I met Jesaka seven or eight years ago. In the land of corporate America, I was writing training materials and she was editing them. Many a day I showed up at her desk, hauling what felt like a ten-pound stack of papers. She never so much as flinched and more than once she turned around the edits in record time. Our work eventually took us to different areas of the business but we still enjoyed connecting in the kitchen or at random meetings. Then I learned that Jesaka was moving to Colorado and leaving the company. (Insert gasp here.) We set up a time to have coffee and I am so grateful that we did. Since then we’ve stayed in touch; through our exchanges via email and Facebook, she’s become a treasured friend. She offers insight and perspective without question. Her own commitment to follow her dream inspires me to seek out my own dreams. I’m grateful that those reams of paper-way- back-when were the conduit to find such a wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing your words and experience here, Jesaka.
Sharing Our Story
By Jesaka Long
When I met author Mary Karr in 2009, I cried. Until now, exactly two people knew that story. The fun version of the story would be some kind of groupie scenario, with me screaming her name and grasping desperately at her (quite lovely, if memory serves) boots. The reality was that I don’t think she saw me cry; at least, I hope she didn’t. Oh, and I’m not the groupie type.
I’ve been a devoted Mary Karr fan since an essay instructor told me to read Liar’s Club several years ago. (Isn’t it funny how she comes into our lives?) A Texas escapee myself, I related to the setting of Liar’s Club as well as to Karr’s mother—and to growing with yarn spinners. I was inspired and finally set pen to paper (well, fingers to laptop) to capture my own family tales. When Karr’s third memoir Lit was published on my thirty-seventh birthday, it felt like a huge gift and seeing her read at my favorite local bookstore a few weeks later was the best icing possible.
At her reading, just moments after getting my book signed, my partner of ten years who has been sober for more than twenty years, told Mary how much the book spoke to her and why. I saw on both their faces how moved my partner was by this book and I saw how Mary reacted to this—there was no quick wit, no laughter, just a genuine appreciation for how sharing our stories can connect us. And that’s what made me cry.
Mary Karr was forty when Liar’s Club was published, although it’s hard for me to imagine a world without that book. It also gives me hope, especially given that forty is around the corner for me. It helps me hold on to the belief that being published could happen at any age—what’s important is pursuing your dreams, working hard and telling your story. Although it’s easy to look at Mary’s writing as the unattainable, I look to her for inspiration, both for publishing her first memoir at forty and for surviving her mother.
Liz, I don’t know what it’s like to be forty, but as you’re approaching your 4.0 decade, you make it look fantastic!