The 2009 Women’s Conference: Architects of Change

Bair, Schwarzenegger, Branson, Roberts
Sheila Bair, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sir Richard Branson, Robin Roberts

Imagine handfuls of power players in the international arena at one conference. Now imagine all those power players in one place to celebrate and further one theme: Architects of Change. The California Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women is a tradition in addressing the issues that concern women today and I couldn’t have been more honored to be asked to cover it as a blogger. Thanks to Lean Cuisine – one of the main sponsors of this estrogen extravaganza – I had front-row access to the main stage, got to sit in on panels and peruse The Village during this event, which sold out in literally the first hour tickets went on sale online last July.

The Conference – which originally was only one-day long but due to demand and subsequently a desire to meet that demand – started off Monday night with “A Night in the Village” which was basically sponsoring vendors showcasing their products and making their PR push. There were free makeovers, samples, raffles, coupons, discounts on product and sometimes attempts to collect mailing list info galore. This was the night where I got the privilege to meet and hang out with fellow bloggers also covering the conference. Amongst them: Tara Met Blog, Stevie of LA Story, Sweatpants Mom, SoCal Mom, Silicon Valley Moms, The Girl Blogger, Elizabeth of Traded My BMW in For a Minivan and Sasha of Little Pink Book PR.

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Santa For A Day

Caroline sent out a last-minute email to friends to accompany her on a sleigh pass to SantaCon. I have to admit, it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences I just had to see for myself. If you’ve only read on blogs or heard on Japanese gameshows about mob pranks before then maybe you’re crazy enough to ever have wanted to be a part of the crowd. Just to see.

We started out on the East Side and the East Side we’d stay. If you’re going to fill 5 yellow school buses full of Santas chanting “Ho. … Ho. .. Ho. Ho ho ho ho hooo!” then streets better be wide enough to handle the obstruction. And that’s not even including the few dozen Midnight Ridazz Santas on their trikes beating us to each location. El Cid and 4100 bar near Sunset Junction were good first stops (or maybe that was the liquor store) with bartenders prepped and ready to tend to our afternoon habit.

We were even prepped with a song book of rewritten Christmas carols. All day, Santas spoke of Santas in the third, improper person. “Anyone seen Santa?” “He’s around here, somewhere.” Goodwill, cheer and merriment to all – including the “cheer” spread from our buses to pedestrians on the sidewalks. The scene was a spectacle. A day-long hootenanny. A study in … 21st century debauchery. We kept up on the digs through subscribed text messaging and were encouraged to hash tag our tweets (#lasantacon) for a searchable archive. Probably 1 out of 0.75 santas had his iPhone or Blackberry out at all times. Updating. Taking pictures and sending them via MMS. And then the cameras

I didn’t last all day. Okay, okay – I didn’t even last til late afternoon. My excuse was my company holiday party, but I was secretly glad to have it as an out. I missed out on uWink bar (:\) and Power House at Hollywood & Highland, Boardner’s and Jumbo’s Clown Room – with even an “after-party” at The Echo. Apparently, I also missed out on a concocted “snowball” fight outside the first location.

But I was honored to have been part of this mob, if even for only a little bit. Other than the lagging at the beginning for a straggling fifth sleigh, the experience didn’t disappoint. This is a recommended pub crawl that you should do – at least once. Check the nearest, upcoming Santacrawls here.

Other links:

e*star’s L.A. SantaCon Flickr Set

Caroline’s Santa Post (LAist)

The con is on – L.A. SantaCon, That Is (LATimes)

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Creep Factor

The issue with working amongst a 90% male work force (and one of your women representatives is not necessarily at the top of the totem pole) is that you essentially cultivate your career inside a bathhouse of testosterone. The guys are in their ties and slacks, sure, but you’d think with the talk that goes on inside here you were actually overhearing men’s locker room conversation. It’s gross.

I also enjoy a view that is of the Presidential Box variety, as my cubicle is in an open-air mezzanine area shared with only a couple other coworkers. My coworker, Chris, and I have turned it into a sort of peanut gallery. We’re removed from the actual boiler room (read: we have our privacy) but are free to spectate and heckle to our heart’s desire. And no one below knows what’s coming. 

To complete the picture of my workday, I have a sales job. Actually, I think almost every single career – including in academia – is a sales job at the core. You have a product, which you have to convince a buyer or otherwise consumer of that product that it’s your product that they want, in exchange for compensation. But this career is a sales job at the core and on every appendage shooting out from it. It raises the temperature past those of other careers – especially in this market – but I have reason to feel extremely blessed. With all the market drama that’s been going on – I can honestly tell you that with our niche, there is NO other place on Wall Street I would rather be standing. (No “Main Street” mention here – thanksforlooking.) It would be modest to say that the company is having a pretty awesome year.

But back to the boiler locker room dynamics.

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Today: Cut And Dye

Time to do it. It’s time to cut my hair. I’ve been making the declaration for about a week now – after I finally bit the bullet and made the appointment at the spa.

It’s been a serious year and a half growing it out. Prior to that was 4 straight years of short, spunky hair. It was fun. What with a cut every 8 weeks to prevent it from looking too bushy and grown out plus the daily product to keep it from looking like bedhead – it put a serious dent in my wallet. The decision to conduct the study in fiscal conservatism, while still achieving a new look, was easy.

In some ways, dealing with the new “look” achieved by simply growing one’s hair out was to just put it back up again in a sort of bun or knot. Of course, it always fell out precisely 27 minutes later because my hair is thick and I have a ton of it. The comments went from “cool” and “edgy” to “earthy” and “you, with the Pocahontas hair.”

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On Brothers And Men

Growing up in a family with no sisters and three brothers ultimately had a big impact on my life. They are all significantly (9+ years) older and therefore had all left the nest by the time I was in junior high. Actual memories I have of them were from my limited, prepubescent personal interactions with them. Hiding in trashbags, a badminton (or flimsy volleyball) net in the backyard, complaining about mowing the lawn, houses made of couch cushions.

After they left, my parents – and I – would fill in the following blanks as to who they were; that is, with my being the audience. That is the thing about filling in the blanks. When you don’t really know anything about a person, others can make them out to be whomever you want them to be. You can also project on them any sort of role you feel they need to fill and they won’t be there to dispute that portraiture. So though I never knew them as well as even one of their high school acquaintances, there was an extremely high bar that their absence created – even bars that weren’t true to life. But they were created for me to overcome. When I did – I got the violin scholarship, played last in the piano recitals – it would prove that I was worthy of being loved. I even fulfilled their role as lawn-mower, as I probably mowed the quarter-acre lawn more often than my Dad did after the brothers left the nest.

The absence of my brothers created a need in me that went created yet unfulfilled. I have always had the love and approval of my Dad, so I wouldn’t say I had your stereotypical “Daddy Issues” you always hear about in women’s magazines regarding sexuality and equating the aforementioned with approval. Also, my mother is not the girliest of the girly so female sexuality for the most part went repressed – or, shall I say unexplored for the moment. Instead, I had “Brother Issues.” I have had, for most of my life, a need to be accepted by men as peers – whether I admitted it or not. It was something I had never had, but wanted. It was something I could see beyond my reach. Continue reading

Are You Sure You Know What That Is?

SCENE XIV

Location: The main bar at Nic’s - a martini bar on Canon in Beverly Hills
Day and Time: Friday, 11:39PM, summertime
Music: Live jazz
Characters: B – married friend of E; Joe – guy in workclothes
Bystanders: E – friend of B; John – guy in workclothes, friend of Joe

JOE offers a handshake to B.

JOE
Hi, my name is Joe.

B shakes Joe’s hand.

B
Hi, I’m B.

JOE
What do you do?

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Chivalry Is Dead

It always strikes me as curious when a guy – yes, a dude – declares that “Chivalry is dead and it’s women who killed it.” The declaration seems to me an absolution of any guilt for the act of not, for instance, holding the door open for a human being with two X chromosomes. It seems to say, “Hey, don’t call me rude – it’s you gals who wanted it this way in the first place.”

I’m not mad at you.

Heck, I still remember the first time I overheard a girl, I think in college, complain to someone for not putting the toilet seat back down after he was done using the bowl. Even if it took the tone of a sister teaching her younger brother the social norms in life, it was a foreign language to me. Never before was I even aware that such etiqutte even existed. Put the seat down? In consideration of saving that job for a woman who – God save us all – might have to do that before she used the toilet? What are the implications of that, exactly, and in what other manner am I doing too much work for myself? Needless to say, I didn’t really wanna miss out on my own scoop of life – the part of it I was entitled to for being born with … less muscle mass, for one.

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Crazy Girls

“Well, that’s interesting,” I said. “What is it guys like about crazy girls? Is it in the same vein as being attracted to someone that’s unattainable? You can’t have her if you tried … or, Wow, she’s so unpredictible you just want her more?”

“Naw. I think it’s like, the crazier they are, the more guys are driven crazy or nuts. So, they just think that they love ’em more.”

I understood. “Ohhh… So like, it’s kind of a ‘hurts so much’ -type thing where the emotion is so strong, even though it’s a bad emotion, the drama makes them feel alive and intense or something. And it feels like love for some reason.”

“Yeah.”

“Got it.”

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Throwing The Bitch Hat

He, a very nice guy, courteously introduces us. And she smiles at me. It’s the kind of smile where her cheek muscles flex upwards but the corners of her mouthline move only a little. It makes her eyes look smaller, as smiles do. I can’t usually tell if it is difficult for her to smile or if she wants me to think she is, quite frankly, not going to try very hard at smiling.

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