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!

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!

Adventure is out there!

Ya know, I’m not normally one for exclamation marks, but I’m about to embark on three weekend adventures in a row.  Tomorrow after work, I’m heading on a flight to Las Vegas to hang out with one of my besties and see the Backstreet Boys — who, apparently, I see every ten years-ish. I saw them in 1997 and 2008 (yeah, I know a little more than 10 years. Whatever. Close enough). And now, I’m going to see them in 2017 in Las Vegas. I wonder where I’ll catch them in 2027…

Chrissy falling out of her camp chair at the Backstreet Boys concert

This is the only photographic evidence I have of me at a BSB concert. And it’s because I fell out of my chair and my girlfriends thought it was funny.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to make it out of Las Vegas alive. Just last weekend, one of my other besties sent me a text sharing a link to an article about Legionnaires disease in Vegas. My mom had suggested I stay at the Rio, but I’m thrilled she helped me find a sweet deal on a room at Bally’s instead. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to shower while I’m there. You know…Just in case.

And that’s only the beginning of all the ways I could die in Las Vegas.

After a few cocktails, I have a tendency to wander off. On my own. And in a city like Vegas, I’m likely to get eaten by wolves. Or something. Maybe I’ll walk the plank on that pirate ship in Treasure Island…or get too excited near the Bellagio and fall in. The possibilities are endless. And terrifying. At my bachelorette party, I started talking to strangers with the promises of free shots. I’m not entirely sure that won’t happen in Vegas. Except, I won’t have a brood of lady friends protecting my ass. It’s me and my girlfriend against the world. And this is how we roll:

triple fisting cocktails

Why yes, we are both triple fisting the cocktails in 2006. And it’s entirely possible we’re at a strip club. Also, I really miss that strapless shirt.

The only other time was in Sin City was approximately a million and a half years ago when I was 17 with a bad haircut and couldn’t do anything fun. I was with my best friend and we wandered the hotels, shopped, and gossiped about life. But as an adult? I don’t know if my brain was designed for Vegas. There are so many bright and shiny things and lights and sparkles and OMG you guys I’m going to get so distracted, I’ll probably miss my flight home.

Chrissy at 17 with a vegas gondolier

At least I knew this gondolier was attractive when I was 17…

And I can’t miss my flight.

Because I’m coming home for approximately 46 hours to smooch my husband, throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and refill my suitcase for Orlando.

From there, I’m going to gently dabble in a little solo Disney adventure. I say gently because this shameless hussy sharing a room with me promised to meet me for an after-5 dinner date inside the Magic Kingdom.  The next day may include a little waterparking before heading into BlogHer17, my fourth BlogHer conference. Much hugging will ensue, and at that point, there will be plenty of friends with me to make sure I don’t get lost in the House of Mouse.

Chrissy and Mary Poppins Disney World

I’ll return for about 5 days, this time, with one final adventure on the horizon for Fourth of July weekend. 5 days in the cheese motherland of Wisconsin with the one I left behind two weekends in a row. But honestly, guys, don’t feel bad for Brian, abandoned though he might be. He eats this shit up. You mean days upon days in a row in which he doesn’t have to do ANYTHING but go to work? No peopling? No socializing? No incessant babbling? No Disney music? The man is going to be in heaven.

Me too, Brian. Me too.

What adventures are you heading for this summer? Anything sweet on the horizon? 

Want to follow my adventures? Make sure you’re following me on all the social media nonsense. 

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!

Nerds!

Good afternoon Blog Friends!

I have returned from Indianapolis with about 10% of the games and things that I wanted to purchase (while still finding a few gems and winning a few sweet freebies.)

Gen Con Games

The Spoils

I can’t wait to pop these babies, ESPECIALLY the Firefly expansion. Of course, I also can’t wait to have a house to display my ridiculous game collection in one beautiful game library so I’ve decided this is the week we’re going to find our house.

All that aside, it’s time for the Gen Con recap.

We, along with 50,000 or so other nerds, geeks, and gamers, descended upon Indianapolis for 4 days of unadulterated gaming.

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What I wore to Gen Con

As with most nerd cons, it’s important to show off your finest geekery. I opted for two days of total geek chic and two days of comfort. Yoga pants dominated on the days that involved driving. But I’m pretty proud of the two full days’ ensembles.

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Spreadshirt Sloth Tee

On Friday, I busted out my brand new sloth tee from Spreadshirt. This shirt was sent to me so that I could tell you how awesome they are. I was actually super impressed with several things that Spreadshirt printed shirts had to offer. First, the collection of tees and designs are pretty vast. I went to the site looking for the perfect shirt to wear to Gen Con. I knew I found it when I saw the big happy sloth who definitely doesn’t run.

Sloth t-shirt

Ironically, Brian really did want to nap instead…and I wanted to get to Gen Con OMGASAPNEEDNEEDNEED.

The shirt took just a few days to ship – two to be exact. Unlike other make-your-own printed stuff sites, I received this shirt in less than a week from the shipping date. Just in time for Gen Con.

The best part about Spreadshirt was the customer service. Each step of the process came with an e-mail letting me know when my shirt would arrive and I received a final feedback request that felt personalized. It was a great experience.

As far as the shirt? I ordered a woman’s V-neck XL. I would order a different style/size next time, as I felt the shirt was a little short for me. Otherwise it was comfy and soft. And got a TON of compliments from other gamers.

TARDIS dress

As I scoured the mall looking for another tee to wear, I stumbled across this dress that pretty much made my day. And FIT ME.

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Upon entering the con that day, I immediately found my Dalek foe and went to wreak havoc on him for existing. Unfortunately, there was no chatting with a Dalek this year.

I did think it was super interesting, as I had never been in one place where so many people were wearing the exact same thing as me (and I went to Cheer Camp!).

On Wil Wheaton

Man! How cool would it be to be as cool as Wil Wheaton?! These are just a few things I saw:

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I failed to purposely accidentally run into him again, but I think I’d be so nervous if I did, I wouldn’t say anything at all.

The Games

I love demoing games. I love demoing games at Gen Con. I didn’t get to play nearly as many games as I would have liked, but here are a few that really stood out to me.

Alpha Bandits

Alpha BanditsThis game from Wiggity Bang Games  was just funded on Kickstarter last month. I love the colors of the tiles, but the play of the game is really fun. It relies on creating words for points, but also sneakily changing up your opponents’ words and ending the round to garner the most points. It’s a really great word game for anyone who loves them some Scrabble/Words With Friends. I actually have a demo print and play version of the game already, but it’s still on my list of to-buy games when it comes out in a few months. Especially since this wordsmith kicked the game designer’s butt in a demo game!

Of course, because I beat the designer, I won a different game from Wiggity Bang games, Mad Quao (which I also got signed by the designer). I’ll let you know how it goes.

Seven Wonders with the upcoming expansion

I love this game as a stand-alone game or with its current expansions, and I really enjoyed playing one part of the new expansion. Each of the add-ons in this expansion offer help and hindrances depending on how you play your game. The one we played added a group card that everyone needed to work together to achieve. With a success, everyone who helped received a sweet bonus and with a fail, anyone who didn’t help was punished (in the game people!)

Run for Your Life Candyman!

Oh. My. God. You should probably own this game. The premise is Candyland. But with the added slogan of Smirk & Dagger Games, “Games are a lot more fun when you can stab a friend in the back.” And it’s amazing. We played in a 2-hour tournament game at 11:00 pm. What made this especially fantastic was the gingerbread cookies and food coloring gel.

You can watch as my cookie, Taunty, slowly loses every part of himself. Playing this with a group of strangers was surprisingly awesome. We had a fantastic group and Smirk & Dagger makes this an amazing experience with their enthusiasm and super fun game.

We spent most of the game in a candy cage match where we basically just ripped at each other until everyone had someone else’s candy limbs. It was fantastic.

There was SO much more, but I figured all you needed was a small glimpse into this year’s Gen Con experience.

Have you ever been to a game or comic con? What’s your favorite board or card game?

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!

Vacation Fashion Fails

Good morning Blog Friends!

I thought today was as good a day as any to tell you of this year’s vacation fashion whoops moments…because I tend to have a lot of them.

I bought several new dresses and outfits to wear on our trip, as vacation seems to be my favorite time to get a new wardrobe. Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t fuck it all up every now and then.

The first fashion fail entails our drive out of San Francisco, which is a wonder since it seemed to take 2 whole days before wrecking myself. This dress was a try-it-on-three-times-before-deciding dress, as I wasn’t quite sure I wanted it. I probably should have left it at Forever 21.

We had been through a whirlwind morning in an almost-failed attempt to acquire a rental car that resulted in a $50 town car ride to the airport and a significantly cheaper car rental than you’d find in Downtown San Francisco. We figured the town car would be nicer than a cab ride and it was the same price.

Of course, I was donning one of my never-before worn dresses, feeling all sorts of fancy. Until I ripped it getting out of the car.

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As you can see, it’s a pretty bold and busy pattern, so you won’t notice that I continue to wear the dress even with a hole in it.

I’d like to tell you that this next fashion fail was a result of shot time with Pocketful of Joules, but I’d be lying.

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And since there is Instagramic proof that I was having problems with this dress from the beginning…you wouldn’t believe me anyways.

This dress was the dress I almost bought a house in. It started the vacation at my mom’s house, where after one wearing, I required a seam fix in the arm pit and a stain removal from that one time I thought it was a good idea to cook with oil while wearing a new dress and a few additional spills…from wearing it once. Mom fixed it up and delivered it to me the day of our flight to San Fran. Best. Mom. Ever.

It was probably bad luck to bring it along as it was, but I’m a big fan of living on the edge.

As you may have seen on Instagram, I had problems from the moment I put the dress on.
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The cutouts at the bottom of my dress were going to be the death of this dress. Somewhere between getting caught in the hair dryer cord and doing shots with Joules, my dress was ripped in q big way that Mama can’t fix…though she did offer to try.

Luckily, it’s a pretty flowy dress amd you can’t TOTALLY see where it’s ripped…so I’ll still be seen wearing it.

My final fashion fail wasn’t so much a rip or tear as it was poor planning on my part. I had planned to wear this saucy little black dress on a fancy dinner night with Brian…but things don’t work out the way you plan and it became my McDonald’s closing party duds.

It was strapless and practically backless, so wearing a bra wasn’t about to happen. Brian thought it looked spectacular, so I rolled out to meet with the Bloopies(a group of bloggers that I’m a part of).

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You can kind of see that the dress didn’t seem to be holding up as much as I would have liked…

Thankfully, I’m often surrounded by people who are smarter than me and one of these delightful women, the brilliant genius that is Lily Connelly, suggested that I use my scarf to hold the dress up after seeing my insecure struggle to keep it from giving all of BlogHer a free show.

So my fashion fail actually turned into a fashion hack, in which I wrapped the scarf through the center tie and back around my neck, thus keeping my boobs in place and out of sight.

Fashion hack: use a scarf to hold a strapless dress up. ALSO, this may be the nicest port-o-potty ever.

Fashion hack: use a scarf to hold a strapless dress up. ALSO, this may be the nicest port-o-potty ever.

Have you ever had a fashion fail? Do you rip holes in clothes as often as I do? What’s the best fashion hack you’ve discovered?

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!

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?

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!

Heading to BlogHer 2014 in San Jose and Things I’m Going to Con Brian into Doing

Guys, I am SO stoked to be heading to my second BlogHer convention. Last year, it was in Chicago–just 5 minute cab ride from my office, so I made my way over there after work on the first day of the conference. This year, I’ll be traveling to California for the first time ever and heading to San Jose to meet up with some of my bloggie friends, mentors and heroes for 4 days of joy.

Of course, I figured if I were heading out there for a conference, I might as well enjoy a few days of sightseeing before the big event. So Brian decided to join me on the upcoming adventure.

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This is Brian and I on adventures

We’ll be flying into San Francisco for a couple of days, then making our way up to wine country, and finishing our journey with BlogHer in San Jose (and flying out of San Jose. I REALLY love Southwest. Bags fly free and you can easily book one-way trips.)

While I’m conferencing with my bloggie friends, Brian will have a few days of down time to do…well…whatever he wants. Without me dragging him all over hell and high water.  Because that’s TOTALLY going to happen. I’ve created a little wishlist of things that I REALLY feel are an important part of our west coast journey.

1. Pictures in front of the Full House house. Yes. I know that people live there. But you know what? They moved into the Full House house. I’m going to be a covert creeper and make that shit happen.

2. Picnic in Alamo Square Park (bonus: Play the Full House theme song from a boom box.) This kind of goes along with San Fran goal #1. But seriously guys… FULL HOUSE. It was like…the epitome of childhood.

3. Sea-shelling on the Pacific coast. I read that one of the top ten shelling beaches in the United States is just north of San Francisco…so I pretty much HAVE to make my way over there to check it out. You know how much I love shelling!

4.  Visit the Winchester Mansion. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. Sarah Winchester thought the ghosts of every person who ever died from a Winchester rifle was haunting her. So she built this crazy house and kept building until the day she died. Doors that lead to walls, hallways to nowhere, windows in the middle of the house…Crazy shit. I CAN’T WAIT.

5. Attend some blogger party or event. I don’t expect him to want to partake in the entire conference, but I think it will be fun to intro him to some of the bloggers of my “tribe.” (Hint: That’s you guys)

There are other things on the list, but those are my top 5.

Have you been to northern California? What would be on your don’t-miss list? Are you going to BlogHer?

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!

Apparently I Wasn’t a Fish in Another Life and OCD has NO Place on Vacation…Or…How I Almost Wretched all over my Florida Vacation

One of my life goals: Swim with dolphins. Because I think that I was a fish or a fishy mammal in another life. Seriously, I’ve always loved being in the water. They threw me right in as a baby, and I’ve been in love ever since.

This year, I wanted to go to the Florida Keys to swim with, hug and kiss a real, live dolphin. One that wasn’t wild in the middle of the ocean with the potential to kill me. (I know. Dolphins. But still. Wild. Animals.)

I also wanted to snorkel. Last year, when we went to Marco Island, Brian’s mom told me that we should get his dad to take us snorkeling in Key Largo, because she absolutely loved it. I promised myself that we would do that, even if we didn’t do it last year…

Being the only one in a group of 4 that thought it was acceptable to pay several hundred dollars to swim with a dolphin…my P1 became the P2. Unfortunate…but…it was fine (and not the I’m-a-girl-and-going-to-say-it’s-fine-but-it’s-really-not kind of fine, just normal I’m-not-a-crazy-bitch fine). I’ll just go to Florida and swim with dolphins on my own time.

So snorkeling it was. We drove the 3 hour ride through the Everglades to Key Largo where we 1. Didn’t have a plan. 2. Apparently had TWO maybe plans. That required back and forth driving to decide which was a better deal.

This is where I had to get one of my bloggie besties to calm me off my ledge…

OCD has no place on vacation. OCD has no place on vacation. OCD has no place on vacation. OCD has no place on vacation. OCD has no place on vacation.

OCD has no place on vacation 2

OCD has no place on vacation 2

So, I listened to reason. And stopped freaking out. Brian and his brother also made a solid decision to stay at the place we were at and not drive around looking for a better deal or a longer snorkel trip. And so we slowed our day down. And got things ready for this snorkel trip. And walked around John Pennekamp to explore the beauty and such.

It was a REALLY perfect day too. We wandered for a few hours, got all of our gear for snorkeling, sunscreened the fuck up (when I came back just as pale as when I left, my co-workers and even the conductor on my train were all, WTF, Christine? And of course I responded, um Um hello?! Irish skin. And I don’t want cancer. Or a nasty leather stomach like some of those old ladies I saw in Marco sporting sports bras and power walking.)

When it was time to head over to our boat, I KNEW it was going to be a great day. The name of the boat said all I needed to see. I mean, imagine the good fortune and the joy that came with a sweet ride named after one of my favorite sea creatures. It was definitely going to be a great day.

Does that sound like ominous foreshadowing to you? Sarcasm? Dirty, rotten lies? You’ll see.

The boat ride out to the Coral Reef was awesome. The breeze through my hair, the amusing boat captains cracking jokes about boozin’. The quick lesson in snorkel gear. It all sounded good to me. This was my first trip out on the Atlantic that I am aware of. I’ve been of the beach before, but never in the middle of the fucking ocean.

After a brief training where the people in charge explained how to snorkel in about 15 minutes, we were ready to roll. Brian and I were the last ones out of the boat…

And as soon as I hit the water, I freaked the fuck out. Like full-blown panic. Apparently, it didn’t hit me until that EXACT moment that I was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING OCEAN. I had my snorkel mask on and the snorkel in my mouth and was wearing the most buoyant wet suit on the planet (which I didn’t even realize, to be perfectly honest–I just knew I wasn’t swimming hard or sinking) and flippers. This was the closest to being a fish I’ve ever been in my life.   And I was TERRIFIED.

Thankfully, Brian calmed me the fuck down as we floated 30 feet in the wrong direction of the boat. Apparently, it’s really fucking hard to swim with flippers on. I couldn’t get the hang of it. At. All. Brian had to hold my hand and cart me around, pretty much the entire time I was in the water.

After being yelled at by the boat captain, we made our way back toward the coral stuff. And I got acquainted with having my head in the water. Which was weird.

Head. In. Water.

 

I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you about the cheap disposable camera we purchased. I ALMOST bought an underwater camera for this experience. And decided to instead invest that money in a sweet Canon camera that I got a great deal on thanks to Amazon:

(It was the highest rated point and shoot on Consumer Reports; also shameless plug for my Amazon affiliate…if you click above, you might help me buy more cheese</cheesemoneytalk>).

So at the gift shop, we got a disposable camera to take underwater photos for you. Underwater, I pointed and Brian shot. It was a good system…especially when I saw a Dorie-fish (not sure what she was and too lazy to Google anymore…) and was yelling through my snorkel, “DORIE! DORIE! Get a picture of Dorie!)

Dorie

Honestly, I’m not sure this is the Dorie picture or not. It was all very confusing.

Yellowtail Snapper

According to Google, this blue fish with a yellow fin is a yellowtail snapper

Rainbow Parrotfish

Rainbow Parrotfish – It was a lot prettier underwater.

Barracudas anyone?

It’s hard to see, but there is a fucking school of barracudas down there. A fucking school. Well, like 12. But still. Holeeee shit.

Up close and personal with a barracuda.

Up close and personal with a barracuda.

Eventually, I decided that I wanted to play with the camera. Or Brian wanted a picture of himself. One of those.

And he relinquished the camera to me.

Which was pretty much the worst idea ever. Not only could I not figure the damn thing out, things started to go downhill. Fast. I’m not sure if I swallowed any water, or if the floating motion got to me, or if the looking through the lens of the tiny camera underwater was the ace in the hole…but vertigo hit and it hit fucking FAST.

Immediately, I had to lift out of the water, remove my snorkel and freak the fuck out. Again.

I was going to vomit. I was going to vomit all over the Coral Reef and myself and Brian and the fish and the barracudas were going to eat me and it was all over. I’m only a little bit of a drama queen.

I knew I needed to get out of the water and out of the suit and out of the mask and the flippers and be done. But I didn’t want to ruin Brian’s fun. The saint that he is still voluntarily pulled me to the boat, while I panicked and tried really hard not to puke into the water that everyone was swimming in, unaware of my agony and that they might just swim into vomit at any minute now.

We made it to the boat. Brian pulled off my flippers (because bending down seemed like the worst idea ever. Worse than anything. Ever.) and I crawled up to the boat. I spent the next hour sipping water and wishing I were on land while everyone else enjoyed being fish for a day.

Brian got a picture of himself (I think courtesy of his brother)

R1-02237-003A

Before it was all over, Brian and his brother even saw this GIGANTIC goliath grouper. Apparently it was the size of a large cow. And bad ass awesome. I’m so jealous.

 

  Don’t feel bad for me, though, Blog Friends. I had a good time and got a story out of it.

Have you ever had high expectations for something that didn’t quite go as expected?

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!

That One Time You Asked Me For Ridiculous and Impossible Blog-Souvenirs From My Vacation? This is What You Get.

I was on vacation. For a whole week. 8 days to be exact. 8 days out of Chicago. 8 days out of the cold. 8 days in Florida. On a tiny little island, where grandparents hang out with each other and walk on the beach together with Chrissy. You asked me for the following:

  • Gators modeling swimsuits.
  • The hottest guy you can find. I want the six-pack, tattoos and everything. And you can say it was totally my fault if you get in trouble. SEE, I’m already a bad old lady!
  • Every beach has “that guy.” You’ll know him when you see him. I want to see him and maybe a great woman in a two piece suit to remind my wife how fun vacation is and that we need to start saving if we plan on going.
  • Awkward people.
  • Maybe a great pic of you and Brian and a palm tree.
  • Dolphins!!
  • Toes in the sand (a request from a Google Hangout)

Unfortunately…I didn’t see ANY gators in swimsuits. The lucky bitches were all naked.

Turtle gator ride

Would you settle for a turtle taking a gator ride?

Finding hot guys on Marco Island is tough. I totally was a creeper and took this one, just for you. Closest I could find.

The back end of a hot guy

The back end of a [maybe] hot guy (also includes “that guy” and one of the “awkward people.”) Fuck, I’m awesome.

OK, fine. You asked for awkward people. As if that guy isn’t enough. And me taking a picture of those two guys. And really, me in general…I’m pretty fucking awkward. But fine.

And if that’s not enough for you, I went all the way. I randomly video’ed the beach just to show you how far I’m willing to go for you guys. Point out the awkward, hot, etc etc…BTW, the guy reading the book? Totally hot just because he was reading a book. That is all.

My mom wanted Brian and I by a palm tree…

Beach vacation

There are palm trees back there somewhere

I fucked up on the dolphin picture. So I didn’t really know how to work my camera on Day 1…when the fucking dolphins were 20-30 feet off the shore. Brian’s dad kept telling me to run in to swim with them (not understanding that I wanted to PAY money to swim with tame dolphins…not get raped by wild dolphins…)

So here are dolphins from last year.

Dolphin pictures

OK fine. This dolphin is from 2 years ago. You love me anyway, right?

You really don’t WANT to see the Flintstoes…but I’ll show ’em off anyways.

Things you didn’t ask to see, but I’ll show you for funsies:

So, Blog Friends, I’ve got a few more posts with random happenings from last week lined up, but based on the pictures above, what do YOU think happened on my vacation? Tell me a story. The funniest story wins a fabulous mystery prize. Ready. Set. Go.

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!