Just to be clear, in case you didn’t see the tag, this is a “Not About Beer” post. Well, for the most part. But if this isn’t your thing, feel free to move along. Regular, beer-related programming will resume this weekend.
I started Naptown Pint when I moved to Annapolis, because I was lonely. We had just moved from Washington, D.C., and while I was excited about our new home, I didn’t know anyone aside from Patrick’s family.
Oddly enough, however, it wasn’t called Naptown Pint back then. It was OMGHEYLIZ. (Seriously.)
It was more personal and not really about beer. It was a place to be a bit of a feels machine and blow off some steam. But over the past few years, that has changed as the Maryland beer community came into focus as a life’s passion.
And I think through some combination of (marginal) maturity gains likely attributed to age and the fact that my job now revolves exclusively around content strategy development, I talk less about what’s going on in my life from a personal perspective.
The brand is Naptown Pint, which is about Maryland beer. Not my problems.
I bring this all up because this year has been a bear. To the point where I know I’ve been bottling things up — especially in the last month — and, as a result, my life is kind of leaking everywhere. A gross analogy, to be sure, but it’s accurate. For example, last week, I committed a seemingly innocuous act that still makes me groan at myself. I vaguebooked.
I thanked friends and family and work folks for being really supportive during a tough time, didn’t really respond to comments and didn’t clarify anything. And I hate people who do that.
All of this meandering exposition is an apology. Writing helps me process stuff. I stopped doing that, because — as I’ve stated — I had come to designate this as a place for beer, harmless personal notes about travel and local life. End of list.
Today, however, I’m breaking that rule — so, for that, I am sorry. I am a human. Not a company. Not a polished brand. I’m an idiot with a computer.
In fact, I’ve spent the past hour looking for my check card and my car keys.
I have somewhere I need to be, but I can’t leave. I know both items are in this apartment, but I haven’t been able to find them for two days, and, apparently, this moment is the last straw of keeping this lovely fourth wall illusion of my own sanity up. Even though I have a spare key and can just go to a bank or use a different card, this was the limit to my ability to keep things moving.
Bottom line: My 2017, on the whole, can be summed up in one-word. Unrelenting whiplash.
Oh my god, it took me three proofreading passes to realize that was two words. Whatever.
Every plan we’ve made together as a couple or I’ve made as an individual has turned into a complete disaster as soon as I opened my mouth or got a little too comfortable.
To be fair, sometimes this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For example, earlier this year, I posted we were moving to Baltimore.
I was so proud, because I am the worst at keeping a lid on things once we’ve made a big decision — I want to blab about it to everyone. Instead, I had kept my trap shut for months.
And finally, after discussing it together, we thought it was okay to say something — although Patrick was, in hindsight, rightly still a little concerned, but conceded to my Pollyanna optimism about how everything was lining up perfectly, and, “Please, please, PLEASE LET ME SHARE THIS NEWS!”
Well, it ended up being a completely stupid judgment call due to a “perfect storm” blend of events — some roadblocks pertaining to my career, and others having to do with the move itself — that completely derailed our plans literally days after I shared it.
Why was it a blessing?
Once we got some distance and moved beyond the disappointment, we came to realize we were solving certain life challenges — finding direction, finding a home, etc. — using the logic we relied upon when we were in our mid-20s. When you can still pick up and move and you want to start over and do something fresh.
But when fate intervened and forced us to slow down, we realized that, love it or hate it sometimes, Annapolis wasn’t going to let us go. We had built too much here. We had too many people here. When the dust settled, this sailing town with a drinking problem was our home, and we almost threw it away.
There have been other net positives this year, born out of distinct negatives.
While my career went into a terrifying freefall for a short period, making things a little touch and go financially-speaking, I’ve landed at a company where I get to work from home full-time, doing what I love with amazing people.
This past legislative session — House Bill 1283 warts and all — has led to critical discussions around how we legislate for Maryland craft breweries, and I get to write about that here. Does it make me angry? Yes. Do remarks like those made by Speaker Mike Busch at this week’s House committee hearing infuriate me and make me want to scream? Hell yes.
But that rage comes from a place of passion and the undeniable luck I’ve had in meeting so many wonderful brewers, writers and others in the Maryland beer community. I can’t help but love these people and want to see them succeed and want to champion them and their causes.
Once we had gotten through the hump of spring and summer — having to throw out so many plans and ideas because our future and my job prospects changed in the blink of an eye — I was starting to feel settled.
I launched a podcast. I was attending task force meetings. Work was great. We were recovering and starting to think positively about what lay ahead. We had a few new routines. Things were good for a few months there, aside from the fact that I hadn’t really come clean about the whole Baltimore thing, but that was small potatoes.
Then, some troublemaker in the clouds must have looked down again, thought we looked a little too comfortable and decided to flip the table over again.
Now, this may seem a bit hypocritical given everything I’ve written thus far in this post, but I’m not going to dive into details here. While I hate people who allude to things vaguely, I still have a clear line about what I do and do not share about my personal life.
So, while this exercise of writing my way through my shit (so to speak) is immensely helpful, the purpose is not to lay my soul bare at the expense of others I care about.
About a month ago, we got a phone call that changed… not everything, but enough big stuff that our life has been turned upside down. After I hung up the phone, we sat at our dining room table. We drank whiskey. We ate a full box of pasta directly out of the mixing bowl with giant spoons. We reassured each other. We talked.
Beyond that night, for the past 30+ days, I’ve woken up every day, trying to stay positive, trying to keep my life from leaking everywhere, trying to find creative solutions, trying to be supportive. Patrick has been working himself to bone emotionally and mentally to solve insanely complex logistical problems, where the goalposts seem to be moving every single day.
After countless false leads and a lot of nightmares of living in a box with two dogs, we’ve found a new place to live. (And, on the plus side, we’ll be official City of Annapolis residents come January.)
We’re checking things off of this massive, ever-changing list, even though it’s as if Lucifer himself came up with a comprehensive to-do list of every adulting task no one would ever want to deal with individually, let alone all at once.
We’re making tough phone calls. We’re agreeing to tough decisions. We’re accepting that we’ve entered a new chapter in our lives that involves having someone else dependent on us.
It’s a strange feeling to be accomplishing a helluva lot, but still feel like you’re losing.
Patrick has moved mountains and made a lot of impossible things happen. And yet every single one of the wins we’ve experienced has come at some sort of cost or had an edge to it. Nothing really quite feels like a victory.
Prior to this mess, I was really looking forward to the holidays at the start of November. Not just because it’s my favorite time of year, but also because I was finally going to see a touch of relief at work as a few big projects ran their course.
That meant that I would be able to get caught up on publishing all of the podcast episodes I recorded at the end of this summer and in early fall, and a few other things after hours that had languished in the name of sleep and sanity.
Now, here I am. It’s a few weeks to Christmas, and I’m spent. Mentally, I’m crying “Uncle!” at life.
I know I’ll bounce back. It’s not like failure is an option, and I’m not just going to throw my hands up in surrender to my family, because I love them, and I’m not an asshole or a quitter.
But in this moment, right now, as I sit here keyless and check card-less, I feel the weight of everything on my shoulders.
I have 20 unread text messages, because even the idea of lifting my phone right now sounds terrible. My inbox overfloweth.
Those podcasts? Still need to edit them. Still need to get back on the ball.
At home, I’m tired and cranky. I’m letting things slip. I’m snippy. I can only bring myself to care or exert effort about the bare minimum. I constantly feel like a failure.
My anger at what’s happening with the Maryland beer community right now — specifically, the blatant stonewalling by members of the House of Delegates — burns as hot as ever, but I lack the consistent flow of energy to get the all the words out.
On Saturday, Patrick and I celebrated 10 years together as a couple. After a tiny meltdown, Patrick surprised me with the perfect idea: an impromptu day trip to Williamsburg (where we honeymooned). It was a downright magical, emotionally squishy day that was punctuated by a Sunday that seemed to signal that life was letting up a bit — we found the perfect place to live thanks to some proverbial elbow grease on Patrick’s part, and our collective spirits seem to lift.
But the past four days have been… not great.
In reaction, I’ve clung to work like a life raft while everything else kind of spiraled.
This is a lot of complaining, I know.
I also know things will get better.
Very soon, life will stabilize. I’ll get back on top of my obligations. I’ll stop being so damned defeatist, which is a trait I abhor in others.
But the one thing I’ve done wrong is not allow myself and others this moment to just be a fucking human being.
To say out loud that I feel like a bad friend. A bad wife. A bad Maryland beer community contributor.
To admit to myself that every time I feel like I’m finally getting on top of something, a reminder pops up — an email, a thought, a text — of something else I had forgotten or unintentionally let slip.
It’s like a really awful game of whack-a-mole, and I’m never, ever fast enough. Or good enough. And I hate that feeling of letting people down, because it’s not who I am. And that creeping paranoia of becoming known for your great ideas and entertainment value, but shaky follow-through, is a drain all by itself.
I have this compulsion to fix things. To find the bright side. To be the optimist. To illuminate the silver lining. To provide solutions. To give answers. To be the one who turns things around.
But when work is the only thing that seems to be going consistently well, it’s hard to celebrate.
That said, I now realize that sometimes you just need to lean into the pile of crap before you can find your way back out.
We closed out 2016 with a lot of hope in our lives, even though the ever-looming presence of devolving political discourse and societal norms has gone completely off the edge.
We had spent a week in Europe with two of our favorite people on the planet. We had worked hard, and it was paying off. We were happy. We had each other. We were putting down roots. Things felt like they were finally falling into place. Then, the second 2017 arrived, everything changed.
As I look ahead to 2018, there is a lot of the above that’s still true. We work hard. It’s paying off in a lot of ways. We have and very much love each other. We have our roots and our “tribe.”
Right now simply feels like that saying, how “everything feels like shit in the middle.”
Well, this is that middle.
Now that I’ve acknowledged it, I am going to hit publish. I am going to breathe. I am going to go take a shower, find my keys and my check card, and drive to Virginia.
After that, I’m going to be a little nicer to myself and others. I’m going to let go of some of this angst. I’m going to keep moving ahead, because backward is impossible and immature.
To be very clear, this isn’t a swan song. Naptown Pint continues. I’m going to get up tomorrow and work. I’m going to pack. I’m going to answer text messages and emails. I have blog posts and podcasts to publish. We’re going to finally decorate our stupidly fat Christmas tree. I’m going to push through this middle to the other side.
To all my friends who think I hate them, I don’t.
This is just a blip on the radar. And for all my whining and the self-involved complaints I’ve expressed here, I know I’m lucky. I know things could be a lot worse. I know that sometime in the very near future, I’ll look back at this post and think to myself woefully, “Man, what a fucking drama queen.”