First let me say that any and all BlogHer recaps here will be woefully short on the pretty pictures, because one of the very first things I did in Chicago was drop and break my point and shoot camera.
Y’all are stuck with having to read real and actual words. Sorry.
SO – Wednesday morning I woke up earlier than I do for a normal work day because I had a 2:30pm plane to catch and OH MY GOD I CANNOT JUST LAY IN THIS BED AND WAIT ANYMORE. I was, let’s say, excited.
I was decidedly nervous, but I was also thrilled to be going to Chicago – a city that I love – and BlogHer – a conference I watched from afar last year. I couldn’t wait to see my friends and all of the people I was just sure would run up to me and say “Hey, I know you! I read your blog! You should totally get out of that corner and come sit by me and we will be BFFs all weekend long!” Because I am nothing if not a realist.
I am also, it seems, someone who relies on elementary blogging techniques like ending sentences in italics.
Adam and I finally landed in Chicago around 4:30 and caught a cab to the Sheraton hotel. We unloaded our suitcases and headed for the hotel bar, where met my very first woman who I would come to fall even more in love with over the course of the weekend. You may call her Kelly. Kelly was busy having a drink with a long time reader and gave us a hug before very tactfully giving us the “I will get to you in a minute once I am done with my conversation” look.
I ran for the bar and ordered a shot of vodka and a bottle of water to mix with my Crystal Light to go packets.
On my way back to the bar, a very lovely woman walked up to me and said “Hi, are you Avitable?” A few minutes later I realized she was not, in fact, talking to me – but to the big hairy man beside me. He shook her hand and she raved about how much she loved his blog. She looked at me and smiled before returning to join her friend at their table.
And that was first of 386 times that Avitable outshined me at BlogHer.
My delicate ego is still recovering. And by recovering, I mean, I am reminding him constantly that he might be a big deal on the Internet, but I have a motherfucking soul and am, therefore, more special to God.
It gets a little fuzzy here. I’m not sure when I met Maria, but I suspect it was right there in that bar, standing and waiting for Kelly to finish her drink. It’s hard to pinpoint when you met someone who instantly became part of your go-to safety circle and made you feel like you’d known them forever. I remember Casey was there in the bar with us, and I distinctly remember meeting the King of Spain and commenting on the fact that I thought he would look more serious. Because I am nothing if not gracious and skilled at making people feel comfortable.
It wasn’t long before I went outside to smoke, and I am absolutely positive that it was there that I first felt at home. RW stepped out of a cab and brought with him a sense of belonging that I should have bottled up right then and there. He was not at the Sheraton for the conference, but was instead coming for the specific purpose of having dinner with me, Avitable and Kelly.
And that dinner was highlight number one for me.
I ate Rockefeller oysters for the very first time – which were divine, by the way – and listened to Kelly talk about her amazing children. I tried not to blush as she and RW heaped mounds of encouragement and praise on me. I shared a $40 steak with Adam and was grateful that, at least for a little while, the dynamics of our relationship were neither ignored nor judged.
After dinner, we headed to the bar inside the hotel – which was not at all the same thing as the hotel bar, a fact Adam and I learned only after sitting in the hotel bar for several minutes wondering where the fuck all of these people were who said they wanted to meet up with us. Thankfully, all of those people were loud as fuck and we were able to follow the sounds of laughter and squeeing into the bar inside the hotel.
And that bar inside the hotel was highlight number two for me.
I stood awkwardly in the doorway and waved meekly at Queen of Spain for less than a minute before Cat Lincoln pushed through the crowd to introduce herself to me. She also handed me a bag filled with Yummie Tummies, but managed to do it in a way that did not say “here ya go, tubby, have some Lycra.”
Then a tall brunette walked up to me and said “Hi, I’m Sarah,” and both Adam and I nodded and smiled and tried hard to pretend that we knew who she was. She, of course, was much too smart for us and reassured us that “It’s OK, I know who you guys are but you have no idea who I am.” I asked, as politely as I could, what her blog was, and she informed me that she had this little blog called Sarah and The Goon Squad.
And then, as politely as I could, I explained to her that “OH MY FUCKING GOD YOU ARE GOON SQUAD SARAH?!?! Of course I know you! Holy shit! You are huge! OH MY GOD YOU KNOW ME! And also? Do not ever introduce yourself as Sarah ever again. Jesus, woman. Sarah could be anyone. YOU are SARAH AND THE MOTHERFUCKING GOON SQUAD.”
At which point she apologized to me and tried to tactfully back away slowly.
BUT! Before she could, her friend very politely introduced herself to both Adam and I and we all decided to exchange business cards. Adam handed her very adorable friend a card from his variety pack – this one with a picture of his header on the back. You know, the one that has him sitting in a car with Hitler.
“Is that Hitler?” Sarah’s friend asked, as politely as she could.
“Oh my God,” I gasped, “you’re a Jew, aren’t you?” Because I am both polite and intuitive and politically correct enough to use the term “a Jew” when meeting someone for the first time.
She laughed uproariously and nodded her head.
And that’s how I met Devra.
Wait a minute. I just realized that that is when I met Maria because she walked into the bar inside the hotel and I was all “OH MY FREAKING GOD THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY PARTY AND I LOVE YOU!” as I hugged her a really, really lot.
At this point things become even more fuzzy. In part, I suspect, because James the bartender feels bad about serving $12 drinks and tries to make up for it by using cranberry juice as a food coloring rather than a mixer. I vividly recall meeting Shannon aka Mr. Lady and being even further relieved to put a face to a long stream of emails and twitter conversations. I also remember feeling beyond honored when Katja specifically got up from the couch to come over and talk to me.
Can I give you a tip? If you’re ever in a crowd of people and you see someone you know who you want to talk to – get up and go and talk to them. Even if you think you’re being rude. Even if you worry they won’t know who you are. Because chances are that person is standing in a crowd of people feeling very small and alone and wishing like hell that someone, anyone, would make them feel a little less alone.
Even if that person has a notoriously big mouth and likes to lecture other people on going out of their way to be friendly.
(And if someone could give me that tip before I go to BlogHer next year (or ever leave my house again)? That would be awesome. Thanks.)
The next thing I remember is leaning on Adam’s big fluffy arm and crying about how my contacts hurt and my eyes were dry and I really, really should probably go to bed because I had to be up at the ass crack of dawn for my Ford thing the next morning. The next thing I remember after that is waking up very early on Thursday morning and hearing Adam mumble from deep within the recesses of his own overly soft what the fuck is the Sheraton thinking bed, “does your butthole hurt? No? That’s how you know I didn’t put my dick in your ass last night.”