let the christmas season begin!

I just got back from driving to Burbank and back, for a four hour meeting. Which doesn’t sound like much, except that now my head hurts. Although THAT might just be a result of too many days of drinking in a row.

We acquired a new client, officially, last week. I am the account manager on it. And that’s not even the reason for the lack of posting lately. The lack of posting is because I’ve been too busy going to holiday parties and recovering from holiday parties to write about the holiday parties. And there have been some really good ones too.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last Thursday was my own company party. I was late because I’d had to go home and nap first. I was exhausted from worrying myself out of sleep over a final client wrap up that day, for a completed campaign. And then when I did get there, everyone was already half drunk. I managed to get in a few bites of meat on a stick (very tasty beef on skewers) and a strawberry-basil martini before heading outside to watch the gift exchange.

And the gift exchange itself, the Secret Santa gifts followed by the company gift random giveaway (a few people got DVD players or iPod Shuffles) was interesting mostly because a) everyone was drunk and b) because we had to hold it outside. On the street. In Beverly Hills. Nic’s was too small to contain that much hilarity. Many tourists were probably confused by the twenty of us standing around cheering when one of the traffic guys opened his Chia Pet.

I skipped out after that, quickly and quietly, to cut over to the Strip for my roomate’s company party at the House of Blues. Andrew works for Pandemic, one of the biggest independent video game companies, and they seemed to have cash to blow this year. They had rented out the House of Blues club, and opened the guest list to whoever their employees wanted to bring. So I found five of my friends standing around inside – and my roomate ordering shots at the bar.

The Pandemic party was actually a lot of fun. And that wasn’t just due to the Jack and Cokes I was drinking. They had a cover band. They had presentations. And, because the theme was “dress as your favorite movie star”, they had a red carpet outside with people screaming for autographs, and photographers snapping pictures of everyone who came in. Now I know what it would have felt like if I’d been a celebrity instead of the average Everygirl I am.

The next day, I wasn’t terribly hungover – but I was tired. That’s why I ditched the 310 ride (the Westside version of Midnite Ridazz) and slept. Because Saturday, we had my friend Keith’s party. And those are always a late night. Usually, I get home around 4 or 5 from those. Saturday was no exception. I walked in at 10:30, and walked out just before four in the morning, and there were STILL people sitting around the fire when I left. Keith and his wife throw fantastic parties though – they serve real-food snacks (shrimp, vegetables and dip and artichoke dip, instead of just bags of chips in bowls like most of us) and set out enough liquor to get a floor of Totem Park lootered. It’s usually good times had by all.

Keith also set up a gift exchange, but his was a White Elephant. Everyone brought wrapped gifts, and chose to either randomly pick one, or to steal someone else’s. Much like that episode of the (American) Office from two weeks ago. I picked out a wrapped gift – and got a Simpsons BBQ implements set. Which no one would dream of taking from me. One guy suggested possibly stealing it, and the whole crowd went, “oooooOOOOOoooh.” He gave up and stole another gift. “You don’t take Simpsons items from Jillian,” he was told. Everyone knows that.

At one point in the evening, a few of us were discussing our connexions to the party. And I was explaining how Keith “works with Anton, who is my cousin. Well, sort of. His mom and my mom have been best friends for forty-five years, since they went to Van Nuys Junior High together, so he’s LIKE my cousin.” Then Anton’s college roomate pointed out, “do you realize how many people are here because of that?” And he was right. My chance meeting with Deena at that Ralphs in Venice eighteen months ago tied all her dozens of friends and connexions in with me, and then I brought those people together with Anton’s friends. And so, if my mother hadn’t recognized a kindred spirit and best friend for life in Anton’s mom in 1959, back when they were in tenth grade, half of the people at Keith’s party probably wouldn’t have been there.

I told my mother that the next day when I talked to her. A butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo and there’s tornadoes in Amarillo; a couple fifteen year old girls bond, somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, and forty-five years later, many many people are brought into each others lives because of it.

Sunday, I woke up late, half-assedly worked for the day, and then put on my workout clothes to go to the gym. And just as I pulled on the second sneaker, my friend Deena called to invite me to go see the amateur boat parade on the Venice canals. I jogged to meet her, so I got in a couple miles of exercise, and then watched the parade. I’ll post the photos on the Flickr account tonight, but it was very very sweet. People decorated their boats, with lights and garlands, with Mardi Gras themes and “MAKE LEVEES, NOT WAR” signs, with a giant rubber duck and the slogan, “DUCK BUSH”. It wasn’t the big yacht parade of the Marina, but a real Venice event. And hundreds of people were out to watch: all the canal residents and their visiting friends. The canals and bridges were lined with people. Families came out to watch from their yards on the edge of the canals. It reminded me of the Oak Bay Tea Party, as a community event, where everyone just steps outside their front door to watch and cheer and say hello to their neighbors. It made me happy to see.

And then I had to go home and swap my sweats and T-shirt for a black formal dress. It was time for a certain Poker Site’s company party! This was a black tie affair at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey. This was a big deal. This was an upscale event. This was a beautiful hotel, with a view of the Marina, and valets in hilarious top hats.

I was nervous as soon as I showed up though. I know few people who work at my freelance poker client beyond the executives. I’m never there. I’m a freelancer, and I stop by once a week, and that’s usually for meetings and my paycheck. But I made friends with some of the wives. And I chatted with some of the people from the other agencies that I knew from my days when that poker client was with my old Agency. Once I got over feeling awkward, it was fine. Although it’s always hard for me to explain how I work there (“I was the online media buyer when they were with my old agency, and then my old agency let them go because the parent company banned online gambling clients, and then I left the Agency, and then I went to work freelance, and THAT’S why you’ve never met me before.”)

And I took Anton as my date (like any nerd, I took my cousin as a date to the formal), and he was playing in the poker tournament. With Howard Lederer, who he didn’t even recognize, but that’s besides the point. It was while he was playing that I went off to gossip with other girls. Eventually, the four-course dinner was served, the chocolate fountain and cigar rollers came out, and the bar kept going. That last bit is why, when I got home around midnight, I still had one martini too many in my bloodstream. Like any good Cinderella, I was home by midnight so I could be at my day job the next day. Despite the protests of the director of marketing (my boss) and the company president, I explained that while all their people could all come in late, I had to be at my day job, and they started at eight-thirty.

So that was the weekend. Lots and lots of parties. And last night, I was out again. I went to Gotham Hall for a party that a local sci-fi entertainment magazine was throwing for “House of the Dead 2”. I had ONE vodka-soda, but I didn’t specify that I wanted the Ketel One, so I think I ended up with house vodka. Which is the only explanation for the headache I have today.

That, or Burbank.

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