"HEY MAHHHHM," says Watson on a Thursday evening. "IS IT TIME FOR THE PARK?" 

"Almost," I say, "but let’s sit quietly for a while."

"IS IT TIME FOR THE PARK?" Watson asks, when we are halfway through a movie. 

"Not yet," I say. "Get off the windowsill." 

"THIS LOOKS GREAT," Watson says, "I NEED A BIG BREAKFAST BEFORE GOING TO THE PARK. BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO EAT?"

"Okay, here we are. We are at the park."

"PARK PARK PARK," Watson says, "PARK PARK PARK.

SQUIRREL? PARRRRRRRRK.” 

"Did you have fun today?" I ask. 

"zzzz" says Watson. 

A poorly organized overview of things, recently: 

Good Sign, the new doggie day care in our neighborhood, and their sign featuring a Max and an almost Watson

Bad Sign, the G train circle has been painted over. It’s going to be five sad weeks of sad commuting.

Summer Fridays are the best ever. I could really use some Fall, Winter, and Spring Fridays, too. This was Elena’s last full weekend in NY, so we filled it with John Luther Adams’ Sila: The Breath of the World at Lincoln Center + Red Farm + unpictured cream puffs and unpictured bagel sandwiches + The Frick + Ladurée. Also, rambling with Watson, and alternating between The Fosters and Inside Amy Schumer (less jarring than you would think). A quality oh, wow, New York City is amazing! sort of weekend. 

And suddenly, it’s August. 

The most difficult part of Watson’s transition from New Mexico Adventure Dog to New York City Dog has been the loss of off-leash running-about-like-a-fool time. The parks of full of squirrels, feral cats hide under every car, and the streets are a buffet of pizza crusts, chicken bones, and melting ice cream cones. And yet, the leash. Always, always with the leash! 

I’ve known about off-leash hours at Central Park for some time, but living in Bushwick means having to wake up by at least by 7am on a weekend morning to get there on time. I love Watson, but that is a seriously tough sell. 

Finally, though, the guilt got to be too much. On a hazy Saturday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and dumped us both onto the train. It was so, so, worth it. 

Watson was the happiest I’ve seen him since moving here. The whole park was like a magical wonderland. Dogs everywhere, all perfectly behaved. Dogs everywhere!! All shapes, sizes, and colors. Herds of dogs standing about, dogs chasing frisbees, dogs running through the paths, the grass. It was like all of my “I wish dogs” dreams came true. 

This is going to be a thing. 

Weekend activities: 

  • Sybarite5 in Bryant Park (Dogs allowed at the concert, but not on the lawn. Oops! We are still learning the rules).
  • Elena and I JOURNEYED to The Cloisters, where we considered medicinal herbs, unicorn imagery, and buttresses. We also shared disdain for 20-something young men who feel entitled to mansplain to the docent with more years of experience than he has life. GROAN. 
  • Squirrel chasing, couch reading. 

Pictures of Watson sent to Conor while he is in Santa Barbara.

In her first visit to NYC, Rori learned: 

  • to say “om nom nom,” “dogs! dogs! dogs!” and “at-sin!!” I’m such a good influence.
  • about gelato, pork dumplings, pesto, freshly-shelled peas, and fennel sausage
  • and also beet-radicchio ravioli from Eataly, pizza from Roberta’s, ramen from Momofuku, strawberry lemonade from Shake Shack, sticky rice and mangos at Smorgasburg, and double chocolate cookies from Blue Bottle  

Which is to say, Rori is a girl after my own heart. 

Watson learned: 

  • Rori is an excellent food source
  • it rains string cheese under the highchair
  • to gently take cookies from tiny baby fingers 

I learned: 

  • babies are simultaneously resilient and constantly in danger
  • sleep is for nobody 
  • you have to watch movies in increments, split into “the one hour you can stay awake after Rori is asleep,” “the forty minutes she wants to watch before trying to climb to her death up the stairs,” and “the twenty minutes before she decides to stay up all night.” 
  • Never, ever side-eye the parents with a crying baby on the subway. There is literally nothing they can do to make it stop.
  • If you have a small plastic dog in your pocket, you have a secret weapon like no other. 
  • They are hiding all sorts of good snacks in the baby aisle — little puffy things, mango-peach pouches, little melty yogurt things.

I am so in love with Rori, and filled with a newfound respect for all parents, ever. You are all amazing. I am also, however, going to enjoy the heck out of my silent home, giant bed, and easy-going Watson. Sitting on the couch last night, sharing a bowl of blueberries, Watson and I reveled in our selfishness, heaving the big sigh of relief of indulgent-but-childless aunts and uncles, everywhere. 

Exploring time! In Columbus Circle, after a long stroll through Central Park.

Watson and I did a lot of carrier and crate training early on, and it’s somehow spilled over into backpacks? He loves being in backpacks. Still, I wanted to find something safer, more supportive, and more comfortable for our city-and-beyond exploring. 

On the recommendation of a friend with a schnauzer named Norman, I bought Timbuk2’s Muttmover bag. After walking around the house to try it out, I unzipped the bag to let Watson out. “NO THANKS,” he said. “I’M COMFORTABLE.” He’s strange. 

From the picture and descriptions, I wouldn’t have thought it would fit Watson (or Norman); at 17 lbs., he is on the far end of the “small dog” category. It’s plenty roomy, though, especially since Watson likes wedging himself into snug spaces. The quality is great, and it sits comfortably on my shoulders. I’m really looking forward to what this means for new adventures. 

Sleepy, but don’t have a pillow at the ready? Use your fluffy paws!!

Happy Father’s Day, Conor! Thank you for having no sense of personal space.

We found a new groomer! Sandra of Dog Friendly Grooming is all sorts of amazing. She was wonderful with Watson, and patiently accommodated all of my fussy preferences for his cut. Sandra grooms one dog at a time and let me sit in the same room. When Watson got agitated about his nails, I came over to hold him, and spent the rest of the time playing fetch with Sandra’s sweet, sweet Agatha. 

Let’s admire Watson’s new haircut and laugh at him while he chases phantom squirrels. 

Pictures of Watson sent to Conor while he is Charleston.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I finished Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off the Boat and started Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I walked across three boroughs, spent hours in parks, and despite my best intentions, did not work on my upcoming conference presentation at all. Instead: 

  • Experiencing rebirth in a plastic uterus at the MoMa, buns at BaoHaus 
  • Wandering through DUMBO, skipping Smorgasburg (too crowded for Watsy) for more accessible lobster rolls
  • First, second, and third lunch in Flushing, Queens; successfully ordering almost everything in Chinese 

So close, and yet oddly difficult to reach via weekend train schedules: every cross-Brooklyn travel story. For Uncle Ben’s birthday, though, anything. As in, Watson’s Uncle Ben; Ben, Conor’s cousin. 

Prospect Park, we love you. Give me your kites, your popsicles, your brazen squirrels yearning for pita chips, the lush greenery of a damp Spring. See you again, soon.