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.”

Peeps hateration, pranks and other things I won’t stand for

As with many things in my life, my obsession with Peeps is known far and wide. And it probably doesn’t hurt that I recently wrote a column about my love of the sugary candy in the newspaper for which I work. In an unexpected twist of fate, turns out people actually read my articles, which run twice a week in our local papers.

And you guys will love this: my column is called “Right, Meg?” Not to be confused with write meg!, my blog, but . . . right/write, ?/!

Cute, right? …Right?


So Peeps. Yes. I dig them. So much so that some people who shall remain anonymous — probably because I still don’t know who it is — decided to put this little gem of a paper in my work mailbox, pictured at right.

Did I get angry, friends? No. No, I didn’t. Anger would be a wasted emotion, and I’m most definitely not getting mad at a Peeps hater. Because Peeps? They’re awesome. Delicious. Light and airy. Covered in sugar. They turn your tongue weird colors. They’re indicative of spring. And what’s wrong with any of those things?

So I love Peeps so much that I actually went to the only Peeps store in the world last weekend with Spencer, where we took photos of candy-shaped things and I generally wandered around like a lunatic. Located in National Harbor just outside Washington, D.C., Peeps & Company is a shrine of magnificence. When one of the sales clerks asked me if I needed any help, I grinned like a homicidal maniac and practically shouted, “No, I’m just really, really happy to be in this Peeps store!”


Spencer was a good sport about the whole thing. He totally humored me as I wandered to all sorts of Peeps-shaped things and quickly bought a ton of the chocolate-covered varieties. And then I posed with stuff. A lot of stuff. And my boyfriend, dear heart that he is, took photos of this entire adventure.

While at this wondrous shop, I went ahead and bought myself a little souvenir, too: a yellow chick Peeps mousepad. Which I brought to work. And proudly showed everyone. And giggled and petted lovingly, feeling so happy and satisfied to have a Peeps-shaped mousepad.

And then it got stolen.

Yes, friends, the Peeps hateration just continues. It’s not enough to leave me “PEEPS SUCKS” notes, is it? Now my coworkers* have to delight in pranking me and pilfering my beloved Peeps mousepad.

When I got back from my lunch break last week and noticed it was missing, I genuinely had no clue who was at fault here. My cheeks started to burn as I grilled Sandy over who had swiped it — just before I considered sending out a mass email demanding my chick’s return. Was I seriously angry about it? No. It was obviously a joke. But let’s just say I wanted that mousepad back quickly.

After an hour or so, Kelly called me from the front desk. “You have an urgent package up here,” she said cryptically.

So I mosied myself on out there and was handed a thick manila envelope. Inside? My mousepad. With instructions to check Facebook for details on a little adventure he had made.

Yes, it seems my Peep got into a little trouble with the popo. I’m glad he’s safe, but I hope he learned his lesson. I mean, honestly… I thought his father and I raised him better than this. And it’s a good thing he had ID on him, because I was totally not bailing his marshmellowy behind out of jail.


*Gretchen, I’m on to you. Watch your own mousepad’s back — that’s all I’m sayin’. Not a threat, just . . . a helpful suggestion, friend.

Yes, Meg, there is a Nail Polish Claus (and he likes pink)

Something really exciting happened to me this week.

No, I haven’t yet found “The One” — or even “the one” of the moment. As of this posting, friends, I haven’t gotten to a third date with any of the gentlemen with whom I’ve been seeing recently. Casually. In a casual way.

I haven’t won the lottery or gotten a raise. And while I’m at it, I haven’t made great strides in finishing my fourth novel or returning to the infamous querying process in order to find someone who will value (and promote) my snark-tastic musings. I did win a heaping pile of books from The Book Studio — more on that later — but I’m so stressed and busy, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to crack the spine on any of them. Yes, things are insane — in a good way — and I’m feeling overwhelmed, but . . .

I found the perfect shade of
pink nail polish.

I’ve pranced around the planet for almost 25 years and polished up these pretty fingers more times than I can count. In terms of obsessions, I’m a bit of a nail polish junkie — and it doesn’t help that I frequent some fabulous fashion blogs which make me want to whip out the ol’ credit card and order everything in sight. If I’m strolling through Target, I have to detour into the makeup aisle — just to get a glimpse at all the tiny, pretty bottles, all perfectly lined up and promising I’ll become sassy or saucy or sexy while wearing these shades.

I’m pretty saucy on a daily basis — or try to be, anyway — but there’s something about those clear bottles promising me a mini-makeover that I find utterly irresistible.

But up until this week, I’d never been able to find the right shade of pink.

Because on top of being sassy and saucy, I’m very particular. My sister’s room is full of the pink cast-offs I’ve purchased over the years, trying to find the right color, only to decide that while it’s pretty or cute or whatevs, it’s not The One.

But it’s a brand-new day.

It’s called “Party In My Cabana” and is made by none other than OPI, that most fabulous (and, er, costly) of nail companies. Since I cycle through so many bottles of polish on a regular basis, I usually can’t see paying $8 or $10 a bottle for something I’ll probably wear once and then shove in a bin, but let me say this: I’d pay every cent of that $8 for this hue (and did), and I think you’ll see why. Glance to the very top.

It’s dark. It’s a fun, dark pink. It’s not bubblegum, but it’s not salmon. It’s bold and bright and fun, while still being sophisticated and work-appropriate.

Basically, it’s Heaven In A Tiny, Black-Capped Bottle.

I was about to stop believing, but my faith in cosmetics has been restored. Yes, Meg, there is a Nail Polish Claus — available on the OPI site — and it knew what I wanted even before I did. Once there, click “Try On This Color” and, you know, spend a few minutes (er, hours?) finding the shade that works best for you. Then head over to Amazon or your favorite retailer, find it cheap and go for it. Paint those nails. Or, in my case, come have a “party in my cabana”!

Not sure that sounds right. But, ladies, you know what I mean.

Sprinkle Photography Addicts — not so anonymous

sprinkle_cupcakeSo I fake like my sister Katie is the one who absolutely loves sprinkles — obsesses over them, pours them on everything, can’t get enough of them — but I’m beginning to think it’s really me who shares such a serious, rampant sprinkle obsession! I don’t like to eat them, mind you — ick, just give me plain vanilla ice cream, please! — but to photograph them? I’m all over it!

My macro photographer’s eye immediately goes to the colorful candy that basically begs to be captured — and I spend a ridiculous amount of time photographing Katie’s desserts before she can actually eat them. Last night was no exception. My grandparents called me in the afternoon to tell me that Rita’s, a local ice cream shop, now has pumpkin pie Italian ice. Oh yes, I know — good God, I’m talking about pumpkin again! But I promise, that’s just a sidenote to the actual story . . . which is the sprinkles. Again. Katie had them layered over her custard and, before she could really take a bite, I pulled the dessert out of the poor kid’s hand and immediately dug around for my little Canon. And, you know, shot about twenty photos. Outside. In a October cold breeze. While it drizzled and people stared at me.

Hey, no one said sprinkle photography was easy.

Need a visual aid? Behold some recent sprinkle photos I’ve taken. And I’d like to publicly call Jill out for encouraging both Katie and me in our sprinkle-related exploits! The links she sends both delight and frighten me. It’s a sprinkly world out there!

And just a gentle warning? If you happen to be spending (wonderful) time with me any time soon, make sure you don’t order anything with colorful candy on top. Or just, you know, hide my camera or something. Otherwise? You’re my next sprinkle victim.




Sprinklegate ’08 — or, Meg sells out her sister

Everyone has their vices — those things they just can’t help themselves from doing or loving, whether or not they’re too embarrassed to admit it. Some are a little more destructive than others, of course. Mine? Chai tea lattes, staying up way too late at night, taking macro photos before I eat anything awesome-looking, e-mailing ex-boyfriends when I’m feeling sappy, and obsessively watching ‘The Tudors’… even though Dad and I are now relegated to watching pirated episodes on his laptop (can I even admit that? Am I going to jail?).

Don’t worry — I won’t ask you to cop to yours (unless you want to… might make you feel better!). But I’m totally okay with putting my sister’s on display! Oh, you know — she’s been dealing with my antics since I first held her as a baby, my 3-year-old self proclaming, “SHE’S WIGGLY!”

Yeah, Kate humors me. So what’s my sister’s vice?

Sprinkles. And not just any sprinkles, folks… ohhh, no. Rainbow sprinkles.

It’s like a moth to a flame, I tell you… and I certainly don’t help the situation as I stand in the ice-cream shop, tugging at her elbow and constantly pointing to all rainbow sprinkles and coercing her into getting them scattered all over whatever flavor she’s going to get. I just know how much she likes them! I’m just trying to help!

And all of my “helping” brought us to this moment last summer in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The greatest rainbow sprinkled cone in the history of mankind.

And about .25867 seconds after this photo was taken, the epic and awesome rainbow cone basically collapsed in on itself and dissolved into a really gooey, horrifying and utterly colorful mess. Kate was a trooper — she tried to keep that thing from melting all over her hands, arms and shirt. But she failed. And though I’m her big sister, love her dearly and would do anything for her, I was powerless to stop it. In the immortal words of The Fray, “I don’t know how to get you out of this one.”

But at least I got that photo.

Oh, my family has about a million great food stories… in fact, many of my great memories revolve around food! Some will live on only in family lore, undocumented, but Sprinklegate ’08 is one of my favorites — and I have to share the love.

Of course, I love the simple “everyday” sprinkle stories a lot, too. Like this moment from Saturday:


Exhibit B

Same great sister, different dessert… still covered in rainbow sprinkles. And I love that her shirt has rainbow stuff on it, too. We’re just a colorful duo! To Kate, no dessert is complete without a dash of the bright, crunchy stuff. True to my aforementioned vice of constantly snapping macro photos of food, I captured Kate’s latest rainbow treat. She ate all of it. And then we both walked two miles with Leslie Sansone.


Exhibit C

And because I won’t completely sell her out and make it look like she’s the one indulging, please let me assure you — I have absolutely more than my fair share of dessert most of the time! And Kate was so good all through Lent, completely giving up sweets. I’ve since gone on a “path to health” (more to come on that one!) and am trying to get in shape. My plan was to take off the pounds before my trip but, since that’s in three weeks, I’m going to rearrange my goals and just say that I would like to be trimmer at some point very soon. In time to go to the beach in June. Or something. I know moments like this aren’t helping… but ice cream = sheer joy!

Exhibit D... but I prefer the plain variety

Exhibit D... but I prefer the plain variety