BlogHer13: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As I’m still wrecked from this weekend, this will likely be the shortest of my BlogHer posts. A recap, even. But there will be more. So if you don’t want to hear about BlogHer, I suggest you return in August. When I start talking about GenCon. I know. Lucky you.

The Good

  • Queen Latifah emceed the Voices of the Year.
  • I got to spend some quality time with some of my favorite bloggers (and my best friend!)
  • I have a RIDICULOUS number of blog posts pre-written in my head. Including my very own interview with the glorious Dr. Travis Stork. Go ahead. If you don’t know who he is…Google him. But Google Image that shit, because DAYYYYUUUMMMM.
  • The Pioneer Woman, Pillsbury Doughboy, Optimus Prime and Me.
Pillsbury doughboy at BlogHer13

hee hee!

The Pioneer Woman at BlogHer13

I was SO much less obnoxious meeting her than I was with Jenny Lawson.

Seriously. Fucking Optimus Prime.

Seriously. Fucking Optimus Prime.

  • I got to meet Thoughts From Paris DJ. Who I can’t not call Paris. Because that’s his name in my head. And he (kinda) knew who I was. Which pleased me.
  • I got a LOT of free shit. I know it’s bad form to say I was all over the swag, but just like a pack of wild dogs on a 3-legged cat…I was AAAAALLLL up in the free shit business.
BlogHer13 Swag

That’s me…Hanging out with SOME of my free stuff. I went home with a double full suitcase, a duffel bag and 6 grocery bags full of stuff…which we then crammed into the car.

  • The best party? Queerosphere. They had cheese cheese and more cheese. And lamb chops. Best food I ate all weekend.
  • Somehow I made my way into the Disney movie party. And saw Delivery Man. A few months early.

The Bad

  • Queen Latifah was late.
  • I was almost always hungry.
  • I was tired.
  • I didn’t feel like I really related to a lot of the speakers that I saw. And then I couldn’t see them all because I had other places to be and things to do. It was a bit on the overwhelming side.
  • I was really hungry.

The Ugly

  • Queen Latifah was SO late that I was starving AND missed Austenland (though I DID still get the free bag and t-shirt)
  • OK, mostly I was always starving because of this gluten free nonsense. (Hey BlogHer, I’ve got some suggestions for next year! Actually, I’ve got a whole blog post about food coming up.)
  • Mostly I was Starving. With a capital S.
  • Did I mention how much I missed food? And eating on a regular schedule that included dinner?
  • The Best Buy Story. Tomorrow. You’ll see.
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!

Sometimes I Get Eaten by Snow Dogs and Carried Off By Vodka Fairies

So if you see me wandering aimlessly around BlogHer like a lost puppy…please rescue me. I may not even realize that I have misplaced my people…or my people have misplaced me. One of those.

(This is a true statement. I really do tend to walk off without a second thought and the next thing I know, I have no idea where I am. More regularly than I care to admit. Luckily Brian is on to my shenanigans.)

Since you’re here…and I’m not…Please visit the following bloggers I wish were hanging out with me in Chicago.

There are totally more. But I have to make another mad dash to the train. This time with a GIGANTIC suitcase. In a dress. Because that’s how I roll.

This is a free-for-all. Leave a link to your best post and next week when my life is normal again, I’d love to come visit you!

 

 

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!

BlogHer in Chicago: How to Make Nice with the Natives (Commuters)

Guys, I’m SO excited for BlogHer. I KNOW you are too. Even if you’re not going, you can participate via your computer chair, your couch, your bed or naked on a bearskin rug in front of YOUR fireplace (I don’t want to see that shit.) But let me tell you a little secret. Most of Chicago…wait for it…

Doesn’t know you’re coming.

In fact, they probably don’t care. (I care. And my bloggy friends care. And you care. And YOUR bloggy friends care. And all of the lovely sponsors care. But, we have to be real about this.) Chicago is one of the major cities in this beautiful country of ours, and thus hosts fancy conferences more often than we attend them. More often than we would ever WANT to attend them. So you’ve got to understand that the locals (or natives) will just see us (yes, me too) as touristy conference people interrupting their daily routine. But we can avoid all that nasty nonsense.

I’m going to guide you through the life of a commuter and give you a few pointers on how to make them not hate you.

Between the hours of 6 and 9 am & 3 and 7 pm, public transportation (particularly the commuter transportation (Metra – Union Station and Metra – Ogilvie Transportation Center) is a circus. Walking near, to or from one of these hubs is going to be difficult at best and downright painful at worst. If you’ve got rolling luggage, just do everyone (yourself included) a favor and take a cab. That’s what I’ll be doing when I head into work with my luggage on Thursday morning. NEVER walk against the grain of traffic. Cross the street and avoid this:

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re riding one of these commuter trains, it’s important to follow the rules of etiquette on the Metra.

The rules of walking traffic are the same as driving. Walk on the right side of the walkway. Pass on the left. If you’re walking slow, stay as far to the right as possible. If you’re on an escalator…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stand on the right and walk on the left.

Also in relation to walking…we follow one golden rule: As a pedestrian, it is illegal for a car to hit me. So we play the daily Frogger.

But we're not this stupid. Image: from New York Daily News article in which some guy played Frogger and got hit.

But we’re not this stupid. Image: from a New York Daily News article discussing some guy who played Frogger and got hit.

If you’re driving, steer clear of driving through yellow lights, and you’ll be fine. We’re trained to walk the minute your light turns yellow.And sometimes we cross on a diagonal, so just be cautious.

I’ve told you about bringing an umbrella…but there’s an etiquette for carrying umbrellas amidst the commuters and the city-natives. If you have the largest umbrella on the block, and you’re walking past someone, lift that shit up. As high as you can. Knocking into people isn’t nice. If you’ve got a smaller umbrella, tilt to the side or lower it to your head. Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you.

When you travel, how do you interact with the locals? If you’re a local, what tips would you give tourists?

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!

BlogHer Conference What to Pack for Chicago Weather

So you’re coming to BlogHer in Chicago, eh?

I’ve already given you some of my Chicago insider tips.

And I told you all about some of my favorite Chicago snack spots.

As a Chicago (suburban) native, I thought it would only be kind to prepare you (and offer you a packing list) for the crazy Chicago weather.

We’ve got a saying around here, “If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait 5 minutes.”

And it runs ridiculously true to form.

The Crazy Seasons in ChicagoThis is from a Caribou Coffee in The Loop. Caribou is gone now, but Peet’s has replaced it. So you have option other than Starbucks.

The weather has been nuts (more so than usual) around here. Just last week it was 60 degrees with torrential rainstorms, this week it’s 90 degrees with humidity through the roof. I’ve seen the temperature drop 20 degrees over the course of the afternoon and spike by early evening. So you’ve got to buck up like a motherfuckin’ boy scout and be prepared around here.

Here’s some of what I’ll be packing for my 3 night stay in the city (a mere 30 minute drive from my home front). I highly recommend you consider the same.

Partial Packing List for BlogHer Chicago

  • Umbrella (one of those GIGANTIC umbrellas that doesn’t get turned inside out because it’s got a wind tunnel and all sorts of bells and whistles. They don’t call it the Windy City for nothing, guys.)
  • A second umbrella–one that packs easily into my purse, in case it starts raining while I’m out. Or the first one manages to break. That happens. A lot.
  • Weather Protective Bag for my laptop.
  • Good walking shoes that dry out easily. (Did I mention torrential rain storms?) Thank you Merrell and Skechers for being awesome shoes.
  • Zip hoodies. In case it gets cold. Because it might. Actually, bring a coat if it’s between October and April. Especially if you don’t do cold.
  • Dresses. Skirts. I like dresses because I hate pants. Don’t expect to see me in any pants that don’t start with “yo” and end with “ga.”
  • Yoga pants. Yoga shorts. Yoga crops. This is how I get away with wearing stretch pants without sounding frumpy. Yoga is trendy. Right? Also I wear yoga shorts under my skirts and dresses. So that my skirt doesn’t fly up in the wind and show you my lady parts (SERIOUSLY. They don’t call it the windy city for nothing, people). Because I am brilliant. And then my legs don’t chafe. Because I am brilliant.
  •  Short-sleeve and long-sleeve tee-shirts. Tank tops. Because you genuinely never know when it’s going to be hot or cold around here.
  • A cardigan or 3, in case it gets cold. Because it will. (If you’re from one of those warmer states or countries, you may want to bring your coat. Because it might get to like 30 degrees one night. You never know.)
  • Clean underwear. That shit’s important.
  • Deodorant. Because that’s even more important.

Next week, I’ll be bringing you some pointers on interacting with the natives. AKA How to Not Make the Commuters Hate You.

Anything you think I’ve forgotten, Chicago lovelies?

BlogHer attendees, when are you getting into The Chi?! Want to meet up?! Let me know!

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!

BlogHer in Chicago: Restaurant Edition AKA Where to Eat Reasonably Priced Tasty Treats

Greetings to all of you fabulous people heading to BlogHer this month! For those of you not attending, feel free to take a tour of my favorite city on the planet as I offer Chicago touristy tips and how to prepare yourself for 4 glorious days in Chicago. Hopefully, you didn’t miss my first Chicago BlogHer post, because…well I thought it was fucking awesome…and helpful. Because I can help you get cheap parking.

So I work in the Loop. I work on State Street. Two blocks from the giant metal jellybean that we call The Bean. I’ve included my top eateries in the area (and a few that are slightly out of the way) for you to nosh on when you’re not rockin’ the conference at BlogHer.

Quick Serve/Fast Casual Restaurants

As I’m always on the look-out for fast, cheap or easy, here are my favorites.

Pastoral: My favorite city cheese shop. Go grab a sandwich, a salad or just enjoy a hunk of cheese, a container of olives and some meaty meaty meat candy. I freakin’ love this place. It’s on Lake, just west of Wabash. Go. Do it. You’ll thank me.

Toni Patisserie & Cafe: Looking for a sweet treat? How about a little French bistro? This place is fantastic. A great little French bakery with tasty salads and sandwiches.

Oasis Cafe: Another Mediterranean spot, hidden in Jeweler’s Row. Literally, you have to trek to the back of a jewelry store for this one. Worth the trip.

Hannah’s Bretzel: Brian really likes this place, though I think it’s a little hipster. The breakfast sandwiches are amazing, though.

The Chasement: The basement of the Chase Building on Dearborn and Madison/Monroe, this weekday operational lunch cafeteria boasts several tasty treats in one spot. We’ve got lots of cafeteria dining in The Loop, so you can head out with your blog friends and eat 27 different things.

Macy’s on State: The 7th Floor boasts several quick serve options (Get the chicken Caesar salad from the salad bar on the 7th floor OMG) and the basement offers another cafeteria (I like the basement salad spot–make your own tasty salad on the cheap-ish). Plus it’s the original Marshall Field’s. Go. Steer clear of Frontera Fresco if you don’t want to spend $5 on a single tamale that tastes like soggy cornbread with no accouterments save a tiny bit of salsa. If you’re looking for a nicer dining spot, The Walnut Room is world famous and lovely!

Taverns/Gastropubs/Bars

The Gage: This upscale tavern across from Millennium Park offers a tasty venison burger, indulgent wild boar poutine and a delightful Scotch egg that I wish I could still consume (darn glutens). Cool atmosphere. Great food. $$$

Elephant & Castle: There are a few of these laced throughout the city. An English style pub, where you can enjoy a pint and the closest thing to my mom’s Yorkshire pudding that I’ve ever tasted. Good food. Great beer selection.

Monk’s Pub: They don’t split checks, so bring cash, but the awesome atmosphere at this tavern is worth it. Throw your complimentary peanuts on the floor and enjoy one of the largest beer menus I’ve seen in a while. Gluten-free beer indeed.

Kitty O’Sheas: They have a killer bloody Mary. This Irish pub is located across from Grant Park on Michigan Ave in the Hilton. We stop in for a drink before Bears games. Tasty.

Guys, this is Chicago. There are THOUSANDS of tasty places to consume noms and drinks. Explore. Our food is delicious. If you need help deciding, YELP is a Godsend. Get the App. No, they aren’t paying me. Yes, you can follow me on Yelp and read my reviews.

What are your favorite restaurants in downtown Chicago?

 

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!

So You’re Coming to Chicago for BlogHer? I’ve Got Tips and Tricks for Surviving Chicago

With less than a month to the joy of my very first ever BlogHer conference (and the start of a MAD slew of nerdcon JOY), I thought I would offer you what I know. Knowledge is power, y’all…And I’m like fucking She-Ra up in here.

As someone who’s never been to BlogHer, I can’t really offer any BlogHer13 specific advice, but I am a master of the Chi. A suburbanite turned corporate-America-city-office-slug, I’ve got the deets that you can’t ignore. So share this shit with your friends. And then look for me at the conference. I’ll be the fake ginger in the hot pink tutu.

Parking

Shit guys, parking is expensive. Lucky for you, I am a fucking money saving genius. I don’t pay full price for anything. ESPECIALLY not parking. But in Chicago, we’ve got this sweet app/website (and no, they aren’t paying me to say nice things about them) called Spot Hero, where you can get reduced price parking. You’re welcome.

Okay, that’s all I really have. Good luck. Can’t wait to meet you!

JK, guys. What type of host do you think I am? Oh, right…I’m not hosting this shit, I’m just trying to help you out.

Food

Chicago is home to some of the BEST food in the world. Don’t believe me? Venture outside your hotel room into the big bad city and partake of any of your favorite cuisines and foodstuffs. We’re known for these:

  • Hot dogs
  • Italian beef sandwiches
  • Polish sausage
  • Combo (Italian beef and Italian sausage)
  • Deep dish pizza
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Pizza in general from anywhere that claims Chicago style pizza

BUT, we do everything well. Go out for Mexican or Italian. Find a Cuban restaurant or a little Mediterranean dive with pita and falafel. Gorge yourself on meat and cheese at a delicious little cheese shop or get a sugar high at a French pastry shop. Next week, I’ll post about some of my favorite Loop spots for you to enjoy tasty treats. They’re almost all by Millennium Park, where you can take your picture in front of a giant metal jellybean. Which brings me to the next point.

Touristy Shit

How to survive Blogher Chicago

I don’t know how to smile like a normal person

The Bean

I’m pretty sure that I just discovered the official name for this monstrosity is “Cloud Gate.” I’m also pretty sure that if you ask anyone in Chicago, “Where’s Cloud Gate?” You’ll get a blank stare. In these parts, we call it The Bean. You should too. It’s a giant metal jellybean in the middle of Millennium Park, where I occasionally grab Panera or some amazing food truck fare and have a little lunch while I people watch like a motherfucker. This puppy is a tourist hot spot…so go check it out. Plus there’s like a big park and stuff for you to enjoy.

 

How to Survive BlogHer in Chicago

Sears Tower: It’s not sooo big, right? I walk by it almost every day!

Sears Tower

I guess some people are calling this giant skyscraper, “Willis Tower” now. Fuck that. It’s the Sears Tower. Just roll with me, here okay? We abhor change, here in The Chi. This here’s a tall building. It’s kinda awesome. My grandfather was a part of the building crew (LIKE a BOSS). I haven’t been to the Sky Deck since I was 7 or 8. Since then, they’ve added one of those glass floors that makes it terrifying to walk on. Maybe I’ll go with you. Maybe I won’t. Probably not. Let’s be honest.

 

 

Dolphin pictures

These are the trickster dolphins at the Shed. Love them. I do.

The Museums

Not to brag or anything, but The Chi has some of the best museums on the planet. Science & Industry is a fan favorite, so if you dig learning (which you fucking should) or science, or technology, go check this one out. Love for nature? Field museum. Marine life and fishies? Oceanarium. With DOLPHINS. The best dolphins ever. Pacific white sided dolphins, which are spazzier than bottle-nosed dolphins. There are also penguins for Katies. We’ve also got a rockstar art museum (The Art Institute) for your artistic types. And the Adler Planetarium for stargazers. And TWO zoos. The free zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is in the city, about a $20 cab ride from BlogHer. Okay, and you have to travel to the suburbs for the better zoo (Brookfield Zoo)…but still. Worth it.

So those are just a few of many ideas for you when you’re conferenced out and want to hang with a few people on a sweet ass adventure. Or if you’re super smart and staying a few extra days doing the touristy thing.

More Chicago Tips:

What to pack for Chicago weather

How to make nice with the Chicago natives

Where to eat if you’re on more of a budget

If you’ve been to BlogHer, tell me your own tips and tricks for the actual conference! If you’re from Chicago, what would you want to tell our visitors? If you just want to show me how awesome you are, tell me about your own city or small 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!