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Category: BlogHer ’06

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of the Internet and how creates strong communities. Well, at least that has been the word that has been used so much lately. I suppose now the word community is more appropriate it. But there was a time when that seemed too formal. Too “organized” for what organically came to be back then. I started officially writing online in 1995 with an online journal on Live Journal. That was pretty much just throwing words out there. But in 2003 I started this blog. (Happy belated birthday, blog. You look good for 14 years old!) That is what in the blogging community considers an OG blogger. When we blogged, it was just blogging.

We weren’t Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, etc. To see what was happening with one another, we’d hop online and read each other’s blog. We’d leave a comment and move on to our next friend’s blog. To me, it was more like a neighborhood. We would visit one another’s home, catch up,  and then we’d go catch up with another neighbor. It was close-knit. If someone was going through a rough time, we rallied around them. If someone wasn’t going to be “home” for an extended period, we would house-sit for each other. ( Also known as handing the keys to your blog over to another blogger so they can guest blog for you so you never had an empty day on your blog.) On weekends, we would have a neighborhood block party where we would gather and drink *kook-aid (*not a typo) and chat with each other in our version of real-time. If you put out the call for help, it was there. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through my Mom’s long, horrible hospital stay and her death without my “neighbors” and their support. They lifted me up and reminded me I wasn’t alone.

In 2005 I was introduced to a tiny little grassroots company and new community named BlogHer. I almost didn’t go to their first conference until a long conversation with one of their founders, Lisa Stone, who not only talked me into going but into speaking on a panel. It was the best decision I could have made. From the conference, I began to work for BlogHer as a writer, helped kick-off their ad network and did whatever they needed behind the scenes for their ’06 conference. (Not to mention speaking at three of the conferences and being a part of a morning keynote.) I wouldn’t trade those early days working for BlogHer for anything. It was amazing watching many of my neighbors become part of that community of BlogHers.

I met many friends through my neighborhood and the many communities I have belonged to over the years. In 2007, BlogHer exploded into a conference that had huge numbers of attendees and vendors and parties etc. It was exciting to see the growth, especially when I was there watching from the grassroots level. (I am so thankful to have beenworking there at the very beginning and grateful I wasn’t there at the end.) I  got to know so many new bloggers through BlogHer. It was in 2007 that I met a handful of bloggers I’m still friends with today. Real friends. Not just computer friends. Heart friends.

Almost two weeks ago, Anissa, an OG blogger died. Anissa was hilarious, kind and my kind of crazy. I first met her on a BlogHer trip to the Ford plant in Chicago. You see, there were six of us who had “alternative departure times” and therefore we were late getting to the bus. So, the big fancy charter bus was full, so the six of us rode in a small charter-ish bus. Best outcome ever! We all laughed until our abs hurt. Anissa and I had a similar sense of humor and riffed off of each other perfectly. It was a blast. (I made some awesome friends on that bus that day that are still real, close friends today.)   Every time Anissa and I saw each other after that at BlogHer, we always shared at least one or two smart-ass remarks. We weren’t close but we had moments that made me laugh. So, when I heard that she died, I literally began sobbing. Right there is the waiting room of the eye doctor with the girls. Someone who has survived so much and who has a personality that is larger than life and is so young isn’t supposed to just suddenly die. Not someone so loved, so needed by her family, so adored by her friends. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around it. It just hit hard. It hurt hard. My heart has so many things I want to say but I honestly don’t know how to say it. The quote on Anissa’s about section by Erma Bombeck is one she lived by and I hope I live up to as well.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say, “I used everything you gave me.”

That week wasn’t over with me yet. There are so many things going on, rushing to force  themselves out of my brain through my fingers, and I am having one hell of a hard time trying to sort through them. Trying to figure out what to share and what not to. I found a friend from school died. I’m not ready to talk about that yet. But that was within a couple of days of Anissa’s passing. I also struggle with what is medical to help you understand me a bit better and what is boring medical and what is scary medical. (Most recently, I had a bad reaction to medications I was taking. Not only was it making things worse, it made me insanely angry, irrational, and suicidal. Not a good combo with the things in my Universe at the time.) Also?  You know how when you look really sad and kind of lost people will tell you look like you lost your best friend? So, that  actually did happen. I’d tell you it’s a long story and share it but in all honesty I don’t know the story so I can’t share it. My take away is that I won’t let anyone use a certain word as a term of endearment for me again when it is used one week before walking away with ease … hell, I have no idea. However, one of the best gifts Anissa could have given me was helping me work through serious issues & things happening on my own. That was a blessing in disguise.

Anyhoo, while looking for the picture of the six charter-ish bus gang, I went back and looked at pictures from BlogHers from years past. From ’05 when I walked into a conference where I only knew people I  had read online. And seeing how I found a tribe that got me. I still love those ladies I made friends with that year. It was a new and wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And then came ’06. Oh, BlogHer ’06! I laughed my ass off all weekend. I danced even without music. I “hugged” statues. I took a nose-dive into a hot tub. All of which was caught on camera. I laughed so hard looking at those pictures and remembering how it all came with such ease even though it was such a hard time for me. Then ’07 where I finally met THE Busy Mom. We can sum  up ’07 with one word: CHEESE. Enough said. I could go on and on. For years this was BlogHer for me. I am so grateful for the many friends It brought into my life. The community that brought me neighbors, so to speak.

There is so much going on  in my life right now. Some good and some that is too hard to really talk about here or now. But I am glad to be back. I’m just going to go about dusting things off around here. Rearranging the furniture. Take down some old pictures that don’t belong on the walls anymore. Put up some new ones without 80’s hair. It’s time to clear out the cobwebs, shake out the rugs, and get back to me & writing.

 

 

 

Welcome to the Hyattyville Horror

Welcome to the Hyattyville Horror

Okay, you read (or not) my general recap of BlogHer ‘06.  But let me tell you the real drama.  I know that you are waiting for it.  The horror.  The terror.  The near death experiences.  Yes, my friends, the Hyatt tried to kill me.  (*Disclaimer:  There was nothing that the amazing triumvirate could do.  I am not complaining about the location.  Just the death the hotel wished upon me.)

When I arrived on Wednesday, I was told I was in cellblock 8 building 8.  No problem.  Great exercise.  Then I walked into the building.  Oh, yes, the battle had begun.  Hyattyville tried to sauna me out with the heat of a thousand saunas inside the hallways and room.  Right.  Trying to mess with a Texas gal by using heat?  Not a prayers chance of out heating me with the your measly 100% humidity and 105 degree hallways.  I laugh at that.  Come see Texas in August.  I thought perhaps I heard whispers of “Get out” when I got on the elevator and saw the sign that said the inspection expired in 2005.  Nah.  Not a problem.  I can take it.

Day two.  We notice that the left side of my face is swelling.  By 5:00pm I have been asked twice if I have a jawbreaker in my mouth.  Baffled by what it could be, I take Benadryl.  Take that Hyattyville.  Bring on your swelling.  I slap you down with the miracle that is Benadryl.  By Friday morning the swelling was down some.  I look just a tad off of the swelling.  Ha!  Battle won.

Friday night.  Hyattyville is getting rather pissed off that I am not heading it’s warnings and takes drastic measures.  The left side of my face swells to proportions that look as if I am doing my best half Marlo Brando/Godfather impression.  “Don’t mess with da family!” (Or in this case, “Don’t mess with da mommy bloggers.”) But no!  Seeing as I had the mighty sword of Benadryl, the Hyattyville threw in the Swelling Tongue of death.  My tongue had hives on it.  Hives.  Say it with me…..The hell??  So by 5:30pm on Friday, I am speaking in a very bizarre way.

“Are you drunk?” was a phrase I heard more than once.  To which I replied, “I am noth drunthk.  My tongthe ith thwollen. Doth thith soundth drunkth? No!  Thith is thwollen tongthe.” Oh it was on. It was SO ON. I had to speak twice the next day. I could not be Thwollen Tongthe Girl.  More Benadryl.  And just to be safe, a few LemonDrops.  Because what Benadryl cannot fix, Lemon Drops can make you forget.  By morning, a lot of the tongue swelling was down but not the face.  The hell?  By this time many, many of the women I was hanging out with were trying to guess at the cause.  Allergic to something I ate?  (Never have been before!) Something I drank?  (Certainly not alcohol.  Maybe ass water.) Spider bite?  (Okay, make me sleep with the light on and a shoe in my hand all night now!) Nothing seemed to fit.

Walking into the hotel on Saturday evening, I was used to the routine.  Face explodes.  Tongue swells.  People guess as to my ailment.  However, this time I heard the Hyattyville very clearly say it:  “Get out!” It even wrote it out for me. But like any idiot in a horror movie, I giggle nervously and stayed.

It wasn’t until 3:45am Saturday night/Sunday morning that I realized maybe I was in over my head here.  I crawled back to my bed with my very swollen face, a tongue that looked three times it’s normal size and a throat that was itchy and raw.  “You win!” I screamed at the Hyattyville.

Sunday morning after 2 hours of sleep, I think even Jenny heard it.  “GET OUT!”

Let me tell you something.  I threw stuff into my suitcases and got the hell out of dodge.  There is being tough and then there is being killed by a hotel.  This time the Hyattyville won.  But we are not finished, my horror friend.  If we shall we meet again, I will not let you take me down. 

Updateclickmom was less than happy that I left her hanging. (Sorry!).  In answer to her question as to whether it went away when I left the Hyattyville Horror Hotel, the answer is yes.  By the time I reached the comfy and safe (not trying to kill me) home of Jenny, I was just fine.  It WAS the hotel.  I swear it.

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All you need is love–and 750+ women

All you need is love–and 750+ women

BlogHer ‘06.  I want to recap.  I want to discuss.  I want to share my experience.  I want to stay neutral.  Before I do any of that, I recommend you read this excellent post by Lisa Stone on what it takes to put a conference together.  I have heard negative talk and tried to stay away from it.  I have heard the positive talk and embraced it.  I have seen drama and rolled my eyes.  I have seen passion and embraced it.  I want to address a bit of it first.

If you felt as if you were under represented, suggest a panel.

If you felt your voice was not heard, suggest a panel.

If you felt that you were marginalized, suggest a panel.

Is the theme clear, here?  One can be upset by the way things did or did not go, but if you complain without trying to fix it, you really have very little to complain about.  BlogHer’s mission: To create opportunities for women bloggers to pursue exposure, education, and community.  This means speak up.  That is all I will say about it.

———–

Now, for my personal take on the conference.  It. Rocked. My. Socks. Off.  I want so badly to link to all of the amazing women I met and who gave me something amazing to bring back with me, but do you really want to read a link list of 750 women?  Everyone there made the conference what it was, so every one of them should receive credit for making it what it was.  And if I actually link to the women I met that I spent a lot of time with, I would certainly leave one of them off and hurt a new friend.  Not going to do that.  You will just have to keep coming back here as I link to them throughout my various posts.

When I left BlogHer, that Sunday the mention of the conference brought me to tears.  Poor Jenny was taking me back to her house exhausted and there I am a blubbering mess.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe because I was overwhelmed and on overload?  Maybe because I had too little time with too many people and longed for more time to get to know people better?  Maybe lack of sleep?  Believe it or not, crowds overwhelm me.  Not speaking in front of them.  That doesn’t bother me in the least.  I thrive on that.  But there were so many women that I wanted to talk to. I was worried about making sure I didn’t accidentally snub someone because of being overwhelmed by the amount of people around me and how that really stressed me out.  Trying to keep track of people I met and who I have not and who I wanted to meet who who blogged where etc.  I need and thrive on knowing people and who they really are.  The short conversations were stressful.  But I LOVED meeting so many women!  (I am adding all of them to my link list that I got a card from.  If I did not get a card from you and you want added or we met and I am an idiot and did not add you, drop me a line.  Then blame it on the hotel trying to kill me.)

Last year I wrote this about BlogHer ‘05: 

As I write this, I struggle to find the right words.  Words that let them know (and let you know) how much I appreciate them.  I sit here with tears streaming down my face as I think of how I arrived a broken and rather shattered woman and left with a soul that had been healed.  I needed to be there.  I needed to meet every woman I met.  They each gave me something I can hold onto forever.  I found sisterhood, friendship and warmth in so many of them.

The year that followed BlogHer ‘05 was hell.  Those friendships and sisterhood I made last year got me through this year.  So what did I bring home from BlogHer ‘06?  Pretty much most of the same.  I met women I adore and will keep up with until we can get together again. 

I was bothered by a lot of negative talk.  Probably because I did not see it.  I didn’t know it was there until it was pointed out by other people.  My goodness, the hotel tried to kill me and I still had an amazing time.  Maybe some of my emotion came from watching Lisa, Jory and Elisa put their heart and soul into it and (wrong or right), it broke my heart to see negativity so easily thrown around.  So sue me.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I thought I learned my lesson last year not to do that, but I am who I am.

I do have to give a shout out to the amazing panel I was honored to speak on.  Outreach Blogging. The moderator was danah boyd.  Can I just gush and tell you of the blog crush I have on this amazing woman? She was the perfect person to moderate this panel.  She is warm, caring and sensitive to the nature of the delicate topics that are being discussed.  She was a comfort and was safe.  On the panel with me was three amazing women: Leah Peterson of leahpeah, Denise of Daily Dose of Denise and Erica at marzena.  Liz Henry had a great recap of it hereon the Huffington Post.  Did you go to it?  I would love to hear from you if you did!

But what encompassed the entire weekend, what people should remember is the way on Day Two when there were technical issues, the room raised it’s voice as one singing, “All You Need Is Love”.  Isn’t that what we should all bring home from BlogHer?  That women supporting women feeling that was captured in that moment.  A moment that could have been awkward, negative and embarrassing became a moment when the group of 700+ women (and men) came together as one in a joint effort to support Lisa and the tech issues. 

And really, isn’t that what BlogHer is there to do?  Support each other and help each other along?  Just something to think about.

Hat tip to Mindy of The Mommy Blog for the video.

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Say cheese and grab a pole, baby

Say cheese and grab a pole, baby

imageSometimes in life you just need to grab on and go for the ride.  That is exactly what BlogHer ‘06 was for me.  I know everyone is over with the recaps, but I just got home, so I get a pass from the Internet to let me ponder one more day and then recap.  But as much as everyone loves reading about things like this, we all know you really, really love seeing the pictures.  (At least, I have had one hell of a good time looking at all of them and smiling at the fun that was had.)

I do have my photos up on Flickr now. And then I wander around and see ones that make me cringe.  Not from regret but because I have the incredible ability to be insanely hyper, have no sensor from my brain to my mouth and do jackassery things while sober.  But honey, this Mommyblogger can promise you a good, pee in your pants time. 

all wet clothed in the hot tubAnd then there are times when you are just feeling the love and need the hug that you will hop into a hot-tub for a good hug.  Oh yes, I am fully clothed in that hot tub.  I went for the hug and slipped full faced, under the water, down to the bottom of the hot-tub.  Damn right we were going to photograph it.  Now normally, someone would just jump out, grab a towel and change.  Nope.  I decided to just jump from the hot tub to the pool.  I had been waiting to do that all weekend.  Mr. Hyattityville Horror Hotel Rent a Cop was not amused.  So I smiled, waved, shook my red hair dry in his general direction and headed to Cell Block 8 for dry clothes.

Good times, people.  Good times.  Tomorrow, I promise real thoughts about the conference.  Because you deserve them and because, well, I want to write them.  And it’s my blog and I’ll babbleass if I want to.  (Did you hear the sing song there?  Totally sing song southern drawled that one for y’all!)

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Just put the cuffs on me now!

Just put the cuffs on me now!

Are you familiar with the song Do You Know the Way To San Jose? I am.  I know the song.  Or rather that annoying lyric to it.  But you want to know the kicker there…apparently no one told me the way HOME from San Jose.  I got home today.  This afternoon.  One official week after BlogHer officially started and I just got home.  (I will pause for the “poor babies” and “b and “there-there’s” now.)

It’s not so much that I got lost.  I had a plan.  There were schedules.  I was taken in like the bum I am and was well taken care of.  First by one of my beautiful partners in crime, Jenny and then by the incomparably awesome Grace (and I am so sneaking Malcolm into my carry-on next time!) But then it seemed as if the travel Never Stopped.  The plane took about 723 hours to get to Houston.  Then I had to drive an hour to my Dad’s house to be accosted by my children.  And still.  Still not home.  But today.  Ahhhh, but today I did get home.  After 6 hours in a car.  With a teen, a tween and a kindergartner.  (Sounds like the set-up to a really bad joke.  Trust me.  There was nothing funny about it.)

I was so very tired.  So. Very. Tired.  Do you want to know what can get your adrenaline pumping like mad?  One of these cars in the picture below pulling up behind you with lights flashing like the 4th of July!

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That is Officer Clary.  My son took that picture as we passed because he was bored and taking pictures.  Being the mature mom I am, as soon as the police man pulled behind me with lights and all, I turn to my son with, “What did you do?  I am totally legal!  This must be your fault for taking his picture.” (Therapy in his future.  We saved for it.)

Turns out it is illegal not to have a front licence plate in Texas.  Who knew?  My car is a 1998 and has no bracket for a plate.  I guess I will have to go duct tape one on.  But the conversation with the officer was priceless.

Officer Clary:  “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”

Me:  “To make me cry because I am tired and want to go home and you feel like being mean?”

OC:  “Well, umm…no, you see you have no front license plate.”

Me:  “Really?  Really that is it?  No. Front. Plate.”

OC:  “Well, yes ma’am.  You need that.”

Me:  “Yeah, okay, I can see that this is an issue of great magnitude, but the problem there is that there is no place to put one.  But really, I will get right on it anyway.”

OC:  “Can I see your driver’s license please?”

[checks it out, sees I am not a wanted fugitive and returns]

OC:  [checking out my loaded to capacity car with children crammed in like pickles in a pickle jar he casually asks me where I am coming from.]

Me:  [I lift my sunglasses to reveal bloodshot eyes with tears in them because he is keeping me from HOME, raccoon black circles under my eyes, wrinkles that were not there 2 weeks ago and a look that says I dare you to mess with me at this moment in time when my face and feet and this puffy and I have PMS!] “Well, California then Houston and now I am trying to go to Dallas and really, I just want a bed.  Are you going to arrest me because a bed to myself and 3 square meals a day brought to me (with no ass water) sounds really nice. 

So, Officer Clary, can you just cuff me now.  I mean, I have been peeing in front of women all weekend. I have groped and been groped and have been surrounded nonstop by 750 women for an intense weekend that started more than a week ago, so none of that prison crap will phase me. And, oh, did I mention I am just so tired!  Bed?  Food?  Cuff me! Please!”

He gave me a warning.  A warning.  With 4 more hours to drive.  No bed.  No cuffs.  I got the raw end of that deal.  I was hoping for sleep.



But alas, I made it home.  HOME.  Where I immediately collapsed on my driveway (cracked and all)….


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And gave it a big kiss just to tell home I was happy to be there.

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Because did I mention how tired I am?  How much I miss my bed?  I did miss my bed.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jenny is an awesome bedmate, but my home is not trying to kill me like the hotel was (more on THAT later with my recap because the hotel did try to kill me and I have witnesses to it!)

So tell me…did you miss me?  Did ya?  If you met me, did you respect me in the morning?

And if you see officer Clary, tell him that really, all I wanted was a good cuffing and taken to a nice bed.  Not a piece of paper saying, “Keep driving for HOURS and HOURS and you may get home.”

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There’s no place like home…can someone take me there?!

There’s no place like home…can someone take me there?!

Still

Not

Home

From

BlogHer ‘06

—–

I will update and lend my thoughts later.  (If by then anyone cares!) What I can say is that I met amazing women that touched my life (and made me wet my pants, fall in a hot tub fully clothed and sober (LISA, the badge!  the badge!), cry with laughter, cry with emotions and get more out of the weekend than I could have expected) and that I will be linking to them a lot.  To quote one of them (who may not want credit for the comment thought I totally cracked up over it so I will have to check before I link her)

There is much linking to be done!  Therefore…”I have a year to go from being her bitch to her super bitch.”

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