On the job in NYC

October 20, 2011 at 4:52 am | Posted in NYC, Starbucks, the book biz | 6 Comments
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The publishing industry is almost exclusively based in Manhattan. There are a few holdouts, such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and some smaller independent presses here in Boston, but the big players — Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Penguin, etc. — are in New York. As a literary agent, my job is to find great writers, help them develop their manuscripts and/or book proposals into scintillating, compelling pitches, and then to go sell those manuscripts or proposals to editors in New York.

Each major publishing house is divided into imprints. For example, Random House has three major imprints: the Random House Publishing Group, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, and the Crown Trade Group. And within each of these three major imprints are lots of sub-imprints, each with their own personality and bureaucracy of editors and marketers. If you are a writer of literary fiction, publishing your novel with the sub-imprint Alfred A. Knopf, a division of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, would be a dream. If you’re writing a book about food and health, the Ballantine imprint under Crown might be your home. And this is just one publishing house. An agent must learn what kind of books the different editors at the different imprints are acquiring and, in doing so, find the right editor and right home for her author.

Are you confused? Yes, me too. It is a bit overwhelming at times, but you do learn by osmosis and immersion. Every time I travel to New York, then, I’m meeting with editors at the various publishing houses. I actually printed out a map of Manhattan and highlighted each of the major publishers, and I keep this homemade map over my desk so that when I plot out my trips I know that it would be impossible to meet with someone at Harmony Books (a Crown imprint at Random House) at 11 a.m. up at Columbus Circle, have lunch with someone at St. Martin’s near the Flatiron Building, and then make a 2 p.m. meeting at Viking (a Penguin imprint) down on Hudson & Houston. Instead, I try to plan a day visiting a number of editors at one house or at most two houses in close proximity, such as Simon & Schuster (Rockefeller Center) and Harper Collins (53rd & Fifth).

These meetings take place either in the editors’ offices or over coffee or lunch or drinks. Editors need to acquire books. They get these books from agents. I may have the next “The Help” in my list. So it is ostensibly worth their while to take me to a nice lunch. In turn, I find out about their preferences. For example, I met with an editor yesterday who used to be a magazine editor at Details and GQ. He acquires only nonfiction, and journalistic, narrative nonfiction at that. So I’d never pitch him a novel. I met with another editor who acquires mostly fiction, specifically what she (wonderfully) describes as “car crash fiction” — a book which, when you read it, is akin to driving past a car crash: you can’t look away and you think, “Wow, I’m glad that wasn’t me. And yet I can’t stop thinking about what happened.” I would never pitch her a Grisham-esque thriller or “chick lit” (but that’s fine, of course, because there are hundreds of other fiction editors who would love such titles).

Then there’s also general networking and client cultivation: I meet with current clients, potential clients (people I’m wooing!), other agents, and other contacts, such as staff and professors at Columbia Journalism School who may be able to refer clients to me.

This is a job for an extrovert. Fortunately, I am one. I’m energized by New York, and I’m energized by speaking with smart people and hearing their ideas and discussing that which I have always loved more than perhaps anything else (inanimate, of course): books. But it’s also a business, and a business at which I very, very much want to be very, very successful. So I’m “on” all day long. I’m lugging a heavy bag around New York in heels (must rethink the bag; definitely would never rethink the heels!), hopping on the subway, using Starbucks restrooms. Some trips are day trips, but if I have to stay overnight I’ll take the train out to New Jersey and stay at the most comfortable hotel around — Chez Mom. Then I’m on a 7 a.m. commuter train back into the city with all the bankers.

Is it glamorous? Certainly more so than tax law. But it’s also work, and when I’m in New York, I work hard.

Empire State of Mind

October 19, 2011 at 4:01 am | Posted in NYC, the book biz | 2 Comments

Columbus Circle

I grew up in a New Jersey town perched on a ridge of hills overlooking Manhattan. At several points in town you crest a hill and see the skyline spread out before you. (Of course, it was from the crest of one of these hills that dozens and dozens of people gathered to watch lower Manhattan smolder on the evening of September 11, 2001. My familiarity with that skyline is why my breathe catches still when I see the city from across the river, or from a plane overhead, with that deep gap in lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers should be.)

After college, I attended Columbia Journalism School and was thrown out into the city to pound the pavement and report. Were there Metrocards in 1997? I can’t remember. (Certainly there were no cellphones.) I became intimate with the NYC subway system and to this day can get almost anywhere in Manhattan without a map. After Columbia, I lived in the city on and off for the next several years, training for a marathon in Central Park, living it up in champagne bars in Tribeca, watching the Gay Pride parade from a balcony in the West Village, having a drink on my aunt’s terrace on the Upper East Side. I was relieved when I left NYC for good in some ways — trying to have fun in the city on a journalist’s salary is, well, not fun. But it is the city I know best. Even though I have now lived in Boston far longer than I lived in NYC as an adult, I still can’t quite navigate my way through the South End or even the so-called Boston Financial District (and I actually worked there).

One of the many, many upsides to my new role as a literary agent is that the publishing industry is based in NYC, so I have to travel there often. (I’ll save what I actually do when I’m there for another post.) I get on an early morning Acela and by 10 a.m. I’ve popped out of the subway somewhere near one of the publishing houses, feeling like I’m in the midst of a lot of really important things happening all around me. You may be much hipper than I and so thus familiar with the acronym “FOMO” — “Fear Of Missing Out”. (I was introduced to it only relatively recently by a much hipper friend.) When you’re in the publishing industry but not based in NYC, visiting Manhattan stirs up a bit of FOMO — why don’t I live here? What could I accomplish if I did?

Alas, I’m now a Red Sox fan, raising children with Irish surnames in the Irish Riviera that is my husband’s hometown. I’m extraordinarily content. And, yet, when I stride confidently down Broadway, I also feel at home.

In the second grade I wrote a poem called “The City At Night.” It was so catchy that I remember it still:

The city at night is a wonderful sight,
As you walk down the moonlit street;
The smell of the air, the feel of the wind,
And your heart begins to beat.

A stroll down Newbury or Charles Streets just isn’t …. exciting.  Boston doesn’t make my heart beat quite the way New York does — as it has always done.

New Year’s – again? (as in, already?)

December 31, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Posted in little bug, Little O, music, not yet written, NYC, read this, running, SAHM, Starbucks, tax law is sexy, the firm, Uncategorized, wine, yoga | 1 Comment

You know I love New Year’s resolutions. Two years ago, my resolutions were clearly defined and yet highly unattainable. Last year, they centered around  simply finding happiness (hot showers, more wine, more yoga…). I understand why people eschew resolutions in that they set unachievable expectations, leading to disappointment, etc. etc.  Looking back over the past two years, it’s clear that I’m not one who makes resolutions and actually sticks to them, but I do get a lot of pleasure out of making them (in that I set up some sort of idealized vision of the future?). This year, I’m less able to articulate my New Year’s resolutions — I have some vague ideas about living more simply, lowering instead of raising my expectations, and trying to exist in some sort of more tempered universe. Of course, in the back of my head is a little voice saying, “Run more! More yoga! Spend less money!” but at the end of the year that included birth and death and health issues and lots and lots of sleepless nights — and somehow, in the midst of it all, a growing sense of contentment — I’m going to resist the urge (at least publicly) to enumerate my Resolutions.

Instead, my friend Lindsey had a fun and introspective little survey/questionnaire on her blog this morning, which I’m going to adopt. I’m answering these less thoughtfully than I otherwise might (blogging, as I am today, in the short window of Little O’s nap!) But maybe that will make my answers more honest.

What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? I spent seven months as a stay-at-home mom. I took a weekend trip to Florida with my college girlfriends. I participated in a competitive blogging challenge. I went three (almost four — since September 1, basically) months without running. This last one sounds like a crazy thing to list, but it actually imparted to me an important lesson. I used to think I needed to exercise for weight-maintenance. Eleven months of nursing, however, took care of that for me, and I realized that running in fact gave me much more than the ability to wear skinny jeans. If I have any resolutions at all for 2011, it is to remember that running keeps me sane, not thin.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions and will you make more for 2011? Of course not. And of course — albeit with a more measured approach, I hope.

Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes! I did! But also my sister. And several close friends and seemingly half the tax department at my firm (literally — nine women in my relatively small department had babies this year!).

Did anyone close to you die? My great-uncle. And, just last week, a close family friend.

What countries did you visit? None. Sigh. Again, if I do have a resolution for 2011, it is to “remember Italy” (a metaphor and theme in a striking book I read recently, This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson — see Lindsey’s interview with her, here) — although in my case, it would “Remember Paris.” More on this in another post.

What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? Patience. Acceptance. Faith. Confidence.

What was your biggest achievement in 2010? Having a healthy baby would have to be it. But I’m also proud of myself for going back to my job. It wasn’t clear I was going to, but I do think it was the right choice, and perhaps the first time in my life I’ve done something truly rational, career-wise.

What was your biggest failure? A few work-related ones come to mind. But mostly I regret the times I’ve been short-tempered with Little Bug and a less-than-present daughter, sister, friend, and wife. I didn’t put down my iPhone/work email enough to stay focused on my family.

Did you suffer illness or injury? I feel like I’ve been sick a lot this year — an immune system no doubt compromised by severe sleep deprivation and preschool germs.

What is the best thing you bought? My iPhone and Pilates. (Am I a yuppie or what?)

Where did most of your money go? Starbucks and J. Crew. Ha ha, just kidding. Sort of.

What did you get really excited about? My girls’ weekend in Florida. My husband would tell me that I’m being all “Joy Luck Club,” but oh, god, there was something so refreshing and invigorating and inspiring about spending three days with the women who were with me when I became the woman I am, the women who have been there for me for the biggest hardships and greatest joys in my life, the women with whom I speak an abbreviated shorthand language and who can finish my sentences. And now, at this stage of our lives, the women with whom I can discuss my career, daycare, siblings, husbands and parents. Even though they may not be part of my day-to-day life, the are a part of the foundation of my life.

What song will always remind you of 2010? Have I listened to so little music that I can’t answer this? Probably, however, something country (since that is all Tim and I seem to listen to these days). I really like that song Welcome to the Future by Brad Paisley, though I suspect that was not released in 2010. OK, so, maybe I’ll make another resolution: listen to more music. It makes me happy — just as Glee made me so so happy this year.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

— happier or sadder? Happier
— thinner or fatter? Well, as I was eight months pregnant, this isn’t really a fair question!
— richer or poorer? It’s probably not a good thing that I can’t really answer this literally, but I imagine that since we spent most of 2010 paying two mortgages, poorer!

What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I’d written more — here on this blog and elsewhere. I have a great idea for another blog, but I can’t seem to find the time to make it happen. I wish I could let myself go with my children — really play with them, focus on them wholly, without thinking about what’s next (be it cleaning up lunch, or what’s for dinner, or how much work I have, or even who has posted what on Facebook).

What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I had spent less time agonizing over my job — both preemptively before I went back and then also on a daily basis once I was back. I think it affected my relationships with my family. It’s just a job. It’s not the greatest, most important job in the world, it’s not the end of the world, and I’m not a victim. I have to remember this.

How did you spend Christmas? As we do every year, in New Jersey, with my whole big crazy family. We snuggled in during a blizzard and took Little Bug in to New York City to the Museum of Natural History the day after the blizzard — rather ill-advised when it took us 4.5 hours and four different trains to get home!

Favorite TV program? Glee and The Good Wife.

Favorite books? I actually had a lot of time to read and finished more books than I have in years, both fiction and nonfiction. In the former category, the three books that stand out are: Dear Money by Martha McPhee, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. They weren’t earthshaking, but I just loved each one. In the nonfiction realm I really liked No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (the Roosevelts on the home front in WWII) and The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison.

Favorite films? I only saw one movie in the theater this year — Eat, Pray, Love. (But I loved it. Sue me for my questionable taste!) Recently, I’ve seen The Town and The Kids are Alright on OnDemand, and, surprisingly, liked both (as you know, my taste in movies runs towards the saccharine, e.g., Eat Pray Love…)

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I can’t even really remember my 36th birthday! Luckily, I blogged about it. It was spring, and I was still home on maternity leave, and Tim took me to a local Italian joint for dinner because I was craving a real Bolognese.

What one thing would have made your year more satisfying? Just knowing from the start that I was going to go back to my job and that it would all be OK.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? I have to divide this in to two parts: January – September and September – December. In the former, it was black yoga pants and spit-up stained black t-shirts. In the latter, it was black Theory pants or skirt and cashmere cardigans or blazers.

What kept you sane? Red wine. For reals. And phone calls with my mother. Daily, sometimes twice a day. Also, emails and texts from my hilarious friends.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010? You are not your job. In fact, I suspect that nobody really cares what you do except for you. You’re not a victim of some amorphous FIRM that is out to get you (a la John Grisham?) — you’ve made your choice and you can unmake it at any time. You’re not trapped.  Also, even though you may get frustrated that your husband doesn’t like to hash out the nuances of your day, he is listening. More important: baby boys may not sleep and pre-school girls may whine, but it’s all doable. You can be much happier being grateful for what you have than wanting more, more, always more — this easier said than done, of course, especially for me, but slowly, slowly I feel like I’m on the verge of grasping this. I haven’t actually grasped it yet, but at least its a tangible concept now, something I can turn over in my mind, rather than something completely inaccessible.

Life After Law: Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s LIFE AFTER YES

June 2, 2010 at 11:02 am | Posted in NYC, read this, the firm, the media | 5 Comments
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Like any good junior associate, I find it impossible not to check Above the Law. It’s the legal equivalent of the clichéd train wreck… can’t. look. away. One day while trolling through the most recent associate layoff statistics, I found a link to a blog called Ivy League Insecurities and was of course intrigued because, hey, I have a few Ivy League degrees and — as demonstrated, for example, by my need to mention them — I’m insecure.

What I found behind this website, however, was a wonderful surprise (one that suggests that perhaps all that ATL trolling can amount to something good?). Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Columbia Law School in 2003 and worked for a stint as a litigation associate at a big New York firm before leaving her high-rise office to write a novel and start a family.  I was attracted initially to her blog as a fellow attorney and mother, but as I got to know Aidan through her writing, the dormant writer in me was both inspired by and ticked by her tangible enthusiasm — her admittedly rookie glee — during the months and weeks leading up to the publication of her first novel, Life After Yes. Her anticipation was infectious, and Life After Yes finally debuted last month.

Life After Yes stars Quinn, an Ivy League, Big Law attorney who is, on the outside, living a “successful” life. As Quinn begins to encounter the realities of adult life, however — her engagement and the repercussions of her father’s death — she questions (in sometimes inappropriate ways) not only those relationships but the definition of success itself.  What’s next? Quinn asks. And who am I? While the story may be somewhat archetypal, Quinn’s humor and cynicism and wit and real emotion are unique to her.

Aidan will be the first to tell you that her heroine, Quinn, is not autobiographical, but clearly Aidan’s experience as a lawyer is infused throughout Life After Yes. I thought it would be fun to ask her about writing about the law and about being a laywer and about being a lawyer-writer-mom, and she graciously indulged me.

What inspired you to attend law school? What was your favorite class?

When the time came to think about life after college, my mind immediately went to more school. I have always loved school – the classroom culture, the debate, even the papers and deadlines. And then I thought a bit about it and decided that it would be law school since it would “open so many doors.” (At the time, I didn’t think about how many it would close.) My favorite classes at law school were the theory-based. (These were essentially thinly-disguised philosophy courses.)

What type of law did you practice? Do you miss it?

I was a litigation associate during the short time I practiced. I have never once regretted my decision to walk away and focus on my writing and family, but I am nostalgic for the BigLaw world sometimes. There are odd moments when I am immersed in my current reality of baby tears and torn jeans when I miss the power, the pulse, even the pinstripes.

Do you still consider yourself a lawyer?

This is a hard one. I’m not sure I ever considered myself a lawyer. I am not sure whether that was because I didn’t practice for long or because being a lawyer was never going to be me. What’s interesting is that very often, when asked what I do, I say, “I’m a lawyer who writes.” I think I throw that out there because of insecurity, because I know that being a lawyer is seen as quintessentially impressive. Only recently have I begun saying what I should say, what I am proud to say: “I am a writer.”

Was it fun writing about a fictional attorney at a fictional BigLaw firm? Are your former colleagues going to see themselves or their firm in the book?

It was fun and freeing to write about the BigLaw world, particularly because Life After Yes is pure fiction. I was able to cobble together stories I had collected from friends and colleagues. I was able to dream up characters and scenarios and knit them together into a story. If my former colleagues see themselves or the firm in my book, I have succeeded. Because that means I have captured something of the universal ethos of this world. What surprises many is that I did not have a miserable time at my law firm. To the contrary, life was quite pleasant and peaceful. I left because I started to dream of doing other things. As such, when I sat down to write Life After Yes, I had zero intention of penning a scandalous portrait of law firm life. I just wanted to use that life, that world, as a backdrop to make a bigger existential point.

How has being an attorney influenced you as a writer? As a mother?

I am sure that being an attorney has affected me as a writer and as a mother, but it is hard to articulate how. One thing that the law has taught me is the importance of verbal economy and efficiency. It is critical to say what we mean and mean what we say. This lesson, this profound lesson, has great currency in both creative writing and parenting, I think.

You’ve created a career of which many disgruntled attorneys probably dream. What’s the best/worst part of that?

The best part is that I am prime evidence that there is life after law if you want there to be. That if you allow yourself to dream, if you acknowledge your aspirations, however imprudent or intangible, they can in fact lead somewhere. Many would say that the worst part is that I am in so many ways a cliché. There are countless lawyers who want to write and who do write. I don’t really care about this. Lump me with them. I am now doing what I love.

Wherever I go…

December 21, 2009 at 11:37 am | Posted in NYC, the 'burbs, Uncategorized, wine | 2 Comments

I know my posts recently have been kind of introspective and heavy, but I have one more in me, so bear with me. (And then I’ll be on vacation, resulting in lots of light-hearted Christmas stories and pictures of the Little Bug for awhile!)

When I wrote about my trek in Nepal earlier this month, I found myself leafing through the three journals I kept over the course of my 10-month trip – warily.  My 35-year-old self barely recognizes that person who didn’t shower for weeks, slept in a 35-cent-a-night hut in Laos (without electricity, clearly), and actually allowed herself to be carried on a 12-seater prop plan over the Himalayas.  Conversely, that 25-year-old would have at least pretended to be appalled at the suburb-dwelling, corporate lawyer into which I’ve morphed. But the young me also secretly might have been slightly relieved to have turned out as such. It’s one thing to want to want something, such as a backpacker’s carefree life. It’s another thing to actually want it.

In my mid 20s, I wanted to want to be adventurous. My life up until then seemed solidly predictable (good public schools, summer vacations to the Cape, and all signs pointing towards academic success that would culminate in a good – OK, great – college).  We never took grand family trips to Europe or California.  We didn’t even hike or camp in National Parks (the wisdom of which is now apparent to me, trust me, Mom).  The onset of my father’s illness when I was 23 stirred up both a desperate fear of mortality and resentment about my childhood (what had I missed out on?!), and all of a sudden I tried to mold myself into someone who ran marathons and traveled the world.  I wanted to aspire to some sort of peripatetic, exciting life, far removed from the leafy suburbs and perceived boredom of my childhood (and everything I thought made my father, and thus me, unhappy). 

Wanderlust is addictive. There is a rush to landing in a new city, pulling out a map, and finding your bearings. You need to be entirely focused on the present: how to find, right then and there, the public transportation to your hotel or hostel, without a moment to contemplate even your impending jet lag or what museums you need to visit the next day. I always loved the feeling of arriving in an unfamiliar airport or train station, even if it was just a visit back to New York from L.A. — I felt uncharacteristically purposeful and confident for those first few hours and even days, especially if I was traveling solo.  So for a number of years, I traveled and moved around as often as I could.  In addition to my 10-month around-the-world trek, there were trips to Italy, Spain, Brazil. I sublet the Paris apartment of a journalism school classmate for a summer.  I moved to Sun Valley to ski and write for the local paper, and then to Los Angeles, where I wrote for a glamorous magazine and learned about wine. Then I moved to New Jersey to take what I thought was my next dream job, working for my alma mater, and then I moved to Boston … and so on. 

Every plane trip, every move, every new job could only mask for a little while, however, what had become an endemic state of anxiety. Why was I anxious? Well, the reasons were many (and known to some of my readers) and there’s no need to go into them now, but, in short: there was anxiety about death and relationships and, most of all, that nothing I was doing was actually making me happy. If not travel, and exciting cities and new jobs, and endless yoga classes then what? When would I feel calm and secure and at peace?

I have a new favorite on my Google reader, a blog called “Wherever Launa Goes, There She Is.” Launa is a friend of a friend (whom I suspect also went to college with my sister-in-law), who made the decision with her husband and two girls to live in Provence for a year. It sounds divine, and many times, it is. But her writing is not merely a daily, blog version of A Year in Provence, full of quirky locals and impossible good fortune.  Instead, the title of her blog underscores the beauty of her approach to her family’s “year off” – yes, drinking local wine and cooking from the farmer’s market and spending time with each other is everything one would hope it would be, but there are still issues with the potential to complicate their lives as much as they were complicated in the U.S.: the family can’t quite figure out how to make friends in their new town, one daughter is desperately unhappy in her new French school, another suffers her first asthma attack.

Wherever you go, there you are. I’ve been coming to terms with this truth for a few years, and I think Launa’s blog finally drives it home in part because she’s living what I always thought would be my absolute dream:  a year in France! And yet she eloquently and lovingly explores the idea that while some of the superficialities are all they are cracked up to be, (to be horribly cliché) your baggage nonetheless follows you from place to place.  Drinking a glass of wine on the Seine or a beer on the Mekong are glamorous and provide flashes of pleasure in their exoticism, but you finish that drink and… there you are.  

To my surprise — truly — my 35-year-old self might actually be happy living in one place for more than a year or two. Still, right before we bought the house, I called Tim in a panic from the car on my way to work. “Is this what we really want?”  Meaning, of course: is this what I really want? Should we have stayed in the city?  Did we move to the right town?  Occasionally, I still panic on a macroscopic level, as well: What if I want to live in Sun Valley again? Don’t I want to pursue my longtime dream of living in Paris for a year?

Of course I do, but not, anymore, as an escape. This is why I love Launa’s blog, whose title resonates as my new mantra when I start to feel these familiar flutters of second-guessing.  She is adamant that their year is not an escape, but rather an opportunity for a busy family to slow down and focus on each other, happy or unhappy.

My attempts to escape obviously didn’t make me happy. Wanting to want something you don’t actually want, it turns out, most likely has the opposite effect.  Still, those experiences did shake me for a few years out of my theretofore “normal” life, and perhaps let me land back in it a wiser person. Maybe I never would have been able to become a corporate lawyer (following in the footsteps of my father, which I swore I’d never do), living in the suburbs, had I not traveled on a stuffy train for 26 hours in India, climbed through Angkor Wat at sunrise, or walked on a glacier in Switzerland — or moved nine times in 10 years.

I left a comment on Launa’s blog after one of her posts particularly moved me, and we had a brief and lovely email exchange in which she counseled me: “…keep your Paris dream alive.  When your kids are big enough, you will spend a year practicing law in Paris.  You will send them to a public school there, and they will thrive.  You will bump your way through some difficulties, but also LOVE your year.  I know it.  If you have a big enough dream, and just keep talking about it, eventually your life will make a way for it to come true.”

I heart NYC

February 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Massholes, NYC, read this | 2 Comments
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As much as I have come to love Boston and all its Massholes, New York City is — whether it’s because I read the Times daily (sorry, Tim, I just can’t read the Globe!), or because my family is nearby (out beyond the red lego, above), or because the years I spent living in Manhattan just after college are indelible in their penury and excitement — the city I still know and, perhaps, love the best.

I miss little things, little things so brilliantly captured in this Times  piece today.


25 random things, etc.

February 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Posted in decor, law school, little bug, NYC, read this, running, Starbucks, tax law is sexy, wine, yoga | Leave a comment
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Are you on Facebook? No? Then you are missing the internet craze of the month, the viral “25 Random Things About Me.” It’s wonderfully self-indulgent.

The instructions: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

My list:

1. Waiting nine years after to college to go to law school — and then going to law school — was the best decision I have ever made.

2. Don’t think I’m crazy: I also loved law school, even when I missed five weeks of classes because I was too nauseous with morning sickness to drive to school.

3. I’m a far, far better (happier) person today than I was 5, 10, 15 years ago. As my mother would say (quoting “The Velveteen Rabbit”) I’ve been “rubbed real.”

4. In high school I wanted to be a U.S. Senator. Now I would like to someday be a speechwriter for a U.S. Senator.

5. This is probably because I have career ADD: I am currently on my 10th job since I graduated from college.

6. My daughter is named after my mother.

7. Speaking of my mother, she is the shining inspiration of my life.

8. I talk on the phone, or email, or both with my mother and my sisters every day.

9. And speaking of my sisters, they are without a doubt my best friends. I wish Erin would move back to Boston already.

10. My husband is one of nine children — he and his twin sister are #s 7 and 8.

11. Here is where I have lived since 1996: New York City; Ketchum, Idaho (Sun Valley); Los Angeles; Paris; Princeton, NJ; Boston.

12. Of the places listed above, I would move back to Ketchum, Paris, or LA in a heartbeat.

13. I am obsessed with interior design — blogs, magazines, etc. I fall asleep at night redecorating the rooms of my apartment in my head.

14. On average (even counting the three months or so I had to give them up while I was pregnant, meaning that there has been many a day when two were consumed), I most likely have had a Starbucks soy chai latte every day since the year 2000. I am, in fact, drinking one right now. (Oh, the money! The calories!)

15. I am a certified yoga instructor.

16. Sundays make me slightly blue, but I love our Sunday family dinners with just Tim, Little Buggy, and me eating spaghetti at meatballs at 5:30 p.m.

17. I don’t drink hard alcohol but make up for it in the amount of red wine I consume.

18. Oh yeah, when I lived in L.A. I worked at a wine store and took classes at UCLA to become a sommelier (did I mention my career ADD?)

19. I have run one marathon and two half-marathons.

20. I used to be a rather intense ashtanga practitioner (every morning at 6 a.m. for 2 years) and almost-vegan.

21. I have been to 29 countries and have: trekked in the Himalayas, visited Ankgor Wat and the Taj Mahal, sailed down the Mekong, seen the wailing wall in Jerusalem and Palmyra in Syria, sunned on the beaches of Rio, hiked the Swiss alps, watched the sun set over the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Those days are long gone, and I’m quite okay with it.

22. That being said, my dream is to live with my family abroad someday, preferably in Paris or London. Do you think they need tax lawyers there?

23. Despite my newest career, I still want to publish a novel. Maybe that will get me back to Paris.

24. I am in absolute awe of the fact that I found my husband, and that we made our incredible child.

25. I truly, truly believe in karma and that everything that happens to you in life — good or bad — leads you to where you are supposed to be.

Merry Christmas

December 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Posted in little bug, NYC | Leave a comment
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We’re back from a whirlwind week in NJ, which started with us deciding about noon on a snowy Sunday to take a 4 p.m. Acela to Newark instead of making the drive. Which meant not only a quick turnaround in terms of dinner-party clean-up and packing, but also that a majority of our Christmas loot — including the primo Santa gift, a toy kitchen for the Little Bug — would have to be left behind, as we couldn’t carry it on the train. I’m not sure which is worse: five (or perhaps more) hours with a whining child in the car (but a child who might ultimately be lulled to sleep by the drive) or four hours of walking that child up and down, up and down the cafe car of the train. Fortunately, Tim and I could spell each other, but this child will not sit still for a moment. It was exhausting!

I worked from our New York office early in the Christmas week. Our offices are located just a block from Rockefeller Center. My father worked at 30 Rock, so the tree has a bit of a sentimental place in my Christmas memories.



And, as it turns out, Santa was flexible this year, substituting a loud, clanky piano and a doll for the kitchen.*

And the rest of the week was spent snuggling and relaxing. Actually, poor Little Bug is a bit disoriented now that we’re back in Boston, away from all her peeps. She likes to list off her posse: “Mimi!” (my mom); “HANK!” (said always at a yell, as Henry is a bit deaf and my mom is always yelling his name when she says it, something the baby clearly has picked up on!); “Kaffy!” (Aunt Kathy); “Ahnie” (Aunt Erin, I suppose), “Uncle” (whichever uncle is around, but she is particularly enamored of Uncle Davin; “Enny” (Aunt Jenny). Last night I went into kiss her good night for about the fifth time and she was standing up in her crib going, “Mimi? HANK! Mimi? HANK!! Ahnie?” Like, “Where are you guys?!”


Anyway, more on Christmas a bit later. I’m working today and tomorrow, with Little Bug down in the backup day care, as our babysitter is away through the end of next week (yes, more day care scrambling to come!) It’s nice — busy, but not too busy. And very, very quiet, with most people on my floor out for this week. All in all, we had a wonderful Christmas at my mother’s, which has made me reflective about a lot of things that I need to mull around in my head some more before I write about them (if ever). I love New Year’s and New Year’s resolutions — I like goals and challenges and planning them out, even if ultimately they fade with time. And today is our anniversary, nicely tucked in between the holidays, when the Christmas lights and the festive atmosphere linger enough to make the day seem more special than it might already be. I can easily and honestly say that these have been the most genuinely happy two years of my life.

*The play kitchen has morphed into a sort of New Year’s present, I suppose; and, in retrospect, thank goodness we didn’t start to put it together on Christmas Eve after a few glasses/bottles of wine. That thing is extraordinarily complicated with about 339 screws and 12 “pre-steps” before the 16 regular steps in its assembly. We spent a few hours on it yesterday while Little Buggy was napping and then gave up. Will file that away in Santa lessons learned…

Business travel, updated

October 29, 2008 at 8:49 am | Posted in NYC, the firm | 1 Comment
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Every US Air shuttle from Boston to New York was cancelled yesterday morning, so five of us — two partners, three associates — headed for South Station to get on the 11:15 Acela.  The associates got to South Station first, and the most senior of us decided that we would be upgrading to First Class on the train so we could kill the hour of wait time we had in the special first-class lounge.  She emailed the partners to let them know, but when the partners got to South Station to try to upgrade, there were no first class seats left.  Of course we offered ours up; of course they didn’t accept.  So the three of us sat in First Class chatting loudly and I’m sure annoying all the other travelers (half of whom we recognized from the US Air gate…).  And yes, we did have the free wine with our (shockingly good) first class lunch.

Our New York offices are just off Rockefeller Center (across the street and one block down from Radio City Music Hall).  I have always associated this part of midtown with corporate law offices — my father spent most of his career across the street at 30 Rock.  I do love being in New York — there’s an energy here that just makes you walk a bit faster, think a bit sharper.  The Halloween party was fun, and then a few of us had a late-night sushi run at Blue Fin in the W in Times Square.  Then off to my king size bed. 

I had an inordinate amount of trouble trying to work remotely from the hotel room — will have to call User Support for a remote access tutorial.  We have all sorts of complicated internet filing sites, which I can barely even figure out when I’m at my desk in Boston, so trying to do it from a hotel with spotty internet access was a nightmare. 

And now I do miss my baby, whom I won’t have put to bed for two nights in a row.  I don’t think that’s ever happened!  Will be very happy to get home tonight.  I suppose that’s always the nice thing about travel — the coming home.


October 28, 2008 at 7:58 am | Posted in NYC, tax law is sexy, the firm | 1 Comment
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I am going on what is basically my first, real business trip in all these thirty-something years. Just for one night, to New York. Will stay over in a hotel (in a king bed! by myself!) a few blocks from our New York office (can walk to work in 10 minutes! I can sleep until 8:30 if I want — that’s like noon, practically, in the life of a parent…).

So, I roll up to Logan this morning, very professional in my trench coat, laptop bag-that-looks-like-a-stylish-bag, and rolling suitcase (with my liquids packed neatly in an accessible ziploc bag). But then, as the true business-traveler novice I really am, I forget to take my laptop out of my bag before sending it through the scanner, have my face cleanser confiscated for being an ounce too large, and set off the metal detector with my belt, all the while much more professional people in suits pile up behind me, coughing and stamping their feet (or so it seemed to me!).

And then, oh yeah, my flight is cancelled. So I shelled out $7.95 for a Logan internet “day pass” and here I am, drinking coffee that is not Starbucks and waiting for my colleagues who were smart enough to check their Blackberries this morning to see that our flight was, in fact, cancelled.

In any event, it will be a fun little trip — will get to see Law School Lindsey, who works in my firm’s New York office and who is now, after the Connecticut swearing-in ceremony yesterday, officially a lawyer (hooray! Congrats!), as well as my New York colleagues. And the highlight is a big Halloween party tonight, which will take place in a rather expensive and chichi restaurant, so I’d better not mention exactly where on this blog.  (The whole “It was already paid for” argument didn’t make AIG’s executive retreat look any better…)

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