Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My BlogHer Experience

If you're tired of reading about BlogHer by now, you might want to skip this post. If you're sort of blah about the whole thing, you're welcome to skim. If you want to see if I mentioned you, look for the red or purple links. If you just can't get enough, BRING IT ON! Read to the bottom.

The Elephant in the Room:

I think there is a lot of really ugly stuff going around the blogosphere right now. Yes, there was some bad behavior at BlogHer. And yes, I think some people got too swept up in the free stuff aspect. And, yes, part of me is a little ashamed of the collective bunch of us.

But I don't think we have to keep tearing each other down. I don't think we have to call people swaghags and swagwhores. I don't think we have to assume that everyone who behaved badly was a mommy blogger. I don't think we have to indict all of BlogHer and all of its attendees because there were sponsors, there were parties, there were freebies, and because you will never find a group of 1500 women who all agree on the correct behavior.

If you were there, think about how you behaved. If you are happy with it, then great. If you are not happy with it, then find your own personal way to atone for it and take advantage of the lesson that the experience has taught you. If you weren't there, don't believe that the swag hysteria is the only thing that BlogHer was about.

This is What I Think BlogHer Was About:

1. Hanging out with my friends. Some of these friends are old friends, whom I see all the time in my day to day life. Two of those friends are WhyMommy and Tech Savvy Mama, who were my uber-delightful roommates. It's remarkable to me that three such different women can share the same tiny room for three days and get along so well. (Unless they had bitchfests about me that I wasn't a party to, and I don't think that's the case.) This category also includes Sandie and her adorable appendage, whom I will henceforth refer to as Lord Poopington.

Some of these friends are people I don't see all the time, but do see on occasion around the DC area and adore. Sarah, Devra, Laurie, Delora, KC, Jodi, Wife and Mommy, PunditMom, Kristen, ShallowGal, Victoria, and Teach Mama, I'm looking at you.

Some of these friends are new friends—people I've known online for some time and now am able to match real life personalities to their words. Each of these people was even nicer and more fun in person than they were on their blogs. Love them. Annette, Brittany, Selfish Mom, The New Girl, and Manic Mommy, I'm looking at you.

Some of these friends are people I met last year or have discovered in the past weeks and months and have read or followed since then. It was wonderful to deepen some of those relationships this year. A Mommy Story, Kari, Maggie, Marinka, Lori, The Weirdgirl, Velma, Motherbumper, Heather, and Kim, I'm looking at you.

Some of these friends are people I didn't know about before, but have girl crushes on now. I'll get to you later in what is sure to be an extensive post.

If I left you out, it's because I hate you.

Oh, god, I'm kidding. It's because I have a brain like a fucking sieve.

2. Being with my people—other special needs parents. My whole blogging community means a great deal to me, but my special needs community is my lifeblood. There are so many of you that couldn't be there this year, and I missed you. I really, really did. There was no special needs parenting panel this year, as there was last year, so we had a couple of get togethers and a Birds of a Feather lunch.

We took a moment at our first gathering on Friday to remember Vicki and her beautiful boy Evan. Because she is, and always will be, loved and part of our community.

The bloggers that were there at those gatherings, both familiar and new to me, are amazing. I was delighted to spend time with Lori, and to get some one on one time with her at breakfast on Sunday. Kari is always amazing, and never more so than when she is in her full Sparklecorn regalia. It was a joy to meet Janice and Jaelithe and Carissa and Ellen and Tina and CalifMom. I tried to chase Christina of Hopeful Parents down after a panel, but missed her, only to find her at the Birds of a Feather table ten minutes later. I had briefly met Carmen and the Weirdgirl last year, but was able to spend some good time with them this year, and was so excited to do so. I also got to meet Nancy Shute, who doesn't have special needs kids, but writes about them for U.S. News & World Report. I mentioned Christina above, but I want to mention her again, because I adore her, and was thrilled to hang out with her.

3. Oh, right, the panels. I attended a panel in every time slot except for one. I learned something in every one. I was thrilled to be introduced to some terrific speakers who I will be sure to start reading. (Oh, my Google Reader protests!)

4. Overlapping blogging circles. I am endlessly entertained by different blogging circles. There are certain people whom everyone in my blogging circle reads. Then I find someone who travels in a different circle who has never heard of that blogger. And I'll hear people talking about another woman who has a huge readership and tons of connections that I've never heard of. There are a lot of us out there and that is magical.

5. The community keynote. So I am terribly bitter that I wasn't selected to read either last year or this year. Terribly bitter. Then I sat in the ballroom and listened to 21 phenomenal writers read amazing posts and I grew less and less bitter because, holy shit, these women are incredible.

6. Devastating gastric distress. Something about air travel destroys my digestive system. I'm not going to go into more detail because I'm sure some of you are already cringing, but let's just say that I'm really glad that the hotel gift shop sold Pepto Bismol and that if you saw me chawing down on little pink tablets all day Saturday, it's not because I'm a candy addict. Also, if you saw me grimacing or if I suddenly ran off from our conversation, it's not because of something you said.

But I feel better now, thank you.

And that's (hopefully) the last time I'll share the story of my intestines with you.

7. Tipping bartenders. I somehow neglected to keep any $1 bills on hand for bartenders. Then I finally got some and I left my wallet in my room. Sorry, bartenders. And also, thanks to the adorable bartender in the Energizer bunny suite who made me an amazing drink and refused a tip. (From my friend Teach Mama, because my wallet was in my room.)

8. Throwing a grape at Teach Mama. Okay, I didn't really throw it. But I've been known to do so in the past. And there was one particular grape that kept getting away from me and squirting across the room. It's too bad that Lumpyhead's Mom wasn't there to see my Fruit Ninja skills in action.

9. The dinner I had with a bunch of friends on Saturday night. I didn't attend any parties that night. I just hung out with my buddies, and it was grand.

10. Meeting some cool companies and finding some fun products to review. I'm not going to pretend like I didn't take free stuff. I did, and I'm excited about a lot of it. I don't think I particularly embarrassed myself getting it. I am very grateful for the generosity of the sponsors and I'm sure I will be posting about some of the products over on my review site in the coming weeks.

One standout was the smallish, casual party that Mom Central threw in the hotel lobby bar. CEO Stacy DeBroff was delightful, and I can't wait to write about the games being promoted at the shindig. Because, frankly, anything that allows me to hang out and play with my family is cool in my book.

11. Getting my tiny baby fix by holding Kristen's adorable offspring at her Mommy Needs a Cocktail party. I don't know that she was super amused when I asked if I could take him home as swag, but part of me kind of wanted to. I think Kristen is a stand up gal and I was so happy to help her out by rocking her baby to sleep while she cleaned up after the party (which was great!). Plus, I got to chat with Jenny the Bloggess for a while as I did so. So, win win!

Oh, also, wanna see me nod a lot and talk with my hands? Check out the interview I did with Kristen for PBS Kids. And weirdly, even though we were two floors below the ground in a windowless expo hall, I'm wearing sunglasses on my head for some reason. I can't explain it either.

12. Amys. I think the real post-BlogHer discourse should not be about disturbing amounts of swag, but rather the disturbing number of bloggers named Amy. And, sure, they all seem to be quite lovely, but am I the only person who thinks it's odd that there are so many of them?

13. The wonderful memories that my photos will remind me of. I know I published this flickr link before, but I am so glad that I remembered to take these photos to remind me of all your lovely faces.

14. Meeting dozens of amazing women. This is where I talk endlessly about my favorite women from the weekend. It may bore some of you who don't like lists. Some of these women I've read for years and some I will only now start reading. All of them have a story tell. This isn't everyone I met and/or reconnected with, but these are some of them.

Don Mills Diva, with whom I had lunch with on Friday, and who rocked some incredible shoes and words later at the community keynote. Anissa, who I assaulted in the lobby at the last possible moment on Sunday. Maria, whom I'm a little bit afraid of, but who is amazing, mostly because of the very reasons that I'm so damn terrified of her. Then there is Jennifer, whom I love and only spoke to for a couple of minutes on Thursday because I was sure I would run into her again, but never did. But I'm so glad she came up to say hi to me.

I am thrilled that Amy of Occupation: Mommy introduced herself to me. She's super cool, and I'll be reading her blog from here on out. And then there's Melanie, who I just now this very moment when I was looking for her link put her real face together with her avatar face and realized she won a giveaway I ran back in March. Dear lord, Melanie, I am so sorry I am such a dipshit idiot. This is why people should be required to have their avatars on their badges. I would have recognized you in a fucking heartbeat if you had. (I. Am. Such. A. Moron.)

I loved re-meeting Lady M and her sister, Fourth Breakfast, with whom I bonded over rodents. I love gerbils. She loves rats. Amanda, who works for Scholastic, is phenomenal and I wish I'd gotten to chat with her more. I'm glad I met Jenny on the Spot and am sorry I bailed, like, mid-sentence to get in an elevator (see #6 above). I follow Neil on Twitter and am always seeing him engaged in conversation with women I love. But I was always afraid to tweet to him because we didn't know each other. Fair warning, Neil, now I know you.

Everyone knows Maggie. It was an honor to meet her. She does amazing things. Then there is Megan, whom I met on the shuttle to the airport. Small world. We have all kinds of weird, real world connections, including that Sam used to go to the same martial arts center as her family.

And, again, if I didn't mention you...hate. Or an inability to face the Ziploc bag full of a two-inch thick stack of cards I'm getting ready to sort through. It was a pleasure to meet each and every one of you.

15. Returning to live gerbils.

16. Coming home to my guys. When people ask me what my inspiration is, I don't have to look any farther than them (and their crazy exploits). Because those guys—Sam, Jack, Quinn, and Alex—are really why I blog.


  1. I'm not scary! Well, I hope I am to my ex-husband, but you know what I mean. :)

    You, are gorgeous. Intimidatingly so.

  2. I LOVED finally getting to meet you. You are GORGEOUS! I swear I've known you forever. And yay! for coming home to live gerbils.

  3. Whoa.

    Now there's no way I can possibly write a round-up. You. Are. Amazing.

    And I LOVED rooming with you! Anytime, babe, anytime.

  4. HOLY COW! That was a long re-cap. Thanks for the gerbils. I had not heard of the term Swaghore, but I'm totally going to use it (in a completely sarcastic way, of course). I just had fun at the conference and tried not to let people know I'm still kicking and screaming about not being on Twitter. Sigh. Oh, and I used your pen at work today. Stupid cubicle job. The Gerbil makes me laugh.

  5. A brain like a fucking sieve? Gawd I wish I had a sieve for a brain. Mine must be a frackin' balck hole. Had I socks on... they'd be off for all the impressed I am.

    What a great post! Wowza! I gotta get on posting on this too, but after reading this, I am feeling so... eerrrm... forgetful :) But I'm glad there are people like you. People like me need people like you :)

    BTW, had no idea such trouble was brewing in that elevator *wink*

  6. Sounds like an excellent weekend! And I'm glad the gerbils were still alive when you got home.

  7. I laughed out loud when I got to the Amy line. Because you're right, there are a lot of bloggers named Amy!

  8. I was sure we'd run into each other again! It just didn't work out with the whole time issue.

    I also referenced the elephant in the room in my BlogHer post. Great minds definitely think alike!

  9. Gawd, I love you! Even more since I've met you. Though how the heck you managed to remember to link to that many people completely escapes me.

  10. It was great to see you and that dinner out is one of my favorite blogher memories. Thanks for including me!

  11. OMG, YES, avatars on name tags!! Better yet, on MASKS.

  12. My family calls me Amy. Weird.

    And I would totally be about the swag, both giving and getting. Swag rocks. Totally, totally, rocks.

  13. Ah, but because I wasn't there, your skills can continue to be the stuff of legend.

  14. This is one of the best recap posts I have read. It really is all about the people.

  15. What a fabulous post! I'm so glad I got to share a room with you. It was so important for me to hear your perspective on autism and think about how, as a teacher, I can recognize it and help. And thanks for not thinking I was a huge dork for asking!

    I'm so glad we are friends IRL and hooray for live gerbils upon returning home!

  16. I loved hanging with you - it was definitely what I missed last year and worth making the trek again!

  17. Wow, sounds like a great time! I love the interview you did. I haven't heard of any of those books, so I will have to go look for them!

  18. I am so with you on the Amy thing. Mind you when the mind fails and you can't remember a bloggers name, if you call them Amy you will be correct 50% of the time.

    And loved, loved seeing you again.

  19. As one of the hundreds of Amys, feel free to just call me by my twitter handle. Let's be honest, it's how we all think of each other, anyway.

    And I am so impressed that you were able to link to all those people while the business cards are still in the ziploc! Those are some memory skills, girl. I should keep my pearl earrings in a sieve like that.

  20. Holy crap, I'm floored at this post--it is so. . . complete. And, like Amy (see comment above) my cards are, too, still in the ziplock. Better get to them--

    And I laughed HARD at your mention of the flying grapes, all the Amy's--and yes, I'm one of them-- and our unwilling-to-take-tips bartender.

    Hope to catch you soon locally, friend.

  21. I'll drive that baby over to your house right now. RIGHT NOW.

    You saved my life. Or, if that seems slightly melodramatic, my night. :-)

    And like I said before, you are the best mama. ever.

  22. Mother's Helper's MomJuly 29, 2009 at 4:15 PM

    I'm curious - were the other people there mainly your age, or are younger and older (it was painful to type that) women getting involved?

  23. What a wrap-up! I felt like I was living it all over again!

  24. Maybe Amy is a very popular pseudonym (can't believe I spelled that right) and you really don't know ANY of their real names. :)

    Looks like those gerbils thrived (throve?) while you were gone. Maybe Alex needs the job whenever they visit, what do you think?

  25. @ Mother's Helper Mom: I would say that there are a lot of people my age (30s and 40s) but you will find women of ALL ages at BlogHer. I saw a panel with a 21 year old speaker, and one panelist who was about my age brought her mother too. And that doesn't even count all the other attendees of all ages.

  26. Thank you, for the honor and the mention and, as always, for the gerbil. Where would we be without it?

  27. Wow, this post is impressive! It must have taken forever to dole out all this link love but it was so sweet of you to do.

    I really, really enjoyed meeting you.


  28. i did not nor have i ever attended blogher, after i read teh drama it makes me want to NOT go, but it being in nyc 2010 i need to go.

    i believe after all the recaps i read you had the best - the NEED to not tear each other down. I loved that line !! thank you

  29. Absolutely LOVED hanging out with you!! Thank you so much for organizing the SN meet-ups and for going to breakfast with me. I meant everything I said about you and your blog and how much you rock - I may not post much but I am always sincere. Thank you also for being so encouraging. Can't wait for next year!

  30. It was great to meet you. I wrote about you too. Don't be too alarmed: http://fourthbreakfast.blogspot.com/2009/07/finding-rodent-love-at-blogher.html

    Fourth Breakfast

  31. Hopefully we'll have a special needs panel next year. There certainly are enough of us. If not, we'll continue to seek each other out in the crowds! Great to meet you.

  32. I so love you. And your thoughts about the "elephant in the room"? Perfection. Support is always better than criticism.

  33. I'm glad you had a great time!!!! AndreAnna just told me that next year it's in NYC - maybe we can carpool!

    Hooray for live gerbils!!!

  34. It was great to meet you too, and the only reason I haven't been to your blog before is 'cause it's so effin hot in my office I can only sit at the computer for like 2 minutes at a time. Also I haven't posted my thoughts on BlogHer yet and feel very behind the times ... agree with you in the meantime! Anyhoo, I want you to know it's the "gerbils" on your tagline that got me here!

  35. i really enjoyed your summary. i have had to sort through all my emotions about the conference that got scuewed (i don't know how to spell that word. i've tried three times. hopefully you know what i mean) from other people's criticism.

    i definitely enjoyed the opportunity to meet you in the flesh (and sorry to say, i didn't even realize you were the one i won that giveaway from so no hurt feelings here--hopefully yours aren't hurt now. honestly that is the best giveaway i have ever won and my kids LOVE the tags. they don't even know about the rest of the books because i save them for special occasions!). i would have loved more opportunities to chat but am happy that we can say we know each other "irl" now!

    thanks for the mention!


Thanks for commenting! May you be visited by unicorns and kittens.