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Over six years ago, one of my best friends’ mom had all of us fill out a time capsule we were supposed to open five years later. One of the questions was about what we wanted to do, where we saw ourselves in five years. Actually, some of my favorite songs are still Led Zeppelin’s “Wanton Song” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” and my favorite food is still Macaroni and Cheese, but I digest. I accomplished what I wanted to do: I’m a published writer, but on the way I realized it’s exactly what I don’t want.

There’s a history of alcoholism in my family and, as previously discussed, some of my best writing is done under the influence. Sometimes it’s inadvisable or regrettable, but some of my most humorous, insightful and well-written stuff happens when I can barely see straight. I’d like to pretend I write after hanging out with friends all the time, but that’s a bold-faced lie: sometimes when I have to write something I don’t want to write, the only thing that can get me to sit down is a drink–the only thing that can get the words flowing is something I jokingly call “writing juice.” And I hate that. It intimidates me to directly associate the task with the drink, even as a joke.

I know I can’t write and drink for the rest of my life. I like being alive, I like being a functional human being. I don’t want to lose my marbles (yep, line up ladies–that’s family history, too), I don’t want to ever have to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting–I’ve seen Rescue Me. I understand how hard it is to get back and stay back and I don’t want to ever have a reason to have to learn how to get back.

But on the other hand, I have been able to copy edit (or copyedit) and enjoy it while sober for over four years. That is, I’ve enjoyed it and lost hours of my life to it for four years. The best example was when I was interning at a publishing house and they had me edit something. I looked at the clock around 4:30 and checked it again when it was about 8:30. Four hours disappeared and merged the definitions of work and play together for me. Those were the kind of hours I want to have for the rest of my life. If I die in a cubicle while copy editing, then I might have fulfilled my life’s purpose. Hopefully that doesn’t come off as bleak because I mean it strictly in the inspirational sense–coping with workoholism seems like a much healthier life than coping with alcoholism.

And of course my intent is still to work for the FDNY and I took the NYPD test, but those are, realistically, just alternate options I’m considering while I wait to get called up to the big leagues. The reason the FDNY appeals to me is because they’re helping people and saving lives. While a copy editor won’t save any lives, I will most certainly help people. Copy editing and possibly freelance writing on the side is the ideal because I get everything I want without diving too deeply into the family history. But the FDNY still fits into that dream too, because I would be able to save lives while saving copy in my spare time and possibly between calls. I only took the Police Officer Exam because this city’s been good to me and I don’t want to have to leave because of a stupid fucking recession.

So I wait. And apply.


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