1966-1966: Born in Boston, MA; moved to Adelphi, MD six months later. Allegedly.
1966-1970: The preschool years; fuzzy memories of hippies, astronauts.
1970-1978: Moved from Adelphi to Potomac, MD. Attended flower-shaped elementary school that had no walls; first writing award; weird obsession with Jonestown massacre.
1981-1984: Gigantic public high school; reams of angsty poetry; first pieces published in Seventeen.
1984-1988: The college years, which coincided with the crack/AIDS years: mugged at gunpoint unrelentingly, mated cautiously; made films, shot photos, dropped acid, wrote articles for the school paper, performed in school plays and one film, Key Exchange; rejected by the one fiction writing course in the Harvard catalogue.
1988-1992: The war photography years; stored clothes, personal items in Paris, France, while parachuting in from conflict to conflict (Afghanistan, Israel, Romania, Zimbabwe, the USSR, etc.) Won awards, had exhibitions; images published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L’Express, Libération, Géo, Stern, etc.
1992-1998: Moved from Moscow to New York; produced TV for ABC then NBC News; got married, had a couple of babies, won an Emmy, inexpertly juggled work and kids; loudly whined for subsidized daycare, secretly pined to be a writer.
1998-2013: Wrote bestselling Shutterbabe, followed by unpublishable drivel, followed by Between Here and April, Hell is Other Parents, and the New York Times bestselling The Red Book, which was nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize); published essays in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, Elle, More, Slate, Paris Match, O, and others; shot photo assignments; produced and shot a documentary in Pakistan for CNN in the wake of 9/11; became a columnist for The Financial Times; performed live on stage with The Moth, Afterbirth, Six Word Memoir, and Eve Ensler’s tribute to Anita Hill; adapted Hell is Other Parents for the stage; wrote several screenplays and a TV pilot that were never produced; watched Shutterbabe (the big and small-screen versions) languish in development hell; had another baby; lost appendix, uterus, father, Upper West Side home, bearings, socks, sanity, and several nouns; found Harlem, yoga, and occasional serenity. But not the socks. Or the whatchamacallit. Nouns.
2013-2015: The upheaval years; separated from husband and life partner of 23 years; sent the two eldest off to college; solo-parented the little one; underwent serious health issues; contemplated emigrating to Scandinavia; instead, moved across the street from the Inwood Hill Forest, the greatest city refuge no one in Manhattan has ever heard of; granted three miracles: 1) sold Shutterbabe as a TV series and was hired to co-write the pilot for NBC/Universal; 2) landed new full-time job plus three-book deal; 3) became a columnist at the Observer.
2015-2017: Ay carumba. Became a fancy VP at a PR firm. Went on more bad dates than you can possibly count on an abacus, but also some good ones, plus spent a couple of weeks as a consultant in the writers room on the TV show YOUNGER so, you know: research. Newfound appreciation for the gifts of solitude. Thanks, Tinder! Published The ABC’s of Adulthood.
2017-2018: Proud pussy hat wearer, #MeToo-er, humanist during inhumane times. Left fancy VP job, liquidated 401K when health, once again, took a nosedive, twice. Lost cervix this time, then nearly life. You can read about it here, but the squeamish among you: beware. Appreciate your health, healthy people reading all the way to the end here. Represented self in family court. Yes, that’s actually a thing. Published The ABC’s of Parenthood. Finally made it to Nepal. Have you been? Go. Trust me. Just go. Landed a bunch of gig jobs that were actually kind of great before being hired, full-time, as Head Writer at Neurotrack. Also became a columnist at The Atlantic. Learned how to surf! At 52. Turns out you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. Found kindness, love.
2019: Sold new memoir, LADYPARTS, to Random House, after at least 40 rejections, maybe more. One stops counting after awhile. Moved to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) with new partner, so hello, Chapter 2. Staff writer on Darren Star’s new show, EMILY IN PARIS, so splitting time between a Barton Fink-esque Airbnb in LA and Brooklyn. Plus this Modern Love, “When Cupid is a Prying Journalist,” has been adapted and filmed as the pilot episode of the new 2019 Amazon series by the same name. Not allowed yet to tell you who played the Deb character, but betting she might be one of your favorites, too.
Conclusion: There are no straight lines in life. Only detours, hard work, and luck.