How To Be Perfect



I don’t think it’s going to shock you to hear me say that I’m a perfectionist. Maybe I was born this way, maybe it’s the way that I was made through years of parental expectation and ballet classes, but I can’t remember a time where “good enough” was ever actually good enough.

This hasn’t always been a bad thing. My grades were only ever perfect, because that’s all I could do. And as an adult, I’ve built a career out of being detail-oriented. I don’t know how to be anything else than at my best.

But it isn’t always a good thing, either. Aspiring to perfection means that you always, ALWAYS fail. You will never be perfect. You will never write the perfect sentence or take the perfect picture, execute the perfect look. I have a very hard time recognising my achievements, because all I can ever see is the vast distance between what I’ve done and what I COULD have done, if only this was different, or I had this thing, or this other thing wasn’t happening in the background.

In my head, I’m failing all the time. And the more I succeed, the worse I fail.

Sometimes this is inspiring; it encourages me not to rest on my laurels or get complacent. It’s good to strive for something. It’s not good to constantly feel crappy because you aren’t The Queen Of Everything, All The Time. Nobody can do that, you know? Even the actual Queen isn’t doing that. She isn’t personally ruling every nation in the Commonwealth. She knows better than to try that! It would cut into her hat-wearing time!

Me, I don’t have hat-wearing time. Even when I’m not doing anything, in my head I’m doing something. I wrote this blog post and edited it three times while I was walking my dog.

I’m not sure what the solution is here, so sadly this isn’t going to be a “This Girl Used To Be A Perfectionist. What She Did Next Will Take Your Breath Away” type of article. I know that I can’t change who I am, so trying to be less of a type-A weirdo is about as likely as sprouting wings. Instead I am going to make a list–I still love those–of the things that I want to work on. I don’t want my perfectionism behind the wheel anymore; I want it in the passenger seat, being my navigator.

  • I’m going to start appreciating what I’ve accomplished. I seldom feel like I’ve done anything special, and I need to start giving myself a bit more credit. I knew nothing about photography when I started my job, and I’ve taught myself a lot. I built a studio from scratch for under $50. And video editing? Man, I’m skilled at that now. I know that there’s nothing that I can’t learn or achieve or do if I apply myself to it, and I need to remind myself of this every day.
  • I’m going to start appreciating what I look like. This can be reeeeeeeeally tricky. It’s my job to look at beautiful people day in and day out, and it’s almost impossible not to compare myself–often unfavourably–with them. But you know what? I don’t need poreless skin. I don’t need a 22″ waist. I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m talented, I’m healthy and I am AWESOME. I’m great in my own way. That’s the truth, and that’s what I need to start living.
  • I’m going to apply less pressure to myself. Because the world won’t end if it takes me a day to return all my emails instead of AS SOON AS THEY COME IN, OH GOD.
  • I’m going to take time off. I know a lot has been written about how social media is ruining society, blah blah blah, but I love it. But lately I’ve been feeling spread a little thin, and maintaining twitter/facebook/instagram/tumblr/etc has been feeling like something I HAVE to do. Maybe this means turning my phone off more regularly. Maybe this means setting limits on my social media time like an lazy teenager. I just want to feel joy in the fun stuff again, before it became so important for work.
  • I’m going to cut myself a break. I’m going to stop being so self-critical. I’m far harder on myself than anyone else could ever be–yes, this includes random people on the internet–and beating myself up over my work or not giving my very best to a workout or WHATEVER is just garbage. I wouldn’t let a friend beat up on me like this; I’m not going to do it, either.

I don’t know if this is going to make me happier. But I’m tired of not enjoying good things because I’m too busy wishing they were great, so anything has to be better than where I am now.

Wish me luck.



In 1999, I was 15. Some of my friends and I celebrated the new millennium running back and forth from a hot tub to a cold pool, dancing to Love Shack, then climbing a hill to watch the first sunrise. It was one of the best New Year’s I’ve ever had. That year I made a resolution: “No more New Year’s resolutions,” and that was that for about ten years.


But as I’ve gotten older, the truth is that I LIKE resolutions. A new year is a new page, one that has no mistakes in it yet; what better time to strive towards something you want, and make changes that you can be proud of?

Here’s what I’m going to be working on this year.

  • Be nicer to dudes. As I mentioned a little in my 2012 roundup, my relationship style could be described as “benign neglect” at best, and “regular neglect” if you were being totally honest. If you gave me a choice between “falling in love and being happy” or “not getting emotionally hurt,” I would pick “not getting hurt” every single time. I never expect anything to work out, so I look for reasons why it won’t and then run away as fast as I can. This is bullshit. I’m keeping people out and I’m punishing dudes who haven’t done anything wrong (except like me). So in 2013, I’m going to work on looking for reasons why things WILL work, and fighting my natural urge to run, and generally being less avoidant and guarded and weird. Not only will this make me easier to get to know, but I think I’ll also be happier.
  • Live less in my head. I love my mind. I am always safe in there. Nobody else can get in or know what I’m doing (probably imagining what Oliver looked like as a puppy). And that’s kind of the problem. I’d rather be in my head than anywhere else, but by it’s nature it is a solitary place. Gotta spend more time with actual people in the real world, not hide away in my brightly coloured bomb shelter.
  • Be less sarcastic. I mean, not MUCH less, but a little. Because as it is, people can’t tell when I’m being genuine and when I’m being a huge asshole. And it’s like…if I’m going to take time out of my day to be a jerk, I want everyone to know that I’m being a jerk. But mostly when I say something nice, I don’t want my nearest and dearest wondering if I’m mocking them.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude. I’m not really an optimist or a pessimist; I’m a realist, but that in itself can be kind of depressing at times. But I mean, I get it. Life is hard, and there are a lot of circumstances in mine–like in most people’s, probably–that make me really wish that things were different. But instead of looking at what I don’t have, I’m going to work mush harder at being thankful for what I do. Like Spongebob says, “I’m thankful for the life I am livin’, who knows how long I will have it?” Spongebob is way existential, you guys.
  • Create more. I love this blog, and I love writing, and I need to make time to do more of it. I know I have the excuse that my life has a lot of moving parts and I’m always super-busy, but I need to have the outlet of doing what I love. Also, full disclosure: I meant to publish this last week and then I got distracted, so I am not exactly off to the best start.

I love the feeling of working towards something, especially when I suspect it’s going to make me happier. I don’t even mind that none of these things are going to be easy, just as long as they’re worth it.

Happy New Year, y’all! What are your resolutions? Tell me all about it in the comments or on Twitter.


Wind It Up: Thanksgiving Gratitudes 2012

Today is Thanksgiving. It’s my favourite holiday, mostly because you can cook a lot of desserts and drink champagne and not have to worry if so-and-so likes the present you got them.

I also like it because it’s an actual date on the calendar that forces me to reflect on the good things in my life. And oh boy, is that sorely needed THIS year. This year hasn’t felt like anything other than a trudge down a muddy road in grey, foggy misery. You don’t know where you’re going, or even if you’re ever going to get there. It’s easy to get stuck on that, and I do a lot of the time. I forget to look at the good stuff in the world because all that’s in my immediate view is the bad. And that sucks!

So this is me being less of a miseryguts and counting my blessings. Beginning with this picture, which is both thematically appropriate and also a blessing to the entire world.

Amazing. But now I’m forced to wonder, ARE turkey fezzes cool?

  • The thing that I am most thankful for, this year and probably all the years to come, is Oliver. He is a tiny ball of sunshine wrapped up in a furry coat, and the ways in which he makes my life better are literally innumerable. He is so good for my brain. The day I brought him home from the shelter I had no idea how completely my life was going to change, or how I would change along with it. In addition to the unconditional love, cute face and constant affection, Oliver has cracked open my heart and shown me what was in there. It’s hard for me to make emotional connections, and sometimes I’ve wondered if maybe loving is just another thing that isn’t in my toolbox. Oliver has shown me that it is. I love him so much, and I can’t imagine my life without him.
  • I am thankful that I am a strong person. In calmer days I looked back on some of the more notable train wrecks of my life and thought “Man. I know all of this is probably building character, but how much character can one person possibly need?” The answer is, a lot. A lot more than I had, a lot more than I probably ever WILL have. Life really is hard! Everything that’s terrible makes you stronger and more resilient. I’m thankful that even when things are THE WORST, I know that I can count on my vast reserves of inner strength to get me through.
  • I am thankful for the results of this election, especially all the creepy “rape isn’t rape” dickbags getting thrown out on their asses. I am even more excited about marriage equality scoring decisive victories all over! The world is changing, and things like this make me feel like it’s changing for the better.
  • I am thankful for drugs like lithium and basically all the atypical antipsychotics. They help keep me sane, even though I don’t take them myself.
  • I am thankful that all of my friends and family on the east coast are safe after Hurricane Sandy. It was a white-knuckle couple of weeks as we waiting to hear if my cousin and her family were okay, and they are, even though their house was destroyed. I know that not everyone was as fortunate.
  • Now more than ever, I am thankful for technology. Thanks to skype and kik and facebook, I can keep up with the daily lives of my friends who live tens of thousands of miles away. Even though I’m not there physically to cuddle babies or go look at tiles for new houses, I still get to see videos of kids standing up for the first time and weigh in on decorative pillars. Distance is no thing anymore. I love living in the future.
  • I am thankful for my wonderful, astonishing support system. I have some awesome friends and family members. I know a lot of people say that they wouldn’t be where they are today were it not for the support of their loved ones, but honestly not only wouldn’t I be where I am, I don’t even know where I would be (only that it wouldn’t be good). I love you.
  • I am thankful for good tv, and not-so-good tv, and tv I’ve already seen and tv I’ll never see just on principle. Basically I love tv. It’s my medium of choice.
  • I am thankful for my health and my body, which does everything I ask it to and then some, PLUS it looks good in jeans.
  • I am thankful for a job that is both incredibly challenging and incredibly interesting. I am thankful for the people who look out for me and also for the ones who don’t, because both of those situations teach me those Valuable Life Lessons everyone is so keen on. I am thankful that I can support the people who depend on me and occasionally have a day off for some fun.
  • I am thankful for the new Taylor Swift album.
  • I am thankful for feminism, birth control and having rights over my own body.
  • I am thankful for sunny days and misty mornings.
  • I am thankful for long hikes outside with Oliver.
  • I am thankful that I can dance every day.
  • I am thankful for a million amazing opportunities.
  • I am thankful for this space to write in, and I am thankful for you for reading it.

What are you thankful for?

Wind It Up: Ten things I love about life (in the second week of August)

It’s been a hot minute since I posted. I know you guys better than to think you’d pest me about it (she said, congratulating people on desired behaviour), but I’ve been busy. Life is really stressful! I am only barely surviving! Honestly I’ve been holding off posting so that I don’t end up going all AAAASDFGHJKL across the internet and having “Alle goes crazy” as a permanent event on the internet. Plus, how am I meant to be talking about BEING AWESOME and HAVING A FANTASTIC LIFE when so much of my own revolves around trying to persuade adult people to get out of bed/take their medication/that frisbee golf is not a valid career choice? Shit can be rough sometimes.

But none of that affects the person I am except for the better. This is what I tell myself. I’m being subjected to intense pressures and heat until all my organic matter burns away and I am left hard and glittering and beautiful. Transformation, yo. Nobody ever said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.

Anyway! Let’s wind up this week with a happiness list! Happiness has been a little light on the ground lately, so that makes taking stock for what I am grateful for even more important.

  • Shark Week. You may remember my post last year about this, the holiest and most awesome of weeks. Well, this year I wasn’t the only one who got excited about seven days of non-stop sharky excitement…
    I mean, if you have a little shark costume and you have a little dog, you’re morally obligated to put the latter in the former. It’s science. (No Olivers were harmed in the making of these pictures. He was bribed very thoroughly. So don’t worry!)
  • Memory foam. Fun fact: I have a weird spine. Basically my lower back curves out more than a normal person’s does and hyperextends to a circuslike degree. The things you learn in physical therapy! It’s mostly okay, except that all the pressure goes on my lower vertebrae and it hurts. A lot. Fed up with sleeping like shit because of it, I caved and bought a memory foam mattress. Guys. AMAZING. It’s like sleeping on a million angels made of rainbows! I don’t want to tell you all to run out and get one, but RUN OUT AND GET ONE. Thank me later.
  • RIP glasses. So this didn’t make me happy exactly, but Oliver chewed up my glasses. As in, ruined. Kaput. Done. Now I have contacts while I take my sweet time trying to figure out what new specs to get, BUT THIS ALSO MEANS regular, non-prescription sunglasses! For the first time in like ten years! I picked these guys…They’re basically your classic Wayfarer, only bigger and without that weird, angled-in-towards-your-face thing. I love them.
  • Crazy dog ladies. I have some great friends with some great dogs, and this week saw a serious uptick in the number of cute dog pictures I sent and received. I’m so lucky to know so many people with cute pups of their own! There’s nothing I like more than sitting down for a lazy couple hours on Saturday and texting my friends about their canine companions.
  • Bacon pancakes. Listen to this song once and it will never leave your brain.

    Adventure Time is the best.

  • Laughing until you cry. You know how sometimes you talk to your best mate about exes, and then somehow that turns into a weird riff on the idea that everyone you know and everything you do is just a figment of your imagination? And then you both end up laughing so hard that you can’t breathe properly and your sides hurt and you’re crying everywhere? THAT IS THE BEST. Way to make an entire shitty week better, Michael Davis!
  • Harry Potter. You guys, Harry Potter turned 32 recently. That means we are OLD. To celebrate, I reread the whole series and it doesn’t matter how many times I do it or that I know what’s coming, the whole thing with Snape and Lily makes me cry SO MUCH. Easily the most moving thing in the entire series.
  • Friday Night Lights. I started watching the show because I heard Riggins gets a dog who looks like Oliver.
    It’s a miracle I like the show, though, because football is boring as fuck to me and it isn’t like I’m desperate to relive high school. I chalk it up to Coach Taylor’s awesome speeches and the music from Explosions in the Sky.
  • Cool off, cool off. It’s like I can’t stop obsessing about the weather. I was psyched when it got summertime hot here, and I mostly stuck to that enthusiasm…even as we hit a million days in a row of surface-of-the-sun temperatures. Ugh. Now, though, it’s getting cooler and rainy and oh man, I am so all for it.
  • Getting shit done. I finished a big fat (no pun intended) project this week. I don’t know how long it’ll stay finished, but it feels really good to have it submitted.

What are you happy for this week? If I can find ten things, so can you.

Wind It Up: Ten things getting me through this awesome heatwave

The end of another week. I can’t believe it’s only the beginning of July; it feels like it’s been summer FOR-EV-ER. Chicago is having it’s worst heatwave since 1911 and I’ve been dying by inches all over the place. It’s not so much how hot it is–I can do hot–it’s the humidity. You know, the kind of thing that makes you feel like you’re breathing in warm soup. Yikes.

So with this sweltering spirit in mind, I’ve made a list of my ten favourite things that are making this endless summer tolerable. I want to hear how you’re surviving, too–give me your top ten in the comments or on Twitter!

1. Butter London nail polish in Cheeky Chops. Basically the best summer yellow EVER, whether you wear in on your fingers or your toes. It’s like sunshine in a bottle; no matter how sweaty you get, you’ll be able to look down at your bright yellow nails and smile.

2. American Apparel jersey crossback bras. As you’ll eventually find out, in the summertime I like to wear shirts with low armholes and open backs, which means quite a bit of my bra is on display. These in bright colours and fun patterns make it look more like a deliberate fashion statement than outright laziness, although to be honest it’s a little of both.

3. Rose gold earrings. Rose gold is my jam this year. I don’t even know what my issue is, I just suddenly love it. I especially love the shape of these earrings; they’re fancy but not overpowering, so you can wear them with anything.

4. Jorts. I’ve professed my love of jean shorts many, many times on this here blog, but oh man, this summer that’s been taken to a new level. Three weeks ago I chopped up a really old pair of kind of boyfriend-y style jeans and they’re my new favourite thing. I like my jorts a little longer and kind of baggy, and I usually leave the hem frayed–though wide legged shorts rolled a couple of time is cute too.

5. Ballet flats. Since I don’t wear flip flops or sandals, ballet flats are my warm weather shoe of choice. I have only two criteria for them: They must be very soft and flexible at the heel, and they must be cheap. The former is to stop me from getting insane blisters, and the latter is because I will wear these things to death for about five months. There’s no point in investing a lot of money in something that’s going to be in tatters come September. I’ve had good luck with the fabric ones by Steve Madden and the leather ones from a brand called Mix no. 6. Just a hint from me to any other narrow footed, high-arched ladies out there.

6. Baby Lips lip balm. Maybe I mean gloss? I have no idea, but I love these things. They smell delicious and have a tiny hint of colour, which makes them perfect for days where you’re so sweaty that even thinking about lipstick is a chore. My favourite is probably Cherry Pie (red) for the gorgeous colour, but Pink Punch is pretty amazing too.

7. Pellegrino. Oh, I know, how bourgeois. I mostly have these listed for the green glass bottles, which you can refill and carry around in your purse on hot days. It’s important to keep hydrated!

8. Gentle Leader. If you have a four-legged friend, you need to get one of these. When Oliver was at his crazy worst and I was hating taking him on walks, this head collar saved me. It fits a little like a horse’s bridle; a loop goes around the nose, and then the second part clips at the base of the head behind the ears. Goodbye, pulling and lunging. Goodbye, aggressive behavior. Hello, peaceful, wonderful walking. GET ONE, I’m so serious, this thing is worth it’s weight in gold.

9. Neon sour gummi worms. I took a break from these guys, but I’ve got a taste for them again. I went to see Magic Mike with Wondertwin last week and ate a whole bunch of them. Something about the sour-sweet and the hot men just went so well together…

10. Drapey tank tops. Like I said, I like mine a little oversized and slutty-looking. I bought a whole bunch last year from Target, and they’re still my favourite thing for sweltering days. Bonus points if they have pockets. I love a good pocket.

And now I ask you: How are you surviving summer? Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, how are you surviving winter? And could you send a couple cool breezes our way? We’d appreciate it!

Wind It Up: Ten things I love about life (in the first week of June)

End of the week! Finally!

Getting shit done. This week I had some crazy-ass deadlines, including one for a story that turned out to be very hard to write. The research I’d done bummed me out so hard that I couldn’t bring myself to put it all together. But I did. And I’m really, really pleased with the way it’s turned out. No spoilers on the subject, but you’ll be able to read it next week!

Blue Steel. The cutest baby in the whole world, King William, is now four months old and serving up some serious Zoolander realness.

As I said to Bee (also pictured and also gorgeous), I am gonna cuddle him SO HARD.

Beautiful weather. I grew up in the Australian desert, and I’m always really happy when the temperature starts nudging ninety. The humidity I could do without, but alas, it is the price we pay in Chicago. I’ve been living in my “just leaving dance rehearsal” summer outfit for the last week: dark grey jorts, a too-big tank top and a bright sports bra, and I couldn’t be happier.

True Blood. It’s back, and I’m really optimistic after last season’s suckfest (no pun intended). Wondertwin and I are such perves, we’ve been sending each other pictures of shirtless Alcide for weeks now. We can’t help it. Boy is FIIIIIINE.

Plus he’s in that Magic Mike movie as a character called Big Dick Richie. So, uh…yeah, I’m going to have to see that.

Bread. For some ungodly reason, I woke up this week and decided to learn how to bake bread. Yeah, I don’t know either. Anyway, after getting frustrated at the internet, and I suppose at bread itself for being so fucking hard to make, Melissa sent me a recipe for refrigerator bread. It’s like 90% easier than even the simplest other recipe I found, and I am determined to make it. I’ll report back on Monday.

Red Mango. Fuck you, Pinkberry. You don’t have exploding liquid Mango balls.

Heh…balls. (I never said I was mature)

Big decisions. So if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’ve got some Important Life Choices to make. A lot of the time I’m not super-psyched about change, as ‘change’ basically means ‘the unknown’ which is scary. But, I don’t know, I’m kind of excited about it! I get to make pro/con lists, for one thing. That’s pretty good news.

Flowerstagram. This tag is my jam, yo. I am all about flowers!

If you’re down for a lot of colour, you can follow me on Instagram: helloalle.

Writing, writing, writing: All year I’ve told myself that I have to write more fiction, and I’ve finally started. It’s awesome and recharging in a whole different way! I have an entire book planned out in my head, and seeing it on paper is an awesome feeling…but I suspect it’s going to be even more awesome-feeling when it’s done. Who knows, maybe somebody else will even want to read it? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

And now, the Week In Oliver: Little Sweet Potato has not been loving the hot weather, although I probably wouldn’t either if I were always wearing a black fur coat. He’s also been trying to get very involved in work, and by that I mean “trying to prevent me from doing any.” This generally means stealing my chair when I work at my dining table, or flopping across my lap so that I can’t use my laptop if I’m sitting on my bed.

Hmm…why can’t I get into my iTunes? I’m gonna have to take this in to the Apple store.

Right now he’s sitting at the foot of my bed, protecting me from a spider he saw on the wall last night. Best dog ever.

And that’s the week! What’s been making you happy in the last seven days? Tell me all about it in the comments, or drop me a line on Twitter.

Wind It Up: Ten things I love about life (in the last-ish week of May)

It’s the end of a beautiful week, weather-wise, but I am feeling extremely sorry for myself so it may as well be storming. But there’s no better way to cheer myself up than with a happy list! Isn’t that what these are for?

Spending time with my best friends. Working long hours and being constantly stressed makes it feel like having a social life is totally impossible. At the end of the week, I’m tired and worn down and I just want to flop on my bed with my dog and watch tv. But this week I made some serious time to get together with Charlotte and Lorelei and catch up. It was so fantastic, and it’s reminded me of how much strength I draw from my friends.

Street art. Wander around Wicker Park for ten minutes and your eyeballs are spoiled by all the awesome stuff to look at. A couple favourites:

Birthday! Birthday! May 19th was my Mama’s birthday! We all went out for martinis and way too much delicious Italian food, and then had icecream cake for dessert.

Dairy Queen, man. It’s the best. I’d kill a man for the frozen whipped cream alone.

Material Girl #1. I ordered this awesome bracelet last week and basically could not wait for it to arrive. It’s a silver engraved cuff from House of Harlow (I KNOW, I was surprised too) with two curving claws and OH OH OH. I love it so much.

The best part about it is that even though it’s heavy and the metal is thick, you can still shape the cuff. I like to wear bracelets midway up my forearm–I HATE when they bang around my wrist–and so being able to custom fit it is amazing.

Material Girl #2. Apparently I’m the only one calling bandage dresses “slut dresses”? I mention this because when I got excited and told everybody that I got a really great slut dress, they were universally confused. Here is a picture so you can decide for yourselves; please pay no attention to the mess going on behind me.

Although this dress is great and fits like a dream, I really need to complain about vanity sizing for a minute because this shit is out of CONTROL. I know what my measurements are, and I am fine with them. Designers and stores don’t need to lie to me about what dress size I wear. This dress that I am wearing, for example, is a size zero. And okay I’m thin and I’m tall, but ON NO PLANET am I a legit size zero. I modeled; I know what that looks like. I think I speak for all women when I say GET SOME CONSISTENCY, PLEASE. All we want is to pick up a dress in a size we know will fit us, rather than having to consult a fucking oracle to discover what random number should be on the clothing we want to buy. Thanks!

Liquid luck. I was out looking for a good makeup primer (which I found) when I saw this…

I bought it without really knowing what it’s for, because it looks like a really chic vial of Felix Felicis. I’m pretty sure that when I put this on my face (as a highlighter, maybe?) I will win ALL the Quiddich matches!

Summer neons. It’s no surprise to anyone that I love me some superbright nail polish. I wear it year round, but the especially awesome colours come out in the summertime. Essie, who seriously makes most of my favourite polishes, has (mostly!) knocked it out of the park this season.

Lights is a neon fuschia. Camera is a super bright coral red-pink (I’m wearing it in the picture with the Felix Felicis). Action is a seriously, seriously bright yellow-orange. Bazooka is…fine. It’s a red-orange, not really anything special. But for real, get the first three. You’ll love them enough to rock them year round, I assure you.

Climbing trees. There are some things that you outgrow as you get older. Pigtails. Playing house. Dolls (I hope you outgrew dolls anyway, they are scary). But there’s one thing that I’ve never outgrown, and that is the desire to get as high up trees as possible. I’m a really good climber, which surprises a lot of people. They don’t know that it’s basically how I spent my entire childhood…and my teen years…

This tree wasn’t especially high–the branch I’m in is maybe seven feet off the ground?–but there weren’t any branches to hold onto, so I had to awkwardly pick my way up the trunk and hope I didn’t slip and knock out all my teeth. And speaking of things one probably should have grown out of, I got that tshirt all the way back in 1998 for a dance contest my school was entered in. Rock Eisteddfod, HAAAAAAY! Teenage dream steez!

All my shows are over. OH WAIT THIS DOESN’T MAKE ME HAPPY AT ALL. My only consolation during this difficult time is that Pretty Little Liars is coming back in like two weeks, and True Blood after that. And there’s still some Mad Men and Game of Thrones left. But ugh! Bereft! Mama needs her stories!

Guess who? Here is me trying to take a not-horrifying picture of myself…and here comes Oliver, who decides that it cannot POSSIBLY be a good picture without him.

And you know what? He wasn’t wrong. I love this little wiggle-butt.

So what’s been making you happy this week? Alternately, what’s made you want to hide under the covers and yell “LEAVE ME ALONE TO DIE”? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Wind It Up: A bunch of lists about the ONE BIG THING that I love (in the first week of May)

It’s Friday! Instead of doing a Ten Happy Things this week, I’m going to make some lists about the number one best thing in my entire life…Oliver.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a dog blog. Hopefully.

Things I call my dog other than his name:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Pupster
  • Wiggle butt
  • Mister Wiggles
  • Boo-boo
  • Handsome boy
  • Mister Handsome
  • Little face
  • Little feet
  • Big ears

Commands Oliver knows and percentage of time he obeys them (approximate):

  • STOP, 100%
  • SIT plus treat, 100%. Minus treat, or minus feigning treat: 50%
  • COME, 80%
  • STAY, 80%. If I am leaving the room, 30%
  • QUIET (non-verbal), 75%. For longer than ten seconds, 30%
  • BED (non-verbal), 90% at night, 20% if I’m leaving the house during the day (panic ensues)
  • UP (on bed or couch, etc), 100% before 8pm. After 8pm, 0% (must be picked up & carried)
  • OUT, 90%. If raining, 0%
  • HIGH FIVE, 100%

Things I do with Oliver that I swore I’d never do to a pet:

  • Use silly voices to talk to him.
  • Alternately, talk to him like he’s a college professor.
  • Make up songs about him (including one where he’s a pirate).
  • Buy clothes for him (including a raincoat, because he hates getting wet SO MUCH).
  • Kiss him on the face, but not on the mouth because that’s gross.

Things my dog will eat, surprisingly:

  • Plain greek yogurt (prescribed for an upset stomach, now LOVES it).
  • Romaine lettuce.
  • Heartworm medication.
  • Goose shit.
  • Raspberries.
  • Scrambled eggs.
  • Pasta noodles.

Things my dog will not TOUCH, no way no how don’t even think about it:

  • Raw chicken.
  • Raw meat of any kind, actually.
  • Spinach.
  • Anything flavoured with peanut butter.
  • Bacon, or anything bacon-flavoured.

Things I have learned about dogs since having one that nobody ever tells you about:

  • There’s a reason people take their dogs to groomers.
  • Dogs have gross habits and no sense of self-preservation.
  • Squeaky toys get annoying after about three hours.
  • Dogs imitate other dogs. ie: the other day, Oliver tried to Beagle-howl. It was adorably misguided.
  • Training isn’t just for the dog, it’s for the owner too.
  • Training is more than “don’t chew my shoes.” SO MUCH MORE.
  • Dogs don’t just bark. They have a very big vocabulary, even mostly silent pups like Oliver.
  • They can also scream and hiccup. The latter is adorable.
  • No matter what medicine you use, your dog WILL get the occasional tick.
  • Ticks are DISGUSTING.
  • Cats aren’t the only animals that stare at nothing and freak out at it.
  • Cats also aren’t the only ritual-obsessed animals in the domestic kingdom.
  • Dogs would rather make a nest out of the tshirt you wore than sleep on their memory foam bed.
  • You will learn so much patience.
  • You will have sleepless nights.
  • It’s totally awesome.

They also don’t have any concept of personal space.

Oliver is so great. Why I haven’t had a dog all along, I’ll never know.

Happy weekend! Am I the only person who gets really psyched for May? It just feels like summer is right around the corner, you know? It’s the best.

Wind It Up: ONE BIG thing that I love about life (in the last week of March and for always)

I know that my Friday list usually has ten things in it, but honestly? There’s one thing that is truly so awesome that it blows away everything else. And here he is:

Meet Oliver Blackwell, Esq. He’s a two year old Minpin/terrier mix who I adopted last Tuesday. He’s twelve pounds of black and tan kisses and cuddles, as long as you aren’t a squirrel or look like you want to hurt me. In which case, he’s the most ferocious guard dog. With gigantic ears.

Oliver’s story is a sad one. He was thrown out of a moving car onto a busy street by his previous owners. Luckily, someone saw it happen and stopped their car to pick him up. He wasn’t hurt, but it was clear to the shelter that he’d been neglected and abused for a long time.

I’ve never had a dog, and although I was set on adopting an animal from a shelter, part of me was a little worried. I didn’t know if he’d have behavioural problems from being mistreated. I didn’t know if he’d like me, or if I’d bond with him. I didn’t know if I’d be able to teach him how to behave. So I spun my wheels and stressed out and made some lists.

Turns out that my worries were baseless, as they almost always are.

Oliver cuddles his favourite stuffingless toy. This is the only soft toy that has lasted longer than 20 minutes; highly recommended for the discerningly destructive terrier.

He is the best. I know most people say that about their animals, but I really mean it. Within the first day, he was housebroken. Within two days, he was crate trained. I’m still working on the whole “walking politely on a leash without freaking out over squirrels” thing, but hey, some stuff takes time. Every day he learns new commands, sometimes without me even explicitly teaching him. I’m constantly amazed.

The silliest thing of all was that I worried he wouldn’t like me. He put THAT to rest within twenty minutes. Oliver’s prime directive is “Never let Alle out of your sight, not even for a second” and now I see why people name their dogs Shadow. If I’m working, he’s laying next to me. If I get up for a glass of water, he follows me to the kitchen. If I’m having a shower, he’s outside guarding the bathroom. Yesterday I was working out and he pushed opened the door–I, mid-plank–and was SO HAPPY TO SEE ME AFTER TWENTY MINUTES that he headbutted me.

Headbutts aside, he’s sweet, he’s loving and he makes my life better in so many ways. But, you may be asking, is he also hilarious? OHO YES.

I honestly didn’t realise dogs slept so much or in such weird positions. The things you learn.

Sometimes I get really angry at whoever threw this little guy away like a piece of garbage. How could anyone be so horrible? All that Oliver wants is a soft blanket to cuddle in, a person to follow around and the occasional treat. But at the same time, I’m so happy that he’s here with me. I love him so much, and I know I’m going to give him the best life imaginable.

But I still hope the people who hurt him get anal prolapse because fuck them, seriously.

There are far better advocates for animal adoption than me, but I’m sharing this story with you guys in the hopes that if you ever do want to get a dog or a cat or whatever, you’ll look at a shelter first. Not only will you get a great friend–and Oliver is a GREAT friend–but you’re giving an animal a shot at a good life.

The first night I had Oliver, he wouldn’t sleep in his crate. He slept pressed up against my chest, waking up with a start every few minutes to make sure I was still there. As I write this, he’s the definition of content; sprawled out at the end of my bed, dreaming twitchy little dog dreams. I’m happy because I know he’s happy. There’s precious little of that to be had lately, so I’m taking it where I can get it.

Wind It Up: Ten things I love about life (in the third week of February)

I’ve been lazy! I know! It’s time to MAKE WITH THE HAPPY! And I’m kind of using a funny definition of “week” but whatever!

  • Introducing King William. On February 11th, I became an Aunt. Three cheers for my wonderful Mama Bee, her stern husband James and extremely handsome puppy Sarge on the new addition to their family. He is tiny and pink and his hair goes into a cute little mohawk. It’s so exciting. I can’t wait to give him cuddles in real life!
  • Shopping. Because His Majesty MUST be dressed in only the finest attire, I went shopping. And if you’ve ever seen these shirts…
    …and wondered “Who is the A-hole who buys this stuff?” well, it’s me. I am that A-hole. I can’t help it, IT’S ADORABLE.
  • Doctor Who. The last thing that I needed was another nerdy obsession, but here I am with another nerdy obsession. Like all small children in Australia and the UK, I watched quite a lot of Doctor Who as a kid but hadn’t gotten into the newer edition. This is mostly because Billie Piper is in the first few seasons, and I couldn’t separate Rose Tyler from her teenage pop career. Observe:

    I’m pretty sure that if the Doctor had have seen that, he would have thought twice about taking her aboard the TARDIS.

  • I’ve got a brand new pair of rollerskates... Okay, not really. But I DO have a pair of supercute new shoes that I’ve worn basically nonstop, and they are THE BEST.
    I don’t know how to describe them…oxford meets saddle shoe with a heel? No idea. All I know is that they are adorable and comfy as hell, which is a heretofore unknown luxury. I mean, they’ve got a three inch heel. That’s practically a flat as far as I’m concerned.
  • Seeing red. I have a new favourite red nail polish: Deborah Lippmann’s Do you think I’m sexy? It’s giant chunks of bright red glitter (here worn over Essie’s Fishnet Stockings). It’s so sparkly. There’s no way to do it justice in a picture; it’s blindingly bright in real life.
    Swoon swoon swoon. And then swoon again. Well worth the $18 price tag.
  • This article.What Modelling Taught Me About Men, Money and Life. Absolutely PERFECT in all ways and totally worth a read, even if you are not considering a career in/have escaped the shackles of being professionally pretty. There is lots of very valuable advice, ie: There’s just no point at which someone shows up and gives you money for being pretty (or being talented in general). There’s no Jesus who reaches out of the sky to reward you, fairly, for being so special and better than everyone else. If someone does ever pay you for being pretty or talented, it is only so they can make even more money off of you. That’s it. That’s all there is. Be clear about that. Very clear. WRITERS, PAY ATTENTION.
  • Politics. I’ve written a little somethin’ somethin’ about US politics for my STM column next week. I didn’t think I’d like writing about the shrieking idiots running for the Republican nomination, but do you know what? IT WAS AWESOME. I’ll post links when it’s up, but in the meantime…
  • Speaking of politics… Can we talk for a minute about Bill Maher? I don’t always love him–I find his schtick to be a little smug sometimes–but he has been straight up KILLING it lately. Here is a video of him talking about atheism and then “un-baptising” Mitt Romney’s atheist father in law, who was baptised into the Mormon faith after he had died. Dick move in a long line of dick moves there, Romney. If you can’t convince someone to subscribe to your newsletter while they are alive, you don’t get to sign them up when they’re dead. Watch, it’s great.

    I especially liked the wizard hat.

  • Getting over it. So a few weeks ago I won a contest by tweeting my best getting-over-a-dude story (which I’ll admit is pretty good, as it involves wine, brie, Taco Bell and breaking into a zoo). My prize? A copy of Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald, who you can–nay, SHOULD–follow on twitter.
    And the book is fantastic. It’s sharp and sweet and funny with a strong, relatable cast of characters. It’s part comprehensive checklist for getting over someone (without coming across as preachy or idealistic) and part fun summer finding-yourself YA romp (without pandering or being superficial). I loved it as an adult and I know I would have loved it as a teenager, too. You should buy it and enjoy it as much as I did.
  • Finally flowers. When the magazine I was in came out, some colleagues of mine paid out on me pretty hard. When the column came out, they made fun of me even more…and then they sent flowers, because they were secretly proud of me. Or I should say, they sent a basket of dirt and moss and unsprouted amaryllis bulbs. Fast forward to now, and almost six weeks later my flowers are finally starting to look like flowers.
    I smile every time I look at them. Who else would send a basket of dirt so that I could have longer to enjoy the flowers? THAT is thinking ahead.

And that’s the week! I hope you all had an awesome Valentine’s, Galentine’s or Palentine’s day and that you have some fun stuff planned for the weekend. I’m going to the Shedd Aquarium for the first time in a couple of years, and I’m really excited.