1400 Women, One Hotel, and Swag! #blogher09 (Part I)

by Melanie Edwards on July 27, 2009 · 20 comments

in Blogging

I left the house late. Then the truck tires needed air. I had forgotten my checkbook. My very first BlogHer conference trip could have had a smoother start.

Thankfully the chocolate milk gods fixed it all after gulping down a nice bottle of NesQuik chocolate milk. (And no I didn’t get anything for saying that! I just love NesQuik. And how STUPID is it that I just had to interrupt my thought to disclaim that.) Frak. Where was I? Oh…milk. Right. Anyway, after my chocolate milk woke me up and calmed me down, I made it to the airport in time and flew to Chicago with my Orlando chicas Angie and Shari.

The Windy City

When we arrived in Chicago, we met up with Lotus of Sarcastic Mom and then ended up having to wait 45 minutes for the car Angie had reserved to pick us up. You’d think with a reservation, you wouldn’t have to wait. Right? So we ditched the reservation and picked up a cab instead.

Step off the cab and get immediately hugged by VDog (who I’ve never met before). Apparently, that is how folks roll at BlogHer. Run inside. Check in. Run upstairs. Drop luggage. Run back downstairs to meet with Jessica Braun of Edelman for a Quaker volunteer opportunity. Crap! Is this how the rest of the weekend will be?

Gotta Love Mango

Sarah, Devra, Vanessa, Anne-Marie, and I headed out to the Washburne Culinary Institute to volunteer with Common Threads, a non-profit organization which has partnered with Quaker. The Common Threads summer camp teaches 8-11 year old mini chefs about world cuisine and kitchen skills. We all helped the kids cook some Caribbean cuisine. Which means we used a lot of mango. The kids were awesome. They all payed attention when the chefs introduced the dishes they’d be preparing and they had great kitchen skills. What I loved the most is that the kids are getting introduced to different cultures from around the world through food. Because really, what better way to learn about a culture and its history than learning about their food? The second most awesome thing I loved? The kids were in the kitchen from the very beginning to the end: prep work, cutting, cooking, and cleaning up.  I can only hope they go home and help out the same way after camp. ;) Top Chef Chicago winner Stephanie Izard also stopped by and hung out with the kids for a while. She was super sweet and gave the kids tips as they worked on their food.

Cows Must be Scarce in Chicago

After the Quaker event, it was back to the hotel and preparing for the onslaught of parties that were kicking off the conference. Because I hadn’t really eaten all day and was already feeling tired, I decided not to go to the SocialLuxe Lounge party and instead hung out at the hotel for a bit before dinner. I heard SocialLuxe had some great swag though.

Dinner was a $10 burger and $4 soda. Man! Chicago is expensive! Then off to the People’s Party hosted by The Bloggess, Velveteen Mind, Mrs. Fussypants, Izzy Mom, Motherbumper, and Playgroupie.

The Parties

Though the party started at 8:30, folks were lined up at the door well before that. It’s just like when you line up in front of the club waiting to get inside cause [insert artist-who-plays-at-club’s name here] is playing that night. Only 10 times worse because it’s like a thousand women (and one man) trying to get their hands on a swag bag. It’s a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Or a man’s. But not this man.

And then…when the club doors open – I mean the ballroom doors…it’s a mad dash inside. Grab your bag. Grab your free drink ticket. Spend the rest of the time saying, “Excuse me. Sorry. Did my bag just hit you?” Once you get past all that though, you mingle. And you talk to the sponsors. But you don’t dance. It’s not that type of party. Which boggles my mind because music was playing. And where I come from, you dance when music’s playing. I’m just saying.

Not two hours later though, it’s off to the next party. They really need to rethink calling these things parties. Again, I’m  just used to a different meaning of the word I guess. Anywho, it was time for the Room 704 party hosted by the Room 704 ladies.

And once again it was a mass amount of women all crowded together like a mosh pit waiting to get their swag bag and little bunnies. Except that this time we weren’t waiting to get inside a particular room, but rather were all crowded around in an open area of the hotel’s lobby floor. Once we got our bags, everyone pretty much went their own way. People were tired from having traveled that day, attending various parties/events, and all the commotion from the “parties.” Some mingling occurred, but you could see everyone was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. And left feeling “empty,” if I can use that word.

Was that it? Is this how the conference will be? It’s certainly not what I expected. This so far has not been fun.

Crashing

I went back to my room exhausted, confused, and disappointed. This was not what I had envisioned the conference would be like. Perhaps that was the problem. I had all these ideas of how things would be and had set myself up for disappointment when they didn’t turn out that way. A friend also reminded me that the conference itself had not actually begun yet and so we needed to keep that in perspective.

So, tomorrow would be another day. It would be the actual first day of the conference and I resolved to have a better time. I had to meet more people and have a good time. My way.

***Pictures to come later. Come back Wednesday for day two of my BlogHer 2009 trip.***

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica Mueller July 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Melanie,

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to your upcoming posts because I’m seriously considering conference attendance in the future. I’ve never been and I want to be sure the money I spend and the time away from my family is well worth it.

If you have a few minutes I’d really appreciate it if you’d look over my post, To Conference, or Not To Conference? http://www.ericasays.com/?p=1071 where I’m weighing the sides and asking for advice/experience, etc from those who’ve been before!

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

@Erica Mueller, Erica, I think my future posts on BlogHer will help you out more than this one. This one was on my first day there which was mainly just parties, events, and hanging out. The actual conference hadn’t begun yet. Short answer: If you make it work for you, yes, it’s worth the money and time away.

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Melissa Multitasking Mama July 28, 2009 at 8:50 am

You make a really good point that the conference had not started yet- maybe that will get the image of the streaker out of my mind :P

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 6:19 pm

@Melissa Multitasking Mama, I missed naked Jenny! I think that’s what I saw her name is. Saw the tweets about it but I was already in my room trying to unwind. Did we meet? I haven’t gone through business cards yet so can’t remember everyone that I met! ;)

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Belle July 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Great Post!

Thanks for sharing such interesting insight into BlogHer ’09! It seems like it was lots of fun. I’d love to got to next year’s event!

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 6:21 pm

@Belle, Next year it will be in NYC! I’m sure it will be a blast. Hope you can make it.

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VDog July 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Awwww, sorry you didn’t have fun! It was great to hug you. :P

The people that stayed past the Swag Hag madness had a really good time at The Room 704 Party and were even treated to a streaker!

Because of the limitations of what the Sheraton had to offer us in terms of space and AV equipment, we ended up with a “cocktail mixer” instead of a “party” but we hope despite the drawbacks that people generally enjoyed themselves.

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm

@VDog, Your hug made me feel very welcome right off the bat. Great first impression for BlogHer. I actually did stay a bit after the swag rush and mingled a little. But, I missed the streaker.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I didn’t have a bad time or anything. Your party was fine. I just came with preconceived notions of what I thought would be. That’s my bad.

Great meeting you! :)

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Jenny, Bloggess July 28, 2009 at 5:18 pm

This is why I didn’t even go to get swag at my own party. Hiding in the bathroom is much safer.

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm

@Jenny, Bloggess, Is that where you were?! Was wondering why I didn’t see you at your own party. Thanks so much for putting all that together for us though and being so friendly when I met you.

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Lucretia Pruitt July 28, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Oh!! I so much rather wish I’d been with you guys cooking with kids!! But yeah, it was an insane day that day, and I didn’t go over to Social Luxe either… despite being reminded multiple times “that there are cameras in the bag!” I mean, yeah, so? I was there for the people not for the stuff.

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 28, 2009 at 8:02 pm

@Lucretia Pruitt, Swag makes people do crazy things I guess. So happy to have met you. :)

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Shash July 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Still wish I had gone with you to the Quaker thing, but I couldn’t. Was thrilled we got to hang out some, but needed more, more, more! :)

Thanks for asking me to be your date to Nikon, and thanks for everything else. I love you mucho.

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm

@Shash, You’re a really cute date! ;) And we’ll be hanging out plenty at Type-A-Mom. Thanks for showing me the ropes!

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Susan Payton July 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I’m dying to hear the rest bc I’m the one who told you how great it was. I know you loved it in the end. Day 1 is exhausting.

How’d you hook up w/ Quaker and all that? Did they sponsor you? Did you find a roomie?? I want to know!

PS I’m trying to get to BlogWorld. Join me?

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Melanie (Modern Mami) July 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm

@Susan Payton, I will post more, promise. Have just been sick, hence the lack of post today.

Quaker invited me…or their PR company did. No, they didn’t sponsor me. I roomed with @sendchocolate.

When is BlogWorld?

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Melissa Multitasking Mama July 30, 2009 at 7:21 am

No, we didn’t get to meet. Maybe next year =)

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Catherine July 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Well I couldn’t make it for the conference, sadly. Sounds like it was hectic though! Can’t wait to see pictures and read a recap of the rest of the weekend. How was the family while you were away?

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Melanie (Modern Mami) August 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

@Catherine, The family was fine from what I can tell. My husband does a good job of taking care of our daughter, even if it means he doesn’t take good care of himself.

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