Full Circle

This is a free Dremel that I got from the DIY Network.

I know what this looks like. Like I’ve broken our no-free-swag rule. But this was given to me back in 2003, long before our self-imposed policy took effect (hence its worse-for-wear appearance). Heck, it even pre-dates our blog, our first home purchase, and even our relationship (we didn’t meet until 2004, and didn’t start dating ’til 2005).

So now you’re probably wondering what the single, 21-year-old, apartment-dwelling, college student version of me did to deserve a free tool from a home improvement network. Well, it’s because I was currently rocking the prestigious title of “intern.”

That’s me in August of 2003 on the last day of my summer advertising internship in New York City – coincidentally the day before the big citywide blackout. Clearly I was conducting myself with the utmost maturity by, yes, hugging the giant bubblegum machine in our building’s lobby. I actually worked in the same building where Big was filmed. Our office was the toy company where Tom Hanks worked – so you could say there was a bit of playfulness in the air.

I was a “Television Media Buying Intern.” For those who aren’t fluent in advertising-ese, it means I worked with the people in charge of negotiating the cost and placement of commercials with the TV networks. Which means they get schmoozed by the networks, sometimes a lot. My supervisors were always getting free stuff, being taken out to nice lunches, and going out to special events. And considering that I was working for free, they occasionally threw some swag my way too. Especially when they didn’t want it. Enter the Dremel, stage left.

By the end of my interning stint, I had racked up a copy of E.T. on DVD, a beach towel with The History Channel logo on it, tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls tape a concert special for the Oxygen network and, of course, my handy DIY Network Dremel. I guess since my team was made up entirely of women, they figured their male intern would know what to do with a power tool.

Well, I didn’t. Best I could tell from the picture on the box, that whatsiedosie was for people who whittled chairs. Whatever it was, I figured it had no place in my life as a college senior – nor my expected future as a city-dwelling advertising professional. Never did I think I would become interested in DIYing, let alone have it become my actual profession. So I did what many non-tool-using-sons would do: I gave the Dremel to my dad.

Recently, he gave it back (as part of his purge-before-moving process). I happily took it. Not because I need a Dremel – in fact I got one last year as a Father’s Day present from Sherry (seen below – clearly they’ve updated their look since 2003) – but because it was a funny symbol of the weird turns that life can take. Perhaps that old Dremel was an omen of my future and I was just too young and gumball obsessed to notice?

Ok, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Hopefully my complimentary DVD of E.T. and my History Channel towel aren’t prophesying some future as an alien abduction victim or, I dunno, an old historic sunbather? So even if my free power tool of yesteryear isn’t responsible for my present occupation, I can at least give credit to that internship which led to a full time job, which led to meeting a copywriter named Sherry, which led to… well, you know the rest.

Have you guys ever regifted a tool only to re-encounter it down the line? Or been given something random that turned out to be some “symbol” of the life you would somehow grow into? Have you ever cozied up to a giant gumball machine or laid out on a History Channel towel? I figure I can’t be the only one.

Psst- I’m looking pretty tan in these old photos of yore, but Sherry and I are now blindingly white suburban parents. Proof here and here.


  1. Stephanie Phillips says

    I think it was a sign of things to come!

    And WOW you look baby-faced in those pictures! My husband has a young face like you and I always giggle when I see even *younger* looking pictures of him in his early 20’s.

  2. says

    That’s too funny!

    PS- I feel like a geek for caring that I know what a buyer is and a copywriter. Sadly I don’t work in a fancy NYC office, I work in a beige half-cube at a sports merchandising company. But I pretend my cube walls are linen, so it’s ok.

  3. Heather says

    I’ve never had an experience like that myself but I do remember my brother being obsessed with becoming a cop when he was a kid. Looking back, it seems like he was destined for it but there was a time when he was kind of lost (he studied Graphic Design in school). Then he met some friends who were training to become police officers and he found his passion again. He loves his job now. It’s funny how sometimes life shows you where you are supposed to be.

  4. says

    My internship was more “you’re going to need to clean all the mouse cages…” ick. Life of a biology major. Like you, i have improved and learned new skills.

    Recently, a recycled birthday gift from 8 years ago found it’s way to me via an office holiday swap. From a complete stranger. :)

  5. says

    DIY rookie here. Can you name a project you would use a Dremel on?
    And in terms of your question… a former roomie gave me my own little toolbox complete with hammer, screwdriver with multiple heads, pliers… etc.. I was so surprised because it was such a departure from any gift I could possibly imagine. But a move or too later I started using it on the regular. Every time I do I feel empowered and very much like a woman who has her own tools should feel… ready to diy it!

  6. Wendy says

    I have a dremel. I used to use it to trim my dog’s nails. When I used the clipper things, he used to fight me and it was so difficult and I’d sometimes cut the quick. The dremel is awesome because you just file a little down at a time, so there’s no risk of hitting the quick. And if he pulled his paw away, it didn’t hurt. I’d sometimes hit my finger when he moved and it was no big deal. I highly recommend it!

    • Wendy says

      They actually sell a pet model. It’s less powerful and a different color. The only thing is they recommend that you don’t hold the dremel on the nail for more than a second or two at a time. Just hold it on the nail for a second and then take it off for a second and then put it right back on the nail. It goes pretty quickly.

    • Liz says

      We have one. Would work wonders except my dog is terrified of the motor. My husband jokingly refers to it as the pedi file.

    • Elizabeth says

      Yeah, my dog would have none of that Pedi Paws trimmer. I guess it depends on the dog and starting them out young. I trim his nails the old fashioned way and he’s fine.

  7. says

    How fun! I’ve never re-gifted something only to receive it down the road but it does sort of remind me of the bread maker Will Ferrell tries to re-gift in Old School!

    By the way, do you guys watch Mad Men? With all the talk about advertising and copywriters, it made me think of the show. If you don’t, you should…it’s way addicting :)

    • says

      We watched it but we had to stop! It was making us annoyed because it brought back those times we worked really hard on pitches and the clients killed all the good ideas. Haha. Too close to home I guess. But a lot of our friends love it!


  8. Kate says

    Ah, you reminded me of the blackout in 2003 (it wasn’t just NCY, remember… it extended halfway through MI, my home state). That was craziness.

    Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever had something come back to me like that nor any objects that fortold my future, but my research project in grad school wound up being very closely related to what my job is now, even though it was only loosely related to my major and I hadn’t been particuarly interested in that specific research topic (I picked it since it was with a former prof and it had an opening). I also wasn’t looking for a job that was in that field either, but I just so happened to wind up here as well. I’m enjoying it now that I’m here, but it was kind of odd that I keep coming back to healthcare IT instead of mechanical engineering!

  9. says

    you worked in that old hasboro building where they filmed Big? that’s where his supposed office building was right? don’t know if you know this but that building was turned into a home depot a couple of years ago!!

  10. says

    My parents gave us a 10″ chop saw as a house-warming gift. Dad helped put up crown molding during a recent visit and liked our saw so much better than his own that he decided he wanted one. The siblings just pooled our resources and gave him the same saw back for his birthday. DIY nerdiness is genetic.

  11. Cynthia says

    Well this isn’t exactly like that, but I did get a fortune cookie that was crazy just a little while ago. I was 4 days from my due date with my 2nd baby and expecting to be pregnant for another 2 weeks or so ( since I was so late with my first) but I was hoping to not be pregnant for one more day!! But I met some friends at Pei Wei for dinner and my fortune cookie said “You will soon emerge victorious from the maze you’ve been traveling in” and the word on the back was “daughter”. And exactly one week from that day (so only 3 days late!) I had my daughter (who we did not know if she was a boy or girl) all naturally ( a VBAC) and named her Maizie! The name was also totally a coincidence because we picked it about a day after she was born and I had totally forgotten that the fortune cookie said that! So, thats my story of a funny thing randomly predicting my future!

  12. says

    I just wanted to say that I was in NY during that blackout too–August 14, 2003! It was my grandma’s birthday, that’s the only reason, I remember the date, haha. Good times (or not).

    • says

      Also, completely random (wow, I left two random comments to you guys today, sorry), but I was wondering what you two thought of the Glee finale this week?! Yay or nay?

    • says

      We’re glad it didn’t tie up neatly in a bow with them winning (as expected) and also loved the song “My Cup” (still singing it). But we both think the first ten episodes or so were the best ever. So we’re waiting for it to get that exciting again.


    • Briel K. says

      I was so disappointed in the Glee finale! They really dropped the ball on the finale IMO.

  13. says

    I’ve had an experience like this. I didn’t want to go home the summer between sophomore and junior year (one bored post-college summer was enough for me, thanks) and I found a way to stay- by being an orientation peer advisor for the summer at my university. It was really fun, and I loved almost every bit of it….

    Now I’m an academic advisor at a major university in my state, and one of my major responsibilities is running the college portion of our orientations. Full circle. =)

    • says

      So funny, that’s exactly what I did the summer of 2002 (the year before my NYC internship). I was an “Orientation Leader” at UVA and L.O.V.E.D. it. I considered doing it again in 2003 but when I got this advertising internship I couldn’t turn it down… even though it was the non-paying option.


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