Lost and found

Five years ago this week, I signed up as a volunteer for the Special Olympics Kentucky State Basketball Tournament.

Next weekend, I’m going to be watching a team I coach participate in that tournament.

Four years ago, I was starting to get more involved with the organization – but hadn’t yet found my place. I also jumped in the freezing Ohio River that year for these guys and girls. Brrr.

It wasn’t long after that I met an athlete that got me where I am today with SOKY.

This is Dallas. He’s the first athlete I met/saw numerous times as I got more and more involved at Special Olympics events. He was/is EVERYWHERE. He’s kind of a big deal, you guys. Everyone knows him, everyone loves him.

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It was through Dallas I then met his mom, Cathy, the head of the Louisville Royals sports delegation – who heard me mention an interest in softball and brought me on to help coach the summer of the 2015 (which you all may remember as that time in my life that everything fell apart but fell perfectly together).

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve said this before about Special Olympics, but it bears repeating: Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were looking for? Something you didn’t know you needed? That’s this, for me.

In the Spring of 2015, I was the unhappiest I’ve ever been. The highlight of my week was Thursday nights spent keeping the scorebook for SOKY’s basketball leagues at Fern Creek High School. It’s where I ended up talking more to Dallas, and to Cathy, and it’s because of them I am where I am today.

I quit my job that year on June 1 of 2015. Two weeks later, I became a coach for the Royals softball team. Not only was I getting to work with some amazing people, but it took me back to all those summers spent as a kid with my family at the ballpark – playing, umpiring, watching my younger sisters play… it also distracted my from my anxiety about unemployment, which was much-needed. (The distraction. And the unemployment was much-needed, actually. Not the anxiety, though. Never the anxiety).

After that I was talked into coaching football (which is hilarious because I don’t know enough about it to do anything but watch and also I suck at throwing a football). Luckily, the two guys I coached with had that covered so my job was being the sideline mom. I bandaged scrapes, gave hugs and occasionally chased/cuddled our littlest player, Griffin, who was determined to run off in the middle of the game. My presence was very important, obviously.

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Then there was basketball. Friends, if I shoot 10 baskets I’m lucky to make 2 of them. So I’m a natural choice to help coach, right? Right. Something worked, though, because our team made it to the state tournament and won gold medals.

Last year was my first time as head coach of anything. I started with softball. And just FYI, head coach can simply mean you get the practice space and do the paperwork. And get dibs on making the lineup if you want. Apparently last year it meant piss off a man who was assisting you by doing nothing more than just existing, but that’s a story for another time. Over a beer.

So many positive things have come out of my time as a coach, though. Almost too many to mention. I’ve made some great friendships with those I’ve coached with – Cathy has become an invaluable part of my life, Gus has been so awesome to coach alongside (the two of us are old pros at this point) and then I’ve also been able to spend more time with my cousin, Aaron, who lived out of town for a long time, but who has joined all of us as a Royals coach.

One of the guys in my youth group helped out during softball season and will be back as a coach this year. Several members of my youth group have volunteered at the state tournaments for basketball and bowling for a few years now. My best friend’s son, who is 13, heard about what I do with SOKY and thought it sounded like a cool way to get Beta Club service hours, and who has since come to a game and three practices and loved it as much as I do.

And that’s just the coach stuff.

I’ve also seen enough athlete moments to make my heart explode.

– Athletes scoring their first basket, run, touchdown.

– Athletes helping each other out – passing a ball to someone younger/who doesn’t always get to score so they can get a chance.

– At skills for softball last year, the entire team cheering for each other as they took turns running the bases as fast as they can.

– The smiles and hugs during and after games win or lose, because they just love to play.

– The encouragement of athletes on other teams.

Special Olympics and those involved – athletes, parents, coaches – have given me so much. More than they’ll ever know. And I cannot imagine life without any of it.

Now please enjoy some pictures. Warning: Your heart might explode.

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In case you’re curious as to how my dating life is going…

I had this metaphor in mind for how online dating was like Pokemon Go, but not in a good way, because you catch all of the crazies and you don’t want to and then I realized I may not understand Pokemon Go and it all fell apart. But I also don’t really understand dating these days either, so maybe it does work? #fullcircle #inception

I know what you’re thinking – L, you are SUCH a catch. How on EARTH are you not spoken for yet? And to that I say – I guess this screen on my Bumble account speaks to that.

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Dating is exhausting. Or at least, thinking about dating is. Movies and TV shows where you just run into each other at the grocery or something are bullshit. I go to the grocery on the reg and have yet to be hit on. Even on days I don’t wear my yoga pants.

I just looked and it’s been over a year since I’ve updated you on my dating life. I’ve been on a good amount (in my mind anyway) of dates in that time. So I haven’t given up ALL hope. But you guys.

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I made the mistake of staying on Tinder until earlier this summer. Because I guess I needed attention.

About this time last year, I met a guy, Jared, through there who was in town for the week from work from Pennsylvania and I figured we’d get a drink, why not.

A drink turned into much more – including him continuing to text me once he went back to Pennsylvania and making plans to meet up when I went up to see my cousins because he was only a couple hours away. OH. And he managed to finagle his way onto another work trip down here a couple months after we originally met. He picked me up from the airport when I got back to Louisville, yes there was distance but we were seeing what happened because we’d had such good chemistry and conversation and stuff.

Example text, and in case you want to know my flirting style:

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Until he went back to Pennsylvania after that second visit and CEASED EXISTING BASICALLY.

The fuck?!

Aside – Will we ever be past ghosting? I hate it. So much. It’s a common theme these days. Because why actually tell someone how you feel when you can just disappear? HA. Feelings.

If only that was the end, y’all. But it wasn’t.

Earlier this summer, he apparently needed to feel better about himself and his shittiness so he messaged me on Facebook and acknowledged that he was an asshole and what he did was wrong. And that he regretted it because he liked me and he fucked up.

To all of that I said… Yup. You’re right. He asked if he could text me again and I allowed it because I wanted to see how far he would take the apology and try and figure out why he even bothered. We talked for about a week before, to nobody’s surprise, he disappeared again. I wrote a strongly worded message in response to that one and then sent three middle finger emojis the next time I got drunk. Because I am a classy lady that way.

Then I had this exchange and was done.

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In the winter, I changed it up and tried Bumble – a novel concept in that it’s basically Tinder but the girl has to initiate the conversation. No problem. I’m a feminist. Within a few weeks, I’d re-met someone from my high school who I kind of knew back in the day and he asked me out after a few days of talking.

We had an awesome first date – one of the best I’ve had in a while. Great conversation, a lot in common, he was really smart and I liked making out with him. Here’s the catch – he was unemployed. And living at home. I get extenuating circumstances and stuff, but the way he made it sound, he’d gotten fired. And he had no idea what he wanted out of a new job, his future, anything really.

I’m not nitpicky, but you gotta have some direction.

We went out a couple more times – had a conversation about how he was a horrible texter/communicator which should have tipped me off – and then he decided he didn’t want anything more serious than a hookup. Which I had to get him tell me after much prodding because he again, didn’t have his shit together in any way, really.

I deleted the app. Then re-added it.

Got some shit like this…

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I’m all about flirting but I’m not gonna play a game with you. Especially when I’m not entirely sure that it’s not gonna end in an unwelcome and unrequested dick pic.

A couple months ago I went on a couple dates and was talking fairly seriously – and fairly long, actually – with a guy from Indiana. That right there goes against everything in me, because Indiana.

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Long story short since hopefully you’re seeing the theme here… all was good until it wasn’t. Meaning three dates in he suddenly “didn’t have time to date right now.” Which is funny cause he was on an alleged dating site trying to meet people. To date. Allegedly.

So. In conclusion. I have trust issues. And need a break. And am taking one. I’m not going looking. A relationship can come find me. Maybe in the grocery.

The Hardest Thing

For the past year, I’ve started and stopped writing this post. Couldn’t bring myself to do it, say it, whatever…

It’s not that I wasn’t constantly thinking about it because I was. I am. All the time.

Around this time a year ago, I made a hard choice. I said goodbye to Charlie, the first dog that was just mine, the first roommate in the first house that was just mine. And it broke my damn heart.

Charlie and I had a rough start. Correction – Charlie had a rough start. A really rough one. Before he even got to me. Me, the one who so badly wanted to fix him, make him better, give him a good life.

He came to me in September 2014. When I heard about him and saw his face I thought: “This is it. This is my dog.” I knew he had anxiety, knew he had some fear, but thought I could love him enough to make him better.

So I tried to. God I tried. I didn’t make him sleep in the crate he was petrified of because he’d been obviously locked in there constantly and was fearful of it. I was gentle with him in how I treated and talked to him, trying to make up for the way he cowered after he’d done something he knew was bad because before me, he’d gotten hit.

Aside – Anyone who hurts any animal is a fucking coward and awful human being and deserves to have the same abuse they inflict on an animal done to them. End of aside.

We took classes. He improved so much and learned and did so well by the end of the two months of classes he won the “Most Improved” Award.

But there were times it was still hard. Times he’d tear things up because he was terrified, no matter how sweetly or calmly I talked to him or dealt with him.

Early on someone said it wouldn’t mean I was a horrible person if I gave up on him. He had a lot of problems, more than I could fix on my own – with my schedule and income and my own worsening depression and anxiety.

I remember a night I sat on the floor of my kitchen, crying as Charlie licked the tears off my face and tried to climb in my lap to comfort me. I buried my head in his neck, sobbing, and said “I’m not going to give up on you.”

And I never did. I tried so hard with him. I did all I could possibly do to make my home better for him, my schedule better for him, life better for him. All the while my own life was a mess – I HATED (yes, all caps) my job. I wasn’t happy. And as unfair as it all was to me, it was even more unfair to him. He deserved better.

In the week or so around my birthday last year, I’d come to the end of a particularly rough stretch of time with him. He’d been tearing things up through the house which were getting more expensive to replace. He was having to be left alone longer and longer because I worked for a tyrant who didn’t care about anyone’s time or life but her own. I called my parents and cried and they reassured me over and over that there were places I could contact about Charlie that would get him exactly what he needed and insure that he was in good hands.

So I called GRRAND. They’re an amazing organization that takes in dogs that need new homes and doesn’t let them go to those new homes until they are sure it’s the best thing for them. In the meantime, they live in a foster home, with someone dedicated to working with them and loving them and taking care of them. I told them Charlie’s story and through tears all the reasons (in my opinion only) I felt like I’d failed him. They said they’d take him in within the week.

It was shit timing. My parents were out of town, my sisters were unavailable as well … I almost had to take and drop him off on my own, the thought of which terrified me even more because I would likely have been a blubbering mess stuck in their parking lot for two days because I was crying too hard to drive. Luckily, my friend Katherine, who had been through something similar with a pet recently, was able to go with me. And for that I will always be grateful to her.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have cried that hard – and all of the other times were funerals of loved ones. And even as people kept telling me over and over that I was doing the right thing and what was best for him, it still hurt like hell. In my eyes, I had failed him. I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t help him enough. I said my goodbyes and my sorrys and over and over that I loved him so much. And after a while, I left.

So it’s been a year. I think about him all the time. I wonder how he’s doing and have actually recently heard. I feel like I’m at a much better place in life now – mentally/emotionally, financially… to have a pet again. I applied, through GRRAND, to potentially give a home to another dog sometime (hopefully) in the near future. In one of the phone calls with them, I’ve found out that Charlie is headed to Wisconsin, to a family that will be working with him more on his anxiety and fearfulness, which has apparently not improved much in the year he’s been in the current foster home.

When I was unemployed for a while last summer, I stupidly thought I’d made a mistake and given him up too early. But then I realized at the time I was barely able to buy groceries for myself, even though I had all the time in the world for him now, I still couldn’t provide what was needed.

It’s taken this whole year to come to terms with the fact that I did do the right thing. That no matter how much it hurt to let him go, it was what I needed to do. Loving him wouldn’t fix his issues. I couldn’t do it alone, and I didn’t have the resources available for what he needed and will continue to need as he grows up and hopefully gets better. Deciding to let him go was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, but ultimately for both of us, the right one. I hate that it came to that, but I love that I had the time I did with him.

I miss his goofy face and personality all the time…

I hope he ends up with a family who can give him everything he needs to get better and live a long, happy life. I’m sad it isn’t with me, but I’m glad we’re part of each other’s story.

Love and miss you, Charlie Buddy.

The Tinder Chronicles Pt. 2

You guys, it’s hard to date these days. Anyone who says otherwise, well, send them my way then, because I obviously need a coach. Where’s Hitch when you need him?

I don’t remember exactly when I got it but I have been on Tinder, I believe, for about 10 months now. And it’s been an adventure.

I’m definitely learning a lot about what I like and don’t like (even more so than I already knew). And it’s simultaneously done wonders for my self-esteem while confusing the ever-loving shit out of me.

A few trends I’ve noticed/questions I have:

– Why have a Tinder profile if it has 0 pictures on it? This app begins (and ends sometimes unfortunately) with looks.

– Why have all of your pictures be of groups of three or more guys? I cannot tell which one is you, nor do I want to try because you have no bio information either.

– Your dogs are cute, but that’s not what’s gonna get me to swipe right.

– Are you trying to get more followers or a hookup? Because really, your Snapchat, Kik and Instagram info in your bio? What’s your angle?

– At least 40 percent of you look like serial killers.

– There are SO MANY COUPLES looking for a third. No thanks.

– It says you have four pictures, yet they are ALL THE SAME PICTURE.

– If you have a newborn in your picture, I’m assuming your wife/gf doesn’t know about your Tinder account, or she does and you all want a third, or you JUST HAD A BABY AND YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A HOOKUP.

– There are definitely 15-year-olds who made a fake account saying they’re 30.

– Why are all your pics in bathroom mirrors?

– Why is your shirt off in every one? Save something for later – be a little mysterious.

– Stop using memes as your profile pic.

– That’s so not your real name.

Now. About the all the “fun” I’ve had. I’m still too poor for Match, because unemployed. And I’m not all that worried about meeting someone at the moment, because getting a job again is priority numero uno. The bills don’t stop comin’, y’all.

There was the guy I swiped right despite only having one pic of himself and it was from far away. I liked his bio – we had a lot of similar interests. He messages me, starting a regular conversation….for about 3 minutes. Then, wouldn’t ya know it? He’s just here from out of town for the week for work and he’s at his hotel and lonely. Oh, and he added another pic, closer up, and his teeth are jacked.

Pause. I am not shallow. Personality is most important for me, for real. Because there have been really attractive guys who I could be with who have the worst personality so it didn’t happen. And I don’t have a type. But I have one requirement: Have good teeth.

They don’t have to be perfect. But if it looks like you’ve done meth/are related to a horse/been in a lot of fights where you got punched in the mouth, then I’m sorry. I can’t.

Anyways. Back to hotel boy. He would NOT let up. “Wish you were here babe.” Dude – all you know about me is my name and the limited info in my bio. You have not earned calling me anything but my first name and really? For all you know I could be a serial killer…providing that you aren’t already (see list above).

UNMATCHED.

Then there was Snapchat Boy. He seemed normal enough long enough for me to be OK with exchanging Snapchat names but no phone number yet, which was so dumb on my part because despite me sending a couple pics of myself sitting on the couch (FULLY CLOTHED), it took 2.5 seconds for him to send me a naked pic.

BLOCKED AND UNMATCHED.

There was this dude from the Navy who I actually saw out in the world a few days after we’d talked but didn’t go up to him because that felt weird plus I was working at the Derby at the time. He lived a couple hours away and wanted Derby booty though.

UNMATCHED.

I went to get coffee with this guy named Charlie… and solidified that not only can I not date someone who has the same name as the dog I had, but that when your gut tells you they’re weird, a coffee date will not change that.

UNMATCHED.

While we’re naming names, there was Seth, who seemed really cool for like a week (a record in Tinder world – though there is one I have talked to still on occasion for a few months now but nothing more). Seth was complimentary, actually wanted to know more about me than wanted to see pictures (usually it’s the opposite). We talked about some serious stuff that had happened to both of us – he was a recovering addict, he said.

We got to the point of asking last names (SERIOUS) and did a bit of Facebook stalking of each other, admittedly. So far so good, still. Until two days later when I guess he forgot to hide the latest post he was tagged in WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND.

BLOCKED and UNMATCHED.

There was Channing (not Tatum) and a few others who started out well enough but wanted me to come over within 10 minutes of saying hi so they all got unmatched real quick.

One I mentioned above – we went on a couple lunch dates and kissed in his car but that was that really. And another turned into texting for a bit but just kinda fizzled out.

And then, there was this next guy. I wish so much that I was making this up, but unfortunately, I’m not.

I don’t even remember his name because I am still trying to block the experience from memory.

He was cute, and a musician, according to his bio. We had some similar interests and he had a friend in common with me allegedly, from Facebook.

Oh, he was a musician alright, I realized when we began talking. A CIRCUS musician. In fact, according to him, he was on the train right now, feeling lonely.

PAUSE. Do they really travel on trains like in Dumbo and children’s books? I am not a fan of the circus or anything about it so I may be dumb here. But in my mind I’m assuming this guy is going to murder me on a train.

I asked him if he was full of shit – was he really a traveling circus musician? Is that really a thing? And you live on a train? No way.

He says yep to all of the above and, oh, how’s this for proof, his “neighbor” on the train is an actual CLOWN.

Him: “How does that sound?”

Me: “FUCKING TERRIFYING.”

He unmatched me when I asked if this scenario has worked for him often.

I deleted the app from my phone for a bit because I was tired of weirdos. Then went back because it is true what they say, it can be good for your self-esteem, plus when I’m on there, these blogs write themselves.

I need to be taking screenshots of some of these for Tinder Nightmares, which you should be following on Instagram because it’s awesome.

I’m not holding my breath on meeting anyone from there but you never know. Maybe one day I’ll be telling my grandkids the story of how their grandpa and I both swiped right and he didn’t bring up dragons, clowns, or ask for a pic exchange.

One can dream, right?

(Getting out of) my own way

There’s an underrated movie – the sequel to “Get Shorty.” It’s called “Be Cool” and if you haven’t watched it, you should. Even though he’s extra creepy now, John Travolta does alright in it – but the better parts in it are any featuring Vince Vaughn, The Rock or Andre 3000. Best parts (in my opinion) are in the video below (very best is right about the 6:15 mark).

Anyways. Be Cool. The phrase, not the movie, has been on my mind lately. Because, wouldn’t ya know it, one of the hardest things someone with anxiety can try to do or be told to do is “be cool.”

I wish I could tell you that after my last long post – you know, the one about Tinder and being single and finding love and all that – I’ve been MIA because that boy who asked me the trivia question and I fell in love and were living happily ever after.

Not quite.

We hung out, a couple of times. Until it became apparent (which it should have earlier) that he had different ideas about what we were than I did. Which is fine. If it weren’t for the games it took to get to that point. And some other things I won’t add here. And part of it, I will admit, was my own fault, because, silly me, I expected him to want to talk to me and get to know me more than he actually did.

So back to it, right?

Yes, but with stipulations. This next time, no games. And if they say some weird stuff up front, THAT IS A SIGN, LAURA. That meant weeding out guys like the dude who messaged me and asked me to do something I hope no one ever asks me to again because that’s the SECOND time in my life that’s happened and, REALLY?? No thank you.

There is this one though. We’ve texted for a while now. And have attempted to go out three times, two of which were on the days where we got the most snow we’ve gotten in years because OF COURSE WE DID. Thanks, Universe. First time I get a date in a while and you dump a foot of snow on us. Twice. Point taken.

Anyways. So far so good, which means that’s when it gets harder to be cool. And harder to stop worrying so damn much. And harder to stop getting in my own way – second guessing texts or words or as sometimes can happen, lack thereof. I have to remind myself, out loud sometimes, that I am good enough, that I am worth pursuing and being with and stuff like that because this thing that I have – my mind – is doubting me and second guessing me at every turn. By the way, if I don’t remind myself, I have others that are doing it for me, my unofficial life coaches, if you will.

I haven’t had the best luck in relationships. When I got to a point not too long ago where I thought I had, I was wrong, yet again. I guard myself quite fiercely anymore, so when someone gets in, they’re in. Which makes them deciding to leave that much harder.

I’m not punishing people going forward for what others did to me in the past. That’s a new rule. As is the one about being yourself and if they don’t like it they’re not gonna be worth your time anyway.

The fact that I’m writing an entire blog post about it may show I’m thinking about it too much which is breaking the cardinal rule of being cool. But it’s because I want to do things right. I’ve waited a long time for good things in the relationship department, and if I can stay out of my own way, maybe I’ll get them.

Can I blame the weather, partially, for this too? This winter has been miserable, and when you live with already heightened (or lowered, I guess) emotions, it can take even more of a toll. When you only want to stay in bed or on the couch (which is basically your default anyway) because it’s too cold or gross to go out, you have too much time to think. Thus the analyzing and “should I have said this and that” and “I wonder if that was stupid” or dumb things like that.

And then sometimes you drink a 45-ounce margarita and it gets worse.

Long story short – I am trying to be cool. Some days it works better than others. Some days the lies my subconscious tells me are quieter than others.

Dating is hard, kids. Dating in the social media age and when everyone communicates mainly by typed out words is harder. Dating when you have an anxiety issue is hardest.

I refuse to be a hot mess though. And I refuse to rush into anything or settle for the sake of being with someone/anyone.

So. Baby steps. And reminding myself to be cool.

Tinderella

Once upon a time, like in any fairy tale, your heroine had had just about enough of trying to date the regular way. Fresh off the latest situation that had started out great and ended horribly (as they all do in these stories), she decided to try something new, because what the hell.

And by new, I mean free.

I’ve tried online dating a time or two before. And got frustrated. Mainly because I was having to PAY to be frustrated. No thank you.

Then I heard about Tinder. Free, and you only got a message (or the ability to message), if you both clicked that you liked the other person. Perfect, especially since in a fit of loneliness and too much rum I signed up for Plenty of Fish and was immediately sent four messages by two guys in their mid-50s (I do have an age limit) as well as one former magistrate, of a city I used to cover who obviously didn’t remember me and hit on me and he looks like a fat Hitler and I’m pretty sure has a felony record/is on the run from the law.

I made a profile, picked my best pictures (because it’s all about looks here, folks, ultimately and unfortunately). I reminded myself to be open-minded and picky but not PICKY. I tried to come up with the best short description of myself as I could and off we went.

For all its craziness I’ve encountered thus far, I will say Tinder can be awfully good for the self-esteem. Within minutes, guys I’d swiped right (that’s 2014/15 speak for liked/approved of) had apparently done the same for me because I had about 5 matches.

“Oh this’ll be good,” I thought to myself, trying to figure out if I wanted to message any of them first or if I’d wait and for once, not be the one doing any chasing.

Lo and behold, I got one.

Here’s how romantic it was…

Him: “Do you like dragons?”
Me: “Sure, I suppose.”
Him: “Good, because I’ll be dragon these balls across your face later.”

And then we got married and lived happily ever after.

PSYCHE.

There were the two separate military guys that each wanted me to drive down to meet them at a hotel outside Ft. Knox. We talked some, but nothing ever came of either one.

(New rule after too many long-distance things… wait for the one that wants to come to YOU.)

There was one that was looking for a dominatrix, basically, that I had to pass on as well.

Oh, and the one that after being normal for an hour and a half got my number and asked if I wanted to hook up, THAT NIGHT no less, and unmatched me immediately after on the site when I said that I was fine with just talking for now.

There’ve been a few high points – I’ve texted with a few, some for several weeks. But nothing so far has become anything more than that. But the stories and potential blog material are enough to keep me going.

Like this exchange with one:

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Yeah, why is his name like that in my phone? Well, because those are the three words that described him. He shares a Tinder account with two of the other guys who (in their mid-30s) dress like Ghostbusters all the time and often just go out to bars like that.

I’m all for cosplay, first of all, but this was a bit much, when he LITERALLY could not talk about anything else. And if I saw GB (Ghostbusters, duh) one more time I was going to scream. So I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I gently (which is hard for me, Queen of Bluntness), asked him to tell me some NON-GB stuff about himself.

Outside of the dressing up regularly as a movie character and going to the bars in town I despise, he seemed like a pretty decent guy. I was reaching, I know, but I gave him a chance. EVEN when he said he didn’t wanna have kids, ever, as seen above, which is a huge thing for me (because I want them. Multiple ones).

Obviously, however, as all good love stories do, it ended (for him anyway, it had ended for me a while before) when he randomly texted me two weeks after we hadn’t talked. In the text he told me he was getting back with his ex, because “People keep telling me to.” Well, that’s as good a reason as any, buddy, have a good one. Also please lose my number. And now I can never watch Ghostbusters again.

As I said before, I’ve tried to be open-minded. And I still am..haven’t given up completely. But these guys aren’t making it easy.

I’ve seen FOUR (count ‘em) guys I graduated high school with and three more that I knew in high school but were in grades above or below mine. I’ve seen 2 ex-boyfriends/hookups and four people I am friends with and see regularly or semi-regularly. So there’s that.

And I’ve noticed some trends.

— There are some 13-year-olds posting their age as 27 but then posting their actual pictures and blowing their own cover.
— There are a lot of weird names out there. Or definitely made up. And I don’t think I’ll date a white redneck boy named Trae, sorry. There are names I can’t get past.
— If you have four pics but they’re all the same picture – swipe left (means no for the uninitiated/uninformed).
— If your pic is a close-up of your eye I will think you are a serial killer.
— There are a ridiculous amount of open relationships (alleged, anyway) and couples looking for threesomes. Swipe left.
— I like tattoos, a lot. But if the only one you have is one on your back saying “Powder” and you can’t explain it, that’s a turn off.

So. We’ll see how it goes and what happens next. Will I find love? Stay tuned. For now, I have to go respond to the message I just got saying “What’s the square footage of Amazon?” Because that’s what happens if your bio says you know a lot of mindless trivia.

Wish me luck.

Wild Man Charlie

So the last time I actually sat down and wrote something for this blog was in September. And it was about my family’s dog, Lucy.

The reason I haven’t really written since September also has to do with a dog. Only this time it’s my dog. That I am solely in charge of.

Yes you heard that right. Let me start at the beginning. But first, here he is, Charlie, the monster. Note the resemblance to the dog from “Up.”

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There hasn’t been a time in the past few years, that I haven’t been searching for a puppy. Especially before I moved back home with Mom and Dad, and again when I moved out. I can’t tell you how many times I visited the Kentucky Humane Society website and imaginary-adopted puppies/dogs.

I had to stop after a while because I was saving money and they were looking more and more affordable and I wasn’t ready for all that yet. Home first, then, once I figured out how to be a homeowner, I’d be a pet owner.

But life doesn’t work that way. And I’m so glad it doesn’t.

Late in the summer, I puppy-sat for my cousin, Blake, and his girlfriend, Amanda’s dog, Molly. She’s a black lab and she’s adorable and crazy and I had her for a week while they went to the beach.

Despite the two days she peed in the house and the night she tore her entire bed into tiny little pieces, I realized I really liked having some company in my house, especially the four-legged kind.

I told Amanda and Blake as much when they got back to pick Molly up, and mentioned if they knew anyone looking to give up a dog to a good home, to let me know, meanwhile, the trolling of the Humane Society site and the imaginary adoptions began again.

Fast-forward to mid-September. Amanda texted me, wanting to know if I’d be interested in a 9-month-old Golden Retriever puppy. Golden Retriever, as in the only kind of dog I’ve ever had, the kind I one day wanted, no matter how much I looked at other breeds of dogs and tried to convince myself otherwise.

The puppy was a boy, named Charlie. And he’d had a rough time. His owners, a young couple, had gotten him around the same time they had a baby. Now they’d broken up, and the girl couldn’t keep him. And she didn’t want to leave him with the guy, because he’d been beating up on Charlie with a belt.

I didn’t hear anything after that. I said I’d take him. I think she mentioned he was free, and house-trained, and they’d bring his food and a crate and his leash to me Sunday if that would work and he’d had his shots….

Gone was the idea of getting this tiny little baby puppy and naming him Hank, because I’d for some reason gotten stuck on that name, and no it’s not because of Breaking Bad.

Also these are the three pics she sent me to “try and convince me” and honestly after that one with the snow came through I may have passed out:

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So the day we met…

On our first walk, Charlie tried to choke himself. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed and I am really glad I wasn’t alone because I would have lost it.

You see, in prep for him to come live with me, I didn’t get him a new collar. I figured he had one, and he did, but it was a shitty one. It was one of those chains and since he’s a puppy and he was anxious and he didn’t know better yet, he pulled and pulled and it got too tight. He started walking like he was drunk and sat down hard on the ground and that’s when we realized it and loosened it up. That’s also when I felt like the shittiest dog owner ever. Great start, right?

We tried the crate for a while, and he hated it. It lasted approximately two weeks.

He only pooped in the house once that first week, and I blame Rachel. She got him too excited and he started going and then we yelled for him to stop and he ran, while still pooping, and like it often is with gross stuff that happens when Rach and I are together, I cleaned it up while she kept him occupied.

Those first few weeks months were more hard than not. I was dealing with a dog that had been through some bad stuff, and didn’t know how to handle it. He was taken to a new home, completely different environment. Was still a PUPPY. I think that was the hardest part. I was a kid when we’d first had both of our dogs at Mom and Dad’s. Mom handled the training and we just got to play with the puppy. I had no clue.

He chewed so much stuff. He jumped on the couch, which I first tried to stop but then gave up on. #chooseyourbattles

Like I said, he hated the crate, so when that was no longer an option, he stayed in the part of my house that has no carpet, because it was easier to clean. Then we dealt with his separation anxiety – I was in my bedroom where I wasn’t allowing him, and he was pissed and stressed. So for a while, I had to set up this elaborate thing that kept him out of the living room while I put the gate in front of my bedroom because he could PUSH IT OPEN.

Did I mention he’s just turning one this month and came to me the size of a bear? So, reallll easy to control…

Yeah.

So this all sounds like he was a pain, doesn’t it? Well, most — 98 percent — can be attributed to me, having not been a puppy owner. I had no idea how to train him. Add to that all his other anxieties and fears from his last home and, well, yeah, there were many frustrated texts to my mom.

And thennnnnn we got training. Once a week, we’d meet at the pet store with other dogs and learn manners and tricks and how to behave, kind of.

The first two nights at training I cried after. He was so scared, and I hated it for him. He doesn’t like other dogs and it took all my strength to keep him from running at them, even on his leash. He didn’t sit the entire first two classes either. He stood, and panted. I thought he’d never feel or do any better.

And then he did.

Every week at that training he got better and better, learning things so fast and one week, he was the only one who went through the tunnels on the first try. I was a proud momma. We got “Most Improved” at the end of our classes.

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And things got better and better at home, too. He got more used to me and his house and what he was and wasn’t allowed to do and we worked on things.

Some days are still hard, because he’s still a puppy and still had a hard time before me. And because I’m the only one who lives with him and have to be gone some weeks more than others.

But the good outweighs the bad now and I cannot remember life before him. And don’t want to. There was one night that was particularly hard. I ended up crying on the floor of the entryway after a call to my dad about how hard it had been that day with Charlie had resulted in him saying “If it’s too hard and you need to give up, people will understand.”

So I sat on the floor, crying and petting Charlie. And he licked the tears off my face and I kept saying “I’m NOT giving up on you.”

And I won’t.

Now, he sleeps at the end of my bed – sometimes on the floor, sometimes on my feet. He doesn’t pull on walks, he listens (most of the time). He cuddles in the morning. He watches shows with me. He’s a different dog than when I first got him. But so much is still the same. I don’t want to change him, I just want him to feel better and more comfortable and happy. And we’re getting there, every day.

I miss him when I’m not home, and I kind of want to get him a vest to take him everywhere like a service dog, but he behaves NOTHING like a service dog, so that would last about 3 seconds.

He came to live with me at a time when my depression was starting to get a little bit bad again and despite the stressful parts, he helped me, so much. Nothing gets you over and distracted from your own anxieties and bullshit like having to take care of another living thing.

If you want to see an obsessive amount of pics, follow me on Instagram. And look at the pictures in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.

But for now, some important lists, because, do you remember who’s writing this?

Things Charlie has chewed up and/or chewed a hole in:
– Two comforters
– Part of a mattress pad
– Carpet
– Pair of yoga pants
– Three shirts
– A pen
– The curtain that hangs on the window on my front door and all the pieces that hold it up
– A pillow
– Two towels
– $10 cash

Nicknames he has accrued:
– Wild Man Charlie (From his training class teacher)
– Charles
– Chahles (said w/British accent)
– Charlie (also said with British accent)
– Babe
– Baby
– Bubbie
– Bubba
– Bub
– Buddy
– Turd

In all seriousness though, he’s the best. And he’s my buddy, and I will forever be grateful that I was thought of when he needed a new, good home.

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Dear Lucy

Dear Lucy,

I miss my roommate. I’m not talking the ones who lived upstairs and yelled at me sometimes for feeding you too many marshmallows.

I miss the roommate that slept at the foot of my bed for over a year and when you weren’t perched there, you were in the doorway of my bedroom, partially because I think you were a little claustrophobic and partially so you could protect me.

When I moved back in with Mom and Dad last January to save up some money for a place of my own, I anticipated it only being a couple months. I anticipated it feeling like an extended visit, but soon enough I wasn’t a “visitor,” I was back home.

I don’t remember when exactly it started, but it was pretty immediate, I think. You were glad to have me there, glad to have me back. You started waiting at the top of the basement stairs every night as I went down to my makeshift apartment, not moving until I said it was OK for you to come down.

I’m wondering if it’s because we didn’t get that time together when you were little. When you were a puppy, and really, until last January, I was the sister that visited a lot, but I always had to leave. Only now I wasn’t leaving, I was there all the time. I think you were making sure we had time together and our own memories together because you know it wouldn’t be forever.

I knew it wouldn’t be forever either, of course, I planned to move out at some point, on my own again, but you know what I mean. I thought we had more time than we did.

Before I lived with you again, I already knew you were a good dog – an old girl who still believed with all her heart that she was a puppy. Even if you got a little wobbly on the stairs those last few months and your breathing sounded a little different, you still crammed all your toys in your mouth to carry them from one place to the other. You still could take out a rawhide bone in 2 hours or less and threw your rope toy around whether someone was holding the other end or not.

You are the only dog I have ever let eat food that was sticking out of my mouth – when I’d stick one of those huge marshmallows in my mouth, stoop to your eye level and you’d slowly and gently grab the other end and take it. That was our best trick, you and me.

When it became apparent sleeping upstairs for you was going to just be for naps only, I made you a little bed, remember? That old blanket folded up all nice for you at the foot of the bed? You laid on it to humor me until I fell asleep, I think, but I saw you later, laying on my shoe or the balled up T-shirt or sweatshirt I’d left on the floor.

Sometimes you snored, but I couldn’t get mad, because I did too. I knew it meant you were comfortable and sleeping well, having great dreams about chasing squirrels and getting ice cream from Dairy Queen – two of your favorite things ever.

Sometimes you’d be upstairs when I woke up – you’d gone up to visit Mom and Dad before they went to work. If you came back downstairs, or were just too tired to go up at all, you waited for me. It was a silent communication between you and I. You’d rest until I was done with my shower and dressed and ready. And when I headed for the stairs with my bag, there you were, ready to follow me up.

Remember that time I tried to make you run with me? Sorry about that. You weren’t havin’ it, I know. I tried to make you keep going but you pulled us toward home and I had to relent. You were a 63-year-old with about 30 pounds of hair, it was a little crazy for me to ask you to run in Kentucky in the summer. I agree.

I loved that I could take you on a walk without a leash. That even if you got too far ahead you’d stop and look back and wait for me to catch up. Payback for the running, maybe?

Remember when you spent a couple nights at my apartment during the ice storm? You were probably the happiest one there, since there were four adults and you crammed into a one-bedroom apartment. And you behaved so well! (Dad will disagree because of that whole taking your time outside when it was freezing thing).

You’d love my new place. I’d have had you come visit or stay with me when Mom and Dad were out. There’s still plenty of room at the end of my bed, and a nice sunny spot by the doors to the deck, because I don’t have curtains yet.

I’m glad we got that year, you and I. I miss your company, and even your dog breath in my face sometimes when I would sleep close to the edge and you’d come over and sit, usually trying to get me to pet you.

I still look at your spot in the living room when I go back to Mom and Dads, hoping none of it was real and your bed is still there in front of the fireplace.

The day we said goodbye to you hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I thought I might run out of tears. I just went numb for a while.

I take comfort in the fact that you are keeping Grandma company – I don’t think God would separate Dog Heaven from People Heaven, because that’s cruel.

She loved you, you know? Remember how she opened your stocking at Christmas for you every year?

I think about you all the time, little one, and miss you terribly.

Thank you for the year we had. I wouldn’t change a thing.

And I hope hope hope hope hope that you’re getting so many marshmallows where you are now.

I love you.

Laura