Category: Mount Holyoke


October 10th, 2012 — 7:47pm

A recent feature in the Alumnae Quarterly of beloved my alma mater Mount Holyoke College profiled women whose careers haven’t been of the linear kind. As I read their stories, I couldn’t help thinking about the zig zag trajectory of my own professional path – and how it has led me to the tremendous contentment I feel job-wise today.

It’s A Sign: Celebrating opening week at The Westin New York Grand Central

I graduated from MHC envisioning a future as the next Katie Couric. Though I pursued TV news for many years, I ultimately found that what I wanted more was a communications role outside the broadcast fray. I wouldn’t trade those experiences, though, or any I’ve had since because each one brought with it great learning, a bit of adventure and many friendships that endure to this day.

Here’s a look at some of the seminal benchmarks of my winding career road – By The Numbers:

Number of jobs since graduating from college: 12
Number of jobs that sparked romance: 4
Number of moves dictated by TV news gigs: 3
Number of career changes: 2
Number of overseas business trips: 7
Number of enduring work-related friendships: 7

I’m excited about the new friendships I’m cultivating as part of my job at . And equally thrilled that each day brings something new and interesting. Who says you need to follow a traditional path to get to professional bliss?

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March 7th, 2009 — 7:37pm

In a long distance relationship, you have to work twice as hard to stay together — especially when there’s a 16-year age difference. That struggle intensified as I approached one year of dating my California-based sweetheart Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

After two tumultuous encounters back to back, we decided to start dating other people. The tricky part — though this was understood, we never explicitly talked about it.

As the younger half of our May-December romance, I was craving a male distraction of the local variety. Sure enough, during the second half of my senior year in college, that’s exactly what I got. I now Open The Vault to Volume #57 and take you back to the spring of 1995…

March 7, 1995
Mount Holyoke College,

South Hadley, MA

Dear Diary,

I had a date tonight with Dave, a DJ I met last Friday at a campus party.

Amazingly enough, I actually had a good time — he’s cute, funny and impressed with my vocabulary. I even enjoyed the goodnight kiss. He was polite enough to ask if he could kiss me.


: My beloved alma mater was the backdrop for an unexpected senior year romance

“Could I make a strange moment any stranger?” Dave quipped, before leaning down to lock lips. He’s tall too — a nice change from Sparky.

I realize that a lot of what made tonight enjoyable was that I wasn’t overanalyzing every little thing that happened. I have a bad habit of doing that with Sparky.

We spoke today.

“What’s on your mind?” he asked.

“Can’t I just be calling to say I love you without an ulterior motive?”

“No,” he said with a laugh. “I know you, you’re pondering something.”

I was — the possibility of going to LA next month.

Sparky lamented about his financial situation, mentioning the recent $500 bill from our Valentine’s excursion to The Poconos. I thanked him again for the trip and he said–

“I have to save for graduation.”

He made it sound like this milestone in my life was special for him too. Like he has every intention of being there.

* * *

March 13, 1995

I had a great time again with Dave. He had me laughing quite a bit — and also wondering if there’s anything left to salvage between Sparky and I.

After a movie, Dave suggested we go for a walk on campus. We sat on a bench by the lake. He took my face in his hands and kissed me, eventually nibbling on my neck and earlobe.

As he put his arms around me and took my hand in his, Dave told me I’m terrific and incredible. When I returned the compliment, he said–

“That’s because I’m kissing you.”

Back at the dorm, there was a message on my machine from Sparky. I called him back and he asked where I’d been. I lied and said I was out with a girlfriend. I felt kind of duplicitous, but it’s better than feeling miserable — which is what I’ve had enough of with Sparky.

* * *

My romance with Dave ended up getting me through more than just the long-distance blues. Dave would be right by my side when carelessness on my part led me to a brush with death.

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December 14th, 2008 — 1:48am

When you’re in the throes of new love, you feel like you always have something to look forward to. This was never more true than during the summer of 1994, a couple of months into my involvement with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

As I struggled with adjusting to life back in New York after my junior year in London and a local beau who didn’t exactly light my fire, Sparky provided a much-needed distraction. And my excitement about him grew once I made plans to go visit him in L.A. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of ‘94…

New York, NY
August 13th, 1994

Today, I went out to take care of two Sparky-related errands.

I stopped at Tiffany’s, to get him a beautiful sterling silver golf-themed key ring — no doubt, the most extravagant item I’ve ever purchased for a man But I figure, between the diamond band he gave me, the bi-coastal phone calls on his bill, and everything else, Sparky deserves a little bauble!

Tiffany & Co: During the summer of ’94, I stopped in the famed luxe retailer’s flagship Fifth Avenue store to pick up a little something for Sparky

Next, I went into Victoria’s Secret to try and find a pretty nightgown. No such luck. Unless you have a figure like Cindy Crawford, it is very difficult to find the kind of flattering lingerie I’m looking for (floor-length and silky, but with sleeves to hide my flabby arms).

* * *

August 14th, 1994

Organized some of my London mementos today. As I glanced at various ticket stubs and notes from my Commonwealth Hall buddies, I found myself saddened that these items, along with my diaries and photos, are all that remains of the most incredible experience of my life..

Later, I headed down to [my college roommate and friend] Li-Shean’s abode. Chatted with her summer roommate and another Mount Holyoke senior. A couple of Coors Lights had us pleasantly buzzed.

I called to check my messages and just as I hoped, Sparky had called.

“I love you,” he said on my voice mail. “And I can’t wait till you get here. Hope everything is wonderful, Bye.”

He’s so wonderful.

* * *

August 18th, 1994

I spoke to my sweetheart last night. We’ve spoken every night so far this week! It still amazes me that Sparky is so besotted. I never thought I would affect a man so deeply at this stage of my life, at least not one whose feelings I would reciprocate. Lord knows I’ve had my share of over ardent guys I felt no attraction for.

Yes — I am ridiculously excited about our pending reunion.

* * *

As I anticipated my first visit to California to see Sparky, I couldn’t wait to finally be with him in his world. I had no idea that my inaugural West Coast jaunt would introduce me to one of the greatest obstacles in our way — his job.

Coming up….an exhilarating night out with a visiting former colleague and a review of Frank Langella’s mesmerizing Broadway performance.

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October 17th, 2008 — 4:04pm

When you’re in the throes of new romance, simple moments tend to take on a larger-than-life quality. California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky) and I enjoyed many storybook-worthy moments during our time together in England’s capital.

As our week in London drew to a close, things between us intensified and I began to wonder if Sparky just might be my Mr. Right. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 1994.…

London, England
Commonwealth Hall

May 2nd, 1994

Dear Diary,

Sparky and I made our way to Paddington Station, the departing point for trains to Oxford. Oxford was lovely — quaint, charming and, on this particular day, bustling with university students taking part in a parade.

Sunny Day in Oxford: Sparky bought me this hat just before taking this picture
Classical Charm: Oxford’s majestic architecture, visible at every turn

At one point, as Sparky and I strolled hand in hand, we walked past a bridal boutique and mused aloud about the possibility of getting married. That conversational thread was picked up again when we stopped for ice cream in a cobblestone square. It felt like fate was smiling down on the possibility of Sparky and I ending up together for good someday….

* * *
The next morning, after a chaste night of cuddling and conversation, I woke up feeling a contentment I never had before. With his arms around me, he murmured–
“I love you.”
I knew I was falling for Sparky but I remained silent. It was too easy to say it because of his proximity. I needed to be sure.
* * *
Today, after strolling past Trafalgar Square toward the Houses of Parliament, we paused on a stoop to look at some pictures we developed at a one-hour place. I lingered for a long moment on one of the pix. There was a smile on my face I’d never seen before. I knew Sparky was the reason for that and I felt a surge of feeling toward him. The words came tumbling out.

“I love you,” I said. “I really love you.”

“I love you too,” Sparky said, and we kissed.

* * *

My final day in London with Sparky brought with it the promise of another encounter in England’s capital. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of frequent flying for both of us.

Months later, as a senior at Mount Holyoke College, I would be recognized for my romance-related travel with a dorm award — Most Likely To Fly To California On A Whim.

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September 12th, 2008 — 8:52pm

Tonight, I had the pleasure of catching up with my former colleague Danielle and her delightful co-worker Tim. Over drinks at Dive 75 on the Upper West Side, we talked about post-breakup reconnecting with friends, revisiting old flames and memories of college sweethearts.

Both in their twenties, Danielle and Tim also mentioned some of the local bars they visited during their underage years, which got me to thinking about my own days as a college student. Both Mount Holyoke and my junior year in London delivered a healthy dose of memorable experiences with the opposite sex. Here’s a look back at my college years – By The Numbers.

Number of romantic distractions during my junior year abroad: 5
Number of students at U-Mass dated: 2
Number of U-Mass boyfriends who happened to be an elementary school classmate: 1
Number of long-distance relationships: 1
Number of professional mountain bikers (with a body like Lance Armstrong) dated: 1
Number of cars crashed in anticipation of a date with said mountain biker: 1

I was doing triple the speed limit in a 25 mph zone the night I crashed my Nissan Sentra on the way to seeing Dave, my sexy, sweet mountain biker beau. Though the car didn’t make it, I was very fortunate to walk away unscathed…and straight into Dave’s arms. Later, he comforted me with a delicious plate of pesto pasta — and an equally delectable serving of his intoxicating kisses.

Dave was one of the highlights of my senior year — and a much-needed distraction from my long-distance love in California.

Coming up…my personal pantheon of best kisses and the allure of May-December romances.

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August 23rd, 2008 — 2:56am

My junior year in London brought with it a whirlwind of romantic activity — a welcome change after two quiet years at my Massachusetts alma mater, Mount Holyoke College.

With a two-to-one guy-girl ratio, my dormitory Commonwealth Hall served up a steady stream of male distractions — including an unexpected fling with a good friend. The fling ended so badly that romance was the last thing on my mind when I flew back to New York for spring break. Fate, however, had other plans.

It was during this break that I ended up meeting the man who would become my first true love and real-life version of Mr. Big. The day our paths crossed, my sister Hilary and I were invited by Bill Clark, a family friend and producer of “NYPD Blue” to watch a taping of the show in Tompkins Square Park.

Hilary, actor Dennis Franz and me on the set of “NYPD Blue,” March 1994

I now Open The Vault and take you back to 1994…

New York City
March 23, 1994

Dear Diary,

As I rounded the corner where “NYPD Blue” was shooting, I was enchanted with all of the hustle and bustle unfolding before me. There were police cars, movie cameras and those monogrammed folding chairs that are de rigeur on TV and movie sets. I’d never been so close to the action before…I wondered how we were going to find Bill amidst all of the commotion. I spotted a crew member standing by a sound mixing device and approached him.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you know where I can find Bill Clark?”

The man graciously suggested that if I stood right there, Bill would come by. He continued to engage me in small talk and I learned he was sound mixer for the show. We had only been talking for a few minutes when he said–

“You’re so beautiful, you should be in front of the cameras.”

A delighted smile crossed my face. Though his name was Mark, he said his on-set nickname was Sparky so that’s what I called him.

Bill Clark appeared and chatted with Hilary, as Sparky and I continued flirting… For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to subject him to my usual sarcasm and anti-male rhetoric. Probably because of the immediate attraction between us and the fact that he was more charming than any guy I had met before.

When shooting resumed, Sparky invited me to sit in his monogrammed folding chair, and gave me headphones to listen to the scenes being filmed. I saw him whisper something to my sister and then walk away.

“He said he has some time off soon,” Hilary told me. “And he’d like to spend it with you.”

* * *

I had no idea then that Sparky would act on his words and woo me across time zones and bodies of water.

And so it was that we began the recurring dynamic of coming together and letting go that would define our relationship for more than a decade. Defying the odds stacked against us — namely geography and a 16-year age difference — we sustained a connection that forever changed my definition of love.

I’ve got the diary entries to prove it.

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August 7th, 2008 — 2:40am

Today marks the birthdays of three of my dearest friends – Sara, Steve and Amanda. With two celebrating milestone birthdays (Sara is 35, Amanda is 30), I can’t help reflecting upon the milestones I’ve shared with all of them over the years.

Sara and I met in our student days at Mount Holyoke College, though it was during our junior year in London that we really bonded. From watching the late, lovely Princess Diana flip the switch on Regent Street’s Christmas lights to day trips to Bath and Stonehenge, we truly made the most of our stint in England’s capital. Since then, I’ve watched with pride and awe as Sara has obtained her phD in law and psychology, served as a congressional fellow, appeared on C-Span for her role in drafting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and brought her passion for children’s rights to NYC’s Department of Children & Family Services. Her dedication is tireless.

It was also during my time in London that I got to know my British-born buddy Steve. We met in the dinner queue on our first night as residents of Commonwealth Hall, slipping into easy conversation about the dreadful food – a conversation that has continued for 15 wonderful years, with Steve’s wisdom and understanding guiding me through countless twists and turns in life and love. Steve was my greatest champion following a disastrous fling with E, one of our dormmates. I’ll never forget his reaction when I feigned civility toward E during a communal dinner one night.

“That was an Academy Award-winning performance, Darling!”

Just as travel led me to Sara and Steve, so did it acquaint me with fun and fabulous Amanda. We met three summers ago when I invited her on a press junket to Barbados (I work on PR for the Hilton there, she’s a magazine writer who covers travel). We clicked immediately over our shared wanderlust and tales of romance gone awry. Since then, Amanda has inspired me not only with her flair for the written word but her passion for following her dreams — including a year-long journey around the world with friends to be chronicled in a future bestselling book. Visit for more about her amazing journey.

As Amanda, Sara and Steve celebrate their special day, I too feel a cause for celebration — of who they are and the difference each of them has made in my life. Happy, Happy Happy Birthday, my dear friends.

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August 6th, 2008 — 9:40pm

Today marks the birthdays of three of my dearest friends – Sara, Steve and Amanda. With two celebrating milestone birthdays (Sara is 35, Amanda is 30), I can’t help reflecting upon the milestones I’ve shared with all of them over the years.

Sara and I met in our student days at Mount Holyoke College, though it was during our junior year in London that we really bonded. From watching the late, lovely Princess Diana flip the switch on Regent Street’s Christmas lights to day trips to Bath and Stonehenge, we truly made the most of our stint in England’s capital. Since then, I’ve watched with pride and awe as Sara has obtained her phD in law and psychology, served as a congressional fellow, appeared on C-Span for her role in drafting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and brought her passion for children’s rights to NYC’s Department of Children & Family Services. Her dedication is tireless.

It was also during my time in London that I got to know my British-born buddy Steve. We met in the dinner queue on our first night as residents of Commonwealth Hall, slipping into easy conversation about the dreadful food – a conversation that has continued for 15 wonderful years, with Steve’s wisdom and understanding guiding me through countless twists and turns in life and love. Steve was my greatest champion following a disastrous fling with E, one of our dormmates. I’ll never forget his reaction when I feigned civility toward E during a communal dinner one night.

“That was an Academy Award-winning performance, Darling!”

Just as travel led me to Sara and Steve, so did it acquaint me with fun and fabulous Amanda. We met three summers ago when I invited her on a press junket to Barbados (I work on PR for the Hilton there, she’s a magazine writer who covers travel). We clicked immediately over our shared wanderlust and tales of romance gone awry. Since then, Amanda has inspired me not only with her flair for the written word but her passion for following her dreams — including a year-long journey around the world with friends to be chronicled in a future bestselling book. Visit for more about her amazing journey.

As Amanda, Sara and Steve celebrate their special day, I too feel a cause for celebration — of who they are and the difference each of them has made in my life. Happy, Happy Happy Birthday, my dear friends.

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July 25th, 2008 — 6:57pm

When it comes to serializing my 93 diaries, I received some great advice not too long ago from author and all-around fabulous bicoastal writer Gwen Davis. Gwen said to imagine my best friend as the audience, including only those vignettes that she would find interesting. With that objective in mind, then, I will take you back in time–specifically to 1993.

I was 19 years old. Home for me that year was London, under the pretext of studying abroad. Truthfully, I chose to be a temporary resident of England’s exhilarating capital city for two reasons — I had become smitten during a previous family vacation there and wanted to explore it like a local, and I needed a breather from the all-female world of my beloved alma mater, Mount Holyoke College.

If I majored in anything that year, it was a crash course in the opposite sex — the good, the bad and the heartbreakers. Without any further ado, I now open the vault to volume #45…

Sunday, October 31st, 1993

Commonwealth Hall, University of London

Dear Diary,



Yesterday I didn’t wake up until 1pm, due to a late night of fooling around with my floor mate Eduardo. I decided to stop in his room to ask if I could borrow his squash racket.

In keeping with the deal we’d made the night before, we acted as if nothing had happened between us. Surprisingly, I had no problem asking him for the racquet and then leaving. I was quite pleased, though, when Eduardo made an oh-so-subtle reference to our marathon kissing session. As he handed me his racquet, he smiled with the naughtiest glint in his eye. His friend didn’t notice — but I certainly did. I left with a self-satisfied grin on my face. He can’t forget about our rendez-vous that quickly, I thought.



* * *



[Later that day, I was running late for dinner with longtime family friend Uncle Alf. Eduardo and dorm mates Camilla and Gaby agreed to give me a ride across town to Uncle Alf’s house.]



As we all piled into Edu’s car, Gaby quipped, “Driving Miss Melissa!” a reference to the movie, Driving Miss Daisy. I laughed but remained focused on trying to find Uncle Alf’s street because we were slightly lost.



Finally, we arrived at Avenue Road. I thanked Eduardo for the ride. He advised me to be careful crossing the street because I was on the traffic-facing side of the car. Being cocky and way too nonchalant, I said something like,



“I’m from New York, I know how to be a pedestrian.”



I was in such a hurry that I ran across the road looking to my right, forgetting that traffic was two-way and also coming from the left. Suddenly, a big white truck came out of nowhere and knocked me onto the pavement.



Despite the jolt, or perhaps because of it and my fear of being completely run over, I managed to stand up right away. Eduardo and Gaby jumped out of the car and were immediately by my side.



“Are you alright?” Eduardo asked worriedly.



I attempted to respond but the impact of what had just happened hit me with extreme force. I collapsed.



* * *



Needless to say, I became a much humbler–and more alert–pedestrian after this little episode. Stay tuned for details about the rest of that fateful night…including the comfort I found in another man’s arms.

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