8.30.2010

BlogHer10 Saturday: One of the Best Days of My Life

Like Leelo, it takes me a while to process information and experiences. So I suspect it would have taken me this long to process BlogHer 10's Saturday, even if the weeks that followed the conference weren't unrelentingly full of activities and Seymour travel and weddings and road trips and excursions and weekdaily Thinking Person's Guide to Autism essays and BlogHer articles and Leo SF Weekly stories and Chinese-"interesting" social developments. Now I know what the brown sugar feels like when I pack it into that measuring cup, sweet though it may be.

BlogHer10 Saturday, with Jen and so many other friends, was one of the best days of my life. I only wish Seymour could have been there, too. And I wish Leo knew the role he played, in gifting me so many friendships with people I might otherwise never have met. You are cherished, every last one of you.

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Jen and I hit the ground running again on Saturday but without panicking -- I didn't turn off our alarm this time. I'd spent much of the previous night nuzzling my keyboard in confusion, thinking it was a pillow as I sleepily tried to finish my work shift. Jen eventually came to my rescue work-wise after she finished making friends at the hotel bar around 4 AM. (Where she gets all that energy, I'll never know. Me = friends with ZzzZzz.)

We opened our day with BlogHer's International Activist Blogger Scholarship Recipients Keynote. "Inspiring" is an insufficient word for the experience. If I was a hacker, I would turn the liveblog into a Trojan horse email, one that would freeze the screen of every middle school through college student in this country until they read what these women had to say about how they continue to blog/speak out, and why. I especially appreciated Esra'a Al Shafei's wry humor. I hope she and MidEastYouth.com end up ruling the world. (Benevolently.)

The four scholarship recipients:
Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai, Sri Lanka, publisher of Humanity Ashore
Esra'a Al Shafei, Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com
Freshta Basij-Rasikh, Afghanistan, writer for the Afghan Women's Writing Project
Marie Trigona, Argentina, publisher of Latin American Activist
Some tweets from the panel, from me and from other frozen-with-awe audience members:
  • @Sassymonkey, she of the Maritimes cred, noted: Reminder: no photography in the International Keynote. It's life or death for these amazing, brave women. #blogher10 
  • @Mamacita Speakers like these remind me of how very fortunate we are to be able to write about anything we want, without fear.
  • @jennyalice: Esra'a al Shafei "If you're going to piss a lot of people off you better do it very well ."
  • MideastYouth.com: "It's giving the LGBT community a platform. It's giving the Kurdish minority a voice too."
  • RT @whymommy: International activists at #blogher10: 400 young writers at www.mideastyouth.com -- STUNNING. Go see. 
  • "The initial goal for Mideast Youth was to piss off as many dictators as possible"
  • RT @ElisaC: RT @dtanton: RT @sassymonkey: Read more about the women on this keynote here: http://bit.ly/bq9ESn #blogher10
  • "How to bring bright lights to my eyes: Education is the way" #afghanwomenswritingproject 
  • An honor, a privilege: Listening to a writer from the Afghan Women's Writing Project talk about her country, its history, people.
During the panel, we sat with Elizabeth, who writes Just a Girl in the World, recently got the job of her dreams, and makes Memphis sound like a dreamy place to live. Later in the Smores lounge we met Natalie from The Bobby Pin, a sometime trapeze enthusiast and MBA student, who advised us on Yoga classes in San Diego. Both were attending BlogHer as livebloggers. I have followed Natalie and Elizabeth for a while and so have a long-standing opinion of them as the cutest things ever, but they were even more so in person. (In case that sounds patronizing, they are also really damn smart. But so cute!)

Then it was time for Kyra's book signing for Gravity Pulls You In:

This is her serious author face, for Jordan. The women behind her don't seem to be having as much fun.











How Kyra really appeared for most of the signing, with equally pleased Jen. The women behind them are discussing how much fun Kyra is having and wondering why the people lined up for their book signings aren't making them laugh in quite the same way.

Other signing attendees included IAmPixieMama, who was there God damn it and no she does not want to be left out, the effervescent NiksMom, and a lovely woman who floats anonymously through the Internet world and is no less loved for that practice.








I took a lot of armslength "dork" pictures. This is me and Stimey, and I am the dork. This is also shortly after I forced her to borrow Paul Collins' Not Even Wrong - very awesome book, worthy of her (and your) attention.

You know who else showed up at Kyra's signing even though she wasn't attending BlogHer or even in NYC but very kindly took the train from CT to come have an IRL meetup even though she was stressing over her class reunion that night which was understandable though unnecessary because she looked fantastic especially since you couldn't see her mountain bike road rash under her beautiful tiered skirt? Susan. Fun! Another dork picture.


 


Since it was too glorious a day to stay inside and since we could see Central Park from the conference hotel, we trotted parkward for lunch (which for me was a NY-style slice of heaven, a.k.a. pizza).














Jordan and Kristen came with us and we passed a lovely lunch sitting and snarking on a bench in Central Park, gazing out at the lake while watching clouds that looked like they were commissioned by Pixar and being rebuffed by disinterested New Yorkers who refused to take our photo. So we asked a tourist instead.







 It's a good thing we shook off the lure of outdoors after Susan had to rush off to her CT reunion (sob, but thanks again for making the trip!), because when we got back to the hotel Jen checked her tweetstream and found out she'd won a free laptop!

Then we found Carol and made our way to the Closing Keynote: Use Your Voice, Your Platform, and Your Power (Full liveblog and video coming soon), featuring:
"Need to Know PBS anchor Alison Stewart moderates a powerhouse panel: Marie Wilson, Founder and President of The White House Project (and creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day!), author and activist Gloria Feldt from Heartfeldt Politics and P. Simran Sethi, Emmy Award-winning journalist, blogger and environmentalist."
It was amazing. Sigh. I soaked up as much as I could about how to kick ass from women who've been doing it for a long time under much less women-friendly circumstances. Two main takeaways: 
  • 'Power you don't use is useless.' 
  • 'A critical mass of women will move Supreme Court focus from gender to agenda.

And then it was time to hop on the subway and head to Soho for our My Baby Rides the Short Bus reading at Bluestockings bookstore.

Look, my friend Luis! We went to grad school at Syracuse together. He is a longtime NYC resident, guerilla gardener and yoga instructor. We lost touch for a few years which was so wrong, but thanks to the Facebook fairies, we are reunited. And it does feel so good. He was also our photographer for the reading.




I am not sure why this photo is warped, but I love Jen's expression: "Why yes, this is my East Coast literary debut!"

Here is Jen Silverman. She is one of three co-editors on the book. She totally kicks butt. Seriously, don't get in her way. She radiates uncompromising awesomeness.
















Here is Sharis Ingram. She is reading her story What I Said, and What I Didn't Say. Which is mandatory reading for anyone with a child on the mainstreamed or fully included end of the autism spectrum. And she went to the same college as Joss Whedon and Leo's godmother Hayley! Later on she and the other three of us argued over who had the world's greatest husband. Sharis won, but only because she brought hers along as proof.

Here is Jen, reading her story about trying to find a babysitter for her son Jake on Craigslist. She had the audience weeping as they laughed -- quite a trick.

And here is me, not crying during a reading for once. Go me!


Here is part of our wonderful audience (that's Carol talking into the mic) many of whom came all the way form the BlogHer conference in midtown. Thank you all! The house was packed, and it made for good energy.


 We had dinner at a vegan cafe with Jen Silverman and Luis and some friends, bid adieu to Luis and his bike, and shot back to the hotel in time to catch the last hour of CheeseBurgHer. Nom free cheeseburgers! The party was also full of my favorite Jens. Here are two who didn't room with me.


And here we are, right before crashing and Jen needing to leave in the wee hours and did we really pack all that into one day? We really did. Phew.

Attendees, how was your BlogHer Saturday?

8 comments:

  1. Phew. That's awesome. It sounds like a fantastic day and I am so happy to have been included in at least part of it. I LOVE that photo of the two of us. It's funny, because I was JUST reading Not Even Wrong just before I came here and read this. It's a wonderful book.

    Don't you wish every day could be as magical as a day like that?

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  2. It was a fantastic day, BECAUSE you were included in at least part of it!

    I don't know if I would survive this kind of daily magic, stamina-wise, but it was wonderful. And every single person is part of the magic Internet circle of protection.

    Love our community.

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  3. *deleted* Yet another cowardly comment from our usual anonymous Groton, MA troll, who couldn't handle our confident hotness.

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  4. You are fabulous! It was awesome to run into you. A total and complete highlight of my trip too! I am with you on the keynotes - powerful.

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  5. Hi Natalie! Great to see you here. I fully intend to check out the yoga places you recommended next time I'm in town.

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  6. So many people, I saw you for such a short time. I am glad you caught a picture of me with one of MY favourite Jens. I loved your panel and wished it could have been three hours of questions and answers.

    Also, you looked fabulous! at the book reading.

    mucho love

    xoxoxoxo

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  7. *mwah* back, baby. We'll hang out more next time.

    The SN panels are always too short. Always. But I'm so glad you could make it.

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  8. It was so fantastic - the whole thing! I missed you at the Sparklecorn party where I danced my head off! and I do wish I'd been able to make the book reading... your moment of glory in the coolest bookstore ever!

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