Saturday, September 09, 2006

Words Are All We Have, Part II

This is Maya, the Town Green's Presidential Fellow for the summer of 2005. Maya was recently selected as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women for 2006. She and her fellow T10CW (like that? I just made it up.) were honored at a luncheon yesterday at Daniel in NYC. Eve Ensler was the keynote speaker. Maya didn't tell me all this, I was there and I lived to tell the tale.

Ok, let me go back a bit. Maya won this scholarship and the Glamour staff asked her who she would want to have lunch with if she could break bread with anyone (except a celebrity). She said she would want someone from Town Green, which was really sweet of her. So, I get back from a meeting on Wednesday and the boss says, "I just got the weirdest call from Glamour magazine." He plays the message for me and I start freaking out as only someone who has been reading Glamour since she was a kid would. As he put it, I reacted as though I had seen the bike I wanted for Christmas in a shop window and he would be a terrible parent if he didn't give me what I wanted. Ok, that's accurate. Being the guy he is and realizing that his idea of a good time does not necessarily involve a room of full fashionistas, he kindly passed the invitation along to me.

Friday morning comes and I am as nervous as can be. Why? Well, if there was ever a job I would admit to really wanting, it would be writing for a magazine. Glamour magazine. Maybe you're thinking "big deal, a fashion magazine, clothes, shoes, how to be a sex vixen, all that Devil Wears Prada crap." Granted, the T10CW started out as a contest called the10 Best Dressed College Girls, but that was 50 years ago. Now the magazine focuses on politics and women's issues as much as it does on Prada and Stuart Weitzman. I admire anyone who can do what the Glamour staff does as well as they do it and these people do inspire change, in individuals, in government, in the world, through writing. That's pretty powerful. And it's something I am working towards every day. Consider this: In the spring of 2004 I was lying in bed reading Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive's column. She wrote about the importance of women's health issues and encouraged every woman to take part in the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC. Now, I'm not what anyone would call an activist, but something about this piece spoke to me. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to go and march and have that experience and try to make a difference?" The next day I received an email from a friend saying that she was going to DC and was anyone interested in going with her. Over the course of the day, I kept rereading that email and finally realized that marching was something I really wanted to do. I could make a difference, even if it is only a small one, by doing something, not just thinking about doing something. I really don't know if I would have gone if not for Cindi Leive's editorial. And now, two years later, I was being given the opportunity to thank her in person for getting me off my ass.

I arrived at 12:15p. My driver, Yuri (did I mention they sent a car for me? Yeah, they sent a freaking car for me), gave me his cell number and told me to call when I was ready to be picked up. He was incredibly sweet and hilarious, by the way, more of a Bitterman than a Jeeves. So, I walk in and somehow manage to get checked in and start looking for Maya. I met Lynda, the woman who had invited me to the event and she was incredibly sweet and gracious and excited. I found my table and met a couple of staff members and chatted with them until Maya came over to the table. She was as shocked to see me there as I was to be there. "How long have you been keeping this from me?" she said. I told her the whole story and she seemed happy that I was there.

So, we had a nice lunch starting with a mesclun salad. The main course was roasted guinea hen stuffed with spinach (seriously? seriously) and vegetables. Dessert was a raspberry tartlet with lemon sorbet. By the way, my glass of white wine? Never empty. Never.

Eve Ensler spoke and by the time she was done, I had tears in my eyes. I felt a little embarrassed about it, but then I looked around and saw that every woman at my table was crying. Actually, every woman in the room was teary. How did she do that? As the afternoon went on, the T10CW were introduced and their stories were told. More crying. There's a reason why these women were chosen, they're all pretty incredible and have accomplished much in their young lives. Honestly, I started to wonder what the hell I was doing there. There I was in a room with the entire Glamour staff, T10CW past and present (I was sitting at a table with winners from 2002 & 1985), reps from L'Oreal (I'm worth it, right?) and fashion people that only a geek like me would recognize (is that Dayle Haddon? IT IS!). I was pretty overwhelmed, to say the least.

Lunch was over and people started mingling before saying their goodbyes. Lynda was kind enough to introduce me to Cindi who hoped she had not mangled my name in her introduction (did I mention I got an introduction? Yeah, I did). I blubbered and gushed my way through telling her what an honor it was to meet her and how much the magazine means to me. I was introduced to Emme, a supermodel and activist who told me she was jealous of my haircut. Then I met Erin Zammett Ruddy, another Glamour editor who has inspired me. More awkwardness on my part. I know that they're just people, but it's like when I met Sharon Olds. You want to let the person know that what they do does have an impact and is important to somebody, but then you think "they must know that and they probably don't need me telling them."

Am I glad I went? Yes, because I got to share Maya's special day with her and I got to thank Cindi Leive and Erin Zammett Ruddy for inspiring me with their writing. It's also an exercise for me. An exercise in exorcising my fear of going up to people, famous or not and talking to them. In spite of what ML and others might think, this is still a huge problem for me. But, clearly, I'm working on it.


Ia said...

I have a tear in my eye & am full of pride..FOR YOU!

I understand the whole fear of going up to people...yes ME! I have a fear of public speaking...did you know that? It must be a family thing, well, at least you & I.

You make me so proud EVERY single day with all that you've accomplished, for who you are & all you do...I love you.

jenni freidman said...

i was hoping to see a post on this event! Yahoo for You!

Love you big D.

Anonymous said...

So proud of you, and so glad you posted about this 'cause M. told me about it, but he wasn't sure what it was. Love you all the time!!