled down on me and a very expensive limo pulled up to save me (and charge me an arm and a leg for a 15 block drive, but the air conditioning was worth it).

Martha’s party was okay. and I wasn’t as late as I thought since they didn’t even open the doors until 6:30. But it was obvious that I didn’t know anyone there, and after an afternoon of small talk with new acquaintances, I would have been thrilled to see a friendly face. I DID run into April (one of the CraziBeautiful hosts) at the bar and of course embarrassed myself by managing to ask her if she’s Mormon and THEN made it even better by asking if she knew another Mormon blogger that I read. Awesome. The things I do when I’m feeling frazzled…

Don’t get me wrong – I did have a good time and very much enjoyed chatting with some of the vendors and the lovely PR woman who planned the event. I also saw Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo there, but I was just too spent to even try to do the fan hello (who knows what I’d end up saying to her).

When it was over I sped back to the hotel via cab and heard from my roommate Anna who had finally arrived and was at the People’s Party with Headless Mom. And THAT’S when everything got back on track.

Lesson learned? Trying to go to too many events can waste a lot of time. Better to just find a great group or a great party and stick with it. Rushing all over a city to get to different parties is lame. Duly noted.

I was SO happy to connect with Anna who is one of my favorite people and my first real blog friend. After all of that stress it was a relief to talk and laugh with two fantastic women. Even if we were drinking “drinkable” wine out of party cups (I must admit that the vodka and basil concoctions at Martha’s were heavenly).

Then something else wonderful happened. A long time favorite writer (and yes I actually do differentiate “writers” from bloggers like me) walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. Gwen, whom I mentioned above is this tall gorgeous creature who somehow manages to combine effortless cool with insecure dorkiness. I love her. And I also quite taken her friends, Nora and Deb. Anna and I spent the rest of the evening with them before admitting at midnight that we couldn’t last another minute. I was in bed, asleep by 12:30.

Since I have two more days to cover. I’ll stop there for now and pick it up tomorrow. Looks like the rest of my week will be dedicated to BlogHer ’10. Ah well – that’s all the people who attended want to read anyway, and everyone else is ignoring blogs until the annoying BlogHer posts cease.

I’m sure I’ll come up with something really insightful about BlogHer by the end of the week. But tomorrow, you can tune in again for more links, some PICTURES (finally – mine mostly start on Friday) and long rambling stories. Until then, here is a preview image:

Christy, me, Anna and Jill

God, but I miss those girls….