I’m home from Chicago and my second BlogHer conference, and although I enjoyed it, I’m not signing up for next year’s conference just yet and probably won’t. Not because I have a big complaint or was treated poorly or got into a fight with anyone–I’m just a bit over it. It’s big. There are so many people (estrogen) and there is so much energy. It’s exhausting. I came home exhausted. I’m still not completely recovered from all of the socialization and stimulation and energy (and estrogen, did I mention that?) I’m not the type of person who has good boundaries all of the time and sometimes I get caught up in what and all that I’m doing I don’t realize that I’m quickly heading toward a fast moving downward spiral into a very bad place. I get over-tired, over-stimulated, over-socialized, over-partied, and over-done and then get anxious, anxious, anxious. When I get anxious I start to get insecure and think that everyone hates me and Cher is going to leave me and I’m fat.
Luckily I have good friends like my BlogHer09 roomie, Melissa Lion and Twitter friends who gave me good support. Saturday night was a four xanax night and it took until yesterday to feel better and not until today to feel completely better, just in time for my wife to leave to go to RollerCon in Las Vegas! I’m also grateful to my amazing wife, Facebook friends and derby friends. Thank you for helping me pull myself out of it, I’m much better now.
Besides my personal issues with being over-stimulated and doing too much and the fact that I can’t seem to learn that Kathryn+Not Eating+Vodka=NotAGoodSituationForAnyone I have other thoughts about BlogHer09 that I will attempt to review (kindly.) I will do it using the sandwich method of feedback.
1. (Positive) I was absolutely thrilled to speak at the Blogqueers panel with Stacy Jill Jacobs and Liza Barry-Kessler. We had a wonderful group of women attend including Deb on the Rocks, Lesbian Dad, and Zoe from Gaymo, just to name a few! We were small enough to be able to have everyone make introductions and really participate, which was wonderful. The entire room came to tears when a wonderful woman named Jennifer introduced herself and told her story: she is the mother of a five year old transgender child who is looking for support. She has not had a very positive response from many people and is now going to be grappling with legal issues regarding changing her child’s gender on school registration forms so that she can begin kindergarten as the gender she identifies. I felt blessed that I had just received an email from someone with a child with gender issues and was able to tell her that she was not alone. I hope that she felt a sisterhood in that room and was able to get some good advice from other participants.
Our live blogger, Amy, was also in tears at the end of the session. She told us that she was a mommyblogger and out of her element being around us. She said that she was not exposed to much outside of her cookie cutter life and was grateful to hear our stories and be a part of our group. It was really wonderful how moved she was. I was always happy to see Amy’s happy face during the rest of the conference and I hope that she was able to leave this weekend knowing that lezzies don’t have three heads and that we are actually quite normal!
It was wonderful that the BlogHer founders made an effort to bring some diversity to the conference. Not only did we have our panel session, both days we had a GLBTQ table at lunch and Ilene Chaiken was one of the keynote speakers. It was nice not to feel invisible in the sea of mommybloggers at the conference–it was a good step.
Also, the Queerosphere party that was organized by Deb on the Rocks and sponsored by Queerlywed.com was amazing at an amazing space with an amazing cocktail waitress that I may or may not have made inappropriate comments about. This was also where I had my bad run in with Vodka. Vodka and I are no longer friends.
As always, I enjoy being with like-minded people and we seemed to find each other quite well. I can’t even begin to list the wonderful women that I met and talked to and lunched with but I can tell you that they were amazing. Yes, most of us who hung out were queer identified but that wasn’t the only connection. Melissa Lion and some other ladies who are straight hung out with us too–it was a great group of women!
Overall, I loved the part about socializing with other women. I enjoyed the sessions I attended (for the most part) and overall, the part I took away the most was how neat (yes I just said neat) it was to hang out with other women who are techie and love to write and blog and care about a lot of the same things that I care about: women, feminism, birth, equality, writing, twitter, the internet, technology, social media, etc. All of that was the best part. The very best part.
2. (Negative) I could sum it up with one word (mommybloggers) but that would be very unfair considering that I spoke to a few of the mommybloggers who were lovely (including the aforementioned Amy as well as my co-panelist Liza.) For the most part, however, I was a teeny tiny afraid of their en mas state of being and presence. I was unaware that the mommyblogger market was so hot and how much sponsors lurve them and want to give them stuff (like laundry detergent and Mary Kay samples and shampoo and vacuum cleaners and other stuff.) Funny enough, the only swag party Melissa Lion and I were really interested in attending was the one with the sex toys from Eden Fantasy’s. We didn’t get a bag because all of the mommybloggers rushed the place; it was like a sale at Filene’s basement, only worse. Mommybloggers love vibrators I guess. I have many vibrators and since my collection is growing thanks to reviewing Eden Fantasy products, I thought I would step aside and let them have the sex toys. After all, I remember being an oppressed, sexually repressed hetero-woman and if any of them are in that state, they need all the help they can get!
Monetizing. Last year I was very surprised at the sessions on monetizing your blog because I’ve never looked at my blog in any way except to express myself, connect with others, share information and as a tool to practice the craft of writing. I’m not alone in that camp but it seems that there are a lot of others who are very concerned/obsessed/focused on trying to somehow make money from their mommyblogs. Confusing to me.
Size. It was big. Lots of people. It would have been nice to see some more sessions where people could find like minded others (like ours, but other niches.) I’m not sure how to make something that large more personal but it was just overwhelming at times the sheer amount of people.
The food. Was terrible.
Would have liked to have had more sessions on Social Media, Techie stuff, website design, CSS, etc. Melissa Lion has some great ideas on her post and I agree with her completely! (It also looks like she’s going to plan something for Portland next year so stay tuned!)
3. (Positive) Chicago.
Chicago is a wonderful and beautiful city with very nice people. We took the train from Midway to downtown and had to read a MAP to find the hotel. Kathryn does not read maps well at all (my wife can attest to this fact) so we had a bit of confusion navigating our way. Every time we stopped to look at the map someone came over to ask us if we needed help. It happened three times and three times someone rushed over, and it wasn’t even a homeless person or anything. So nice.
Chicago has tall buildings, which for a Portlander is very cool. We don’t have any. There are very, very tall buildings. Our hotel room overlooked the river and from the other side we could see the ocean. I didn’t know there was an ocean in Chicago but I saw it! I told Melissa, “Look, it’s an ocean!” Then I thought about it and realized that despite my public school education I was smart enough to know that it must be Lake Michigan (which it was.)
On the first day we took the train to a neighborhood that reminded us both of Portland and our new friends took us around to see some different neighborhoods while we were there. We also had brunch with some ladies Cher and I met on our last Olivia trip, which was super fun. They told me that they are expecting a baby in January and I gave them a teddy bear from my swag bag (mommybloggers like teddy bears.)
So Chicago and her people? Big Positive.
That’s it. Or all I can sift through right now. Melissa and I will be on Strange Love Live this week to discuss BlogHer, so please subscribe through iTunes and listen! Until then, stay cool peeps. It’s freaking hot in Portland right now (107) and everyone is cranky, cranky, cranky!