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

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

Doesn’t know you’re coming.

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

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

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

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BlogHer Conference What to Pack for Chicago Weather

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

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

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

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

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

And it runs ridiculously true to form.

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

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

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

Partial Packing List for BlogHer Chicago

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

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

Anything you think I’ve forgotten, Chicago lovelies?

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

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

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

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

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

Parking

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

Touristy Shit

How to survive Blogher Chicago

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

The Bean

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

 

How to Survive BlogHer in Chicago

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

Sears Tower

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

 

 

Dolphin pictures

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

The Museums

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

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

More Chicago Tips:

What to pack for Chicago weather

How to make nice with the Chicago natives

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

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

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

Today’s Post is Brought to You by Shamelessness. And BlogHer. And Me.

Today I am shameless. Today I ask again for your help. You see, in July, I will be attending my very first BlogHer conference. And I’m STOKED. And nervous. And everything in between.

And there’s this miniscule TINY little chance that I could possibly maybe read one of my blog posts. The lovely Lily from It’s a Dome Life submitted one of my posts to Voices of the Year. And then I submitted a few more for fun. And if you have a favorite post, you can totally submit that too. But if you think that I am worthy, I would very much LOVE to have that speaking opportunity at BlogHer. So if you could please go vote for me…I would be eternally grateful. Again.

I will DEFINITELY go vote for you too! Just leave a link in the comments here if you’ve been submitted to Voices of the Year.

Here are the four links that have been submitted representing Quirky Chrissy.

I Make a Terrible Housewife

Two Years Seems Like Just Yesterday and Forever

Shit I’m Glad My Mom Didn’t Do

In Light of the Tragedy in Connecticut

Because this shameless post should not be ALL about me…

And by the way, yesterday was WORLD FREAKIN’ PENGUIN DAY. Now, I don’t really have a thing for penguins the way I do for dolphins, but Katie over at Words for Worms does…and she wrote about it. So go read a post about a penguin butler. Yes. I said Penguin. Butler. Just go there already.

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!