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BlogHer: the skinny.

2007-08-06 - 1:29 p.m.

How can 2 ˝ hours in the air correlate to traveling for an entire day? I’ll tell you how: connecting flights and plane delays. Going there I got to the airport by 9:30 am and didn’t check into my hotel until around 5:00 pm. Coming back I left the hotel at 10:00 am and didn’t get in to Ottawa until almost 8:30 pm. Still, at least I didn’t have to get up at 4:00 am to catch my flight home like some unfortunate people.

You can read about all the actual sessions and speakers on the BlogHer site, plus there were people “liveblogging” each session, so I’ll leave the recapping to their more capable hands. For my experience over the weekend, read on…

My first impression of Chicago was a good one: a nice young fellow saw me struggling up a staircase from the train system and helped me out by carrying my suitcase for me. I mentioned, lightheartedly, that I could have made it up the stairs and he replied sincerely that he was sure that I could have, but, hey, he was there offering to help so why not? This, coupled with the friendly bus driver, really helped set the tone for my trip from the get-go.

I got in to the hotel, as I mentioned, around 5:00 pm, I unpacked like a mad thing (because if I don’t get organized right off the bat, it’ll never happen), then stopped in the lobby briefly on my way to the pool. Of course, while I was in the lobby, clad in pool garb, my hair sculpted nicely by the hat I’d worn on the plane, and just generally travel-worn, what to my wondering eye should appear? Zoot! I called her name and she delivered this blank, do-I-know-you-strange-hatheaded-lady? look. I enthusiastically proclaimed, as if this would explain everything, “I’m Shawna!” Fortunately, it explained enough ‘cause she caught me up in a welcoming hug. Whew! That could have been embarrassing!

After a dip in the pool I went to meet Nancy (plus her husband Norman and the Alien) for Mexican. It was great to hang out with such a lovely couple and talking with them was like being with old friends. And the Alien really is as smart as Nancy makes her sound! (At one point, Norman graciously took the Alien for a walk when she got restless, leaving Nancy and I to talk. This is exactly what J does for me sometimes when we’re eating with friends I haven’t had a chance to catch up with for awhile.) Like Nancy, I wish I’d been able to get a picture of the two of us. I also regret that I didn’t realize that the time I saw her in a session would be the last time I saw her for the weekend: I would have liked to say a proper goodbye.

The next morning, after waiting too long for a shuttle, my roomie Susan and I grabbed a cab with a very cool woman named Jane. Turns out, she was one of the speakers and I’m kind of glad I didn’t see her bio (there’s also one here) before encountering her, or I might have been a bit star-struck.

Now, those of you who’ve read the last few posts know I was expecting to see certain people over the weekend. What I hadn’t really considered was the possibility of actually recognizing and talking to other people I’d encountered virtually. But this is the magic of BlogHer. The first morning, during the opening remarks, I sat down with my breakfast and scanned the table… only to do a double-take and declare,
“I know you! You’re Tracey Clark from Picture This!”
“Do I know you?”
“I’m the one who posted a picture of my daughter in a chicken suit, sitting in a pumpkin patch last Halloween and you linked to it!”
“I do know you!”

I also successfully stalked and found the fabulous Ms. Bix! And she is every bit as cool as I expected, and even nicer and more approachable. I missed her on the first pass through the cocktail reception because, well, to be honest, I had no idea that she was so tall! In my defense, the few pictures I’ve seen of her have men (including her husband) towering above her. Apparently there is a race of giants in Wisconsin.

I just want to give a nod to the afternoon snack organizers on the second day: I LOVED the carnival theme of hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and pretzels. Way, way better than the usually dessert-y nibbles and coffee that is standard fare at these things.

Of course, no summer camp conference would be complete without randomly running into strangers and finding out that, hey, they’re pretty cool and we should totally stay in touch, and then by the end you’re practically signing each other’s swag with “BFF!” I have a stack of business cards from cool people that I have even yet to unpack, but off the top of my head I’m sending shout-outs to:

The wonderful (and I hope she doesn’t mind if I call her adorable too, ‘cause I mean that in a 100% positive way) Jen Lemen;

The sweet and enthusiastic Andrew and Krista from Photrade (go check this site out if you have aspirations to sell, or buy, photographs.);

Marilyn from Slackermama. If you only count awake hours, I think I spent the most time with her and Zoot this weekend, and I know it would have been a very different – and nowhere near as fun – conference without these two. Marilyn, you can make fun of my Canadian accent anytime. (Zoot, however, you’d better keep that whole “glass houses” thing in mind, my friend. As I said, I knew you were from Alabama, but yet, in my head, I’d never captured your accent when reading your blog…)

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