Jesus, I’m popular! Newbies wanted to meet me at BlogHer. Bloggers wanted to take their photograph with me, sometimes even asking me to hold their blog mascot on my lap. I’m on a first name basis with Jenny, the Bloggess. Even the snooty MamaPop writers came up to me to shake MY hand! I’m not bragging or anything. I’m just stating a fact. Bloggers love me!
After the parties on Saturday night, I wandered the streets of Manhattan by myself until Sunday morning. More later.
Like everyone else writing BlogHer recaps today, I have a list of my favorite moments. The speakers at the keynote session. Showing SweetSalty Kate how to use an American ATM machine. Watching the dry-witted Marinka throw a party sponsored by a vacuum cleaner. Talking medications with Aurelia Cotta. Gossiping with Lizriz. Telling the Bloggess how much I love… The Redneck Mommy. Meeting the talented Two Busy at the Sparklecom party. Hiding my eyes from the cleavage of pure as snow Maggie Dammit in her sexy party dress. Kind words about my father-in-law from Her Bad Mother. Seeing Bernthis rock her humor panel. Resolving issues with Kelly. Telling Sarah (Slouchy) that I would have dated her in college. Dinner with Debbie and Gwen.
But I’ll be honest. I wasn’t truly into the festivities this year. I never went to the Expo. I never danced with anyone. I gave away all my drink tickets. As much as I tried to avoid it, there was no forgetting that I had just attended a funeral two days earlier. Last year, in Chicago, it was hilarious to meet Mr. Potato Head walking around the hotel. This year, it just seemed… depressing. I think I would have been happier flying to see V-Grrrl and sitting on her patio with her kids.
It was all too much.
BlogHer is well run. Congratulations to another success. My only complaint this year involves the logistics. The organizers tried hard to diminish the chaos of last year by insisting that the private parties be held off-site. This had the unfortunate side-effect of creating a fractured conference. There wasn’t a central meeting place (the Hilton lobby didn’t have much of a lounge), and everyone seemed to be running somewhere else. Rather than the average attendee gossiping about the sessions, I heard more excitement about New York sightseeing and parties and meeting Martha Stewart! When the host city and the parties become more important to a majority of the attendees than attending the keynote of their peers, you know there is a problem.
Oh, about my night wandering the city. My decision to attend BlogHer was a last minute one. On Friday, I stayed at my mother’s place in Queens. I had a tentative plan for Saturday — if I got drunk, I would sleep on the floor of a blogger friend. At the last minute, she decided it was a bad idea, seeing that she was married with children (wimp!) and apparently, I am irresistible.
It was 2AM. The parties were over. I left the Hilton. As I walked through the revolving doors, I remembered that I left my knapsack — with my house keys — in the coat check room. I had two problems I needed to overcome.
1) After midnight, you needed to show a hotel pass to return to the hotel. And I didn’t have one.
2) The coat check room was closed.
I sat outside the Hilton waiting for one of beloved Twitter followers to pass by — I’m not sure why or what I would do. Would I plead for shelter? BlogHer was officially over, and no one was wearing name tags anymore. I didn’t recognize anyone.
I thought about calling Schmutzie and Palinode, who I assumed were fast asleep inside the hotel. I looked at my iphone. It was dead. The plug was in my knapsack in the coat check room.
I thought of climbing the outside wall of the Hilton until I reached the window of the “Serenity Suite” on the 32nd Floor, but I left my Spiderman suit at home.
Next idea. I have a childhood friend who lives in the Upper East Side. He would have no problem with me showing up at his door, but I could only imagine the angry stares of his wife if I rang the doorbell at 4AM, waking up the baby. For his sake, I nixed the idea.
The most logical step was to go home to Queens. Surely, my own mother would answer the door, even at 4AM. But I didn’t feel like going to Queens. I would just have to wake up in a few hours and return to pick up my knapsack.
I decided to get a hotel room. Not at the Hilton, but at the nearby Sheraton. But would it pay to spend $250 to sleep in a hotel for three hours? I decided it was a dumb idea. (and I’m cheap)
At 4AM, I found myself getting hungry. Across the street from the Hilton is a popular halal food cart selling shish-ka-bobs. Even at 4AM, the line was snaking around the corner. Was the food that good? I decided to try it. Who were all these people coming for these shish-ka-bobs and where were they coming from? The crowd was mostly Pakistani, and I talked with these two dark-skinned women from Brooklyn. I sat around on the edge of a non-working public fountain, eating my food. After a while, I felt self-conscious, thinking I might look like a homeless guy, out on the street, while the rest of the blogging world was resting comfortably in the luxury rooms of the Hilton directly above my line of sight.
I walked. And walked. NYC. 4:30AM. All the way up to 110th Street and Broadway, to a 24 hour Greek-owned coffee shop I used to go to in college. I went inside, ordered a cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. There were others in the coffee shop. A grad student? A cop? I like that New York is a 24-hour city. With no iPhone to play with, I thought about BlogHer. Why do I feel so close to some of these people who I see once a year, and talk to for ten minutes? Do people really like me so much? Why? Surely someone hates me. Why doesn’t anyone ever tell me that they hate me? What is blogging doing for me? Should this be my last BlogHer? Should I be more cliquey? Do I talk more to women who dress sexier? Why do I get along with one person better than another? Would I really shell out thirty bucks to buy this guy’s memoir? Why did Schmutzie, Kate, Maggie, and Palinode go out for lunch without me? Should I write a book? What is the real reason Redneck Mommy didn’t show up this year? Should I ask X why she unfollowed me on Twitter, or just forget it?
A few days earlier was Vartan’s funeral. There was only a small turn-out, maybe under twenty mourners. During the service, one of Vartan’s long-time friends went to the podium. He made note of the small crowd, and and wanted others to know that this had no bearing on how much he was beloved by his friends. Many of his close friends and colleagues had already passed on. He was one of the last of his generation.
“If this funeral was taking place in Odessa twenty-five years ago, there would be a thousand people waiting outside. Not only all his friends and family, but all of the women he saved (he was an oncology cancer surgeon in Russia).”
Vartan was buried in a quiet ceremony in Los Angeles, next to his wife.
While I was in this coffee shop by Columbia University (the same one they used to go in Seinfeld), I toasted Vartan’s memory with my coffee cup. He would have liked the cherry pie.
I stayed at the coffee shop until 6AM. I took a half hour nap on a bench outside. And then I walked back to the Hilton to say good-bye to my blogging friends. It was a weird night, but somehow I needed it. I arrived back at the Hilton Starbucks around 7:30 AM. When Lisa of the blog “Smacksy” asked me where I slept last night, I lied and said “a friend’s home.”
It was nice being so popular for one weekend. Thanks for the fun and camaraderie. Now, I’m back home. Tomorrow, Sophia and I are going to start clearing out her parents’ apartment.