Our Hyphenate's Search For Hyphenation With Healthcare

by AMANDA MELILLO · February 13, 2008

down the rabbithole

["Down the Rabbit Hole" by DG Illustrations]

Note from GofG: Early twenty-something recent college graduate "The Hyphenate" is a recent addition to New York's population of more than 8 million people, and so far has been loving every minute in The City That Never Sleeps. (You would too, if you had been taking a two-hour train ride from the 'burbs every day.) Represented by the quarter as a symbol of all things "quarter-life".

"The Hyphenate," or someone that excels in multiple professions or crafts, has become the big thing the past few years, with all those model-singer-songwriter-actor-producer-director clothing designer-restaurant promoter-club owner-future astronauts that dominate news and gossip headlines. For the sake of us little people, as well as our lungs when we try to get all these titles into one breath, I hope it's becoming passé. But what about us hyphenates on the other side, the ones who haven't made names for ourselves yet but have some great potential, us pen-pushing-ink-slinging-fast-typing-writer-blogger-journalist-aspiring editor-underpaid freelancer-professional interns that are going to conquer the world one day?

We that have identity crises every week, frequently lament, "What am I going to do with my LIFE?!" while clutching a bottle of wine, and are beginning to realize on this side of a liberal arts education that maybe the advice they gave us—"Take a few years to find yourself, because you're so wonderful that you can be whatever you want to be!"— was not the wisest now that we have to worry about little things like health insurance.

As a transplant from Connecticut to the Upper East Side, which is basically the same place, except with taller buildings in exchange for manicured lawns, I live on the border line between the Park Avenue set, whose babies and dogs wear matching Burberry on their Madison Avenue shopping outings, and the white hat, beer-chugging former frat boy crowd that goes pub crawling the second they leave the office. By night, I work at a certain notorious New York tabloid, and while I don't actually WRITE the brilliantly punning headlines, I do appreciate the snarky wordplay as much as the next former English major. Occasionally I do reporting work, like when that guy ran naked through Times Square or when the cow escaped in Queens and locals thought I was prank calling them.

It was a few weeks ago on a nice Sunday afternoon, when a friend and I were sharing a chocolate croissant on the steps of the Met, that I saw the visual embodiment of the post-college hyphenate's situation: a person in a pink bunny costume, wearing a sandwich board that read "Starving Artist: Will do any work for money." For some reason, my friend suggested we find Alice in Wonderland costumes and go join the bunny with the sandwich board, and while I'm not sure how I'd look as the Cheshire Cat, it occurs to me that coming to this city to find yourself, making starting salary wages while trying to hack it living the high life in Manhattan is a little like falling down the rabbit hole. But what I love about this city, even though there's a mad dash to the latest overpriced restaurant opened by a world-famous chef that will close within a year, or a drive to tear down historic buildings to put up more skyscrapers and cookie-cutter condos, is that there are plenty of opportunities to find hidden gems—because even bars that look tacky from the outside or restaurants that aren't Michelin-rated can prove themselves to be diamonds in the rough.

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