Sometimes, you have to add a battery pack and twinkle lights

In June, I attended my fourth BlogHer conference. But this one felt strange. The last six writing conferences I attended all had a similar feel — one in which I knew dozens of people and was comfortable just…being me. That’s when I thrive.

This time, I started the conference off with a bang. After 3 flights in less than a week, and a truly amazing Disney adventure, my back was acting up for the first time in months. I was in pain, which only exasperated my desire to hide.

I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy? Hiding?

So, I’m an introverted extrovert. If you know me, you couldn’t possibly see me as shy. But if you don’t, you might think I’m the quiet one. Adding to that, I spent much of this year suffering from mild depression and anxiety, and now, I’ve got a recipe for disaster.

And so at BlogHer, only knowing a few of the several thousand people and trying to fight through pain, anxiety, and depression, I found myself hiding. Skipping sessions to nap in my room. Barely taking any photos throughout the events. Wandering the exhibitor hall by myself instead of sitting through full keynotes from really interesting speakers. Opting out of late night partying with new friends, and instead, I found myself floating down the lazy river with my roomie, Renee.

It was still fun, but it was a different kind of fun than one should have at a writing conference full of like-minded people. I found myself asking why I was even there.

On Friday night, I took a Valium for my back pain and crashed early.

On Saturday morning, Renee left, and my dear friend, Samara, was doing her own thing…so I wandered the expo for a while. I was interviewed for a Forbes podcast, and the guy looked at me — sporting a normal-ish blonde hairstyle and simple blue dress — with douche eyes and actually said, “Quirky Chrissy? You don’t look very quirky. Now, I saw this other girl who had rainbow hair and a unicorn horn. Now, THAT’S quirky.” Maybe it was the place my brain was hiding, but I wanted to simultaneously punch him and cry. But how do you defend your personality when someone mocks your chosen moniker?

I left the expo feeling down in the dumps.

The thing about being an extrovert who suffers from depression and anxiety is that you need people to help lift you out of the cycle, but you don’t want to be around people when you’re depressed or anxious.

By the time the closing party rolled around, I was ready to go home. But I told Samara I’d meet her down there. And I knew there would be snacks — I was starving, and I’ve yet to find a reason to say no to free food. So I decided I had one last chance to bust out my magic twinkle skirt.

And then I found some more of my people, and people recharge me the way the battery pack sewn into this skirt makes it light up. They bring me back to life (that’s the extroverted part of my brain). I met the unicorn girl, Elliotte, — who, by the way, is AMAZING — and she was kind and wonderful and inspiring…and she gave me a pink unicorn horn.

writers posing at the blogher17 closing party

Photo credit: BlogHer17/SheKnows Media

If I could have gone back in time and worn this fucking skirt the whole time I was in Orlando, I think I would have. Because there’s no better way to make 50 new friends than to wear a light up twinkle skirt. It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me.

It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me end the weekend on a high note.Twinkling Stars Skirt - Blue. 3X by ThinkGeek

I started seeing writing friends at the conference, some of whom I knew were there and that I’d said hi to, but hadn’t made a point to actually hang out with, despite my desperate need for more human interaction. I was shy and nervous. I convinced myself they didn’t want to hang out with me. I was afraid. But once I put on my magic skirt, and it was like I could hide my insecurities behind the sparkles and just illuminate the bright spots. It was a Band Aid, but at the time, I really needed a Band Aid.

selfie with writing friends at BlogHer

Eventually, I met up with Samara and she was ready to DANCE. And so I danced. And twirled. And shined brighter than I had throughout the whole conference. I felt glimmers of the me that I love to be, and I knew I had to get back there.

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!

Felt Up By a Minion and the Objectification of Male Models

The BlogHer15 Closing Party was something of a shit show.  By that, I mean,  I was hungover from the night before and felt like shit, and there was quite a show.

image

Sure, BoyzIIMen stopped by for a 3-song set. When song three played and it wasn’t Motown Philly, I was ready to start throwing things. But they appeased me by rolling right into a fourth number, Motown Philly for the win,  without me needing to throw things or beg for an encore.

 

A video posted by Quirky Chrissy (@quirkychrissy) on

 

 

And yes, Nick Cannon (and I’m still not entirely sure who he is) tore up the house with mostly decent tunes. I didn’t dance all that much (but I was out on account of back pain).

And then there were the minions. They showed up to party with the bloggers, and boy did they get fresh!

image

But the real stars of the McDonald’s show at Pier 84 in New York were the dozens of male models Mickey D’s hired to serve us chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers.

image

About 30 minutes into the party I started noticing that every single server was a dude. And almost all of them were totally attractive dudes. Sure they were young, and made my “29” years seem older…but they were pretty.

image

I mentioned this to some of my friends…and they all looked at me like I was nuts.

Wait, Chrissy, you mean you DIDN’T notice this right away like everyone else?

Well, no, guys. I didn’t.  Upon entering this party, I was on a singular mission,  and that mission was chicken nuggets. I was thinking with my hangover. By 9 pm, the hangover had lifted like the morning fog, and this party took on a whole new world.

A world that involved a lot of ridiculous photography of male models in McDonald’s tee shirts that read I’m  Lovin’ it.

image

Me too, McDonald’s.  Me too.

image

When I realized what McD’s had done, I was almost afraid to say anything for fear of this being something other than politically correct. And then I didn’t care. Because nothing goes better with chicken nuggets than hot dudes.

They served us food and drinks, removed our trash, and brightened our evening for the one of the best closing parties this girl’s ever been to. I hung out with old friends and new, and reveled in the party at the pier.

The dudes were like the happy meal toys, and I wanted to collect them all. So before the party ended, I raced around the event searching for the servers. It was indeed a happy meal.

And so it was that McDonald’s made nuggets and cheeseburgers sexy by serving them with a side of hunk.

The Men of McDonald's at the BlogHer15 Closing Party really knew how to show us girls a good time.

And not one woman there was complaining about it.

 

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!

BlogU15: The Good, The Awkward, and The Bloody

For those of you not obsessively stalking me on social media (First, PSA – what are you thinking? You can savor little bits of me in small doses, and each social media outlet is like an adorable and ridiculous puzzle piece that fits into the grander scheme of me, people. Go forth and use those shiny social media buttons at the top of my page and love the shit out of me…), you may not know that I was waking a roommate up each morning to “Good Morning, Baltimore” from Hairspray as we relished a weekend of blogging camaraderie at the BlogU conference. I’m going to tell you now that my roommate, Vicky, loved me and wouldn’t trade me and my Breath Right nose strips for a toffee and sea salt chocolate bar any day. I think.

How to Prepare for a Blog Conference - get your wardrobe, feet, nails, beer and eats on.

The only picture I have of my middle school outfit was from Thursday night packing. My rainbow pants were a recognizable conversation starter so I could ensure people spoke to me (and I didn’t retreat into the introvert side of my brain).

I survived three glorious days on almost 14 hours of sleep total, pretending I was in college again. I had the time of my life with a beautiful mish-mosh of (mostly) women (plus like 4-ish dudes) bloggers as we learned, partied, played and learned some more. On Friday, at the crack of dawn, Brian loaded my suitcases into the trunk of my car as I prepared to embark on my first solo trip in more than five years. I realized I was terrified as we made our way to Midway Airport, and told him as much. I explained I thought I was going to throw up, and asked what would happen if it wasn’t as amazing as everyone said it was? And what if no one liked me? What if I got nervous and shy and said nothing?

You may not believe me, but it’s true.

Bloody Mary

I’d only met ONE other person attending BlogU – Aussa Lorens (who, after hanging out with a couple times at two blog conferences, I think I can safely say that we’re BFFs). So I planned to start my afternoon with Joules, who wasn’t attending the conference but lives…sort of nearby. We had a killer delicious brunch and were joined by a hundred other bloggers. (Or like 15. Whatever.) I had the most beautiful bloody Mary ever to grace the planet, one which I will never be able to replicate (until my imminent return next year).

The most beautiful bloody Mary ever

Miss Shirley’s Bloody Mary – tomato, shrimp, Andouille sausage, cheese, okra, meat thing, pepadew pepper, jalapeno bacon.

So the weekend began with a bloody…which turned out to be my theme for the weekend. In many more ways than one.  The drink was loaded with deliciousness and just a hint of spice. Someone told me to look at it like it was the biggest dick I’d ever seen…this is the result:

I split breakfast apps with my new friends, McCall and Anne. I had to sweet talk the server into splitting up our check a little more than the original plan (ONE check per table and max FOUR credit cards. I promised we’d tip well, and I’m pretty sure we did), but it worked and we were all golden. Then I bid farewell to Joules and piled into a car with four other bloggers and their luggage (me carrying the most, of course).

Bloody Shaving

At dinner on the first night (a lot of these stories are going to revolve around eating and drinking. Deal with it, yo), I was drooling over the dessert table, when Jen Simon started swooning over some magic half brownie thing. I already had 27 desserts on my plate, so she was like, “go try mine. There’s my table. Don’t tell them you know me.”

Not one to miss out on a golden opportunity of awkward moments, I strolled over with a fork, sat down, and dug in. Everyone laughed and I made a new table of friends, including the super sparkly Mary. So then, Jen walked up and stood behind me, chatting. And I felt something warm and wet on my lower back…because there was some hot chocolate drizzle rollin’ down my back. She felt bad, but I didn’t. I had planned to wear my rainbow pants and tee shirt to the pep rally and Term Paper of the Year (and was beginning to feel a bit on the self-conscious side) but now I had an excuse to change. I brought enough clothes, and decided I wanted to look adorable with all the other people (seriously, everyone I met was adorable).

I decided that if I was changing, I should probably shower. And if I was showering, I should probably shave. Well. If you may recall from my shit that’s hard for chubby girls post, I’m not exactly great at shaving my legs. And I almost always regret this beauty regimen. But I braved the fucking shower yoga so I didn’t feel completely self-conscious in front of so much amazing talent…and cut the fucking shit out of my legs.

The Many Faces of Selfie Queen Quirky Chrissy

At the end of the conference, I was dubbed Queen of the Selfies…This is probably why. There were more selfies of my narcissistic self than me with other people on my camera. Thanks Sarah for being the only photo bomber.

Bloody Towel

After taking a miniature battle axe to my legs, I toweled off with the tiniest towel ever to grace my body. Poor Vicky almost caught a glimpse of everything but my left tit, because that’s all this terrycloth bitch could cover. I set it on the towel bar in our shared suite to dry, where the sight of it broke the amazing Chris Dean’s heart. As one of the few people lovely enough to believe that my hair really is THIS RED…she was disappointed to discover the bloody towel hanging on the rack. As a faux ginger herself, she knows the site of a hair-dyed towel when she sees one. But…did I mention Vicky and I got to share a quad with Chris and Anne (from breakfast)? Because that was definitely a highlight.

Bloody Period

Well…thank GOD Jen Simon spilled hot chocolate on my ass (literally), because if she hadn’t…I wouldn’t have showered. Or changed. Because I was pretty thankful when I was cut off mid-sentence telling Vicky that I was glad I didn’t have to worry about getting up and speaking during the Term Paper of the Year…as they announced my motherfucking name…

I looked at Vicky and Sasha, shell shocked. “Umm…I think that’s my name.”

“Woohoo!”

I stood up. I looked around like a deer in headlights. “What do I do?”

“I think you go up there.”

“Oh. Fuck.”

I didn’t even know what I was reading. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what I submitted. And then I stood in front of 200 people I hadn’t introduced myself to yet, and read the story of my first period. Thank GOD they laughed when they were supposed to laugh. Because speaking about bleeding from my lady bits (and not fucking knowing it) in front of brilliant writers was the most terrifying thing ever. I gripped the podium like I was hanging onto the edge of a building and prayed that I didn’t fall down. And when I was done, I was shaking. Thank you, Vicky for capturing this on video:

Bloody Shoulder

The rest of the weekend seemed to go pretty well and remained relatively accident-free. Until I was sitting in Jen Mann’s session about writing books (because books). I was listening, learning, and laughing (I love it when people are funny in real life…especially when they make the universal tongue-in-cheek sign for blow job), when I looked down and noticed a significant amount of blood welling up on my left shoulder. Of course, I reached to touch it and ended up with blood on my fingers as well.

The girl sitting next to me (who my mind is COMPLETELY blanking on and for that I’m so sorry. If that was you, please let me know so I can credit you for your sympathy) searched her purse for a tissue, but came up empty, apologizing profusely. So I improvised. The thing about having a former life as a catering manager is that you learn to improvise quickly. I ripped out a piece of notebook paper, wiped my bloody fingers, folded the paper up, and used it to apply pressure/soak up the blood.

Bloody Shoulder wiped up with paper

And took a picture. Obviously. ( I haven’t mastered my new camera phone yet, which is why my head looks gigantic)

Bloody Dance Floor

First, you should probably be listening to this song as you read this next part. It’s one of my favorite jams. And this section is all about jams.

 

Okay. So. At the AMAZING middle school awkward party hosted by Nickelodeon, I would love to tell you I was the belle of the ball, and since there were about 200 belles, so I guess I’ll say I was just one of them. Dancing my freaking ass off like I was 22. I seriously believed I would lose like 10 pounds after an epic dance floor experience, but alas, not one pound. Anyway, I was really hoping to hear, The Bad Touch, because I know all the words and was SO ready to dirty rap for all my new friends. After an appletini or two, I walked up to the DJ and explained he NEEDED to play The Bad Touch because it was a quintessential song from my existence, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if he didn’t play it.

An hour later, I was jumping around to Madonna, singing Like a Prayer, and pretending I was 22. I’m a firm believer in dancing the lyrics, so when Madonna sings, “down on myyyyyy knees…” I got down on my knees like a motherfucking boss.

I popped up and continued dancing, feeling a little twinge of pain in my knee, but it wasn’t unbearable. As the song was ending, The Bad Touch came on and I was READY for this shit. Until I accidentally looked down and saw that there was mass quantities of blood gushing from my knee to my ankle. I stared in horror…deer in headlights AGAIN…and I was ushered off the dance floor. Evacuated, if you will. I kept trying to go back because they were playing my JAM and I was missing every glorious second of it.

Thanks to Jana, this moment was not completely lost. I only wish I had waited to wipe the blood that was dripping down to my ankle...

Thanks to Jana, this moment was not completely lost. I only wish I had waited to wipe the blood that was dripping down to my ankle… And let’s talk about that awesome friendship bracelet handmade by the beautiful Jessica D’Pirate who woke up early and practiced yoga with me and Jessica.

Jana brought me paper towels and took a picture. Others offered to bring me alcohol. Estelle searched her purse for a Band Aid (I had them…in my dorm room) which she couldn’t find. I stood there crying about missing my song. Then, I took Estelle up on her offer of Purell because I wanted to emotionally snack on mass quantities of gummy candy and I couldn’t do that with bloody hands. So I cleaned up my act and finished the evening in style.

I also spent the rest of the evening yelling at people to be careful because I thought I knelt on glass, because there’s no way I was just…bleeding from the dance floor, right?

Bloody Squirrel

The next morning, walking to breakfast, my new friend Amy commented on the insanity of the local squirrel population as they swirled and swung from the tree tops. I just chalked it up to college campus squirrels, as the Bradley squirrels were a little…well…squirrely too.

But as we were walking BACK from breakfast, we happened upon the saddest scene in the world. A squished squirrel, posthumously named Skippy by Tracy, lay bloody in  the middle of the campus road, as his little buddy gingerly walked up to him and nuzzled his battered body. I cried a little bit watching this happen. Can we just pause for a brief moment to recognize Skippy?

Thanks.

I did actually engage with other people...I promise.

A few other highlights to prove that I did actually engage with other people…I promise…including Estelle, Jen Mann, Sasha, Jen Simon, Aussa, Andra, Audrey, Ashley, Jenn Rian and Vicky

Bloody Delayed Flight

After my flight was delayed an hour, and I woke up from a power nap on the floor of the boarding aisle, I made my way to the back of my aircraft and passed the fuck out. For about an hour. I woke up, gave myself a good scratch and…wait for it…started bleeding on my right shoulder. I cursed silently and decided that my bloody weekend needed to be over, and so I went back to sleep and woke up in Chicago (or something like that).

I made so many more friends and wish I could tag every damn one of you, but this post is already at an unreadable length. But you were all fucking magical. I learned a LOT. I laughed constantly. I found my people. Every single person that was there was my people. And I adore you all. My nerves were quickly replaced by friendships that will last forever.

A big fat thank you and shout out to Nehemiah (Boogie Wipes, Kandoo, Dreft Home, Downy Wrinkle Releaser and Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator) for reimbursing my ticket as part of a random drawing for members of their blogger team)!

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: 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?

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!

The BlogHer Conference Questions You’re Afraid to Ask…Answered

Greetings! If you’re not a blogger or you’re not going to the BlogHer Conference 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 BlogHer…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 BlogHer Conference 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!

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!

Eating Gluten-Free at a Conference (Or How I was SO Hungry at BlogHer13, that I Thought About Eating Katie)

I promise there are only a few more BlogHer13 posts left. I’m saving Dr. Travis for next week. I know that you are anxiously anticipating my afternoon with the real life McDreamy…but you must wait. PATIENCE is a VIRTUE, bitches.

It is now Thursday. My eating/digestive schedule is STILL off kilter. Why? You may ask?

Over the weekend at BlogHer, food things were tricky.

It is very annoying to have to ask about EVERY. PIECE. OF. FOOD. That enters my mouth. When I cook at home, I know what I’m eating. When we go to restaurants, they tell me what I can eat. When I go to a conference, a little sign might be there. Or a little sign might not be there. But you have to ask. About EVERYTHING.

Here are my notes for the BlogHer team on the food. Hopefully next year, I’ll be back to eating gluten.

1. I am not a vegan. I am not a vegetarian. I am a meat and cheese eating girl TESTING out a gluten-free lifestyle. Meat. Cheese. I want those. I don’t want your fake chorizo and weird scrambled tofu.

2. If you tell someone a food line is “gluten-free,” It’s best to keep the FLOUR tortillas off the line…especially when you have labeled them CORN TORTILLAS. It’s best not to have GLUTEN in the vegan stuff. Or you should have a separate line for those items. Or be VERY CLEAR that it contains gluten. I saved some girl from having a giant attack of glutening because the lady in charge of the line told me that the vegan food had gluten in it. (When I asked if I could eat eggs and meat off of the normal food line).

3. If you invite a girl to a secret special lunch, and she asks if there is gluten free food, do not wait an hour and 10 minutes into the presentation to say, “Oh, by the way…you can’t eat the main courses.” She will then leave to meet with the hot doctor and be very. very. very. hungry. And crabby. If I had known, I would have left and gone to the regular food line…

BlogHer13 Food

This does not a lunch make.

BlogHer13 Food

I could eat 1 item on this plate.

BlogHer13 Food

Sauces do not a lunch make. I wouldn’t let them take the plate until I consumed all of the nuts, the pepper and most of the rosemary. I almost bit someone’s arm off to keep it.

4. If you have an important everyone-must-go-to-this-event at dinner time. Fucking serve up some dinner. If you don’t want to serve dinner, fine. CHANGE THE TIME OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT-EVENT. ESPECIALLY…if the emcee is going to be an hour late and the event is going to run over even longer…making the end time an hour and a half later than expected. (I’m talking about Voices of the Year. And I’m talking about Queen Latifah. I was hungry and cranky. Forgive me.)

5. If someone is starving enough, they’ll eat anything. Consequences be damned. Did I ask about gluten in the sausages? The cheese fries? No. Did I care? No. Was I totally sick in the middle of the night, resulting in the very bizarre Best Buy drama day on Saturday? Yes. Do I blame gluten or grease? I don’t. Know. (Seriously, though, I slammed 4 sausages while I was in line for cheese fries, which were gone before I could even grab a glass of wine. Which was good, because then I had 2 hands for the calming effects of wine and water–by water I mean the Chicago River, which Katie and I snuggled on a bench in front of with our beverages.)

6. A gluten free line with deli meat that is not labeled as gluten free frightens me after I was told that there was gluten on the same line the day before. So I did not eat lunch. I was sick anyways, so that was a moot point anyway. I skipped the keynote in order to eat food. I felt a lot better.

While I’m still feeling the effects of this weekend’s weird food schedule, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may not need a gluten-free diet. I thought that I felt better, but it could just be the fact that I was eating much healthier…we’ll see. I’m giving it 2 more months (So October 1, I’ll be enjoying some type of gluten to discover the results.)

Did you go to BlogHer? Tell me about your food experiences?

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!

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!