We're Not Really "Milestone People"

By Maggie Reimherr

Picture this: it’s 10:45 pm on our first anniversary. Derek’s reading a book on his Kindle. I’m about to go to sleep. I sit up in bed with a start.


At my insistence, Derek reluctantly gets out of bed and follows me to the kitchen. I pull the top tier of our cake out of the freezer. It’s frozen solid. Derek asks, “Are we supposed to eat it frozen?”

No, sir, we are not.

“Huh. I didn’t think of that. Oh well,” I say, leaving the cake on the counter to defrost. “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

We forgot to do the one thing you’re supposed to do on your first anniversary.

On our way back to bed I remark, “We’re not really milestone people, are we?”

Derek replies, “Nope. We are not.”

I ponder this thought before rolling over and saying, “It’s better to live a happy life all the time than place too much weight on the ‘milestones.’”

I think that’s a really important life lesson. I don’t know about you, but I certainly know some people who would react to forgetting to eat cake on their anniversary like their life/marriage was ruined. Do our daily lives have so little value that we only live for the moments that are supposed to be “big”? I hope not.

It’s not that Derek and I aren’t celebration people. In fact, I think it’s that we celebrate all the time.

Good day at work? Good for you - crack open a beer! Thursday? Congrats, we almost made it through the week - let’s have friends over for board games to celebrate. Minor achievement? Treat yo’self. Avoiding pregnancy month after month? Have a glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for properly administering your prescribed medication.

We tend to celebrate the small things, so when the big things come around, they don’t feel much different than our every day. I think that’s a good way to live.

Of course, we celebrate bigger things too - like birthdays and holidays and job interviews and first days of work and signing leases. But we don't put pressure on those days - which ultimately leads to disappointment anyway - because we celebrate every day.

We did celebrate our anniversary, too - with BBQ brunch and sushi dinner (our love for food knows no borders). Full disclosure: we actually wound up canceling the reservations we had at a fancy restaurant because we felt like keeping it casual that night.

But then we forgot one teensy detail.

So no, our marriage isn't ruined because we forgot to eat cake on March 26. When we got around to it on March 27, the whole thing was pretty anticlimactic anyway. We each ate a little sliver of it and then kinda looked at it and asked, “So do we just throw away the rest?”

(Side note: it was quite well preserved and not at all disgusting, so props to the person who wrapped it in 3 layers of cling wrap, 1 layer of tin foil, and a gallon size bag.)

I felt bad about the idea of throwing it away so it lived in a ziploc bag in our refrigerator until one of us decided “enough is enough” and threw it away. But can you imagine what would have happened if we'd put too much pressure on the moment of eating a few bites of year-old cake? I'd be despondent, asking, “Why didn't that feel more special?” Or I'd have eaten the whole tier of cake on principle.

Life's special enough. Celebrate the small stuff. The big stuff never disappoints when you live out every day in celebration.

Foreshadowing of me saying, "Whatever! It's just cake!"

Foreshadowing of me saying, "Whatever! It's just cake!"

Divorce Boats

By Maggie Reimherr

I once heard someone call kayaks divorce boats. I concur. Derek and I have been on a kayak exactly once, and it wasn't pretty.

Our friends Chris and Amanda were visiting us in Boston for a weekend. We’d heard that a *quintessential Boston activity* was kayaking the Charles River. It sounded really fun and like a great way to see the city, so we thought, “Sure! Why not?”

We arrived at the kayak rental station in Cambridge, MA on a sunny May afternoon. We decided, “Hey, we’re married couples. Let’s get double kayaks!”

This was a grave mistake.

We started slathering on some sunscreen to prepare for an afternoon of boating on the Charles like true New Englanders. Like the very unathletic person I am, I decide to wear a dress that day. We were going to an improv show later that night and wouldn’t have time to go back to the apartment to change. I hiked my leg up onto a cooler at the kayak rental place to put on some sunscreen, and some RUDE-ASS LADY walked up to me and said something about how she could see my underwear. Cool, thanks. I don’t really care if anyone sees my incredibly modest granny panties, but you just made me feel self-conscious about being unladylike. 

So I was entering into this boat ride already a little emotionally distressed.

Via Giphy

Via Giphy

We decided Derek would take the back of the boat for steering purposes, and I’d be in front. This meant that when it came time to take a cool selfie of us on the boat, I was going to have to be the one to snap the picture without losing an iPhone in the depths of the Charles River. Lucky me.

Between the accidental flashing and the potential iPhone drowning, on a scale of 1-10, my anxiety was at around a 7.

We started paddling and immediately, the physics of kayaking baffled me. I knew I had to put the oar in the water and push to move forward. What I didn’t realize was that this motion, if done incorrectly, could cause the kayak to veer to one side or go around in circles.

Derek started to get frustrated with my willy-nilly paddling. Additionally, each time I dipped my paddle into the water, somehow I couldn’t get it together and not splash water all over him. “Here, just take a break and let me paddle,” he said in frustration.

It’s one thing to paddle yourself in a single kayak. It’s another thing entirely to try to paddle you and your wife in a double kayak when she’s a completely useless partner. Derek is a champ, but one man can only take so much. His arms got tired. He requested my help once more. I kept splashing him and spinning the boat in circles.

At this point, we’d made it maybe 50 yards from the spot where we departed from land. I don’t know if I had an unrealistic expectation of how far two people can go in a kayak, but I thought we’d be moving at regatta speed and see a big chunk of Boston.

I was wrong. We had MIT on one side of the river and Back Bay on the other, and that’s it. For visual representation:

Divorce Boats.png

Derek and I started snapping at each other.

Derek: “Maggie, STOP SPLASHING ME.”
Me: “We’re in the water! Water splashes! Get over it!”

Derek: “Can you please paddle straight?!”

All the while, our friends Chris and Amanda were floating down the Charles nearby, having a blast. We pulled our boats next to each other and convened on a game plan.

“So, uh… do y’all want to go back to the shore?” I asked nervously.

We’d been on the river for probably 45 minutes. To my relief, they said it was fine to return. They are very accommodating and very good sports.

But getting back was not easy. More splashing, more spinning in circles, more groaning, until finally, we reached dry land.

And what do you know? Like a beacon in the night, right before our eyes was a glorious, beautiful beer garden.

It was time for alcohol.

We returned our boats and immediately made our way to the bar. Sun-tired and sore from kayaking, we sat and drank beer and chatted and laughed.

Just when I thought we’d forgotten about the troublesome kayaking from earlier, Derek whispered, “We are NEVER sharing a kayak again.”

So take it from me, folks. Save your marriage. Choose the single kayak.

Oh, and we did get our selfie without sacrificing an iPhone. We appear far happier than we actually were.

So We Moved to Atlanta: A Recap

By Maggie Reimherr

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but things have slowed down on the blog over this past month. We have a pretty decent excuse - we moved across the country. But now that we’re settled, it's time to pick it back up. So let's play catch up.

First up: the big move. It didn’t exactly go as planned. You see what happened was…

Derek's license expired about 2 weeks before the move. He planned to get a new one in MA even though it would’ve cost upwards of $150 (total ripoff). But then the day before we packed up, he tripped and sprained his ankle on the cobblestone streets of Boston. In true Boston fashion, the city’s infrastructure gave him a big “f you.”

Did y'all know moving trucks don’t have cruise control? We didn’t. With him in some serious pain and no cruise control to help, it was left to little 5’1” Maggie to drive the truck.

Another question: Did y'all know moving trucks were classified as commercial vehicles and are subject to height clearance rules? Well, I didn't. And this time, it was my turn to receive a big “f you” from a New York State trooper in the form of a ticket. As a lifelong rule follower, I was so embarrassed for not knowing this particular rule. I was also outraged that the cop decided to fill his February ticket quota by pulling over and being extremely rude to a 20-something girl who was already in a very stressful situation. And now I'm avoiding the consequences… I’ve yet to make the phone call to the local courts to find out how much I owe. Luckily we just got our security deposit back from our Boston landlord. So hello and goodbye, money.

So We Moved.png

We made it to Durham, NC in one day as we planned...technically. We rolled into the Holiday Inn Express parking lot at 2:30 am after stopping nearby to “get some fresh air” and “grab a snack.” Quotations used because we were exhausted and needed breaks to wake up. Driving that late at night was extremely unsafe and I wouldn't recommend it. But I'd already booked and paid for the hotel room so we felt obligated to get there. (P.S. Don’t do that either.)

After 1,000 miles on the road, Atlanta was finally in sight. We double checked with the apartment complex to make sure we were good to move in. Of course, we weren’t. We had to set up an account with the utility company to transfer over payment responsibilities. Oh, and we also needed money orders for our move-in fees. So after several frantic phone calls and a stop by Walmart, we finally rolled up to our new home in Atlanta, vowing never to do an out of state move (at least on our own) again.

When we got to Atlanta, we were greeted by friends and family to help move us in (#blessed #thankyou). Beer and pizza are always great motivators for friends. We wasted absolutely no time decorating the place and making it feel like home (one of Derek’s rules - he’s the interior decorator in this relationship). A few days later, I started my new job and Derek started working remotely.

So what've we been up to since? Settling in. Enjoying time with friends and family. Eating at a lot of restaurants in the neighborhood and drinking a lot of local beer. Exploring. Learning how to get around the city… and now, conveniently, as we just learned the routes, without using I-85. We’re walking distance to several parks, walking trails, shopping districts, and restaurants and bars galore, so we’ve taken the time to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy it.

The whole moving ourselves thing was...rather chaotic. But we are unbelievably thrilled to be here. Shout out to everyone who helped us move - we couldn't have done it without y'all!

And now, back to your regularly scheduled Millennial Marriage programming. New content is coming your way!

A Millennial Anniversary

By Maggie Reimherr

As a millennial, there's one thing related to milestones that's just as important as the milestone itself: the Instagram. I’d been thinking through an anniversary Insta caption for a while, and I realized I can't write an Instagram caption about my marriage like some other women can.

Example: "Marriage is a sweet gift from Abba in Heaven and I praise the Lord for the abundant blessing of doing life with my forever person. #myheartissofull"

Well, I could write a caption like that because I just did. But it would be disingenuous. If you are that girl, more power to you. But when I think of my marriage to Derek, all I can think of is the lightness it's brought to my life.

I used to be dramatic. Wait, I’m still dramatic. I used to be… heavier. I used to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I used to care what everyone and their brother thought about me. I used to be self-conscious and easily embarrassed and about 100x more anxious. Now I’m a lot more joyful and a lot more at peace. A lot of that has to do with faith… and a lot of it has to do with Derek and marriage and being loved so well.

Don’t get me wrong - we’ve done the heavy stuff. We said “I love you” for the first time while crying and holding each other’s faces in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot (#drama). We fought tooth and nail to keep our relationship afloat while living on opposite sides of the country. We had 5 hour phone conversations. We wrote love letters. Derek made the sweeping, romantic gestures.

But now, marriage is just… fun. It’s light. It’s happy. I’m thankful.

Of course we’ve had some rough patches. Some resentment. Some personal missteps. Some arguments (one time we didn’t speak for an hour because I accidentally called a Lyft to the wrong location). But most of the time, we’re having fun.

We giggle a lot. We make dirty jokes. Derek tickle-attacks me regularly. We speak to each other in our own language with dorky, made up words that only the other person understands. I call him long, obnoxious nicknames that are too embarrassing to write about. (Okay, fine. Once he was wearing his boxers around the apartment and I called him Mr. Thighs.) We drink beer and play board games and hang out with our friends. We have little routines everyday, like making eggs for breakfast and singing songs to each other while getting ready. We go on adventures around town.

And we take risks. We bet on our relationship for almost 2 years when $400 plane tickets and more than 1,000 miles separated us. I relocated to Boston before we said, “I do,” having never lived outside the south. And when I wasn’t happy, Derek bet on us again and moved back to Atlanta before he was ready.

The word I want to use to describe us is comfortable. But that doesn’t quite hit the mark. I don’t think we’re comfortable, because we still push each other a lot. I think a better way to describe the status of relationship is “content.” We’ve found a contentment in each other that I didn’t know could exist in life.

I don’t think we’re conditioned to seek out or search for contentment, especially in romantic relationships. Culture teaches us that fiery passion is what we should aim for. Of course, passion exists in our marriage. But it’s not what sustains us. The routine of just living our life together is the heart of our marriage and what brings peace.

Just because we’re not declaring our love for each other on Instagram every 5 minutes and not writing love letters anymore doesn’t mean we’re not truly, deeply in love. In fact, we’re more in love than ever because we know each other better than ever.

So on this day, our 1 year anniversary, my Instagram caption wasn’t a grand declaration of how #blessed I am. It was a silly recap of our year complete with emojis:

Derek, thanks for bringing light to the life of a girl who used to lean toward heavy-hearted. I’m excited for the fun that’s to come!

A Leap of Faith: Why I'm Making a Career Change

By Maggie Reimherr

By now you’ve heard the big news: the Reimherrs have moved to Atlanta! Derek explained the when, how, and why. Now I’m here to dive into the life and career change that actually made the move possible.

I'll be brutally honest: my year in Boston was a hard freaking year. Hello, quarter life crisis. Surprisingly for the first year of marriage, our actual marriage has nothing to do with that. But here’s what happened: I went from working for my beloved alma mater to working for a university I’d only seen in movies. The opportunity seemed so glamorous.

Then real life hit. With an hour long commute on the train every day and a 9-6 work schedule, I no longer felt like my life belonged to me. I was in Boston by marriage, not by a choice of my own. At times I took that out on Derek. He didn't really choose to be there either though - his big, corporate job moved him here. On top of my commute, I was realizing that the glamorous job opportunity was just...normal. And it wasn't using my natural strengths and abilities. I spent probably a third of my time working on spreadsheets. I'm not a spreadsheet kind of gal. I was a communications major.

My StrengthsFinder strengths are:

  1. Empathy - I can sense others' feelings by imagining myself in their shoes.
  2. Relator - I enjoy close relationships and working with others to achieve a goal.
  3. Communication - I find it easy to put thoughts into words.
  4. Developer - I recognize and cultivate the potential in others.
  5. Adaptability - I'm "go with the flow"... most of the time. 

I started thinking about careers where I could really harness those strengths for success. I don't have the time or money to go back to school and be a therapist, as these strengths might suggest I should do. So what else can I do? What’s a people-facing job that uses those skills? Our friend Tyler (who’s also gone through a career change) suggested recruiting.

Oh, duh.

It immediately felt like it could be the right fit. And when I saw the job description for a recruiting role at my new company, I thought, “Sign me up.” 

At the same time, I had a lot of thoughts going through my mind. I spent my whole college career and the last 2.5 years post-grad pursuing a fundraising career. What happens to all the time I’ve invested? I also loved the stability a job in higher education provided. For a lot of reasons, that's what I wanted for my life. Moving over to the private sector felt like a risk. I also worried that I'd disappoint people who've mentored me and invested time in my career. 

But my mind continued churning: maybe I’m not in love with working in higher education. Maybe I pursued this career because I love my alma mater, the University of Georgia, with a big part of my heart. The altruistic side of me wanted to give students there the best possible college experience, and that’s why I went into fundraising. Working at UGA always felt right, even on the hard days. I also worked for some of the best people I know. They want to see me succeed, and they want to see me happy. As the child of two Georgia grads, I’ve loved UGA since I was born. Maybe someday our little family could be ready to move back to Athens, but now, we’re just not. It’s not just me in the picture anymore: I have a husband whose career is going to thrive in a big city for the foreseeable future. So with what I've learned in Boston, at this massive, famous, renowned university - that I love my alma mater but my interests are veering away from higher ed in general - my career needed a change.

I also realized that living risk-averse was making for an unsatisfying life. I don't want to just go to work every day and make spreadsheets. I want to go to work excited for the ups and downs and challenges I'm going to face that day. And I want to work in a people-facing role.

When I was interviewing with my new company in Atlanta, I got great vibes every step of the way. They were upfront with me about every question I asked from the very first conversation. It always felt more like a chat with a new friend than an interview. I knew I wasn't just looking for a job in Atlanta. I was looking for the RIGHT job in Atlanta. When I went into the office for my final interviews and some job shadowing, one of the recruiters told me about her day-to-day. She said that sometimes, she has to play the role of therapist for her candidates. So as it turns out, I'll be using those strengths without having to go back to school. 

I’m really happy to say that Derek has supported me every step of the way as I tried to figure out what I wanted. Derek changed careers last year, and I got to be by his side during that process. Now he’s done the same for me. I know I’ve been frustrating at times. So I just want to say: THANK YOU, HONEY.

We’ve been talking about Atlanta for a long time. I just thought it would look like a fundraising job at Georgia Tech or Emory rather than working for a recruiting firm. When my plans changed, luckily, the job market in Atlanta accommodated my new career path.

Don’t get me wrong, changing careers still scares the crap out of me a little bit. It feels like a monumental life change. It’s going to be one of those moments I look back on that defines the trajectory of my life. But I look at it this way: I’m only 24 years old. Half my friends are still in school getting the training they need to pursue their dream careers. It’s a darn good thing I had this year while I’m still so young to get a better idea of what I want out of my life and career. I also think I’m going to be a freakin’ awesome recruiter.

So I’m off on a new adventure. And because I’m a massive dork, I keep thinking about this song from Anastasia:

Heart, don’t fail me now. Let’s do this.

The Reimherrs Are Moving

By Derek Reimherr

The Reimherrs have a big announcement...

And no, we’re not pregnant (thank God).

This weekend, we’re packing up our Boston life and moving to Atlanta, Georgia! How we’re currently feeling:

But we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re reading this going, “Hold up…”

We get it, we’ve got some explaining to do. Buckle up for a story.

I moved to Boston when Toyota relocated me here from California. About a year later, Maggie and I got married and she moved here. It wasn’t too long after that when I decided to make a career change. For about the past year, I’ve been working for a marketing agency in downtown Boston. And since I left Toyota, we started thinking, “Why are we in Boston?” In truth, we didn’t have a great answer.

While we love Boston as a city, we don’t have any ties here. I’ve really enjoyed the past 2 years of living in such a historic place with weekend trips to Vermont, Maine, and New York. We’ve loved our church home at Reality Church in the Boston South End. It’s been awesome being Georgia transplants with a couple that we’re close with there (and we're going to miss them a ton). And it’s been really cool living a “city” life.

I mean, Boston is a really beautiful city.

I mean, Boston is a really beautiful city.

But at the end of the day, we weren’t *in love* enough with the city to stay here. So we started thinking about our next location. We tossed around the ideas of moving to Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, DC, and Raleigh. We came really close to making the move to Austin, TX.

Maggie kept poking at me, though. “What if we moved back to Atlanta?” I resisted the idea at first; I wasn’t ready to move back yet. I’ve got some serious wanderlust thanks to my two relocations and going back somewhere I spent 22 years of my life wasn’t appealing. But as we were praying through the process, all of our options just kept leading us back to Atlanta.

Then again, atlanta isn't half bad.

Then again, atlanta isn't half bad.

We consider Atlanta home, though neither of us has actually lived in the city limits. Maggie’s family has been in Atlanta for the last 5 years, so she’s spent a lot of time there. I’m from Cumming, GA, about 45 minutes north of Atlanta (or like 2 hours if you're trying to get there at rush hour), and my parents still live there. So while our knowledge of actually living “in town” is limited, we’ve been in the area enough to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

Boston has been lonely at times, especially for me before Maggie moved. Though we have a small group of close friends here, we’ve often had to rely on each other for our social life. This has been amazing for our first year of marriage. We’ve grown a lot closer because we’ve had fewer distractions during rough patches. But we miss having our broader social circle - our larger community of friends and family. Most of our college friends are in Atlanta and almost all of our family is in the South, with a huge percentage being in or near Atlanta. Last year alone, we spent about $4000 on plane tickets traveling to Georgia for friends and family (mostly weddings, but still). That’s dumb. We’re done with that.

A big puzzle piece for us moving to Atlanta was living in a **cool** part of the city. I grew up in the suburbs and want nothing to do with living there again. No downtown life = no Derek moving to Georgia. Enter our dream apartment.

When we were visiting some friends in October, we ate dinner at a restaurant on the east side of town in Poncey Highland. We fell in love with the neighborhood. When Maggie was down south for final job interviews, she toured said dream apartment in what has become our dream neighborhood. Admittedly, her commute is going to be a bit of a mess. That’s the ATL, y’all. But for the time being, it’s completely worth it for weekends on the Beltline (a several mile long paved walking trail through parts of downtown) and being walking distance from yuppie...I mean cool areas in town like Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market, and Little Five Points. I’ll be working remotely with my current company walking to aforementioned locales.

So there you have it: the long story of why we’re moving back to Atlanta. It’s still surreal. We’ve held off announcing until all of the paperwork and conversations were finalized. Honestly, it’s kind of a relief because we’ve been talking about it for months. We’re incredibly stoked to be coming back.

Also, quick PSA for those of y’all not from Georgia: no one calls it HOTlanta. Get that mess out of here. If anything, it’s the “ATL.” Additionally, don’t hit those hard Ts like AT-lan-Ta. No. Wrong. Various acceptable prounciations include “Idlanna,” “Uhlanna,” and “Adlanna.” I’m an “Idlanna” guy myself.

Atlanta friends and family: see y’all soon!

RIP Valentine's Day: 2014-2016

By Maggie Reimherr

Happy Valentine’s Day, y'all! Whether you have a Valentine or not, I really think this is a fun holiday. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind (with some big announcements from the Reimherrs coming soon), so I haven't had much time to do my usual V-Day rituals (AKA consuming a bag of Dove chocolates and wearing pink).

We’ll be honest: it's our first married Valentine’s Day, and we don't have a plan. We honestly kinda forgot about it until today. RIP Magrek Valentine's Day. We’re being frugal right now to account for some big expenses coming up, so the idea of a big, fancy dinner is hard to wrap our heads around. Like I said before, we’ve also been B-U-S-Y. I left it up to Derek to make a reservation if we decide to do dinner… and also told him I'd be fine with getting a pizza. Throw in some Cinna Stix and that right there is a great date. Dating your spouse is important, but sometimes, the homebody in me is fine with a date on the couch.

Including today, we've had 4 Valentine’s Days together. Funnily enough, all but one of them have been more relaxed. Derek’s birthday is February 10, so when 4 days later rolls around, we’re kind of tapped out on celebrating. Here's what we've done for the last few years:

2014: College Kids Get Fancy

Let me be frank: I am very dorky. So I was a total dork about V-Day when for the first time ever, a boy wanted to be my Valentine - thanks, Derek. Like he's mentioned before, he's also a romantic, so he was happy to oblige.

I gave him a mat framed photo of the two of us and wrote all the reasons I loved him on the mat. I also bought us tickets to Stomp, which I definitely couldn't afford with my $7.75/hour student job. Oh well. He instagrammed the gifts:

Derek showed up at my door on Valentine’s night in 2014 with balloons and a wrapped gift. I unwrapped the gift to find a Kindle, and my nerd heart sang. On the Kindle, he'd uploaded a PDF love letter because #millennials. It was the first love letter he wrote me… and maybe one of the only? He's not a letters guy. If he has romantic words to share, he's just going to say it out loud.

He took me to a prix fixe dinner at a restaurant in our college town (v fancy), and later we had beers at a bar and went to showing of The Princess Bride at the hipster movie theater in town. We were very young, in love, and happy.

Lovely dinner with my Valentine, @derekreimherr!

A post shared by Maggie Carter Reimherr (@maggie.reimherr) on

2015: California Dreamin’

For our second Valentine’s Day, Derek lived in California. This was great because it was approximately 75 degrees that day, so we grilled steaks and salmon and had a meal at his house. Downside: he had 3 roommates in their 50s. Yeah, his living situation was weird. Luckily, none of them were around that evening, so we were able to take over the kitchen for food prep and the backyard for grilling. We were newly engaged, so V Day conversation included a lot of wedding talk and discussions about our hopes, dreams, and plans for our future.

Enjoyed the 2nd Valentine's Day with my forever Valentine @derekreimherr. When you can both cook, a fancy dinner sometimes looks this!

A post shared by Maggie Carter Reimherr (@maggie.reimherr) on

2016: I Think I’ll Go To Boston

Last year, we were both in Boston. Our long distance relationship had recently ceased, and we were gearing up for marriage a little over a month after Valentine’s Day. Derek had flowers sent to my new job, and he bought me a pink fleece onesie. We cooked dinner at the apartment and had a nice, quiet evening.

Valentine's Day came early, so I have pretty flowers at my desk 💝💐

A post shared by Maggie Carter Reimherr (@maggie.reimherr) on

Looking back, if I had to pick a favorite Valentine’s Day, it would be that first one. Not because it was a big, fancy evening, but because I was just so dang excited to be in love. Now Derek and I get to celebrate this day every year. Even if we don’t get our butts in gear and make a plan for tonight, babe, I’m happy you’re mine.

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments or on social!

Interview with Alissa Musto, Miss Massachusetts 2016

By Derek Reimherr

Whenever you move to a new city, one of the most important things you can do is find a few “spots” and become a regular. For us, we love a couple restaurants called Saus and The Tap Trailhouse, an improv theatre called Improv Asylum, and Harpoon Brewery.

Our most recent addition to the list came by way of our friends Collin (who’s guest posted on Millennial Marriage here and here) and Kate. After a dinner out in the city one Saturday night, they suggested we head to a German-style beer hall called Jacob Wirth in Boston’s theatre district, right on the edge of Chinatown.

This place is great. There are banners and beer everywhere, and it really has a nice pub feel. Plus, there was a live performer playing piano and singing who was hilarious. So we kept coming back.

After a few visits, we got to know that Saturday night performer as Alissa and became regulars of hers (at least in our eyes). We started following her on Instagram and learned she was Miss Massachusetts. Finally, after a few draughts of liquid courage, I decided to ask her for an interview. Because who doesn’t want a woman as cool as Alissa featured on your blog?

Read on to learn all about Alissa’s journey juggling school, pageants, Miss America, and performing music all around the New England area.

Photo cred: Miss Massachusetts Organization

Photo cred: Miss Massachusetts Organization

Maggie: Thanks for talking with us, Alissa! Before we get into who you are now, tell us a little bit about yourself growing up.
Alissa: Well, I was actually born in Rhode Island and moved to Massachusetts where I lived for most of my childhood. I’ve been playing the piano since I was 4 years old and I actually grew up in a family of professional musicians. There was absolutely no way I was getting out of it.

When you’re 5 years old, you don’t want to practice. I was very lucky to have a patient dad who was willing to sit with me and practice, even when I was whining. Obviously, it’s the greatest gift he could’ve given me.

Maggie: Did he teach you how to play?
A: Yeah, for the most part. He did take me to a teacher because when you’re that age, you’re more likely to listen to an official teacher. But he was still the one sitting down with me every night for practice.

Derek: Now for an important question...where were you on the awkward-popular spectrum growing up?
A: It’s actually funny - you’re not the first person to ask me this. I went to a really small high school. There were only 40 kids in my graduating class, so there weren’t the normal cliques. My high school was really competitive actually. All the kids were major overachievers participating in sports, drama, or whatever.

Derek: So what were you? What did you do?
A: I did pretty well in school. I had two claims to fame - I was the captain of the mock trial team.

Derek: Watch out!
A: No really, though! We won the state championship one year and were a finalist every year. I was also really good at tennis. I was the #2 player my freshman year and by senior year, I was first team all-state.

Maggie: So after high school, you went to Harvard for undergrad. What was that like?
A: So the weirdest thing was going from 40 kids to 20,000 students that were just as competitive as I was accustomed to. It was an adjustment. There were a lot of times where I’d look around in my classes (my concentration was government) and think, “Wow, there’s a pretty good chance some of these kids will be senators or congressman, maybe really jerky lawyers. Statistically, maybe even presidents.”

On the weekends, I was performing. I didn’t go to many parties or football games. Sometimes, kids from class - people I sat next to - would come in some place I was performing and not recognize me. They’d be like, “Who are you?” I was basically Hannah Montana.

Derek: It’s funny you mentioned being at Harvard and feeling like everyone is normal people...Maggie experienced the same thing working there.

So we read on your blog that you really just started doing pageants not long ago. Can you tell us more about your decision to give it a shot?
A: Yeah, it was about a year and a half ago. One day at work - I worked at a music shop - this woman came in and confused me for a girl that competes locally. She goes, “Oh, you should look into it! You might be interested.” I was pretty hesitant, but I did a Google search and read more about it. I learned the Miss America organization is the largest scholarship provider in the world. Even though it felt out of character for me, I thought it would just be a great opportunity to perform.

So I tried it and I won my first title as Miss Tri-County (area southwest of Boston). After that, I went for Miss Massachusetts and got 4th runner up. Good, but I could do better. So the next year, I entered and won the Miss Cambridge pageant. From there, I went for the Miss Massachusetts pageant again in the summer of 2016. And I won! A few months later, I was shipped off to Miss America.

Derek: What did your family and friends think of you entering the pageant world?
A: They definitely thought it was weird at first. Like I said, it was out of character. I was always a tomboy growing up. You guys have seen me perform before - it doesn’t seem very pageant-like. By the end of it, though, they were all on board. No one was saying, “This is a bad idea.”

Maggie: Tell us about the Miss America process. How did it feet participating and making Top 15?
A: We went to Atlantic City two weeks before the competition began. Rehearsals, outings, appearances, publicity. Sometimes we were up at 5am and not back at the hotel until 10pm at night. But I had a great roommate in Miss Montana. I definitely lucked out in that area.

Anyway, Massachusetts isn’t known for it’s good track record with pageants. It’s usually southern states. So when I made the Top 15, it was really exciting for me and anyone else who wasn’t watching the Patriots game.

Maggie: Wait, so do you find out before you make the Top 15?
A: No, no! You find out live on TV. Nothing is faked, totally real.

Derek: What is life like post Miss America?
Alissa: The biggest thing was, “Now what?” I spent all this time preparing and now I just...wasn’t. It was also the first time in my life where I wasn’t in school. I keep busy as Miss Massachusetts, though. I have parades, appearances at schools, performing, speaking. Solving world peace. You get the idea.

Derek: So this might be awkward...Does winning the title pay? We have no idea.  
A: In Massachusetts, it’s not as lucrative as other states. But I did win a $12,000 scholarship to go back to school, I get paid for appearances, and I have some sponsors as well - haircuts, clothes, gas paid for the year. It’s pretty cool!

Maggie: When you’re not being Miss Massachusetts, what do you do in your spare time?
A: As you know, I’m a professional musician. I perform 3 or 4 nights a week. I’m also a music teacher. So there’s always lesson plans, new songs to learn, and emails to respond to. It can be mentally draining, but I really love performing and I love music. I also do a lot of volunteer work.

Derek: Can you tell us more? We read somewhere you were involved in a non profit related to music and pianos. What organizations do you volunteer with?
A: There’s Girls Rock which provides programs and camps for girls in at-risk community to help empower them through music. I also volunteer as a weekly music teacher at a school that doesn’t have a music program. It’s really important to me to always have a way to give back to the community.

Regarding the other question, Changing Keys is the name of my organization. After a semester of volunteering at a school, I would ask, “Now what? How are these kids going to progress after I’m not coming every week?” I started Changing Keys with the idea that one piano can create a thousands musicians and a thousand possibilities. So I find unused pianos and connect them with communities - churches, schools, community programs, anywhere that helps kids improve.

I find a lot of pianos through word of mouth, but nowadays I actually have more pianos than I have places to put them. It’s a great problem to have.

Maggie: So cool. Back to your musical career. What else do you play? Do you write and record any of your own music?
A: I mostly stick to the rhythm section: bass, some drums, and piano. No wind instruments for me. My sister is actually really involved in music production, but it’s not as much my thing. I do some basic stuff in Garage Band just so I can hear how I’m progressing. But when I write my own music, I’ll go to a studio.

Derek: *Changing keys* a little bit…what’s next? We saw on your blog, you mentioned law school.
A: I’ve thought about this a lot recently. Law school initially made sense; I was a mock trial champion after all. But it just didn’t seem like the right decision for me now. Eventually, I’ll go back and pursue copyright law working on behalf of entertainers using my Miss Massachusetts scholarship.

That being said, I really love performing. I don’t want to look back and feel like I didn’t pursue this fully in my 20s because I rushed back into school. Law school isn’t going anywhere, but my performing opportunities may not always be available.

Derek: Absolutely. It’s always best to take time and make sure you’re doing what you really like. We feel you.
A: Real quick, I have to say, it is so strange talking to you guys during the day. It’s like the first time you saw a teacher outside of school.

Maggie: Yeah...we typically aren’t drinking liter sized beers during the day. You’re getting normal Maggie and Derek. So to wrap things up, you’ve really seem to have accomplished a lot in a short time. How old are you again?
A: I’m 21.

Maggie: Wait, really? We thought you were at least 23 or so. Wow...so at 21, do you feel like you have a badass resumé? Do you feel like you have awesome icebreakers at parties?
A: Huh, that’s a good way to put. I’ve never thought about it that way. I have done a lot of cool stuff, but I have had to sacrifice a lot of social opportunities. I’ve missed weddings and events with friends. It definitely comes with a price that most people don’t see.

Derek: Yeah, that’s big! I think there’s a tendency as Millennials to not have a firm grasp on what life is really like when you’re working full-time.
A: Right, even things as silly as New Year’s Eve. I miss out on that with friends, but it’s worth it for what I love.

So true. Well thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Alissa. We’ve really enjoyed it!
A: Definitely! This officially makes us best friends.


If you want to learn more about Alissa’s journey, you can follow her blog or check her out on Instagram (@alissamustomusic). For more information about her nonprofit, Changing Keys, check out its website or follow along on Instagram (@changingkeys).

For our part, we’ll be seeing her at our favorite stop in downtown Boston real soon.

I'm sorry Maggie's late night photography skills aren't great.

I'm sorry Maggie's late night photography skills aren't great.