The first year without her

The first month feels like a year, and then a week, and then a year again. A cold, long, drawn out year with no seasons, and no clocks.image_3The first few days are as cold as ice; way too chilly for Columbus Day Weekend. You stop crying, and you start cracking smiles at small talk but there’s still a pound of salt in your wounds and your friends see right through your grin, no matter how many teeth you’re making it a point to show. Old neighbors, classmates and even complete strangers rise from the rubble to ask how you’re holding up, including but not limited to that friend-of-a-friend you follow on Instagram but have never met in real life and that middle-aged man who does PR for your high school. Each “fuck off” you feel rolling off your tongue turns into something civil once it hits the air.

You wake up. You get dressed. You go back to work. You get on.

Everything reminds you of her.

Two months in, you start to feel feelings again (for-real feelings, not just that one you you get when you miss your train by half a flight of stairs). You muster up the courage to watch her favorite movies, listen to her favorite songs, but nine times out of ten you stop halfway through (if that far at all). The tenth time, you make it ’till the end, only to realize that the last 30 seconds of Dirty Dancing has never left you feeling more confused; that Patrick Swayze telling Jerry Orbach not to put Baby in the corner has just left you equal parts inspired, weepy, starving (?) and (#1) wondering why the fuck you just did that to yourself.

Your friends and family show their true colors. Some of their shades surprise you.image_6Three months in, normal is the handsome stranger sitting at the end of the bar and you’ve finally locked eyes. Sure, you immediately break eye contact and you’re moonwalking away to go finish your pint glass of Pinot in the bathroom Cady Herron-style, but (moral of the story) normal is in arm’s reach. Even if it looks like Patrick Dempsey and you, like Amanda Bynes post-Is It A Bong Or A Vase?

The “I’m sorry for your loss” eyes become less frequent and the harder holidays come and go as an empty chair — her chair — is filled by someone new (best case scenario: a three year old whose favorite song is Blurred Lines). Some days, that chair is all you can think about. Others, its the last thing on your mind. That, and the laundry list of things you still need to do (see: pay for her headstone, settle her bank accounts, tell that debt collector in Virginia that you’re not going to pay for that fucking X-ray she got in 2002 and that they can go shave their back now).

Something still feels like its missing.image_5Four months in, the smell of hand sanitizer on the counter of a smoothie shop brings you back to the foot of her hospital bed. You forget how to breathe as you envision the nights she (more than likely) spent sleeplessly crying because you left her alone with a six inch television she could barely see and a 12 inch Subway sandwich, half of which she could never even stomach. You wonder how that PA — Johnny, Jason, James, she could never remember his name — is doing. You want to thank him for being there when you weren’t, but you never call.

Everything still reminds you of her.

The smell of cigarettes. Bay Ridge Pizza. The sound of Tom Bergeron’s voice.image_8Five months in, you attend the local Saint Patrick’s Day Parade with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and her one month old baby boy. You wish, more than anything, that she could have met him — loved him — but you find solace in the fact that you got to tell her he was coming. The pregnancy of a childhood friend — unexpected, but welcomed — was one of the last big things you were able to tell her about as her blood pressure plummeted in New York Presbyterian’s immaculate emergency room.

You feel her presence every once in a while, some times more powerful than others.

Six months in, the floodgates open and that corner of your heart you’d saved for all the shit you need to tell her finally overflows. One day, you swallow your pride, hold your cracked iPhone to your ear, and fake a call on your way home from work. You talk to her (while trying desperately to ignore the fact that you’re really just talking to yourself) for 13 minutes, just hoping she can hear you, and that no one can see you ugly crying from their cars.

You tell her all about being published by The Huffington Post, this season of the Voice (#TeamShakira) and that time you got shot in the nipple while paint-balling. You wish her a happy belated birthday, and pretend to hang up.

She would’ve been 60 this year.
oldschool 0041 Seven months in, there are finally more good days than bad. The afternoons get easier, but after midnight still stings worse than any sunburn she ever tried to prevent when you were feeling young, wild and free (see also: rebellious and completely against anything over 15 SPF).

You gather the strength to go through the Aldo shoe-box full of old photos you salvaged from the two-story house you used to shared together. You have so many questions (Is this my grandpa? Who is this blonde woman you’re jumping off of cliffs with? Are those bell-bottoms real and where can I find them?) but they’re all left unanswered. Maybe for now. Maybe forever.

The very same goes for how she feels about your outfit, or your highlights. A second opinion that was once second nature is no more, and it doesn’t help that you live with two boys.

Eight months in, you celebrate your first birthday without her. Your first birthday without her using the wrong form of “your” in a pop-up Hallmark card. Your first birthday waking up alone, and not to a voicemail of her singing, even though she’s only downstairs on the couch.imageNine months in, you find a travel bag you never unpacked from her stay at Presbyterian. Inside are two unopened Burt’s Bees chapsticks, an orange prescription bottle, Dove deodorant and an eye-mask (when the fuck did she start sleeping with an eye-mask?) You can’t bring yourself to get rid of it, mostly because you have a feeling it’s illegal to toss 15 milliliters of Caphosol to the curb all willy nilly.

A small part of you keeps it just to keep it.

You tuck it away in the bottom drawer of your Ikea nightstand that won’t. fucking. stay. together. (#NoDisrespectToIkea but, in times of grief, the smallest inconveniences have a habit of feeling like the end of the world. Most days, though, you’re just thankful to have furniture at all.)
SCAN0021 - Version 4Ten months in, time starts to blur. You start to forget what it was like when she was around, if only for a second. The next thing you know you’re eleven and a half months in and seeing her favorite singer perform live from the Great Lawn at Central Park. You sob gracefully (you’ve mastered this) as girls around you in cut-offs and maxi skirts frolicking in circles to Carrie Underwood’s 40-minute, very pregnant set at Global Citizen Festival. You pray for the love of God she doesn’t sing Jesus Take The Wheel even though you know damn well she’s going to.

She damn well does and you damn well lose your shit.

You go home and watch Dancing With the Stars over a Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie because, even at 23, you can feel yourself turning into her.DSCF6145Twelve months in and you accept that the month she died will always be the hardest. It’s been 364 days since you held her hand and pulled the plug, but you still can’t bear to listen to old voicemails, afraid of what her voice on tape might do to you (even though you’ve heard her laugh every day since she died). Sometimes you can hear her say funny things like “fuck you,” and “jackass” (emphasis on the “JACK”).

Most of all, you hear “Got me.” Her response whenever you would say you loved her more.

One year in, everything still reminds you of her, and that’s okay with you.

Life happens when you’re busy blogging

John Lennon (and one in five white girls’ high school yearbook) once said, “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.” #TBH, life’s been really needy lately (like, ex girlfriend at the end of The Fault in Our Stars needy) but, before Kanye drops in to tell me Beyoncé had the best blog of all time, let me finish.

Between the delivery of a brand new bed that I can, now, never get out of and breaking news at my day-job — special shout out to those cops that saved that woman from choking on a meat kabob at the feast, and a not-so-special shout out to that rapist on the loose two towns over — I haven’t had time to do my laundry, nevermind write much for myself. Seriously. I’ve been hand-washing my underwear and buying new shit (#LABORDAYSALE).

This is getting out of hand.

But I’m still breathing, overspending on Starbucks and doing shit worth writing about. See:

  1. Riding Nitro and crying hysterically.
  2. Drooling as Katy Perry rides around the Barclays Center on a high-wire and lap-dances a lucky audience member.
  3. Watching my roommate eat a six inch Subway sandwich at the bar.
  4. Being asked my age at an 18+ event, only to answer “23 and too old for this.”
  5. Taking mass transit to the Hamptons at 7 a.m. for an afternoon of two-dollar beers and poor decisions.
  6. Losing a bet over mini-golf and getting a Henna tattoo tramp stamp of an acquaintance’s name in script.
  7. Waiting 45 minutes for said Henna tattoo tramp stamp to dry.
  8. Sleeping a lot more than I should.
  9. Dancing on what used to be a stripper runway with the lead singer of Hellogoodbye because, I’m still sixteen at heart and still pay actual money to see Hellogoodbye in concert (on background: he also took a selfie of mostly just his mustache on my friend’s phone and then asked all the men in the audience to take off their shirts).
  10. Making this still of Leslie Knope my cover photo on Facebook:10610702_10203033530663203_3569504092110431108_n[1]
  11. Planning a benefit concert (and designing lots of buttons online).
  12. Diagnosing myself with a thyroid condition via WebMD because I’m too stubborn to admit that it’s my fault (and that of the Starbucks lemon loaf cake I eat each morning) that I’m getting a little pudgy (#MYANACONDADONT).
  13. Losing six pairs of sunglasses.
  14. Sitting shotgun all the way to Scranton to see Fall Out Boy butcher “Dance, Dance” live (but hey, $15 lawn seats).
  15. Dropping my venti iced chai tea latte from Starbucks in the middle of the street only to be looked up at with pity by a woman with a walker, to whom I responded, “At least it’s not a Monday.”

Here’s to hoping I will one day find the time to write something other than a listicle. Until then, THANKS INTERNET for sticking around (and somehow still following this occasionally dormant blog).

#thesehoesAREloyal.

Nobody likes you when you’re 23, they think you’re the tits

Blink 182 was wrong.

Okay, okay. Blink 182 was right about a lot (see: the entire two minutes and 45 seconds of “Dammit” and that line in “The Party Song” about girls trying too hard), but not about birthdays.

If nobody is supposed to like you when you’re 23, our generation is doing something wrong.

By 23, you’ve weeded out the fair-weather friends. The ones just there for a good time and a few beers on your tab; the ones you genuinely liked but just didn’t stand the test of time; the ones that sucked; and the ones that fucked your best friend’s boyfriend.

You’ve shared the last five, ten, maybe fifteen birthdays with the majority of the RSVPs at your three-hour open bar on the Upper East Side, and those friends who may be new to your overly boozy (and overly 90’s) shindig are there for an important reason: because we’re 23 and ain’t nobody got time for that (that being fake friends).

The friends we keep at 23 are the friends we keep for life, no matter how little or long we’ve known them.

These are the friends that, at 18, risked their asses to throw you the biggest birthday party you’d ever had up to that point in their parents’ basement. They bought gold wristbands and made guest lists and had your best friend fly back from Ireland to surprise you. They’re the friends that turned a sweat-soaked kegger/makeshift wet t-shirt contest into a night to remember, complete with a personal concert a’la your friends’ first band (another surprise), a bucket full of gin, and little regard for noise complaints.IMG0003_2These are the friends that, at 19, did the same damn thing; this time around with more gin, some glitter, and far fewer clothes. They still loved you even though your college roommates were passed out on the concrete out front (“Get Iona in the house”) and another friend jumped in the neighbor’s pool. They poured full beers on your head, but didn’t blame you for the phantom vomit by the sink.

These are the friends that, at 20, loved you at your worst (your worst being the bad end of your hormonal bender at the Knights of Columbus, just two drinks deep). The ones that apologized to strangers on your behalf after you told them to fuck off for not knowing your name. The ones that baked you a birthday cake, lit the candles on top of it and had a bar full of people (half of whom you’d already verbally assaulted) to sing “Happy Birthday,” while you cried in the corner and your best friend smoked a cigarette indoors.

The ones that took you home at 10 p.m. to your sobbing mother and nodded as you swore you were roofied when really, you just didn’t eat dinner. The party only started at 7.

These are the friends that, at 21, trekked to the upper most end of the Upper East Side to celebrate, even if some weren’t as legal as you yet, with a few dozen vodka-clubs. The ones that took the risk and schmoozed the bouncer and pretended to be your 29-year-old cousin your mom convinced the owner “just looked young.”FH000006These are the friends that, at 22, convinced the owner to let them into that bar on West Fourth with their birth certificate because your birthday wasn’t one to be missed, and fuck the DMV. The friends that ordered Fireball on the rocks and took a tumble down the stairs to mark the one-year-anniversary of you turning 21 (sorry, Marina). The ones that put two credits in the jukebox and spent them both on “Picture” by Kid Rock and the one in particular that fell out of the roof of a moving car, because your birthday, as usual, got him that drunk.

Don’t forget the one who got lost in Queens and asked the cops to take him home.

These are the friends that, at 23, packed out the basement of an Amsterdam Avenue bar, even though they’ve been at this for years. The ones from all walks of life and all parts of town — Bay Ridge, New Rochelle, Middle Village, Hollis Hills, Far Rockaway — bonding over shots, selfies and another year of you. The ones that cut the music at midnight to sing Celine Dion, and “Happy Birthday,” but mostly Celine Dion.

The ones that rallied so hard that they woke up from a vodka-coma in your friend’s back seat only to puke on the Brooklyn bar that wouldn’t let your friends in and break a bad fall with their face (I love you, Erin). The ones that carried said friend up three flights of stairs, doused her face in Neosporin and put her to bed. The ones that stayed a little late just to watch the sunrise, and eat Halal on your roof.

Oh, and the one who got arrested. That one, too.

“Next year, we’re going to the movies.”IMG_3715

One month into 23 and I haven’t pranked called anybody’s mother from a pay-phone, but I’ve felt pretty fucking loved. If you’re a friend and you’re reading this (which is likely, as my readership is 60 percent Facebook friends and 40 percent foreign countries), I raise my hypothetical glass to you, for standing the test of time and still being there, even when I’m crying in the back of the bar.

To my fellow twenty-somethings: Hold tight, kids. These are the ones.

My mother hated tattoos, so naturally I got one for her

“Months are different in college, especially freshman year. Too much happens. Every freshman month equals six regular months—they’re like dog months.”

- Rainbow Rowell


A lot happens your freshman year of college. It’s one of those years you learn who you are, what you’re made of and, in most cases, the art of laundry. For me, freshman year meant Four Loko out of Dr. Pepper bottles on the Metro North, falling for a stranger I met on a scavenger hunt, and holding hands with a once-friend for my first tattoo (spoiler: she went bat-shit and called my roommate a cake-faced, boge-smoking bitch).

A real milestone year.

It was Columbus Day weekend, 2009. I walked through the doors of my family’s two-story home in South Brooklyn for the first time since going away to college and living three people to a dorm room. Mom had the house to herself. I had meticulously positioned one of those middle school slap bracelets around my left wrist, barely masking a two-week old tattoo I’d gotten for my father (without my mother’s permission) on Saint Mark’s Place in the city.

Looking back, settling on a shop called Whatever Tattoo was wrong.

She wasn’t suspicious in the slightest. To her, the vintage bracelet was just another five-second trend I was trying on, paired perfectly with an XL Led Zeppelin tee shirt and the blonde streaks I was still growing out from the summer before. I was going through something, that’s for sure (Cue: I’m Not Okay by MCR and Torn by Natalie Imbruglia).

It took all of twenty minutes for me to break.

“I have to tell you something,” I said, asking her to sit down.

In hindsight, this was cruel. Her mind went straight to teen pregnancy, leaving anything I said after that that wasn’t “I’m carrying some senior on the rugby team’s child” to be tolerated, hell, maybe even thrown a ticker-tape parade.

I peeled back the quarter-machine cover-up to reveal the teeny tiny, permanent text:photo (10)“This is sufficient for me,” ripped right from the last line of the prayer found on the back of dad’s necklace. The one he was given while working down at Ground Zero. The one he gave me right before he died. The full line read, “Give me your love and your grace, for this is sufficient for me.”

Mom was hysterical. Equal parts angry, touched and relieved I wasn’t with child.

“How can I be mad,” she asked, I had hoped hypothetically. She loved it. But she was definitely kind of mad.


Second came an anchor on my upper back for my best friend since six.

We met in kindergarten and, at 18, she said she hated me at first. Thankfully, she traded in her grudge for rainy weekends spent hiding handwritten wishes under the floorboards in my room. Sometimes they were for full seasons of Degrassi on DVD, or to marry the Madden brothers. Most of the time they were for a sleepover and, most of the time, they came true.

I sat mom down beforehand.

“Eileen and I are getting matching tattoos,” I said with a sort of confidence that surprised us both. I think she thought I was kidding, but I was serious. Rick Shoots Up Degrassi serious (okay, maybe Manny Wants To Be Hot serious). Either way, we weren’t kidding.

The definition we tossed around was, “well-grounded hope.”317504_2220097985967_890240229_n

“Since an anchor is what puts down roots deep into the sea to hold a ship in place, it has been associated with strength and stability. The anchor can be seen symbolically as something that holds you in place and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.”
- Tumblr, 2011

Boy, were things rough at 20 (this is only partly sarcasm; Steve Jobs died that year and Pitbull released an album called Planet Pit, life totally sucked).

Either mom didn’t hate it, or she was really good at lying.

Four years, one shot-in-the-dark addition (“Is that a rope or a dollar sign?”) and one not-so-terrible touch-up (never trust a guy who says, “I got it” because A. He definitely does not have it and B. It will look nothing like what you saw on Tumblr) later and my best friend is still the one who keeps me grounded/reminds me to eat healthy every once in a while.


Third was an ampersand on my inner right ankle. Mom had no more say. She knew I was going to do it anyway and “at least it wasn’t a tramp stamp or Justin Bieber’s face.” Direct quote.

screen shot 2014-06-30 at 10.10.58 pm1“To always remember what I want to do,” I told her, as if I was going to get into some terrible accident down the road and wake up thinking I wanted to be a doctor. “I want to be a writer.”

Truthfully, it came on the heels of one passionate journalism course and its brutally honest professor who, Day One, told us, “be prepared to waitress after college. Journalism is a bitch.”

(He was my favorite.)


Fourth was a tribute to a summer abroad in France, and mom, or so I said at the time (her true tribute would come later and hurt far less). The foot’s a fucking nightmare (and impossible to flatter in a photo so here it is with hanging dragonfly lights).
photo (11)It was summer, 2013 and mom was halfway through her third round of leukemia treatments at New York Presbyterian. We sat and talked for hours from her bed by the window, overlooking the East River. About the Home Reporter, living alone and all the drugs I didn’t do at Lollapalooza. About her roommate with the cunty attitude, her constant cottonmouth and her favorite PA John, or Joe (she could never quite remember), before I told her to look at my foot.

I can still see her face.

“Toujours se souvenir; To Always Remember in French,” I said. “It’s for you.”

She started to laugh from her gut.

She called in the passing resident on her rounds. “This is my daughter, Meaghan,” she said, tears of laughter streaming down her face, “and this is her new tattoo. Apparently it’s for me.”

It really was, I assured her. To always remember the four weeks I spent galavanting through Europe at her expense. To always remember everything she’s ever afforded me, like that drunken bike ride along the Siene and that order of Escargot I never ate. And, you know, life.

To always remember where I’ve been (Brooklyn, Bermuda, Paris, Rome, Rocking Horse Dude Ranch, etc.), where I came from (our stoop on 73rd Street, the county of Cork, my mother’s womb), and who I am (a McGoldrick, and, more importantly, my mother’s daughter).

She loved it, I think, but all she could do was laugh.


Five treatments in, I called her to tell her I’d fucked up the anchor and that the rope made its silhouette look like a dollar sign.

“It was missing something, I don’t know,” I said over the phone, smearing tear-soaked mascara from my eyelids to my chin. “It looks awful.”

She returned home for five days before she died. We ordered in from Tasty Chicken, watched The Voice and said “Goodnight” in person. We fought hard the Saturday before her heart gave out, but, not about the touch-up.

“It doesn’t look bad at all,” she said, when she easily could have said “I told you so.”


One month after I buried mom next to dad in a shared plot in Staten Island, I buckled up and got the anchor fixed. A few more flowers, some asymmetrical lines and a lot of “Fuck it”s later, the same guy who did my ampersand gave new life to the anchor that once was.

Nearly a year later and I’m still learning to love it, because mom said it wasn’t so bad.


Fifth and finally came something special. “Love you more,” in her handwriting on my right wrist — pulled directly from a Hallmark Card she bought me the day I e-mailed my current job to ask if they had any internships. Not the day they took me on as an intern. Not the day they hired me full time. The day I asked if they had anyone to do their coffee runs.Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 2.50.51 PM

“I bought this card the day you e-mailed the Home Reporter. I knew you would get it. Your MEAGHAN. Love you more then you know.”

Wrong form of “you’re” aside, I framed the card and, eight months later, am finally able to accept that she’s no longer here. Never gone, though, as her words lay opposite those inspired by my father; the two of them still holding my hand and guiding me through this fucked up life (and helping me home on the weekends).

(As a journalist, I couldn’t bring myself to tattoo the wrong form of “than” to the arm that I write with. Grammar was never her strong suit, and “Love you more” was always our thing.)

I think she’d dig it. I certainly do.

Also featured on Huffington Post College.

10 things people have Googled to get to this blog

The internet is a scary thing. Not only is every Instagram selfie I’ve ever shamelessly posted plastered on the Google Image search attached to my name but, thanks to WordPress, I have access to an archive of search terms that — at one time or another — have led Internet users to my site.

Here are ten of the best, worst and kind of weird.Destiny-s-Child-destinys-child-30807847-1280-800

“why is it important for destiny’s child to keep up their friendly façade”

I’ve been asking this since Independent Women Part I.

“new year, new tits”

This has been searched twice.

“photos of mold starting on frozen pizza”

I can’t say they found what they were looking for, but they were likely led to the story of My First Apartment which, hopefully, made them feel a bit better about their iffy pizza.

“fireball whiskey gives me hives”

I’m so sorry.

“your father has presented you a dual-sim card mobile phone on your birthday.write diary entry about your feeling.”

This person is clearly skirting around some sort of weirdly specific writing assignment.

“who is the blonde on the digiorno”

Nope.

“am a virgin, if i drink a bottle of smirnoff, will it make sex painless?”

It’s worth a shot (no pun intended).

“i won’t touch my friends tits meaghan mcgoldrick”

This person obviously knew what story they were looking for (“I will not touch my friends’ tits” and other New Year vows), but this search made me LOL.

“how to spell brianna in emojis”

????

“meaghan mcgoldrick cynical”

Welcome home, kid.

There are more important things in life than what your ex is doing on Facebook

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There are more important things in life than what your ex is doing on Facebook.

There are more important things in life than what that girl wore to EDC, or that she went at all.

There are more important things in life than a brand new Michael Kors watch.

There are more important things in life than keeping up appearances.

There are more important things in life than fitting into that dress or old band tee.

There are more important things in life then those little flabs of fat under your arm.

There are more important things in life than becoming somebody’s Him/Her.

There are more important things in life than gripping tight to a grudge.

There are more important things in life than nine to five.

There are more important things in life than choosing a filter.

There are more important things in life than getting it on film.

There are more important things in life than faking it.

There are more important things in life than just missing the train.

There are more important things in life than striking out.

There are more important things in life than what they think.

There are more important things in life.

There are family and friends and car rides and gut-laughs. Pitcher deals and dollar stores and Sundays spent sprawled out on the roof. Sunrises. Sunsets. Five liter boxes of wine and shoeboxes full of old concert tickets — Good Charlotte, Bamboozle ’07 and the Arctic Monkeys show you were kicked out of at 18. There are weeknights spent feeding the jukebox — My Chemical Romance, Brand New, Kid Rock, repeat. There are all-you-can-eat buffets and brunch specials and stolen kisses after-hours. There are sing-alongs and scream-alongs and bathroom stall cry-alongs. There are Happy Hours and heartfelt toasts.

To Andrew Garfield’s ass in spandex, and Iggy Azalea’s ass in anything.

To the New York Rangers.

To mom on what would’ve been her 60th birthday.

To your best friend behind the bar.

To another year closer to 30.

To the same company you’ve kept for years.

To the newer company you’ve kept for months.

To the ride.

To life, to love, and to us.

TBT: Spring Break Fight Club

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March 11, 2013

It’s three days into our Spring Break in San Juan and all seventeen-or-so of us had seen the view from the Plaza de Armas, strolled through Old San Juan and befriended an overweight and over-pouring bartender behind the counter of a bar I’ll never remember the name of.

For the sake of the story, let’s just call it Fight Club.

Everyone gets too drunk off a liquored-up drink that’s mostly coconut milk and cinnamon (turns out, this bartender was actually the devil). We pretend to play pool, make friends with locals and take pictures on a (dangerous looking) balcony — or so the Facebook albums say.

We cheer on our college basketball team from the bar via ESPN En Español.

Twenty-something drinks too deep, we split into groups — each of them fighting because Katie is missing, we’re not quite sure why we’re leaving (spoiler: we’d all run out of money) and “Shut up, you fucking bitch.” I’m berated by my best friend, Ashton, on the side-streets of San Juan for letting the liquor in my liver take the reigns. I push his buttons and ugly-cry because we’re fighting, which only puts this whole thing on Repeat. Meanwhile, my roommate is lifting her maxi skirt and squatting on the cobblestone streets between a car and a Vespa.

“That is the meanest thing I’ve ever heard,” she says to Ashton, shocked, appalled and quite possibly still peeing. Hours later, he would look at me, hold my hands in his and say, “You know that song by Jack’s Mannequin, ‘Kill the Messenger?'”

“Yeah.”

“That’s what I did. I killed the messenger. I killed you.”

We regroup and head home, only to learn that — the entire time — Katie has been safe and sound in the company of Denis, Ryan and Gio. They left to buy a personal bottle of Bicardi from a grocery store because, When In Rome.

The following is Ryan’s personal account:

“Then I blacked out so I don’t remember what happened but we started looking for cabs in Old San Juan and apparently I told our friends to go get a cab but, in my blackedoutness, I thought they disappeared and dramatically caused a panic while everyone was fighting. Then I blacked out, went in SJ’s mom’s car* and told her how much I loved her son and was invited to their home in San Juan whenever I wanted (which I don’t remember at all). While in this car, I saw Rae fucking hanging out of this cab’s shotgun window and waving frantically for all of us to get in the cab. Like, just picture that girl halfway out of the window waving as this giant white taxi van comes barreling down the cobblestone narrow ass streets of San Juan. And then I fell out of the car (because I was so drunk, shocker) and stormed into the middle of the street in front of the taxi (which had to stop short because I stood directly in front of it so thank god I didnt die? Thanks, cabbie) and screamed at Rae, ‘RAE ANN SCALISI, DON’T YOU EVER LEAVE ME LIKE THAT AGAIN!’ to which she started crying. Then I re-blacked out.”

* SJ is a friend of ours who also happens to live in San Juan. Six days into Spring Break, he informed us that there were, in fact, open container laws and we should probably keep that bottle down.

The story ends with Denis and Ryan fighting in the courtyard of the Puerto Rican Marriott over who knows more about San Juan. Denis “kicks Ryan’s knees out,” calls him a pussy and Ryan almost get mulled over by a rape van. All this time, he is sporting a Panama hat he purchased at a gift shop.

#Culture.

My first year out of college

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Originally published by Writtalin.

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I walked across the stage at Radio City, diploma in hand, gauze on my post-Senior Formal feet and mom in the audience. I said goodbye to sharing secrets, stories, and clothes with my closest girlfriends, Tuesday night drink specials, and the corner-deli guy. I said goodbye to all-nighters, gin buckets, and afternoon ragers. I said goodbye to friends, to family, to professors-turned mentors. I said goodbye to one home, and hello again to another.

I said goodbye to college and hello to home.

I said hello to adulthood, or something like it. To bills, old baggage, and boys I’d long forgotten about. To my house in Southern Brooklyn and to my mother – 59 and sassy – ready for her best friend back.

Three hundred and fifty days ago, my mother told me she had cancer. Acute myeloid leukemia. “But they caught it early,” she said to soften the blow, to ease the pain, to ice the sting. We had a lot of hope and a lot of ice cream.

Three hundred and fifteen days ago, I accepted my first job offer. Part-time-turned-full-time at a former internship I fell in love with. The pieces moved closer together as I said yes to a career as a journalist over frozen yogurt on a city bench with my best friend – a borough over in an upscale New York City hospital – on speed-dial.

Two hundred and ninety-four days ago, I sat back-seat of a Jeep for fourteen hours cross-country to Chicago. I blacked out at Wrigley Field (may or may not have made out with a townie), slept on the floor of a high-rise apartment with a view of the city and braved Lollapalooza with ten of my closest guy friends.

Two hundred and twenty-one days ago, I said goodbye to my best friend. She kicked her cancer late September but, home for good for just five days, pneumonia knocked her out. Two hundred and twenty days ago, I packed a bag and began calling a best friend’s basement home.

One hundred and sixty-seven days ago, I moved out of a two-story, two-bedroom home with the help of ten friends, four cars and two personal sanitation trucks.  We tossed a professionally sketched portrait of Hilary Duff and decade-old middle school transcripts mom saved to be safe. We treasured old journals and scrapbooks and salvaged a Scooby Doo alarm clock.

One hundred and thirty-seven days ago I signed a lease with two male friends in a 70’s-style realtor’s office complete with mustard-colored carpeting and a birdcage cloaked in a 101 Dalmatians comforter. We moved in mom’s old living room set and bonded over one hellish trip to Ikea and an unexplained painting of George Washington.

Forty-three days ago, I marked five years out of high school with bottomless white zinfandel and a ride in the disabilities-only elevator for old time’s sake at our first reunion (shout-out to senior year, September 2008, and the bottle of Baccardi that landed me in a full leg cast). “You look great!”s came and went, and I only cried a little in the all-girls bathroom.

Just a few days ago, I took the subway to the city to see one of my closest girlfriends walk for her Master’s Degree at Madison Square Garden, the very same venue and very same stage that – just hours earlier – our alma matter’s Class of 2014 braved with a smile (some genuine, some forced, many laced with fear).

It’s been 365 days since I was that senior scared for my life post-graduation. Post-Best Years of Your Life. Post-“Hey, Look I’m on my own and don’t have to worry about student loans yet.”

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t take anything for granted. Time. Money. People’s presence. Avoid cancelling plans at all costs – unless it’s raining and there’s a Grey’s Anatomy marathon on TV. But only use that one once.
  2. Say “I love you” more and mean it. Just don’t do it via-text after 3 a.m. Say it to your pizza instead.
  3. Avoid songs like “23” by Jimmy Eat World unless you’re looking for an extra side of Feels to go with that Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
  4. Go ahead, take a picture in the bear suit. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
  5. The very first Homecoming/Fall-fest/Spring Fling at your school will hurt a little. Maybe even a lot. It’s all fun and games when you’re day-drinking under the alumni tent but later, when the bars are closed and a senior friend’s couch is the closest thing you have to a bed, expect some serious sappiness.
  6. Screenshot most Snapchats.
  7. Buy a good pair of running shoes and, if you opt for a gym membership, actually use it. It’s no longer paid for by your school. If you don’t, consider putting that money towards rent, or those ice-cube trays that also make popsicles.
  8. Always look into the “family” option when ordering in with your roommates. Even from that bougie Chinese food restaurant across the street.
  9. Thou shalt bottomless brunch whenever possible.
  10. Don’t be afraid to go through old photos, shoeboxes, journals, etc. You never know what kind of stick-figure drawings of a female basketball player or well-thought-out Reasons to Hate Your First Ex-Boyfriend pre-listicle diary entries you’ll find.
  11. Put your tongue away for the camera. You’ll thank me later.
  12. Open bars that don’t include shots almost always include Insert Liquor Here on the rocks.
  13. The ride home is always longer when you’re driving cross-country in a Fiat.
  14. Revisit old stomping grounds every once in a while. Freshman year dive bars. High school hot spots. But pregame first, it’s likely full of freshmen and high schoolers.
  15. Sure, you can attend that senior event/party/formal as an alumni but, odds are, you won’t be able to hang. Unless you’re superhuman (or employed as a professional drinker), the stress of the 9-5 daily-grind is bound to set you back in tolerance and send you home at least an hour or two earlier than usual. (If not, I commend you.)
  16. You are only as strong as your support system. Have faith in your friends and they’ll have faith in you (see also: stand guard while you pop a squat, recommend you for that open job/single friend of theirs, and throw a fundraiser in your parents’ honor while serving up dollar Jell-O shots for cancer research).
  17. Save every voicemail. A familiar voice may, one day, be hard to come by.
  18. Try something new. Spend a dollar at the pool table instead of the jukebox and challenge a stranger. Take a cooking class. Dabble in Do-It-Yourself Pinterest projects. See a city you’ve never seen before. This is life off-campus (and off the island of involvement fairs). Explore it, and make a name for yourself.
  19. The friends that are meant to stay are in it for the long haul.
  20. Graduation is not the end. It is not the end of your friendships. It is not the end of your academic career. It is not the end of the world. College may have been a beauty but life is a looker, too. Let it surprise you, one day at a time.

The first Mother’s Day without you

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This morning, I heard your laugh.

Six and a half months later and the Alex and Ani website still has the matching Leukemia bracelets I was going to buy us in my shopping cart. I can’t bring myself to take them out.

I won’t get to see you Sunday, not even your gravesite. Staten Island is a ways away and your name isn’t even on dad’s stone yet. The flowers I brought you for your birthday are probably dead by now and, odds are, you’re still wondering why I didn’t just opt for fake ones.

“Duh,” you’d say if you were here. But you’re not.

This is the first Mother’s Day without you, and it’ll likely be the hardest, though, your first birthday was a surprising breeze. That’s just because you made sure all of your biggest fans packed out a pub in your honor — toasting to life, love and what it feels like to find peace.

This week is much harder, though. This week is tough.

It’s almost a year since you stood outside of Radio City, cane, cancer and all, to mark my entrance into the real world. Losing you felt like a terrible hangover, the kind that leaves you numb and hazy. Kind of like a car crash. At almost 23, I’m finally getting my footing, but I have questions — like — how did you deal with losing dad so gracefully? Will the world ever stop and wait for me to catch up? What’s a 401k? Can I survive on 25k a year? Are those Chinese Food containers microwaveable? What do I do about mold? Hypothetically, of course.

Are you happy with how I’ve handled myself? The apartment? My writing? Would you be happy with the “woman” I’ve become (even though you can finally see all of my credit card statements)? Sorry I spend so much on Starbucks. I promise I’ll learn to balance my check-book.

Where did you and dad meet? How is he? Have you guys met Frankie Valli yet?

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I wasn’t ready for you to go, but you had to. You would’ve been 60 last month and all of senior year, I had hoped to throw you a party. I wanted to buy you that bracelet. I wanted to visit you more. I wanted to fly you to San Juan for the weekend so you could cross it off your bucket list.

I wanted to do a lot of things, and I wanted to do them with you. I thought we’d have more time, but that’s just how the story goes. Your story. Your incredible story of growing up in the 70’s, picking up and moving to Bermuda for months at a time, dating that guy in that rock band and dancing on stage with that singer whose name I wish more than anything I could remember.

I still have your claddagh earrings, and I hope to one day wear them. I can’t say that I’ve carried on your taste for Coors or kept up with Ellen for you (I do know 25k doesn’t buy me cable), but, six months into being a 23-year-old orphan, I still jump at the chance to bring you up.

“Mom would’ve cried if we got a
Panera Bread around here.”

- In reference to a coming Chipotle.

“Mom would’ve voted for the sassy,
middle-aged black woman.”

- In reference to our show, the Voice.

“Oh, that makes me think of my mom.”

- In reference to just about any person, place or thing.

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Forget Mother’s Day. Forget the Hallmark Card I would’ve gotten you and the episode of NCIS we would’ve watched together. Forget the dinner I know damn well we would’ve ordered from Tasty Chicken on 17th Avenue and the pillow-talk we would’ve had before your meds kicked in. Forget the argument we would’ve gotten into over my selfish attitude and forget the tears we would’ve shed as we apologized — half out of regret for taking it that far, half out of love.

I love you every day and I’ll keep loving you until the sun stops setting. I can only hope to keep you alive somehow, in a toast to Patrick Swayzee or in a song like I’ve Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas because, unfortunately, it was your favorite (and your ringtone until 2012). I’m still sorry for that time I called you a prick (and that time I killed your poinsettia, and that time I forced you to try Fireball), and I’m sorry for telling the third grade drug counselor you smoked marijuana when you really smoked Marlboros. I’m still glad you didn’t get arrested.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. This morning, this Sunday, and every day until the next one.

I’ll always love you more.

(Got ya.)

Also featured on Thought Catalog.

Update: Turns out, Frankie Valli is not dead yet. Oops.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and mine ends somewhere around paint-ball

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Last weekend I made the (totally conscious and sober) decision to go paint-balling with 20 friends, a couple of ex-boyfriends, one ex-boyfriend’s younger brother and some strangers. Anyone who knows me well knows that, while I have negative athletic net-worth, I am (kind of) rich in inner rage (and only kind-of kidding). Hiking aside (not my strong suit), I fucking loved it.

When I wasn’t getting shot in the tit (thanks, August) or gut-laughing in the backseat of a three-hour car-ride as all six of the mix CDs I made for the trip violently skipped (“Call me a safe bet, I’m betting I’m nah-ah-ah”), I was letting my guard down — lightyears away from my comfort zone.

In between spouts of briskly walking for my life, I took to Twitter (because my memory is shot and I have a memoir to write one day) and the results are as priceless as what it must’ve felt like to get me to agree to go paint-balling. The welts and sores may have faded, but the story no one really believed (“Meg Goes Paint-balling”) is forever.

“Suck a fucking dick Jason”:
life living above lonestar
– 4:56 a.m.

My morning is meant to begin at 5 a.m., but thanks to signing a lease three doors down from a bar, I’m awoken by one drunk bitch’s crusade to find her car (which I hope she never found, for everyone’s sake). I drag my ass into the bathroom to find the shower-head mangled on the bathtub floor. I vaguely remember a text my roommate sent the night before.

“Totally broke the shower-head. I’ll have to show you using charades.”

I take a two-minute shower (mind you, the water is running viciously, and straight out of the pipe), pack up, get dressed and head to Jimmy’s at 5:30 to make our friends’ incredibly optimistic 6:30 meet-up and 7 a.m. departure (I have little legs and smaller strides).

“Did you sleep last night?
5:45 is a brave time to be awake”
“No.”
– 6:16 a.m.

Jimmy is concerned by my 5:30 a.m. “need anything?” text. I get there on time. Everybody else gets there around 7. We talk about the weather and how everyone is excited to shoot me.

We all look homeless
#paintball
– 6:54 a.m.

Also ready for war.

“Yo my heart might explode”
#paintball
– 7:29 a.m.

Five minutes into our road-trip and Roberto is on his third Red Bull. We only get lost once on the way to Pennsylvania, and use a porta-potty somewhere in Jersey. Mazel Tav.

“I can’t talk right now, this is the best part of the song” @Rmminondo during Circle of Life
– 8:17 a.m.

In the days leading up to what felt like my own death, my car-mates had asked if I would make some mix CDs — with their suggestions, of course. I made six and, while four of them skipped the whole way home (spoiler: don’t go running through the woods with anything breakable in your backpack), the best ones made the cut. See: the first track list:

  1. Shots – Lil Jon and LMFAO
  2. Ignition – R. Kelly
  3. Whenever, Wherever – Shakira
  4. Underneath Your Clothes – Shakira
  5. Groove is in the Heart – Deee-lite
  6. Lose Yourself to Dance – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell
  7. Burnin’ For You – Blue Oyster Cult
  8. Slow Ride – Foghat
  9. So Fresh, So Clean – Outkast
  10. Right Back Where We Started From – Maxine Nightingale
  11. Stockholm Syndrome – Blink 182
  12. You Get What You Give – New Radicals
  13. 212 – Azealia Banks
  14. Circle of Life – The Lion King
  15. In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry
  16. Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
  17. Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
  18. Sugar We’re Goin’ Down – Fall Out Boy
  19. White Houses – Vanessa Carlton

“Getting on the road by 7:30 a.m. is like putting a man on the moon for our friends”
– 8:19 a.m.

We left late, but we’re still really proud.

Jimmy named his gun Gordon Ramsey because it’s very loud and mean
– 9:31 a.m.

We get there a minute past opening and it feels like fucking Christmas. Roberto tapes together his ripped pants as Robert gears up, Jimmy loads Gordon Ramsey and I sit around on my phone waiting to be told what to do. Captains pick teams. I get picked second-to-last, likely out of pity and for the sake of keeping me on the same team as the girl — my best friend/sista from another mista — who begged me to give paintball a fighting chance.

We run to each other like this is a real draft.

“Did you see Black Hawk Down?”
– 9:51 a.m.

I am scared. I tuck my phone into my bra — immediately rethink that decision — and leave it in the floral backpack I’m so gracefully carrying over my full-camo jumpsuit. The whistle blows, I take a deep breath and spend the majority of my morning hiding behind barrels and crates and cardboard cutouts. I get shot in the side by my first ex-boyfriend’s younger brother.

“Sorry!”

He’s on my team. At least I shot David in the dick (also sorry).

Update: paintball is hard
– 12:22 a.m.

I put my phone away again until…

Update: August shot me in the tit
– 6:37 p.m.

I get shot in the hands, thighs and back a few more times until we call it a day around hour nine. We hike back to the car, strip ourselves of our five-pound jumpers (hallelujah) and split up. We reconvine at Wendy’s over frostees and air conditioning. I laugh harder than I have in years over a three-hour a car-ride through three states with four of my oldest friends — then sleep.

The morning after paintball feels like
laying down in front of a truck that’s
pouring pounds of thumbtacks
on you then running you over
– 10:35 a.m. the next morning: Easter Sunday

The moral: venture outside of your comfort zone, even if that means getting shot in the tit.

Also always pack a pair of sweatpants.

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