How I ended up in the worst neighborhood in Orlando

It had been a busy week of anxiety and blog conference nonsense. Work was stressing me out to the max. I was in the middle of a month of travel (15 out of 26 days, to be exact), having returned from Vegas two days prior to my Orlando departure, and the exhaustion was starting to wear on me. But I was finally having a magical night thanks to some friends and a fabulous twinkle skirt. We were closing down the BlogHer dance party, and some of those friends got together at the end of the evening and said, “You know what, gang? This just isn’t doing it for us. Let’s get outta here and do something crazy!”

I believe it was Mary who suggested we hit up a local private-room karaoke bar that she had googled. It was only a 5-minute Uber from the hotel we were staying at. I hemmed and hawed something about needing to wake up for an early morning press trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but in the end, I decided that I needed a “Yes!” moment. And so I said yes. I went up to change out of my now sweaty AF skirt and finish packing for my flight the next day.

We met down in the lobby a half hour later, and I hailed the car that would take Mary, Kristen, Lea, Brea, and me on quite the adventure.

We had been driving for about 7 minutes when I looked at the map on my Uber app. “Hey uhh, guys…I don’t think this is quite as close as we think it is. We’re still about 35 minutes out…”

It was at this point that we thought it might be best to ask the driver about our destination, an address on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando.

“Is the area we’re going to an okay part of the city?”

The driver gave a vague answer, at best, but he was hinting that it wasn’t really the best area for a group of women set to arrive just before 11 pm. We kept probing, spending the next half hour debating whether to turn around and find a different bar to spend the evening. By the time we arrived at Q Karaoke, we noticed the area was definitely the type of place we wouldn’t want to find ourselves stranded on a rainy night. Very desolate, few businesses open, and the ones that were closed were barred up. The bar itself was in the middle of an empty-looking strip mall with the neon lights of an exotic clothing store at the helm. The driver offered to take us back to our hotel, but we persevered.

one-way street sign

We decided to scope the place out. A few of us went inside, asked about prices and took note of the surroundings. It seemed innocuous enough, and so we opted to stay…until 1:30 in the morning. As shady as it seemed, we had A BLAST. Our little gang of singers had an unbelievable time busting out some of the most ridiculous and amazing karaoke tunes that we could muster. If you’ve never tried private-room karaoke, I highly recommend it. The lights flashing and the room jiving was everything. If my twinkle skirt didn’t make me feel alive this adventure sure did.

As we called our next Uber for the ride home, we were flying high on adrenaline and friendship. A night that surely wouldn’t be forgotten. When our driver arrived to pick us up, he seemed surprised to be collecting 5 30-something-year-old women, and we, of course, asked him about our location. He pointed out a few things that we had missed on our way in (a woman who was likely a prostitute, different establishments, etc) and told us that they called this stretch of road the OBT, known for the violence and crime rates. He even mentioned a recent murder that had occurred.

Welp. We survived that one, guys. 

We made our way safely back to the Hilton and hugged goodbye to each other until our next adventure. I proceeded to ask my next two Uber drivers about the OBT, and both were as surprised as anyone that we were hanging out down there. My driver on the way to the airport just shook his head and smirked like I was crazy.

I love saying yes to adventure.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Never have I ever

When I was younger, I hated playing the game, Never Have I Ever. For those of you who don’t know how the game is played, this covers a brief rundown (before people start adding house rules):

  • One person says, “Never have I ever ___________ (insert something they’ve never done)”
  • Everyone in the group who has done that thing does something to indicate that they have (typically taking a drink from an alcoholic beverage).
  • Those who haven’t done the thing sit quietly while the others in the group explain or don’t (it really depends on the group), but there’s often a lot of oohing and OMGing.
  • The game continues until everyone is wasted or someone gets bored enough to start dancing on tables or running around the block naked. (This may indicate that the game has moved onto Truth or Dare).

I hated playing the game in my early years of college because I NEVER GOT TO DRINK ANYTHING. Because everyone liked to throw down the dirtiest things people did, and I was a shy prude. Here are a few nuggets that would have given me ample drinking opportunity prior to attending Bradley University:

Never have I ever…

And until my junior year of college, the only thing that really changed was my alcohol consumption. So I hated playing the game. Because I wanted to do more things, and the few things that I had done felt embarrassing to me.

But now, as an adult, I’m proud as fuck of the things that I’ve done. I love playing never have I ever because almost everything I’ve done has been an adventure, even if it was stupid/crazy/insane/ridiculous/horrifying.

Just for reference, a few of my favorites that would cause me to drink:

Never have I ever…

  • Seen Stephen King speak (20 feet away from me)
  • Gone on vacation by myself
  • Gotten married
  • Been fired from a job (one I hated)
  • Ordered a pizza for delivery while finishing a plate of nachos in a taco joint
  • Seen Hamilton performed live in Chicago
  • Made out with the same guy as three of my girlfriends
  • Gone home with someone on the first date
  • Punched a hole in my apartment window because I was mad at my boyfriend
  • Smoked my first cigarette after smoking was banned in bars
  • Stayed up partying for an entire weekend without sleeping more than 2 hours ( with no drugs involved)
  • Gotten lost in France
  • Dated a drug addict (or two)
  • Threatened to punch a bouncer at my bachelorette party
  • Gotten lucky on a golf course

My bucket(list) hath runneth over. And I can’t wait for the next notch on my wall.

we took wedding photos at a playground, and had so much fun on the purple dinosaur.

What’s on your completed bucket list?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Hot mess airplane travel tips

I feel like I haven’t been home in ages. My adventures have kept me going going going like the energizer freakin’ bunny from Vegas to Orlando to the weird depths of Wisconsin. And I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU about said adventures. But first, I really needed to throw down some serious advice. Because tonight I’ll be on another plane, and I definitely needed a reminder on proper travel etiquette (and not fucking shit up) because this one’s a work trip. You know what a hot mess I can be, so I devised a set of rules (which, let’s be honest here, I break every now and then) in order to prevent myself from being a complete douche in the air.

Southwest new planes

I was so stupid excited to fly on one of Southwest’s new fancy planes, you guys. My next flight was almost a disappointment because I missed the newness so much.

Without further ado, here are my top airplane travel tips if you’re anything remotely close to a hot mess like me.

Drink clear liquids

Go ahead and have that cocktail on the plane. Especially if you fly often enough that Southwest sends you a regular supply of free drink tickets. Or you just know when to procure free drinks from Southwest. Or if you’re fancier than me and have one of those preferred statuses that gets you free cocktails whenever you want. But for the love of God, whatever you do, make sure it’s clear.

Bubbles on Southwest

It was Southwest’s birthday. And on Southwest’s birthday, everyone (of age) gets a free drink! I like to celebrate with bubbles, and so bubbles it was.

Vodka and soda? Check. Tonic? If you’re into that sort of thing, sure (gross, but it’s cool). White wine? Clink Avoid red wine at all costs. You may even want to skip the whiskey, depending on what you’re wearing. I know I don’t want my rainbow yoga pants covered in deep dark liquid. Not into an alcoholic bevvy because you’re flight is at the crack of dawn and you’re more respectable than me? Sprite. Ginger ale. Water. But steer clear of the Coke and whatever else can spill all over you and your fellow passengers. Especially when you’re sitting in the middle of two strangers.

Bring a change of clothes to the airport

I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve changed inside airport bathrooms, but damn am I glad I travel with a spare outfit or two. Especially since I like to make the most of my last day wherever I am. In Vegas, I went straight from the pool to the airport, so I wanted to change out of my bathing suit before my flight. In Orlando, I took an Uber straight from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the airport (with a brief stop at my hotel to grab my luggage from the bell station), and I was a sweaty disgusting mess. I also have a propensity to spill shit all over myself. Change of clothes? Makes everything better.

Make your in-flight entertainment easily accessible

There are dozens of great ways to entertain yourself on a flight, but make sure you don’t have to dig to the bottom of a large duffel bag every 25 minutes in order to find your Nook, Kindle, tablet, laptop, charger, etc. You’ll get dirty looks from the people who’s empty seat you usurped. I mean, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. And try not to read a book that makes you laugh so hard your boyfriend will wish he wasn’t sitting next to you.

Think wisely about your snack choices

I know. Planes don’t really serve food all that often. Well, Southwest has some killer snacks and all…especially on their fancy new planes. So you’re forced to bring your own reinforcements. But let me tell you guys. There are good options. And there are bad options.

Southwest Airlines New Plane Snacks

I really wanted to ask for one of each. But I am not an asshole. So I asked for cheese crackers and peanuts. And spent two hours wishing I had asked for butter cookies.

A small, easily hand-held sandwich or wrap? Great plan. A large salad that requires shaking and flying croutons? A pastry dealie with delicious ham and cheese and buttery pastry crust that ends up crumbling everywhere? Those are less than stellar ideas. Take my advice/learn from my mistakes. Those will also incite dirty looks from your fellow flyers.

Well, I’m absolutely sure I could give you more pointers on how not to be a dick in the ways I’ve been a dick, but I think this is quite enough for this morning. Be sure to follow me on the social medias for all my travel adventures.

This post uses affiliate links. When you click on them and make purchases, I can occasionally earn dollars to help keep this site running. Thanks for being awesome and such. I talk about Southwest a lot. Because I love them. I don’t get paid any money from all my shout outs to them. They just make me insanely happy.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

This is why I’m not good at surprises

Calling all of my massage therapists in a tizzy on Sunday morning, I had hoped to scheduled a same-day appointment. To my dismay, none were available. So I did the next best thing. I scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.

Brian overheard my call, and yelled up to me, “Wait. What time did you schedule it for?”

“9am. You’ll be sleeping.”

“Well, there’s the brunch thing for my aunt.”

I vaguely remember him mentioning this and not having any other details. “What time?”

“11.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere out by them.”

His uncertainty irritated me, and I immediately wished he was better about remembering details. I mentally calculated the time it would take to get approximately to his cousins’ and assumed I was fine with my appointment.

Over the course of Sunday, I asked Brian for details on the brunch at least 5 times. And each time, he brushed it off with ‘yeahs’ and ‘probablys’ and ‘oh I have to text my cousins’.

I suggested he set an alarm as I wouldn’t be there to make sure he was up and told him that I’d get home and we’d leave straight away.

On Monday morning, I asked Brian again, “Where are we going?”

And he still didn’t have an answer. Half-asleep, he told me, I’ll find out. Just go. So I didn’t have a lot of stock in this brunch thing, and I put on my favorite pair of tie-dye yoga pants and left the house.

After my massage, I assumed I’d have a few minutes to stop in the store next to Massage Envy for a quick peek. I figured it would take about a half hour to get to brunch, and I definitely thought Brian would still be slowly waking up.
As I got into the car, Brian texted me, “How’s it going?”

I told him I was on my way, and then, thinking about my outfit choice, decided to call him. “Where are we going, babe?”

His own mental calculations had done their due diligence and he realized I was probably hungry…and looking forward to brunch, as it’s one of my favorite meals.

“We’re going to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to see a man about a sloth.”

Wait, what?

“For brunch?”

“No, there’s no brunch.”

“Will there be food?”

Well, guys, I’ve learned something about myself, and it’s that food is always a priority. Then panic. Then excitement.

My peddle to the metal, I jetted home while talking Brian through some sort of rapid food prep.”Toast the bagel on the counter! Quick! Okay fine, I’ll just eat my leftover sammy from Panera.Gah! I’m not dressed for a sloth!”

My heart was racing a mile a minute, and I thought I might have a full-blown meltdown as I ran into the house, climbed the stairs and hunted for my slothwear. It’s  kind of amazing and crazy how excitement, anxiety, and fear all kind of have the same feelings inside you. I didn’t know whether to run, scream, or cry. I thanked God I had recently cleaned, and I knew the sloth shirt was hanging and my sloth socks were paired in my sock drawer. I painted on a little lipstick and eyeliner, brushed and dry-shampooed my hair, and ran back downstairs. I was panicked and excited and nervous and thrilled and couldn’t even believe I WAS GOING TO MEET A SLOTH!!

Brian noted my anxiety (and extreme lateness, because I’m a gigantic dickhead) and felt terrible. “I should have known better than to try to surprise you. I realized too late you were probably planning your food schedule around brunch. And you get a lot of joy around anticipation. You would have been flying high all weekend on this.”

I probably would have, but you guys…Brian was taking his day off work to DRIVE into the city and take me to see the sloth, even though we all know he would have much preferred to be at home sleeping and vegging out.

While we drove, I googled the sloth, and found out that it was a show with several animals, and that I would be able to pet Steve. I also found out that for about $275, Steve could come to my birthday party for an hour…

Brian’s cousin texted and said the sloth was last, so unless we were an hour late, we wouldn’t miss him.

We missed the flying fox, hedgehog, and fruit bat, but we got to meet a chinchilla, armadillo, kinkajou, and bat-eared fox before the main event.


There he was. In all his Steve glory. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He clung to the chair and languidly moved, enjoying the tasty sweet potatoes from his trainer. As he appeared a mere 15 feet un front of me, looking so adorable, tears started splashing down my cheek. It was really real. He was there. And I would get to pet him.

I got in line between several toddlers who had no idea how lucky they were.

Quirky Chrissy petting the adorable Steve the Sloth.

My red face? That’s because of the crying.



The woman in charge said we (all the toddlers and I) could give Steve two pets. But I gave him three, and I made them last. Slow and gentle, just like Steve. You can see where my eyes say, “I’m going for the third pet” in the video Brian was kind enough to capture for me.


We stayed until Steve left, watching him, soaking in all the amazingness of Steve and his slothy goodness. Afterward, Brian and I walked around Lincoln Park Zoo and saw ANOTHER sloth! And it was pretty much the best day ever.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I Just Want to be Perfect

Yesterday was my birthday. All my life, birthdays have been filled with anxiety and a little bit of disappointment. Partially because of my Clark Griswoldian dreams. I have hope. I believe in magic. I think anything is truly possible. And I imagine the most perfect of days for any special event, holiday, or vacation. I’m basically Riley from Girl Meets World.

Riley has Rileytown, a place where all her weirdness and happiness comes from. I have Chrissy’s World, where skies are pink and I am cool (with all my weirdness and happiness).

Riley has Maya, a best friend who stands up for her and loves her for who she is. I have Katie, who threatens to hit people over the head with a Corona bottle if they don’t stop teasing me or hurting my feelings.

It’s a good life. And it’s all mine. And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, a birthday never goes by in which I don’t cry at least once. I’m not saying this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m just explaining my weird little world for context.

So, yesterday, Brian took me out for breakfast and we planned our birthday adventure. We went home for a bit to digest and watch Game of Thrones. He took a nap (because I woke him up early to eat breakfast), and I called my mom for my annual cry.

It was at this point that Mama Bear offered to help. We were talking about Delilah, our beloved pool, who went to the pool graveyard in the sky a couple years ago, and how I could have been swimming while Brian napped. She asked if I wanted to go to one of the public pools in the area. My response was a mix of fuck no and lazy.

And be around all those people? I would have to shave my legs!

Mom knew I was right, and so she offered to left me come run through her sprinkler in her fancy, new, plush backyard grass(they sodded last year). I started laughing.

Come on! I’ll even do it with you!

At that point, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was uncontrollable and perfect. Everything I needed. I just kept picturing two grown women running through a sprinkler. I’m still laughing.

Brian woke up, and we took off for our adventure. A canoe rental in a beautiful hidden glacier-formed lake in the middle of suburbia. It was awesome!
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After our canoe trip, we walked around the lake, chasing geese. Brian kept telling me to leave them alone, but it was his idea to find them when we were on the canoe!

Once they left the lake, they wandered the grounds, just like we did. And they were so cute! I loved them.

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Afterwards, we met my parents for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Greek Islands. We drank wine, ate snacks, and they sang Happy Birthday to me before presenting me with a non-cake dessert and a birthday candle. All a girl wants on her birthday is to make a wish. Which I did. I’ll let you know when it comes true. We passed around the dessert, which was unbelievable coconuty custardy goodness, and my dad got the last piece.

As we nommed on our split dessert, Dad realized something was amiss, and he spit out the pink birthday candle. Apparently, he didn’t realize it wasn’t edible until it was too late. My parents and my boyfriend are pretty much the best. They know just what to do or say to make me laugh and give me the best birthday a Clark Griswold girl could have. A few tears turned into a magical day. Riley would be proud.

In the spirit of imperfection, I also wanted to tell you about a book that debuted this weekend. A book written, in small part, by yours truly. 37 co-authors produced the 4th book in the New York Times best-selling Pee Alone series, I Just Want to be Perfect. When Jen Mann invited me to contribute, I died a little bit with joy. It was the perfect title for me to be a part of and I hope you’ll all join me in reading this magical book of horrifying, hilarious, and true stories of women who try and fail at perfection.

I Just Want to be Perfect

You can find I Just Want to be Perfect in print and digital forms on iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Netflix Stream Team

This post was created as part of my work with Netflix (shameless plug excluded) as a member of the Stream Team. I received a device on which to shamelessly watch Netflix and an annual membership to stream all the streams I can stream. I binge watched Girl Meets World this month, and boy was I glad I did. Riley and I have a lot in common…you know, since I’m perpetually a 12-year-old girl. I had a Netflix account before the Stream Team, and no one pays me to say nice things about them. If you have Netflix, you understand. Even Mama Bear is obsessed with them.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Adventures in Babybel Eating

Just like my hero, Chris, in Adventures in Babysitting,  I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and occasionally, I have little hometown adventures. Whenever Brian and I get lost, or take the long way around, we call it an adventure.

I have yet to meet Thor or get stabbed on the El, but not for a lack of trying. I have, on the other hand, been beaten up by a no-parking sign, tripped by an invisible wire, and almost killed by falling ice daggers.

My life here in Chicago is full of adventure. And you know I’m like a gremlin and have all these rules of care…like how I need to be fed at regular intervals.

My daily adventure starts with a commuter train ride.

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A snack pack can be a lifesaver this early in the morning.

I venture from suburbia into the city every day for the job. When you’re hundgry, it’s a long 45-mimite ride. But little snack packs like my favorite on-the-go cheese, Babybel, make the trip tolerable.

Sometimes, if I have time, I’ll even slice it and melt it on some bread in the toaster oven before I head out of the house.

On occasion, after work, Brian and I (or just I) will journey on an adventure after work. We might go out for dinner, do some touristy nonsense, or we may head to a movie.

As we roam through the city, we’ll take a cab or the El (cabs are faster and easier most of the time). I’m a big fan of cab selfies, and they’re even better when I have a snack.

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Once we get to our theater destination,  I’m ready to put out my buffet of treats to enjoy delicious snacking. This is why large bags are important. So you can bring enough snack packs to share with your people before you kick your feet up.

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The best movie theater snack packs include a beverage,  something sweet,  savory, and crunchy.

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When I went to see Captain America, I brought bottled water, a candy bar from Dylan’s, a selection of Babybel, and pretzel thins to give me a little crunch. And I was happy.

As I made my way home, I napped on the train, dreaming of more cheese.

What are your favorite movie theater snacks? Do you bring your own snack packs into the theater?

Babybel sent me free samples and some things to make my adventures more fun, but as always, these opinions and thoughts are mine, and mine alone. I eat a lot of Babybel, because I’m always running around town.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!