Monday, December 14, 2009

Wine, Frankincense, and Myrrh

I've altered the three gifts of the Wisemen to form the title of my post. Gold is losing value. I've been working a lot of wine-tastings lately. My title made more sense.

December is really not my favorite month. But there are some things I do love about the holiday season. Instead of expressing what I hate (which sounds like way more fun) I'll share some of the stories about what I like (don't worry- you just keep on reading....these are entertaining stories as well):

1) The other night my friend Vicki and I met for drinks after work. Much to my amusement, I heard people entering the bar asking where the Price Waterhouse Cooper Holiday Party was. The host directed them to a room on the lower level. As I was waiting for Vicki, a light bulb appeared. WE should attend their holiday party! So when Vicki arrived, she agreed what a great idea that would be and our story was "Michael from Accounting invited us." That's all! So lo and behold, Vicki and I walked into the party and Vicki ran into this guy she knows, Joshua. "Hey Vicki! Who's your friend? What are you two doing at our party?" Vicki was quick to answer "Laurie is friends with Mike." "Mike?" he asked. "Yeah, Mike," I answered..."You know. MIKE! From Accounting." Joshua scratched his head. "Well I work in HR and there are a lot of Mikes. What is his last name?"

Time to get a drink.....

After we left, Vicki pointed out that PWC is an Accounting firm, so that would be like someone looking for me at my job at an institution of higher education and saying "I'm looking for Laurie in Education."

Guess I need some better tips on party crashing....

2) On another "the other night", I went to a holiday party with my friend Sheilla. I walked into a room full of 20somethings on one side and Greeks on the other side. It was quite amusing. As you many know, Greek people are just about my favorite ethnic group in the whole world. And we were in Astoria (a heavily Greek populated neighborhood in Queens.) Somehow I ended up in a conversation on the 20-something side of the room. The 20-something side of the room was close to the wine table. You should have seen how the 20-somethings were opening the wine bottles. Actually they were *not* opening the wine bottles. They were plunging the corkscrew into the cork and causing it to break off. It was cork murder. Since I am heavily skilled in damage control AND wine opening, I was appointed the wine opener for the evening. I guess you earn that title if you are a 30-something among a crowd of 20-somethings. (I guess the Greek-somethings were doing their own thing. Ouzo, I suppose?) So I uncorked many bottles of wine. It was nice. I like having a role, such as this when I attend parties. And in case any of the Greeks needed help with their Ouzo and/or Baklava, I was glad to be on-hand....

3) I am working again on New Years Eve as an Event Manager. I will be supervising the DJ, the Photographer, the ticket taker and the bottle hostess. Although I absolutely hate the sloppy drunken behavior, the cold weather, the shortage of available cabs, and the expense of New Years Eve in New York, it is well worth the pay to suck it up and go out into the battlefield and work a gig that night. So I will be working on a cruise that goes around Manhattan that evening. I notified my friends that they could apply for such a gig as well. One of my friends (whom I have kept anonymous- decided to apply for the ticket taker job.) I found his email extremely amusing (Names have been changed):
Hello Miss Parker.
My name is Robert Meagher, I'm a friend of Laurie who will be managing the New Years Event on "The Temptress". She and I spoke about, me being hired as a "Ticket Taker" and I received an email from Shelley Price about emailing you, as far as that job is concerned. Although I was told I would be paid 1,000.00 bucks for the night, I have a feeling I was lied to, so I wanted to confirm the rate with you.

As Far as my "Ticket Taking" experience, I've roamed the nation taking tickets at countless fairs and Carnivals. My thumb and "pointer" finger speed are unparalleled as you can see by reading the 2007 Guinness book of world records where I am listed as the fastest "Ticket Taker" on record....a record that wont soon be broken. I've also worked for the Big apple and Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus as a Ticket Taker.

Although I will say that most of my Ticket taking experience comes from Taking tickets at the old YANKEE stadium. I left that job after they decided to go with electronic ticket readers. (The Machines will be the end of us all!!!) I went on to work at SHEA stadium where the Mets play till the lousy "Subway series" stirred up many deep feelings of my "Ticket taking" at Yankee stadium and I had to leave in shame. I have since retired from the ticket taking industry. Rejecting lucrative offers from such outfits as Broadway Plays, The Miami Dolphins, The Los Angeles Dodgers, but after a 7 hour heartfelt, sometimes teary and violent talk, with Ms Laurie, she's talked me into coming out of retirement and using my powers for good once again.

In conclusion, I would be honored to be taking tickets on New Years for you, Miss Parker.....So when do we meet?
Sincerely yours.
Rober Meagher
P.S. ...............Please disregard 99% of everything I wrote in this email, due to the fact that its a lie.I hope you have a sense of humor and look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to call me at (917) xxx-xxxx...just dont call me "collect"

-He didn't get the gig. I am still trying to understand why.

4) This is really not "holiday" related, but I've been kind of interested in (okay more like obsessed with) "Jersey Shore". It is such a train wreck of a show, but I can't not watch it. It's on MTV and it is the Guido version of "The Real World". All of these Staten Island/New Jersey/Long Island Italian kids who like to party at the shore. I especially love the guy who has hair "that looks like an artichoke" (Think Gotti-boy style.) I love the souped-up cars, the gelled-up hair, the tanning-bed tans, and the ripped-abs, know as a "situation".) Love it, love it, love it. In fact, I am in two different "Jersey Shore Fantasy Leagues", where there are four of us competing in each one. We each have one boy and one girl on the show and they earn us points each week. How do they earn points? 10 points for mentioning hair gel (they wear a LOT of it). 10 points for mentioning their tans. 50 points for a bar fight. 50 points for hooking up with another cast member, etc. Since I don't do "fantasy football", I am purely entertained with this venture. So far my girl "Snookie" is earning me many points. I have her in one league, but not the other.

5) Yesterday I went to Mass. The 3rd week of the Advent season. I am somewhat of a slacker when it comes to Roman Catholicism these days, but I do enjoy my religious heritage, and I love the smell of frankincense. So off to church I went. I chose Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which is one of the few remnants of Italian Harlem (while we're on the subject of Italians). Many elderly Italian folks still live in the neighborhood and there are even a few Sunday masses in Italian. I opted for the 12:30 mass. (That one's in English.) It suited my need to sleep in, especially after working another one of my side gigs the day before. So the church was about 90% empty. I sat wayyyy in the back and off to the side. An elderly Italian couple came and sat right next to me. Great. Of allllll the 1000s of empty pews, why are they on top of me? I rolled my eyes, and begrudgingly stayed in that hard, uncomfortable pew. I was trapped between the elderly Italian couple and a "station of the cross" wall mounting with a three dimensional Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene. It's as if they were mocking me- "haha Laurie. Trapped here now. No way out.". At the end of the mass, the elderly gentleman, quietly thanked me "This was the pew where my late parents once sat. Thank you for sharing it with us and allowing us to pray here and remember them."

After that I said about 80 "hail mary's" and had another glass of wine. I am going to try a little harder to be a better person from now on. So once again I recite the words I learned in catechism at a young age: Holy Mary, mother of god, pray for us sinners (i.e. ME!) now and the hour of our (MY) death. Amen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Smokey Eyes

Smokey eyes are what make-up artists create on their subjects to capture a sexy nighttime look. Usually eyeshadow is a blend of grays and dark blue/plum colors. I am unable to accomplish such a feat myself, but this lady, Felicia, who works at the Sephora in Columbus Circle is quite skilled at it, and my eyes were smokin' in about ten minutes. Impressive!

On another note.....Did I ever mention that my best friend Dara works for a gigantiC News Network? To protect her privacy, I won't name the large news network for which she works, but you may be able to take a gander from my context clues? :)

So anyway, tonight Dara's company had the Inspiration Summit. It was phenomenal. It was inspirational. It made me want to go into the world and do fantastic things. My smokey eyes teared up more than once.

Mary J. Blige and Holly Robinson Peete were the guest speakers. You may recognize Holly from "21 Jump Street" or "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper". Mary goes without introduction. Her version of "One", a duet with Bono, again brings tears to my smokey eyes every time I hear it on my ipod.

So the "Inspire Summit" brought together mainly women who do altruistic things, but there were a fair number of men there, as well. As a woman, I think sometimes we (and I think I can speak for others too) get short-changed. We take a lower pay. We do thankless work. We pick up extra jobs to make ends meet. We apologize for things that aren't our fault. Perfect example: the Anchor last night who was interviewing the inspirational women was standing on stage. The stage-hand was setting up more chairs for the panel. He ran into her mike cord with a chair, and SHE apologized for it! I think about how many times on the subway, it's crowded and people fall into me when the train lurches forward and I apologize. And then I am disappointed in myself, so I have been training myself to say "excuse me" or "pardon me" instead, so that I am not apologizing for simply occupying space.

I digress.

This blog is not about weak women. It's about strong women. Mary J Blige (who is absolutely stunning and so eloquent and articulate in person) has an organization called FFAWN (Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now), which helps women overcome difficulties and reach their full potential. (And she sports the smokey eyes too!) Holly Robinson Peete has a foundation which helps people who have been plagued with devastating life circumstances. There were other women there too last night. A woman who has a non profit called "Cell Phones for Soldiers". (Did you know they have to spend their OWN money to call home when they are in the Middle East???) One soldier was stuck with a $7000 phone bill so this incredible woman, Brittany Berquest created this organization to alleviate that. There were women there who were CEOs of so many inspirational non-profits that helped rape survivors, cancer patients, children's literacy, and anything else you can imagine. They told their stories and I got the goosebumps. I want to be in the trenches making a difference too. (Stay tuned to blog when I reveal my big idea.)

Holly Robinson Peete spoke about ways you can make a difference. If you have an overwhelming urge to reach out and aid someone who needs help, but you don't know how, I recommend you visit Chris Rock's wife's website.

I'm never sure what to do either, so I will be checking it out myself. I keep thinking back to my visit to India, both the Disabled Children's Home and the visit to the non-profit community center that got children out of child-labor and into school. Visits to both made me immensely happy and humbled.

At the end of the night, after the inspirational forum there was an after-party. I was listening to the band play Mary J Blige's (who had to leave a little earlier) song being sung:

Feels so good, when you’re doing all the things that you want to do...Get the best out of life, treat yourself to something new...It’s a really good thing to say...That I won’t change my life, my life’s just fine...Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh...Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh...Just fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, ooooh.

So I was smiling, kinda swaying back and forth and once again my smokey eyes were a little teary. Dara came up behind me:

"Laurie, are you drunk?"

"No, Dara. I'm inspired."

Service is the rent we pay for living.
Marian Wright Edelman