I can't believe I almost talked myself out of going to BlogHer09
I have spent the past few days, mostly unplugged, recovering from BlogHer09. It was an experience I can't yet, nor will I probably ever be able to, simmer down to a few words, or even into a few concise thoughts. It was a weekend of inspiration and introspection. I laughed, and I cried. At times I felt completely alone, and at others I was swapping stories with new friends. I left Chicago feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, but also with renewed desire to get back to blogging as I once did. And to think I almost didn't go.
I had spent months convincing the shy and insecure parts of me, which can be pretty resistant to persuasion, that BlogHer09 was something I needed to do. I had to do. When I registered, I still had not really fully talked myself into going. But I was running out of time, it was almost sold out. Fortunately, I snuck in just under the wire for registering. That's when the real anxiety started to set in. A few days before the conference I was hit by a wave of panic. I almost talked myself out of going. There were going to be so many people there, and I didn't know anyone. I'm not the type of person who can just go up to someone I don't know and talk to them. What was thinking signing up for this? And on purpose.
I didn't sleep a wink Thursday night, still I was completely wired Friday morning. I was so nervous about not knowing anyone and not fitting in, but I was also excited by the possibilities for the experience that was yet to be. Betty Please had to give me a push onto the escalator to get me off on my own, and headed to check in to check in. Once off the escalator I stopped for one final pep talk. I took a deep breath, and headed in.
It didn't take much observation to see that many people were in the same boat as me. As my table filled up, I sucked up my fear and put on a smile. I introduced myself and made small talk with those who I could. The same thing was going on at tables all around me. But the small talk didn't last long. It was interesting to watch one person after the other pull out their laptop or handheld, and become in engrossed in online activity. Email. Twitter. Facebook. I suppose some were even blogging. I chuckled as I thought it ironic that the conference theme was, "in real life."
In trying to distill this whole experience down to a single coherent post that isn't the size of a novel, one thing I keep coming back to is something I heard said as a joke, "BlogHer is like Soylent Green, it's people. BlogHer is people."(I wish I could remember who said so I could them credit, but I can't. So if it was your quote, thank you. Claim it if you want.) Now I don't mean this quote in a, "we eat our own" kind of a way, but in a "it's all about connecting with other people" kind of a way. For me, connecting with other bloggers was what made BlogHer09.
I'm pretty glad that the Queerblogger session was placed in the first set of sessions to choose from. I thought if I had a chance of fitting in anywhere, that would be where. Also, I had been looking for forward to meeting Recovering Straight Girl , and Deb on the Rocks. We had a small and diverse group of attendees, about 15 women. Since the group was small, everyone was able to participate in the conversation. And wow, these women are smart and well spoken. They made me want to shut up and just listen. I really got a lot out of our discussion, I just wish the session would have been bit longer. If you'd like to see some of the conversation, you can read the Official Live-Queerbloggers-LGBTQ bloggers. Unfortunately, our live blogger lost wifi connection in the middle of our session and lost the middle bit of the live blog, but you can get the gist of things. I wanted to give a shout out to Amy at Pretty Babies, our live blogger, not only because she was so worried about losing the middle bit when she lost the wifi connection, but because I was really touched by how she responded to us, our stories and experiences.
Other highlights of BlogHer, were the Queerosphere party, and having an LGBTQ birds of a feather table at lunch. Between the two, I met some pretty cool LGBT bloggers, some of whom were not in my bloglines. Some of the people I met include: Trish Bendix who writes and edits for AfterEllen, and who also writes The L-Blog for Chicago Now; Polly who writes Lesbian Dad, and sometimes contributes here at BlogHer; Stacey Jill Jacobs who writes stacyjilljacobs.com and who co-founded Queerly Wed; Kathrin who writes The Diversity Projekt; Liza who writes LizaWasHere; and Deborah who writes Peaches & Coconuts. I don't know what kind of spell Deborah put on Betty Please, but when we got home BP asked me for the URL for her blog. Just so we all understand the gravity of this, BP doesn't even read my blog. I had such a good time talking to everyone, and they've all inspired me be a more active blogger. Anyway, if I've left someone out, I'm sorry it's not intentional, it's just that everything is kind of a blur right now.
Of course, would be remiss if I did not mention that the Queerosphere party, which was fabulous by the way, was a little extra sweet for me, because I won the Sweet Cruise for two. The announcement was made during the party. I'm still kind of shock that I won. I don't think it's really set in yet.
Oh, and then I got to meet Ilene Chaiken. That was kind of surreal. I found it strange that I didn't have any trouble talking to her, unlike the times I've met Melissa Ferrick when I become a tongue tied idiot who can't string a sentence together. On a somewhat related note. As much of an L Word fan as I am, I would have liked it much better if Ilene would have focused on OurChart rather than on the L Word. There were some ways that creating/producing a tv show crossed over to the topics of the discussion that was being had, but I was more interested in hearing about social media.
Ooo, ooo, then there is the last conference session I attended. It was one that really hit me. The focus was storytelling. It really made me think about my blog; what it was like when I started it, what it's like now, and how I miss telling stories. It really put the desire back in me to tell stories. To get back to better writing. It put the blogging fire back in me. I just hope it stays lit.
And I can't forget the CE's who I met. Some of the nicest, kindest, people ever. You made my day.
Geeze, I knew I couldn't stay focused writing this post. Well, the point of my long seemingly unfocused ramble is, I'm glad I didn't let my fear of meeting new people and being afraid of not fitting in, get in the way of meeting wonderful new people who have inspired me to push myself to be a better blogger.
How was your BlogHer experience?
Zoe is a BlogHer Contributing Editor (life-GLBT). She also blogs her life most ordinary at gaymo.