For a while I wrote lifestyle pieces for newspapers. It was a great way to see myself succeeding in print and to feel that Mary Tyler Moore moment–twirling in the street while “You’re gonna make it after all!” is sung in the background. When this essay was published, a reader identified with it so much that she mailed me a vintage box of paper straws when she ran across them in an antique store. I was stunned. To know my words could keep floating through someone’s mind was a pivotal lesson.