Sometimes you drive to work with a Diet Coke on your car . . .

. . . and sometimes that Diet Coke rolls off the roof, smashing into the roadway and dissolving in a puddle of foamy soda goodness. And wrecking your hopes, dreams and aspirations for a decent morning along with it.

Each day begins with a soda. I’m not going to deny it or make excuses for it — it’s just what I do. Some people have coffee, others have tea; I have Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi — I have no loyalty). It’s the jolt I need to get the little wheels in my brain turning, and I definitely need them to turn.

I got my first hate mail at the paper yesterday. It was only a matter of time, I guess, because no one is allowed to feel successful without someone wanting to cut them down. Someone actually bothered to hand write two pages’ worth of material on how much I suck, illuminating my “narcissism” and “atrocious grammar” (say what?). She wrote that she couldn’t “suffer through any more of my ‘articles'” without writing me, which was really kind of her. I appreciated her sweet words of encouragement on an afternoon when I was already overworked, overstressed and struggling with a variety of personal issues.

I can’t let it get to me, I know. Haters are everywhere and everyone feels the need to comment on your life and your work, especially when it’s out there for all to see. There was no signature or return address, of course; she signed it, “A Reader (Female).” As if I would think for a second that was a dude sending me a handwritten card in pretty cursive handwriting, maligning me for being an epic failure of a person. How cowardly.

Whatever. I threw it away.

But it bothered me. I can’t pretend like it didn’t, though I valiantly puffed up my chest and tried to get back to work. “This is an opportunity to prove I can take a little criticism,” I thought. “This is a story I can tell about how some clueless person couldn’t recognize my genius.”

But I’m not a genius, of course. I’m just a writer. A young woman. I have a local column. I love it and it matters to me, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I make typos or forget words or don’t say anything sensational, but that’s the nature of the biz. Some columns are better than others. Some are a stretch, I’ll admit it. But all I can do is the best I can do, and not everyone is going to like me.

That’s a lesson I had to learn early, but it’s a tough pill to swallow: Not everyone is going to like me.

And that was yesterday. Today is Thursday, and Thursdays are always good days. I have my bridesmaid dress fitting and friends’ emails to return and my birthday is Monday and I have a great family and I’m in love with someone who loves me, so I don’t care about a pretty handwritten card with nasty words inside.

Though I do wish I had that Diet Coke right about now.