Monday, December 29, 2008

Daddy Gets An Ipod

© 2008 Leighann Lord

My Dad gave me my first real radio for Christmas when I was nine years old. It had AM and FM stations as well as a tape deck. I couldn't wait to tune into my favorite stations and tape (yeah, I said tape) the latest songs. My Dad had other plans.

When I liberated the radio from the Christmas wrapping and factory packaging, I tossed it all aside never giving a second glance to the papers bundled at the bottom of the box; the directions. My Dad took the radio, handed me the manual and said, "Read this first."

"But I already know how to use a radio," I said.

"Read it anyway."

I pouted but he was unyielding. This was rare since I was, and still am, a major league Daddy's Girl. But my Dad was always perturbed by my Mom's complete lack of technical know how. He wanted me to be able to walk into Radio Shack knowing exactly what I need, how to ask for it and how to get out of there without giving them my phone number.

Thanks to my him, I now have the amazing ability to breeze through manuals for software, electronic gadgets and household appliances. I know how to set the clock on my DVD player, and I'm not even baffled by the Daylight Savings time feature. I guess my super hero name would be Gadget Girl. I'm more than a little annoyed that many manufacturers no longer even give you a manual, instead choosing to let you download and print out the PDF, shifting paper and ink costs to the customer.

So it was with pleasure that I gave my Dad his first Ipod for Christmas. I enjoyed giving him something that he would never buy for himself. Always on the cutting edge, my Dad had been dropping hints for several months that he wanted an Ipod. He even suggested I get myself a new Ipod and let him take my old one.(Did I mention I was a Daddy's Girl!) But I would never give my Dad a second hand Ipod even if the first hand was mine.

My old 20 gig is on it's last legs. It's ongoing problems include a loud whirring hard drive, short battery life and the persistent appearance of the Apple icon. My Dad deserved better.

Part of me relished the idea of turning the tables and making my Dad read the manual before donning those cool and ubiquitous white head phones. But it's Apple. There is no manual. For Microsoft Windows users, the lack of a manual can be disturbing. We are completely unprepared for the intuitive simplicity of Apple. We look for the trick. We wait for the other shoe to drop. We expect Rod Serling to step from behind a curtain and begin narrating our personal "Twilight Zone" moment. Apple? Plug it in and go. It's madness, but the good kind that one can get used to.

In no time my Dad downloaded his entire CD collection and started rummaging through mine. He didn't find much, since he's not a big Prince, Dave Matthews Band or Eminem fan. (I don't know why, but that angry little white boy amuses me.)

As a life long Jazz man, my Dad hit the jackpot browsing through my husband's CDs: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Stan Goetz .... Judging by his musical tastes it's easy to believe that my husband was born out of his time. Perhaps he was reincarnated from with his love of jazz intact. His penchant for fine cigars, stingy brim hats straight razor shaving lends credence to this theory.

It's worth noting here that although we've been married for over seven years, my husband and I ardently maintain separate music collections. We share vows, a home, and tax returns, but co-mingle music? I'm just not ready for that level of commitment. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

At the moment, it's looking like my Dad's Ipod Nano is swiftly reaching capacity. I completely underestimated how quickly and easily he would embrace the technology. A man who's loved music for the better part of 70 years probably needs an 80 gig. I guess I know what to get him next year.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas for the Kids?

Okay. Fine. Be That Way
© 2007 Leighann Lord

This year my family decided to only give Christmas presents to the kids. That sounded great until I realized I wasn't one of the kids anymore.

On my Mom's side of the family my cousin and I have been it's youngest members for a long time. It seems like we've always been "The Girls." We were The Girls even after we both got married. But then she had a daughter and things changed, and now we're formally and firmly in the adult wing of the family.

Sometimes change is slow, and the longer it takes for that change to happen, the more comfortable you get where you are. Eleven months younger than my cousin, I was comfortable being the baby of the family. No I didn't get money in my birthday cards anymore, but I still felt favored; that is until the new people started showing up.

My cousin's daughter is breathtakingly beautiful and smart, with a glare that could wither Medusa. And yet, it was hard watching her get all the clothes and books that used to be mine. Of course, I'd have trouble squeezing into a 3T, and I prefer Stephen King to Dr. Seuss, but that's not the point. Sitting at the kid's table had it’s perks. Without the responsibilities of adulthood you are free to be unrepentantly selfish. I miss that.

I think I feel a second childhood coming on.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Warning: "Twilight" May Be Hazardous to Your Relationship

© 2008 Leighann Lord

"I’m an evil, evil woman; but I wanna do a man some good. I’m Gina Lollobridgida. I ain’t Red Riding Hood."
- Blossom Dearie

I am the evil woman of which Blossom Dearie crooned. I did a terrible thing. I dragged my Husband to see "Twilight." My Beloved – bless his heart – is many things, but he is absolutely not in the demographic for a teenage vampire love story.

There are two forces at work here. First: I don’t get to go to the movies as often as I would like. Oh, I have big plans. I see trailers, read reviews and say, "Ooh, that looks good. I want to see that." But the movie is almost always out on DVD before I can even get my coat on. Second: I’ve got a thing for vampires. I’ve read every Anne Rice novel, watched every episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (as well as the movie), enjoyed tax cheat Wesley Snipes in "Blade" and remember that long before "24" Keifer Sutherland was one of the "Lost Boys." I’m even a fan of the cool and culty "Life Force" which explores the extraterrestrial origins of the vampire legend. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

So for me it was only natural to get caught up in the "Twilight" hype. I read the book before hand and was well aware that the movie might not live up to my literary expectations; but like a moth to a flame I just had to see this one on the big screen and my poor husband got caught in the crossfire. I enjoyed the movie, flaws and all but for every familiar line, scene and action at which I swooned, my poor Husband groaned and checked his watch. As I filled in plot gaps from memory, he sighed and rubbed his temples with disgust and incomprehension.

As we left the theater – me with a delicious after glow and him with a headache — I said, "How’d you like the movie?"

"I have to pee," he said.

I guess we won’t be seeing, "Moonlight."

"Maybe you should read the book," I suggested. "I can re-check it out of the library for you."

"Dear God, no!" he said. "In the name of all that is good and holy, please don’t."

He didn’t actually say that. He just gave me a very pained looked and made an alarming choking sound that I have tried my best to translate. It was then that I realized I had sorely tested the "for better or for worse" portion of our wedding vows. This movie choice might actually be grounds. Do people divorce over irreconcilable movie choices? Had he ever been so cinematically cruel to me? Do the "Star Wars" pre-quels count?
("Damn you, George Lucas! You lost me at Jar-Jar.")

When we got home, as a peace offering, I turned on ESPN hoping an infusion of testosterone and sports scores would make him more communicative and forgiving. It seemed to do the trick. But this isn’t over. I fear there’ll be a mandatory Mike Myers movie in my future.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Perfect Purse Part 2 - I Am Not Alone

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I am grateful to learn from my Loyal Readers that I am not alone in my pursuit of The Perfect Purse. In a previous article about the solemn search I mentioned that my requirements were few. The bag needed to be fashionable, functional and affordable. I lied. Well it wasn’t so much a lie as it was an incomplete truth. Yes, I said it needed to big, sturdy and black, but there’s a little more to it than that.

Loyal Reader Robin shared her difficult experience finding her Perfect Bag; one that, of course, zipped closed. This is an absolute necessity for me as well. I neglected to mention it before because I assumed it was a given. Who wants their stuff on display? Open top bags are designed by pick pockets for trusting souls who still leave their doors unlocked, their keys in the car and think a "Don’t feed the bears" sign is a tactful way of saying the bears are watching their weight.

An open bag is asking for trouble. It’s not that I don’t trust people, it’s just that I don’t trust people. Okay, fine: People are basically good, but why tempt them unnecessarily by flashing the contents of my purse like it’s a goody bag?

Loyal Reader, Pat, suggested I get over myself, E-Bay my unused Coach Bags and go get a Tumi. Tumi’s are supposedly very good quality bags, stylish too. I had a set of Tumi luggage once. It didn’t work out as well as I’d expected. After a few months of hard travel the bags got old quick and fell apart like aging second rate strippers... I mean exotic dancers; all flash and no stamina. My Tumi luggage bypassed my Handbag Graveyard all together and went straight to the trash.

Given Tumi’s less than stellar suitcase performance it’s hard for me to believe their handbags would fare any better; but on Pat’s earnest suggestion I went to the website anyway. The handbag section featured an interesting bag called the Voyageur. It was big, black and looked lusciously sturdy. "What’s up sexy?" Affordable? Not so much: $395. Ouch! But then again Christmas is coming and my in house Santa is usually quite generous.

Tumi’s website provided views of the bag from five angles and even let me preview it in four different colors. Nice, but this bag is not the one. Major flaw number one: No dedicated exterior pockets for cell phone, water bottle or umbrella. Major flaw number two: the color of the interior lining is the same as the exterior. A black bag with a black lining means black accessories blend and disappear. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not picky, I’m precise. Call me crazy, but the more expensive something is, the closer to perfect it has to be. And so The Handbag Hunt continues.

That’s how I ended up in New York & Company leering longingly at big red, zipper top bag attractively positioned underneath a 50% off sign. Okay, the bag’s not black, which decreases is practical functionality by more than half, but red is my favorite color so it’s not like I’ll "never" use it.

"Another bag?" my Husband said.

"No, two. It came in red and silver, and they were 50% off. I couldn’t just leave them there."

"No, of course not," he said, "but I thought black was more ... uh ... 'functional.'"

"It is."

"So why you’d buy it in red?"

"Red’s my favorite color."

"And the gray?"

"It’s silver," I said.

"Right. Silver. Why’d you buy the same bag in silver?"

"It’s my second favorite color."

"It is?" he said.

"Yes. It was one of our wedding colors."

"Right. And what about the Tumi? Do you still want that one?"

"No. I think I’ll pass."

"Are you sure, I’ve been making space in the attic. If we get a smaller Christmas tree I think we can manage."

"Well, there’s always Valentine’s Day," I said.

"Yes, then you can use your new red bag."

"Yes, but by then it won’t be new."

t that point I saw my Husband’s temples throbbing ever so slightly. Best not antagonize Santa so close to the holiday. I’m sure in the long run he’ll just be happy that a $395 bag is off my Christmas list. I’ve been a good girl this year, but I don’t know if I’ve been $395 good.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

The Perfect Purse, The Holy Handbag

© 2008 Leighann Lord
I have been on a life long quest to find The Perfect Purse. My requirements are few but specific. The Bag has to be fashionable, functional and affordable. I don’t mind paying for quality, but buying a beautiful bag to hold an empty wallet seems supremely counter productive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Carving Conundrum

Dueling Over Thanksgiving Dinner
© 2008 Leighann Lord

The local news had a cooking segment on how to carve a Thanksgiving turkey and I thought to myself, "This isn’t news! What idiot doesn’t know how to carve a turkey?" Oh wait... me. If it were up to moi, I’d pass the turkey around the table like a joint and let everybody take a bite. But by the time I thought to pay attention, the segment was finished and so was my smug attitude.

I’m actually very lucky, or in deference to the season, thankful. I married both a cooker and carver in one. Sweet! Most first dates ask inane questions like what’s your favorite color, movie, or position (football wise, of course). With an eye toward the long term viability of the relationship, "Can you carve a turkey?" seemed much more relevant.

I guess every family has a designated carver; that one person who’s job it is butcher the bird, but maybe they don’t. Bereft of a resident carver, a lot of pressure and hope is brought to bear on each new generation. With every baby born, family members gather around the infant and ask the ancient question: "Are you the one?" But whether meat carving be nature or nurture, these families suffer either way. The skill set is not in their gene pool and they can’t teach what they do not know. Sans divine intervention or genetic mutation a vegan lifestyle complete with tofu turkey may be in the offing.

Some families are blessed with an abundance of turkey technicians. On the surface this is great, but it begs the question, who gets to carve the turkey? Naturally, seniority wins until the day grandpa grabs the knife and, forgetting what he’s cutting, makes short work of the ottoman; scarring the kids and house pets in the process. Location is the next logical criteria. Everybody knows the house always carves.

But all things being equal by age and neutral locale, a clash of egos can lead to fisticuffs. This is, in fact, how the practice of dueling began; two potential turkey carvers brandishing increasingly larger knives like a scene from "Crocodile Dundee" trying to assert their carver claim. Though bloodshed is an ironically fitting way to commemorate Thanksgiving, it could deprive a family of both its carvers (through death and subsequent incarceration); the specter of tofu turkey looming.

In order to preserve the harmony of the holiday, I propose a Five Point Thanksgiving Bail Out Plan:

1. The Exchange Program: Families with, share with families without.

2. The Apprentice Program: Find the person in your family least likely to stab themselves and apprentice them to a carver in another family.

3. Outsourcing: Start dating the deli guy.

4. Goal Oriented Socializing: Integrate practical skills assessment into your dating/mating paradigm. In other words, before you mate, ask your date if they know how to carve a turkey.

5. Abject Surrender: Give up, go vegan and learn to like tofu.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Wedding Dress in a F@%#ing Box?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I love eating at the Cracker Barrel. Where else can your cup runneth over with dumplings? I also enjoy browsing through the Cracker Barrel General Store, which is jammed packed with all sorts of interesting items. You can get a John Deere cap, a harmonica, a cast iron skillet, scented candles, or a t-shirt that says "Whatever Happens at Grandma’s, Stays at Grandma’s." Pretty cool stuff or so I thought until I saw "The Cracker Barrel Wedding Dress in a Box." I almost threw up my dumplings.

For a mere $29.99 the box includes a wedding dress, veil, ring, garder, and bouquet; ironically, everything but the boy. The dress fits little girls up to size 8, which is probably about the time when a young lady begins her life long battle to be the "right" size.

I’m sure someone thought this was cute, but I am appalled; primarily because a thorough search revealed no corresponding "Groom In A Box." Could it be that little boys aren’t sitting around hallucinating about how handsome they’ll look in a tuxedo, praying they won’t be too nervous to tie their bow tie and hoping they’ll be svelte enough to pull off a cummerbund that compliments the colors of their bridal party?

When I was a little girl, I did not fantasize about my wedding day. I didn’t have every minute detail planned out decades in advance. In fact I never thought of it all. I dreamed of having a high powered job on Wall Street and a pool boy named Sergio who cooked my meals, cleaned my house and gave me great back rubs. Two out of three ain’t bad. (In case you’re wondering, my house is filthy.)

The other problem is that the prepackaged wedding ensemble skips quite a few steps on the relationship ladder. Shouldn’t there be something like "First Date in a Box?" It could come with flowers, candy, and a cue card of what not to ask and what not to tell. "Stalker in a Box" could sport a really cool ninja outfit and a set of binoculars. "Living Together in a Box" would come with a u-haul, free storage and a dumpster for all his vitally important childhood memorabilia.

At some point everyone could use "Break Up in a Box" comprising Kleenex, Jack Daniels and a dart board with a photo of your former other. If things turn ugly, as they sometimes do, "Crazy Ex in a Box" would provide the requisite restraining order, new phone number and un-guess able password for your FaceBook page.

For the commitment phobic who needs a little push: "Ultimatum in Box." It includes the all important pre-nuptial agreement, pre-marital counseling and Valium. There’s a lot more to a marriage then just the wedding, but "Marriage in a Box," with a divorce attorney on retainer, may not be a big seller.

I guess of all the dress up games little girls can play, "Wedding Dress in a Box" isn’t all that bad. "Unwed Pregnant Teen in Box," "Baby Daddy in a Box" and "High School Drop Out in a Box" all seem sadly common place by comparison. Perhaps a truly progressive, anti-prop 8, company will soon sell "Same Sex Wedding in a Box" with matching wedding dresses or tuxes, but that might be a little much for the average Cracker Barrel customer. They might be incensed enough to take their business elsewhere. Oh well; more dumplings and harmonicas for me.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Suck It Up Gotham

© 2008 Leighann Lord

NYC, the epicenter of the financial crisis, is beginning to show the strain. Facing a $4 billion budget gap, Mike Bloomberg – The Mayor Who Would Be King – has a plan. If President Elect Barack Obama plans to go through the national budget line by line with a scalpel, then King-Mayor Mike is using a hack saw.

The most outrageous suggestion is a six cent tax on plastic grocery bags. Inexplicably, I’ve been hoarding plastic shopping bags for at least a decade. I’m not sure why. I’ve always assumed it had something to do with my deep down fear of becoming a bag lady, but apparently I’m just psychic. My subconscious foresaw a day when my obsession with plastic bags would turn instantly from warning sign to wise investment. Take that Wall Street.

I’m sure the save the planet people love this proposed bag tax plan. In the long run it’ll encourage The City to go green but right now, Gothamites – who are already heavily nickel and dimed – are only seeing red at the very suggestion that they pay for something that’s free.

I thought my personal bag stash would insulate me from the tumult, but alas no. Rumor has it that the tax would be levied even if you bring your own plastic bags. Why not just stick a gun in face? If it comes to pass, I plan to buy a week’s worth of groceries. When they go to bag it I’ll say, "No, no. I can’t afford the bags." Then I’ll carry my groceries out to the car one item at a time. Take that Stop & Shop.

The hard, cold financial fact is that the budget must be balanced by both cutting expenses and raising revenue. Perhaps the more outrageous suggestions are meant to make the harder ones more palatable, like eliminating five engine companies. That’s a tough one, but for those of you who are unemployed – and according to the latest numbers there are a lot of you – please try having your fires during the day when there will be more firemen on duty.

This also means we’ll all have to cut back on those famous NYC midnight bonfires and the indoor marsh mellow roasts. Instead of buying scented candles to set the mood, buy fresh batteries for your smoke detector. Nothing says romance like not dying in a fire. Unless you’re a cannibal, the aroma of burning flesh is not that arousing.

Plans include scraping the January 2009 Police Academy class. A courteous heads up for the criminals who like to plan ahead, and a warning to the rest that we are on our own. I worry this cut will jeopardize The City’s "If You See Something, Say Something" program.

"Officer I’m being mugged!" said the Victimized Citizen.
"So am I!" said the Victimized Cop.
The news isn’t all bad, the proposed budget provides for 200 additional meter maids. I can only hope I won’t be mugged on the way to my car to put money in the meter.

On the egregious scale, King-Mayor Mike plans on closing an STD Clinic in Harlem. Translation: Fuck you Harlem. Guess you should have been more supportive a three term mayoralty. Perhaps if patients haven’t spent all their money on smoke detectors they can invest in high speed internet and avail themselves to the wonders of cyber sex. They should probably budget a little extra money for condoms as well. No one’s mentioned it yet, but I’m pretty sure condoms will be included in the six cent plastic bag tax.

If they try and charge you, demur and say, "That’s okay, I’ll wear it out." Take that King-Mayor!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day in My Hood

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Rapper 50 Cent and I are from the same neighborhood. I however, have never been shot; Not even once. I guess Catholic School and hands on parenting really do make a difference. Given the historic significance of this election the media has been predicting Depression era long lines in “urban areas” like mine. I was understandably a little worried, so I drew up a battle plan:

Dress warmly
Wear comfortable shoes
Bring a bottle of water, a book and a folding chair.
Get there early

“6am?” my Husband suggested.
“Are you insane? The place will be jammed with folks who have to go to work.”

Since we have “non traditional” jobs and my parents are retired we had the luxury of waiting until 10am. The gamble paid off. When we showed up to our local polling place, the line was longer than I’ve ever seen it, but it wasn’t bad. It moved. I set my stopwatch and we were in and out in 42 minutes!

It would have been faster if we had remembered what district we were in. (I know. I know. I’m very embarrassed.) I had my ID and proof of address. I even had my passport, but could not find my voter card. Grrr! So we marched off to wait on the information line that was moving quite a bit slower than the voting line. Luckily I spotted one of my neighbors who was done voting and on her way home and I said, “Hey (Neighbor who’s name I can’t remember and only wave to at a distance) what’s our district?”


Again with the dire warnings from the media I was worried that somehow my name had been purged, dropped, removed or otherwise unscrupulously spirited off the voting rolls. I imagined the headline “Local Comedian in Bitter Battle with Election Officials!” I pictured myself engaged in witty repartee with Anderson Cooper, Jon Stewart and Keith Oberman about election fraud and the conservative conspiracy. Move over Joe the Plumber. Leighann The Comic is here. But alas, no.

As I stepped into my voting cocoon, I eyed my choices and picked the only one that made sense: Senator Barack Obama. I took a moment to reflect on how amazing and special this moment was; A Black Man poised to become President of the United States. My Husband asked me if this election means as much to me as it does to my parents. The honest answer is, no.

Is it important? No doubt. Am I completely obsessed and invested? Absolutely. But I think it’s only fair to say that this election is a bit more emotional for people who actually lived through lunch counter sit-ins, fire hoses, marches, assassinations, riots, the birth of Affirmative Action, and all manner of race based indignities. Are things perfect now? No, but my parents and grandparents suffered much to make my road a little easier. It will be my job to do the same for my children.

As I proudly pulled the lever for Barack I also thought of my grandparents, in particular my grandfather, F. Levi Lord. He was Marcus Garvey’s secretary general. He traveled the country speaking on behalf of the Garvey Movement, racial pride and the upliftment of the race. It would have been an honor to escort him to the polls today, and probably somewhat newsworthy since, had he lived, he be about 120.

“Everything okay in there?” a poll worker asked.
“Just fine,” I said, snapping out of my reverie.

It was time for me and “Fitty” to go grab an espresso, put on my Obama T-shirt, sit by the TV and wait.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Cottage Cheese, Muffin Tops and Afro Pubs

A Moratorium on Locker Room Nakedness, Please

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Unless you have immense self discipline, or a ruthless personal trainer, the gym is a risky investment. If all the people who had gym memberships actually went, they’d have to make reservations. That said, I’ve decided to go back.

I hope it’ll be different this time. This time I have a goal. I’ve taken up running to improve my cardio and endurance because it’ll help my martial arts training. It doesn’t matter how good or strong your techniques are if you tire easily. This was a hard decision.

As a child I loved running games like Tag and Red Light, Green Light 1-2-3 but that all changed in high school. Freshman year gym was track & field. At the first class Sister Sadist commanded us to run a mile. No warm up, no nothing, just run. The girls who had asthma – okay, me – were told to suck it up. Diva In Training that I was, I refused, choosing instead to walk the mile. I got an F. The only F of my academic career and I still stand by it with pride. Consequently any love I might have had for the gym, running and religion evaporated.

So it is with great reluctance that I have finally decided to run. With Winter approaching I figured the gym would be the best place to go. My first day back I paced myself. I didn’t over do it. I started walking on the treadmill, slowly increasing my speed, then ran I for 10 minutes. I switched to the elliptical machine and did 10 minutes of interval training. Yea, me!

"Well that wasn’t so bad. Maybe this will work out after all," I thought, and that’s when I saw her: a naked woman strolling through the locker room. The only covering she had was a towel wrapped around her head but I’ve never had a problem with naked hair.

While I’ve managed to recover from most of my Catholic upbringing, I can’t seem to shake my prudish reaction to the human body. Add a bit of vanity and snobbery, and not only was I offended that this woman was naked but that she wasn’t even in good shape. She wasn’t Jabba the Hut but she was very cottage cheesy. There was some lopsided muffin top action happening and a voluminous shock of afro pubs in dire need of a shape up.

I in no way mean to imply that I by comparison am perfect. I am not. That’s why I always remember to bring a towel. According to Douglas Adams you need a towel to hitchhike through the galaxy and according to common decency you need towel if you plan to shower at the gym.

To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered if the naked woman had a flawless figure. I just don’t think the human body is all that beautiful. At first it’s not so bad. Most babies are cute, but over time there are profound physical changes that the general public doesn’t need to be privy to.

This wasn’t the first Naked Locker Room Woman I’ve ever seen. But the last one had the decency to dash from the shower to her locker, hands and arms covering key areas while mumbling "Sorry, I forgot my towel." She evinced the proper amount of shame, conveying that this scene would not intentionally be repeated. Maybe it’s the Catholic thing again, but I think there should be dinner, courtship and some type of commitment before you begin showing off your nakedness. The Naked Cottage Cheese Lady did not scurry, run, hide or dress quickly. She in fact strutted around in her all together’s like she was in the privacy of her own home. I wish she had been.

Since I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory, maybe this woman didn’t "forget" her towel. Perhaps an astute gym manager paid her to parade around the locker room au natural – imperfections and all – to remind everyone in eye shot why we’re there. Naked Cottage Cheese Lady then is an inspiration. And I am inspired – to buy a treadmill and run at home. God help me.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Friend, Sarah

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I got a letter in the mail from Sarah Palin. It was addressed to me – Leighann Lord – not Resident, Occupant or Home Owner. Given the current housing crisis, the latter salutation might have been supremely presumptuous. The return address simply said Sarah Palin; No city, state or zip; not even a zip plus four. I guess Sarah is like Santa Claus. The post office just knows where to find her.

The letter opened with:

"Dear Friend,"

kay, let’s stop there.

Admittedly, I’m horrible with names and not much better with faces, but I don’t believe Sarah and I run in the same circles. I have not seen her at my book club meetings. I have not had the pleasure of pummeling her in my kick boxing class. I know she went to a lot of colleges, but none of them were mine. I only went to one.

We are separated by a lot more than six degrees. I doubt if even Kevin Bacon has an easy link to Sarah. We aren’t even Face Book friends. We’re not connected on My Space, Hi5 or Linked In. I have seen some of her work on Your Tube though . . . oh wait, that was Tina Fey.

Given that Sarah started her letter with a falsehood, I felt no need to read further, but curiosity got the better of me. It said:

"I personally want to say thank you for the steadfast support and unstinting generosity you have given to the Republican Party and all of our candidates."
Okay, friends. This is worse than I thought. Either my alter ego is a card carrying, money giving Republican — she’s not, I asked (actually my alter ego is very fond of Ralph Nader, but that’s another story) – or someone has stolen my identity and is making unauthorized donations in my name. Why can’t I get a normal identity thief who just wants to buy a flat screen TV at Best Buy?

In a past life, I might have Pay Paled Abraham Lincoln a couple of dollars, post emancipation and pre assassination, but other than that I have never knowingly given money to the Republican Party. Quite frankly, I never thought they needed it. Maybe they’d have some extra ducats in the kitty if they didn’t spend money buying bad mailing lists or expensive outfits at Neiman Marcus. (Really Sarah? $150,000 on campaign accessories?) As far as I know, the wife of Joe Six Pack cobbles together her ensemble from Target, JC Penney and Forever 21.

I showed the letter to my husband and he was hurt. To date, he – a registered Republican – has received no correspondence from his friend, Sarah, although if he had, he probably would have burned it. My Sweetie is a bit disenchanted at the moment with the right wing wacko take over of his party. It also helps that I whisper in his ear when he’s sleeping, "McCain is insane. No drama with Obama."

I don’t feel bad about this. When we dated, he promised me he would switch to the Independent Party. That was his idea of sweet talk and I fell for it. I was young, in love and a sucker for bipartisan promises.

Any who, my friend, Sarah, was not writing to inquire about my health, wish me well on my career or even ask me for grand-baby name suggestions. No, she was soliciting money from me to help the McCain-Palin campaign.

"So please rush back your Emergency Pledge of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $100 or $50 to McCain-Palin Victory 2008 in the postage-paid envelope I’ve enclosed with my letter today."

Normally, I’m all for using money to influence and corrupt the political process, but I’m shocked. I thought Republican’s – as a rule – were allergic to handouts. Wouldn’t my donation be akin to political welfare? I couldn’t do that to my friend, Sarah. I would much rather see her and John stick by their principles and boot strap their way to the White House. That’s the only way they’ll learn. Besides, I’m a little short right now. All my money’s tied up in the $700 billion dollar bail out.

And by the way, Sarah, it doesn’t take a Washington insider to know that a real friend would have at least remembered my birthday. At the very least, an invitation to the $150,000 clothing shopping spree would have been nice, gosh darn it.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Flip Side of Rohypnol

Hearing the Call of the Cougar
© 2008 Leighann Lord

Every experienced party person knows you never leave your drink unattended. Be it glass, cup, can or mug you must be vigilant lest somebody slips you a Roofie. Even back in the day before Rohypnol was part of our everyday vocabulary you just knew if you turned your back somebody was bound to take liberties with your libation.

In my heyday I hugged my drink tighter than a running back grips a football. Nobody was sneaking in anything without my knowledge. I even hawkishly watched the bartender to be sure he wasn’t in league with some nefarious ne’redowell. I can honestly say that while at a party I’ve never drained a drink dry. If my attention wavered for a moment I would immediately abandon my beverage. I learned it was cheaper just to dance and pretend I wasn’t parched.

I was at a function recently where a woman left the table and put a napkin over the top of her soda can. I think she did this out of reflex because it was a relatively nice and upscale event; not at all the type of shindig where one need worry about running the risk of a roofie. While I believe whole heartedly in the adage “better safe than sorry,” I wondered how much protection a napkin would really provide. Can a would be Rohypnol Dropper be so easily foiled? Does etiquette demand that if a cup is covered he move on to an unguarded glass?

Is there an age where you no longer have to worry about being roofied? Certainly a young lady so new and fresh on the scene that she’s still shiny must be on her guard, but what’s the cut off? After age 60? 70? (My ego hopes that men will still want me, and not just for my money. I want to have that Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt kinda sexy well into my 90s.) The woman at the event who put the napkin over her soda can was in her mid-50s. It seemed more likely that she’d go cougar and roofie some sweet young thing in his 30s.

Some people are offended by the term Cougar. I’m not sure why. What’s wrong with a mature woman being a wild cat; a creature who knows the rules of the jungle; who can hunt, chase and capture what she wants. Maybe people are concerned that as a women ages the tables turn. Instead of worrying about someone slipping something into her drink, she’ll begin employing the tactic herself.

In this paradigm, however, one would think a roofie would be unnecessary. Given the dictates of human biology, men don’t need much coercion when sex is in the offing. Men go willingly, nay, happily should their good fortune net them a teacher, a sugar mommy or just a good time. And this isn’t mere charity work. Today’s older women are looking fabulous! No longer does my gender need to quietly toddle off to the land of moo-moos and orthopedic shoes. There are a plethora of hot mamas over 40 who are putting 20 year olds to shame.

But the same biology that drives men to seize the punani pay day may also make them hesitant to move from hunter to hunted. It’s not a position they’re used to. I envision young men at parties clutching their rum and cokes, casting suspicious glances at the seasoned women on the prowl. The men worry, “Will that Silver Fox at the bar slip me a roofie if I glance away from my glass? Will she use me, abuse me and cast me aside?” Only if you’re lucky, Baby. But if you’re not ready, Fellas, don’t worry. Any self respecting Cougar will pass you by if you put a napkin over your drink. That’s proper roofie etiquette and a Cougar is nothing if not a lady.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate Date: Joe, If You're Out There

Joe, If You're Out There

© 2008 Leighann Lord

My Husband and I had a Debate Date. We were both working during the third and final presidential debate, so we taped it, came home and watched it at midnight. Very romantic! It’s not exactly dinner and a movie but it was entertaining.

I’m not sure I learned anything new during this debate, unless you count, Joe the Plumber. I heard more about Joe and his tax problems than I would have liked. I don’t think Joe is doing too badly. He was able to attend a political function during the day. Did he use a sick day or a vacation day? The American public deserves to know.

Is Joe the Plumber related to Joe Six Pack? Are they the same guy? Can Joe the plumber down a six pack? In this economy can he afford a six pack? And I’m sure the ladies would like to know if Joe has a six pack. And what about those Americans who can’t afford a plumber be he drunk or ripped? John McCain isn’t going to gain much ground in these last few weeks if he keeps narrowing his base to guys named Joe who have a drinking problem.

All agree that Obama came out of the debate looking as cool and calm as ever, and McCain... well the old man looked down right irascible. Issues aside, I am worried about McCain. All that anger and tension can’t be good for him; too heavy on the jaw clenching and teeth grinding. I got a little livid just looking at him. Although listening to him was infuriating as well.

Maybe it’s the fear talking. The reality is this is it for McCain. If he loses his bid for president now, he will not be back in four years. He may not even be back in four hours. This does not mean his entire career is over; not by a long shot. If he continues to eschew anger management, he’ll have a job waiting for him with The World Combat League or the WWE. With his temperament, he’d be a natural for Smack Down. “Let’s get ready to stumble!”

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Closet Chaos: 80% Crazy, 20% Sane

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Living in a four-season climate, I get the pleasure of switching the clothes in my closet two times a year. Tricky business this. There are always a few awkward days when I’m sweating in a turtle neck on a warm October afternoon or shivering in a cute but thin blouse on a cool May morning.

This biannual switching has shown me that my wardrobe adheres to the 80/20 rule. I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time. The other 80% I’m not wearing speaks volumes. The first thing it says is that I’m a pack rat. There are times when I’m at peace with this and others when I’m in full blown denial. I tell myself that I’m only hanging onto good quality pieces until they come back in style. Speaking of which, I hear vests are returning this year. My tan fringed suede vest that would look perfect on Linc from "The Mod Squad" is finally coming out of the plastic.

While it’s true that everything comes back — even things that shouldn’t — it takes about 20 years. Do I have enough space to keep stuff for that long? Will I really want to wear the outfit I’m wearing right now in 20 years? Even if it fits me physically, I probably won’t be same person stylistically.

I loved my big 80s leg warmers. I was young. I didn’t know any better. Slip them on again? Probably not. In retrospect considering everything that went on in the 80's — crack cocaine, Ronald Reagan, the last episode of "Mash," I’m lucky to have escaped with my leg warmers and Milli Vanilli tape in tact. (Yes, I said tape!)

I’ve also learned that if an impromptu formal function breaks out, I’m ready. For some reason I’ve got an assortment of formal wear (not including bridesmaids dresses) stashed in my closet. The lesson? I’ve got to stop basing buying decisions on "Wow! I’d look great in that!"

That brings me too the goodly number of clothes in my closet that I bought with The Best of Intentions. They looked great in the store, but they never seem to survive the "What am I gonna wear today?" selection process. I hang on thinking one day I’ll don them, but that’s like trying to make a relationship work when deep down you know there’s nothing there.

I also have the bad habit of trying to color match from memory. While shopping I’ll see a really cute top and become absolutely, 100% convinced that it will perfectly match something I already have. I buy it, take it home and learn – once again – that there are multiple shades of black. Do I return it? Can’t. It’s cute.

The most perplexing thing in the 80% section of my closet is anything white. I almost never wear white. Of course I look outstanding in it (you should have seen me in my wedding gown) but I’m just not a big fan. Wearing white is way too stressful. I’m paranoid I’ll get a mark or stain that’ll ruin the outfit.

Oddly enough I didn’t stress about my white wedding gown. No doubt I had a few other things on my mind, but I also had an army of people at my disposal who’s job was to help keep me and my dress looking pristine. Without a staff I just don’t have the stones. So why do I have white outfits sitting in the 80% section of my closet?

Well, I went through a phase where I thought if I bought more white I’d get over my fear and wear it. It hasn’t really worked out that way. It’s too bad because I’ve got some cute stuff: A white denim skirt, white sweat pants, white dress pants, white button down shirts ... And it all hangs inside-out in my closet, getting switched around, back and forth, season to season.

The only white I wear, out of necessity, are my gi pants. They are part of the uniform at my martial arts school. I wash them religiously and damn near own stock in Clorox and Oxy Clean. The cool thing is the students who have earned their black belts get to wear black pants. Guess who can’t wait? Thankfully, as a brown belt, I’m 80% there.


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Monday, October 6, 2008

Post Financial Crisis Survival Tips

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You
© 2008 Leighann Lord

As the economy prepares to slide into the abyss, the experts are warning us to prepare for hard times. Jobs will be lost, dreams will be deferred, and folks will be robbed. When the Dow goes down, crime goes up. While we’ve all been enjoying a relatively low crime rate, some of us may have forgotten how to manage in more thuggish times. Worried about getting through the coming crime wave? Fear not! Let us harken back to the time of The Club, LoJack and Benzi Boxes.

In general, for your personal safety, it’s best not to be seen looking too prosperous. This means you’ll need to cut back on the conspicuous public consumption of your personal music. Leave your Ipod at home. If you must carry it with you, for god’s sake don’t walk around with your headphones on. You’ll never hear the danger coming.

If you really can’t be without your music, start singing to yourself. This carries the bonus of making potential thieves think you’re crazy. If you really want to be hard core don’t sing happy songs. Instead of "Don’t Worry, Be Happy," belt out a full throated rendition of "Amazing Grace." Religious crazies are guaranteed safe passage almost anywhere and it might earn you a couple of dollars if you stand still and set out your coffee cup.

Speaking of coffee, no more bopping around the city with your ostentatious Starbucks grande latte. You’re welcome to continue patronizing Starbucks – if you still got it like that – but I strongly suggest you imbibe on site or transfer the beverage into a Dunkin Donuts cup.

This probably goes without saying, but no more whipping out your laptop in the great outdoors. Luckily, Winter is coming so this isn’t a big issue, but on a lovely Indian Summer day you might be tempted to visit your local outdoor cafĂ© or public park and surf the web. Don’t do it. Thieves will not be content to just steal your identity. You could get victimized virtually and literally.

If you’re sensing a theme then you know talking while walking may no longer be the safest of activities. Phone jackings – long prominent in Europe – will surely increase. You could find your Side Kick, Black Berry or iPhone whisked away before you have a chance to dial 911 or text for help.

It’s not just electronics, you’ll be needing to secure your personage as well. That’s right Ladies, we’re bringing back the signature after-work Nike’s and bobby socks look that was big back in the late 80s, early 90s. Yes, those Jimmy Choo heels are way cute, but if you suddenly have to run for your life, you’re dead. If you get your purse snatched, and trip and fall while trying to run after your assailant, they might double back to grab your shoes too; a double humiliation. You might be able to buy them back on Ebay, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Non sequitur: if you do enjoy running I encourage you to keep it up. It’ll come in handy, but please don’t do it alone. Now’s the time to run with the pack. Don’t fall behind. Don’t get too far ahead. There’s safety in numbers.

Gentlemen, you’ve got to be careful with your wardrobe as well. If you’ve got a suit and tie job, bring a change of clothes. It might be enough to shed the jacket, roll up your sleeves and pretend you work in the mail room, but if you look like you work on a Wall Street, you’re putting yourself at risk. You might catch a beating from a disgruntled former home owner from which no one will bail you out.

It’s also time for everybody – male and female – to tuck in the bling. I hope things don’t degenerate to the days when miscreants boldly snatched gold chains right off people’s necks in broad daylight but why take the chance? Those days made such an impression on me. Since silver is less valuable than gold, wearing it made you almost invisible to would be snatchers. And if they did see you, you were looked upon with pity. I switched to wearing silver and never looked back.

I’m not trying to scare anybody; just consider these tips as a few words to the wise. If you happen to have any wiggle room in this economic downturn it might not be a bad idea to invest in some self defense classes. You never know when you need to defend yourself or help beat a banker’s ass.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Perfectly Dressed to Un-Impress

© 2008 Leighann Lord

"I hate my uniform," I heard a middle aged teen complain to her identically dressed friends. I smiled to myself, remembering that feeling all too well. At least hers wasn’t puke plaid like mine had been.

I wore a uniform in grammar school until the eighth grade. It didn’t begin bothering me until the seventh, realizing a uniform was the antithesis of cool. So I, like many girls before and after me, heeded puberty’s siren song and began adjusting my uniform to better suit my burgeoning sense of style. Some of these tactics – none of which really worked for me – may sound painfully familiar to anyone who spent their formative years at Our Lady of Perpetual Purgatory.

Shortening the skirt by rolling it up. But so as not to reveal all the goodies, I wore a pair of shorts underneath. Rolling your socks down low to show as much leg as possible. I was tall for my age so my legs were long and skinny. Consequently I was way more Olive Oil than heroin chic.

Unbuttoning your blouse low to show off your cleavage. At 12 I didn’t have cleavage per se, so instead I was flashing lots of neck and collar bone.

In my mind I looked grown and sexy. In reality I looked a hot mess. Thankfully, this is way back when adults cared and society didn’t openly encourage young girls to embrace their inner Lolita. Any uniform adjustments I made had to be quickly returned to factory settings lest I be caught and shamed.

What I didn’t know at that age, and didn’t figure out for quite some time, is that the hard sell is completely unnecessary. Guys are wired to find you no matter what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing it.

I’ve also worn uniforms for Girl Scouts, color guard, and marching band. Looking back, the latter was more costume than uniform. We wore dark blue pants with white stripes down the side, dress military style bright red jackets with big gold buttons; topped off with dark blue, Three Musketeers style hats, with large white plumed feathers cascading from the upturned brim on the left side. Look out now! I was always a little jealous of the band leader. He got to wear the cape.

Color Guard had the same uniform as the marching band except we wore skirts instead of pants. I hated that. I’d freeze at the football games. It gave me a new respect for cheerleaders. Their skirts were skimpier than ours. It’s hard to look cute when you’re cold but they somehow managed to pull it off. On the practical side, marching and shivering while twirling and tossing a six foot pole just isn’t safe.

As a kid, caught up in my own plaid clad universe, it never occurred to me that most of the adult world wears a uniform: soldiers, policemen, firemen, postal workers, delivery men (I love when my UPS man wears shorts!) sanitation workers, doctors, nurses, judges, clergy, bouncers, janitors (I mean, maintenance engineers), waitresses, chefs, doormen, hotel staff, pilots, flight attendants, ground crew (love their shorts, too), brides, grooms, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and cricket players (most impressive since they wear all white like athletic virgin grooms); just to name a few.

My least favorite uniform is the corporate one. In the broad strokes the rules are simple: Don’t wear a scrubs to a suit and tie job, and flip flops will get you fired. Almost everyone agrees you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have, but that’s easier said than done. When I had a "regular" job I damn near went broke trying to do just that. My co-workers resented it because they thought I was being uppity. My boss didn’t like it because she knew I wanted her job.

This rule does work well, however, at auditions. I had an audition one time that called for me to be an EMT. I wore dark blue work pants, a buttoned down, short sleeve, light blue work shirt and a stethoscope. I walked in looking the part. It was great. The casting director thought I was a real EMT. He wasn’t the only one. No one said anything, but I could sense that people on the street looked at me differently. I looked like someone who could help them in case of an emergency. I feared that if a medical situation arose – because that’s how Murphy’s Law works – I’d suddenly be on duty for a job I was only pretending to have. I regretted not bringing a change of clothes.

I ditched the stethoscope, undid the top two buttons on my shirt, and hoped I passed for an off duty security guard. Nobody expects them to do anything even when they’re on the clock.

There’s one uniform I hope to never wear. The Blue Suit. The one The Supportive Wife of The Philandering Politician wears as they stand together at the press conference podium. Knowing me, I’ll more likely be wearing a prison uniform, grousing about how horrible I look in orange, how jump suits do nothing for my figure (thank god!), and longing for the care free days of plaid skirts and penny loafers.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Mama's Baby, Papa's Shady

Good Luck, Dannielynn

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Okay, let me be very clear right up front: I have no idea what I’m talking about, but what kind of cultural commentator would I be if I let that stand in the way of giving my opinion. That said, here we go.

Dannielynn, daughter of Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead, celebrated her second birthday like most two year olds: on the cover of the September 23rd issue of "Us Weekly Magazine." I am probably one of the few people in America, or even the world, who doesn’t know the intimate details of Anna Nicole Smith’s life and her baby daddy drama. Just because the circus is in town doesn’t mean you have to go. I know the big picture, water cooler facts but if Anna Nicole’s life were to find itself as a category on "Jeopardy," I’d lose.

Consequently, I don’t know anything about Larry Birkhead, but seeing him hold his baby daughter like a pay check, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was gazing into the eyes of an oily parlor snake. After the untimely deaths of her brother and notorious mother one would think a concerned father would want to give his child a quiet life outside the media spotlight. Instead Larry is all too willing to do a splashy photo shoot and discuss the minute details of her young life with a national magazine. Did I hear somewhere that Daddy Larry sold pictures of his daughter at her mother’s grave? Somebody please tell me that’s an urban legend.

One can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Dannielynn. How good are her chances for a normal life when her own papa pimps her out? How will the father-daughter relationship fare when she goes from happy toddler to sullen teen? Thankfully, she was born into money and she’s gonna need it. The media has shown us over and over again – Britney, Paris, Lindsey – that money and fame can fix any problem, ameliorate any hurt and gloss over any short coming. Technically, money doesn’t actually fix your flaws as much as it makes the people around you more willing to overlook them.

I really hope I’m wrong. Already destined to live a life in constant comparison to a mother she’ll never know, maybe Dannielynn will grow up without the desire to be part of the circus her Dad is hard selling tickets to. But with Larry at her side I get that nagging feeling that we may see Dannielynn on a future season of "Celebrity Rehab." Perhaps we’ll get to read her "Daddy Dearest" tell all book, if her father doesn’t beat her to it.

I paint a terrible picture of a man I don’t know. He can’t possibly be all bad. He’s probably a way better Dad than Darth Vader. Vader tried to kill Luke (Skywalker). Darth Larry just wants to sell photo ops to the highest bidder. Maybe he knows he’s got to strike while the iron is hot; get as much money as he can before the kid grows up and emancipates herself from his vampiric clutches.

I hope Dannielynn will not become that old, lonely, wealthy heiress, who falls for a dashing young man. The one that charms his way into her heart and will, which inexplicably upon her death leaves him the bulk of her estate. Now that’s magazine cover quality stuff.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Financial Fairy Tales

Slutty Wachovia & The Big Bad Wolf
© 2008 Leighann Lord

In a clear sign of our current economic woes, bank robberies are up 50% in New York City. According to the statistics the best NYC bank to burgle? Wachovia. Last year half its branches were robbed. This year, 10 out of 24 branches have been hit and thieves have gotten out the door with the money every time. Jesse James would have been proud. So, if you need a couple dollars, but forgot your pin number, head on over to Wachovia.

Thankfully, my bank hasn’t been robbed enough to make it into the top 10. I suspect it’s because they give away free coffee. Customers come in, transact their business, have a free cup of coffee, sit down on the comfy couches and plan to rob Wachovia.

The New York Police Department doesn’t credit the criminals with this increase in successful robberies. They claim that in the effort to be more open, warm and friendly, banks have become way too lax about security. Translation: They were asking for it. The banks are easy and Wachovia is a straight up slut; giving it up to any bad boy who walks through the revolving door with a gun and a note.

Is it really fair to blame the victim? Maybe Wachovia had a less than ideal upbringing: An absentee father; a disinterested mother? Low self esteem? Let he who is without a dysfunctional family cast the first stone. I’m not saying Wachovia doesn’t bear some culpability here. You can’t leave the doors unlocked after 6pm with money piled up in the lobby for the taking; but a little help and understanding from the authorities would be nice.

It’s been a really bad week overall in the financial world. The government stepped in and took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I’m a little jealous. I have money issues. Where’s my bailout? Where’s my financial do over?

The two CEO’s lost their jobs but that doesn’t seem like enough. Shouldn’t they have lost their homes as well? I like the cosmic justice of that. They should lose their homes and watch their stuff being put out on the side walk. If they ask for help, they should be told to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

We’re all deeply invested in who the next president will be, but in a way it doesn’t matter; Democrat or Republican. Same crap. Different suit. The person to keep your eye on is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. That’s the guy who’s in charge of the money. When he sneezes people buy stock in Kleenex.

The new guy, Ben Bernanke, is okay but I miss Alan Greenspan. He’s sexy in an old wrinkly white guy kinda way. Whenever I saw him on TV he always looked exhausted and disheveled; like he could open every speech with "Hello, I’m Alan Greenspan and I haven’t slept in 12 years. I can’t talk long. The euro is kicking my ass." And by God, that’s how the Chairman of the Federal Reserve should act. He should look like he’s walking the wire of high finance and counting every penny.

I don’t know why but I felt economically safe when Papa Greenspan was on the job. I’d like to think if he was still in charge he’d be able to steer us through this economic fiasco. He probably wouldn’t have allowed us to get into it in the first place. Greenspanie did in fact sound the alarm – albeit right before the release of his book "The Age of Turbulence" – but the market couldn’t hear him over the roar of their own greed.

I cringe when people say that the housing crisis was caused by homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgage. Does that mean slavery was caused by people who couldn’t run fast enough to evade capture? The crime of the former was hoping that this was their shot at the American dream of home ownership and not reading the ultra fine print on their crooked contracts.

The beauty of predatory lending is that the big bad wolf doesn’t need to blow your house down anymore. He just overvalues your dream home, sells you a mortgage you can’t afford, with a variable rate you can’t keep up with, and then sells it off to respectable companies that should know better. Sometimes the biggest robberies are an inside job. "I’ll take Lehman Brothers for a thousand, Alex."

Talks are hot and heavy to rescue the 158 year old institution, but don’t hold your breath for a personal bail out. If you’re lucky, your parting gift will be a tee shirt that says, "I Bought a No Money down House and All I Got Was this Crappy Credit Score." See you at Wachovia.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


Really, America?
© 2008 Leighann Lord

“You know what the difference is between pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick.” -- Sarah Palin, Republican Vice Presidential Nominee

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years." -- Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential Nominee

“The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces.” -- Maureen Murphy Former Illinois State Rep. (R)

I’m not sure who I’m more disgusted with right now, the Republican Party or the media. Are they serious? Barack Obama should apologize for his “lipstick on a pig” comment right after George Bush, senior, apologizes for “No new taxes.” and Junior apologizes for deceiving the American people about weapons of mass of destruction. The difference is the lipstick issue is a non issue.

We don’t have much time left between now and November 4. We certainly don’t have it waste on silliness like this. I want to hear about healthcare, education, housing, energy, and why spinach and tomatoes are trying to kill me.

If we’re gonna go there, let’s go there with gusto! Let’s talk about lipstick. If ever there was an industry in need of government regulation it’s the makeup industry. Let’s start with price regulation. Why does the same tube of lipstick cost $5 in one store and $8 in another? How about the elimination of false claims – “Look better!” Than who? “Feel better!” Than what? “Look years younger!” Really? Exactly how many years are we talking? Two? 10? 20?

You can’t buy a cup of coffee in this country without being warned about it’s hotness and yet makeup comes with no directions whatsoever. Nothing. Zip. Nada. You buy at your own risk. That’ll change the minute someone shoves a stick of lip liner up their nose.

We could also stand a little government oversight on lipstick color. When you buy it at the store the package says it’s pink, but looks peach and it goes on purple. Iraq, Fannie Mae, and tainted food supply be damned. Let’s get serious about makeup. Who’s going to lead on this most serious of issues? John McCain? Barack Obama? Tyra? The American People need somebody to take a stand.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Angry Black Woman

Oh, So It's Like That?

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I like to think of myself as a nice and likable person. Logically, I know it's impossible for everyone, everywhere to like me all the time. Some will. Some won't. That's life. It's a numbers game. One of my favorite books, "The Four Agreements" says, don't take anything personally but sometimes it's hard not to.

Even when someone doesn't like you, they usually have the good manners not to show it. That’s not being two faced, that’s diplomacy; besides, open hostility is no way to go through life. It's become so rare that someone tells me by word or deed that they dislike me that when it happened recently it caught me off guard. While at a gig a few weeks ago I met an industry colleague who's dislike for me was blatant.

I, of course, rationalized her behavior. As Frieda Friendly and I were introduced, she gave me a tepid handshake. Hmm, maybe she's germaphobic. She didn't offer me the perfunctory polite smile. Tooth ache? No eye contact. Shy? And although she muttered a terse, "Nice to meet you." I could see it wasn't nice for her at all.

What sealed the deal was when I saw she had plenty of teeth to flash and personality to share with everybody and anybody there but me. She froze me out so completely I could have died of hypothermia. I thought perhaps this was an isolated incident, but when I ran into her again a day later and said hello, she assiduously ignored me and seemed angry that I had even spoken to her. Seems pretty personal to me.

As far as I know this was our first meeting so I don’t know where any of this was coming from. I began to wonder, "Why doesn't she like me? Why do I make her so angry? Is it something I said; something I did?" It could be anything. It could be nothing. I could look like the chic who stole her ex or she could dislike me by proxy on behalf of a friend. Maybe something about me just doesn't sit well with her. It happens. And sometimes people don't need a reason. They just don't like you and that's all she wrote.

It isn’t really wise to put too much thought into this. The mind can posit all kinds of questions, and lacking real answers, fabricate them. That’s how drama gets started. Better questions may be why do I care? Does it matter? Do I really have the time and energy for this? No, probably not.

Another one of "The Four Agreements" is "Don’t assume anything." I realize now, that’s exactly what I did. I assumed since we were the only two "Sisters" in the group at our initial meeting that we’d share an automatic comradery. And in a way we did. We are both members of the Angry Black Woman club.

A Svengali like comedy club booker once told me he thought I was "a very angry person." I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but that would have given too much credence to his theory.

The image of The Angry Black Woman is iconic bordering on stereotypical. Everybody gets mad, but nobody does anger quite like us. That's our thing. We nurture, cultivate and unleash it at a moment's notice. Black Women go from zero to mad in a minute. If our anger was a car it would be a Lamborghini.

Most people remember and reminisce about happy times. Black Women fondly remember the angry times. "Remember that time you pissed me off and I wanted to kill you? Whew, that was great!" We Angry Black Women don't believe in closure. That's some new age nonsense that doesn't apply to us. For us anger is like air. We live, survive and thrive on it.

Paradoxically, many Angry Black Women are also Good Christian Women, trying to get and stay right with the Lord. God asks that we forgive, and we try our best to do that, but we don't ever forget. As a matter of fact, Black Women make excellent historians because of our amazing memory. No matter how old the transgression we can call it up and relive it with immediate intensity. The combination of instant anger and total recall is why most men find it difficult to argue with us.

My Dad complains – not to my Mother, of course, - that sometimes they go to sleep at night and everything is fine; and in the morning my Mother wakes up mad at him. He has no idea why. It could be his snoring but most likely it's again a matter of memory.

Men have great short term memory. This helps them argue about what is happening right now. Women have great long term memory which helps us argue about what happened yesterday, last week and last month. When my Mom wakes up mad she has probably remembered something my Dad did years ago. She won't get around to being mad about what he did yesterday until next year.

I'm amazed that more Black Women aren't serial killers. It's a natural fit: We're angry and amazing multitaskers. We don't kill however because being mad at someone is lot more fun when they're around to feel your fury.

Where does all this anger come from? Is it nature or is it nurture? I certainly get a lot of my surliness from my Mom. It's common to see girls at play with hands on undeveloped hips, necks cranking, eyes rolling, and teeth sucking giving somebody what for in picture perfect imitations of their momma's and aunties.

I, however, think we're born with it. Ever have a baby girl who can't talk yet, stare at you with a very intense look on her face? You know she's thinking about something serious. And she is. She's thinking, "As soon as I learn how to talk, I'm gonna cuss you out."

Sometimes you'll see a random Happy Black Woman. She's usually young. In place of the traditional scowl she is smiling. Somehow the poor thing has gotten separated from the group and is way off message. Other Black Women will look at her and wonder: "What's she so happy about?" And an Elder will look on and sagely say, "Humph. Give it time."

They say it takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown. With all the scowling, the average Angry Black Woman has enough strength in her facial muscles to bench press a Buick. It's not that we can't smile -- Miracles do happen -- but a frown is our default face.

I must confess, I haven’t been going to the Angry Black Woman meetings as much as I used to. I’m at the stage in my life where I realize anger – constant anger – is enervating. It saps my strength, increases my stress, and undirected or unresolved accomplishes nothing. I’m not saying I don’t angry. I do. It’s a habit and I’m good at it, but before I turn myself into a weapon of mass destruction I light a candle, take a breath and remind myself that I don’t have bail money.

So ultimately I’m not mad at Sister Frieda. Several years my junior, she’s just getting started on her anger journey. I can only hope her immaturity, inappropriate behavior and un-professionalism don’t get her into too much trouble. Next time she may not be so lucky. She may meet the fellow Angry Black Woman who says, "Oh, so it’s like that?" takes up gauntlet and proceeds to beat her ass with it. My professional opinion? Give it time.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

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