Musical pairing – Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
I’m here. I made it. I’m alive. I think.
The Professor and I took off last Thursday evening and headed to San Francisco to attend BlogHer Food 10 – the largest, most anticipated food blogging conference in the US (don’t really know if that’s fact as a whole, but for moi, it was indeed the most anticipated event of my entire year.) It would be a very quick trip – one in which we would be on the ground less than 48 hours and then back on a plane, heading home to Indiana. Was I outta my freakin’ mind? Yes. And no.
I’ll admit to having a significant amount of angst heading into the conference: How do I compare? Am I where I’m supposed to be at this juncture in my blogging career? Do I really have the chops, the talent to be a blogger? Or should I just stay home and throw in the towel. Can I lose 50lbs in two weeks? (actually spoken by ‘she-who-shall-remain-nameless’) Will people like me? Will I walk around all day with lipstick on my teeth and no one will tell me? The exact. same. feelings. most. bloggers. have. Even seasoned bloggers (well, maybe not the lipstick part).
It helped that I had already attended Big Summer Potluck hosted by the fabulous women of Three Many Cooks and Ivory Hut; I had also attended the Atlanta Food Blog Forum conference hosted by friends Jaden, Todd & Diane and Gwen. Both events allowed me the opportunity to meet and solidify a few relationships with people who were also coming to BlogHer Food.
That’s probably the biggest take-away from the conference overall – the need for community building, to build your own tribe, if you will. And that will be harder to do unless you invest both time and money in some smaller gatherings throughout the year. You can also use Twitter as a means to begin some of those relationships so you have an idea of who you want to meet up with when you do get to a conference. BlogHer Food is terrific for the high-octane, fever-pitch energy of a great party. But it’s also too large and too loud to really cement new relationships unless you skip sessions and find a quiet corner somewhere – at least that was true for me.
Another little tidbit: I’m an introvert as is The Professor; we can be social and love a good party but the party can also be quite draining. I need down time to clear my head and recharge; having a room onsite of the venue saved us, big time. We were able to take short breaks, away from the din of the crowds.
Who did I meet? Dorie Greenspan who literally jumped for joy and hugged me when I told her I’d already purchased her new book; Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, who spoke with me as if I were the only person in a room full of 300 others, Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman who is truly, truly as real in person as she is on her blog, Cheryl Sternman Rule whose writing I’ve admired for quite some time; I found myself sitting next to Cheryl at several breakout sessions and we finally had the chance to chat during the closing party. I met Heather, a young mother of twin girls, who leaves the sweetest comments on my blog – plus, she and her handsome husband have a special place in their hearts for Charleston (we do too!); I also met Lael Hazan whose down-to-earth, unpretentious spirit put me at ease moments after saying ‘hello’ and Susan whose blog I’ve read for almost a year and just love, love, love her – plus, she’s a professional jazz singer – did I mention that I love her?! I also met the uber fabulous David Leite on the plane ride home; funny, entertaining and gracious – I hope there will be opportunities to get to know him better in the future.
And I shared a very fun limo ride with a certain group of ladies – you know who you are (yes, what happens in San Francisco, stays in San Francisco)! What’s really funny is that until writing this post, I had no idea half of these women were in that limo with me – we were so slap-silly tired it somehow escaped me that these women, all of whom I communicate with on a regular basis (but had never met), were sharing a ride . . . ughhh . . . I am so bad in crowds!
Regrets: Not nearly enough time to connect with people I really wanted to meet like Megan – I never ran into her anywhere during the conference but is someone I know I’d just love. Or Jenny who I met long enough to give her a hug and promised to reconnect later during the conference; and I’m quite sad that never happened – I was really hoping for a picture of us together! Or like Grace who recognized me as we were heading over to the closing party; I grabbed her hand and told her we’d meet once we arrived at the party but I lost track of her, looking everywhere but never saw her again.
I hope there will be other chances when I might have the good fortune to meet these wonderful women, my kindred spirits in this crazy world of blogging. Each one of them have taken the time to come to my blog and read the words I write, leaving me words of encouragement. I’ve been to their blogs and have caught a glimpse of their spirits. The conference is about the connections, it’s really about the connections – probably more so than what you may or may not take away from the speakers.
Suddenly I see why the hell it means so much to me . . .