Street Food and Swag- my BlogHer10 weekend (part 1)
Part One: Swag
It’s taken me a couple of days to acclimate to being home after an absolutely fantastic weekend out east. BlogHer10 was more than I ever expected it to be, and I left loaded up with tons of swag and even more ideas. Than there was being in NYC… a whole different experience in itself. I’ll start with BlogHer and end with Manhattan munchings. For now, the conference!
Madison —> Detroit —> Connecticut
Emily and I woke up and just barely made our 5:30am flight out of Madison, running with our luggage from the economy parking lot to the Delta desk. With a handwritten baggage tag on our suitcase and our shoes already off and in our hands, we spend through security and made it to Detroit. From there our connecting flight was smooth as silk and we landed in NYC right on time.
It is important for me to add a wee bit of context to my recounting of our travels. Simply put, I am absolutely terrified of flying. We are talking clenching fists during takeoff, leaving goodbye notes for family members, resigning myself to imminent death terrified. So, all of the other travel experiences are a little bit hazy, glossed over with a thin sheen of desperate fear. However, my certainty of disaster was once again happily proven wrong, and instead of blinking out of existence I instead blearily blinked in the flourescent lights of baggage claim. From there it was off to CT to visit my lovely Aunt Diane.
Out visit to CT was just the thing for my slightly still freaked out self. We ate salad, took a nap, went to the beach, and then were joined by my Uncle Doug for dinner at a fabulous little italian restaurant. We hit the sack early, in preparation for an early train ride to the city.
Connecticut —> NYC —>BlogHer10
Another early morning, an hour-long train ride and 10 minute cab ride and I was walking into the New York Hilton to catch the tail end of the newbie BlogHer breakfast. The rest of my day was a blur of names, faces, classes and advertising. Or should I say ADVERTISING. I have never been wooed so determinedly by corporations before. Two floors of expo hall were packed wall to wall with glittering, multimedia displays. I was given more swag than my bags could carry, I was offered hair and makeup services, had the opportunity to be interviewed for Yahoo.com online blogher coverage, decorated cupcakes with the Pillsbury doughboy, and had my picture taken with a MyLittle Pony cut out. It was INSANE. Up on the top floors my feet were rubbed, buffed and polished while I sipped on champagne and dined on mini cupcakes. BlogHer was swanky. Like, whoa.
In addition to receiving swag, I met some really inspiring and cool women over the course of the conference. Not surprisingly, almost all of my favorite conversations revolved around my particular obsession – food. School lunch, charcuterie, the lunch buffet (which was as overthetopomgridiculous as the expo hall). It was uplifting and deeply confirming to find that commonality between myself and all of these women bloggers. Even though I’m not a mom, not a graphic designer, not into fashion, don’t blog about sex or politics (which pretty much covered everyone I met), there was always something to talk about, to bond over. It seemed like I was the only gal who didn’t know to bring business cards (good thing I’m part McGuyver and was able to improvise some on the spot). I honestly had no idea how much of an emphasis would be put on networking as opposed to attending sessions. It was very surprising, interesting and fruitful. I think.
I’m going to gloss over the food details of the rest of the night, post the BlogHer Gala (I know- there was a GALA). I’ll save that for its own special post. Needless to say, I ate well that night, before hobbling on puffy feet to a cab and collapsing in bed at my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Ken’s house.
The next day, after a delicious breakfast of Magnolia cupcakes (OMG, thank you Cathy for that recommendation. There will definitely be more on that later.) I went back to BlogHer and was once again dazzled. I avoided the expo halls and took some time in the Serenity Suite, where the fabulous Nichelle from Cupcakes Take the Cake (the woman who gave me my pass to BlogHer) brought AMAZING cupcakes from LuxSugar Bakery. There were three different flavors, all named after famous women. I ate the betty page, chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and a pink with silver glitter candy on top. YUM. Two gourmet cupcakes. One Day. Edible Glitter. JOY.
I’m still sifting through my take away messages from this incredible experience, but a few have risen to the surface. First of all, seeing all of these women together, and the amount of $$$ spent by sponsors to get their attention, spoke to the influence of women on the internet today. I hadn’t really thought of my little food blog as being part of anything grand, but now I see myself within a context of women putting their thoughts, opinions and lives out there, of using our voices to say things that we think are important. It’s inspiring. The $$$ shows me that other people think it’s a pretty big deal as well. Maybe this blog could be a better medium for communication than I ever realized, maybe even a way to make the world a little bit better, one foodie post at a time. I can’t say for sure. But maybe.
I also left BlogHer better realizing the power of online communities. I’ve had mixed feelings about online methods of communication for as long as I can remember. I’m a tactile person. I love letters with stamps, hands wrapped around coffee mugs, earnest eye contact. Physical sensation and body language are very important, and despite how hard emoticons try, they just can’t be an arched eyebrow, a suppressed smile, a worried frown. Because of this, though I have long delighted in the speed and ease of facebook, twitter, email, etc, I haven’t necessarily seen it as anything more than a tool for maintaining relationships. Now, having heard the experiences of so many women who reached out and felt heard by someone on the other side of the world through one comment on their blog, I see the potential, the reality, of something deeper, something more. I see the ability for online forums, like blogs, to create connections, to establish community. That’s a huge shift in perception for me, and one that I’m still wrapping my head around. I’m glad for it, though.
I also realized that there are a lot of tricks and tips to being a good blogger that I never realized. For instance, splitting a post that would end up being ridiculously long (ahem) into multiple posts. Good idea. Until then, sweet dreams….