The first thing I would suggest to you, should you find yourself preparing to attend an event involving a couple thousand strangers, is that you borrow or steal a baby to bring with you.
The baby should be somewhere between two and seven months old; he or she needs to be cute (to attract maximum attention yet divert same away from you, especially if your hair is a disaster like mine), immobile (you don't want to spend the whole time trying to contain a rogue crawler), able to sleep in high-decibel conditions (since once you find your people you'll want to be able to chat your face off without having to entertain the infant as well) and equally able to smile/coo/wriggle as your icebreaker needs arise (awkward pause? baby steps in to do something cute! everybody wins). The baby should also need occasional attention from you -- pretty much any baby will fulfill this requirement -- so that, when you find yourself left out of a conversation or otherwise without a friendly face nearby, you can change a diaper, give a bottle or, in extreme cases, whip out your boob as a distraction.
I would also suggest that, if it's over 90 degrees with 90-some percent humidity, you not walk (like a COMPLETE FOOL) over two miles to the venue of such an event, as extreme sweatiness is likely to ensue (especially if you are a sufferer of Severe Post-Partum Perspiration (SPPP)). Please learn from my mistake.
On Friday morning, I strolled Felicity down through the park, all the way to freaking Midtown, in the soupiest, most disgusting stickiness of the summer, on the theory that she needed to nap before being subjected to a full day of conference-going. She did, indeed, sleep on the way there, but a mile into the walk I was absolutely drenched from head to toe (WHEN is the SPPP going to end? Ever? Am I going to sweat like an elephant for the rest of my LIFE?) and my hair was in A State from which it may never fully recover. When I arrived at the Hilton, I looked positively horrid, as if I'd just stumbled in from a trek through the murkiest rainforest on Earth. There was severe frizzing involved, and I am certain that I emitted a stale and unpleasant odor.
Despite my grievous error in judgment, I pressed on through the hotel lobby and, after a panicked call to Jonna, a crowded elevator ride, and a trip to the wrong floor, I found my way to check-in, acquired my swag bag, and got a chance to hug Jes when she spotted me and came over to say hi, which was SO kind and helped to quell my brimming horror at having thrust myself into a situation involving enormous expanses filled wall-to-wall with unfamiliar faces.
I perused the conference guide and, overwhelmed by the choices and all.the.people, retreated to the lactation lounge. When Jonna and Jennie finally found me, I adhered myself to them in relief and basically did not leave their side for the ensuing two days. The two of them, by the way, look and act like sisters -- in every way, a good thing -- and are absolute pros at introducing people (i.e., me) around and including everyone in conversations. And well, you already know how I feel about Jonna, and now I have sort of an embarrassing level of fondness for Jennie, considering we just met, like, 48 hours ago.
After a Starbucks run and a visit to the park, we braved the conference once again and ended up hanging out with Jonna's friend Liz of Hello Ladies -- a complete delight. Anna also found us (through Jonna, of course) and several times I had to keep myself from going over and just grabbing her arm because she is so funny and smart and perceptive (and pretty -- you guys, EVERYONE I met this weekend was gorgeous and I am not making that up/blowing sunshine up anyone's butt; I am sure most people imagine a blogging event to be awash in nerds, and to some degree they may be right in terms of bloggers being smart and verbal and all that, but damn these are the finest-looking nerds I've ever seen). And Julie sat with us for a while and was all cute and funny, and dude, my boobs were out pretty much during this whole span of time because Felicity decided she was not in a Formula Mood. So that's fun for introductions.
At some point thereafter (and I could well be forgetting a whole chunk of time and more people, but if so I swear it is not a reflection on how memorable anyone was but rather on what a DIM BULB I am), we headed down to the lobby lounge to get a snack, and I got to meet Suebob, who I positively adore and could have hugged all day for all the loveliness and warmth she radiates; and TwoBusy, who is hilarious and deftly handled being one of about five guys at the whole shebang; and then I spotted Leah and Linda across the lobby and had one of those running-through-a-field-with-arms-thrown-wide moments as I rushed over to hug them, and oh, how I love those women and wish I could have stolen them away to force them to talk to me and only me, if just for a short while. Oh! And Alexa! I sat with Alexa and couldn't stop grinning, because...Alexa! Also The New Girl, who is so fun and cool and has great hair.
Throughout all this, Felicity was A-MAZING. She was so so so good, and I felt like an ass for having portrayed her as such a Screamy McCrabbypants. She made a liar out of me, in other words, as little girls are wont to do vis-a-vis their mothers. But I was grateful, because if a kid is going to pick a time to be a total angel-baby, then a huge social gathering is the one you want.
Anyway, so we all talked and talked, and eventually it was time for the keynote, where I finally ran into the darling and wondrous Holly (we did not have enough TIME together, woe!) and met the sweet and funny Anne (who was Felicity's FAVORITE person ever; she had the baby giggling and squealing and oh, it was so cute!). And my friend Metalia absolutely rocked the house when she did her "New Moon" rap, which was worth the price of the conference in itself. Then on my swing-through of the art auction before I rushed home to put the baby to bed, I met Mar, who has the prettiest red hair and couldn't have been more gracious.
On Day Two, I presented myself at the hotel for Alexa's book signing, but got there just as the last copy sold. Doh! But I did get to meet the famous Heather B., who gives great hugs and has an aura of total fabulosity. And then I grabbed Leah's arm and made her talk to me for a while.
While Leah and I were standing there discussing how certain bloggers, such as The Pioneer Woman, would cause a stir if they came to BlogHer, out of the corner of my eye I saw this wall of people coming off the elevators toward us. As they approached, I realized that none other than Ree herself was among them, and when she was a few feet away from me I basically shouted, "IT'S THE PIONEER WOMAN!" and she paused, no doubt to see what lunatic was accosting her, and as I threw myself at her in what I'm sure was the world's most aggressive hug, I babbled, "Hi, Ree! I'm Meredith -- er, Lawyerish! And we used to correspond [what the what? like we were pen pals?] back in the day [??] and we were both ballerinas and! and! and!" She smiled and said, "Of course I know you" and she also knew Leah, and I believe that was when I blurted out, "My husband loves your meatloaf!" but fortunately Felicity was being really cute so Ree was distracted by her gurgly smiles.
And I'm telling this story, by the way, not to be all Fan Girl-y and weird, but rather because Ree and I started blogging at almost the exact same time and we used to comment on each other's sites and had this little kinship over having been small-town, red-headed ballet dancers (and my love of Little House on the Prairie made me instantly riveted by her accounts of ranch life) so I feel like I've known her for all these years and watched her from afar as she's turned her once-little blog into what it is today. And I think she's handled the hugeness of her media presence incredibly gracefully, which not everyone can pull off. So anyway, it was just fun and a nice moment to see her in person even though I acted kind of like an idiot.
OH MY GOD THIS IS LONG.
So anyway! The other gems I met that day were Pseudostoops (a tall, funny, elegant fellow lawyer) and Sara (a tiny, adorable, hilarious fellow mom) and Maura (another tall, smart, fun fellow lawyer!) and now my brain is on FIRE because I am sure I met other awesome people but my powers of recollection are failing me. We all had lunch at a deli, where some of us rather loudly overshared about our birth stories and horrified the other patrons (not to mention Pseudostoops). That evening was the Style Lush happy hour, then I ran home to drop off the munchkin and went back in time to check out the famed Sparklecorn and CheeseburgHer parties. I have to say, I am officially too old for loud, dark parties because all I wanted was to ditch the din of music (I could not hear a THING in there) and whisk all of my newfound friends to a quiet place where we could all sit and talk for DAYS. And that's pretty much what Jonna and Jennie and I did -- hit the lobby bar and drank overpriced Champagne and laughed until I had to put myself into a cab so as not to be too surly when the baby woke up at 5:30.
All in all, I had such a warm feeling from the whole event. No, I didn't attend any sessions and I didn't stay long at the parties (nor was I invited to any fancy private parties), but I got everything I wanted out of the conference -- I met people who I feel like I've known for years, and the affinity I had for them through their sharing of their lives on this here Internet was totally borne out and bolstered by seeing how terrific they are in "real life." And as an added bonus, I met new folks who will be friends from here on out. It's a crazy thing, to be a part of this little blogging world, when all I meant to do back in 2005 was start a site where I could tell stories about funny little things from my childhood and life and maybe my mom and Allison would read along. And now I have all of you, whether or not you were at BlogHer.