Keeping it Breezy

Hello, hello! So recently I found myself in a big, chaotic gathering amid a lot of people who don't know me all that well, namely my brother's wedding weekend, and one of these relative strangers, namely his new mother-in-law, said to my new sister-in-law (stay with me here) that she thinks I'm very, and I quote: "laid back and go-with-the-flow."

Wait, what? Who? This Liz?

It was obviously not something I'd heard much before, so I jokingly brought it up to a few people who do know me better and they all...confirmed it. That yes, I am a person with the capacity to be wildly neurotic and controlling but also a person with the capacity to be, as Monica Gellar might say, breezy

breezy monica hottsauce blog funny humor

We all contain multitudes! Who knew? 

This off-hand conversation has led me on a -Trigger Warning for Oprah Language! - personal growth journey. It's interesting to consider how the ways we see ourselves might differ from the way others see us. Perhaps if I can begin to recognize my multitudes, I won't be as hard on myself in those instances when I am well, not breezy. Perhaps I could begin to appreciate myself for the times I do, actually, go with the flow while letting myself off the hook for the times I don't. It's possible that I'm not the uptight control monster I always envisioned but just a layered individual who can, on occasion, be a little tightly wound. 

Though I was, apparently, really leaning into my breezy side while feting the newlyweds a few weeks back (and yes, I'll go ahead and say what you're all thinking, I am making my brother's wedding weekend all about me...I haven't personally grown that much yet), the ensuing weeks have hurled me in the opposite direction and I've felt myself winding tighter and tighter until like a spring, I'm ready to snap. 

I'm not like, hovering on the edge of a breakdown or anything, don't worry, but I am maybe not being the best me I can be.  Thanks to a spicy mix of high pressure work projects, dumb personal life stuff, and this continued knee injury, which has left me unable to run, thus providing me with an extra thing to stress about while effectively wiping out my #1 coping mechanism, I've been feeling like a hot mess express. I need to chill out...and fast.

I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns if you will (I have no idea what that phrase even means) this past weekend and treat myself to a massage, hoping it would loosen some shit up, physically and emotionally. I have only had one massage ever in my life, in Cambodia and I would not say it was a stellar experience. I mean, the masseuse was great but I was, as always a total spaz, and spent the entire time stressing about class issues and thinking about boners. You can read that whole saga riiight here. But desperate times call for desperate measures so I boldly made an appointment for Sunday afternoon at the wellness clinic down the street where I have occasionally visited for acupuncture. I mean! I've been so calm and normal during those appointments, just think of how relaxed I'll be laying there fully nude while a stranger massages my armpits.

Yes, armpits.

Mid-massage the masseuse started going in on that area of fat that hangs over strapless dresses no matter how many half-assed push ups you do (ladies know what I'm talkin' about) and advised that I ask Brian to massage me in the same location. What? I can't. I have, god-willing, 50+ years of keeping the mystery alive here, we are NOT in the armpit massage stage of marriage just yet. 

But the pits weren't even the worst of it. APPARENTLY I am even more tightly wound that I thought and here are all of the places I hold tension: back, hips, ankles, glutes, mid-torso, shoulder blades, neck, pits, and especially forearms. What! How are even my forearms stressed? The masseuse did do something wonderful that made my hands feel all loose and wiggly and then asked me how big my office was. "Big enough!" I replied, thinking he was going to advise me on some stretches. Instead he offered me one takeaway: buy a hot towel warmer from the internet and wrap my forearms in warm towels every time I begin to feel stressed.

Again: no.

LOVE your enthusiasm, bud, but I am never going to purchase and install a hot towel warmer in my office I just don't think that's how the real world works. And as routinely demonstrated, I am so deeply neurotic AT ALL TIMES, this just ends with me fully draped in hot towels like I'm Andre Agassi after a rough match at Wimbledon. 

But, all things considered, the massage was actually great and did help to bust some kinks out of my back and I would for sure do it again. And next time, I might even come prepared with cash!

That's right. Superfans of Ye Olde Hott Sauce will surely recall that I left my first acupuncture experience at this clinic in a total panic after seeing a tip envelope, unsure of the protocol on tipping for these sorts of services. Post massage I dressed and languorously made my way to the front desk only to again be instantly snapped out of my relaxed reverie by the sight of those damn tiny envelopes. Acupuncture is a grey area but massage surely falls under the tippage category of physical services. 

I paid for my appointment with my credit card and, nervously looking around the room, sucked up my pride and in a loud whisper asked the very nice young woman behind the desk "can I ask you an important question?"

"Of course!" she replied politely.

"This is so embarrassing but...are you supposed to tip? For a massage, I mean? I've only ever been to acupuncture and..."

She cut me off with a kind but chastising all the same: "for massage, it is customary. And we do only take tips in cash."

KEWL.

Here's how much cash I had on my person: zero dollars and zero cents. 

I gave a frenzied laugh, yelped "OK I'LL BE RIGHT BACK!", and sprinted out into the day in search of some dolla bills. All along my plan for the afternoon had been to go to the massage and then do my grocery shopping at the big, reasonably priced grocery store three blocks from clinic, in the opposite direction from my apartment. As I came out of the massage place in search of some cash, I decided I didn't want to spend $2.50 on bodega ATM fees, so my best option was to walk to the CVS which is directly next to said grocery store and get some cash back. I should have just done my grocery shopping at this time, but decided it would be too weird to go back to the clinic carrying all of my groceries, so instead I purchased one solitary paper towel roll at CVS and took out $40 cash back and hiked the three blocks - uphill, mind you! - back to the massage place. I know you're thinking that is a very generous tip for one massage and you are right but I wanted to be prepared just in case. You see, I'd never actually tipped for my few acupuncture appointments and decided as long as I was already embarrassing myself, I'd just ask the front desk gal what the protocol was on that front and, if needed, leave some kind of retroactive tip to atone for my sins. 

Formal confirmation for the equally confused: massage = tip. Acupuncture = "considered a medical practice" = no tip. The more you know!

Once again I found myself leaving an appointment intended to help me relax even more stressed than when I first begin. 

Exhausted by it all, I decided I did not have the energy to walk all the way back to the cheap grocery store and instead just visited the smaller, v bougie grocery store a block away from my apartment, effectively cancelling out any and all savings I'd accrued by avoiding bodega ATM fees, and then some. 

Shopping alongside me was a rumpled older gentleman - picture the drunk uncle character on SNL Weekend Update and give him a bushier beard - who was muttering a grouchy monologue throughout his shopping, lamenting the high price of groceries these days, the rents, the pesticides.

"You just can't afford to live in this town anymore!" he groused to his lettuce. "The rents will kill you, if the chemicals don't first," under his breath while pawing through a stack of carrots. Then louder: "FIVE DOLLARS FOR PINEAPPLE, are you fucking kidding me??"

I managed to bob and weave around him as I filled my cart with ingredients for the evening's meal, indulging in plenty of fresh produce and herbs, a new bottle of olive oil. I like to buy nice foods and besides, I was having a bad week. Don't I deserve to treat myself?

I thought I'd lost him until I turned into the cheese aisle and found him having cornered a deli worker beside a stack of fancy Parmesan wheels, ranting about The Cost Of Things These Days.

"You can't even live!" I heard him exclaim. "Look at her! That's a month of my salary in her basket!"

The her he was referring to? Me, of course. I glanced over and there he was, pointing an angry finger in my direction, glowering at my basket piled high with shallots and dill. 

Needless to say, between the tip fiasco and this character, any positive relaxing effects of the massage were very swiftly departing.

I checked every item off my list except the keystone ingredient of my dinner recipe: dried chick peas. I was planning to make this falafel recipe which says in no uncertain terms that one should NOT use canned chickpeas. Dried or GTFO. This fancy-ass grocery story had dried kidney beans and dried peas but nary a dried chick pea in sight. 

I was frustrated, to be sure, but not defeated. I live in New York City, after all! I had two more grocery shopping options within a two block radius: the medium-sized, medium-priced Food Train, and the tiny but well-stocked Asian grocery memorably named The Bad Wife. I decided Food Train was my best bean bet, so I loaded my heavy canvas bags (reduce, reuse, recycle!) onto my rapidly re-tightening shoulders and trudged on over. Again: a wide variety of dried beans but NO CHICKPEAS.

A Garbanzo Goldilocks, I huffed out of the store, took a deep breath, and headed for The Bad Wife. This time, things would be just right.

I wove my way through the narrow aisles and there in front of me, my bounty lay: dried chick peas!  They were a fancy organic brand, rather than the basic Goya I'm familiar with, but who doesn't love organic? GMO free, baby! I grabbed the bag, turned it over, and stopped in my tracks. 

"SIX NINETY-NINE," I barked aloud, "for some dried beans?! Are you fucking kidding me??" 

Sweet mother of pearl, there was a new unhinged grocery shopper in town ... and it was me. 

I flung the beans back on the shelf and sprinted for the comfort of my home, locking the doors behind me and throwing myself on the couch with a dramatic sigh.

"Welcome home, babe!" called Brian from the other room. "How was your relaxing day?"

Great, great, SO GREAT.

And here we are. I think I'm in the home stretch on the work stuff but life loves to throw curve balls so if anyone could recommend some tried and true de-stressing activities that do not involve the following, would you please let me know?

Touching people, being touched, an option to leave a tip, needles, the use of one's knees, drugs, interacting with other human beings in any form, or dried chick peas. 

There's a breezy person inside me, yearning to break free! 

XO

Liz Hott

 

Feelin' 32

grown up hottsauce funny blog

Hello, friends. I have some big news to share. I have become a woman!

No, I didn’t just start my period - that happened when I was in fourth grade, years before all the other girls, and I still have the emotional scars to prove it. Nor did I just lose my virginity - that happened well into my twenties, years after all the other girls, and I did have the emotional scars to prove it until I learned that Tina Fey also kept her v card until a late age so now I’m an out and proud member of the Old Virgins Club.

It turns out that, contrary to every Judy Blume novel ever written, womanhood is not one (likely v bloody) milestone that you can check off in your diary, but something unexpected and innate that sneaks up on you from behind whether you’re ready or not.

In every way I am an adult. I am thirty-two years old, by which I mean I’m very much “in my thirties,” woof. I’m married. I have a robust 401K and an assistant and a bad hip and multiple blazers and yet I still feel like a perpetual tween. I do in some ways think that city living may be a bit to blame. Unlike the town where I grew up, people here generally marry later, have kids later, live in tiny rental apartments with roommates into their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. The traditional trappings of adulthood, as embodied by the suburban parents of my childhood, don’t seem to apply to me or to any of my NYC friends, so I’ve been able to hold onto a sort of eternal Peter Pan feeling. We’re all growing older, but are any of us growing up? When I see my peers doing these adulty things like procreating or buying four bedroom houses on cul-de-sacs it feels utterly foreign and somehow wrong, like they’re play acting at real life. Those things are for adults and we can’t possibly be adults yet.  I mean, I certainly am not! Or... am I?

Some of this, surely, is because I’m such a horrid snob about non-urban living - the word “cul-de-sac” is basically moist to my ears (shudder, shudder) - but in other ways it still just takes me by surprise every day that I’m allowed to do things like take money out of the bank or rent a car without a note from my mom.

I’d say it’s a mix of this snobbishness, a little jealousy, a whole bunch of fear, and no small pinch of denial that’s had me feeling pretty OK about this eternal tween scene. Who even needs adulthood?? SEEMS BORING.

And then, when I least expected it, it found me.

Last week I was hanging out with two young co-workers, both 22, fresh outta college, just like me! Err...me circa a literal decade ago. I have always known I’m like, older than these gals, but we’re all still peers, right? Hashtag millennials! Snapchat! The Chainsmokers, probably!?!?

The two of them were regaling the group with funny stories about their apartment situations - all the post-college classics like bad roommates and plenty of mice, navigating subleases and guarantors, pulling together just enough cash for a security deposit, crashing on couches, full of optimism and enviable naivete As they talked I became filled with these unexpected feelings. I was worried for them. I wanted to nurture them. I could sympathize with what they were going through, having been there myself before, but I could not currently relate. Instead of being like, “OMG girls, life is so crazy, should we do some shots?!”, I just...nodded, a supportive yet moderately concerned look on my face. I gave them advice on dealing with landlords and reminded them never to meet a person from Craigslist without a buddy. I blithely uttered the phrase, “when I was your age,” with no irony whatsoever and all at once it hit me: holy shit, me, you are a grown-up. 

Apparently to achieve adulthood you need not purchase a townhouse or a minivan or even just one of those medium sized SUVs all the hot soccer moms are driving these days, you simply need to close your eyes and think “dear god, you could not pay me to be 22 again” and whoosh, there you are, in adulthood. It’s like Dorothy clicking her ruby slippers to get home again except instead of leaving Oz behind, it’s your youth that’s fading from technicolor behind you.

Ain't life something? 

So there you have it, world, I am an adult now. I am not a girl, not yet ... nope... 100% a woman. And I don’t know how I feel about it, so if anyone’s looking for me you’ll find me at the nearest Chico’s indulging in a little retail therapy while I sort it all out.


Whatever the mature version of xoxoxox is, 

HoBag 

 

Women Be Marchin'

Hello! Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 12 years and just now crawled out and somehow got yourself to a public library or internet cafe and taught yourself how to log onto the internet and started to type "how do I use this thing?" into your browser but instead only got as far as "h-o" and were miraculously re-routed to Hottsauceblog.com, and this is literally the first piece of world news or information you've read in over a decade, you're well aware that on Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America. And that the following day, Saturday, January 21, 2017, millions of women and men gathered all around the world to express their hopes and fears over the new administration.

If you have, in fact, been living under a rock welcome and hello and OMG I must hear your story, what a wild adventure, and also yep, yep, and yes, Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America. Uh huh, this guy. I know! Times are weird, huh? Wait, where are you going?? Oh, back under your rock? Eh...makes sense. Thanks for stopping by! 

But yes, for the rest of you, you know the drill. You've seen the CNN coverage. You've read the backlash and the backlash to the backlash, and the frontlash, and the eyelash and now you have whiplash. But you haven't yet read MY thrilling account of the day so bust out your reading glasses and buckle up...because here it is.

womens rights are human rights

I made the trip from NYC to DC with two of my besties, Maureen and Kathleen. We traveled by MegaBus Friday evening, a trip that was to take 5-6 hours and came in closer to 8, finally dragging into Union Station close to midnight. The bus was stuffy and bumpy and as we stopped and started down the Jersey Turnpike, it became warmer and warmer until finally, unable to bear the heat, one woman approached the driver to inquire about adjusting the heat, which he revealed to be a crisp 83 degrees. Oof. But from this discomfort emerged a warm camaraderie which would set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Nearly all of the other passengers were also headed down to the march, everyone with homemade signs and comfortable sneakers. When we finally did arrive in DC and emerge, blinking, from our brick oven of a bus, we saw dozens of other buses unloading fellow protesters, everyone buzzing with energy. I realized our bus parked right next to a bus marked with the emblem of the Chickasaw Nation, which had likely traveled in from Oklahoma, and I was awestruck -for the first, but not even close to last - time at the scope of the event in which we were about to participate.

Early Saturday morning we hit the streets, bundled in layers of heattech and spirited layered  t-shirts - Kathleen had a homemade shirt with the slogan "Women's Rights = Human Rights" across the chest, and I wore my Unapologetic shirt, natch, the same shirt I wore to vote for Hillary Clinton and awkwardly interrogate the manager of the jewelry-thieving boutique in my neighborhood. Two equally momentous moments in women's history!!! After obsessively reading up on rules for the march, I had purchased a hideous clear backpack  the only regulation bag allowed by the NPS, and filled it up with water bottles, because if I am one thing, it's a rule follower and if I'm two things, it's a rule follower who is obsessed with hydration. 

But not quite as much as this guy, who is my new role model:

not all heroes wear capes

Not all heroes wear capes! 

As we walked out the door we were greeted by a sea of women in the now ubiquitous pink pussy hats streaming through the streets. A man caught our eyes as we walked past, gave a grin, and said "give 'em hell, ladies."

And I'd like to think we did. 

war on women

We arrived at the National Mall around 9:30 AM and finally dragged our addled bodies home as dusk began to fall. In between, we wandered from street to street, trying to take everything in. The march was a bit disorganized, I must admit, likely accounting to the massive swell of visitors. The day began with a rally featuring incredible speakers like Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards, America Ferrara, and Michael Moore, and musical performances from Solange (omg), Katy Perry, and obvzzzz the Indigo Girls. Cell service came in and out throughout the day, but I managed to catch some just enough for my brother to text that Indigo Girls performing at a Women's Rally is the center square in Feminist Bingo.

El. Oh. El. Too true.

I am disappointed we didn't get to catch much of the rally, I really would have liked to see or hear more, but it was fun just to soak in the energy. As many people have remarked, the vibe was so, so, positive and polite. Everyone was elbow to elbow, constantly bumping into one another, and each time, the women would turn to each other and apologize. Kathleen, Mo, and I cracked up each time, referencing this classic Amy Schumer sketch, only to find ourselves blurting out "omg sorry!" the next time we turned around. People were sharing snacks, helping one another cross streets, high fiving cops, at one point a group was trying to cut through a large mass of people standing in the street...and they walked ON THE CROSSWALK! It was adorable. Anne Helen Petersen, one of my favorite writers, penned a really thoughtful piece about how the symbols of this particular march - homemade hats, signs, regulation backpacks - represented how inherently feminine this march was. Worth a read

march march march

Finally around 4 PM, after having been out and on our feet for coming on eight hours, we decided to call it a day. We'd been so ensconced in our little cluster of folks right around the National Mall that we thought we were it. But as we elbowed our way out of the crowd, we realized we were just one of many mini-marches streaming all over the city. As we headed out, groups were pouring into the main area, blasting music, chanting, dancing. For several blocks in all directions the streets were blocked off, bars and restaurants open to the street, women in pink hats as far as the eye could see. It was truly incredible to be part of. 

And then we went back to our hotel and were rewarded by a beautiful cable TV lineup consisting of a Lindsay Lohan marathon (Mean Girls and The Parent Trap) followed by Frozen. There is a god and she is good! 

But more on the march! Among the protesters, we met a group of young women from Hanover College in Indiana, Mike Pence's alma-mater, who traveled 12 hours by overnight bus, doing their homework on their laps, to protest against the ideologies of their now famous (or shall I say infamous) vice presidential alum. We met women who'd traveled in from California, Georgia, Maine, Boston, Oregon. We chanted alongside the funniest young girl named Saja, who led the crowd in enthusiastic rounds of "not my president," hilariously throwing her whole body into the cheer.

The crowd was heavily skewed towards female, but a lot of men joined too. There were older women relying on walkers who still stood up and marched. Parents with babies strapped to their backs or in strollers. We marched next to a middle aged man in a wheelchair who wore a tshirt with "Donald eres una pendejo" emblazoned across the front. Feel free to Google Translate that ish! 

mother daughter duo womens march blog

I could have spent the entire day just reading people's clever protest signs. A large amount were focused on reproductive health, including several VERY anatomically correct reproductions of female genitalia and two gigantic papier-mache bloody tampons. But not all were quite so, um, graphic, with many bearing general female empowerment slogans, funny memes, or focusing on the enormous list of issues women fear will be threatened under the new administration: climate change, Black Lives Matter, gun violence, immigration, LGBTQ rights, equal pay, protection against domestic violence and sexual abuse.

womens march resist
womens march signs

One criticism the march received was a lack of a central theme - what are these angry women protesting, anyway?? And it's possible to look at this wide range of protest signs and say, you know, "pick one thing and stick to it!," but to me, it's an impressive, visual reminder that women's issues are WORLD ISSUES. And to downplay them as just, well, bitches bitchin' is a risk to our communal well being. 

voldemort
Putin

There were a fair number of others which poked fun at our new president, including one featuring ACTUAL CHEETOS, which I failed to photograph, many making digs at his close relationship with Russia, and this one which of course spoke very deeply to me:

donald trump is illiterate

FOR REAL THO.

And though the day did carry an air of Anti-Trumpsim, with the crowds erupting into hilarious chants like "He's orange, he's gross, he lost the popular vote" and, my favorite, "We need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter," it wasn't just about him. There really was an overwhelming sense of communal forward energy, of women (and men, but mostly women) who have been quiet for too long finally speaking up. 

One of the other of the main criticisms (oh, and there have been many) (some likely valid, I'm sure!), lobbed at the march in the past few days has been on this theme: "Where have you been before this?? Why are you just getting mad now??" This question comes from two distinctly different groups. First, from people who generally seem annoyed by the march and consider protesters "crybabies," who I would politely ask to mediate on the cliche "the straw that broke the camel's back" and also email me (lizhottsauce@gmail.com) if they'd like to discuss in depth in a civil way. But the second group is one I want to really take to heart, and this comes from groups of women who have been fighting on the front lines of justice for women, primarily non-white, non-straight women who have had to wage daily battles for their rights which I just haven't had to go through. Here, here, and here are a few pieces I've been meditating on, if you think this might be something for you to consider, too. 

 from here http://www.theroot.com/woman-in-viral-photo-from-women-s-march-to-white-female-1791524613

from here http://www.theroot.com/woman-in-viral-photo-from-women-s-march-to-white-female-1791524613

 from here http://fusion.net/story/382776/amir-talai-viral-photo-womens-march-nice-white-ladies-black-lives-matter/

from here http://fusion.net/story/382776/amir-talai-viral-photo-womens-march-nice-white-ladies-black-lives-matter/

These two photos were making the rounds on social media following the march and have been lingering heavy in my mind as I map out my action plans for the coming days. I have not been as active or as vocal as I could have been. There's that saying "put your money where your mouth is," but the problem is, I kind of need to put my mouth where my money is. I've happily given as much as I can financially to causes I believe in. But I have yet to march in a Black Lives Matter rally. I just voted in a mid-term election for the first time this past fall and mostly only so I could show off about it on Instagram. I do call my senator every time there was a mass shooting (so like, once a week), but I never really follow up, I just kind of check it off the list and move on. In high school and college I used to be so active in community engagement and then when I moved to New York I just kind of stopped. I'll do some outreach here and there but I've never made it a cornerstone of my life the way I used to and I'm ashamed of that. 

I suppose I have Donald Trump - and Mike Pence, and Paul Ryan, and Betsy "Dolores Umbridge" Devos, and the whole motley, racist, misogynist, homophobic crew - to thank for ultimately being the straw that broke my back, for lighting the fire that's been simmering inside of me, untended, for all of these years. I'm fired the fuck up. And should I have been protesting years ago? PROBABLY. Could I have been better about being engaged with the community? FOR SHEEZY. But is it too late to get started now? Is it too late to make a change? is it too late to apologize? No, Justin Bieber, it's never too late. Don't tell me what I can't do! 

And I'm saying this both because it's like, a rah-rah, inspiring end to this blog post, but also, mostly because of accountability. Studies show that if you tell a people you'll do something - go on a diet, quit smoking, whatever - you may be more likely to actually go through with it. And anecdotal data has shown that I, personally, am very motivated by a fear of letting people down or being considered a failure. And also by attention, ha. So I figured if I told all of the millions of people who read this blog (hey mom!) that I was going to try to become a better citizen, well, maybe I would. 

We'll see! 

Now tell me - did you march? Where? How was it for you? How are YOU taking action and accountability in the coming days? I'm all ears for suggestions! Conversely, do you have totally different viewpoints that me and want to have a respectful discussion? I'm working hard to be a better listener, so I'd really love to hear from you.

Fired Up, Ready to Go -

Liz  

 

It's The End of the World as We Know It (and I Need a Nap)

 Writing this blog post at the Thursday White House, my office, about twelve seconds ago. ENJOY! 

Writing this blog post at the Thursday White House, my office, about twelve seconds ago. ENJOY! 

Fun Fact! Donald Trump is going to become the President of the United States tomorrow! Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I hate you, tomorrow, you're only a day away.  I was just listening to NPR and the host teed up the news by saying "in less than 24 hours, Donald Trump will be sworn in..." and y'all, I nearly spontaneously combusted. IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS THIS IS HAPPENING. I mean, like, obviously I knew this day would someday come but I still thought we had more time. We just need more time!  

And do you ever, even for just a moment, forget? Every now and then in the days since November 9th, I've found myself slipping into a blissful state of mindlessness, completely checked-out from the reality swirling around me before one thing or another pulls me back down to earth. And yes, the shock of remembering jolts me every single time, but oh man, those sweet little moments - usually right when I first wake up in the wee hours of the morning, between refreshing the snooze button, or when I hit my stride on a great run - are pure gold. 

Exceptttt lately life has been conspiring to steal my precious moments (of time, not the religious figurines I received for my First Holy Communion) and things are not going well.

First of all, snooze button? What even is that? I've been absolutely swamped at work since the beginning of the year and I feel like I'm climbing a ladder and every day I get so close to the top only to fall off but then catch a middle rung with one hand and mustering all the upper body and core strength I have, pull myself back up. And then repeat. (Aka "two steps forward, one step back" but less cliche and far more dramatic.)  I've been waking at the crack of dawn to get to my desk as early as I can, working late, and tossing and turning due to the stress of it all. 

I need a nap. Badly. How badly? Let me share just one anecdote to illustrate. 

This afternoon one of my authors was in the office doing a few phone interviews from our in-house studio. I went to meet him to walk to another appointment and when I arrived, he was still on the phone, so I quietly found a seat in the adjoining conference room. As I sat down I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a person sitting on another chair next to me and I was a little startled, I'd thought I was alone, so I quickly and politely gave a little nod and said "hello" and at the same time the other person quickly and politely gave a little nod and said "hello" and oh wait...

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

It wasn't another person, it was a mirror. I was waving and chatting to my own reflection. The whole time. 

So yes, I need a nap. Badly.

And I'd really like to clear my head with a good stretch of the legs and a lap or two around Prospect Park, exceptttt, I'm hobbled, and unable to run. My usually tricky right hip has been just dandy lately, but in a fun twist, my left hip is busted.  I think I may have thrown something into whack over the holidays, because for the past few weeks I've had near constant discomfort in my hip, glute, and IT band, having trouble walking, running, and sitting.So basically just living, really. 

The discomfort became too much to bear (and I really, really miss running!) so I decided to be brave and try acupuncture again (ps I finally learned how to spell that word, only one c!) even though It was one of the more harrowing experiences of my life because I am unable to avoid the lure of a magical holistic cure and/or a good story to tell. 

I was feeling all proud of myself for uterising up and taking care of myself instead of laying on the couch, self-diagnosing via WebMD, and complaining about my life, which is my usual M.O., but hit my first road block when I went to get dressed. I could not for the life of me remember what the protocol vis a vis undergarments was the last time I'd gone in. I remembered a blanket. And taking my pants off. But was I wearing underpants? Or were we full monty down there? Because the primary issue is centered in the piriformis and gluteus medius muscles, aka da butt, I was worried about having too much fabric in the way but also didn't want to show up just like, vag out, you know? 

And then I remembered, thongs! They're a thing! An underwear specific for times when you need your bits covered but your cheeks out, i.e. butt acupuncture and literally that's it because thongs are terrible and life is painful enough already without a string up your b. So I duggggg into the fun drawer where I keep all of my special occasion (read: laundry day) underwear and unearthed a thongity-thong, suited up, and confidently marched out the door.

The whole time I walked over, sat in the waiting room, and then chatted with the acupuncturist in the exam room, I repeated a silent mantra in my head: "don't make it weird, don't make it weird, don't make it weird," and then, as I lay face down, in my lingerie, as a stranger, basically, stuck pins into my butt cheeks it occurred to me that it probably could not get any weirder, no matter what I did and at last, I was able to relax.

And I think my hip's starting to feel better afterwards, too! Now that I'm a mature acupuncture goddess (no), maybe I should get her to 'puncture away my sleeplessness and life would be all better again. I mean, except for the Trump thing.

DO YOU THINK there's a way we could acupuncture ourselves back in time, or maybe acupuncture Trump out of office?? I MEAN! People swear acupuncture is a cure for everything??????

Anywaaay, enough. I'm not 100% sure what either of these stories actually have to do with a) one another or b) tomorrow's Doomsday Situation, but one of my 2017 resolutions was "blog once a week...even if it's not that great" and they were medium funny and I can't focus on work on account of the exhaustion and the butt pain and the dawning apocalypse sooooo here we are. 

And how are you doing? 

Love is a Verb

love is love is love is love orlando hope lgbtq pride

Hi, friends. I sat down and started to write a touching and poignant and passionate essay on my feelings in the wake of this latest unspeakable tragedy but I just don't have the words. I used them all up, six months ago. And here we are.

 Again. 

If you’re anything like me, may the lord bless and keep your neurotic soul, and also you’ve probably spent the last three days in an absolute haze, wildly shifting between sadness and anger and confusion and back, flailing at any possible opportunity to make sense of things. Wondering how we got here and where we go.  I keep telling myself to step away from the internet, to not click another link. It’s all too much to bear.

But here’s the thing, I think we have to bear it. We cannot – CAN NOT –allow ourselves as a collective human community to file this away as another entry in the Mass Murder in the United States Wikipedia page (real thing. Do not read.) and move on with our lives. We can’t.

As with many national tragedies, I turned to the evening news to help guide me through and there were two particular voices that resonated with me. Samantha Bee managed to say everything I was thinking and feeling – only better and funnier – and drop the goddamn mic on the way out:

And Stephen Colbert, as always, encouraged me to look inward, to find the moral lesson:

 

"Let us remember," he says, "that love is a verb. And to love means to do something." 

A verb! Love is love is love is love is LOVE, yes, but it is a verb and if we want to truly love we must do something. 

I had to take a hard look at myself and the lovin’ I’ve been putting forth. In the face of these crises in the past, here is what I have done: cry, write occasional blog posts, hit like on dozens of Facebook posts and…that’s about it. That’s not enough, guys, it’s not enough. If I’m going to ask the government to take a stand on gun violence, on hatred, on fear, I have to be an active participant in the conversation.

So I extricated myself from the depths of a hateful facebook conversation I probably shouldn’t have been reading in the first place (I can’t stress this enough: NEVER. READ. THE. COMMENTS.), put on my Democracy Panties, and got to work. I wrote to my senators, my congresswoman, my presidential candidate of choice. I made financial donations to a few organizations I believe can help fight the good fight, I paid a visit to the Stonewall Inn to stand for a few moment in silence and remembrance of the lives lost on Sunday, and all the other souls taken too soon by gun violence. And now I’m using my platform of approximately 12 readers (17 on a good day!) to encourage you to do the same.

I know it feels like small drops in a huge, horrible bucket but I think that the moment we give up hope in the good of humanity and give up trust in our government and give up the belief that our own tiny voices can make a difference, that’s the end. We might as well give everyone an AK-47 and go full The Purge and just burn this whole place to the ground.

I’m not quite ready for that yet.

So here are a few ways I'm working to love as a verb. I hope you'll join me! 

1) Write: I used this helpful website to track down information on how to contact my representatives, to see how they’ve aligned with gun control measures in the past, as well as to find a template of what to say. If you need help figuring out where to start, I'd be MORE than happy to assist you in locating your particular government officials or sharing my emails with you as a template. Feel free to email me: lizhottsauce@gmail.com. 

2) Donate: If you are able, consider making a financial donation. Here are a few causes I have chosen to donate to:

·         Equality Florida – a GoFundMe page set up to directly assist the survivors and families of the victims of Sunday’s tragedy.

·         Everytown for Gun Safety – a tremendous non-profit organization working towards ending gun violence in America.

·         The Center Orlando – a local organization serving the LGBTQ community right in the heart of Orlando.

·         The Trevor Project – a national organization providing counselling, support and other services to the LGBTQ across the country.

You could also look into donating to a politician you think is fighting the good fight, an LGBTQ organization right in your hometown or hey, any cause you think brings love as a verb.

3) Mourn: There was one article in particular that rocked me to my core. One of the victims of Sunday’s massacre was Luis Vielma, a 22-year-old employee of Universal Studio’s Harry Potter World. “He was a Gryffindor,” his friend wrote in tribute. “He was a kid.” This sweet, sweet boy believed in magic and believed in goodness and he’s gone. Like the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named villain of Luis’s beloved stories, let’s not speak the name of the killer, but the names of the victims. Let’s not let their deaths be in vain. Read more about those lost in Orlando here. Remember their names.  

4) Listen: This is the hardest thing for me to do, but I think it’s important. This is clearly a hotly debated, difficult to solve issue with ideas on both sides that are probably valid and terrible and somewhere in between. There is so much media chatter and political chatter and internet chatter and I fear we’re not really listening to each other. We all have to be willing to have hard conversations, to try to hear what the other side is saying. I straight up DO NOT want to hear one more person tell me that people kill people or that all Muslims are evil or that gay people are no longer oppressed...but I have to be willing to put myself in that painful place and hear the core of the opposing argument and hope that my friends on the other side would do the same for me. This blind bipartisanship, this othering of ourselves needs to end. We have got to try to come together and listen, really, really LISTEN, to each other and to find common ground and move ahead.

5) Hope: A sweet friend shared this moving poem by Maya Angelou, which I’m going to leave you with today. Without hope, what’s left?

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

 

 

Brooklyn Summer '16

Well hot damn, it's been about the far side of forever since I last showed my face around these parts and in the interim, summer arrived in Brooklyn in a big way. With barely a warning it's 80 and humid and I think I might just love it. I'm typing this on my veranda, aka our fire escape, surrounded by Brian's plants. This is the summer I'm determined to make the fire escape patio happen. Watch me.

brooklyn summer fire escape

Brian's extra cute during gardening season, every morning he pokes his head out here to check on his lil' guys, reporting on their progress, worrying over buds that just won't bloom. I like to tease that I know he'll be a good dad some day, just by how tender he is to his basil plants.

How's that baby fever going? Whyever would you ask??

Quite honestly, it's a relief that summer came upon us so quickly. I've been in a busy spell with work and life and have let my laundry situation get the best of me. So praise the l-a-w-d it's warm enough for dresses, I am literally out of clean pants. I found myself wearing jeans mid-week a few days ago, which is a move I try not to pull except when absolutely necessary. I did feel a bit sloppish about it but I must say I learned a fun and interesting sartorial lesson which is to tuck in your top.

tuck it in hottsauce blog photo funny awkward

A) It really snazzes up the whole look. 

B) It's a handy storage unit for when you drop blueberries down your decolletage. Untucked, they fall right on through to the floor but tucked? Reach down, pluck 'em out and they're still good to eat. Wearable tupperware!

(Important Notice: this outfit was significantly cuter in person. This lighting is unflattering and there was a whole wedge sandal situation happening out of frame and just...trust me, I was slaying.) 

I have BIG PLANS for this summer, aside from just making this fire escape happen. I'm going to finish the Neapolitan novels (holy shit, so good), go back to Coney Island, drink on as many patios as possible, dust off my bike and take her for a few spins, possibly purchase and wear a jumpsuit (????), perfect home-made cold brew, attend a weekend-long music festival, stay calm and cool and collected whilst attending a weekend-long music festival, eat a lot of tomato sandwiches, sleep with the windows wide open, try not to panic about the Zika Virus, lay in the park, get uninentional and weird sunburns, figure out once and for all what the hype is over rose, plan a trip to California, ask my boss for days off to travel to California, travel to California, write postcards, forget to mail them, write essays, muster the courage to pitch them, eat fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh everything, shuck corn, bake corn, freeze corn for the dead of winter when I'm missing these lazy, hazy days and need a bright POP! of color to bring me back to life. 

I'm going to soak it all in to the last sunlit drop. 

hottsauce fire escape summer blog humor funny wine

And right now I'm going to duck in the kitchen window, pour myself another glass of wine and snuggle up on that cute husband of mine because if there's one thing that blossoms through all seasons, it is our love.

BAHAHA gross, JUST KIDDING the one thing that blossoms through all seasons is mint (srsly, it like, never dies!) and also me being really embarrassingly corny on the internet.

Happy summer, guys! We made it! 

Remembering This: Winter Storm Jonas (Brothers)

Over the summer I shared that I've been making a point to slow down and savor the now, to actively capture special moments that I want to hang onto. Little everyday things I hope will bring a smile to my face when they pop back into my head ten, twenty, fifty years into the future. 

This past weekend was one for the record books - both in terms of memories and in terms of nature, with Winter Storm Jonas (Brothers) dropping a whopping 26.8 inches of snow on New York City (just .01 short of the all-time high, aww, so close!). I wanted to jot down a few moments in an attempt to hang onto the goodness, for reasons of both sentimentality and pure psychological self-preservation. I know that by week's end, the snow will be pushed into dirty piles on the curbs and I'll be grouchily tramping to the office, grousing about the cold and it'll do me well to have a few fond snowy memories tucked away to get me through the rest of this godawful season.

I mean, this beautiful season! Oh it's happening already.

I don't think anyone really believed this storm would amount to anything, at least among my social circle. We've been burned in the past - notably last year when the city went on full lock-down only to get a light dusting - and didn't want to get our hopes up. Such jaded, cynical New Yorkers are we! So what a complete delight to wake up Saturday morning to a, and I'm really sorry, I know this phrase is absurd but I'm unashamedly going for it, winter wonderland. 

IMG_7092.JPG

The best thing about a snow day is how it takes a totally regular day and makes it into a holiday. Productivity be damned. To do lists, shredded. It's snowing! We'll have bloody marys at 10 am and read in our pajamas all morning and make a huge breakfast feast of cheesy eggs, bacon and french fries. 

breaking wild snowday hottsauce

Snow calories don't count.

After a lazy morning of treats and snoozin', snoozin' and treats, Brian and I bundled to the gills and set out into the storm on a probably ill-advised quest to meet our friends for beers.

hottsauce snowday jonas winter blog fun

The walk was surreal. The governor had issued a ban on non-essential vehicles so the roads were entirely clear of cars. We walked right down the middle of Seventh Avenue, one of the main streets in the neighborhood. Around us a few other brave (stupid?) souls trekked along, and kids had turned the side streets into blocks-long sledding trails. It was so windy, we couldn't see 100 feet ahead of us, though we couldn't see anything really, the pelting snowflakes forced us to squint our eyes tiny or sometimes walk backwards and hope for the best. Utterly ridiculous to be out and about but it was worth the pain as we burst into the warm bar and shed our wet layers, pulling on dry socks and sweaters that Brian had packed for us and hauled down in his backpack.

Pro tip: marry an Eagle Scout.

sharlenes hottsauce brooklyn blog

The bar was packed! One of the only places open in the neighborhood, it became a home away from home for locals with cabing fever - the old time regulars who I'm pretty sure might actually live there, parents with little babies strapped to their chests, loud groups of 30-somethings, everyone sporting ridiculous layers on layers of all the warmest clothes they own, fashion schmashion. We cuddled up in a back booth and guzzled IPAs and one friend found a nearby restaurant that was also open and brought in wings and fries and onion rings and another procured a set of Cards Against Humanity and we spent our afternoon getting drunk with Midgets Shitting into Buckets and Vigilante Justice and Former President George W. Bush and Oprah Sobbing Alone into a Lean Cuisine. Best overall round: Stuff White People Like (Morgan Freeman's Voice, Sassy Black Ladies, Pretending to Care About Third World Countries, The Oscars, Selfies.) 

After a few hours of building liquid corage, we packed up and trekked back home. The mile or so walk from the bar to our apartment was magical, and I mean that in the most earnest and sincere way. It was still snowing, but the wind had died down, so it gently fell in fat flakes around us. The city was absolutely silent and glowing in the streetlights.

hottsauce snowy day

We ran in the middle of the road and jumped into waist-high piles on the sidewalks and occaisionally passed other walkers but for many blocks we were the only two souls around. 

out in the snow at night

Back home we draped our wet hats and gloves on the radiator to dry, ate macaroni and cheese in our PJs. 

The snow stopped at some point while we were sleeping and when we woke this morning, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun bouncing off of the drifts. We made eggs and french fries for breakfast (again!), pulled back on our layers, grabbed our sled and headed for the park.

hottsauce sledding snow brooklyn blog

A memory in a memory: a few years ago, when we were first living together on the other side of the park, there was another big weekend blizzard and while walking in the park after the snowfall stopped, Brian and I became jealous of the local youth whizzing by us on their sleds and decided we hadto join them. We searched the premesis for abandoned sleds (not technically stealing if some kid just left it there!) (Right?) but came up empty so we sprinted to the local hardware store and snagged the very last sled they had, a lime green plastic saucer, and sprinted back and spent the rest of the afternoon shredding the hills. It was the funnest. 

Another pro tip: marry someone who brings out your child-like enthusiasm for adventure. 

We hung onto that stupid sled and moved it with us from that apartment, which had not one but TWO spare bedrooms for us to stash our junk, to our current home which has one tiny closet to house our random nonsense, including the sled, and also a baseball bat, skateboard, old box fan, Christmas tree stand, two tool boxes, some curtains I'm never ever going to hang, four frisbees, etc. 

But I digress. 

The park was bumpin', with essentially every Brooklyn resident shaking out the wiggles after a day stuck inside. Brian steered us to a hill he'd discoved while running, a long steep slope winding through a wooded area off the main road, just wide enough for one person to sled at a time.

 (LLimbs flailing, always.) 

(LLimbs flailing, always.) 

Alas, we weren't the only fans of this hill. A line had backed up at the top of the hill seven people deep, everyone waiting their turn on the slope, some more patiently than others.

"Why do we have to wait in line?? This isn't SCHOOL!" a kid in front of me griped.

Preach, sisterfriend.

We moved onto bigger and better, a favorite hill from our last sled outing, not as long but steeper and wider, allowing many sledders to go down at once. It was a wild mess. Everyone smashing into one another, sleds breaking, tweens stunting out by standing on their sleds or piling five bodies atop one another or holding hands and whipping one another down the hill. Brian and I took turns doing run after run and our friend Jeff, out for a jog, joined us for a few. Brian kept finding himself stuck in a divot at the bottom of the hill. Me, I kept crashing into small children. Every single run, without fail, I'd play it cautious at the top, wait until it seemed like I wouldn't crash into anyone and push off only to see out of the corner of my eye, a little kid scooting just ahead of me and I'd try to stop in time and fail and smash into the child, knocking them flat. And it was always a cute little one!! Never one of the nightmare twelve-year-olds doing backflips off his sno-tube, oh no. Always a tiny four-year-old who probably spent an hour gathering the courage to go on the big kids hill only to be crushed to death by a 31-year-old woman. 

Whoops?

A mom did tell me she thought it was "so fun" that Brian and I were "enjoying ourselves even though we don't have children." She SEEMED sincere but upon further reflection that feels a little bit back-handed.

 (can you spot BriGuy?!)

(can you spot BriGuy?!)

Blessedly she missed the moment where Jeff literally took out a child at the knees. To be fair, it was totally her fault! She broke the cardial sledding rule, which is that one does not walk horizontally across the middle of the hill whilst others are sledding. However, it's hard to keep rules in mind when a 6-foot-plus man in his 30's crashes into a child's legs and sends her flipping into the snow.

jeff sledding

My only regret of the weekend is that I don't have this moment on tape.

After we'd had our fill of sledding we parted ways with Jeff and hiked around the park for a while, making friendly small talk with cross country skiiers and families out for a stroll and at one point we passed a friend's husband and young son, who I have met maybe once but recognize from instagram and said to Brian "I know that little boy!" and that wasn't creepy even a little tiny bit. We tramped back home and had soup and tea and laid on the couch for hours. I vaguely considered grocery shopping or yoga or laundry but then remembered, it was still a snow day. Productivity continue to be damned! 

Now Brian's off at a buddy's house watching football and I'm tucked up under a blanket, eating a big bowl of cacio e pepe (snow day calories, remember?!), drinking red wine and listening to the Modern Love podcast. The streets are mostly plowed, but traffic is still sparse, the usual noise of busses and taxis and delivery trucks replaced by the occaisional slushy whoosh of a car driving slowly by. 

Tomorrow reality will set back in and the snow will start to melt and winter will return again to being the worst so for now I'm going to sit here and sip my wine and soak up the silence and try my very best to remember this. 

hottsinwinterstormjonas





Happy New Year and #TBT: The Night of the Round Brush

New Year's Eve! 2016 is upon us, goodness me. I have half a dozen drafts started of introspective looks back at the year that was (and oh! what a year it was!) but I haven't managed to pull any of them into any sort of publishable shape yet. I keep getting distracted doing crossword puzzles, if you must know the truth. But they'll still be there in early January. Already, a treat to look forward to!

Instead, I'm kicking it way back to NYE 2010 and sharing a favorite from the Ol' One Awkward Year archives, The Night of the Round Brush. This remains one of my favorite stories (involving myself) (ok, ok, ALL of my favorite stories involve myself) of all time. And it's been five whole years since this all went down! Which also mean five years since I met Brian! Time flies when you're crazy in love. It feels like so much longer, in the best way. Trigger warning for extreme cheese but I sometimes can't remember what my life felt like before he was in it, I just feel like he's always been my partner. Oh, I love him so! 

Indeed, the as-yet-unwritten epilogue to this tale is that after all of these shenanigans, I walked into a party like I was walking onto a yacht and on that yacht I met the love of my life. And I almost feel like there's a bit of a moral there: Be Yourself.

I know, I know, it's trite and simple but bear with me here. This night I wanted to arrive at the party a sleek, sophisticated goddess, all cool charm and straight hair, aka the polar opposite of who I really am. And instead it all backfired and I burst in probably the truest version of myself: flustered, frizzy, commanding attention with a wild tale of misadventure and there, in that totally authentic state, I snagged myself a man. 

Admittedly I was wearing a pretty slutty outfit, so that might have helped just a pinch.

But there it is, my moral. Don't try to fight nature, just roll with it. In life and in love, just be a slightly slutty version of your true self and good things shall come. 

I promise! 

Happy New Year to you and yours and thanks for hanging out with me this year. See ya in 2016! Well first I'll see ya in 2011, as we #TBT below but then I'll see ya in 2016.

xoxo Liz 

One Awkward Hair-Do

January 04, 2011

New Year, New You! That's what I always say. The dawning of a new era is the best time to reinvent yourself spiritually, emotionally and, of course, physically. To welcome in 2011, I'm going to share some simple tips on achieving a really fun, flattering new hair-do. Now this do is really just for special nights out. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, key parties, etc. I tried it for the first time on New Years Eve and the results were spectacular! And it is SO Easy! All you need is a blow dryer, a big round brush, a slightly smaller round brush, water, two patient assistants and, eventually, a pair of scissors. Oh and also wine and Swedish meatballs, but they're not mandatory. Ready?

1. Make sure you're the last one in your apartment to shower, so the water is freezing cold. If you want, you can take a hot shower, but I think this is really important for sort of setting the tone of the hair-do.

2. Watch a couple of You Tube videos on "How to Blow Out Curly Hair" and "Drying with Volume" and stuff. It doesn't matter if you have straight hair, you should still watch these videos because they are interesting! And informational.

3. Using the larger of the two round brushes, blow dry your hair until it is straight and beautiful. Just as you're about to be finished, get this brush slightly stuck on the bottom left side of your head. Just slightly. Have a mild panic attack, invite your first assistant (for me, sister M) into the bathroom to help/tease you, and then just rip it out.

4. Feel embarrassed. Resume blow-drying.

5. Now your hair is totally dry, but it's not as voluminous as the models on YouTube. This is where the smaller (ideally also older, grosser) of the two brushes comes in. You're gonna want to take a giant section of hair from the top middle of your head, also known as the crown, and roll that entire section around the brush, allll the way down to the scalp. Do not miss a single hair, this is important!

6. Now try to remove the hairbrush. If you can get it out, you're doing this wrong and you need to try again. What you want to happen here is for the brush to be so completely stuck on the top/middle portion of your head/hair that it's just not going anywhere. Ever.

7. Panic. A lot.

8. Keep the panic to yourself - remember you're still super embarrassed about the first brush you got stuck in your hair no more than 10 minutes ago. You're an adult who can't brush her own hair. Just deal with it on your own. No need to involve other parties.

9. Get in the shower and attempt to get the brush out of your hair by smearing conditioner all over your head and face. This will only make the brush stick harder, but at least the shower is now warm, and also a good place to cry.

10. After the shower, spend 10-12 minutes frantically ripping at your head, until you realize that the brush is like really super stuck. This is good! At this point, you want your hair to look a little like this:

beautiful hair hottsauce

You are beautiful! Now you're ready to involve other people in your hair styling. Call in the one of your two assistants who has NOT already seen you with a brush stuck to your head (for me, my roommate K), and put him/her to work on your hair! Remember - your assistants can be anyone! Sister, brother, roommate, friend, neighbor, the pizza man, your cat, even your boyfriend. Although, if you're the kind of adult who gets a hairbrush stuck in their hair you're probably very single but hey, there's someone for everyone! That's another thing I always say.

So this is really quality bonding time. For the next hour - 1.5 hours, you sit on the toilet in your fuzzy robe while your assistant rips at your hair and you try not to cry and she tries to refrain from wondering out loud what she ever did to end up with a roommate like you and you are having SO MUCH FUN:

good times, great oldies

Look at you two! Such a good pair!

11. So step 11 is not mandatory and happens like, concurrent with step 10. This is where the wine/meatballs come in. Remember: you're having FUN. Start snacking! Get assistant two to periodically come into the cold bathroom where you're just hanging, styling, and bring you your favorite nosh. It can be anything you want bourbon/pretzels, beer/marshmallows, tequila/tater tots - it don't matta, just as long as the beverage is alcoholic and the snack is small enough that you can shove a lot of it in your face reallyfast, in an attempt to quell your rapidly increasing anxiety. And by anxiety, I mean the fun kind, like when you're riding a roller coaster, or having a pregnancy scare or trapped in the Sawbasement, not the bad kind.

12. After you've been at this for at least an hour, it's time to reevaluate. Give your former self one last look:

pure beauty

Now hand your assistant those scissors and SNIP!

SNIP SNIP SNIP! This should take at least another 30 minutes, if you really want to do it right. SNIP!

13. Get back in the shower (your 3rd shower of the evening), have another cry, get out of the shower and style your hair just like you normally do every single day.

And you're done! A beautiful, simple, big-night out hairstyle! The most exciting thing is how, after just 2.5 hours, your hair will look exactly the same as it did before, except with little short pieces hidden all around the crown of your head. Like a LITERAL crown. You now have a crown of hair and a guaranteed attention-grabbing story at whatever special event you happen to be attending. TA-DAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

Here's to a very happy awkward 2011, y'all!

(This still stands! Here's to a very happy awkward 2016!!!!) 

 

FOURTEEN.

Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting at our midtown offices and as I got out of the subway just a few blocks north of Times Square, it occurred to me that it was the first time I’d been in that heavily touristed zone since the Paris terror attacks two weeks ago. I don’t know why it popped into my head, but it did, and as I walked the rainy blocks from the subway to my office, I found myself thinking unusually deep thoughts about the city, the country, about safety.  I’ve been asked a lot, especially after things like Charlie Hebdo, like the Batalclan, like the Boston Marathon, if I feel scared living in New York City, as surely we’re next in line for a horrific attack. My answer is always no. Mainly because if I’m going to die in a terror attack, I’ll die in a terror attack and that’ll suck, sure, but so would dying from cancer or MS or being crushed by a piano falling out the window of a tall building. But the other answer is to question why I should feel more afraid here in this big city than I might in any small town or suburb across the country where people are actually being violently murdered in schools, churches, office parks, movie theaters and other seemingly safe spaces - every. single. day. 

THAT terrifies me.

And all the while I was walking and thinking, thinking and walking, fourteen innocent people (FOURTEEN!!!) were gunned down at a Christmas party at a facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. A place of refuge for some of the weakest among us. Fourteen. This is after three killed in Colorado just days before and nine in Oregon in October and nine in Charleston in June and on and on and on. And no one changed their Facebook profile picture to the San Bernardino County Seal or tweeted #prayersforsanbernardino. Why? Are we desensitized? Maybe. I know I’m not.

 

I AM scared. I’m terrified! I’m afraid when my mom goes to the mall in rural Pennsylvania. I’m afraid when I walk onto a college campus. I’m afraid to have kids, to bring up children in a world where they’ll have mandatory intruder drills in kindergarten, because we’ve decided as a society to treat the potential slaughter of innocent individuals as a terrifying but unstoppable inevitability, on par with fires and tornadoes.

What the actual fuck.

Are we just supposed to hid under our desks, hope the storm blows us over? 

I don’t have any answers, obviously, if I did I’d be in Washington right now, fixing things. I’m not suggesting we take everyone’s guns away. I grew up in an area where huntin’ was such a major part of the culture that schools were always closed the Monday after Thanksgiving for the first day of deer season. I’ve had venison jerky. That stuff’s delicious. I understand and respect that for many people, responsible (!) gun ownership is a way of life. I get that. It just makes me so angry that out of, I don’t know, fear or stubbornness or something we can’t even get it together enough to consider the possibility of maybe looking into finding a solution. There has to be an answer - there has to - and we need to look for it. If we can spend eleventytrazillion dollars defending ourselves against the threat of international terror, we can at least drop a buck or two to try to protect ourselves from the monsters prowling around right here at home.

We have to.

I don’t know what my point is in writing this, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir for most of you and I don't really think our country's leaders are looking to infrequently updated humor blogs for political suggestions (but if they are, hey dudes!)...I just couldn’t sleep last night for laying awake worrying on this and it felt like something I needed to talk about. I just went online to try to find a link to share for people to write their legislator on gun violence and first hit that came up on Google was from December 2012. THREE YEARS have passed and we’re still banging the same drum and now I’m feeling even more frustrated than I was before.

Here are a few resources, if you’re interested: https://www.change.org/p/congress-stop-blocking-gun-violence-research?source_location=trending_petitions_home_page&algorithm=curated_trending

How are you feeling about all of this? Does it scare you too? Make you angry? I can’t be alone!


Thanks for reading, if you did. I know this isn’t really my usual territory. I promise I’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming of food spills and poop stories soon but, well, for now I’m just not feeling very funny. 

BUT! I don't want to end this all gloom and doom. I know it feels like dark days lately but I really really do still believe there's a lot of good out there. Let's find it together. 

Hugs, guys!! 

xx Liz

She's Cheer Captain and I'm on the Bleachers

Oh HELLO there. And how are you? I know I've been absent from this blog for quite some time but I return to you a new woman! During my time away, I experienced a transcendent spiritual awakening. I traveled a great distance to join thousands of fellow acolytes in worship of a great and powerful figure, one with the strength and conviction to compel the masses and lead us into a brighter future. Joined together in spirit we stood, enraptured, some crying tears of joy, others screaming in exaltation, yet others rendered unable to speak for the glory of it all, humbled by the presence of this blessed being, known to some as The Holy One and others as simply Taylor Swift.

 Photo via USA Today

Photo via USA Today

What did you think I went to see the pope or something? Have we met? 

No, no I just packed up my cowboy boots and hot pants and, along with my BFF / FBW (Facebook wife, duh) Maureen, made the pilgrimage to Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee to see our gal.  

If you ever get the opportunity to see Taylor in concert, I can not recommend it highly enough. Unless you don't like her in which case, yeah, no don't do that you'll hate it. The whole thing is just a complete love fest spectacle. Lasers! Photos of cats! Light up glow bracelets! Awkward stage sets that bring to mind the Rockette Christmas Show! AND MORE!!!!! In between sets, Taylor goes off on earnest, impassioned, long (maybe a little too long - love you girl but brevity is a virtue!) speeches about following your heart and love and haters and cynicism and friendship and the audience screams and screams and cries (no? just me?) and it's wild.

Lindsay Zoldaz wrote a great recap of one of Taylor's early shows in New Jersey that perfectly sums up the whole scene, deeming Taylor the Cheer Captain of the Universe

"Projecting a lifestyle that’s more aspirational than relatable, Swift has finally ascended to a level where she’s no longer believable as her fans’ imaginary best friend, even though she still wants the best for them. She’s transitioning into a role that’s something more like their fairy godmother, or — as she continues to shed the sparkly tulle of her adolescence and focus her shrewd eyes on dividing and conquering — maybe she’s on her way to becoming their Oprah."

Pretty much! 

At times it's really saccharine and kind of over the top but I'm all in. Even if you find Oprah to be pandering and schmaltzy you can't deny that she's helped a lot of fans find ways to empower themselves and the same for Taylor. Yes she's nuts but her particular brand of nuts has a lot of young women (and men!) (but mostly women!) to feel like it is OK to be earnest and enthusiastic and nice and just a little bit weird and those are all virtues I treasure dearly so if she's the Oprah of the next generation, I'm all in.

ALSO her music is amazing and she's really, really, REALLY pretty and I love her, guys. I love her. 

At the show, lots of fangirls wear elaborate costumes inspired by Taylor's songs or outfits - some even including LED lights so they glowed down at Taylor from the balcony. It was awesome! I had high intentions to put together something fuh-lawless but life got in the way and I never got my shit together. Oh well.  But OHH the winner of the night was dear Maureen, who wore the most A+ of ensembles, this spot on replica of one of Taylor's costumes from the show: 

FullSizeRender (5).jpg

Actual twinsies!!! People kept coming up to her all night gushing with compliments. 

(And yes, I look like a 14-year-old circa 2008 and I feel pretty great about it, thanks!)

So the show. The opening acts were Vance Joy (great!) and Haim (SUPER great!), which is either pronounced like "Hi, I'm" smushed together really fast or "hah-eem," depending on who you're asking. I'm still not sure! I am, however, very sure that they are RAD. Big fan!

And thennnnnnn and then. The hour of our lord was upon us!! The lights went down, the bass began to boom and the crowd lost their collective shit and THERE. SHE WAS. 

 Photo via Billboard.com

Photo via Billboard.com

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 

Our goddess! 

Taylor primarily performed songs from 1989 (if I need to clarify what that 1989 is...we may not get along) with a few greatest hits thrown in there, including her oh-so-classics "Love Story" and "You Belong to Me." Her stage is set like a runway and she struts up and down, up and down and dances a little and flips around and I swear to you, DOES NOT BREAK A SWEAT. 

Not a single drop!

And her hair, that perfect choppy, swishy bob that I covet OH I COVET (even though I think curly hair is the best hair and would never want straight hair, how boring!) stayed pristine. The whole time!!

Yes we were prettttttty far away, but they had cameras projecting her at close range onto big screens and you could tell she wasn't even lightly perspiring. Not even a dewy glow, much less the greasy, sweaty mess any mortal would be after that amount of strutting and singing. 

Is she an alien? 

MAYBE!

Take me to your home planet, Taylor!! 

It is Taylor's custom now to bring out surprise ("surprise") guests during every show (this video parody is a MUST WATCH) and we spent most of the last weeks speculating who she might have join her in Nashville. We assumed she'd go back to her country roots (and by "country roots" I mean "she's from Allentown fricking Pennsylvania" but her pretending to be southern is one of those things I find annoying about her so I have to ignore it to preserve our relationship) (and by "relationship" I mean "she has no idea who I am.")  (And by "could you use any more parenthesis?" I mean) (watch me go.) We had high hopes for the following: Faith Hill and-slash-or Tim McGraw,  Connie Britton, Lennon and Maisie or any of the cast of Nashville EXCEPT Hayden Pannetierre (no offense HP!), Ryan Adams (whose 1989 cover I adore, but do find troublesome in its reception, this is such a great criticism!), Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or our dream of dreams, either Dolly Parton or Reba Mcentire. 

Any Reba fans out there?! Just us? Fancy

In the end she delighted us with a truly random smattering of treats. First, some up and coming CMT star named Kelsea Ballerini who seems like she's basically the Hayden P character from Nashville, total country pop nonsense.

AKA I love it.

And THEN, after a long introduction about his many awards and millions of albums sold and various hall of fame inductions she brings out a one Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame. Sure why not!! He played "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" which was PERFECT for his audience of current and former teenyboppers who likely couldn't name any other Aerosmith songs (guilty as charged!) (No wait! "Dream On!") but DO have fond, fond memories of the hit film Armageddon in which this jam was featured. Fun fact: I saw that movie in the drive in for my 14th birthday party. 

Maureen and I basically clutched one another the entire time, scream-sang the lyrics and wept for the memories of poor Bruce Willis. He just wanted to make his daughter proud!!!!

Finally she welcomed to the stage actual bluegrass legend Alison Krauss and they did a truly gorgeous duet of "When You Say Nothing At All" with Alison on the fiddle and Taylor on the piano and it was (insert two thumbs-up emojis riiiiight here.)

The following morning, Taylor instagrammed a photo of herself and Alison on stage and I commented, saying "Taylor you and Alison were amazing together I love you!!!!" or something equally dorky and within moments someone replied to my comment, and I quote: "please do not compare Alison Krauss and Taylor Swift. Alison Krauss has an amazing voice with an incredible range. Taylor Swift is mediocre at best."

Mediocre at best!!!

Cool!

This is representative of a phenomenon I find utterly fascinating, well, two worlds: social media fandom and comment trolling. You see it all the time, people making really mean comments to celebrities (or reggos!) on their social media feeds, or getting into fights with one another in the comments sections of posts. I SORT OF get the concept of getting into heated internet discussions about politics or current events (I said sort of, do these ever result in minds changed?) but if you hate Taylor Swift so much, why are you creeping around in her instagram at 8 AM on a Saturday making insults and getting defensive with random other commenters? Do you really have nothing better to do with your life? It makes me laugh and also  makes me kind of scared for the future of the world. Get it together, world.

The following night, Taylor first "Welcomed to the Stage" Leona Lewis of "Bleeding Love" fame (what's she been up to since that song?) and then brought down the house with none other than Mick Jagger.

MICK JAGGER! What! What are you doing there?! 

 Photo via USA Today

Photo via USA Today

He's definitely a cooler person than anyone we got to see but I'm not that sad about it because those 4 minutes of belting the Armageddon theme song are 4 minutes I'll treasure forever.

Also if Mick Jagger had played the first night, this amazing grandma wouldn't have gotten a chance to see him and that would be the saddest! 

This story is SO LONG I have completely lost track of what I'm even talking about. Basically Taylor is amazing and this was the best night ever. After the concert, there were literal fireworks over Nashville, our collective post concert glow bursting in midair.

Sparks fly, you might even say!

 Photo via ME!&nbsp;

Photo via ME! 

And that was THAT. Again I say, if you get the chance to see Ms. Swift, I can't recommend it highly enough.

And also if you get the chance to go to Nashville, you should probably do that too. It's kind of a ridiculous place but in a very good way!

Nashville is full of acclaimed restaurants and interesting shops and quaint neighborhoods which is my usual go-to travel scene but wahoooops, we didn't really do any of that. We DID go to Hattie B's for famous Nashville Hot Chicken with my sweet friend Nikiand her sweet pup Mary Todd Lincoln (full name), who has her own instagram if you're into that kind of thing. Trust me, you are. Even if you are like me who is, at best, agnostic towards pets (like, they're there I guess, I just don't see the point of it all) you will be SMITTEN within seconds. 

And we dined at this sort of trendy restaurant and poked our heads into this park to see a large replica of the Parthenon (sure, Nashville, makes sense) but otherwise we mostly just wandered around the super touristy Broadway strip and drank and drank and drankkkkk. 

And it was really fun!!!

 very blurry photo via drunk strangers, thanks guys!!!!!

very blurry photo via drunk strangers, thanks guys!!!!!

You might not know this about me (LOL you totally do) but I'm kind of a huge snob sometimes and I'll admit when we first arrived I turned my nose way down on the Honkey Tonk scene, thinking it basic at best, trashy at worst. But THEN!!! Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in and within a few minutes of sipping cheap beer and bopping my head to live country music I was HOOKED and now I'm all in. Maybe there's a little bit of a trashy basic B in all of us and we'd do well to stop being so uptight and embrace it, girl.

Pep talk to mah-self! 

Next time I go to Nashville I'll hit up the classy joints...mainly because I don't think my old body could withstand another night of Brodway Honkey Tonk hopping. I swear to Taylor, you guys, I'm STILL hungover ... 72+ hours later.

A world of woof! 

Soooo yeah, I guess I come back to you as mainly the same person, albeit one who is now even more obsessed with TSwizz than she was last week (a feat in and of itself!) and also, if the pattern of the last three days is to persist, one who now has a permanent hangover. Which is to say, a way worse version of myself!

Probz should have just stayed here and hung out with the pope.

NAH. 

roses are rad, etc

THE END. Roses ore rad, guys. And so ore YOU!!! 

xo Liz Hott 

 

 

Thirty-One Things: Attitude for Gratitude

Hi guys! It's my birthday! Not a national holiday yet but oh...someday it will be. Just you wait. 

I'm thirty-one today. 31! What a funny sounding number. Everyone puts so much emphasis on 30, the big three-oh, that anything beyond that sounds like, fake. And kind old too. No longer am I 30 I'm "in my 30's"...yiiiiiiiiiikes. 

Whatever. Beyonce is 34 and she still slays it on a daily basis and Helen Mirren is SEVENTY and looks better in a bikini than I did when I ever have or will so there's hope for us all. Age is but a number, right?

Right!

On past birthdays I've laid out some big goals for the year to come. At 29 I listed 30 Things to do Before 30...and achieved 6.5. Nailed it. And 30, I vowed, would be the year I stopped being so hard on myself. That's, um, a work in progress. As my current mindset is all about slowing down, being present and relishing the moment, I've decided to forgo making any goals or proclamations about the future and instead express gratitude and thankfulness for just a few things that make Liz-at-31 a pretty great place to be. 

THIRTY ONE THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR, TODAY, 9/14/15

birthday sunflowers at thirty one
  1. The Bri-Guy (Did you really expect anything else to come in at numero uno?!)

  2. My Schmoops and my siblings and my whole big, crazy family

  3. THE GOOSE!! So cute, she gets her own bullet.

  4. Buffalo wings

  5. Buffalo mozzarella

  6. My friends. Near and far. Old and new. (And I’ll know who my true friends are by who comments on this post!) (I kid, I kid.) (Or do I?!)

  7. Parenthetical asides

  8. Hulu Plus

  9. Old Navy

  10. My overall health. If I’ve learned one thing in my 30th year, it is that good health is never to be taken for granted.

  11. My legs, for being strong enough to be my main source of transportation and, with some hard work, for being able to run far and fast. (And for the kind genetics which allow these stems to look damn good in shorts.)

  12. Wine

  13. Prospect Park

  14. A career that (generally!) inspires me, challenges me, excites me...and gives me access to free books, and generous management who not only allow but encourage us to travel, create and build an identity outside of the workplace

  15. The Toast

  16. Fresh flowers

  17. Eggs. The perfect food!

  18. Scented candles

  19. Access to clean drinking water

  20. Public transportation (most of the time!)

  21. Brian’s right buttcheek. Brian’s left buttcheek. (To be read in the voice of Hugh Grant from Love Actually.)

  22. Love Actually

  23. Gel manicures

  24. Social media, for allowing me to stalk so, so, SO MANY people

  25. Independent booksellers

  26. Trader Joe and his delightful food emporium

  27. Maintenance workers and line cooks and subway conductors and janitors and all of the people working harder than I’ll ever work, oft unacknowledged, to allow me to live this nice life I live.

  28. Taylor Swift

  29. Condiments and sauces of all varieties

  30. Feminism

  31. This little corner of the internet where I write my silly thoughts and all of the beautiful people who take the time to check in and hopefully laugh and keep my ego afloat. Aka: YOU. Thank you for being here, you’re the best!

xo Liz Hott