Wow. WOOOOW. If you've been to BlogHer, you know what I mean. If you haven't, let me just tell you that it's bigger, crazier, busier and better than you could ever imagine. There is so, so much to tell that I've decided to break it up over several posts, mostly so my site won't crash from the insane amount of pictures I want to share. First, I'll tell you about the best, most important element of Blogher: The People. If you're a blogger, you understand how our community works. We are friends. REAL friends. Sure, most of us have never met in real life, but we're often as close as people who see each other every day would be. We email. We read each others' stories. Some of us are friends on Facebook. And let me tell you, when you do get to meet your blog friends in real life? You KNOW you're with your real friends. It's exhilarating and comfortable and I would not trade that part of this past weekend for anything.
I went into the weekend with a few small, but obtainable goals where people were concerned. I wanted to be sure that I was one of those people who talked to folks who looked scared or out of place. I think my pal Julie and I did a good job or inviting people to the breakfast or lunch table and of starting up conversations in elevators. I even made a friend in the taxi line on Thursday. I had a list of about 7 bloggers that I HAD to meet. Guess what? I hugged all of them!
What's that? Why, yes, that IS me and Amalah! I might have kind of twitter stalked her for a bit and upon finding out she was in the hotel bar, I might have gone down there to meet her. Um, yeah. I hoped that I would get to see her from afar, maybe a handshake in the hall or a wave in the lobby, maybe try to work in the fact that I think she's the bee's knees. 15 minutes of one-on-one time AND meeting her adorable husband? Was SO much better. She is an absolute delight. We talked about baby vomit. (OF COURSE we did.) A few people saw me talking to her and were all "Ooh, you KNOW her?" I said, "No, but I had the opportunity to go up and meet her, so I took it." And boy, oh boy, am I glad I did. Guess what? She's a PERSON! LIKE ME! I KNOW, IT'S NUTS! Seriously, she was very sweet and thanked me for reading and didn't act like I was bothering her at all. It rocked. (Spoiler: The big name bloggers come to this conference to meet people, too!)
And here I am with Casey who is, without a doubt, one of the top 3 most adorable people I've ever met. A while back, she wrote a post that touched my heart so much that I told her in the comments that whenever I met her, I'd be giving her an uncomfortably long hug. She held me to it. (and held, and held...) (Wow, I said "that" a lot in that sentence. No, not that one. That one.) I saw Casey again on Saturday in the Expo Hall with Emily, who was also on my list and who is absolutely precious. Through magical text messaging, I was able to catch Jennie before she left for dinner with her friends. She was so welcoming and so exactly how I imagined her to be.
There's something you should know about BlogHer. Yes, we're all bloggers, but many of us know each other from Twitter. This leads to massive confusion, especially when people have Twitter names that aren't their real names. I spent most of the first day calling people things like @honestandtruly and @resourcefulmom. Kelby Carr, the owner of Foodie Mama and Type-A Mom, said she feels like she doesn't even have a "real person" name any more because everyone calls her @typeamom. It's hilarious to watch people figure out who everyone is. You spend a lot of time staring at people's mid-sections so you can read their name tags. (It's easier for me because I come up to everyone's mid-section. See Amalah picture above for proof.)
On Friday, I was standing in the lobby quickly posting the pictures from Thursday when I heard someone scream, "JEN!!!!!!!!" Honestly, I didn't even react at first because about 2000 of the 2500 people at BlogHer were named Jen and I figured no one could possibly be looking for me. Fortunately, I was wrong. I looked up to see the beautiful Stacey running toward me, yelling, "You look exactly like your picture!" We had met on Twitter just a few days before BlogHer and had instantly hit it off. She is SO much fun! We sat together at the Newbie Breakfast and talked like we'd been best friends for years. You'll hear more about our adventures in my party post, but here's a picture of the two of us getting down with our bad selves at Sparklecorn:
Most of my time this weekend was spent with this lady:
That's Shannan. (@slpowell) You read the pre-BlogHer posts before you go and some of them tell you that you will meet people. You will make some friends. You might make some really good friends, and you might just meet your "bury the body" friend. I'm fairly certain the latter could very well be true of Shannan and me. We spent HOURS talking on Skype before we went to NYC and were lucky enough to find each other immediately upon arriving at the Hilton on Thursday. She brought me as her guest to the Smile and Shine fashion show on Thursday, then to a lovely dinner with Tavern Direct on Saturday. Over the weekend, we ate together, met tons of people, collected bag after bag of swag, looked for her lost camera (she found it!), broke it down on the dance floor, enjoyed the best cake ever made, participated in a focus group (mostly so we could sit down for half an hour and enjoy free Coke products) and much, much more. We are truly birds of a feather and I am ecstatic to have had this time to get to know her. Of course now the bad part is that I miss her and want her at my house, but whatcha gonna do?
Here we are entertaining the people at the Butterfinger Snackerz booth in the Expo Hall:
I loved all the "stuff" at BlogHer, but the people are what made the trip worthwhile for me. It was so unbelievably cool to meet these women, to hug them and talk to them and share meals and laughs and stories. I needed some time with my girlfriends and I feel like I got much more than I could ever have hoped for out of this weekend.
More to come...