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Eight BlogHers Later

Me @BlogHer 2006

Me @BlogHer 2006

On the second night of my very first BlogHer conference I sat in my hotel room with tears and snot dripping all over my very expensive cheeseburger. Then again, anything brought via room service is almost worth the 50% markup because it doesn’t require moving or pants. And finally! A silver lining.

I was miserable. No good, very bad, miserable. That misery/anxiety swirl that leaves you panicking and hoping for an out or even a UFO to take you away. I felt alone and sad and friendless and did I mention the part where I was crying and sad and I knew like four people and the people I didn’t know simply asked why Amy Storch would bring her babysitter to a conference. You guys, I didn’t even have a name. Just “Amy Storch’s Babysitter”.

Obviously this is the point in the story where I tell you that I decided to never attend a BlogHer conference again. Too cliquey, too huggy, too much squeeing at each other, too much togetherness. I’m an introvert who can play extrovert in an emergency situation, like an opossum playing dead. I’m not the girl (well, then I was a 21 year old girl and now I’m so close to 30 that it hurts) who likes to be surrounded by others playing ‘Getting to Know You’. Give me my empty apartment, a bottle of wine and Netflix any day.

But no. That’s not how this story goes.

photo(18)

Me @ BlogHer 2013

My first BlogHer conference was in 2006 where a few hundred women gathered around a pool, sipping Yahootinis, at the Hyatt in San Jose. My most recent BlogHer – my eighth – was a few thousand women scattered across downtown Chicago. Once upon a time I’d enter the room and could put a name to most every face. Last Friday evening I walked into the room and thought “Who are these people?”

I’d hate to be the girl that pines longingly for the “good old days” around that pool. The days without massive expo halls and talk of outboarding or outsourcing or waterboarding. Whatever. No panic over parties and who gets invited to what. You know…despite the anxiety that enveloped me and left me doing lamaze breathing in my hotel room, there is still a kernel of good that I look back on all of these years later and it just so happens to be the intimacy. I sound like I’m aging myself…I know. But things are different now. Not bad different or good different but capital ‘D’ Different. And it’s OK.

woo ba doo!

Photo by Heather Spohr

This is about more than a convention or three women who saw a void and dared to ask “where are the women?”. It’s more than the evolution of this small idea, financed by their credit cards into the behemoth that it is now with the president one year and Queen Latifah the next. It’s this one simple thing: For me, everything good that has come from blogging started with BlogHer. It’s been a domino effect you see as one thing led to another. Not solely blogging and sponsored posts and money (For the record I am not making any) but the people and the friendships. Am I the greatest most prolific and successful blogger ever? NO. But am the girl now woman who was terrified and went back into that room full of women despite that fear? Yes. Yes, I am. And lo, we have growth.

This past Friday night I had to go to bed at either 7 PM or stay up all night.. 7 PM when it’s still light out and there would be toddlers up later than me or an all-nighter. I decided to suck it up and pull that all-nighter and allow me to digress a bit because here’s another thing that no one tells you about being almost 30. Something besides the 72 hour hangover and the gray hair in your eyebrows: YOU CANNOT PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER. You are not 19. As Samuel L. Jackson once profoundly said, “GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP”.

Anyway, on Friday night I stayed up talking and rapping and dancing in the Presidential Suite with a group of women I’ve known for years. I’ve read them and they’ve read me. We get each others weird bloggy quirks and ad placements and sponsored posts. It’s this odd little world we live in at times – a bubble – where, at times, insanity reigns. And while we could try to explain what happened on Twitter to friends or family we relish the moments together because we can nod in agreement and we *get it*. That’s what Friday was. And that’s when I realized that there was really nowhere else I’d rather be but in a room with these women as I have been all of the years before. Thankful for an outlet and the release and for everything that has come since being around that pool in San Jose.

Photo by Laurie White

Photo by Laurie White

The BlogHer conference is massive and while I could – and have – complained about the size and not getting enough time with friends as I am too busy running hither and yon I also have to give praise to its founders: Elisa, Jory and Lisa. I have no idea what’s next for the conference or the site but I have enjoyed the ride and the opportunity and friendships that it has afforded me. So, as I said, I’m thankful and grateful and raise a glass to them for finding the women and bringing us and our differences together.

Well done, ladies. Well done.

Keep the conversation going with Heather Barmore at Poliogue: The Art of Political Dialogue, Twitter and Facebook.

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