99 Bottles of Beer: My Relationship with Alcohol Through the Years

12ozAs pumpkin brews started to take the place of summer ales on the shelves of liquor stores, I began thinking of my drinking behavior throughout my life. Here’s my recap.

Childhood: My first real memory of alcohol comes in the form of beer. Heineken to be exact. On Sundays, my mother would make tuna fish sandwiches and my father would drink a beer. Probably the only reason I remember this is because my sister and I liked to take turns pouring the beer from the bottle. We got pretty good at tilting the glass and creating the perfect foam head. I’m sure my mother drank plenty of wine during this same period of my life, but since I wasn’t involved, I didn’t pay attention. The smell of my father’s drink was enough to know I didn’t want anything else to do with this refreshment.

Teens: Like many high schoolers, my first personal experience with booze happened when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I was a pretty low-key adolescent so it should come to no surprise that I imbibed safely at my friend’s house and with decent-quality vodka. My friend’s parents were away for the weekend leaving her and her two younger siblings in the capable hands of a house-sitter. At some point, my friend and I decided to test our ability to pilfer small amounts of alcohol and add it to our orange juice, replacing what we’d taken with, you guessed it, water. After one drink, we thought it wise to call my parents to tell them we were interested in a last-minute sleepover. Drinking was exhilarating, mischievous and quite tasty, and we wanted to dedicate the entire night to its influence.

The next morning, I woke up in her sister’s clothes on the floor of her basement with a minor hangover and snippets of a really fun evening. Over the next few years, drinking for me became a luxury, a frill like everything else that makes a teenager impulsive and eager. Kissing a boy and getting lost driving created almost the same thrill as experimentation with and exposure to alcohol. It came secondary to hanging out with friends, trying to figure out who the hell I wanted to be.

College-25: This was alcohol’s time to shine. And shine it did. Cheap, piss-tasting beer, bottom-shelf vodka and boxed wine was the name of the game during these years. Booze was a necessity, the main ingredient to the evening with equal parts friends and stupidity. If you weren’t going to get drunk and if you weren’t going to act stupid, it was best just to stay home. After all, what better way to spend your Saturday and Sunday mornings than to laugh about all the crazy shit that happened the night before?

Metabolism at this age is a blessing and a curse. It allows you to drink a disgusting quantity of alcohol and function somewhat in a matter of hours. And so, memories of my college and post-college years are hazy, hilarious, and just the way I want them.

25-30: Nothing lasts forever and thank goodness for that. Eventually, almost falling asleep on the toilet in the bathroom of a bar and losing half your weekend to a hangover gets old. If you’re lucky, your income during these years affords you some better-quality alcohol and you can begin to appreciate it, rather than rely on it.

During my mid- to late-twenties, I started to pay attention to the taste of beer and wine. Boyfriend/Husband and I went to beer fests, ordered a bottle of wine at dinner, and made cocktails to drink on our front porch in the summer. There were still rounds of shots when we went out with friends, but nights where we lost control were few and far between. It was a nice transition into the next stage of life: parenthood.

30-35: Kids change everything. My relationship with alcohol is no exception. After learning I was pregnant with #1, I discovered not drinking at all had its benefits, namely, I always woke up feeling wonderful. I had no problem giving up booze for nine months. Barely missed it, in fact. Then, when my daughter was born, I was sleep deprived and nursing, and a single glass of wine was like a gift from the heavens. When I finished the glass, I was relaxed, satisfied, and uninterested in a top off.

Now, with two kids in tow, drinking is a nice way to unwind, but one or two glasses/cans is enough for me. The consequences of having more is too great, and I’m okay with this.

I suppose I’ve almost come full-circle as my relationship with alcohol has changed considerably over the years. What started out as a secret affair, turned into a deliberate dependence. Then, after growing apart, I believe alcohol and I have come to a happy medium, one of mutual respect and appreciation. There is no part of me that longs for my college years, but as I move through my mid-thirties, I want booze right there beside me. After all, the perfect pour is a horrible thing to waste.


Dog Day of Summer

Today was a lazy day. Usually Monday, my stay-at-home-mom day, is filled with errands, chores, swim lessons and playdates. The hours between when my children wake up (lately, 5am) and when morning rush hour dies down (the first reasonable time to go anywhere) is spent plotting the day. What can I accomplish before lunch time? What would be something fun and different to do with the kids? When was the last time I washed everyone’s sheets?

Dog Day 1This Monday started out just like any other. I put in a load of laundry and then the three of us went to a local farm and picked berries. It was a hot morning and we didn’t stay long. We watched the animals, bought some corn, picked about two pounds of blueberries and were home by 10:30.

Then something unexpected happened. We filled up the kiddie pool, laid some blankets, and hung out in the shade for five hours. That’s not a typo. We literally remained in the same small bit of yard until mid-afternoon, my son and daughter wearing nothing but diapers and underpants, respectively.

At first, I hoped both children would fall asleep and I’d be free to tackle more projects, or, more likely, catch up on my Facebook feed. But, as my son slept on and off until lunch, my daughter and I talked, she rolled around, we splashed in the water. Being outside in the shade on this gorgeous sunny day with no plans was my only commitment. That and periodically dragging the towels out of the shifting sun.

When my son woke up, it was Popsicle time (“pop-a-cle”) and I enjoyed watching it melt in long streams of purple over his chin and down his belly. No need for cleanliness when you’re eating al fresco, after all. The three of us looked at books, attempted some puzzles (but failed due to the lack of a hard surface), and watched airplanes fly overhead. It was lovely.

Dog Day 2

Eventually, even the shade became uncomfortably warm and we headed inside. The cool, relative darkness of the house felt refreshing and well-deserved.

“Can we watch a Paw Patrol?” my daughter asked.

“Pa-po-po,” my son agreed.

I thought, why not, and set them in front of the tv in the basement.

My son fell back asleep and my daughter happily zoned out while I went back upstairs and was productive. I cleaned up a bit, dumped out the kiddie pool, and changed the sheets on everyone’s bed. I didn’t feel rushed or impatient. I felt lucky. Calm. Thankful for this very lazy, very sunny, dog day of summer.


This week I turn thirty-five. Depending on who you ask, being thirty-five means I’m either ancient, youngish, although firmly planted in adulthood, or I’m in the prime of my life. In all honesty, I feel like all three.

I’m exactly midway between thirty and forty, ages that mark two significantly different life stages. When I turned thirty, I was married, but social, living in a condo right outside the city, and had no clue who Sofia the First was. At forty, I’ll be in the suburbs, constantly in a state of  being almost out of ketchup, and going to bed by 9 o’clock on Sunday nights after helping my two kids with their homework.

I hate that I can discuss my life in terms of decades, but I thought it might be fun to find something interesting (and/or absurd) that happened each year I’ve taken the trip around the sun. Let’s go.


I hope there was something interesting in there for everyone. May each year be an exciting adventure.

Links to various articles:







That Time Life Was Ridiculous

For some reason my mind was back in 2003 the other day. Lately I’ve been sleep deprived, so there’s a chance my brain, at times, actually thinks it’s 2003. Whatever.

Anyway, during the first few months of that year I was studying abroad in London (thus beginning my obsession with the city). If there’s ever an opportunity to be completely free in life, it’s studying abroad in your twenties. Think: no job responsibilities, four days of classes (and by days, I mean a few hours each day), living with friends on someone else’s dime, and usually in a pretty awesome city.

What does one do on three-day weekends when living in a centrally-located European city? Travel to other awesome European cities. My roommate from college, who was “studying” in Italy, and I planned to meet up at some point during the semester, and decided to do so in Amsterdam. We booked flights to the Netherlands for Easter weekend. Good to go.

Here’s when things got ridiculous. Not in a complete shit-show kind of way, but in a totally adolescent I-Don’t-Know-How-To-Manage-My-Life-Yet kind of way. First up, I lost my cell phone the week before the trip. Perhaps it goes without saying that I misplaced it while I was out drinking – remember, the drinking age is a glorious 18 years in Europe.

Many of you can relate to that feeling of waking up from a night out, paranoid that you’re not in one piece. Well, I woke up without a phone, but otherwise unscathed. No big deal. The semester was ending in a few weeks. I could survive without my crappy, temporary, pay-as-you-go cobalt-blue phone. Besides, my roommate knew when I was arriving in Amsterdam. We had communicated all the necessary information to rendezvous at the airport.

Since it’s been over thirteen years since this happened, my memory is a little foggy, but the second hindrance came the morning of my flight. Before leaving I used a payphone to check my voice messages, and received a message from the airline to this effect: Ms. Fenton, your tickets for flight 840 from London Heathrow Airport to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol have been cancelled due to insufficient funds on the card used to make the purchase.

Note that this was the third time I had overdrawn my bank account that semester.

Immediately, I peaced out to Heathrow. I had no means to contact my roommate, who had already left Italy, so I charged a twice-as-expensive ticket on my emergency credit card for the only available flight to Amsterdam. This flight got me to the Netherlands a few hours earlier than my previous flight. I could do this.

At Schiphol, I walked up the Customer Service desk and sort of explained my situation.

“Can you page a Krista Porcelli* and tell her to meet me at this counter?” I pleaded to an English-is-my-second-language customer service rep. She ended up paging Krista twice, but Krista didn’t show. I scrounged up some change and tried her cell from a payphone (they had those back in 2003). She finally picked up after about forty-five minutes of repeat dialing and way too many Euros.

“I thought I heard my name!” she told me when we connected. “I kinda ignored it, because I wasn’t expecting you for another hour.” Fair enough.


We spent that night at a hotel waaaaaaay outside the city, because it was the only one we could find when we booked the trip. Apparently Amsterdam is a really popular place. The next day is comprised of walking, smoking and eating. Oh, and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

“I feel I should at least walk into a church today,” a high Krista explained, remembering that it’s the holiest day in Christianity. And so, we stood in the entrance of a church for a few minutes before grabbing second breakfast at a random restaurant. Crepes (see below)!

It didn’t strike me how foolish this whole weekend was until later in life. I realized the flexibility to be so irresponsible and somewhat reckless had a very short shelf-life and the more I thought about it, the more grateful I was to have experienced it.

I would now find it appalling to be out of money, without a phone, and alone in a foreign airport. But, a clever somebody once said, “How can I be old and wise if I’m never young and crazy?” These days I’m feeling more old than young, but I’m happy to report my life’s in order. Still, I’m glad to think back to my younger years, to the ridiculousness, that I will be laughing about until the day I die.

One of the few pictures I can find from this trip.


*name has been changed for privacy

5 Things I Miss from 5 Years Ago

bathroom crop

Tonight I went to take a shower after both kids had fallen asleep. As I turned on the water, I realized that all my cleaning products were in the other bathroom. All of a sudden my daughter loves showers. She’s too young to take one alone (she FREAKS if water gets on her face), so I have to take one with her. She won’t use my shower (reason: unknown), so by default, I moved all my shit to the kid’s bathroom.

Showering by myself for the first time in several days led me to think about what I miss from five years ago. I was a newlywed, still in my twenties (albeit in my last year), and oblivious to the joys and sacrifices of motherhood. I’ll spare you the obvious “I miss sleep” items, and get to the subtler, more understated things.

1. Post-shower pampering. Five years ago, showering was a different experience. I wasn’t escaping for ten minutes. I wasn’t rushing so I could get to bed as early as possible. And it included more than just cleansing. I miss those fifteen-or-so minutes after each shower where I would pamper myself.

Hey, here’s a mud mask sample from my last Ahava order. Let’s give it a go!

Hmm, my nails look a little misshapen. I’m going to have a seat and straighten them out.

I miss the eyebrow plucking, the lotion lathering, the general attentiveness I gave my skin. I don’t think I even have a beauty regimen anymore, which brings me to…

2. Drying my hair. Please. I don’t miss the act of drying my hair. That slow process of sectioning off clumps and holding my arm at weird angles, and never getting the back as nice as I’d like… I miss how my hair looked when I dried it. I hate the term “letting yourself go,” even if there’s some truth to it. I have certainly let many beauty-related things go since I became a mom and this is one of them. It’s safe to say my hair looks like crap most of the time. It’s naturally wavy and extremely disobedient in humidity and I just can’t find enough energy to care. Still, some days I think about dusting off the old dryer (do I still own one?), and giving it a whirl.

3. Not having to clarify to anyone if I’m peeing or pooping. My daughter walked into the bathroom today and wanted some details as to what I was doing on the toilet. I answered and didn’t think twice about it at the time. Later, it occurred to me how nice it would be to keep such information to myself. Why does she really care anyway? Granted, she always keeps me appraised of what she’s up to, but that’s out of courtesy to prepare me for wiping duty. I long ago learned how to wipe my own butt, so I should be able to keep my potty activities private.

4. Time with Husband. I’m not talking about “date nights,” because we do occasionally fit this in. I’m talking about mid-Saturday morning pauses where we discussed what we felt like doing next. We used to live 3.5 miles from Boston and more than a few times we’d just walk in, walk around, and walk back with no agenda. Now we cater to feeding schedules, nap times, birthday parties, and the fact that it’s often easier not to do anything. Plus, when we do get time away alone, a portion of my brain is always on my kids.

5. My career. Husband likes to point out how much more employable I am than he. My undergraduate degree is in accounting. Everyone needs accountants. I have an MBA. I have a (current) professional license. Recruiters sometimes randomly call me. He’s right, I could probably always find a job somewhere doing something. That being said, I don’t want a fast-paced, high-climbing, stressful job. Not right now anyway. I love being a mom and I love having the time to be a mom. There are moments though, when I miss being career-driven. I always enjoy learning new things and being challenged. Right now, parenting provides me these avenues, but takes most of my energy in the process. I look forward to the day when things quiet down on the home front and I can pursue a more professional path.

So, those are just a few things I miss from a time not too long ago. Perhaps it’ll only be another five years until I gain some of them back. Time will tell.