Slide forward, jump back

I’ve come to learn I shouldn’t be left to my own devices in other people’s apartments. I don’t mean that I steal things, or that I look for embarrassing things under the beds and in the medicine cabinets. Those things don’t really interest me (though a certain Chanel purse had me rethinking the “don’t steal” thing), and between the Nickname Posse I would be SHOCKED if we had any secrets that would lurk under the bed or in the medicine cabinet; or at least any secrets that we don’t all already know/text/talk about in detail. But when left alone this weekend in my partner-in-crime R and her Scot H’s apartment to watch their pup while they went off somewhere beautiful and relaxing, I did *perhaps* go a little wild… on the wealth of non-Whole30 approved food in their cabinets and fridge.

Actually, even before arriving to their place down in the Financial District, the end of last week turned into a mini free-for-all for my diet, starting with indulging in free pizza for lunch at the office and ending with me ordering from my favorite Dominican restaurant in the Heights for dinner; I told myself it was because I had barely any groceries in the apartment to make a decent meal, but in reality I’d had a glass or two of wine and tipsy me figured “well, I already ate grains and dairy today so SCREW IT!” After settling in with the pup early Saturday afternoon, I went looking for a cup for water (because despite having watched the dog multiple times and having spent countless days and nights in this apartment, I still forget where everything is), and happened first upon a cabinet that contained, among other things, a jar of Nutella and something called “Cookie Chips.” I’d brought some leftover groceries with me and could have stuck closer to my normal diet if I wanted, but for Friday and Saturday I’d decided not to, which led to an interesting revelation on Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up with what can only be described as a food hangover. My head hurt from all the sugar from a Nutella binge and an impulsive cupcake purchase, my skin was starting to break out from the dairy, and I was experiencing some gnarly stomach cramps due to I’m not even sure what. I wandered out of the guest room (aka my bedroom) in search of an essential oil or antacid or something to help, and found myself in R/H’s bathroom staring at a scale. Now, given my sordid history with anorexia, I do not own a scale and never will – but more often than not, I will still weigh myself if I see one. I know the number doesn’t matter. I know that. But Sunday morning after a delicious night of treats from R and H’s cabinets, their scale said that I was up 10 pounds from the end of Whole30, and seeing that number put me in a mental tailspin. Truly, I haven’t indulged in the Eating Disorder part of my brain in probably a year, but for whatever reason, this time, I did.

Life after an eating disorder is an endless struggle to think a certain way, constantly fighting to remember no, you’re not fat, and food is not scary. Before Whole30 I was really good at disassociating which voice was the eating disorder and which voice was rational thought, because okay, maybe I didn’t need to eat six KitKats from the work candy drawer that day but I won’t feel bad that I indulged in chocolate. During Whole30 I was really conscious about which voice could have been the eating disorder versus which was my body adapting to new meal patterns and eating schedules and the lack of sugar. It’s post-Whole30 where things have blurred; there’s this pull now to stay as close to that diet as possible because it makes a tangible difference in everything from my sleep, to my anxiety, to my work and to yoga, but once I’ve had something non-compliant for the day it turns into an awful cycle of “MIGHT AS WELL EAT EVERYTHING” followed by crippling anxiety about whether that will be the meal that finally makes me fat. Sunday night I sat on the couch for a while staring at a photo I’d put on Instagram earlier, a post-Bikram yoga sweaty shot where I’m in a sports bra, mentally bouncing between Rational Thought and Eating Disorder, and as I felt the panic start to rise, I immediately shut down Instagram and texted my soul sister E, the only person who could calm me down when anorexia rears its ugly head.

“It never really goes away, does it” I told E after we’d talked me down from my Nutella-induced food panic. “No,” she agreed. We talked a little more about how annoying it can be dealing with life post-ED, how one day I’m totally fine letting myself enjoy that third slice of pizza or a KitKat from the candy drawer, and then a week later I’m fighting back tears over a number on a scale. I hadn’t had a food-driven breakdown like this in months, maybe even over a year, and I’m lucky that E was available to help me step back and realize that everything is fine. I’m actually kind of grateful that I went a little crazy on R/H’s cabinets (*with full intentions to replace the Nutella I PROMISE), because I think I was starting to give in to the old rigid food rules that precede a relapse, hiding the anxieties connected to “bad foods” behind Whole30, instead of realizing what was happening and nipping it in the bud.

I’m not going to change my diet or lifestyle following this revelation – I still feel immensely better physically when I’m not eating things like grains and dairy, and frankly I prefer salads and smoothies to pretty much all foods – but this week my goal is to indulge in something every day, and to let myself enjoy it. Maybe it’s more Nutella on a spoon, a soy latte, or a warm croissant from the bakery in Chelsea Market; maybe it’s just an extra piece of fruit in the afternoon and a bigger portion for lunch. If I’ve learned anything else from yoga, aside from how to really shut down the anorexia part of my brain in such a way that dealing with this felt foreign, it’s that everything in life takes constant practice. Growth, after all, only comes after you slide back, fall down hard and still pick yourself up, always working so hard to move forward.

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Gavel Smash

I walked up the five flights of stairs to my apartment early Sunday evening carrying two overfilled Costco bags and a Lululemon tote stuffed with my clothes from the weekend away, exhausted, sweaty, and ready to be home. Finally ascending the last few stairs, I got really excited and then really annoyed as I saw what was waiting for me. Outside my door was something I’ve been eagerly awaiting (a diffuser for my doTerra oils #nerdalert), but the packaging had been torn open. I peeked inside quickly and saw nothing but bubble wrap, and in an instant was furious. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I said aloud, angrily kicking the empty box into my apartment while struggling to fit all the bags in the door. Look, there are a lot of stereotypes out there about Washington Heights, but my neighbors have never been nothing but helpful and nice (if *too* nice at times), and ending an otherwise fantastic weekend by coming home to a stolen package frankly, well, sucked. I spent the next half hour slowly unpacking while quieting the white rage bubbling in my stomach, trying to focus on the positives from the past few days and redirecting my thoughts away from judging my neighbors for who was the “most likely” culprit for diffuser-gate 2015.

This weekend was an amazing mix of highs and lows, starting with something I’ve known about for a few weeks and been anticipating for a few years. Friday night my lovely friend M and her N made the forever promise on a beautiful spring evening and returned home to a surprise party for M celebrating their engagement organized by N and yours truly; we had a blast and a half but between the adrenaline, nerves, anxiety/eagerness for the party, and the lack of a proper dinner between the half bottle of champagne and being spoon-fed Jell-O shots by my fashionista C, I was down for the count by 9:30, passed out in M and N’s bed by 10, and in a cab to the Upper East around midnight, feeling awful from an impending hangover and the idea that I’d ruined their party. The low continued into the morning, where I thought I could make it through a simple walk around the block with the dogs without throwing up (spoiler alert: the walk ends with me throwing up bile next to a tree while a family looked on horrified), but carried into the high of my Twinster visiting, a rare treat that I cherish, and somehow between essential oils, egg sandwich delivery, a 9 a.m. nap and a run with the pit bull, I managed to kill the miserable hangover for at least a few hours. The high of a twin visit lasted through the aforementioned Sunday homecoming surprise, which made me realize how much I’d judged strangers and friends, and felt judged by the same people that weekend on a number of different levels.

I judge people. There, I said it. I don’t mean that I spend my days passing assumptions on everyone who comes near me, and I certainly don’t take pleasure from making assumptions, but sometimes it’s just a reflex to make a judgmental thought. It’s almost never entirely intentional, but it happens – I’ll walk behind someone at 7:30 in the morning already puffing away on a cigarette and think how much it sucks to start my morning in a cloud of smoke, and I get sad when I see parents feeding McDonald’s to children, whether they’re overweight or not. I’m blessed to have experienced a lot of privilege in my life, and that privilege likely contributes to the somewhat automatic thoughts of “gross” when I accidentally walk onto an empty subway car, or the look down my nose at the thought of doing my own laundry in the city. I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to pretend that I’m sitting on a high horse judging everyone, but there are moments where I see something, or where I experience something, and I can’t help but let a judgmental thought run through my brain.

I would probably feel worse about my auto-judging tendencies if I didn’t also feel that on a regular basis from fellow strangers as well. I am the only white girl in my building and on my block in The Heights, and I’ve had everyone from old women to small children make comments along the lines of “Is she lost?” and “Damn white girl, thinking she belongs here,” usually in Spanish since they assume a white girl can’t speak the language fluently. Then there’s a particular look that a certain generation gets when they get a glimpse of me on the subway if I’m holding the pole with my left arm up, because who is this girl with a nose ring and a ridiculous tattoo riding on a train dressed like she’s going to a real job? I’ll feel it on the weekends like this past one, where I got to watch D&D’s pups, the sweetest girls in the world; it’s hard to miss when people with small dogs, or even with no dogs, cross the street when the get a glimpse of a pit bull walking their way. And it’s not limited to strangers, of course. I love my family and my friends with all my heart and soul, but there’s a reaction they give you when you make the comment that by the end of the year, all your friends save for two will be engaged or married. It’s a “you’re next!” sentiment, a “he’s out there for you!” comment that makes me feel like I’m supposed to be upset that all the people I love are celebrating love this year, or feel like I’m missing out on something because M is my wedding date for probably the next two years.

Maybe I was just extra sensitive from a few embarrassing moments over the weekend or maybe I was just coming down from a crazy high of so many wonderful things in just 48 hours, but I let that empty box sit in my foyer for a few hours while I unpacked everything else and took a minute to enjoy my brand-new loveseat that had been delivered while I was gone that weekend. It felt like a gavel smash to a crazy weekend, that my neighbors had finally done something to feed into the stereotype that I’ve been insisting is overblown ever since I moved up there in 2013. I finally calmed down and took a minute to appreciate that if that was the worst thing that’d happened to me all weekend (or at least tied with throwing up on the streets of the Upper East Side at 8:30 in the morning), then I have a pretty good life. I sighed, grabbed the box to put in my recycling pile when all of a sudden I started laughing hysterically. A quick peek and a judgment about the meaning of a ripped-open had hidden the fact that my little diffuser was still there, entirely obscured from view by too many packing bubbles, perfectly in tact and not, in fact, stolen. Apparently my things aren’t cool enough for the neighbors to take, if that was ever the intention at all. It’s a nice reminder that people and times can still surprise you every once in a while, blasting the tendency to judge before thinking, and reshaping memories that felt like judgments into funny moments with friends or a caring word from a family member. I mean, speaking honestly, I guarantee this weekend was not the last time that I’ll pass judgment mistakenly or otherwise, and it won’t be the last time I feel judged by those around me. As a tiny reminder that life can still surprise you, though, I’d rule this weekend a rousing success.

Yes ma’am

This weekend marked the sixth and final consecutive weekend that I was away from my apartment, following the trips to CT and Texas, and two weekends helping out friends by watching their dogs while they had fun somewhere else. My lovely friend M, her N, my partner-in-crime R and her Scot H were lucky enough to have tickets for Lolla in Chicago this weekend, and asked me months ago if I wouldn’t mind camping at M and N’s for a few days to watch their dogs. At the time, I had no idea the insanity of travel that my July would become, so I quickly agreed. I have to admit, as I left the office for M’s place on Thursday, I was feeling a little defeated. I missed my apartment. I missed little miss. And much as I love their dogs, I really, really just wanted some time to myself.

texts

People keep asking me if I’m getting paid for helping out all these weekends and weekdays, since it seems all I do is dogsit lately. I wouldn’t dream of asking or wanting D&D, M or R to pay me for doing them a favor. First, they’re all fantastic about stocking the fridge, and everyone buys me Salsa Sun Chips, which is enough to keep me happy for the 45 minutes it takes to inhale the entire bag. And taking a few days to take care of my fur nieces and nephew is so much fun. I love walking around with the dogs, snuggling with them at night, and giving them all the love they wouldn’t get if they only had a dog walker stop by twice a day. Beyond that, I like to think I’m the type of person who would do anything for my friends. I’m not selfless per se, as anyone who’s met me knows I have a tendency to interrupt stories with off-topic musings, and will ask repeatedly if someone thinks I look cute, especially when I already know that I do. But I would do anything for my friends if they needed me to, from booking a waxing appointment on-the-go when the other can’t get into the UniK mobile site, to sacrificing a weekend making bad decisions to stay home with the pups.

It’s a strength and a weakness that I have a hard time saying no to people. Along with the standard pros/cons of being a “yes” person, like taking initiative vs. taking on more than you can handle, this particular personality trait means I’m almost always willing to give someone a second chance, wanting to believe all the “this time” promises, a big Yes to a new beginning. It’s part of who I am, that I don’t want to give up on people, want to see and believe the best of the words that can seduce me with a single syllable. Yet it puts me in compromising positions from time to time, like agreeing to attend more than one birthday party on a Saturday and believing my landlord when he promises “this time” he’ll fix the door properly (STILL BROKEN). As seen the past few weekends, saying yes all the time can be overwhelming and exhausting; memories of lazy Sunday afternoons sleeping on my couch and cleaning while catching up on Netflix seem distant. I wouldn’t change my past six weekends for anything, but the self-inflicted burden of being a Yes Girl can weigh heavily after enough time.

Sunday morning in M’s apartment I was roaming the living room for a laundry card when I came across a thick envelope. Curious, and obviously nosy, I turned it over to see “For LB – don’t open till Sunday, k? Love R&H and M&N.” I probably would have ripped it open if I’d found it Friday (sorry guys, but… I mean come on), so I loved that I didn’t know it existed until they wanted me to. Inside was a gift certificate for a day at a beautiful Midtown spa, a treat I never would have purchased for myself but desperately, desperately need. I started to tear up a little, so shocked by the gesture that was completely unnecessary but so thoughtful. I didn’t need, or expect, or even want anything from them, save for that extra bag of Sun Chips and a thank you, but the little recognition was such a huge way to start the month. It’s exhausting to be the Yes Girl, the default dogsitter, the backup babysitter and the one who wants to believe that This Time is the last. But looking forward to four blissful weekends of me time, it feels worth it after all.

To the rescue!

A few weeks back, a slightly panicked D, my brother’s wonderful girlfriend, called me to ask what I was doing the weekend of July 18. D&D were planning to join friends for a weekend in the Hamptons, leaving their two girls, a pug and a pit bull, alone for a few days. Fortunately for them, this past weekend was the only weekend in July that I was, in fact, available, so I readily accepted the chance to staycation in my old neighborhood and hang out with the dogs. Their pug is a funny little pooch with a big personality, and we always joke that she’s more like a cat: disinterested in humans to an extent, unless you’re making dinner, while the pit bull is a rescue. They found her while on vacation in Puerto Rico, fell in love and speedily brought her up to the States to foster upon their return.

All dogs have their little quirks and oddities, whether a full breed, a mutt, a show dog or a rescue. Some of them chew furniture, some are terrified by the vacuum, some sleep upside down and some turn circles when excited. That said, the quirks for rescue dogs are generally more pronounced and require more attention. Rescue dogs have dealt with anything from abandonment to abuse, and all are affected in different ways. For example, my parent’s dog, a half-golden retriever, half-Rottweiler rescue, has a “saving people” complex when it comes to our pool, constantly jumping in after us (read: on top of us), running around the edge of the pool barking in the meantime. D&D’s pitty is deaf, and as I learned this weekend, if she’s ready to be done with her walk, she just lays down where she is. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the bike lane in Central Park, two buildings away from her own or even in the middle of an intersection – if she is tired, she lays down. These little quirks can be funny, but also frustrating, when you’re just trying to go for a swim, or you’re also tired and just want the dog to stand for the 3 steps back home.

Fun story: she stayed like that for 20 minutes.

Fun story: she stayed like that for 20 minutes.

And then again, while all dogs love you unconditionally and in their own way, I think there’s a deeper level of understanding and love in rescue dogs and their humans. This isn’t to say I didn’t have a total blast with their pug – she is such a funny little munchkin, hamming it up at the dog park, nestling right between my legs every night and snoring loudly till morning. But sitting on D&D’s couch this weekend, with the pitty snuggled next to me, head in my lap, so content, I could almost feel her gratitude radiating, like she knew she’d been rescued by someone and wanted to make sure she earned your love. She may have separation anxiety and sit outside the shower door while you’re there, she may take a liking to your running shoes and try to chew one while waiting for a walk, but when she gives a big smile and flops next to you on the couch after a long walk, it’s almost as though she knows she could be somewhere worse right now, and she has you (well, your brother and his girlfriend) to thank for that.

I faced a fair bit of dog-discrimination this weekend walking around the Upper East Side with a pit bull  – one man’s fluffy little rat dog charged at her and he chastised me for “not paying attention” (bro, don’t blame your dog’s attitude on my dog’s breed), and a few times I noticed people crossed the street or picked up smaller dogs to avoid passing her on their walks. But more often people cooed over her, completely enamored with her eyes, one green, one blue, and the way she just loves everyone, so excited to receive any type of attention. The pug was such a good big sister, leading the pit bull around the neighborhood and making friends for both of them, most people so taken and amused by the site of the two of them together. It’s a lot of work taking care of two dogs, especially when one hates her new Gentle Lead leash and snorts at you when you try to put it on, and the other can’t hear you say “NO!” when she tries to run into a busy street. For those grateful snuggles at the end of the night though, I’ll take wonky rescue quirks any day of the week.

FOMO

Greetings from beautiful CT, where I’m fortunate enough to be working in pajamas all day and I have a gnarly bruise on my chin after a misguided attempt at the crow pose in yoga this morning. Mama and Papa B are off at a wedding in beautiful Maryland this weekend, so I volunteered to watch our pooch, a crazy half golden/half rottweiler mix who barks at everything and loves to snuggle. I love weekends at home, raiding the extensive wine cellar and the magic beer fridge (it’s always filled with beer. Always. Even after you drink all the beer, you wake up and it’s filled with beer), running paths that used to be the school bus route, stopping for a drink at the only bar in town. I love that I’ve grown up in the same town with the same people, inevitably running into at least a few of them every time I’m here. And yet, with all of these fantastic traits, I’ll still sprint back to the city on Sunday as quickly as possible. Is it concern for little miss, separation anxiety from the city or the fact that I just remembered I’ve had laundry at my drop-off place since Wednesday? Of course not. It’s pure, unadulterated, single LB FOMO.

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is one of the new buzzwords used in the media to try and explain millennials, like “Muppie” and “YOLO.” It’s pretty self-explanatory, and I’ve got it bad. There have been a few weekends where I’ve been enjoying a shopping spree on mama B followed by a feast of the best fried seafood on the east coast, and I’ll see a picture of my lovely friend M and partner-in-crime R outside with their dogs, and I’m desperately wishing I were back in my apartment, running out the door to join them. FOMO doesn’t make any sense, and it’s useless to wish you were somewhere else when you can’t be. FOMO takes away from enjoying the moment you’re in, something I’ve been practicing for weeks now. And yet it didn’t stop me from feeling hopelessly jealous as M and R both talked up their couples retreat to PA this weekend, wishing I hadn’t promised to relegate myself out of state for a few days.

Work has been so busy lately that I almost forgot this weekend was happening, nearly forgetting to pack for the weekend before walking out the door of my apartment. I didn’t even allow myself to enjoy it when I walked in the door in CT, beaten down by a long day of demands, barely excited to see the dog who couldn’t contain herself when she saw me, not registering the lovely bottle of wine mama B had opened and the amazing fish dinner papa B had prepared. I was annoyed I’d be missing a weekend at home, annoyed it wasn’t Friday, just annoyed and annoyed and angry and filled with so much FOMO it started taking over.

I put myself to bed early, trying to convince myself it’d be better in the morning and instead I just ended up staring at the ceiling: not tired, not happy, and still away from my NYC apartment. About one in the morning, I heard a scratch at the door and in walked our dog, cautiously peeking around the door like a toddler after a nightmare. I smiled and told her to come up, and in a second she was snuggled right next to me, snoring happily with her head on my leg. Such a small gesture made me feel immensely better, and in another minute I was sound asleep.

She's helping (kind of?)

She’s helping (kind of?)

It’s all perspective, in the end. Because right now I think everyone else should have FOMO for my weekend with this adorable pooch, in a big house all alone, with no plans, no obligations and nothing standing between me and my parent’s extensive wine collection.

“We’re getting old.”

When your partner-in-crime asks if you wouldn’t mind moving into her beautiful, high-rise building in the Financial District for five days to watch her dog, who is possibly your favorite male dog in the city*, as she spends a weekend in Vegas with her boyfriend, who is possibly your new favorite person in general, the answer is pretty simple. Do I want to spend time snuggling up to a yorkipoo, exploring a neighborhood I love and enjoying a distance of “across the street” instead of “across the city” from my fashionista C, my lone remaining single friend? Uh. Duh. I would have paid R to let me do that. But ever the generous southern girl, once I agreed, R not only offered to take care of the catsitter for little miss while I was gone, but even stocked the apartment with wine from Argentina (my favorite), salsa Sun Chips (ref: I am an animal), and a hand-drawn map to the dog park for the weekend.

Stopping at her place on day one, it had been a long day, filled with crazy work and a fun-but-exhausting few hours with a 15-month old and 4 year old. I gratefully poured a glass of vino, popped open the Sun Chips and snuggled with the pooch for a binge-watch of Sex and the City on R’s iPad. Two episodes and two glasses of wine later, I was full-tilt passed out in her absurdly comfortable bed, conceding little spoon to the pooch and looking forward to a good run before work in the morning. I was relaxed, and happy, and feeling pretty good about my life choices at that moment.

And then I woke up hungover.

TWO GLASSES OF WINE!?! TWO GLASSES OF WINE and I woke up semi-groggy, head hurting and stomach protesting coffee in lieu of my go-to morning-after of seltzer and a croissant. I mean come on. I’d eaten dinner, plus half the bag of Sun Chips, drank a full glass of water before going to bed and still woke up with a freaking hangover. Refusing to believe this was happening, I forced myself to the gym, where I couldn’t even manage two miles on the treadmill before I had to stop, groaning with painful stitch in my side and my body screaming for hydration. As I sat down in the shower (judge away) for just a minute, half-laughing about the situation and full-enjoying a morning in a bathroom that doesn’t occasionally rain dirt from the ceiling, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this what it means to get old?

In the almost-four years since graduating college and entering the Real World, I’ve had to learn how to unclog a shower, kill bugs without screaming, maintain a steady inventory of handsoap and toilet paper, feed and clothe myself and budget effectively, all of which I understood were parts of growing up and getting older. Since turning 25 though, I feel like there’s a host of new milestones that no one warns you about that come with age, like how you feel about going to bed at 9:30 (THE BEST) or the terrible, terrible things that happen when you eat like it’s Sunday morning in the dining hall, freshman year of college (RIP skinny jeans). Gone are the nights where I’m at M’s till 11, watching reruns of terrible television and steadily pushing our curfew so we can have just another drink and gossip just a little more; gone is the attitude of “I’ll do it later” when it comes to cleaning my apartment or dropping off my laundry. Little beats of adulthood have been creeping into my life subtly, shifting attitudes from “devil may care” to “maybe don’t spend rent money on Louboutins.”

I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world, growing up. Sure, nights at the bar are a great part of any weekend, but I look forward to my weekly grocery shopping adventure at Whole Foods pretty much all the time. Ordering Seamless on a Sunday vs. spending 2 hours making yourself enough food to last for lunch and dinner all week? I’m firmly planted in bucket two there. Outside of food, adulthood is still turning into a really beautiful thing, watching friends celebrate promotions, weddings, anniversaries with their person; watching your partner-in-crime fall in love. Enjoying adulthood means knowing more about myself, and the people I want to keep around me. A hangover after two glasses of wine is perhaps on the “embarrassing” side, but if this is getting old, I can probably learn to live with it.

(Aside: that homage to the lovely Carrie B was actually unintentional when I first wrote this, but too good to revise. I think I need to curb the SATC binge-watching. End aside.)

*Favorite female dog goes to my brother’s girlfriend’s pug. Pugs are the best.