Last week I drove to Chicago to attend my very first BlogHer conference. It was really bad timing. [The nerve of them not checking with me to make sure the dates worked with my schedule.] I was handing out business cards, but my blog was (still is) in no shape for new visitors. I have this generic blog template because I haven’t had time to redesign ever since I took down my old template after Google spit all over me with their lame “you might be sending out some adware so we’re blocking your ass” excuse. And I haven’t blogged in weeks because I’ve been too busy with school and family [but mostly school]. Plus finals were this week so I really should have spent the weekend at home, studying for hours on end. But I was tired of just reading about the BlogHer conference. I wanted to experience it for myself.
I’ve wanted to go for several years but always let my fear stop me. I’m an extremely shy person. On my report card in the third grade my teacher wrote, “Christine’s like E.F. Hutton. When she talks everybody listens because it’s so rare.” I once peed my pants. At school. Because I was too shy to interrupt the teacher to ask if I could use the restroom. I was in the FOURTH GRADE. Recently I seriously considered driving off the side of the road to crash my truck…just so I could get out of giving a speech at school. When I say I’m shy I mean it.
I think a lot of writers are shy. We’re much better on paper than we are face-to-face. I can write a scathing complaint letter that can make CEOs email me back personally. But face-to-face I turn in to a bubbling idiot. Most of my arguments end with me straining my brain for some witty comeback only to respond with, “well, um, fuck you.” Yeah, I’m not really winning any debates with that well thought out argument.
Small talk for me goes something like this:
Them: I really like you’re hair.
Me: *nervously running my fingers through my hair* Thanks. I didn’t get a chance to wash it today.
Them: *gives me a funny look* Um, ok. Well it was nice talking to you. *
walks runs in the other direction*
I wish I was making this up. But that’s a transcript of a real conversation I’ve had. It’s embarrassing being with myself in public.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m socially awkward. Very, very awkward. Once I get past, “Hi whats your name? What’s your blog? And where are you from?” I just stand there creepingly staring at you like a stalker. I know I should either come up with some other conversation starter (for example, “what do you think of this weather?”) or simple excuse myself and walk away. But if I walk away I have to have this awkward conversation with somebody else. And it’s really just easier to scare one person a night rather than alienating every party guest in the first hour.
But I had high hopes for BlogHer. I’m medicated and it’s been helping with my anxiety. I’ve even given speeches at school without thoughts of suicide. It’s a step up.
On the four hour drive to Chicago I was transcribing my BlogHer post in my head. (Does anybody else do that? Start thinking about the post you’ll write after something happens? Even though it hasn’t happened yet? Um, yeah. Me either.) So I was envisioning a post about all the people I met. I was going to tell you all about how I overcame my fear and walked right up to bloggers, introduced myself, and we became instant BFFs. I could go ahead and write that post. But it would be pure fiction.
The fact of the matter is I got to BlogHer completely terrified. And I left BlogHer completely terrified. But I had a great time in between bits of fear. And I didn’t pee my pants. So that means it was a complete success.
I really enjoyed quite a few of the sessions. Obviously some of them were better than others. But I found some to be very informative. The Op-Ed sessions in the leadership track were awesome. And others kept me in stitches. Some of you bloggers are fucking hilarious; Neil and Stefanie.
The closing keynote on Thursday night had me in tears from laughter and tears of sorrow. Wow! There are some phenomenal writers out there.
At one point I even gushed. And I am so not a gusher. But I was sitting in a break-out session when somebody sitting right behind me stood up and spoke. It was Jen Lancaster. When the session was over I turned around and blurted, “Hi Jen. I’m a huge fan. I’ve read every one of your books. You’re so funny you make me cry.” At least I stopped there and didn’t say, “Will you be my best friend?” Or even worse, “Will you marry me?”
I also got to meet a whole lot of great bloggers. On the first night I made my way to the People’s Party. I walked around aimlessly searching for somebody I might know. [You all need to post more pictures of yourselves on your blog so I can spot you at parties.] I did find Karen from Chookooloonks. She is quite possibly the most beautiful and sweetest women I have ever met. Love her! I also met Bossy! She is so tall. But aside from that she is also very nice; taking a few minutes to chat with me even though I was giving her that stalkerish stare of mine. And she even dared to wave and say hi when she saw me at the conference throughout the next few days. After a while I found Matthew from Child’s Play x2; a fellow twin parent who’s been a blog buddy for quite some time. Being one of the few guys in a sea of 1300 women, he was easier to find. And he willing introduced me to a few other great people throughout the night. Bonus.
Later that night we made our way down to the Room 704 party where I met a bunch of other really super ladies who I totally have blog crushes on; Mrs. Flinger, Lotus of Sarcastic Mom, Annisa from Hope4Peyton (who totally scored me a swag bag…Thanks Annisa!), Grace Davis, and Y from Joy Unexpected (who totally gave me a big bear hug…SQUEEE!). (When did I turn in to such a valley girl? Could I use the word totally a few more times?)
At one point I ran in to Lindsay from Suburban Oblivion. She was such a sweetheart. When she found out it was my first BlogHer she asked me who I wanted to meet. Frozen in fear I couldn’t think of anybody (see paragraphs above). But she told me “just let me know who you want to meet and I’ll introduce you. Seriously. Come find me.” I think I love her.
As the people packed in to the party I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed so I took a little breather on some huge planter in the middle of the room. I sat down right next to Leslie from My Mommy’s Place. I think she was a little overwhelmed too so we shared some common ground. And then Kat from Education.com joined me and it was great to have another friendly face to talk to.
At lunch on the last day I found a table with a couple of people so I sat down. I introduced myself, but didn’t say my blog name or ask theirs. I was just digging in to my food. For about half an hour I was sitting right next Liz from This Full House and I didn’t even know it. I wish I would have realized who she was sooner so we could of had more time to chat. I also flagged down and had lunch with another twin mom, Goon Squad Sarah. I had been looking for her all weekend.
After Saturday’s keynote we all headed to the final cocktail party. After three days surrounded by 1400 people I was feeling a little claustrophobic and terrified, but Good Squad Sarah introduced me to a bunch of really great people. I met JavaJenn, Busy Mom, Laurie Writes, and Devra from Parentopia.
As the cocktail party was ending I ran in to Amy from Amalah. We started talking about pregnancy and vasectomies. I shared the story about Lee’s vasectomy when he swelled up because he thought the doctor told him NOT to take Tylenol when he really said he COULD take Tylenol. Cause (1) Lee loves it when I share his vasectomy story with strangers and (2) who doesn’t want to hear all about my husband’s vasectomy. I know. Win/win, right?
I can’t wait to find Amy at BlogHer ’10 to tell her about the time Lee took his sample in the Urologist to have it tested. I’m sure she’s just waiting on pins and needles.