Sunday, January 31, 2010

Preparing for The Middle East: A Shopping Opportunity?

The outpouring of love, concern and kudos about my trip to the Middle East has been amazing. Here are the answers to the top two questions you've been asking:

Are you nervous?
Not really. I went to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan back in 2002. Marriage and growing up in a dicey neighborhood has really prepared me.

Are you excited?

Honestly, I didn't get excited until I got the list of things I needed to have for my trip and realized this was a shopping opportunity. My favorite purchases so far have been a serious pair of combat looking boots made by Converse: All black, zips on on the side, very sexy.

Oddly enough, the hardest thing to shop for has been calling cards and cargo pants. If you want to call Europe, Canada or Mexico, there are calling cards galore, The Middle East? Not so much. L
ooks like I'll have to get that on base. Thank goodness for my BlackBerry.

And apparently you have to know somebody to get a decent pair of cargo pants. I finally had to settle for a pair men's cargo pants that I found at H&M. In general, men's sizes seem way more straight
forward. The numbers on the pants correspond to actual waist and leg measurements. Fascinating. Women's sizes use some arbitrary numbering system that corresponds to no measurement in reality. A size 6 could easily refer to shoes, rings or pants. But maybe the clothing manufacturers are smarter than we think. If they labeled and sold women's clothing with real and relevant measurements, we might never buy clothes again.

Will you be shopping in the Middle East?
Quiet as it's kept, it's one of the reasons I'm going. Leighann Lord: International Shopper!

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. January 31 - February 9 she'll be performing for the troops in the Middle East through Armed Forces Entertainment. Check out her other upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Voting on the Rebound

Playing the Field or Playing for Keeps?

© 2010 Leighann Lord

The voters of Massachusetts have spoken, tossing aside stand-in Democrat Martha Coakley for Republican hottie, Scott Brown. It is nothing less than a Twilight Zonian moment to picture a Republican sitting in the seat that Senator Ted Kennedy held for 46 years. Many are painting this as a referendum on "Obamacare," anger over the economy, and a general anti-incumbent consciousness, but it may not be that deep. Maybe Massachusetts just wanted to get out of the house and play the field.

For better or for worse, what the Democratic Party and the People of Massachusetts had, could be considered a marriage. At the very least it was a long-term, committed relationship, maybe too long. No matter how good a relationship is, it's natural to wonder what else is out there that you might be missing. Even if Marsha – I mean, Martha – hadn't run the worst campaign in Christendom, the citizens of Massachusetts were ready to put on their party shoes and hit the dance floor with just about anyone other than a Democrat. They voted on the rebound and Scott Brown just happened to be there.

Massachusetts was adventurous and vulnerable. Brown was young, sexy and said all the right things. It was pretty much a wrap when he uttered the now infamous, "It's not the Kennedy's seat, it's the People's seat." Hearts and minds were a flutter with all the excitement that new love always promises. And none of the Cyrano de Bergerac's that came to speak on Marsha/Martha's behalf could say anything equally as endearing.

And somehow it all feels vaguely familiar. Is Massachusetts but a microcosmic replay of the 2008 presidential election? Weren't we all (at least 52.9% of us) trolling around with our hearts on national sleeve wanting something, anything different? As Dr. Phil would say: "How's that working for you?"

Fresh and new always feels so much more fun than been there done that, but there are no short cuts to building a good relationship. You can put the work in either on the front end, with a long courtship and vetting process, or on the back end with lawyers and lobbyists. Either way, you will work.

The courtship is over and we are getting to know our President. It's been rocky, but we're working on it. Massachusetts will soon have to do the same with their Senator. The Republicans are probably hoping they can turn this one night stand into something real. Hopefully, The People of Massachusetts won't roll over in the morning and panic; belatedly wondering if anyone thought to wear protection.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. January 31 - February 9 she'll be performin for the troops in the Middle East. Check out her other upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, January 18, 2010

At Least Reid Didn't Call Obama a Nappy-Headed Ho

© 2010 Leighann Lord

"Well you have some Black in you don't you?" The conversation had been going along rather harmlessly when out of nowhere the question of my ethnicity popped up. Much to my bewilderment, the last few years of my life have been marked by people assuming that I am biracial. I am not. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Is this part of Barack Obama's legacy? Will people assume that all smart, sexy, black folks have one white parent? Should I have taken offense?

When I informed my casual conversation partner that both my parents were Black, (brown to be exact) she seemed honestly perplexed. "With your light skin, green eyes, nice hair and freckles? Really?" Yes. Really. Historical miscegenation is funny like that, continually manifesting itself in the generational gene pool.

America has a hair trigger when it comes to race, perhaps because in the past actual triggers have been involved. Our spidey senses are fine tuned to slights, missteps or blatant insults. With attorneys, commentators, pundits and bloggers at the ready, the national conversation hasn't been this heated since the 60s.

When Senator Harry Reid was quoted in the book "Game Change" as privately saying America was “ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’” our conversation turned into a shouting match.

I am surprised someone on the Senator's staff didn't clue him in: "Sir, the Darkies don't like it when you call them Negroes." If we are ever going to openly talk about race, or more correctly ethnicity, we have to know that unintentionally "in-artful" statements are going to be made. I, for one, am relieved that Senator Reid didn't call Obama "a nappy-headed ho."

The President, being the gracious man that he is, accepted the Honky's apology so its time to move on, right? Maybe not. The question remains, although the Senator's statement is offensive, is it true? Would a darker skinned, colloquially speaking Barack Obama have ascended to the presidency? Would he even have made it into the primary?
There's a time and a place for everything and America seems to prefer its dark skinned, thuggish looking, rough talking Negroes to be athletes and entertainers not politicians. Love of stereotypes seems to stop where policy making power starts.

It might be interesting to know how many people secretly wish that Obama would be more of a rough neck on foreign policy. Would Thug Life Diplomacy fare any better than the cowboy variety? Would our terrorism problem be over if the President personally threatened to roll up and bust a cap in Al Quaeda's ass? Could Lil' Kim convince Kim Jong Il that "All we want to do party, and buy everybody at the bar Bacardi?" Heady stuff. I think at the very least, Senator Reid's comments have opened the door to "Black in America 3." I wonder which Negro dialect they’ll use. I guess it’s time to dust off my Ebonics dictionary.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform Friday and Saturday, 1/22 & 23 at the Comedy Zone in Warwick, RI. Check out her other upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mama Needs A New Pair of Boots

© 2010 Leighann Lord

I have a great pair of all-weather boots that are wonderfully warm and waterproof. In the aftermath of the big snow storm before Christmas, I had no reservations about tramping through the giant slushy puddles that pooled in Chelsea’s crosswalks. As last minute holiday shoppers in stylish but unsuitable footwear gingerly tiptoed around looking for the shallowest places to cross, I strode confidently into ankle-deep water at the corner of 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue. I felt the icy cold liquid seep rapidly into my boots, dampening my socks and chilling my toes. Apparently, Mama needs a new pair of boots.

It's been a long time since I've shopped for functional footwear but I only have two criteria: warm and waterproof. My now defunct pair have served me well for quite a long time. I think I've had them since the Clinton Administration. Although it's time, I'm sad to see them go.

A good friend suggested I try This is a great website. You can search by shoe type, size, and even boot height (ankle, calf, knee, thigh). I trolled the site just to see what was out there, and my choices seemed to be warm OR waterproof. The warm boots looked like they’d be sponges in the rain and the waterproof boots looked kaleidoscopically grotesque, more suitable for circus wear. I now added a third criterion: the boots had to be black. Multicolored clown shoes would not do. I found one promising pair, very stylish but when I clicked on them for a closer look I discovered they were more than $400. A nice reminder to also narrow down my search by criterion number four: price.

Despite fast delivery and ease of return, e-commerce cannot compare to the real-world thrill of the shop. I love to hunt, touch, try on and then take home a newly acquired possession. So, I began my live search at one of my favorite discount stores, The Burlington Coat Factory. Alas, the minuscule boot section was picked over worse than the all-you-can-eat salad bar at Sizzler.

I tried JC Penny but their boots were high on style and low on function. Feeling the slight pinch of panic, I dashed over to Macy's. While the calendar may say January, the people who brought us Christmas in September would soon be decking out mannequins in bikinis. By Presidents' day we'd be finding flip flops faster than Ugs.

Goal in mind, I went to the first Macy’s shoe salesman I saw and asked to see their cold weather/waterproof boots. He blinked, bit his lip and hesitated. Not good. Then led me over to a far corner of the department. "This is all we have," he said. It was small but still the best selection I'd seen so far. I found two pairs I liked but both were out of stock. What’s the alternative, my Dad’s galoshes?

As I began gearing myself up for a holy grail type search, pondering where I would go next, I saw them: My New Boots. Manufacturer? Cougar Sport. Style? Cutie Pie. Color? Black. Cost: Nowhere near $400 and on sale. Could this be love? The tag on the boots promised warmth in minus five degrees Fahrenheit. The slogan: "Splash Through it All in Comfort And Style" had me salivating. This was meant to be.

In slow motion the salesman emerged from the store room holding not one but two boxes, one in my size and the other one size up. After trying them on I chose the latter knowing I'd be wearing them with a pair thick wool socks to be named later.

I’m not a big fan of Winter but I’m watching the Weather Channel waiting for news of the next big storm. In its wake I plan on slipping on my Cutie Pies, returning to the scene of the crime and strutting through the crosswalk at 23rd and Seventh. Mama's got a new pair of boots! But I’m no newbie to love. I'm thrilled but not crazy. Just in case, I’m keeping the receipt.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform Sunday, 1/17 The End Of The Week As We Know It with Scott Blakeman at The Tank in NYC. Check out her other upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.