What I did (and why I went)

Well, it’s happening already. The deconstruction of BlogHer ’09 and this years Drama Du Jours is in full force, and once again I am reminded of why I skipped this event for several years. I prefer my drama to be of the “he touched me!” or “she called me a name!” variety, you see; and while technically I suppose BlogHer presents opportunities for that sort of thing, as well, it’s a lot easier to swallow when it comes from adorable minors rather than people who are supposedly adults, you know?

I’m already reading posts about this, about how a few proverbial rotten apples are spoiling it for the rest of the bunch, and there are valid points to be made. I’m no fan of the poor behavior, the swag-grabbing, the drunkenness, or even the karaoke (I mean, I suppose the karaoke is harmless, but it’s loud and annoying and not why I go to a conference). And while it’s nice that BlogHer brought in Tim Gunn and Paula Deen and Carson Kressley, I saw none of them and don’t really care. They are not why I went.

So rather than another rehashing of what sucked or what I thought was wrong or bad or dumb, I will tell you why I went this year and what I did that I think matters. In case you care. (If you don’t, that’s cool, too. Here, have a thumb drive as a lovely bonus gift. I have about a dozen.)

For the last couple of years, I have skipped the main BlogHer conference and elected only to attend BlogHer Business. This year—with the two conferences dovetailed together, and the Business conference lasting only half a day rather than the two days of yore—I figured as long as I was there, I’d attend part of the main conference as well.

[Digression: Why do I attend the business conference? Because I'm running a business. While many people blog "just for fun" and I think that's fabulous, I blog HERE just for fun, but I also run my own LLC as a freelance writer, and at any given time have about a dozen active clients. This is what I do for a living. It does aggravate me to no end, though, when folks want to assume that THIS BLOG is what I do for a living. This blog is what I do instead of therapy. (Okay, sometimes I do it IN ADDITION to therapy. Details.) Anyway, I've always enjoyed the business conference as a networking, expertise-building exercise.]

BlogHer Business was a very different creature this year due to the change-up in format, and that’s probably an entirely separate post that I won’t bore you with for now. But I did feel it was a worthwhile learning exercise and I made some valuable connections.

Now. The main conference. In many ways, really just not my scene. By the time I was saying goodbye to people at lunchtime on Saturday, when asked why I was leaving early, I automatically responded with, “I’m all done.” Because I was; I’d had enough of the noise, the crowds, the stuff that wasn’t so great, etc. I skipped off to the airport, positively giddy over the notion of sleeping in my own bed, enjoying the silence, and not having to wear mascara the next day.

ON THE OTHER HAND, had I not stayed, there are things I would’ve missed that I’m glad I didn’t.

I would’ve missed having a really interesting conversation with some PR folks after the “Bloggers and Brands” session, where I learned about the shocking behavior of some of my so-called fellow writing professionals and had the awesome opportunity to clarify that there are plenty of us who do not conduct ourselves in that manner.

I would’ve missed the Community Keynote session, which—and I don’t care who you are or where you came from or what you think your goals are—was one of the most powerful and moving displays of kick-ass writing (for all the right reasons, too) that I’ve ever had the honor to witness.

I would’ve missed the “Marketing to Women of Color” session, which not only showcased four of my favorite savvy ladies but was incredibly educational in a multitude of ways. I am still mulling over some of what I learned there.

I would’ve missed meeting some amazing women and getting to know others even better, even though I feel like I did about as little socializing as was humanly possible at an event of this size.

[I also would've missed hordes of people going completely NUTS over my hair. The first few times I felt like, "Wow, this is fun, I look awesome with my hair straight!" After that it devolved into, "Sheesh, I guess my hair looks like crap when it's curly." Heh.]

I’m glad I went. I’m glad I’m home. And I won’t go back next year.

Now, the truth is that I won’t go next year because the timing won’t work for me; there was no decision to be made. I simply can’t make it. But the other truth is that I’m immensely relieved that it’s off the table as a possibility. Even with skipping out on most of the parties and all of the drama (so far as I know), it was exhausting.

And now the blogosphere will spend the next however many days (weeks? months?) bickering over the bad behavior and the apparent missteps and that’s fine, I guess, but I’m all done. I have work to do, a family to tend, and a stack of business cards to go through to thank folks for their time.

I realize I’m pretty boring when it comes to this stuff. I’m also perfectly okay with that.

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33 Responses to “What I did (and why I went)”

  1. 1
    Crisanne July 27, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    I had the strangest dream about you last night. I’d gone on a walk from my house, through the woods, and somehow wound up at our house. Nevermind that I live in VA and you live in GA. I knew it was your house by the rugs you had outside, which you had shown in pictures on your blog. You were a bit disturbed to come home and find me in your back yard. I tried to say, but it’s me…depechemommy…remember from the comments?? But you weren’t swayed. I ran all the way back home.

  2. 2
    Jean July 27, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Did anyone notice your cute shoes??

    I’m sure your hair was LOVELY, too.

  3. 3
    Leandra July 27, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    For the record, I LOVE your curly hair. Your straight hair is just…different, so therefore, special.

    Isn’t there always DRAMA when a group of women get together? And isn’t it unfortunate that that’s the case? This is one of the rare times when I wish we were more like men. We’d just fist bump each other or do the gangsta hug and then stand around and talk about sports.

  4. 4
    Leandra July 27, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    oh, one more thing….is anybody gonna tell us who elbowed the baby? So we can go throw things at her. :)

  5. 5
    JennyM July 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    Or, er, possibly *not* fabulous, per se. I guess I should have read this before my last comment!

  6. 6
    Burgh Baby July 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    I repeat: I like your hair bestest curly. For reals.

    I could have gone to BlogHer pretty much free this year as I need to go to Chicago for my real job. I could easily have combined the trips, but when reading over the schedule of sessions, it became apparent it wasn’t for me. I don’t blog for money. I’m not a brand. I don’t want anybody’s free shit. If someone wants to help me become a better writer, I’m there. Otherwise, -meh-. I just don’t need the drama.

  7. 7
    Ellen July 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    I have to say I just recently cleaned out my RSS reader. What’s left? People who have something to say. Who can say it with wit and without butchering the English language. Who can spell or who know how to use a spell-checker (recent offenses include “champaign” vs. “champagne”, people who don’t know the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re” and my favorite pet peeve “free reign” vs. “free rein”). People who can express an opinion in a classy manner and who know that “just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.”

  8. 8
    Randi July 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    Well Mir, at least you make those of us who didn’t go feel good about NOT going!!

    I’m technically a “professional” blogger – I blog for companies and I know all about SEO and how to write content that gets attention (most of the time), and while I think I would’ve loved to have learned the things in the conference, it sounds like most of it was a bit too wild for my tastes.

    And I love your hair any way you have it Mir!

  9. 9
    Poppy Buxom July 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m in the midst of shoveling all the tote bags out of my house, and I’m pausing long enough to inform you that meeting you was the single squeeest moment of the entire interminable, laryngitis-producing four days.

    !!!(((Mir)))!!!

  10. 10
    Jomama July 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Wow, I was a little disappointed to know I could not make it, having recently joined the blogosphere, but from what you describe, I’m kind of glad now.

    I’ve read some blog posts leading up to the event. I totally get that the private club that was the blogging world 5 years ago has changed dramatically, and I understand what a bummer that must be for the pioneers.

    As a new blogger, I do find some of the oldtimers (not you, Mir!) are kinda preachy, frankly. So, between the blogging veterans going on and on about how all the sleazy newcomers are ruining blogging paradise, and all the actual sleazy newcomers elbowing each other for swag, maybe BlogHer is not really a place I want to go. I look forward to hearing about the business end of things…I am hoping there was more professionalism there?

  11. 11
    Jennifer July 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Very insightful. I actually just read a post by Mom-101 on this subject and the behaviors of some of the attendees. I only started my blog about two months ago, and, like yours here, it is mostly for therapy. (Though I have been considering the idea of trying to launch a freelance career- I am clueless where to even begin.)

    I had considered maybe going to an upcoming conference, but I’m not big on drama myself so… I will have to give it more thought.

  12. 12
    Chookooloonks July 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    I hate that I missed connecting with you at the conference — I totally suck, forgetting you were leaving early.

    And I’m thrilled that you had such a positive experience. My single biggest advice to BlogHer conference goers is to do everything in their power to make the conference their own: trust their intuition about which sessions/parties they attend, and which they choose to sit out for their own personal time. It makes a world of difference. I had a stellar time at the conference this year, because I did everything in my power to follow my own advice this time. :)

    Very classy post, friend.

    K.

  13. 13
    Heather July 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    It’s absolutely great that you know exactly what you need out of it and set out to get just that much. I ran into so many people who didn’t enjoy the sessions/parties they chose and weren’t looking forward to the next. I’d ask why they were going and it was usually some form of “I already paid for it.”

    You paid for the conference experience and what you take away from it depends on you. You can go home and say, “I went to everything I paid for even thought I didn’t want to.” or you can enjoy the experience and leave with the value you needed.

    It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Mir.

  14. 14
    SoMi's Nilsa July 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    First time here at your blog at the suggestion of another blogger. I had a recap of my own today (and tomorrow). And in a similar vein, I won’t be returning to BlogHer either. Great for some people, but so totally not my scene. Loved your mature approach to why you won’t be returning again. (And btw, as a naturally curly haired gal, I have the same thoughts as you when people gush over my straightened hair – wtf do I look like when it’s in its natural state?!? ha.)

  15. 15
    Lucinda July 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m actually really glad you are not going to blog about whatever might have driven you crazy. I am noticing a trend of griping more than celebrating about BlogHer. That has changed since I first started reading blogs about 5 years ago (Gosh has it been that long?). And it’s unfortunate.

    Glad you are home. Glad you got some valuable sessions out of it. Always nice to have stimulating conversation and new ideas to mull over.

  16. 16
    Mocha July 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    I can’t think of a boring thing about you. No way.

    BUT! While I have slacked off with doing entire recap posts I couldn’t help myself for writing today (and thank you for your support there). And probably tomorrow. But that one is about the panel we did and how it went (and hopefully, a link to the live-blogged feed) and also?

    About YOU. For that comment you made at the very beginning which set the tone and also set my heart aflutter.

    Well, it’ll either be about you or this pain in the ass woman being a turd about my brand. I’ll let ya know. ;-)

  17. 17
    ben July 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    I wish I could have seen your hair. Oh, and you, too. That would be cool to finally meet.

    But no, Blogher isn’t for me, I can’t imagine how it would be. I’ll just stick to reading and sniping from twitter and such. I’ll leave the actual GOING to these things to the pros.

  18. 18
    jodifur July 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm #

    This is a wonderful post that focuses on the positives and not all the negatives. I fear I went too negative in my post b/c I truly did have a good time.

    And meeting and chatting with you was a highlight.

  19. 19
    chris July 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    Great post, Mir. And I agree there was so much that was positive about the conference.

    Once I finish taking care of my sick kid I’ll hopefully write about that part too. Oh, and after I nap, because they can never be sick during the daylight hours. Oh no.

  20. 20
    Pave.Gurl July 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

    DING!

    I do not go to BlogHer ‘cos I don’t blog or write in anything resembling a professional way. But you bring up the things that bug most professionals in any industry when they attend a trade show.

    All too often, attendees – no matter the industry – use the conference as an excuse to “party.” Many will treat it as a vacation. Because all too often, there is far too little distinction between “informal networking event with cocktails” and “reliving my college days to see how many shots of Jager I can hold now.”

  21. 21
    kat July 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    And this is why I started reading you when I stumbled across your blog while pregnant with my first child. This is why I kept reading you when my second child was born and the only blogs I read, I read on my phone. And this is why now that I have a little free time, after having checked out blogs I use to follow, this is still one of only four blogs that I read.

  22. 22
    Flea July 27, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    I’m glad you’re home, back to the drama of pre-teens and Georgia weather.

  23. 23
    Rita Arens July 27, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    I’m really glad you went. I would’ve missed you!

  24. 24
    Neil July 28, 2009 at 2:17 am #

    I don’t care about the hair. Only the glasses.

  25. 25
    mama speak July 28, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    Funny, I could’ve written this post about any other conference on earth. I used to be a tradeshow manager for high tech companies. Traveled the world, building tradeshow booths and wining and dining (or being wined and dined by) clients. It doesn’t matter the industry, tradeshows, conferences, etc…the swag grabs, the crazy parties, etc…they’re at all of these. I was in my early 20s when I started out doing these, and it was a lot of fun. After 10 years of it, I was way over it. I didn’t want the swag, (it’s been 8 yrs since I’ve done one and I still have tons of pens from all those damn shows) and unless it was really compelling food/drink or something (one time the B52′s were in concert, that was cool) I would rather have gone to bed early (maybe a really nice dinner on the company w/some good friends).
    Maybe it’s age, but eventually you realize you’d rather sleep in your own bed and be w/your own friends & family. It’s nice to network and if there’s some good workshops, Bonus! But ultimately, it’s work.

  26. 26
    Katie in MA July 28, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    Nah, never boring. Know what comes to mind? You’ll laugh: when Mary Poppins pulls out her tape measure and reads off that she’s “practically perfect in every way.” Not that you’re perfect – just perfectly *practical.* You always take from things exactly what you should, whether it’s blogging or messed-up conferences or any other drama going on. You accept it is what it is and take what you can from it. It’s why we love you best, Mir.

  27. 27
    Heidi July 28, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    Neil at Citizen of the Month did a fabulous wrap-up:

    http://www.citizenofthemonth.com/2009/07/27/blogher09-recap-with-photos/

  28. 28
    Tracy July 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    I can’t stand when adults act like they are 2 and another thing…most people that cause drama are what we call Drama Queens. They only function with drama in their lives and therefore, they set out to find it or create it. I’m glad you’re home, too!

  29. 29
    sassymonkey July 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Aw. No Mir next year? Well, then I’m extra glad that I managed to make it this year and (finally) met you.

  30. 30
    Nicki July 29, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    So, I can’t look forward to meeting you, should miracles happen and I make it to the conference? Too bad. Thanks for an amazing recap of the event.

  31. 31
    Kristen July 29, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    I cannot believe you did not share with the good people of the Internet that you performed the greatest service of all, singing to ANOTHER one of my many offspring so his mama could work it.

    Now THAT was something that rocked.

  32. 32
    Suebob July 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    It wasn’t everyone commenting on your hair. It was just me, over and over. Yes, I saw you three times – and three times I commented on your hair. Sheesh.

  33. 33
    Mom101 July 30, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    I love you for being honest and boring and knowing yourself and all of it.

    And I really REALLY did love your hair.

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