A couple of weeks ago, we caught a really funny episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry attends the opening of an eponymous hospital wing for which he donated funds, only to feel like a heel when he sees that a second wing was donated by "Anonymous." "Anonymous" turns out to be Ted Danson, Larry's nemesis, and Ted has made sure to graft the details of his gift to a few strategic points on the grapevine, so that everyone knows who Anonymous is, and can not only praise his generousity, but his modesty and class as well.
Needless to say, it makes Larry crazy.
Since the mail came yesterday, I've been wondering if I could ever be "Anonymous," one of the cool cats who rely on others to spread the word, smile demurely and murmur, "It's nothing, sort of embarassing really" when people take notice, act as if good fortune were simply the order of the day.
The short answer turns out to be "no."
I am too excited and too grateful to too many people to play this one cool. Seven and a half pages in the fifth biggest magazine in the world. I am about as proud of this story as anything I have ever written and I hope you will read it and let me know when you do.
At the risk of causing a few eyes to roll, I need to thank some very important people without whom I couldn't have pulled it off.
First, the amazing people at Good Housekeeping magazine, the gracious and fabulous Editor-in-Chief, Rosemary Ellis and her phenomenal staff: Bill, Aretha, Yingjia, Brian, Laura H., Richard and every single person who smiled, pointed me to the restrooms, brought me coffee, said how excited they were about the story. There was a lot about the experience that was straight out of Devil Wears Prada, but the personalities were not. I could not have been treated with more warmth and respect.
(And thanks, GH, for giving parent bloggers respect in general. Every month, people, a mom or dad blogger is featured on a whole page in the magazine's Good Reads section. And is paid a professional wage for it.)
In particular I want to thank Laura, my editor, for discovering Notes in the first place, and for continuing to see something here that exceeds anything I've dared to dream. I've always been pleased with how Laura edits the blog essays that have appeared in her Good Reads section, but she was in many ways the midwife of this piece. As I sweated and labored to bring it to birth, hers was the voice of calm on the other end of the line, assuring me I had it all in me.
Laura, it is always a pleasure, and someday I will learn to express a complete thought in less than three emails.
Reuben, my driver and New York husband; the lovely and kind Christina M. from Prada; the incredible photographer Daniella Stallinger and her very cool assistants; and sweet, blue-eyed Sophie, who did my makeup: thanks to all for making it fun, even as my feet were cramping.
To Isabel, for the guest room and rich conversation, thank you. Both were so calming and comforting on the night before I had to show up for my assignment. And special thanks to fashion writer Susan Wagner, who text-talked me down out of several near panic attacks, and helped me not freak out too badly over the prospect of buying a handbag that cost more than my monthly mortgage payment. If only Susan came in purse-sized Susan, I could take her everywhere.
Imagine you just found out you are going on a fantasy shopping trip to New York city. Now, imagine you can't tell ANYONE. Because after the shopping trip, you have to report on what it feels like to wear fabulous designer clothes in your usual context, and that context won't be usual if the word gets out. So you can't take a chance. Not even with your own sister, 3,000 miles away, because it's the kind of thing she fears she might have to tell somebody, and that somebody might tell somebody, and that somebody might post you a message about it on Facebook or your blog and there will be no getting the cat back in the bag. Imagine walking around with a huge handbag that screams extravagance, after the year of living at the edge of bankruptcy, and knowing that people are wondering if you've lost your mind or are just plain tacky.
Imagine discovering that not everyone will assume the best, or extend you the benefit of doubt.
To my family and friends who hung in there through the mystery and secrecy and whose curiousity was patient and kind, who made up their minds to believe there was a perfectly good reason I had to up and go to New York for a week and couldn't be specific about why, and didn't throttle me when I had to be vague when big things were obviously afoot, I love you. You are good sports, good friends, and good people.
To Linda, Mara, Joyce, Helen, Susan S., Susan B., Tom, David T., Lindsay & John, and all the rest of this family's fairy godmothers. Any one of you alone would be a gift. I can't believe we have all of you.
To my Mom, who agreed to take a long detour from the return leg of her birthday trip to New York, and came to Little Rock for a week to help Patrick with the kids, sleeping in a messy and crowded two-bedroom condo while I was living it up in Midtown Manhattan, thank you just doesn't cover it. Whether it's over a copied out Mother's Day poem from school, or the cover of Time, mother's pride is like miracle-Gro. More than that, you have never, ever, said "don't" or "you can't" or "you shouldn't" when it comes to my writing. Having done a creativity workshop with adults in their fifties who were still trying to get over their parent's admonition to "never write anything down," I never take for granted what a gift that freedom is.
To my baby sister, who screams over the phone just the way you'd want someone who loves you to scream whenever you call with crazy good news. I have a little bling for you when I see you on vacation.
My boys, for making it easy on everyone when Mommy has to be away, and for keeping me firmly grounded in reality every day. It's hard to get too carried away with your own fifteen minutes of fame when you have to put the magazine down to go wipe a bum that is not your own.
When I teasingly asked Patrick yesterday if he ever thought I would be on the pages of a big magazine someday, he didn't bat an eyelash.
"Yes," he said. "I've always believed."
I knew it then. I know it today. Thank you.
Finally and ultimately, to all my readers here. For years, I struggled to write alone and in silence as so many others seem to be able to do, and wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn't take any pleasure in it. I didn't know what was missing until you found me. Having someone to write to has made all the difference.
The eyerollers hold this medium in contempt because who is anyone to think their life is so interesting, especially ordinary women. Especially ordinary mothers.
It's not that my life is so interesting. It's that LIFE is so interesting. Mine, and yours. If I can find stories in my very ordinary, soccer-mom life, they are there in anyone and everyone's, as you show me time and time again. You are the reason I have the audacity at all to bother important and busy people in publishing with my crazy ideas.
If you've made it this far, thank you for that. And thanks for being here.
The August issue of Good Housekeeping should be on the stands and in mailboxes this week; perhaps next week in some places (I'm told Meryl Streep is the cover photo in parts of the country). In the meantime, you can browse my behind the scenes photo album on flickr.
Labels: the writing life