A few of my fellow fashion writers across the country have been laid off, and it's been interesting to see how they've handled it.
One has gone into public relations, one is going to do some work for an online magazine, and one has decided to pursue an idea she'd been tossing around for quite some time.
"By the time I got back to my desk with my envelope (severance package), I knew I was going to write the book I'd been thinking about," said Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan.
Born in Singapore, she came to America at the age of 18. Among her first jobs was an internship at the Topeka Capitol Journal. It was a summer of firsts.
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"I had never petted a horse, gone swimming in a lake, and I had never seen so much wide open space," she said.
During her career she has worked for the Baltimore Sun, InStyle magazine and the Wall Street Journal. She was one of several laid off from the Journal in 2009 and immediately started making plans.
During New York's Fashion Week in February, Cheryl's book launch brought fashion writers, friends and foodies together to celebrate the author of "A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family."
For me, the book is a delightful read, not only because it's about a friend, but also because she paints such a wonderful picture of her love of cooking and family. She writes about the importance of a person's culture and the role food plays in a person's life.
And she does it with some humor.
"Mike (her husband) soon began teaching me little things — how best to melt chocolate, what a food processor actually did, the importance of, oh, lighting the burner before putting the pan on so you don't burn your eyebrows off. For a gal who'd grown up being instructed to stay out of the kitchen, these were key revelations."
Cheryl's book documents her trip back to Singapore for an extended stay, where she was intent on learning to cook the way her mom and aunts did while also learning about her heritage. "Bridging two cultures was quite a journey," she said.
"My publicist says it's a coming-of-age story where the main character doesn't start out wanting to kill herself," Cheryl said with a laugh.
She says many who have read the book tell her it helped them understand the importance of getting recipes and cooking secrets from their mothers, aunts and grandmothers while they still can.
"It's universal," she said. "I've gotten e-mails —'Why didn't I get my grandma's sloppy joe recipe? I didn't ask how she made them.' "
Cheryl says you learn a lot if you take the opportunity to cook with relatives. "You'll learn more than how to prepare the recipe. You learn about your family while you're waiting for something to steam," she said.
She told of her experience with an aunt she'd always feared as a child. As they cooked together she learned that the aunt, as a child, was a courier for Cheryl's great-grandfather, who was an opium addict. "She was sent into dangerous territory and she was just a child," Cheryl said.
Cheryl was born in the Year of the Tiger, the firstborn of the eldest son in a traditional Chinese family in Singapore. "I was supposed to be a boy. My parents even had my name chosen. Brendon."
She says from early on she was ambitious, rebellious and determined. "I knew I wanted a career, and I knew I wanted to write."
Accomplished. She's already pondering her next book.