BlogHer`12 Day 1: Great Expectations

by Kathy on August 12, 2012 · 14 comments

in ALI Community, Anxiety, BlogHer, Conferences, Expectations, Family, Food, Friends, Happiness, Infertility, Journey, Life, Loss, Molly, Relationships, Writing

This is the first of four posts in which I will give day by day detailed accounts about my first experience at a BlogHer annual conference as both an attendee and a speaker.

I hope these blog entries will give those who have not been to BlogHer before an inside look at what it is like (or at least what it was like for me).

I also hope that those who have been to BlogHer before (and even those who were also at BlogHer`12 in NYC) will enjoy reading my reflections and insights.

In case you missed it, or want to have another look, here’s a link to my first post-BlogHer`12 blog entry, which, conversely to this post, has very few words and includes a photo montage set to a very fitting Green Day song.

This post and those to follow about BlogHer`12 will share the stories behind pictures in that montage.

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After weeks (really closer to a year) of planning, it was hard to believe that the day had finally arrived for me to leave for BlogHer `12. I got up on Thursday, August 2nd at about 6:30 a.m. My alarm was set for 6:45, but as I often do when I am excited and anxious, I woke up early in anticipation of the weekend ahead. I was tired, because I also had trouble falling asleep the night before, for the same reasons.

I took a shower and blow dried my hair straight, which I rarely do on a day-to-day basis as a stay at home mom, but like to for special occasions. If I ever become rich, I would hire my longtime hairdresser to come over often and travel with me to blow dry and style my hair. That is one of my fantasies.

Bob and the kids slept in a bit while I took my time getting dressed and ready which was nice.

I listened to Payphone by Maroon 5 and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen a few times on my iPhone/iPod, two of my favorite pop songs from this summer, which got me even more psyched up for BlogHer`12.

After I got dressed I went to put my iPhone in my back right pocket, where I often keep it during the day. That is when I discovered that my cute new capri jeans (that I bought to wear to BlogHer) have faux back pockets! I would later figure out that there were actually pockets there, but that the flap of the pocket was the faux part, so I can’t unbutton the buttons, but there was still an opening on each side. Go figure…

I got an email form Southwest airlines about a half hour before we were due to leave for the airport letting me know that our flight was delayed about 45 minutes.

I was disappointed, as our arrival time already had us with a tight squeeze to get to the Hilton New York in time to try to hear President Obama’s live streamed address to the BlogHer`12 attendees (a late add to the itinerary or we might have tried to catch an earlier flight).

But this also gave me more time to get ready, eat my breakfast a relaxed pace and spend a little more quality time with my family before we left.

Bob, Sean and Abby drove me to the airport, before heading to the kids’ last swimming lesson session for the summer.

I met up with my sister Meg at the airport, just passed the security checkpoint. After a week of rushing around getting ready and packing, it was relaxing to hang out with my sister at the airport. We both like our social media, so we didn’t mind each other tweeting and Facebooking. After we both “checked in” on Facebook and Twitter, we did a little window-shopping in the airport mall, including checking out the Fossil and Life is Good stores. Then we had an early lunch with yummy sandwiches from Potbelly.

Our flight was scheduled for 11:10 a.m., but didn’t leave until closer to noon (CST). When our flight finally took off the kids in the row behind us started cheering. I wanted to join them, as that is how I felt on board the plane that would be bringing me to BlogHer!

Our plane ride was relatively uneventful. Meg had the great idea for us to take aisle seats across from each other, so we could chat and both have easy outs if we needed to go to the bathroom and more legroom. The plane was pretty crowded and I wondered if any of those traveling with us were also BlogHer bound.

We arrived at Newark airport just before 3:00 p.m. (EST), about 45 minutes later than our flight was scheduled to land.

In effort to save money and because Meg knows the transit system well in New Jersey and New York, we took the airport shuttle and then a train to Penn Station in NYC. There was a woman on our shuttle car that looked like she could be a fashion blogger. So I asked her if she was in town for BlogHer and though she was not, she seemed interested to hear about the conference and mentioned that she had tried to blog awhile back, but didn’t stick with it.

From Penn Station, though we were only about 2 miles away from the Hilton New York hotel (where we were staying and the conference was being held), it was hot and we were hoping to arrive in time to hear Barack Obama speak in the Grand Ballroom. So we took a cab the rest of the way. It wouldn’t have been that much more expensive for the two of us to just take a cab directly from the airport in the first place, but it was cheaper and as Meg pointed out too, sometimes you can get stuck in a traffic jam in the tunnel traveling from New Jersey to NYC and that could have held us up even more. From that perspective trains can be more reliable and it was scenic to ride on railway.

We got to the hotel just in time for President Obama’s address at 4:30 p.m. We bypassed checking in at the hotel or even the conference and dragged our suitcases with us into the ballroom. Meg and I we able to find seats where we had a decent view of two of the BlogHer Co-founders Elisa Camahort and Lisa Stone with POTUS on the big screen behind them on stage.

Note: Jory Des Jardins, also one of the three BlogHer Co-founders was not able to be at BlogHer `12 because she is due to give birth to her second child any day.

Seeing and hearing POTUS was a fabulous way to kick off my first BlogHer annual conference! In their introduction to President Obama’s speech, Elisa and Lisa talked about what inspired Jory and them to create BlogHer in 2005. They shared that ,

“It all (BlogHer) started because we care about politics wanted to give every single voters’ voice.”

I thought that was so fascinating, especially knowing that just seven years later their organization and the “conference the community built” (as they so often refer to it) was audience to a sitting president, in an election year, who chose to show us he values our voices too.

Note: In the spirit of bipartisanship, which BlogHer prides itself on, invitations went out to both presidential candidates. The Romney campaign turned down the opportunity for the Republican nominee for president to speak to conference attendees. Though I don’t talk about politics often here on my blog, I was very impressed that Obama accepted the invitation. I did hear however, that there were representatives from both campaigns who each participated in panel discussions during BlogHer`12.

I quickly learned how interesting it was to follow Twitter throughout #BlogHer12 to find out what takeaways other bloggers were inspired by, especially during keynotes and sessions such as POTUS’s address. When I felt moved I would tweet quotes from speakers, share photos and also re-tweeted takeaways that other attendees shared. I also did some Facebooking throughout the conference, but not nearly as much as I tweeted. My favorite tweet that I came across during Obama’s speech was this:

After POTUS’s address, Meg and I stood up and began to make our way out of the Grand Ballroom. We barely moved a few feet with our luggage when I looked up and saw the great conference planning team/duo Shannon Carroll and Polly Pagenhart! I knew who they were immediately when I saw them, though like most of the people I got to see at BlogHer `12, we had never met in person before.

Shannon had been my main contact at BlogHer about all things conference related from the time I found out that our session My Blog No Longer Fits Me: Blogging After Life Change had been chosen earlier this year. Polly had facilitated a conference call with my fellow panelists Lori (from Write Mind Open Heart) and Kir (from The Kir Corner) along with our moderator Mel (from Stirrup Queens). I was so excited to see anyone that I recognized that I jumped up and down and hugged them! Sometime in the midst of my excitement I managed to tell them who I am, that I was speaking at one of the sessions and how much I appreciated all they had done to help prepare me for the conference. Knowing I would be seeing them again shortly at the Speakers Meeting scheduled for 5:15 p.m., we said our goodbyes and they were on their way.

From there Meg and I moved quickly to the front desk of the Hilton to check in. We were assigned a room on the 8th floor. Though that precluded us from having a fabulous view from our windows, it was nice to not have very long elevator rides (though at a conference with 5,000 attendees, they were still delayed often) and the option to take the stairs sometimes.

I had just enough time to ride up with Meg to our room and drop off my bags. Then I needed to turn around and head back downstairs for the Speakers Meeting. I couldn’t wait to hear from Elisa Camahort, Lisa Stone, Shannon Carroll and Polly Pagenhart up close, not to mention meet others who would be speaking at the conference, especially the others on my panel! Though I felt like I knew Lori and Kir before BlogHer `12, we had yet to meet in person. I did have the opportunity to meet and have lunch with Mel when she was in Chicago for BlogHer `09, but I was just as excited to see her again!

I knew I didn’t have long to get to the Speakers Meeting and saw the doorway to the stairs on my way to the elevator. So I decided to take that route, since I only had six floors to go. As I headed in to the stairwell I met a man who also happened to be staying in a room on the 8th floor. Assuming that everyone at the Hilton New York that evening was there for BlogHer `12 and finding it hard to contain my enthusiasm for finally being where I’d dreamed of going for so long, it didn’t take much for me to strike up a conversation with him.

I quickly learned that he was not attending BlogHer`12 and had never even heard of the organization and our annual conferences, though he seemed to think it all sounded interesting. As it turned out, he was actually leaving the next day to return to LA after living in his hotel room on the 8th floor since June. He told me that he was one of the producers of Bring it On the musical, based on the movie. I was impressed and told him so.

In the moment I also confused Bring it On with Step it Up. So I told him what a big fan I was of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, as one of the judges is also a producer for the Step it Up movies. I can only imagine why he thought I was telling him that, when I later realized my mistake.

I asked him when Bring it On would be coming to Chicago and he said that it had already be there! I told him that I was sorry to have missed it, still thinking we were talking about more of a dance centered production vs. competitive cheerleading. Though I did see Bring it On the movie years ago and liked it. So I’d probably enjoy Bring it On the musical too. After I shared where I was from, the producer told me that he was actually originally from a suburb of Chicago! It was the first of many BlogHer`12 small world moments, even though this guy wasn’t at the Hilton for the same reason I was.

I got so caught up in my conversation with the Bring it On producer that the next thing I knew we both excited the stairwell on the first floor of the hotel. The problem with that is that I was supposed to be on the second floor and now running a bit late the Speakers Meeting. I didn’t yet know that there were escalators that went between the first three floors of the hotel and figured it would take to long to catch an elevator up. So I went back into the stairwell figuring I could go just go up one flight to the second floor. But it took me until I was almost back up to the fourth floor before I realized that there was no exit to the second or third floors. So then I had to go all the way back to first floor! Argh! I was frustrated, but running on adrenaline and beyond excited to get to the Speakers Meeting, the escapade didn’t phase me much. I knew I just needed to find a way to the second floor.

I actually don’t remember now how I got there, it might have been via the elevator or that might have been when someone tipped me off to the existence of the escalators, but somehow I made it to the Speakers Meeting, which had not yet begun. I entered the room and suddenly felt overwhelmed and out of my element. I recognized a few faces of some well-known bloggers and though no one was outwardly rude to me, they also didn’t make an effort to introduce themselves and neither did I. This was in part because I was scanning the room for Lori, Kir and Mel, who didn’t appear to have arrived yet. Most of the seats at the tables were taken towards the back and I noticed there was an empty table at the front of the room. I decided that I should make my way there, as I wanted to find space where the four of us could sit together when the rest of our panel arrived, which I hoped would be very soon.

Another side note: Going into BlogHer`12 I tried my best to manage my expectations. I had heard so many things about what the conference was like and “what works” for various people. I knew it could be pretty awesome and overwhelming at the same time. I have often struggled throughout my life with having unrealistic expectations for people and events. So I wanted to approach this experience with an open mind and heart, as well as feeling as neutral as possible about what might transpire so would not be too disappointed if things didn’t go as I hoped and planned they would or could.

Back to the Speakers Meeting… En route to the table I recognized Jenna Hatfield, one of the BlogHer section editors, and she seemed friendly, so I said hello and introduced myself. But then she made her way to sit with someone she knew at another table and I continued towards the front of the room. When I got to the table I put my stuff down (I had brought some notes and my new MacBook Pro laptop which I was excited to use at the conference). Then I look up and noticed that none other than Lisa Stone herself was standing there next to Elisa Camahort getting ready start the meeting. Lisa introduced herself to me warmly, said that I looked familiar and asked if we had met before. I replied that I didn’t think so, but that I was glad to meet her, told her which panel I was speaking on and mentioned that I had gone to high school with her fellow Co-Founder Jory Des Jardins and let her know how disappointed I was she couldn’t be there, though I certainly understood why. Lisa was very kind and thanked me for helping to make BlogHer`12 so awesome this year.

Soon after my chat with Lisa the meeting began. First Elisa and Lisa spoke, thanking us for being there and willing to share our knowledge and experience to help make BlogHer `12 possible. Then they introduced Shannon and Polly who went over more nuts and bolts about the conference and what we needed to know as speakers. At some point, I think while they were speaking, Lori, Kir and Mel arrived. I was relieved and very excited to see them, but couldn’t show them how much since the meeting was in progress and we were sitting at the front of the room. We hugged and greeted each other quietly and then they sat down.

After the Shannon and Polly were done speaking they took questions and then encouraged us to gather as panels, if we hadn’t already, to review our plans for our sessions.

One of the comments that Shannon and Polly made at the meeting that really stuck with me was that what makes a great BlogHer conference session is the same thing that makes a great blog post, DIALOGUE. They emphasized that we not lecture to the attendees in our sessions, rather we, especially the moderators, should be trying to engage and encourage them to participate in the discussions about our topics.

I really took their advice to heart and reflected on it throughout the weekend as I prepared for our panel, as well as when I attended other sessions. I did notice that my favorite BlogHer `12 sessions had a healthy balance between the panelists and moderators sharing their own knowledge and information and attendees also being allowed to ask questions and make comments about the topics being discussed.

Lori or Mel suggested that we check out the room where our session My Blog No Longer Fits Me: Blogging After Life Change was going to be held on Saturday afternoon and that we could go over our plans for the panel there. So we walked down the hallway to the room where all of the sessions in “The Personal” track were scheduled to be during BlogHer `12. It was one of many surreal moments for me during the conference, as after months of preparing for our panel discussion, here we were, the four of us, sitting together in a room at the Hilton New York!

As I mentioned earlier, I had met Mel once before  and she was just as I remembered her — so down to earth, comfortable in her own skin, an incredible smile, kind and yet also focused and direct when she wants and needs to be. In my opinion, Mel is definitely a writer who comes across in person just as she presents herself on her blog. When I first saw her at our Speakers Meeting she gave me a big warm hug and I felt the three years that had passed, since we ate lunch together on the floor of the Sheraton hotel here in Chicago, melt away.

Meeting Lori, who has grown to be one of my favorite bloggers and a dear friend, was something I had pictured for a long time. In the weeks leading up to BlogHer `12 we spoke often online about how excited we were to see each other and it was awesome to finally be together! She promised me a huge hug when we saw each other and it is an embrace I won’t soon forget. Like Mel, Lori comes across in person much like she does on her blog. She has a cheerful, mindful and calming presence. That day Lori was wearing a very bright and colorful yoga top and pants, which seemed fitting/very reminiscent of the design and aura of her blog.

Last but not least, was Kir. As those of you who know Kir will attest, she is such a sweet and vibrant woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and never misses a chance to let her loved ones know how much she cares and appreciates them. For this reason, I was the most surprised to see how she came across in person. Don’t get me wrong, she is still incredibly nice and fun to be around, but I think I expected her to be more “cheesy” in person. I actually loved finding out how down to earth and funny she is. I have not known Kir or followed her blog very long, but really appreciate the time I got to spend with her this weekend and it makes me want to get to know her better and read more of her writing going forward. As an aside, Kir also reminded immediately of someone who my husband works with and it took me awhile to get over both how cool and weird that was.

We didn’t meet about our session for very long, but we did practice a few of the questions and answers that Mel planned to ask each of us, as well as the audience during our panel discussion on Saturday. I had some anxiety about speaking and how things would go prior to our meeting, but afterwards felt more confident that we were ready to go and that no matter how many people were it attendance (knowing we were scheduled at the same time as a lot of other great session topics) it would be worthwhile for all those involved. I also think Lori, Kir and I had a lot of (well deserved) confidence in our moderator Mel and trusted that she was prepared and would be able to roll with and redirect (if needed) whatever way our panel discussion went.

After our meeting Mel had another one to attend and Kir left to meet up with her roommates (two of whom would be joining us later for dinner). Lori and I decided to go to the conference registration booth to check-in and get our badges. We had been told we would get them at our Speakers Meeting, but they were not ready yet apparently. I also had a delivery that I needed to pick up from the hotel mailroom, so I stopped by to do that and was annoyed to find out they charged me $4 to accept the delivery. While in the mailroom I managed to snag my sweater on something sticking out from my laptop bag. So I left there feeling frustrated, but tried to shake it off and focus on how happy I was to be at BlogHer`12 with Lori.

We were told at the registration booth we needed to go to a different location to get our conference bags. So Lori and I wandered through a few of the Expo rooms and by a few booths, but didn’t talk to many brand reps or PR people, en route to find where we needed to go.

Then Lori invited me to walk with her to the hotel lobby to wait for her husband and children who were due to arrive soon. It gave us more of a chance to chat, just the two of us, which was nice. After following Lori’s stories of her family on her blog, it was awesome to get to meet them in person that evening.

From there I went up to my hotel room to unpack and get settled in a bit. My sister had plans to meet a friend who lives in New York for dinner, so she had left already and we had discussed catching up later and maybe going to one or more of the official BlogHer parties together, as we both love to dance. It was nice to have a breather in our room. I felt like I had been going non-stop since we got off the airplane and even more so after we arrived at the hotel, so it felt good to get organized (which helps me to relax, especially when I am traveling) and take it easy before dinner.

I had made a reservation for a group of fellow Adoption/Loss/Infertility (ALI) bloggers that evening at 7:45 p.m. at a restaurant Kir recommended and sounded great to me, Heartland Brewery. There were nine of us in attendance, seven of which I felt I knew well going into BlogHer`12 and two I had heard of, but didn’t really know. I was beyond excited to have at least a few hours with these amazing women who I had read and followed the journeys of on their blogs.

Lori and I met up with Kir and her roommates Kristen (from Dragondreamer’s Liar) and Nicole (from The Rumour Mill) in the lobby before leaving to walk to the restaurant. I have known Kristen for a while it was awesome to finally meet her in person. She has every bit of the southern charm and colorful personality in the flesh that comes through on her blog. Kristen even dyed her hair purple and blue in honor of BlogHer`12. I really enjoyed sitting across from her at dinner and getting to talk about everything under the sun (from her experience moving from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress recently to the male private part that she had crocheted a large model of and brought to BlogHer`12 for a friend).

We also met up with Emily (from A Blanket 2 Keep) who was not attending BlogHer`12 but lives locally and wanted to join us for dinner. I had a special place in my heart for her right off the bat, as I had done the same thing in 2009 when BlogHer was held in Chicago, but I wasn’t ready to participate in the actual conference yet. I had interacted with Emily once or twice via Lori’s Perfect Moment Monday blog hop and recalled seeing her names in the comment sections of fellow bloggers’ posts, but didn’t know much about her, other than she and her husband were trying and struggling to build their family.

I enjoyed getting to sit across from Emily during dinner and quickly discovered that we had some things in common. One moment that stands out in my mind is that I was relaying the story of meeting the producer of Bring it On the musical in the stairwell earlier at the hotel. I referenced a character in the movie, a cute guy with great eyes and Emily knew exactly who I was talking about! There was at least one other time during dinner when I felt like she was speaking the same language my husband and I often do, when we say things like, “you know that place we went to, that time, with those people.”

Jumping back to the walk to the restaurant, as we had yet to connect with two very special women that were joining us for dinner… Lori and I had tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with Justine (from A Half Baked Life) and Jjraffe (from Too Many Fish to Fry) before we left the hotel lobby. Though I believe they had met up earlier and watch POTUS’s address in the Grand Ballroom together. So Lori and the rest of us figured and hoped Justine and Jjraffe would meet us there.

As we approached the Heartland Brewery, we saw some familiar faces sitting on benches outside near the restaurant. The moment I was sure it was Justine and Jjraffe, I ran to them, jumping up and down, squealing and hugging them! It was beyond awesome and surreal to be meeting them! I assured Lori and Kir that is how I would have reacted to meeting them if they hadn’t arrived during a meeting that was underway, where I was sitting at the front of the room.

I was especially psyched to meet Justine and Jjraffe, as Kristin and I had just finished doing NaBloPoMo with them in July and having posted, read and commented daily together, made me feel an even stronger pre-BlogHer bond with these incredible women.

At dinner I got to sit in a Justine and Jjraffe sandwich! Having a J on either side of me made for awesome dinner conversation. Both ladies were just how I imagined they would be based on my reading their blogs and other online communication with them.

Justine is truly a kindred spirit and talking with her felt so natural. Because she writes so much about food on her blog and seems to be a very adventurous eater, I hoped Justine wouldn’t judge my picky eating tendencies. Far from it, she was interested in trying a bite of what I ordered and we even split a side of yummy sweet potato fries with Jjraffe.

As Justine commented in her BlogHer`12 wrap up post, I too wasn’t sure what to expect from this group of ALI Bloggers beyond our meal together that night. So it was a welcome and wonderful surprise for me that many of us would go on to connect and spend time together throughout the rest of our weekend at the conference. Though I will share more about my special moments and adventures with Justine in future posts about BlogHer`12, I am grateful to have had her by my side for so much of my first BlogHer conference ride.

As for Jjraffe, she mentioned in her conference wrap up post, in which she brilliantly compared life at BlogHer to life at Hogwarts, that spending time with me was like being with an old friend. I think that also sums up the way I felt about hanging out with her that weekend. I recall many times during dinner at Heartland Brewery, Jjraffe and I listening to others tell stories and reacting with the same words and comments at the same time. I kept thinking about how if my eight year old son was there he would have been saying “Jinx! You owe me a soda!” There were also things that Jjraffe shared about her life and upbringing that seemed reminiscent of my experience. I just felt like she “got me” and I “got her.”

One of the best compliments I received all weekend was when a group of us were standing around talking about our impressions of each other and how they compared to our expectations, based on knowing each other mostly through our blogs and other social media. Justine and Jjraffe told me then how they both thought that I was exactly how they imagined I would be. I thought that was so cool, as I took that to mean that I come across as myself and being genuine on my blog, Twitter and Facebook, which is definitely my intention.

Emily, Me, Mel, Kir, Kristen,
Jjraffe, Justine, Lori, Nicole

Finally, toward the end of dinner, I suggested that we play a bit of musical chairs so that those who hadn’t gotten to chat earlier during our meal would have the opportunity . Mel had arrived after the rest of us, coming from another meeting she had to attend, and not realizing I would get many more chances to sit with one of my mentors and idols (when it comes to writing and blogging) that weekend at BlogHer, I selfishly wanted a turn to sit across from her, talk and listen. We did get to catch up a bit then, but I mostly wound up talking with Nicole, the woman who I sat down next to.

Earlier on in the night we had talked briefly, maybe during our walk from the hotel to the restaurant, about our blogs, our families and what we write about. I was pretty sure I had never been to her blog, though I was certainly interested in checking it out. Likewise, she seemed genuinely interested in my life and journey through secondary infertility and loss, but didn’t think I sounded familiar either. But then, after we switched seats and ended up side-by-side she told me something that blew my mind.

Nicole said that something about me and my story sounding vaguely familiar. She shared that during dinner she was trying to figure out why and then it dawned on her that she had been to my blog, in fact many times before. Nicole realized who I was and let me know that she had read my blog since our journey with our baby girl Molly (who left this world too soon). She seemed so genuinely excited to make the connection and “get to” meet me. It was a truly awesome and slightly bizarre moment in my life. But it would prove to be one of the most memorable interactions I had the whole weekend.

It meant so much to me to meet Nicole and have her share how my blog had touched her over the years. She told me that she didn’t comment often, but when she did, it would have likely been using the pseudo-name Rumour Mill or Rumour Miller. That’s when things got even more mind-blowing for me… Having recently moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress at the beginning of this year, I had the chance to re-read a lot of my old posts and comments, when I had some migrating/merging issues. When Nicole shared her screen name, I flashed back to comments from around the time of Molly’s birth and death and swear that I recall some from her! I haven’t actually gone back to confirm that yet, but intend to do so sometime soon.

Nicole and I went on to have a heart to heart about where our journeys have led us, especially in light of both of our family building efforts being mostly resolved. Though we also talked about how we never fully “get over” the experience and emotions connected with living through infertility and/or loss. I really enjoyed the time we had together. It was so validating to know that Nicole had been touched by my blog over the years and to see the things we have in common at this stage of our lives.

Wrapping up dinner talking with Nicole was another very surreal part of my first day at BlogHer`12. From there our group split up into those who wanted to go back to the hotel and those who were craving some dessert. If I recall correctly, Justine had told us that her favorite cupcakes in Manhattan were at Magnolia Bakery, which happened to be right down the block from our hotel. So Mel, Lori, Justine, Jjraffe and I made our way there in hopes of sampling some.

Our plan was to order a bunch and each take a bite, so we could maximize the number of flavors we would each get to try. However, our mission was thwarted when we arrived at 10:04 p.m. and realized that the bakery had closed at 10:00 p.m. exactly. Despite our repeated efforts to convince the staff inside to please open up and let us in, they would not budge. I knocked and pleaded through the front door and windows, but eventually we gave up and headed back to the hotel.

We met back up with the rest of our ALI bloggers dinner group in the lobby. We said our goodbyes to Emily and met up with my sister Meg, who had returned from meeting her friend for dinner. At that point I don’t know for sure where everyone went (maybe to bed or other places), but Meg, Justine, Jjraffe and I decided to head upstairs and check out the first official BlogHer celebration called “The People’s Party.” The music was pretty good and they had a single bowling lane, which was random and fun to watch. I was struck that rather than the pins being reset electronically, that there was one or two people manually resetting them after each person’s turn! There was also food and drinks available at The People’s Party, including mini cheeseburgers (which I neglected to mention is what I ordered for dinner at the restaurant that night). So I thought that was pretty funny that I could have had the same things there for free, but the conversation wouldn’t have been nearly as good (especially with the loud music in the background, it was hard to hear anything anyone said).

My sister was tired and decided to go to bed. I told her I wouldn’t last much longer, but agreed to stop by another BlogHer official party called “Queerosphere” for a bit with Justine and Jessica. Though we didn’t stay long, there were some desserts at that party, that helped make up for the lack of cupcake access earlier. When we first arrived we got to see Dresden (from Creating Motherhood), chat for a bit and give her our best wishes for VOTY the next day. We also talked with Momo Fali and met Maha El-Sohnasi  from Sudan who was detained four times trying to leave her country and come to BlogHer. Justine, Jjraffe and I were all so moved by what Maha went through to get to NYC and it definitely put things in perspective about our own lives and ability to write and blog about what we want to here in the United States of America.

Also, when Momo introduced us to Maha, I repeated her name and she told me that most people do not pronounce her name correctly when they meet her. She was impressed that I said it exactly right. I thought that was cool and enjoyed running into her at the conference throughout the weekend and checking in with each other about how it was going. Though we never got to talk for long, as usually we saw each other in passing or one of us was being pulled away for one reason or another (often it was by someone who wanted to introduce her to someone else), we both shared how much we were learning and what a great time we were having.

Not long after that I hit a wall and knew it was time for bed. Especially because Meg, Justine and I were crazy awesome enough to sign up to participate in the BlogHer`12 “5K Fun Run” the next morning starting bright and early at 6:00 a.m. (which felt like 5:00 a.m. for Meg and I coming from the Midwest/CST).

On that note, I will wrap up my wrap up of my first day at BlogHer`12. If you made it this far (whether you skimmed or took in every word), thank you for reading and reflecting on Day One with me.

It took me a ridiculously long time to write this post (but once I started I couldn’t stop) and I am not sure how long it will take me to get around to writing about Days Two, Three and Four. But know that they those blog entries are coming and if you are interested I will share them some time in the not to distant future.

In the meantime, you are welcome to join me for this month’s Time Warp Tuesday, this Tuesday, August 14th with the theme of “Left Behind.” You can read more about it here and find out how to participate.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin August 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I am so very glad I finally got to meet you and spend time with you. You are such a beautiful person.
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Marianne August 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Great recap. I almost feel as though I was there! So many interesting women!
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Justine August 13, 2012 at 1:33 am

wow, Kathy … what incredible details! I can’t wait to read the other posts!

Thank you so much for your kind words here … and for making me smile yet again with the great memories!
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Mud Hut Mama August 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

This was really a blow by blow – great for someone like me who doesn’t know much about these conferences. Sounds like an amazing first day and was fun to picture where you were in NYC. There are times I really miss that place.
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Lori Lavender Luz August 13, 2012 at 8:21 pm

How wonderful to re-live Day 1 through your excellent memory! I, too, remember watching for you and then finally laying eyes on you. And then the belated hug!!

Can’t wait for Day 2!
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Nicole August 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Meeting you was a definate highlight for me too. I am so glad that I met you in person, it is such a surreal experience and you managed to write things so wonderfully!

I couldn’t bring myself to write about BlogHer, I have now but my thoughts are jumbled and my words do not do my experience justice.

Thank you for the warm welcome and I look forward to keeping in touch with you.
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Emily @ablanket2keep August 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm

What a post! Reading it made me feel like I was there for more than dinner! There were many times when I was just sitting quietly listening you your stories that I felt you were totally speaking my language. Crazy how you felt the same way! It was so great meeting you! I actually didn’t recognize you at first with your glasses on and couldn’t remember where I had seen you before. It was definitely through the Perfect Moment Monday posts!
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Jjiraffe August 17, 2012 at 12:18 am

Whoa! What a remarkable and frankly, epic post! It reminds me of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and I mean that as a huge compliment. I think that your details of this day are so honest and fascinating: I have never seen someone document anything like this before.
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April August 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I love your detailed enthusiasm, and all the pictures! I almost feel like I was there too.

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Momo Fali August 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

It was great meeting you and having that moment with Maha! She is such an inspiration.
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lorrie September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

thanks for giving so much detail, i actually just got an email from Lori in responce to a comment I gave giving me advice for blogher very nice lady. enjoyed this post

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