You can’t fly to New York to attend a conference of 5000 women, be addressed by none other than President Obama by live video feed, and eat lunch “with” Martha Stewart and Katie Couric without being a tad overwhelmed. You also can’t report back to anyone who didn’t attend without coming off as completely obnoxious.
Here, I will try, and I will duck tomatoes as you may throw them. Just know this isn’t exactly every day news for me, and I’m not name dropping. I know NONE of these people personally, and I’m happy to admit it. But it’s fun to get caught up in things for once.
Okay, first, the New York thing. I don’t know when my fascination for NYC began – five or six years ago perhaps. Maybe it’s always been there and I just haven’t noticed. Start naming off some of the most popular movies and television shows of the last fifty years and it becomes obvious – New York has us smitten, and our crush is far from over. How could you ever tire of a city like that when you are only able to see snippets at a time, and only if you are lucky?
We’ve watched television comedies take jabs at the city’s eccentricities, and we’ve watched beloved characters fall in love with brownstones as a backdrop. We’ve watched shows that romanticized nearly every aspect of life in the Big Apple and yet, we want more.
So, it is an understatement to say that the return of BlogHer to NYC this year brought a high tide of excitement. Now, on top of the already dizzying experience of a conference of this size (filled with people who want to genuinely and connect with hundreds of people, no less) we have to do it all in a city that…well, if it sleeps, it does so with the lights on, party shoes dangling, and music still playing at all hours.
Our experience at a conference is always what we make of it, and that’s a difficult thing for many people to remember. So often we get so busy following the schedules we have made for ourselves that we forget to just put aside our apps and our organizers and just follow someone down the street to go explore. Or we hurry off to the next event, leaving someone behind who we might have been truly connecting with. I try to find a balance in this – to get enough out of the sessions and events that it is worth making the trip, and to just breathe and go with the flow when there isn’t a plan. We need to be able to make new plans, and if those new plans include wandering for food at midnight, only to be so glad you did later on – so be it. That’s the magic, right there.
I went to sessions, I went to events, and I went to parties. But I also followed people to go exploring, and I went wandering for food at midnight – twice. I skipped a few things when I felt my time was better spent elsewhere, but stuck to my plan for the things that mattered.
And yes, we were addressed by President Obama in the grand ballroom. I wouldn’t have missed it – I think he is a truly gifted speaker. I also made a point of turning up for the lunches where I heard Martha Stewart and Katie Couric interviewed. I was curious to hear them speak, interact, and how they would relate to our group.
I went to sessions, listened, took notes and gave some thought to what I have done for work, and what else I might like to be doing once we are settled in Calgary. I went to parties with silly names that no longer faze me. The Chevrolet Official Canadian Party? The People’s Party? Sparklecorn? Cheeseburgher? I’ll meet you there next year, baby. I was on a rooftop overlooking the city, and I was at the foot of the Empire State Building, barely able to see the top. I wore pretty shoes, and I went barefoot in airport security. I dressed up, I dressed down and I suffered two amusing but survivable wardrobe malfunctions. I ate in a sweetly fancy restaurant for lunch, and I ate street meat from a truck at midnight. I drank twelve dollar cocktails, and ate chocolate s’mores. I was ridiculously energized, and utterly exhausted.
New York is like that.
I connected with some really inspiring, amazing and amusing people. I gave up sleep for inspiration, fun and connection. And I explored a city that makes me want to return, again and again.
You get out of a conference what you are willing to put into it, and how you are willing to flex as the event continues on. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet with so many people in one place. I never fail to come home with connections I would not have made otherwise – and while I make those connections every day online, face to face has just that much more to offer.
So there it is – the official BlogHer ’12 recap! I have plenty more to share, but it will come with some thought, reflection and context. For now, I’m home, I had a great time as always, and left with great memories. The staff at the Hilton New York were helpful and engaging, as usual. I would love to return with my family and introduce them to this great city.
Oh, and I flew home with Foreigner. Not every day you can say that. I sat behind Bruce Watson, guitarist, and while I didn’t approach him on the plane, there were a few giggles in our section as the flight attendant tried to look after him and the rest of us without getting flustered. I ended up walking out behind him and standing right near him at the baggage carousel. Want to hear my great line? “Hi. I don’t want to intrude, but I have a feeling my forty-seven year old music-loving husband is going to kill me if I don’t ask your name.” Awesome, right? He was very gracious, introduced himself, asked my name and chatted with me a few minutes. The band is playing here tonight, and I was right, when I texted my husband he was totally excited. So I turned back to Bruce and thanked him for being so gracious, showing him the text from my husband that read “I was RAISED on Foreigner”. He laughed and said “that’s awesome!”
See how I’m willing to make a fool of myself for him? Well, he was home looking after the kiddies for me. I figured it was the least I could do!
Have you ever attended BlogHer? Did you attend this year’s? What was your favourite memory? What did you like most? What else did you go do or see?
I’d love to hear all about your BlogHer adventures!
In 2013, the BlogHer conference will take place in Chicago.
I won’t even dream of it quite yet…