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Religion also made a strong impression on young Hate. His parents weren't particularly religious — he describes them as "dishwater Protestants" — and he says they were also "somewhat alcoholics." While he says his relationship with his mother had a lot of "tension," his relationship with Jesus was positive. "I thought Jesus was a great guy," he said. "Because Jesus talked about caring, and I really liked that, I still like that, and died trying to care about people, but it was in a positive way."
According to Hate's younger sister Prudence Hawthorne, who lives in Montana and is something of an archivist of Hate's life, her brother seemed particularly sensitive of other people's phoniness. "From the beginning, he was a bullshit detector," she wrote by e-mail.
At the University of Connecticut, Hate chose English as his major. Reflecting back on his early love of words, Hate said, "I think I had a feeling. I didn't know it at the time, but I think my instinct was what's wrong in the world had something to do with language. ... So I wanted to master the language. I wanted to get English under my belt."
He spent the next few years doing just that: He wrote for and edited his school newspaper and started a humor magazine called Corkscrew. During the summer between his junior and senior year, he began working for The Providence Journal.
Upon graduation, however, Hate joined the Air Force for a three-year stint. For the first year he worked as an air traffic controller for fighter planes in Morocco. But upon learning of his skill with words, officials reassigned him to be an editor of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes and sent him to Colorado Springs.
It was there that he met and married his wife, Lee Winandi, a school teacher from Ohio. After being discharged from the military, Hate decided his next move would be to work for The New York Times. To Hate, working at the Times would be the ultimate proof to himself that he had language "under control."
Hate and Lee moved into a new twenty-story apartment building in Greenwich Village. One day he walked into the Times offices with a story in his pocket about graffiti in his building that workers had written on the walls before it was painted over. A recruiter told him the Times didn't hire people off the street, but that the paper had an opening for a temporary copy boy. Though it wasn't what he wanted, Hate nonetheless took it as a way to get his foot in the door. The year was 1961. "I figured I'm gonna be there for a year," he reasoned. "Some copy boys had been there ten years. If I don't make it, I'll go somewhere else."
But Hate was determined to work his way up. And it wasn't long before he did. "I worked my ass off that year," he said. A month into his new job, he got his story about graffiti published on the front page of the real estate section. For a new copy boy, it was a coup.
Always a hustler, Hate decided he needed to figure out how the system at the Times worked in order to advance, so he interviewed copy boys and the managing editor for a story for the trade publication Editor & Publisher. Soon, editors were taking note.
So when Hate finally got offered a coveted staff position, it surprised everyone that he turned it down. The Peace Corps had just started, and Hate decided that he needed to do something to match the adventurousness of his father's expedition to the South Pole. "I wanted to do something unorthodox, dramatic," he said. "That was part of the appeal."
Hate and Lee headed to Thailand for two years to teach English. During their stay, Hate and Lee had a daughter. Even more groundbreaking was the exposure Hate got to an entirely different way of life — one that was completely at odds with what he had imagined for himself thus far. Hate had been on the fast track, but in Thailand, everyone appeared to be on the relaxed track. "They were just sitting around drinking iced tea and they weren't busting their butt," he recalled. For Hate, the experience was eye-opening.
Also in Thailand, Hate discovered that teaching English was not his calling. So he continued writing — for the English-language paper in Bangkok and for the Times, and even started a paper for volunteers. After their two years were up, he and Lee returned to the states.
Back in New York, Hate's life appeared to be progressing well. He went back to work at the Times and was promoted to news clerk, which afforded him a living wage to support his family, and eventually made his way to the Metro desk. But the pressure to not "fuck up," as he put it, was intense. Hate also wasn't comfortable with the facts-based world of reporting. "That's why it was such a strain to be there," he said. "I'm not that strict about things. I tend to believe things if I want to believe them, whether science says it's really true or not, I don't care."
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