Browsed by
Category: BlogHer ’07

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.




The final (yet in some ways first) wrap up of BlogHer ’07

The final (yet in some ways first) wrap up of BlogHer ’07

Okay, so I have finally regained my eyesight. (Last year the hotel tried to kill me. This year American Airlines did. After flight cancellations, a standby list of over 200 and finally catching the last flight out of Chicago, I made it home. With two severe eye infections. I was told there were ‘ulcers’ on my eyes. Ulcers. On my eyes. What the hell? So, computer time has been limited. Anyway…) Since this has the potential of being very long, I will break it down into sections that may make it more reader friendly.

The sessions

I was able to go to several sessions, though I did miss quite a few I wanted to go to. I obviously had to go to the State of the Momosphere session seeing as just 2 years ago a mom panel almost did not even happen because “Why would anyone go listen to what Moms have to say?” so Jenny, Meghan and I had to be convincing that the panel would in fact be a success. (It was!) Now, just 2 years later the Mom panel has become standing room only. (Go, Moms!) The other panels (or is it sessions?) I went to were very well moderated and had terrific panelists. They all were informed, entertaining and great speakers. Some sessions I enjoyed just listening and hearing other thoughts. Some were informative and I feel I really was able to walk away with new information that will benefit me. And there was one or two that I wasn’t sure I would enjoy at all and find myself listening intently to what was being said. One on a topic I knew nothing about but learned enough to want to hear more. And one that I was able to make excellent professional connections afterwards. All in all, the sessions I attended were well worth it. Even the closing political keynote. (Still, no need to be apologetic that I am from Texas, Ms. Edwards.) Those I was unable to go to had excellent live bloggers covering them not to mention the actual BlogHers who were there sharing what they learned. (Thank you live bloggers!)

My only regret is that you had to either stay from beginning to end to attend a session in each track or you had to choose what to miss if you had to head back to the hotel for any reason. Friday I spilled coffee all over myself which necessitated my heading back to the hotel. There goes a good hour. The location of the conference and the hotels were both amazing and I am not complaining. Just sad I missed a few sessions I wanted to go to.

The pranks, parties and pratfalls

By now I know you have heard about the story of the Stinky Cheese making the rounds at BlogHer. Great prank. When it wasn’t in my room. Or in my roommate’s bag. Or when I had to save the world from the Stinky Cheese. Otherwise, the horror, fear and trauma it caused was hilarious. I have never seen such dry heaves over cheese as I did at BlogHer. Seriously wrong. But seriously funny.

There were a lot of parties going on. I made it to a few, but not all. I am only one person with only one liver. Some of these parties were amazing and “all inclusive because we love all of our BlogHers” and some that were more exclusive and not pleased by all of the BlogHers who did not have official name-tags and were treated with disrespect after initially being welcomed in. And then of course there was the “what started as small but everyone is invited including that nice woman in the elevator who must want to join us because you are so cool and hip being at the W” party. Yes, the ever inclusive 2603 party. Most. Awesome. Inclusive. Party. (To be shut down by two of the hugest specimen of human males ever.) I got to get thrown out of a party! So college fun! Thanks, Y and Lena. Best burgers and drinks ever. Seriously. Never loved a burger more than the one that night.

And you would think that when you are in a group of friends and someone (I won’t mention names) accidentally has her wine glass fall out of her hands while in the lobby of the hip and trendy W lobby, her friends would make sure she is okay and all is right with the world. You would be wrong. The moment the glass hit the floor and before her “Oh shit” was bellowed across the lobby, we scattered like roaches at night when a light is flipped on. Gone. Abandoned her. In fact, I joined Biff and Barbie at the bar and totally pretended to be with them the whole time. They completely went with it and acted as if I was part of their date. So. Bad. In my defense, I did give said un-named person the rest of my wine. I mean, I am not totally cold. And the wine could have had the effect of making her forget we bolted. Doubtful but possible.

The crushes, the networking and the babies

How do I ever link to all of the amazing women I was able to meet for the first time, see again after a year or reconnect with after a year of emails, phone calls and shared experiences? I don’t know how I can. I would certainly leave someone out. I can’t do that. It would be wrong because everyone I talked to was so kind and so warm that I would be crushed if I accidentally left one out because I am still Blogstipated after the conference. However, if even one of you wants me to link to these wonderful women in a post, let me know and I will do it. You are all just that amazing. Oh, and if I introduced myself to you on numerous occassions, I am really not stupid. Not really. Just Over.Whelmed. To the point of having great conversations with a blogger I adore so much and then not even realizing it was HER the whole time. She of a blog I read daily. Okay, maybe I am stupid. So? Link in an entry or blogroll it? You tell me.

What about some authors that have helped me along the way as well? I can share with you that I did finally meet a friend who has helped me immensely with my book. Yes, I am talking about the wonderful Jen Lancaster. If you think she is funny and awesome in her books and on her blog, you are not even scratching the surface of how warm, funny and (sorry, Jen) nice she is in person. And the infamous Fletch. The man reminds me so much of my husband with how he “handles” Jen. (But can you really “handle” anyone named Jen/Jenn/Jenny/Jennifer? I don’t think so.) AND she and I are working on a Special Project that will be underway as soon as we get our manuscripts to a point where we can do it justice. Because, these book things we are working on are priority right now. We are excited, so pretend to be excited with us. I also was able to meet author Wendy McClure who not only gave me some incredible literary advice, but we shared some personal moments that both of us wish we were not in a position to be able to share together.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my incredible soul-sister roommate, Busy Mom. Did you know she has a real name and so does her family? Who knew? Let me tell you something about this woman. When trying to get her roommate out of bed, she found the perfect way to send me rolling out of bed laughing. How? By throwing open the infamous shuttered bathroom “window” and belting out The Sound of Music. Way more awesome than a wake-up call.

And a personal thank you to Izzy for staying up with me until 2:30am talking, decompressing and sharing our thoughts on blogging, life and the conference. I know I stole your sleep, but it meant a lot to have a quiet moment.

And the blog crushes I was able to meet in person. Numerous and incredibly nice and warm and open to any conversation breaking into that was going on. Instead of trying to link to every one of them, I am going to create a blogroll of them that I insist you go visit them. Insist. So look for me to put the blogroll up so that you can go read my crushes. They deserve your time.

I was finally able to meet Nataly of Work It, Mom! who interviewed me a while back for her Daring Females series. (Great interviewer, by the way.) We have emailed and such since I started working with them, but the face to face meeting was so nice. Especially when I was coffee-less and hungry and had the personality of a doorknob. And yet she still did not run from me regretting her decision to work together. Bless you, Nataly.

And oh, the babies. So many adorable babies. They made my uterus twitch for more. Of course, my husband’s radar went off from many, many states away with one phone call declaring, “I sense you are around babies. No babies. Do not touch the babies. No, Jenn. No!” Damn male baby radar super sense of his! I kissed heads of many babies. One of which I did not realize was nursing at the time and even though I got permission from his mom, I felt badly about interrupting his meal. I kept asking what vendor booth had the adorable babies as swag, but no one would tell me. AND none of them would let me “borrow” theirs for a few years. (Selfish new moms and their silly attachments to their babies.) But, unlike in prior years, I did not once have to seek out a baby for a desperate lactating mom. They all had either babies or pumps to relieve their agonies. (Yeah, for the pump & dump!)

And, finally, the swag.

I just learned this year that swag stands for Stuff We All Get. Learn something new all the time. I am so easily impressed. I really only have one thing to say about the swag. Okay, I never have one thing, but something to keep in mind…it was FREE. You did not shell out $20 for every item in your bag. No one duct taped you to a chair and made you proclaim your undying love and devotion to it. It is swag. And pretty good, in my book. The break and shake martini glass. How fun is that? Loved it. And the potholder? Please, like I cook? But I have it and will use it. (To hand to my husband when he cooks.) Nothing was trashed. Nothing was dissed. Nothing was unappreciated. If you hated it, then pass it to the person beside you. They may really need/want/covet it. Just remember that it isn’t a person to person swag bag. No one size fits all bag of goodies. Love it or hate it, at least you got it. /end soapbox

Final thoughts

Great job to everyone involved in planning this conference. It was amazing. You pulled off a great event.

Amazing BlogHers I was able to spend time with: I miss you already. I mean, I really do. Call me? *grin*

[Update] I totally forgot to add…AND I had my very own lap dancer. I feel so shamed to have forgotten her. My bad! 😉

Wii like to travel and more

Wii like to travel and more

Wii play in the car! I have heard that there are a lot of fans of the Wii. (Can you believe I said that with a straight face? I don’t know anyone who has played Wii without loving it. In fact, I have a whole set of pictures of a family party at the beach playing the Wii. Stay tuned for links.) I have also read the documents on how to set it up. I was shocked that there was no mention as to how to play this modern miracle of technology in the car.

Now, I know that there is a huge segment of parents who believe that the car is the best place to “communicate” with their children. Ha! When driving from Texas to Florida, I am all about the beauty of technology. And am willing to try anything. Apparently so are my children.

You see a prime example of how my children love technology enough to not care how uncomfortable it is. Now, one of the things I love about the Wii is that it gets you off of you butt and onto your feet to play. However, I also love that the game is so much fun to play that the kids insisted that we unpack it to try to play it in the car. (We took it to Florida for days like these.) So, being the “Please let me listen to my tunes and zone out while I drive this motley crue across county” type of Mom, I agreed.

Let me just share with you the love of my Wii. I heart it. I slept with it one night but Clint said no more of that. He said it was crowded sleeping with my Senseo, my laptop and my Wii. (Can you blame a girl? I love my toys!)

So for anyone who may be wondering, “Is a Wii for me?” Hell yeah, baby! I mean… certainly it should be a considered product to purchase.


Now on to topics beyond technologicalizing my children. (Yes, I do love making up words. Why do you ask?) I have seen a lot of fun entries around the net. Guessing the truth or the lie. Asking me anything and I have to answer it honestly. Paying for you to comment. (Not really on that last one. You have been great! I have heard from my niece AND my coffee neighbor. Tickles me all pink and purple and a little bit of cyan.) What do you want? I mean, I will still write the babble-assing posts, but I want to know if you want to know anything. Do you?

Okay, so it looks like BlogHer might not happen for me. It is at least on hold for a while. After getting a severe punch to the gut financially, I am not going to buy a plane ticket until a week before BlogHer at the soonest. Anyone in DFW want to go to BlogHer and make it a road trip? Anyone between here and Chicago want to get picked up and finish the road trip? Honestly, I had questions about going, but now that I am set on it and am over the moon about friends I know that are going, I want to be there. So, honestly, if you want to road trip it, let me know. I am up for it. (At least I keep trying to tell myself that I am.) Are you?

And here, my friends is yet another pretty picture to keep you loving me and being patient while I play around with my blog.

Me and my amazing husband of 17 years