of puppies and backsplashes

Hi, hey, how are you?


I hope every single one of you, whether you're a longtime loyalist or a leering lurker - whether this popped up in your subscription inbox or you just happened to do a drive by and see I came through - is happy in at least a few ways and living something at least somewhat resembling Your Best Life.


I have news.


That's a conversation I had about an hour ago. In case the contextual clues aren't enough: I'm moving in with the ridiculously hot blonde pictured at the top.


You know me. You know my tendencies towards hyperbole and sentimentality where romance is concerned. So I'll try not to go there. I'll try not to gush and instead point at those texts right there by way of explanation and evidence. Seven months in and that's where we're at: imminent cohabitation.


Not that it matters (other than for the sake of this decade+ narrative I'm still running here), but he brought up the idea first. We are both utterly dog crazy, both desperately wanting a pup back in our lives (his ex took his to another state when they broke up two years ago). And so he very casually started to drop the occasional "what if" into our conversations, usually when we were cuddling and being especially close. "What if we got a little boy pup and named him Holden?" "What if we got a little girl pup and named her Scout?" And I would smile on the outside and smile even bigger on the inside and just enjoy the feeling of a man liking me enough to even consider that scenario.


And the what ifs became more serious in tone until one day he was sending me links to listings of two bedroom apartments and we were getting granular about what neighborhoods would work.


But I should back up.


Hello, hi, how are you? I am Ellie, former lady of leisure who now runs a restaurant and has roughly 1/100th of the free time she used to, when she was your scandalous near-daily-read-of-choice. I very much miss having the time and energy to blog like I used to, but man does it feel good to have structure, purpose, income, self-respect and the respect of others. I get to give people jobs and solve problems all day. I'm really good at it most days. My boss just told me I'm getting a raise. It hasn't even been a year since my promotion.


Professionally, I'm 8/10.


Socially, I'm 6/10. I don't get to see my friends as much as I'd like, but who does? I feel very close to all of them - those who have chosen to stay in my life, that is - and that's enough for me right now.


Physically, I'm 6.5/10. I have a pretty good exercise routine but holy fuck is it a daily fight to eat well when you work in a restaurant with so many tempting options.


Emotionally, I'm 9/10. Despite the fact that my life is mostly work, I generally feel peaceful and grateful. I've made some changes in my lifestyle that have freed up a lot of mental energy and made me more calm. I only spend time with people (both IRL and online) who give me a positive charge, who show me genuine love and care. I avoid Instagram like the fucking plague. (I haven't been on Facebook in years.) I very carefully curate my media intake. I cut out podcasts that overstimulated me or triggered me in any way, including most news. I spend at least some of every night at home with no media going whatsoever - not even music. Just pure quiet. And I'm currently on a Twitter detox, after realizing I had gotten way, way too emotionally invested in the Yang campaign.


Oh, and I'm wildly in love with the first boy who's ever actually said the phrase "I'm in love with you" to me. So let me tell you a little bit about that, with as little hyperbole as I can. (No promises.)


Somewhere around the end of summer, something shifted between us and I realized that my insecurities about him were unfounded and just plain in the way of loving him. Actually, I shouldn't put it that way. It was less a passive realization on my part than a series of active expressions and, well, actions on his part that made me feel that way. He became open and emotionally sharing with me in a way that he hadn't been before. At first this made me almost resentful in an "aha! I knew you were just as human and needing of love as me!" kind of way. But I've come to realize how beautifully organic it was. He was simply taking his time to feel his emotions and not rush in until he was sure. And then he became sure, and because it was on his own time and at his own pace it feels so pure and authentic.


But let me tell you about his birthday. That was a real leveling up between us. Check. This. Shit. Out.


Kenny loves adventures. Even simple ones like picking a recipe and following it. He loves new experiences. Loves learning - loves, even, trying and failing. But he doesn't love planning. He doesn't love logistics.


So I texted him on a Thursday (i take Fridays and Saturdays off) and said, Yo. I'm kidnapping you for your birthday. Overnight. Not telling you what or where, but I'm giving you three choices. Fun Fancy, Fun Adventurous, or Fun Playful. You have to choose one.


And then in my head I planned out three distinct adventures along those themes.


All three, he said.

No, I said. You have to pick one.


He chose Fun Adventure. But it ended up being all three after all. And it was so awesome. And he was so grateful. It couldn't have gone more perfectly or made us more close.


And I will tell you about it when next we meet, but now it's 11pm and I have to get up early so I can go be a human with a job, a boyfriend, and lots to look forward to.


Back soon.

for no other reason

Literally the sole purpose of this post is to show that I looked cute the other night, when I went to a fancy dinner.



That's it. That's the post. 

Forgive me. 

on anxious attachment

I have been working on getting better acquainted with my madness--with the things that make me difficult to love. I've always imagined myself to be the kind of person in touch with her own psychological knots, but some of the tanglier ones have been getting the better of me over the past few months that I've been seeing Kenny. (And yes, there you go. For strangers that didn't have a name, there's the name. For familiars who've been wondering if it really is him--it really is him.)


In a nutshell: if you've heard of attachment theory (or even if you haven't, because the phrase is self-explanatory), my attachment style is "anxious". I am perpetually anxious about my relationship, except for the time when I am in my boyfriend's company. Perpetually wanting more. It's exhausting. I exhaust myself. Kenny claims not be exhausted; he is unfailingly good natured and patient when my insecurities rumble up. (I once told him I'm a black hole of need and he said, "Babe. I will throw anything you need into that black hole. Just tell me what you need.) But of course he'd prefer I feel safe and secure in his love even when he's not right next to me to express it.


The other day I told him: Dating you is like going through all four seasons in a week.

Explain, he said. But I didn't need to.


Lately we only see one another on the weekends, because neither of us really has the time or capacity for anything more. And the time we do spend together is just fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that I crave more, immediately, the minute we say goodbye. But we're both busy during the week, long hours, early mornings, late nights, friends, our own hobbies and projects, etc etc, and often our communication gets a little sparse. A few calls, text check-ins. maybe a photo or two. The summery sense of being with him, sunlight on my soul, quickly cools. Then it gets downright cold. In those very wintery moments it's hard to remember that everything is perfectly fine, that the distance between us is temporary and, honestly, probably healthy. Fires need oxygen to burn.


When we are together, he absolutely showers me with physical affection and expressions of care. Anyone watching from the outside would call me a lunatic to feel insecure. The love he shows is so pure and true and fearless it's nothing short of wondrous in the cynical, self-interested world of dating. It just pours out of him with electric light and energy. He never lets me get more than a few feet away without pulling me back, touching me again, calling me to him where he lays. Twelve or more hours of this I get. But then a few days go by and I start to question if he still feels the same. My brain splits in two, one half reminding me that I go through this cycle with him again and again, the other whispering, maliciously, but what if this time it's different?

So here's an example of my anxious attachment manifesting.

Yesterday when I got to his place, he was waiting for me on the corner as usual. I climbed out of the Uber and he pulled me into his arms, and his grin and the way he held me was the summer I'd been waiting for. My fears melted away instantly. Just like that. He walked me inside, his arm tight around my shoulder, to where he had a surprise waiting. A kids' board game he had swiped, unused and never opened, from a friend's house (who doesn't have a kid, and didn't know where the game had come from). "I dusted it off like Jumanji," he said excitedly. "I thought it would be fun."


We dumped a box full of colorful plastic pieces onto the floor and set about constructing the game: a tree with a magnetized top on which players hang little monkeys one by one until the magnet gives and everything falls to the crocodile pit below. Ridiculous. So silly. Designed for toddlers. And in the hands of my adult boyfriend wishing to make me laugh, utterly delightful.


When we discovered that the tree canopy attaches by way of magnets, Kenny absolutely lost it. Magnets are in-joke with us; we're both mildly obsessed with them. I use them as much as possible at home and in my office at work; he uses them in creative projects. Also, when we realized how perfectly sized our bodies are to one another, we decided that coming together feels like the click of magnets. Magnets are our thing. "Wait...it's magnetized??" He broke into a huge smile, shaking his head at me in amazement, kissing me meaningfully. It was a gorgeous moment of acknowledging something special between us.


All this to say, he was in high spirits. But for me, something was off. I hadn't seen him since Sunday morning and we'd barely talked all week. I'd had another hugely stressful work week; I knew he had, too. He'd gotten some new recording equipment a few days ago, and I hadn't heard much about what he'd done with it. On Friday I'm leaving for Washington, for Group Therapy Weekender; we hadn't really talked about my trip. I just felt like we had all this stuff to catch up on and reconnect over, but here we were playing a board game instead of talking and holding one another.


I know. I told you. Black hole of need.


So I lost it a little bit. Got quiet and sulky and unsure how to express my needs, but immediately Kenny picked up on my mood and asked what was wrong. We moved to the bed and I leaned close against him to confess the tangle of my thoughts. I hadn't seen him all week, I complained. I wanted to talk. I wanted to talk more, period, whenever we're together. I wanted to turn the TV off. I wanted to hear him, not a movie running in the background. I wanted to sit across from him and get to know him more. I want, I want, I want.


"I just think it would be nice to just lay together and catch up a little bit before jumping into an activity," I said.


My sweet, loving boyfriend did not really know what to make of me in that moment. Here he was trying to do something fun and thoughtful and there I was characterizing it is "an activity" he had thrust upon me. A discussion ensued (I won't call it an argument) in which I yet again laid out my insecurities like the world's shittiest hand of Tarot cards that he picked up, to calmly address and dispense with one by one.


At some point he said, "I'm not going to argue with you about how I feel." I didn't know what that meant, so he tried to explain. "What I mean is that I love and care for you so much--"


"I'm not arguing with you about that," I protested.


"You are subconsciously," he said. And that shut me up. Because he's right. That's exactly what I'm doing.


The talk went on, as lovers' talks to, until my fears were soothed and his frustrations validated. There was no yelling. We never stopped touching one another. He looked right at me when he said the things I needed to hear. And then we went on to have incredible sex, incredible Thai food, and sleep incredibly peacefully all night.


And now I have five days with which to prepare to do it all over again.

confectionary

Remember me as the one who loved you in language. The one who pulled pieces of you like taffy, wound them round and round into words that sent your ego on a soaring sugar rush. You can come back to them, but you can't come back to me. I've found sweeter truths for my tongue to taste, and my mouth is so much fuller than you could ever make it.

minor miracle

And then one day, you'll come home to a short, scribbled note. Just six words, plus your name, plus his. And this note will be confirmation that everything you felt all weekend, during the marathon three nights you spent with him, wasn't just in your head. And it'll stop you dead where you stand, next to the lamp where you read it with a smile. Because you know all too well that time has a way of taking things eventually, every last thing you love, because that's just how it seems to go.

But in this moment, time can't do anything. Time can't reach you at all. In this moment, all that exists is the undeniable reality that someone is in love with you. And that's a choice he's making, despite all the reasons he could choose not to. There are a hundred things about you that make you - that make any of us - an imperfect choice. But he doesn't care about those things. Instead he's focused why he should, why he can, and why he wants to. That's a minor miracle. It's a triumph. It's the "I told you so" of all your friends who reminded you that awesome, amazing things you cannot predict are always just around the corner. It's beauty itself.

Which is why you don't move from where you stand frozen next to the lamp. You just let time stop all around you and meditate on the fact that in this instant, on this day, in this year of your one precious life, you are fucking loved.


why I write

I write to be okay with myself, and to find a kind of self-love.

I write to get a handle on my emotions, which are all too often extreme, exhausting, and which frequently run roughshod over me.

I write to work through conflicts in my life. My allegorical posts, which are my favorite and most cathartic to write, are always representations of something I'm struggling with in real life. I simplify the setting and strip down the details to the most basic, recognizable images and symbols -- boy, girl, forest, water, flower, stone -- because those are much easier to get a handle on than the complexities of the real world situation. And the amazing thing is that in reaching some resolve for these characters (or even just a pithy final line of dialogue), I feel as though I've puzzled through the actual problem. Like I've cracked it.

I write because I love the idea of others finding something to relate to in my words. The thought that someone could read this, for instance, and apply an interpretation of it to their own life in some illuminating or comforting way -- is an incredible thing. I love the idea of a simple, hundred-word story meaning a dozen different things to a dozen different people, because the concepts in it are both so familiar and so broad.

I write because I am insecure, and I find a kind of confidence in vulnerability. That probably sounds counterintuitive, but I have come to believe that being utterly truthful about my fears and weaknesses isn't something to be ashamed of, but to be proud of. I believe this because I greatly admire when others are vulnerable with me. I find it the most beautiful of human traits, in fact.

I write to express things to the people in my life that I can't say directly. Sometimes these are positive things; sometimes not. Every single significant person in my life and everyone I've ever been close to knows about my blog, and knows that it's the best way to find out what's really going on with me, should they wish to find out.

I write to celebrate the people I love. I don't often announce to friends or boyfriends that I've written about them; I prefer to let my blog just quietly exist and let others seek it out when they want to. But sometimes I share those posts with people when I want them to know how much they mean to me. When I want them to feel how much they are seen. This feels like a precious gift that only I can give them, and that no matter what ever happens between us, they'll always have. They'll always know that for a moment in time, these unique, beautiful things about them were deeply loved.

I write to remind myself that despite a sort of incessant loneliness that I struggle with, I do in fact have many wonderful friends, with whom I have so many great times.

I write because I know it's my greatest talent, and it feels good to use it.

I write because in times of loneliness, my own voice feels like a friend keeping me company. Finding the right words and putting them in the right order calms me, and is like a balm for my anxieties.

I write because so many of you have, over the years, sent me encouragement and kind compliments that make me feel like what I have to say matters.

I write because I know no better way to let go of pain and fear and anger.

I write because language is a lullaby I can sing to myself, when there is no around to soothe me.

I write because it feels like what I'm meant to do.

any given square

I don't have as much energy and enthusiasm for Instagram as I used to; most of the time it just feels like an arms race. Like if I don't periodically supply proof that I am alive, that I'm still moderately attractive, that I have friends and a boyfriend and do fun things, I will be dismissed as irrelevant and uncool. That I will be pitied for my lonely, workaday life.

This is hugely ironic, since the years of my IG heyday (~2013-2016 I guess?) were actually some of my unhappiest. These years were broken up with the occasional incredible experience, sure, but the truth was that not having a (real) job was a soul-crushing existence that made me feel ashamed and alienated every single day. But wow were my dog and my boyfriend photogenic, and wow was it easy to look at pictures of us and convince myself that I was complete and life was okay.

I have a couple of wildly successful friends, one of whom leads the kind of life most people would kill to spray all over Instagram. International travel, a gorgeous girlfriend, endless good times with long-standing, very close friends. He doesn't post one fucking bit of it on social media. Occasionally he'll send me some jaw-dropping photo from, say, the south of France or Aspen, when I ask where in the world he is. But that's where his need to prove anything to anyone ends.

On the other hand, I have acquaintances whose quest for validation on IG makes me genuinely uncomfortable. These are the same people who will tell you, unasked, how blissfully happy they are, how devoted and adoring their partners are. Okay. Sure. But just as the truly rich never talk about how much money they have, the truly happy don't need to constantly assure everyone how perfect everything is.

That's part of why I don't like Instagram as much anymore. It can all seem a little sad and desperate, and any given image is now suspect. Instagram couples in particular get serious side eye from me - because I've been in one. All that energy invested into building a narrative feels tryhard.

Then there is the fact of my own questionable motives. It's definitely nice to see, at a glance, all of the people that I'm currently close to, and all the recent great times I've had with them. But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some part of me needing to regularly post a Happy Square to remind those who've hurt me (read: left my life for one reason or another) that I'm doing great, thanks for checking in. Oh did you think I'd have trouble getting over you? Peep how ridiculously hot my new boyfriend is. While you're at it, kindly be reminded how attractive I am. Or: Remember when you decided I wasn't good enough for your friendship anymore? No worries, look how much fun my new friends are. 

Anyway, here are some blurry and imperfect shots from moments that will stay in my memory as anything but:











banner

I held a staff meeting at 7am this morning, my first ever. Literally everyone showed. For the industry I work in, and considering how early and how far these people had to trek just for 45 minutes of listening - this is remarkable. The meeting went well and I didn't even speed talk, which is what I usually do when forced to speak in front of a group. It was just easy and comfortable.

Afterward I shot my boss a quick note just to share this win with him. I only see my boss about once a month; he bounces between SoCal, NorCal and NY, and our store happily needs very little onsite attention. He always emails back quickly, though. Today he answered: Ellie, the atmosphere and culture that you bring to your team is like no other. I truly appreciate it, and keep up the great work. He cc'd his boss on this reply.

I immediately screenshot this and sent it to all of my close friends. I do this, of course, because it's the one area of my life that I'm still insecure about - the one where I most feel I've something to prove. My friends (who know this about me) indulge me with various versions of Fuck yeah or Wow or in one case, some well deserved piss-taking: Manage that workflow. Create synergies.

Not ten minutes after this, one of my employees comes back to tell me that my boss's boss's boss - the company founder/CEO - is here. This is a totally unannounced surprise visit, which, okay, fine - but it was a whole thing. A whole media project thing, with a camera person and producer. Bit nerve wracking. In addition, she also included me in her Instagram story, introducing me as "Ellie, our GM, who is killing it." I laughed and demurred and said something about how I just show up, everyone else does the hard work - but I later saw that she captioned over me while I was talking: "She's being modest."

So all of that was great. And on top if it I got to talk to, see, or text about seven of my friends, old and new. And if you don't already know this about me, that is my metric for, well, pretty much every shade of happiness: how much connection I feel to the people in my life. How many conversations, how many laughs, how many witty text conversations. I live for their love. It's truly pathetic.

Anyway: I don't often have days where the awesomeness stacks up like this. But today it was stacked, and I wanted to remember it.

buyer's market

I've built a summer home for us, with walls made of expectation.


Sometimes winter won't let go, gets jealous of spring, and there's nothing anyone can do about it until the sun turns and says Enough. I have been waiting and waiting for that moment, and I can feel it coming. And when it does I want your skin against mine, as the heat sinks back into my bones.


I've stocked this summer home with all the things we'll need. Beach towels, my terrible navigation, and a full tank of gas. Watermelon cubes, sunsets to squint at, and cool sheets for sunburned shoulders.


I'm packed and ready to go. I don't think I'm going to bring my phone, or my laptop, or very many of my insecurities. I want to leave space for the things we didn't know we'd find there.


There's room for two in the summer home I've built -- but just barely. Let me know if you want to come along; otherwise I'll bring more of me.

either way

Sometimes loving you is like wrapping a blanket around a small, fragile creature. Soft fur, steady heartbeat. Calm and grateful for the shelter I have to give.

And sometimes loving you is like gathering broken glass with my bare hands. Fractured pieces reflecting light in every direction that I'm ineptly, hopelessly trying to capture. Splinters and blood and the suspicion that I'm only making a bigger mess.

Don't be scared of me; I'm not scared of scars.