I Went To BlogHer And Lived To Tell About It

For four years, I followed the posts about BlogHer.  I watched the conference evolve as I grew as a blogger, and each year I wished more desperately that I could be there.  When I heard it was to be in NYC this year, I knew this was my year.

On Thursday morning, Melissa, Robin and I set out for the Big Apple in our borrowed Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.  Melissa somehow coerced me into relinquishing the driver’s seat with the agreement that we would switch when we got close to the city, as she had never driven in NYC before.  Note that I said HAD, because before we knew it, we were approaching the Lincoln Tunnel, and she got a quick initiation into big city driving.  White knuckled, she managed to deliver us to the parking garage at the Hilton New York without incident.

Except that when we got to the parking garage, we were unapologetically informed that there was no more room in the inn (for mammoth SUVs, anyway.)  But after one look at Melissa’s stricken face and gorgeous blue eyes, suddenly a spot for one more SUV miraculously appeared, hallelujah!

We arrived at the Hilton to a flood in the lobby and a gaggle of cackling hens all greeting one another and recognizing friends from cyberspace.

It was awesome.

People go to blogging conferences for all different reasons.  Some go to learn, some to network, some for the swag, some to build their brand.

I go to blogging conferences to make connections.

I wanted to go to BlogHer to reunite with my blogging buddies, to make new ones, and to meet those I’ve only ever talked to on Twitter.  I wanted to attend the parties I’ve only read about, meet people I’ve only typed to, and sit up late and reconnect with old friends.

I was prepared to be overwhelmed by the staggering amounts of swag and over-stimulated by the daunting schedule.  I just wasn’t prepared for how soon I would feel overwhelmed and over-stimulated.

I knew this may very well be my only BlogHer Conference, and I wanted to do it all.  So against the advice of the BlogHer veterans, I accepted almost every event invitation and packed all my cutest (read: most UNcomfortable) shoes.  Go big or go home, that’s my motto.

I figured I’d at least make it to Day 2 before I hit a wall, but as fate would have it, I hit my wall on Thursday night, before BlogHer even officially began.

My weeks of planning and anticipating the epic event caught up with me before I was even out of the starting gate.  I quickly realized that I couldn’t keep up the pace I’d set for myself, and I had to drop back and punt.  From that point on, I took every hour as it came.  I didn’t do everything I wanted to do, but no one can.  I did, however, have the BlogHer experience that I was hoping to have.

I went to a bunch of fun parties.

Kim and me at Nate Berkus

Photo credit: Julie Pron

I reconnected with so many old friends (there are too many to possibly name them all so please don’t hate me if you’re not in this list.)

Amy, me and Jamie at the Unilever Penthouse

Photo credit: Amy Clark

I made some new ones.

I met for the first time few of my design clients and favorite cyber friends.

And I even had my one blogger rock star moment when I ran into Yvonne in the bathroom.  Yes, the bathroom.  Hey, I never said my life was glamorous.

I was asked many times throughout the weekend if I was having a good time.  I’m not sure “a good time” is what I’d call it.  All I can say is, it was everything I expected it to be, and I don’t suppose you can ask much more than that.

Allow me to indulge and list some of the highlights of my BlogHer experience:

(And you thought THAT was the BlogHer recap?  Ha!  You must be new here.  Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while.)

1. Riding in style as a Chevy Roadtripper. (And not having to worry about how to lug home all that swag!)

2. Meeting David Lauren in the Ralph Lauren Reading Room. The space was exquisite, and the story behind the company is the stuff legends are made of.  I didn’t take a single picture.  I just tried to live in the moment and take it all in.

3. Discovering a fabulous hole-in-the-wall diner late at night with two of my favorite Philly peeps, Shannon and Melissa.

4. Lively lunchtime conversation with Ranvir and Nelly and discovering a new BFF. (For some reason Nelly is the ONLY person at the table that you can’t see in this photo.  HMPH.)

5. Wearing this outfit.

(I carried my gray Hannah Clutch every evening.  LOVE that bag.)

6. Hanging out in my room over wine with good friends, old and new.

Aliza and Danielle

Aliza from Wine Sisterhood generously shared a few samples of her favorite wines with us.  My favorite was the white table wine called pro-mis-Q-ous, with Tenacious Red by Purple Cowboy running a close second.  Don’t you just love clever wine labels?

7. The Robeez by Stride Rite Launch Party at the Warwick Hotel, hosted by the incomparable Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney. The food and wine were plentiful, the agenda was brief but informative, and the swag was generous and useful.  But most of all, it was small and intimate and a bunch of my friends were there.  Ultimately, that what makes a party great to me.

8. Discovering the Upper West Side with Trina.

9. Wearing these shoes.

Photo Credit: Shannon Shaffer

10. Being greeted by the one and only Isabelle Kallman holding a tray of cheeseburgers and wearing her famed McDonalds bag hat.

And then eating a cheeseburger while dancing with Kim and Melissa at the CheeseburgHer party.  (Yes, all at the same time!)

Photo Credit: Girlymama

11. Sunday Brunch at the Loews Regency. This was a perfectly lovely way to end my BlogHer experience.  Carol outdid herself with this event.  The sponsors were gracious but unobtrusive, and the food was phenomenal.  The cheese table was particularly exquisite, compliments of Al Weiner, Cheese Negociant.  I do believe a PSMM event at the Loews Philadelphia is in order.

12. Dancing with a circle my favorite Philly peeps at the Sparklecorn party. This is, hands down, my favorite BlogHer memory.  While the music throbbed and the lights flashed and my feet tapped, I looked around the room and saw a room full of women — big time bloggers and small time bloggers and conservative bloggers and liberal bloggers and memoir bloggers and niche bloggers — all pulsating to the same beat.

I cannot adequately describe the significance of this moment. I just wanted to stop time; it was utterly surreal.

All the tensions of the weekend melted away, and suddenly it was all worth it.  It was The Moment I’d been waiting for all weekend, a moment will forever be etched in my mind.

BlogHer was everything I had heard that it was — intense, busy, fun, stressful, crazy, wonderful.

When I was asked if I will be at BlogHer next year in San Diego, my initial response was, hell to the no! But then again, I try to never say never.  So let’s just say, I’ll have to wait and see.

The best part about BlogHer10 was that I got to share it with our fabulous group of Philly moms.  Love you guys!!  (And if I missed linking to one of you who was there, please let me know!!)

Photo credit: Whitney

I also want to give a shout out to my darling roomies.  We didn’t spend nearly enough time together, and we didn’t even get a group photo.  I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Chevy Roadtripper program, I was provided with a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, a full tank of gas, OnStar assistance, parking for the weekend at the Hilton New York, and a bag filled with sustenance for the road.

As for the conference itself, I had no sponsorships, which means I may well be the only BlogHer attendee who paid for her own ticket.  Just call me Miss Independence.