Saturday, August 4, 2012

Conference Day Two

My handicapped accessible room has a walk in shower. Bliss. No struggle to drag my legs over the side of the tub. I could take ten showers a day like this.

The buffet breakfast is great, somehow this hotel gets the best fruit, I still remember that from two years ago. Now that I have actually written that down, it strikes me how sad that truly is, that I have been looking forward to fruit for two years.

I squeeze my way into the main ballroom, looking for a table it will be easy to pull up to in the wheelchair. The tables are packed so closely together it is really a challenge to even get very far into the room. To be fair though, they have to fit over 4,000 people for a meal, of course they have to pack in the tables. I find a spot with four nice ladies who assure me there is space with them. I can only manage a plate with one hand, so I am going to have to put it down and go back for some tea. Libby, a lovely young transplant from Australia to New York, instantly pops up to get tea for me! SO kind! Such a simple gesture, but one that makes an enormous difference to me.

As we’re chatting, she notices my knitting bag, which I made with all kinds of pockets to keep my projects organized for next to my chair at home. It turns out she not only blogs about holistic life, but also about crafts, here. She loves the bag, which I am a little embarrassed by because the sewing-themed fabric is somewhat on the corny side. Ok, it is totally on the corny side. Within minutes she has photographed it, edited the picture and posted it on her Facebook page with a link to my Etsy shop! It garners several “likes” and comments in less than ten minutes. This is so cool!

I meet several very nice people through a speed 'dating' exercise, an activity that is not easy to pull off when you have a group of several thousand, but the BlogHer organizers are nothing if not resolute about the attendees getting their money's worth.

I am particularly impressed when I meet Lynne, who actually is not a blogger. But her daughter is and Lynne told me she decided she just wanted to learn as much as possible about the process and social media. I am awed. My own mother was barely aware I knew how to write, never mind that I wrote a blog. In just that few minutes, Lynne and I discover we also have similar political leanings among other things, but it is speed dating after all and we have to move on before I have a chance to ask her to marry me. (Oh, just kidding; no need to go to Chic-fil-A.)

Next was an interesting workshop on 'Turning Your Blog Posts into Publishable Essays'. The room is packed and cramped and hot and I have to fight to keep awake, but that is no reflection on the content, which is professional and encouraging.

Then it was time for lunch and Martha Stewart, who was to be interviewed by one of the BlogHer founders. Martha Stewart is such an icon, such a pillar of creativity and symbol of success that I don’t think she was even a real person in my mind. Sure, we have read of her difficulties as well as her triumphs, but it was still so abstract. Even her name is like one word. I don’t watch usually television, but I did catch her on an episode of Finding Your Roots. She was pleasant, but still MarthaStewart, a brand. So I was mildly looking forward to hearing her during lunch. Never expected to be completely captivated.

For one thing, she looked freaking awesome, wearing persimmon slacks with these great espadrilles to match. Such a gorgeous color. She was funny, relaxed, informal, down to earth, engaging, and clearly interested in the specific group she was addressing. The sound wasn’t that great, obviously because of the sound system. I overheard the staff dealing with it, so I knew it was being addressed. But all of a sudden someone rudely shrieked out a complaint while she was in mid-sentence. It was startling and out of line. But Martha did not miss a beat and, smiling, even though she had been interrupted, she immediately responded that she agreed the volume needed to go up. Ironically, that instant it did.

It was her birthday and, with a hint of a wink, she said she had agreed to speak only after she was assured everyone would sing her Happy Birthday. She was savvy and insightful discussing technology and business growth. She talked about her own blog. She was great, I just loved her!  

Lunch was also a buffet and the lines were so long for the food I just skipped it and went straight to a table.  Met up with Maura, my delightful contact person from the National MS Society.  Many thanks to her, as she is the one who ended up getting me my lunch.  Another example of how helpful people can be.

The rest of my workshops were good but I was running out of steam. Then I bumped into the doorjamb going into my room and broke off a piece of the foam rubber arm of the rented wheelchair. Oooops. So now I am sick about it, the arm will have to be replaced. It is not big, but it probably costs a mint. Oh boy.

Finally, Danielle came in from Connecticut, my roomie from two years ago. I nicknamed her Hurricane Danielle because she is such a whirlwind and the real Hurricane Danielle was in the news at the same time as the conference in 2010. She got us dinner and now we are being wild and crazy, sitting around the hotel room in our pajamas writing our blogs. It doesn’t get better than this. :)

The daytime view from my room.  I LOVE New York. 
Born and raised here, but I never get tired of it.



  1. Thank God no one can see me through the monitor -- I am totally salivating about this event! I'm so glad you got the chance to do this -- so very brave of you. I hope you share all that you glean from the speakers!
    BTW, I too love visiting NYC, but it's been a while since I was there -- even though it's right up the NJ Tpk!
    Have fun.

  2. Maybe someday we should go in together!! Do a defiant outing together!

    I would love, love to chat with you and tell you about the conference. Would you be comfortable emailing me your phone number? I promise I won't make crank calls! lol I am going to see if I can find your e-mail and send you my number.

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