BlogHer 09: In Real Life

In Real Life was an appropriate motto for this year's BlogHer conference, for my experience at least. My online and my real life merged. You see, there are people I know on the internet that are very much part of my real life. People like Denise and Tarrant and their family. They are friends that I've known for almost as long as I've been online and they opened their home to me even though I brought the Fake Husband with me. (Though I think he's growing on them, they laughed a lot and the kids seemed to enjoy him.) I hadn't seen them in almost six years because I suck and I couldn't get my butt to BlogHer before now. So going into BlogHer I was feeling fantastic about being there and I still got to spend BlogHer with them and the two oldest of the little kids because they were going too.

The BlogHer conference is what you make of it. Before I went I wrote this:
I’m expecting to go and learn. I’m expecting to be overwhelmed. I’m expecting to meet fantastic, inspirational women. I’m expecting to hang out with friends, be they people I’ve know for years or people I’ve known for five minutes. I’m expecting to bawl my eyes out at the community keynote. I’m expecting to feel like I’m on the world’s craziest, scariest, most thrilling and exciting amusement park ride. And I’m expecting that the moment it’s over I’m going to be like the child that cries the whole way through and then says, “AGAIN! AGAIN!”

I was right.

I learned. I learned more of what works for me and what doesn't in a session. I learned it's worth going to a session even though you are worried it might be a bit to "mommyish" for this non-mommy. I learned that I my decision to not really attend any parties aside from the cocktail parties was bang on (though I did end up at the People's Party).

I met and reconnected with fantastic, inspirational women. Women like BlogHer's founders - Lisa, Jory, and Elisa. I proclaimed my love for Susan Getgood on Twitter. I came away from there wanting to be a better writer, a better blogger and a better person.

I met with friends like the wonderful Lauriewrites, Zandria and Laurie K (Ok, so I don't have to travel so far to see her, lol). I met Blondie for the first time by walking up to her and saying, "I read your blog all the time but I never comment because I suck at commenting." Then I found out that people kept thinking that she was me because you know, all redheads look alike. (I kind of wanted to pack Blondie in our car and take her home with us. I've adopted her...I'm just not sure she knows it yet.) I met Joy, one of the sweetest women on the planet. Lee and I both got to hang out and have breakfast with Deb Roby.  I gave Suzanne Mars bars. I met a whole bunch of my fellow Contributing Editors at BlogHer (but not all of them who were there which makes me very sad). I met the fabulous book bloggers Florinda and Texas Red.  I had my picture taken with Suebob's Red Stapler (but alas, not with Suzanne's stuffed beaver). I know I'm missing a dozen people. I'm sorry. It's too much to take in and put down on the page.

I didn't get to meet everyone I wanted to meet. That sucks, but it is to be expected I suppose. Out of 1500 women I can't meet them all. (And I kinda suck at the whole meeting people thing, small talk is not something I'm very good at.)

I saw Paula Deen though I didn't get to really meet her.

I bawled my freaking eyes out at the Community Keynote. I've never been so happy to remember to pack tissues in my laptop bag. They weren't all tears of sadness, though some were. There were also tears of happiness, of love and of laughter. The Community Keynote? Those writers remind us of what it is that we do and why we do it. They raise the bar and challenge us to meet it. I swear I'd go back to BlogHer just to attend the Community Keynote.

BlogHer is indeed the world's craziest, scariest, most thrilling and exciting amusement park ride. I had highs and lows. I had moments of exhilaration and moments of blind panic where I talked myself out of going back to my room and hiding. There were times that I wished I had gone to more parties and then I smacked myself upside the head and thanked my stars that I hadn't. There's nothing wrong with the parties, I just know they would have been too much for me. I sucked at feeding myself meals in the evenings, something that I need to improve on for next year's BlogHer. Time to start scouting the internet for the best eats at a reasonable price in NYC.

Because yes, I'm going next year. As overwhelming as it is it is also awesome and it is indeed a ride I want to ride again, and again, and again.