Let's Get Down To It Shall We?

Get down to the meat and bones of my experience at the Blogher conference that is. I'm going to go out of order and start with food! You know I can't help myself! As you can see from my plate, I ate it all up!

On Friday night, I went to Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago's Chinatown with a bunch of food bloggers. What a great group of people! Now just getting to the dinner was a bit of an adventure. I'll have to backtrack a bit, well a lot actually, so please bear with me. Friday was the first day of the conference. I admit to missing the opening ceremony, because I don't like mornings in general and my flight was delayed because of thunderstorms, so I got in later in the evening than I had planned.

The pilot, who was a woman by the way, which I thought was very cool, kept us informed about the storms and that she was flying around them, so we diverted from the normal route. I thought it was very appropriate that my first flight with a woman pilot was on my way to the Blogher Conference. Oh and this was my first time flying first class. The food was good and I liked the toasted nuts in the little bowls. However, the people who I sat next to didn't make eye contact or say "hi." I don't think that I'm that chatty, but I usually will at least make eye contact and greet whoever is sitting next to me. Oh well, I had a great book to occupy my time. I read The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. I loved this book and didn't want it to end. I think it's being turned into a movie from what I briefly saw on her blog.

After we landed and I got my luggage, I was able to quickly find an Airport Express Shuttle to take me to the hotel. It was a flat fee of $25.00 for everyone, which I appreciated. When I walked up to a guy standing near the shuttle, I asked him about the price. He said it was $75.00. I was like "What are you talking about??!!!" He smiled and I started laughing. Then a woman who was working with him came over and said the real price. She also had these very cool glasses on that I noticed many women wearing. I need some new glasses and may get some. They were both very nice and on the way to my hotel we passed a wild looking McDonald's that was about three stories and had all these arches all over the place. I stayed at the Chicago City Centre Hotel, which was great. I would definitely go back there again. From what I've read on other blogs, people who stayed at the W Hotel were not happy at all.

In the morning, all I wanted was some caffeine and to get my bearings. I took the shuttle bus from my hotel over to Navy Pier. I was really happy that everything was so organized and there were always free shuttles available for us. When I registered, we got these really cool bags and all kinds of Swag. GM OnStar was a big sponsor and whoever picked out their gifts did an excellent job. The spa set is awesome! I'm not in the market for a new car and if I were, I don't know if I'd buy a GM, but I wouldn't rule them out as quickly maybe and OnStar does seem pretty cool. Whoever their buyer is has good taste.

AOL provided some back-up memory, which I haven't tried yet and a really nice laptop bag. Yahoo! gave some cool round paperclips and had an espresso bar, which was highly appreciated, because I needed stronger coffee than what was provided at the main conference area. I read on someone's blog that they thought the Butterball pot holders were lame. I don't think they were a food blogger. I really like mine and can always use another pot holder. I've already used it!

After grabbing some coffee and a pastry, there was a "Speed Dating Event", which was not speed dating, but basically a big card exchange. Everyone formed two circles around the perimeter of the room facing each other and moving in opposite directions. I couldn't get in at first, because it was so crowded, but I finally found an opening and got in. I introduced myself, my name and blog, and gave my card. The other person did the same thing and we talked about what we blogged about. Then we moved on to the next person. It was fun, but kind of exhausting.

One of the coolest things that I got was a beautiful card holder that was made by Rhonda. She made hundreds of these and they were given out by a friend of hers. Mine is the pink and black print that you see in the back in the picture above. I used mine to carry all that cards that I collected. Rhonda's husband is fighting in Iraq and that she took the time to make these for all of us. Her kindness - it took my breath away. Thank you again Rhonda. Also inside was an Origins Smileage Plus Liptint that I've been using everyday. I love it!

My first and only session on Friday was not the one that I originally intended. I wanted to go to Business of You: Self-branding and Self-Promotion. It was standing room only with overflow into the hall. I figured that it was not meant to be, so I attended Digital Exhibitionists or Chroniclers of their Time: Will Naked Bloggers Make History? It was pretty interesting and one of the things that came up was the notion of anonymous blogging and how honest we are about ourselves. I think the concept of anonymous blogging is an oxymoron. Nobody is anonymous for long, people always find out. And I also started to think about how much I self-edit and how much of my life is left out of the blog. I guess we all do it, well most of us. Some people on the panel and those who asked questions seemed to just let it all hang out. I'm much more reserved than that and didn't ask any questions. I just took it all in.

After this session was lunch. We all had signed up to eat with other similar bloggers, so I was going to eat with the food bloggers. I walked around and around looking for the sign and couldn't find their tables. I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to sit down, so I saw a woman who was sitting by herself. I figured I'd go and sit with her. Long story short, turns out we had a ton in common. We talked for close to five hours and I didn't attend any other sessions that day. Her name is Falise. Hey girl if you're reading this!

Here is her website called 24/8 Book Club. She is also an attorney and has started her own business. I felt instantly comfortable talking to her and we had a million things to talk about. She so reminds me of a good friend of mine who moved away to Michigan. It was like I knew her forever.

First, she has been looking for a new job, so she started seeing how difficult it can be out there. She started doing a local radio show where she interviews all sorts of people who have been super successful in their careers and finds out how they did it. She has interviewed Craig. Yes, that Craig. The one with The List. In addition to her radio show, she and her business partner started a website where they help authors promote their books by having events for them in the local Chicago area. Also check out her blog. She was at the conference trying to learn more about the blogosphere, so I told her about my blogs and my experience with blogging. Falise's book events sound really fun, so if you're in the Chicago area, I hope you'll check them out.

So after talking to Falise, I realized that the whole day had basically passed. I decided to pop in to the reception before heading over to the food blogger dinner. The first person I met also happened to be heading over to the dinner. Her name is Tanya and she has a cool blog called I Ate A Pie. What an interesting lady! She is a food scientist for her day job, but she reviews food products for her blog. We decided to go to the dinner together, but neither of us had any idea how to get to there. We walked outside and saw some people and asked a guy about taking a taxi. He didn't seem to think we could get one too soon, so he offered to drive us! What a sweetie pie! He happened to be one of the shuttle bus drivers, so he dropped off people at their hotels and then drove us over to the restaurant. We gave him a nice tip and thanked him profusely!

Sorry to be a tease my friends, but I have to end now! Come back soon for Part II!

Anali's First Amendment © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.


Glad that you got so much out of BlogHer even if it wasn't exactly as you'd planned (the best laid plans of mice and men...). It's true about the anonablogging-- it is really impossible, in the end. I know I edit about writing about work, because I don't want to be accused of casting anyone at the firm in a bad light. But at the same time, I try not to self-edit about my own issues and thoughts, because if they're going to go that far in what constitutes "embarrassment" of the firm's image, then I really don't want to work there anyway.

Can't wait to hear more about BlogHer!
FH said…
You had some fun there at BlogHer meeting.Chopsticks and a fork! Which one did you use?;D
karrie said…
Dining with the food blogging crowd sounds like a lot of fun. I also love the free bags. Very useful.

I always relax when I hear a female voice announce "Good morning. This is your pilot speaking and...." Maybe that is wrong of me on some level, but I assume since we're generally safer drivers on the ground, that probably translates to flight as well.
karrie said…
Also, I know I'm the odd one in the hotel conversations, but really enjoyed my stay at the W. Sure, some of the things abt it were ridiculous, like the lack of free coffee, but every staff member that I encountered was very friendly and professional. I also really liked the room design.

City Centre seemed nice too. I stopped by one night on the way to have dinner with some bloggers who stayed there.
Anonymous said…
Every post I read about BlogHer makes me even sadder that I missed it. Still, I can't wait to hear more, everyone has their own impressions and experiences that it makes it all the more interesting. Sounds like you had a great time!

In all honesty, I never had a female pilot, which is sad in its own way. But cool to know they are out there!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog, letting me know you were there. Don't mind me as I poke around here a bit and catch up!
Dewey said…
Wow, that sounds like a great time! I want to go to a blog conference! :)

I like your Simpson you in the post below. I made one of those too, but I keep forgetting to post it.
AVIANA said…
glad you had fun...thanks for stopping by and happy monday!!! :)
Thistlemoon said…
Sounds like you had a really great time! I would have started my blog entry the exact same way - with the FOOD.
Sai said…
Looks like you had a lot of fun. I cannot wait for Part II of this blog. You are indeed a tease ;-)
Tera said…
Hmmm...I've always wondered about speed dating...
Suldog said…
Maybe the folks next to you on the plane SAW you reading "The Dirty Girls Social Club" and thought you were one :-)
Nance said…
Yeah, I heard about the brouhaha surrounding the Butterball potholder and I think it's a load of crap and a tempest in a teapot. First of all, I don't find it an insult. Butterball graciously included a freebie which is related to its product line. It is useful to food bloggers and plenty of other bloggers who actually enjoy cooking, many of which would have also been women. I'm a feminist and I also happen to love to cook. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. At some point, I think basic etiquette should have kicked in: when one receives a gift, one should simply thank the recipient and then privately do with it what one wishes.
Sounds like you learned a lot and met some fantastic people. And what a great guy to give you a ride!
Cynthia said…
Will definitely be back for part 2!
Alanna Kellogg said…
Sooo! nice to meet you!! What a great day of serendipitous meetings! I spent a "session-filled" hour with Tanya and really enjoyed her too!
Anali, I just saw this post about "Small Blogger Blues" from a fellow BlogHer participant, and thought you might enjoy it...
amisha said…
eating with food bloggers sounds like such fun. thanks for all the stories about your trip!
Mizrepresent said…
Sounds like a great and exhausting time...but i hope you enjoyed...i too will be back for part II.
Nina said…
sounds like you had a great time!
Lisa Johnson said…
bipolarlawyercook - I think what it comes down to is whether or not you are okay with people eventually knowing it was you who wrote it and whether you can deal with any fallout from that. If you would be comfortable saying these things to someone in person, then it's probably okay. That's my take on it.

asha - I used both! I'm not very adept at using chopsticks. I feel too messy in public. Especially when meeting new people, but I'll use them with wild abandon when eating at home! I even have a bunch of really pretty ones.

karrie - I guess because I haven't flown much over the past few years, this was my first time. I wonder who she is and how she decided to become a pilot. I wonder how many woman pilots there are flying commercial airlines. She must be one bold lady!

momish - Thank you so much for stopping by and looking around! Please feel free! ; )

dewey - I think these conferences are really a great way to connect.

aviana - I hope you're having a good week! ; )
Lisa Johnson said…
jenndz - the leftover queen - What better way to start? ; )

sai - And the tease continues... ; )

tera - I actually have tried it for real. It was fun just meeting people, talking to them and trying something new, but I wasn't interested in dating anyone that I met. I can see where it could possibly work though.

suldog - LOL! I hadn't taken the book out yet! ; ) And after reading the book, it would be an honor to be in their club!

nance - I so agree with you! I don't know why this is so enraging me that others are enraged. I kept telling my co-worker about it and said that I might have to write up a fiery pro-Butterball rant!

susan - We got so lucky! ; )
Lisa Johnson said…
cynthia - It should be posted by the end of the weekend. I hope! ; )

karrie - Oh and glad to hear that you liked the W Hotel!

alanna - Welcome and it was great meeting you too!

bipolarlawyercook - Thanks for the link! I'll have to check it out.

amisha - It was great!

mizrepresent - I hope Part 2 lives up to the hype! ; )

nina - It was awesome!!! : )
Anonymous said…

I am the Falise mentioned in this blog post. I am thrilled our paths crossed and hope that they continue to do so.

Thank you for your generousity both at BlogHer and in your post. I look forward to watching your star continue to shine and glow brighter and brighter everyday cause this is just the beginning.

Lisa Johnson said…
falise - Welcome! I'm so glad you dropped by. It was great meeting you and thank you for such sweet words!
Lotus Reads said…
It sure sounds like you had a wonderful time, Anali, thank you for the great write-up. You know what? You have got me interested in BlogHer,it sure looks like a great community, I should look into it.
Lisa Johnson said…
lotus reads - Definitely look into it!

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