February 22, 2019

Our Modern Love Editor on How His Job Is ‘a Lot Like Online Dating’

Our Modern Love Editor on How His Job Is ‘a Lot Like Online Dating’

Which essays have left the biggest impression on you?

Ann Leary’s “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive” captures a common marital dynamic in a way that’s completely fresh and revelatory — it’s one I think of often. Heather Burtman’s “My Body Doesn’t Belong to You” grabbed me by the collar and said, way before #MeToo: This is what it feels like to be objectified as a young woman. Mandy Len Catron’s “To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This” taught tens of millions of people around the world how to be vulnerable with a stranger. And Gary Presley’s “Would My Heart Outrun Its Pursuer?” opened my eyes to how some must overcome the bitterness of disability to allow love in.

I would add 100 more essays if we had the space.

How do you spend your time when you’re off duty?

It’s hard to ever feel off duty. The last time I truly disconnected — cut off from work, email and social media — was three summers ago when I took a weeklong rafting trip with my son down the upper half of the Grand Canyon. Our guides had brought along an original wooden skiff from the early days of Colorado River rafting that was rowed by the boat-maker’s grandson. You sat about 6 inches out of the water in this tiny rowboat that bounced through those huge rapids like a cork.

I saw a story in that and started to take notes to pitch it to the Travel section the second we had cell service. So even there, I found a way to be on duty. But it made the experience more memorable because I was doing everything to make it so.

What’s something that readers would be surprised to learn about you?

When I was in my 20s, I never dreamed I would be in this business, much less have this job. I was hoping, at best, to get a gig teaching writing at a small college somewhere, anywhere. But no one would interview me.

Oddly, though, back then is when I came the closest I have ever come to getting my name on the front page of The New York Times — not as a writer but as a ski instructor, which I was for several years at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

One week I was teaching the C.E.O.s of American Express and Squibb Corporation when, after a day of skiing in a blizzard, I drove us down an icy mountain road and lost control of the van, nearly plunging us into a canyon 200 feet deep.

By frantically spinning the steering wheel, I got us sliding in the other direction, where we slammed into a snow bank and were fine.

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