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Last Thoughts on BlogHer ’13

So it will probably shock no one who has read any other travel-without-my-family post (eg. the last six years of BlogHer) that I cried before it was time to leave.  I cried while leaving.  I cried on the plane (sorry about that, Mr. Businessman).  I cried when I got to my hotel.  I cried when I talked to Josh on the phone.  And then I cried a little more at night for good measure.  I woke up early the next morning to look at pictures of the kids for a half hour.  I am really terrible at leaving home at all, but I am so godawful-that-it-shouldn’t-be-allowed when it comes to leaving home without my family.  Freak show.

It will probably also not really surprise anyone that by the time the last day rolled around, I was crying at the thought of leaving everyone there.  I had gotten to hang out with these people whom I usually only get to speak to over the Internet.  And I met so many more new people, many of whom wormed their way under my skin with their stories.  It was very difficult to get in the airport shuttle and leave knowing that for many of them, it will be another year (if at all) until I see them again.

But you can’t be in two places at once.

Beyond the people — since, for me, BlogHer is always mostly about the people — I attended some of the best. panels. ever.  Literally — two of them were life changing.  One of them was the most brilliantly succinct presentation on turning blog posts into published articles by Rita Arens.  It was just a lot of good all-around writing advice.  The other was a presentation on disaster-proofing your blog by Skye Kilaen.  It really doesn’t matter if you learn how to do SEO or get sponsors if YOU LOSE YOUR DAMN BLOG.  It always shocks me how much time people spend pumping up their site and how little time they spend protecting it.  She gave the BEST presentation on quick things you can be doing to disaster-proof your blog, and that includes stopping scrapers.

[On a side note, if you want to read my Pathfinder presentations on publishing a book, you can read them here and here.]

So the community-led panels were great.  VOTY was obviously emotional.  Probably my favourite (if I could only make you read one) was “A Dislocation of Mind” by No Points for Style.  Read it, but know that hearing it read was even MORE powerful.  If that’s possible.


Look, I’m just going to admit this here: I thought more people would be playing Candy Crush at BlogHer ’13.  I thought we’d all sit at the tables, playing Candy Crush while we listened.  There was a study once out of Sweden that found students who occupied their hands with knitting during class retained more than those who took notes.  So I sort of thought we’d go all Swedish and occupy our hands by playing Candy Crush while we listened, somehow memorizing everything that was said during the panels.

But no one played Candy Crush.

Isn’t that bizarre?

We all talk about playing Candy Crush, and yet no one was playing Candy Crush.  Except… I mean… me.  But only when I got to a room early and I was waiting for a panel to begin.  Or a round at night to relax (it’s like Jack Daniels… it takes the edge off).  I thought we’d all wink at each other, and yet I was only winking at myself.  Which looked a little pervy, since in order to look at myself, I had to look down.  Which meant I was winking at my own breasts.


We got those new Jockey sizing cups in our conference bag.  After I held them against my breasts, I asked Josh what he thought I should do with them.

“Toss them… right?”

No, Joshua, you use them as a newfangled candy dish.

Jockey Bra Sizing Cups


I saw a mother and daughter together in the elevators.  The daughter was on her cell phone, ignoring her mother.  Her mother was watching her child tap things on the screen. (Was it Candy Crush?)  I thought to myself, one day, I am going to be at the conference with the ChickieNob.  We will eat M&Ms out of our bra sizing cup candy dishes together and share a tissue box at VOTY and take selfies of ourselves.  And if she ignored me like that, I would keep jumping in front of her and doing jazz hands.  That mother should have presented her daughter (and the rest of the elevator) with jazz hands.


I have never packed anything special to wear at BlogHer (and it shows) with the exception of the time when I was part of VOTY and I wore garters and thigh-high black stockings with knee-high boots as part of my story about following Josh into the donation room at the fertility clinic.  But other than the bottom half of that get-up, I’ve never put a lot of thought into packing for BlogHer.  I tend to go for t-shirts and jeans.  Comfortable things.

This year, I felt very self-conscious of how I looked.  I sort of wish I had packed something nicer than a Batman t-shirt.


So I took Ativan to get on the airplane.  I considered NOT taking it this time, but then knew that if we hit turbulence, bad things would go down for the people around me (arm biting, head banging, turning into a zombie ON THE PLANE and there wouldn’t be a Brad Pitt on board to stop me from zombie-izing everyone else).  Sure enough, we hit turbulence.  I thought I looked fairly calm.

When we landed, I turned to the man next to me and said, “I took Ativan before this flight, so when we hit that turbulence, I was totally calm on the outside, but I was screaming on the inside.” [I should add that I also like to overshare with strangers when I’m on Ativan.]

“Uh… you were also screaming on the outside,” the man commented.

“No, I was screaming to myself.  On the inside.  It was all in here.”

“No,” the man countered, “I was sitting next to you, and you were also quietly screaming on the outside.  It wasn’t that loud.  But it would definitely count as screaming.”

Who knew?


Sheryl Sandburg asked us in her keynote: “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  And then she encouraged us to do that thing.

Mine was going to be “fly without Ativan.”  But I rethought that when I discovered that I scream even WITH Ativan.

So I’ve changed it to something better.


When I got to the airport, there was a man crouching on the floor outside security.  He was hugging his child and crying as he pressed her head to his shoulder.  I tried not to stare.  I got into line with the rest of the people, inching toward the metal detectors.

When I got to the front, a twelve-year-old girl parted from her mother and grandmother who had walked her as far as they could take her.  When their fingers slipped away from each other’s hands, the girl burst into tears, her face contorted while the grandmother told the mother that the girl would be okay.  The girl nodded at those words while she cried hard, sobbing while she put her items in the handy plastic bins.

I’m not the only one who has trouble with goodbyes.  It’s nice to sometimes be surrounded by your own.  Hence why I go to BlogHer each year.


1 Kasey { 07.29.13 at 7:48 am }

I am absolutely the same way on the plane! When I sit next to DH I practically bite holes in his shoulder so I’m not screaming like a loon.. and that’s with a Xanax.

2 Sabrina { 07.29.13 at 7:58 am }

Very similar experiences: I, too, was trying to figure out what to do with the “cups” ( The futuristic candy dish is by far the best!), wished that I stepped up my dresscode especially while talking to Sheryl and I’m convinced that life without BlogHer is equal to a plane rides without Ativan. Oh, and I’ve already cried several times and I haven’t made it to the airport yet.

3 Sarah { 07.29.13 at 8:02 am }

So I totally wrote my traveling-without-my-children post for today too! And the number one item on my packing list for BlogHer was Ativan! I was in your Pathfinder session and learned so much…. And now I wish I had been at the disaster-proofing session too! This was my first BlogHer and I was unprepared for how emotional and profound the experience would be. {And now seeing all these great photos of unexpected uses for the bra sizing cups, I’m bummed I didn’t keep mine….} 🙂 Bummed I didn’t get a chance to speak with you this weekend… next year, right?

4 jodifur { 07.29.13 at 8:12 am }

I TOTALLY would have played candy crush if I was there. And taken xanax to get on a plane.

5 Christine { 07.29.13 at 8:23 am }

Your candy dish is total GENIUS! I wish I hadn’t given mine to the swag recycling room now, but maybe someone else will do the decent thing and give my bra-sizing cups the new life they clearly deserve.

I loved meeting you, but I know I’m going to love getting to know you through your writing just as much.

6 Amy { 07.29.13 at 8:39 am }

if it makes you feel better, I hold my seat mates hand when we hit turbulence. family or not. I’m grabbing your hand. I don’t know if this indears me to people or not.

7 Briar { 07.29.13 at 9:20 am }

I love love love this post. Glad I at least got to hug you and sorry I didn’t see more of you. And sorry I didn’t go to the blog protection panel. Writing labs were fantastic for me, though.

8 Jamie { 07.29.13 at 9:56 am }

1 – It was great to finally meet you. I wish we would have been able to talk more. I felt like every time I saw you it was rushed or so loud I couldn’t hear!

2 – You looked great. You shouldn’t feel self-conscious. You’re staying true to your real self and I doubt if many (if any) of the women at BlogHer can say the same… I’m back in my yoga pants today and nothing has felt so good.

3 – I coerced my husband into coming to get me instead of taking the train back out. I was SOOO ready to see him and my trio. You’re not alone in your feelings about traveling without your family! It’s good for us, but oh so difficult!

4- I LOVE the use of the bra cups. Genius!

9 It Is What It Is { 07.29.13 at 12:36 pm }

1. Missed being there, again.
2. Glad you had some profound experiences
3. You are my hero for even getting on the plane (as you know, I don’t, or won’t, or can’t, but that’s its own post).
4. My therapist recently became certified in EMDR and she absolutely believes it will help me with my fear of flying. Of been reading up on it and think maybe it might:

10 Karen (formerly Serenity) { 07.29.13 at 1:18 pm }

There was a time when Owen and I were sitting together (Jeff was at the back of the plane. And I thank the gods for the older couple who volunteered to switch to not-together seats so Owen and I, at least, could sit together) on a plane and we hit turbulence. Scream-inducing turbulence. Owen giggled and laughed and LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT, while I sat there, sweating from the effort of not screaming in terror, and trying not to squeeze the life out of the armrests. It was by far the worst YEARS of my life – eons, really, the turbulence went on forever and ever, infinite bumps and dips and shaking and diving! – trying to stay calm in order not to transfer my panic to my 4 year old.

So when he ignores me as a teenager, this story will be MY version of jazz hands. 🙂

I always come away from big social events feeling inadequate for some reason. Probably why I’ve never been to BlogHer: I never felt like my little space was important enough.


11 Amy @ Croquet & Cocktails { 07.29.13 at 2:07 pm }

I get the leaving your family behind thing. That’s why I brought my kiddo and my mom along (hubby was out of the country for work). It was wonderful having them there, but I missed almost all of the social aspect. I honestly think that next year I’ll suck it up and leave my little nugget behind. I packed cute outfits I loved and didn’t wear most of them because I was back in my hotel room in jammies with mom and Little Man. My point is, I guess, that there are pros and cons to both sides. Except the side that doesn’t involve Ativan. That just sounds like a bad idea.

I didn’t meet you, but I wish I had. Maybe next year!

12 JustHeather { 07.29.13 at 2:12 pm }

Bra cups, eh? Hmm, if they actually helped me find a bra that I like…I might try them,but I’m doubtful.

As for your Ativan story.. I’m sorry, but I giggled, a lot. Even my hubby laughed. Thank you for sharing.

13 Katherine A { 07.29.13 at 2:39 pm }

I LOVE the bra cup sizer candy dish :)! That’s had me chuckling for a few minutes.

I’d never really been nervous flying until a couple of years when we were flying back from Europe. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been really afraid of crashing over land – I think I figure I’ll be out on impact and that will be it. However, flying over the Atlantic Ocean with a good bit of turbulence had me terrified. I had these images going through my head from the movie “Titanic” about freezing to death in icy waters if the plane went down (I know that’s not how it would happen, but irrational fear is, by nature, irrational). Poor hubby was trying to calm me down, but I just kept hyperventilating and whimpering. I’m glad you had your ativan, it sounds like it helped.

Saying good-bye is always so hard.

14 Kathy { 07.29.13 at 3:14 pm }

Yes, you are not the only one who has trouble with goodbyes (as you know from our goodbye on Saturday afternoon). It was so wonderful to see and spend so much quality time with you at BlogHer again this year. My experience would not have been as awesome without you.

I feel so grateful to have you in my world as a dear friend and mentor. I learned so much at your Pathfinder Day session and soaked in every moment I spent beside you at a meal or a session for the rest of the conference. xoxo

I am glad that you made it home safely and am chuckling (with you) at the image of you quietly screaming on the airplane. I am also curious what you are going to do that you are afraid of, since you decided against flying without Avitan. 😉

I haven’t be able to put my experience last week into words yet, but I did make another video, like I did last year, that I think captures well how amazing my sophomore year at BlogHer Summer Camp was! 🙂


15 a { 07.29.13 at 4:06 pm }

You are too funny – you’re the reason people watching at airports is so incredibly entertaining for me. Of course, I would imagine that you were doing all the crying because of some great tragedy, rather than because you were embarking on a short trip. 😉

16 Rachel { 07.29.13 at 6:03 pm }

Ok, so I held off on playing Candy Crush but you kept talking about it.

Today I played level 15 IN THE BATHROOM AT WORK to keep from getting caught.


17 Justine { 07.29.13 at 10:23 pm }

Of COURSE. Candy dishes. Brilliant. Actually, all sorts of kitchen mise-en-place dishes, too. Or is that just too weird? Too bad I gave them to the swag recycler.

I’m still all choked up about leaving. But I had a meltdown on Saturday night for other reasons, which I will hopefully post about tonight, and hopefully not sound like a total narcissistic ingrate. Wish me luck. 😉

18 Jessie { 07.30.13 at 1:39 am }

I showed the bit about the candy dish to Bear and his response was, “it’s good for a nibble!”

19 missohkay { 07.30.13 at 9:46 am }

Heh, jazz hands. I already do the equivalent when I’m getting ignored. Tickle, poke, whisper obnoxiously. It’s hard being ignored by a two-year-old 🙂

20 magpie { 07.30.13 at 12:23 pm }

your candy bowl is divine.

21 Sarang { 07.30.13 at 2:45 pm }

Wonderful post…you make me laugh. 🙂 Candy dish is *awesome*.

It was so great meeting you at BlogHer (even for just that brief hug! uh, yeah, I’m a hugger :). Really made my morning. I wanted to tell you thank you so much for all you do here, Melissa. Even 5+ years later, I gain strength from your blog.

Because of you, I met 4 of the most wonderful ladies who helped me get through this IF roller coaster (shout out to IF bloggers Shelby, Nikki, Meg & Melissa!). Forever grateful for you helping us make that life-changing connection.

ps – Shelby is insanely jealous and on board for BlogHer next year in NYC. 🙂
pps – I, too, struggle with flying. When I’m not doped up on Dramamine…I repeat this Dune mantra to myself, “Fear is the mind killer”. I don’t know why, but it helps me, lol.

22 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.31.13 at 7:32 pm }

Oh, my friend. How you make me laugh and cry with alternating sentences.

If we ever were to travel together, I would play Candy Crush with you on the flight (could we d0 that?). Only for you.

23 Geochick { 08.02.13 at 3:14 pm }

Hahahahahaha. Nice repurposing of the bra cups.

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