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This past weekend was bananas. It was the kind of weekend where you’re psyched about everything going on, but you also kind of want to be a hermit who lives in a cave forever and ever.

Throw in the fact that our air conditioner broke, so we had to spend one night on the Eastern Shore with the in-laws… yeah. 

Anyway, Saturday was the Mid-Atlantic Brewsic Festival, and I was lucky enough to help run the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Brewsic Festival Firk-Off. (I know. Tough life.) Flying Dog ultimately took home the gold with a firkin of Raging Bitch of habanero and mango — what became their brewhouse rarity — but DuClaw and Abita weren’t far behind. 

Sunday was my Christmas in July party at 1747 Pub at Reynold’s Tavern. I got to ride in a London cab, Nathan dressed up in a reindeer onesie, we sang a lot of Christmas songs, we danced, we got my felt Christmas bird Frederick drunk, we ate a lot of cookies and we drank a lot of good seasonal beer. Though I must admit I was the seasonal creep bastard who mostly drank Elysian’s Night Owl, a pumpkin ale, all afternoon.

Sorry not sorry, etc.

Another Sunday night, another gorgeous ride home over the Bay and Severn River bridges from the Eastern Shore. 

As I shared not too long ago, (f)unemployment can be tough — waffling between a pants and no-pants lifestyle, etc. Recently I resolved to make the most of this mini adult vacation as I can with adventures and day trips, since I know I will be back at work soon

So yesterday, Lindsay, Chuck and I traveled out to “America’s Coolest Small Town” — Berlin, Maryland

After lunch at Rayne’s Reef on Main Street, we headed onward to our destination — Burley Oak. (They once collaborated with DRY 85 on a deelish brew called “Bourbon Blonde.”) I’ve had more than a handful of their brews before, but I came to two conclusions during our trip: They make a lot of great beer in a diverse range of styles, and I really, really love their taproom. 

Of the beers I tasted, my favorite was the Secret Sauce, their experimental IPA. I also really liked the Waffle Stomper Belgian IPA and the SuperFun Oatmeal Stout. I ended up coming home with a bottle of their small batch, brewery-only release Fat Kid doppelbock. Our server, Nicole,  was the coolest. I didn’t ask her to, but she got my bottle autographed by Burley Justin himself. If you click that last link and then look at the bottle above, you’ll understand why I am never throwing out that bottle. 

On our way home, we decided to “Support local cows!” with a stop at Chesapeake Bay Farms. We had ice cream, made a new cow friend (the other one pictured is napping, not deceased) and hung around outside. It was the perfect ending to a perfect road trip.

Next week? Mully’s Brewery in Prince Frederick! 

About a month ago, I took a stab at making my first homebrew. The experience was fun, but since I was involved, there were some hiccups… 

I told them I had a cream ale kit, when in fact it was a cream stout kit. And then, thanks to another brilliant oversight on my part, we put the specialty grain bag in five gallons of water, when the kit was designed for a one gallon batch.

If I had encountered these roadblocks on my own, I probably would have flipped a proverbial table, abandoned the project and stomped off to play Mario Kart. Thankfully Nathan and Greg were there to help brainstorm ways to improvise around my unintentional blunders, so the project pressed on. 

After adding about six pounds of two-row, a pound of organic coconut sugar, as well as two small batches of Northern Brewer hops at the 60-minute and 20-minute marks, we ended up with what we hoped would be a sessionable brown ale I named Jackie Brown's Unbroken Ankle

By the end of brewing day, I was so excited. I made something that looked like it could be a real beer. But would it actually taste like a beer?

Things were looking good a couple of weeks ago, when it came time to bottle my beer at Nathan’s, where my darling Jackie Brown had been living. There was no carbonation yet, but a quick taste test revealed a nice little brown ale that almost reminded me a bit of root beer. 

At this juncture, I should note brewing will teach you a lot about patience, something I’m not terribly good at; I’m a big fan of immediate results, and I loathe waiting.

Brewing days are super fun, but like Nathan said in my column last week, “I mean, brewing days are mostly sitting around with friends, drinking beer and waiting for timers to go off.” And then you wait weeks for your beer to ferment. Then you bottle (or keg) your beer and wait some more. 

So yeah, waiting is the operative word here.

Well, all of that waiting paid off. The beer tastes delicious, and it’s only getting better as it continues to age. I’m really psyched about this for two reasons. Here’s the first reason, as I mentioned in that very same column:

It’s satisfying to sit down and drink something I made — with the help of friends, of course. I feel like a caveman who has made fire for the first time, except, you know, without making strides for all of mankind with my creation. Lack of historical significance notwithstanding, however, it’s still an awesome feeling.

Second, I had close to three dozen bottles of Jackie Brown’s Unbroken Ankle, so if it sucked, it was going to be a long, depressing drainpour party at the Murphy residence.

I think it’s safe to say I’m jazzed to brew again — I’m having a great time researching different styles and recipes. And to those of you out there who have ever thought about homebrewing, there’s no harm in giving it a try. Let my experience serve as a positive example: If I can do it without setting fire to myself, others or the whole of Annapolis, you’ve got a good shot at being super successful at it, too.

It’s been almost six weeks since I was laid off, which is a gross amount of time. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a performance issue, so I wasn’t forced to eat my feelings of inadequacy along with my pink slip. (I still have my column, though.)

At first, I looked on the bright side: Season two of Orange is the New Black had just premiered on Netflix, and unlike my friends who were still slaves to the nine-to-five grind — suckers — I was able binge-watch every single episode immediately. 

But then it was over. And the reality of (f)unemployment set in. 

For those of you out there who have actually said to me, “I want your life,” because of all the fun adventures I share here and on Facebook, I’d like to drop a few knowledge bombs about how (f)unemployment actually works. 

Let’s start with the obvious: If you want this rockstar lifestyle of mine, the first step is to get laid off. Once you’ve done that, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Ain’t no party like a no pants party
    At first you’re bummed that no one needs you to be anywhere. Pretty much ever. Not being needed totally sucks, but you justify this by telling yourself that you now live in a beautiful world called “PAJAMAS ALL THE TIME.”

    As the days and weeks fly by, you’ll develop a reward system where you’re either patting yourself on the back for putting on pants before 2 p.m., or alternatively, seeing how long you can go without having to actually put on real pants. (My record is 72 hours.) This works out super well until you look in the mirror and recoil in horror. Christmas pajama pants in July and shame never go well together, so it’s best to avoid mirrors at all costs.

  2. Dogs are terrible conversationalists 
    Since you end up spending a lot of time at home, those joking chit-chats you have with your dogs — “Aw, how are you? Are you hungry?” — will turn into full-fledged, one-sided conversations about Pretty Little Liars plot twists and what to make for lunch. (Back in the good ol’ employed days, you probably made fun of someone like that — they probably knit doggie sweaters. Be prepared, however, for now you are the dog sweater-knitter.)

    The problem is your fluffy snuggle pillows with legs will never talk back. They’ll look at you with some derpy expression that, at first, will cause you to check yourself before you wreck yourself. But after awhile, you will not care. You will word vomit all over your dogs, while they silently wish for the merciful sleep that is death. This also applies to cats, but since they are the devil, be prepared for a reaction that also includes outright disdain and/or violence.

  3. Dark moments happen
    There was this one time I watched all of those Kirk Cameron Left Behind movies on Netflix. Partly because YOLO, but mostly because I hit rock bottom. I’m not proud of this, but I am choosing to use this story as a teachable moment for all of you. 

    You will also have these moments of seemingly unending darkness. Do not worry, my child. The sun will rise again. And it will have nothing to do with Kirk Cameron. 

  4. C’mon c’mon c’mon now touch me, babe
    Weeks of becoming best friends with your Netflix queue and your pets takes its toll, and you’ll come to desperately crave human interaction of any kind. Just be careful not to scare folks away with your excitement when you finally have a chance to be around people.

    For example: Jumping on someone is not an acceptable way to say “Hello!”  I would recommend just saying, “Hello!” instead.

There are lots of other lessons I could share regarding (f)unemployment, like how you’ll start to view someone asking, “So, how’s the job hunt going?” as an aggressive act. And yes, there are dope moments beyond eating cupcakes for lunch, judgment-free — having so much free time has allowed me to go on a number of fun adventures and explore life beyond the cubicle walls. That’s been awesome.

(F)unemployment, however, is ultimately a very lonely existence, and you’ll have times where you have to actively choose not to fall into an ice cream-fueled shame spiral

Though my inbox often mocks me with its silence, I continue to send out my resume every day, because I’m an optimist who firmly believes the right opportunity for me is just around the corner. And I am now actively trying to put on pants before the clock strikes noon on a daily basis — I’m not always successful, but I do try. 

Sigh. This is the life of a rockstar, ladies and gentlemen. Bask in all of its pantless glory.