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My Fairy Godmother

A tribute to Alameda Patch founding editor Eve Pearlman

Last week I lost my editor.

Well, I didn’t lose her, exactly. I know where she lives. It’s just that a Patch “Power-That-Be” figured out that Eve Pearlman is a superhero and decided to give her a promotion.

Hard work and talent rewarded? Go figure.

I met Eve a few years ago in a writing group at Laurie Wagner’s 27 Powers Court. Laurie holds regular “wild write” classes where writers gather weekly and work from a prompt in “stream of consciousness” style, bleeding ink onto blank pages at warp speed. Then we read our almost illegible words aloud to the group. It takes serious guts.

I don’t really know what I’m going to write when I start from Laurie’s prompt. Sometimes I have a destination in mind and end up on a completely different planet. Truth bubbles up like fossil fuel, dark and sticky, and even if I want to, there’s no capping it.

Over time, Eve heard me read pieces about my San Francisco childhood, my father’s battle with terminal cancer, how much I miss both parents and how, even after 31 years of marriage, I still love my husband – even on the days I might not like him so much.

She knows I worry about our grown daughters, their chosen sweethearts and assorted critters. She knows my weakness for anything high in saturated fat and refined sugar, and that if will power is a gene, it’s MIA from my DNA.

Eve knows all that about me, but what she heard loud and clear (and took to heart) was that my unrealized life goal was to write and see my work published.

In the fall of 2010 when she landed the job to launch Alameda Patch, Eve approached me about writing a regular column. She said she thought I had an “Alameda voice.” She had a level of faith in me that I didn’t have in myself.

My undergrad degree from UC Berkeley was in political science. (I was as an English major for two years, but grad students’ annoying and subjective red marks on my papers were too much for my hypersensitive nature.) Other than ghostwriting for a year or so for Bay Crossings – the free paper they hand out on the local ferries – I had no professional journalism experience whatsoever.

In spite of that, Eve hired me to write a monthly column. I managed to meet deadlines and email rough drafts regularly for her review. Sometimes my pieces came back with more edits than original text, but my skin had thickened in the post-college years, so I sucked it up and learned from her advice. Eventually she returned more and more of my drafts with just a, “Good to go. Go ahead and post, Alice!”

I noticed the times on her emails were often after midnight. She had little people at home and was fitting editing in between carpools, homework and laundry. (I don’t know how she does it. I waited until my little people were grown before even beginning.)

Weeks passed, and then one day Eve and I bumped into each other in an aisle at Trader Joe’s and she asked if I thought I could handle the pressure of a weekly deadline. I managed to stop myself from shrieking and jumping up and down in public, then went home to prove that I could handle it.

And here I am.

When Eve called to break it to me that she was moving up the chain, I was sad for me but so very glad for her. When I thanked her for giving me a chance and for all the time spent on my columns, Eve said she considered me “her project.”

Eve’s Patch bio says, “I do believe that all of us humans are, of course, wildly imperfect.” You know that’s me in a nutshell, Eve. “Wildly imperfect.” But just a little better now and forever changed thanks to you.

Forever changed, and forever grateful.

laurie wagner April 04, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Alice, you're a teacher's dream come true! Loved reading this, so happy you found us. And for anyone who wants to be like Alice when you grow up, Wild Writing classes start again the week of April 16th and we'd love to have you! http://www.27powers.org/wild-writing/
Josiah Lewis April 04, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Laurie you are a gem!
Eve Pearlman April 04, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Alice! You are far too kind and far too sweet. It's been so fun working with you! And I look forward to watching your writing career continue to develop. -Eve

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