On Sunday night I returned home from San Jose, California and the tenth annual BlogHer conference. This was the sixth BlogHer conference for me—the second as a team member—and while it was exhausting, it was also just SO GOOD. I’m still recovering, in fact. Reentry, the adjustment back into my everyday life, is the very worst part about attending this conference for lots of us; for me it begins when I say goodbye to my friends and continues as the exhaustion—which has been building for months and approached breaking point last week—sets into every pore and then doesn’t leave for days. FOR DAYS. I expect to regain the ability to have coherent thoughts and speak in complete sentences again by Saturday. Or maybe Monday. Or Sunday. Sunday comes before Monday, right? I’ll hope for Sunday. Wait, maybe I should hope for Saturday. See what I mean? Welcome to my world.
The amount of work that goes into this conference is ridiculous and immeasurable and unless you’ve ever produced a major event that serves thousands of people, there’s just no way you can understand it. It’s not a matter of simple math where I could say that co-producing Chicago’s LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show is “at X level of difficulty” and if I multiplied that by about ten times I’d come up with an accurate measurement of the level of difficulty of helping to put on a BlogHer conference. The fact is, with every extra person involved (whether on the team, on the venue staff, sponsors, or attendees), the chance for potential issues with the thousands of moving parts that have to come together at the right time increases exponentially. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears are involved in the process. Well, maybe not AS MUCH blood as the other two in my case.
Being behind the scenes for two years now has been difficult and fun and challenging and exhilarating and frustrating and rewarding and joyful and everything in between, but (thank goodness) at the very root of all of that is an intense sense of teamwork and pride. I work with some wonderfully smart women and #BlogHer14—the end result of months and months of working hard together—was truly a triumph for all of us. Naturally we didn’t please everybody in every area because that would be impossible. Overall though? The conference has received pretty high marks and I’m proud of my work and the work of everyone else involved. (Major hat tip to my friend Lori Luna, VP of Event Operations, who juggled more details this year than anyone I’ve ever seen. She’s amazing.)
As far as recapping the conference as a whole like I used to, well, I can’t anymore because I’m on the other side of things now. I worked in our office and took pictures in the expo for Instagram instead of attending sessions. What I did my best to catch were the keynotes (Kerry Washington, check. Tig Notaro, check. The Bloggess, check. Arianna Huffington, SAD TROMBONE I MISSED HER) and the other special events like this year’s 10 X 10s, the live performance by The Mrs. Band who was there to launch their single “Enough” (which is dang catchy and I just love it), the community parties (Queerosphere!), and the Voices of the Year, which we say is the heart of the conference. Not to mention the closing party sponsored by McDonald’s and hosted by Rev Run of RUN-DMC. OMG. Epic.
Whatever I was able to catch, I loved. That happens every year.
Also an annual thing? The fact that my BlogHer experience is what it is because of the people.
I don’t need to recap any of that for you except to say FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN and lots of snort-laughing. At one point I even called us the Three Stooges, but I meant it in the best way. Those girls, my closest friends, made the conference for me, as always.
I also got to spend a little bit of time (not enough, as usual, but work called!) with lots of other old friends, and it was pure joy. It’s always a nice thing to be surrounded by people you love, and I know I shouldn’t start listing because I’ll leave someone out but…never mind, I’m not listing. If you and I spent time together, know that I loved every moment of it. EVERY MOMENT.
This year I got to meet lots of LTYMers, too. Some of the ladies I mentored through their first season of show production were at the conference and to be able to hug them (and in some cases, provide belated hair-stroking) was just lovely. I didn’t have enough time with them.
The LTYM National Team (Ann Imig, Deb Rox, Stephanie Precourt and me) had a brunch meeting that was just lovely. We’re usually doing emails and conference calls so to have two hours of facetime was fantastic. I love them so much: rockstars, all three.
There was yet another dimension to this year’s conference for me because of my work, and Facebook.
My main job in the months leading up to the conference was to moderate an official group for BlogHer attendees. This was our first year trying this method of communication and community-building, and I think it was extremely successful. Even though the intensity of my involvement naturally increased over time as the conference loomed and excitement built and for the last two weeks I had eyes on that group (via laptop at home or phone when out of the house) non-stop and I thought by the end of some days my eyes might start bleeding, I have loved moderating. (I’m still doing it, in fact, as we all work our way through reentry together!)
While at the conference, I met lots of the people from the group. Some of them recognized me immediately and others approached me to ask if I had any idea why I looked familiar to them. When I asked if they were in the Facebook group the light bulb went off and it was all hugs and smiles from there. It felt bizarre to be recognized by so many people, but so nice at the same time. Every single one of them had kind words to say about having the Facebook group, and that validation made me feel good. All in all, I think I ended up meeting more new-to-me people this year than I did at the five previous conferences put together. It was nice to see friendly faces and get a hug or a wave around every corner.
So another BlogHer is in the books. Although I don’t want to think about next year yet because I’m still working on this year and I am SO TIRED, I am indeed looking forward to 2015 and I hope you are, too.
And no, we don’t have an ETA on the date/location announcement, in case you’re wondering.
While we wait, check out the oh-so-clever #BlogHer14-themed Spotify playlist I created yesterday. I hope it takes you back. Sigh. I miss you guys.