So sorry for the absence. I'm on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time as I tend to some family stuff. Please check back in!
In case you're new to this story: I was invited to the Emmys, obsessed about my body, found a dress, spent a day in LA, and spent a morning doing my hair and make-up. Now I will tell you about the limo ride to the Emmys! Please pardon my excessive swearing! I'm just being honest yo.
At some point John had sent me an itinerary of the actual Emmys day: where to be when. Scrolling through the document was weird - it was so normal and clinical, full of logistics, as any itinerary should be, but nowhere did it say, "YOU'RE GOING TO THE EMMYS MOTHERFUCKERS! WAHOO!" So I said that to myself in my head and scrolled down to figure out where to be when. I was to go to the hotel lobby at 2:30 where the limo procession would pick us all up (there was 10 cars in total, just for the Daily Show) and I would be in:
Oh, WHAT THE?!
Um, okay, if you say so. I guess that works for me.
So I went to the hotel bar to meet up with John and my new friend Sarah and I found John expertly tying bow ties, of course. What CAN'T the man do? I don't know.
Sarah took these shots of us, which I will forever cherish because I love them SO MUCH.
Then we went to the lobby where everyone looked fabulous and I met Sam Bee and I worked hard at not falling over in my heels and a producer told me my tag was sticking out the back of my dress. Here is John taking pictures in the lobby.
At 2:30, right on time, limos drove up and we all shuffled into our assigned cars. Here is John Oliver and his wife Kate right before we got in. If you don't know about his wife, you should. She is a badass.
And then all of a sudden I was in my first limo ever, with John Oliver, Jessica Williams, and Larry Wilmore. I sat next to Jessica's sister and John H. and mostly listened to them be funny with each other for the next hour and a half. As we've already discussed, LA is huge and takes at least an hour to get anywhere you want to go. Add a limo traffic jam and it's a miracle we got there at all.
Here's what I remember about the ride: is my lipstick still on? Is it on my teeth? Are my bangs parting weirdly? Why are limos so weird and poorly designed? Why is there no booze in this limo? That's John Oliver! These guys are so funny, man, I wish I was funny like that. I'M GOING TO THE EMMYS MOTHERFUCKERS!
After a very long time it became clear that we were close to the red carpet because things were at a standstill and people appeared outside our windows in red jackets and white gloves.
I've tried to do the math about how many limos there would have to be for the whole show but it made my brain hurt so I stopped. But it must be like, hundreds and hundreds - like every limo in LA, right? Eventually it was time to get out and holy shit, I was getting out of a limo at the Emmys and it felt like when you get ushered on to a ride or slide or something and they just shove you as soon as you're on and there's no time to think, just go, go forth on to that red carpet sea of celebrity and just fucking take all the weirdness in.
There are two red carpets at the Emmys, did you know that? I didn't know that. One is for all the writers and producers and editors and the other is for, well, literally the famous people. So if you're a famous writer or producer or editor, you could be on that carpet too, but mostly it was for actors and A-listers and their dates, which would be me. Ahem.
We got out. We got in line. Lena Dunham was in front of us.
NO BIG DEAL.
Next post: Chapter Seven: The Motherfucking Red Carpet
I woke up on Sunday, Emmys day!, at 9:00 am, having gone to bed late and wanting to give myself as much sleep as possible. Here is the ugly view from my floor that morning:
I made coffee in my room, showered, and headed down to the lobby to meet a new friend, Sarah, a photographer and the wife of a writer for the Daily Show (we had met at the Comedy Central party the night before), who had an appointment at the same Drybar at the same time. We took a cab and discussed make-up and hair way more than I ever have before (she, like me, has very little experience with these things) and it was comforting to have her with me at the salon. As you know, I am a terrible coward and feel like a feral person most of the time, so hair salons are just about the least comfortable of spaces for me to spend time in. My brain starts spinning in an endless cycle of feeling like a fraud, not knowing what to say, not knowing how to communicate what I want, being afraid I won't tip enough, being afraid that I'll hate my hair, being afraid that I'll cover up the fact that I hate my hair, being angry at myself that I would cover up the fact that I hate my hair rather than ask for it to be fixed, and on and on. Having Sarah there was like having a little anchor of You Can Do This.
My stylist was young and peppy and nice and after I showed her a picture of my dress we decided on a messy side bun/ chignon thingy. Here I am in Drybar pre-hairdo:
If you are a woman and you have ever had your hair done in a style, like for an event, you probably know that the line between looking awesome and looking like you are going to prom in 1993 is very very thin. Sometimes all it takes is one overly curled curl hanging on the side of your face to push you into adolescent territory:
I was terrified of ending up like this: too much curl, too much product, too much prom. Luckily , I did not. I ended up like this:
I was mostly happy with it. Later I pinned some of it down closer to my head and pinned some of the loose bits up, but for the most part I was relieved and happy to have hair that didn't look like a bored 5-year-old begrudgingly did it for me as a favor. It cost $80 I think, plus tip, more than I pay for, oh, anything, but remember my weekend motto: this is what credit cards were made for. Sarah was still getting her hair did so I said goodbye and called an Uber (my first one!). I took it back to the hotel where I was ravenous and nervous and had time before I needed to start my make-up so I went to the hotel restaurant and sat alone (John was still sleeping I think - men! They get to just roll out of bed and put on a suit!). I was extremely aware of the balance between how much food I would need to make it through the day and how much food I didn't want to eat to make it into my dress so I resisted all the delicious sounding brunchy items that get covered in syrup and ordered granola with yogurt and enjoyed this terrible view.
It was about 12:30pm by the time I was done with brunch and I had to be in the lobby at 2pm to meet the Daily Show people and our limos, so it was time to get ready. At this point it struck me for the first time that I was going to the Emmys. Up until then it had been a fantasy, some totally disconnected surreal fantasy that had nothing to do with my actual physical human body going to the Emmys; the transition into reality was full of adrenaline and nerves, as if my body was reminding me that it existed and it was indeed going to the Emmys and would I please wake up and get on board?
I've thought a lot about why I was nervous since then - was it the famous people? What is fame exactly? Why are people famous? Why am I nervous around them? But I think it just comes back around to the fact that I am a shy and not-brave person; I would (and do) get almost as nervous going to parties with non-famous people I don't know. Add the fame layer and I am a wreck.
After I talked myself down a bit I started on my make-up. My friend Urjowan had taken me to a Clinique counter a month before where I had my face done and bought some products. She had also done my face herself at the first of the dress-trying on parties, and I had practiced several times since, so I felt like I had a reasonable chance at looking put together. The weirdest things I was about to do to my face were wear foundation and fill in my eyebrows. Foundation has always been a mystery to me because I have so many freckles; I just never knew what to do with it. Am I matching the color of my skin, my freckles, somewhere in between, and won't it just look like I'm unsuccessfully trying to cover my freckles? Also, filling in eyebrows - wha? Don't get me wrong, I am a deep appreciator of a good eyebrow. Deep. I notice them, think about them, and compare them to Kate Winslet's all the time. But filling my own in seemed beyond weird, like I had really entered some deep space make-up universe that is reserved for the movie stars of the 1930's.
Just for fun, let's run through the number of products I put on my body. I hope my mother does not have a heart attack.
- Deodorant (Secret)
- Body Lotion (legs, hands) (Nivea)
- Face Lotion (Neutrogena)
- Face Primer (Maybelline)
- Foundation (Clinique)
- Bronzer (Sephora)
- Blush (Sephora)
- 2 shades of Eye Shadow (Body Shop)
- Eyelid/brow Highlighter (Body Shop)
- Eyeliner (Milani)
- Mascara (Benefit)
- Brow Filler (Body Shop)
- Clear Mascara on Brows - to hold in place (Maybelline)
- Lip Liner (Revlon)
- Lipstick (Revlon, 006 Really Red Matte)
- Perfume (I forget, something not too overwhelming)
- Glittery Body Powder (Not sure)
TOTAL: 18, plus all the hair product
This whole regimen took about an hour. I can not imagine doing this every day, though I have to admit, I thought I looked pretty amazing. Not in a gross "I'm so beautiful" way but in a "Oh, right, I'm in my late 30's, things are changing, my features are fading and make-up sharpens the image, redefines edges, makes things crisper" way.
It was time to put the dress on and get downstairs! This was the easy part! Dress, shoes, earrings, bracelet, purse: done. I had obsessively packed and checked and rechecked my borrowed Chanel purse multiple times. Here's what you pack for a day and night at the Emmys:
- phone battery charger (so important you guys!)
- debit card
- Listerine strips
- granola bar
I was ready! It was 1:55! Now to see if I could really handle walking in these damn heels!
I woke up early Saturday, September the 20th, grabbed my bag, and headed for the BART (our subway system here in the Bay Area). An hour later I was at San Francisco Airport waiting in the awesomely awesome Virgin America terminal, secretly wondering if anyone else was going to the Emmys and trying really hard to keep from screaming, "I'M GOING TO THE EMMYS!" In all honesty, I was a little miffed that random strangers weren't coming up to me saying things like, "Are you going to the Emmys? You look like a person who is going to the Emmys!" I mean, couldn't they smell it on me or something? And then I saw this lady and remembered that I don't look like a person who goes to the Emmys and I never will.
The flight was delayed and delayed, which was sad because I had chosen the morning flight so that I could get there early and explore Santa Monica a bit, having never been to LA, but whatever. As long as I was not late for the Emmys, which was at that point 30 hours away, I would be fine. I could even drive there if I had to.
I eventually got to LA around 3pm I think. I don't travel alone all that much, so I was being pretty brave and digging deep into my well of resourceful pluckiness as I hailed a cab and got myself to the hotel. Yes, I just admitted to you that hailing a cab and getting myself somewhere is terrifying to me. I am not proud. The Daily Show (cast, producers, writers, etc.) were all staying at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, which is literally on the beach with a view of the pier. I'll wait here while you go look at the website, which I insist you do before I tell you anymore of this story.
Are we good? You wouldn't lie to me, right? You've looked at the rooms?
It made sense for me to stay there (or more accurately it made no sense for me to try to find a cheaper room in the vicinity), so I had booked two nights without looking at their rates, didn't discuss the potential cost with Matthew, and basically held my breath and repeated the mantra, "This is what credit cards are for, this is what credit cards are for," over and over again until I believed it. When the cab pulled up and the doorman opened my door and offered me his hand as if I were some movie princess played by Anne Hathaway and said, "Welcome Ms. Reid," I thought, "This IS what credit cards are for." I later put two and two together and ruined my fantasy that somehow fancy rich people live in a world where their presence is just sensed and communicated by ESP or something and now I know that by some slight of hand he and the other doorman had sneaked a peek at my luggage tag before getting me out of the cab, but nonetheless, I was feeling pretty fancy at this point.
The lobby of the Casa Del Mar is an interesting study in interior design. It has that initial WHOA THIS IS FANCY thing going for it, as all fancy hotels do, but upon closer inspection I was delighted to find that it was actually a little confused and out-dated with layers of odds and ends that clearly hadn't be designed to go together. I was delighted by this because 1. it made me feel like less of an impostor, 2. it gave me something to do while I waited for my room to be ready, and 3. I was pleased with my ability to not be blinded by the fancy and to do some real archeological analysis of what I was seeing. This is not to say that it wasn't supremely nice, it was. It just wasn't so out of my league nice that I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, which is great in more ways than one, no?
The woman who checked me in was incredibly warm and didn't make me feel like I had to pretend to be fancier than I am (I may have put on a little charm-filled act of Country Mouse Goes to LA for the First Time - can you blame me?). She informed me that my room had been upgraded to a sea-view so I did a little invisible victory dance inside my head and made my way up to the 5th floor.
These pictures don't do this room justice because when I saw the room and the bathroom and my terrace and the sunlight and the fabrics and the seating options I actually thought, for a very brief second, "Maybe I won't go to the Emmys and I'll just stay in here for 2 days," and that's saying something. Then I came to my senses, unpacked, texted John, and got ready to dive into what was to be a major 45 hour stretch of amazingness.
John met me at my room which was on the pool floor so we headed out to it because that was where most Daily Show people were hanging out. It was incredibly bright out (is LA sun different somehow?), I was definitely nervous, and John was sweet as could be introducing me to various cast members, writers, and producers. The first officially famous person I met was Jason Jones who was in his bathing suit in the pool. Um, hello!
(An aside: during the whole run up to the Emmys I couldn't help but wonder if John was regretting inviting me. It's one thing to be generous and give a person something you know they will enjoy, it's another thing to have to play host for a weekend amongst your peers and colleagues to someone who literally doesn't know one other person other than you. I mean, I can't say that I would do it frankly. It's an exhausting kind of work, and he would already have to be ON, like HOLLYWOOD ON, so it was hard for me to imagine that my presence would be fun for longer than the initial few moments of getting to see me freak out about celebrities. But this is where John Hodgman is a superstar; he has an uncanny ability to genuinely embody Lloyd Dobler. So I let go of my worry and decided to stop second-guessing my value there. Yes, I should be in therapy.)
We decided that we were hungry and that we would walk down the beach a bit and end up at Chez Jay for a drink and to catch up (we don't get to actually see each other all that much now that we live on opposite coasts). As soon as we sat down at the bar our neighbor announced John's name and declared himself a huge fan. This had happened while I was around John before of course, but it was still bizarre and slightly jarring. Like I said before, in my head John is my friend and oh yeah maybe he's a little famous on the side, so whenever a stranger comes up to him it reminds me that he's a Famous Person. Watching him interact with someone who knows him but who he does not know is a study in grace, generosity, and firm succinctness; he is very good at it.
See how happy dude is? So sweet.
(Another aside: When we owned the cafe I would let John come in on Tuesdays, my prep day (we were officially closed), and he would sit at the bar working while I chopped stuff and hated my life. It's been years and years since then and we've rarely had time alone since, so this time at Chez Jay was somewhat special, even for old friends. Such is the way with couples - we just rarely see each other without our partners.)
It was getting close to Comedy Central Party time so we headed back to the hotel to get dressed. I wore Jessie's Kate Spade Jillian dress, Sheila's Kate Spade necklace, a ponytail, and some black pumps that I think I got at Payless. We walked across the street to the Viceroy which had a lobby full of these chairs and a bathroom covered in this wallpaper:
The first person we met after checking in was Stephen Colbert who was shorter than I expected (this will be a reoccurring theme - get used to it). Then John Oliver. Then Trey Parker walked in. And so on. I spent the evening in a cabana with some lovely Daily Show and Colbert Report writers and producers and their partners. They were not famous, they were totally normal people, able to appreciate how crazy and awesome all this was, easy to talk to, and sweet as all get out. John had a lot of people to see and talk to but he checked in and let me know where he was going to be regularly, a la Dobler. It should tell you something about me that the thing I remember most about the Viceroy was how upsetting the coffee table size was in proportion to the seating. It was almost impossible to walk around and the glass felt dangerous for the knees. I just couldn't stop thinking about how terrible it was. See? Imagine 10 people around that thing and trying to move about. Impossible! I'm still mad about it.
At some point we decided to leave and go to John's favorite place in the whole world: the Chateau Marmont. We took an Uber there I think, and this is where I was first introduced to how big LA is and how it takes you 5 hours to get anywhere you want to go. Seriously, wow, that town is unfathomably large for my little head and I am so grateful that I didn't have to drive a car once while I was there. Anyway, when I emerged from the car a small row of 3 or 4 paparazzi were lining the entrance and immediately took a couple photos, flash and all, shouting, "ARE YOU FAMOUS?" They quickly figured out that I am not and let us pass (I have no recollection if they figured out that John is - I was so humored by the experience that I couldn't absorb anything else for a moment or two). Also, those shots of my face are probably the most unflattering shots ever taken of me and I wish I could have them.
Let me pause here and ask, Does that ever work? Do celebrities actually ever say, "YES! I AM!"? Also, as a past connoisseur of celebrity magazines (I'm over it now), I am well acquainted with the idea of the paparazzi but to actually be in the presence of them gave me a whole new perspective which is: double gross times a million.
Okay, so, the Chateau. They know who John is there. Like, they all seemed to know who he is, and this is where, while he has stayed there a lot and clearly loves it, I had that feeling of the fancy rich people ESP again, only this time it wan't ESP, it was an elaborate database that tracks celebrities' visits and staff members have weekly flash card quizzes or something. Right? How on earth do they keep everyone straight in this damn town? I mean, for every recognizable celebrity there are 20 more writers and producers who are just as important, if not more important, in this town, especially if you are a young actor trying to find your break, as they all are. I'm pretty sure you have to have a demonstrable awesome memory to work as a host in places like the Chateau, at the very very least. The job interview must involve a quiz I'd love to get my eyeballs on.
You aren't supposed to take photos in the Chateau, but before I knew that I took this one of a closet door that simply said:
The Chateau is like a maze, designed to purposefully throw you off your normal orientation to time and space (this is just my opinion, but I'm usually right, about everything, so...). I usually have a good handle on both of those things but in the Chateau I had no idea where I was or how late it was (it was late, for me). We ate and talked and realized that Jessica Lange and Ryan Murphy were behind us and that was when I felt like I was really really really in Hollywood. Jessica. Lange. Wha?
The Chateau has a gated section for private bungalows and cottages, one of which is where John Belushi died, and John took me for a tour of the grounds. It was beautiful, cozy, totally secluded somehow (while being on the Sunset Strip), and pretty awesome.
By this time it was midnight or later and given that tomorrow we had the EMMYS to go to, we headed back to the hotel. I had been careful to not drink too much, stay hydrated, and eat well so that I had a decent shot at a good night's sleep but just in case I took an Ambien, crawled into that glorious bed, and slept solidly for 7 hours.
Next post: Getting Ready For The Emmys!