What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”
I write a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s sort of a newspaper within the newspaper, a gossip column that tries to steer away from Lady Gaga.
Describe the path that led you to this career.
I came to the Chronicle in 1972, with a B.A. in creative writing, as a part-time temporary steno-clerk. I started writing by doing book reviews, then became an editor, then writer/reporter, then columnist.
What are the elements of a successful workplace?
To me, it’s the ability to talk with my co-workers, to have enough oxygen in the day that I can pick my head up and look around me (in the office and in the city) and take note of what’s happening.
What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?
Never mind smart phone, iPad, laptop. I like my fancy electric toothbrush. If I didn’t have it, my teeth could fall out, and then I would be a pariah on the social scene.
What are you reading?
I am reading a fairly obscure book by a British writer about the (probably mythical) place, Thule. It’s an exploration of the North — Iceland, Greenland, Norway — and just fascinating. Found it on the “free table,” where people leave books they don’t want any more, at work.
If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?
I was in my early 30s when I made the leap from clerical worker to a writing job. I would have pushed for that earlier. I would have told myself at 20 to do what I eventually did at 33 or so: Use one’s envy to motivate oneself.
If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
Figure skater; I love those little short skirts.
At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?
Motown. Can’t escape the demographic. I’m a Boomer.
What’s in your Netflix queue?
Don’t do Netflix.