So...here's what I really thought about the conference:
It was far better than I thought it would be.
You know why?
Before I left, I knew it was going to be a super-huge really big event that could totally be overwhelming. I hate crowds. Crowds of people make some folks panic-stricken and anxious. Me? They sort of just piss me off. I have no patience with having to ass-rub my way across 15' feet of space to get a drink or head to the bathroom.
So I came prepared. I wasn't kidding when I said I made a list. Albeit, it was mostly in my head, but I had a bunch of folks, some I'd met before, others I hadn't, that I was meeting up with at one time or another. I had at least a few friendlies to help me cope and not feel like I was a complete and total loser while somewhat avoiding those crowds.
I also came prepared to chat up people I didn't know. Its not always comfortable, but how else do you become BFFs if you never walk up and introduce yourself in the first place?
And also? I was continually surprised that so many people knew who I was and were excited to meet me. But reading all these BlogHer recaps...I see that the people I was excited to meet pretty much felt the same way. (Mom 101 said it best - we're all just socially awkward geeks to begin with.) When you think about it -- how do you learn of other people online in the first place? Maybe you see their name in a tweet, their blog name in some one's blogroll, etc. The very same ways that other people may learn of you. So its dumb that any of us are surprised when we're not completely unknown. (I mean, we write on the INTERNET, people. Some one's got to know we're here.)
If you go to a conference like this, where there are 100 parties and 57 breakout sessions and 362 opportunities to meet up and go to dinner/lunch/cocktails with friends all happening at the same time, you kinda just have to be flexible and go with whatever you feel like doing at the time. I admit to only attending two of the sessions...I meant to get to more, but...well, stuff came up. I know I learned just as much doing that other "stuff" than I probably would have gotten out of those group sessions. (No offense, BlogHer.)
And in the name of all that is good and holy, don't come to these conferences for the swag. You will get some - trust me - but its not your natural born right to come home from the conference bursting at the seams with every freebie known to man. One of the Thursday night parties (which I was very much looking forward to) all but turned into a cat fight as what I would hope are otherwise classy women clawed at each another to get their goods. I was appalled when waiting to get into a party on Friday night. Women were walking in, taking the swag bag then turning and walking out. As they left, some of them told the women still waiting in line, "Its nothing very good." At which five chicks, in line in front of us, TURNED AROUND AND LEFT.
What would you do if your children behaved that way?
Swag fights and rumors of drama aside, I had a GREAT time. It was exactly the break from real life that I needed, and more fun than I had in a VERY VERY long time.
Only 373 days until next year's conference. You'd better believe I'll be there!