Friday, June 24, 2011

Partying On the Roof With The Haitians!

The Chinese Farah Fawcett
And what a first hectic month it has been! Last night marked the anniversary of the first day in which I started working with Dr. Judy this summer. Whoa. Time flies. And, incidentally, yesterday was one of the most memorable days I have spent as Dr. Judy's intern. During the day, I churned out various blogs for Penguin's Idiot's Guide Blog and also brainstormed with Dr. J about an idea I have that I am about to pitch to The Huffington Post. After several cups of Dr. Judy's secret homemade coffee (well, it's not so secret anymore, since I loved it so much and had to suck the ingredients out of her-whoops), Dr. J and the other interns and I decided we needed a night out. As it so happened, Dr. Judy had just received an email inviting her to a fundraising event entitled 'Africa Unite For Haiti', which was located on a rooftop penthouse on the Upper East Side.  
Working hard, but playing harder-Only Dr. J
       We only decided that we were going to attend the event a few minutes before it started so Dr. J and the gang got into serious intern mode. Dr. Judy chirped "We all need something to wear!" which was marginally true, since, as we four interns happen to be very hard working women's college grads and students, were clad in semi-work clothes and were deftly rubbing the sleep from our eyes, since we had been typing rampantly for the past five hours, we were in desperate need of wardrobe re-vamping.
     Dr. J then chose a different outfit for everyone from her person wardrobe. Mao (seen above) is looking ultra-rad in sunflower pants and a thin, sheath-like blouse. She borrowed my red lipstick to add a finishing touch to her retro seventies look. Rawr!

Then, Dr. Judy re-created Lebo, since she was initially wearing a casual t-shirt and jeans. Dr. J took a turquoise blouse and shawl and did her magic. Lebo went from bland, hardworking intern, to spicy cha-cha post grad, who's ready to rumble. Then, it became my turn and despite the fact that I am really not into fashion or getting glammed up in general (I would much rather call it a day in my bed with a Mary Gaitskill novel and oversized tee), I had loads of fun being dressed by Dr. J. First she handed me a slightly large skirt that made me feel as though I had fins instead of actual legs (hence the mermaid reference in my caption) that coordinated fairly well with my blouse. Dr. J then draped my neck with different necklaces and urged me to put more red lipstick on (like I needed anymore..) 
Posing before we hop in a cab

Breathtaking, yes?
Dr. J sampling the exotic tequila
Then, off we were! We arrived at the Penthouse on the Upper East Side right before the fundraiser started. It was hostd by Dr. Muri Raifu and Busie Matsiko-Andan. The event was supporting The Global Syndicate and its Haiti Project and since Dr. Judy is about to travel to Haiti with the other intern, Becky Houran (a recent Smith grad), this was a great event for Dr. J to be at! They had an open bar and many performers and (can I just say) and incredible rooftop view. While Dr. J and Beck (who is specifically working on Dr. J's Haiti Project entitled 'Happy Dolls,' which is a project that primarily works with the children who were victims of the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan talked to many of the guests who were also organized in the overall betterment of Haiti, Mao, Lebo and I made multiple trips to the open bar and checked out the fabulous view. As I've stated almost every single day that I've been in The BIg Apple-how lucky am I?
Dancing all night long: The Dr. Judy story
The gang having an unforgettable night!
After an amazing performance Kassia and a few others, we socialized (AKA ate amazing authentic African and Caribbean cuisine and had fun with the open bar) and was able to sample some of the amazing tequila the caterer offered us. Then, the dancing began. Dr. J had it going on! As well as the other interns. Lebo taught us some authentic South African dance moves and before we knew it, everyone was crowding the dance floor. We stayed until almost midnight, chatting with everyone, dancing, having a great time. It was truly one of the most memorable nights of my life and it would not have happened without the one and only Dr. Judy. Cheers, all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day Two in the Big Apple!

Little Girl in the Big Apple!
 Day two as Dr. Judy’s intern was slightly less hectic, but just as exciting and fun!  I arrived at Dr. Judy’s office around eleven, per usual. Dr. Judy was busy on a conference call with the media committee planning an upcoming conference this fall in Bonn Germany of NGOs affiliated with the United Nations – how intense and amazing is that! -- while I was fortunate enough to read some of the various chapters and psychology newsletters articles that past interns had published with Dr. Judy during the summer they worked for her. What an amazing opportunity they had. Many of the articles they had published were very media-oriented and also extremely accessible to a broad audience of people who were not directly involved in psychology. Since they were not all formal psychology journals, I was fascinated to note that they were not written in such scientific language that not everyone would understand, as I had expected, making it more possible that I could see myself writing something with her like this; what an exciting opportunity for an aspiring writer like myself.. From the heaping pile of papers and books on her desk, Dr. Judy chirped: “You’re going to be publishing with me, so get ready.” Day two and here I was; I had already been around CNN, had a general conception of the city that never sleeps, and was awaiting the time in which I would be able to begin publishing articles in various books and journals. Winning? I think yes.
Again. How lucky am I?
After I ran across the street to get lunch for Dr. Judy and I, we encountered a minor printer malfunction and dealt with it as best we could (hilarity at its absolute finest). While I was waiting for Dr. Judy to make a few phone calls, so we could catch a cab and attend the annual three-day long BEA (Book Expo America) conferences, I did some obligatory snooping around her eclectic office space. I mean, how could I possibly resist? Every inch of wall space was filled with awards, videos, DVDs, CDs and  bookshelves,  overflowing with books about psychology, relationships, dating, sex, international relations, the United Nations and much, much more. A virtual feast of interesting things. While I was doing my nosey intern searching, I came upon a hilarious deck of cards entitled “Pleasure Playing Cards.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and take a picture. Only Dr. Judy.
Dr. Judy and I at the Andrew McMeel Publishing
Around early-afternoon, we flagged a typical New York yellow cab – one of many I would get into over the summer -- and sped off to the BEA conference at the noted Javitz convention center on 34th Street and 12th avenue. As we walked into the large hall of the BEA, I was completely overwhelmed by all the activity and different publishing stations that consumed the venue. Eventually, though, after walking through many of the exhibits and picking up different information about the publishers, specifically the ones Dr. Judy had worked with regarding her books, the whole event seemed more manageable.
Coincidentally, Dr. Judy and I passed the Andrew McMeel publishing station, and I remembered that my mother was actually good friends with a relative of Andrew himself. What a small world, even in the Big Apple.
 At the BEA-in my element.
After walking up and down the aisles a bit more and saying hello to publishers Dr. Judy knew and even bumping into people she had worked with on the radio station many years ago, we decided to call it a day and headed back to Midtown on the BEA bus. When we arrived back at her office, we had coffee and discussed further blog issues and some ideas Dr. Judy had for me to write about regarding my recent breakup with my long-term boyfriend. One of the quotes she said that really stuck in my head was: “By being able to convert your pain into your writing, you are literally processing those feelings and purging the hurt ones.” I knew she couldn’t be more right.
As I was about to walk out Dr. Judy’s office, she hailed me down and handed me a set of keys. The inscription on a bar attached to the chain read, “1st CLASS SHRINK.” Of course.  That made sense!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So How Lucky Am I?!

The view from the Greenroom where we watch Dr. Judy on CNN.

Ah, the first day as Dr. Judy’s intern will forever be imprinted on my memory. Being the native Midwesterner that I am, arriving in the Big Apple was quite the experience. Worried about being overwhelmed, I was fortunate to get safely to my Upper West Side apartment and settle comfortably in to my new abode – a clean and welcoming bedroom in a nice apartment I’m currently sharing.  Though it was not without a challenge, since I had to climb five flights of stairs to get there, carrying two extremely heavy luggages. Hello, New York.

I spent an exceptionally relaxing weekend bumming around Manhattan, sampling various restaurants located near my apartment, all the while wondering what my first day as Dr. Judy’s intern would turn out to be like. As Sunday night approached, so did queasy stomach, since I had never interned for anyone before, especially not in a city as inherently alive and foreign to me as New York. Would I ever survive the first day?

Dr. Judy and I after her interview at CNN.
It turned out that my first day as an intern was nothing like I would have ever imagined.

I arrived at Dr. Judy’s bustling Midtown-located office promptly at eleven in the morning, clad in beige (purposefully being neutral, not knowing what I would face), and slightly trembling in my flats -- which would subsequently give me horrible blisters within the next three hours. Dr. Judy greeted me with a warm hug. As I sank into her massively comfortable couch, I heard a high yelp from the heaping realm of her desk: “ Just got a call from CNN. I have to be on live, tonight.”

I gasped. CNN! Really, Drop everything, go right now? Welcome to Dr. Judy’s world. Things happen and you have to be ready, ASAP. This was just the beginning.

First, Dr. Judy and I had to rush off to  lunch at The Friar’s Club, where we met the two public relations agents who work with Dr. Judy’s “Idiot’s Guide” books. They are Bre Whelan and Megan Moriarty. Dr. Judy has three in the series: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to A Healthy Relationship, and the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex. Lunch was riveting, as we discussed how Dr. Judy’s books are still among the most successful Idiot’s Guide Books in the series, being still top sellers (now in later editions after being first published years ago).  It was even exciting since we talked more about ways in which I can further my writing career by posting blogs and tweets about what I am reading and learning from the books. I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to converse with two very knowledgeable people regarding matters such as how the emerging influx of technology is affecting the publishing and literary world (even though that is not necessarily such good news  for the publishing industry), and how one can successfully stay afloat in a market that is progressively becoming more and more dominated by technological devices, such as Kindle and ebooks.

After lunch, we ventured back to Dr. Judy’s office and began to research the topics she was assigned to speak about on telvision later that day, on HLN’s show ISSUES with Jane Velez Mitchell, a brilliant investigative reporter Dr Judy has known for years when they worked together at WCBS-TV. The topics were about the recent suicide of an award-winning composer named Joseph Brooks (who wrote the song “You Light Up My Life”), who has also been charged on alleged sexual assault counts.  The other story is about the recent incident of an eleven year old girl being raped, infected with an STI, and impregnated by her YMCA camp counselor. With only getting an hour or so to compile an adequate amount of research, the limo from CNN was already outside Dr. Judy’s office, ready to pick us up for her show.

No sooner had we arrived at the Time Warner Center, signed in, and were going in through security, then the famous VIEW talk show host, Joy Behar (who also hosts a shown on HLN) was coming out and warmly greeted Dr. Judy.  I thought, “Just another day in the life of Dr. Judy!” 

Upstairs, while Dr. Judy was getting her makeup done, we spoke about the less-than pleasant issues she was about to comment about on air. I loved the atmosphere of the CNN make-up room, since people were constantly coming in and out of the room, chugging cups of coffee and rapidly talking about the recent news-coverage.

Dr. Judy getting all dolled up for CNN!
It was all so perfect since I have a love affair with news-related environments. The addictive way in which journalists and experts passionately speak about the various topics they are covering instills an energy in me that compels me to want to also throw myself into a certain project or issue that interests me. Needless to say, the greenroom (the word for the room where the guests wait to go on) was just as interesting as the passion-infused makeup room. The view was magnificent, overlooking Central Park.  I was able to watch Dr. Judy live on the television screen in the greenroom, with Bre and Megan with whom we’d had lunch and who were also enthused about being there.. It was an incredible experience, being able to see Dr. Judy speak concisely, yet in great depth, about the topics we had previously been researching. She was, in my opinion, the most authoritative and intelligent speaker, since she brought up certain points that were especially unique and undoubtedly relevant to the Joseph Brook’s suicide. One of those impressive points Dr,. Judy made was that it was very unlikely that Joseph Brooks was capable of physically wrapping the towel they found tightly wrapped around his neck after he committed suicide, since he had not been able to uncap a juice bottle he had purchased publicly an hour earlier. This was a point that no one else had brought up, which I thought was very brilliant.

After CNN, we (Megan, Bre, Dr. Judy and I) piled into the limo and rushed to The Actor’s Temple, where I had previously gone to purchase tickets to see a tribute they were putting on for the legendary Broadway dancer,  Gwen Verdon. It was a wonderful end to the day-being able to sit ad relax with a room full of artsy New Yorkers who weren’t afraid to shout out loud and tell incredibly nostalgic and beautiful stories about their experiences with Gwen.  As I watched the various dancers who knew and loved her, I thought to myself (in the sage, yet relevant words of Ice Cube): today was a good day.