August 10, 2010

BlogHer 2010: The Year of the Chewing Gum

I came home from BlogHer with so many packages of chewing gum, I began to fear someone was giving me a hint.  Excuse me while I check my breath in a cupped palm (my palm, not yours. No worries.)  .

Well, I tried to be kind to my liver.  Truly!  However,  I fear it may be updating its LinkedIn profile in a desperate move to jump ship and score another corporeal gig.  I feel slightly guilty, but if my liver had ears, I would tell it to lighten up and take one for the team.  After all, BlogHer is only once a year and those drink tickets were meant to see the sparkly beam of a disco ball before they turned into ordinary scraps of paper come Sunday morning.

So! Last night, I had a dream where I was wandering through a brightly lit hall chock full of chirpy, taut, wrinkle-free Booth Bunnies trying to force Iam's 20 lb cat food bags into my arms.  No, the BlogHer Expo center was not brightly lit and I am not sure if Iam's was actually there.  It struck me as odd that I would dream about the Expo when I only made two brief rounds of it, mostly to talk to a few folks in whom I was actually interested.  I turned down free things left and right because these days, I am Totally Wise Old Yoda when it comes to freebies, swag and samples.  Yes indeed, I was more judicious this year and primarily schlepped things back for Team Chaos.  The one freebie I was really excited about was a significant chunk of really nice lotion and cream that I forgot to pack into my checked luggage.  Ah yes, Brainy McBrainy that I am, I inadvertently tried to slip them past the Mad Eye Moodies of the TSA.  Oops.  'Tis a Martha Stewart-worthy "good thing" that I am a lovely shade of Pasty Pallid White, that I hail from the Midwest and that I sport a patriotic last name because the TSA lady merely cackled at my stupidity as she merrily chucked My Precious into her trash can already brimming with other travelers' transgressions.  However,the last laugh was on me since "George" is actually my veddy brown, veddy Indian late father-in-laws FIRST name.  *Huge Raspberry*


A mere fraction of the folks I met this weekend.

So!  BlogHer!  Was most excellent.  A weekend full of inspirational sessions and hanging out with women of all shapes, sizes, colors and walks of life.  Lovely.  Absolutely lovely.  I have not heard of any drama this year, I did not witness any myself. This year's BlogHer post will be a total yawnfest liberally sprinkled with kittens and rainbows.  And unicorns.

My Plus One to the Sparklecorn Extravaganza
After all, the one-horned wonder deserved a vacay, too.

So, as I mentioned I did not score loads of goodies this year and you may wonder, why would I bother with navigating the hell that is Delta to make it to teeming urban jungle of New York if I did not come home with presents?


The Hilarious, Drama-Free Roommates
Celeste! The Other Kelli! Dawn!  We had such a fun, low-key room.  I laughed, shared stories, giggled (and snored!) and laughed some more.

The Sessions
I was really excited about the sessions this year and focused primarily on the writing labs.  I blog because I love to write - I am not creating any sort of media empire here, but I do enjoy this incredibly fulfilling hobby of mine. So, I carefully examined the agenda and chose topics that I thought might help me gain a richer experience from my wee site. My favorite sessions?
  1. Writing Lab: Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity My friend Rita was a speaker and it was enlightening to hear how others find their writing groove.  The takeaways?  Exercise, read your writing out loud for different perspective, activities such as taking a walk and focusing on one particular element in your environment (say, anything the color yellow) and writing in the active, rather than the passive voice.
  2. Writing Lab: ROYO - Dear Abby 2.0: Giving Advice in the Blogosphere No, I am not planning on an advice column - I thought this would be an entertaining session and oh my, I WAS NOT WRONG. Indeed, The Mouthy Housewives were hilarious.
  3. Passions: Family Foodies: Creating a New Generation of Gourmands I relished being in a room of like-minded gals who are equally passionate and excited about cooking and food.  It is about so much more than feeding one's body - it is about feeding your soul, finding some creativity in your kitchen and sharing it with loved ones.  I have debated how I want to go about the writing of this topic and I really appreciated City Mama taking a few minutes after the session to talk about it with me.
  4. Change Agents: Radical Blogging Moms: Don’t Even Think About Not Taking These Moms Seriously After several negative experiences in "expressing my opinion in a public manner", I really wanted to hear what these gals had to say.  I really appreciated hearing about the differences between well-thought posting and emotional rants (which sadly,  I have a tendency towards writing.)
  5. Personal: ROYO - Little Fish in a Big Pond: Understanding, Accepting, and Loving Your Small Blog Hands down, this was my very favorite of the sessions (and not just because the aforementioned Celeste! was a speaker) Years ago,  I accepted my little blog for what it was - a place for me to be creative and a spot for me to record my hopes, dreams and sweet memories.  The speakers had another good point - a little blog allows for participation in our blogging community that is far richer than just commenting.  It is your space for reaction and interaction. Even if your footprint is small, it is still there.  If you are a frequent commenter in the blogosphere, but are not actually blogging yourself, I highly recommend you read the transcript of that session and reconsider not joining us.  We all have Voices, no matter the size or breadth of reach.  Six years ago, on August 10, 2004, I began this blog. I have absolutely no regrets for the time I have spent on this space, no matter that I will never find fame or fortune through it.

The Community Keynote
Quite simply, the crowning jewel in the BlogHer Conference Series is the Community Keynote.
  • Susan Niebur (aka Whymommy) from Toddler Planet read In the Name of Awareness: It was her thoughtful take, as someone battling breast cancer, the Facebook meme whereby folks were posting as their status the color of their bras.  Read this post, please.
  • Faiqa from Native Born read Welcome to American:  This was the post that forced me to use my entire stash of tissues as I did the Ugly Cry (and there is a reason for that adjective. No one is pretty after the Ugly Cry.  Believe me)  This post was very personal to me, as Faiqa, a native-born American of Pakistani heritage, put into words, for everyone to hear, why her Indian-born husband was hesitant about getting his American citizenship. She also explained how her husband was not actually running away from anything necessarily bad or terrible (and again, believe me, Americans are often quick to romanticize the immigration experience in such a manner.)  Indeed, Manoj and I have often laughed ironically how easy our life would be, if we were to move to India ourselves - with his credentials, experiences and educational background, life would be much, much simpler there.  It is so very difficult to explain to folks that the opportunities here are different, but are not necessarily shimmering as if in a field of diamonds.  How lucky am I that Faiqa wrote such an eloquent post for me (it was for me, right, Faiqa?) so that I can just point to it for you. I am nothing, if not lazy.  From now on, when people wonder why I do not get giddy with excitement about the prospect of Manoj's citizenship, I will just direct them to that post.  Make no mistakes --  I do want Manoj to get his citizenship (The whole Arizona "thing" drove that point home for me.)  And just like Faiqa, I will thank my husband with a quiet sincerity for giving up so very much for Arun, Anjali and me. 

The Parties
I had the privilege of attending one private party and several of the BlogHer sponsored parties.  Although Sparklecorn came close, squeaking into1st place by a unicorn tail hair was my favorite party -  the BlogHer Voices of the Year Gala and Art Auction Curated By Kirtsy. Obviously, I was very honored that my post, Pissing off people Left and Right, was included in the BlogHer Voices of the Year honor (I was in some seriously awesome company which was very humbling.)  After the initial reception cleared out and folks headed down the hall for the party/dancing/karaoke, the rooms displaying art became very quiet.  Quiet enough to hold some low-key conversations with some lovely folks.

The Bloggers
I am not going to fill this with namedropping - someone always gets left off the list and no one wants to hear how I talked to Super Popular Blogger A and how Really, Really Popular Blogger B made me cry (just like she did last year) and how Somewhat Popular Blogger C was standoffish yet again and that I may just give up on her.  Truthfully, I talked to too many folks to list everyone and therefore, I am going to choose to list no one.  Well, except for Jodi, with whom I had so much fun whispering in sessions and shouting at parties.  Okay...okay and Kelly - who I seriously forgot was going to BlogHer because she is a "real-life" friend and I actually forgot that hey, we are blogging buddies, too.

For all the talk of swag, goodies, freebies, samples and coupons, the bloggers still remain the very best part of the conference.  I have made some incredible friendships through the years via blogging. Attending BlogHer conferences has helped in that - meeting folks in person has a tendency to take things "to the next level".

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some gum that needs chewing.


Faiqa said...

The post *was* for you... that I did not know that at the time of writing is of absolutely no consequence or concern. It was truly a pleasure meeting you.

Mamma Sarah said...

Once I stop having babies (I do not take them to conferences as I need my time away) I am totally going to BlogHer!

jodifur said...

I'm so honored to be the one you mentioned. Because you are such an important part of blogher for me. Both this year and last.

(Is now when I tell you I'm not going to next years?)

lizriz said...

I love seeing my neverending sticker with your stack of business cards! I have your bookmark = LOVE bookmarks. :) Also, how cute is that unicorn in the little pink sparkle bag. And oh yes, weren't the sessions good this year?

OK, it's 6am and I'm babbling...

Elizabeth - Table for Five said...

A really, really popular blogger made you cry? And not the good kind of cry? That sucks, and I'm sorry to hear it.

I had a wonderfully drama-free BlogHer, brought home just the right amount of swag, and am still discovering every day that so-and-so was there and I never saw her or him. There's never ever enough time! See you next year?!?