Before we move on to the events of Friday - the first day of BlogHer proper - two things about Thursday that I'd forgotten to mention:
• As we walked into the People's Party on Thursday evening, BHJ stopped for a moment so he could say hi & introduce us to SweetSalty Kate. Jason said hello, BHJ beamed warmly in reaction to this reunion with a friend, and I basically melted into a puddle of goo. D'you remember in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant's sister - who is beloved by everyone but also kind of a whack job who (between her googly eyes and goofy hair) for all intents and purposes resembles a cartoon bird - meets his famous actress girlfriend (Julia Roberts) for the first time and finds herself unable to stop from gushing out something to the effect of "I've always felt, in a deep and meaningful way, that you and I were meant to be friends. The best of friends." and then Julia Roberts just stares at her and we all die of embarrassment watching? Yeah, well... as the introduction took place, I came thisclose to having a Hugh-Grant's-sister-in-Notting-Hill-moment. Why? Because Kate is easily one of the finest writers I know on the interwebs, plus she wrote a book that snuck around my defenses and surprised me by becoming one of my favorite things ever, plus she's terrifyingly beautiful. Taken together, it's a pretty fucking intimidating package. So when I finally found myself face-to-face with her and in a position to introduce myself and say hi... well, realizing that I was on the verge of a Defcon-6 moment of embarrassment meltdown, I chose instead to swallow my tongue and die on the spot. Which is exactly what I did. The end.
• I should also point out that right from the get-go... Always Home and Uncool Kevin (aka my roommate) (aka the man I slept with) (twice) worked diligently at every possible opportunity to achieve his core goal for the event. To promote himself? To make connections? To pick up important tips on branding? None of the above: Kevin was working to generate awareness of the Cure JM Effort to win the $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant. The guy made an incredible effort at every possible turn, and I'd be doing him a supreme disservice if I didn't ask you to take a minute now - and every day this month - to click on that link and place your vote.
Okay. So: having now established the groundwork for a phenomenally successful weekend of How Not To Win Friends and Influence People... Friday dawned, and with it the officially beginning of BlogHer 2010.
• Despite the fact that didn't get to sleep until 2:30am, I'm up and in the shower at 6:30am. Seven+ years of living with small mammals monsters children has apparently ruined me for sleep forever. I'm showered, dressed and ready to face the world by the time Kevin awakens to find me sitting six inches away from him, deciding his skin is pretty and that I'd like to wear it in my comfortable hotel chair, a song on my lips and love in my heart, prepared for the glory of a (deep breath) blogging conference.
• Sustenance! We seek sustenance! And so, we head down to the main ballroom to grab some breakfast and hear the introductory "Welcome to BlogHer!" speech thing. Kevin loads up his plate with fresh fruit; I demonstrate a similar commitment to nutrition by allowing a blueberry to accidentally fall onto my plate. Antioxidents and all.
• We sit down - two lonesome dudes at a table, afloat in a sea of BlogHers - and wait for the festivities to begin. We're quickly surrounded by women (none we know... they all seem friendly enough, as Kevin makes smalltalk and I hide behind my bagel) and begin getting frantic emails from Kristine, who relates the story in much finer detail than I'm capable of mustering here.
• We also start wondering as to the whereabouts of Darcy (from Post Picket Fence) and Carolyn (de la Carolyn Online), who were supposed to have come down from Connecticut in time for the morning session. I hypothesize that it'll turn out that they're too damaged by the previous night's festivities to make it down before mid-afternoon. Soon enough, he gets an email from Darcy to that effect. Score one for the blue lobster, folks.
• And with that, BlogHer 2010 launches like Sputnik into space. (I'm Laika in this equation, btw.) I meander aimlessly for half an hour, and then find my way into my very first-ever BlogHer conference session — on Blogging Autism. As I wander the room, looking for a familiar face (not the last time - not by a long shot - that I'll do the "new kid in middle school/who do I sit with at lunch?" dance in a crowded room), I see Devra from Parentopia and (without thinking) I go up and introduce myself by shaking my lanyard at her. (Not thinking generally works well for me.) She is, needless to say, entirely awesome and impossibly warm and friendly and instantly invites me to sit next to her for the session. Yes! I have a session buddy! As I've learned from my kids' preschools & schools... the buddy system works — and this session is no exception. I won't try to describe the session itself, as Amalah already does that quite nicely in the link above, but it turns out to be a pretty remarkable and moving discussion among the four presenters and a very involved audience. Midway through the session, Jodifur tweets Devra and tells her to give me a hug — which she immediately jumps up and does. I respond by once again melting into a puddle of goo. And then, suddenly... the session is over. In all honesty, I could've easily stayed another hour, listening to these people talk and soaking up their experiences and trying to figure out how they relate to my own. So: wow. Great start to this thing.
• I decide to celebrate by blowing off all other sessions for the day (see: not thinking). Actually, it's not a conscious decision, but after session one I run into into Sweetney and Charlie, who invite me out to lunch.
• Which is how I end up in a place with a mechanical bull and cattle skulls on the wall. In Manhattan.
• I spend most of the lunch talking to Miss Banshee and Snarky Amber, who are - for the record - every bit as cool and self-deprecatingly, sharply, truly, deeply funny as you'd think they'd be. I also somehow manage to fool myself into thinking that I'm not coming off like a complete buffoon, so... score one for the powers of self-delusion.
• I also get to talk at some length to Charlie about beer and food. Man, does that guy know his stuff.
• Lunch lasts for approximately three hours, most likely because we're all hypnotized by the cattle skulls and unable to rouse ourselves from the table. Fuckin' cattle skulls, man.
• After lunch, I find myself wandering aimlessly around the Hilton (do you sense that this is something of an ongoing theme for me?)... until: Shazam! I stumble upon Jonniker, who's chillin' at the hotel lounge with a bunch of really, really, really cool women. Drunk on self-delusion and the cumulative effect of three hours in the presence of cattle skulls, I sit down and proceed to inflict myself on them for a chunk of the afternoon. They are remarkably tolerant of my presence.
• In the midst of all of this, I'm exchanging emails with Mr. Lady, who's decided to blow off BlogHer so that she can go commune with nature or some shit. At some point during this exchange, she starts emailing me lyrics to The Wind Beneath My Wings, which immediately burrows into my skull and makes me want to dig it out with a spork. I respond with great dignity and restraint:
Her thoughtful response: "Fuck off and die."
(pouring one out for Mr. Lady)
• At some point during the course of lounge hours, another woman approaches the lounge area and is greeted warmly by the group. Since I'm deaf and stupid, I miss her name when she introduces herself to me. She's apparently just gone shopping - buying a new dress - and is anxious about something she's going to be doing that night or the next day. She's only there for a couple of minutes, and seems really nice, but before I can get clarification on anything she's gone... and it's only late that afternoon that I recognize her - wearing that new dress - when she gets up on stage and delivers a long and exuberant rap about Twilight as part of the BlogHer Community Keynote/Voices of the Year Presentation. At which point, I say: oh. That's Metalia. (See under: am stupid.)
• I'm starting to realize that I was the Forrest Gump of BlogHer 2010. Am not happy about this.
• So! Speaking of the BlogHer Community Keynote/Voices of the Year Presentation! I go, of course. And it is fantastic, of course. Each and every post that is read is terrific. It is, obviously, a blast to see Jason stalk out on stage like he owns it - which he does - instantaneously mention his penis to an audience of 2400 women, and then hammer his way through his fantastic Valentine's Day piece. Dude is the biggest damn rock star that I know. And the others... man. Some made me cackle like a madman; some made the room get all dusty all of a sudden. Just an impressive expression of the kind of work floating out there on the interwebs. Kind of inspiring, really.
• Afterwards, struggling amongst the huddled masses yearning to breath free take the elevators up to their rooms, I find myself standing next to Marinka — whose Keynote presentation was one of the greatest things I've ever heard: just funny as hell, delivered in a perfect deadpan that hit every note perfectly. Since I kinda sorta vaguely kinda know her through the magic of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I think: hey! I know! I'll introduce myself and let her know how awesome I thought she was on stage! And then I clear my throat to say something and she looks up and... I go starstruck and dead stupid. Unable to form words, I flap my lanyard at her and mumble something to the effect of "hominahominahomina." And then the elevator doors open and she slips away and I stand there, staring at the closed doors, trying not to make eye contact with my reflection and thinking: I shouldn't be allowed around people.
• See under: I suck.
• Suddenly, it's time to head out to the MamaPop Writer's Dinner! And so all 4 8 15 16 23 42 of us climb onto a single rickshaw into a cadre of cabs and head downtown to the sweet-ass corporate offices of OutNumberedIsMe, who generously offered to host our sorry asses for an evening of burritos, beer, and apocalyptic karaoke meltdown.
• I just realized I used ass and/or an ass-derivative twice in that last sentence. Sorry.
• In any case: it is a goooooooooood time. Seriously.
• First off: I have to say that I'm deeply jealous of the people who work there, because that is a seriously sweet set-up. Y'know that vision you have in your head of the kind of place where cool people do great, creative work? Lots of exposed brick, woodwork and pipes, offices with glass doors and big couches to facilitate collaboration and the free flow of ideas, open, communal spaces where people can take a break from their tasks and actually hang for a few minutes without fear of being nailed by a supervisor for being somewhere other than their tiny little cubicle of depression? This office is that vision brought to life. And judging by the brief conversations I had with a few people who worked there... that impression is accurate. Deeply, deeply cool spot.
• Secondly: Karaoke is a full-contact spot. Sometimes people get hurt. Just sayin'.
• Third: That said, I do not actually participate in said karaoke — I simply hear and witness it in states that range from "Wow. I'm actually kind of impressed" to "Ouch" to "I'm pretty sure I hate music now."
• Fourth: Perhaps my favorite moment of the evening occurs at the end of a long solo performance by KBestOliver, who completes an exhilarating rendition of... well, I don't actually know what it is, but she finishes by suddenly yelling out "SEXUAL CHOCOLATE" and then dropping the mic to the floor and walking away. A seriously badass moment from one of my newly favorite people.
• Fifth: Despite having never really said much more than "boo" to her before, I end up talking to Amalah for something like half an hour about kid stuff (and the complexities thereof), and man: she is as down to earth and cool as anyone I've ever met in my life. Seriously. All the love she's engendered in the online world? Couldn't go to a better person.
It's funny, because you head into something like BlogHer and you've heard (well, okay: I headed into it and I'd heard) about how years past have offered internet/bloggy-type people (note: NOT Amy) acting like queen bees and generating all kinds of unnecessary drama and throwing around attitude like loaves of bread to the masses at the Coliseum... and you find yourself getting really, really apprehensive about going to a conference like this. And then you suddenly find yourself talking to someone like Amy - "A WIDELY-READ BLOGGER IN A SMALL SUBSET OF A SPECIALIZED NICHE IN THE FEMALE SEGMENT OF THE BLOGOSPHERE" - and justlikethat all those apprehensions disappear, and you realize: maybe you're not as out-of-place as you thought you'd be.
• See under: self-delusion. Also: I still suck.
• Sixth: That said, her coolness does not dissuade me from kicking her husband's ass at foosball. FIVE. STRAIGHT. TIMES.
• (Also: said husband? His name is Jason, he's online here, and he's a hell of a nice guy. Very glad I met him.)
• Seventh: Goon Squad Sarah. Do I have to tell you how awesome she is? I didn't think so. Also: METAL.
• Eighth: Laurie and Katie? Yes. Yes yes yes. Likewise Jodi and Schmutzie and Marilyn and kdiddy. Yes, yes yes yes. All really funny, really smart, really cool. All tolerate my presence admirably. Thank you for your kindness, should you happen to see this.
• Ninth: I only veryveryvery briefly see or talk to Ryan and Melissa, which is lose-lose for me but big, big, big WINs for them both. Avoiding the lobster = good move at BlogHer 2010.
• Tenth: And then there's Bitchin' Amy, who could not be more my polar opposite. She's tall, blonde, lovely, exuberantly extroverted (in case you couldn't tell from her Community Keynote closing rendition of The (Wicked) Popular Blogger)... and at the same time: smart, funny as hell, and really sweet. So glad I got the chance to talk to her. Hope you did, too.
• And finally: Sweetney herself. Totally in her element, surrounded by her people, and completely overjoyed by every minute of it. A really nice thing to behold, and to be an (even tiny) part of.
• Suddenly, it's 2am and we all turn into pumpkins. Or not. Either way: party over & time to head back to the Hilton. Once we arrive, everyone else heads to the elevators... except for me. Finding myself unexpectedly dead sober, I do one last pass by the hotel bar just to see if anyone was there.
• SURPRISE! Darcy! Carolyn! Momo Fali! Kevin! Other people I'm momentarily blanking on! I am immediately offered my choice of Miller Lite tallboys - which are cleverly hidden beneath the cocktail table - but I chouse to decline. Beer snobbery does not allow room for compromise.
• Have I pointed out that it's taking me longer to recap this damned conference than it did to actually live it?
• At some point, the hotel bar closes and with that... the night is over. At 3:30am - 21 hours after awakening - Kevin and I collapse into bed(s) and call it a night.
• (To be continued)