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BlogHer ’12 Wrap Up: the Good, the Bad, and the Unbecoming

Oh BlogHer ’12, you are over.  The suitcase is unpacked, the Martha Stewart notebooks have been disseminated, and I am ready to sit down and organize how I felt about this year’s conference which was — for me — tied for first place with my other favourite BlogHer conference, good old 2008.  Shall we unpack the good, the bad, and the… well… not necessarily ugly but certainly not the most becoming behaviour.

The conference kicked off with an opening keynote from the President of the United States.  His face smiled down at us from live feed screens while Elisa Camahort Page and Lisa Stone sat below. (Jory Des Jardins couldn’t make the conference this year because she was 36 weeks pregnant.)  Not a bad way to kick off a conference, you know, with a talk from POTUS.

That night I went out to the dinner at the Heartland Brewery with a slew of ALI bloggers: Half Baked Life, Too Many Fish to Fry, A Blanket 2 Keep, Dragondreamer’s Lair, Write Mind Open Heart, Bereaved and Blessed, the Rumour Mill, and the Kir Corner.  Dinner can be abbreviated as food, fantastic conversation, the largest cockroach in the world, and a thwarted walk down to Magnolia bakery to get cupcakes.  Seriously, you have never seen someone cajole and charm like Kathy, and they STILL wouldn’t open the damn door and sell us one red velvet bite.

Over the next few days, I went to panels and keynotes.  Favourite session (beyond my own) was on pitching to media; in other words, tips for getting freelance article jobs.  Really really helpful advice that I will type up this week and post for everyone to read.  Favourite keynote had to be Katie Couric.  I am not a television fan, but seeing her speak live convinced me to watch the Katie Show when it starts airing in September.  She was very down-to-earth, realistic, and frank.  I loved the point she made on how she can’t comment on the infamous Slaughter article because she isn’t the average American woman; that her ability to have it all is couched in the fact that she can afford to hire live-in help.

VOTY (Voices of the Year) was amazing, as always.  I laughed hysterically at some posts.  I cried with Kathy over others, especially one where a mother tries to explain a friend’s imminent death to her child who wants to help so badly and can’t understand how none of his ideas could stop death from occurring (oh my G-d — I just felt my throat close up just thinking about this post).  I did a run through of the sponsor room to thank the sponsors for bringing down the cost of the event.  I skipped over brands that I already knew (they didn’t seem to need my presence either) and went for the unknowns, which is how I found out about Zamzee and the very nice guys working the booth gave me some to try out.  You wear it all day and then plug it into the computer before bed, and it measures your movement for the day.  I cannot even explain how much this feeds into my deep need to record everything at the moment.  The twins are loving the ones I gave them, and they are already plotting out ways to move more (“I will just jump up and down in place while you make me my yogurt in the morning!”).  And I listen to their plans and then make my own to MOVE MORE than them, just to prove my superior healthy habits.

*******

BlogHer was huge this year — about 5000 people when all was said and done.  It created a strange phenomenon: it was impossible to walk anywhere without bumping into someone you know (or, at the very least, recognize), but it was too big to actually find specific people, even if you were both in the same room.  I never found Eden at all (Eden?  Eden?)  There were plenty of people that I only saw briefly in passing (Jodifur and Magpie pop to mind).  Sue and I got to grab a whole 10 minutes before we realized that it would be easier to go on an IKEA run when we got home with 6 kids than it would to try to find each other again at BlogHer. (Though how sad is it that I invited myself along on Sue’s IKEA run, trying to convince her that I can be her little helpful shadow as she buys plates?)

And yet, there were people I got to see a lot on the trip, people who were very hard to say goodbye to as we each went back home.  Too Many Fish to Fry left at the very end of the conference to catch a plane back home.  Half Baked Life stayed as late as she could, curled up on one of the lobby chairs while we talked, promising that we would drive at each other soon.  Bereaved and Blessed finally slipped upstairs with her sister after we had shared our neurotic travel stories and high school tales.

And then, I finally had to say goodbye to Write Mind Open Heart at the end of a final breakfast the next morning, after I lingered in her room while she packed, unable to go upstairs and throw my own possessions in a suitcase because that would mean the trip was really really over.  It is so hard to have your friends scattered across the country.  I am so grateful that we were able to all come together at this conference and have the face-to-face time.  I love all of you through the keyboard, but it can’t erase the need for those times when we can actually sit across from one another, touch each other, hand each other tissues.  That good overwrites any of the bad that comes from a conference this size: difficult to navigate hotel, long lines, and problems with meals.  You care less about an elevator wait if you’re standing there with someone you are so grateful to be able to grab time with regardless of what you’re doing.

There was an audio recording made of the session, but I unfortunately can’t upload it because people said very personal things during the session, and I realized that I didn’t feel comfortable making those private moments public.  But I will try to edit a version this week that gives you just the panelists’ portion of the talk.

I have not yet gotten to the unbecoming, but I think I will unfold it in my next post.  Stay tuned.

32 comments

1 jodifur { 08.06.12 at 7:35 am }

I am so sad I missed your session. It was circle and starred in my schedule AND YET. That was my blogher…my blogher become the AND YET. This reminds of the recap I did for blogher 2010, it was titled the good the bag and the ugly. I can’t even wrap my head around blogher to do a recap yet. I went to bed at 8:30 last night I was so, so tired.

2 jodifur { 08.06.12 at 7:36 am }

And clearly I am still exhausted because this comment is filled with typos.

3 KeAnne { 08.06.12 at 9:15 am }

Welcome back, and I enjoyed trying to follow along online.

4 Marci Rich { 08.06.12 at 11:35 am }

Mel, I’m so happy I got to meet you. You were one of the first BlogHer people I ever communicated with, and I’ll never forget those warm and welcoming emails of yours. You and your colleagues on the panel were terrific, I love this post, and I look forward to more and more.

5 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.06.12 at 12:32 pm }

I was all happy when I clicked over here, remembering the past several days with you and other ALI bloggers…

…and then I remembered the elevator goodbye and saw the photo and burst into tears.

How fortunate we are to have had this experience together. Again :-) The sadness, deep as it is, is infinitessimal compared to the joy that preceded it.

6 Jendeis { 08.06.12 at 12:40 pm }

OK, so I just looked up Zamzee. Screw the made-for-kids part — I want this!!

7 edenland { 08.06.12 at 1:09 pm }

I KNOW. Oh Mel sorry I didn’t hunt you down. And I owe Lori a huge explanation. Weird things were happening on my brain, and I had to keep popping in and out like a meerkat.

I love your wrap up, and I adore you and the ALI community that you virtually created. Xxxxxxxxxxx

8 KeAnne { 08.06.12 at 1:51 pm }

I know where Eden was – she was renting a car to drive to Detroit and find a certain rapper for whom we both share affection ;-)

9 Esperanza { 08.06.12 at 2:06 pm }

Wow. It sounds like a really amazing time. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there. Missing it just rips a hole in my heart. Thanks for giving us a peek into what it was like.

10 luna { 08.06.12 at 2:13 pm }

wishing I was curled up on lori’s hotel room chair sipping tea while she packed and you procrastinated. missing hugging you goodbye in the hotel lobby in 2008.

love the photo of you all! so glad you soak each other in for awhile. (can you believe jjiraffe lives just 30 mins away and I’ve only met her once?)

11 Pam/wordgirl { 08.06.12 at 2:24 pm }

Please come to Chicago next year… I am determined to meet you! Xoxo

12 Justine { 08.06.12 at 3:38 pm }

I’m still trying to write my post, and you’ve gotten me crying all over again, dammit.

I think I need to go make some cupcakes.

Being with all of you was such a gift … I’m going to second Lori’s unConference vote. Because you all have me hooked: I want to feel like that again.

13 jjiraffe { 08.06.12 at 4:43 pm }

This made me choke up.

Hugging you all goodbye was a really sad moment for me. In the taxi I had to wipe away some tears. I’m thinking back to your post about the coffee klatch meeting we have everyday on your blog. To see in person the women we have all been passionately discussing issues with and sharing our stories for years with, well: it was magical and I didn’t want it to end. It was a bit like going back to the Muggle world after being at Hogwarts.

Although of course I missed my wonderful husband and family and friends.

I am loving Lori’s Un conference idea.

14 magpie { 08.06.12 at 4:56 pm }

all the sessions i REALLY wanted to go to conflicted with other ones…hence…

but we’ll hug again, somewhere, sometime.

15 a { 08.06.12 at 5:30 pm }

Well, this sounds like so much fun that I hope it really outweighed the unbecoming…

16 loribeth { 08.06.12 at 6:34 pm }

So jealous!!! But so glad you all had a good time together. That photo makes me smile.

17 Emily @ablanket2keep { 08.06.12 at 7:17 pm }

It was so awesome to meet you! I feel like I was so quiet, but I couldn’t believe I was there with so many amazing bloggers. I was just taking it all in, listening to all the stories. Sounds like an awesome time! Hopefully I can go next year.

18 Kathy { 08.07.12 at 1:17 am }

This weekend was awesome and surreal and so much more than I ever expected that it could or would be. There were definitely some unbecoming things about BlogHer `12, but I will always remember the wonderful parts, so many of which I got to experience with you and other dear ALI friends.

Thank you for sharing this highlight post. I was so looking forward to reading your reflections on this weekend. I am still processing my experience and hope to put it into words soon. In the meantime, I made a photo montage, set to a song that I know you will appreciate, that I am in the process of uploading to You Tube. It is taking awhile and I am tired, so if not tonight, I hope to be able to share it in the morning.

19 Mud Hut Mama { 08.07.12 at 2:42 am }

Sounds like an amazing time with incredible friends. I’m so enjoying reading all these posts. 5,000 people and an address from the president – wow!

20 Kir { 08.07.12 at 10:40 am }

I loved seeing you again, and now there is one more picture of us somewhere in the world, or maybe 3 now!

you always push me, you always make me think and smile and lift me up, for that I feel so lucky. I’m sorry we didn’t get more time together, but as always, the time we did was such a BIG PART of my weekend and a sweet spot admist 5000 people.

You’re amazing, as always.
xo

21 Kristin { 08.07.12 at 10:54 am }

I am so very glad we got to spend time together again and I only wish it could have been more.

22 Corey Feldman { 08.07.12 at 1:14 pm }

Conferences are hard. I don’t run into enough the people I want to and too often run into the ones I don’t…

23 Krista { 08.07.12 at 1:55 pm }

I love this post – and your title is fab! I’m the Community Manager at SkinnyScoop.com and would love for you to share this on our collaborative list of BlogHer wrap up posts (http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/SkinnyScoop_Staff/posts-about-blogher122). I loved reading about your experience – so much fun :)

24 Dresden { 08.07.12 at 2:16 pm }

I totally thought we saw each other.

25 Lisa Stone { 08.07.12 at 2:57 pm }

Melissa, I love your description of @katiecouric’s keynote. That’s exactly why I’m so interested in and committed to @katieshow — we need her voice for/by/with women on national television, especially given that she’s planning to integrate women from blogs and social media onto her show set.

Your story and your voice is one I’d really like to see there. Have to type that here since you and I only got a wave in this year, not even a proper hug when I could tell you how much your writing on BlogHer.com means to me every day. Thanks.

xo Lisa

26 Susan { 08.07.12 at 8:56 pm }

Mel, thanks so much for your kind words about my post – I’m sorry that we didn’t meet this year!

27 Mali { 08.08.12 at 8:45 pm }

Living so far away, I’ve never contemplated going to BlogHer. But now … yep, I’m kinda jealous, and I’d really love to go someday. Sigh.

28 Rumour Miller (Nicole) { 08.09.12 at 10:31 am }

It was amazing to meet you. I was starstruck even. Thank you all for inviting me to dinner on Friday. I mean, I got to see my first ever live cockroach. That thing was huge.

I hope to see you at future BlogHer Conferences.

29 Nina { 08.09.12 at 6:07 pm }

@Melisaa – what a great summary of the BlogHer experience! Agreed – Katie Couric was totally fabulous.

@Jendeis – we want you to try Zamzee, too! Use the code “ZZCONF2012″ for a 25% discount. ;)

30 Dead Cow GIrl { 08.10.12 at 3:03 am }

Bah! How did I miss you?

31 {sue} { 08.12.12 at 9:51 pm }

I’m totally counting on you helping me pick out plates! And I’m so glad we got our 10 minutes, even if we had to go 200 miles away for them. I had a great conference too .

32 lorrie { 09.14.12 at 9:34 pm }

thanks so much for sharing your experience, i will be going to blogher as a newbie next year and so looking forward to it

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