1. I moved 2,000 miles away from home, in part to escape my family. The distance has tremendously improved our relationship over the past 10 years. Now my mom joined Facebook and I feel like I'm 17 again, needing to hide everything I'm doing -- even though none of it is bad.
3. My best friend, Kat, and I have been through things together that would fill a whole week on Lifetime Movie Network. Luckily, we don't think like women who actually buy into LMN, so we've gotten through it all just fine. Also, Kat and I can go for months without communicating (when she was in Germany, pre-prolific internet we'd actually write infrequent letters), but we always slide back into conversation with the greatest of ease.
4. The great love of my life and I never did anything more than accidentally hold hands in the theatre during "Bowling for Columbine." I don't know if it was on purpose or just going for popcorn simultaneously. I thought I'd find out, but then he got a Marcia-Brady looking girlfriend who inexplicably hated me. When I found out they were getting married I reacted like Carrie to the Big & Natasha storyline in "Sex In the City." When I found out via Facebook-stalking that she is pregnant and they've moved back to Milwaukee, I didn't know how to respond because I no longer had an equivalent pop culture reference.
5. I used to be a hopeless romantic (see #4), but I found that makes your heart much easier to smash when things don't work out. After a few rounds of that, I have a heart of steel. My last break up should have devastated me, but I picked up the pieces fairly quickly. I attribute that to the steelheart, the support of my amazing friends and all those who crushed me before. I may have cried over those guys in the past, but I'm kind of grateful to them for making my life a lot easier now.
6. I have traveled many places by myself, but I've gone with a buddy to my two "I" countries: Italy and India. My friend Kristen and I have always talked about going to Iceland for the Airwaves Music Festival (she's been once before). Despite their collapsing economy and government, I think we may just have to go for the trend's sake.
7. Emerging unscathed from corners of the world where the guide books warn me about scammers and pickpockets, I have been robbed twice. My bike was stolen at a jazz festival in Milwaukee's posh Third Ward neighborhood and my purse was stolen at a bar in Wrigleyville, Chicago. The lesson? Beware of yuppies (and Cubs fans).
8. I love my job working for, living and breathing the transit system. I was actually so excited about it when I applied that I barely told a soul because I was terrified of jinxing it. People had been telling me for years to "do what I love," but unfortunately having W as president for most of my adult life put a huge damper on my choices. Once I started promoting public transportation though, I knew what they were talking about. I wanted this job so badly because I felt I could help create change (and this was BEFORE Obama started encouraging everyone to do that). I know it's an uphill battle, but it's easier to fight when you have faith in your cause. I hope I can connect better with the amazingly dedicated community members who fight for this cause, because at the end of the day I'm one of them. I also hope they understand that I don't have a magic wand and that patience is a virtue until the ink is dry on a dedicated funding source. My two main selling points to get the job were: I don't have a car and I'm from Portland, Oregon. Those still hold up both internally and externally.
9. Throughout my tenure as a Wisconsin transplant, I've my Portland roots have earned me cred amongst the following groups over the years: college stoners, music fans, hipsters and transit advocates. Hypothesize what you will about overlap. It also blows people's minds that I was born in Portland, Maine but raised in Portland, Oregon.
10. It's always been a slight fear that I hit my prime at 17, when I appeared on the 1997 Jeopardy! Teen Tournament (and no, I didn't win, but I was an alternate for the second-round, which meant I got a free trip to DC (the first time they took the show on the road) and didn't have to stress about being on national TV again). Yes, I did meet Alex Trebek, but I also met several awesome fellow nerds who I don't really keep in touch with, but a few are Facebook friends. I gave a much better performance on Portland's locally-produced "High Five Academic Challenge." This resulted in my first real date (awful) and meeting one of my good friends freshman year who recognized me in the Cobeen (dorm) cafeteria as "that girl from the High Five commercial." Yes, when you tuned into your syndicated "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" reruns after school, I'd inevitably pop up on the screen buzzing in and saying "Wagner?" This commercial could very well still be running in the greater Portland area. While I never gained fame and glory from my teenage trivia antics, I did land on Varsity College Bowl as a college freshman and would get sporadic freaked out calls from acquaintances when a rerun of Teen Tournament would pop up on the Game Show Network (see #9, Group A).
11. There's apparently a such thing as a "Classic Meghan Story." I believe my retelling of them, after you buy me a pint or two, is only enhanced by my ethnically inherited Irish Gift of Gab. Unfortunately pretty much none of these stories are "family-friendly" (see #1), so as entertaining as they are I think I'd have to publish them under a nom de plume. Still, I don't know if writing them out would translate the nuances of the oral presentation.
12. I have zero interest in going to Germany, but have two friends marrying Germans in Germany in the near future, so I guess I'll go. All of my good friends from high school were fascinated with the place and the language. Kat and Mary Ann both studied there in college, but I never visited. I have a "Classic Meghan Story" about a German exchange student, but you should know you're not going to hear it right now if you've read #11. I do like German film however, with Metropolis, Run Lola Run, and The Lives of Others ranking quite favorably on my list. Of course, most of all I like making fun of Germans -- so Beerfest ranks even higher on my movie list.
13. I'm a little out of control in my film snobbery. Luckily I have an outlet in volunteering for Milwaukee's film festival. I usually am disappointed in buzz movies (i.e. Slumdog Millionaire). I am a firm believer that foreign films more accurately and unapologetically capture the human experience, so I'm always pleasantly surprised when an American film (i.e. The Wrestler) does so as well. My most-hated film of all time is The Notebook, despite having several really good friends who have tried to convince me otherwise. I actually think people claiming it is a good movie only adds fuel to my fire of loathing. I love the classics and am grateful for taking a Hitchcock class in college, even though I ended up only auditing it (thanks to the computers in the brothel that was Cudahy Hall giving my disk a virus and eating my entire final paper). I don't believe in favorites, so I don't have a favorite movie, but All About Eve is pretty well up there.
14. Music snobbery is another one of my traits. I fully credit my college boyfriend, Stew, for defining my indie musical path and my dad for making me appreciate the full unabashed glory of rock n' roll (I went through a phase in high school where I'd come home and rock out by myself to the Led Zeppelin II record every afternoon). I'm fortunate enough to have seen most major musical acts that I've wanted to, traveled to multiple music festivals, and caught amazing indie bands. My last boyfriend, Phil, introduced me to a lot of Milwaukee's local music scene and I'm grateful for that. He also sold me on the importance of donating to community-supported independent radio and really appreciate the magical goodness that is WMSE. My defining music moment though was seeing Arcade Fire OPEN for the now-defunct Unicorns at Mad Planet. There were maybe only 10 people there (this show often is confused with a later packed AF show at Mad Planet after the buzz had started) and we were all drawn from the bar to the stage, gaping in awe at the incredible sound filling the venue. I knew this was special. But not enough to not have the band sign the handmade EP I bought directly from them at the show. I felt then, and still do, that this band is this generation's U2/Radiohead-caliber band.
15. For someone as "artsy" as I may appear (see 13 & 14), I love sports. I lost my first tooth at a Tacoma Tigers (AAA?) baseball game. I was there with my dad. Despite taking quite the hiatus from baseball, I am now a huge Milwaukee Brewers fan. I believe this was destined to be, because when I was a kid I always chose the Brewers baseball helmet sundae at Baskin Robbins. I'm really glad they half-rock the old logo. Before I moved to Milwaukee there was a huge political debate about the new stadium and I know a lot of very liberal folks who refuse to step foot in Miller Park. I think this is dumb. I also think these people wouldn't be baseball fans anyway, and using politics as an excuse is easier than explaining that you just don't like sports. I challenge these people to start fessing up to the latter, because honestly at this point you just sound like a tool. I do wish I'd gone to a school with a football team, but Marquette Basketball helped me discover my love for the NCAA Tournament. What would my March be without brackets? I have adopted UW-Madison as my football team and love getting the chance to go to Badger games with my friend Cramer. Ten years in Wisconsin has turned me into a Packers fan, but I don't think that transformation will be complete until I make the journey to the Holy Land, aka Lambeau Field.
16. I have not eaten red meat since December 31, 1994. That was a pot roast. It was my New Year's resolution to give up red meat and it stuck. It was supposed to be a stepping stone to going full veg, but the thought of Thanksgiving without turkey really depresses me (even though I've skipped it some years -- see #17). I also love seafood, despite all the mercury. Despite a campaign waged by many to get me to embrace the apparent deliciousness of bacon, I haven't caved. I actually don't think I'll ever eat pork again, because a meat banned by two major religions can't be good for you. I figure I may end up eating beef again, should I ever become pregnant. I think one day I'm just going to yell "THE BABY WANTS STEAK!" and go dive into a hamburger. Right now I can always tell if I get a trace of forbidden meat in my food because my stomach quickly rejects it. It's not pretty.
17. Since 1998, I've only had one Thanksgiving with my family. I've spent one in Southern Illinois with a college friend, two in Northern Michigan with my college boyfriend, three in Wisconsin with friends and/or their families, two in Ozaukee County with my ex-boyfriend, one in Wales & England and one on a train from France to Barcelona with an Australian girl I met that day. The Welsh one is my most memorable. I'd been off exploring in Cardiff all day and returned home to find the 400-year-old farmhouse I'd been staying in filled with a delicious aroma. My friend's mother and aunt had a full spread on the table and invited me to sit down after we all enjoyed a cup of tea. They announced that we'd been having Shepherd's Pie and my stomach churned (see #16), but I was so grateful for their hospitality I decided to suck it up and hope they had good plumbing. They scooped a huge plateful for me, a dark meat swirling around with veggies and flaky crust. It smelled amazing, but I was terrified. I waited for my three dinner companions to take the first bite, took a deep breath and took a nibble. It tasted -- familiar. After my feigned approval, one of the hostesses proudly said, in her lilting accent, "We know it's Thanksgiving in America, so we wanted to make sure you felt at home. We went to the market and found a turkey for the pie!" I immediately dug into my plate and enthusiastically "mmmed", "aaahed, " and exclaimed "this is delicious!" Later on the way to pub I explained to my friend about my eating restrictions. He was incredulous, "So you were just going to get sick?!" I responded with, "Well I didn't want to be rude!" I believe he then commented about Americans being polite at the oddest times.
17. I constantly disagree with Catholicism, but I can't ever see myself switching teams. I do consider myself a very spiritual person, although I don't discuss it often. I am vehemently against evangelizing with hatred (i.e. "you're going to Hell if you don't do this). I don't understand Christians who nitpick passages out of the Bible to throw stones at people who are different from them (gays, those of different faiths). It seems to me they're ignoring the basic teachings of Christ, which in my understanding are love and tolerance. I silently cheer for interfaith dialogue and was impressed that Obama's inauguration speech also gave a shout out to non-believers. Although I've been to some of the most amazing cathedrals and churches in the world (including St. Peter's) as well as on several retreats during my eight years of Catholic school, the most incredible spiritual experience I've ever had was in none of them. It was in Rome, but completely unexpected. My friend and I were on the tour of the catacombs and met a family from Wyoming, a couple from Nebraska, and the couple's friend, a monsignor at Creighton University. After the tour the couple and the monsignor noted that they were going to celebrate the Eucharist in the catacombs. The family from Wyoming kinda freaked out and exited. Andrea and I were like "what the hey?" and stayed on. It was the most intimate experience I have ever had with God and it really sunk in saying the same mass (albeit in a different language) as people 2,000 years prior.
18. I advocate for gay rights, not because I'm gay, but because I feel that no one should be denied the right to the pursuit of happiness, especially when it's written into the Declaration of Independence. I don't understand people that think being gay is a choice either. It's hard for me to comprehend that this country is still restricting people's rights. And it really sickens me when people compare homosexuality (between two consenting adults!!) to pedophilia or bestiality. Again, going back to #17, I can't understand Christians picking random passages out of the scripture instead of going with the overall theme of love and acceptance (and you don't have to love in that way). Gay rights are a human rights issue to me and I'm happy to do what I can for the cause.
19. When I was a child my biggest fear was spontaneous human combustion. Now I think it's either being buried alive (a la Kill Bill Vol. 2) or drowning while trapped in an enclosed space. I don't think either would be very pleasant.
20. I got more out of a few days volunteering for the Obama campaign in the central city (I was eventually moved to my own neighborhood), than out of the months I spent schlepping for the Kerry campaign in the suburbs. To echo my friend Beth's sentiment, "I still stop what I’m doing and smile whenever I hear 'President Obama.'" Reading this article about how he's changing the work environment at the White House, made me smile even more. I love having a cool president!
21. FUEL Milwaukee (formerly Young Professionals of Milwaukee, or YPM), despite all its faults, is a huge factor as to why I've stayed in this town. I have made so many wonderful friends and connections through this organization and don't feel I would be who or where I am today without it. I certainly would not be on the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network-Milwaukee Chapter Board, without having gotten my start with YPM.
22. One not so exactly "family-friendly" tidbit (see #11). I have kissed someone from every civilized continent except South America (although I appreciate Beth's comment that she needs to get there "before cartographers pull a Pluto on Antarctica and it won’t count anymore," I do recognize that it has no native human life). My ongoing joke is always "I need to find a Brazilian and a penguin and be done with it."
23. I have several tracks for my future that I realize are completely unparallel: A) go to graduate school for a joint Urban Planning/Public Administration Master's; B) pay off my debt and save enough to buy a house; C) pay off my debt and save enough to quit work for a year and travel around the world before I'm 35; D) find someone, get married, reproduce. Actually I think D=disgusting at this point in my life. I'd actually rather find someone to travel around the world with me and then go from there. Although a recent joke on that note was "I need to find a guy who would build me the Taj Mahal." Uh, yeah, at this point someone who would pay half my rent after a couple years of dating would be just fine with me.
24. To echo Bill who tagged me, I also rejected the "digital converter box" for my television. I am perfectly fine with utilizing Netflix and watching my shows online. I never personally owned a TV until after college and thus missed some great shows that premiered between 1998 and 2002. Luckily TV on DVD has caught me up on Freaks and Geeks and The West Wing.
25. I am deathly afraid of needles thanks to a rogue phlebotomist during my pre-kindergarten physical. Because of this I've never gotten a tattoo or tried heroin. As traumatic as that phlebotomist was to my childhood development, I am grateful to her now to preventing any missteps in my lifestyle.