I'd be remiss to let this year's BlogHer experience (which was amazingly fabulously awesome) go by without some sort of acknowledgment, mostly because it's actually the second year I had something stolen.
In 2008, the hotel staff took a couple of items out of ridiculous boxes of swag I had packaged to ship.
And this year, somebody swiped my wallet in the Expo Hall.
When I first discovered that my wallet was missing on Friday afternoon, I thought I had lost it. I searched everywhere, sent out my requests to Twitter, and hoped that it was my extremely fried brain.
I mean, who steals wallets at BlogHer? And from someone who always had her bag on her shoulder or sitting right next to me?
Besides, just last week I tore the house apart looking for a check that had actually not yet arrived. So it wasn't too farfetched for me to think that I had somehow bent over in a such a way that my gigantic wallet would have fallen out and I wouldn't have noticed.
But then on Saturday morning, after going to Twitter yet again, a few people tweeted that their wallets had been stolen and that they had been found in the trash.
And then I found out that a bunch of BlogHer volunteers had their wallets stolen on Thursday night but were also found in the trash by a vigilant housekeeper.
It wasn't until a few more people had their wallets stolen on Saturday that it seemed like any action was taken. Security seemed confused, like they hadn't heard that about 10 + people had their wallets stolen.
And no one from BlogHer had any idea at all.
On the bright side, it was clear that the thief was only looking for cash (which I had very little of, if any in my wallet) and was tossing the wallets in the trash. And I was at a conference with generous friends and a slew of sponsors who were more than willing to help.
But on the down side, a simple announcement on Friday morning at the opening keynote, along with individual announcements in the sessions might have saved about 15 to 20 people from heartache.
How about an announcement in the Expo Hall itself?
I'm appreciative that in this case it was completely an inconvenience, especially for someone who has an out of state license and needs to go through a rigamarole just to get a new one here in Georgia (or take the written test again, which I really don't want to do).
And aside from the ridiculous questions I was asked by TSA to get on the plane, I'm happy that my entire bag wasn't taken.
But here are the lessons I have learned:
1. Report it right away! I'm guessing that someone would have been able to scour the trash and find it had I just said something to security rather than contact lost and found.
2. On that note, if you have a wallet stolen, report it - not just to security but to the conference organizers so that they can take appropriate action.
3. Separate your ID/Credit Cards out, leaving some in your hotel safe and then some with you. Fortunately, when I travel, I bring the bare minimum with me, so my wallet only had my ID and a few credit cards that were easy to stop.
4. For all the times to use social media, THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN IT. Why weren't people tweeting this out? We're so quick to jump on the backs of brands, hashtag whatever freaking Twitter party, but when a bunch of people at a blogging conference have their wallets stolen, nobody says a word.
5. Don't just assume it's you. I think that this is the most frustrating part of it all - that I spent the better part of Friday thinking that it was dumb old me who had lost my wallet. I do like to see the positive in people, but if it's something like a wallet, I'd say assume the worst and then apologize later.
The best of part of all this is that it happened at BlogHer, so while I had no credit cards and no ID, I could still gorge myself on gigantic unicorn cakes, shake my ass like there's no tomorrow, and spend time with some of my most favorite people ever.
It's a little sentimental, considering this is my sixth BlogHer.
Back when I started this blog in 2005, I remember hearing about this site called BlogHer, who was seeking community editors, and I thought it might be a cool thing to do, except they only had "Academics" left as a topic and I wanted to write funny stories about my cute little one kid.
When I attended in 2006, it was the first time I met Liz, Julie, Catherine, and a bunch of other amazing people that I am forgetting but I'm sure will let me know about it.
And every year since then, I've attended. Either pregnant or breastfeeding an actual baby.
So when this year came around, I actually decided not to attend. San Diego was a little far, and it's just tough trying to find someone, well someone who isn't going to say crazy shit, to watch my kids. I had resigned myself to not going.
But then on a whim I tossed one of my favorite posts into the "Voices of the Year" nominations.
Ha. Okay, so I realize that this is not feasible for everyone, but I'm at BlogHer and so it'll be hard for me to work on my parenting skills, if only that getting a well needed break, a full night of sleep, and a gigantic dose of the awesome company of women will actually make me a better parent when I get home.
This will be my fifth BlogHer conference, all of which I've attended with child - either attached to my boob for some or most of it, or in my belly, like this time.
It's no wonder people think I'm pregnant all the time. And really, they're not that far off.
There will be no shortage of fantastic posts in the next few weeks, some of which have already been floating around, that will give new attendees and even the old pros tips on how to survive BlogHer.
I pretty much covered all the goods in last year's post, but here are my five additional thoughts on how to enjoy BlogHer 2010 - with special props to those of us who will be doing it pregnant and sober.
1. Just because someone writes it on their blog doesn't make it a good conversation starter
Bloggers are actual people, folks, so if you want to go up and say "hello," a simple "Hi, I'm [insert name - also Twitter handle - that helps!)] and I really enjoy reading your blog" is great. Even small talk like "I love your outfit, where did you get those shoes, who designed your header" is fine.
But avoid bringing up deeply personal material - like a bad car accident, recent divorce, or daughter's traumatic incident with a dog - as a way to introduce yourself. "So, I can't believe your husband left you!" isn't the best way to start things off.
Bottom line: Social skills are highly underrated.
2. Be smart about swag
As many of you may have heard or remember, last year the BlogHer swag situation was out of control.
And sure, I get it. Free stuff is awesome. I love me some 400 jump drives.
But remember that you have to figure out a way to get all that free stuff home. If you want to pack an extra suitcase and pay to check it, or fork over the cost to have the hotel ship boxes home, go for it. But keep in mind that most of the stuff that you're shipping isn't worth the amount you're paying to ship or check it.
More importantly, it's definitely not worth having to maul babies and tackle women.
Bottom line: Don't be a swag-hag.
3. Pace yourself, party goers
This year I decided not to RSVP for anything, save one or two very small parties, and I'm still overwhelmed with the number of events going on over the entire weekend. The truth is if you're with friends, you'll have fun wherever you end up, because hello, it's NYC baby!But better, you won't end up sleeping through half of the next day and taking another few days to recover when you get home.
The best times I had last year weren't actually at parties but rather when I just planted myself outside of one to take a breather. I ended up meeting and actually chatting with more people that way than I did at anything else.
I realize that people are hot for BlogHer parties, but unless you keep up a 3-4 party and however many drink a night pace at home, you might be in for a rude awakening (literally) the next day.
Bottom line: Even Lindsay Lohan has a limit. Know yours before you end up like this (heh).
4. You probably won't see everyone that you want to see and that kinda sucks
I'm fortunate in that I'm either lugging a baby in a baby carrier or a belly carrier, so most people who are looking for me can follow the baby yelps or swollen ankles and find me. But that seems to make it extra challenging for me to find other people. And honestly, I think missing the chance to shake the hands or squeeze the boobs of some of your favorite people can be the most disappointing part of the BlogHer experience.
If you know in advance that you probably might not see everyone, or at least, get a chance to talk with them for more than a few minutes, then it helps. Or, make a list and figure out a way to meet up with them - whether it's saying "hi" after they present at a session, tweeting at them to find out where they are (which is different from tweet-nagging or worse stalking them - ahem), or making small talk while you're washing your hands after a bathroom break.
The operative word being "after." Pee chat can be a little awkward.
Bottom line: You might not meet everyone on your list. And that's okay.
5. There are heroes among us
If you find yourself getting caught upin the awesome but sometimes overwhelming madness that can be BlogHer - the sessions, the parties, your entire blogroll and twitter follow feed right in the same room, remember how amazing it is to have this opportunity to meet up with some of the greatest women (and inspiring little boys) around.
Whether I'm able to tell them personally or not, some of my own heroes will be there - some of whom might be yours as well. Some are already good friends. Others are folks I admire from afar.
Either way, getting to be with them - whether it's sharing a hotel room, a non-alcoholic beverage, or a cab to and from the airport, heck even just being in the same room with them - is what makes the weekend a success for me. Figure out what it means to you and then remind yourself of that.
Bottom line: Whether BlogHer '10 is awesome or not is solely in your own hands