obligatory head-still-spinning post-blogher12 post: what I learned

Within the span of the last month I have been on safari in Kenya, a water park in Lafayette Indiana, a friend’s house in Easthampton NY, a small rental apartment in New York’s East Village, and BlogHer12 in midtown Manhattan. After careful consideration, I’d say that in terms of sheer stimulus overload, BlogHer12 wins, hands-down.

Throw whatever metaphor you want at BlogHer–prom, high-school lunchroom, convention, sideshow, circus–and you’ll find that almost any of them will work to explain at least some aspect of the conference, which pulled in more than 4000 writers/bloggers over the span of three days. That’s a whole lot of bandwidth. The blue BlogHer banner commands enough respect that President Obama addressed the crowd (Mitt was invited but apparently couldn’t fit it into his schedule. Something about having to attend a mandatory “how not to offend foreign heads of state” remedial seminar or something).

Why did I go to BlogHer? Well, I was curious, mostly; and I was going to be in New York that weekend anyway; and I figured that after four years of writing this blog, I should try to swim in the big kids’ pool.

What did I expect? Um…that I’d write a book proposal at the Pathfinders Session on Thursday, sell the proposal on Friday, be on the “Today” show on Monday, best-seller list on Tuesday.

Can you believe? It didn’t happen.

The stimulus overload, though? Yeah, that happened.

Was it Obama addressing the conference on live video feed? Katie Couric, Martha Stewart, Christie Turlington, Soledad O’Brien, Malaak Compton-Rock, talking about how women can change the world? Or the readers from Voices of the Year, who made me laugh, cry, and consider taking up embroidery because they were so intimidatingly good. And then, of course, there was swag that ranged from toys for kids (Hot Wheels) to toys for adults (did you know Trojan sells a whole line of “personal vibes?” Not sure I’d have the guts to ask the teenaged cashier at Walgreens to grab it off the shelf, but maybe you will.)

Oh and also? There were panels on every topic from video-blogging to podcasting, from writing about kids to writing erotica, but the professionalism of the panels varied as widely as the topics themselves, from wow that’s really exciting to did you plan your talk on a napkin at breakfast? (Ado at the Momalog has a great post here about the panels.)

I learned a few things in the midst of all this stimulus overload: I learned that there are bloggers who write, and writers who blog. It’s a bit like “vacation” and “family trip“: on the surface, these things might look the same, but each has a very different purpose.

I also learned that even though the BlogHer Sparklecorn party is justifiably famous, living on the north side of forty (as I do) makes it hard to sparkle your corn (even if you’re wearing your favorite gold clogs) in a room jammed with loud music, long bar lines, and twenty-somethings in tutus and glow-sticks.  Even unicorn cake couldn’t tempt me:

Here’s what else I learned: If a willowy blonde comes over and says something to you while you’re frantically trying to save seats for Obama’s opening speech, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about saying “I didn’t hear you.” Because if you just nod and smile and continue to scan the room for the fifteen different people you’re trying to find (in a room that holds hundreds), then later you’re going to feel like a complete ass. Because when you sparklecorn yourself out of the party and down to the more civilized hotel bar, a blonde in a fantastic dress will say “oh yes, we met,” and you’ll say “no we haven’t,” and she’ll say “yep, we have,” and then you’ll realize that the woman you ignored at Obama’s speech is none other than the marvelous Marinka, who had been on your list of people-I-hope-I-meet-but-probably-won’t-because-she’s-one-of-the-cool-kids.

What else did I learn at BlogHer?  I did learn something quite fantastic, and it wasn’t the advice I got about writing and publishing. Much of that advice I already knew, although it’s always good to be reminded.

What I learned at BlogHer came from the generous, funny, intelligent writers I met during my three days, with whom I had fantastic conversations about politics, families, writing and shoes; we took silly photographs and drank too much mediocre wine (and a few pink martinis, courtesy of the Mouthy Housewives and Aiming Low).  I’m talking to you Suniverse, and Empress, and Squashed (who read her piece so beautifully during the Voices of the Year celebration that she reduced the room to tears); and to you Mutterschwester, Book4MyDaughter, Millenial Monster, Outlaw Mama, Momalog, and Random Handprints.  I’m talking about bonding over the brilliance of Crowded House with Midlife Mixtape, being flattered beyond belief that Wendi Aarons had heard of my blog, and laughing until I cried at Arnebya’s hysterical Chipotle post.

These women and the many others I talked to taught me that the phrase “the blogging community” is not a metaphor. It is what my almost-eight year old would call a “true fact.”


Alexandra (aka The Empress) suggested I let people know that I respond to comments. My responses to your comments should pop up in your email box, but if that doesn’t work (yeah, I skipped the panel on tech-administration, yep, I did), please check back to continue the conversation. Thanks!










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27 Responses to obligatory head-still-spinning post-blogher12 post: what I learned

  1. Arnebya August 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    So. Yeah. Where do I even begin? I’m trying to formulate a fitting recap, trying to make it somewhat coherent, but my site went down and I have the BlogHerflu, so…I’ll get to it. I AM SO GLAD YOU FOUND ME! I’d become wary of trying to create meet-ups, ask where people were, and then bam! you were beside me. I think I screamed. I’m sure I screamed. You made this trip exponentially better with your kind words and you’ve made me smile each day after on Twitter and now here. I suppose I am expected to come down off of this high, but if this is what crack is like I’VE BEEN MISSING OUT!

    I found your site and fell in love. Your writing, your ideas, your perception, your thoughts — you are why I keep coming back. Embroidery is overrated. Besides, I think YOU are one of the cool kids.

    • Deborah Quinn August 10, 2012 at 6:04 am #

      well here’s the thing. you also have great shoes. so there’s that. articulate, funny, AND well-shod? Well. It’s enough to make a person she could live in DC and be your real friend (I’d be the one to have said “really? chipotle? that’s not a good idea.”) I have blogher withdrawal. Is that normal?

  2. Alexandra August 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm #


    ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS , right off the bat.

    Oh, yay-yuh.



    • Deborah Quinn August 10, 2012 at 6:05 am #

      Missing you and your black manicure a whole heckuva lot. Your writing and blogging advice still rings in my mind, and I’m so glad to have met you!

  3. Jenn August 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    What a great recap! Another thing I love about BlogHer – I’m meeting even more awesome bloggers (like you) just by reading all the recap posts.

    • Deborah Quinn August 10, 2012 at 6:06 am #

      It’s funny – I didn’t see/hear the “live” Katie Couric but b/c of the twitter feed, it’s as if I was there. Best of both worlds–I sat outside in the sunshine AND “listened” to Katie & the audience. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Lisa Rae @ smacksy August 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Those gold clogs ROCKED IT.

    • Deborah Quinn August 10, 2012 at 6:08 am #

      tessaclogs.com … it’s where all the would-you-really-wear-those clogs go to be on sale. I love them – and they’re great in the rain, I swear. You’re above the puddles & the metallic wears beautifully in the rain.

  5. Ado August 10, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    This was a fabulous recap, I have just read it and saved the best for last of course. PS: Thank you for the mention(s). “Sparkle your corn” “north side of forty” – these catchy phrases are why I love your writing. You are as funny and witty in person as you are on this blog, only moreso. I was so lucky to get to finally meet you – it is rare in life that expectations of meeting someone actually are so high and then – so met. You my dear are fantastic. Also, I don’t know how many times this week I’ve name-dropped “Mannahattamamma my friend, via Kenya via India via Abu Dhabi and whose children had SCARLET FEVER would you believe!” —> just getting to mention you makes me feel so global and well-traveled. How are you children btw? Are they fully recovered now? Loved this post, and god what a great ending to a great weekend with that Chipotle post, huh?!

    • Deborah Quinn August 10, 2012 at 6:11 am #

      That chipotle post should go viral. It’s right up there with the Spelling red tide…two posts about uncontrollable bodies. There’s a theme, eh? Was DEEELITED to have met you too, fabulous Ado. My kids are fine; they just needed some drama apparently. Rash is gone, antibiotics worked, it’s all good. How are you? Was it just the hellish airconditioning? I do wish we lived nearer to one another so we could re-hash and process that whole surreal conference…when I tumbled out of there on Saturday night, I felt like a survivor of some cataclysmic event. Wild. I send you hugs!

      • Ado August 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

        So glad your kids are ok. I’m doing fine – brought it home to my child who now has it. I think i twas more than the air con, i was really sick. Fine now though and glad to be home. Yeah I wish you were next door! I had so much fun meeting you. And I LOVED that CHipotle girl and her post!!!

        • Deborah Quinn August 12, 2012 at 2:12 am #

          Yeah, that chipotle girl. All that talent, and great clothes, AND a tiny waist, AND she’s really nice. Really, if she weren’t so funny, I’d probably have to hate her just a little bit.

  6. Marinka August 10, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Im so glad you were at BlogHer and yay that we have a special “how we met” story to tell the grand kids. Xo

  7. Stasha August 10, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    You snubbed Marinka at Obama’s speech. Oh my…

    • Deborah Quinn August 12, 2012 at 2:15 am #

      I know. Like the worst social faux pas of my life. I bet even Barack was appalled, frankly. I’ll be groveling about that to her for, oh gosh, several years. And what do you think, Stash, maybe Chicago Blogher 13? I would so love to meet you in the flesh!!

  8. Erica M August 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    Has it been six or seven weeks since I’ve been to your blog? Wow, this summer has been a whirlwind. I’m glad you had a great time at BlogHer and got to meet all the cool kids. I’m making plans right now to meet you in Chicago and we should probably try for an off-site yeah write lunch? I’m typing on the fly here in your comments, but that sounds like a pretty good idea.

    Thanks for squeezing me into your busy summer. Safe travels back to the desert.

    • Deborah Quinn August 12, 2012 at 2:11 am #

      I am thinking that Chicago seems possible – I’ve got family out there and etc etc. So you’d BEST get yourself out there. I can understand missing us once, but twice? (And by us I mean this whole yeahwrite crew that you’ve created: you made us, so now you’re stuck with us.) Maybe we could be shilling the “yeahwrite guide to kickass blog posts” book?

  9. Kristin August 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I’m going to publicly admit that I’m so relieved I didn’t go to Sparklecorn. Not only because I had nothing sparkly, but also because that cake scares the glitter right out of me.

    It was a pleasure misbehaving with you and ruining the photo-booth photos with you. It’s also a pleasure to read a post in which someone was just thrilled to get what she expected (and less!) at BlogHer. And love every minute of it.

    • Deborah Quinn August 12, 2012 at 2:09 am #

      That cake could do to people what clowns do: instill a deep & abiding fear of unicorns unleashed. Those eyes…Right back atcha with the misbehaving thing; you give great sidebar chat during panels. And yes, you should put that on your resume! I thought BlogHer was exactly, both more and less than I thought it would be. Sort of like marriage, in a way, hmm?

  10. Leslie August 12, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Deborah, I loved getting to talk to you at CAYA and hear some of the details of Abu Dhabi in person. Can I tell you a secret? When I got to the top of the stairs at Sparklecorn I turned right around and went back down. It was terrifying to me. Little did I know there’d be something even more terrifying at the bottom of those stairs, but that’s a different story. I did go back a little later once it cleared out a bit, but I never danced at BlogHer. Not once. It was like an alternate universe for me. And Arnebya’s Chipotle post? Best. Poop story. Ever.

    • Deborah Quinn August 12, 2012 at 2:05 am #

      well if you don’t write a post about what was waiting for you at the bottom of the sparklecorn stairs, i’m going to lodge a protest with someone. should we make it our mission to dance at blogher chicago? i will if you will….

  11. Lady Jennie August 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Aw – I’m sure Marinka thought it was funny. Loved meeting you.

    • Deborah Quinn August 14, 2012 at 5:16 am #

      true. if one is going to commit a social faux pas, best to do so with someone who has as wicked a sense of humor as she does

  12. anna August 15, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    loved seeing you at blogher and glad i wasnt the only north of forty chic who couldnt quite get it on to sparkle my corn.

    now, when are we getting to read the books, and works-in-progress books?

    • Deborah Quinn August 15, 2012 at 6:11 am #

      Was fantastic to meet you, too, in the flesh. wish you’d stayed longer for more of those pink drinks! let’s talk about how we might do that whole work-in-progress thing…i’ll show you mine if you show me yours, so to speak…


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