Friday, September 19, 2008

Things That Only Happen to Me: Story 1 of 1000

It is not my intention to get into my personal life on this blog, but for the matter that is this entry I must mention that the year anniversary of my relationship with my boyfriend was this past weekend. As an anniversary gift, he set me up at a spa he’d seen highlighted on a “best of NY” type of show. The gift was incredibly thoughtful, especially considering I’ve been a mess physically for the past month or so. I will not mention the name of this spa because I would not want to discourage anyone from visiting it as long as you’re okay with a couple of things that to me were entirely embarrassing. So, with no further adieu, here is the (incredibly long) story of my spa experience…

Upon entering the reception area I was immediately warm and fuzzy with smells of lavender and citrus. The foreign woman behind the counter (we’ll call her The Russian) greeted me in a way that relayed she’s a total bitch but trying extra hard to be welcoming. She guided me up a walk way set to resemble a wooden bridge, while piling slippers, towel, robe and disposable bathing suit onto my open arms as if preparing me for battle. By her guidance I was hurried through the locker room area (an open space, not a room) and didn’t understand what the rush was since it seemed I was the only one around. After leaving my belongings in a locker, I found a room with some sinks and mirrors, closed the door behind me and changed into the “bathing suit”. Its fabric reminded me of the caps worn when entering a medical facility. Clearly, it was not flattering to my shape.

I emerge from the changing room and find The Russian. After asking her where I’m supposed to go, she rambles off, “Go shower, then go to the coal sauna, then bath, then steam room and then the body scrub.” This was all in one breath and I lost her after “shower.” I just smiled and headed for the back area where the showers were hidden by a contorted wall of tile. As I stood there, about to turn the shower on, I suddenly wondered why I even needed to shower, I was about to go sweat in a sauna. So I stood there for a minute and then quickly shut it off, toweled off and placed my robe back on. Walking out to the open area, a small Asian lady met me by the sauna and stripped me of my robe in one quick movement. Standing there in the shitty makeshift bathing suit, I asked how long I was supposed to stay in the sauna. She instructed 5-10 minutes, then opened the midget-sized door to the stone cave and ushered me in.

The heat hit me immediately as I made my away across the cave to the back where I sat on a wooden bench. There was no one in there but me and so I breathed in deeply and told myself to relax. This works for about 2.56 minutes when I suddenly realize this place is HOT! I look at the ceiling, at the bench around me, at the floor. This is supposed to be soothing, I remind myself. But, in just a few more minutes I give up and exit the sauna, running into The Russian once more. She instructs that I can go into either pool, but that cold would be better for me and then leaves immediately. I touch the colder pool with my toe and instantly notice she forgot to categorize it as “ice pool.” F’ that! Into the warm pool I sink, accompanied by floating lemons on either side of me. I take a deep breath… And then start flicking lemons across the pool with my index finger. Within moments I’m bored and apparently not good at this relaxation thing.

I climb out of the pool and ask a small Asian woman if I can go to the body scrub and she tells me I must do the steam room first. With a sigh I head towards it. I nearly lose my breath as the door closes behind me and must remind myself this is not a Korean water torture method. I last 30 seconds and exit. I find the same woman once more and ask her, almost pleading, “Body scrub now?” She looks at me baffled, turns to another woman and speaks in a language I don’t understand. I’m sure they are telling each other what a worthless piece of crap I am and how they wish they could throw me out. But, they do it with smiles. I am directed to the back of the loft, winding beside walls of stone and bypass a woman lying on a bed, covered in towels and adorned with a cucumber face mask. That looks nice.

A wall of bamboo rods separates the woman from another area with two beds where I am directed by the Asian woman behind me. She directs me to the bed on the left and tells me to lie down. I take off my robe and begin to climb onto the bed when she tells me, “Take clothes off.” Huh? “Naked,” she clarifies. I’m not sure if she saw the gulp go down my throat, but I’m sure she heard it. She doesn’t realize she’s talking to someone who goes into a bathroom stall to change while in the women’s locker room. “Naked?” I repeat. She just looks at me. I slowly begin to strip, all the while coaxing myself into believing this is supposed to be an angelic experience.

Within moments of me lying down, she begins to throw buckets of hot-warm water over my body. Maybe she wasn’t “throwing” necessarily, but I was too busy staring at the tiled walls that were beginning to resemble the shower room of a women’s detention center. When I’m soaked she starts rubbing what feels like Brillo up and down my body. While completely uncomfortable, I count down the moments until she’s done. “Over,” she says. I jump up thinking she means the torture is over. “No, no. Over (she makes a hand movement) other side.” I try not to frown and flip over.

Now my mind wanders and I imagine that as I lay there some fictitious woman who I loath because of her perfect body type gasps at the sight of me and says “Lauren, you’re so brave to go commando like that.” As I look up at her I see that she is in a bathing suit. I try to cover myself up but clearly I have nothing to do that with except my hands. “Brave?” I question feebly. “Yeah, you didn’t take the bathing suit option.” As she walks away giggling to herself I would shout (straight out of a Seinfeld episode) “Option?! There was no option!”

I blink myself out of the nightmare and am fully relieved to find out that end of the massage which followed the scrub signals that we’re finished. I'm handed my suit (as if that were relevant anymore) and head to the shower where it all started. This time it’s actually useful. Fully cleansed and ready to depart, I wrap myself in only my robe and step out of the shower area where I see… men! Several of them! They are robed and moving around the loft, paired with women who I’m assuming are their girlfriends, wives or mistresses. Without looking anyone in the eye, I shuffle towards the locker area where a couple surrounds my locker. It’s immediately obvious to me that I’m the only single person in the establishment and fear an oncoming invitation to a threesome. (What is this place?!) Looping around the now coed locker area, I find a room all the way in the back that has a door and so I jump in and lock it behind me.

When I resurface the woman that tortured, err scrubbed me, finds me and ushers me to a bar area where she hands me warm lemon water and a plate of fruit. I’m allergic to fruit. I’m afraid to mention this. But, as a few moments pass, I see that she’s aware I’m not eating. I try to explain I’m allergic to fruit and she looks at the same woman she spoke with earlier about me. Smiles and takes the fruit away. Then she sticks around and it dawns on me she’s waiting for a tip. Only problem is I didn’t think of this ahead of time and so I only have $10 in cash on me. I roll up the money in a way that makes it hard to see what the roll consists of, hand it over to her and make a run for the exit.

At the reception area I press for the elevator and wait anxiously for its arrival. I was unaware that The Russian was behind me until she said, “Great surprise wasn’t it?” How incredibly ironic for her to ask. I smile and quickly jump into the elevator ramming the DOOR CLOSE button with my thumb.

My boyfriend meets me downstairs and immediately asks, “Are you okay? You look like you’ve been violated.” He’s distraught to think his gift may have turned out badly. I reassured him that his idea was a perfect one and it’s not his fault that I’m not comfortable being naked. Over Korean BBQ dinner I tell him the entire story and he’s in tears with laughter which causes me to laugh to the point of stomach pain. Not only does the experience make for an entertaining story, it will probably be the most memorable anniversary gift I’ll ever receive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fashion Rut... Fashion Fix

As I saw summer quickly coming to an end, I was immediately aware of the pending danger that is the fall fashion wardrobe. Knocking around through my closet, I came up with maybe one decent outfit and then a large collection of... crap. Pants were too big, shirts too small and shoes that were borderline orthepedic (eww!) But before I went out and blew a bunch of mula on things that would end up being mismatched I had an idea. If celebrities have fashion stylists, why can't I?! And where better to find someone offering such a service than on

Instead of telling you the story behind the whole process, the winning stylist (I screened about 5), Rashad Webb and I, decided on making a video to document the experience. Below is episode one, an introduction to us both. Check it ;)

Episode 2 will be coming soon... Are you ready to see what's in my closet??

(If you'd like information on Rashad, feel free to email me at and I will make sure to introduce you.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Interviewing Friends

When you're a journalist, a social butterfly and frequent mover through the entertainment industry, there's a strong possibility that you'll find yourself working on a magazine piece that involves someone you know. It's happened to me more than once, but the most memorable was a Bombin' Magazine piece on my friend, Bobbito Garcia.

"Bobby Fisher" of Bombin' Magazine was well aware of my friendship with the legendary b-ball/DJ/sneaker guru/entrepreneur and elbowed me in the rib while asking, "So you think you can get Bob to do a piece in Volume 3?" After consoling said rib, I replied, "I could ask." I hit up Bob who agreed to the piece as long as "you're the one writing it." Ah! Scary! But, I said, "Fine." See, here's the thing with writing. After you get passed your first artist/celebrity interview, the first time your editor rips apart your writing and you think you'll die and then you realize after re-reading what you submitted "Damn, since when did I lose consciousness of grammar?", after all that... it becomes easier. Almost routine... As long as you're not dealing with someone who knows you.

As I sat there prepping for the interview I blanked out. I couldn't think of an angle or damn thing worth asking. I knew a lot about Bob and I couldn't get out of that mindset to remind myself that not everyone knew what I knew and they would want to know. I had to pretend I knew nothing about Bob. It helped that as we drove in the publisher's Range Rover up to Bob's house, the crew (consisting of EIC, publisher and photographer) spit around random ideas, helping me to settle on asking Bob completely random associations of events and sneakers. When we arrived at his home, I was ready... sort of.

As we greeted him hello and he hugged me tightly, he mentioned how much he was looking forward to having it be me to do this. He said, "I get asked the same questions all the time. It's cool to know someone who knows me is doing it this time and has the edge to be different." GULP! We settled down at his dining table and I set up my voice recorder, starting with the most obvious questions as to where he's from and all that wonderfulness. "Lauren, you know where I'm from," he laughed. "Bob! Let's pretend I don't know you. I just need this all on record so I can pull it all together when I write." He laughed and gave in. The interview continued with laughs and quality answers. When it was all done I felt both relieved and content. Bob thanked me for such a fun interview and I left happy.

As an interviewee, Bob had provided me with entertaining information that helped me bring together an enjoyable piece. As a friend and mentor, he had given me the confidence to create something fresh and original. Thanks, Bob!

Friday, September 5, 2008

So I'm Not Very Political...

... but how can anyone deny the significance of this election???

Before I begin the storytelling, let me set a disclaimer: I do not usually analyze politics, I've never before taken the time to watch a debate, and November 4th will be the first time I've ever voted (and I've already had the opportunity to do so twice.) Maybe it's these points combined that make me the best person to state what's obvious since I'm fresh to the subject at hand.

For the duration of 2008 thus far, through my non-political perspective, I had only been aware of one battle: Hilary vs. Obama. McCain who? Who cares! There was a historic milestone developing around the race for President that had nothing to do with the Republican party. For months I saw the ads, heard the debates, and viewed the increasing involvement by my generation in determining who would take the Democratic nomination. Personally speaking, I believe an Obama/Hilary ticket would have been phenomenal, but after seeing them at odds I knew it was not possible. Regardless, those months were legendary. After all was said and done I had one lingering fear. The fear that all the efforts to bring change to our government while simultaneously changing our history by the addition of either a female or African American President, would be pointless because the majority of Americans may not be ready. And what is so disappointing is that the values and standpoints of either candidate could be entirely irrelevant if a voter couldn't see past gender and race lines. And it would be in that case that McCain, who just sat silently and unseen all along, could just sweep up the nomination for President. But, then the conventions happened...

First, the Democratic National Convention where Hilary and Bill rocked regardless of the fact that they won't be able to call the White House home again in 2008. Where the audience was young, vibrant and ready for something new and something smart to happen with this government. And where Obama gave a speech that moved me. It wasn't that I was trying to let it move me either, I was just listening and suddenly felt my eyes burning with happy tears. I'm not normally that dramatic, seriously. Maybe I don't need to see an extensive resume in politics to feel that someone knows what they are talking about and that, more importantly, the person I'm listening to commands change and immediately makes me want to do something about it. If he can do that to me, someone who normally could care less about paying attention to anything discussed on CNN during campaign time, then I have no doubts about his ability to get others to listen. Sometimes engagement is the strongest force someone can have. You can talk politics all day but if I'm not engaged from the initial moment, anything you end up saying is entirely lost.

Then came McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for VP. I could end this whole blog entry right now. His choice has to be the most absurd thing I've ever heard. But, I'll get to that in a second. Let me touch on the Republican National Convention. Probably the single most boring event I've ever seen on television where everyone is either 1)old, 2)white, 3)wearing a ridiculous hat, 4)looking stuffy in suits and ties or worse, 5)all of the above. Where was the diversity? And I'm not sure if anyone noticed but any non-white people in the audience looked completely staged. Anyway, the audience isn't necessarily the important part. The speeches were what solidified my belief to continue being anti-Republican. First off, why doesn't anyone come right out and say "Bush ****ed up!" Instead, we hear how the Republicans will "change" the state of the country. I'd have so much more respect for them if they would acknowledge their obvious 8 year mistake. I'll admit I didn't hear Palin's speech, but I was too busy learning her husband is part of a secession group that is looking to make Alaska its own country. Um, excuse me! (Hand raised) Isn't McCain's whole slogan "Country first"?? Ironic isn't it? Then there was the rest of his speech which I don't even remember except for that he's a war hero. I respect the man for that, he went through horrific ordeals as a soldier and deserves much praise... but that doesn't equal Presidential glory for me. Not to mention... were anything to happen to McCain during office a completely unqualified and totally off the wall person would then become President and have the greatest power in all of the world?? Oh wait, this country HAS been through that already. And have we not learned ANYTHING????? **Sigh**

Bill Maher and Jon Stewart are my heroes. Check out this clip from the Daily Show that says it all...

OBAMA '08!!!

(9.11.08...After this post encouraged several conversations on the matter I came to this point of being reminded why I've never been that interested in politics to begin with... No matter who wins the Presidency, the odds of me being directly affected, whether immediately or ever, are not tremendous. The President isn't going to change my career path, or help my loved ones with the issues affecting their lives. The most I (or anyone) can do as a citizen of this country is to live my life how I want/need to and do my own personal best to make this world a better place. Because, when it comes down to it, we're the only ones that can make real change happen. )