Things I Do to Feel ‘Normal’

Things I Do to Feel ‘Normal’

  • Wear makeup on the weekends
  • Get dressed before 5pm
  • Put on perfume
  • Have themed nights
  • Order food and drinks from restaurants
  • Sit in the park and people watch (at a social distance)
  • Paint my toenails
  • Go for long runs
  • Complain about my job
  • Find ways to laugh
  • Buy take away pints from pubs
  • Eat at the dinner table and not on my couch
  • Daydream and look forward to the future
  • Sit and feel the sun on my face
  • Allow myself to feel sad when I feel sad and angry when I feel angry
  • Celebrate my successes and those of my friends and family
Episode 35: How Your Favorite Shows Would Handle a Pandemic

Episode 35: How Your Favorite Shows Would Handle a Pandemic

This week, Meg hypothesizes how the characters from some of our favorite shows (Friends, Gavin and Stacey, The Office, and more) would be dealing with coronavirus if they were living it! She then rounds the week out with her Netflix binge suggestions.

Dressing Up to Stay In

Dressing Up to Stay In

I feel a certain degree of guilt constantly writing about coronavirus. We are all living it and watching it excessively on the news, so I’m guessing the last thing anyone wants to do is travel to the Gin and Beer It corner of the internet and inundate their brains with even more ‘corona content.’

However, being the host of a ‘lifestyle’ podcast and blog (I still haven’t decide if that term is too wanky for me or not), at some point I have to face the reality that this is currently life for all of us. For me personally, dwelling on the past that once was makes me feel sad, and the future feels far too uncertain. So – I’m left with now. The present. This super fucking bizarre ‘unprecedented’ time that has resulted in me having absolutely bonkers dreams because my brain has seemingly decided that reality is currently too strange for my normal suite of dreams.

Fancy Afternoon Tea at Home

Recently, I have started coming up with creative ways to take the things that I used to love doing outside of my home, and was looking forward to this year before they were all cancelled, and bring them home. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had a fancy afternoon tea. We dressed up in our Royal Ascot garb (my boyfriend kept his top hat on just long enough for me to get it on Insta) and had a proper English afternoon tea with scones, finger sandwiches, and Victoria sponge cake. Cute? Yes. Delightful? Yes. Completely over the top? Absolutely. As cringe as it might have been to some people, and as sad as it might sound, I looked forward to that afternoon tea for an entire week. It gave me something to aspire to, and in the process I learned how to make homemade scones. Last weekend, we hosted a household luau. I ordered us cheap leis off Amazon and we had a Hawaiian themed barbecue, completely with Hawaiian macaroni salad and Mai Tais. It was a particularly hot day in London, and it felt quite exotic to play luau music and sip from a tiki mug.

Luau at Home

This might all sound horrible to you, and I get it. At the core of all of my cringe-y quarantine theme days, I’m just looking for escapism. I’m looking for anything that might make me forget, even briefly, that we are in this situation. So, if you are struggling with lockdown as I know so many of us are, I strongly recommend finding your own way to escape. If you love football, in the U.K. we can now exercise outside as much as we want. Go play! If you miss going out with the girls, have a Zoom disco where you all get dressed up, drink yourselves silly, and dance to the same tunes. I promise you, it only feels silly for the first 30 seconds, and then it actually just feels really nice and fun.

Have you found creative ways to pass the time at home? Please comment below to share, especially if you have ideas for how I can embarrass my boyfriend further!

Episode 34: Celebrating 15 Years of From Under the Cork Tree

Episode 34: Celebrating 15 Years of From Under the Cork Tree

Can you believe it has been 15 years since Fall Out Boy released one of the greatest pop punk albums of all time, From Under the Cork Tree? Meg certainly can’t – so this week’s episode of Gin and Beer It is all about the nostalgia, history, and ranking each track of this groundbreaking record.

To My Mom

To My Mom

“My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.”

-Gilmore Girls

I’ve always been a momma’s girl.

Since I was a little girl, I have worshipped my mom. My mother is a nurse, a cancer survivor, a mother of three, a style icon through the decades, my best friend and my biggest supporter. She managed to pivot her career as a nurse into a career as a leader in healthcare supply chain consulting, but she can also sew a children’s Halloween costume at a moment’s notice and make a gourmet meal from cupboard scraps. With my mom around I always feel safe and as though no matter how uncertain things can feel, everything will be okay. I think many people would say their parents make them feel safe, but anyone who has ever met my mom would say there is something special about her. In the most trying of times, especially now throughout the coronavirus crisis, she has a way of bringing comfort and reason to anyone who is in need.

I always knew my mother was a hero, but the gravity of my respect for my mom increased when I became the age she was when she had me. My mom was within days of her 24th birthday when she gave birth to me in August of 1994. She took her nursing final exams when she was 7 months pregnant with me, and walked the stage at graduation with me under her gown! As I hurdle towards the age of 26, admittedly still completely unsure of who I am or where my place is in this world, I can’t believe that at this age my mom was chasing around a two year old. To be honest, I can’t even fathom how my mom was working 12-16 hour days as a psychiatric nurse at the age of 26, let alone doing that and then coming home to a toddler. It is incredibly humbling whenever I feel overwhelmed by my own responsibilities to think about the fact that, as of right now, I only have to worry about myself. In my whole childhood, even when things must have been impossibly difficult, my mom never complained or made me feel like anything she did for me was her own sacrifice.

The crazy thing is that all of the sacrifices that my mom made, she made so that I wouldn’t have to. She worked endless shifts to pay off her student loans so that I wouldn’t have so many. She sacrificed her own time and sanity so that she would never miss a Girl Scout meeting or a volleyball game. She traveled non-stop for work so that our family could afford to see the world, a privilege that ultimately inspired me to move abroad. That must be the most heartbreaking irony of motherhood: the reward that my mom gets for doing such an incredible job is me moving halfway across the world to chase my dreams. Everything I do is to make my mom proud, but I know she’d be just as proud of me if I was back home and stopping by for dinner once a week.

My mom has set the bar for being a strong woman incredibly high. She can make a Thanksgiving dinner with twelve separate dishes and somehow they all manage to be served out of the oven and warm at the same time. If you have ever cooked for more than two people, you know this is sorcery. She can get the most stubborn of stains out of clothes. She somehow managed to raise me to never be afraid to tell her the truth, which meant I never felt like I had to lie. I don’t know when I’ll be a mom and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be half that mom she is. But, whether it’s during the times of a pandemic crisis or personal heartbreak, I know that as long as my mom is around that I always have someone I can call crying and somehow hang up laughing.

There is absolutely no chance I will ever be able to repay or even thank my mom for everything that she has done and continues to do for me every single day, even from thousands of miles away. So for now, until I can figure it out, I will just tell my mom thank you, I love you, please live to be at least 102, and I can’t wait to see you soon.

Staying Home Away From Home

Staying Home Away From Home

Right now, all of us are doing our best to #StayAtHome, but for some of us, the home we stay in might not be our own. We are now in Week 5 of our coronavirus reality, and I can genuinely say that experiencing this global crisis across the world from my family has been the biggest challenge that I have ever faced in my life.

I’m no stranger to homesickness. When you’ve lived as far away from home as I do for as long as I have, you learn to spot the waves of homesickness when they are still out on the horizon, and for the most part let them wash over you without knocking you down. However, there is a difference between longing for home and being homesick for a place that, at the present moment, does not exist. I could get on a plane to Chicago right now, but it still wouldn’t change the fact that I won’t be able to hug my grandma, to go to a White Sox game, or to drink martinis until midnight at our favorite Italian restaurant. Still – what I would not give to be at home with my family, playing board games and watching The Birdcage and all of our other favorite ‘feel-good’ films. Quarantine would be nicer with my mom’s homemade mac and cheese and my dad’s Manhattans. What I wouldn’t give to spend the days inside teaching my baby sisters how to do their makeup, and letting them teach me how to record TikTok’s.

Currently, I am quarantined at my boyfriend’s family’s home in Lincolnshire. There’s not been a moment being here that I haven’t felt so incredibly grateful both to this family for taking me in, and to the universe for bringing them into my life at just the right time. When I think back to my life a year ago, whilst I loved my little ‘Bridget Jones’ flat, I genuinely don’t think I would have survived being quarantined there alone. Being here means having a garden to run around, dogs to walk, and a family to laugh with – all things that make a massive difference to my mental health during such challenging times. Still – nothing about this crisis comes without challenges. 

For starters, I am an extremely emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I cry. I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I laugh, and recently I have been crying a lot for no reason. I’m not particularly ashamed of this aspect of my personality… it’s who I am! However, it’s not something that I like to put on display for just anyone, and especially not my ‘in-law’s.’ I’d prefer that they see me as my normal, bubbly, and extremely grateful self, and I try to keep the mental breakdowns to a minimum. However, after weeks of doing this I have definitely noticed feelings of bottling up. I started losing the ability to be my usual outgoing self, and found myself spending family meals appearing incredibly quiet and anti-social. This is the ultimate burden of an extrovert: if you have branded yourself as a person who is always chatty and sociable, people take immediate concern the minute you become more shy or reserved.

It all came to a head about a week ago when I FaceTimed my parents and my mom took one look at me and said, ‘Okay, honey. That’s the sad Megan face. Why don’t you go ahead and cry… I’m guessing you haven’t been able to cry in awhile.’ What followed was an absolutely tsunami of emotions. I literally sat on FaceTime bawling my eyes out while my parents consoled me for at least an hour, and to be honest it was incredibly cathartic. There is something about crying in front of your parents as an adult that immediately makes you feel like a child again. In that moment, I swear if you had held a mirror up to me I would have seen a 6 year old, gap-toothed Megan. While it’s not the most mature feeling, it’s incredibly comforting. I was able to express all of the emotions I had been bottling up in an attempt to appear like the calmest, most collected girlfriend in the world, and by the end of the call I felt like I had gotten it all out.

So, whether you’re staying with your family or with someone else’s, if you feel like you have been putting on a brave face for too long and it’s starting to take a physical and emotional toll, I encourage you to find a way to let it out. Pick up the phone and call someone who you are comfortable being emotional with. WRITE! Watch The Notebook or Steel Magnolias or any film that will help you do some crying if that’s your thing. The reality is that we are all experiencing trauma right now. Everyone’s trauma looks a bit different, just as everyone’s means of coping will as well. However it may be manifesting itself for you, just know that you are not alone and you are not weak if you need to take time to break down every once in awhile. Knowing when to let yourself breakdown is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you are still fighting to be strong.