Excerpt: 'Anyone Can Grow Up'

After the Legal Times and writing freelance pieces, I got a job at Esquire magazine as its Washington bureau chief, which meant wielding huge power over a bureau of one (me) at my own kitchen table. The high point of that job was when editor Adam Moss lit on the idea of compiling an Esquire Register — a collection of profiles of up-and-coming men under forty. For the length of that assignment, I was never lonely. After a small item appeared in The Washington Post's gossip column about the project, I even got a note from the father of one potential candidate, who wanted me to know his son was so brilliant, he could say "cow" and "moon" at a very early age.

Spurning the law was bad for my bank account but good for Courtney. Piecework fit nicely with motherhood. In the morning, I could roll out of bed to drive the car pool dressed like a grad student who'd overslept instead of a striving junior associate in a suit and heels. I wrote anywhere, anytime — on a yellow legal pad, sitting in the bleachers watching soccer, on a laptop in the pediatrician's office, at midnight at home. Editors, unlike senior partners, approve of you being a mile wide and an inch deep and don't feel cheated if you're not at the office until all hours, as long as you produce the requisite 1,500 words. The goal is not to master the minutiae of the Sherman Antitrust Act, but to master the issue at hand for as long as it takes to write about it that week.

I was usually home after school to claim the lost hours before dinner, when I turned the kitchen into a playground, sometimes letting Courtney roller-skate from the counter to the table, carrying plates. She started cooking by making pancakes, then scrambling eggs, then omelets. Before long, with the help of my mother, she learned to make pie dough, which still eludes me. My mother taught her so well that Courtney became the head baker at the Red Door Café at Kenyon College. When Courtney was eighteen, she won the Bloomingdale's cooking contest for baking one of my mother's desserts.

to win Pulitzer Prizes at The New York Times. When he became Time's "Nation" editor, he set out to make the magazine sound more like America than like Yale and Harvard circa 1925.

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