Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I Was So Sure That The Answer To "Will You Marry Me?" Was "Yes."

Believe it or not, I'm not a hopeless romantic. Not deep down at least.

Despite my public love of all-things Nora Ephron and private love of way too many things Nicholas Sparks, I don't believe in love at first sight, I'm not so sure about soul mates, and three years ago, I couldn't have even told you what I was looking for in a future husband. I'm not quite a cynic, but I'm definitely a realist when it comes to matters of love.

But over the past three years, I came to realize that all that realism was just fear. Love is scary, commitment is scarier, and marriage is a step beyond all of that. You have to give more of yourself than you ever realized you had to give while taking on more of another person than you could have fathomed existed. You have to have a certain level of immeasurable passion in your heart and an equal amount of impossible to weigh knowledge in your head. And you have to trust fully and completely without ever having all the evidence you'll need answer the almighty-est of questions: will I love this person forever? Will he love me? Will we make it 'til death do us part?

People always say, "when you know, you know," but I never believed them. The realist in me thought, what does that even mean? What do you "know" when you "know?" How does a person get to the point where they are sure enough to make the most life-changing of life-changing decisions?

I don't know, but I did it on Saturday afternoon in a private nook on New York City's High Line Park (because that was the site of our first east coast date). I don't remember a word I said beyond YES. I don't have a clue what R said beyond "marry me?" but in the three minutes before he asked (when I finally realized something might be up) and the endless hours that followed (when all of our family and so many of our friends showed up for the post-engagement celebration) I was sure. I've been sure about saying "yes" for a very long time. And the only words I can use to describe that feeling of complete and utter certainty are, "you know when you know."

But that bothered me last night on the flight back to L.A. as I thought over this big deal of a blog post while staring at my brand new, amazingly sparkly, absolutely-perfect-in-every-way-ring (like !!!!!!!). I'm an overly verbose, over-thinker who has been over-sharing about relationship issues for years. How can I just leave it at the cliche that left me feeling ill-equipped for all these years? And, more importantly, how can I - the self-proclaimed "rational romantic" - have an answer without a rationale?

And so, I feel like I owe it to myself and all of you to end this ridiculous charade around certainty, to explain even a few of those inexplicable feeling you should have before you're ready to say yes, and, because he deserves it so so much, to explain why I specifically said yes to R. 

Here goes - in all it's mushy, over-the-top, I've-been-engaged-for-48-hours glory. You were warned.
  • I feel the love I have for R - like feel it in my bones and sometimes my belly but most often that area where I also feel heartburn after too much good food. I look at him sometimes - like after he does something particularly perfect or particularly imperfect - and actually feel love.
  • I see R feel that same love for me. It looks like total adoration mixed with general amazement, a little bit of passion and total satisfaction. The result is something really awkward and goofy, but pretty obvious. 
  • I respect R like a mentor or family member or really impressive celebrity who I look at and think - damn, that person is just killing it at life. I aspire to be more like them. I think, "I'd hire R to do anything," and, "God, R is good at what he does," and, "If anyone can do it, R can."
  • I'm able to envision the hard times that will absolutely come and see myself handling them with R. I can see how it plays out, even the scary stuff. It's a bit dark to picture tragedy, but there's such solace in knowing how he will love me through that - how he will be there for me. It makes the scary things less scary.
  • I don't "need" R in the fish-needs-water sense or "want" R in the girl-needs-shoes sense, but I want to need him. This is tricky, but I think of it as having the desire to let go of the control in my life so that there is room to let R help me live more fully, safely, happily, you name it. It also lets R love me like he needs to, in addition to loving me like I need to be loved. Full disclosure (though we're way beyond that...) this was the hardest part for me. 
  • I notice that R is the same man in every element of his life, and that integrity of self has flowed over into our relationship. We are the same couple no matter to venue or audience, and because of that people know us - as individuals but also as a couple. And it feels really good to be known by other people. 
  • Life is more fun, exciting, full, challenging and just freaking awesome every single day because of R. Point blank. No further explanation. 
These are solid reasons that I can explain and exhibit. They're tangible. You can see them for yourself.

But when R sat me down on the bench just away from the crowds for his pre-proposal, speech he told me the story he tells me every year on the anniversary of the day we met (which, yes of course, was three years ago this past Saturday - the day he proposed). He told me that when I walked into the bar he saw me from across the room and knew I was the girl he was going to marry. And I cried like I cry every single year when he tells me because, despite all of the logic in my head that says that kind of thing is impossible, I believe him.

I believe him because on our first "official" date - a few days after we met - I stared into his eyes as he talked about his love of music, and his relationship with his nephews, and his family's house on Copake Lake, and I knew too.

Because when you know, you know.

My wish for every single one of you is that you feel the same inexplicable, heart-bursting feeling that comes from saying YES when the question is finally asked. It is pure magic.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest Post: The Day My City Shut Down and I Turned 30

I'm pleased and proud to share this guest post from my friend Liz Adams - a Boston-raised BC grad who turned 30 on a day that held more meaning than she could have ever imagined.  Enjoy!


It was the end to a week that terrorized my home town. It was a day I don’t think any Bostonian will forget. It was also the day I said goodbye to my 20s.
It should have been the worst birthday. I awoke in New York to news that a shootout had turned into a full manhunt and my city was shutdown. I scrambled to the airport hoping I could at least make it back to Boston, not knowing what I would do or what condition the city would be in when I landed. I wound up at home locked in my apartment glued to the TV and listening to the police scanners with my roommates. Anxiety consumed us all. And yet by the end of the day I considered this my best birthday yet.
Many of us will tell the stories of where we were when the bombs went off. The stories of how we pieced together the information of who was safe and who was not. We will tell the stories of where we were when we found out our friends and loved ones were hurt or worse.  We will tell the stories of how we hunkered down in our homes trained to the police scanner and how the city collectively sighed when they found the second scumbag (the only official title for the suspect according to many Bostonians which is suitable for print).
We will remember these stories because this felt so deeply personal to so many. Boston is where I was born and raised. And when I left for 7 years to live in New York I proudly wore my Red Sox hat and carried that chip on my shoulder with which only Bostonians are born. For my part this week I learned that a Boston College classmate/friend and his wife were severely injured. But because Boston has the resources of a big city and the feel of a small town, it felt like we all knew someone who was personally terrorized by this week. Friends knew many others who were injured. My neighbor watched on Friday as a manhunt focused on an area where her grandmother, also celebrating a birthday, lives. (The suspect was apprehended several homes down the street from her grandmother’s house). We all lost a sense of safety.
But while we will tell the stories of horror and sadness because we have them, what we internalized is something completely different. Those that jumped in to help the wounded immediately; those that ran two more miles after completing a marathon to donate blood; those that worked tirelessly to locate the suspects; they made the impression that will last.   The spontaneous displays of unity and kindness; these are the moments that will live in our hearts.
I will always remember how the generosity and outpouring of support for my classmate and his wife raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in only days. I will remember how many people reached out to me not only to wish me a happy birthday, but also just to see if I was okay. I will remember sitting on the tarmac and receiving a video of my two year old nephew singing happy birthday to me, a moment of innocence that relieved my anxiety.  I will remember my neighbor using the contents of her pantry during the lockdown to make me cupcakes and my roommates organizing their surprise presentation to ensure that I did celebrate my birthday. And I will remember singing the lyrics of Dirty Water as we drowned out the sirens carrying the suspect to a nearby hospital- because we had heard too many sirens recently. I remember the viral videos that sprung up instantly on twitter of people pouring into the streets to cheer and thank law enforcement. And how in a truly Boston way the city responded with a “how about them apples” type of response, or as Big Papi said “this is our F!cking city, no one will dictate our freedom.”
In a moment earlier in the week where I was not sure if I deserved the upgrade from the kids table, a partner from my consulting firm offered some insight into the 30s as we ate dinner. He said “Your 30s are grad school for self-awareness”. And on this very bizarre first day of my 30s I was instructed on a fundamental but important lesson. While it is not particularly insightful to see the good in juxtaposition to so much evil, these are the moments where what is good it obvious to us.  But the next level of thinking is required to ensure that you see the good and the blessings in the everyday; the times when you may otherwise take those good people and blessings for granted.
This day was a good birthday because as this 20-nothing transitioned to a 30 something, she was given the powerful gift of perspective and a reminder of what is truly important. I wasn’t worried about wrinkles, being single, or where I stacked up on the imaginary timeline that is my life project plan. I was truly grateful for everything I had on this very day. I was truly grateful for what we all have, Bostonians and those who have adopted this city in their heart. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is a Happy Ending technically cheating?

I can't believe I'm asking this question...on a blog that my Mom reads.

I also can't believe I don't instantly know the answer.

Back story (to prevent your imaginations from running wild...):

The other day I was reading a friend's script that included a scene featuring a man receiving a Happy Ending (which I assume we capitalize?). Later in the script his girlfriend finds out and is extremely upset. Logical, right? Who wouldn't be?

But then I got to thinking about whether or not his indiscretion technically counts as a cheat. Is it the same as soliciting sex from a prostitute? Not really. Or, as one single male friend said, "Jesus I hope not! It's not, right? Please just say it's not and let's stop talking about this."

Not to get technical about it, but any time a man's privates are touched by a woman who is not his girlfriend, that's cheating. Right? In that case, a "special massage" certainly counts. But it is, say, divorce-inducing or break-up worthy? Is it worse than finding out your fiance is sexting with a co-worker? No. No way. Right?

Maybe the better question is, where does a Happy Ending fall on the scum bag scale? I consulted with R (who would like to remind everyone that he in no way prompted this blog post), and he said, "it's definitely the lowest level of cheating. But if it's a chronic problem, that's a different issue."

Good point. Frequency does seems like it would matter in this circumstance. If a guy accidentally walks into a special Thai massage shop not knowing what's to come, fine (oof, pun not intended, but now I obviously have to leave it in there). If a guy continues to go to that Thai massage shop on the weekly, not fine.

But back to R's first statement. Is a H.E. the "lowest level of cheating?" I mean, I don't think I need to go so far as to point out what happens to make that ending so happy. How is that "low" in the sexual acts category?

Maybe it has something to do with the person on the other end of that ending being a stranger? Does that somehow make the act less offensive than your guy consistently flirting with a local bartender, or worse, his ex? As a girlfriend, the latter would certainly bother me more, but that somehow feels wrong. In the former case, things got physical. In the latter, no barrier was "technically" crossed.

Here's an interesting layer to add to the debate. Which of the above issues is a guy more likely to confess? I'm inclined to say he'd fess up to the texts with an ex over the accidental H.E. "But nothing even happened!" sounds better than, "But I only did it once! All the guys at the office went too!"

I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole issue, so let's put it to a vote.

Who says a Happy Ending is obviously, beyond a shadow of a doubt, cheating? Who says, nah, it doesn't cross that threshold? And who has more points to add to the debate?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Boston, For Boston, We Sing Our Proud Refrain

I celebrated four Marathon Mondays in my four years at Boston College, and they were among the four greatest days of my entire college life.

It's not just the celebration of such impressive athleticism from so many diverse people. It's not all the good spirit resulting from the thousands of causes those thousands of runners support. It's not just the sound of deafening cheering from every direction you turn or the fact that the kegs of Sam Adams flow from the crack of dawn on.

It's that Boston is its most Boston on Marathon Monday.

If you've lived there for any period of time, you understand what that means.

Every city has a personality, and Boston's is both that of the tenacious 26.2 mile runner and their best friends screaming in the crowd. It's that of the Irish pub owner giving away free pints of Guinness to anyone with a family member running the race and the Southie-raised cop giving the people who get drunk off those Guinesses a little more leeway. It's the Sox season ticket holders actually caring about another sport, at least until the Sox game stars, the veterans proudly wear their Patriot's Day gear as they watch both events from their couch in Dorchester, and the thousands of students from everywhere but Beantown finally feeling like they can sing, "Boston you're my home" and mean it.

But yesterday for a brief moment Boston was not that city I miss every Marathon Monday; it was a war zone.

This is the second time I've been hundreds of miles away from a tragedy that, should timing have been different, I might have experienced first hand. First there was 9/11, during which I was ironically at Boston College, and yesterday there was what the news is now calling the Boston Bombings, during which I was over 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles.

I watched the video of the bombs going off on Boylston Street with the same feeling of distance as I had when the Twin Towers fell. It was like seeing a familiar place turned foreign. All the surroundings are the same, but nothing you're seeing makes sense. It's like my brain wanted to try and convince me that I was looking at some place I'd never seen before, not the block I walked down dozens of times. This wasn't Boston. This was some miserable movie set.

Then I saw the picture of Patrick.

Patrick is a good friend from BC who currently lives in Boston with his wife Jess. I know plenty of kids who were born and raised in Boston, but Patrick is the most Boston of them all. He has that accent that makes it impossible to tell if he's saying "parking" or "packing," he's no more than two degrees of separation from Whitey Bulger (or so he claims), and he cried his eyes out when the Sox finally won the World Series. If you met Patrick on an iceberg in Antarctica, you'd instantly know he was from Boston. Hell, the penguins would know.

But yesterday Patrick was a shell-shocked victim in a wheelchair staring back at me from the pages of TheBostonHerald.com, and within a few moment there was his beautiful wife Jess, a frozen image of grief and pain on the front page of the New York Times online.

Suddenly my brain knew exactly how real this all was.

My heart broke for them. For Patrick who wouldn't have watched his city's marathon from anywhere but a spot close to the finish line, and for Jess who probably married Patrick in part because he wouldn't watch his city's marathon from anywhere but that spot. They were victims of a senseless crime in the heart of the place they equate with nothing but family, friends and love.  It made me sick, and it made me mad.

But as I stared at that picture of Patrick, I couldn't help but see into the future - as if knowing Patrick as the opposite of that horrific image made it impossible to believe it was anything but fleeting.

I saw his recovery among a community of doctor and nurses that would quickly feel just like his cousins in Cambridge. I saw he and Jess participating in the community gatherings of healing and support that will no doubt pop up around the city in the weeks following. I saw Patrick speak at our alma mater about how he overcame the fear that day, and then I saw him counseling trauma victims from other devastating events across the country, if not the world. And finally I saw the two of them walking hand in hand down Boylston Street once they were finally able to revisit the place where their lives were forever changed.

And once I was able to see that whole future for Patrick - a man I so define by all the characteristics of the great city that raised him - I started to see that future for the city itself. The re-building, the re-trusting, the healing and ultimately the growth. 

Boston is defined by many things, but it is nothing without Bostonians. Yesterday, for a brief moment, I forgot what forces of nature that specific crop of people can be. I focused on their fear and not their resilience. I saw their pain and not the strength behind it. But Patrick reminded me from a blurry photo taken 3,000 miles away.

The people of Boston are indistinguishable from the city where they live. I learned that from my friend Patrick who I can hear right now calling himself a, "son of Boston," in that awesome accent, and I relearned it yesterday when all I could see through the pain and destruction was the spirit I know stills exists underneath. 

Patrick, Jess and their city will come out of this stronger . They will fight with everything that they have to return to the lives they were in the process of building, and once they make it there, they will continue to fight for everyone still on the journey back. I am afraid of so many things after these horrific events - the state of our national security and the future of the events that bring us joy paramount among them - but I am not worried about my friend and my former city making a full recovery...especially after hearing that the first things Patrick wanted to know upon waking up from surgery were whether or not the nurse went to Boston College, and if the Sox won their game.

Please send your thoughts and prayers from wherever you are to Boston, specifically to the hospital beds of Patrick and Jess who sustained significant leg injuries but are gaining strength every day. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How To Be The Most Tolerable Couple On The Block

For not the first time in recent history, R and I were referred to as a couple that single people can tolerate being around. Yes, #humblebrag, but I like to think it counts less since I called it on myself and since I'm about to deliver you some well-researched information.

What's that? Still counts the same? Yeah, you're right.

Regardless, I wanted to know what it meant to be a two-some that singles can stand. Does it have something to do with how un-couple-like we can or cannot be? Or are there universal things that all vom-worthy lovers do in the presence of their unattached friends? Here's what the peanut gallery had to say. FYI these are not specific to the way R and I behave (or don't), but they're specifically how we'll be behaving moving forward.

Sessions with them are not like some "we" fest recap of every amazing thing they've done together in the past six weeks. 

Agreed. My biggest peeve about people in general is their inability to see outside their fabulous, amazing, conversation-worthy world, so this makes sense on the couple level. Even if you spent 99% of your time together doing things that would fascinate the Most Interesting Man in the World, shut up and ask the people you're with what they've been up to lately, and try to know some things about the world so you can share topics of conversation beyond the brunch place where you recently read your respective favorite sections of the New York Times.

The PDA's are at a reasonable level and frequency

As a single person I once went on a date with a couple who literally held each other throughout our entire two hour dinner. While they were well within their rights as individuals to share an intimate embrace in the restaurant booth, I found it somewhat offensive. If you're dining as a group, dine as a group. Or as one friend said, "you can hold each other on the couch when you get home or when I pretend to go to the bathroom for ten minutes to avoid this dinner."

They don't follow each other around at the party

I hadn't thought of this one, but it's true that there are those couples who cannot function apart from each other at a given event. It's, "excuse me, I'm going to see where R went," or, "hey has anybody seen R? I need to tell him that the darker orange cheese is the better of the two orange cheeses."  This is less annoying and more just pathetic.

They don't do all their inside couple joke (or fight) things and then refuse to explain them. 

It looks like this:
  • The Girl: Oh my god honey, they have swiss chard on the menu. 
  • The Guy: Don't start with me...
  • The Girl: What? I'm just saying...swiss chard...here at this restaurant. Interesting...huh?
  • The 3rd Wheel: What? what's wrong with swiss chard?
  • The Girl: It's nothing. It's just this things that we have.
  • The 3rd Wheel: What kind of thing.
  • The Girl: It's stupid. 
  • The Guy: She started it. 
  • The 3rd Wheel: Just tell me. 
  • The Girl: No, no, no. It's stupid. Just an "us" thing. Forget it. 
They ask you to take pictures of them a dozen times when you're together

It is nice to capture special moments on digital film, and it is appropriate to ask the friends you're with to take those pictures. It is not nice or appropriate for that to happen more then five times during one session, especially if you're going to ask for retakes when you don't like how you look. Exceptions include: major holidays, big trips, birthday parties.

They don't try to set you up every time you're together. 

That looks like this:
  • The Girl: Ugh, honey. Who do we know for Jane?...
  • The Guy: I don't know. We've got to know someone. 
  • The Girl: I know... We've got to crack this nut so that Jane and this guy friend we obviously don't have can double date with us. Wouldn't that be so fun Jane? 
Don't flatter yourselves by thinking that every single person in your wake is just waiting for you two love birds swoop in and deliver them their future.

They complain about how old and domesticated they've become

One example explains it all:

  • The Girl: You were out until 2am?! Oh my god we're in bed by 10 every night.
  • The Guy: No, you are. 
And finally, the best of all the examples I heard:

"When the girlfriend is always picking at the bf in public like he's some sort of monkey. One of my friends actually licked her finger and wiped some crap of her guy's face mid-conversation, and he didn't flinch. That's a problem." 

That is a problem, and one I will now think of every single time I want to pick a piece of lint of R's shirt when he's in the middle of a conversation... 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What I Learned By Saying Goodbye to Elliott

The accidental ear flip. My absolute favorite Elliott look.

We said goodbye to Elliott on Saturday, and it was hands down the hardest moment of our relationship.

I remember thinking about tough moments the weekend that I moved into R's place. It was, ironically, one year ago to the day that we returned Elliott to the adoption group. All my things were strewn about the small, one-bedroom apartment in non-organized piles. R's things were uprooted from their prior rightful places and forced into their own mounds that made no sense. Just as R was attempting to finish the IKEA dresser that would hold my overwhelming collection of clothes and I was marrying our combined book collection into a color and size-coded system, we both lost it.
  • "Oh my god this is hard!" I said. 
  • "I don't know what to do next," he said. "How do I figure out what to do next?"
45 minutes later we were sitting at the bar closest to our newly shared space, drinking an ice-bold beer. That's when I remember thinking, "okay, good. That was hard, but we found a way through it, and it was the same way, and I still love R, so we're probably going to be okay...forever??"

I now know that those brief moments of frustration were rookie league compared to the "hard" of giving up a new puppy.

The first two days with Elliott seemed promising. He was fearful around us but well-behaved on the many long walks we took and responsive to treats (especially grilled chicken). We could sense - as we'd been told - that this puppy had been through a lot. It was like he didn't quite know how to be a dog, but we felt that same connection to him that we had the first afternoon we met, so we continued to believe that we could be the people to bring him out of his shell.

By day three, things settled into what would be for the next five days, and those things were not good.

The more Elliott attached to me (something we were told would happen based on his past experience with women vs. men) the more aggressive he became toward R. Elliott's crate aggression (confined spaces make him nervous based on his experience living with a hoarder) made it so that we could not leave him without considerable destruction to anything in his path. Elliott's leash aggression (he has never been socialized to other dogs while on a leash) made it so that we could not take him anywhere other dogs might be. And, because he had grown up with a large outdoor space and other dogs, our one bedroom apartment made him anxious. He didn't know where to be. He didn't know what to do.

I want to be very clear that there is a world in which we could have moved heaven and earth to rehabilitate this dog. It is possible. His issues are common among dogs with his background. And that's exactly what made it so hard to decide that we couldn't be the people to help him right now.

We felt guilty. We felt selfish. We felt frustrated. We felt confused. We felt a dozen more emotions that we've never felt as a couple before, but somehow we never felt angry with each other. 

There was silence. There were tears. And there were whispers (because we didn't want Elliott to know that we were talking about him), but somehow there was never a cross word between us. 

I don't know why we both loved Elliott so much, but we did. We had a special connection to the little guy that transcends explanation, and frankly logic. But ultimately we had to make an adult decision for our lives and his. He needs more serious care than we can provide, and we need a dog that works better with our lifestyle.

45 minutes after the adoption group came to pick Elliott up we were driving out to meet a friend and share an ice-cold beer. That's when I remember thinking, "okay, good. That was really hard, but we found a way through it, and it was the same way, and I still love R, so we're probably going to be okay forever."

But this time there wasn't a question mark at the end of that thought, and I have Elliott to thank for that.

P.S. the little guy is now with a foster family that has extensive experience in rehabilitating abused animals, a much large space, and other dogs for to help him learn how to behave. #TeamElliott!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's Time To Lay Off That Princeton Mom, Here's Why

I can't believe I just typed those words, and now I can't believe I'm going to defend them...

In case you missed it: Princeton Mom Susan A. Patton (one of the "200 pioneer women" to graduate from the Ivy League school) wrote a piece for The Daily Princetonian imploring its female undergrads to find a husband in college. Patton's message was crystal clear: "Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out ... Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there." Then, naturally, the Internet went wild. Here's NY Mag on the issue, and The Washington Post, and my favorite from a Yale mom over at Big Think (because no self-respecting Ivy League mom is going to let Princeton get all the attention).

Susan's main points:
  • happy marriages are between intellectual equals
  • the highest concentration of intellectual equals that you'll find is on your college campus, especially if it happens to be Princeton
  • it's really hard to meet people after college
  • you should probably lock a guy down when you're a freshman because "Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?" (Ed note: that's my favorite part of the whole piece, obvs). 
I guess her other main point is that women should be married shortly after college, but 75% of women over 50 think that, so there's no shock there.

Why in the world would I defend this woman whose article flies in the face of feminism, love, and marriage? Why would I support this blatant example of elitism at its worse?

Because she's not wrong.  She's short-sighted, narrow-minded, and incredibly opinionated, but she's not wrong.

If you are the type of person who wants to marry an intellectual equal, if you will only be happy married shortly after graduation, and if you suspect you will define the success or failure of your life by your ability to find a mate, you should follow her advice.

Now - read through until the end before you freak out about this next statement:

I remember thinking this exact same thing when I was in college. Granted it wasn't from the vantage point of wanting a man worthy of my Ivy League brain, but it wasn't all that different. My thought process:
  • I picked this school because I felt a sense of community among the students - we are like-minded and have like goals and values.
  • I'd like to spend my life with someone who has like goals and values.
  • It would be nice to start that relationship journey with someone while we are both growing and changing through the college experience. 
  • Ergo: it would be great to meet a future partner at this college...
Now - here's where my deal differs from Susan's. I wasn't like, "A Boston College man is the only man worthy of me, and life will be miserable with anyone lesser...if I can even find someone lesser when I'm an old, 25-year-old maid." I didn't date in college, I barely dated after college, and I somehow found a man with like values (who is blessedly way smarter than me). 

But girls like Susan (and trust me, they're out there) should take Susan's advice. There are intellectuals everywhere, and at every school, but there is no greater concentration in close proximity to you than when you are in college. Unless, I guess, you end up teaching at a college? But even then there aren't nearly as many eligible colleagues as there were eligible co-eds.

So, let's all calm down. An elitist woman has elitist views on marriage. Maybe her advice will help all those like-minded intellectuals find each other so the rest of the world can avoid running into them at bars slash on Match.com. That would be a huge plus.

In the meantime, we have way bigger dating fish to fry than this ridiculousness.   

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fostering Elliott: The first 72 Hours with a Dog

On Saturday afternoon Elliott arrived for his trial run as our dog.

We knew it was a big risk taking him in for a week of fostering. Elliott has spent the first year of his life living with a hoarder (as in the terrifying A&E show), so he's socialized to dogs (because he lived with 35 of them...) but terrified of people (because he only ever saw one, and she wasn't exactly a stable "parent.").

When we met him, he would barely eat treats out of our hands. He followed the woman from the dog adoption service like they were tied together with a string. It was bleak. And yet we loved him, instantly. After meeting him over a week ago, all we did was talk about how amazing Elliott would be if we could rehabilitate him. He is so cute. He is so sweet. He really, really needs us. There's just something about him...  "I think Elliott is our dog, J," R said to me one night, and I agreed.

And so, we decided to give it a shot. What we didn't quite consider is that neither of us has any clue how to make a damaged dog whole.

I read four books on working with shy dogs, and R trolled the Internet for all the help he could find. We talked to friends, friends of friends, and those friends' friends who have experience with dogs. We went to PetSmart and got him a "welcome" toy (literally the only cute toy in the store that didn't have an annoying squeak, but only because R found one with a broken squeaker). R bought a doggie door from Home Depot that attaches to your sliding glass door and spent two hours trying to figure out how to install it.

And then, on Saturday afternoon he arrived. It took about 30 minutes for us to realize that we had no idea what we were doing - are doing, I should say. It has been approximately 72 hours with Elliott, and here is what I think we now know:
  • The less attention you pay to a shy dog, the more he warms up. This makes absolutely zero sense, but it is true. That said, it is almost impossible. You try ignoring a miniature, spotted teddy bear with the saddest eyes you've ever seen as he sulks around your one bedroom apartment. 
  • When in doubt - take the dog for a walk. Apparently when you're walking a dog, you're all on a mission. He becomes distracted by his dog instincts to follow the pack and explore the world, so he's far less skittish. R and I have walked this dog three times a day for at least an hour at a time, every single day. We ran out of things to talk about around walk #4, now we just make up weird songs about Elliott and comment on the neighbor's landscaping.
  • Do NOT take the leash off a scared dog unless you know you can get it back on. I would have avoided six hours of frustration and 15 minutes of tears if I'd followed that advice.
  • You can't predict when they're going to warm up. 30 minutes after the dog adoption lady had to come and physically put the leash back on Elliott because he wouldn't go near R or me, he came directly up to me and jumped into my lap. I have decided that this was an apology for the misery he put me through.
  • That hardest part isn't him, it's us. He's not taking to R yet, and it's breaking poor R's heart. I don't want him to sleep in our bedroom, and yet I stay up for hours at night worrying whether or not he's okay in his bed outside our bedroom door. Every time we walk him one of us is convinced that he's looking at the other one more. I can't handle the smell of his chew bone. R can't handle the smell of his chicken thigh wet food (I can't either, but I hate the bone more).  
  • Everything that's hard about him (and us) has made us closer than we've ever been. Prepare for sap: I've never loved R more than I have in these past three days. We're in this together, and it's really really hard, but we're doing everything we can to take care of each other and this dog. 
We see signs of the puppy that Elliott wants to be, but with each two steps we take forward, there's another step back. So, we're giving it a week at the very least. If it works, it works, we've decided. If it doesn't work, we're both going to be strong enough to move on so that Elliott can find a home where he is happy and secure.

More details to come. For now, wish us luck! #TeamElliott

The Little Man giving a quick copy edit to this blog post.