Recently, in my 38th year, I was possessed with a desire to start running. Even though I'm horrible at it, the feeling just grips me, so every few days I sprint down the West Side Highway. Completely surprising, completely weird for me—but fun.
Best Reason to Be Happy
My partner, Susan. I'm alone a couple of days a week while I'm working in New York, but I haven't felt alone in the world—I haven't felt lonely—in the 13 years since I laid eyes on her.
Best Legal Route to Joy
Gin, dry vermouth, and a twist of lemon peel; two chairs by the fire; a sleeping dog; and a long unscheduled night ahead. Rinse, repeat.
I'm not a morning person. Before noon all I'm capable of is marmalade and mumbling.
It's a toss-up between two deodorant commercials: "Never let 'em see you sweat," which is key in a competitive workplace, and "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman," which are lesbian words to live by. Thank you, Madison Avenue!
Best Underappreciated Skill
The ability to repair things. Standing knee-deep in freezing water in my basement, I would happily have traded my PhD for the knowledge of how to restart my busted sump pump.
I have a few: Learn Spanish, be Susan's amiable consort on all the brilliant trips she wants to take, and teach the dog to turn off the bedroom light.
Don't lie—you have to remember it! The single best thing about honesty is that it requires no follow-up. Every lie is something you're responsible for as long as you want to keep it going, and few of them merit that mental storage space.
Earning the trust of others. If you're someone people count on, particularly in difficult moments, that's a sign of a life lived honorably.
Caffeine! And sugar. Every day some evil gremlin inside me decides it’s worth it to sacrifice how I’ll feel in a few hours for the short-term energy boost I need now. I try to ignore him, but he’s a tough little guy.
Best Hidden Talent
The more tense the situation, the more calm I tend to become—my breathing slows down and I relax. Once everything’s settled, I’ll get anxious, but only then. I don’t know why it happens that way; maybe my adrenaline pump was just installed backward.
Best Lesson The hardest thing to say is anything at all in the face of grief. Language is the least useful of our human traits when we want to meet and recognize and ease the pain of bereavement. We have to rely on the other ways we care and comfort—just being there, displays of kindness, food, music.
Best Reason to Break the Rules
To make new ones.
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