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Birthday Bruno

Last month it was Fritz’s 5th birthday, and today is another big day: Bruno is TEN years old! I guess ten is considered a “senior” age for dogs, but Bruno is still every bit a puppy as he was when we first brought him home. In fact, that’s Bruno’s most-used nickname: Puppy. Puppy! Baby Puppy. Our little Bruno.

It’s hard for me to write anything at all about Bruno without getting super emotional, because he really is the best thing that’s every happened to me and Evan. I know everyone says their dog is the greatest dog, but I’ll go ahead and say it about Bruno anyway. He truly is the absolute best. Bruno is the most gentle dog you could ever meet, so emotional and loving and super-sensitive and in need of attention (and happy to give that attention back, too). He’s so special. He’s never been a chewer or difficult or anything like that, and it’s certainly not because of anything Evan and I did when he was a puppy—he’s just wired that way.

I’ve never written about this before (and I rarely talk about it privately), but the story of how Bruno came to live with us ten years ago is more than a little bit shameful. He comes from a pet store in Brooklyn, and before he was in that pet store, he was born at a puppy mill in Wisconsin. Yeah. And we paid money to the pet store, perpetuating a terrible cycle of animal abuse all in the name of an impulse buy. And we knew better. I had spent years doing rat and ferret rescue work, and I was well aware of the horrors of puppy mills and of the pet store industry. It’s a terrible, terrible business. I knew that then, and I know that now.

But there we were, in that pet store, not even planning to bring home a dog…and there he was, all fluffy and black-nosed and roly-poly. We picked him up, pet him, put him back, and started to leave. And then someone else picked him up, and we froze. That was our dog. Not theirs. It was immediate and desperate and impulsive, but we plunked down a credit card and walked out of the store with a tiny, whiny Chichon: A long-haired Chihuahua crossed with a Bichon Frise, eight weeks old and three pounds soaking wet. Our dog.

I’m long over feeling guilty. We’ve spent a decade with Bruno sleeping in our bed and licking our faces and begging for treats, and we love him more than anything. I’ll never buy a dog from a pet store again, but I don’t regret buying Bruno—not for a single second. After all, he’s the best dog in the entire world.

These are my favorite Bruno snaps from the past year…

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Birthday Bruno

BRUNO FACTS: He’s a dirty dog, always. Except when he’s fresh out of the bath, which he hates with a passion. He despises being groomed, but loves all the attention he gets when he’s nice and clean. He’ll eat anything. If it’s edible, he wants it. Even lettuce. The only tricks (if you can even call them that) he knows are “circus puppy” and “go show Mommy/Daddy.” He has perfectly straight teeth. Rod Stewart is his haircut idol. His favorite songs are “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Alley Cat.” He loves old-fashioned car horns and Justin Bieber.

It’s not the best photo because digital cameras kind of sucked back then, but this is Bruno on the day he came home with us. We still have his pig.

Baby Bruno

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It doesn’t snow much in the lower half of New York state anymore, so every time we do get an actual snowstorm here with a decent amount of accumulation it’s a cause for excitement! We got about a foot over the weekend, and it was beautiful in Brooklyn. Despite my never-ending bronchial unhappiness, I forced myself outside for a bit. To the dogs’ disappointment, I forced them to come along, too. Every year I somehow convince myself that Fritz and Bruno are real dogs and that they want to play in the snow just like all of the other happy dogs I see frolicking around in the stuff and having a blast.

Well, Fritz and Bruno are not real dogs, and they do not want to play in the snow. They don’t even want to walk on a wet sidewalk. After about 2 minutes, they were both wet and dirty and crying and shaking. Sigh. So, back inside…where they were both immediately subjected to baths, another thing they both hate. They spent the next 24 hours sleeping off the trauma, which is a whole hour longer than they usually sleep each day.

Meanwhile, Evan and I are packing up our apartment and getting ready to move to the new place on Friday! Evan found this company called Jugglebox that rents out reusable, stackable moving boxes. They delivered them (disinfected!) to our current apartment, and they’ll come pick them up from the new place in two weeks. Very cool. Quite a step up from our last move, which we (very stupidly) did entirely with IKEA bags and at the expense of Daniel’s youthful energy. Never again.

WE ARE SO EXCITED TO MOVE. Really. It’s going to be so good. I can’t wait to get in there and take pictures—it’s such a cool space with so much potential. In the mean time, I’ll be taking a million photos from the rooftop view we’re giving up!

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Oh, just some weekend Instagram snaps I’ve been meaning to share here! Top to bottom, left to right…

✖ How cool is this black West Elm skull candle? I pretty much only buy stuff at West Elm when it’s on clearance, and I got this nearly-life-sized guy for $7 (!) at the DUMBO location. They only had one left, or else I would’ve bought a bunch. The best thing about Halloween being around the corner is SKULLS EVERYWHERE.

✖ I couldn’t resist this SHOPLIFTERS tote bag that was for sale at the merch counter at the Morrissey shows. I guess I’ll have to turn it around if I’m shopping in a store with employees who might not get the reference (or who might not have a sense of humor), but otherwise I shall carry it with pride.

✖ Evan and Bruno enjoying their morning coffee. Aren’t they handsome? This photo reminds me that I really need to take more photos of the new apartment before it stops being “new.”

✖ I had nothing to do with this—Fritz tucks himself in all the time. I’m told that the smarter dog breeds like Chihuahuas all do this. Bruno is only half Chihuahua (the other half is Bichon Frisé, a breed high in sweetness but not known for intelligence), which explains why he can’t really even figure out how to crawl under a blanket most of the time while Fritz is off basically building forts and growing opposable thumbs.

✖ I’ve been wearing my fake glasses (they’re the “Thatcher” style in Revolver Black from Warby Parker) every now and then, and I’ve gotta be honest—they make me feel great. Wearing glasses gives me enough confidence to wear my hair back in a ponytail, something I NEVER do unless I’m at home. I am wayyyyy to self-conscious to leave the house with my face completely exposed, so it either has to be hair or glasses that I hide behind, and it’s fun to have this option. I feel like a different person when I wear them. It’s like a disguise. And hey, I figure my vision is probably going to tank within the next few years anyway, so at least I’ll be comfortable wearing glasses when the time comes!

✖ This VOTE LEFT mug was another cheapie West Elm clearance item. Unfortunately they’re sold out online, but stores probably still have them. And yeah, I know it’s not really possible to truly vote left in this country, but I can dream. For now, I’ll vote as far left as I possibly can.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema is on my old street (Henry Street pride!!), and I miss going there to see movies—it’s a great little theater. It’s actually not too far of a walk from DUMBO, though, so I should make the effort to walk up now and then. It’s near a great little natural-food restaurant called Siggy’s Good Food that does an amazing vegan brunch. Highly recommended!

✖ This is the original herringbone tile in the lobby of Daniel’s building. Tile like this is the reason I like hands-off landlords who don’t want to pay to renovate. Isn’t it pretty?

I don’t have a corresponding photo, but prior to taking that picture of the tile, Daniel and Max and I went to go see The Perks of Being a Wallflower at BAM. It was so, so, so great. Really. It’s based on what I consider to be one of the best books of the past 20 years, and certainly one of the greatest books ever written for young adults. The movie was directed and the screenplay was written by the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, and he did a perfect job with the conversion. The trailer is pretty terrible, but don’t worry—it’s not a good representation of the actual movie (funny how that happens sometimes). I was pretty much either in tears or holding back tears for the duration, just like when I read the book the first time. The actors are all wonderful, the soundtrack is exactly as it should be, and it felt great to watch a movie that actually feels like teenage—and human—reality. Read the book. See the movie. Hold onto your Kleenex.

I’m still making my way through all of the comments on my post from last Friday about my history (and future) as a blogger, but apart from the responses I’ve been leaving there, I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU.

The older I get, the more I realize that fear of being labeled a hypocrite (or a “flip-flopper,” if you want to get political about it) is probably the biggest thing that gets in my way when it comes to making decisions that are open to being judged by others. The fact of the matter is, though, things change. Situations change. People change. Times change. We learn from the people we meet along the way in life, and that’s a positive thing.

Like I said in my post, I’m not exactly sure where I’m headed in terms of advertisements and this blog, but I feel confident that if I do go ahead with it, I will treat that decision seriously and let my personal ethics guide me. There’s not only one existing model to follow when it comes to advertising, and there’s also nothing that says new models and standards can’t be developed. I’m not worried about what other people have or haven’t done—I’m concerned with doing what I believe is honest and worthwhile. I’m also not opposed to learning as I go. (I am a progressive and a modernist, after all!)

Anyway, I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I have the BEST group of readers and commenters in all of blog-land. I am so incredibly appreciative of those of you who take the time not to just offer support, but to share your own perspective and ideas and concerns with me. As much as I like writing for writing’s sake, I love blogging for community’s sake.

Thank you again. ♡

Left to right, top to bottom:

I spent a lot of time cleaning, unpacking, and arranging. I’m pretty impressed by how much I managed to cross off the to-do list! By midday Sunday I was able to sit down and enjoy an iced coffee and feel a bit more at home. (The book under my coffee is Lena Corwin’s beautifully illustrated book of city maps. I can’t stop looking at it!)

On Sunday afternoon Shilo and Jenna came over for hot coffee on the roof. It was a bit chilly out, but still so nice to enjoy the view! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. Shilo brought some vegan blueberry crumb bars that were super-delicious. Perfect.

I’ve always had custom aluminum legs on my KARLSTAD sofa instead of the wood block ones they come with, but I’ve hung onto the wood ones since I’ve had a project like this in mind for a while now. I didn’t wind up with neon pink work table legs, but I did decide to give my sofa legs a set of neon pink socks! I’ll take better photos of the sofa and its new gams soon, but for now here’s a little sneak peek. I love how this turned out.

On Sunday evening, Daniel and Max came over to have beers with the dogs! Bruno and Fritz looooooove their Uncle Daniel. It’s so cute to see them jumping up and down with excitement whenever he’s around. Bruno immediately claimed his lap space and greatly enjoyed the extra attention—especially the belly-rubs.

Oh! And I decided to start wearing bracelets again. I used to wear stuff on my wrists all the time, but then I started getting annoyed by how they felt when I was using the computer. I like the feeling of security they give, though, so I’m giving them another shot. Aren’t those hot pink bangles great? They were a present from Jen. She, Tamera, Jenna, Shilo and I all have the same ones. I feel happy looking at them. I have nice friends.

p.s. Speaking of spray paint projects and friends, did you see Tamera’s amazing stool?! It’s so pretty.

Is it just me, or it next to impossible to snap back into work mode this year? Maybe it’s because I took two weeks in a row off in December, but I just don’t feel like I’m fully present and engaged in what I need to be doing every day. I think the weather might be partly to blame—it’s been unseasonably mild in lower New York this year, and I constantly feel like it’s either late fall or early spring. I’m just sort of floating from one day to the next.

I did just have a really great weekend, though. Jen from Honey Kennedy came to stay at my house in Newburgh for three whole days, and we had a wonderful time. Jen is terribly sweet and funny and really, really nice to be around (just ask Fritz and Bruno, who fell deeply and madly in love with her), and I’m happy to have finally met her in person.

Aside from holding the very first semester of Anna’s School for Unicorns (a.k.a Photoshop classes), I also made us some very very thick and rich and spicy and almost too delicious hot cocoa using Vosges Aztec Elixer. And tofu scramble. And burnt kale chips. And reheated pizza. I’m pretty sure it was like going away to a fancy resort for Jen! (Or, um, not…)

I got my hair cut again, too. More of the same! I’ve been back to Mariko at Dlala Salon four times now since I got the best haircut ever 8 months ago, and that has to be a record for me in terms of frequency. Can I add that NOT ONCE have I taken a pair of manicure scissors to my bangs in a fit of midnight desperation since I started seeing Mariko? Her cuts look so good growing out that I don’t have to.

It’s pretty neat having LONG hair, too! I haven’t had this much hair since I was a freshman in high school, which was…um…23 years ago. I’m going to just let it keep growing. Now that I know about layers and deep parts and stuff, it’s nice to have waves and partial buzz cuts and long bangs.

On a side note, I just want to put this reminder out there: Much like paint is just paint, HAIR IS JUST HAIR. The great thing about it is that even if you do something stupid and it looks terrible, you can always just cut your hair short and eventually it’ll grow out. As a side bonus, you get to have a million different hairdos as it gets longer. If you want a fun haircut, get a fun haircut. It’s just hair.

Fritz turned four years old a few days ago. I can’t believe he’s four already! It seems like it was just yesterday that were were bringing home this insanely adorable, sleepy lump of fur. He was so cute! (And then he ate our sofa.) Fritzy is so good now. Yes, he has his moments when he does an ultra-annoying Chewbacca/seagull vocal impersonation for seemingly no reason at all and for lengths of time that are highly unnecessary, but he’s a total snuggle bug and just an all-around great dog. He’s also really warm and he likes to sleep under the covers at night, so our heating bill is less with him around. And he’s still really cute.

Oh, clothes! I found that nice triangle-print shirt at Target! The proportions really aren’t as weird as the photo on their website makes it look. It’s quite flattering, actually. And Martha has a the same one of course.

Yeah, that’s a new black + white iPhone case. I ordered one from Society6 because I’ve been thinking about selling some stuff through them and I wanted to know what the quality is like, and I’ll be honest…as cute as the illustration (by Dawn Gardner, whose work I love) on my new case is, the quality is really, really sub-par. I’ve had a capsule case from Uncommon since I got my phone in May (that’s the multicolored one in the top photo, designed by Marco Cibola), and I love it. The plastic is smooth, strong and durable; the edges are smooth and comfortable to hold; and the design is actually embedded in case. The case from Society6 is unbelievably flimsy, and you can literally scratch the printed image off with your fingernail. I fully expect it to look terrible in a couple of months. Both cases were about $40, and while that’s pretty steep for something so small and made out of plastic, it’s definitely way too much for the ones from Society6. Bummer! It’s definitely cute, though, so I’ll keep using it until it breaks.

UPDATE: Society6 contacted me after reading this post, and they have very kindly offered to send me a replacement case as they believe I may have been sent a defect. Fingers crossed that the new one is better. I’ll update this post when I receive it!

UPDATE 2: I received the replacement and it’s exactly the same. The quality is too poor for me to recommend it, sadly. It should also be noted that Society6 has a no-return policy except in the case of defects, so if you’re disappointed by a product upon arrival, you’re out of luck.

UPDATE 3: I purchased a new case from Society6 in July 2013 for my iPhone 5, and it’s MUCH better quality. You can read my updated review here.

(Like I said, RAMBLY.)

We all know the internet was invented for the primary purpose of sharing cute animal photos more easily, and I’ve really been doing my part to contribute over the past month and a half. Here are 6 weeks of Instagram photos of Fritz and Bruno, my furry little loves. They are really good at relaxing, napping, and cuddling.

I was supposed to take this entire week off from work, but things didn’t really pan out that way…so I’m just off for one day instead. I’m spending today with Fritz and Bruno, eating popcorn with malt salt, getting some freelance work* taken care of, and hopefully going for a long walk in Fort Tryon park, provided I can convince F&B that it’s not all that cold outside.

Following a tip from Nubby Twiglet, I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri nail polish in Mint Sprint. It’s a little more blue-green than it looks in the photo—very springy and bright! I did my fingernails, too, but my hands are bad models.

*Yes, it still counts as a “day off” if I’m doing freelance work. At least for now it does. And yes, I’m actively looking for more freelance work, so if you need your blog redesigned or a snappy cover for your book, I’m your girl.