30 July 2013

I’m trying to wrap my head around the 48 hours I spent in Chicago and provide some kind of cohesive explanation for all of you.  I’m a little afraid that one doesn’t exist.  It’s kind of like a shitton of emotion, shoved into one little package.  A little package full of big ideas that leaves you reeling and completely exhausted in a good way.  Or maybe I should say exhausted in a you’re still mainlining coffee two days later sort of way.  I am a bit thankful that I had a wedding to be home for on Saturday.  And the wedding?  It had a llama delivering jello shots.

You can see why it was important for me to attend.


Truth be told, I took a bit of a leap of faith in going to BlogHer by myself.  I mean, I knew people, but I didn’t know anyone.  I think even if you do have close friends at BlogHer, it just works out that everyone has their own schedule.  You have to be willing to walk into a room alone, say hello, and extend yourself regardless.  Something that my friend Sarah pointed out, can be really difficult to do, especially for those of us who sit behind a screen all day. 

With our imaginary internet friends.

I was incredibly fortunate that when I took that giant flying leap of OMG ALONE AT BLOGHER, the likes of Kate Canterbury and Fadra Nally and Tracy Morrison and Anne Hogan and especially Kristin Shaw and Zakary Watson were waiting with a hug and a smile and a hey, hang out with us.

There were introductions to people like Heather of the EO, who is such a kind, warm individual until she calls you an open-faced sandwich to your face... errr your Facebook.  I met Dani Faust, re-introduced myself to Barbara Jones, and talked shoes with Marie LeBaron.  I ran into Gigi Ross and didn’t get nearly enough time to chat.  I had a lunch discussion with a few spectacular women.   At one point, I was standing in a party checking my Twitter notifications from Elisa Camahort, one of BlogHer’s founders, I looked up and she is standing right next to me.  So, I stupidly blurted out, that I was just reading her tweet and isn’t that weird?

That right there is why I’m behind the screen.

BlogHer is a lot to handle.  I don’t think people share that.  They tell you about the squeeing and the fun and the parties and the sessions and the swag and the crazy people.  Or they tell you how awful something is or how things should be the way that they want them.  They neglect to tell you it’s a heck of a lot to deal with all at once.

A LOT of people and parties and socializing.  A LOT of information and learning and working.  A LOT of staring into faces that you know you should have names for, but that escape you for several terrifying moments.  A LOT of Tweets and cameras and non-stop everything. 

A LOT of sensory overload.   

And it’s also a whole mess of bloggers who just get you.  I didn’t once have to explain to someone why thirty or forty thousand people come here every month to read the things that I write… they already get it.  They know.  I didn’t have to answer questions like, “and they really PAY you to do that?” because these people, they already understand the value of what I do each day.  There is something strangely comforting in that, despite the sea of six thousand people washing over you.

Voices of the Year was by far one of the biggest highlights for me.

I laughed loudly, cheered my friends, and had tears in my eyes listening to Kelly.  These twelve writers are getting up in front of a thousand… two thousand? peers and delivering pieces of themselves in their own voice.  It takes balls. 

Huge ones. 

One after another, they just stood up and opened their words to our ears, to our judgment, and let us feel the weight of what they were saying.  I chided Casey on Twitter before BlogHer, but that woman, dear Lord is she amazing at a podium.  Zakary killed it.  When she delivered her last line, people around me were howling with laughter and the tweets began immediately. 

That is really what BlogHer was about for me, all 48 crazy, “A LOT” filled hours of it.  It feels great to be reminded that there are so many talented, supportive women in this medium I’m lucky enough to call work. 

Maybe later, I’ll write that post of tips, or talk about the swag, or about the fashion, or the brands who got it just right, or the things that could have gone differently. 

For now though?  I’m just going to let it be about the bloggers.


Tawny said...

Sounds like you truly soaked it in. Glad you had fun. I am already jealous of the swag and I only know anout the phone. Lol.

Can we talk more about the shot Llama? I am intrigued.

Casey said...

I love this post! Thank you for your kind words and for the courage it takes to GO and DO this. It's so good when imaginary internet friends become real friends. I love that. I love the internet. :)

Unknown said...

Love this... I still feel like I am processing all the BlogHer emotion... I too was so moved by the VOTY speeches. It was just so empowering to meet so many great women.... and falling into quick friendship with people I had previously only known online. And yes, it was so much sensory overload! Great post.

Heather said...

This is so great, so true. I'm glad you met friendly faces because it IS hard to go alone. Even though you're an open-faced sandwich.

It's true, the overload is totally real and the overstimulation sends some people squeeing in the opposite direction. The Serenity Suite is for that feeling. Sometimes we just need a breath, yo.

xoxo so glad I got to meet you.

AfGolden said...

Sounds so fun! I really really want to go sometime! I would probably be on overload..lol.

If you get a chance..stop my blog. I'm having a recipe swap, would love to have a good one from you! :)


Jessica @ Wanting Adventure said...

The sensory overload does seem overwhelming. I don't know if I'm ready for a conference that big, but maybe a smaller one? I would love to meet up with people who understand the need to connect with "imaginary internet friends," which is exactly what my husband calls them. ;)

Anonymous said...

A llama delivering shots? Awesome!

Unknown said...

What a fantastic conference it was! It left me wondering why it took me so long to get myself there. Next time we'll definitely need to meet. I love knowing a fellow Ohio blogger. :-)

@JessEsco said...

I wanna hear more!

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