BlogHer ’08 – The Recap

As promised! Here are random snippets and photos from the BlogHer ’08 conference that took place in San Francisco last weekend.

1) I Didn’t Collapse From Nervousness

I facilitated the 20-Something Bloggers meetup and it went quite smashingly. I was a little nervous at first, but I warmed up quickly and a lot of people took part in the conversation. It’s hard for me to rate my own performance, so I asked two of my friends who attended the meeting to give me their thoughts. (They said nice things and I didn’t have to pay them! Score!)

Here’s what Janet had to say:

You did a fantastic job — you did not seem nervous at all.

I think that you did a fantastic job at moving the conversation forward. I didn’t feel that we got “stuck” on one particular topic or that one person dominated the whole show. I think you allowed people a turn to speak, but after a few comments, you kept the conversation rolling. That was nice.

Also, I felt that your questions were very open-ended and allowed for a wide range of answers. I felt that I could relate to the topics in that way, because they weren’t too specific.

Love the quarterlife crisis discussion! Good thinking.

Overall, it was one of my favorite sessions!

And from Semi-Charmed Jen [blog no longer active]:

I thought you did a great job leading the session. It seemed to take people a few minutes to get comfortable (couple of awkward pauses at the start), but after that, the conversation moved pretty naturally. I thought it was interesting that there were a few older women (NOT talking about myself here) in the session who were either with organizations looking for 20-something bloggers or were just interested in seeing what our generation is up to. I also liked that there was a fairly wide range of interests — from personal blogs, to porn blogs (work-related?), to business blogs, to a blog about living with diabetes. There was also a lot of interest in seeing a personal finance blog for 20-something women, which I thought was great.

Speaking of Semi-Charmed Jen, here we are at a really cool bar/club called Ruby Skye:

Semi-Charmed Jen & Zan

2) Maybe I Will Be Famous! Ha!

A photographer from the New York Times was all over the hotel while the conference was taking place, and she was also there in the room when my 20-something Bloggers meeting was going on. She found me again the next day, when I’d decided to take a few random minutes to myself — I’d found a set of stairs in a quiet corner and started writing a post that was due for BlogHer the next day. She told me to ignore her and continue typing, so I did — but of course she was distracting me, so the post-writing was put on hold and I started writing nonsense-type sentences. (Not that I’m complaining. She’s from the New York Times. She can do whatever she pleases!)

She was moving all around and ended up shooting something like 50 photos of me from various angles. Then she asked me questions about what I was doing (“Writing my weekly post for BlogHer”), confirmed it was me who had led the 20-something Bloggers meetup the day before, and asked for my real first and last name (which I gave her, although I could tell she didn’t believe at first that Zandria is my real name — I swear she was looking at me deep in the eyes, trying to ascertain if I was lying to her). All of this information was recorded in her little spiral notebook. So maybe a photo of me will show up somewhere? That would be just a little bit awesome (understatement).

3) Party Crashers

Even though my conference-roommate, Liz, and I are definitely not BlogHer newbies, we crashed the “This is my first time at a BlogHer conference” party on Thursday night. We only stayed for a few minutes, though — which was just enough time to run into Janet and whisk her away with us to a non-hotel party. There we found gift bags and helped ourselves to free drinks. I had a lemon-flavored drink called a Yellow Bicycle, and I’m not lying when I say it was one of the yummiest cocktails I’ve ever had in my life.

Janet and I got comfortable on one of the couches:

Janet (Slice of Pink) & Zan

(The day after this photo was taken, Janet spilled her lunch container full of food all over the floor when we were sitting in one of the sessions. Wet, sloppy macaroni fell on my foot — and inside my shoe. But she profusely apologized, so of course I forgave her.)

I also ran into Jes from Chirky [blog no longer active], who I talked to a lot at last year’s conference in Chicago, but I hardly saw her at all this year. Please excuse the weird face I’m making in this photo:

Chirky, Janet, & Zan

4) Back in Those Skinny, Skinny Jeans

I finally got to meet Stephanie from Back in Skinny Jeans, and she’s fabulous and exactly like I expected her to be. Stephanie also introduced me to Jennette Fulda, who wrote that really popular weight loss memoir called Half-Assed.

I read Jennette’s book not long ago and I liked it a lot. I told her that, too, and I think she’s the first author I’ve ever been able to say that to in person. I also sat next to her at Stephanie’s panel on Saturday, and I thought she was very sweet and down-to-earth.

5) More Bloggers!

I met two bloggers that I call “back-in-the-day bloggers” because I’ve been reading their websites for YEARS and I still do to this day. Even cooler? Both of these ladies saw me first and said hello, so I felt ultra-special to be recognized (they’re both much more well-known in the blog world than I). Amalah and Brittney, it was a pleasure to finally meet you guys in person — and I hope you didn’t mind the hugging. I did a lot of hugging at the conference.

6) And Even More Bloggers!

Other bloggers I met whose websites I read regularly: Lisa from Workout Mommy, Sahar from FatFighterTV [blog no longer active], Vered from MomGrind. Very nice ladies.

7) Brrrrrrrrr!

I had to wear long sleeves whenever I went outside — the high during the day was in the mid-60s. Yes, in JULY. It was quite strange, but it was nice to get away from the humidity and 90+ degree temperatures in DC for a few days.

Here I am with Gwen Bell and her boyfriend, attempting to stay warm.

Gwen Bell and Zan

8) Women Without Children and the Blogosphere

One of my favorite panels was called “Women Without Children and the Blogosphere.” There were women who had consciously made the decision to not have kids, along with women who just never felt the time was right, to those who did want kids but weren’t able to for various reasons. One of the speakers was my friend (and BlogHer Contributing Editor) Laurie White.

Here I am with Laurie. Don’t we look sweet and innocent? Ha! Looks are deceiving!

Laurie and Zan

9) Cruisin’, Thanks to Nintendo

Liz invited me to go with her on a dinner cruise (sponsored by Nintendo) around the SF harbor on Friday night. Good parts: nice people, great conversation, a cool experience (it was really neat seeing the city all lit-up at night). Bad part: I get motion sickness on boats. I went on a dinner cruise years ago in Richmond and I don’t remember being affected by it — so I thought/hoped it would be the same this time. Unfortunately, not quite.

I never got to the point where I felt like I was going to hurl (which is a big plus!), but about halfway through the cruise I started noticing a few concerned looks — it seems I was looking paler than usual. I could only stomach the pre-dinner salad and a few bites of the main course (but what I had of it was soooo good, and I was bummed I didn’t get to eat the scrumptious-looking fruit tart for dessert, either). This really nice woman named Kay gave me a few Dramamine, and not long after that, I was fighting sleep. This is the way Dramamine always affects me (even the so-called non-drowsy formula), but I felt it was better to take it and not get sick, instead of risking another hour on the boat when I wasn’t feeling my best.

Half an hour after taking the Dramamine I went down to the lower level of the boat, removed a tablecloth from an unoccupied table to use as a blanket (I’m so classy!), and fell into a deep slumber for the last hour of the trip.

Here I am with Liz and Celeste, about to leave on the trolley that took us to the waterfront for the cruise.


I got a little cozy with the driver. His name is Paul.

Paul, the Trolley Driver

And here we are on the boat, being served ultra-yummy chocolate-covered strawberries.

On the boat

10) No Wii For Me

I entered a Wii-boxing tournament to attempt to win a Wii of my very own, but I got my butt kicked in the second round. I did get a t-shirt as a consolation prize, though.

11) All These Photos You See?

I took my camera with me but I didn’t take a single photo. Not one. I’m weird like that sometimes — I’ll take my camera with me but then I don’t feel like bothering with it. Except for the photo of me and Jen, the rest of the photos came from Liz’s BlogHer 2008 photostream on Flickr. Thanks for the use of the photos, ladies!

12) In Closing

I’m probably forgetting more about the BlogHer conference than I’m remembering. I tend to do that. But just to recap: it was awesome. I’d definitely do it again.

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