• If you sense a sudden surge in popularity immediately after being named one of the Road Warriors, stay calm and don't let it go to your head. Chances are it's just a plethora of friends vying for that "plus one" status on your all-expenses-paid trip to hawaii for the photo shoot. Choose wisely.

• Being called the talent does not ­warrant tantrums or unsolicited complaints about the clothes they've picked for you, the amount of hair spray they douse you with, or the bachelor-esque design of your photo shoot. When you're American Way's top model, you do what you're told to - on the runway and off. You get up at the crack of dawn if the sun is right for photos. You smile when they say to smile. You chug that margarita when they say to chug (and you'd better chug it quickly, or sherri will order another one and make you try again!).

• After being professionally primped by a stylist, a makeup artist, and a hair guru, do not be surprised if the man next to you in seat 9a doesn't say anything when he flips past your photo in American Way. You won't look like you do in real life - which means few people will recognize you.

• Teased hair, heavy makeup, a low-cut top, a killer pair of manolos, three tuxedo-clad waiters, chocolate, and champagne screams high maintenance. it’s no wonder mr. right didn’t come calling with a long-stemmed rose. after all, in real life, i’m a jeans-and-flip-flops kind of gal.

• While being named a winner is certainly a crowning achievement, being profiled as “our very own Bridget Jones” is the kiss of death.

• When your Road Warrior photo and comparison to Bridget are just a few keystrokes away, blind dates are no longer blind. on a similar note, when your potential suitor calls the evening before the big date and says, “so, I’ve been doing a bit of reconnaissance …,” cancel.

• When an online dating site matches you to a guy claiming to be the poster child for Continental Airlines, don’t bother. It won’t work.

• if you receive a letter that begins, “this is a random letter, so forgive me — but i read your profile on aa and wanted to say hi,” resist the urge to think stalker! And give the guy a chance. While he may be geographically undesirable, his could be the only fan mail you’ll ever get.

• If a stranger approaches and claims to recognize you from the magazine as “the one who has no life, no home, and who obviously needs a new job,” it’s probably time to make some serious changes in your life.

So that’s what i did — made some changes. in what became a whirlwind year, I moved from San Francisco to New York, traded in my Road-Warrior job, and have just returned from a few weeks in glorious Italy. Now I work out of a real office (not a virtual one), and unless someone at American­ Way can pull a few strings, I won’t even make platinum status this year.