Friday, June 20, 2014

The Universe Is Abundant


My niece and I went to this uber cool book party in Harlem last night, and I saw so many people from my former life, colleagues I haven't seen in forever, and though I almost didn't go, I was happy I showed up because we were all genuinely happy to see one another. It helps to know that people remember you and respect your work and even think as fondly of you as you do of them. Just before I left, one woman said, "I need to have a very short business conversation with you." She pulled me aside to let me know that she and her sister have started a publishing company and their first book is a huge anthology on a well-known feminist poet and author. She told me that in her imagination I am going to line edit the book, and said they even have a Kickstarter campaign going on right now so they can pay me to do it, but she just needed to have this conversation with me now so she could move this idea from the realm of fantasy to the concrete.

This woman has been there for me in my work life: She hired me 20 years ago at the magazine I used to work for, and though she long ago moved on from it, when they eliminated my job last fall, she  immediately called me up with the name of an employment attorney who was her friend, and said if I needed her, she had already told her about me and all I needed to do was call. I did in fact call this wonderful and amazing attorney and she ended up negotiating a more fair severance package for me than the one I had initially been offered by the rich monolithic corporation. What is it Michelle at just eat it likes to say? The Universe is Abundant. Of course I told my friend yes. I don't know how much they will pay me or what their schedule is but I do know it is a huge and still unwieldy work, but I said yes. How could I not? Some things you do just because you're supposed to.

I should have taken a picture of my niece and myself, all dressed in the de rigueur black that everyone in New York publishing circles seems to wear, with our bright red lipstick and glittery accessories. We looked very cool. All my friends and associates were fascinated by my petite niece, who looks 14 but is in her second year of dental school. They all said, "Good for you that you didn't choose publishing!" because everyone has felt the pinch of that shifting industry. One woman, a much celebrated author whose name you might know, and whose work you would certainly know, put her hands on my niece's shoulders and said, "Let me look at you. My God you are beautiful!" She repeated it several times as my niece just laughed. But my God, she is!

16 comments:

  1. "...put her hands on my niece's shoulders and said, "Let me look at you. My God you are beautiful!"

    I told you!! =)

    What a nice night -- I bet your niece is tickled to death, and so proud of you.

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    1. SJ, I think I was the one who was most tickled to have my niece there. It always nice to walk into these things with a cohort with whom you feel completely at ease, someone to bridge potentially awkward social moments. We had fun!

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  2. Oh my god! This is all so damn fabulous I can't stand it!
    Love, love, LOVE!

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    1. Dear Mary, it was fairly fabulous which is why I almost didn't go. Fabulous is not my natural habitat. But a friend who convinced me to go said not to overthink what I wore, to just throw on some clothes as if I was going to dinner with good friends, arrive half an hour late, and stay for an hour, greeting people I wanted to see. I followed advice to the letter! Oh, and I added lipstick. Red lipstick is my nod to fabulous.

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  3. ok. do you have any idea how glamorous you are? A book party in Harlem,dressed in black, red lipstick, beautiful people! Thank you for the vicarious thrill. Now back to my regularly scheduled program. ;)

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    1. Yolie, these thrills are vicarious for me too, even if I'm standing right there!

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  4. OK, I am dying to know who that author was. I'll just let my imagination consider the possibilities. It's wonderful how the relationships you've cultivated have led to offers of work! You've survived and even thrived following your stint with corporate America!

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    1. Steve, I tend to avoid names on this blog because I don't really want people googling names and landing here. The book I'm supposed to work on is about the late Audre Lorde, a lesbian author and activist who was widely beloved. I met her once, early in my twenties, and she was just wonderfully supportive, so I'm really thrilled to have something to do with her official biography. I took her name out of the post, though, because the project is not really mine to announce. It's the same old dance on this so-called anonymous blog, which isn't really. As for work, I've stopped looking for an office job and have fully thrown myself into freelancing for various media. So far, so good, but next year will be the real test as I'll have no severance to cushion things. I am working, though. I have as much work as I want, really (though not as much dinero as I want, lol), so yes, I have survived, and I am much happier, too. Thanks for the example you set for me! You may not know it but your own reinvention has been an inspiration to me!

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  5. Well, I must say that all of the women in your family, including you, are beautiful! I too am curious, but having read the comments just now, I understand...and I congratulate you, you have made a wonderful start to your freelance life, which is never easy.

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    1. Thank you, e! I always appreciate when you come around. Hope you're well.

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  6. thank you for the reminder. i feel such solidarity here

    xoxoxo

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    1. Michelle, you help create that. xoxo

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  7. oh god, what an affirmation this post is for you, of you. i am cheering here ...way up in the top row of the bleachers, far far away, but still watching every move. how lovely.

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    1. Susan, thanks for the cheers! I so appreciate the support and the cheering is definitely mutual!

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  8. I was hoping it was Audre Lorde. I was happy that you went to that party and got a job. This is icing on that cake.

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    1. Andrea, it's an exciting prospect for sure!

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