Just This, Then I’ll Shut Up

Okay. So BlogHer. I have to write something about it after the fact (other than posting my photos), but I promise this will (almost definitely) be the last you hear about this particular conference here for a while.

You can read my take on the Blogging Autism panel on which I spoke at Autism Unexpected. You can also find the live blog of that panel on the BlogHer website. PLUS! Leticia took a couple snippets of video in which you can watch me talk with my hands. You can find them on YouTube. There should be a podcast coming. I’ll let you know when I become aware of its existence.

Now that that is all taken care of, let’s see. BlogHer. It was magical. It really was. I think the thing that made this year so incredibly special to me is that there was a tremendous group of women going to the conference that I was so happy to hang out with.

First of all, there are my DC-area compadres. We’re a tight, supportive group and there are a lot of us. You can be pretty sure that anywhere you turn in a conference with 2400 attendees, you will find a smiling face of someone from my neck of the woods. (In other news, stay tuned for the launch of The DC Moms, which will be the definitive DC-area collaborative blog!)

See those pretty ladies up there on the left? That’s Jessica, Stephanie, Amy, and Leticia (and me). I have absolutely no recollection of being handed this photo, but when I found it amid my stacks of conference paper, it immediately became one of my treasured possessions. The joy, fun, connectedness, and whimsy in that photo encapsulates what my DC women are to me.

Also, I’m wearing a sparkly hat, so that was cool. (“Is that your pimp hat?” Alex asked me later.)

Second of all—and second just in order in this post, but never second in my heart—are my special needs blogger friends. We had a huge turnout of us this year, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to get up to New York. I have a really tight connection with these women, women who have quite literally changed my life, and many of them I had never met.

Here they are:

The left side of the Blogging Autism room…

…and the right side of the Blogging Autism room.

I had amazing co-panelists in the person of Pamela/Shark-Fu, Shannon/Squid, and Carol/AspieAdvocate. They are a bad ass group.

Plus, how fun are everyone’s nicknames?

Carol was incredible in that she stepped in at quite literally the very last minute to take the place of Sharon daVanport, who had to step out for medical reasons. No matter how much we missed Sharon—and we did—I feel so fortunate that Carol was able to step in not just because of her great wisdom, wit, and insights, but because as an adult with autism, her voice on that panel was so crucial.

BlogHer ’10 really boils down to the people for me. I attended five out of six panels and most of the keynotes, which left me with food for thought, new information, inspiration, and a lot of laughs. There were actually more panels I wanted to attend, but couldn’t because of conflicting time slots.

I met so many wonderful new people, both people I’ve met online and people who I never knew about prior to that weekend, but who I will now track down on twitter and in the blogosphere. It’s really amazing to be surrounded by 2399 other bloggers who are writing mostly out of love for their craft, their subject, or their peers. Truly incredible.

I was able to connect with so many women whom I love, even though I felt pulled in many directions all weekend. I tried my hardest to spend as much time as possible with each of the people I really wanted to be with. I both succeeded at this and failed spectacularly, mostly because I couldn’t have gotten enough time with most of these women.

I did, however, manage to spread little tape measure mice wherever I went. It was delightful to give them away.

Turns out that everyone’s kid is “obsessed with tape measures!”

It was good swag.

I also had a good roommate. The best, in fact. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like Jessica from A Parent in Silver Spring, and there’s a reason for that. She is incredibly kind, generous, hilarious, and smart. Really, there’s nothing bad about her. She even spent part of her time at BlogHer supporting Huggies’ Every Little Bottom program, which is working to bring diapers to parents in need.

Plus, she’s preeeetttyyy!

BlogHer this year was also special because of this lady:

She got reports of clean scans after several weeks of fighting cancer through radiation just before leaving for New York. BlogHer this year was a break between that radiation and upcoming chemo. Even through intense fatigue, Susan showed us all how strong she is by participating fully in the conference, not to mention speaking on a panel about Resource Blogs and as a speaker at the Community Keynote. She’s a rock star.

And not to one-up Jessica and Susan, but I also met this guy:

That’s right. The Jimmy Dean sun.

You would have thought I had run into…well, who’s bigger than the sun? I’m pretty sure I made a HUGE ass of myself, but AWESOME! I also learned something and that is that a man in a giant sun outfit takes up most of an elevator that is going down 29 floors.

This BlogHer for me was a roller coaster of joy and inspiration and at the end some good, solid uninhibited dancing. I don’t dance in public very often but Saturday night at the Blogalicious party, the night seemed to call for it. Four…five? hours later I was tired, danced out, and happy.

That’s what BlogHer ’10 made me: Happy.

I still have to go through all my business cards and follow on twitter and check out the blogs of all the new wonderful people I met. Until then I will remember all the people I spent time with, either a lot or a little, and I will be happy.

Thank you for your time, Beth and Kate and Kristen and Jordan and Jennyalice and Kim and Julie and Catherine and Christina and Kari and another Kristen and Lauren and Kyra and Shannon and Margaret  and Neil and Tina and Jessica and Jessica and Sarah and Maggie and Nicole and Jodi and Leticia and Susan and Amy and Melissa and Marinka and Aviva and Katie and Debbie and Julie and Julie and another Christina and Suebob and Laurie and Sarah and Kendra and Casey and Sue and Lori and Ilina and Sandie and Donna and Glennia and Velma and Delora and Janine and Stacey and Elizabeth and Devra and Jenni and sixteen more Amys/Aimes/Aimees and at least three other Jessicas and all the rest of you who come next in this list, thank you. Thank you for making me happy.

Updated to add: Since I wrote this, about sixteen other names popped into my head. If you’re not on this list, it’s NOT because you’re not important to me. I promise.

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