never married, over forty, a little bitter

driving lessons

I listened to two audiobooks on my drive this past week. Tatum O’Neill’s A Paper Life, which made me realize once again that there are definitely men who make singlehood look like the preferable state, and Penny Marshall’s My Mother Was Nuts. One of the things that struck me in Marshall’s book was how, despite greater sexism and less “cushy” lives, things seemed much easier and less competitive in her day (perhaps one of the problems is that there are just too many people now):

Looking at your career, it’s so interesting to see how directing kind of just fell into your lap. You had such success in front of the camera, and all of a sudden comes a directing career. And you first learned from Spielberg, of all people!

Well he was always encouraging. He’d come over to the house and see me doing jigsaw puzzles, which I had an addiction to, and he’d say, “That’s editing.” And then he’d see me talk to all these neurotic guys. He’d say [whispering] “That’s directing.” You have to hold their hand, and tell them what to do. I never said I wanted to direct; I had done a couple of Laverne & Shirley’s but everyone did. Cindy [Williams] did! Michael McKean! The script girl! Anyone around! Who wants to direct this week?

You bore witness to so many changes in the industry, on both sides of the camera, over your career. The way television works now compared to how it was made back in the Laverne & Shirley days… there was so much more freedom and looseness then.

Well remember, there were only three channels!

You’re pretty honest about the role that nepotism played in your career, getting you in the door through your brother Garry. But you also talk about the idea of “giving someone a life” — paying it forward, giving someone new an opportunity to do with what they can. Do you feel like that sentiment still exists in Hollywood today?

No. [Laughs] Everyone needs a life right now!

money talks

I think Sheryl Sandberg’s intentions are laudable, but $500 million… GIVE ME A BREAK.

Sandberg is not just privileged, she is worth an estimated $500 million. Money can’t buy you love, but it sure as hell purchases a lot of child care. The fact that Sheryl barely mentions her children’s nanny or the crack support team that smoothed her path to Time’s 100 Most Impressive People list is all too typical of the “Look, no hands!” it’s-easy-to-juggle brigade.


To be fair to Sandberg, she is very good on the way that men will have to take their place at the kitchen table to enable women to take theirs at the boardroom version. What really riles in this book, though, is its author’s cool dismissal of the negative “stereotype” of the “harried and guilt-ridden woman” – such as the heroine of my novel I Don’t Know How She Does It – who tries to divide her time between work and family. Guess what? It’s not a stereotype, Sheryl. If you don’t have a chauffeur, a boss who lets you leave work at 5.30pm (as Sheryl does), a team of researchers to write your book, oh, and $500 million in the bank, then guilty and harried are the daily deal.

I will add to these next paragraphs that, as a more average example, I have had to “act like a man” for far less than a position at Lehman Brothers, and I found no partner along the way and never really had the kind of money to throw at fertility treatments even if I wanted to:

Only this week, Erin Callan, former chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers, admitted that the price she paid for working so insanely hard was divorce and not becoming a mother. “I sold myself short,” says Erin, who is now trying for her first baby at the ambitious age of 47. No doubt, this will involve the costly purchase of eggs or the rental of a friendly womb.

If, in order to get a seat on the board, you have to act like a man for 20 years, then sub-contract your biological function to a younger, poorer woman, it’s hardly surprising today’s girls are not exactly queuing up to join Sheryl and the Mrs Alphas.

the faucet

I’ve been out of town on another lovely retreat so haven’t had much time to write!

One thing that has always reliably made me cry is “goodbyes,” so at the end of this recent week away, I couldn’t stop the waterworks. We’ll see how I handle leaving California for good.

I figure, though, that mini-breakdowns keep me sane in the long run.