We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl…….Madonna
Before I got there, it was all about shoes— the shoes people are buying and bringing and planning to wear. And I start to wonder if I’m going to BlogHer—or to Barney’s.
The only thing I hear about beforehand more than the shoes—is the swag. I should bring a huge suitcase. An empty suitcase. An extra suitcase. Just to hold all the swag. Everytime I hear that word I think it’s an anagram: like S.W.A.K. Sealed. With. A. Kiss. At the risk of dating myself big time— S.W.A.K. is what we used to write on the back of letters to our boyfriends— back when people still wrote letters. Which dates me even more. You wouldn’t think it’s a good thing to be older than almost everyone in the blogosphere. Yet being older is maybe the best thing I had going for me at BlogHer. Because I’m over that stuff. Stuff like shoes and swag. At least I thought I was.
On the way to the Chicago Sheraton I ride with @Kikarose (aka Jessica). I almost forget to check out her shoes because I’m preoccupied that I’ve already lost my sunglasses. (maybe the swag will include sunglasses?…) Jessica is a BlogHer veteran. When I get to my room and call to tell her I found my sunglasses, she’s already on her way to the nearby Hyatt to the event sponsored by the Social Luxe Lounge, known to serious bloggonistas as the Superbowl of S .W.A.G.
Something is already wrong with this picture—-Jessica had no time to change her shoes before going to collect her swag. Which means she isn’t wearing special BlogHer shoes— she had on normal shoes in the van; come to think of it, everyone did. Meanwhile I unpack the 3 pairs (Okay— 5 pairs) of shoes I brought with me. (After Chicago, I’m going to Madison, Wisconsin where people might think Manolo Blahnik is the name of a dictator, not a designer. Not that we are personally acquainted on any level. )
But now I think maybe I should check out the Social Luxe Lounge before it’s over. Even at my age and stage of life, swag is seductive. I’m Jewish, for one thing. Finding a bargain is deep in my DNA. I don’t need anything to add to the clutter I already have; but I figure if I find anything worthwhile, I’ll give it away on Cluttercast. Although after a 4-hour flight and waking up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport, at this moment a real shower sounds more appealing than being showered with gifts.
So: good swag or good sense? At least I have the sense to wear comfortable shoes when I head downstairs.
In the lobby of the Sheraton, women are back from the Social Luxe Lounge, lugging around enormous shopping bags that I later learn contain stuff like free video cameras. It’s Christmas in July. Reality sets in. Santa must be a blogger. Visions of sugar plums dancing.
I walk to the Hyatt a little faster.
At the Hyatt, I don’t see bloggers following a trail of breadcrumbs to the Social Luxe Lounge— but I do sense some buzz in the lobby. Could the general public possibly be excited by the prospect of 1400 women getting S.W.A.G. ?
I go down the escalator to the ballroom level. I’m in the right place. Women are following the yellow brick road to S.W.A.G. Central.
And I now realize there is another event going on at the Hyatt tonight, another reason people are waiting on line. Not just women, but men. Some of them instantly recognizable in their dark suits with little earpieces. And there is a sign– -not the kind I often get from the universe, but a real sign:
And suddenly I’m facing a personal moment of truth: Do I foresake my dignity in favor of detergent?
I know I would get nowhere near President Obama and certainly he will not take this escalator or this entrance into the hotel and by the way, I don’t have a ticket . But I flew across the country just to be at his inauguration. Am I willing to walk across the hall and miss a chance to see him? This is a life choice here.
Meanwhile bloggers are rushing past me and dragging those Santa sacks back to the Sheraton. The S.W.A.G. Superbowl is in the last quarter. And I remember hearing someplace that Hershey’s is one of the sponsors.
In my defense—I do stop and pause by the Obama people— before I cross over to the dark side.
I don’t sweat the small stuff. But that’s all I see when I cruise the main ballroom. No problem passing up swag like cosmetic samples that I already have stacked up in my closet from years of buying Estee Lauder for the free gifts. I don’t even bother bending over to sort through an entire carton sitting unattended , filled with Crocs in all sizes. Crocs are chump change around here.
I am seeking Santa’s workshop. The Chamber of Secrets. Headquarters for S.W.A.G. And when I do find this smaller S.W.A.G.shop, it turns out that what your mother told you is true: the early bird gets the swag. The bags stuffed with the good stuff are gone or off limits. And there is no sweet-talking the women who are guarding the room more avidly than the Secret Service is out there guarding Obama.
Worst of all, although I do score a ticket for a free drink— the entire Social Luxe Lounge does not contain a single Hershey’s kiss.
I am swagless and sweaty. It’s raining when I come out of the Hyatt and I do get one thing from this little excursion— I get wet.
I compensate over the next couple days; and also gain a new understanding of the California gold rush. I am not privy to the private parties and private suite/sweet stuff—but I don’t have to be. I don’t get quality but I accumulate quantity without even trying, thanks to sponsors swooning over mommy bloggers. Most of it I give away. I get a Mr. Potato Head who stays in Madison with some college boys—just where he belongs. I bring home a few items as souvenirs and a few things to post on Cluttercast.
In the end—- I willfully skip S.W.A.G. opportunities, thereby preserving a few shreds of dignity.
And detergent was definitely worth the trade-off.
Thanks to Tide, I met Tim Gunn in person, along with @MilitaryMama.
Even better, the Laundry Fairy from All brand detergent was handing out chocolate lollipops.
(P.S. More soon….since there was more to BlogHer beyond S.W.A.G. )