BlogHer ’09 – The Emotional Arc of a BlogHer Conference Experience

Written by Lee

I know most everyone has moved on.  Big stuff is consuming most of us. Health care reform bill being batted around, a crazed gunman at a LA Fitness on a murder rampage, and journalists safely home (thank God).  

But I can’t quite put this BlogHer thing to rest. I mean, it was a jam-packed three days with nary a moment to digest just one thing that was happening to me and I’ve needed this past week and half to let it soak into my soul. I knew I needed just one more post to wrap my brain around my BlogHer ’09 experience and to move forward and this shall be it.

My last post focused on what I learned.  Now I want to focus on how I felt

The Emotional Arc of a BlogHer Conference – From the Beginning.

CONFUSED (Jan/Feb 2009)
Is this conference really something I should be attending? Should I really buy a ticket? Is it for me?  I’m totally new at this! I’m no one in the blogging world. I don’t even know what I want to learn.  What’s the point? I was totally confused.

DECIDED (Feb.  28th, 2009)
As the clock neared midnight on the last day of the early-bird conference ticket price, I wondered if I should really click that button to purchase. But thanks to this chick who knows all the important stuff about blogging and who told me “Yes, BlogHer is for everyone, you’ll have a blast,”  and my dude who told me “Yes baby….buy the ticket. Who knows where you’ll be at with this blogging thing come July – go check it out…” –  I decided to go.

ANNOYED (May/June/July 2009)
I could barely read a blog or check out twitter without coming across all kinds of chitter chat about clothes and shoes prep for BlogHer.  Being that I am not a clothes or shoes chick in general, I kept thinking “Is this what this BlogHer thing is all about?  A friggin’ fashion show?” I was annoyed.

EXCITED (May/June/July 2009)
Realizing I would be rooming with this chick, the one blogging friend that had moved from comment section interaction to emails to gmail chat to phone calls, I was psyched. And I even allowed myself to get a little jazzed about buying a few new pieces of clothing and some new shoes.  Yes I did.  It didn’t matter in the end of course, but I must admit it was kinda fun. And I let that excitement creep on in.

APPREHENSIVE (July 22, 2009)
Packing my bags and my newly printed business cards and my new dress and my new shoes and my new underwear and my laptop and my power strip and my BlogHer conference schedule, I was a bit apprehensive about how this whole thing would shake down.  I’m not really a writer I thought, I’m not a business chick out there to hobnob with PR peeps and I’m not a popular blogger who will know a ton of people.  I tried not to pack the apprehension in with my new bras.

STUPID (The morning of July 23, 2009)
I was lucky enough that this cool LA blogger welcomed me with open arms onto the Chicago-bound party plane with about 25 other LA bloggers.  I had no idea I was even on the party plane until I figured it out through some tweets two days prior.  And although I was included on some party plane email threads the day prior to flying, I generally felt like an ass walking up to the gate and trying to assimilate into this large group of bloggers who all mainly knew each other. They all seemed very comfortable with one another and on the same page and well, it’s that high school feeling some people have spoken about. Everyone was totally cool – truly.  But it’s that feeling that you get when you just have to walk up to people who are all conversing and laughing and just say “Hi! I’m Lee. You don’t know me but hey I’m here anyway.”   Inside I laughed at myself for feeling stupid but I did.

RELIEF (Mid-morning July 23, 2009)
Even though I was not seated with the group of bloggers on the party plane, I was a few rows behind sitting there listening to the laughter and the chatter like a total loser, I got up two hours into the flight for a bathroom break and then headed up to the big group and just introduced myself and started chatting.  It was just the ice-breaker I needed because of course the chicks I chatted with were cool….and I was relieved.    

GIDDY (4 PM July 23, 2009)
As I walked off the plane, through the terminal and towards baggage claim to meet my partner- in-BlogHer-crime, Deb, I was giddy.  Plain and simple.

SURREAL (Evening July 23, 2009)
After Deb and I hooked up and made our way on the train and taxi to the Sheraton, it all kicked into high gear.  Bloggers filled the lobby and I don’t think there’s a perfect way to describe the sound of thousand of bloggers chattering in a hotel lobby except to say it was somewhere in between a thousand exotic birds screaming from the top of the rainforest and a million skillets of steaming hot fajitas being rushed through a restaurant.  Lanyards were everywhere and it was all so surreal searching the crowd for any familiar faces.

PSYCHED (Evening July 23, 2009)
This cool chick (aka Sassy Britches) made her way up to Chicago even though she was not attending the conference to meet up for dinner and she was even better than I expected in real life.  A kind, genuine, funny, considerate, smart, and low-pressure kind of gal, we hung out all night and she braved the evening’s parties with me and Deb.  Meeting her was just the start of an evening of meeting rad people.  People I totally and utterly respected and was dying to meet.  Psyched.  I was friggin’ psyched.

EMBARRASSED (Later evening July 23, 2009)
This was thing I learned # 9 from my last post – the uh, gushing thing.  There were quite a few rock star bloggers I wanted to meet and at my first party of the night I gushed crazily to a couple. One of them, the ever cool, calm and collected, Maggie, told me I didn’t embarrass myself when I couldn’t shut up about how much I loved and respected her.  I think she’s just too nice to tell me otherwise.  After letting that gush fest fly, I felt embarrassed.  

TOTALLY AND UTTERLY AT EASE (Later, later evening July 23, 2009)
Hanging out with Deb (who is so friggin’ easy to talk and be with) and Sassy B. (who might be the nicest person on the planet) helped me get over my gush-fest.  And then we met up with someone I was beyond excited to meet, Heather of the EO.  When we finally did see each other face-to-face after lots of back and forth phone calls (including the first call where she said to me – “How did you get my number?” like I was some stalker or something), it was like we had known each other our entire lives.  I already knew from reading her that our hearts were made from the same mold but to see her whole living breathing person was just killer.  I was totally and utterly at ease with these chicas.

PLEASANTLY SURPRISED (July 23 – 25, 2009) 
The entire weekend was filled with pleasant surprises of chatting with women who I would totally have loved to pack up in my suitcase and sprinkle them around my neighborhood so they could become a part of my real life not just my online one.  For any whining you may have heard about cliques etc., I say a huge whatever.   Sure it can feel like high school, but in the end we are all adults and it’s OUR responsibility to dig deep within, suck it up and find some like-minded souls out there.  Because believe you me, they. are. there.  

The reigning supreme hipsters of the blogosphere threw a kick-ass party called Sparklecorn. You’ve all heard about it, this guy who I adore was taking some of his kick-ass photographs, there was a unicorn cake that my girls would’ve lost their brains over, a cute bartender dude (who looked a lot like my first love) was serving up his Templeton Rye whiskey raspberry Manhattans,(which was mainly responsible for the buzzed feelings), the dance floor was hopping, my main crew was laughing our asses off, and I finally got to meet and give a big squeeze to Mr. Lady who totally shocked me with her presence. (Since she wasn’t really supposed to be there or something like that….)  It was an epic night on all kinds of levels.

WEEPY (July 24-25, 2009)
The community keynotes almost killed me.  I was a total emotional wreck as Deb can attest. If you have not read through the posts, you should.  And they are here.  But the thing is I expected to cry a little at the keynote.  I only imagined there would be some emotional pieces read, but what I did not imagine would happen was the weepfest that occurred on the conference floor where all of the exhibitors were giving away detergent and vitamin water.  

There in the middle of the meaningless swag stood the Sprout booth.  If you don’t know what Sprout is, skip this part.  I’m sure Deb wishes she could’ve skipped the Sprout booth. But she didn’t.  Because we were together and she’s a good friend. You see, my kids love Sprout. They watch The Good Night Show and have for years.  And they adore Nina. The host.  I wandered over to the Sprout table to see what kind of Sprout goodies I could pick up for the kids and there stood….Nina.  I handed Deb my camera and said “Take a picture of me and Nina okay?”  

When I went up to say hello and tell her how much my kids loved her, she said, “I’d love to sign a picture for them.  What are their names?”  I began….”Their names are Claire, and Phoebe and……..”  I couldn’t finish.  I started crying. Yes I did.  Tears were streaming down my face. And I could barely speak.

It all flooded in and I couldn’t stop.  Nina who has been in our living room for years – part of my kids’ childhood – a figure they may remember for quite some time – a wholesome happy shiny childhood personality – and all of a sudden I felt nostalgic for their earliest years and for the many hours spent with The Good Night Show on in our home as I prepared dinner.  

I started muttering to Nina all of this stuff and all of the Sprout PR people were standing around in awe perhaps (?) and Deb was looking at me like “Who is this Lee chick and why have I decided to room with her?”  Deb was holding the camera and I will never ever forget the look on her face. She had no idea who Nina was and she had NO FRIGGIN’ CLUE why I was crying. And she still doesn’t. And maybe you don’t know either. But I’m emotional okay? And well, BlogHer brought all of that emotion out.

After I calmed the eff down, Deb snapped this picture. I know. I’m a freak. A weepy freak.

INSPIRED (July 24-25, 2009)
In between all of the loud advertising geared towards us bloggers and all of the squeeing going on between bloggers who know how to squee and the parties and the drinking and the chaos, I felt inspired.  It happened in the middle of a session, at the keynote, during multiple conversations with all kinds of bloggers, and in the middle of side-splitting laughter – I was inspired.  And I’m trying to bottle some of it and hold onto it and use it as needed in my real life.   Inspiration. One of the best feelings around.

EXHAUSTION (July 26 – present)
I am still tired. I am not kidding. I mean it didn’t help that once I came home from BlogHer, I jumped into rehearsals for that performance I wrote about not that long ago.  But the exhaustion from the non-stop-ness of that conference can not be underestimated.  And writing this epic post has not helped matters. Any energy I had recovered is now zapped right out of me again as I relived some of the highlights of this experience. I hope I can recover by next year.  

If you wanna go on the emotional roller coaster ride that is BlogHer, tickets are already on sale for ’10 in New York City. Crazy I know. Maybe I’ll see you there. Hopefully I will. 

And I may just cry when I meet you.

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