This weekend, I went to my second memorial in a month. To be sure, this has caused a lot of reflection for me, on my career, my choices, my own grief.
When people described Henry Fuhrmann, they repeated phrases like kind, caring, thoughtful, calm. In the wash of posts and remembrances, people describe Mandy Jenkins as giving, a force, a mentor, joyful.
I consider myself blessed and lucky to have called both of these amazing humans friends.
Before I joined Gannett, I was stuck in a quandary of how to pick between the opportunities that were before me. A mentor, Mizell Stewart, posed a question: How do you want to be remembered? No one will remember your resume, so which job will give you the skills to accomplish what you want to be remembered as?
This has stuck with me ever since, and I’ve passed along this question to countless others I’ve coached through similar quandaries. It seems morbid, to imagine your own funeral.
But time and again, I’m reminded death is a part of life and you can work as hard as you want, but it will always find you. Time is truly the only commodity we have no control over.
My reflection has brought me to this realization: Mizell is right. Yes, people talk and write about how Henry killed the hyphen in Asian American. Mandy was a founder and started and pushed for so many new things and tactics. Her time at TBD, Thunderdome and others are often cited.
But however close they were to Mandy or Henry, people remember how they did their work and how they lived their lives.
Killing hyphens and starting news products is great. Being kind, gracious and giving while doing it is memorable. It has impact. The people impacted by Henry filled a ballroom, literally. The people who wanted to give to Mandy as she had given to them raised more than $70,000 for breast cancer research. (You can donate in Mandy’s name at this GoFundMe)
I am crying as I write this because the things I remember about both Mandy and Henry were small moments within very big careers, but moments that taught me so much more than what were likely the bullet points on their resume.
I remember Henry’s chuckle, and the moment he gave me a coveted mug as a thank you for my service to AAJA LA. “you deserve it, for all your hard work” he said, after I exclaimed I was far from a decent copy editor. His quiet demeanor taught me that introverts can be powerful.
I remember wandering the streets of Austin, New Orleans and other cities with Mandy, searching for a beer and talking about our lives and worries for our respective teams. I recall her hugs and how even after she was diagnosed, she seemed bulletproof. She never, ever slowed down and she always had a minute to talk.
An important note: They both loved their cats. They both believed in service. They both gave to journalism in their jobs, and outside of them. They both believed growth was a constant of journalism and we could represent better, could tell bigger and better stories. I wish I had more time with both of them.
This serves as a reminder to me: One project will not make or break you. But how you act, how you treat others during the course of that, it will be how others form memories of you.
The what is whatever. The how is your legacy.
Reading // Cooking // Listening // Smelling //
Stolen Focus, a fascinating look at why we just can’t focus. You’d think this is a treatise against social media and technology, which is part of it, but there is much, much more.
Tiktok has brought me many good and bad things, but amongst my favorite is this zucchini recipe from Thomas Keller. It’s simple, but very delicious. Bonus is that while you are finishing the roasting, you can bake some chicken or other veggies for a complete meal.
Cannot stop bopping to this soul/funk ladies playlist. Lots of new artists (to me) included.
This nifty Japanese Cypress incense match, hibi. I got it at a little store and it is just perfect.