Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review AKA That One Time I Saw a Movie Brian Wanted to See Before Him

Guardians of the Galaxy

One of the perks of being a blogger is getting to see movies a few days early so I can tell you all about them. In this case, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Tuesday. Without my deliciously geeky, comic-loving, Marvel-adoring boyfriend. Who was jealous like no other. To be fair, I told him I would decline and wait to see it with him if he asked me to. He didn’t.

Instead, I had to promise to keep all the excitement to myself. Until now. (Of course, after the slew of questions, pokes and prods from Brian, I revealed quite a few little tidbits of information. Whatever.)

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Look at those outlaws. Don’t they look like a bunch of A-holes? Because they totally are. Of course, I like to think that A stands for awesome, but that’s just me.

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Guardians of the Galaxy brings us back into the Marvel universe head first with an unlikely hero, the self-dubbed legendary outlaw Star Lord (Chris Pratt *swoon*) who attempts to steal a very precious relic from a space cave somewhere in the ‘verse (Oops. Wrong nerd reference. Gearing up for Gen Con hard core over here.) Of course, he’s not the only one vying for a piece of the action, and finds himself in space prison with a few other infamous characters.

Rocket and GrootRocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) take teamwork to a whole new level with their verbal/nonverbal communication and friendship. I figured Rocket, the talking raccoon would be the be-all-end-all of comic relief, but I was surprised and impressed that the entire ensemble held their own with humor. Groot, the tree/muscle/amazing-being-with-ridiculous-resilience being, captured my heart from beginning to end.

Starlord and GamoraGamora (Zoe Saldana), a genetically engineered being created as a weapon kicks major butt in this flick, taking on the most serious role in the movie with the least comic relief. Drax (Dave Bautista), the most serious character, takes everything literally, leaving room for plenty of jokes about sarcasm and sass.

From outlaws to heroes, the guardians work together to save a planet, and probably the entire universe from the dangerous infinity stone. Star Lord leads this ragtag band of heroes on the search for wealth, revenge and escape.

YonduThe rest of the cast is equally fantastic with Michael Rooker (anyone remember when The Walking Dead was cool?) as the morally gray Yondu, Karen Gillan (Whovian girl crush!) as the wickedly vicious Nebula, John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, and Lee Pace as Ronan.

NebulaI laughed, I cried (I know, right?), and I sat on the edge of my seat (I’m lying-I comfortably sprawled across two seats) for the entire movie. The pop culture references were stellar. The soundtrack was amazing (Can someone PLEASE make me an Awesome Mix?). I saw it in 3D, but I suspect it will be just as delightful when I see in in regular 2D.

I really loved it. I thought it was light and fun with just enough action to make my boyfriend want to see it again. (Even though he hasn’t seen it once yet. Whatever.)

Verdict? Go see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you hate nerds. And nerd movies. And nerd references. At which point I will call you Ogre. Because I know you’ll come around eventually.

Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Release Date: August 1, 2014
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Are you planning on checking out Guardians of the Galaxy? What’s your favorite Marvel movie so far? If you’re not down with the Marvel universe, what movies are you looking forward to this month?

Disclaimer: No one paid me to say nice things. I’m also planning on seeing this flick again tonight on my own (OK, fine on my boyfriend’s) dime. All images were used with permission from Disney and Marvel Studios.

BlogHer Conference: Not Just for Mommy Bloggers

I recently discovered that BlogHer in the media is labeled as the biggest mom-blogger conference in the country.

This is news to me. As a second-year attendee, with no children to speak of, it really bothers me.

BlogHer is an all-encompassing conference for people who blog. Men. Women. Parents. Writers. Humorists. Storytellers. Young. Old. Gay. Straight. We are unified by our desire to write and to share our stories.

Sure the HER part of BlogHer makes it a conference comprised of mostly women, but men are welcome and WELCOMED.

So here’s my wrap-up. The good, the bad and the ugly. But I gained so much more immediately following this conference than what I thought I got out of BlogHer13.

I didn’t go for the speakers or the sessions…though Jenny Lawson was fabulous, some of the things Kerry Washington  had to say resonated with me, and I learned some valuable information about publication.

I didn’t go for the swag…though I was happy to add to my board game collection thanks to Chuck E Cheese, Skype blew it out of the park with branded stuff my co-workers may be a bit jealous of, and I’m pretty excited (Read: OMG had a freakout in the hallway with another ginger blogger) about trying out the new Keurig when it comes out.

I went for the people.

The writers, the women, the friends that I’ve made in the blogosphere and the people I met on our Californiadventure. I was lucky to have met a fantastic group of women from around the world before I even made it to BlogHer, so I went into the conference with a beautiful group of new friends. I got to hang out with Joules again and Jenny (my bestie’s adorable and wonderful SIL) and so many others that I met last year (I loved that so many of us kept bumping into each other)!

I met the AMAZING Lillian Connelly finally. She was my first fan that wasn’t obligated by friendship or blood to like me. And she was my first blog friend to really welcome me into this digital community. I also met a large group of women that I spend a lot time reading and interacting with on the Book of Face. We had dinner/snacks/drinks before the closing party and they were all ABSOLUTELY wonderful. And hysterical.

Selfie with Lily
Selfie with Lily

The brands, connections and companies that help me keep this blog running. Networking with businesses that fit with my brand of crazy and meeting writers and social media mavens who offer advice, experience and contacts was an unexpected highlight of my first conference and definitely something I found yet again. You never know who you’re going to sit next to at breakfast or run into at a party.

It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome.
It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome. (Shameless plug: if you use my affiliate code, QuirkyHost, you can save $10 on a one- or two-year contract.)

On tribes, cliques and cool kids

I am lucky enough to have several groups of blog friends. I am a part of groups and tribes. But I don’t think that any one group was the be all end all of this conference. I think they were all unbelievable and better in real life than ever I imagined. I bounced around as I tend to do, flitting from event to group hangout to solo time to a little one-on-one with my honey. And still I missed whole groups of people that I wanted to spend time with.

The best part, though, is that every group I sat down in, every person I talked to, every cool kid table I moseyed my way into was cool. I learned from veterans and educated newbies. Some saw me as a relative newbie while others looked to me for advice and acceptance. But as Aussa Lorens mentioned, there’s always that .8% of people who aren’t quite as awesome. My .8% happened to be a single person who reminded me of my grandmother-though not in a bad way at all-(her personality, the way she spoke, her love of sparkly things), assumed I was a plus-size fashion blogger before even making eye-contact with me or shaking my hand, and didn’t want to exchange business cards with anyone who wasn’t a fashion blogger. But she may have been nervous. Or annoyed at the session we were in. Or having a bad day. So I don’t fault her.

Every group seemed like the “cool kids”  and almost every time they welcomed me with open arms. It was lovely.

On the expo hall, sessions, food, and parties

While the expo hall was smaller this year than last, I felt as though I didn’t have enough time to navigate to all the places I wanted to. Sure, there wasn’t as much swag free-flowing, but I feel like I made better connections with brands that I really want to work with.

The sessions were MUCH longer than last year, and thus less to my liking. I would rather have more options, and less lengthy panels with a lot of information that isn’t relevant to me. The publishing session offered a lot of information, but I think it could have been broken down into separate sessions about the different ways to publish. I made it to the style session, but it didn’t really seem to be what I thought it was, so I bounced.

The conference food was okay. I didn’t starve this time. I’m REALLY glad I’m not gluten-free this year (though I have found I feel a little better when I avoid bread and potatoes) because everything was all the bread.

Yoga and wine. At the same time.
Yoga and wine. At the same time.

The parties that I did attend were great. Eppa and One2One threw a killer yoga and sangria party. Keurig fed me the most delicious breakfast complete with Kcup coffee from the new Keurig 2.0. I also attended a beautiful and powerful panel discussing late-stage breast cancer. I tried to get into the suite parties, but they were SO crowded that I just. couldn’t. do it. Plus Brian was with me (and actually up for partying) so I couldn’t not find a less-crowded spot to hang. We met up with the lovely Joules from Pocketful of Joules and a few other ladies for karaoke and Twisted Shotz. All. The. Shotz.

Don’t worry. I’ll share the karaoke video at some point.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of a swag drop/exchange on Saturday night/Sunday when I was packing up my swag and found a few items that weren’t super relevant to me. I had no place to drop them off to be donated or snagged by someone who WOULD use them. Bummer.

On candy in a pill bottle

One of the brands at BlogHer was giving out swag with Red Hots inside of a prescription bottle with a label designed to make adults laugh. I was unlucky enough to miss this before they shut down the “drug ring.” Because this brand was a company that produces baby products, the media blew up with the mom-blogger conference sponsor that did a bad thing.

While I don’t have children (thus likely discounting my opinion, apparently), I don’t think the company made a huge mistake. First, no one complained last year when a pharmacy gave out all the drugs. Actual drugs. Because those were for grown ups. I’m pretty sure the Red Hots were for grown ups too. The swag here isn’t all for toddlers to play with.

Second, when I was about 8 or 9, I used to play with candies (usually Pez) as “pills” in used prescription bottles, while smoking my gum and powdered sugar cigarettes and swiping Mom’s expired credit cards to purchase used lotto tickets while playing bartender. Granted, I was old enough to know the difference between play and real. Maybe you think poorly of me. Or my parents. But I turned out to be a successful, smart, independent woman who never ODed on pills, picked up a smoking habit or gambled my way into Gamblers’ Anonymous.

In the same token, I don’t think poorly of the parents who disliked the swag. That’s their prerogative.

But in the end, I was a little sad I didn’t get a bottle of laughter medicine.

Thankfully, I surrounded myself with BlogHers who made me laugh.

Did you go to BlogHer? Have you been to BlogHer? Would you go to BlogHer next year? Have you been to a conference similar to this? What experiences did/would you hope to have at a conference of this magnitude?

This Could Probably be a Real Post if I Wasn’t Drunk and Delayed at the Airport

Just thought you might appreciate a quick update while I’m cocktailing (or beering…I mean…whining…err wining…FINE cidering at the airport). Whatever. I’m drinking.

Brian was just on the phone with his dad when I told him that our flight was (SURPRISE) delayed.

He relayed this information to his dad, who may be picking us up at an ungoldly hour in the morning. All I heard was Brian’s end of the conversation.

“Yeah, we HAD a direct flight. At a reasonable time…but it was the for the wrong day.”

Whoops. For those of you who missed that Facebook update…

I may have booked our flight for Saturday instead of Sunday. Luckily, I caught it in enough time to change it…we just don’t have a direct flight…or an early evening arrival.

In order to entertain you/me, I’ve decided to share the end of our trip before the rest of it.

Things that happened at the airport so far:

Traveling with booze is expensive

At luggage check, we were informed that my classy packaging of wine was not acceptable to airport standards. I learned a very valuable lesson about packing and traveling with booze today. Apparently, wine inside tied hotel laundry bags inside grocery bags wrapped with a hoodie does not constitute well-protected. $30 and an embarrassing scene of opening and rearranging our luggage later, my wine, beer, and olive oil is now safely bubble wrapped.

TSA felt up my cheese

At security check, my California cheese and sausage was determined a dangerous set of weapon and greedily manhandled by TSA. (And you remember how I feel about TSA.) This concerned Brian…not the part about the manhandling, but the part where I reacted to the manhandling. Apparently, you’re not supposed to touch your stuff unless they ask.

That’s it… so far. We’re boarding a flight to LAX now, so who knows what could happen next.

PS: If you read the comments below, you’ll discover what DID happen next. *facepalm*

What are your flying nightmares? Real or potential?

Touring Wine Country with #PetalumaMade

A lovely group of influencers and Brian got together in California. This is the midday result in photos.

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Blog Friends, I’m LOVING Petaluma! Have you been to Petaluma? What are your favorite California wines?

Meanwhile, a Little Awkwardness in the Ladies’ Room…

Holy crap, you guys. Brian and I are safely in California, checked into hotel number one of three for the first leg of our trip, and I already have 27 thousand things to tell you.

The Pros and Cons of Midol

I pack VERY light when it comes to my carry-on luggage, if I can help it. Not so much with the checked luggage, though…I check everything, thanks to Southwest’s Bags Fly Free policy.

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Yes, my suitcases are that big...and that girly.

So when I realized my sinus infection headache was not going away after Allegra, Sudafed, and an antibiotic, I also realized I had packed the Advil in my suitcase. I ran to the shop for a quick headache relief solution, only to be appalled by the gouging prices of everything…except Midol.

I hadn’t used Midol since college, before I started the pill to help dull the effects of my period. But a dude-friend of mine swore by it in college, for obviously non-feminine reasons.

I swear to God, you guys, it was a magic little half-priced pill. I started feeling it break up my headache within minutes. Within an hour, it was gone.

Of course, three hours into our flight, I had to pee…in the teeny tiny bathroom. Insert expletives about the size of my hips here.

I can’t claim that this is 100% correlation so much as coincidence, but I’m telling you…Midol brought my monthly curse right there on the plane. And also a weird dream about my lady eggs. Fucking Midol.

My Whoops Moment in the Airport Bathroom

After our hour plus delay at Midway Airport in Chicago, we arrived safely at SFO. Having only used that sorry excuse for a bathroom on the plane once in a 4 hour trip, I had to pee immediately.

I went into the ladies’ room where there was a crowd of women and just one older woman with a little guy in front of me. She was checking a door to see if someone was in there, but it didn’t open, so she told the little boy, “Nope. Someone is in there.” I noticed that the first stall was empty by peering into the little door hole, and instead of taking it for myself, I pulled it wide open for the little boy and his mom or grandma (not sure which), while I stood behind the door, proudly being helpful. She looked at me, horrified. “Nope. Someone is in there.”

I slowly closed the door, and looked around, nervously. A sweet teenage girl tried to reassure me that it was probably no big deal, but I considered running out of the bathroom faster than I had ever run in my entire life. But thrn my overwhelming urge to pee won, and I stared at every stall waiting for one to open.

The toilet flushed in the stall I had opened. It was now a race between 7 other stalls and this lady. I just needed one to open so I could quickly duck inside. Her stall was about to open, when another miraculously became available. I dashed in, just as the woman was about to walk out. I saw a flash of color from her skirt before I was safely in my own stall.

When I walked out to wash my hands, I’m pretty sure she was still there, taller and scarier than I hoped…she could totally beat the crap out of me…but I walked (or slinked…one of those) to the sink next to her with my head down, avoiding all eye contact with anyone. I washed my hands and raced out of there, paper towels still in hand. I gave Brian the look that says OMG let’s go go go.

“Awkwardness in the bathroom?”
“Yup.”
“OK then.”

And we moved on to baggage claim.

What are your thoughts on Midol? Have you ever accidentally opened a bathroom stall? Have you been walked in on?

Some Things are Actually More Difficult for Chubby Girls

So, I know most of us have body issues…and if you don’t, more power to you. Fat, skinny, chubby, thin…big ass, no ass, huge boobs, flat chest…there are reasons that anyone could feel a little down about their bods. And with the way humans are (in person and through anonymous comments and trolly mctrollerson style), other people don’t often help with our body image issues.

So this is not to say that my problems as a chubby/fat/overweight girl outweigh yours or anyone else’s…

But there are DEFINITELY some things that are genuinely more time-consuming, more difficult and more painful because of the way my body is.

There may also be things that are more difficult for smaller girls (or guys), but not living on that side of the scale…I can’t speak for them.

Shaving your legs

We all know how I feel about shaving and how it’s one of those painful grooming activities that fills me with regret and grumpiness…I’m sure that even the skinniest girl needs to be a flippin’ contortionist to do all the shaving that someone decided was necessary for ladies to be pretty and sexy and delicious…

I fear someone (even Brian) walking in on me while I’m in the bathtub ankle raised above my head or hanging out over the tub while I try to make my pale white legs “pretty” so I can wear a dress because most pants don’t fit me well enough to wear. Let’s not even go into the chub rub that comes from freshly shaved thighs, but seems to disappear when I haven’t shaved in a while.

Instead, let’s talk about the sheer volume of my legs (and arms). As I was shaving the other day (after working from home and not having to worry about the 2-hour commute that I normally have), I thought to myself, you know, Chrissy…you should shave more. It wouldn’t kill you. And then I thought about the process…and how it wasn’t as if it added just 5-10 minutes to my beauty regime…it added 20-25 minutes…at least. And then I asked myself, how the hell do other girls do this EVERY DAY?

And I realized that this size of my legs and arms is genuinely bigger than those of other girls. With the areas that requires shaving—the circumference of my thighs, the distance between the from of my leg and the back of my leg—it’s more time consuming.

Life’s a process for me. I think you knew that. Shaving is one of those processes.  The contortion. The amount of time. The wondering why the hell we do this. It’s a process.

shaved legs
I think I do it so I can walk around (the beach or other place) in a skirt…so I don’t have to wear pants. Because pants=the devil.

Working out

I recently lost a few pounds. I’m still pretty proud of myself even though the stress of my current life has slowed that process. What I realized, though, after losing about 10 pounds, was holy shit! That’s 10 pounds I’m not carrying around anymore.

This one’s harder to explain, so I’ll try a demonstration. Do 10 jumping jacks or some other quick cardio activity. Feels ok, right? Now, pick up a 25 pound weight or a pair of weights or whatever. Repeat the exact same cardio activity while holding the weights. Not as easy, right?

If you weigh 130 pounds, that added 25 pounds is on someone else every. Single. Day. If you add 25 pounds, that’s the weight my driver’s license said 15 years ago when I first got my license. That’s the weight my driver’s license says now.

It was a lie then and it’s a lie now. It’s just a bigger lie.

For the record, I am well aware of the fact that I, too, can do this exercise, and I know that there is someone 25 pounds more than me who has a more difficult time working out simply because of the added weight.

Riding rollercoasters

I LOVE me some thrill rides. Flying down a steep wooden or steel mountain at warp speeds while safely strapped in bt a harness makes me feel invincible. But sometimes, I don’t actually FIT in the coaster. Older rides are definitely more difficult for me. The newer rides tend to be designed with bigger hips in mind.

I’ll stop there.

But I want to know if there are things that are genuinely more difficult for you because of your size? Do you agree with me?

What to do When You Have Access to Your Boyfriend’s Google Account…

My desktop computer is our media server/drive. We have hundreds (if not thousands) of movies, music, TV shows,  and games on this baby. But it’s my computer. (Even though at one time–before I decided I was pretty much never going home, which was sometime VERY shortly after our first date–it was Brian’s computer…That matters not.) My projects live here now. Brian has like 27.8 billion other computers. (Or like 3. Plus a phone. And a tablet. Whatever.)

So sometimes, when I’m not here (or when I am here and tapping my toes behind him), Brian will jump on the desktop to load an audio book to his phone or check Reddit (evil, evil troll-filled Reddit) and Digg and all the sites he finds random imgur images to share with me.

And he logs into his Google account.

Some girlfriends might troll through his chat history, inbox and outbox looking for signs of horrible boyfriend activity.

This isn’t my style (anymore). I’ve trusted Brian since day one…and he trusts me. I would never break that. 

Some girlfriends might write funny Google+ posts (or Facebook posts if he leaves his Facebook open too) to talk about how wonderful they (the girlfriends) are.

I could…but no one reads Google+ anyways. Maaaybe Facebook. Actually. Hold please…Nope. Facebook isn’t open here… Not surprising.

Some girlfriends might just log out immediately so they can log in to their own Google accounts.

We have three different browsers on this computer. I use two of them for my personal and blog accounts. Brian uses the third. He used to log me out all the time and it irritated the crap out of me. Actually…come to think of it…I’m quite surprised HE hasn’t started using my Facebook accounts against me. Let’s keep that to ourselves, eh?

And some girlfriends…at least THIS girlfriend…take(s) his account hostage for her own narcissistic joy.

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Google+ Love

Why yes. I did go into his Google+ account and +1 every single one of my posts.

I don’t see the problem here. In fact, I love Google+ Bombing from my own account. Sometimes, I randomly choose a contact on Google+ and just…like every post from the last month or so. It’s fun for me. So if you have Google+, Google+ Bomb someone. Or yourself. Or ask me to do it. Because I totally will.

Side Note: Ironically, last night, after I had written this post, Brian came up to bed and went into this LONG, DRAWN-THE-FUCK-OUT story about how he happened upon my open e-mail on the aforementioned desktop, and even though he doesn’t usually look at my e-mail, he noticed an e-mail (and I’m thinking, shit…was I bitching to someone about you and you saw it?) from our Realtor and read it (phew! But for the record, I did tell him I was complaining about something he did because we’re a full-disclosure kinda couple…and we talk shit out).

Blog Friends, do you have any narcissistic tendencies? What would you do if you accidentally stumbled upon your significant others’ open Google account?

How to Make House Hunting Less Like Dating

For the last couple of months, instead of estate sailing and garage sailing for vintage board games, Brian and I have been adventuring out with our realtor (who is hilarious and awesome), but you knew that already. Because we almost bought a house. And then we didn’t, and we were heartbroken. It was like a bad breakup. I even ate Sbarro pizza…in CHICAGO. Home to the best pizza known to man. But I ate Sbarro. And inadvertently paused my DietBet(I didn’t gain anything, but I didn’t lose much, either.) I’m not making excuses, just telling it like it is.

Much like dating, the best way to get over one house is to jump right into the next. But that never works out. We needed something fast and easy. We went and saw 5 houses just a few days later. We compared them all to The House. The one we had just broken up with.

Now, we’re much pickier…only seeing 1 to 2 houses at a time…and we go in ready to shoot down a perfectly good house for whatever reason…because we’re afraid of losing it…or it really doesn’t hold a flame to our first.

Is this starting to sound familiar?

House hunting is COMPLETELY like dating. And then I remember how long it took me to find Brian. And I don’t want to wait 27 years to find the right house!
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So I’ve decided to make house hunting less like dating…and more like a game.

Step 1: Create a list of all the criteria that you’re looking for in a house.

Step 2: Assign point values to each feature, based on how important it is to your search.

Step 3: Create a list of the most ridiculous things you can think of and make every house visit a scavenger hunt. Note: This is a mini-game and doesn’t coubt toward win conditions.

Step 4: Visit the house. Check off items on the criteria list to find out if you have enough victory points to buy the house.

Step 5: Without snooping in places you shouldn’t be snooping (furniture pieces like dressers and desks are off limits. Would you want someone going through your things?), take note of items on your scavenger hunt list. Shelves, closets, and items that would stay if you moved in are fair game, but again, dont rifle through anything. Be considerate and think about if it was your house. Besides, people leave enough weird shit out in the open when they know someone is coming to look (remind me to tell you about that time they were showing my college apartment).

Step 6: Another mini-game. If there are pictures of the people currently living in said house, make up a story about them. Feel free to use items on the scavenger hunt as props.

Step 7: Tally up the victory points and determine if it’s your house. Do the pros out-weigh the cons? If so, it may be your house.

I hope this helps you avoid heartbreak while searching for your new home…but if it doesn’t, the mini-games will at least keep you spirits high and your sense of humor actively engaged.

Have you bought a house? Do you want to buy a house? Do you have tips for house hunting?

Pillsbury doughboy at BlogHer13

The BlogHer14 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask…Answered

Greetings! If you’re not a blogger or you’re not going to BlogHer14 and don’t want to read about bloggy things, might I recommend you travel down a rabbit hole of random and ridiculous by reading about that one time I went skiing and didn’t listen to my mom? (Even if you are going to BlogHer14…and you haven’t read that-and the subsequent two posts–go forth and enjoy when you’re done reading about BlogHer).

Some of my bloggy friends have LOTS of questions and since I’m now a veteran, I have some answers…so I figured you might want answers, as well. In no particular order…Here are your BlogHer14 questions answered.

The Expo Hall

Can I bring my kids? Do you have to buy them a ticket?

While I don’t have kiddos of my own, I did a little research for you. Tiny humans are totally welcome, according to BlogHer. Of course, if they’re walking and talking, I believe they need a conference pass (or an expo/networking pass) to play. Conferences in the past have offered childcare, though I couldn’t seem to find any information for this year.

Do you know how much the expo hall and party pass is?

$149 gives you access to all expo hall stuff and cocktail hours/parties, but not breakfast, lunch, speakers or sessions.

Is the expo hall really fun?

I loved being on the expo floor. Not only did I get to try out all sorts of tasty snacks (My favorites last year were Love with Food, Keurig Brew Over Ice, SodaStream, and Kozy Shack pudding) play games, meet cool people and interact with brands, but also I got to meet with a lot of sponsors and brand reps that I got to work with over the past year.
Keurig Brew Over Ice

Do you spend a lot of time (on the expo floor)?

Last year, I did. I got to meet Travis Stork and interview him, courtesy of Simply Saline. I was able to network with a variety of PR professionals and brands that led to sponsored posts, product reviews and other things that are helping me to monetize my blog.

Technology

Should I bring a laptop?

I brought my laptop last year and didn’t open it once. I also didn’t blog during the conference. All of my social media-ing happened on my Android phone and that worked out perfectly. This year, I’m traveling for 9 days, so I’ll bring my small laptop (it’s seriously TINY) for use in the hotels and my tablet and phone will do everything else.

Should I bring my fancy camera or is my phone enough?

I’m totally a fan of my fancy phone because it does most of what I want it to do. That being said, I finally have a camera that I love and bought specifically for blogging, so I’ll probably bring both.

Does everyone sit around with their laptops open?

Some do. Some don’t. Are you the type of person that needs their laptops to take notes? If not, stick with a pen and note pad. Type up details later if you are so inclined. You’re not going to want to cart the heavy stuff around. If you have a tablet or phone, that’s likely to be enough.

I heard the internet can be spotty with so many people trying to use it.

I didn’t have a huge problem with that, but I was also using my phone for most of my internetting.

Party Time

Are the parties really fun?

I think a lot of the parties are what you make of them. Go with your people and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, or even better, to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I didn’t talk to many people outside of my comfort circle, and I missed out on opportunities to meet up with and hang out with bloggers like Lisa Newlin and Kate Whine Hall.

Did you love the official parties?

Some of them. I didn’t go to all of the official parties, but I really enjoyed a few. Expo on Thursday night was awesome with appetizers and beverages, a small crowd and some of my favorite bloggers. One of the Friday night parties we went to was totally stellar with lots of fun activities.

Do some people get way too drunk?

Probably. I didn’t last year, nor did I really see many people stumbling…but there are always a few.

How do you know if you should accept an invitation to a party or not?

If it’s something you’re really interested in, accept. If you’re not sure, wait it out and think about it. You don’t want to over-book yourself and miss lunch…

Do you stay for the whole party or just pop in for a while?

That depends on the party. Some have speakers and agendas, while others are more come-and-go as you please type parties.

Food

Is it hard to eat in time to get back to the classes?

So lunch is a part of the agenda, and the keynotes are during breakfast and lunch. You should have PLENTY of time to eat those meals. Bring snacks if you get that 3 PM drop in energy, because dinners are not part of the conference, so you may be waiting a while to eat. That being said, make sure you take care of yourself and eat enough to get you through the day. One of my biggest problems was over-booking myself last year and not eating enough so that I was beyond HANGRY by the time the evening festivities rolled around. So if you’re like me, plan the con around your dinner not the other way around.

The Pioneer Woman at BlogHer13
After breakfast with Ree Drummond

So dinner is on your own?

Yes.

I better pack snacks then.

Me too. Om nom nom.

Take Care of You

Do you find yourself exhausted at one point and just hide out in your room for a while?

Definitely. That’s why I opted for the hotel that was attached to the conference hall.

If I leave early and don’t stay out until 2 am will I be a total loser/old lady?

Nope. Some people revel in the party all night conference attitude and others are ready for bed by 10 pm. There’s no one right way to rock this place. One night I was up until midnight. The other night I was asleep by 10:30. It’s your conference. Make of it what you want.

General Conference Tips

How do you keep track of parties and sessions and events?

I used my Google calendar to arrange my schedule.

Should I blog about the conference while I am at the conference?

You can. I’m sure your bloggy friends at home would love the play by play, but you may miss some of the fun if you’re busy writing about it.

Do you stay in touch with new people you have met at the conference after the conference?

Isn’t that what this is all about? For me, the best part of blogging conferences and networking with other bloggers is meeting new people who really fit into your tribe. I’ve started attending a lot of events in the Chicago area and I love running into other bloggers that I’ve met and followed.

I read to skip the classes and mingle with people because that’s better for your blog than the classes are; is that true?

This TOTALLY depends on the workshops and how they relate to you. If it sounds like information you already know? Don’t go. If it sounds like something you don’t want to know about? Don’t go. If you want to learn about the topic or improve yourself on the topic, then go. I didn’t go to many of the sessions, but this year there are more that appeal to me. So you may see me in a session or two.

Does going to BlogHer make you a better blogger or is more about seeing people you are friends with?

I think everything we do makes us better bloggers. Whether we’re actively attending workshops or reading new bloggers to get some inspiration or meeting your blog friends for hilarious blog fodder, you’re going to get something out of this conference to improve your blog.

If you’re not really into brands or doing product reviews, is it worth going to BlogHer? Will you make other types of connections that will make it all worthwhile?

I think so. Last year, I stayed in a little bubble of bloggers I knew, but ventured out a smidge. I wanted to network with brands and see where that could take me, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities for bloggers who don’t want to monetize with brands. If you’re an artist or Etsy seller, showcase wearable products. Design a bag on Zazzle with your art that you can carry your stuff in. Make friends. Exchange business cards.

Is voices of the year something I’d want to miss part of?

I think it really depends on you. I also think that last year I had a very unusual experience because Queen Latifah was REALLY late and they wouldn’t start without her. And I had missed lunch. And I was starving. And crabby. Beyond Hangry. So you might see me there. With a snack pack.

Should I really pack an extra suitcase for all of the free stuff? Will it really be that much stuff?

I don’t want the bloggers who hate girls who love free stuff to hate me…
But that’s what I’m doing. (I’m also going to be in San Francisco and Sonoma the week before the conference and bringing home souvenirs, so there’s that.)

Brands

Do brands ask you to do reviews, etc at the expo or is it more like they take your info and get back to you later?

Some of the brands will ask you to use social media at the expo, but for reviews on your blog or sponsored posts will likely be later.

Did you see any artsy-type brands at the expo, last time?

You can actually go check out who the past and future brand sponsors are!
BlogHer 2012 sponsors
BlogHer 2013 sponsors
BlogHer 2014 sponsors

What to Pack

What should I wear?

Seriously–BE comfortable. You can look professional and be comfortable at the same time. There was a point one day last year where I had worn a strapless bra and was so miserable that I hid behind a wall in the expo hall, pulled it off, and continued with the rest of my day. I’m a fan of cropped yoga pants with nice shirts, skirts and comfortable, but clean and adorable, sandals most of the time. (I wear yoga shorts and crops under skirts for fear that I’m going to fall down and show everyone my lady bits.)

What about shoes?

I bought several pairs of shoes from brands I know and trust in order to be comfortable while still looking cute and showing off the pedicure I’m going to get…I made you a little Amazon widget with the shoes I’ll be sporting. (Yes, I’ll get a teensy tiny affiliate commission if you buy them, but they’re really awesome shoes.) I swear by Merrell and Naturalizer. The Bare Trap shoes aren’t as supportive, so I had to add arch support to keep them comfortable.

Should I wear a fancy dress to the cocktail parties?

I ended up wearing dresses and outfits that could easily transition from day to night. Some people were wearing jeans; others wore dresses. I still say stick with your comfort zone.

Blog Friends, do you have other questions? How can I help you get ready for BlogHer? BlogHer veterans, what tips do you have? If you’re going, look for me and say hi!

I agree with the Supreme Court…But Not for the Reasons You Think

In the last few days, I have been having this massive, internal struggle.

Because…

I kind of agree with the Supreme Court.

Hear me out before you get angry at me. I’m not against birth control at all. I was on it for almost a decade. I’m pro-choice. In ALL matters. I believe in a PERSON’S right to do what they want pertaining to their lives and bodies, so long as it doesn’t physically or mentally harm others or break laws.

So when Hobby Lobby took their plight to the U.S. Supreme Court, I wasn’t thrilled. But when the Court determined that it was their right to refuse birth control, the liberal world went guns blazing in attack mode. And I started feeling this unyielding urge to agree with the Court’s decision.

I couldn’t figure out why.

I don’t believe that anyone should be denied birth control…and quite frankly, with this decision, no one is being DENIED anything. Employees of a known religiously-motivated company will not have their birth control paid for by the company.

The aforementioned employees are not being told they’ll be tested for use of birth control or fired for using it. The company doesn’t want to pay for it.

Fine.

If you don’t agree? Don’t work there.

But we’re missing the point.

There is a MUCH bigger issue here than birth control or the idea that this is about women’s rights. Because it’s not. Health care in the United States is tied to employment.

TIED TO OUR JOBS.

Pissed-off liberals will tell you that the employers just gained the right to tell employees what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

But you know what?

The employers have had that privilege for YEARS.

As I mentioned earlier, I was on birth control for almost 10 years. Never. NOT ONCE was it covered by my insurance. Not even partially.

Currently, I use several medications (completely unrelated to contraceptives or mental health, but completely related to my well-being and ability to function on a daily basis). Because some of these drugs are available over the counter, I can’t even use my health savings account (which is SUPPOSED to cover medication prescribed by a doctor) to purchase them.

ADDITIONALLY, my current employer will only insure my prescription drug purchases as long as I don’t use one of the big four pharmacies in the area. Because they are direct competitors with my company. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it for you. My company is dictating WHERE I can make my prescription purchases.

Because health care is tied to our jobs.

I spent the better part of my twenties uninsured. I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t take care of myself with regular checkups because I couldn’t afford it. Was I unemployed the entire time? No. I worked part time jobs, freelance gigs, I had to wait for grace periods at new jobs before being granted health insurance, and yes…at some points I was unemployed.

The Obamacare plan was a step in the right direction, but it was just a step. Babies don’t start walking and run a marathon the next day.

The Supreme Court is right.

Why is the government forcing these mandates on companies? Because from where I’m standing, companies shouldn’t be in control of insurance. They need to regulate insurance companies (or do away with them altogether). The government should be making healthcare the same for everyone. Employed. Unemployed. Religious. Non-religious. Sick. Healthy. All health services should be readily available AT THE SAME COST for everyone.

Insurance is a big fat multi-billion dollar operation. These companies make COMMISSION on you. They’re gambling on your health. They “negotiate” prices with doctors’ offices and hospitals to give you a “discounted” rate…except that many times, you’ll get a better rate if you DON’T have insurance. Or if you qualify for Obamacare. I’ve discovered, after talking to several people, that some insurance plans available through employers cost the same, or more, but offer FEWER benefits than Obamacare. And yet people who are offered “reduced-rate” insurance through their employer don’t qualify for a reduced-rate Obamacare plan.

There are still problems with the system, but we’re moving in the right direction.

So maybe both sides of this debate should stop worrying about one company’s beliefs and a single court ruling, and instead they should worry about the bigger picture. Because this isn’t about women or contraception or religion. This is about corporate entities having control over ALL of our medical decisions.

What do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or is there something else that negates both either sides?