BlogHer '12

Anne Kimball

Life on the Funny Farm

So I went to the BlogHer '12 annual conference yesterday.

My first.

And I was a little overwhelmed.

I had been to one of their mini-conferences last fall, and there were only about 200 attendees. Nice, comfortable, intimate.

This one?


Yes, 5,000.

And I didn't know a soul.

A few of the bloggers I follow were in attendance, but I wouldn't have known them if I'd tripped over them.

So I was happy to hear about the "speed dating" concept they'd scheduled after opening remarks at breakfast.

One big outer circle of women ringing the perimeter of the room, and another circle of women inside that one. The idea was for everyone to speak face-to-face for about a minute, and then the inner ring would move down one, to talk to the next person. We could exchange business cards, and network with a boatload of bloggers in a short space of time.

Couple problems. As you can well imagine, 5,000 women all speaking simultaneously makes quite the din. So on my first date, I found I had to lean in real close and shout to be heard. But I had just had my coffee, so I was acutely self-conscious about coffee breath. And it was hot. Like haites hot. I had dressed with icy rooms in mind b/c, well, I'm old and I'm always yelling at my kids "You should bring a sweatshirt, it's going to be cold in the movie theatre!" So I was wearing layers and I started sweating profusely, and it became the only thing I could think about...

"...yes my blog is Life on the Funny Farm and I..."

oh my God I am going to die " about my kids and ...."

I can feel the sweat pouring down my face

"...and we have a small hobby farm...."

why is she not sweating? I look like a mental patient

 " there's always a lot going on..."

it is runnning down my back and places only my gynecologist has seen...oh my God, do I smell????

 "....where did you say you were from..."

I can SEE my breath. Please God, let them tell us to switch so I can step away from this lovely woman who is looking at me with a mixture of pity and fear....


 I could see one of the moderators saying something into the microphone, but no one could hear her. I turned to the woman on my right and suggested it was time to move down. She said she thought we were moving the other direction. Woman on my left? Same thing. The women against the wall? They turned and began speaking to each other.

Leaving the sweaty woman standing dateless.

The next rotation, though, I had it all figured out. I jumped into an empty spot against the wall, so I wouldn't have to stress about which direction my circle was supposed to rotate.
But somehow, every woman moved in every direction but mine.

The sweaty, frizzy, coffee-breath-smellin' reject was dateless once again.

That's OK, though, cuz you know, I had a lot of email to check on my phone, so....yeah.

When that was finallythankGod over, I went into the restoom to wash up. It was kind of a tight fit, though, with so many women and all our paraphenalia. I had a rather large bag, myself. I had found this relic in the attic, and I thought it was just the right size to hold my laptop, clothes, and toiletries (I had stayed at my sister's NYC apt the night before). So it was less of a sleek laptop bag and more of a microwave with a shoulder strap. With the bag and my purse hanging from my shoulder, my already substantial girth was increased threefold, so as I tried to carefully navigate my way back out the bathroom door, everything went black. I looked back and saw about 20 white eyeballs glaring at me. My computer bag had knocked into the light switches, plunging us all into darkness.

I sheepishly flipped the switches back on and made a hasty retreat.

Later we had lunch with none other than Martha Stewart.

And I sat there at my table and I let my worries go. Maybe I had gotten off to a rough start, but here I was in New York City, having luch with Martha Stewart, on her birthday no less, and 5,000 of her closest friends. I was somebody.

I is good. I is smart. I is important.

I... felt something wet and lumpy down my back.

"Don't move!"

The waitress had spilled someone's unfinished quinoa salad down between my back and my chair. If I moved, it would only wedge it in deeper. So I sat quite still while the waitress and some random stranger passing by scooped out the quinoa. I was suddenly feeling very sympathetic to anyone who had ever been wired with a bomb. Finally I was given the green light to stand up, and I stood there as two complete strangers wiped down my backside, while Martha discussed the intimacy of tweeting.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. All I know is I am home now. I have a notebook full of notes, a bag full of business cards, and a quinoa-covered shirt in the wash.

Maybe I'll go again next year. I'll just have to remember to buy a more up-to-date laptop bag, wear a raincoat to lunch, dress for warm rooms, and pack a bunch of breath mints.

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