Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Other Giving Thanks Post.

On the Greenlight blog today we've posted a list of the people we have to thank for the opening of the bookstore.

It's a very, very long list.

Here on my own blog I wanted to say thanks to a few of those who helped me, myself, personally, get to this wonderful moment. These are the people I haven't thanked regularly in interviews -- the ones outside of the primary business development story, who nonetheless are the reasons I am here.

To my mom, of course, for reading to me when I still just wanted to chew on the pages; for letting me check out the maximum number of library books every week; for telling me I could go to college anywhere I could get a scholarship, and sticking to that even when it meant going 3,000 miles away; for giving me a chunk of my inheritance early as seed money for the store; for talking to me on the phone every week, as I planned and cried and hyperventilated and obsessed and pondered and worked toward this dream; for being the first reader in my life, and still one of the most important.

To my two younger sisters, for spending our childhood acting out our own stories (and putting up with me always having to be the king, president, or boss); for our own secret language made up of references to books, movies and inside jokes; for still getting excited about new books with me.

To Miss Rumphius, for teaching me that you must do something to make the world more beautiful.

To Anne Shirley, for teaching me that imagination creates the world.

To my high school English teachers and principals, for making me enter speech contests (I got good at it) and write essays (that too) -- so that I could be a good spokesperson, a good host, a good writer, and a good reader.

To my coworkers at Dean and Deluca on Rockefeller Center, for accepting me as a shift boss even though I was younger than most of them and we didn't all speak the same language (Wolof, Spanish, Gujarti, French), and teaching me what it's like to direct a team in a workplace.

To L.B. Thompson, my favorite poetry teacher at NYU, for casually asking me if I needed a summer job, and landing me at Three Lives, the best bookstore on earth. (Also, for being the best critical reader of my poetry, while I was writing it.)

To Jill Dunbar and Jenny Feder, the founders of Three Lives, for forgiving me when I was late (or forgot to show up at all, addle-headed college student that I was); for giving me my first taste of working at an independent bookstore; for showing me what a partnership could look like.

To Rebecca, for being the partner I didn't know I needed, but totally did; for having all the strengths I don't (task planning, merchandising, negotiating, reordering, etc...); for always picking up the ball when I'm about to drop it; for telling me when my hair looks good or I've lost weight (but not the opposite); for teaching me more about being a bookseller every day; for calling me on my shit; for working and working on a relationship that's as tough as a marriage, and just as strong, and just about as important; for becoming my friend as well as my partner.

And last, most, and always, to the ALP, Michael, husband for two years, partner for more than eight, for dating me even though I was an addle-headed book nerd; for always reading more books than I do; for that night when I was moaning over not getting into grad school, when he pointed out that the career I really loved was being a bookseller; for working office jobs he didn't love so I could do what I loved; for waking me up with coffee in bed every morning (every morning! even when I'm totally cranky!); for talking over the day over a glass of wine at night; for standing by me through every false start, every setback, every tough decision, every unbelievable success; for dealing with my weird schedule and frequent work emergencies; for being there when I walk home from the bookstore every night, so that my walk home is one of the happiest parts of the day: from the work I love, to the man I love, in the town I love, in this life I love.

Thanks, all of you. I am incredibly blessed. If I can live up to your inspiration, I hope I may be a blessing in return.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Upcoming Event: Breakout

I don't often include pitches for others' events on this blog, but I've been thinking lately about the necessity of giving back, in light of all the support I've received for my own dreams. If you're a New Yorker, consider attending this event on Monday -- it's a great literary lineup, and a shot at hope for those most in need of it.

The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC Presents


A partnership between PEN’s Prison Writing Program and WNYC’s The Greene Space

Presented as part of “The NEXT New York Conversation” Series

John Turturro, Lemon Andersen, Mary Gaitskill, Eric Bogosian, Jamal Joseph, and Sean Wilsey among others to read works authored by participants of PEN’s Prison Writing Program

Monday, November 9th, 2009 at 7pm

For more than 30 years, PEN’s Prison Writing Program has been dedicated to helping make the harsh realities of American imprisonment part of our social justice dialogue. PEN’s program has also been on the front-lines of prison reform, helping inmates in federal, state and local penitentiaries cope with life behind bars, gain skills and have a voice while they are there. The Prison Writing Program accomplishes all this through mentorships and an annual writing competition that receives between 20-30 entries per day from local, state and federal prisons—including from prisoners on death row.

On Monday, November 9, 2009 at 7pm, WNYC Radio’s The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space’s monthly dialogue series, “The NEXT New York Conversation” partners with PEN to present BREAKOUT: VOICES FROM THE INSIDE, a night of literature and conversation. Luminaries from the New York cultural landscape – writers Mary Gaitskill, Eric Bogosian and Patricia Smith, along with actor John Turturro and writer/performer Lemon Andersen, among others–will read pieces chosen from the best of the winning manuscripts of the Prison Writing Contest, and from the extraordinarily moving diaries that men and women have written as part of PEN’s collaboration with the Anne Frank Center, USA.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit PEN’s Prison Writing Program. The event will be streamed live on the web at

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world; there are hundreds and hundreds of prisons across the country and, as of 2007, these institutions housed more than 2,300,000 inmates—70% of whom are non-white. Nearly 1 million of those in prison are serving time for committing non-violent crimes. Sadly, the situation is not improving.

The second-annual Prison Writing Benefit Reading will help to raise much-needed funds to enable this important program to continue into the future, but also to help the prisoners see themselves in a new way: as writers.

The NEXT New York Conversation, sponsored by HSBC, “The World’s Local Bank,” is WNYC’s The Greene Space’s multiplatform dialogue series featuring a collective of changemakers, newsmakers, tastemakers and New Yorkers, sharing their values about interesting topics that are reshaping, redefining, and re-imagining our world in the 21st century.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 07:00 PM
Duration: 2 hours

Tickets can be purchased at Ovation Tix (

Collaborator: $75

Friend: $50

Collaborator ticket covers the expenses of one-on-one mentoring services between a PEN member and an incarcerated man or woman for one year. This premier ticket includes the best views and a reception following the program.

Friend ticket covers the postage and printing costs to provide eight incarcerated men and women with a free copy PEN’s Handbooks for Writers in Prison. This ticket includes a reception following the program.

WNYC Radio is New York's premier public radio station, comprising WNYC 93.9 FM, WNYC AM 820 and As America's most listened-to AM/FM public radio stations, reaching more than one million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City's cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNYC 93.9 FM broadcasts a wide range of daily news, talk, cultural and classical music programming, while WNYC AM 820 maintains a stronger focus on breaking news and international news reporting. In addition, WNYC produces content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station’s street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. For more information about WNYC, visit