Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: BlogHer '11

After camp I had a few days to clean up and get ready to fly to San Diego to attend this year's BlogHer Conference. First things first: I flew out of Provo instead of Salt Lake. I know, there are some who would say, "But don't you have to switch planes in Denver?" to which I answer, "Yes, but I don't have to drive to Salt Lake." "But you have to fly to Denver." "But I DON'T have to DRIVE to SALT LAKE." Some will understand my logic, others will not; even so, being fewer than three miles from my airport was most excellent. As it happened, there was a delay in Denver. Like, a six-hour delay. But I didn't complain because getting to San Diego wasn't so important that I would want to get on the airplane with the cracked windshield; waiting for the alternate aircraft was just fine by me. Also, the extra time in the airport gave me time to rest, as well as put some finishing touches on my presentation.

Once on the plane, I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was going through some papers in her folder, which papers turned out to be the BlogHer schedule. I asked her if it was her first BlogHer, and I don't even remember her answer, but her name is Chris Bird and I really like her. I saw her several times throughout the conference, very interesting since there were 3,600 attendees. During the flight, she had a paper with my face on it (as an ad for the BlogHer Conferences), and the other person in our row pointed at it and asked, "Isn't that her?" gesturing to me. Check me out, all Rock Star. Chris and I shared a cab to the hotel, too. She's great.

I checked in at the Marriott Marquis & Marina, and arrived in my room to find my three roommates (Cabesh, Queen Scarlett, and Mrs. Organic) already checked in. Hugs and greetings, and I --HOLY CRAP, DID YOU SEE OUR ROOM? Cabesh scored us a corner room with two walls of windows. I even took pictures.

Speaking of pictures, you won't see many from me from San Diego. Really. The benefit of carrying around your camera is that you can take pictures, but the alternative is not having to carry around your camera, which is what I chose to do this trip.

We walked to dinner; we had reservations at a place called Oceanaire where I enjoyed the scallops. Walking back to the hotel I got a very dirrrty offer from a guy hanging out with the pedicab drivers, and decided to wash it off in the pool. I realized, in the warmth of the pool, feeling the ocean breeze, that it was the first time all summer that I was swimming without a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old at my sides, and it was glorious. In (and near) the hot tub we met up with Allison, Rachael, Marie, Kami, and even Laurie.

I kind of felt, when I got there, that I wasn't going to do too much until after my session on Friday, so Thursday was spent taking things slowly. I was able to enjoy a breakfast with my brother- and sister-in-law and their three boys who happened to be vacationing in San Diego, and it was great to see them. I did catch up with Jyl before going to a Top Secret FlashMob Rehearsal that day, and then it was on to the Speakers' Meeting. As the microphone was passed around for introductions, what began as Name-Blog-Session Title quickly evolved into Name-Blog-Qualifications-Experiences-Titles-Honors-Publications-Session Title. I felt a little silly, not having traveled across an ocean, nor being The Ambassador For Anything, so when it was my turn I said, "It's really humbling to be amongst you strong women (and men) who are doing and teaching so many life changing things. My name is Jenny Eckton, my blog is formerly phread, and the name of my session is: Lose Your Inhibitions, Live Your Dreams, Learn The 'Single Ladies' Dance." The response, instead of silence, was applause and some howyousay, whoops and hoots. It was great. That night brought a need to dress up in what they call a LBD (but not too L, mine did have sleeves), and I went to a party. Was told by my friend Stephanie Schwab that I "clean up good." At this party, I won a smurf doll for the kids, and then, not knowing too many people there, took a pedicab back to the hotel. The pedicab ride was fun, I shared it with two women, and when I asked where they were from, one answered, "South Carolina," while the other, sheepishly, replied, "Southern Utah."

I replied, "St. George? Cedar City?"

She perked up and answered, "St. George," I think she was surprised that I would know the names of those places.

I explained, "I live in Provo."

South Carolina Girl asked, "Are you a Mormon?"


They exchanged glances. "So is she," SC said, motioning to St. George.

St. George then asked, "Do you know [name withheld]?"

"Yes, in fact, I do know her. What a nice girl she is."

St. George got excited, and then scared: "She's my best friend, we grew up together. PLEASE don't tell her that I was drinking tonight! Please. Please don't tell her."

I laughed. "I am not the boss of you or your drinking or your being a Mormon."

Sorry, St. George, I don't even remember your name. But you're cute. Maybe stop drinking, if you don't want to own it though, mmmkay? We're grownups, right?

That night I stopped in at The People's Party. Fox was there promoting Glee, and so I volunteered to "Learn How To Dougie" with the two girls dressed as Cheerios (from Glee, not the cereal). As I was dancing, and the girls were saying to me, "Wow, you already know this, don't you?" a helpful inebriated woman raised her glass to me and yelled (from six feet away), "Don't quit your day job!" I looked at her and responded, "Wow, that was really great, thanks for saying that. My 'Day Job' is to teach a dance class tomorrow."

Friday, I ate breakfast with a wonderful group of women (thanks again, Stephanie!), and then for lunch had a couple of Excedrin with caffeine. I went to the conference's Designated Lunch Area at about 11:45, and at approximately 12:15, I took part in the following:

View more videos at: http://www.nbcsandiego.com.

Operation Glory

Yeah. Awesome.

After that excitement, I went back to my room to change in to my workout/dance clothes and gather all I'd need for my session. I walked to my session room and sat in the hall with my laptop, my headphones, and I stretched and meditated. For a long time. It was time well spent, though, because by the time 2:30 rolled around, I was ready.

My session went really excellently. I was straining to be focused, at the same time on the verge of needing to be pinched to make sure that it was really happening. In truth, my session was in a time slot which put me up against some pretty awesome speakers, and that made me even more grateful to those who chose to attend my session. I did a brief presentation about My Own History With Dance, and then we got to work dancing. We ended up going about ten minutes over the scheduled time, but WE DID IT. Thanks to Gene The Tech Guy for being awesome with all the A/V stuff. And a MILLION THANKS to all who attended my session. I hope it was as worth it for you as it was for me.

That night my hotel roommates and Jill and I attended the SparkleCorn Party, which was alright except for one little aspect: the DJ. See, he was a skilled DJ alright, but he wasn't there for us to dance; he was there to show of his stuff, to Get Discovered, and the result was a lot of scratching and mixing (if I had to give him grades, he'd get a B in scratching and a D in mixing). At a dance party, people want to dance (and sing along) to an entire song, not the beginning of five songs at once which never finish. We left the party early in favor of some sleep, which was the right choice.

Saturday I spent some time in the Expo Hall (one of my favorites: the P&G area, since I'm Brand-Loyal to so many of their items), and got some false lashes at the Skinny Cow booth. How they linked False Lashes with Diet Ice Cream, I'm not certain. But it worked for me, and I enjoyed those lashes into the night.
Dancing Duckface Sleeping Eyelash photo by Kristen Howerton

I did decide that afternoon to attend an actual BlogHer session (the only one other than my own that I attended), and it was a panel discussion about Beauty and Changing The Discussion and all that. Stephanie was one of the panelists, and as I walked up to the convention center I saw her getting out of her car (it probably seemed to her like I was waiting for her, but I promise I wasn't). I called out to her, and we walked to her session room together. Karen was also on the panel, but I didn't know anyone else who was presenting. It was great to sit with Julie and Kristen during the session. I have to say, and I do so without pandering: Stephanie made the statement most pertinent to the session's topic when she said, "The best way to feel better about ourselves is to serve others, because when we are serving we feel and become more beautiful." (Was it the only thing said during that session which is actually 'changing the conversation'? I think so. The rest of what was said is what has been said over and over for a while, which is not changing the conversation. In my opinion.) After that session, I walked Stephanie back to her family, who was waiting exactly where they had dropped her off, and then I went to find Jessica Bern. Man, I love that Jessica Bern. I did take one photo of her, even though she (clearly) didn't want me to, while we were in the Hershey's Suite actually roasting marshmallows.

Knowing I would need energy for dancing that night, I went on the lookout for a dinner companion or two. Stephanie and Tina were in the hotel's restaurant, so I invited myself to take a seat and ordered a delicious flatbread with mushrooms and arugula. After dinner and delightful conversation, I headed to the nearby Aiming Low party where I got a massage and may or may not have picked up a bottle of wine to immediately give to Aimee. I realized that it was time for the CheeseburgHer party to begin, so I headed upstairs, hit the dance floor, and stayed there (with minimal breaks for drinks of water and such) until 1:am-ish. It was the best dance party at BlogHer '11, no contest. Excellent DJ, beautiful and involved hostesses. I can only imagine what it will be like next year when the party is BACK in New York City!

Sunday, we ate breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake House, and then checked out of the hotel. Mrs. Organic gave us a tip about scoring a free limo ride to the airport, so we did, and said our goodbyes.

Landing in Provo, I phoned Darin. By the time I was off of the plane, he was waiting for me in the parking lot. Perfection.

Thanks, BlogHer '11, for a wonderful weekend.

Will I be seeing you in New York next year?


Naomi said...

It sounds like you had a great weekend, I'm glad your class went well!

Geo said...

Baby, you're a star. And a bright one!

Nicole said...

Awesome recap of a great conference. I loved attending your session and learning the Single Ladies dance. I think I can do about 50% of it now.

Also, thanks for coming up to me and saying "You look really pretty today." It made my day...as I was in a little pity party funk about how much weight I'd gained since the last BlogHer. Everytime you saw me, there was a smile and hello. That meant so much to me.

~j. said...

Naomi - thank you! I don't think I realized how anxious I had been until it was over. What a rush!

~j. said...

Geo - Takes one to know one. Twinkle twinkle!

~j. said...

Nicole - I'm so glad you were there, both at the conference and in my session. So nice to see you!

La Yen said...


Living the Scream said...

I loved reading your recap. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to Blogher next year. Your session sounded awesome. I want to learn the singles ladies dance! You should teach a class locally! I so would be there!

Mrs. Organic said...

Your class was so fun! And you are a dancing/roomie superstar.

Chris Bird said...

Nice recap, Jenny! You've inspired me to sit down and write my own, lest I forget most of it. The one thing I won't forget it is meeting you and the serendipity of our chance encounters all weekend! I agree the DJ at Sparklecorn sucked. I was so excited to see you jump up on stage to dance to "All the Single Ladies" (you left that out. ;-)) and the DJ had to ruin it with all his mixing and scratching!

Yes! I'm coming to NYC! And, this time I hope to still have the energy by Saturday night to stay up for CheesburgHer. Sounds like I missed the best party of them all!

We'll see you in the Big Apple! ;-)