BlogHer Food: Thank You.

I was a kinked up coil of nervous energy when I woke up Friday morning. In an hour, I knew I was going to have to walk into a room filled with food bloggers I’ve read and read about for some time. People I respected, but did not know. People I assumed all knew each other. People who do what I do, but do it better.

I felt like a junior year transfer student on his first day at an All-Honors high school where everyone was smart and funny and popular. Would these people let me sit with them at their lunch table?

Oh, dear Lord in heaven. Lunch.

I couldn’t bear to think about the meal because I knew that, afterwards, I was expected to get up on a stage and be an “expert” on writing. On storytelling. On using one’s own voice. In front of smart people. As I walked up the stairs to the third floor conference rooms, I had half a mind to turn right back around, go home, and crawl back into my bed. I wanted to hide.

Fortunately, I never got the chance to do that.

I wasn’t five steps into the room when a man I’ve long respected but never met before (only Tweeted with) yelled, “Michael!” in his booming voice, gave me a big bear hug, and pulled me into the room. I was taken by surprise, but all of my anxieties were squeezed away when he put his arms around me.

That one, kind action from him made me believe I was welcome in that room. That brief moment allowed me to feel as though I belonged there.

It was the first of many gestures that blew my mind and made my heart want to explode. The warmth, heart, good humor, and generosity I felt from so many people over the last weekend has overwhelmed me. It’s two days later and I am still high from it.

I have decided to follow at least the first part of Mr. Hemingway’s advice again and write drunk; edit sober so, while I am still intoxicated by the experience, I want to write it all down and thank those of you who got me high in the first place. No names. No particular order. If you happen to read this, you will hopefully know who you are.

To the man who gave me that bear hug: Thank you. You already know what that meant to me.

To the show-tune loving lady who soon after told me I had a beautiful voice: Thank you. You helped give me the courage to use it.

To the mother of the wide-eyed child who, in the middle of our Storytelling Panel, thanked us for talking about telling stories: Thank you. I was unsure I was getting my message across coherently in that darkened, post-lunch room. You turned the lights on for me. You made me feel like I was making my message clear.

To the cute young man I liked to think of as my Prom Date to the conference: Thanks for keeping my spirits high. That meant a lot.

To the Merman-loving redhead who dares to name food items “thingies”: Thank you for charming the socks off of me and showing me that people can find success and still maintain  a sense of humility and quirky humor.

To the sexy blond woman who sat with me over dinner in that over-priced Asian restaurant: Thank you for sharing your stories of waiting tables with me. It made me feel as though I’m not alone in my struggle. You feel like my soul sistah.

To the lady who sat next to me on the stage: Thank you. You were my very first blog crush. You did not disappoint.

To the Canadian lady who sat next to the lady who sat next to me on the stage: Thank you. Our prior discussions and questions really helped me to organize my thoughts. You helped me to think and think clearly. Besides, you know I have a thing for Canadians.

To the spiky-haired lady who takes pictures: Thank you for the late-night talk and for letting me eat all that garlic with you. Your power to inspire people is crazy, crazy strong. The force is with you. You might want to think about starting your own cult if the photography thing doesn’t work out.

To the lady with the flower in her hair who gave me a ride home: Thank you for asking me “What’s next?” Thank you for your willingness to listen. And to talk.

To my adorable part-Calabrese paisan: Thank you for being the glue that holds many of us together. I know I’ve already told you that, so thank you, too, for always being around to hear me complain, give me advice, and set me straight (a-hem).

To the woman who stood at the back of the conference room with me, shared some spiked coffee, and told me that a tampon dipped in boiling water is ideal for creating steam in food styling situations: Thank you for always making me feel like I’m smart enough to be in the room with you.

To the unbearably cute girl I met in the elevator, whose mother I hoped wasn’t a famous T&A television star: Thank you. Your energy and excitement were so palpable that I think I fed off of them in that tiny little space. Like a vampire or something. You, Bear Hug Guy, and I need to continue our conversation. I think something amazing could come from it.

To the exquisitely armed woman I keep running into over and over again through the years: Thank you for showing us that funny, smart, geeky, kind, and sexy are not mutually exclusive qualities.

To the straight guy with the guns: Thank you for underscoring for me the joys of following one’s own path. And, of course, for the trivia lessons. I’ve never met anyone quite like you. We really need to work on that cheese idea.

To the beautiful, quiet woman who sat at the back of the room as I nattered on about storytelling: Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one who leaves off writing until the last minute; that it’s good to keep things spontaneous and raw. And thank you for inspiring me to get out my brother’s old camera and shoot real film– it makes me feel closer to someone I miss every day of my life.

There are so many other people that I want to thank, and I will. Right now, however, I have to make my re-entry into the real world and go to work.

Thank you, everyone, for making the BlogHer Food 2010 Conference a wonderful experience. I hope I never entirely sober up from it.

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44 Responses to BlogHer Food: Thank You.

  1. Selena Cate says:

    As I just posted my post-blogher thoughts I find it intriguing to read your words of uncertainly. I related entirely to the beginning of your post. My own post was about feeling that I was in the wrong place. Now that I’m home I’m going through the thank-yous in my head and trying to make the words accurately describe all of that emotion, feeling and energy of the last few days. I don’t think we ever met at the conference but I feel a connection to you just by reading your thoughts.

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Selena,

      I read your post and commented on it. Thank you for reading mine and taking the trouble to leave a comment of your own.

      There were many of us there who first thought “what the hell am I doing here?”

      I don’t feel that way anymore. I hope you don’t, either. Perhaps we’ll meet at the next…

  2. Michael thank YOU! You are a joy! It was awesome wasn’t it?!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Oh, Sheila, thanks. It was delightful meeting you, as well. I only hope I didn’t forget to offer you a swig of bourbon Saturday morning.

      And, yes, it was awesome– in the truest sense of the word.

  3. Chris says:

    Michael, I got up the nerve to approach you and let you know how much I had enjoyed the Storytelling panel and I’m so glad I did. You graciously offered advice and encouragement and made me feel welcome. Thanks so much for returning the warmth and generosity in kind!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      I remember it. I’m very glad to know that I was able to do the same for you that others were doing for me.

      So when are you going to get up the nerve to start publishing that blog of yours? Let me know!

  4. Elise says:

    Michael. You. Are. FABULOUS.

    We need to get together and frolic.
    🙂

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Elise. So. Are. YOU.

      If there was one phrase that I was self-conscious of over-using this weekend, it was “So-and-so has such good energy…” I felt so 70’s. I used it the first time describing you.

      As for frolicking, Hank has promised to cook and, if I remember correctly, you promised the location. Let’s make this happen.

      xoM

  5. Jun Belen says:

    It was lovely meeting you, Michael. Looking forward to the next soiree!

  6. jane maynard says:

    what a cute, sweet post…and I think captures the feeling and magic of blogher food beautifully! thank you for sharing yourself – both here on the blog and on that wonderful panel you participated in! sad I didn’t get a chance to meet you…two days is simply not long enough to meet all the amazing people that were there! anyway, lovely post!🙂

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Jane,

      Oh, I wish you would have said something at the conference! Thank you. I can’t tell you how relieved I was that people weren’t falling asleep during our discussion.

      And you’re right– two days isn’t enough time to meet everyone. However, if I’d spent any more time there, my brain might have actually exploded. It’s Tuesday, and I’m still exhausted from it.

  7. MrJackhonky says:

    And thank YOU Michael for being you. I can’t even organize my thoughts around BlogHer Food, and now I realize I don’t have to, as you’ve already said them.

    And, quite literally, I could not have gone without you., Thank you.

  8. Chris says:

    A stunningly fantastic post. Thanks for this. It was a wonderful weekend and you’ve summed it up perfectly.

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Thank you, Chris.

      Funny, but I wasn’t going to write it because I thought it might be too, umm… yearbook-y. And then I thought, “Why the hell not? If I feel yearbook-y then I should just go ahead and write yearbook-y.”

      I’m glad I did, because I don’t think it’s healthy to keep so much gratitude bottled up.

      M

  9. What a wonderful, non-name-dropping post. I recognized many of the people you mentioned by description and, I must say, you nailed them! I thoroughly enjoyed your storytelling session – it was a very thoughtful discussion.

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Dear Miss Canuck.

      I thought it best to avoid names and links altogether because all I wanted to do was give some kind of release to all the gratitude I was holding inside. I simply loathe bloating– both physical and spiritual.

      And thank you for coming to our session! I really, really enjoyed myself there. I hope it showed.

      As you’ve read from this post, I have a thing for Canadians, so you are extra, extra welcome here anytime.

      M

  10. Serene says:

    Thank you for this post, and for jumping up to hug me when you saw my name on my name badge. You were the only person besides Dorie that even had any idea who the heck I was, and it was nice to have that same “Oh, okay, maybe it’s okay if I’m here” moment that you describe.

  11. Pingback: BlogherFood and San Fran

  12. *blush* you’re wonderful, talented, and so all about the great words. I love your wrap up shout out. Brilliant. Genius. All that. Love your words and you. Can’t wait to have more of you in my life. Come to LA IMMEDIATELY xoxox

    • Michael Procopio says:

      And you are very generous, missy. Thanks for buddying up to me.

      As for LA. I think we should make something happen. There are so many of you down there I want to see.

      xoM

  13. Pingback: BlogHer Food, the Love Fest

  14. Matt says:

    What a wonderful experience finally getting to meet you!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Matt,

      Are you Liz or Dick? I still can’t make up my mind.

      Right back at you re: wonderful experience. Pity there was so little time.

      See: above reply to Brooke. Will comedown in near future. Would love to see you and Adam and, oh… lots of neat people.

  15. David Leite says:

    Michael, such a beautiful post. Your humility and gratitude are inspiring.

    Now let me try (but not nearly as good as you, I’m sure):

    To the witty, generous gentleman who gives vests a good name: Thank you for hanging out, always having a witty, disarming thing to say, and for making me feel almost 40 pounds thinner.

  16. jackie baisa says:

    Absolutely stunning response to this event. You make me feel a) like I would have wanted to be there, and b) that I was, in fact, THERE.

    I can understand your feelings well. That’s how I felt at my first blogger conference this year (IFBC in Seattle) with some of those same exact characters. It was mind-blowing. I imagine this was no less.

    Your writing is superb. As a career editor (the photography thing is new for me in the last few years), it’s rare that I read REALLY good writing. This was GOOD.

    Cheers,
    Jackie

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Jackie,

      Thank you. Wow. Your comment is just the sort of thing that kept blowing my mind all weekend. Those are very generous words.

      And it’s stuff like that which makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing.

      So thanks again (and very much!).

      Michael

  17. Aida says:

    What a dear post… I felt like I was reading a sort of BlogHer yearbook with all those witty thoughts!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Hello, A.M.

      I suppose the fact that I was on my high school yearbook staff made the whole yearbook-y feel of this post unavoidable. I’m so glad you stopped by to sign my annual!

  18. ann west says:

    Ok must say I am jealous. I feel like I missed the party. It sounds like a wonderful time! AND I always enjoy your posts!
    cheers – ann

    • Michael Procopio says:

      It was a marvelous party.

      And I am just so filled with happiness that people like you drop by and kindly tell me you like to read.

      Really and truly.

      M

  19. Garrett says:

    Couldn’t have asked for a better prom date.
    Looking forward to the next one too, mister.😉

  20. You’re on our Hero list because of who you really are.
    Thanks to people like you, the blogging world is a better place. And you can write like a M*%$#@ F&%K@! too. That helps.😉
    Rock on Michael, Rock on.

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Thanks very, very much. Seriously. I’ve been more or less offline all weekend, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much this comment of yours cheered me. Really. Thank you.

  21. Srivalli says:

    What a lovely recap! It was a wonderful meet at Blogher Food. Wish we had more time to interact with all.

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Thanks very much, Srivalli. I would have loved one more day to hang out and meet people, but I think my head would have more than likely exploded.

  22. It was so good to meet you BlogHer Food! Dinner was a lot of fun but I wish we’d sat closer because I would have loved to talk to you more. Let’s keep in touch, I’m totally practicing my showtunes for the next event. It’s out on twitter, there’s high expectations!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Diana,

      It was wonderful to meet you, too. We probably should have all changed seats midway through the meal, don’t you think? Typically, this would be considered a logistical nightmare for our waiter but, since we were eating family style, that would not have been a problem now, would it?

      As for the show tunes, I’d love to see what you can do!

      xoMichael

  23. I’m sorry – I got a little burned out reading BHF recaps, but thought I’d follow a link over here because I thought the storytelling session was the best session I attended the one day I was at BHF – and you were the major reason why. You answered my question about how to become a better storyteller after spending 20 years doing business writing. Practice, practice, practice…. Your nameless/linkless post is refreshing!

    • Michael Procopio says:

      Priscilla,

      Who could blame you?

      Thank you very much for the compliment. When we began that session, I wasn’t sure I was getting my message across coherently. As both the session and the weekend went on, it became clear that I did. I was very grateful for the opportunity to speak.

      It means a lot to hear this from you.

      Michael

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