It was madness, insert first timer joke here. The highest highs and the lowest lows, all jammed into a very short time. It's a little bit like forced duration bipolar disorder except all 3,600 of you have it and now you have to attempt to talk to each other.
San Diego: where the beautiful but dry weather will fuck up your new haircut.
From the second I landed every moment was spent shaking hands or rushing off to get to the next thing. I didn't even attempt a quarter of the events that were going on and I still felt harried. San Diego was also three hours behind my home time, meaning I stayed up past 3 or 4 am my time every night, and on the first day for 24 straight hours. Not perfect planning there, but it worked out fine because caffeine + alcohol = wheeeee!
Thursday afternoon after I first arrived I had a few events right in a row and I walked back to the hotel by myself not feeling very positive about how the whole deal was going down. It was immediately apparent that I'm not a fan of networking. I mean I knew that about myself in advance, of course, but I felt I had to at least give it the old college try. I wore nametags and talked to vendors and shook hands.
I was thrilled to meet new people but there is only so much awkward introduction "networking" I can tolerate before my brain goes haywire and I start giving people the wanking hand signal. As I ended up saying at varying points when my fuse had run short, "I really don't give a fuck about that." Was this what blogher was going to be like? Really? There was too much "networking" and not enough laughing or having fun. The only good news was I figured it out the first afternoon and had time to change my priorities during the next two days. No more "brand networking" for me.
Hotel pool for consumption of bloody marys, opening keynote address, lunch in the pavilion
Over the next two days I went to sessions where smart women were sharing their knowledge. I stayed for a few and walked out of a few. There was swag and I spoke with companies at the expo hall. I met some nice people and was ignored by others. Whatever. I went to several private parties, which were okay but not all they're cracked up to be. I got drunk at Sparklecorn and threw up in our trash can, but I blame the world's most awful drink selection for that. I skipped a session I desperately wanted to attend just to sit alone in our room and recharge because I was so burnt out from being go-go-go all the time.
clever girls party, post cheeseburgher tattoos, youphoria
I came home and told Jon that the parties were weird. They were... corporate. It was impossible to have fun and relax. "They're conference parties," he shot back, which made perfect sense. It's not a house party with your besties, or a rowdy night at your local bar, it's a corporate sponsored shindig. It probably explains why one of my favorite highlights was escaping with my roommate to linger for conversation over drinks and steaks somewhere private. (She was the best, by the way, and I loved every minute with her. Viva la Mexico!)
mom101, finslippy, fussy, and motherhood uncensored being adorably
funny at a sponsored luncheon with shockingly amazing cheesecake.
I shook the hands and hugged the arms of so many wonderful people, some of whom I feel like I've known for years. It was divine. It was worth it. I was welcomed into groups of friends and approached strangers by myself to make some new ones. I met bloggers I admire and was embarrassed to approach but did it anyway. In that respect- full win. Other people I just saw from afar. Oh yeah, there's that person. Huh. They look nice. Let's go eat some cakepops.
kylee from two pretzels & mandy from harpers happenings
The accidental bridesmaids: erika, myself, mandy, beth ann, mae, kylee.
You read that right, I went up and introduced myself to strangers. That was a proud moment for me, seeing as how I hate strangers with an undying flaming passion. 9/10 times it was a good thing. The one glaring exception was the ladies I met first thing at the airport taxi stand. "Are you headed to the conference center? Would you like to share a cab?" "No." OKAY THEN. I will readily admit that I approached the hotel, in the taxi, by myself, desperately tweeting in tears, because OMG WHAT THE HELL. –and I blame them. Thanks two bitches, for the warm blogher welcome.
There were even more friends that I simply didn't get to meet, to which I must say it's not personal. People warned me I wouldn't necessarily run into everyone I wanted to because of the crazy. They weren't kidding, there were times when I was in the same room with friends and still couldn't find them in the throngs of people. You can only do so much.
Attendees are there for very different reasons and those goals shaped their attitude towards the other attendees. Personally, I was there to meet all the people I've known and loved for so long. Others were there to learn, to network, to meet brands, to grab the microphone at all possible times and shout their url into it. Which is not charming behavior, by the way. Ahem. This is a pretty nice way alluding to the fact that some groups of bloggers act like entitled jerky-jerks who only want free stuff. It can be disheartening, but they're in the minority.
There were also those who were jockeying for position to "be seen" at parties and with particular popular groups, to which I would say, we all know what you're doing and no one gives a shit. Stop. There was a related contingent of unfriendly snobby people and then those who were only there to inject, "READ MY BLOG XXXXXX!" into every conversation and run away. Does that really work? For the most part though those types were on the peripherals and the vast majority were truly just there to have fun and participate. Far and away, most people were nice.
I was able to put a name to maybe 3 out of every 10 people that walked by. Kylee and I would be walking through the lobby and I would rattle off lists of names of who was in the room with us. I did not realize until much later that this is not normal. Apparently I have an eye for um... knowing... you all? Or I love twitter too much. Blame twitter.
So much happened I could fill pages but there's really no reason to hash out every detail. It was good. I have warm fuzzies about the whole thing in general, but I have to admit it didn't blow my mind. It went well but it wasn't the best time EVAARR, it was just a good time. It's a totally unique experience. I hugged friends and made new ones.
What resonated most is that I'm glad I waited. I'm glad I spent a few years blogging before I did this. I knew people. People knew me. I wasn't afraid to go off on my own. After I initially freaked out at that taxi stand I didn't feel scared or alone for another heartbeat. I think the timing of it all shaped my first blogher to be positive instead of demoralizing.
Goodbye weird blogging vacation. I missed my boys, I missed you, it's nice to be home.