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!