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In the month since my novel has been out in the world, a remarkable number of exciting things has happened. Ana Navarro randomly raved about it on The View; it received delightful reviews in The Washington Post and The Guardian; and I became a New York Times best-selling author—a sobriquet that I will demand be used in any and all circumstances: at the dinner table, in bed with a lover, on the phone with Verizon customer service. (“And who am I speaking with?” “New York Times best-selling author Xochitl Gonzalez.”) But by far, the most thrilling of these many awesome things was being featured in the “My Spots” column for New York magazine, doing what it is that I do best: being a creature of habit.
I excel at just a handful of things. Karaoke. Telling people off. Calculating gratuities. Balancing coffee, a book, and an umbrella while standing on the subway. Apparently, this writing thing is working out. But what I consider my real gift is being a superstar “regular” in my neighborhood. Because you see, just as writing a novel takes patience, focus, commitment, and a strong sense of curiosity, so does becoming a regular. But unlike a novel—which can get critical reviews or strong sales or great word of mouth—there are fewer formal and public forms of validation for hanging around my neighborhood and going to the same spots over and over again. So having a major media outlet recognize that, and send a photographer to document it, felt validating in a way that I hadn’t expected.