With a Month Left to Go

Eleven months ago today, I started this blog in the cafe of a local grocery store with my legs laid across the chairs, glancing down at my tattered heels as I typed. It was one of those evenings where I was particularly filled with ambition and yearning for a big change in my life. More than any drive though, I was ashamed of myself.

The night before (which happened to be the day after my birthday party), I curled up in the fetal  position of an old Victorian tub, crying my eyes out in hysteria, making demands instead of prayers toward God, and attempting to avoid the scary mold on the shower curtain. I was so distraught because I was so incredibly, pathetically, longingly, ridiculously single.

The months before, I had signed up for OkCupid and PlentyofFish – resulting in plenty of “ok” dates that never turned into anything. I had yet to have sex in New York (I know, sad) after living here for quite some time, and though my friend base existed, I didn’t feel like I had developed any strong connections. I had a job that I liked fine, I was meeting rent, I was living in Manhattan and not in a borough, as I had wanted – and yet something felt like it was missing. I was convinced that I needed a boyfriend to fill that space. Someone to come home, someone to call when I wobbled back to the train on a Saturday night, someone to snuggle up to and kiss, someone to make love to, someone to love me, someone to complete that silly little void I couldn’t shake.

But I didn’t have that, I thought, feeling the hot water pound my stomach. I winced at the thought of being alone, of becoming one of those bitter cat ladies who lived with bookshelf-lined walls in rent-controlled apartments in the West Village, reading about romances they will never have. I was terrified that my looks would go before I could snag a husband, that I wouldn’t be attractive in my wedding dress, but wrinkly instead. That the New York love story I had always wanted was a far-fetched fantasy that wouldn’t come true, unlike every other dream I had for this damn city.

I had already moved to chase what I wanted and so many had hoped I would fail, so many condemned me for just being who I am – but I had made it. I had a foundation and I could walk on it, though as much as I thought I wanted to walk  alone, I was now determined not to. Crying it seemed, felt better than trying. I didn’t want to go out there and date anymore. I didn’t want to shoot arrows on OkCupid or go fishing on PlentyofFish. I didn’t want my nights out with the girls to translate into flirting until some poor chump was suckered into buying us drinks for the rest of the evening. I didn’t want to play the texting game or to act like I was going home with someone when I knew from the beginning I had no intention to. I was looking and searching the faces of strangers, wondering if they would become a lover that would ultimately turn right back into a stranger when the love affair failed.

Because they always do, don’t they?

Wallowing in this self-pity mess, though, I looked down at my naked body and felt the naked emotion running down my cheeks. What was I doing? What was wrong with me? What do I have to complain about? I’m not going to walk the runways, I thought, but I’m attractive. I’m not going to cure cancer, but I have gifts and I’m smart, but most of all I’m brave enough to go after what I want. I’m not perfect, but I accept my flaws. I don’t live in the part of town I want to, but I have faith that I will. Working at a business magazine isn’t my dream job, but I’ll get there, won’t I? I may not have a very best friend, but I have support. I may not be in love, but won’t I be, one day?

And just like that, it clicked. It was time for a change. It was time for me to stop worrying about love and to start living my life. Time to start building it into what I wanted it to be instead of waiting for a pseudo-Prince Charming to rescue me from an existence that was frankly already pretty magical.

So I picked myself up out of the tub, threw on makeup and clothes, and headed to click “Publish” for the first time on this blog. I wanted to really love myself, really define myself, really just be myself without worrying about a man or a lack of one. I never dreamed my decision to create and follow at 12-step program by writing daily for a year would give me what it has. I was shocked to find my blog on the homepage of WordPress, for it to produce dozens of Internet/blog friends from all over the world, to meet a close friend because she figured out the identity of one of the Mr’s. I didn’t expect for its pages to be attacked by an ex-lover and her friends of Mr. Possibility or for friends I haven’t talked to in years to come out of the woodwork to say they relate to what I write, regardless of how old they are, where they are, or what they do.

But all of those things happened and so much more, and now that there is only a month left to go, I’m in awe of what’s changed in the past year. I start my dream job on Monday, I have a beautiful, wonderful best friend who gets me so well, I live in an apartment that I adore and I may even move downtown within the next 12 months, I did have sex and I did fall in love in New York….and I never gave up on writing these posts. No matter the circumstance or what stress was going on in my life, I found a way to come up with something. I was honest and open with myself, my friends, my readers. I believed in the 12 steps and in myself, but did they work?

Time will only tell, but I’ve learned to accept my flaws and my shortcomings, to admit my strong points even if they aren’t deemed significant in the eyes of others. I’m learning how to continuously stand up for myself in relationships and how to walk away before too much damage is done or bridges are burned. I’ve decided that I’d rather be a 37-year-old bride who marries the right man instead of a 27-year-old bride who rushes down the aisle because she’s afraid she won’t find better. I know that if given the choice today to meet the man I’d marry or have my career be booming and fulfilling for the next five years, I’d pick the career over and over. And now, I know that’s not such a bad thing – there is plenty of time for everything we want to have, there’s no deadline for love, there’s no trick to this most-confusing thing called life.

You just have to live it.

And if something or someone asks you to sacrifice parts of yourself for their happiness or for something to work, then you have to have the courage to choose yourself. To love yourself and have faith in the life you know is destined for you instead of hanging onto the notion that something or someone could change. The 12-steps don’t fix obsessive thoughts or an addiction to love – I still have crazy ramblings, and of course, I still want to find that once-in-a-lifetime love.

But it’s not the most important part of me anymore. It’s just a piece of what makes me me, not the end-all-be-all or the start of my happily ever after. For the first time, I’m truly happy with where I am and that’s not dependent on any man or any fairytale I wish to have. It’s merely dependent on me.

With a month left to go, on the 11th step, I’ll be sad to see this blog end, but I sure am thankful for that depressing night in that disgusting tub that made me see the light and take a chance on loving myself.

When the Caged Bird Flies

Sitting in the West Village today at a miniature Brazilian restaurant overlooking Bleeker, sipping coffee that was just a bit too hot, reading New York magazine, I looked outside and thought to myself: “I wish I could put this feeling into words.” I’m not convinced I can, but I’ll try.

I’ve concluded that there are these periods in your life of great sorrow and doubt – where you mourn yesterday and though you’d like to hope for tomorrow, it seems far-fetched and like a fantasy. It’s almost as if thinking about the months ahead seem like a daunting ordeal, something to tag on the bottom of your to-do list, along with mediocre tasks like sweeping underneath furniture and dusting window seals. You experience disappointment and then you consume it, mimicking a caged bird with beautiful feathers that just yearns to fly so badly that it can’t sit still, until it tires and ultimately retires to pouting on a perch.

But its beauty isn’t gone, it’s just put on hold for a period so it can rest and recuperate and attempt to soar the next day, when maybe someone will open the door to release it into freedom.

That day always seems somewhere in the distant future, in a place that’s shadowy and paved with gloom on a road that’s rocky. The map leading there seems practical enough: work hard, believe in yourself and memorize as many names and faces as you can, and you’ll find your footing. You’ll be released out of captivity and into that brave new world you seek – your wings flapping with that uncensored ambition in the great unknown.

And while you probably head too far South when you should be shooting North, and you ignore the rules to take a detour that seems sexier and easier, you eventually find the way out. You wake up one day with a shiny attitude and shop for a new purse to go along with it. You accessorize your happiness the way you would your favorite outfit, pairing it with happy hours and dinner dates, tooting your own horn as loudly as you can, but remembering to be as gracious and humble as possible through all that glee. Everyone you know tells you how deserving you are, how proud they are, and your elders in the industry remind you that being tenacious only works for so long, eventually you’re older and instead of someone being surprised by your age, it just becomes natural. You should be brilliant and on top of your game in your late 20s, so play up that youthful spirit while it’s raw.

You fly through the streets wearing a blue dress and heels, carrying that confidence with big, powerful, bold steps, and you smile at strangers, tip a little more when you dine, and finally, feel at ease. Suddenly you’re singing the praises of your fate and serenading the universe with notes of thanksgiving, humming a sweet little tune that bubbles inside of you when you savor this fervor.

And that’s what it is – a romantic happiness. It’s warm and simple, understated to the world, but overpowering inside of you. It makes everything else seem ordinary and yet, you feel enriched by the extraordinary direction you’re suddenly allowed to go. You can’t even entertain thoughts about other parts of your life that maybe aren’t so fabulous, they suddenly seem unimportant and a waste of your energy. You’d rather think about this shine instead of giving any time to something sub par.

You revel in your company, not only of the fancy footsteps you’re following, the tailwinds for others you’re creating, but the friends who sat next to you in that awful little cage or fed you slivers of mango from outside, reminding you that one day, you’d be free again. It’s that happiness that you find when you’ve reached a goal or you’ve reached a level of comfort in your own blue-suede shoes that will soon switch from so-four-seasons-ago to hot off the redesigned shelves at Barney’s.

That fight from fearful to faithful is a long one. But you remember that without that fight, there can be no magical flight. Without resting those wings, they’d never be able to radiate in the sun or survive opposing winds. Or to sit peacefully in the good graces of the heavens and on the good side of yourself, cherishing this joy for all its worth, knowing that moments like this one and days like these don’t come around too often. They are brief and easily forgotten when the clouds gather and the sun retreats away again.

Trying to put this feeling into words or bottle it up to take a sip when we’re going through that rough time again, when our vision is challenged by horizontal bars of adversity is wasteful wishing. The point of such romance isn’t to hold onto it for very long. The best of flings and the highest height of passion are meant to be tawdry and temporary, concealed behind blushing cheeks and rouge lips, only brought out when temptation tempts or dreams most unbelievably actually come true.

Nor fighting or flying can last forever – but as long as we can make our way through each of them without losing our heads, or more importantly, our hearts, then we’ll get to keep the most precious gift either of them can give us. The beauty of a romantic happiness and the knowledge that being a caged bird isn’t so bad. If we’re never made to sit still, we’d never realize the opportunity the spread those colorfully wounded wings and try out a new bright, blue sky.

Balls in the Air

This morning when the clock struck 6 a.m., I didn’t feel inclined to go run some miles with Mr. Possibility, so I grumbled, rolled over and let him rise to the call of exercise. An hour later when he returned, I hadn’t made breakfast as I promised because my body simply refused to get up, so when he swung open the door to find me in the same position he left me, he gently tossed something at me.

It struck my stomach, instantly waking me up and I groggily asked, “What’s this?” while wondering why he would throw anything at me when I was sleeping so sweetly. He flipped on the switch and I threw the covers over my head, desperately wanting time to go backwards, back to when it was 2 a.m. and I still had five hours of rest left before the day demanded to begin. Coming to terms that Monday was here, regardless if I liked it or not, I opened my eyes to the bright light to find Mr. Possibility shaking his head at me.

“You don’t know what that is?” He asked, dumbfounded. “No,” I replied while thinking “And do I really need to know the importance of some blue ball you threw at me while I was still asleep, you jerk?” “Geez, Tigar! It’s a handball. Haven’t you played?” He asked, grinning in disbelief as he changed out of sweaty gym clothes. “Handball?” I asked, not amused with this conversation or the fact it was light outside. “Handball, it’s a city sport. I used to be pretty good at it. You’ve never played?”

I refrained from reminding him I’m from North Carolina where to my knowledge, handball doesn’t exist and honestly, as sad as it is, cow tipping is more common. Instead, I told him I hadn’t played before, but I would love to try it with him sometime and then collapsed back into the bed while he showered and couldn’t look at me disapprovingly for sleeping longer than I should.

A few hours later, after bagels with peanut butter, orange juice, and Monday-morning mass email cleanup, I caught the train from Brooklyn to my Upper West Side apartment to begin a busy day of freelancing and deadlines. Because he gave it to me and I was slightly amused by how high it bounced, I took the ball with me, hidden beneath receipts I needed to throw away and makeup in my Longchamp. While conjuring up some ideas for a new bridal blog I’ll be writing, I distracted myself with playing toss-and-catch with my new friend, the ball.

Yes, folks, I was that bored.

Watching it rise and fall in and out of my hand, I thought about how many balls I have in the air right now. Not just this literal handball that I probably will never use for it’s real purpose, but opportunities and possibilities, decisions to make and chances to take. I’ve recently opened myself up to looking at my life and my future in a different way. I’ve let myself out of a tightly-sealed box to reveal those ideas I’ve had that I’ve been afraid of exploring. Those adventures I didn’t want to take because I was fearful I’d lose my way on the straight-and-narrow if I took a detour.

But detours, while they’re uncertain and a little bumpy, are often what gets you to a place you’d rather be, even if you don’t know it. And you can’t get what you want if you don’t let yourself really, truly figure out what that is, or allow it to change as time, and you, change.

I’ve been nervous about taking a leap of faith into discovering what really does make me happy and what really matters most to me at this point – but when you’re forced to make a decision or try something new, somehow, that fear goes away. That hesitation subsides and you’re opened up to something more exciting – the idea of not having a plan. The feeling of having so many opportunities brewing, so many options to pick from- a sky full of possibility and hope, that you forget why you wanted to stay safe and protected in something secure in the first place.

Because you can’t shoot if you don’t dribble, you can’t aim if you don’t throw. And if you have no balls in the air, you can never catch one as you watch others fall to the ground because they weren’t meant to land.

More Time With Me

It’s the second day of summer and I feel like a slacker. Those two words may seem to go hand-in-hand, but not for me – I had big plans for May through August. And now, I only have two months to make up for lost time.

Time I spent sitting in front of the computer writing this blog. Time I spent sleeping in because I crave the blissful sound of alarm-clock free wake-ups on the weekends. And time I spent sitting around with Mr. Possibility as he mulled over textbooks nearly as tall as me sans-heels, studying for a test he won’t know the results of until past my birthday, past the end of this blog.

It’s funny to me that even I’ve written a dozen articles about dating, vented each and every insignificantly significant detail about my personal life, and given advice to those in love-lemmas – and still, still, I can’t do what I tell other people to do. If asked, I’d always advise to make yourself a priority, to spend more nights a week in your own bed than in your boyfriend’s, and that nights with your girlfriends on the town are much more fun more times than not. I’d say to budget your time, put yourself first, and do your own damn laundry instead of lugging it across the river to his free washer and dryer to avoid the ever-disgusting communal Laundry Day scene.

And yet – with my piles growing consistently taller each day in the corner of my new bedroom, I’ve considered it. I’ve put off plans with my friends to make plans with Mr. P. I’ve gone against every dating rule I’ve read and ever adage I’ve endorsed. But that’s the thing about being a relationship blogger – especially one who called herself an “addict” – it’s hard to swallow your own words. It’s hard to listen when you’re in the situation, no matter how honest you may be with your readers.

With Mr. Possibility out-of-town last weekend, I finally was forced to look at my summer and my choices for what they are. Walking through the park with M (who has a great blog you should check out, I’m LT, if you’re curious), I thought out loud to her: “This is the first time I’ve laid out in Central Park all summer long.” She asked, surprised, “Really? I come all the time.” Maybe it was the green mini-rolling hills dotted with half-naked pale New Yorkers or the character of the park, but in that instance I realized it was time to make more time in my life…with me.

Overindulging myself in overanalyzing, I thought about why exactly I was deciding to spend so much of my moments outside of work with Mr. Possibility. I had invited him to happy hours with my friends, he went with me to North Carolina, his roommate is probably entirely sick of me at this point, and I haven’t spent as many nights as I thought I would in my new apartment -without him, anyway. Do I enjoy his company that much? Do we thrive off all those hours together? Is that what keeps us going?

No, it doesn’t. It causes petty arguments and makes things so comfortable that romance doesn’t have a chance to boil. I knew that going on, I still know that now – so what in the world was I thinking?

I think I was (and am) trying to integrate part of my life into our relationship: here are my friends, here is where I am from, here is what I think, here is what I need, here is how I sleep. And that’s not such a bad thing, in fact it’s rather normal – but it’s easy to get carried away. It’s easy to lose yourself…even on the way to loving yourself.

And so, with the request for a few nights off a week from being a girlfriend (well, you know, still exclusive but not tied to dinner plans or living together), I’m back on track to fulfill my summer to-do list. It includes, but is not limited to – a bubble-q (barbecue and champagne), a trip to Six Flags Jersey (yikes!), more Long Beach visits, sight seeing and bathing in Connecticut, a roaring-20s themed jazz fest, more Central Parking, more…life. More friend time. More time with me. More time to do what I set out to do – enjoy the time I have with me as much as the time I have with others. No matter how possibly wonderful that time can be.

A Broken Give-a-Damn

The day before my college graduation, standing in streets covered with a slippery thin sheet of ice, Mr. Idea and I screamed at each other hunched under an awning a block from my apartment.

It wasn’t either of our finest moments.

It ultimately led to me throwing a high-heeled shoe in his general direction out of frustration, unchartered emotion and a little bit of booze. It didn’t hit him but he was astonished at my actions so much that he screamed (much to the dismay of my roommate): “You threw a shoe at my face! Lindsay! What’s wrong with you?” Equally as loud but through a thick stream of tears and unflattering nose-runnage, I replied: “I just want you to make me feel like you care and you don’t!!! Why can’t you just make me feel better?”

I’d like to say I’ve grown out of that immature statement but the truth is, I’m not sure we ever do. Maybe those totally-Zen, consistently healthy and one-with-the-world people are clear and peaceful in their relationships, but I don’t happen to be part of that demographic.

I’m emotional. I’m impatient. I can overreact. I have a tendency to overanalyze. I think people should give me just as much as I give them, though I don’t take all that much. When I’m mad, I cry. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m furious, I need to take a walk (and apparently throw things). And when I’m upset in a relationship, as I was with Mr. Idea and probably as I’ll be with any man I date, I tend to think they should make me feel a certain way.

They should be understanding and kind. They should sometimes prioritize me above other things. They should have my best interest at heart and work hard at bettering my life, just as I hope to make their day-to-day brighter. Promises should be made and kept, not haphazardly planned and forgotten. I consider myself a great catch and you, whoever it is that I’m dating, should treat me as such. You should know what you have when you have me, and gosh-darnit – you should make me feel like the most amazing creature on Earth.


Well, maybe that worked once upon a time in never-never land, but in real life, in real relationship that are messy, complicated and flat-out irritating at times – things aren’t so cut and dry. While your partner should make you happy and positively affect your existence, they are not and should not be responsible for making you feel any way. And if you find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs, Jimmy in hand, begging them to make you feel differently – maybe you should check yourself. Check your emotions. And above all – check on the relationship.

There will be ups and downs and there will be fights. Hell, arguing can even be healthy occasionally and shows you how someone handles themselves in the heat of the moment or when tensions brew. But if there are more bad times than good, if you’re not getting what you want, if you’re not feeling what you want to feel, if you’re not finding that loving feeling as often as you’re battling the urge to run away – then what are you doing?

You’re waiting for someone to make you feel a way you can’t with them and maybe asking them to feel something they don’t. And if you can’t and they don’t, then the answer to your questionable exit strategy is…go. Breathe. Revel in yourself and in the possibility to meet someone who doesn’t frustrate you. Who doesn’t stand outside in the cold threatening to break up with you on the eve of your college graduation.

Because really, the only person who can make you feel the way you want to feel is you. The you who one day finds a love that doesn’t make you doubt or wonder constantly. And if you’re with the wrong one, you can never meet the right one. If you’re too busy fighting, you don’t have any energy to love. And if there is no love left, then girl, go out and find it.

And before you find it, find yourself. Decide your give-a-damn is broken and make yourself feel so in love with you that nothing else can compare.