And now, just for fun, here is a story from the archives:
When I am 23 years old, I move to New York to “write.”
This means I enroll in a playwriting class and take a couple of unpaid internships: one writing eight stories per week for a dating blog, and the other as a reader and general task rabbit at a trendy publishing house in SoHo.
One day early on, while stuffing advance copies into manila envelopes and sponging stamps in the SoHo mailroom, I come across a magazine article about how unpaid interns are "the new slave labor."
My future, I think we can agree, looks bright.
For income, I spend a day walking from bar to bar in my Brooklyn neighborhood, handing out mostly factual résumés, until a man with colorful sleeves tattooed on both arms asks if I really speak Italian. He turns out to be the owner of three whiskey-centric establishments in Brooklyn and Manhattan. By way of dismissal he says: “JoJo will call you.”
And the next day, JoJo does call.
She starts me in Brooklyn, where I take to grilling customers for material I can use to meet my absurd weekly quota of blogs about dating. One young guy betrays men everywhere by telling me the secret "Golden Rule" of the first date, which is so tricky and clever and shamelessly manipulative that I silently vow to share it with every woman I ever meet, so they will not be caught unaware.
After proving my mettle in Brooklyn, I am promoted to the bar in Manhattan.
Following my first shift on the island, flush with the excitement of belonging to a new place, I sit on a stool next to a handsome blue-eyed detective, who welcomes me to New York with an immediate lament about how New York is no longer what it used to be.
"New York used to have real grit," he informs me wistfully, "before Giuliani came in and cleaned it all up.
"Used to be, you couldn’t walk through Times Square at night without fear of getting shot," he says, shaking his head with real mourning. "Man, I miss those days."
He later reveals that he's pretty sure he could have saved his marriage, which recently ended in divorce, if only he'd been willing to love his job a little less.
The detective, as I will learn, is a regular.He sits alone at the end of the counter, apart from the other off-duty cops and lawyers who wander in from the courthouse across the street. He is always impeccably dressed in a blue or white shirt and silk tie. His expression is uniformly serious. He drinks only Jameson's, neat.
Months pass. The internships end. I am so grateful to be done that I don't even try to finesse either into a real job. Instead I spend half my time at the bar, wiping mysterious stickiness around on laminated menus, and the other half avoiding any social gathering that involves another bar.
Gradually, I start to lose my bright-eyed openness.
I grow resentful of crowds and loud noises and sour smells and milky puddles and crazy cat-hoarding roommates and the relentless drumbeat of mindless consumerism, and alcohol
-- always alcohol -- as equal parts escape and coping mechanism.
I crave clean air and trees and silence and space to breathe and listen and hear my own thoughts. I crave the me that doesn't take orders, or pretend to enjoy it. This way of life feels poisonous and strange.
To stay in New York, I know, means certain death.
I start to plan. I put in my notice, break up with my lover, begin packing my things.
On the day of my last shift, the detective appears. To my surprise, he leads me to an empty booth at the back, reaches across the table for my hands, and asks me not to leave New York.
"I can take care of you," he says, his blue eyes bright and earnest. "You don't have to work here, or at all if you don't want to."
His gaze is direct, and no longer mournful. He has shed the cloak of cynicism he was wearing when we met; it has melted over months of harmless flirting.
Somehow our situations, with respect to hope and openness, have reversed.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I wonder briefly if this is the kind of thing other women might dream about.
In response, I don't tell him how absurd and impossible his request is. I don't explain that I am just an idea to him, or point out that he clearly doesn't know who I am. I don't list the many reasons why we could never work.
Instead, I squeeze his hands and smile, and say how excited I am for him. I tell him I hope he will cherish and protect the precious hopeful ember that is now alive inside him.
I tell him that if he can do this, he will soon find a beautiful woman who wants nothing more than to be taken care of.
Because -- let's be clear, my dear, sweet man -- she definitely isn't me.