BlogHer Conference From an Aussie's Point of View
My grandfather Squizzy resented Americans. He fought alongside them in the Second World War, but when they came down here to Australia and stole all the Aussie women (using fancy presents of REAL nylon stockings) ... his anger grew. “Only the bloody Yanks!”
I, on the other hand, *LOVE* Americans. The bloody Yanks stole my heart on a family trip to L.A. in 1983. I was eleven-years-old. Everything always seemed bigger and better. Australia has, of course, now come into its own, forging its own unique national identity. But man, America is cool. One night, almost four years ago, I stayed up late one night googling “how to do IVF.” My results yielded blogs ... many, many different kinds of blogs. I was hooked. (And haven’t watched television properly since.) I started my own, in fact. Under an assumed name, I wrote with wild abandon – and not only about my unfolding story of fertility treatment. My readership was limited to some beautiful American women, and a handful of Australians. All talking, interacting, living life online.
My IVF blog became a pregnancy blog, which I was intending on closing down after the baby was born. (Happy ending, right?) Five days before the birth of our second son together, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Cancer trumps baby! Who knew.
I kept writing, through the worst period of my life. And I was loved through it all. You bloody Yanks sure do know how to support a gal. One late night in October 2008, I impulsively bought a ticket to attend the following year’s BlogHer. I was gonna be a part of it, somehow.
My husband and I flew out from Sydney on a cold winter’s night in August 2010 – he was in remission! His hair grew back! We left our children at home, turning my blogging adventure into a second honeymoon. Basing our entire trip abroad around the weekend of BlogHer in New York, I still had not met another blogger in the flesh. I had been invited to a few cool parties, with amazing gifts and swag. Dave was amazed at all the “free stuff.”
The strangest and best thing happened during my time in New York – I arrived with an open heart. I wanted to experience everything, talk to everybody I could ... rejoice in the power of women’s voices as they reverberate across the World Wide Web, making changes and big statements, with open hearts of their own. It was hectic, the bigness makes you giddy. The expo halls were something else – brands and sponsors lining up, eager to talk to us, the bloggers. The speaker sessions were fantastic. I couldn’t attend everything I wanted to, the key to not getting overwhelmed by it all was to pick a few things you wanted to attend and let go of the rest.
At BlogHer I spoke to every person who looked at me. In the elevators, the hallways, and *especially* the line in the ladies room. I went up to “big” bloggers and said hello, they were gracious and charming. I went up to unknown bloggers and said hello, they were fascinating and friendly. It was the time of my life. Every time I opened my mouth I would get the *exact* same response from people – “Ohhh, you’re from Australia! Wow – did you come ALL THIS WAY??” Why yes, yes I did. (My broad Aussie accent was a great icebreaker.)
The women at BlogHer were a fascinating mix, from all walks of life. Food bloggers, fitness bloggers, mum bloggers, infertility bloggers. All of us woven together, in a big colourful tapestry. Blogging has gotten underneath my skin like nothing else. I was honoured as a BlogHer Voice of the Year at the Kirtsy Gala ... one of my blog posts was turned into a work of art by L.A.-based photographer/writer Alex Asher Sears (www.alexashersears.com).
Alex and I were brought together randomly by the curators of the Kirtsy Art Exhibition and subsequent auction. Alex inserted a red balloon into the piece she made that was based on my winning blog post called “Blogging Out Loud.” After my return home, we “met” by exchanging emails. She told me that she was only allowed to read my blog after BlogHer was finished. As soon as she read about Dave’s diagnosis before the baby was born, she cried. Alex puts a red balloon in all of her pieces, in memory of her cousin who lost her battle with the exact same cancer that my husband had. What are the chances? Sometimes, things happen in life that you know aren’t just coincidences. One day I will hug Alex. Hard.
Blogging has brought me to the surface of my consciousness, made me realise where I stand on important issues. I now blog under my real name, nosehair and all. Edenland is my rich, dysfunctional, messy narrative ... I can never not blog. My husband has resigned himself to it, and has grown quite proud of his wife’s online life.
The inaugural Australian Blogging Conference will be held in Sydney in March 2011 (www.aussiebloggersconference.com.au). I’m a proud member of the flourishing Australian blogging community, and will be reading out one of my blog posts at the keynote. Bloggers are only just starting to get noticed down here in Australia. It’s exciting and fascinating to be a part of it all.
I’m hoping to gain sponsorship to attend BlogHer’11, so see all you bloody BEAUTIFUL Yanks again in San Diego next year.
" ... you can't outrun your shadow..."
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By Riane Eisler