Personal

2014: The Middle (Part 1)

Before last week, the last time I wrote something of meaning was a day or so after our second date. At first – I really just had nothing to say. I wrapped myself in a cocoon where it was just me and him. I essentially moved into his apartment. I woke up in the morning, did the dishes from the dinner he would make us the night before, go to work, leave work and meet him on the Ashmont/Braintree platform, go home, watch TV, drink some beers, have dinner, and repeat.

That was my life for three months until I woke up one day and by that afternoon got de-friended on Facebook and received a cold, impersonal break up e-mail that could have easily mirrored an e-mail one would write to a hairdresser or dentist to let them know their services were no longer required. By that evening, all of my personal effects had been returned to me (a carload of stuff I might add) and he exited my life as abruptly as he had entered it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.

Now, I had plenty to say. In fact, I’ve written and re-written this post countless times in my head for the last three months. Writing is how I deal with things. It’s how I relate to other people. But for the first time, I couldn’t bring myself to release the word vomit that boiled inside of me. My best friend suggested I write an e-mail of what I would want to say to him and simply never send it. I knew I didn’t have the willpower for that – I was already impressed with myself that I was able to refrain from sending a drunk text or mailing a sappy Hallmark card or calling him begging him to see me after spending far too long crying in the shower.

I think the reason I like to do a year in review year after year is because I gain a lot from perspective. There is much to be gained in taking a step back and allowing yourself to see the bigger picture. To wait until the fire inside you subsides and you can allow yourself to really think about what happened, and the ultimate impact that it had. It’s been about four months since he left me crying on my doorstep, and I finally feel like I’m in a place to write.

The biggest problem I had after he left was the deep sadness that I felt. I had never experienced depression, and I didn’t know what to do with the deep, black pit that had taken over my chest. I felt stupid. How could I have possibly gotten so attached to someone I had only known for three months? I had lived a full, happy life up until then. How was it possible that I wasn’t strong enough to handle something like this, to continue on with my life without him in it.

And so I spent a lot of time mulling over why I was so distraught. Did I miss having a warm body in bed next to me? (No – I sleep like shit when I share a bed with someone). Did I miss having him in my life? (Yes – but I also knew deep down that he wasn’t right for me). I came to the realization the thing that upset me the most is that I felt like I had failed. I failed at being someone’s partner. I’m almost 30 years old and he was my first serious partner since my high school boyfriend – and it failed.

Failure is a scary thing for me. Not trying to sound conceited, but t’s just not something I do all that often. I also have an intense fear of not being in control (which would explain why I fucking hate flying). The idea of allowing a big part of my happiness rely on another human being is something I didn’t permit in my life for a long time. I finally let love back in, and it blew up in my face.

…to be continued (and I promise there’s a light at the end of my shitty breakup tunnel)

2014: The Beginning

I started out 2014 the best way I knew how – in the basement of The Middle East in Cambridge at a Justin Timberlake/Jay Z cover band concert drinking cheap, shitty champagne.

But let me back up. 2014 really sort of started late into 2013 when two of my close friends got into a bad accident while on safari in South Africa. Thankfully one of my friends ended up unscathed for the most part, but the other friend experienced tremendous physical trauma. I have a tight knit group of friends that these two are a part of and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so helpless knowing that your friends are quite literally a world away and there is nothing you can do to help them except to hold your phone close and be ready to send words of encouragement to a group chat.

I always knew this group of friends was exceptional, but this harrowing time really showed me the strength of our friendship and love for one another – even though we are rarely physically all in the same place. We are there to support one another through anything, but aren’t scared to give one another honest feedback (which was something I needed a lot of in 2014) whether you ask for it or not. I’m grateful to have this group of friends, and other sets of friends who bring this type of stability, fun, adventure, and love to my life.

I think friendships are something that can sometimes be undervalued, especially in our adult lives when we have so many things going on – pursuing careers, going on sometimes good (but mostly shitty) dates to try to figure out who we want to be with for the rest of our life, buying big ticket items like cars and houses, raising children… that we lose sight of nurturing the relationships that could end up being lifelong commitments.

So tell your friends you love them. Send them flowers when they’re having a shitty week. Pick up the fucking phone every once in a while and hear each other’s voice. Don’t let a year (or more)  go by without spending time in the same physical space if you can help it.

Make time for friendships – for real, true, honest to god friendships. Be friends with people who get a kick out of dressing like an asshole in public, who are just as happy to be with you in a dive bar in town as they are at a rain soaked resort in Cancun, who challenge you just as much as they support you, who never say no when you want to get crappy Chinese food after being out for a couple drinks too long, who hide abnormally large sex toys in your lettuce because they know it will make you laugh your ass off (can you tell I’m getting a little specific here)?

Put effort into these types of relationships – jobs will come and go, cars will break down, significant others will pass through like an F-5 tornado, but your friends will always be there to take you out for a beer and tell you that you were too good for that guy anyways.

2014 Year in Review – An Introduction

If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you know that it’s the time of the year for me to take a step back and reflect on the year that was. Typically, this is a fun little jaunt down memory lane where I go through my FourSqaure (well – now Swarm) check-ins and do some not so humble bragging about the cool stuff I did all year.

Well folks – that won’t be the format for this year.

2014 was actually a pretty transformative year for me in a lot of ways. I became an aunt, lost 20 pounds, fell in love, moved into a new apartment, had my heart broken, traveled to some new places, and grew a lot both personally and professionally. I’m finally at the point where I feel ready to talk about some of these more difficult things (and totally psyched to gloat about being an aunt to an amazing little girl).

There was also a lot of tumultuous things that happened in a broader sense this year – a couple of my heroes died (namely Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Mayor Tom Menino), love conquered hate as many more states made gay marriage legal, the midterm elections gave the GOP the upper hand, and race relations exploded with the terrible deaths of two men (and countless others) at the hands of the police force.

To me, this year had a beginning, a middle, and an end – and that’s how I’ll be approaching the series. Stay tuned, kids.

2013 Year in Review: Winter

Well since my flight get delayed by an hour and a half, I’ve found myself with some spare time. Might as well wrap up this series! Here’s what went down this winter:

Thanksgiving trip to DC + Dogfish Head 

Every Thanksgiving for the past few years I have taken the opportunity to go on a trip. This year, my friends Katie, Tim, and Eryn took a trip to DC and Delaware for the long weekend.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in DC where we rented an apartment through Air bnb (which started out as a nightmare when the person fell asleep and couldn’t let us in so we had to get a hotel, but it all ended well in the end). It was really fun to prepare a Thanksgiving meal with friends and enjoy one another’s company.

On the second day in DC we headed out and did some sightseeing before making the drive to Delaware. As someone who has an over the top love for America, it is always great for me to walk around DC checking out the monuments.

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Then it was off to Delaware! We rented a really cute little house in Rehoboth that was right near the downtown area. We did a lot of eating at the Dogfish Head Brew Pub, which was a really amazing experience. We had totally awesome service, had access to a ton of different Dogfish beers, and the food was great! It was awesome to see the experience of their brand come to life in such a way – I was totally impressed.

Then it was off to tour the brewery! We did the public tour which was really interesting and fun, but the highlight of the day at the brewery was definitely getting to go behind the scenes and check out pretty much anything we wanted to! A huge thank you to Rebecca (who used to work in the R&D lab at Sam and is now working at Dogfish Head) for showing us such a good time. It was an experience I will never forget.

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Holiday Party at 23 Union (2nd Annual Post ‘PIC Party’ Party)

Every year my roommates and I host a holiday party which had ended up serving as an after party that non-profit folks hit up. It was a really fun time this year (as always). Sadly this is the last holiday party we will have together as roommates, but I’m sure Katrina will continue to host this at her place in the future and you better believe I will be there (with beer in hand).

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SA – Rebel IPA Launch Party & Holiday Party with Joe 

In terms of work, December was a very busy (but very fun) month.

We recently launched a new West Coast style IPA called Rebel and had been hosting some pretty awesome launch parties around the country. In December we hosted our Boston kick-off at The Middle East in Cambridge. We had live artwork with some of the incredibly talented artists out of Project SF and live music from a great local band, Viva Viva. I was really psyched that my friend Damon was able to make it out to the event – it was such a blast.

If you want to check out the event, we did a time lapsed video of the artwork and the event:

We also had our annual holiday party which was really nice. Joe ended up making it out for the weekend and we had a really excellent time (despite his lack of a smile in this photo). Thanks to Joe for being such a great +1!

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Home for the Holidays

I kicked off the holidays with a mini high school reunion of sorts. A bunch of us took a party bus to a Buffalo Bills game and it was such a killer time. I hadn’t been to a Bills game since I was like 5 years old, so as you can imagine, it was a completely different experience more than 20 years later. And it’s always nice to be there when the Bills “Squish the Fish.”

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Other highlights included:

  • Seeing Elton John in concert in the Garden – that dude rocks.
  • Visiting with Lauren for a night in NYC (we had gone a year without seeing each other – not cool).
  • Spending the night in Manchester with Emerald, Damond and the CYNH crew for “dogs and logs” – complete with a bar playing Taking Back Sunday the whole night and me kicking ass in a dance off at said bar.
  • Meeting my cousin’s baby Natalie for the first time – such a cutie.
  • Meeting my paren’t new puppy Caroline for the first time – also cute.

I think it goes without saying that 2013 was a really fun year. I made a lot of amazing memories, made a few big changes in my life, and made a lot of new friends. I’m looking forward to what 2014 is going to bring.

2013 Year in Review: Fall

I gotta say – this fall felt pretty amazing. It was my first fall since I moved to Boston that I wasn’t a graduate student and I certainly took advantage of all of the extra free time that I had!

One of the things I did was join the board of AmeriCorps Alums Boston. I have been pretty heavily involved with them since I moved here thanks to my City Year connections, but now that I was not working at City Year and had some free time on my hands, I wanted to become involved on a deeper level. It was really great getting to know this group of people and I have really enjoyed being on the board thus far.

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Another thing I was able to do that I have wanted to do for the past four years? Watch a damn Bills game! I was fortunate enough to have Kelly Brandt (and her lovely roommate Kat) live in Boston for the fall and winter. Not only did I have two more people to hang out with, but I had a buddy who loves the Bills even more than I do to accompany me to watch the games at Bleacher Bar and/or The Harp! Shout-out to Bleacher Bar for always having buckets of Blue Light and garbage plates. Great way to spend a Sunday!

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As for work stuff, I got to experience my first OctoberFest at the Castle, which was a lot of fun. I also had the opportunity to work a beer fest at Mohegan Sun, also a first. It was an incredibly busy fall (but I’m noticing that it is pretty much always going to be incredibly busy). Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I had the opportunity to go home in October to celebrate Kelly Zepp (now Bonaldi)’s wedding! It was really great to spend time with her and be a part of her special day. I have known her since my first day at Fisher and was there throughout the beginning phases of her relationship with John. It made me so happy to know that she is spending her life with someone who is really great for her. The wedding was SO much fun and it was beautiful – definitely a day I won’t soon forget.

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The end of the fall brought a couple interesting happenings – some sad and one very happy. A couple days after I went home for Kelly’s wedding, my parents had to put our dog Maxie to sleep. She had been suffering from seizures for a while and it was just time. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to say goodbye to her – she had been a part of my life for just over ten years. She was a crazy dog, but she was mine. I miss her a lot but am thankful that I had her in my life for as long as I did.

Another (more significant) heartbreak was that my Uncle Brian passed away. He had been fighting ALS for some time, which if you don’t know anything about, is a horrific disease. It was really hard to know all this was happening and to not be able to be there for my aunt and cousins. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them and what they’ve been through. Their strength has been truly inspiring to me.

As for the happy stuff I promised, my brother and his girlfriend announced that they were having a baby. It was really insane at first to think about my brother being a father, but as the time gets closer I get more and more excited. They are having a girl and her name is going to be Bailee Ann Baker. I can’t wait to have her be here and to quite frankly, spoil the shit outta her. I know my family is all so thrilled to have her in our lives and we all can’t wait to meet her.

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2013 Year in Review: Summer

Alright. I’m sick of feeling guilty every time I log into my blog for not finishing my year in review. This is something I have done for the past several years and for some reason I’m really struggling with doing it this year. I think that it’s because it really was a momentous year for me – I finished graduate school, got a new job, (spoiler alert) I found out I have a niece on the way. So for the remainder of the series, I’m going to do it by season. Trust me, it will be fine.

Summer Academy 

What can I possibly say about Summer Academy? It is intense, inspiring, a shit ton of work, hilarious, a bonding experience like no other, deeply gratifying…. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Academy this year. It was of course bittersweet because I was leaving City Year the week after it was over, but I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to end my City Year(s) any other way. I have been involved with Summer Academy for the past couple years and there was something really special about it this year (and I’m not just saying that).

I can’t thank the tremendous team and leadership enough for working so hard to create such an incredible experience and for helping me transition to the next phase of my professional life. You all mean so much to me and I will never forget the time we had together. Truly.

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Ginmann’s Wedding

Man – Ginmann and Grace really know how to throw a party! I had such an awesome time at their wedding – was so grateful to be a part of their special day.

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New Job

After the craziness of Summer Academy, I had one last week of work then a three day weekend before I started my new gig. I was SO nervous. On my one day off I took before I started, my new boss called me and let me know that we would be meeting with the CEO and founder of the company on my first day. Of course I freaked out over what the heck I was going to wear – the dress code at BBC is much more lax than City Year was, and has a pretty wide range. I could wear a dress one day and jeans the next and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. So I spent that whole day anxiously shopping around Cambridge Galleria to figure out what in the hell to wear (not quite the relaxing day I was hoping for).

Looking back, that was incredibly silly. Everyone was so welcoming and dare I say excited to have me there. I’m so grateful for Jess Infante for immediately introducing me into her social circle and making me feel like I wasn’t an outsider from day one, and for my team who put me to work right away and for being patient with me as I asked tons and tons of questions.

One of the (many) cool things about BBC is that when you start, you get to go through an Orientation. It is really great because you get a whirlwind look at a lot of aspects of the company – its history, the beer making process, sales, brewery tours, you name it. You also get to have a ton of fun and start your career with a great new group of friends all over the country (much like City Year).

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The week before Orientation I went home for the weekend for Kelly Zep-er Bonaldi’s bridal shower. It was really great to be home to spend time with my family and see friends. I went and checked out Roc Brewing Co. (which you should definitely check out if you live in the Rochester area!) with my family and had dinner at Aladdin’s (another one of my favorite things in Rochester). Was really nice to spend time with just the four of us – that is definitely a rarity.

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So there you have it – that was my summer. Up next? Fall…

2013 Year in Review: July (Getting the Job)

I’m going to need to break this up a bit – here is the 24 hour period where I got the new job. 

I had one more interview for the position at BBC – a breakfast meeting before work. I sat and talked with my (now) boss and the head of the PR/Digital/Government Relations departments and had a really honest, thoughtful conversation about why I wanted to work for them and what I thought I could bring to the team. I was completely honest with them – I wasn’t 100% sure when I first started interviewing that I would have even accepted the job if they had offered it to me.

But after spending eight weeks interviewing, I knew that this was the right career move for me and that I had never wanted anything so badly in my life.

At around 7PM that evening while I was working at CY HQ, I got the call. They were offering me the position. As they were telling me I had it, I was so excited I jumped up and mouthed to Sean Edwin (who was leading the Culture & Community Team for Academy) that I had gotten the position. I had confided in him the day before that I had this interview and that I would know what was coming. He was the first person I told.

What I felt was a big mix of excitement, relief, pride, terror, and a bit of anguish. I was really proud of myself, but was feeling really anxious about breaking the news to my co-workers at CY. After making a couple phone calls to share the happy news (my work husband Elliot, my mom, my friend Molly who had gotten me into craft beer when I lived in San Jose, and Maria, a friend who had been there for me through the whole process) I called up Beach Pace, who had been one of my recommenders.

It was a really great conversation for me since she knew what it was like to leave CY – for those of you have done it, you know that it is a really scary thing. It is more than a job – it is a family. A greater purpose. So much of my identity had been tied up in CY that knowing the reality that I would be leaving was quite perplexing. How would people take it? Will I still feel like I’m living with purpose working at a beer company? Will I fit into the culture? Will I be happy?

We talked about what I was trying to process – as much as I was thrilled about getting the job, I was sad and scared at the same time. I think most people probably assume that this was a really easy decision for me to make. It really wasn’t. In my last interview, one of the questions they asked me was what was the toughest decision I had to make within the past year. I replied that it was the decision to apply for this new job. This job was my dream job, but I already really loved my job at CY. The thought of leaving that job for something that might be better, but wasn’t a sure thing, was a leap of faith for me.

Beach told me that there would be a grieving process – that I would probably regret this decision at first, but that I needed to push through it. That people would be sad to see me leave, but ultimately they would be excited for me and that they would still remain a big part of my life.

I tossed and turned a lot that night. I knew that I would have to start telling people immediately because they wanted me to start in 2 1/2 weeks.

The next morning I put some time on Elizabeth’s calendar to meet, but that didn’t work out as planned. Ted Marquis of Care Force called me over to his desk and offered me a spot on a trip to Ireland that they would be taking. (Figures, right?) I told him that I couldn’t go, and he asked why, and I gave him a look and I think he figured out pretty immediately that something was up.

Elizabeth overheard me and said, “Did I really just hear you turn down a trip to Ireland?” And that’s when I told her we needed to talk. I told her about the opportunity that I had accepted and her reaction was pretty priceless -

“That’s great! F*&% me, but that’s great!”

I was so relieved that she was excited and happy for me. Looking back, I don’t know why I ever expected that she would have been anything but that.

As I went through the process of telling people at CY that day and the days following, there was certainly a lot of shock. But when I told them why I was leaving, everyone was really excited for me – which meant the world to me. I even got a lot of offers from senior leadership to come back whenever I wanted and that they hoped I enjoyed my sabbatical.

There is this quote that I found recently that really made me think:

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” – Bette Middler 

I used to struggle with this a lot. Thankfully I have a lot of truly supportive people in my life who I have been able to turn to and who have been genuinely happy for where I am in my career now. Having the support of family and friends is what gave me the courage and strength to go through this process and ultimately make the decision I needed to make.

(The book Lean In also helped me a lot – if you are a female professional, I highly recommend reading it).