I am bursting with emotion right now. I started my day crying in the car because Big Sean, John Ledgend and Kanye West’s One Man Can Change The World came on and makes me miss my granny. I logged onto Blogher and not only see that #Blogher16 dates and location has been announced but my article, The Amal Clooney Effect, has been featured on the Blogher home page. I am full on spazzing out right now. Like I could do a little dance!
Because I have been seriously slacking on telling you guys about the adventure I had in New York and at Blogher 15!
This is going to be a long story so get comfortable.
I’ll start with how it all started. Thursday, July 18th I was watching the season premiere for Mistresses and I was very antsy. I was having one of my classic ‘I’m cranky, frustrated and need to do something moods’ and decided to google blogging communities. I had already heard of Blogher but didn’t REALLY know what it was about. That’s when I stumbled upon the Blogher15 conference and the next thing I knew I was looking at hotels and trying to figure out the financials for a trip that would be less than a month away.
After a few days of talking myself in and out of going (mostly for fiscal reasons) I purchased my conference pass and the rest, as they say, is history.
I started to prepare for the trip by reading about all the major players and looking at the Blogher advice about attending conferences as far as what to wear and how to plan for it. I ordered my first set of blogger business cards from Vista Print. I contacted my sorority sister who lived in the city. I booked my hotel(s).
Day 1 – The Travel Day From Hell
I left my apartment at 5:35 am to get on a plane at 6:45 a.m. to take me from San Antonio to Houston. From Houston I was supposed to travel directly to NYC and arrive around 1:00 p.m….that did not happen.
Now before I go any further let me explain my flight situation, for those of you who don’t know me. One of my best friends works for a major airline and because they aren’t married, they are allowed to pick a companion to fly X amount of times for free each year. I am the companion. These free flights has allowed me to travel more than I ever would be able to on my current salary but at the end of the day you get what you pay for. These aren’t confirmed flights or tickets, you are flying standby… which basically means you go to the airport with a flight in mind and hope that they have some unsold seats and that you aren’t competing with too many other standby flyers. If there isn’t room on the flight of your choice you try another flight and another and another.
When I arrived in Houston they informed me that the direct flight to New York was booked but I could go to Chicago and from there was a connection to New York.
After landing in Chicago I raced to the gate for the flight to New York only to discover not only was the flight over booked but I was in line behind several standby passengers….. needless to say I didn’t get a seat on that flight… or the next one.
Each flight I was rejected by I noticed 2 men both with high hopes of getting to the Big Apple on standby. After our second rejection at O’hare one of the men asked me where exactly in New York was I trying to get to.
“You should see if they have a flight to Newark (New Jersey) it’s about the same distance from Newark to Midtown as it is from La Guardia to Midtown. I saw some pretty open flights when I checked last night. I’d go that route except my car is at La Guardia.”
I was on a plane to Newark about 45 minutes later. I arrive to Newark around 6:00 p.m. (for those of you counting this was roughly 12 hours since my journey started). From the Newark airport I hopped on a shuttle to New York. While waiting for the shuttle I met a woman who was from New York and gave me advice on where to get off on the shuttle to get to my hotel quicker.
After about a hour of travel I got off the shuttle in midtown, I decided that taking my first try at the New York subway station with my duffle bag and backpack in tow might not be the best idea and grabbed a taxi.
I told him, “I’m going to the Holiday Inn Midtown on W 57th, we drove for about 15 minutes and he proclaimed, “It should be somewhere around here.”
I paid the fare and got out. I wondered around for about 15 minutes with no luck, hurting (from my chronic bad pain, the result of being rear-ended by an idiot not once but twice in the past decade, most recently in June) tired, exhausted and just plain irritated. As my phone was quickly dying I was nearly in tears and already hating the city, I threw my duffle bag on the concrete and used it as a chair and called the hotel.
“I’ve been walking around for 20 minutes. I can’t find your hotel and I don’t know where I am. I hate this city already!”
“Oh ma’am don’t say that.”
The hotel concierge was amazing. I told him the cross streets and what building I was looking at and he figured out that the taxi driver had dropped me off at E 57th instead of W 57th.
He instructed me on how to get there and within twenty minutes (of passing all the places the driver had driven me by) I was checking in.
I didn’t get into my room until after 8:00 pm and to say the least was so glad to be there.
I took a nice shower put one a cute dress and met my sorority sister who lived in New York at the Hudson Hotel a block over for a glass of wine and a much-needed meal.
The Hudson was pretty much what I imagined a sleek New York bar to be. It was gorgeous and so was the crowd. I really liked it and just wish I hadn’t been as exhausted when we went.
After slaying the pulled pork sandwich I ordered (yes, the girl from Texas went to New York and ordered BBQ) and the glass of chardonnay I went back to my hotel took one of my muscle relaxers for my back (don’t worry kids they are doctor prescribed) and quickly fell into an amazing night of sleep.
Day 2: The Day I Met My People
Friday morning I woke up ready to take the blog world by storm. I checked out my hotel and grabbed a taxi to the Hilton Midtown (Hotel #2) I checked my bags in since I couldn’t check into my actual room till 3:00 p.m.. I went up stairs to where Blogher had taken over, everything was bright and beautiful! I checked in and got my badge. I walked into the entry way to the conference room where breakfast was being served. Rows of almost any breakfast food you could want filled the room; bagels, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit! Multiple kinds of tea (my tea lovers dream), coffee, milk and juice! I quickly filled a plate and made my way into the conference room.
As exciting as it was I was also having major anxiety, like first day at a new high school where do I sit anxiety? It was pretty obvious who had came together, who had been there before and who was running the show. I scoped out the room and noticed a girl around my age sitting alone. I walked over and asked if I could sit there, slowly more people joined our table, all rolling solo. Then the day started.
Soledad O’Brien was one of the first speakers and I have to tell you I found her delightful, down to earth, classy and hilarious. She spoke about her mentor program The Starfish Foundation along with 3 of the wonder women she has helped.
After the morning session I went to a lab and then it was time… for Gwenyth Paltrow!
Imagine 500 teenage girls lined up outside of the door for a meet and greet with Harry Styles… now imagine these teenage girls are grown women of all ages waiting to hear Gwenyth Paltrow drop some media mogul knowledge on us!
I got to the conference room early and was one of the first to burst through the doors and managed to get some princess parking.
Gwenyth really surprised me with how open she was talking about her family, her goals and her hopes for Goop (I would put a link to her site Goop on here but I don’t want my readers to leave and never come back).
The rest of the afternoon was a blurr…an inspiring amazing blurr.
When it was finally dinner time I decided to get my Lena Dunham on and wonder around New York and find myself something to eat. I didn’t wander very far about 3 doors from the hotel I found a small pub and ordered a burger to go. I sat next to a guy wearing a cowboy hat and ordered a long island and chatted with the Nasvillan in New York for work.
I got back to my room to devour my meal and check my messages before heading to the screening of Granfathered (Read all about it here) during which I met my Blogher bestie Ms. Corrine from The Feminist Feline. After the viewing and shamelessly throwing ourselves at Josh Peck we enjoyed some free wine and then headed to karaoke where we met the one and only Feminista Jones.
Once karaoke was over we weren’t ready to call it a night and decided to go to a bar to grab a drink with another new friend, Krystal M. Harris from The Industree Standard . That adventure was short lived as exhaustion set in and we all decided to go our separate ways and return to our rooms for the night.
Day 3- Inspiration and Cute Guy Overload
I woke up the next day in my fabulous suite at the Hilton Midtown with some trouble (thanks a lot open bar). I drug myself out of bed and headed downstairs for breakfast.
That day was just as amazing as the first. Teneshia Jackson Warner 10X10 story was amazing (Check out the tale of how she landed her dream job by stalking a Hip Hop Mogul!) The interview I found particularly inspiring was Ava DuVernay (director of Selma) , she was unapologetic, blunt and hilarious. By far I was the most fascinated by this woman. Her best piece of advice for someone with a dream was “Do what the white boys do.” Don’t ask for it or tip toe around it just go for it because it is your’s for the taking.
Following Ava’s interview the blogher bunch headed on to shuttle buses to the closing party hosted by McDonalds with special guest Boys 2 Men and Nick Cannon.
At the party I had the honor of meeting the She Knows President Phlippe Guelton, an amazing and kind man who wouldn’t tell me where Blogher 16 was going to be (L.A. Baby! Although I suggested Austin).
The after party was a blast. Handsome men making me mixed drinks and free food while listening to Boys 2 Men perform their hits… I was in heaven.
After the concert Corrine and I headed down to Time Square, a place I’d be fine never visiting again after being harassed by a generic Olaf and Minion.
I returned to my room famished and dehydrated. I decided to fill up my ice bucket where I meet Vikki Reich who says to me, “I hope you have something good to go with that ice.”
I laughed, “Water.”
She invited me to her room where her and some other bloggers where having a small after party.
I wouldn’t normally go to a random hotel room with a stranger but I’m glad I did (and I recognized Vikki from the weekend’s events)!
Day 4- My day as a tourist
This was the day reserved just to spend hanging out in the city alone. I woke up that morning and headed to my 3rd and final hotel, The Warwick, to check my bags.
I checked my bags and decided to go get some grub. I found this amazing place having brunch and order a flatbread pizza and the best mismoa I’ve ever had.
Afterwards I headed to The Paley Center for Media and went to the Frank Sintra showing. It was delightful and I never realized how charming he was. By the 3rd act I was falling asleep (exhausted from the previous night’s shenanigans) and decided to head back to the hotel for a nap.
I woke up very refreshed in my amazing hotel room and decided to grab dinner and check out the infamous Central Park.
Central Park was by far the most “New York” experience I experienced on my trip.
As I wondered into the park’s entrance I noticed a young man notice me, he coordinated his stride with mine and started to sing The Weekend’s, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.”
I burst out laughing while also wondering if I was about to be the center of a flashmob. Was my Friends With Benefits flashmob movie moment finally happening in the streets of New York? Not at all, we talked for a few moments and I declined his invitation to come to my hotel room with some whiskey (only in New York).
I wandered around the park taking photos when 2 girls stopped me and asked if they could talk to me about Jesus Christ, I talked to them for a bit but declined the offer to join their mailing list. They thanked me for being nice to them and went on their way. I’m not a religious person but I do respect the fact these girls had no fear sharing what they believed in and weren’t pushy.
As I headed out of the park a man and woman with a camera asked if they could interview me (for what show I still don’t know) about Russell Simmons comparing animal abuse to slavery and the holocaust. I said why not and gave them a few comments.
I then returned to my room to just relax, watch some tv and enjoy some Rays Pizza before preparing for my travels the next day.
Day 5- The real travel day from Hell
The next morning I woke up around 8 and went outside to wait for my shuttle to take me back to the Newark airport. I got to the airport about 2 hours early for my flight and made it through security swiftly.
I decided to pass the time by grabbing breakfast and watching some Hulu on my laptop.
I took a plane to Chicago and that’s when the trouble started… no flights.
I missed multiple flights in Chicago. Finally me and 2 other passengers I’d met in the standby club were told the only real chance we had of arriving to San Antonio that day was to take a flight to St. Louis that would arrive around 6, then take the 10:30 flight that would land in San Antonio around midnight!
Are those my only options? Yes.
After landing in St. Louis I went to the airport Chilis with one of the passengers I’d met for dinner and drinks. We then set up camp at our flight’s gate for the next 3 hours watching tv on our devices and making phone calls.
I finally landed and took a taxi home arriving a little before 1 a.m. As you can assume waking up for work at 7:30 was hell.
I had an amazing time (travel apart). I feel like I learned a lot about myself and left the conference more inspired. I met so many amazing women and men, sorry I can’t list them all here.
Now I’ve talked (typed) enough. I want to hear from you? Have you been to any blogger conferences? Which ones? How did they go?
Ever travel alone? Did you enjoy it?
Have any horrible travel stories?