Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Devil Is In Here

Oddly I don't know what kind of details to give you.

Cindy arrived on a plane and Chrome got her to the Hilton and just as I was greeting them my phone rang and it was Suebob! She was standing across the lobby and I swept her over to meet my friends and Chrome went to class and the rest of us went upstairs to register. A lot of people had registered earlier or had everything they needed sent to them so it wasn't much of a line and then we were done. So Cindy and I decided to have a fortifying drink before the party. We might have met more bloggers if we'd opted for a pricier drink in the lobby but we went outside since we were going to be spending all weekend in the hotel. We drank our drinks and looked at our swag and talked to our very bored waitress. Bored with her job, not with us, we were predictable enchanting.

Back at the party it was still early but plenty of people were there. I saw NakedJen wearing crazy-tall heels with ribbons that wrapped around her ankles and didn't have the courage to speak up. We met someone named Sapphire. I saw San Diego Momma and met her friend (whose name I'm blanking on and the lack of a card is making me think there's a stash of cards somewhere that I have misplaced. Whoops!). The first person I ever told out loud about Kizz & Tell - the first person for whom it would be an introduction to me - was David. David sat down at our table and told us he was there at the last minute from Canada courtesy of his new job to find people who would blog about jewelry (the lack of his card confirms the lost stash). We wound up doing a a quick lap of the party, taking some photos of tutus in progress and heading out to meet Chrome. That was the night I needed to get home in time to see Teddy.

Very early the next day we met back in the hotel and we got some breakfast and I followed behind Cindy as we tried to determine where to sit, finally lighting on someplace right up close to the stage. Soon after a few women joined us, bit by bit, wondering what we'd done to get such a prime spot. We didn't do anything but decide to sit and think we were at the newbie breakfast and be wrong about that. Later we heard we hadn't missed anything and I knew I was in the right spot even if we had because I was sitting with Ananda Leeke. She's been to three Bloghers and vows to keep coming to them as long as she has a friend to stay with. She said to me, "I feel as if I was meant to sit right here, I'm in the right place doing the right thing." That, and our whole conversation, made me feel as though whatever I wanted to do with my weekend - sessions, no sessions, party all night, drinks with friends, swag, food, writing, photos - would be OK. So I decided to just keep saying hello to people and keep doing the things I wanted to do.

Not having been in business situations where the exchange of cards is required I don't know if this happens there, too, but there's a sort of unspoken rhythm of card exchange at the conference. You'll sit at a table or be walking in a hall and start a conversation with someone. For one reason or another you know the conversation will be short. Usually a speech or session is starting or a meal is ending or they have to head off to another party. So relatively early in that talk someone hauls out a card. If it's meal time and you're at a table cards are dealt around the ten-top like a scene out of Tombstone. You politely look at the card and try to fix the face with the font while continuing your conversation because, as we've established, it might end very soon, and you want to be able to continue it later. Luckily we have the internet for that. You get to be quite good at this dance, maybe you already are, but the first few times I felt like I had two left feet. 

There was a keynote and sessions and meals and walks through the expo hall and exchanging of cards and conversations in bathrooms. Shortly after that first breakfast we quickly ducked into the ladies room for a pee before going to a session and I was still riding the wave from meeting Ananda so I introduced myself to the woman behind me. She kindly asked me what sort of blogging I did and I handed her a card and gave her a glossy thing about 117 Hudson and got to use the full pitch for Kizz & Tell. She was wildly accommodating and asked if I felt there was an audience for erotic fiction online and I was happy to talk about how I hoped so even though I wasn't sure where to find it. That it was my quest, as it were. Finally I got around to asking what she did. She's a literary agent. And because New York has taught me that, even when you want something very badly you don't overwhelm people about it, I nodded and inquired, as politely as she had about my adventure, did she have any authors in the Blogher bookstore? She did and I promised to look for them and then a stall opened up. Later, downstairs in the bookstore, I noticed not one but a slew of books of erotic fiction, leading into a group of books on sex and sexuality and sexual health. Despite the fact the agent hadn't given me a card I felt better knowing we'd both browse that little store and find out I was right, there is a market for it and there has to be a place for me in it. She has my card if it turns out she wants to be part of the quest.

The bathroom conversation, of which I had many, is another big takeaway for me. A lot of Blogher veterans don't go to sessions or speeches. Some just buy a pass for the parties, or do nothing at all but sit in the hotel bar and chat with their friends. It's even been said that the people who formed lasting bonds at the first conferences were the ones that holed up in their rooms. To some extent I'm sure that's true. The iconic Cheeseburgher Party was the product of a small, comfortable gathering of women who wanted to relax after being "on" at the conference so long and got together in someone's hotel room to eat cheeseburgers and fries and spike their milkshakes while wearing PJs. It's grown into something that required beds installed in a ballroom to accommodate the number of attendees. But the same amount of fun seems to be had. I liked the sessions and I loved the speeches and perhaps I should have spent more time in the hotel bar or in the ladies room just saying hello to anyone who crossed my path. Because in the end, no matter what you choose to do with your minutes while you're there the great gift is to be surrounded by people who value what you are doing and share your enthusiasm for it. I'm not the first person to say that, either. I don't know about you but, while many people in my real life support or enjoy my blogging there aren't very many who see it as more than a hobby or quirk. So the important direction-changing conversations at Blogher happen by virtue of being somewhere surrounded by people who see what you do as it is and as it can be and who enjoy it just as much, if not more, than you do.

Which is my big excuse for not being able to give you one, chronological, linkfest of an entry about how I spent my weekend at Blogher. I'm going to fill you in on details. I'm going to tell you about the sessions I went to. I'm going to get up on my soapbox about a couple of keynote addresses. I'm going to talk parties and I'm going to probably put up a big old list of links from the many stashes of business cards people were generous enough to give me (I will find the missing one. I will! Won't I?). And eventually I'll tell you about the post-Blogher conversations that are already happening for me and how head-explodingly cool they are, too.

The question, however, is will any of that be enough? If, as I've said, my task was to bring back as much of the experience as possible for those who wanted to but were unable to attend then the most important thing to bring back is this feeling of having your online self valued at Tiffany-diamond levels. Can I do that? I don't know. But I'm sure as hell going to try.


  1. beautiful start, thx :) will catch up on the rest when I'm back from vacation ...

  2. Thanks for feeding me before I tipped over on Saturday! Travel safely, see you when you return.

  3. That was awesome. I am so glad I saw you again. But it was really too brief.
    Are you coming to San Diego next year?

  4. In my head I have planned a tour of the entire state of California kicked off with Blogher in San Diego. I'm giving myself until early bird Blogher ticket deadline to decide but I think I'll be way WAY too sad if I don't go. I've never been to CA before. I HAVE to come. Right?

  5. P.S. I still can't find your friend's business card. Who did you introduce me to at your table at the People's Party on Thurs night, please?

  6. It was great to meet you at the Saturday breakfast and talk about NYC and Brooklyn. I think you have done a really great re-cap of how it actually felt to be at BlogHer. Anyone can recite the agenda or the main points - but I think you have nailed it with the nuances you've described - hopefully I'll get to meet you again in San Diego!

  7. Di, great to meet you too! Hope your trip back was smooth. I'm still, slowly but surely, catching up on everyone I met over the course of the conference. Hope to see you in San Diego and I'm sure I'll see you around the internet between now and then.