One Is The Loneliest Number #BlogHer14

BEFORE I arrived Thursday afternoon, I had been SO excited to be a part of a gathering of women bloggers…but the sad reality is that I never felt more alone in my entire life than I did in the midst of 2,500 women.

One really is the loneliest number, just like in Three Dog Night’s lyrics.

#blogher14thursday

And two can be as bad as one if they both jump in the car and sneak away from BlogHer 2014 off to Carmel-by-the Sea to enjoy a lovely, romantic, magical weekend.

‘Cos that’s what me and my tugboat man did.


 *Another BlogHer 2014 Experience Analysis*

The feeling of Feeling All Alone is not a happy feeling.

NOT sour grapes.

TRUTH.

For example, the couple of times I did approach groups, I felt a distinct chill in the air. There was no kumbaya moment, no jumping in the air to greet me — no invitation to sit down, join the group, and take a smiley selfie.

I got the message. I left.

I mean, what would YOU do when you feel awkward and you don’t seem to fit in anywhere? blogher2

And that’s about it.

There were some bright moments…

It was beyond FUN meeting My Life As Lucille and A Mother Life.

And Not a Supermom Anna Parrs was an unexpected surprise; lovely and warm.

I never hooked up with my Buddy, so I can’t determine if she would have helped to more successfully guide my BlogHer journey.

Sponsorship-wise, I connected with three brands, so there’s that.

Ursula and Rhonda from Garden of Life are awesome representatives of a great company that makes ethical, organic vitamins and supplements.

gardenoflifeblogherpic

Wandering around and around the Expo, so many of the sponsors were geared to the still menstruating female with a working uterus, and well, um —  THAT ship has already sailed for me, if you know what I mean. (TMI, I know, I know.)

In a former life, I organized large events; expos, career fairs, trade shows  –  I understand how hard it is to secure sponsorship and funding –  and retain them year after year. For every sponsor we saw, there were probably ten that declined to participate. It’s hard work and I appreciate all the effort to bring in dollars to underwrite an event – but I would have liked to have seen companies that reflected more relevance to my demographic.

Social conscience, anyone?

I was disappointed not to see any booths or representatives of women’s advocacy groups…domestic violence, child abuse, human rights — or any animal rights groups that defend and protect animals against abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

I would have expected this conference to be a perfect forum for purposeful discussions and subsequent actions to build a solid platform for collective change.

As women, we ARE powerful, and our VOICES can be loud and purposeful, not only to push me out of the way to grab more swag, but to help those less fortunate and effect positive transformations.

About McDonalds…

Had I known prior to purchasing my ticket that McDonalds was not only a main sponsor but the provider of food for the closing party, that alone would have told me that this event was not right for me. I’m not a perfect vegan or a perfect human, but this is sort of non-negotiable. A deal breaker, as it were.

You probably don’t want to see this, and I can’t blame you, but there are many videos and undercover reports all over the internet about the abuse of animals that end up in your not-so-Happy Meal. This is one of them: http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com

Most of all, I’m sorry that I didn’t have the same kinds of experiences I’ve been wistfully reading about.

Thank goodness my tugboat man was there to whisk me away to Carmel-by-the-Sea.

#BlogHer2014 was my first blogging conference.
And probably my last.


Did you know that Clint Eastwood was a former mayor of Carmel?

We found a room at the adorable, quaint, and very clean Normandy Inn. NormandyINN

In the evening, walking around the village, we heard a beautiful voice singing the kind of big band music we love from the 1940’s, and followed it to the Cypress Inn, owned by the AMAZING Doris Day!

Not only is Doris an accomplished vocalist and actor, she is one of the original animal rescuers and defenders. Her passion for saving abandoned, abused, and neglected animals is legendary. Click here to learn more about her foundation.

The lounge was full of well dressed senior citizens and a few tourists. Everyone had their dogs with them. Not only is the Cypress Inn dog-friendly; to our utter delight, so is the entire city of Carmel!

The lounge was standing room only. Vocalist Debbie Davis was amazing. She walked to the outskirts of the crowd in her sparkly dress and asked if we were celebrating anything special. I pointed to my tugboat man and told her it was his birthday. She located two chairs for us and serenaded him and everyone applauded and wished him a happy one. We both agree that Carmel has a great vibe and and we’ll definitely return.

The next day we drove down the coast looking for a place to camp. Big Sur was beautiful albeit shrouded in a heavy fog bank, but every so often the sun broke through. The views are incredible.bigsur1We never make reservations at campgrounds because we’ve always had good luck finding a spot, but not on this trip. This is what we found EVERYWHERE. NorCal tripAll the hotels were booked up too, so we drove straight home, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been, ‘cos everything’s better when my tugboat man’s around.

I’ll post more pics of our drive down California’s coast another time.

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83 thoughts on “One Is The Loneliest Number #BlogHer14

  1. Funny, funny. I’m pretty sure my parents stayed at the Normandy Inn when they went to Carmel for their 25th anniversary. (That was a long time ago though, so I could be making that up. It sure sounds right.) Such a small world we live in. I’m glad your escape to Carmel was good and your drive home, though long, wasn’t awful.
    I am sorry about your experience at BlogHer… The absence of certain sponsors seems suspect, though probably has more to do with those causes not having adequate funding to support the conference than the organizers intentionally leaving them out. And McDonalds… I don’t understand that at all. With the rest of the conference geared towards new moms or soon-to-be moms, wouldn’t you think they’d want to do something a bit nicer, something the attendees wouldn’t be eating on a regular basis already? Plus, yes, the social and animal rights implications of serving food from the golden arches should have been considered as well. It’s really just disappointing. I’m sad to say I’m not all that surprised by the cold shoulder you got from the other convention attendees, though. More and more I’ve been sensing and seeing cliques being formed around the blog-o-sphere… The feeling of invitation and openness that was here when I first started blogging is being replaced by tight knit circles where creativity and individuality aren’t suppressed, per se, but they aren’t celebrated and encouraged either.

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  2. I wish I had met you. The Expo was not like had been in previous years. In 2012, there were organizations like Bankrupting America and lots more diverse exhibitors. I was less than impressed with most of the Expo except maybe Bridgestone and PAL.

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  3. I’m so sad to read this — shame on us all that you felt this way at the conference. Especially those of us who were wandering around feeling the same. I wish there had been a way to know and find you. I needed a buddy!

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  4. I’m so glad you had someone to save the day. I’ve been to events like that. I know that feeling. I’ve Also been fortunate to find welcoming people and now, I try to be that person if I can be. Great pics.

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  5. Wow, I’m so sorry to hear it didn’t go well. I wish you’d found my crowd. We welcomed many onlies and spent hours getting to know new people. But, at a big conference, you never can predict I guess. Bummer.

    And cosign on the McD’s thing. My poor vegan heart! My very hungry vegan stomach!

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  6. Wow. I remember you having concerns before going, because they sounded similar to the ones I would have in that environment.

    Know that if I were there, I would have probably paid you to be allowed to sneak off with y’all. Forget the fashion show, let’s throw on our Hello Kitty gear and forget the rest! I don’t fit in either, premenopausal or not.

    ((hugs)) I’m glad Tugboat Man was there for you. 🙂

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  7. Somehow, I had the feeling that there were people like you that had this experience.

    I’ve looked over some of the glowing reviews, but they were all posted by friends. That doesn’t give an objective opinion, now does it? I could grab a bunch of my best girlfriends and dance around a hotel room in San Jose and we’d have a blast, too.

    Just the outfits alone made me glad I didn’t go. I’m a jeans and teeshirt gal. Oh well, you got to have a good time with your tug boat man! There’s a silver lining!

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      • Yes, it should have had a more inclusive feel to it. I’m almost certain I would have ended up on the outside. Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here and speak my mind. But this pure speculation on my part.

        The pictures I’ve seen and reviews I’ve read really point to bloggers sucking up to more well known bloggers who they feel would advance their agendas.
        It’s quite possible that since you’re not famous enough to be sucked up to, and not shallow enough to want to suck up, there just wasn’t a place for you. Again, I’m just speculating. I’m not a hater: I’m just trying to get a read on why you would have not fit in.

        In terms of hard facts, I have yet to hear one person who had any important takeaways about blogging. That’s an issue for me.

        Maybe a lot of these people just don’t really party or cut loose, so drinking in a hotel room seems so WILD. But I ain’t gonna fly to California for that. I could get into that kind of trouble at home. Next year, the conference is in NY. Because there would be no travel expenses incurred,I would go. If i hated it, I could jump in my car and be home in 40 minutes.

        I hope I don’t hate it. Any chance you would ever attend again? We could not fit in together. 🙂

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      • I would LOVE to not fit in with you! If hub is out to sea and I’m alone here in SoCal, I would DEFINITELY fly to NY or anywhere. I’m an empty nester when hub’s gone. And what you said is EXACTLY spot on. SPOT ON. I’m not one of the famous ones and I’m not much of a party girl but I can be a lot of fun! I think it’s better to go as a team, that’s for sure,cos it was hard to walk around and around alone. Thank you SO much for your supportive and wise comments. 🙂

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  8. This I s what I would expect of an even of this kind. Too many people making it too impersonal. It would have been better to have small workshop groups in which the bloggers focus on a certain issue pertaining to women.

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    • It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thought it was more about selfies, socializing, and superficiality. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it needs to be in balance. Talking about the importance of being on a nonprofit board to boost blog performance or whatever that mini-con was all about is not of primary importance to me. I shouldn’t judge, cos I wasn’t there, but that’s the feeling I got.

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  9. What a disappointment! I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to meet you. I purposely sat at tables of people I didn’t know to try to meet new people. Most were lovely. It sounds like you had some really bad luck. It was them, not you. I’m glad you got to enjoy a beautiful coastal weekend though. Not a bad way to turn things around!

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  10. Total honesty here…I have no desire to attend any bloggers conference for the simple reason that I have read far too many stories about how even the groups to which you think you belong, have places to meet and times to gather and only communicate with a few people. There are no blanket invitations nor any personal contact info, like texting, to make arrangements to meet. So for me, spending that kind of money for travel, board and ticket would be a big waste because I would likely attend a few sessions and sit by the pool at my hotel until time to go home. I never just barge into a group of strangers or wander around looking for someone familiar…I am not shy, I’m not introverted, but I’m also not rude.
    If I were going to attend, it would be traveling with and meeting someone else with intentions of spending the week-end together at the conference and hoping to be invited to meet the girls in my group. I know from watching posts, however, that this very large group is friendly and supportive, but cliquey!
    I appreciate your out and out flair!

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  11. I agree that women’s advocacy groups and animal right’s groups missed the boat by not representing themselves. Women indeed have a powerful voice and are willing to take action, even those of us who are on the crone side of life (ahem feel fee to acknowledge us – we do exist). Most activist movements would never get started without women. Heck, I’m always the one who has to remember bring our gloves and trash bags for beach clean up day 😉

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  12. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience…I know there were a few times when I felt a distinct chill in the air, and I was transported right back to middle school when I was socially ostracized, completely awkward, and unsure of every word that came out of my mouth. I did, actually, end up leaving a little early because of the emotional exhaustion of feeling like I didn’t “measure up.” But that was really more me than the conference.

    I have to agree on your point that there was a missed opportunity for advocacy and education groups. Actually, I would have loved to see more diversity in the blogs represented. While I am a personal blogger, I also write an edtech blog for my company (shameless plug: http://www.techblog.evan-moor.com), and I was hoping to make connections to find contributors or just have a good discussion about technology in the classroom! I did find one great company in the Expo Hall, but that was about it. But perhaps this is just not the conference for that.

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    • Like I just commented to Aussa, I may not seem like it, but I’m super shy and I do just run away if I feel like I’m not wanted-I never was a pushy marketing person, either. I’m SOR sorry you had a similar experience-WE should have found each other and joined forces; as a former educator and mom of a Yale prof (MY plug!) I’d be interested in learning about tech in the classroom at any level because of its impact K-12 and beyond. I don’t know the answer, I hope you don’t mind but I was so touched by your comment and it so resonated with me that I read it to hub and his reply was did I expect anything different from a group of women and I told him I had hoped perhaps things had changed from middle school – but nothing’s really changed. I was a loner then and I’m a loner now; didn’t quite fit in, even WITH my big mouth! When I think of that lovely girl Malala who was shot for wanting an education and how she’s devoted her life to change for our world’s women, THAT’s the kind of speaker I want to hear. But even tho we didn’t meet in San Jose, I’m glad to know you now!

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  13. I swear I commented on this. I wish I had met you! My struggles kept me from connecting with more people, I think. I wish sometimes that I could have one of those do over buttons.

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  14. I swear I commented on this before but I do not see it. I wish I had met you at Blogher. I sometimes think I want a do over for the conference because I felt I kept myself back some. Oh well 🙂

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  15. This is so disappointing. Why do women eat their own? I would have left too, and good for you. We are SO over mean girls.

    But, I am stymied by the attempt to camp. Wracking my brains to remember if you packed camp-able clothes and can only think of evening wear and running shoes!

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  16. I’m glad you found a silver lining here and there, but I appreciate you bringing us back a field report from the front lines. Sounds like all my suspicions were confirmed, and then some. I’m not a big fan of that “alone in a crowd” feeling, and by your account I think that’s exactly what the ticket price would buy me. Well, if they ever had a bloggers’ convention within 200 miles of Indy, anyway…

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  17. I’m shy too, and I had a hard time fitting in a lot of the time. Some groups really were chilly. I don’t know if there’s a way to combat that.

    I also have a problem with McDonald’s, and seriously considered not going when I heard they were a major sponsor.

    You make a good point about more activist sponsors. I hadn’t thought of that. I wish I had.

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  18. I had a feeling it was that way! I am super apprehensive about big conferences for just this reason. It’s great to go with a friend, and it sucks when you see people all around you being pal-ly to each other and somehow not being able to fit in!
    I agree that if I wanted to meet up with some awesome bloggers, I wouldn’t need to pay big money and go to a conference (and I have yet to read one blog review that actually said anything really good about it!) in order to do so!
    I’m so glad that we will be carpooling to meet a small group soon! I have a feeling we’ll have a lot to talk about on the way and have a much better experience with the group too! 🙂

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  19. I could see how you would feel that way. Last year was my first year, and I knew a small handful of people there, so I clung to them like a life raft because ordinarily I don’t fit in places, like, AT ALL. I’m usually the only sober person around. This year, I felt more comfortable branching out and meeting strangers, but that first year brings out the insecurities for sure.
    I’m also not big on the brands and not interested in monetizing my blog, so the expo hall is really only a place for me to get snack food and a free reusable cup. I’m there more for the relationships and the inspirational speakers.
    I was looking around for you, but never saw you! We should have coordinated better, I just assumed I’d run into everybody, forgetting how big it is. 😦
    C’est la vie. Carmel is COMPLETELY gorgeous, so not a bad consolation trip. I think I’d do better at a smaller conference, personally. Big crowds brings out my weird shyness.
    Anyway, love to you.

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  20. Ackkk that sucks. I’m so glad you had a great trip to Carmel with your Captain to make it all better.

    I have to say, I’ve been jealous (a little) of how awesome it was to connect with others, particularly amongst the Bloppies, but I’ve not seen a post so stark as this. Natalie’s hinted a little at the occasional chill in the air, and I know I wouldn’t be able to hack it. Added to which, I’ve no interest in monetising my blog, no particular ‘pitch’ to my blog (I still absolutely refuse to crawl into a niche) to hook into a lecture series or whatever, and even if the costs weren’t prohibitive, I don’t think I’d handle the crowds.

    When I come to the US, on my own terms, I want to meet people who WANT to meet up and hang out. That will be a much better use of time than going to some conference where everyone’s acting a bit predatory, just to meet people.

    Added to which, McDonalds? I would have starved for the weekend. It’s hard enough to eat in front of people anyway – that would NOT have done.

    And yeah, I’m disappointed they didn’t have any ‘issues’ booths there…such a perfect opportunity to raise awareness, and they’re forgoing it in order to raise a profit *sigh*

    Silver Linings. You looked fabulous 🙂

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    • Thank you so much. You are one of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet online I would LOVE to spend time with and have a real conversation with. You are so interesting and real. I also don’t enjoy eating in front of others, so I didn’t mind missing the breakfasts and all that-not to mention the whole McD thing. That’s just not for me. It was a bit of a let down, but I learned something about myself, so that’s the glass half full part, although at my age, I should KNOW these things already, right? But my hub is amazing, my savior, really, never made one single negative/snarky comment even though I packed enough clothes for a year abroad, and thank you for comments about looking fab (at 60)!

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      • Awwwh fanx – I truly know no other way to be! I don’t think I’m that interesting in real life, as it were – once you come out of my brain and into the ‘doings’ of life, I’m pretty boring 😀

        Blech to letdowns but yes – I guess it’s good to learn things about ourselves. And there’s no ‘should’ about it – we all learn whatever, slowly, at our own pace. Usually in my case it’s something which sinks in v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y after MANY repeats of the same set of mistakes or circumstances from which I have (and refuse) the opportunity to learn said thing…

        I’m impressed by your hub – I would have been on the receiving end of PLENTY of snark, I think. And why NOT pack lots of clothes? Might as well be prepared for every eventuality… 🙂 And you’re welcome – I meant it.

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      • I think my hub is truly my better half-he’s actually a MUCH nicer person than I am and I’ve learned a lot from him. We used to do trade shows together when we owned a biz so he had his own opinions about where it all failed but none of it was directed to me. He actually peeked in the Expo Hall and his only comments were, “Dismal” and “You all paid how much for that?” Maybe cos he’s in charge of a lot of crew and cos he works a dangerous job, but he’s always looking for solutions, not blame. I might have him do an observational recap of the conference, but then again, he’s surfing now and I might not see him for a while lol. And you ARE a very insightful human! My DIL is from UK; I’ve yet to go there, but maybe someday?

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      • Ha now it’s time to break the system with replies! I guess it’s a shame that BlogHer was such a bust on a technical level then, as well. *sigh* I assume they’re trying to get ‘Hype’ going, and it all seems quite gimmicky. Last year there were stands where you could win lube and vibrators – this year there were giveaways for PS4s…all very grabby stuff, but…not ‘Real’, if you catch my drift.

        Another reason I think I’ll do better coming to the US alone to see people, without all the hoopla of a conference and profiteering and attention-grabbing.

        YES! you should come to the UK. Which part is your DIL from?

        It’s be interesting to hear your husband’s thoughts on what he observed…maybe you could get a post out of it 🙂

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      • Ahhh surfing is one of the things I always wished I was able to do. I even bought a surfboard in my ‘flight of fantasy’ younger days. We can wait, but warehousey sounds sucky!

        London’s nice. Relatively close to me, too – if y’all are ever over, let me know and I’ll drive up if you have a spare hour 🙂

        And YES! I’m so looking forward to coming over 😀

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  21. It was so wonderful to meet you! Also, what a treat to get an intro to the Captain. I hope you guys had fun that night.
    I think you might have had a different experience, at least socially, if you’d come sans-husband and roomed with another lady. I know half the fun for me is really getting to know my roommates. I can stay in a room by myself, but the friend-factor always makes it more fun and gives me a break from the faceless crowds.
    Reading what you’ve said here is a good reminder to me to always look around the room, smile, and make room for the people who haven’t found someone to talk to yet.
    Again, it was a pleasure.

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