The BlogHer ’08 Chronicles (with food photos! of course!)

The only thing more boring than sitting through somebody else’s vacation photos (oh wait– I’ve done that here a lot, haven’t I?) is enduring somebody else’s epiphanies about some big life-changing experience they just had. So, I’ll try to keep my rapturous BlogHer insights to a minimum, but I will tell you this– it was good for me, and I’m not just talking about that part where I wore a hamburger bag on my head.

Overall, the conference was incredible, and I walked away with a whole lot of information and inspiration. There were definitely times where I felt a little shy and awkward, which was truly surprising to me; I can’t even remember the last time I felt that way. Maybe middle school. But those moments passed relatively quickly, and anyway, you know what? I AM a newbie at this, I AM just learning the ropes, I barely knew two, count ‘em–TWO people there out of a gazillion, so hey, a little awkwardness is completely appropriate, I’m thinking. I also surprised myself by not jumping into the fat middle of everything with my usual gusto– I was definitely in an observer mode, kind of lurking around the edges, sitting quietly and taking notes. I KNOW, I barely recognized myself! But it was a good thing. Finding my comfort zone usually consists of finding someone to talk a blue streak to until I feel comfortable. By the time my monologue conversation is over, the other person may be in a coma but I’m all jacked up and energized and ready to rock. But this time, I just dialed it back a few notches, and though I did meet some people that I instantly liked and I did pass out some of my shiny new blog cards (seriously, they are so dang cute) and a lot of people gave me theirs as well, most of the time I just kind of kept to myself. Go figure.

The sessions were great. I made good choices, every one of them taught me something I didn’t know before. I learned a lot about internet safety, which was sobering– not in a “Oh no, somebody’s gonna kidnap my kid!” way, but more like a “Do you realize that people have access to absolutely everything you put out there in cyberspace?” way. I learned a lot about the healing force of the the internet community, and heard some amazing stories of women who found the courage to be honest and open about what they were going through (fighting cancer, surviving rape, enduring divorce, weathering scandal) on their blogs and found themselves embraced and supported by virtual strangers. I learned why mommyblogging is a radical act, and that telling the truth about how isolating and difficult parenting can sometimes be makes other mothers feel less alone. I learned how many women struggle with accepting their bodies, and what a potent and often destructive force the media can be in promoting unhealthy images. I learned ways to monetize my blog, and found out that success in this field requires diligence, research, marketing and promotion skills, but that at the end of the day, it’s really all about the quality of the writing.

One of my favorite parts of all was the Opening Keynote on Thursday night. A BlogHer panel judged submitted entries and chose about 20 women (and one dad) to read their post in front of 1000 of their fellow bloggers. There were different categories, and some of them were really funny but the ones that received the strongest response from the crowd were a couple of stunningly  powerful readings by Yvonne from “Joy Unexpected” and Casey from “Moosh in Indy”

In both cases, the crowd gave the women explosive, teary standing ovations. It was such a beautiful expression of everything I love about women. Women will just GO THERE with you! You stand up and speak your truth–even sad, scary, or disturbing truth– and there will always be others who stand with (and for) you. It was, to use a word I usually avoid, awesome.

And, also– there was some drama at the closing keynote! Heather Armstrong, aka dooce, who has the world’s most popular blog, was doing this Q and A thing along with Stephanie Klein, another well-known blogger and author. There was some kind of verbal smackdown between dooce and a blogger named Jenn in the audience, who is a very good writer and by her own admission, more than a wee bit attention-seeking and habitually drunk in public. Yeah, so that was interesting. And I loved her.

The last cocktail party was finally a good one. It was like a progressive dinner at the big ol’ fancy flagship Macy’s, where they led us floor by floor to specific roped off areas just for the BlogHer attendees, with special drinks and hors d’oeurves at each stop. They also passed out 10% off passes, to encourage shopping while we socialized, because Macy’s ain’t no fool. It was kind of cool, though– there was champagne in the handbag dept., Asian noodles in the shoe dept., weird lavender cookie-things and a white chocolate/chipolte liqueur drink in the lingerie dept. (they also passed out samples of KY lubricant at this stop, which was kind of…weird), and finally, they had a DJ and more good food in the furniture dept. on the top floor where we could lounge all over the furniture samples. Great fun. But the MOST FUN was the second annual CheeseburgHer party thrown by Lindsay, Y, and Isabel, where a thundering horde of women all crammed into a hotel suite and ate burgers and cupcakes. We were stacked up in there, all wearing the obligatory headgear which was a McDonald’s bag that was handed to us on arrival that we were expected to fashion into some kind of enchanting hat– which, if you saw the elevator photo, I totally did.

Here are some highlights:

Y is re-thinking the whole ‘let’s invite EVERYBODY!’ idea right about now…

(Yes, that looming shadow is mine.)

Some thought obviously went into this one…

THEN– the best part– we got busted by security!

There were some complaints from neighboring rooms, some naked guy stepped into the hall and yelled at us (which sadly, I totally missed) and then two burly security men in dark suits showed up. You guys know I never get in trouble, so this was a rare treat for me! Actually, nobody got into trouble, the security guys thought it was funny and even posed for pictures with us before they asked us to please take the party downstairs to the lobby:

Lindsay implores, pleads and cajoles to no avail.

This looks like some kind of wack prom photo.

We obediently adjourned downstairs.

Ya gotta love a bunch of women (some bag-wearing/some not, some nursing mothers/some not, some getting their party on/some just giggling uncontrollably) wandering around a beautiful hotel lobby at midnight!

I stayed over on Sunday and spent the day wandering around San Francisco. I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the SFMOMA, which was astonishing, a once in a lifetime chance to see so many of her paintings all in one place. I did eat some great food, especially one meal at an Italian restaurant called Scala. Just for you, lebb, here is my salad and entree:



It was even better than it looked, if that is possible.

Shoot, now I am totally craving that.
To recap:

Great conference, lots to think about, beautiful city, personal growth, fabulous food, good times.

I am SO going next year!

7 Responses

  1. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Wow! I’d say you experienced a whole lot of everything….by crackey! You may have gone in knowing only a couple of people….but you came away knowing a whole bunch. Next year, no more sideline for you ’cause you’ll be right in the middle of things. After all, you’ve got a lot to say that might “learn” them a thing or two. I’m bettin on you! Fantastic affair and I’m so glad you were able to go.

  2. LindaB

    Well, why they didn’t read your blog entry about riding to the vet with a dead dog on your lap to get a second opinion………and Char’s “circle of life” comment, while Madi is rolling her eyes to heaven, is beyond me!!! It was touching, poignant, AND funny at the same time! And VERY GOOD READING!! Oh well, next year!

    Thanks for the food porn pics! Loved it! Now, if I ever get to San Francisco, I’ll eat at the same Italian restaurant and probably order the same dish! I’m filing this away.

  3. LindaB

    ROFLOL Like I have a file on anything!!! After I wrote that, I realized how ridiculous that was!

  4. rockin robyn

    How enjoyable to read about your conference… glad you had a great time and could step out of life as you know it for a spell! Being away like that and just doing it for you replenishes you and helps give you a new outlook on life.

    Now get a bunch of your girlfriends and take in a chick flick… a bunch of us just caught Momma Mia (the movie)tonight… what fun! As a music lover – the ABBA music was awesome, Pierce Brosnan was too and just a fun, fun girls night out movie!!!

    Well, glad you learned alot…. I’ll keep read’n what your write’n…

  5. belinda

    Even though it is 8:30am that food looks very good and those cupcakes, I would love to have one of those right now. What a way to start the morning, nice healthy breakfast?

    Glad you had a great time and are already looking forward to next year.

  6. ARfriend

    Hi, Tori! I am so glad I found your blog site. I have thought of you often and wondered how in the world you were doing. How great to read about you and your wonderful family. I have seen some of the old jr. hi. cheer squad in the last few years. Remember Meleah, Judy, Jean, and Janet? Most were at our last high school reunion and I talk to Meleah almost every day. We are both still in L.R. Janet is in Florida, Jean is in Dallas, Judy is in Chicago. Would love to catch up, but I don’t have your email. Can you find my email thru the info I gave to sign up for your blog? If not, I’ll at least keep up with you on your site! You still look just the same as when you were 15 years old, only with reading glasses! You look amazing! How do you do that?Your OLD friend, Cinda<

  7. tori

    (I told you guys I was a cheerleader– believe me now?)
    Seriously, Cinda– this is so much fun. How in the wide world of sports did you find me?
    Emailing you right now…

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