Blogging, Chicago, Friends, Humor

For Crap Sake Pull Your Dress Up- How I Survived Blogher 2013

Over the past three years since I started writing here, I have seen bloggers attending these things called conferences.
Where bloggers meet other bloggers.
And take lots of pictures on Instagram.
Of their cute outfits.
This is what I thought blogging conferences consisted of.
Just getting Starbucks, tweeting activities and dressing really cute.
And wearing lots and lots of chevron.

So this is the expectation I had going into my first blogging conference called BlogHer ’13.
And was kind of the reason I didn’t even want to go in the first place.

I didn’t take it seriously until this past December when I met up with 30 or so Chicago area bloggers in the city for a cool blogging event.
Because for a long time I was afraid of meeting bloggers in person.
I had heard horror stories of meeting these “amazing” people you loved to read and banter with online only to realize that they really are “amazing”.
Only on paper.
Or in our case, on a computer screen.
But when I really did meet some amazing people in December, it got less scary.
Three of whom became good friends Melisa, Marianne, and Jeanette.
I literally went home and bought my ticket to BlogHer that week.

Jeanette and I after meeting in December 2012.

So as not to get too long-winded let me tell you how I ended up meeting my roomies.
Melisa, my new friend, told me in the cab ride we shared to the hotel that I totally needed to go to Blogher.
And that I totally needed to get roomies.
And that she was in the fetal position crying on the last night because she had so much fun with her friends there.
I laughed about it but thought in my mind, no way will that be me.
Because here is the thing, as much as I love my female friends, I have never been one of “those” girls who have HUGE groups of girlfriends and loves spending massive amounts of time with them.
Large groups of women get on my nerves.
I just don’t do well with that whole dynamic.
So crying on a bed or being sad to say goodbye was NOT gonna be a problem for me.

Tracey Becker and Marianne.
December 2012

Fast forward one month to a fateful lunch on an unseasonably warm late January day.
Melisa brought together a group of women for lunch under the ruse that we all needed to meet each other.
This you need to know:
The night before this lunch, I had an old “friend” tell me that she was not inviting me to her upcoming wedding.
A “friend” who stood up at my wedding.
A “friend” who I thought was still a part of my life.
I spent that night crying and even thought of canceling said lunch.

I met two of my roommates and unbeknownst to me at the time, friends the next day at that lunch.
Jennifer and Shannon and I fell in love with them instantly.
I had two friendships over two months completely dissolve before my eyes and then by fate, these four women made their way into my life.
I don’t think so.

So over the course of six months, we (Marianne, Jeanette, Jen, Shannon and I) spent hours texting about our favorite side of the bed, messaging on Facebook about what kind of pranks we were gonna pull and tweeting little jokes only we knew.
Basically, we bonded.
And established rules for our room.
I can’t remember most of the said rules but there is one I feel inclined to talk about.
Rule #1.
No pooping in the room.
Or “emptying our bowels” as Jeanette puts it.
This will play out in importance later on.

The week of Blogher, I was excited!
I got my nails did!
Both my feet AND my hands!
I was getting stuff checked off my to-do list like a boss!

Then I got my period.
Dada dummmmm…
It’s OK!
I still had five days until Blogher.
I would be less of an emotional mess in five days!

Then I got the nervous poops.
Dada dummmmmmm…
This was NOT gonna bode well for the “no pooping in our room” rule.
It’s OK!
I just need to eat less fiber and more cheese.
I still had three days until Blogher.
I would be less of a digestive mess in three days!

Then Ellie got a tick.
On her head.
Dada dummmmmm…
It’s OK!
We just need tweezers and Neosporin.
I still had a day until Blogher.
I would be less of an emotional wreck in a day!

On the day of, I was way nervous.
Like I even turned classical music on my iPod all morning.
And stuffed my face full of food all day.
Because my secret plan was to not eat for three days.
As not to break rule #1.
And forgo pooping for three solid days.

View from our room.

Here are the highlights of my first ever blogging conference.
Because this post is turning out to be a novel.
Available in paperback fall 2014!!


Blogher Highlights


That is a full-size bed.
For two grown women.
Who can’t poop.
For three days.

I ate Combos for dinner on my first night there.
Washed down with two glasses of white wine.
And a Twizzler.


What they don’t tell you about a blogging conference.
All the crap that accumulates in your room.

At the expo, they had free booze samples!
Three different wine companies and a frozen alcoholic slushie company.
They knew I was coming!
How welcoming of Blogher!


Marianne marked her booze immediately.
Kind of like dogs marking their territory.


On the shuttle bus on the way to register at McCormick Place our first night, I said to Shannon we were in a “bus full of bloggers”.
That made me chuckle out loud.
I don’t think she found it as humorous as I did.
It was darn funny.
And I am totally using that as my rock band name.
If this blogging thing doesn’t pan out.


Me, Shannon and Melisa

Having a Blair Witch moment in the back of a cab while Jen was in the front seat trying to figure out where the hell we were going.


Marianne, myself and Jeanette.
Being five years old.

Aka- being US.



On the first night in our room, I started barking Jingle Bells.
At 12 midnight.
I don’t know why.


Barking Jingle Bell action


Listening to Ree Drummond sing to her dog.
Damn that woman can serenade a dog like no one I know.


Ok ok, she has chevron on.
But its all good.
I give her a pass.
Because she is cool.

Seeing Ree Drummond in the hallway, having a ten second, one on one convo and not having anything to show for it.
Because I forgot to ask to take a picture.

Nothing to see here. No picture. I get it. I am an idiot. Move on.

Walking the expo with Marianne and our new friend and fellow Chicago blogger Tammy.
Getting our faces on a can of beans, drinking our way through the expo and making inappropriate jokes about the Pillsbury doughboy and that sex toy that Marianne won at the Trojan booth were just a few of the shenanigans when you get three buzzed bloggers together on a trade show floor.

Buzzed Bloggers on a Trade Show Floor…MARIANNE I HAVE YOUR MOVIE TITLE!!


Do you see my wine friends??
I mean the many fine BlogHer sponsors?


Watching Voices of the Year, laughing and crying with some of the readers.
And proud of our Shannon for her piece being selected among the other amazing pieces.


I love her and thought of my mom because she loves her and Ree.
I wish I could have brought my mama with me.


Actually getting a picture taken with Ree Drummond.
And flashing her my boob in the process.


Why yes, that is my bra hanging out.
And yes, I could have photoshopped this.
But I am becoming “the girl who showed Ree her boobs” so I got a reputation to keep up.


Going to Portillo’s on Ohio Street with Julie, Jen, and Tammy.
We have adopted Julie into our group.
I love meeting bloggers in person and they are just. Just. AMAZING.
Julie was a Portillo’s virgin since she lives in Maryland.
There was much talk about sauuusaaaage said in a Chicargo accent.
You had to be there…


I will stop.


Going to all the BlogHer parties in the hotel.
Roaming from room to room and seeing/meeting some amazing bloggers.


Yes, we hit all these parties.

Having a fellow blogger recognize me in the hallway when we were leaving to go to another room party.
This was the convo, “are you Kari from A Grace Full Life?” ….MADE MY YEAR.
You have no idea.
And I don’t know who you are because quite honestly, the multiculti cocktail was heatin’ me up AND I was just so overwhelmed.
Think tears in my eyes.
So whoever you are, you really made this little blogger feel like a superstar for a few minutes.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I didn’t think to take a picture of the above blogger so for your reading pleasure, enjoy Flat Sue enjoying her first taste of Portillos.

Jen and I stealing the huge cardboard sign with Shannon’s entire blog post written on it from Voices of the Year reception for our room.
And giggling/stumbling up the escalators/elevators the entire time.


You are welcome, Shannon.

I miss it.

As shown by my five-month pregnancy bloat.
No, I am not pregnant.

Having my friend Jen recognized in the audience by one of her hero’s, Sheryl Sandberg.

Jen and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Spilling hot chocolate all over my cool green Capri pants.
During Randi Zuckerberg’s conversation.
Then writing that I “crapped my pants” on two forms of social media and then uncontrollably laughing the “ugly” laugh with Jen and Danielle…who by the way, another AMAZING new friend.
To the point that we needed to leave the room.

The stain did come out.
Because I know you were concerned.

Dancing for two straight hours at the fashion show party on the last night surrounded by my amazing friends.


Break. It. Down.
Or up.
Not sure which.


Walking into our bathroom at one in the morning the last day to find someone’s underwear on the bathroom counter.
I am not naming names.


L-R: Julie, Katie, Jen, Danielle, me and Flat Sue.
One multiculti cocktail and we are Charlie’s Angels.
With a British flag.


Takeaways from Blogher

I am short.
Or I need taller shoes.

I am on my tippy toes in this one.
L-R: Marianne, Jen, me, Jeanette.


I am much better in public situations than I thought.
I love people but too many people AND having to be ON for three days straight was a little daunting.
It was overwhelming at times but not as much as I thought I would be.


Hold me.
Marianne giving me some moral support.


I do do well with groups of women.
 I just said doo doo….


Some of the women I do well with.


I love my blogging community.
With all of my heart.


What a big clump of awesomeness.
Clockwise: Tabatha, Natasha, Melisa, Tracey, Jen, me, Liz, Jennifer.


But most of all, I want to take this time to talk about my closest blogging friends.
They know who they are.


Jen and I.


Particularly my roommates: Jen, Shannon and Jeanette and our honorary roomie Marianne.
I love you girls so much.


Jen, me, Marianne, Jeanette and Shannon


I love that we were on the beds laughing hysterically.
I love that in the morning we talked like old friends.
I love that we had no problem walking around with no makeup, no Spanx and hair all in disarray and it felt normal.


Shannon, Jen and I.

I loved the bond between us.
I loved that we had no problem hugging each other, reaching out to each other.
And I loved that we told each other “I love you” when we left to go home.
It just felt right.


Mar, Jen and I.

I am so glad I had all of you to go through this with.
You made it so much easier.
And had I not been so exhausted, I would have sat in the fetal position and cried the last night there.
You were right, Melisa.
Shannon sent me a text the next day mentioning something about being emotional and I felt the same way.
It was emotional.
Sharing this time with these amazing women.
An artist, an entrepreneur, a columnist, and a hometown hero.
Beautiful, strong, cool women.
Who also happen to write some kick-ass blogs.

Thank you Blogher.
Thank you so much.

34 thoughts on “For Crap Sake Pull Your Dress Up- How I Survived Blogher 2013”

  1. I feel a little like the Wizard of Oz or Tinkerbell or some kind of bedazzled fairy Godmother. I'm so glad that you…well, frankly, that *I* was right. 🙂 I knew you'd love it.And I love this recap. I almost went fetal. xoxoxoxoAnd I love you.


  2. Kari, you are making me emotional again. And I am just going to fess up right now for all of your readers to see. IT WAS MY UNDERWEAR ON THE COUNTER. And I have no idea how it got there. One last thing…I love you.


  3. Awwww. So glad you had such a great experience at a big, scary BLOGGING CONFERENCE!!! :-)So awesome to be able to be connected with people on many levels! Looks like FUN! Not sure if I'm wild enough for that group! (although I would have been ALLLLL over the karaoke I saw on the schedule!! : )~Miss chatting more! Hope all is well otherwise!HUGS!Bec


  4. Laughed so hard I cried, and then cried because it's perfect and I miss you. Props to Melisa FOR BEING RIGHT. And props to you for being awesome and amazing. Anyone that doesn't want to be your friend can go scratch – because you are FAN-FLIPPIN-TASTIC! xoxoxo


  5. I laughed, I cried, this post was better than "Cats." Seriously, you got it all right. And you, my friend, are ALL RIGHT! xoxo Walshie


  6. Shannon – SHOCKED. JUST SHOCKED. *wiping tears away with laughterMarianne: I was going to use that line, but I left it for you, my Broadway partner in crime. MWAH!


  7. Shannon admitted to the underwear-gate! I love your recap, and I had no idea you ended 2 friendships back then. How weird that life takes these twists and turns, eh? It's awesome to have stumbled into the whole blogging world and everyone that goes along with it. XOXO


  8. So glad that you had a great time! Good friends will do that for you. I'm with you, in the fact that, I usually don't do well with large groups of women. But bloggers AREN'T women (did I just say that?) they are AWESOME!


  9. Hysterical LOL post, Kari! What a great Blogher13 recap. The pic with Ree? Priceless. I mean with her. You know, standing next to you and all. 🙂 It was so nice meeting you!


  10. I'm kicking myself for not going this year, and already putting my pennies aside to save up for next year's conference.


  11. You are really making me kick myself for not attending. What was I thinking? Sounds like you had a blast. I sort of think when they made the no pooping rule that they just meant in the room, not the whole city of Chicago. You could have ran to the 7-11 or something 🙂


  12. I loved this post! I have to say, my own fear kept me from going to BlogHer. I said things like, "Is it too expensive? What if I'm all alone? Is it worth it? I am outgoing, but am I outgoing enough?" This post made me feel better and I may consider a blogging conference in the future. Thanks for sharing all your fun times and letting me live vicariously through your photos. 🙂


  13. Okay, first off… I love you! Meeting you in person was one of the highlights of the entire weekend for me. And I'm not typically someone who runs up to random women at parties, squeals and hugs the crap out of them (sorry, that probably didn't help with your poo situation). I had so much fun with you and your ladies that I totally want to start a commune somewhere where we can all live and drink wine and raise each other's children. That's not weird, right? Okay, that's weird.Thank you for adopting me into your group! And introducing me to Chicago SAUSSSAGGEEEE!Oh, and I don't know why I decided to go all Charlie's Angels in that picture… apparently the multi culti cocktail makes me think I am some kind of crime fighter.


  14. suuuuper super super jealous!!! someday i will be able to and i will meet all you ladies and have a blast until i have to poop:) best post ever, kari!!! i felt like i was there 🙂


  15. Apparently I was excited to meet Momo….Joules I love you. And am pricing moving vans from Baltimore. Sue, you are going next year. I will pay for the sitter.


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