Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Susan Taylor's Love

The weekend before last I was invited to attend a special book party celebrating the release of former Essence Editorial Director, Susan Taylor’s new book, All About Love.

I thought it was special because the party was held at Susan's home in Sag Harbor. All snazzied up in a beautiful boheme French Connection sundress, I was ready to go and luxuriate in that glow, that all encompassing warmth that Susan oozes even with just a glance, when 45-minutes before the event was to start the heavens opened up and Mother Nature just saturated the earth with her goodness. But me and my crew had been looking forward to this soiree all weekend so we just packed it in and yeah my toes were soaked, but it was all good. The party was still on and we were still going to show our support come rain or high water. The reading was moved indoors, which made for a cozy affair in the "play room" of a beautiful house that sits back in the nook of a beautiful block off of the beach. Her granddaughter excitedly let us and all latecomers in through the sliding doors. It was just that intimate, that chill.

My connection to Susan and to Essence goes way back. Outside of being a summer camp counselor and working after school in the NY Public Library, working at Essence was my first real job. I started as an intern supporting the Editor-- Stephanie Stokes Oliver. But then halfway through the school year Stephanie's assistant (and well known Poetry Editor), Angela Kinamore, had to take a few months off from work to take care of her daughter. Initially they were going to hire a temp to assist Stephanie, but then Stephanie said, "Why not just hire Nicole and put her on payroll? She knows the job." I'm sure there may have been some doubtful looks given from management, but in the end I got the job. Oh yeah I forgot to mention, I was only 17 years old and at the time the youngest member on staff. I was stoked! I went to class in the morning and was sitting pretty in my cubicle at 1500 Broadway by 1pm everyday. You couldn't tell me a damn thing. What I remember most from that experience is the support, trust and absolute belief in my abilities that I received everyday from Stephanie, Ionia, Elsie, Cheryl, Nicole and yeah, Susan too. I was mentored and learned proof correction marks in three days. Both Susan and Stephanie used purple pencils. They had their own style and were serious about the business. It was a beautiful experience that forever changed my plans to be a pediatrician and totally led to my career as a writer.

Seeing Susan that Sunday brought all of those memories back to my mind in a flood. She read from her book and it was like coming home or at the very least coming back to the middle. She lives and breathes every word of her "In The Spirit" columns. Still. Please buy the book cause like me you will adore and be humbled by the various interviews and stories about love, respect and commitment. My fave of course is her talk with Alice Coltrane.

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