Here I am goofing off,
at around 3 years old.
I was born on June 21, 1977. My first home was in San Mateo, California, in a pink house in the middle of a steep hill, where I lived with my parents and my younger sister.
For a while, I figured I would grow up to be a singer, and I paraded around our living room clutching a hair brush as a microphone, belting out Carly Simon songs.
My sister and me.
My mom often dressed
us in matching outfits.
Later, my repertoire expanded to include Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, and sometimes my sister and I made up dances to go with the songs.
I attended Highlands Elementary School, where I was always the shortest kid in class. At Highlands, I wrote some of my first stories, including a biography of my mom, which said in part: “My mother is a housewife. She loves to sleep.” This was big news to my mom who went to work every day and hardly remembers sleeping.
One Halloween, my sister
was a Fairy Princess and
I was Cassie from
“A Chorus Line."
(I think the turtlenecks
under the leotards
complete the outfits.)
When I was nearly nine years old, my parents divorced. My mother, sister and I moved to Riverdale, New York, an area of New York City just north of Manhattan. Since we moved from a good-sized house into a small-sized apartment, I had to share a room with my sister. This did not go over very well. My mother had a wall built in the kitchen, which enclosed the area where the kitchen table was supposed to go. It was a little bigger than a closet and I could only fit a bed and a small dresser in it, but I loved that room. Since I was small for my age, I thought the room fit me just fine.
Later on, we moved to another apartment, this one in Manhattan, and I got a regular-sized room. My sister and I attended an all-girls school called the Spence School. By the time I was in middle school, I had pretty much given up my future career as a singer, but I loved to write, so I thought maybe I would be a writer when I grew up.
I also loved reading. I babysat a lot and often spent my money on books. When I was thirteen years old, I read a book called In the Absence of Angels by Elizabeth Glaser. Elizabeth was infected with AIDS and had unknowingly passed the disease onto her two children. When her daughter died, she founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation to try and save the lives of other kids with AIDS, including her son, Jake. It was one of the most amazing stories I had ever read and I decided to get involved with the Foundation. Though Elizabeth died in 1994, I stayed in touch with her family and kept volunteering for the Foundation – now it’s called the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
The day I graduated from
Barnard, May 1999.
I graduated from Spence in 1995 and went on to attend Barnard College, part of Columbia University, where I majored in English and took as many writing classes as I could. After college I went to law school and became a lawyer, but in my free time I spent a lot of time reading and writing in my journal… and hoped that one day I would be a published author.
My dad took this picture
of me last spring.
I wrote the first chapter for My So-Called Family while I was still practicing law, and I showed it to a couple of friends. They said they liked it, so I kept writing. I tried to write a few pages every weekend, and each time I finished a chapter, I sent it to my friends. They corrected my typos and encouraged me to keep going. Finally I finished the whole book, and I was thrilled when I found out that Simon & Schuster would publish it.
Today I still live, work and write in Manhattan. I’m still a lousy singer – although I have been known to dance around my apartment singing Madonna songs. But right now I have my laptop in my lap, the music playing in the background, and I’m working on my next book.