I attended my first BlogHer in August and it only took over a MONTH to finish this post. What with putting my house back together, doing laundry, praying for Rachael's family, trashing the house again, Labor Day Weekend and school starting. What's that? A writer should just make time? Okay I guess this 4-inch stack of business card follow-ups will have to wait.
Rachael, BreAnne and I made our plans sort of last-minute so our evo Conference pal Jyl hooked us up with a room at the completely booked Hilton New York (conference location) and we were set...except for packing.
The bag hooks onto the multi-directional roller, and then when it's time to sit on the plane you just unhook the bag to keep at your seat and stow the roller overhead. It's pretty awesome except that there's no separate cushiony compartment for my laptop. I went to Marshall's and found a hip little laptop sleeve for $9.99. Score! I felt "airport chic" and loved keeping a heavy carry-on off of my shoulder.
After packing 7 pairs of shoes and remembering my underwear 5 minutes before thunking my suitcase in the car, I was ready for the Big Apple!
Day 1 :: Wednesday
Rachael and BreAnne got to New York the day before me and when I got to the room they were eating cupcakes from The Cake Store in Hoboken, NJ (The Cake Boss's store!). I needed some yum after the longest cab ride ever from JFK to midtown Manhattan.
Then BreAnne and I helped the SocialLuxe ladies with some party prep, grabbed a very late dinner via organic already-made sandwiches and sacked out in our hotel room for the night. Party animals, we are not.
P.S.--I slept on a couch pull-out bed this first night. Upon pulling out the bed I saw a dark ball of wiry hair on the bed. I thought it was hair from "down there" and FREAKED OUT. Maid service was called and this kind lady picked it up with her bare hands and declared it to simply be bed fibers. I still have my doubts but decided to believe her. A new set of clean sheets helped. My imagination is STILL grossed out.
Day 2 :: Thursday
Thursday morning was our only true free time and NYC was freakishly hot and humid. We walked half a block from the hotel to MOMA to soak in some art in the comfort of air conditioning.
My pictures turned out terribly so here's a cool video with every painting in MoMa (excluding the Contemporary exhibits).
Then we had lunch at Lou's Cafe with some great gals, registered for the conference and took care of some other little details like showering. Seriously, New York in August is a stinky affair. Really, it's a great city but when it's over 85 and humid? the whole place smells like sweaty people and hot, juicy trash.
Heading over to SocialLuxe Lounge; in heels; at rush hour. It was impossible to hail a cab so we were walking and sweating. Then we got a cab and made it to SocialLuxe a little later than we wanted but still in the throes of a fun party. Their swag bags were very generous with more gifts waiting inside. I was impressed that Allison Czarnecki was hugging people at the door. It's often hard to find the hosts at parties and this one greeted us right off the bat!
One of the highlights for me was the henna room. I was kind of dumb and got my right hand done up.
Sandhya Patangay of
did a fabulous job!
It takes awhile for the henna to dry, which meant that I couldn't shake hands with people. "Nice to meet you! High five!" DOH! But anyway SocialLuxe rocked and we love those girls who put so much energy into throwing their party.
Next up was the People's Party which was winding down by the time we got there. BreAnne, Jyl and I popped into Queerosphere for a nice chat and then called it a night.
Day 3 :: Friday
I'd heard that BlogHer isn't the place to love sessions, and I guess the rumors were right. I tried the writing session and wasn't impressed. Granted, I showed up late, but all I heard was Q&A and it felt like Writing 110. "How do you find time to write?" As one panelist answered, "Turn off Twitter." Well said. And then some dude stood up and spent 3 minutes talking about his awesome blog before lobbing up a lame question. Way to promote. I bugged out the side door.
Up to the Expo. And I met the Jimmie Dean Sunshine Man! I was beaming (no pun intended). Then I got lost in the Expo. Not geographically, but mentally. It was like Vegas in there with no clocks. Suddenly it was 2pm and I hadn't eaten lunch. I was quickly sinking and then found a little corner table of abandoned buffet salad. Satisfaction.
Parties: BreAnne and I made it over to Madame Troussad's, hosted by NY City Mama, where we met the likes of Madonna, George Clooney, Oprah and Daniel Craig. The celebs looked a little waxy and BreAnne and I had humidity-stricken hair--but I think Oprah's hair is still puffier than ours.
Then we headed over to The Volstead in case any "like-minded" people "happened" to meet for drinks with Mighty Girl. It was a fantastic gathering with no swag or attitude.
Day 4 :: Saturday
Suite hopping. Lots of suites and some more Expo. I was afraid to try more sessions but wish I'd tried again. Mostly I just wanted to meet other bloggers and writers and it's easier to have conversations in the suites and Expo than in a room where everyone is listening to a panel. Serenity Suite offered a nice place to relax and have coffee without any pretense.
BreAnne and I took a welcome break from the Hilton and mosied over to the preview of Disney's Secretariat. I'll write a proper review closer to the movie's public release, but will say it's good family fare. Plus I live in Lexington, Kentucky so it was really cool to see a movie partially set and filmed in my hood. Plus the very handsome producer, Mark Ciardi, was on hand to schmooze with us afterward.
It also was a nice touch that they served mint juleps during the schoozing.
Then it was back to the room for some party clothes like these giant gold gladiators. TM_Erin didn't believe I owned a pair. As Lightning McQueen from Cars would say, Kachow!
I wore a hole in the top of one toe while dancing the night away in these puppies. And dancing on the stage of Sparklecorn ain't for the faint of heart, people. [Disclaimer: If you go to that Sparklecorn link and watch the vid, be sure you wear headphones or turn sound off around kids or while at work. Just sayin'.] Speaking of dancing, that number by Formerly Phread was straight-up Off.The.Hook. You know why? Because she was joyful. Later, I read her follow-up post and understood why. That is beauty.
Day 5 :: Sunday
Then there was Sunday. Travel home day. The day that you look at ALL THAT SWAG and decide what is really worth paying postage to take home. The day that you realize it's all been fun but what you really want is to see your kids and kiss their squishy cheeks.
Luckily we had this awesome Taste of Loew's brunch to fuel us before heading out of Manhattan. It was hosted by NY City Mama and Loew's Hotels. We were chauffeured to the event by Chevrolet. I cannot even begin to describe all the food they spread out. Chefs were on hand with an omelette station, chilled yogurt, sushi, short ribs, chocolates--practically name it and it was there in gourmet splendor. I wish my pictures of this had turned out but my camera broke and my phone was way too blurry (as evidenced in the shoe picture above).
Rachael, BreAnne and I heard about a Dominican Day Parade around our hotel and decided we had to book it to get to the airport. Too late. The Utah girls missed their flight. I made mine just in time to sit on the tarmac for 4 hours before finally taking off, but ultimately made it home safely.
BlogHer was definitely overwhelming but very worth it for the ability to see and meet so many bloggers in one area. We sit in our little offices, likely wearing last night's pajamas and knowing no one can smell our coffee breath, and it's nice to get dolled up and bring face-to-face socialization to our social media world.
But next time? I'll bring more comfortable shoes.
It cost $30 to send my swag box home. My 3yo played with Mr. Potato Head for about 5 minutes and then carried the Chapsticks around all week. My 1yo crawled into the empty box and sat there for 10 minutes.