BlogHer: Who Was There

I’ve tried and tried to think how I can describe the weekend’s events to you in some cohesive order, and it’s just too much to try to organize.  So I’ll start by telling you about the people, and I’ll do another post with the specifics about what I learned in the panel discussions. 

One might assume that a post with references to all the people I met would contain photographs, wouldn’t one?  One might also assume that one should not throw away that USB cable that pulls photographs off the cell phone, too.  Oh, well.   

The conference was held at Navy Pier in Chicago, and we stayed at the a-little-too-cool-for-itself W Hotel.  If I were very hip, I would tell you how trendy it was.  But I am not hip, I am middle-aged and grumpy.  It looked a little like a Days Inn that had been through a giant episode of Trading Spaces, down to the elevator that was dimly illuminated by plastic cups containing lighted blue marbles.  I guess I’m more of a Holiday-Inn kind of girl.

Honestly, the hotel was inconsequential, because the company was so lovely.  I roomed with Chilihead, Tina and Jeana, and there was much chattering and laughing and making jokes that were terribly funny at the time.  And, after nearly two of years of correspondence, I got to hang out with Kathryn of Daring Young Mom.  She’s even more delightful and whimsical in person than she is on her blog.  She’s the sort of person who, when you part at the end of a long day, announces that no one leaves her hotel room until they’ve jumped on the beds.  And instead of regarding this as strangeness, you just quite naturally climb up and jump on her bed.  Together with Kathryn’s roommates Eve and Jenny, we formed a little posse and moved around like a pack of eighth-grade girls much of the weekend.

It was confirmed to me that corporate America likes women bloggers (details to come in the second post).  They plied their wares and handed out free stuff at every possible opportunity.  And I, being an unsophisticated sucker for anything free, took it all.  I took so much that I had to check an extra bag for my flight home.  I have enough notepads, pedometers, ball-point pens, martini glasses, t-shirts, tote bags, and frisbees to stock a small European country. 

And I learned, if you want to sound very polished, you should know that there is a name for the freebies you accumulate at a convention:  swag.  And you must say it very off-handedly, as in "I need to go drop off my swag in my room."  And then you will be hip.  Almost hip enough to appreciate lighted blue marbles in the elevator.  But not quite.

I’ll tell you in my next post about the specifics of the panels I attended, but I can’t finish up a "who was there" post without telling you about the keynote speaker, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards.  I thought it was a little puzzling that a bi-partisan organization would host a presidential candidate’s wife during an election year (to be fair, there were representatives from the Mitt Romney and John McCain campaigns at two panel discussions, but these were much more lightly attended than Edwards’ keynote speech.)

Edwards is a good speaker with a gracious ease, and even though I don’t agree with her on policy, I enjoyed hearing the line of reasoning that comes from someone the other end of the political spectrum.  There was a bit of a strange moment when she took questions from the audience, and a speaker stood up to say, "I’m from Texas…" and Edwards responded, "I’m sorry!"

The people at our table looked at each other with puzzlement.  "Did she really just say that?" I asked.  It was a bit Dixie Chicks-ish.  But that’s okay, because Tina (ever gracious in a don’t-mess-with-Texas sort of way) gently approached Edwards at the cocktail party afterwards to assure her that most Texans are not, in fact, "sorry" that they’re from Texas.  It was a great moment.  I have a picture to prove it, and it is, sadly, stuck for in the bowels of my cell phone for all eternity.  Or until I go to Radio Shack.

I met so many interesting bloggers, and I started this post with the intention of going through their business cards and linking to every URL, but then I got a good look at my laundry room, so no.  Suffice it to say that I met such a varied group of women, from every imaginable walk of life, blogging their hearts out on more topics than I could ever read in a lifetime.  I plan to be working my way through many of their blogs over the coming months, and I’m sure I’ll be passing many of the links along to you. 

More to come on what I actually learned…   

41 thoughts on “BlogHer: Who Was There

  1. ellen b says:

    Did you know that Swag is an acronym for “Stuff we all get”?
    Just thought you’d like to know if you didn’t know already.
    Sounds like crazy fun…

  2. Lisa says:

    It is interesting to hear your perspective of Blogher. I’ve read several other posts from other bloggers about Blogher and it seems like a great time. Oh the swag! How fun.

  3. Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry says:

    I love hearing about everyone’s experiences at BlogHer! I would really love to see that photo of Tina with Elizabeth Edwards.
    Could you just e-mail the photos to yourself from your phone? That’s what we do with our low-tech Nokia.

  4. Nancy says:

    Wow… Elizabeth Edwards… How rude was that!
    I hope she learned a lesson. She’s probably gotten used to the political crowd rather than real people.

  5. Slawebb says:

    If there were too many pedometers, you could always give one to me πŸ˜‰ That blogger conference sounds like it was so much fun. But seeing as I don’t blog (yet) it would have been kind of unnecessary. But oh how much fun it would be to have a long weekend of girl time, and as a bonus all that swag. I totally have to come up with a blog name so I can get started. …Still nothing… any suggestions, you know since you don’t even know me πŸ™‚

  6. Anonymous says:

    enjoyed your perspective. and, probably the reason i enjoy reading you so much is that you are not hip. i look forward to hearing more. and, for goodness sakes, who would want a president who didn’t like texas. what’s not to like?

  7. chickadee says:

    enjoyed your perspective. and, probably the reason i enjoy reading you so much is that you are not hip. i look forward to hearing more. and, for goodness sakes, who would want a president who didn’t like texas. what’s not to like?

  8. Melanie says:

    Interesting stuff. Can’t wait to here what corporate America thinks of us. Maybe we are making a virtual mark on society. More than we think.

  9. Antique Mommy says:

    On the Elizabeth Edwards thing, let me just say I did not grow up in Texas. I chose to live here. I moved here when I was 21 and knew not a soul. No. One. And everyone here was so very kind to a scared and lonely little midwestern girl and I have never forgotten that. *There’s a post about it somewhere in my archives Pay It Forward or something)
    Let me also say Elizabeth Edwards was accessible and lovely and took her time to speak to me and hear me.

  10. Nancy says:

    I would have SO jumped on that bed!
    And I agree…pass the pedometer SWAG love around, hehe!
    I keep promising myself and the feller I would walk MORE if I only KNEW how much I was already walking. He doesn’t buy it either.
    Sounds like you all had a grand time and I am jealous but it is my own fault. I have yet to “get” the blogging world and become a member of the club. I try but I am lazy…..there, I admit it!
    Thanks for letting us share and we look forward to your pics. I won’t even mention the “lost” cable since, ermmmm, since I have been known to “lose” important stuff myself.

  11. Lynnae (From Under the Clutter) says:

    I can only imagine what it was like to be there. Maybe someday…
    I would have given anything to have heard Tina approach Elizabeth Edwards regarding the Texas comment. You HAVE to get that picture off of your cell phone!

  12. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    Oh, my, if I knew free stuff was involved, I would certainly have made an effort to go. Or not. But it’s good to know that there’s free stuff to be had.
    Thanks. Keep the details comin’.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A little bit jelous, BlogHer sounds like a blasT… I will look into it in the future!!! Thanks for inspiring me, as always πŸ™‚

  14. Rhen says:

    It sounds like you had a blast while there! I look forward to the links of the women that met.
    All for His glory, Rhen

  15. Shalee says:

    Will not be jealous. Will not be jealous. Will not be… oh who am I kidding? I’m flat out green with envy, but I love that you got to attend with such lovely ladies!

  16. Tammy says:

    If John Edwards were to win as president and I tell somebody that I am North Carolina,they will say am sorry !!
    He is liked around where I am from but not by me!!

  17. A says:

    i love your blog, it is always full of interesting ideas and great links. i’m ready to “meet” some of the great ladies you did!

  18. SingForHim@Real Life says:

    Sounds like a blast. I am a “free stuff junkie,” too. I feel a little less jealous now that I know you had to hear Elizabeth Edwards deliver the keynote speech. I wonder if Oprah would ever speak?

  19. Amanda says:

    SWAG is also an acronym for “Souvenirs, Wearables and Gifts.” It comes from early days of rock shows, not conventions.
    Just a tidbit, but nothing earthshaking.
    Apparently “Stuff We All Get” is more popular nowadays. So be it.

  20. keri says:

    funny that you said that W hotel looked like a renovated Days Inn….i think you are actually correct!! my hubby and i lived right there at Northwestern Univ on Lakeshore drive back in 2001 and they were doing the construction on it then…and if my memory is right (which doesn’t happen often)…it WAS a days inn and i remember seeing the sign for W hotel. so that is pretty funny!
    sounds like a great trip. i look forward to hearing more about what you heard at the conference.

  21. Megan at Sortacrunchy says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely and wonderfully un-hip perspective. πŸ˜‰
    I can’t believe Mrs. Edwards said that – out loud – about Texas! Oh, I wish I could have overheard Tina’s conversation with her. How kind and gracious of Tina to be able to say that Mrs. Edwards was lovely in follow-up conversation . . .
    Can’t wait to hear more!

  22. lam says:

    Mrs. Edwards may have meant “I’m sorry” as in “what, speak up, I can’t hear you”…that’s very common where I come from.
    I should mention that my family members who live in TX are very sorry to be living (back) there. Everyone gets a little sick of TX taking itself so seriously, especially as messed up as it is. So, as Mitt says, you gotta be able to take a joke, right?!

  23. lam says:

    BTW, a quick google confirms from other attendees that there was some serious audio issues during the Q&A session.

  24. Angela says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing what you gleaned from the conference. I agree, hosting E. Edwards does seem a bit, no very odd. Love Tina’s response…you go girl!

  25. Amanda says:

    But what if you heard this….?
    Edwards is a good speaker with a gracious ease, and even though I don’t agree with her on policy, I enjoyed hearing the line of reasoning that comes from someone the other end of the political spectrum. There was a bit of a strange moment when she took questions from the audience, and a speaker stood up to say, “I’m [GAY]…” and Edwards responded, “I’m sorry!”
    The people at our table looked at each other with puzzlement. “Did she really just say that?” I asked. It was a bit Dixie Chicks-ish. But that’s okay, because Tina (ever gracious in a don’t-mess-with-HOMOSEXUALS sort of way) gently approached Edwards at the cocktail pary[sic] afterwards to assure her that most [GAYS] are not, in fact, “sorry” that they’re [HOMOSEXUAL]. It was a great moment. I have a picture to prove it.
    I have friends and family to prove it.

  26. Eve says:

    Wow some strange comments. I love to read your blog now with your voice in my head. For a girl from rural Arkansas you can hang with anyone! Shannon is a CUTIE PIE!

  27. Rocks In My Dryer says:

    Lam, it was very clear from Edwards’ inflection what she meant. Was it a joke? Probably. Was it a wise one? Probably not.
    Amanda, I’m not sure I’m clear what point you’re trying to make.

  28. Believer in Balance says:

    It was great meeting you at BlogHer! I’m still amazed there were four Shannon’s there, but I don’t get out much. πŸ™‚ I’ll definitely be back for your Wednesday series.

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