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Cristina Moracho, NY

Critically Acclaimed Writer

A native New Yorker, Cristina currently lives with her dog in Red Hook, Brooklyn. She is the author of the novels Althea & Oliver and A Good Idea (Viking Press) and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College. A fan of true crime stories, coffee ice cream, and punk rock shows, these days she is teaching herself to play the guitar and read tarot cards while writing her next book.

As a Story Terrace writer, Cristina interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

The Do- Over

When I graduated from college I firmly believed, like so many 21-year-olds before me, that I had everything figured out and I knew exactly what I was doing. A year later, I’d proven that I was woefully unready to be a grown-up; my post-graduate life was in ruins. I’d lost my job, sabotaged my relationship, and racked up $14,000 in credit card debt. I moved back into my parents’ house, where I promptly fell into a pitch-black abyss of soul-crushing depression.

A few months later I was on a Greyhound bus, headed toward my new home—a dude ranch in Idaho, where I would be a housekeeper and server. People don’t move to Idaho to clean toilets if they’re happy where they are, so I quickly learned I was not the only one seeking escape. My boss was a Jewish born-again Christian and recovering meth addict from Texas. Housekeeping was headquartered in a windowless basement; we were chain-smoking, foul-mouthed misfits. I was supposed to be there for five months; I stayed for a year and a half.

After my first guest season I was promoted to head of housekeeping and allowed to hire my own staff. I handpicked a scrappy team of juvenile delinquents as stubborn and difficult as I was. They were hilarious and maddening and impossible to control; it didn’t help that I drank Jagermeister and went skinny-dipping with them, compromising any authority I might have had. The ranch was surrounded by national forest; every morning I went hiking in woods that felt as vast as an ocean.

Gradually, the sting of my post-college failures faded, and New York City beckoned once again. For our final outing together, my housekeepers and I got tattoos. I wore a vintage ballgown to my homecoming party, which I threw at a dive bar in Alphabet City. One of my friends handed out t-shirts he’d had made for the occasion, a picture of Idaho in a red circle with a line drawn through it.

It’s not that I didn’t make any more mistakes; I made plenty. But it turned out the damage wasn’t irreparable, and I was equally adept at fixing whatever I had broken. I got a job, an apartment, and a therapist; I paid off my debt and went to grad school; I wrote a novel and the novel was published. The appeal of Jagermeister faded. Being a grown-up wasn’t so bad after all.

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