This week…oh, it’s been like three, but I went to Chicago, and I put ketchup on my freaking hot dog. (I didn’t really. I was too scared.)

by Janelle Hanchett
  1. So I’m sitting here at Millennium Park in Chicago. I came here a few days ago for the biggest blogging conference in the world. Blogher. I heard mixed reviews before I went. Some told me it was a giant sorority party, and I wouldn’t be invited to any of the parties. Others told me it was fun but I wouldn’t learn anything. People told me I absolutely had to go if I ever wanted to network and grow my blog. Other people told me it was the biggest waste of time ever.
  2. I’ll tell you what it’s been for me: exactly what everybody said it was. All of them. Parts of it were a waste of time. I went to a session presented by people who clearly just wanted to plaster “spoke at Blogher” on their blogs. Very little preparation, nothing of substance to say. I’m 90% sure one of them said “you must dream out of the box.”  At that point, of course, in the interest of survival, I turned off my brain and started Facebooking. Not that I Facebook without a brain. OR DO I?
  3. On the other hand, I attended a couple sessions that opened my eyes to whole new areas of publications and possibility, and inspired me.
  4. One of the keynote speakers said to get girls more interested in science and tech we need to make it “sexy and cool,” at which point I almost jumped on the stage and kicked her ass. Some dude keynote said “behind every successful man in social media is a woman” and I wanted to dropkick his face, I mean COME THE FUCK ON, what? Right. Because ladies are such “social butterflies,” clearly we’ve got that social crap dialed! Vomit. But one of the other keynotes was the female producer of “The Walking Dead” who said it was impossible to be both “liked” and “respected” as a female boss. For obvious reasons I loved the shit outta her. I don’t even know if I agree. I’m just happy when any woman will admit she doesn’t give a shit about being liked. It’s just so anti-social! Boom.
  5. I rode in the shuttle from the airport with 3 women armed with spreadsheets and perfect hair who spoke endlessly of private parties, none of which I’d heard of. All I felt was relief. Thank god I don’t have to decline those invites. I die at shit like that.

(Okay I’m not in Chicago any more. I’m sitting in my bed, finishing this post, so let’s start with new numbers, TO LIVE ON THE EDGE.) God I’m pathetic.

  1. But here’s what happened that made this trip fucking amazing: I met my people who I didn’t know were my people. I met Stephanie and Momma be Thy Name (who I knew was my people via writing but we’d never met) and the infinitely delightful Colleen at The Family Pants (who is like the karaoke god, apparently). I met the lovely Lea from Becoming Supermommy. I met the wicked smart badass Grace Biskie, who is trying to reframe Christian discussions of race and racial reconciliation. And I met Mary Bowers, a freaking great writer and my new soulmate, who you can read here and here, who I may or may not begin to stalk.
  2. I met people who are doing things and saying things that are worth saying. And that’s fucking awesome, right?
  3. And on Sunday, I got to hang out in Chicago by myself. Like ALL BY MYSELF. As if hanging out in a hotel room by myself for three nights, in a bed with nobody but me, in a hotel room with nobody but me, wasn’t rad enough, I spent a day in Chicago just hanging out. I took the train through the city and it was the first time I’d done that since I was a college student in Spain.
  4. And as I was sitting there cruising through the new city, taking in all the buildings and people and signs, it occurred to me how many years I’ve spent wishing I could go back to that place, wishing I could go back to the days when I hung out in cities across Europe, untethered, smoking cigarettes with new and old friends in cafés, feeling all Hemingway-esque and shit.
  5. And as I sat in the park in Chicago and walked around, by myself, though I wasn’t smoking cigarettes or drinking wine in cafes, and I wasn’t 22 and pretty and untethered, I was exploring a new place, and it was just as fun and exhilarating as before, only now, I was thinking of my family. I was thinking of my husband and how I wished he was there to see the crazy no-ketchup sign. I thought about how much Ava would love to see the old Chicago library. I knew Rocket would flip out looking at The Bean. And Georgie, well she would make friends with half the damn city, bringing all that crazy light and love like she always does, my “big boy.”

And so I realized: I’ve spent ten years wishing to go back to a place that was half of what I’ve got now.

I spent ten years filling the time with nostalgia, when the fact is my life is fuller and brighter and infinitely more interesting than it ever was before.

It’s strange the way we’re set free all the sudden, from the shit holding us back and down, if we’re willing to see the truth, and all the ways we’ve been wrong.


Dirty Harry would be so proud…”To me you’re nothin’ but dogshit, you understand? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach?….watching your face with those hot dogs. Nobody, I mean NOBODY puts ketchup on a hot dog.”


clouds in the sky and clouds in the bean


I sat and watched kids play in this water for at least an hour. best fountain ever.

Oh, yeah. And Georgia turned 3 on Monday August 5.

I’ll be okay. I’m okay. I’m totally fucking okay people so stop asking.

Ah, child.

My best friends threw her a “Big Boy Monster Truck Dinosaur Party,” because those are the things she loves the most and I have the best friends in the entire world. I mean it people. The Best.


These are the friends. THESE ARE THEM. From the left: Katie, then me (notice I’m the only one behaving in this photo? yeah. proof miracles happen).; then Cara Lyn, then Johannah and her baby Josie.


Not gonna lie, we’re pretty gangsta.


Wait. WHAT? This can’t be real.


Big Boy Monster Truck Dinosaur Party, for the little Georgie


We went to the zoo on Georgie’s actual birthday


And we took this later that night, at her “family” party, in the house where she was literally born, and turned 1 and 2 and 3…love you, baby.

Also, p.s. I kind of got away from writing these “week in review” posts, but I’m going to start writing them again. I didn’t mean to stop writing them…it just sort of happened as I sort out writing for other websites, etc. (Look: When I say I’m disorganized and barely pulling shit off, I’M NOT JOKING.)

with all kinds of love,


15 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | August 11, 2013
  • Marisa

    I was missing your week in review posts the other day. And, ta-da! here it is. 🙂 I’m enjoying your other writing too. You’re the best!

    • renegademama

      Thank you, Marisa! I had a little routine, then the routine got all whacked by writing other places (which is good and great! not complaining!)…and I’ve had a little trouble finding my new groove. Thanks for sticking with me through it all.

  • Stephanie

    And this is why I love you. Muah.

  • Claire

    Next time you’re in Chicago let me know! As usual – loving your work. Totally relate about the nostalgia not living up to the awesomeness of the present moment.

  • Mary Bowers

    PLEEEEEEEEEEZE stalk me.

  • Carolyn

    Hey you, renegademamma, I wanted to first tell you how awesome you are. You inspire me with your grit and real-talk, and all the heart I find underneath the mess. You make it okay to be imperfect in a world that doesn’t even realize it’s forcing perfection.

    AND you’re SO awesome that I’m pretty sure you increased my Klout score on Facebook and Twitter, as I get a shit-ton of engagement out of the posts I share of yours with my social networks. You resonate, sister. Thank you for resonating my way. 🙂

    (Oh, and so glad you enjoyed Chi-town … that’s my old stomping grounds before I loaded up the saddlebags and hit P-town almost 2 years ago)

  • Sara

    Thank you for this post! A GREAT reminder that when we take a little time for ourselves, it’s easier to feel grateful for the things we have… and also it gives us a little time to actually rest for once! xD THANK YOU!

  • Virginia


    “It’s strange the way we’re set free all the sudden, from the shit holding us back and down, if we’re willing to see the truth, and all the ways we’ve been wrong.”

    Wow, that speaks to me. I feel like I have turned the page in my life where I am just beginning to realize and understand the world around me in a whole new light. And what you said in that single sentence sums it up perfectly. I am so excited about my life and the possibilities for what I can learn and become. You’ve been playing a part in that Janelle so thank-you from the bottom of my heart for being so fantastically REAL!

  • CLG

    I agree…you have the best friends ever.


    it’s good to be us.


  • Bad Egg

    “I’ve spent ten years wishing to go back to a place that was half of what I’ve got now.”

    Wowsa. Powerful. Thanks.

  • Amy

    Right on. Seeing the truth: and then the truth of it being inside you. And then your mind goes to the gutter. And then all spiritual and follow your heart-y again. 🙂

  • mamadawn

    I love your posts and am constantly amazed how you get the thoughts out my head and into your blog. 🙂 Honesty and grit…love it.

    Also love the comment policy.

  • Grace Biskie

    you have NO FREAKING IDEA how honored I am to be mentioned in your post! You are amazeballs, chick.

  • Bridgette

    Love you. That is all.

  • Heather

    Beautiful pictures! Blogher is a dream for me. Maybe someday…but if all I got out of it was a chance to hang out with you…it would be the BEST thing that could ever happen! 🙂 Your “Big Boy” shines a light that is so bright you can see it from a mile away. Great things are coming from that sweetheart! <3 This post made me smile….and FUCK that no ketchup bull!! I'm from California and we put ketchup on our hot dogs dammit!