In case this thing happens again next year and you're wondering if it's worth attending, this is what I took away from BlogHer '05. Number One Best Thing was meeting people I'd only known from their blogs, but this was not pure coincidence. We'd been e-mailing back and forth for months about Taking the Next Step in our long-distance love affairs, and the planning stage was not without its setbacks, i.e., airplane tickets don't grow on trees. But we all overcame our own particular obstacles, and before we knew it we were standing in the lobby of the Westin hotel singing Kumbayah.
However, meeting a good portion of your Internet crushes can be really fucking draining. I have a hard enough time as it is coping with life unmedicated, and I do so by filtering most of my relationships through a computer screen. So when called upon to extend myself in person, after about five minutes I start looking around for a paper bag to breathe into*. When Mightygirl sat down next to me at dinner the first night I felt as though someone had put my head in a plastic dry cleaner's bag: there was suddenly no air in the room, and it was all I could do to smile faintly before hiding behind my camera and taking a picture of her chest. Smooth. If I'd been a guy she would have gutted me like a fish. Fortunately she seems to be one of the most well-adjusted people I've ever met, because by noon the next day I was going, "Molly Shannon!" and she'd get all Bond Girl and stick out her arms and say "SUPERSTAR!"
*I know, everyone says that, but ask anyone who saw me curled up on my bed like a tiny, shivering mollusk Saturday night and they'll tell you IT'S TRUE.
Meeting Heather was, predictably, a pleasure, especially since she's all normal and shit. Seriously, the only difference between a regular person and Heather is that she's as tall as a giraffe and has the bone structure of a Ford model, but otherwise she chews with her mouth open and waves her hands around when she talks and generally behaves like someone with a big brain who listens really well and treats other people with a great deal more respect than they sometimes treat her with. I felt really shy around her. She flatters me by calling me "grounded," when in reality I'm pretty much a basket case until I've known you for seven or eight years. After that, you know, I find it's pretty much safe to relax.
Melissa and Alice were the roommates dreams are made of. Melissa plays all self-deprecating and shit on her site, but she's so warm and funny and AWESOME that I wanted to just squeeze her and squeeze her and then lie in bed and listen to her giggle all night long forever. Alice I didn't want to squeeze so much as I wanted to tether her to my waist so that I could take her wherever I go for the rest of my life. Actually, the ideal arrangement would be to tether Alice and Melissa to me as though we were mountaineers, then whenever it was my turn to lead I could look back down and see them dangling from their crampons and laughing so hard they snorted freeze-dried milk from their noses. I'm not sure where that image came from, but there you have it.
JenB is just like I thought she'd be, just sort of funny and placid and generous and so easy to be with. Jen is probably the only person who didn't freak me out in the slightest way, and she brought all sorts of crazy Canadian candy that I brought home to the sincere delight of my son and all his friends.
It was a total surprise to see Sweetney there, and as soon as I recognized her I deprived her of all free will and bade her to BlogHer with us, and she was powerless to resist.
And I made some new friends:
Amanda, who remains fresh and lively even after great quantities of tequila
Liz, who is so quick, and has pretty purple bangs, and who gave me a great compliment by being one of the first to buy one of my t-shirts
Jenijen who beats the pants off me, blogging style, by managing to write engaging posts far more frequently than me while raising four intelligent, socially-conscious children
Jenny, again with the thoughtful blogging and the kids! These women have energy to burn
Koan. I didn't get to talk to Koan, but I got to hear her talk at the Getting Naked panel and I learned a lot. I learned that I don't know beans about the courage it takes not only to be transgendered but to go public with the most intimate knowledge of yourself. My god. I don't know why but I feel so proud of her.
THINGS ABOUT BLOGHER THAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME
1. The sessions felt too short. The Getting Naked panel, which was about revealing your personal life on the Web, just managed to scratch the surface of some incredibly important issues like privacy (yours, the people you write about) when whoops! time for everybody to get out. Same with the political blogs session, and same with the moms-who-blog session, in which half of the attendees turned out to be single and childless -- just when it started getting interesting, wham! Get out! Go eat your cookies NOW!
2. Women being assholes to other women. Oh, the sexism women use against each other. I know this isn't strictly a blogging phenomenon, but as everyone there was using a blog to define herself or her opinions, we might as well have the conversation one more time in a panel discussion format. Especially after one woman stood up after it was all over and said, "You know, with all the power blogs have to change the world, I think those mommybloggers should try thinking outside of their boxes!" [This in reference to the importance of blogging about the problems of women in the Third World.] Yes, I've heard that blogs can change the world, but apparently our own stories just aren't good enough. So that was nice, to be shoved aside by the portion of the sisterhood who likes to think that reading and writing about my son wiping his own butt is a big fat waste of time. Really, as if!
Seriously, though: Grrr. Bad blogger! Bad!
Next year I hope more men will attend, especially men I love so much I want to hide from them, like Sac and Laid-off Dad, if only just because they're tall enough to reach the highest liquor shelves at Trader Joe's.