Last night was fantastic because 1.) I told a story live about one of the most treasured moments in my career 2.) I listened to other brilliant storytellers tell hilarious and poignant tales about their first jobs and 3.) I had a reason to wear my blush colored silk blouse in a mostly blush colored room. My whole evening was well lit, filled with excellent conversation, and today I'm still buzzing.
The live storytelling event was organized by Tue/Night, an on and offline community for women over 40, and is run by the awesomeness of Margit Detwiller, Adrianna Dufay, and Karen Gerwin. I've written several pieces for their weekly magazine, and I treasure the work they do supporting we Women of a Certain Age (props to Kim France's blog of that same name, which is another fave of mine). Tue/Night publishes an on-line issue each week, on, yes, Tuesday night, as well as a newsletter, and produces live events with a theme. Last night's theme was First Jobs.
I told the story of working in book publishing as an assistant to a larger than life publicist, and getting the opportunity to go out on a book tour with RuPaul (yeh, that RuPaul) soon after arriving at that job. Many of my friends from that era, including Karen Gerwin of Tue/Night, are still in my life, and last night when I was reading and considering all that has happened since 1994 when I arrived in New York City to begin my adult life, I was so moved as I looked up from my notes and saw so many women from different phases of that life. Publishing friends, voice-over friends, kid school friends, neighborhood friends, MILK Podcast friends, and brand new friends, like the lovely woman who wrote her disseration about drag culture and RuPaul. Not to mention the other terrific live storytellers, Stacy London, Dee Poku, Robin Gelfenbien and Kimberly Peeler-Allen.
My story also involves reflection about my boss, Jennifer, who passed away tragically at the age I am now. This sad fact reminds me to strive, and to pursue what makes me happy, as we never know what is ahead. But as we push for ourselves in our careers, striving to succeed and find a purpose, we must also support those who are struggling to hold on. As I listened to Letitia "Tish" James, NYC's Public Advocate, talk about issues that plague women across this great city, I thought about how compassionate women like her are serving as elected officials because taking care of others is in their blood. It fills me with pride, that so many women have this attribute, but also with anger that we are not compensated equally for that caretaking work we do. And that there are not enough Tish James's, and that we need better female representation in leadership, especially for women of color. Higher Heights, the organization Kimberly Peeler-Allen runs, is working to change that, and it was terrific to hear from her.
So many feelings, all necessary ones, were spilling over as I listened, joy and laughter mixing with tears and empathy. As women, we know our strengths but also how much more there is to do. Because that is how we roll. We multi-task, even with our feelings. Since joining the The Wing, a co-working space for women, I've recognized how important it is to network and connect with like minded people who want other women to succeed. The need for community is real, and I'm thrilled to be a part of this one.
Beautiful photos are by Erika Hokanson of Tue/Night.