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I'm not sure I could adequately describe the past four days in a word count that you would want to read. I was overwhelmed right after arriving at the hotel. The lobby was full of women. I admittedly went into this thing with a ton of preconceived notions, some of which were confirmed, others were not. A situation is what you make of it and I wanted to have a good time and meet people. I wasn't quite sure what to expect; I know that a whole lot of political jockeying goes on at these sorts of things and that sometimes, to some people, your value is determined by your traffic. When you meet people from the internet for the first time you are never sure if you're meeting the "real" person behind the writing or the carefully constructed persona. I don't think I ran across any of those folks in my padded corner of the conference.

I'd never before been to Blogher and while I know a lot of bloggers online, knowing them offline is a different story. Luckily, I was in Jersey for the Johnson's baby camp thing and I consider it a mock-run. There I'd met some women that I would hang out with in real life.

My flight left St. Louis at an ungodly hour on Friday morning. What I learned this weekend:

1. The homeless people in San Francisco are wicked creative and refreshingly honest. Leaving a café on Geary Street I passed a man with "NEED MONEY FOR ALCOHOL RESEARCH" scrawled on a piece of cardboard. Another time I passed a homeless mime while walking to the Macy's party. A homeless MIME. He stood on a milk crate, arm outstretched, with a tin cup in his hand. Here in St. Louis (and just about everywhere else I've been) the bums scream 'GIMMIE SOME MONEY!" while shaking an empty forty at you. That, or they make up some sob story about how they need money for bills/gas/food. Did I ever tell you the time I gave one of those dudes $5 for while in the drive-thru line at McD's only to watch him walk to the liquor store across the street? Yeah.

2. It is very weird to get your party on in the furniture department of a Macy's.

3. Speaking of Macy's, thew San Francisco Macy's is the fanciest Macy's I've ever seen in my life. Our Macy's here in St. Louis is g-h-e-t-t-o compared to what they have going on over there in Union Square. The floors were marble, they had huge pieces of sculpture everywhere, and I was afraid to touch anything.

5. San Francisco is humid and cold and whenever I went outside my curls kinked up and I looked like I walked out of a Soul Glo commercial.

6. I adore Tracey and Catherine more than ever. I had the best time with them over the weekend and I wish that we weren't scattered across the continent. They are genuine and so much fun. I appreciate people who say what they think rather than only saying what advances their interests. I will drink free champagne and eat bacon-flavored cheese by the Ed Hardy bags with them anytime. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to put Catherine's baby Jasper on a cracker and stuff him in my mouth.

I also met Amy for the first time in-person and instantly felt like I've known her for years. I also met this lovely lady for the first time; she is an absolute blast. I also cannot say enough about Isabel - her hospitality and Alphamom suite saved my sanity. It was a sanctuary compared with the insaneness of the conference space; she wore her fabulous heels and stuffed everyone full of cupcakes, lattes, pizza, and cheeseburgers - and not with PR pitches. She also had non-diet soda, a rarity at Blogher.

8. That one time? At baby camp? When we all flipped open our laptops at the nervous corporate speakers and typed out whatever smart-alecked thought that popped into our heads without any thought as to how intimidating we looked to the speaker? Fate has a wonderful way of handling paybacks. When I walked into my panel it was filling up. Fast. It ended up being standing/sitting room only. I am what I call a "fence-sitting extrovert." I am bubbly and outgoing when needed, not all of the time. I can turn it on when I'm behind the mic for my own show, or speaking; this was different because all the people in my panel (There's More to Monetization Than Advertising) were my peers. I knew what their thought processes would be because I've thought the same in other panels. Thankfully, doing radio has given me a massive set of balls when it comes to public speaking. I opened my notes up on my laptop in case I had a brain fart or I needed a nice segue. I thought it went great. Here are links to the session's liveblogs.

9. Kristen is an absolutely fabulous roommate. She's snarky, hysterical, and I just love her to bits. I first met her in D.C. three or so years ago and we've kept in touch ever since. She and I made the perfect good-cop-team when confronting the Westin after the hotel charged me $1,000 for our room. While I dialed my tone back to one decibel below all-out rage while growling "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE" to the scared guy at the front desk, Kristen said in her best syrupy-sweet voice "Yeah, you know, we're just going to have to take care of this and I think you probably want to find someone with the adequate means to assist us." Julie the Manager saved the day and got the bunk charges removed from my account.

10. Bangs were good. Lots of people liked.

11. My only gripe about the event came during a discussion on how to increase traffic. Bloggers wanted to know if there was some sort of magical way to attract PR attention, more readers, the Magi, blah blah and the whole time the little voice in my head is yelling: "WTF? What about WRITING WELL??" You can kiss as much ass as you want, fawn over whomever you want as a way to siphon traffic, try SEO tricks, but the bottom line is that people won't continually read if your content sucks. The End.

12. I became reacquainted with why I started keeping a diary of my life online. It wasn't to be miss popular, it wasn't to get chummy with PR firms or corporations, it wasn't to fast-track my way to this or that; I started my website because I wanted to write, I've done it all my life, it's the only way I know how to work through things, and I thought that if anybody bothered to read they would keep me sharp and honest. It's ironic to me how such a solitary pursuit has come to mean "community" simply because of the medium.

13. San Francisco was beautiful and all, but whenever I visit another city I'm reminded just how much I love St. Louis. Even when it's a trillion degrees.

14. All of my camera batteries were dead even though I recharged them before I left St. Louis, thus I ended up using my Palm Centro for most of them. Here are Tracey's photos; hers are better. Also, here is my Flickr photo set; I'm still adding to it. Now my brain is shutting off.


Yeah. I am, like, so totally in love with you now that it hurts.

The end.

Man, I'm so jealous. The first time this trip didn't coincide with my own work trip, it ends up coinciding with a planned vacation with my family.

Living vicariously through you. Love the bangs.

For some reason this year felt harder than the last Blogher in Chicago. I just didn't know anyone my first year (i.e. didn't care)and so it was pretty laid back.

If I go next year I'm re-reading Mean Girls Grow Up before I leave. Not because there were "mean girls". But to remind myself not to get sucked into the social anxiety vortex and mini-dramas of the event. So I could just enjoy meeting writers that I like and call it a day.

Maybe I can work out some kind of signal ahead of time so I can alert others who don't want to deal too.

Would an air-horn be too much?

I'm really going to try to go next year, so thanks for the tips.

Writing well - what a concept. Too bad you didn't say it. Imagine the uproar.

Hah! Let me say, as an SEO writer, I TOTALLY AGREE that good writing is key to traffic. And I wish more people understood it. All the SEO tricks in the book are next-to-worthless if your users don't STAY once they arrive.

Of course, a number of really good writers do toil in obscurity. Which is too bad. Some blog success really is just due to luck. Or, just like in real life, knowing popular people.

I can't believe I drove through St. Louis and didn't meet you. How rotten is that? I'm not sure what part you are from, but what I saw was SCARY. The river was out of its banks and the kids started crying when we accidentally got lost downtown. They kept saying, "We're going to die!!!!" until we let the Tom Tom guide us back to a freeway. To give it credit, though, it was night and we only saw a small portion of town.

We stayed south of the city in the Drury Inn. I was impressed with how nice it was for the money.

I am jealous that you got to go to BlogHer. I'm not a "fence-sitting extrovert", I'm a "introvert disguised as an extrovert". I write much better than I present ideas in person (unless I've been drinking - which hasn't happened since 1998 or it is someone I know really well).

I'm so totally behind your WRITE WELL tip. Preach it, sistah.

I lost you a bit after the other blog went down. I'll have to re-link to Mamalogues. Are you still homeschooling? How's that going?

Sounds awesome! I just started my blog a couple of months ago so this is a whole new world for me. I've been reading your column for a couple of years, though, and I've always enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

You did an awesome job moderating the panel! You were smart, witty and very informative but not over-bearing.

Also? I had to laugh at your bangs comment because your hair = awesome! In fact, I had to mention in a post how much I liked it :-)

I was in your session at BlogHer and you were AWESOME. So helpful.

I am so bummed I didn't get to go to BlogHer. I would have loved to have met you!

I didn't realize how much I missed you guys until just now. Which means, of course, that this post was well-written, but also that I'm now annoyed with you. Hmph.

I really would like to go to blogher one day..more for the social aspect then tips on how to become a multimillion dollar blogger. I agree..if you have an entertaining blog people will stay... to get people you need to be friendly to your commenters and comment on their blogs. If you don't care if anyone reads your blog and it's all about the don't have to comment at all. There are a million different types of blogs..all are special and good in their own way.

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