Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Come on Everybody Let's Do the Conga

Well, I suppose my recount of my Grammy trip would be incomplete without including the actual "day of" the show. I'll have to say, these last three posts are so out of my character... too much about me! However, I am writing them per request, and I'm glad to at least have the experience in writing. I forgive you if you're about to hurl from reading all about ME! :)

Funny... being in L.A., you're on Pacific time, but L.A. keeps all of its events (for the most part) on Eastern time -- meaning L.A. moves all star-studded events to earlier times so that they can coincide with "Prime Time" on the East Coast.

So, because we were involved in the pre-telecast, which started at 12:30 (3:30 EST), we had a lobby call at 11:30am. Something about getting ready for an evening out at 9:30 in the morning is just WRONG.

Normally, if I have something exciting to get ready for, I love the hours of prep and relaxation leading up to the departure. I like taking my time, having enough time to get my hair right, taking a bath to relax, sipping a glass of wine, etc.

Not on this day... On January 30, 2010, I woke at 9am and had 2.5 hours to be ready to go. Don even mentioned that he would not be able to wait. He enforced that I REALLY NEEDED to be READY when the limos arrived. Ok. No pressure.

As Don got his shower, pants pressed, shirt touched up, etc. (guys have it so easy, but us girls sure do have fun with our complications!), I was trying to relax and hurry all at the same time. This isn't really possible or reasonable for that matter, not when the event you're going to is pretty much a "once in a lifetime."

At any rate, I got my shower, dried my hair and began the curling of the hair and the application of the makeup. I was nervous about the makeup. I had several new products in my lineup, and today was the day that I had to "do the smokey eye" all by myself!--No Karee :(

I'm not much of a makeup person. Don't get me wrong, I like the basics: foundation, blush, lipstick and mascara. It's the extras that I don't do (or at least not very often). Today included the extras: eyeliner, eye shadow, highlighter, concealer, waterproof mascara, etc. I managed to get it all on in all the right places. My hair cooperated and did it's thing, and with the help of a good dose of hairspray, some spritzes of my favorite fragrance and a reasonable amount of Hollywood Fashion Tape, I was ready to go by 11:35am.

Our day was so much fun. We climbed in our limos and headed to the Staples Center with our first stop being the Convention Center for the pre-show. Bill Miller, the artist that Don was there representing, was up for Native American Indian Album of the Year.

The pre-show was much more electric than I thought it would be. There were bukoos of round tables adorned with white table cloths scattered around the lobby. Each table was filled with food, and on either end were open bars (hmmm, it's NOON). This perk came with your ticket. We grabbed some water (no alcohol yet), a bite to eat and headed in to find a general admission seat.

Bill's award was about halfway, maybe less, through the show. He WON! We were all ecstatic for him. After his acceptance speech, we headed with Don and Bill's publicist, Lesley, for media interviews (interpret: RED CARPET).

The Red Carpet itself was highly secure with poker-faced (yes, I know) guards sporting the little in-ear walkie talkie things. They were stationed every few feet or so to keep the riff-raff (me included) off the main drag of the carpet. For those of us, like me, who did not have security clearance, we were only allowed to walk down the edges of the carpet behind lovely fenced barriers.

Don, Lesley, Bill and his sweet wife Renee, all hit the piece-de-resistance in stride and headed for multiple interviews along the way: People Magazine, Jimmy Kimmell Live (which we, and me, were on--thank you Beth and Robert!), FOX, E!, etc. My group and I strolled along gawking at all of the hullabaloo and having a great time.

Somewhere along the way, however, my group headed on out. There were guards continually "shooing" us along---"don't loiter," they would say. "Keep moving. Keep moving, folks." Well, I managed to be overlooked for a while (I kept moving, only I would walk a little ways down the carpet and then a little ways up the carpet. No one knew if I was coming or going.) Someone eventually spotted me and my antics and told me that I needed to move on.

"Moving on" was not an option for me at the time. Staying on or near the Red Carpet was my plan. So, I headed over to a tall, handsome, African-American security guard who had kindly "overlooked" me loitering. Indulge me here for a minute b/c I really did pour on the "poor me"...

As I approached Mr. Handsome, I widened my eyes and looked up at him with that lost puppy dog kind of look; then I told him that I needed to get with my escort who was currently ON the red carpet. I said, "Can you please help me get back with my husband. I am all alone without an escort, and I really don't know where to go or what to do. I would really appreciate it if you would walk me down the carpet to (the safety) of my husband (grin and bat lashes)." At first the handsome young man said no. I pleaded again, "Please. I'm all alone."

In this case, second time's the charm. He held his arm out. I took it, and he walked me down the carpet (AAAHHHH!!). "I made it, Hollywood. I made it!" (JK).

As we were walking the carpet, he asked me, "Now, you're not gonna go all crazy on me and try to attack one of these stars (there weren't really that many stars worth attacking at the moment, anyway)?" I assured him that I would remain calm, cool and collected, and he had nothing to worry about. So, he delivered me right up to Don, and I spent the next 20 minutes or so "cruising the carpet." From there, we spent the next couple of hours escorting Bill to many more press opps and pictures...lots of fun.

I'm pretty certain that I just missed out on seeing some of the big stars on the carpet, but I was having so much fun going backstage at the Staples Center, watching the media and pretending to be "someone", that I really didn't care who I was missing.

From our Bill's media interviews, we went to a rooftop party hosted by AEG. At this party was everybody who was anybody behind everybody who is somebody. Make sense? Basically, this fashion bath was full of all the people who helped the stars get where they are today. There was wonderful food all around, waiters offering up platters of champagne and an open bar sponsored by Patron (all the events seemed to be sponsored by one liquor company or another).

Interestingly, while we were at this party, we ran into some friends from the music biz at home. Don also introduced me to Jay Cooper. Jay is about 82 years old, and is still a practicing attorney at the L.A. branch of Greenberg Traurig. Jay represents Seinfeld, among many others.

I loved chatting with Jay. He was quite sharp for 42, much less 82. Jay told me about a framed letter that hangs on his office wall. Ironically, this letter is NBC's denunciation of Seinfeld as a viable sitcom. Basically, the letter pronounces the characters as pathetic and states that Seinfeld will never make it on TV... I love stories like that.

At any rate, the outdoor party was tented with massive tents each boasting beautiful crystal chandeliers hanging from their centers. There were lovely tufted velvet benches for sitting and all kinds of nooks and crannies to slip into for a little dining privacy. The balcony of the event overlooked the front of the Staples Center with a wonderful view of fellow Grammy attendees all dolled up.

After the party, we headed to our seats. To give you an idea of our seats, we held "gold" level seating. There were silver, gold, and platinum, I believe. The gold level seating was basically the first section of risers as you go around the venue. From the stage, we were about 1/4 or more around... not on the floor, not that close but an unobstructed, good view. The major PERK that came with these seats, though, was that my seat, next to the railing looked directly into a hall where ALL of the stars came in and out, in and out, in and out.

Suddenly, I was a star struck (it was fun watching everyone and trying to figure out who they were.). From my vantage point, I could easily call out to any one of the stars walking by, and one or another would look and wave. Fortunately, for me, there was a young married couple behind us who was able to recognize a LOT MORE stars than I could. All evening long, I looked back and forth at that hallway and the stage.

I got waves from Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman (not big news for my Franklin friends b/c there are many sightings of these two in and around town; plus, Mom does yoga with Nikki), Taylor Swift, Jeff Bridges, PINK, Quintin Terantino, Beyonce, Jay-Z, and others. I waved to Lady Ga Ga (strange, strange), the Jo Bros., Justin Bebor (?), and many others that were probably someone, but I didn't recognize.

The show was fantastic. It was four hours, but it just flew by. We got stuck in the hallway when we went for a break during commercial. So, we basically missed the Taylor Swift/Stevie Nicks duet and the Michael Jackson tribute. Apparently, Taylor didn't sound so hot on TV; however, ya gotta give the girl a break. She was singing with STEVIE NICKS. Surely they keyed Taylor down a few notches which made it very difficult for either of them to harmonize with the other...

My favorite act all night, though, was PINK. Pink's performance live was absolutely stunning... so beautiful. I was captivated with her and her amazing ability to sing on key hanging from the ceiling, upside down, spinning and soaking wet! Come on. That's talent.

Aside from the fact that the performance was genius, she pulled it off without a hitch. However, some might have been a little miffed with her for getting them wet. Those haute couture dresses come with hefty price tags.

When Pink spun above the expertly dressed, water sprayed all over them. You could visibly see and hear the whole "stage left" section of the audience swell up in their chairs and gasp. That was kinda cool.

Following the show, we headed to the after-party sponsored by NARAS. We were among a select 1000 or two that went to this exclusive party! It was HUGE. If there were any big names there (I'm sure there weren't), we never saw them. Nonetheless, it was a blast.

The ballroom where the pre-telecast had been held was turned into a literal circus. Everywhere there were clowns, acrobats, "tall" men (stilts). There were tents with performers, fire, juggling. It went on and on and on. Food was everywhere you turned around and drinks were flowing. By the way, the alcohol sponsor of this party was Ultimat Vodka. Ultimat also had free picture taking available. You could get a photo (or two or three) taken with your date, friends, etc., and they would print out a 4x6 black and white on the spot (pretty cool).

There was also a live band at the party, and the volume was cranked up. At this point, I had been in my lovely platform (4.75") heels for 9.5 hours. My feet were hurting... mostly b/c of the shoes I had worn the day before. Anyway, I had a couple of blisters but was "hangin' in."

Down the hall from the Big Tent party was the Red Jazz room. This party room was a 1/4 the size of the other room but with the same food and drinks and a live jazz band playing. The room was lit with red bulbs, hence the name. We joined our group here for a little while.

While in the Red room, Don got a call from Lesley, the publicist (and our sweet friend). Lesley had gotten us on the list for another party. Don and I were up to the challenge as were Bill and Renee. So, the 4 of us headed out of the convention center. However, on our way out, we got our gift bags... very cool Moroccan Oil beach bags filled with Moroccan Oil hair products. Okay, I know it's not a Grammy nominee gift bag, but, hey, it's the best darn gift bag I've ever gotten :)

Gift bags in tow, we headed to The Conga Room! "Come on everybody, let's do the Conga!" Remember Sheila E?! Well, even if you don't, maybe you've heard of Jaime Foxx?

The Conga Room was just a block away, still in the L.A. Live complex. Jamie Foxx and Sheila E. own this club together, and there they were jammin' on stage when we walked in! Talk about a Par-tay... The stage was packed with singers vying for a turn with the mic. Brothers and sisters were dancing like only brothers and sisters can dance -- GREAT! Everybody was havin' fun at this party. We may have stuck out a little... me with my blonde hair and white dress and Bill in his Native American garb... nobody seemed to mind.

We stayed long enough for me to forget that I didn't own any groove of my own... We hit the dance floor (or I did anyway) and danced til Jamie and his entourage left the stage... and then we danced (or I did) a little more.

Exhausted from the day, the fun and the over-indulging, (not to mention the fact that it was 3am! 5am CST!) we headed to the hotel and crashed for a short night's sleep.

All in all, the trip was amazing. As fun as it was; as unique as it was; as "once-in-a-lifetime" it was, nothing compared to the welcome home from our Fabulous Four, our gifts of a lifetime!

Gifts come in all kinds of packages... big, small, sometimes unrecognizable or overlooked, but no trip to the Grammys, Hawaii, the Oscars (wouldn't that be fun?!) or even the Moon can compare to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the perfect love of the Father.

It is with this love that we are given the opportunity to love in return, to rejoice in all things, to give thanks in all circumstances (even when we're not at the Grammys) and to pray without ceasing.

May you go in peace to love and serve the Lord, and "come on, baby, let's do the Conga" along the way... there's always room for rejoicing!

Out of the Woods

I just found this unpublished blog post of mine... it made me laugh today... maybe it will do the same for you!

Last night, I gathered the children around to tell them about Mrs. E who had fallen and broken her leg (femur). My friend RoseAnne was with her at the hospital and through her surgery... pretty much staying by her bedside for the last 48 hours+.

Anyway, I told the children that 95 year old, Mrs. Elizabeth Crunk had fallen and broken her leg. She had to have surgery and had only recently been brought into recovery. The kids asked me, "How is she?" I responded, in accordance to what RoseAnne had told me, "Well, she's not out of the woods yet. We need to pray."

The kids stared at me like they'd seen a ghost -- expressionless (this is all happening w/in seconds). I'm actually confused by the looks on their faces. It's almost like horror. Then Baker spoke up and said, "Is she still in the woods?!" Then Eliza, "Did she break her leg in the woods?" "Mom, why was she in the woods? How did she break her leg in the woods?" The questions were coming so fast that I had to burst out and say, "She's not really in the woods!" "Well, where is she," the kids said. "She's in the hospital!" Well, this raised even more confusion, and the kids were "demanding" an explanation for "she's not out of the woods yet."

I was flustered and laughing, and it was hard to explain "not out of the woods" to them. I finally was able to compare it to "she's not completely well yet." They were pretty confused, but came to understand what I meant. It was funny and sweet, and prayers were given from the mouths of babes for Mrs. E who was not literally in the woods. :>)