Friday, June 4, 2010

The Purple Jacket Goes to the White House

Key West -- I bought the purple jacket back in early April on a rare trip to Miami. I went to the only Mall I know in a city of malls (I've come to hate shopping, though I'm not opposed to having pretty things. I just want them to magically appear in my closet with no effort on my part, when I need them). Alas, that's not how it works. So I walked into a snazzy department store where I seemed to be the only shopper on a sunny Sunday afternoon and explained that I was looking for a jacket - dressy but not formal - and not black. Oh, and it had to fit really well.

As I walked around with Jane, the salesperson, I spotted the purple jacket. I have a thing for purple. (Yes, still!) Jane pointed out that it went with a dress but could be sold separately. Can't remember the last time I wore a dress. And a purple dress topped by a purple jacket would be too much even for me. But I slipped on the jacket and voila - it fit perfectly. And even in my cargo pants, t-shirt, and Mephistos I knew it looked good. Nevermind that it was way more than I'd normally spend -- with George asleep on the grass outside the store, and a long ride ahead of us back to Key West, I figured if ever there was a time for fast, but pricey, this was it.

I had no idea at the time I'd wear the purple jacket three times during the month of May, starting with the New Jersey Hall of Fame, then to the Authors Guild gala, and finally, to the White House. Yes, that White House. Had no idea why we were invited to this reception. The invitation said something about celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month. Who even knew there was a Jewish American Heritage month?

But any chance to go to this White House was a chance I wasn't going to miss. I was once invited for dinner during the Clinton administration, and, in my Good Girl Judy mode, sent regrets because I was expected on the west coast that day where a series of meetings had already been set up. When my son heard he was beside himself. Don't you know an invitation to the White House takes precedence over everything else? Okay. Now I know.

It was seriously hot and humid in Washington on Thursday afternoon (May 27). Too hot for the purple jacket. But I wore it anyway. We arrived just before three. Who knew we'd be standing on line sweltering in the hot afternoon sun waiting to get through security? But once we were inside, it was so worth it. We didn't expect to enjoy ourselves (expected only to enjoy the experience) but we did!

Abigail Pogrebin got it just right in this piece.

We met so many fascinating people, doing all sorts of interesting things. And the smart, spunky Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Broward County, FL was there (someone I'd wanted to meet since I'd seen her on TV almost every night during the presidential primaries). I'd read that this celebration was her idea. Thanks, Debbie!

For a humorous take on the afternoon check this out: Heeb Magazine

But wait a minute, Josh -- we didn't see any food. Not a cookie, not a cracker, or a strawberry dipped in chocolate, let alone London Broil. We thought that was one of the jokes of the afternoon. What do you feed several hundred Jews? Champagne!

While I know the First Lady was in the ballroom, as was the Vice Prez, I didn't lay eyes on them. Can't even tell you what Michelle was wearing. Those in the know gathered outside the ballroom doors early, waiting for them to open, and got the up front seats. By the time we entered the only seats left were in the back. We did see Obama but that's because he was at the raised podium and Danny Schayes (7 feet tall) finally sat down.

The absolute best part of the afternoon -- Regina Spektor played and sang for us. If you don't know her music check it out now. She is amazing. It was a thrill to meet her and find out my books helped her to learn English when she emigrated from Russia as a child.

Regina -- I am your fan for life!

And that's it for the merry month of May and the posts that tell the story.
Thanks for checking in.
xx Judy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Key West -- During our three week whirlwind visit to New York and Boston, where we packed in more than I can even blog about, one of the most memorable events was being inducted into the Harvard Lampoon.

I am now officially a Vixen. And that's about all I'm permitted to say because it's all very secret.

When I paddle around this summer in a kayak that was christened Vixen back when Summer Sisters was published (remember Caitlin and Vix who called themselves Cassandra and Vixen?) I'll be thinking secretly, Hey, I'm a Vixen, too.

I can tell you this -- it was a dark and stormy night. For real. Buckets of rain and cold wind (so Boston). George and I were staying with Randy and when she saw the robin's egg blue leather jacket I was planning to wear, with the open work in back, she said, Kind of Michael Jackson for you, isn't it, Mother? Was it? Hmm... Wish I had a photo of the back of the jacket. I admit, it's outre, but fun to wear.

Both Randy and George came with me with the Lampoon's permission. They also were sworn to secrecy once we entered the castle. No kidding, the Lampoon is housed in its own castle on the Harvard campus. (Randy and George weren't with me for the official induction so only I know what really happened and I'll never tell except that it was dark and mysterious...)

For months I'd been emailing with Damilare, who extended the invitation on behalf of the Lampoon. I'd imagined a tall, exotic, female student
. The truth hit me when I asked if the evening was to be festive or casual dress. Whatever you feel like wearing. It really doesn't matter, was Damilare's reply. Suddenly, I knew Damilare was a guy! No woman would say that to another woman.

Judy with Damilare Sonoiki, and Courtney Bowman, current president of the Lampoon, outside the Castle.

And what a good sport he was when I told him my story. I love that this big, handsome guy grew up reading my books, already has book ideas of his own, and is part of the Lampoon. I think it's okay to say (at least I hope it is) that Courtney's parents met when both were on the Lampoon staff. I'll bet there were a lot of laughs around their dinner table.

Here's my official medal. So cool!

Thanks, everyone on the Lampoon staff, especially Damilare and Courtney.
xx Judy