Loving like your life depends on it

When’s the first time you fell in love?

For me, it was May 1997 — with Taylor Hanson. ‘Til then, you know, I’d suffered through the usual schoolgirl crushes on classmates … and Peter Brady. But it was Taylor, with his long golden locks and uniquely charismatic voice, that really tugged at my 11-year-old heartstrings.

I’ve had many obsessions — sorry: hobbies — since. But Hanson remains a constant. My sister and I have seen them in concert dozens of times, most recently as last summer. Twenty-five years after I first stuck “Middle of Nowhere” into my Walkman, the opening chords of “MMMBop” still light me up inside. (I randomly heard the song while shopping last weekend and, with a 3-pound roast in my hands, still did a shoulder shimmy. As my husband likes to say: we’ve reached the age of this grocery story is playing my jams.)

Why do I bring up Taylor? Well, because for as long as I’ve had hobbies, I’ve been teased — sometimes gently, occasionally less so — for them. Hanson gave way to ‘NSYNC, and ‘NSYNC became John Mayer. But for the many years before I had a (real) first kiss and occupied myself with personal romantic drama, I lost myself entirely in the world of adoration. And fan fiction.

I’d nearly forgotten about it … pushed into the recesses of my juvenilia, if you will.

Thank goodness Tabitha Carvan woke me up.

I stumbled upon This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch: The Joy of Loving Something — Anything — Like Your Life Depends On It at the recommendation of Katherine Center, one of my favorite authors. (Where Katherine leads, I follow.)

And follow I did — straight down the rabbit hole that was Australian writer Tabitha Carvan summing up the totality of my life in one book. Like me, Tabitha is a tired 30-something (or 40-something?) writer and mother of two young kids working to balance her career with parenting and marriage.

In the haze of her day-to-day life, she randomly gets sucked into “Sherlock” and its charming star, Benedict Cumberbatch. No one is more surprised than Tabitha when she’s suddenly googling Benedict at every opportunity, talking her husband into watching the popular TV series for the umpteenth time, and devouring online forums and “Sherlock” slash fiction.

I know it’s right there in the title, but it’s true: this isn’t strictly about Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s about carving out space for yourself in your own life. It’s also about embracing your passions — your uniquely you things — and reframing how you think about them. Why is it, Tabitha posits, that a middle-aged man can cheer loudly for hours at a football game without earning a second glance, but a woman doing the same at a Backstreet Boys reunion concert is immature or weird?

So unsurprisingly, this is also a book about feminism. I listened to the audio (very good, highly recommend) and was unable to underline my favorite passages, but one that really stood out was about Tabitha making a Benedict Cumberbatch photo the wallpaper on her phone. It felt wrong to her — but why? Because she was a mother. Mothers are supposed to have photos of their children as their wallpaper. Our children are supposed to be everywhere, with little space left for anything non-children. If not — can we really consider ourselves “good mothers”?

Tabitha talks about how Benedict infused joy in her life again. She interviews others who love the actor and dives headlong into the fandom, eagerly gobbling up anything to fuel her interest.

Over the summer, as my mother-in-law was dying and I was stressed at home with two active kids and needed an escape, I joined the rest of the world in obsessing over a truly under-appreciated, little-known talent: one Harry Styles. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Listening to “Harry’s House” was the gateway drug. I got sucked into the Harry vortex as swiftly as I fell in love with Taylor Hanson all those years ago.

I spent the following months feeling … happy. And silly. I mean, I’m a happily married 37-year-old woman. Why was I looking up decade-old One Direction videos and researching the meaning behind Harry’s 50+ tattoos? Well … I mean, it was fun. I needed a distraction — something far from my “normal” life — and I found it with handsome, energetic Harry.

With the help of Tabitha, my new guru, I’ve totally reframed my thinking on “The Summer of Harry.” I’ve never been embarrassed by my interests, exactly; as I type, my work desk features a headshot of Harry below an engagement photo with my husband. I once owned enough Hanson T-shirts to not repeat a look for two weeks straight. In the early 2000s, I wrote an epic ‘NSYNC-inspired fan fic called “Love You Latte” that, if memory serves, involved Justin and the main character — Megan, obvs — meeting in a coffeeshop. Starbucks was the height of sophistication, thank you.

As I’ve aged, becoming more Mom than Megan, I do think about what is “age appropriate.”

But appropriate for whom? And to what end?

Life is short. Soak it up. Obsess over it. Like what you like and offer no apologies.

Read Tabitha’s book and join us.

If you need me, I’ll be here with “Sledgehammer.”

Meeting Hanson, my idols — and how I lived to blog about it

You know, I fancy myself a sophisticated woman. I talk easily with most people and feel reasonably comfortable networking. I have a full-time job, write religiously and am devoted to my family and friends. Though I might not be the snappiest dresser around, I carry myself with an air of confidence.

In short, I think I’m a good person. And a grown-up. And a decidedly logical woman.

Until Taylor Hanson shows up.

Hanson is a real-life fountain of youth, my friends. One moment I’m 25 and chattering with my sister and boyfriend, and the next I’m 12 and wallpapering my bedroom with posters while listening to “Middle Of Nowhere” on repeat. It doesn’t matter how many concerts I’ve attended in the past (seven, I believe); heat overtakes my body the moment my favorite band appears.

On Saturday at The Sound Garden in Baltimore, Md., I arrived with Katie and Spencer to find a crush of girls milling around a makeshift stage in the tiny music store. It struck me immediately how much we all looked alike: young women in leggings, jeans or boots; some of us in glasses and some with ponytails; many in lightweight jackets or flowing tops. We were redheads, brunettes and blondes. We were all in our 20s.

We were all obsessed with Hanson.

Getting there early worked in our favor: we were right near the small stage for Hanson’s in-store performance. And as it drew closer and closer to 4:30 p.m., the magic time they were scheduled to appear, my eye rarely left the door. My attentiveness was rewarded with a glimpse of the Hanson brothers pulling up in a cab, then disappearing; my mouth opened and closed like a fish. Not my most glamorous moment.

“They’re here!” I hissed to Katie. I figured yelling that any louder would be the equivalent of shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theatre and, you know . . . that’s illegal.

While we were waiting and my excitement was growing like a sparkly weed, I had this uneasy sense that I didn’t want Spencer to see me like this. I mean, I’m his girlfriend — a writer; a daughter; a friend. I pride myself on being level-headed and poised. As a general habit, I don’t run around screaming and crying over . . . another dude.

But, you know. Some things are beyond my control.

When Hanson finally made their way toward us, camera flashes exploded from all sides. Voices lifted up in madness, shouting and calling and whistling. Someone screamed. It was something about being soclose to them, and in broad daylight, that sent a serious tremor through me. Just to the right of the stage, I could have lunged forward and grabbed Taylor’s boot. And when they launched into “Shout It Out,” the title track from their new album, Katie and I were dancing with the best of them.

The performance went on this way: me singing and shouting; Katie and I grabbing each other when Taylor looked right at us and grinned; me worrying that Spencer thought I was a total nutjob.

“Are you going to break up with me after this?” I asked him between songs, taking in the scared deer-in-headlights look on his face.

“Yes,” he deadpanned.

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Evolution of a Hanson fan… and an intro to Tinted Windows

hanson_middleofnowhereHere’s my not-so-secret confession of the day: By the tender age of 12, I was one of the biggest Hanson fans on the planet (the other being my younger sister, of course). We knew all the words by heart; screamed and cried when the blonde-haired brothers appeared on the screen; our bedrooms were adorned with every poster from Teen Beat and Tiger Beat we could get our little hands on. To date, Kate and I have seen the boys in concert more than a half dozen times — and grown up with them, too.

I won’t wax philosophical on you . . . suffice it to say that Hanson has been an absolute constant in my life since Kate and I first saw their “MMMBop” video on VH1 (yes, VH1) in June 1997. We were sitting with our parents in the living room, all of us eating pizza, and my dad said something like “those kids like they’re your age” (how right he was!). More than a decade later, I still lovingly play “Thinking Of You,” “Where’s the Love” and all the newest records over and over (I’m pretty partial to “The Walk”, their latest album, released in 2007). I know my parents and grandparents will recall all those summers I sat around with my Walkman, my grainy “Middle of Nowhere” cassette playing over and over. I had enough Hanson shirts to wear a different one every day for three full school weeks — and frequently did! My best friend Kelly and I would often coordinate them, going with the “green shirt” one day and the “black shirt” the next. We had our own Hanson code — no English necessary. I’ll dedicate a future post to all of our Hanson adventures . . . I have plenty of hilarious stories and blackmail photos to share!

tinted_windowsSo zipping along — 2009! Brothers and bandmates Isaac, Taylor and Zac are all married with kids of their own. (No word yet on just how musically inclined they are, but my money is on very!) Taylor has actually branched out and is lead singer of . . . another band: Tinted Windows. Their debut album was out last Tuesday and, without a second thought, I grabbed that puppy off iTunes. I had no idea what to expect — or even what their sound was like. But if Taylor was the voice of this crew, there was no way my loyalty would wane!

Because let me tell you — Hanson fans? Loyal. Fiercely, embarrassingly loyal. When Kate and I saw them in Falls Church, Va. last year (and then wound up lost in Southeast D.C. trying to get home afterward), I took more than a few elbows to the face as my fellow fans clambored over me to get just a wee bit closer to Isaac’s sweaty face or Taylor’s keyboard.

So I’m listening to Tinted Windows, my heart hammering at the sound of Taylor’s familiar voice filling up my car and iPod. Hanson is my band and I love them as a unit, but honestly — Tay (yeah, after 12 years? We’re on a nickname basis) is the voice I associate with the group. Wherever Taylor goes, I go.

And so I boldly dove into the tunes of Tinted Windows, a band that . . . is awesome! Their music is decidedly upbeat, quirky and fun — and perfect for the summer. I’m so tired of listening to the same stuff over and over again, and I can say for sure that this album will be the one I associate with the summer of 2009. (Uncoincidentally, I associate “The Walk” with summer 2007.) Their single “Kind Of A Girl” is a great song to crank up and sing in the sunshine . . . which is exactly what I did while driving to see my best friend on Saturday. The sun was out, the air hot and windy, sunglasses were on, windows were down . . . I’m young, alive and free. It’s the sort of fun, energetic music that reminds you to be in the moment — to stay here and now, remembering everything that’s good and awesome about the world.

Okay, I know. I promised I wasn’t going to wax philosophical! But when it comes to books and music, it’s hard for me not to get all . . . squishy on you.

So back to the songs. We have eleven of them — twelve, if you get the bonus track from iTunes. The thing that really surprised me was the lack of anything “slow” — another reason it’s a great warm-weather album. Nothing to bring you down here. My favorites are definitely “Messing With My Head,” “Dead Serious” and “Back With You” — the classic combination of awesome lyrics, great rhythm and energetic appeal.

I’m pretty much in love with it.

Rock on, gentlemen.

Check out the album on Amazon or visit the band’s official page.

Christmas carols being sung by a choir . . .

Just like my fall reflections on the greatest autumnal music around, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my favorite holiday tunes! It just can’t be the Christmas season until I’ve heard several of my favorite songs — many of them by particular artists. Everyone connects with music differently and remembers it nostalgically, and here are the tunes I absolutely have to hear to feel holly and jolly!

The Ray Conniff Singers


My first choice has strong ancestral origins: my grandfather used to play the Ray Conniff Singers’ classic holiday album “Christmas with Conniff” every year while my mom, aunt and Grandma helped decorate the tree and Grandpa put up his famed Christmas village beneath the tree. Originally released in 1959, this is definitely one of the most “classic” of my favorite seasonal albums! As soon as my parents married in 1980, Mom had to have Conniff to play while they put up their own tree. My aunt actually went out and bought the CD, too, without discussing it with anyone. Eventually we all realized we continue to play “Christmas with Conniff” year after year! “Silver Bells,” “Christmas Bride” and “White Christmas” are my favorites — beautiful, simple and filled with the resonate voices of a choir. Check it out at Amazon — you can play snippets, too.

Elvis Presley


Just as Ray Conniff is a holiday staple for my mom, Elvis Presley’s holiday album “It’s Christmas Time” is a staple for my dad. My grandmother is a huge Presley fan and, though many new holiday compilation albums have come out over the years, this one is my favorite: simple, only ten songs. “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)” can’t be missed!



And now we get into our tunes! My sister and I have been devoted Hanson fans since 1997. While my crazy, obsessive love of the three guys from Tulsa, Okla. has become more managable and less a part of my daily life over the years, we always return to their 1997 holiday album “Snowed In” for general tree decorating and feeling young again. Taylor’s aching vocals on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” still resonate with me! Katie loves Zac’s rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and the boys even put out a few original songs on this one: “At Christmas,” “Everybody Knows the Claus” and “Christmas Time.” Still a classic around my house, even though it’s now out-of-print! And we even have the cassette tape version!

Mariah Carey


Who can get through the holidays without belting out “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? It’s just not natural! That tune alone makes Carey’s 1994 album “Merry Christmas” worth the price of admission. That song caused quite the stir at my fourth grade holiday talent show . . . mostly because every little girl at our school wanted to jig around singing it on stage. Sadly, I didn’t make the cut when auditioning — but I still love that song!



And we’re back to boy bands! Ah, yes — the days of my outrageous infatuation with all things ‘NSYNC and, specifically, Justin Timberlake. Their 1998 release “Home For Christmas” really is a great album, though, and spawned a few contemporary holiday songs still buzzing around radio stations and playlists this time of year. “I Never Knew The Meaning Of Christmas” is beautiful, as is “The Only Gift.” I still know every word by heart!

And what about everyone out there? I know everyone has their classics they can’t live without!

Let’s go way back — into fan fiction!

In a fine example of how you should absolutely always be careful about what you put online because it never really goes away, Brandon sent me a link to an archives site . . . an archive of the entire Internet. Yes! They’re archiving the ENTIRE INTERNET on the Wayback Machine!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to megan’s space of hitz, a Hanson fan site I started in 1998. I was twelve! It’s been defunct for at least five years — probably longer. I can’t begin to tell you the sense of nostalgia this produced . . . let’s just say it was insane! And this is excellent ammunition for anyone who would someday like to blackmail me. Here, let me help you!


I was an incredibly dedicated Hanson fan — and, later, an incredibly dedicated ‘NSYNC fan. And I’ve been writing books since I was a kid. I now give you the greatest ammunition of all . . . a little thing called Love You Latte. I would have provided the link through the Wayback Machine, but it turns out the book is still there! All 63 chapters! In case you’re a touch confused, I used to go by the handle “gems” — it’s “Meg” backwards, plus a little “s” there. And let me just say, I once considered myself Miss Thing in the ‘NSYNC fan fiction world! Whew. In all seriousness, I was really proud of that story. I haven’t gone back to read any of it — I’m sure it’s more than a little cringe-inducing — but I was very proud that I sat down and worked so tirelessly on something in high school. I had such a thrill working on that tome! And with more than 100,000 hits, I guess I did all right.

But no, I no longer respond to e-mail addressed to “Justin’s Sugarbaby.” Sad, right? I don’t know when Justin Timberlake stopped being the No. 1 man in my life, but I’m tracing it to somewhere around my sixteenth birthday.

Okay, that’s enough going “way back” for today . . . I’m going to stay firmly ensconced in 2008 for a little while! And start my weekend now!

Not something you can easily part with

high_school_musical_3_poster My mom had David Cassidy. Friends had Rick Springfield, New Edition, New Kids on the Block and Michael J. Fox. My sister and I lovingly adored Hanson, ‘NSYNC and, occasionally, Devon Sawa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (oh yes, J.T.T.!). And now, in yet another chapter of “teenage rites of passage,” my 12-year-old cousin has Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers and “High School Musical.” It’s hard to believe we’ve already gotten to that teen-crush stage, but I’m happy we’re able to share some of that heart-pining misery!

Now, I’m 23 years old — not exactly beyond the realm of school-girl crushes. And I still have a few! Start up a friendly chat about John Mayer, James Franco or James McAvoy and I’m right there with my latest spate of celebrity gossip. Either I really dig boys with “J” names in general or I’m never beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy.

Do we ever really get beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy?


We still love Hanson!

And even though Hanson has been out of the limelight for ten years or so, my sister and I have religiously followed their careers, marriages, children and various other activities since I was 11 — and she was 8. Eight years old! That’s not something you easily part with.

And my mom reminded me in 1997, as she reminds me now, that these fads come and go — all young women need someone to screech and squeal and discuss at slumber parties and walks around the mall. Take the Beatles as Exhibit A. Does anyone really get over their first-time-discovery love of the Beatles? It’s pretty much impossible.

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