*Tap, Tap* Is This Thing On?

Over the past six months, I’ve had more than a handful of people ask me, “Is Naptown Pint dead?” I hate when people ask me that, but I also can’t blame them for wondering. Even though my column with The Capital has continued, we’re coming up on a year of basically crickets on this website. (I’d love to be able to talk my way around that fact, but let’s be real — this place is a ghost town.)

The short answer to that question is no. No, Naptown Pint isn’t dead.

Why the radio silence? Well, there’s no single reason as to why I’ve allowed that to happen. Part of it has to do with the fact that — for both very, very good and very, very bad reasons — 2018 was an interesting and challenging year.

I became more inspired by work, but work also became much more demanding. We turned our lives upside down and inside out to help a family member in crisis, only to have it fall apart and blow up in our faces due to emotional challenges and alcohol abuse.

From April through the end of July of last year, I felt like I was running an emotional marathon at an unrelenting sprint’s pace.

There was this moment I remember distinctly last July after the movers had left. I was sitting in the only chair that we still had in our living room. In fact, all that was left in our living area was that chair, a TV, a trunk, and a couple of bookcases.

(Well, along with the usual litter of trash and general detritus you see left behind after any movers leave.)

On the one hand, I felt this overwhelming sense of relief. It was the first time in eight months that I could breathe without it feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. On the other hand, this cloud of guilt and anguish and anger hung over my head. What had all that pain been for? Our whole life had been ripped apart and for what?

At some point, something had to give, because I had run out of me to give. Part of that was here, with my writing, but I took a step back in other areas of my life, as well. Sometimes purposefully, sometimes not.

The exciting travels and the wins documented on social platforms like Instagram probably fooled a few folks, as I’ve done a better job in my 30s of keeping private matters private. But it also allowed me to not be so honest with myself about what was happening.

Underneath the filters, the winery trips and selfies with friends, I had become less patient, less forgiving, less trusting. Everything felt harder than it used to.

I became more choosy of how and where I devoted my time, which was great, in that I was able to extricate myself more easily from toxic situations and relationships I had allowed to go on for far too long. But I also didn’t always handle my newfound, selfish instinct to pull back in a positive way.

As a result, many friendships — both blossoming and established, beer-related and otherwise — suffered.

“I’ll text back tomorrow. I’ll know what to say then,” I’d tell myself.

Of course, I never did because I never knew what to say. So, it became much easier for me to keep my head in the sand, to put off coming up for air and rejoining my life.

Sometimes I would try to break the cycle. I’d actually show up somewhere for once, eat a little crow about having been absent without being totally honest about why I was absent, and then swear this was me rejoining the real world — only to crawl back into my cave once the night was over, never to be seen or heard from again for a few weeks or months.

Fun fact: It’s a great way to earn a reputation as being unreliable or a flake.

(And, let’s just say the list of apology phone calls and emails I need to send out today is long.)

Visiting Waverly Brewing Company last summer.

Then, later on in the year, my site was hacked.

What’s funny (or sad?) is that I didn’t even realize it since it had been so long since I had written — other people had to tell me. Nothing like breaking something you love because you’ve neglected it to boost morale, right?

That sounds like a metaphor and, at the time, that’s how it felt.

Some grim part of me that hated everything took it as a sign, but instead of shutting Naptown Pint down, I just let it sit there. Broken. I didn’t have the expertise or the money required to fix it, and I didn’t have the stones to pull the plug.

Obviously, I’m glad I didn’t, but anyway.

Finally, the other piece of this puzzle is a narrative we’ve seen a lot recently — the negative relationship some beer enthusiasts (and writers, specifically) have developed with alcohol.

Given that much of the strife Patrick and I experienced earlier in the year was greatly exacerbated by a family member’s deeply ingrained denial about their own alcoholism, I freaked out.

I’m related to that individual, so, I worried, “What if this is me, 40 years from now?”

For lack of a better word, it was a sobering moment. And a terrifying one. To worry and wonder if, had this heartwrenching “teachable moment” not occurred, is this who I would have become?

So, my own relationship with the beer community became more problematic.

I put myself under a microscope. I fell more easily into a depression on those occasions I went a little overboard. I chastised myself for drinking during the week, the way I used to. And if I was really committing to my health and losing weight, I couldn’t simply go back to the way things had been.

Now, things are better. Much better.

While late last year, I was more of an erratically swinging pendulum of extremes in terms of how I “solved” my relationship with alcohol in my life, I’ve since been able to find a much better balance.

I can’t be everywhere like I used to be, and I’m OK with that. My family, as well as my mental and physical health must come first.

That said, I am still a passionate, present member of the Maryland craft community. I’m not going to be at every release. But I’m still going to be here. I’ll be writing.

I’ll show up. Just not for the sake of it anymore.

For some, this may seem like an overshare.

But part of the problem I’ve had in the past year is an unwillingness to even acknowledge that something was happening in my life, and I was changing.

This not only impacted my family and personal relationships, I also — without warning — utterly neglected the community and a group of friends I found in Maryland beer that have welcomed me with open arms since we moved to Annapolis almost six years ago.

(Although, I do need to publicly thank Kendrick of Maryland Craft Beer from our community. You have been a steadfast, kind and patient friend — and confidante — during a lot of very tough times over the past year.)

I’ve opened up this screen to write numerous times over the past few months. And there have been more than a handful of conversations with people where I said, “Oh, yeah, Naptown Pint isn’t dead. I’ll be writing again. The podcast will be coming back for a third season.”

Even though I meant it when I said it, it felt hollow, because I still hadn’t cleared the air. I still hadn’t said a few woefully overdue “I’m sorry’s,” and I hadn’t yet publicly acknowledged that I had willingly let this die.

So, that’s what this is. A refresh. A smash of the ol‘ “restart” button on a now hack-free website that I finally fixed… two nights ago while binging season two of Game of Thrones.

With the General Assembly now in session, it seems like the perfect time.

As I said at the start of this “confessional” of sorts, not everything is doom and gloom. Was I forced to confront a lot of harsh realities and make tough choices? Yes.

But a lot of good has come out of it, as well. I’m really genuinely happy with myself for the first time in a long time. I know who I am, and I have a better sense of what my boundaries are.

Taking a step back from toxic situations and relationships was painful, but in doing so, I created room for a couple of meaningful friendships to take root and grow, and for new people I never expected to come into my life. In a few cases, I was also able to spend more time on existing relationships that had been back-burnered.

Also, even though it can result in a lot of late nights, I really do love my career — especially since my work family continues to act as champions of my role within Maryland craft beer.

I’m still working out a few kinks, and you’ll see a few changes around here to match — but Naptown Pint isn’t dead.

And I’m really happy about that.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you for the share. I always enjoy reading your pieces on the MD beer scene, so I’m glad for you, and me, and all of your followers that you’re finding a way to continue with it, in a healthy way. This resonated a lot with me, because I went through a similar withdrawal of friends and booze after the wee gremlin was born (for many reasons). I also have similar genetic concerns around alcohol and health, and that just contributes to conflict, guilt, and frustration with these things. So, for lots of reasons, really appreciate your post, your honesty, and you sharing your journey through all of these things. Looking forward to whatever form/shape your continued presence in this field looks like. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this, Liz. You are alive and MORE than well! What a beautiful piece of raw honesty. We knew a little about what you were going through and understood why you may have wanted to retreat. Forgive yourself for simply having to live in survival mode for that phase in your life.

    You’re one strong lady and emerging better than ever. We’re proud of how you’re taking control, not letting other people dictate your reality. Keep taking good care of yourself as you move forward.

    Here’s to your refresh and the many good things to come!!

    Your tribe is rooting for you, including us, you friends and fans always,
    E & J

    P.S. – Not to add any stress but get going on the GOT seasons… you’ve only got a few weeks left to catch-up! : )

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