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I have a friend, Michael, who was born in an abusive, neglectful situation in the 1950s, and the only way he has really received a better life than when he was growing up in the US (he does not speak and doesn’t read English well), is through the efforts of his mom at some point in his life. They didn’t have a great time apart, being raised separately by their mother (my first mom, who has moved on) and two unsupervised adult siblings (my siblings, who live in Sweden) and by this point Michael had already grown up and gotten into his own life, he was very much a young man at the time, and we all knew what he wanted to do. It was probably inevitable, so he started off doing a very young man thing, as if it is some sort of rite of passage.
My first job at a newspaper was when I was 20, he went to a book fair with some friends, I got them some books and got them interested in them. And I think it was a really wonderful experience. I remember that at the time they didn’t have the “gossip” around sex as I knew it at the time, but that was really cool. You never know who your friends are, when you’re talking with those people, who you’re going to end up meeting. It got to the point where I would ask everyone in the book fair if they thought my friends would be fun to talk to, and the answer was yes, no one. My first job as a journalist was pretty early, for the New York Times I worked as an intern at the time. Not only was I there because I wanted to be, but for the very first time of my adult life, I actually enjoyed it.
At the time it was pretty hard to become a writer. You’d get your first idea, or “The Thing” I think it was, and you’d get a bunch of rejection letters and they weren’t really very good rejection letters which meant you could see why they didn’t get you. You could see the pain of not succeeding at a job or a career that you had absolutely no intention of quitting. You had something in your head and you could see it in front of you from a really young age.
It was something I could relate
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