Yesterday I did my first recap on my time at #BlogHer13. I’m going to do a separate post about the Expo Hall and sponsors later on. Today I’m going to tell you about some of the wonderful people I met at my first blogging conference. As each day passes, I become more grateful to #BlogHer13 for the opportunity I had to attend. I didn’t meet a lot of people but the ones that I did, truly made an impression on me. I have no doubt we’ll be bonded for life. When I find someone worth knowing, I like to share them with the world. It’s part of the duty of belonging to a blogging community to promote the extraordinary people. There are so many blogs out there and it’s impossible to have read them all. Some of the really obscure, unknown ones can be a perfect match for your tastes. If we help the bloggers get some readers and attention, it almost guarantees they will stick around and continue writing.
A Love Letter To My #BlogHer13 Friends
July 31, 2013 by almostakiss
In my previous post, I mentioned the joyous hug I got from Deb Rox at the newbie breakfast. I also got one from Tarrant Figlio who wandered in briefly with her son Joseph to check it out. Tarrant lives locally, only a few towns over from me but we’d never met in person. I recognized her right away and got up and made a beeline for her. I immediately felt reassured. I rarely think to myself that a woman is sexy but I did when I saw Tarrant walk by. I hope I don’t embarrass her by saying that but I almost blurted it out when we hugged. She also has a very calming presence. I was hoping the whole day would be filled with hugs like that. Instead these stand out because I received so few. Of course, I’d rather have fewer meaningful hugs than a lot that were insincere. Tarrant writes a food blog but is also a storyteller and all about family. On Friday night I got another hug from her (@thatwoman on Twitter) as well as being introduced to her family. Her partner Denise (who works for BlogHer) gave me a great hug as well and I got to meet some of their kids: Joseph, R.J. & Ellie. They make up the kind of family anyone would be happy to be part of.
My first Room of Your Own session was Shedding the Facade and Writing Our Vulnerable Truth. I came into the room and had no clue where to sit or who to sit with. I saw this shock of blue and purple hair sitting by the aisle in the middle and just had to sit next to the person who owned that head of hair. I told her I loved it and I did. This wild and colorful hair belongs to Tabatha Muntzinger. Boy, this chick is so together! She knows who she is, what her style is, etc. I told her the hair suited her, the whole thing, cut and color. The more I’ve gotten to know her the more right I know I am. She also dresses in a way that really reflects who she is and what she’s about. I just wear clothes and she picks out extentions of herself to adorn her body with. She was so friendly which was a big hit with me. There’s really no such thing as being too friendly. Or at least I haven’t found anyone who is, yet. She is just a fascinating creature and I have a feeling even though she’s much younger than I am, she will play a part in me finding out more about who I am. I could tell you she’s a married mom into remodeling her 115 yr. old house but I’d rather you go check out her 2 blogs and see for yourself. You’ll find her at SoTabulous and Turn Right At Lake Michigan.
At this same session, Shannon Duffy plopped herself down in the row ahead of us and turned around and started talking to both of us. Shannon is like a breath of fresh air. Really easy to be around, she doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable which is a great quality. We found we had several other sessions in common since we were both following the writing track of sessions. The 3 of us exchanged cards and friendships were born. It was only later after I got home and read Shannon’s blog did I find out that she had written one of the 100 pieces selected for Voices of The Year!! Wow. We had a celebrity in our midst and didn’t even know it. Which just goes to show she’s modest too. She told me she was local too, coming from a suburb farther out from mine. Check out her heartfelt writing at Deepest Worth.
At another session that day, a sweet girl came and sat next to me. She introduced herself as Jenn Belden and we swapped cards. It turns out she’s from the same suburb as Shannon! The day before BlogHer13, Jenn had flew back to the United States after time spent in England. She and her family had lived in the UK for 3 1/2 years, only recently moving back here. They had taken a vacation there to visit friends right before the conference. No doubt she was jetlagged and had been on the go for weeks but she handled everything beautifully. She was friendly and someone I’d love to get to know more. Her blog is Momma On The Rocks. You don’t have to question that in addition to everything else, she knows how to make a mean cocktail!
At the Voices of The Year, there was a lengthy delay while waiting for Queen Latifah to arrive. I had gone in early and sat on the right side in the 3rd row. On one side of me was a woman who was deep in conversation with the person she came with and oblivious that I was there. Then along came Stacy Jill Calvert. The seats were so close together they were touching and we were sitting tightly against each other. Our skin touching. At that point you have to get to know the person next to you or start filing a sexual harrassment suit. Stacy is bubbling with enthusiasm and I hit the blogger jackpot when she planted herself next to me. She talks a mile a minute which put me at ease. She’s originally from a suburb of Chicago, not far from where I live. Now she lives down state with her partner while they both attend graduate school. Her passion is filmmaking and she’s currently making a documentary that needs funding. She’s a Digital Storyteller and a force of nature! :-)’
At the VOTY reception, I was trying to eat standing up and not to spill any food on my top. I’m pleased to report ALL weekend, I didn’t get so much as a crumb on myself! That never happens. I’m notorious for wearing half my food across my chest and some of it lands in my lap as well. Before I went to BlogHer13, I almost tweeted out, “I’ll be the one wearing their meal like an abstract painting on their clothes.” I really should be issued an adult bib. While standing against a sign, I saw a woman standing by herself in the aisle. She looked alone and we made eye contact. I asked her if she was alone and she said no. She had a couple of friends she’d come with. One was with her at the reception and was going to come and find her. We started talking and really hit it off. Her name is Sandra Chang and she blogs at Letters of Muse. Her blog is probably the closest to mine that I’ve ever seen. She blogs about her life, whether it’s gardening, making homemade jam, her kids, etc. I feel a kindred soul with her. Her friend Maria Milik showed up and the 3 of us stood around talking. Maria is a real go-getter. She runs her own organic food business, raises kids with special needs, volunteers for everything. She’s just someone anyone would be lucky to have by their side. She started a blog called Two States of Chaos 1 1/2 years ago, did one post and hasn’t blogged since. I believe it when she says she’s too busy for blogging but it’s such a GREAT blog that I’m making it my life’s work to hound her until she takes up writing it again! Sandra and Maria are both from the same suburb that Shannon and Jenn are from. I started to think they just breed nice people there! I’ve since tried to get them hooked up with each other. I asked if they were going to the parties and they invited me to tag along with them. First we made the plan to hit the bathroom and then visit the White Cloud Lounge. That’s a small bar off the lobby of the hotel that they converted for this event. They decorated it in lots of white and even had what looked like heavy white smoke floating around the room but it was really dry ice. They had an artist doing art featuring the White Cloud logo and hostesses dressed in white going around making sure everyone was taken care of. Sandra and I went up to get a drink. They had an open bar and Sandra ordered a gin and tonic and I asked what their signature cocktails were. The guy just made me one and handed it to me. It was white wine with heaven knows what in it. Far be it from me to turn down alcohol, so I took it. It was ok but not something I would normally drink. 4 things happen when I start drinking: 1) My face gets flushed and I turn red. 2) I become more talkative = the real me comes out. 3) I want to drink MORE. 4) I want to dance. #1 definitely happened, as did #3. #2 only happened a little bit and #4 not at all. I never heard any dance music all night and was disappointed because I LOVE to dance. The 3 of us had our picture taken together covered in toilet paper boas and of course, the white smoke made it not turn out. We redid it and the 2nd time, only 2″ of my face showed up in the photo. Then we headed up to Room 929 at the Sheraton for the Come As You Are Party.
The Come As You Are Party was my favorite. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Anissa Mayhew for at least 3 years on Twitter. She was hosting the party and had her beautiful daughter Rachael along with her. I introduced myself to Anissa and she shook my hand and then I told her I wanted a hug too. So I leaned down so I could give her a hug in her wheelchair. It was like meeting an old friend. I introduced Sandra and Maria to her and then let them talk. I went over by Rachael and talked to her for a bit. She’s such an intelligent, well poised 12 year old. I asked her if she was going to be a blogger like her mom and she said she wasn’t very good at it. I told her she didn’t need to be a blogger, she already got all the perks. She should do something she felt strongly about or enjoyed more. Anissa had heavy duty red solo cups as souvenirs from the party. I took one upon entering and then asked if I could have another when I left. I wish I’d gotten more–at least another one for my mom. They are so awesome! They look like an ordinary cup when you see them but when you lift them, they are sturdy and have some weight to them.
There was an open bar at this party too and I went over and asked what he could make me. He just motioned to the bottles and I couldn’t think so I just said vodka and diet coke. I’m more of a margarita or daquiri girl. I didn’t know who to talk to, everyone seemed already engaged. So I looked at the other end of the room and it was basically empty. There was another bartender down there that no one knew about. A couple of couches and a comfy chair. There was one guy sitting down there by himself. I got brave and went down to talk to him. I asked if he was a blogger or somebody’s husband that got dragged along. He said he was here with his wife and she was off socializing. From there we hit it off like gangbusters. His name was Levi Helgren and we had a very easy flowing conversation for a long time. I asked a lot of questions but it was a mutual back and forth. I didn’t feel like I was monopolizing the conversation or being too boring. We’re both from WI so that gave us something in common right off the bat. We hung out for awhile and then others started coming over to join in. His wife showed up and out of nervousness I said, “I hope you don’t think I was hitting on your husband.” God. Really?! I was trying to be funny. People never know when I’m being funny. The 3 of us ended up going upstairs to the Multi-Culti Party together. The next day, just as I was getting ready to get up from the lunch table, they came and sat down. We chatted for a minute or two and I said, “I hope I wasn’t too obnoxious last night.” This is why I keep my mouth shut a lot of the time. Anyway, I had the BEST time talking with a non-blogger at a blogging convention. It really stuck in my head on Sat. how I’ve got ONE thing in common with all the bloggers (that we all write a blog) and yet it’s so hard to talk to some of them. This just reinforced that I can make conversation with anybody but it’s a 2 way street. They have to be willing to participate.
This is my love letter to the people I met at BlogHer13. Each and every person I’ve mentioned contributed to a good memory I can take away from #BlogHer13! Without knowing it, they each made a positive impact in my life. I just hope someday I can bring sunshine into other people’s lives in the same way. Please visit their blogs and see how incredible they are!