Thoughts on Turning 29

I usually don’t get all that weird about birthdays. They are typically just an excuse for me to plan a fun time that my friends are obligated to be a part of (well, more so than usual).

But for some reason, turning 29 is feeling a bit weird to me. But like, good weird.

It is kind of crazy to think about where my twenties have taken me. They started at St. John Fisher College back in Rochester, NY. I don’t even really remember how I celebrated, but I’m sure there was Coors Light and a good fake ID involved.

If you would have asked me where I would be on the other end of my twenties, I probably would have ventured to guess that I would be living in Rochester. I’d have a house and a car. A job as a newspaper reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle. I might even be married (or on my way there). Maybe even a kid. Definitely a dog. A boxer to be specific. I’d go to Wegmans every Sunday. I’d see my family at least once a week. Probably more. The Buffalo Bills would have made the playoffs (hey – a girl can dream).

But as we all know, that’s not what life had in store for me.

There’s nothing wrong with the aforementioned scenario. Sometimes I actually do wish that’s where life had taken me. I miss my family all the time. I miss being able to hop in a car and go wherever I wanted (even if everything was at least 20-30 minutes away). I FUCKING MISS WEGMANS SO MUCH. (At least there is one in Chestnut Hill so I can go every once in a while).

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to where I am today. It’s actually a pretty simple series of events:

I went on alternative spring break in New Orleans my sophomore year of college and fell in love with service. This paired with the tanking economy led me to pursue an AmeriCorps experience.

I was given the choice between Providence, RI; Miami, FL; and San Jose, CA. For no other reason than it was the furthest away, I chose California.

In the middle of my first corps year I thought I wanted to come home once my service ended. I met with a college adviser at SUNY Brockport for their Non-Profit Admin MA program. While meeting with him he told me he’d accept me on the spot but that he didn’t believe I actually wanted to be there. Then the guy I was really interested in back home told me I was way more into it than he was. Back to California (for another year) I went.

A mentor of mine at City Year told me that Emerson College would be a good fit for me. I wanted to move to Boston with the hopes of working at City Year, so without even visiting the campus I signed my intent to attend. A few days before I was set to move to Boston, I learned that person was leaving City Year and that I would be replacing him rather than reporting to him. I had my first phone call with my future boss, who remains a very important figure in my life. I showed up on my first day awkwardly wearing business casual attire that I had purchased specifically for this and wrote my job description down.

After two incredible years at City Year, my friend Jess sent me a Facebook message telling me about a job that I just had to check out. It was for the role I’m in now. My heart sank when I read it because I knew it meant I would have to leave City Year. I knew that this was what I was destined to do for my next step and that it wasn’t a matter of if they would hire me, but if I was really ready for a new challenge.

Fast forward two and a half more years, and here I am in Boston. I’m working my dream job. I don’t have a car, but I have a cozy little apartment with two dudes and a dog who I care about very much.That guy who (thankfully) had the balls to tell me to not come home for him when I was 23 is actually getting married on my birthday this year – I wish him and his future wife well. I have a beautiful niece who I love dearly. I shop at Whole Foods. (Sorry, Wegmans). The Bills still haven’t made the god damn playoffs.

And you know what? I’m good with that.

 

 

Learnings from 2015

My overall theme of 2015 was to say yes, which is something I certainly did a lot of (and I have the waist line and credit card debt to show for it).

While it served me well for the most part, I started realizing towards the latter half of the year that I needed to adjust my philosophy. It isn’t about always saying yes, but understanding the difference between “yes” and “FUCK yes.”

The whole philosophy of Fuck Yes or No is borrowed from one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Manson.  In a nutshell, the rule of Fuck Yes or No is as follows:

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While this is mainly applied to dating for the purposes of his post, I think it can be much, much broader than that in ways both big and small.

Instead of eating out a few crappy meals a week, I can choose to eat out one truly amazing meal every week or so. Instead of taking a bunch of little weekend trips, I can save money and go on one bad ass trip – maybe even finally make it over to Europe. Instead of dating a few different people at once to avoid feeling too attached to any one of them, I can let myself focus on one person and truly get to know them and not be so afraid to be vulnerable.

Of course, there are going to be plenty of things I have to do that I don’t have the “FUCK yes” feeling about, but I don’t need to give these things as much mind space and energy  as I have in the past. I also don’t need to put them off and have them hang over my head (god damn expense reports…)

In 2016 I’m going to allow myself to pause a beat before giving my yes. I’m going to be protective of my time and only share it with those who bring value to my life (and hopefully vice versa). I’m going to put my phone away and be present in the moment (friends – please call me out on this). And in the times when I do choose the “FUCK yes,” I’m going to give it everything I got.

So here’s to more beers (and cider and tea), laughs, memories, and conversations with those who matter most. Let’s do this thing.

Ah – and here are some other misc. things I learned:

  • I don’t need to rely on dating apps to find someone worth my time and energy – it’s still possible for it to happen the old fashioned way
  • Red wine is delicious
  • No one can define what hurts you besides you
  • Uncomfortable conversations can often yield positive results if they are solution oriented
  • Mucinex is a miracle drug
  • My hair can actually hold a curl with one of those wand things
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Year in Review: Q4 2015

I know, I know – we have a couple days left of 2015, but I think it’s fair to say that we can stick a fork in this bad boy. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how the year ended. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, had some exciting happenings with work, and learned a lot more about what I’m looking for in a potential relationship (which was a theme threaded throughout my year – but that’s a whole separate post). Let’s get into the good stuff:

Neil’s Wedding #alliknowisyemo

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I was really grateful to be a part of Neil’s big day, along with the rest of the group chat (which is now Team No Chill – it varies). We all traveled down to Greensboro, and the night before the wedding I got to have a bit of a night on the town with Chad and Caitlin which ended up being a riot. Pretty sure we went to just about every bar in town. The wedding festivities were also SO much fun! E did such an amazing job planning this with Neils and Shamelle, and it was a really incredible day.

Halloween

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Halloween is my second favorite holiday (only to 4th of July, duh) so I always try to do a lot of celebrating with fun costumes. This year was no different – I had a big crew together that dressed up like Beanie Babies which was a delightfully comfortable costume! I kicked off the day with brunch and the Cambridge Brewing Great Pumpkin Fest, which is something I’ve been meaning to go to for years. It was a lot of fun to go to that with my indoor soccer crew – really awesome event that I hope to go to again! After that, my squad (pictured above) and I hit up Slumbrew, Bantam, Karaoke (at least I think we did that), and a house party. Needless to say, I slept like a baby in my forever lazy that night.

Innovation Cider House Opening

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I spent a lot of time in November in the Hudson Valley at the Innovation Cider House, which celebrated its grand opening. It was really amazing to see this come to life and I’m so excited for all of the great hard cider that is going to come out of there. If you’re looking for a great road trip in 2016, I highly recommend visiting the area (and visiting us, of course). I hope to return one day to kick some more ass at karaoke at Walden Lanes and explore more of the distilleries, cideries, and breweries in the area.

Ameral Family Thanksgiving

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I want to extend a big thank you to the Ameral family for adopting me for Thanksgiving for the second year. Even though Molly (a hilariously naughty yellow lab) ate the turkey leg, it was a delicious meal. Frankie and Vanessa provided us with some bottles of Pretty Things to have a fond Thanksgiving farewell to one of our favorite breweries, and we enjoyed a few rounds of Head’s Up (which got pretty intense once Mrs. Ameral got some Fireball in her…). I’m already looking forward to next year!

Home for the Holidays 

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And last, but certainly not least, I went home to see family and friends for the holidays! Unfortunately I had a pretty annoying cold (which I’m still fighting), but I didn’t let that get me down! Christmas Eve is always a blast with my mom’s side – had a great craft beer tasting with my dad and uncles (a tradition I have more or less forced upon them for the past few years, but I think they enjoy it). The other big highlight was going to the Buffalo Bills vs. Cowboys game with my dad. Thanks to Traci for having us join your tailgate! It was an absolute blast. I did get the chance to see a lot of high school friends and a few college friends, which was great. You can always keep up over social media, but nothing really replaces the face time that you can get when you’re home.

I also got to spend a lot of time with my niece Bailee – I just can’t believe how big she is getting!

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Other Highlights:

  • Joining a kickball league – big thanks to Frankie and Vanessa for being the BEST coaches anyone could ask for. And thanks to Tyler for finally letting me be on the Sam Adams team!
  • Sitting behind Elizabeth Warren at Black Mass – Chad and Caitlin can attest to how AMAZING this was for me. Direct quote: “I… CAN’T… BREATHE…”
  • Spending lots of time at Slumbrew and Bantam – I’m glad our crew found a mini cidery/brewery crawl that we have repeated quite a few times in 2015. I have a feeling we will continue that on into 2016…
  • Giving a talk about social media to a class at Tufts – I had the chance to give a presentation on what I do for a living and it was really fun! I hope to become an adjunct professor one day, so this was a great experience for me. 
  • 12 Brewers of Christmas Event at Mead Hall – this was a really fun event with a lot of folks in the beer industry. I got to try a lot of cool beers, see a lot of great people, and play lots of nudie photo hunt (at a different bar). Solid evening, terrible hangover the next day.
  • #SamFam Bar Crawl – many of us at work have been traveling a lot this year so it has been really hard for us to get together as a group. Luckily we have the birth of Jess Infante and Justin Buck to celebrate at this time every year, so we resurrected the holiday bar crawl which was a total blast.

 

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Year in Review: Q3 2015

This was a really fun summer. I don’t want to say I wasted last summer on a dude, but let’s face it – that’s what happened. I was really excited to not get broken up with on the 4th of July (who does that?) and to spend a lot of time with my friends and family doing fun New England summertime things.

Fourth of July + Kelly and John visiting

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If you know me, you know that the 4th of July is my Christmas. It is my absolute favorite day of the year – and this year was no different! My college roommate Kelly and her husband John decided to drive down for the festivities, and I’m so glad that I had the chance to spend time with them – especially now that they’re expecting their first addition to the family!

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Big thanks to these two dudes for helping me pull off an epic Fourth of July party! Chad on the grill and Eryn on decorations and carrying heavy stuff around – you two dudes are the best. I’m sad to think this coming year will be our last 4th of July as housemates, but am so glad we have had the chance to throw two absolutely epic parties together.

Cape Cod Vacation

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For the first time since before I moved away from Rochester (and since Bailee has come into our lives) we went on a family vacation! We spent a week together in an awesome little house on the Cape. I honestly can’t remember the last time I got to spend this much time with my family, and I will cherish the week that we had together for years to come. I hope this won’t be the last time we have the chance to do something like this!

#SAT11 Reunion

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Once I got back from the Cape, I got to spend time with my other family – Debauchery, Shade Room, SQUADDD, whatever our group chat is named at any given time. We have had this group chat going for four years now and we talk all day every day. However, since we all live across the country – this is the first time we had ALL been together in the same place! So as you can imagine, it was a hell of a time. Shout out to Emerald for introducing us to the game “shots and secrets” – I’ve never learned more or been so drunk with you people in my life.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before E comments on this post, I must disclose that I was not actually a member of SAT 11, but I did manage to force my way into the group. They have no shot of getting rid of me – ever. 

Kurt and Hiang’s Wedding

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Kurt convinced an awesome (and intelligent, gorgeous, smart ass) girl to marry him and I couldn’t be happier. They had a brunch wedding, which was totally kick ass! Who doesn’t love a good bloody mary during cocktail hour? And breakfast food is the best. It was a gorgeous day and I’m so grateful I got to witness it (partially because I was still in disbelief, but mostly because I was so hyped for these two). Congrats, guys!

Other highlights:

  • Road trip to Vermont with Rosalie and Diana for Woodchuck Cider’s Music Fest. We also hit up Citizen Cider, Zero Gravity Brewing, and Queen City.
  • Becoming the co-chair of AmeriCorps Alums Boston and kicking off our board year.
  • Red Jacket Weekend – City Year hosted a killer event at Fenway Park. It was awesome.
  • Seeing the Foo Fighters live at Fenway Park with Diana.
  • Ashley’s 30th Birthday #nivenitup on the Cape.
  • Boston Beer Company’s National Meeting – always awesome to see all my Orientation and sales friends.

 

Year in Review: Q2 2015

Looking back, this three month period was pretty insane. I travelled all over the place (which was awesome and stressful but worth it) and had a lot going on. There were also a bunch of things going on in Boston during this time as well, so even when I was home there was no rest for the weary. Now, I like to be busy – but god damn, this was insane.

Here’s where I was kicking around from April – June:

Columbia, SC (and Charleston, SC and Charlotte, NC)

I went to go visit my good friends Emerald and Damond (yes Emerald, I consider him to be my friend too…haha) because they had another baby! It was SO awesome to go down and check out Columbia and Charleston for the first time. That trip was full of beer, baby snuggles, laughter, and great food. I couldn’t have asked for better hosts!

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Big thank you to Emerald and Damond for taking me to a bunch of breweries! I got to check out: Conquest Brewing (these guys ruled – gave me a bunch of beer to take home), River Rat Brewery, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse (great spot for food and a pint if you find yourself in Columbia – thanks to Mike W. for coming to meet up!), Westbrook Brewing Co. (thanks to Mike O. for making the trip out to see me!), NoDa Brewing, and Birdsong Brewing. Great times.

Austin, TX

I always take one “beercation” a year, and while Columbia ended up being one without me planning ahead for it, Austin was where I planned to really dig into the local beer scene. I went to see my good friends Tim and Katie, who both work in the beer industry (and as a surprise to no one, have become really involved in the homebrewing community). This was an absolutely incredible trip – I can’t thank Katie and Tim enough for showing me such a wonderful time! I can’t wait to visit again someday.

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We got to hit up: Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Company, Real Ale Brewing C0. (which is where Katie does social media/PR – this place is unreal and I wish I could get Hans Pils all the time), Jester King (they do all barrel aged sours – so as you can imagine, I was in heaven. If you’re ever in Austin, rent a car to make the trek to this place. It is unbelievable),  Adelbert’s, and (512) Brewing. Special shout-outs to a couple bars I also really loved: The Gingerman, Craft Pride, and Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. Definitely recommend checking those spots out if you’re in town.

Home

I’ve been trying to make a habit of making it home every other month now that I have a little nugget at home to hang out with. I was able to make it home for her first birthday party, which was a great time. I even got surprised by Lauren, which was so awesome and unexpected!

Here we are having a great time at Bailee’s party:

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On a more serious note, this trip home was the last time I got to spend time with our family dog Ghost. He was an amazing dog – I truly believe he was a once in a lifetime dog and I will never have a dog better than him. It’s still really hard for me to go home and not have him be there waiting for me on the couch or to have him cuddle with me in bed at night. I’ll always miss that dude, but am so grateful to have had him in my life for as long as we did.

Bonnaroo

I had the opportunity to go to Bonnaroo…. for work. I know what you’re thinking, wow Megan – you’re a real asshole. You get to do cool stuff like that and get PAID? Well – if that makes me an asshole, I can live with that #sorryimnotsorry. It was really amazing to get to go into Bonnaroo early to see everything get set up. It is a modern day miracle that this giant festival runs the way it does. It was hot as hell and a lot of work, but it was a great time.

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Highlights of Bonnaroo included: dressing up like the Statue of Liberty and running in a 5K around the campgrounds, getting to spend time with Lauren, Corey, and Andrew, staying in the brewer’s campground and making friends with the wonderful people at Schlafly, ending up backstage at D’Angelo with Rosalie, seeing Jon Hamm in the VIP tent, and finally getting to see Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine live.

Pro tips for Bonnaroo: Sunscreen, water, baby powder, wipes, bandanas, hand sanitizer, and did I mention water?

Kurt’s Bachelor Party – Outer Banks, NC

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Sometimes in life, you get the opportunity to be the only girl at a Bachelor Party. I’m really hyped Kurt either thought I was cool enough to be a part of his celebration or they just desperately needed another person to be a part of this to keep costs down (either way, it was a hell of a time). We rented a big condo across the street from the ocean. Since there were a rash of shark attacks, we spent most of the time in the pool at the house. While we did our fair share of partying, it was actually really relaxing most of the time and was a great way to wind down right after getting back from Bonnaroo.

Other Highlights of Q2 (told you a lot happened):

  • Kicking off Flight Night at the Samuel Adams Brewery
  • Boston Marathon
  • A freezing cold outdoor co-ed soccer tournament at UMass Amherst
  • Marine Corps Honor Run 5K
  • Boston Calling – thanks for making the trip out, Chris! Was awesome to see you as always:)
  • A community service day cleaning up the Granary Burial Ground with the Samuel Adams brand development team

Year in Review: Q1 2015

You guys – I can’t believe I didn’t write ANYTHING on this blog after my 2014 year in review. I kept meaning to write stuff, but time clearly got away from me.

When I last left you, reader, I promised that 2015 was the year I was going to:

…move forward and continue to just live the shit out of life.

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to no one that this is exactly what I did.

2015 was the year of saying yes. It was a year of hopping on planes, and jumping in cars and taking off on all kinds of adventures. It was a year of speaking my mind and taking a little less bullshit than usual. It was a year of playing fantasy football – even though I said I wouldn’t ever ever again (in case you’re wondering, I’m 1-11, so maybe I actually should have said no to that…).

Looking back on this year, I don’t have any regrets, and I feel really good about that. My bank account might beg to differ with me on that point, but hey – fuck it. So, here’s how it went down for me in the first part of the year…

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I kicked off my 28th year of life with dinner at Bella Luna with good friends and dancing the night away at 90’s night at Common Ground. It was also the real kick-off of a friendship (and group text) that I don’t know how I lived without before this year. The two ladies pictured above (Lauren and Ashley) have become two of the people I look to the most when I need a laugh or hell, even a good cry. We’ve had one hell of a year in a lot of different facets of our lives and I’m so grateful that we have each other to get through it all together.❤ you girls!

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When I think of the beginning of 2015, I will forever remember all of the fucking snow. Like, seriously – it was insane. I didn’t go to work for 5 straight Monday’s and I can’t tell you how many hours of Bar Rescue I watched with my roommates. It was fun at first but it got old pretty fast. Like sure, it’s fun to have blizzard parties once or twice a year, but when it gets to the point where the trains are shut down for a week straight and even when they do work it takes you 2+ hours to get anywhere it loses its luster pretty quickly. I’m already dreading what’s in store for New England in the next few months…

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The last big thing that happened for me in the beginning of the year is that I ran my very first 5K! My dad has been really into running for awhile now, and I’ve really admired him for that. I knew that I wanted my very first race to be with him and my mom, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do that (even if it was freezing cold). After that first 5K I went on to run about 5 or so more throughout the year, which is something I honestly never believed I would do. I don’t love running, but I don’t hate it either. I’m looking forward to many more races in my future – maybe even a 10K in 2016!

Other highlights:

  • Seeing Ira Glass live in person with Nam and Elizabeth – I was so happy I cried.
  • Going to Extreme Beer Fest for the first time – which has a pretty embarrassing story to go along with it that I don’t plan on sharing here… but feel free to ask me about that one offline.
  • Seeing Mike Birbiglia with Lauren. That ruled.
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race for Frankie’s birthday.
  • St. Patrick’s Day at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery with Lee, JT, Eryn, Helder, Kara, and Kelly. It was epic.
  • Finally going to The Donkey Show with Caitlin, Frankie and Vanessa – I think they can attest that the look on my face at the end was pretty priceless.
  • An awesome road trip with my work spouse Ryan, which included an awesome night at ROC Brewing and a detour to Brewery Ommegang.

…..and that was just the beginning.

 

2014: The End

After everything I experienced this year in my personal life, I have to say that 2014 ended really nicely and I’m very much looking forward to 2015.

I spent most of the end of 2014 focusing on myself and surrounding myself with people that I love. I’m incredibly lucky to have people in my life who are patient, kind, fun(ny), good listeners, and overall very loving. Even though it was a painful time, it was one of the most eye opening times in my life.

One of the most valuable things I did with my time was starting to see a therapist. Therapy isn’t something that I had sought out in the past, but with the immense pain and confusion I was experiencing, it was worth a shot. And boy am I glad I started going.

I’m already a pretty reflective person, but having this space every other week to think critically about my feelings and my interactions with others has proven to be invaluable. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this as quickly (or as healthily) without her help – and even though I feel way better than I did a few months ago, I am still continuing to see her because I continue to see the value in it. (Plus, I’m dipping my toes back into the dating game and it’s nice to have someone objectively coach me through it – dating is a hot mess).

I’m a very empathetic person who is constantly thinking of others, so this time to focus on myself is extremely important to my well being as a whole. After the break-up I really tried to avoid destructive behavior – I didn’t drink too often, I completely quit online dating, I cooked healthy meals for myself, spent time with my friends, and I started going back to the gym (things that I had pretty much completely stopped doing while I was in a relationship). I started becoming myself again and feeling comfortable being by myself.

I would be lying if I didn’t wake up some mornings wishing I had never met him or that I didn’t care so damn much, but everything I learned made it all worth it. I am now closer to knowing what I want out of a relationship, and the qualities in a person that matter most to me (you know – beyond being 6 ft+ tall and having good taste in beer and/or bourbon). I’ve started dating again – and I’m just trying to have fun with it for now (as fun as that can ever be at least).

When I look at the year as a whole, it was amazing. I became an aunt to a beautiful little girl. I got to spend more time with my family than I have since I left Rochester in 2009. I got to do some really fun travel for work (Cancun, Dallas, San Francisco, Nashville, NYC). I had a great year in my job – we even went viral once! I have so so much to look forward to in 2015… so bring it on.