It was a tragedy that I couldn’t attend BlogHer. The conference took place a 40 minute drive away (San Jose), and I knew some people who were going. Unfortunately, I don’t drive, and I just can’t afford the transportation and hotel costs right now. I had thus reconciled myself to the fact BlogHer was out of my reach, and I planned to spend the weekend twiddling with Breakingranks.net and catching up on Jamal Dajani’s Middle East Intelligence Report.
At the very last minute, Mary Hodder, the braininess behind Dabble offered me a ride to the BlogHer reception. While I wasn’t actually registered for the conference, I got to check out this small part of it.
Just the ride to San Jose was an education. I shared a ride Sylvia Paull, who runs the Berkeley CyberSalon. I’ve lived in Berkeley since 1992, and I’ve been working and playing in “cyberspace” for almost as long, but I’d never actually hooked into Berkeley’s vast community of bloggers, web developers, and tech entrepreneurs. I guess I’m too much of a geek to even go out and meet other geeks. 😉 Anyway, Sylvia made a special effort to invite me to all her Happenings. She’s at the top of the list of Thank You Notes I have to write today.
The BlogHer reception was a lot of fun. At first I was worried, because I didn’t see anyone I knew, but I didn’t want to hang all over Mary, either. Fortunately, I literally bumped right into Susan Getgood, an energetic marketing blogger. Since the flipside of my rage against the corporate machine is engagement with a lot of PR and marketing folk, I actually knew Susan. And since Susan is naturally gregarious, she introduced me to a few new people, most notably tsunami-blogger Evelyn Rodriguez.
I also admit to snitching some of the free wine. Hopefully BlogHer’s lawyer’s won’t come after me. 😉
Mary was staying for the conference, so I got a ride home with one of the new forces behind Our Media, Lisa Padilla. I at least knew Mary through participating in her Dabble beta and soliciting her opinions on rankism in the blogosphere. I’d never met Lisa at all, but she was extremely warm and friendly, and we found a lot to talk about.
The last kindness of the night had nothing to do with BlogHer or blogging. Lisa dropped me off at the Millbrae BART (train) station, which was closest to her house. There I discovered, thanks to my apparent inability to read a train schedule, the last train had already left for the night.
Thus, I found myself in Millbrae at 1am. I had no cellphone, and no one to call even if I had one (nope – didn’t even get Lisa’s card before she dropped me off). I had six dollars and my pocket. I also had a credit card, but taking a cab back to Berkeley would have cost me more than spending the weekend at BlogHer. 🙁 I had exactly six dollars in my pocket.
The BART station agent was then kind enough to point out that there was a popular 24-hour restaurant, Peter’s Cafe, right beside the BART station. While I questioned whether I still had the ability to pull an all-nighter at my age, I decided to give it a shot.
Apparently the staff at Peter’s Cafe has seen this situation before, because they were all very sweet and gave me a whole pot of coffee. I just settled in with the book I had luckily brought with me to read on the train (a translation of The Peony Pavilion, if anyone is interested).
I ordered something called a “Baby Pancake”, which was really the equivalent of a whole apple pie. I was only able to eat a quarter of it the entire five hours I spent there. I recommend it as a special treat if anyone else finds themselves trapped in Millbrae.
I ultimately made it home during the wee hours of Saturday morning. I then slept most of the day, and I wasn’t really functioning on all cylinders on Sunday, either. Now I’m back in gear, though, and ready to follow up with all the cool people I met at the BlogHer reception.
All of these people were previously strangers to me. I was able to go to the BlogHer reception not through the kindness of one person, but the kindness of many. That sort of thing really renews my faith in the human spirit.