Since the entire Nation of Blog is away at a conference this weekend, I feel a certain responsibility to fill up some of the empty space out there. (BlogHerNot button blatantly stolen from Mrs. Flinger.)

Part of my job involves running a yearly convention, which as it turns out if you read Dante carefully, is one of the nine circles of hell. Because of this, I normally don't relish the idea of going to conferences that I have to pay to attend. I have seen the ugly side of conventions and, as such, I don't usually think "Hey, it'd be fun to attend that," when I see an advertisement. I just think of what a pain it must be to host it. Even being an attendee and not a conference planner doesn't appeal to me because all I would do is sympathize with those running the conference and go around trying to explain to other people that complaining to the conference planner because you think the maid might have smoked in your hotel room is really just adding to the list of Things They Can't Do Anything About and how about taking it up with the hotel desk? (Add "conferences" to the list of Things My Job Has Ruined For Me.)
However, this one is different. I really wish I could go because this year's BlogHer is being held in Chicago, one of my favorite cities of all time. I suppose it's just as well that I'm too busy, pregnant and poor to make time to go because I would totally be tempted to waste the registration fee and skip everything happening at BlogHer in lieu of walking up and down Michigan Avenue, my neck craned to the sky.
I'm not sure what it is about Chicago or where my love affair with that city began. It might go back to movies of the 80s that I watched incessantly as a teen. Growing up in the Southwest, Chicago was just about as different a city to what I was used to as you could find. I think I was entering the cusp of adulthood the first time I realized that it wasn't really on the East Coast - it seemed that far away. When I was just getting out of high school, my father had to go to Chicago on a business trip and he offered to take me with him - I still don't know why... just for the hell of it, I guess. During the day, he did whatever it was that he went there for and on the evenings and weekend we did every touristy thing Chicago had to offer. We took boat and bus trips around the city, ate Chicago-style pizza on the waterfront, went to the art museum, rode the El around the Loop, hit the John Hancock Center, and generally gawked at all the cool buildings downtown. I'd just read The Fountainhead and had begun a lifelong fascination with architecture. Oh, aaaand... we went to Carl Fisher - yes, even back then I was a big music geek and this was exciting to me. (I can't believe my father put up with this looking back now.) It was the most fun I ever remember having, just me and my dad together.
Later, as a prepubescent adult who had just moved to Washington, D.C. and gotten married, I felt the heady weight of being able to do anything or go anywhere I wanted... just because. The KingofHearts, Monica and I learned of a new art exhibit called Cows on Parade, where artists painted and decorated life sized models of cows and exhibited them around the city. Oh I know, you've heard about and seen a million of these by now with moose, fish, elephants and donkeys, Orioles, horses, and even Snoopys (Snoopies??) in various cities across the continent. But this was The First and we'd never heard of anything like this before.
"I've simply GOT to see that!" Monica and I said simultaneously, as we shoved the KoH into the car and drove the sixteen hours one way (we hit Chicago by way of Ohio, where we stopped to pick up a friend of KoH's)... to see cows. We spent the weekend - literally two days - walking the streets of the city, taking pictures of every cow we could find. I was full-swing into my Frank Lloyd Wright phase by then, so we also managed to fit in a tour of his studio and the Unity Temple. Then we drove home again and were back at work the next morning. Aaah... I miss being that young and spontaneous.... also being able to function on that little sleep.
When I was looking for an internship after college, I tried desperately to find one located in the Chicago area, to no avail. When the KingofHearts got his bachelors degree and started looking for jobs elsewhere, I encouraged Chicago like it was the only place on earth. Apparently, engineers don't really live and work in Illinois. And every year when we're sitting around at work, wondering where next year's conference should be, I am always the one to innocently suggest, "Hey, what about Chicago?" We had a conference in Chicago once, before I started working there, and haven't been back since. However, we've been to St. Louis four times. What's up with that?
And now Chicago has found yet another way to reject me by way of BlogHer. It's not that I couldn't go. I could probably scrape together the money, find someone to watch my child, and not being able to go on a plane right now, maybe even drive the eleven hours there. But the reality is that even if BlogHer were a block down the street from me, I would probably not have the stamina to walk around from session to session, and apparently, it's not ok to rent a mobility scooter if you're not actually disabled.
So to everyone who was able to get out to BlogHer, congratulations, hope you have fun. Give a wave at the Associates Center for me, OK?