The Little Red Dress

After my interview with the New York Post on Thursday about what makes me the most desirable single in the city (Disclaimer: I still have no idea!), the reporter sent me an email about the photo shoot.

Now, I’ve had photo shoots before (thanks to many photographer friends in college) but the idea of having my photo taken for all of the five boroughs to see with a headline about being the most eligible single – that just felt like a whole lot of pressure I wasn’t quite ready for.

Or rather, my closet wasn’t prepared to handle.

Quickly, I texted my friend E, who is  a sassy, talented designer for a small label that sells to big labels, like Anthropologie, begging for her expert advice. We met post-work and scoured the racks of H&M, then the sale section of Bebe and just as we were about to brave the mayhem of the Times Square Forever 21, we stumbled across Cache – a store I haven’t been in since my pageant days in the deep South.

And there it was: the red dress.

E and I both spotted it instantly and I hesitantly looked at the tag, hoping and praying it’d be under $50 and thus, on budget. When the numbers almost quadrupled that, I sighed and reminded myself there was always the wear-once with the tags and return option, should the dress be exactly what I was looking for and I couldn’t resist.

And it was exactly what I was looking for: it hugged in all of the right places, showed a little skin but not too much, a sexy back opening, past my knees and looked great in heels. As I stood in front of the mirror in the terribly hot dressing room while E took a picture to see how it would look in print, my anxiety started to build.

I knew I needed to save money for Europe and watch my spending before I leave. I knew I was making every effort to spend as little as I could during the week so I could splurge on the weekend. I knew there were so many more responsible, reasonable things I could buy with nearly $200 but if there was ever a dress that was made for me, this was it.

Forget a little black dress -I rarely wear one. My color has always been (and let’s be honest, will probably always be) red. I handed over my card, caught my breath and vowed that I wouldn’t keep it – I’d just wear it for this special shoot and I’d always have a newspaper page to remember it by.

Or, so I thought.

When I walked out of the studio to show the photographer my selection, she said two words: “Wow. Perfect.” And as I stood in front of many bright lights in six-inch heels, sucking in what I could, standing up straight, trying to hold Lucy so she faced the camera, smile and pop my foot all at the same time – I did feel rather gorgeous. (And a little uncoordinated.)

I could hardly sleep Saturday night, anticipating the arrival of my first big feature in a daily paper, wondering what the article would say and what I would look like.  I raced at 8 a.m. on Sunday, unable to sleep a wink more to the newsstand a few blocks down. When I saw it, I couldn’t help but jump up and down in the street and buy 10 copies, excitedly showing the not-English-speaking vendor my photo.

After updating every social platform I could, I went back to the red dress, hanging up with pride in the front of my closet, the tags still on, the receipt hanging from my bulletin board. And even though I probably can’t afford it – I decided to keep it. Off with the tags and goodbye to my proof of purchase – I wanted this beauty as a staple.

Because everyone needs a little red dress.

Or a little yellow one or blue one. A little something to make them feel a little (or maybe a lot) good about themselves. Besides – red is a great dress to wear on my next great first date…

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This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize! Learn more here. Submit here

7 Things With Tiny Hearts That I Love

When my friends or family give me gifts, they almost always have one of two themes: covered in hearts or miniature in size. I love delicate, small things and anything that promotes love, I will wear. My father bought me a huge gold necklace that says “Love” in cursive for my birthday, and for Christmas, my mom bought a tiny “Amore” on a long chain (in honor of my upcoming Italian lessons!). I also have a heart-shaped teacup set that I absolutely adore and won’t let anyone drink out of (because that makes sense). Most of the decor in my room has some sort of heart emblem and admittedly, if given the chance to scribble on something, you’ll likely see a heart in my poor, unorganized handwriting.

We all need just a small little bit of love in the new year – in whatever form that might be – so here are some products to inspire you:

Little Hearts Necklace
heart-necklace
$11 on Etsy

Gold Love Print
love-print
$25 on Etsy

 

In Love Sunglasses
in-love-sunglasses
$16 on Urban Outfitters

Infinity Love Scarf

scarfy$35 on Etsy

Heart It Ring

heart-it-ring$8 on Urban Outfitters

Moschino Heart Red Leather Gloves

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$220 at Forzieri

Kate Spade Heart Tights
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$32 at
Bloomingdale’s

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize! Learn more here. Submit here

I Tried to Hate Christmas

It snowed for the first (real) time in New York on Saturday.

I woke up hazily hungover and tired, wondering how I’d ever make it to midtown east for Lucy’s vet appointment when my mouth still tasted like red wine. My little pup blended in with my comforter, snuggled between my feet like she likes to do, and I laid in bed, listening to the quiet. I relished in those peaceful, stolen moments before I have to force myself out of bed and into the chaos below. My room was colder than usual, only warmed by the bright white glow outside, and I opened the curtains just enough to inquire about the weather.. and there they were:

Perfect, fragile snowflakes, falling gracefully to the ground I can’t see below.

I watched them build up on the rooftops and though I’m 20 years too old to get so excited over such little things, I smiled and eagerly told Lucy it was snowing. She licked my face and went back to sleep, unimpressed and obviously not-human. I didn’t care though – I slung on my boots and dressed her in a (probably not necessary) coat and outside we went to see the snow.

As I walked down to the friendly Starbucks that lets me bring her inside when it’s cold, I kicked the snow underneath my feet and I laughed as Lucy played with it, hopping on the small piles and seeing the flakes flutter on her nose. The upper west side was alive and happy, excited for this wintery-mix that makes this dirty, darkened city seem more pure, more hopeful than before.

And like the snow lightened the push-and-the-shove of Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens, and maybe even New Jersey), it did the same for me. I’ve been adamantly against Christmas this year. In fact, I was so not looking forward to this time of year that I convinced myself that I wouldn’t be full of the holiday spirit, instead, I’d be a scrooge. I’d hate Christmas with all of my might.

After such a difficult year, with so much bad and so little good, why would I invest my heart and my expectations in December? Why would I think that the end of the year would be any better than the rest of it? Why waste money on decorations and holiday cards, postage and gifts, if in the end, I’d be miserably humming around a fake Christmas tree, mulling over everything I didn’t have? Over everything that didn’t happen or unfortunately did happen?

Why celebrate 2013 at all?

Maybe it was the snowflakes – or how the shift in the seasons shifted something for me, too, but I couldn’t keep my love of the holidays at bay. I couldn’t be negative about it. Even though New York and I have had our trials this year, the city wouldn’t let me forget about Christmas. Not with it’s street fairs and it’s subway performers singing “My Favorite Things.” Not with it’s lights and it’s weather, it’s people dressed in puffy coats and stockings from head-to-toe. Not with smiling kids and (surprisingly) grinning adults, even with it’s happy tourists seeing this place I call home for the first time, in the snow. Not with Macy’s windows and Fifth Avenue shops, not with splitting a bottle of wine with my friend in a cozy Parisian restaurant in the West Village. Not with all the truly magical parts of New York – from people to places and everything in between – that seem to glow with those silly white lights at this special time of year.

Though things haven’t quite gone my way and I’ve had more learning pains than triumphs this year, it only gives me better reason to show my thanks at Christmas and as 2014 begins. It might not have been the easiest of months, but they were necessary to teach me something. To be stronger and to take more chances. To believe in things that you can’t feel, see or imagine. To trust in something bigger than you, some force that you might not always believe in. To know that everything has it’s time and it’s place, that we will figure it out as we go, if we have enough hope to see it through.

I wanted to hate Christmas this year, I really did. But I don’t. I can’t. I won’t…

I sent out 50 holiday cards.

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E hosted (yet another) amazing Thanksgiving dinner.

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My friend A came to visit.

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I made a wreath (for $10!).

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My roommates put up a tree and I hung stockings.

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Lucy got a new red coat.

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And a new pillow (thanks Pottery Barn!)

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J threw quite the party with some deadly jingle juice.

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I shopped for Christmas gifts with M while looking at a lovely view.

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iVillage named me the Best Party Planner at our holiday party.

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This is my view while writing this blog.

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And best of all… my family will be here in less than a week for our very first Christmas in New York City.

I might not be exactly where I thought I’d be at the end of 2013, but I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, learning what I need to know. And maybe one day, I’ll have a Christmas with a man I love, watching the children we made open presents in a home or apartment we bought together. Maybe I’ll have the best year yet in 2014, maybe it’ll be harder than all the rest. Maybe I’ll move abroad, maybe I’ll keep falling back in love with New York.

Maybe it all doesn’t matter – as long as I’m thankful enough to realize that regardless of how it all turns out or what I have, I’m so incredibly blessed. And so very loved.

It Looks Great On Me

After weeks of bipolar New York City weather, the clouds parted just enough to allow a sliver of sunshine to grace the Hudson river. I felt the breeze tickle my back as the light warmed my face, and even though I didn’t have anything particularly exciting or enlightening to smile about, a grin appeared anyway.

With only a few more blocks to go, I slowed my pace just enough to enjoy the walk but not enough to be late to meet my friends at the Boat Basin on the Upper West Side. It was a night dedicated to a children’s charity and to buying (many) glasses of wine in support. When I finally met up with J and entered the establishment, a few brilliant rays of light beat into the patio, putting a stunning haze over everyone. And in my red off-the-shoulder dress, feeling the heat of the sunset seep into my eyes, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a while:

Beauty.

Maybe it’s been the unpredictable weather or my Accutane hangover, but it’s been some time since I’ve truly felt beautiful. Sure, after a long shower and the right spritz of perfume, I’ve felt attractive enough to flirt up the bars. Or at least confident enough to pretend I felt prettier than I really do. It’s taken longer than I ever expected — nearly two years — to shed the lingering effects of the end of my relationship with Mr. Possibility. It took me nearly a year to realize how his snide comments or constant effort to compare me to other women took it’s toll on me. And it’s taken me another year to release those negative words from my memory. For all the good he gave me and the things he taught me, pointing out my flaws was something that I didn’t fully digest the harshness of until I was completely emotionally removed.

But you know, it’s not all his fault. It’s actually more my fault — I have, after all, been repeating the you-must-be-perfect mantra since high school. The song didn’t stop sounding sweet until I finally faced what I didn’t like and well, took control of it. I officially ran my first 10K this past weekend, I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds in the past 9 months and by some stroke of modern medicine miracles — I don’t have to wear makeup anymore.

And sure, those things matter but what matters more is that I feel attractive from the inside out. Cliche, for sure – but truth all the same. Before you can create that simple confidence and bask in the natural, not-even-close-to-perfect beauty that is yours — you have to believe it.

You have to believe it until you actually feel it.

Maybe it’s by humming a new tune to remind yourself that you’ve got it going on. It could be as easy as putting your focus on being happy instead of being the best. Or it could be taking time to dream and fostering those positive thoughts into everything you do. It can be remembering to smile in a city that’s full of grimaces and frowns. Or teaching yourself to look past the faults of others to discover beauty in places you didn’t see before.

However you do it, however long you have to try to find it – once you do, something remarkable happens:

People notice it.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been called a goddess by a barista at Starbucks. A man with a vintage camera asked to take my photo on my way into Chelsea Market because he wanted to capture my glow. At the charity dinner, I caught more glances than I have this entire year. A handsome stranger stopped me on the side of the street just to remind me that I was beautiful. My friends have noticed my clear skin, the freckles they’ve never seen because I’ve always worn so much coverage and a kick in my step that hasn’t been kickin’ in months. I’ve finally started showing my teeth in pictures — going against the advice of Mr. P who always told me I didn’t have a good enough smile for that. I’ve gone out on two quite successful dates with a guy who I’m excited to go on a third date with — and I didn’t do myself up either time to see him.

Instead, I came as myself.

And you know what? Being natural, smiling, laughing, confident and dare I say it, beautiful… it looks great on me.

The Brown Slingback Heels

Tossing another abandoned sweater onto a pile nearly as tall as my desk, I admired my new-found ability to just let go of things. I’m bad about spring cleaning, mainly because I’m a little messy by heart and in my space space, and for my knack of attaching sentimental value to every knick-knack I own.

But this year is different — I couldn’t wait to clean out my suitcases and closet to switch from those bitter winter days to the bright summery ones, so I spent Saturday night in doing just that. With a race Sunday at 8:30 a.m., I gave myself permission to be boring and have a date with Mr.Windex and his friend the handsome broom instead of eyeing the crowd downtown.

As I went through my red suitcases — the ones that have been with me from day one in NYC — I found dresses I haven’t worn since I moved, bags so tattered they barely had straps and shoes without heels at all. Thinking of all the things I could buy if I just had more space (and um, money), I folded up what I didn’t want and hung up what I did, trying hard not to imagine dream scenarios in dream outfits during the process.

But then, in the middle of my clean up, in the middle of N’Sync playing on my 90s pop hits Pandora radio station (not ashamed), I came across those heels.

The heels that I didn’t wear at all last year since I couldn’t: the clasp is broken, the heel is unsteady and the shoe, admittedly highly uncomfortable. The heels that I once considered my own version of Cinderella slippers, bringing a love affair into my life with one simple stumble. The shoes that I thought I would keep no matter what, since they were the reason I met Mr. Possibility in the first place.

Right before I made the leap to Manhattan, I exchanged an incredibly ugly necklace (from yes, an ex) in for some cold hard store credit. Since the place doesn’t exist above the Mason-Dixon, I had to use it before my flight. Shopping around the aisles of things I didn’t want, I found one thing that I did: a brown pair of four-inch Jessica Simpson slingbacks that made my legs look killer. I instantly fell in love and easily used that gift card for them, determined to stomp the sparkly pavements, making my impression.

I was right– they eventually would make quite the first impression eight months later on that bus where I tripped in them, right in front of Mr. Unavailable, who as we all know, would ultimately become the impossible Mr. Possibility.

I walked those heels to death with any opportunity to any event or any short skirt that begged attention. Mr. P would comment on them before we went out: “Are those the shoes? Are you going to be able to stand?” He would tease me and I would promise to wear them with grace, and threaten to wear them on our wedding day, where I’d purposefully fall at the alter, making a scene just for us.

I don’t remember packing them up and tucking them away under my bed last fall — there is never enough room in any NYC closet for more than one season. But I did, even though they are entirely unwearable. Maybe then I still held onto the hope that they’d mean something more to me than Mr. P or that we would eventually get back together and I’d be sad if I didn’t have them.

But looking at them on Saturday night, thinking about the memories that come with them, that follow my step, I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. Nothing left to hang onto, nothing more I wanted with them. Just a pair of shoes that are taking up highly-valued space in a closet that needs to be decluttered. The cost of fixing them would outweigh what they are worth, and the cost of holding onto what they represent, even more emotionally expensive.

And so, away they went to charity. To a place where maybe, someone else will find some piece of something in them, just like I did.

The truth is, they never really gave me a solid footing here. There were always a little too high to walk up and down subway (or apparently, bus) steps, and too skinny to support constant commuting. Perhaps I wasn’t confident enough to own them in the way that a woman who knows herself can — marching along without thinking, without worrying about that crease in the road ahead or the water puddle you see on a clear day. Those shoes didn’t give me my grounding here, and as much as I like to give him credit, Mr. Possibility didn’t either. He helped guide me for a while by showing me the city I love and giving me a glimpse into the love I dream of — but just like those slingbacks that playfully taunted our relationship, something was never quite right. Never quite as strong as I’d like. Never quite as stable as I needed. The support just wasn’t quite there.

The next day post-race, I stopped by TJ Maxx to pick up some running shorts and somehow found myself in the shoe aisle, eyeing a new pair of my beloved brown slingbacks. But unlike the other, these have a thicker heel. They’re a little lower, and yes more practical. They fit me better and can endure the two-avenue walk from the train to my job — no change of flats required. I don’t trip over my own feet and I can move to my own beat, without worrying about what’s ahead or who I’ll come across.

And I like them better. The next time I sway and bend, it won’t be because of the heels, it’ll be because I’m finally sturdy enough to let myself fall.

Without Any Apologies

Sitting across from Dr. Heart at my favorite Thai place near NYU on Saturday night, I caught myself sneaking a smile at him when he wasn’t watching. The restaurant, though not really known for their food but rather for the good cocktails and candlelit ambiance  is perfect for quiet conversation and a hearty, boozy meal. Which is exactly why I picked it for dinner, and because it was right near our next stop: Webster Hall to see Lindsay Sterling.

He caught me looking at him and asked about my intentional studying and if I had drawn any conclusions. I flirted back, telling him I would give my full assessment by the end of the night. This is how our canter is — quick and playful, then serious and deep. It’s really the best kind of start to something that could ultimately be something: half-fun, half-intense. He picked up and kissed my hand, called me gorgeous and went back to his sake. It was the start of a great evening that had followed a great day of sledding in Central Park’s beautiful blizzard and eating pancakes at a cheap diner near my apartment.

We were going to build a snowman until Dr. Heart took a freezing fall into a hidden puddle at the end of a hill, leaving him soaked and very cold and leaving me laughing the whole 10 blocks home. We walked hand-in-hand while admiring the snow and popping a kiss here, racing each other up steps there. I had enjoyed every little, single detail of that day and our meal so far except for one thing.

His hat.

It seems like a petty thing really, especially now as I sit down to write this blog. Though Dr. Heart normally has a good sense of style, for whatever reason, he selected a brown hat to prance around town in — and well, I really didn’t like it. So while I was admiring his devilish good looks (as my grandmother would say), I was also secretly wishing that brown paper-boy looking thing on his head would have stayed at my apartment. And Lucy would have somehow snagged it and you know, do her dog destroying dance.

But no, it was there in our cozy little corner of the restaurant and it was there again, in our cozy seated VIP table at the concert. While we were sipping on Stella and watching the crazy light display below, he let me know he was going to the bathroom to take off the hat because he was hot. I tried not to smile too eagerly, but I’m sure he could detect me grin from the other side of the hall where he was headed. At the end of an amazing set, we started to layer on the half-dozen winter pieces that make New York City bearable in February, and as I reached for my gloves, I noticed that hat hanging out on top of my purse. I offered to hold onto it for him — yes, probably with grim intentions floating in my head — and as he went to retrieve it, I must have frowned.

You don’t like this hat, do you? He asked as a sly smile wrapped up his cheek. Surely blushing from pure guilt, I shook my head and confessed, I kind of hate it. He pulled me closer to him, nibbled on my forehead and laughed, It’s okay, you know, to say how you feel. In fact, I want you to.

There are a lot of things about my experiences with Dr. Heart that are very (very!) different from my relationship with Mr. Possibility, and for me, the biggest one isn’t exactly the doctor himself, but how I at like myself around him. Now, a hat isn’t exactly a deal-breaker (though if you saw it, you may disagree. Ugh), but other things could be for me. And while I really am starting to care about Dr. Heart, I also have no problem being very honest not only about what’s going on in my head, but also about what’s important to me.

In other words, I’m finally speaking for myself in a relationship instead of catering to the every wish,  desire and demand of the man I’m wooing. Instead — I’m letting him woo me, first.

It really doesn’t sound like such a novel concept and really, it’s not. But for me — the girl who wanted to be the dreamiest dream girl that ever walked the streets of Manhattan — letting go of being perfect and being strong enough to show someone what I really think, what I really want and what I really need is a huge step in the right direction.

In the past, I needed to hold onto a guy so closely that I wouldn’t dare test his feelings by spending time apart from him. But with Dr. Heart, when I need a “me” night because I’m stressed from work and aching from pushing myself too far running, I let him know and lets me have my space (and provides a bottle of wine, just for me, to relax). I used to agree with ideas or let behaviors that I knew could turn into bigger annoyances down the road (ahem, not cleaning up after oneself) brush off my shoulder instead of addressing them. And yet, with Dr. Heart — we aren’t afraid to sweetly explain to each other what’s bothering us — even if it’s as simple as, Hey, those boots covered in snow, don’t put those in my doorway. I have always tried to make a guy feel extremely comfortable by making sure everything was just-right: my look, my apartment, my manners — but now, I don’t always fetch water for Dr. Heart (he knows where the Brita lives), I don’t have to wear makeup 24/7 (he does need to know what I look like without it) and if everything isn’t in it’s assigned place in my bedroom, well, then it’s not (it might be cleaner the next time he comes over).

Sometimes, being this at ease and being able to really just let myself be myself and speak for myself makes me feel like I’m not trying that hard. And you know what? I’m not. I’m still sweet and playful. I do little things like leaving surprise notes in pockets and Thinking of you text messages. I still cook dinners and sometimes, come straight home to cuddle in bed. I’m still supportive and understanding, kind to the bottom of my heart and yes, selfish from time to time. I’m not always in the best of moods or always in the mood but I still a girl worth dating.

Because that’s just who I am — and maybe, showing all of those characteristics will lead to a relationship where it’s fine to be… me. Without any apologies, at all.

(And hopefully, without Dr. Heart’s hat, too.)

Only TWO more days left to submit your Valentine!!!! Get to it — you deserve a love letter from yourself :)

Champagne & Pretty Things

Tonight is a New York wonderment – Fashion’s Night Out. It’s the brainchild of the iconic Ms. Wintour and the headache of every editor who had anything to do with fashion or beauty. The idea is that everyone should have access to fashion, and while we can’t all be front row at Chanel’s show, we can go to the Chanel store in Soho and drink the bubbly and admire things we can’t afford. Last year, I met Vera Wang and my desire to meet a fashion designer was fulfilled.

This year, I’m taking it easy – only hitting a few places with M, including a Barbie Bus that I’m super-duper excited about. This season FNO holds a special place in my heart, reminding me of the fun I’ve always had in New York and giving me a break from the melodrama that’s been my life the last few weeks.

Tonight is only about two things: champagne and pretty things. And for the next few hours, that’s all I really need.

PS: I’m looking for other Love & Sex bloggers to participate in an exciting thing for my REAL job. Email me your deets.