Prior to attending the Erykah Badu listening party a couple of weeks ago, NBC Digital Correspondent and friend Mara Schiavocampo invited me to 30 Rockefeller Center to offer on-camera pop culture analysis to a piece she was working on for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (on-line) and MSNBC. (You’ll recall, Mara had me weigh in on Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama when – in Iowa – he and the now-First-Lady Michelle Obama expressed their bond via THE POUND: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXc6x5JlJuw. That piece was the most-watched video on MSN for the lion’s share of 2008. I take credit for it. But perhaps my buddy Obama had something to do with it as well.). Since then, I’ve been invited back a couple of times – including this currrent decade ender piece that will be running on MSNBC this week: all day New Year's Eve (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pYKZBjEx40). I am blessed to more-and-more be able to bring my on-camera/personality center stage – including the recent Disney event I hosted which introduced “The Princess & The Frog” to the National Association of Black Journalists for the first time: http://184.108.40.206/PRiley/NABJDisneyMagic.wmvhttp://220.127.116.11/PRiley/NABJDisneyMagic.wmv.
HOLIDAY PARTY TRAIN
But I have more current things to reflect on than the whole decade. My long-time friend Carl convinced me to come out and play as we haven’t hung out in a minute. It was the holiday party for my favharity), I went into the city to see some folks I hadn't seen since returning from L.A. (including Carl).
Owen Angelo was so happy to receive his gifts and gave me lots of love and hugs for his Disney goodies.
HOME SWEET HOME! SAVANNAH
Once home in Savannah (after a layover in Charlotte: CHEAPEST FLIGHT), my nephew picked me up and took me to his parents' place. Though now a FORTUNE 500 exec (soon to call NYC home after he graduates my alma mater Morehouse in May), my nephew is still my go-for and chauffer. He provided me his laptop to go over some notes in my inbox. Plus, he warmed his father (my brother) and me up some of their leftovers (including RED kool aid). From there, I did get home to my Dad and his wife Diana’s home (which too is my childhood home). And it’s always nice to be home in the bed and basking in all things nostalgic.
The pictures are gonna have to speak the 1,000 words as Savannah was humping and pumping for my three days there:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=134128&id=662073736&l=97f21ad04a.
Diana prepared an awesome Southern breakfast on Christmas morning.
Then, we opened gifts once my sister arrived.
Though knocking on 40, I’m still “the baby” and love to open gifts and get something. This year, ‘cash’ was ‘king’… and much needed. But it was also great to see the joy on Dad & Diana's faces as they opened their gifts.
My late mother Queen Elizabeth Bellinger Riley’s side of the family always gathers at her only sibling/sister Mary Lee’s house or – in recent years – the home of Mary Lee’s daughter/my cousin Felecia’s house.
As tradition goes, we interview new boyfriends/girlfriends… and in this case… fiances – including Felecia’s baby girl/Navy woman Kea’s new man Roc who passed my interview with flying colors.
They are getting married New Year’s Day (right after the strike of midnight). CONGRATS!
Also, Felecia’s oldest child Demaris (Dee Dee, we call her) and her husband Chris now have a little girl Meagan.
And she just loved her cousin Patrick’s “The Princess & The Frog” gift.
I also gave an incarnation of the royal gift package to cousin Bozo (Kejuanna’s daughter Leilani).
And Auntee Mary Lee was waxing and relaxing in her new recliner which her kids Lecia & Tabby bought her.
We all gathered at her home the next day to clear the way for the chair.
It was so exciting to go through the old pictures and documents and uncover awesome things about our family history.
After that wonderful stop, we went to my Auntee Goldie’s house. She is my Dad’s sister and holds the fort for the Riley family. She made sure I got my “chitterlings” on… and they were delicious as always. (DON’T JUDGE ME! LOL!).
Given my Dad’s brother Uncle Bobby just passed away and many of us gathered for his homegoing a couple of months ago, it was great to be together again. We got to fill in the rest of the family who couldn’t attend the funeral on how special the ceremony was (and Uncle Bobby’s life and influence in Pontiac, MI). After all, that milestone reminded all of us why we should be proud to call ourselves R-I-L-E-Y. And while Daddy and Diana went to his high school reunion gala (Woodville Tompkins), I got to hang out with my other family, THE MAYNORS (the clan from which my New Jersey neighbor and best friend since 7th grade Ern hails). Ern and his siblings invited me out to hang with them. I’ve always been the 6th – slightly darker (before color correction) – sibling in the MAYNOR mix.
… and now I’m home. Still need to land some steady work but am trusting the top of the year to introduce some opportunities. Plus, for inspiration (as my multi-hyphenated talents go), I have:
* My girlfriend JACQUE REID who is one of the co-stars on VH1's reality show
"Lets Talk About Pep" [The 'urban Sex and the City']. SEE THE TRAILER HERE: http://www.vh1.com/video/play.jhtml?id=1628583&vid=466420
Most importantly, tune in to the premiere on January 11th at 10:30pm on VH1!
* My girlfriend RICHELLE TAYLOR who has written her book “DISCOVERING WHO YOU REALLY ARE” – a book for African American women with universal appeal for all as the search for self-discovery goes. www.communitylinksmagazine.com
* My diva SHERYL LEE RALPH who brings us "singin' and swingin' into the 2010" at Upright Cabaret! The Film, Television and Broadway star SHERYL LEE RALPH (Sister Act 2, The Flintstones, OBC of Dreamgirls) brings three rare solo cabaret performances (including one on her birthday). She takes you on a musical journey of songs you will love from Broadway show-stoppers to R&B including songs from Dreamgirls! Ms. Ralph has captivated audiences for many years and has used her talent to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS related charities. "Simply Sheryl Lee" is your chance to get up close and personal with this smart, sexy and brilliantly talented songstress as she continues to raise money for the Diva (AIDS) Foundation.
Click for Tickets - New Year's Eve with Sheryl Lee Ralph...
HAPPY NEW YEAR!