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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
Welcome to another week of ‘How I’m Staying Sane’ during quarantimes! This weeks topics cover The Last Dance and Afterlife on Netflix, doing Legos with your significant other, and the awesome courses available on Masterclass.
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.
This week, Meg discusses what has been helping keep her sane during #COVID19. Topics include Tiger King, her foray into Tik Tok, and more! Gin and Beer It hopes everyone is staying safe and healthy!
- Having dirty feet from running around the backyard barefoot
- Laughing (albeit virtually) till you cry with your family
- Tea and biscuits under a gigantic duvet
- Watching crap reality tv shows until 2AM
- Birds chirping to announce spring
- Rainstorms against the window
- Overly competitive family board games
- Red wine and a piece of dark chocolate
- Being moved to tears by an advert for dish soap or laundry detergent
- Sending your friends endless memes
- The smell of coffee in the morning
- Golden hour and knowing the days are getting longer
- The first feeling of sun beating on your face like a gigantic warm hug
- The feeling of swapping out chunky winter clothes for light, breezy spring ones
- Dancing around your house to your favorite song
- Eating peanut butter straight from the jar
- The tinge of nostalgia after hours of looking through old photos
- Eating cold pizza whilst standing in front of the fridge
- Laughing hysterically at an old episode of Friends
- Becoming obsessed with a new podcast/tv show/book/film
- Seeing a photo of a cute baby or dog
- Finding a piece of clothing in the back of your closet that you forgot you loved
- The joy of finishing a workout
- The feeling after you successfully cook a new recipe
- The warm fuzzy feeling of doing something kind for someone else
- Giving love and being loved in return
If there is one extremely first-world and trivial struggle that I have encountered as a result of #COVID19, it is finding a way to express myself through fashion as a person who A.) loves to show off outfits out in public and on social media and B.) hates anything relating to ‘leisure-wear.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love a pair of trackies and a baggy jumper, but they have a time and a place, and in general if I’m not sick or hungover I’m not interested. After four weeks, I am now absolutely desperate to get dolled up and put on a pair of heels, so much so that I am contemplating doing it just to go to my living room, or perhaps for my next Zoom call.
As you can see, fashion has always been an important part of my personality. For as long as I can remember, I have used clothes, jewelry, shoes, hairstyles, purses, etc. as a way of expressing who I am and whatever phase I might be going through at the minute. As I have grown older and become financially independent, my affinity for all things fashion has only grown. So, you can imagine my sheer horror in March when it became clear that we all needed to start staying indoors as a matter of life or death.
This horror was amplified when I realised that I had only just invested in my first pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a gorgeous pair of ballet pink pumps that will now not see the light of day until further notice. I buy clothes to wear, not collect dust, and the idea of spending every single day in old marathon finisher shirts and leggings with holes in them makes me feel dead inside. I find myself spending hours of my newly found ‘free-time’ at home perusing Silk Fred, TopShop, ASOS, and every other website I could think of. My wishlist on each of these website is astromical, but the risk to my bank account and more importantly to delivery drivers forced to deliver non-essentials has kept me from actually purchasing anything.
So, how do I cope with my primal need to express myself through fashion when I’ll ultimately be all dressed up with nowhere to go, AND my chosen form of therapy (retail) is largely unavailable? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I finally had an epiphany. While I love fashion and clothes, and I also will never turn down an outfit related compliment, I’ve realised over the course of quarantine that my love for fashion does not actually come from a need to be seen or complimented. While obviously in an ideal world I prefer to get dressed up AND go out (I am a restless extrovert, after all), when forced to stay inside I’ve found that wearing clothes and makeup that make me feel inspired help to make me feel more like me. Truthfully, this makes a lot of sense. I have a small handful of followers on Instagram, and I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve been complimented in public on my fashion choices. If external validation was really my motivator for looking my best, I don’t think I’d have much motivation at all.
This is probably the least earth-shattering thing that you’ve read whilst in quarantine, but I think it’s important because, in a way, I finally feel like I might actually gain something from this miserable time. My self-imposed embargo on ordering clothes online means that I can actually take time to slow down and appreciate the clothes that I already have. I might actually finally have time to create new outfits from my existing wardrobe and refresh my wardrobe without spending a penny! Additionally, dressing up for no one but myself is a helpful way of distinguishing one day from the next and maintaining my confidence and self-expression in an otherwise extremely BLAH phase of my life.
So, if you are also someone who gets an immense about of joy from buying, styling, and wearing clothes, I implore you to not let quarantine get you down. Of course, I will be and am spending most of my days in leggings and t-shirts (and if you are someone who is relishing in the chance to pack away your work attire until further notice, I totally understand)… but where you feel inspired to put some effort in, DO! As soon as I am back in my flat in London, I plan on putting on my Jimmy Choo’s and a cute pair of jeans and strutting all over my flat (thank goodness we live on the ground floor). Royal Ascot, one of my favorite fashionable events of the British summertime, has been cancelled and will likely be held behind closed doors. I already plan on hosting some sort of Royal Ascot themed barbecue and wearing the dress I had (obviously) already picked out. If we all flex our creative muscles, we can find ways to dress up and stay in. Everything might be different now, but not everything has to go away. There will always be a way to Vogue.
If there is anything quarantining has taught me, it is how much I used ‘looking forward’ as a way of coping with the daily mundane before all of this weirdness began. To clarify, right now I would pay a ridiculous sum of money just to experience what I thought was ‘mundane’ about pre-coronavirus life. But, before I had all of the perspective that this experience has already given me, I definitely lived my life looking forward. The idea of curling up on my couch with a tasty snack and indulging in Netflix motivated me to get out of bed at 6AM and head to the gym. The idea of a gigantic plate of carbs and an ice cold beer got me through a long marathon training run. The idea of setting my Out of Office and traveling abroad got me through long work days. Now, the vast majority of things that I used to fixate on in order to push myself through less desirable activities are cancelled or massively on hold.
After two weeks of this ‘new normal,’ I’ve found it quite interesting how I’ve already begun to fill those gaps. The sensible mentality would be to stop looking to the future as a crutch to get me through the present, but instead learn to enjoy the present. I’m not quite there yet, and I find my brain desperately searching for things to look forward to. While I no longer had a weekend in Madrid to look forward to last weekend, my brain eagerly anticipated drinking a few beers and playing board games with family. During the week, I’m finding it hysterical how much I look forward to a shower. Before the coronavirus crisis, I only really looked forward to a shower after a hard workout or to warm up after being in the cold. All other times, it was just something I needed to get done every day. Now, I relish my daily shower as a time to myself to wash off the previous day and feel new, in a period where it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish one day from the next.
I think many of us are wondering what each of us as individuals, as well as the entire world, will look like after this is all over. Obviously, our hairstyles and economy will be in need of some serious TLC, but I wonder what will change about how we live. For as much as I used to resent the cliche idea of ‘being present,’ I’m hoping that a positive byproduct of all of this suffering is that I finally learn how to just be in whatever moment I have to be in without relying on what could be coming next. It would bring me so much peace if I could get to a point where I am able to enjoy the little things as they come along, and conversely not feel so utterly heartbroken when the future doesn’t work out exactly as I intended. Of course when this is all over I will still look forward to holidays and going to the pub after work, but I hope to be more emotionally equipped to appreciate now for what it is and accept the uncertainty that the future will inevitably hold. Like I said, I’m definitely not there yet, but we are only two weeks into quarantine! Who knows what the future will bring… until then I am going to take a very nice, long shower.