Wednesday, March 28, 2012


So, by now everyone knows how much I love magazines. It's true. I do. You know what else I love? Commercials. Not just any commercials. The smart, witty ones that I can relate to, that make me think about things a little differently, and most of all that make me laugh out loud.

Sure, there are some that I've loved that have been pulled off the air faster than you can say RANCH TOOTH, but for the most part my favorites have been a roaring success both within the trade community and with consumers.

One that I've been thinking about a lot lately is the IBM classic, Buzzword Bingo. "These innovation meetings are killing us," they say. "The hype, the jargon. These buzzwords are killing us. Every time you hear a word, you mark your card."

If I had the energy to actually put a card together, I'd be killing it at work. The latest offenders include INFO GRAPHIC, TRANSPARENT, PLUS-DELTA, THOUGHT LEADERS... They join the age-old classics like SYNERGY, STRATEGIC, and DEEP DIVE.

Really though, it's collections of words more than the singletons that truly get under my skin.

I first noticed my aversion to certain phrases when I was home on maternity leave two years ago. It was an overwhelming time to say the least—in both good ways and bad. And after weeks of sitting in the same spot on the couch with a small man constantly latched onto my chest, the very last thing I wanted to hear in between suck sessions was, "Um, I think he's hungry." WHAT??? NO. NOT. POSSIBLE. He JUST ate. Even if it was true (goodness gracious, how could it be?) did I really need to hear it every minute of every day?!*

Sure, there have been other offending phrases spoken—and incessantly repeated—since then, but none have risen to I-think-he's-hungry status. until now.

"You're doing a great job!"

Over the last several weeks, I've had countless conversations at the office about transition, personalities, performance, and potential. It's not my best quality, but I'm not really comfortable talking about myself and I'm the opposite of gracious when I'm complimented. It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment, I do. Particularly because when the words are uttered, they come with a supportive smile and complete sincerity.  The thing is, I am not motivated by accolades. In fact, they make me uncomfortable. When it comes to my work, or how I approach anything in life, the opinion I value most is my own. I've been told I'm my own worst critic (more times than I can count... maybe it should be on my list of banned phrases?), but that really is OK with me. It's who I am, and it's what drives me to do what I do and to try my best.

So when I'm asked, "Would it be helpful for me to tell you more often how well you're doing?" Can you guess what my answer has been every single time?* Aside from loving magazines and really good commercials, there's one other thing about me everyone should to know: I mean what I say, and I say what I mean.

Hudson at 4 months.
This guy, hungry? SERIOUSLY??

*Did you guess "no"? BINGO!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Yesterday at 4pm, the dreaded call came in from school: "Hudson has a fever. You have to come pick him up and he can't come in tomorrow." Well, there goes another day of work, I thought. As if it were possible to feel more behind... So this morning, as I emailed everyone to let them know I wouldn't be in the office, I knew I had a choice to make. Half-ass both work and taking care of my kid, or pick one and do it as well as I could.

I opted to shut down my computer and join Logan and Hudson on a great adventure. We took a walk through the village, dropped a load of cash at the Zoning Office, and landed at the park. "I SWING!" "I SLIDE!" "I RUN!" Who said this little boy was sick??

When Logan headed back home to get the car (extraction from the park takes serious planning and logistics), Huddy and I headed down to the river with two big cups filled with rocks. One by one, he launched the rocks into the water, reveling at every PLOP. We were having the grandest of times, when two slightly older, amazingly annoying boys showed up, running straight into the water, grabbing fistfuls of mud and throwing them all over the place.

Minutes later, a woman showed up behind them and the showdown began. Clearly a mom used to ruling the roost, she copped a major attitude implying that she owned the park and that, really, there was no room for a rock-throwing toddler on her riverbank. Before I even had a chance to properly rebut, Hudson went barreling down toward the water to play with the big boys. I sprung into action, scooping him up and saying, "No, Huddy, you can't play near the water just yet. It's dangerous." He, of course, burst into tears and started thrashing about with all his might. Hudson was still bawling as I walked up the hill, away from the river and that MOTHER. I felt so bad for him. How was he supposed to understand why other people could ruin his fun, and turn an awesome, chill moment with mom into total chaos and frustration?

I did the only thing I know how to do. I gave him a big hug to help calm him down and I told it to him like it is. "Sometimes, Hudson, no matter what you want or what you do, life just throws stuff like that at you, and you know what? It totally sucks. It sucks that we were having fun and they ruined it for us. It's not fair and I'm really, really sorry."

Dammit if that amazing son of mine didn't stop crying, look up at me, and smile. "What does life do sometimes, Huddy?" He looked me straight in the eye and said, "SUCK!" I hugged him so tight he started thrashing again, laughing this time rather than crying. I took his hand and he mine, and we walked up to the bridge, from which the rocks fly farther and plop louder anyway.

It occurred to me then that sometimes things that suck in the moment can actually lead to something even better than what you might expect. Kind of like being forced to skip a day of work, only to have a wonderful day with your son.

Monday, March 19, 2012


My mom and dad were practically kids—18 and 22 respectively—when they packed up their bags and left home to move to a totally new place. A mere 5,275 miles away. My husband Logan has lived everywhere from Salem, Mass to Greensboro, NC; Virgina to Georgia to Colorado to DC. For good measure, he even found the time to squeeze in two years in Russia Far East.

Me? I've managed to meander my way from NJ to PA to NY, with short stints in Florence and DC to boot. For the last 6 years though, I've put down some pretty deep roots in Vermont. Of course it's hard not to daydream about what other geographic adventures life has in store, but right now my wanderlust leads me in one direction. Specifically, one mile from our current house to the land on which our new house will grow.
November 2010

For over a year we've been working on house plans, meeting with the builder who by now is more family than GC, and answering the question, "So, when will you build?" with "Not till the ground thaws." The big dig, if you will, has always been comfortably out of reach.

But now, all of a sudden, it's March. Bizarrely, the sun just set on our third day of 70 degree weather. We spent the weekend clearing out the garden, riding the swings at the park, and taking long walks that inevitably led us to the same place: 300 Cochran Road.
Today we started the process of pulling our building permits. Friday we'll meet with our lender. Before we know it, the first shovel will hit dirt and home will take on a whole new meaning.

January 2012
And away we go!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


In a meeting today, a co-worker was attempting to change the time on the conference room clock and hang it back up on the wall when it slipped out of her hand and hit me square in the back.


She was mortified. I didn't want her to feel too bad, so I opted to shake it off and ask that the meeting proceed as though nothing had happened. In reality, it hurt like nobody's business. The clock was as big as a house and I swear it was at least 50 pounds. At one point I left the room to grab a hot tea and pop a couple of ibuprofen.

The clock was pretty much THIS big...

When I got back into the room, I zoned out for a while, thinking about of all of the unexpected things that have happened this week. And it's only Wednesday.

On Saturday morning we woke up to 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground. On Sunday, it was sunny and 60 degrees. Winter, summer, winter, summer, winter, summer...

In between the two, somebody thought it was a good idea to rob us of a perfectly well-earned 60 minutes and not tell me about it until a few hours before. Back in the day, changing the clocks was a huge event. If nothing else, everybody knew it was coming. Including me. Nowadays, it sneaks up and sucker punches you right when you finally get your kid into the swing of an awesome bedtime routine.


On Sunday, the family took a trip to the doctor. My parting gift? A Z-pack and yet another diagnosis of "illness induced asthma." 


Then there was the Myers-Briggs Incident. I mean Instrument. Have you used it? If you have, you know the four letters that represent your psychological preferences for how you view the world and make decisions. Sounds fascinating, right? RIGHT! Except if you take the test you're not supposed to call a "test" and—as Logan so adeptly put it—you break it. I just took it. And the results—as Sara so kindly put it—were inconclusive


What's a girl to do? 

I guess I'll just have to wait and see what Thursday and Friday bring. (And make sure to have my new inhaler—and maybe even a helmet—with me at all times, just in case.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Back when I worked at House & Garden, there was a sign on my Art Director's door that read: GOOD, FAST, CHEAP (PICK TWO)I remember going over the combinations in my head, thinking he was pretty brilliant. 

Then the other day, I came across a magazine ad for the movie "Friends with Kids" on which the headline read: LOVE, HAPPINESS, KIDS (PICK TWO). Hmmmm, I thought. There's something to this system. 

So of course I started to think of all of the different combinations for which this model could work. With Town Meeting Day and the big fall election on the brain, for instance, I came up with: HONEST, EFFECTIVE, POLITICIAN (PICK TWO). 

More and more now, as I find myself balancing way too much on my plate at the office, with a growing toddler, new house plans, and a husband that's carrying much of the load at home,  I can't help but feel like my options most nights are pretty weak: WORK, FAMILY, SLEEP.

Tonight, for my sanity, I pick but one.

Night, Night.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Back in DC, I worked with a woman who was pretty adamant that swearing was not only an unacceptable practice at work, but unacceptable in all facets of life. She kept everyone in the office on notice, punishing us when we slipped up with her patented 'look'—an impressively effective mix of "You've really disappointed me." and "I'm going to kill you!" I was an easy target.

At one point she threatened to bring in a swear jar, but I told her I didn't have that kind of cash. I listened, though, and found that it was possible to express myself in more eloquent ways. After a while, I didn't need to see the look, or even be in her presence, to feel a little guilty when the occasional expletive crossed my lips.

Since returning to Vermont, I've lapsed a bit—I know she checks in on how I'm doing... I can only hope my friend Emilie protects me from her wrath—but I continue to try. I refrained from cussing on The Meander for a long, long time. Now, I know that my last post single-handedly erased all of the discipline Anahlisia instilled in me. But alas, from what I've heard, her mom at least would understand completely.

That's just the thing about words. You don't really know how important or necessary they are until you're in a situation where the right word means everything. Sometimes, a swear is just the perfect word. And sometimes, as is the case with Hudson lately, any word at all will do.

Since before he was born, back when he was known to the world as Baby Carlos, we've been speaking for him. The voice on loan from Cartman, the sass from Stewie, the words, all ours. Until now.

As it turns out, Hudson is really coming in to his own.

Last week, as I put him to bed with a little cold, I noticed he looked like he might be developing conjunctivitis. When he awoke in the middle of the night repeating "OW! EYES!" I felt terrible for him but was amazed to hear him articulate his woes.*

Not seven days later, he's non-stop verbal:
"Hat! Jacket! Outside! WOOD!"
"Apple juice, please!"
"Kai! Hugh!"
"Love you, Daddy-O!"
"Look! Moon!"
"I pooped!"

I'm so proud of my boy, growing up so well, learning so much every day. Though the era of me talking on his behalf is quickly coming to an end, I look forward to hearing him be as creative with the English language as his momma is.

I guess now I'll have to start working on my very own 'look.' Unlike Anahlisia's though, mine will likely be combination "Oh the horror!" and "I"m so proud!", with a splash of "I really am trying not to laugh." on the side.

*He did not, in fact, have pink eye, just a nasty cold virus.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Six years ago, my friend's mother, Joan, was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. For months, we balanced our sadness over her suffering and anger at the unfairness of it all, with the joy and excitement of planning a wedding. 

The disease has touched the lives of so many of my friends in unimaginable ways. And yet each of them has faced the challenge and uncertainty with a calm and grace that is truly humbling.

Yesterday, one friend shared the good news that her battle with cancer seems to be over.  Today, for another friend, the battle begins. 

As she headed to the hospital this morning, I texted her with the only words of encouragement I felt would truly capture the essence of the moment. "Say it with me," I wrote. "Fuck you, cancer! Fuck you and the cells you rode in on." A few minutes later I received her reply: "FUCK YOU, CANCER!" It was then that I relaxed a bit, knowing that no matter how long or hard the road, we're in this together. 

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Joan. Though she didn't get to see her daughter walk down the aisle, the gifts she left behind were immeasurable. I am a better person for having known her and the strength and courage with which she lived.