This year's BlogHer was big and overwhelming. The only way to tackle it is to identify the activities you most want to participate in and just accept the fact that you can't do everything.
So I sat in on the session my friend Erin moderated on cyberbullying (but missed the refresher course on writing skills). I cheered on the panel of "old school" bloggers (two of whom are friends I've been following almost since I started this one, back in 2003) -- but missed the "social media geek" sessions. I applauded my MOMocrats colleague Cynematic, who was the winner of the organization's first ever Innovator award (for the fabulous interactive, and got teary-eyed through the Voices of the Year presentation... but missed the second day keynote in favor of a poolside lunch with some of my favorite online women.
And it was emotional to listen to a panel with Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, who told his tale of "coming out" as an undocumented immigrant.
Fortunately, this year they've got complete, word-for-word transcripts online, so I can catch up on everything I missed! (They've come a long way since 2005, when I attempted to live blog the events and managed to get the gist of it, but probably missed some good points,too.)
I managed to talk to every exhibitor in the hall, and took advantage of every photo op offered:
Yes, the conference has become a big commercial, thanks to its 100 corporate sponsors. But as I said in a discussion yesterday with a friend (over Facebook), I'm grateful for all that sponsorship money, because it keeps the registration fees low. I think I paid just $199 for my all-conference pass, and that included breakfast, lunch and cocktails and appetizers on both days (all of which have come a long way from the first BlogHer in '05, when all we got was cheese and crackers and a measly glass of wine).
In fact, my sister (who has attended her share of medical-type conferences with her husband) kept remarking that she'd never been to an event where once she paid her fee, she didn't have to pay for any meal again (unless she wanted to).
The biggest celebrity in attendance was Jane Lynch, and I think I would have swooned to have seen her. Long before she hit the public consciousness as Sue Sylvester, Lynch was a stealing scenes in every TV show and movie she appeared in (notably as one Christopher Guest's ensemble of character actors). Lynch's appearance was through conference sponsor LG, as you can see from this video:
I was not one of the lucky 40 bloggers invited to the private party depicted in the video (but I got a glimpse of my friend Glennia - and the wonderful Kelly "Mocha Momma" was on the panel with Lynch and "Queen Bees and Wannabes" author Rosalind Wiseman). That's cool, because there were plenty of parties to go around -- both the big official conference ones and other little private soirees.
As for me: The one celebrity (and I use that term loosely) I geeked out about was Diane Amos, the actress who does all those commericals for Pine Sol. I told her I was a fan, and I meant it. I love her cornrows, her easy manner, and the fact that she's got a bit of sibilance (like me). Ironic that a word describing a whistling "ess" sound has so many of them in it, isn't it?
It is also ironic that I could get so excited about cleaning products, when everyone knows that I hate housecleaning. But you see, I buy the products. I think I'm just trying to find the one magic bullet that will do the job without ME. (And so far, the only one I've found that really works that way is called Merry Maids. But I keep on searching.)
But the biggest thrill of all -- and the reason I keep coming back to the conference -- is seeing my friends and meeting new ones. After years of just missing each other, I finally shook hands with the amazing Jennifer James, who arrived in San Diego after a once-in-a-lifetime mission to Kenya with the poverty-fighting ONE campaign.
This dispels the popular image of mom bloggers who only care about swag -- like Jennifer, Cooper and Emily, Lindsay, Jen, Grace and hundreds of other bloggers -- many of them moms -- who have used their blogs over the years to raise awareness and funds to help others.
My own involvement with the MOMocrats comes from the desire to make the world a better place. You may not agree with my vision of what that is, or how I think we need to get there. But it is a sincere effort to do good.
I came home from BlogHer with a lot of stuff, and I enjoyed the parties. But the highlights all involve the people I met, the ideas that were exchanged -- and plans we made to (we hope!) change the world for the better.