15 Ways My Dog is My Boyfriend (Woof?)

10153802_10101116777156718_3407082057316429827_nOn my 24th birthday, still hungover from the night before, I stumbled into my favorite pet store downtown and bought a dog. I was a bit heartbroken from my last relationship (yetstill sleeping with him) and I saw a cute clearance puppy in the corner. They say when you meet the right person, you just know (I wouldn’t, since I haven’t), but when I held Lucy for the first time, she fell asleep in my arms and something in me said: buy the d*mn dog.

A few hours later, Lucy and I were sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by hundreds of dollars worth of dog toys, training pads, a dog bed, treats and food, staring at each other, wondering: Now what?

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5 Things I’ve Learned Being Single for 3 Years

After a productive Sunday of running, cleaning, dog walking and meal prepping – what I really wanted was a glass of wine. What I really needed was to write.

So as most responsible adults do, I did both.

After the hostess said she’s hold a table for 10 minutes for us, Lucy and I raced down to Toast, one of my favorite Upper West Side hangouts. I ordered some Pinot just as the sun was setting and the half-moon was making it’s debut in the June sky. And though I had deadlines to meet, articles and galleries to edit, plans to make and blogs to write – I took a moment and just looked up.

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And for the first time, in a very long time, I felt so comfortable, so happy, so secure in my own skin, I impressed myself. Here I was, 25-years-old and having dinner by myself on a Sunday evening, outside in the city that I love, with a pup that catches the attention of every single person that walks by. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the independence to sit alone and enjoy a meal.

Much less, sit pretty for more than two hours.

In fact, in the years – almost three now! – that I’ve been single, I’ve learned just about everything that I wanted to learn when I first started this blog. And while 2013 pushed me to the extreme in every are of my life, 2014 has proven the true power of hope. And of faith. And of believing in the unknown, just like I’ve always had the courage to do.

Writing about being single doesn’t give me an advantage as much as it puts me at a disadvantage in dating – everything I think, feel and have experienced in my love life is splashed across the internet, well-read by many and quoted by some. But while I hesitate to share my last name too soon into getting to know someone, I’m never embarrassed by the path it took to get here, and the things I’ve learned about being single along the way.

To name a few…

1-    (I Hate to Admit This) But It’s Fun to Be Single (Sometimes)

Not always and not mostly, but sometimes having zero obligation to someone else is not only convenient – it’s liberating. There are days when I don’t wake up until 11 a.m., don’t talk to anyone (but Lucy) and don’t think twice about being selfish with my plans. And if I happen to meet someone that I click with – it’s surprising and it’s interesting. At least for a few dates, anyway. And if it’s not, I know I have many beautiful parts of my life – friends, travel, a rewarding job, an exciting place to live – to enjoy instead.

2-    Friends Are So Much More Important Than Men

Yes of course, once you get married, things change. But while we’re all dating, mating, attempting to relate to one another and figuring it all out as we go, the friendships you cherish are the ones you invest in. While everyone is on their own path and going through different things, having women that you connect with on a daily basis not only makes you feel less crazy, but reminds you of all the reasons you’re wonderful, too. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while being single – that I’m determined to carry on once I meet someone – is not letting a man monopolize my time. You can’t become so consumed with one person that you forget about the special ladies who helped you become the person you are.

3-    For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Settle

Seriously though, don’t. It’s so incredibly tempting when a man is just about right. Or just about turns you on. Or is just about what you’re looking for. Or just about makes you laugh. Here’s the thing: the man you ultimately end up with won’t be everything you’re looking for. But when you meet him and get to know him, you won’t list all the reasons he’s wrong. You might see that he’s not quite as tall or quite as romantic or quite as successful as you would have hoped, but you’re able to see past it. If you have to convince yourself to date someone, you shouldn’t be dating him.

4-    You Really Can Do Anything

Not that you can’t once you’re in a relationship, but there’s something about doing everything by yourself that’s so satisfying. Like paying for and carrying groceries and laundry, budgeting, watching Game of Thrones, booking vacations (and going on them), and everything else – when you’re single, you figure out just how much you can do, without help from anyone. I will surely look forward to the day when I can score a great one bedroom that I split with another person (whom I also share a bed with), but for now, I’m really happy with where I am. And really enjoying the great arms I have from the heavy lifting.

5-    Men Are People, Too

Some are dogs. Some will lead you on. Some will never let go. Some will break your heart and some will inspire you. But more than they are lovers or could-be husbands or boyfriends, or that person that buys you flowers and likes how you look naked, they are people. People with stories. With strengths. With weakness. With a history and a hope for the future. With different motivating factors and different nationalities. They are very simply, just people. And when you’re looking for one of those people to date, they should not just be some idea in your head – they should be someone that you value and respect– as a person. Not as a man or a lover or a partner. But as a person.

And hopefully, they’ll think the same of you – because more than you’re a single woman or a girl who works in digital media or a girl with a dog in New York City or a girl with a blog or anything else- you’re a person. A person who is living – and thriving – independently.

Finally. Happily.

 

 

Happy 2nd Birthday Lucy Liberty!

When I head out for a night on the town with her aunties, I always tell my pup, Lucy: “Mama is going out to find you a daddy! I promise I’ll be home later!” I’ve yet to come home with a um, father, for Lucy, but I don’t think she minds.

She’s just one little ball of happiness, all the time. 

When I made the (very, very quick) decision to bring Lucy Liberty into my life, I only thought of how much work it would be. When would I have time to walk her? What if I wasn’t home on time? What kind of food should I feed her? How much will it cost to take her to the vet? What if she wasn’t healthy? How would I take trips? Would anyone want to date a girl with a dog?

But what I instantly discovered was that all of the time, money and stress was worth it for all of the joy she gives me each and every single day. If I needed to fall apart about my dad’s health problems, she would be there to lick the tears off of my face. When I was frustrated with another date gone bad, she would be there to share her squeaky toy with me and bark me into reality. When I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed on a bright, sunny (or cold and snowy) Sunday, she’s snuggle me outside to enjoy the beauty of New York.

From patience to hope, thank you, Lucy Liberty, for teaching me some hard lessons in the most loving way. I’m thankful for you, little pup and can’t wait to have many more woofs and adventures with you!

Here are just a few of my favorite photos this year of you (because we all know I take WAY too many!)

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Just helping Mom write her blog…

Valentine's Day, every single day.

Valentine’s Day, every single day.

 

Meeting her Auntie Ash from Boston

Meeting her Auntie Ash from Boston

 

Hanging out with her pal Liam

Hanging out with her pal Liam

 

Celebrating Halloween at Mom and Uncle Jim's annual BYOP(umpkin) party!

Celebrating Halloween at Mom and Uncle Jim’s annual BYOP(umpkin) party!

 

Lucy hearts selfies.

Lucy hearts selfies.

 

I love you, too Lucy!

I love you, too Lucy!

Dog days of summer

Dog days of summer

Just relaxing with Uncle Jim and her pal Suzie

Just relaxing with Uncle Jim and her pal Suzie

Visiting North Carolina for the Fourth of July!

Visiting North Carolina for the Fourth of July!

 

Central Park is my playground.

Central Park is my playground.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Happy Mother’s Day, mom!

Spring!

Spring!

Wine and dine with Auntie M

Wine and dine with Auntie M

 

Merry Christmas with her pal Shorty!

Merry Christmas with her pal Shorty!

Just snuggling with Grandmommy

Just snuggling with Grandmommy

Becoming a celebrity in the New York Post - first photoshoot!

Becoming a celebrity in the New York Post – first photoshoot!

Lucy was not in the mood to have her photo taken.

Lucy was not in the mood to have her photo taken.

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Lucy's first dog bed from Pottery Barn!

Lucy’s first dog bed from Pottery Barn!

Another selfie, mom?

Another selfie, mom?

Fall is my favorite!

Fall is my favorite!

Central Park playdate with my auntie K and buddy Dylan!

Central Park playdate with my auntie K and buddy Dylan!

Just hanging out in Central Park with my Auntie J!

Just hanging out in Central Park with my Auntie J!

 

Grandpoppy makes me smile!

Grandpoppy makes me smile!

I'm two!!!

I’m two!!!

 

 

 

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.

The Guy I Met at the Dog Park

The sun radiated over the Hudson River, warming my face and creating shadows across the pages. I tried to look up to catch a glimpse of the sunset, it’s endless weaves of orange and yellow hues luring me in, but the light was too bright, my eyes too sensitive. This was surely the best time of the day to be at Riverside Park, a place I frequent if not for its quiet beauty but for its proximity to my apartment. The dog run is just a few blocks away and on evenings like last night, when I was too tired to run and to curious to just sit at home on Netflix, reading with a latte while Lucy plays is just about the perfect end to a hectic workday.

I didn’t put any effort into my appearance, instead, I just slipped off my work attire and melted myself into sweatpants I’ve had longer than I’ve been with any boyfriend. I pulled my hair into a crisp, loose bun and with a quick dab of Chapstick, I was out of the door and in the park by 7:30. While the sun played hide-and-seek in between the trees and stinging my eyes, I cursed myself for not bringing sunglasses, and worried that my lack of view would make it impossible to save Lucy from the occasional mean dog who mistakes her for a plush toy.

Scanning the dirt field to ensure her safety, my eyes watched a shadowy figure enter the park. I couldn’t make out any features, but I could see the width of his shoulders, the length of his legs. He threw a tennis ball and a black-and-white puppy chased after it, and through the rays of sunlight, I could make out a slight, yet gleaming, smile. I immediately look to his left hand, searching for a symbol of commitment, but hoping for a sign that he’s single. I watch the dog scatter around the park, clearly not much more than a few months old, and as if she could read my mind, Lucy wanders over to the dog, happy and eager to make a new friend.

As I usually do, I hold my breath while waiting to see if the dog of the handsome owner will be kind toward my girl, but I relax when I see them start to play and smile as I hear the stranger with a face I haven’t seen yet, come and sit down at the bench next to me. He brought a book too, though I can’t make out the cover. He glances over at me and grins. I return the gesture. With my legs curled up underneath me, I shuffle just enough to make my stretchy everyday pants look somewhat attractive, and I return my focus to the book I can no longer concentrate on since there is a possibility just a few feet away. He calls after his dog – Cecilia – and Lucy follows closely behind, most literally chasing her pal’s tail. Without hesitation, I see my white fur ball hop into this man’s lap, and though I apologize for her sudden breaking the rules of the dog run, I also make a mental note to give her some extra treats for being such a great wingdog.

“Oh I’m so sorry! She’s too friendly for her own good,” I say, quickly standing up and walking to retrieve her.

“It’s fine, really. This one is a trouble-maker too…,” he responds, looking at me for the first time. His eyes are blue. My heart clenches onto a fragile piece of hope it hasn’t felt in a long time. Don’t let your mind create romantic visions, Lindsay. Don’t do it. You’ve only just met a man, he means nothing. Not yet. Maybe not ever, I remind myself.

But it was too late, I could feel the fantasy starting to brew:

They met at the dog park on a beautiful August day in 2013. She wasn’t feeling her prettiest, but then again, her mother always told her that she’d meet someone when she least expected it and especially when she wasn’t trying at all. He saw her when he first walked in but she was devouring her book, barely looking up and he had thought she didn’t notice him at all. He loved the way she seemed so comfortable and confident, like she came to this park every single day, just to read, perhaps to play. The dogs must have known it first, before either of them could sense the chemistry that was so easily evident between them. Once she stood up, he knew he’d have to ask her out. When she looked into his eyes and finally saw his face from behind the sunlit cloud, she hoped he’d at least offer to buy her a drink. And he did. Five minutes later, they were sitting at the Riverside Park Café, looking out onto the river that wraps around the city they’re not from, but a place they both love more than anything. It had taken long enough to find one another, but here they were.

… she’s still a puppy, actually. Trying to train her and it’s really tough,” he continued, breaking me out of my daydream and back to reality, where Lucy was kicking dirt on my leg while licking my feet.

Oh, do you take her to PetCo? I really enjoyed the program when Lucy was her age,” I offered and he nodded along, squinting up with the sun in his eyes.

“I’ll have to look into that. You must be a regular here, huh?” He grins, placing his hand above his brow to look at me.

We talk about the area and raising dogs, and something tingles inside of me, even though I really do know better than to read too much into meet-cutes. He gets up and we walk around, chatting about our lives in the city, and throwing the ball that Cici chases and Lucy then chases after Cici. I can feel the tension grow, and though I try my very best to never be desperate, I desperately plead with the universe to make the sunset last longer so the darkness doesn’t come and swallow away this beautiful scenery, in this beautiful span of time, where for the first time, in a long time, I’m actually entertained talking to a man.

“Mark!” I hear as his attention changes quickly, and I realize we hadn’t exchanged our own names, just our pets’ names. I brace myself – and cross my fingers – that I’ll see a sister or a mother when I turn to face whoever is calling his name. She’s a beautiful brunette, wearing the same running shoes that I have. She looks pretty, even post-run, and Cici jumps up to greet her, and she tells her to sit in between giggles, just like I would if Lucy did the same. He goes up and embraces her, and then introduces me to his…

..fiancé.

She shakes with her left hand – possibly because she might feel a bit threatened – and I admire her sparkly diamond. He tells her all of the helpful advice I gave him: where to get their dog groomed inexpensively, joints that allow dogs to sit at the bar stool next to you, where to get the best deal on training pads and waste bags. I nod through the conversation as his bride-to-be excitedly thanks me for all of the help, and just as quickly as it happened, they walk away, hand-in-hand with Cici… into the sunset.

Okay, not really – it was mostly dark by then, but it sure felt that way.

I knew I had two choices in that moment: I could get discouraged and disappointed that my almost-date turned out to be taken or I could remember that not everything is ever as it seems. Yes, they’re engaged, maybe they’ve even set a date. Perhaps he’s uncertain about their future and they don’t actual click in all areas of their relationship. They could argue every day and have mismatched sex drives, she could have laid down the law of the ultimatum, forcing him into engagement after several years of dating. They could be college or high school sweethearts that would rather get hitched than to figure out the dating life post-university, or he could be a terrible boyfriend that she’s settling by marrying. There could be a million things wrong with their relationship or nothing at all. But no matter of how it’s going or how it’ll end up or who those people are, I’ll never know.

And they’ll never know much more about me.

To Mark, maybe I was just an opportunity to talk to a pretty girl other than his girlfriend, or maybe as a new pet owner, he could relieve some anxiety from someone who has it – at least somewhat – figured out. I could be the symbol of freedom that he sometimes misses, no matter how satisfied he is with his relationship. He may see me as a younger version of the life he once had or wish he had, where he could just sit by himself in the park, passing time without being pulled away or distracted by anything than your own timeline, bedtime, deadline. He may envy the power of independence or long for one single day without wedding planning or trying to decide what to cook for dinner or being nagged to take out the trash. He may see some value in my current status that I’ll never see until I no longer have it.

Or it could have just been a simple, short and quite meaningless conversation on a Tuesday night.

But regardless of what it meant or didn’t mean, what it symbolized or not, the truth is that no matter what part of the pond you stand – the single or the taken side – the grass always looks a little greener. At least every once in a while, anyway.

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