Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[Guest Post] Calee: Survive a Nasty Breakup Like a Boss

I would just like to state for the record that, no, the BF ("beef") and I did NOT break up nor is that anywhere on the horizon - I mean, not to be all sappy and cheesy, but I'm probably the happiest I've been since I can remember. Even if His Royal Abs-iness Ryan Reynolds were to inexplicably show up on my doorstep, I'd probably take a pass. I'm THAT smitten.

But let's face it, we've all gone through breakups and they've all sucked and they could have all possibly gone a bit better than they did. If we're lucky, we learned from our mistakes. If we're not lucky, we maybe repeat a few. 

Today, my dear friend Calee (@chimes) shares some hard-won wisdom and some rock solid advice on how to get through one of the most sucktastic experiences of being a human being.


Survive a Nasty Breakup Like a Boss

I’m Kelly’s friend Calee, blogging genius and fitness guru behind life + running. We met in college. Design school in fact. She’s been there for me through some rough times, not the least of which was my shit breakup nearly 3 years ago.

No matter if you’re the dumpee, the dumper, or part of a so-called “mutual breakup” — breakups suck. Some are more nasty than others, but if you can muster the courage to crawl out from beneath the safety of your covers to read this, then you have the power to put your life back together and come out of your shitty breakup a stronger, more desirable you.

Ready to quit thinking about your ex and start living again? Let’s do this, champ.

1.      Cut off ALL lines of communication. The less you think about your ex, the faster you will feel better. It takes 60+ days to kick a habit, so try cutting off communication for 10 days, then 20, and get a countdown to 60 going. Treat yourself for each milestone reached. Each day will be a little easier.

Temporarily delete your ex from social media outlets, delete his or her phone number (from your memory too), set your e-mail so anything from your ex goes directly to the trash, and avoid all places you might “accidentally” run into your ex.

Not gonna lie. This is the HARDEST step. I refused to delete his number, and soon I was calling him at 5 AM daily. I blocked him from social media one outlet at a time until eventually all I could do was sit and cry while stalking his Last.fm playlist and only wonder what existential meaning, “Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer had. Oh my god we saw Slayer together once. HE STILL LOVES ME.  

2.      Put everything that reminds you of your ex in a box and get rid of it. You’re gonna need a big box — anything is sacred at this delicate time. Give the box to a friend for safekeeping. You might want it back later, but hopefully you’ll both have a laugh while traipsing through your treasure chest in six months. Your friend’s job is to keep you from looking at it until you are completely over it. For realsies.

Kelly kept my box for over a year. I saved his toothbrush. A freaking toothbrush. Used.

3.      Enlist a breakup buddy. Or two. I needed two. I was a bigger wreck than one person could handle. A breakup buddy is a friend who can agree to help you by listening to all your woes (within reason — don’t call your buddy at 3 AM), making sure you aren’t trying to contact your ex, and basically being there so you don’t fall flat on your face.

Kelly was one of my breakup buddies. My other buddy was a fail. I’ve been dating him for the past 3 years. Try not to do that. Unless your breakup buddy is really, really hot.

4.      Write it out. It sounds lame, but every time you want to shoot off an e-mail, or tweet to or about your ex, put it in an e-mail and send it to your breakup buddy. Make a list of all the reasons your relationship was awesome and all the reasons it sucked. Keep going until the reasons it sucked far outweigh the good things. When you’re done, burn it. That doesn’t really help anything, but it’s fun to burn things.

I started a password-protected blogspot.com blog that I can write to by sending an e-mail to a secret e-mail address, and I gave my closest friends the password. I still use this outlet, and it’s such a stress reliever. Even now once a month I fire off 10-12 posts of PMS-fueled rambles. Entertainment at its best.

5.      Whatever you do, don’t do stupid shit. What do I mean by stupid shit? I mean doing things that make you temporarily feel good, but then when you wake up the next day in a puddle of shame (and sometimes bodily fluids), you feel even worse than you did the day before.

I decided early on to avoid drinking, drugs, random sex, making the ex jealous, fantasizing about getting back together, and other activities related to a stereotypical breakup. Though fun, I guarantee none of these things will help you get over this, unless you drink enough to erase your memory, but that will likely land you a large hospital bill.

6.      Speaking of hospitals — get professional help if needed. Your friends and family won’t want to hear one more word about your stupid freaking ex after a month or two of this. After 30 days, they will need a rest (and rightfully so). Seek out counseling in to help you through this hard time.

The best advice I ever got was from my breakup buddies: Get professional help. Your friends and family love you but they can only help you so much. I bounced back so much faster with the aid of a trained professional.

7.      Stage a comeback. Take sexy photos. Throw a party. Do something completely badass and awesome you never could have done before your shitty breakup. Go out and own it.

In addition my list, I strongly recommend buying or downloading It's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt may sound silly, but it was the best purchase I made at that time (the second best required batteries). In fact, I think most of these things were ideas I got from that book, which I came to call my breakup bible.

Monday, July 30, 2012

[Guest Post] Tara

So, I, um. I'm going to be away, living the illusion of being a fabulous jet-setting career woman on an unexpected business trip (we added a new trade show to our summer schedule) which inconveniently for me comes right on the tail of a planned vacation, which means... I'm gonna be on the road (so to speak) for a while. In my frantic hustle and bustle to get everything situated at work before I go (it's my "busy season") and my sincere attempt at trying to get back into blogging (I was doing so well!), I've lined up a bunch of fabulous guest bloggers for you.

First up: the smart and sassy Tara of the blog Magnolia. Tara is a fellow 2012 BiSCuit and incredibly intelligent and writes some of my most favorite fiesty political rants on her blogspace. And you all know how much I love a good rant.

Today, though, she touches on something else: the nature of friendship, at this age and in this age, when the social dynamics are rapidly changing as well as our own lives and interests. Or something. I don't know. Just read her post before I ruin it with this introduction.


Hello, new Internet people. Kelly has kindly agreed to share her part of the blog-world with me today. Hope I do right by her.

When I sat down to think about what I was going to write to y'all, the first thing I thought of was the topic of friendship in the 21st century. There was a really scare-mongering article in the New York Times on the matter a few days ago. If you believe everything contained in this article, we are all doomed to never, ever have another friend ever, ever again past the age of 30. It's just too... hard. And hell, I'm 31. Where in the world does that leave me? May as well resign myself to a lonely, friendless life right this second, if the Times is right.

But really. What kind of foolishness is that? It may be challenging in the strictures of the modern world to maintain the kind of intense, saturated friendships we all had when we were kids. But what if what's changed isn't what it takes to be friends, but what the word "friendship" really means?

How you came to be reading these words on this blog is a pretty good case for a total evolution in the definition of the word friend. If this were 15 years ago, Kelly and I would not know of the other's existence. We are thousands of miles away from each other in real life, went to different schools, and grew up in separate parts of the country. But because of Twitter (and BiSC), we have a relationship that leads to me talking to her audience (and what a lovely audience y'all are, might I add.) It's not exactly the same as how things were between me and my friends from high school, to be sure. But then again, why is that such a bad thing?

I have close and continuing friendships with the same crew of people that were my nearest and dearest in high school. The man, my live-in boyfriend, first came into my life in March of 1996 and has never left my side as a friend, then a lover, since. So your flesh-and-blood friendship mileage may vary from mine. And there is truth to the fact that, once you leave the comfort of a school environment and settle into adult life, it is harder to get those kind of relationships off the ground. But it's far from impossible. I met one of my close adult friends because she was the roommate of the girl I sublet from during the summer I took my bar exam, and happened to be around for a week when I first moved in. Just like that: brand new friend. It can be done, and all it takes is a little bit of openness. A big southern mouth, like the one I have, is also helpful; the stereotype that southerners will talk to anyone and everyone is, in my experience, quite true. But that's not necessary.

Also, we all need to get comfortable with the fact that in 2012, the word "friendship" is bigger than it used to be. I have very good friends who I have never actually met - we started our relationship as commenters on one another's blogs, but now exchange Christmas cards. One of my very favorite people on the planet, who is an incredibly generous friend and one HELL of a cook, started as a blog commenter and became a gracious road-trip host. And of course, there's my BiSC roomie and amazing friend Cat, who is not only a gifted writer but a total blast to spend time with. All of these amazing additions to my life are wholly attributable to the internet, are very real and deep friendships, and didn't require point systems or new hobbies.

So as I leave y'all here in Kelly's blog-home, I hope I've reassured people who get nervous about having friends in this new, grown world. You're looking at proof that friends come in many forms. All you have to do is look.

Nice meeting y'all! :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Las Vegas, The Sequel: Sponsors & Swag

So, as I may have alluded to many, many, many, MANY times, we got some pretty sweet swag at BiSC this year. I mean, we got some cool stuff last year, too, but I already don’t remember it, probably because I was really traumatized about having to give away my full-sized bottle of SKYY dragonfruit-infused vodka. I mean, sure, they sent me another full bottle this year, but it was coconut-infused, and I would have much rather had the dragonfruit, because dragonfruit > coconut. I’m fickle.

Anyway, we had a motherload of awesome sponsors and unpacking the gift bag was kind of like Christmas. Except some of the things that were in that bag were soooo not things I’d receive on Christmas. Heh.

There are a few ways to open a bag that is teeming with goodies. You can, like me, meticulously unpack everything and arrange it neatly in order to take a picture...

...or you can take Almie's approach, and dump out all the content and swim around in the glorious wonderfulness of it all, basking in our amazing VIP status and all of the free stuff.

"I could not be more pleased with what is happening right now."

Also? We got some sweet t-shirts this year. I loved the design and branding for this BiSC, because I am a design nerd and it made me happy.

Obviously, some of these items were more useful to me than others, at least for the immediate weekend ahead.

For example, the Patrick’s Sunscreen Wipes – I threw one in my bag the next day when we went down to visit the pool-dwellers. I felt my dainty fair skin begin to sizzle, and before I could muster up a good panic, I remembered I had the sunscreen wipe, and thought I’d give it a try.

I had zero sunburn that day. I had my skepticism, just like I have a skepticism for the kind that you spray on and anything that seems easier than it should. But nope. My pasty skin remained pasty and I remained in happily unburned all weekend. I keep meaning to order some but I’m cheap and forgetful and neither of those is a terribly great combination.
We also received some pretty sweet shades from Livefyre, which is kind of a nifty blog commenting service, except it’s not nifty enough to be available on Blogger yet, so I can’t use it. But it’s nice because you can tag other people in your comments so you know when someone’s talking to you or responding to you. I need to do SOMETHING about my commenting section, I know. It’s crappy and I need a way to actually make it so we can have conversations. I’M WORKING ON IT. In the meantime, if you’re interested in Livefyre, it’s what’s being used on the official Bloggers in Sin City website.

Another notable item was the GIANT GUMMY BEAR ON A STICK from Fred Flare, who has recently been tempting my wallet with all of the fun and amusing things that are now being sold at Target, which is basically my mothership. EVIL CONSPIRATORS. Anyway, I managed to save my giant gummy bear on a stick until I got home, and only recently decided to gnaw on. Mine was green apple flavored. Though it doesn’t matter because it’s a GIANT GUMMY BEAR ON A STICK. At one point I bit its nose off and my boyfriend accused me of smoking bath salts.

SKYY also gave us little mini vodka bottles, which were much easier to get home because they were under the 3oz mark and thus I could stick them in my toiletry bag. WIN.

I think they were intended to be mixed with the VitaCoco Coconut Water, but that kind of made me a bit ill last year, because I am a delicate flower and it did not agree with me, so I gave mine to Almie.

Speaking of water AND delicate flowers… the Balance waters we got were probably one of my favorites. Because there is much thirst to be had in the middle of the desert, and thus it was nice to have some water handy that didn’t cost eleventy billion dollars. Also, it’s fancy water, in that it’s formulated to DO stuff. I got a relaxtation/sleep one and a travel one. They basically use the essence of flowers to make them do good things for your body, look, I don’t know, I didn’t bring the bottles home and my memory is getting fuzzy. I do remember being concerned that one of the ingredients listed was “grey spider.” Then I realized it was also a flower, and not a crushed-up bug. That was a bit of a relief.

More foodstuffs included some glorious caramels from Le BonGarcon, which were gone in approximately seven minutes (more than five, less than ten… I was trying to restrain myself, but I failed - they were SO GOOD), a box of SnackleMouth crunchy awesome goodness, and a Bella bar that was pretty good and an Athena Greek Yogurt Blueberry bar that was amazing.

There was also a jar of salted caramel sauce from ZConfections. A full-sized jar. Be still, my heart.

Of course, in order to get it home, I had to ship it, since I don’t check my bags because I am a cheap bastard. Terra and Stacey were also doing carry-on only, so when I saw that they had left their jars behind on Monday, I quickly adopted them and shipped them all back to me. It’s good stuff.

Notably missing were the PopChips, which got held up due to a shipping error. I actually think that worked out for the best, because Nicole just set out the boxes of them at the farewell brunch and we could take whatever we pleased. Which means I got to try ALL THE FLAVORS.

We could have gotten away with it. No one was watching. Right, Germana?

And OF COURSE in what I hope is tradition because it’s happened twice now, there was a cookie from Bitter Baking Company that had the BiSC logo printed on it. Hell, it could have had anything printed on it. It was the first casualty of the gift bag. I ate it as soon as I was satisfied that I had a good-enough picture of everything.

There were a lot of smaller things that I was concerned about losing – a discount on StrateJoy sessions, on Doniree’s writing prompts for bloggers, a promo code for some nifty cards from 4x6 (which I blogged about early, so that you all could take advantage of it before it expired), a gift card to Scout Books, and a $40(!) gift card from GelaSkins. I’m torn on what to order, because I don’t have an iPhone (yet?) and I’m not sure how I feel about laptop skins. OH, THE DECISIONS. (I’ve been pinning my favorites… BUT you can also do completely custom ones, which completely makes me all the more indecisive. Behold, Jenn/"Jennbizzle", with a BiSC cover!)

Also, on the same super sexy satin finish paper that the ice breaker cards were printed on, were some beautifully designed cards (done by Shatterboxx/Paper’d), which I simultaneously wanted to sit and pet for an hour and also put in frames because they’re fancy and awesome.

Katherine made some sweet BiSC glitter magnets (because she’s in the business of glitter, after all!) and Simone provided some Skinny-Dip branded condoms, because what is a sex blogger without her own personal line of condoms? There was an awesome pen that I almost broke last week (I saved it! Whew!) and a lip gloss that came in handy a few times that weekend… hell, I don’t remember what else. Bacon Soap! There was bacon soap from Think Geek. I gave it to the BF. It’s now sitting on a shelf, for display purposes only, because, well… it smells exactly like bacon. And while you THINK you might like to smell like bacon... you don't want to smell like bacon. There were postcards and temporary tattoos and drink mixes and teas and ring pops and all sorts of things. Amazing things. Things that delighted and amused me and made me write another ridiculously long post full of praisey words and squee-full exclamations.

I loves me some free stuff.

I love it more when it’s actually stuff I want or can use. Or that's just simply awesome in its awesomeness. And with BiSC, there is never a shortage of awesomeness.

[and, of course, thank you to our non-gift bag sponsors - Shatterboxx and Paper'd for being the presenting sponsors - AND for selecting me for the FREE REGISTRATION YAY - and for Caesar's Entertainment and The Flamingo for taking such good care of us all weekend. That place is truly my home away from home when I'm in Vegas, and I cannot imagine staying anywhere else. Thanks to Carlos N' Charlie's for hosting our opening night mixer and to Chateau Nightclub at Paris for giving us a truly fabulous VIP rooftop experience. Thanks to Chris from CrushHub for demo-ing your new site and giving us t-shirts, and, more importantly, running contests which allowed me to score some cash to help pay for BiSC 2013. And the biggest thank you in the history of gratitude to Nicole, the brainchild and godmother and organizer of BiSC, without whom none of this would have ever happened, and I never would have stepped out of my comfort zone not just once but twice and have signed on board for a three-peat. You are my hero.]

[No, I'm not getting paid to say ANY of these things.]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Las Vegas, The Sequel: Part 4 (Sunday)

For our purposes here, Sunday is the last day. I stayed until Monday, but the only thing that happened on Monday was going home, and quite frankly, that's not worth its own post. Sunday, though. Sunday was just as full as the other days, and just as awesome - you know, except for the whole "leaving" bit.

Now, one thing I didn't mention in my Saturday posts, because they were already So! Long! ...On Friday night the Beef indicated that I should go check with the front desk because maybe (wink) something was waiting for me. I immediately beelined for the lobby, only to be told that whatever it is, is being held hostage by the UPS store, which was now obviously closed for the night. Discouraged, I set my alarm for about five minutes before they were supposed to open in the morning, and fell asleep.

Bright and early (bright, I like - early, not so much), I wandered downstairs again, probably still in my pajamas (I don't really remember) and waited for the UPS employees to find whatever it was. Given the nature of the various hints from the BF and the fact that it was stashed away somewhere that the regular packages didn't live, I had concluded that it was something perishable. I am apparently quite daft and clueless because for some reason I was completely floored when they handed me a big ol' box of flowers. I was honestly expecting some sort of food or something.

One of our mini-milestone anniversaries (youuuuuu know, because we're vomiticiously adorable and make note of them all, because we're still under a year) was happening while I was in Vegas, and he sent me flowers. Roses, to be exact. It was a gesture that meant so much more than just "happy anniversary" - it was more than that, a reassurance that he wasn't going anywhere (I get paranoid, especially around that particular landmark, because it's traditionally when I always get dumped) and that he cared about me and wanted to tangibly express it. I cried. Multiple times. Because I am sappy and sentimental. I no longer consider this to be a bad thing.

The problem, of course, is that those roses probably weren't going to make it back to Iowa in any semblance of wholeness, but I couldn't bring myself to throw them away. They were too beautiful, too perfect, too special. I pressed one in between the pages of whatever book I brought but didn't read, and then brought the rest down to the farewell brunch and distributed (ie, tossed) them around to the various tables and various BiSCuits. It was the best sendoff I could think of.

The farewell brunch is always bittersweet. By this point in the weekend, we've all pretty much bonded, so it feels completely natural to meet up for a buffet and chat and have fun. The elephant in the room is, of course, that soon we'll leave, one by one, for the cabs and shuttles to take us to the airport, which will send us in different directions, thousands of miles apart. 

Last year, as we were checking our bags at the bell desk, it was decided that the farewell brunch should be the "misfit brunch" - to wear whatever wild and crazy things that you brought to Vegas for the sole purpose of wearing in Vegas, but maybe hadn't had a chance to wear yet. Somewhere in the time leading up to BiSC, it was suggested that it be a wig brunch - inspired, perhaps, by Almie's hot pink Nicki Minaj wig the previous year. Sadly, I was not able to stuff my giant curly blonde wig in my suitcase (I was down to having space for only one more thing: the wig or a pair of glitter heels. The glitter heels, of course, won.) BUT Simone was kind enough to bring an extra.

The brunch was a blur. There were a lot of hugs. Lots of last-minute pictures. The contingent of ladies who all purchased spirit hoods at the ice bar posed for a picture. The VEDA crew posed for a picture. The PopChips had finally arrived (there was a shipping snafu, causing them to miss the boat for the goodie bags) and the boxes of new, not-yet-in-stores flavors were there for the pilfering. More hugs. So many hugs. 

For those of us that were sticking around for the entire day (seriously: I wish I had done this last year), we had a primary objective that was to be accomplished immediately.

I had, of course, never been to an In-N-Out Burger before, mostly because we don't have them in the Midwest. I was advised to order the neapolitan milkshake, which was not on the menu but was available by request. This was one of the best pieces of advice I've received in recent memory. The burgers were great, and cheap, and delicious, and who am I kidding, my favorite part of this experience was the hats.

I didn't know you could get hats. But then Terra asked for one and I was all, "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" and then we got a whole stack and gave them to all the BiSCuits and it was awesome and wonderful.

I think from here, we returned to the hotel, and since I can't remember doing anything interesting during the afternoon, I am forced to conclude that I probably took a nap while the other girls went to the pool. Napping is always a suitable alternative to wearing a bathing suit, in my oh-so-humble opinion. 

Anywho. We went out for sushi for dinner, and it was amazing (and obviously much fresher than the sushi in Iowa, because it doesn't have to travel quite so far to get there).

The last order of business was to properly watch a Bellagio fountain show. I mean, I'd SEEN the Bellagio fountains - I've walked by them when the show was going on, I could see them from outside our hotel, I could see them from the rooftop of Paris, but I've never stopped and leaned against the wall and just watched. I can't remember who it was that suggested we do this, but I'm glad they did.

The show we watched was set to classical music, it was very peaceful and beautiful and a great way to end the evening - hell, a great way to end the trip. From here onward, it was going to be packing and sleeping and airports and cars. It was nice to have a day to unwind, to slowly wean oneself off of the high of another awesome BiSC. I had a much easier time transitioning to home than I did last year. Last year, it felt like I was just suddenly dropped back into my life, and I was disoriented and flustered and it took me a whole week to recover. This year, I slid back in with a bit more ease - it was a recharge, a renewed sense of energy and purpose and inspiration - though I'll admit, I had a lot more self-doubt coming home this year than last year. I still question myself, but as time goes on, it's easier for me to feel like maybe I was a genuine part of it, and not on the fringe as a wannabe party-crasher. It's always a weird mix of emotions, coming home, and I can't help but wonder what direction they'll go next year when I get back. The more I go, the less it will feel like a big/scary/overwhelming blogger meetup and more like a reunion with old friends. This much, I am certain of - it was kind of like that this year already. I had said that I was giving it one more year, but now I'm not sure if that's going to be enough. Not when there's so much to be gained, internally, emotionally, mentally. When they tell you it's a life-changing event, they speak with truth. For some people, it's a jarring eye-opener, a burst of epiphany. For others, it's a slow-burning notion in the back of your mind that slowly blossoms into a new form of truth that can't be ignored. This year, for me, it was the latter. I've come to find that I need these people, I need these friendships, I need these connections. They are my people, my tribe. They are a part of me, like a big family that I only see now and again. 

I'll be in Vegas again soon, for work. I'm indifferent to being in the city again. Without my BiSCuits, the magic won't be there. (And, sadly, neither will the VIP treatment.) It will be a hot, dirty desert city with tourists and casinos and people making bad decisions and there will be neon and glitter and sparkle, but it won't be the right kind of neon and glitter and sparkle. It will be devoid of the things that make me love the city. Because I'll only love that city when I'm there with these people. The stars only align for a few days each May to make it all worth it. I don't think I can enjoy myself without the fifty-nine pieces of my soul that I leave there every year. Those pieces are spread all the way from California to Canada, sprinkled here and there in between.

At least I'll know which buffets to hit up.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Las Vegas, The Sequel: Part 3B (Saturday, Part II)

[Part I is here]

The nice thing about Saturday is that even though it was a completely unstructured "free" day, Nicole had provided some "choose your own adventure" options for us.

The obvious choice was the ice bar located in the Monte Carlo hotel (which was conveniently located at the same end of the strip as the Las Vegas sign.) She'd even wrangled us a special drink deal. I also found a small stack of coupons for free drinks lying on their counter while I was waiting on line, so I stealthily passed them out to the car crew and we each got two drinks as part of our package deal.

If you've never been to an ice bar, the premise is this: the interior is made entirely of ice, and they give you heavy parkas, gloves, and boots to keep from freezing to death. (There were fur coats available for an extra cost, which none of us wanted to spring for, though we all lamented that those would have been way more awesome). Cameras and phones were (sadly) not allowed inside, as they generate some heat, and the cumulative effect is that the whole place would, well, melt. They do have a staff member that ducks in and out to take expensively-priced souvenir photos for you, though. They told us that we were allowed to share them on facebook and such, so I feel less bad about blatantly posting the watermarked low-res images below. (The girl basically said I could!!)

[photo courtesy of Ms. Terra]

Almie and the penguin mascot: "let's pose like a cheesy 80s sitcom poster"

All geared up and ready to go in!

The lack of cameras obviously saddened me (this place was a WEALTH of photo ops!) but the experience was very cool (no pun intended... okay, well, maybe a little.) I think I was able to remain comfortable the longest, partially because I'm from the Midwest and therefore have a slightly higher cold tolerance than all of the West Coasters, and also because I was one of the few people actually wearing pants. (I hate my legs. Have I mentioned this before? When leggings came back in style, it was one of the happiest revelations of my adult life.)

Inside the bar, all of the seating and walls and decor were made of solid ice. There were pelts thrown over the benches so you could actually sit down. Even the glasses that they served the drinks in were made of ice - they made two things Very Clear to us when we went in: (1) Hold your drink wiht two hands AT ALL TIMES (they're slippery)... (2) If you set your glass down, set it it on a coaster, for the love of all that is neon and glittery. Because, you know: ice will freeze to ice, especially with the bit of moisture from the drink, and thus your glass would fuse to the table, effectively ruining everything for everyone and making you a huge asshole and fun-ruiner.

Once we were chilled about as much as we could handle (and all our drink tokens had been used up), we decided to scatter again. Some people went in search of another buffet (we had wristbands that entitled us to free/pre-paid buffets in select hotels), some went shopping, and some of us had to go pretty up because we'd decided to take Rachel up on her offer of doing professional headshots.

I was convinced that I'd hate all of mine because I'm super self-conscious (WHEN will this extra chin go awayyyyyyyyyyyy), but it was so not the case. And I now have a nice professional picture that I can use on the blog or facebook or, well, whatever I'd need a picture of myself for. (In all honesty? My ridiculous little scheme was to have a nice picture that I could use for a book jacket. Y'know, for when I finally finish that damn novel. There, I admitted it. It's completely ridiculous and I don't care.)

The bright side to the scramble to get ready was that, well, I was now ready for the entire evening. We had a decent amount of time alloted for getting groomed after dinner, which meant I had time to nap to recover from being out in the sun all day. (Don't judge me. Naps are an important part of my ability to function. Especially in a different time zone.)

Dinner was at the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, and I think this may have been my favorite. I adopted a different strategy this time - instead of trying to sample everything, I just stuck to a small section. There was a honey apricot spread that was to die for (and baby baguettes to eat it with!) and a fruit-based salsa in the Mexican station that I may or may not have just started eating with a spoon at one point.

This would have worked better if everyone else was paying attention.

On the downward BiSCalator(tm)

Our table at the buffet, which Caryn had the foresight to take.

Then, when I was getting dessert, it happened: BEAUTY QUEENS. They were the Miss USA contestants (as Terra found out after making an inquiry) and, well, it's weird seeing a parade of beauty queens anyway, but especially at a buffet. I mean, seriously. They all went straight to the salad bar. (Though, to be fair? If I was a beauty queen, I'd probably do the same thing. Hell, I SHOULD do the same thing.) I made some sort of Miss Congeniality reference and we had a merry old time.

Terra and I decided to find our home state representatives. Miss Iowa was very nice (I explained that I was also from Iowa, by way of trying to not sound like a creeper. She asked where I lived and I gave my stock answer of "near Des Moines" before it occurred to me that I could have just said the actual town and she would have known exactly where it was - especially since she lived in the town with our rival college.) I regret not taking a picture with her (I felt too awkward to ask and then we left before the queens made their rounds again), but I suppose it's just as well. I don't need a picture of me at this weight next to a friggin gorgous beauty queen. Still, it would have been kind of cool to have. (Incidentally, Terra DVR'd the pageant and Miss Iowa won the Miss Congeniality award - of course.) Miss Virginia (Terra's rep) was... how can I say this... kind of a bitch. Miss Oregon was freakishly tall. Miss Washington had great hair. Hell, they all had nice hair. They were seated right next to where our group was seated, so we had front row seats to sit and creepily watch them. Their handlers kept shooing people away who were trying to take pictures ("not while they're eating!") but you can't stop a table full of bloggers.

The only picture of the Miss USA contestants.
Also, Terra's expression is priceless.

Then it was back to hotel to primp for the Mad Men themed party. Admittedly, I have never seen Mad Men, because I am lame and only watch TV on DVD so I can plow through an entire season without interruption, but I was game for dressing up in 60s style. I love dressing up, in general, and I adore themes (which is perhaps what I enjoy about Halloween). I did struggle with the dress... I scoured Pinterest and ModCloth for months, but I couldn't make myself pull the trigger on something that I wasn't sure would fit (see also: gaining back twenty pounds been November and BiSC). Finally I just wore a striped dress that I'd bought on a whim and hoped it would work. Also, I am terrible with hair, so I was banking heavily on the whole flat-iron style that I thought maybe was prevalent back then.

Everyone else, however, looked fabulous. People on the strip saw our BiSC parade and were able to identify the theme - that's how spot-on people were. (This is hearsay from other BiSCuits, but I assume they were telling the truth.)

me and Caryn

Almie and Simone. There is no other word to describe them than "fabulous."

We headed back over to Paris to the Chateau nightclub, which was fancy and swanky and, of course, VIP. We bounced the line (again) to the jealous stares of the masses (again) and were led up through the still-empty (for now) second floor club and all the way up to the roof.

See ya later, suckers.

That's right. We had our own VIP lounge area on THE ROOF.

The Bellagio fountains, as seen from the rooftop of Paris.

The whole thing was beyond surreal. I'm not huge into nightclubs, but I was more than happy to sit in my perch and watch everyone dance the night away while the light desert breeze blew through my hair. Surrounded by lights and music, in an exclusive VIP space in Las Vegas, I couldn't help but wonder: how is this my life?! Is this even real? A painfully shy introvert from a small Iowa town of 400 people - spending an evening with 59 other Internet writers, living the life of a celebrity for a night. My seventeen year old self would never have believed it possible (though she'd definitely approve) - yet, ten years later, I'm actually experiencing things I could have only daydreamed about, all those hours in my bedroom with a notebook and the radio. Life is funny, sometimes. It's amazing what happens when you work up the courage to just take a chance on that Big Thing that's just out of reach of your comfort zone.

Nicole and the men of BiSC

The degree of photobombing this year scored on the high end of exceptional.

See what I mean?

Michelle, me, and Germana

Something about this photo strikes me as perfectly capturing the essence of BiSC.
Young, fabulous, dancing on rooftops, living life to the absolute max. 

Group picture, courtesy of Rachel

Eventually, the night wound down, and this old lady hauled herself back to the hotel. The previously-empty second floor club was now so full that I'm sure it was breaking fire code laws. The only reason we (me and Germana, not, like, all sixty of us) were even able to get out was because we'd happened to share an elevator with a Paris employee who was pushing a lady in a wheelchair. We stuck close behind in the parted path. Kind of like when you're driving in a blizzard, and if you stick behind the snowplow, it's easier to navigate? This man was our human snowplow. It was madness - nothing like our magical rooftop venue. It reminded me of why I disliked clubs. Too many people, too little personal space.

Back in the fresh air outside, it was time to say goodnight to Vegas and rest up for a round of emotionally-charged goodbyes and see you laters. The only thing that sucks about BiSC is the part where we all have to leave.