By this time last year, I’d spent an obscene amount of money putting together “outfits” for BlogHer ’12. I was fully whipped into a frenzy of impression management, J. Crew emergency purchases, and anxious spasms about whether I would “do it right,” because I was sure there was a “right” way to do a blogging convention.
Oh my god it’s so much more fun this year already.
First, I already know BlogHer is a massive, chaotic blur of people, swag, adrenaline and inspiration. Oh, and how can I forget about the flip side of inspiration, which is the total humility of looking out into a sea of 5,000 bloggers knowing that I am just one of the pack– the ginormous pack– and that some of them will be courted by publishers or IKEA or Gordon’s Fish Sticks, and I will go home having handed out maybe 5 (of my 1000) business cards? Let’s not forget my eloquent French fry analogy of last year. (FN 1)
Most importantly, I know it doesn’t matter what I wear. Unless I am trying to make a dress-made-of-meat kind of statement, it’s pretty hard to stand out among thousands of bloggers. It’s not like I am there to have Tim Gunn discover my unique sense of style. So, this year I want to be comfortable and stay within my financial and moral budget, so I’m not buying anything new. I may not even shave my legs, so if you see me in jeans, you’ll know that I didn’t.
Oh what a year can do!
As I look back on the year since my maiden BlogHer voyage, I think back about the people I met there and the ways that the river of my life changed course that weekend. It was BlogHer that gave me the confidence to start pitching story ideas to other publications. When I attended a workshop about book publishing, it was like pouring gasoline on a tiny camp fire in my soul. I sat next to a woman who was a lawyer-turned-literary-agent and struck up a conversation with her. I didn’t mention that I had about 10,000 words of a novel written or that it would be my life’s dream to have her card (and have her take me on as a client). But this year, hell, I just might. But just sitting in that room allowed me room to be audacious: maybe I will finish that book and see what happens.
So I’m going in open for inspiration, but I’m as prepared as I can be for it to be a totally different experience. I have a picture on my bathroom mirror of me, Sara of Moments of Exhilaration and Carinn of Welcome To The Motherhood, neither of whom will be there this year to hold my hand or laugh at my “jokes.” Also missing this year is Michelle Longo and Deb of Mannahattanmama, both of whom I plan to miss wildly. It was at BlogHer that I met Rachael from The Variegated Life (and I could hardly stop staring at the beautiful baby she had strapped to her chest), and Jessica Woodbury Severson from Don’t Mind the Mess. Those encounters enriched me beyond what I even understand fully today.
I’m letting myself miss all of them as much as I want and for as long as I want with one caveat: I must make room for the people who will be there this year. Like A Teachable Mom, Naptime Writing, What Now and Why, Neil Kramer, and Fierce Diva herself (NOTE: not all of those bloggers know I am alive).
I have no plan or strategy for the weekend, except for bringing snacks, staying open to what falls in my path and celebrating the other Voices of the Year winners. I am honored that my post about my breast lump was recognized and I want to celebrate that. Because at its core, BlogHer is a celebration– of writing, and connecting and healing and voices and visibility and storytelling– not a fashion show, a contest or a Miss America pageant.
I’m so glad I have that straight this year.
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FN1: Excerpt of a real conversation I had after BlogHer ’12:
Her: So you enjoyed the conference?
Her: Were you inspired by all the great people you met?
Me: Totally inspired! And that’s why I am now suicidal.
Her: Makes perfect sense.
Her: NO! What are you talking about?
Me: There were so many great people there. They can write so well and they are hilarious and successful and entire nations follow their every word. It makes me feel like small potatoes.
Her: Small potatoes is not the worst thing in the world. You don’t have to kill yourself because you are not a big potato.
Me: You don’t understand. It’s not that I am a small potato, like a mini-red-skinned one you put in stew. It’s like I am barely a French fry. Right! I am not even a French Fry from stupid McDonald’s. I am that burnt little nib that falls off and lands in the corner of the French fry pouch that you have to lick your finger to get me to stick so you can pop me in your mouth. I probably only have about 8 calories to offer.
Her: I like those little nibs. They are salty and crunchy. I love licking my fingers and pressing them into the corners of my French fry bag so I can eat them up.
Me: You are so sick.