Category Archives: Growing Pains

And now for something you’ll probs just all mock me for

Sister Simone Campbell being an awesome badass lady at the at the DNC. Lady Pope 2013!

Sister Simone Campbell being an awesome badass lady at the at the DNC. Lady Pope 2013!

There’s a lot for a moderate, mostly lapsed Catholic woman like me to comment on this week.

Pope resigning. (Hooray! I never saw him as the kind of spiritual leader who could help me answer the persistent questions and concerns I have about faith in general, and the church in particular. As far as I’m concerned, Sister Simone Campbell is my Pope.) Ash Wednesday. Lent.

While I don’t attend Mass regularly, I have developed kind of a weird habit of praying the Rosary while running. The repetition of both exercise hypnotizes me in a comforting way.

I live in “sin” with my boyfriend and I don’t think that’s wrong. I use birth control, and think more people should – and should get it for free. I believe, without judgement, that love is love and the heart wants what it wants – no matter what or who that leads a person to. (And no God that I know “hates” anyone.)

Yet, I still believe in the promise of the church and the teachings of acceptance and charity taught in the new testament. Because I believe in those things, this is one of my favorite times of year. It helps me understand what I find to be the most beautiful line of scripture:

A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John, 1:5 

Truth be told, I attend Mass every Christmas Eve just to hear Father Harry (possibly the world’s most wonderful priest) say it. There are so many dark days in life, and whether you believe in God, or Goddess, or science, or nothing at all, it’s nice to understand that darkness – in whatever form you confront it – may be defeated.

So, I like Lent because it’s an opportunity to build on that thought, to contemplate our mortality — our internal darkness — and to make a small sacrifice to try to be better, to not be overcome by it.

This year I’m giving up my biggest vice – dairy. So, back to the “vegan kickstart” only this time it’s 43 days, not 21. Wish me luck, and whether you believe in some of the same things as me, or now think I’m just a zombie-Jesus believing nut job – I wish YOU luck with whatever struggles you’re up against.

Enjoy them, fight through them, learn from them.

The struggle, just before finding a light, is the best part of being human.


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Filed under Growing Pains, Life, overshare, Politics

I missed you

Wow. Somehow, it’s February, 2013. Somehow, I forgot to write. There is a reason, it’s just kind of a boring one. I spent most of 2012 deeply depressed which is something  I’ve struggled and lived with for the better part of a decade, and also, something I don’t love to write about for a variety of reasons. The biggest being watching paint dry is more entertaining than reading about another person’s struggle with depression. (Evidence.)

I stayed away from here because I wasn’t baking, running, or accomplishing anything interesting. My life for most of the year was like a dial-tone.

Luckily, I think things are getting better. I went for a run this week and on the way home from the gym (yeah, I run inside in the winter. I hate being cold SO MUCH) I noticed I was happy. Yay for me. And yay for this blog, where I should be a little more active this year.

To celebrate, here’s a picture of me crossing an item off the ol’ 30-before-30 list:


This horse, Beau, was really grumpy and about 1,000 years old. But it still counts.

And just for your entertainment, here’s a holiday photo of my brother and I at our family Christmas party. Which was also the best night of the holiday break. And was also the night I taught my Grammy how to Tootsie-Roll.




Filed under 30 Before 30, Family, Growing Pains, Life

Thirty before 30 – the official bucket list

I can’t find any photos of myself from 2002 – did no one have a camera? That’s probably actually a good thing… I wasn’t super camera ready back then.

A few months ago I read this list of 30 things everyone woman should have/know by the time she turns 30 on the Huffington Post. Some of it I agreed with – some of it I thought was lame. (Item number one in particular – why would you want to have an old boyfriend you could see yourself going back to? Unless you live in a rom-com, this is actually a super sad thing to have.)

Even though the Huffington Post’s list was kind of stupid, I liked the idea and decided to make my own list.

My 29th birthday is in a week, and inspired by the article and by my friend Mindy,  I’ve come up with my own 30 Before 30 list. Thirty things I want to make 100% sure I do before I step foot into my next decade.

Turns out, coming up with 30 things I want to do before my 20s die was actually kind of hard. But, I think this is a pretty good list and I think I can actually accomplish it. In no particular order:

  • Shoot a gun with my dad. Shooting just feels like one of those basic skill things that I should at least attempt to learn how to do. And, my dad was a rancher in his life before kids, so he feels like the right person to ask to teach me.  I planned on doing this over the holiday break and then, two days before I left for Tucson, Sandy Hook happened. “Shoot a gun” no longer feels right to me as a life goal, so I’m changing this one to: Go on a long hike with my dad at Turkey Creek. He’s a huge hiker and knows all the best trails in Southern AZ, so this way I still get to spend time with my dad, without recreating using an object I don’t feel comfortable with.
  • Attend a silence and meditation retreat weekend. Earlier this year a very zen coworker of mine suggested this to me after he returned from a 10 day silence retreat. (He probably wants me to stop talking so much. I don’t look super Irish, but am definitely blessed with the gift of the gab.) If I tried a full week, it would end like the episode of the L-Word where Bette tries this and goes all crazy. But I can do a weekend. Um, I can probably do a weekend.
  • Take a real baking class
  • Finish reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Jesus Christo – I’ve been trying to get this book read since I was 27. I’m still on page 200. I think it’s because Florentino Ariza is SO annoying and creepy and I hate him.
  • Take a trapeze lesson. This one comes from my amazing, beautiful best friend Adriane. It’s going to be super-awkward.
  • Ride a horse. Haven’t done this since my age was in the single digits.
  • Take my mom on a hot air balloon ride. She’s always wanted to. I’m scared of heights. Seems like a must do.
  • Participate in a grape stomp.
  • Take and do well on the GMAT
  • Take ballet. When I was 5 I quit ballet, because the teacher at Tucson Parks & Rec didn’t think I was graceful. (Who says that to a 5 year old?!) I’m still not, but maybe I can approach graceful-ish?
  • Run a marathon in 4:45.
  • Run one race – any length – a month just to stay in the habit.
  • See the Grand Canyon. Yeah – born and bred Arizonan whose never seen it. Humiliating.
  • Buy a washing machine. I hate spending money on boring things, even boring things I can afford. Putting this on here will force me to do it.
  • Be a better friend. The kind of friend who calls people back, keeps up on letters, and isn’t afraid to actually talk about feelings and stuff.
  • Finally get that brother-sister tattoo with my brother, and sister-sister tattoo with my little sis.
  • Overcome my fear(s) of swimming, fish, and the ocean and go snorkeling with mom when we go to the Bahamas.
  • Visit two countries that are not contiguous to the U.S.
  • Do the 21-day Vegan Kickstart 
  • Visit a state I’ve never been to, for non-work related reasons.
  • Join the St. Johns neighborhood association. (Update I haven’t done this yet, but I did join the City Club and I’m counting it because it’s similar in spirit and also, I think we might have to move out of our St. John’s shack in which case joining the neighborhood association makes no sense.)
  • Find meaningful volunteer work to do in my neighborhood and stick to it for longer than a month.
  • Go home to spend time with my parents once a quarter.
  • Get my Grammy to tell me her life story, and write it down.
  • Get my Grandfather to tell me his crazy ATF moonshiner stories and write those down too.
  • Write something and get it published again. Don’t be fussy or pretentious about where – four years is a really big gap in the old clips portfolio.
  • Get in contact with the other Megan E. Irwin from Phoenix and find out if she is my evil twin.
  • Visit the house I grew up in and say good-bye to it, finally.
  • Get completely debt free, including student loan debt.
  • Celebrate and make a big deal out of our 10-year friendiversary with Luis and Adriane.


Filed under Growing Pains, Life


It’s almost the time of year I love best in Oregon. (Ok, I’m using “almost” liberally in that sentence – it’s still February and Oliver just told me it’s supposed to snow  this week. But, today was sunny and crisp and it really did almost feel like spring.)

My IT band is almost better. I can almost start my full training program for the 50k again. I’m almost through the first quarter at work.

Sometimes, when your hobbies fail you (haven’t had a good idea for a pie in a while either) and the whole world is kind of “blah” outside, “almost” has just enough promise within it to keep me going.



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Today I was in New Orleans for work. Right outside the building where my second meeting of the morning took place, someone was shot and murdered. At 8:30 a.m. On a Wednesday.

Later in the day I drove past a small shop on the side of the road. Outside was a sandwich board that read “Gun Sale. 25 Dollars.”

I don’t think the two things are directly connected. Just observing how different some parts of the country are from places where I grew up, comfortable and safe.

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Filed under Growing Pains, Life, travel


Ugh. I just had the worst run. The worst. And, I thought I should write about it while I’m still sitting here drenched in sweat, light headed and for some reason feeling like I have chlorinated water up my nose.

It’s a good reminder to me that I can’t always control everything – not even my own body.

Today was absolutely beautiful out and I spent half of it hunched over my computer and the other half taking my cat to the vet. I couldn’t wait for the work day to end so I could get outside and run.  I was also kind of nervous though because on my training plan, today was the first day of strength training on hills.

For anyone interested, this is the plan I’m following. I spent January, February and most of March building a mileage foundation to even allow me to start training. I’m now on week three:

Turns out hills are hard. By the third one, I had to walk half of the way up. By the fourth one, I had a terrible I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom cramp. By the fifth one, I had to walk the entire way back up. My half mile jog home from the hill I was running on was pathetic and slow. I felt – well, I guess feel – like a total failure or like I’m right back to my couch to 5k days.

So weird how I went from busting out a fast (for me) seven miles two days ago to barely being able to complete a 3 mile round trip run just because of some hills.

But, at the same time, it’s probably an important, humbling lesson. I can’t force my body to do more than it can do. I have to be patient. Not a virtue of mine, but I’m guessing there will be a lot more moments like the one I’m experiencing right now as I get ready to run 26.2 in December.

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I’m baaaack

I’ve decided it’s time to dust this old thing off. It’s been years since I’ve been here and I’m finding that, lately, I have a lot to say. Maybe it’s the age bracket I’ve grown into, but I feel like all the blogs I come across these days are mommy blogs. Don’t get me wrong — some of them are fantastic — but someone’s gotta represent us unmarried (but partnered!), childless, career ladies, right?

The truth is, I’m glad I put this thing on the shelf for a while. After my mom’s accident I went to an understandably dark place that was also completely boring to anyone who wasn’t either me or a close loved one.

After the accident I pretty much folded in on myself. I failed to make friends in my new town. I I stopped enjoying pretty much everything except sleeping.  I dedicated myself 110% to work and became, frankly, completely boring. As a result, this blog became too much of a dirge.

I want things to be different this time, because I want things to be different in my life now.

Over the weekend my boyfriend (who is, I promise, not a jerk) informed me: “You are the most unsatisfied, successful person I know.” Not exactly a compliment, but a true reflection on where my head has been the last two and half years.

When I started this blog, I had just moved from a city I knew really well — too well — to a completely new place that honestly I continue to feel pretty ambivalent about. I still think composting is stupid unless you’re a farmer, and I still think the people here lack an edge that could make things more interesting.At the same time, I don’t exactly yearn for 100-million degree summers or want to ride the crazy train that my home state seems to be on.

In the “about me” section of this blog (which desperately needs to be re-written and which will have to wait until this weekend) 24-year-old me poses a question: did I just ruin my life, or save it?

The answer to both questions is no. I changed my life, but the intervening years have made me less dramatic, so I don’t think I can say I’m either ruined or saved. I’m just here.

But I’ve recently started running painfully long distances which means my brain is frequently completely flooded with endorphins which make me want to be a happier, more satisfied person.If nothing else, I’ll use this space to hold myself accountable to that goal. (Any co-workers reading this know how much I heart accountability…)

Well that and to share my masterful pie making experiences which is seriously worth sticking around for.

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