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

 

Some Expert Advice on Singin' the Blues

I don't know about y'all but this past week has just been a straight bummer. It's felt like a cloud hanging over the world. Some of the sorrow is collective, what with the whole electing a toxic bag of hot air as President of the United States (not to mention his appointment of a white supremacist as his Chief Strategist, which doesn't do much in the way of tickling the old funny bone), while others have been more personal. I have a friend whose grandmother passed away, and another who got dumped. A pal's baby girl got her first serious illness and here on the homefront, I lost a scarf I really, really loved.

I know this isn't the tragedy Olympics, everyone's fighting their own battles, but that scarf was like, super cute guys. 

 In light of this general aura of sadness, I thought I might offer up a few tipz on how I get myself out of the dark when I'm feeling blue.

Believe you me pal, when it comes to Having All The Feels, I'm an expert in the field. 

the world can be total crap!

1) Go Outside!

I can not state this strongly enough, if you are feeling like emotional garbage, drag your rear off the couch, put on some shoes and GO OUTSIDE. Take a walk, go for a hike, go to the park and lay on a blanket under a tree and watch the leaves rustle above you, breathe in the air and breathe out the air and look at the clouds and the blades of grass and the birds, feel the sun on your face. This won't actually fix anything, your troubles will for sure be home when you return, but there's just something magical about fresh air, shaking the dust out of your joints that makes hard stuff a little easier to face.

2) Cook Your Feelings. 

When my life feels out of control, I head for the the kitchen. (Which is convenient because that's where a woman belongs, according to the new top leaders of our country!) (Sadness and snark are first cousins in my own personal emotional realm.) There is something meditative to me in the act of chopping, stirring, bringing a meal to life, in providing something nurturing and delicious for myself and for the people I love. I know many friends who feel similarly - one takes comfort in complex, meals like braised meats or intricate Ottolenghi stews while another goes hard on the baked goods. I tend to go for comforting, savory, heavy foods - last Wednesday I poured all of my energy into a chicken pot pie, often I'll whip up some kind of cheesy pasta creation or coconutty, spicy curry dishes. 

3) Eat Your Feelings.

This can be as noble as a home made chicken pot pie or as lowly as a whole sleeve of ritz crackers or Nutella with a spoon. I wholeheartedly recommend going IN on a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (original, get out of here with those fancy shapes), nottt like I would know from personal experience or anything... 

4) Go To Your Fictional Happy Place.

From Hogwarts to Narnia to Stars Hollow, who among us doesn't have a fictional happy place they slip to when times are tough? Probably sane people with their two feet firmly planted in reality but pssh, those are not my people. Whenever Hugh Grant gets gloomy about the state of the world, he thinks about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. And whenever *I* get gloomy about the state of the world, I sneak away to Pawnee, Indiana - first in friendship, fourth in obesity! A few hours with my pals in the Parks Department and my spirits are revived. Specifically, I tune into Season Three, Episode Nine: Andy and April's Fancy Party which I have watched, no joke, at least 30 times, and I still cry every. single. time. Find your own personal Pawnee and go there. 

5) Exercise.

To steal some wisdom from National Treasure Elle Woods: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don't [shoot their husbands, become internet trolls, scream at their children for leaving their stuff everywhere, lay in a heap on the floor bemoaning the great existential sorrows of humanity.]" 

6) Take a Shower.

Baths are pretty popularly regarded as a stress relief remedy and I'm all about that bath life but sometimes they're just so much work, you know? You gotta get the water just the right temperature and then stand and wait for the tub to fill and you need bubbles and oils and candles and it kind of hurts your tailbone to sit for a while and you always end up getting water everywhere and it's just a whole thing. But a shower is low maintenance goodness!! Just hop in there, turn the heat waaaaay up and steam out those feelings. One time my mom came to visit and we got into a big argument about something (it was addressing wedding invitations if you must know) and in the middle of our argument I just got up, marched ito the bathroom and stood in a steaming hot shower for 15 minutes and emerged calmer and ready to talk. Bernie was like WHAT is wrong with you and how did I raise this nutjob? And yeah, I don't really know the answer to that question she's a pretty rad mom and I'm bonks but trust me, showers are the jimmy jam when you're feeling off. 

7) Play With a Pet??

IDK, it's been pretty well documented that I'm a monster who doesn't really get that whole animal scene, but I've heard from social scientists and anecdotally from trusted friends that animals bring comfort and joy. Can't really say I see what that's all about but I know I'm in the clear minority here so I dunno, next time you're sad just go pet a dog or let a cat yawn in your face or whatever. Sure to calm your troubles, probably!

8) Cry.

Crying gets such a bad rap. When boys cry they're sissies, when girls cry they're too emotional. I'm here to say that all of those things are untrue and crying is GREAT. Sometimes it is the only thing that helps. You just gotta get in your comfy clothes and lay in a ball and just really fucking weep until your eyeballs feel like sandpaper and your body feels like you've been sent through the spin cycle and you have absolutely no more tears left to give. And then get up and face that world like a  tear-stained, wrung-out, hot mess, baddd motherfucker. 

------

And there you have it! Just a few tips from my enormous Mary Poppins Bag o' Emotional Tricks. Mix them, match them, do them ALL. Not forever, of course, I don't think your arteries would be too stoked about #3 and you'll surely run of of hot water if you spend too much time indulging in #6 but you know, an hour, an afternoon, a day or two. Whatever you need. I'm not promising you'll feel good as new right away - I'm not a magician, just a professional basket case - but hopefully you'll at least feel a little better equipped to face whatever crap the world deigns to throw at you.*

Now tell me - what are YOUR tricks?? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Please.

xoxoxo 

Liz 

* Disclaimer that if you are truly feeling in the crux of clinical depression, try as best you can to talk to a trusted friend and seek professional help. It's tough stuff, but there's no shame in admitting you need some help. And disclaimer two: these are just my tips and also me trying to be kind of cute in a time of much emotional upheaval, I don't mean in any way to belittle the genuine fear or pain that someone might be feeling in this moment - be it political or otherwise. I know a shower isn't going to put an end to institutional racism or revive a loved one, but perhaps they can bring one tiny bit of comfort. 

The LaxBro is In

crazy therapy hottsauce mental health self care wellness blog

Friends, hello! It's been a while, have ya missed me? Juuuust nod your head yes. As you may have deduced from my absence / manic rants about interior decorating, I'm in a bit of a winter blues situation. This happens to me every year and I usually just ride it out with a self-prescribed mix of hibernation, prestige television binges and spaghetti, emerging on the other side as chipper as ever. But something felt off this year, the usual techniques weren't quite working. Last week I confessed to a friend that I was in the midst of my "Annual January Anxiety Spiral" and she kind of paused and very kindly replied, "Liz...you know it's February, right?"

RIGHTTTTT.

I came to the hard realization that I might be beyond carbs at this point and it's time to call in the big guns. Professional guns. AKA: your girl's going to therapy.

FINALLY!! I know, right?! 

Many of you might cringe at that admission, thinking therapy really isn't something we ought to talk about openly but I wholeheartedly disagree. I think this mindset perpetuates the harmful stigmatization of mental health issues, which only furthers tragedies like suicide and addiction. Mental illness ought to be discussed as openly and treated as urgently as physical ailments. I truly believe it's vital for the wellbeing of society as a whole. 

Also I have literally #nofilter so...pretty much anything's polite conversation as far as I'm concerned. 

I think therapy is great. Everyone should get therapy! I honestly think it should be mandatory. Even the sanest of people benefit from occaisionally hashing it out with a neutral third party. Unfortchhh it's not quite that easy. For one, those who most pressingly need psychological help often lack the ability to seek it out by very nature of their illness. If you're so depressed you can barely leave the house, how are you going to muster the courage to pick up the phone and call a doctor? I have a pal who has issues with avoidance and procrastination. We were chatting one day about our mutual need to get our ish sorted and he confessed to me, very vulnerably, "if I was able to pick up the phone and call a therapist today instead of talking myself into just doing it another time...I wouldn't even need them in the first place!" 

Word.

Secondably, therapy ain't free, unless you live in Canada, probably, those goddamn Maple Leafs have it all, so one must wade through the arduous task of tracking down an acceptable therapist that falls within her particular health care plan which, frankly, is the worst. Did you know that Anthem Blue Cross and Empire Blue Cross are different providers?? Even though they're both frigging BLUE CROSS?? And therapists (and docs of all stripes, to that end) can take one but not the other? How are they not the same thing??? The mentally healtiest of people could have a full on nervous breakdown just from trying to navigate health insurance. 

There's another option, of course, which is to go to an indepent provider or to one not in your network and pay out of pocket. Which is, let's say, inaccessible. Last week I was quoted $350 an hour by one doc. THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS AN HOUR?? Do I look like Kim Kardashian??? I mean, yes, obviously I do, but though I may have the ass, I don't have the cash. Money can not buy happines, but apparently it can buy you some nice out of coverage mental health care.

Oof.

Lastably, unlike, I don't know, an ENT or a knee surgeon or whatever, it is vitally important to find a therapist with whom you can connect and feel comfortable baring your soul. It's like dating! Except kind of the opposite, wherein on a date you try to act like your very best self possible, but in therapy you spew out all of the inner truths that make you a delightful headcase. 

I honeslty don't know which is worse. 

I very briefly saw a therapist a few years ago and, like essentially all of my dating tales not involving BriGuy, it was an awkward tale for the books.

Staring down the barrel of a standard January Anxiety Spiral, I decided it was time to get serious and spent weeks basically being the Three Bears of Generalized Anxiety Disorder - this therapist's too expensive! This one's too far away? - until a co-worker passed on a recommendation from her own therapist, for the doctor who worked across the hall. He came recommended, took my particular, apparently very specific, brand of insurance, had offices just up the street from my work...could this guy be just right?! 

Spoiler Alert: he was not. 

The second I walked into this well-apointed digs in Manhattan's Greenwich Village I just knewit wasn't going to work out. I knew! Nothing was alarming from the get-go but, just like a first date, either you feel it or you don't. I could smell something was amiss. Except I couldn't actually smell anything at all, as he burned large quantities of incense, to which I am allergic. Five minutes into the session and I was weeping, not so much from my emotions but from my smarting sinuses. 

Sinii? 

Anyway.

We started with the plesantries. He learned I was a high strung neurotic with daddy issues and I learned that he really, really, REALLY liked lacrosse. 

Like, really. 

Every tidbit I would reveal, he would meet with a story or metaphor about lacrosse, the preffered sport of date rapists and douche bros worldwide. 

"I'm afraid I might suck at my job!" I would blubber.

He would serenly nod, in that therapisty way, lean forward and reply: "Did you know the Iriquois invented lacrosse in the early 18th century to play during harvest festivals?" 

"Um...no? Are you saying I should quit publishing to become a farmer? Or make bespoke lacrosse sticks??"

"Only you can know what you need to do," he would reply. "I'm just here to listen."

WHAT???!! 

Ever the Type-A people pleaser, I decided to overlook these instant and obvious flaws and stick it out. Rock a boat? I would literally never. I would just smile and nod and make this work. Maybe his weird metholodology will actually heal me! Until then, I would just sit there and learn about lacrosse for one hour per week for the rest of the weeks of my whole life until one of us died. 

This lasted for four sessions until he finally decided to spice up his standard lax ramblings in favor of something a little more, um, intense. 

I bet you're thinking that's a good thing, right? Ditching the weird coach act for some real therapizing. Oh no, friendo. Oh no.

I don't remember what I was yammering on about, I'm sure it was some unhinged paranoia about how someone, somewhere is probably mad at me, that sounds like something I'd work myself into a frenz about, but I do remember exactly what he replied. He nodded, brought his hands to his mouth, tented as if in prayer, and said: 

"Did you know that during the Holocaust, some imprisoned Jews would serve as guards in the camps and would become very corrupt and betray their own people to the Nazis in an attempt to save themselves?"

What. The. Actual. What. I did not know that particular historical fun fact but now I have ONE MILLION follow up questions such as "why are you talking about the Holocaust right now?? Are you calling me a Nazi? Or am I a traitorous Jew?? IS THIS REALLY MY LIFE RIGHT NOW???"

Clearly, this had to end.

Sadly, as hard as it can be to find a therapist, it can be even harder to let one go. I mean, I was paying this man to help me get over my pathalogical need to be liked by everyone and now I had to dump him? Wait...does that mean he might ... not ... like me?!

I did what any rational human would do and googled "How to break up with my therapist?" and was amazed to find I was not alone in this world! Countless other nuts had gone before me and with their help, I bravely drafted an "It's not you, it's me" brush-off, printed it out, and practiced a dozen times before leaving him a cool, calm and collected voicemail, never to speak to him again.

Well, there was that one more time.

A few months after I so boldly dumped him, my phone lit up with a new text message. It was from my ex...therapist! He had a question about billing and, like a professional medical doctor, was using text messaging to convey this query. In the message he asked if I might clarify some insurance information and left his email address for me to follow up.

I won't reveal his full address as that is both unkind and probably a violation of HIPPA, but I will share that it contained the prhase...and again, this is an adult, professional, doctor we're talking about here...it contained the phrase "laxbro."

LAXBRO!

Laxbro.

I could not make this up in my wildest of dreams. It is so real, it almost hurts. On the plus side, this did clear up, much like a bad date, that he was deffonot the one for me. But on the negative side, I was once again back in the wild, chomping my fingernails with no therapist in sight.

Until now! I finally harnessed my powers to wade through the muck and have a preliminary appointment this afternoon. On paper this gal seems great! She's a lady, which I'm into, you know, therapy wise (and romance wise if you're Keri Russell...are you guys watching The Americans? Good GOD Felicity, you minx), takes my insurance (booyah!) and comes highly recommended via my lady doc, whom I adore. If this woman takes the same care with my mind as her friend does with my va-jay-jay, I'll be sane in no time!

Wish me luck? Clearly I need it.

Before I go, I'm going to hop back on my soapbox for a hot second and tell you that if you ever are feeling off and like you might benefit from talking to someone, do it! And don't be shy about it. Tell a friend. Seek a recommendation. Put on your biggest big girl panties, clutch your lucky lacrosse stick and make the call. Believe me, I know it's hard, I am clearly barely listening to any of the advice coming out of my own mouth (fingers?) right now, but I know you've got it. Seeking help is not shameful in the least, it's bold and you should feel proud about it. You're going to be great.

I think you are the nicest and best Jew who would never, ever sell out his homies to the Nazis...no matter what. 

Hugs! 

xoxoxo Liz Hott  

 

 

 

Another Awkward Week or Twelve [1.22.16]

Hi and happy Friday! And Happy New Year too, I suppose! When is too late to wish someone a Happy New Year? January 12th? MLK Day? Today??

Ok maybe it is too late to say Happy New Year but don’t you dare ever let anyone tell you it is too late to say sorry...even if you are only missing their body.

Oh, fun fact: I’m a Belieber now. 

At any rate, as mentioned earlier this week, I’ve just emerged from a literary fugue state known as A Little Life. What a sheer pleasure it is to be fully overtaken by a book, you know? The one downside to my line of work is that books are, well, work, so sometimes it can be hard to distance myself from a novel without getting too into my head, thinking of sales figures and comp titles and wondering just what Michiko thought of this plotline?! So it’s a real treat to get hooked in a book, to remember why it is I love reading so much in the first place. But then the downside to this upside, I suppose, is that sometimes you get so hooked that you look up and realize half a month -  1/24th of a whole year! - has whizzed right by you.

Worth it, I think!

And so, 22 days later: Happy New Year! How’s your 2016 going?? Do you have any hopes or dreams or goals for this year? Are you a resolution maker? I am usually all about that life but decided this year to make but one resolution: No Resolutions. I know that’s kind of an oxymoron but whatever, the world is a confusing place guys just go with it.

I realized that New Year, New You messaging does not exactly bring out the best in me. I don’t need the excuse of a blank calendar to dwell on all of my faults (real or imagined) and stress about how I might fix them … that’s kind of my main hobby, all day, errrday. So! In an attempt to cut myself some slack, I’m saying fuck resolutions. Could I do more yoga and waste less money on groceries and stop biting my nails and procrastinate less at the office? Probably! But also, like, yoga once a week is better than zero and I spend all that money because cooking beautiful food makes me happy and ok, the nails actually are an issue but whatever, everyone needs a flaw or twelve and studies show that procrastinators are actually creative geniuses so maybe I’m doing just fine. Thinking about it, the main thing in my life that needs the most vital overhaul is my mental health and the constant, ulcer-inducing pressure I put on myself to be the Best Me I Can Be. I think it might do me well to stop trying so hard and just focus on appreciating and nurturing all the good things in my life that make me the Most Pretty OK But Not Actually That Terrible Me I Currently Am.

So I’m resolving not to resolve! The year ahead will bring new challenges and new celebrations, new successes and new failures and I’ll meet them each head on as they arrive.

Boom shackalacka boom.

And that’s what’s up over here. I have no funny stories or photos to share because again, my brain has been trapped in the exquisite torture chamber of A Little Life, but the year is young so I’m sure I’ll have ample opportunities to make up for lost time. Maybe even this weekend! Do you have any fun plans? A storm is a brewin’ on the East Coast, allegedly, though I have a feeling it’s going to poop out by the time it hits NYC. Start of the week they were predicting feet of snow and now we’re down to 3-5 inches, snore. Regardless, we’re fully stocked up on booze and snack foods.

Actually this storm is a fun experiment for the Hott Household. For all of my obsessive meal planning and pantry stocking in the day to day, I’m garbage at storm preparation. We’ve now weathered two hurricanes and several blizzards together and each time I make a HUGE to-do about getting supplies and then we end up with like, nothing.  I don’t know what happens! I think I get really fixated on making one huge fancy Weather Event Meal and forget about everything else. So I’ll buy one million different fresh herbs and hand-pulled noodles and make an elaborate pasta dish which we then promptly devour and realize I forgot about any other meals and all the stores are closed and we're stuck inside with just a small bowl of leftovers, 85 bottles of pinot noir and our love to keep us fed. 

So finally this storm I handed the reins to Brian. He’s running the show this time!! He hit the grocery store last night and it looks like he did pretty OK for himself. There’s bacon, bloody mary mix, a variety of alcoholic beverages, chips and salsa, like nine things of hummus, stew ingredients, eggs, lots of goodness.

I think he might just pull this off! It’s possible that Brian is actually our family’s champion grocery shopper. Maybe I’ll even chill out enough to let him do the non-emergency shopping, even if that means he gets the wrong kind of lettuce.

Maybe there IS no wrong kind of lettuce!! 

I think the Year of No Resolutions is already working! Look what a chill and relaxed person I am already.

Ok that's enough out of me. Ending this ramble with a warning to be safe out there and a reminder that OH YES this blizzard is named Winter Storm Jonas...as in Kevin, Joe & Nick, duh.

image credit @hobbstopper 

image credit @hobbstopper 

My brilliant friend Jaime made this and it fills me with PURE JOY. She has plenty more great memes + gorgeous hand-lettering and art + adorable children over at her instagram, so if you're into this (and you are), follow away! 

Have a blessed weekend, my friends. Stay warm! 

xoxo Liz Hott 

 

 

 

79 HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES IN PORTLAND, OR

Hello! Remember that time I went to Oregon? Yeah, I barely do either! It's taking me about twice as long to recap this vacation as it took the early settlers to haul across the continent with just a few sickly oxen to lead the way.

But like my pioneer heroes, I shall forge ahead in the face of great adversity (mild head cold.) 

To the Pacific or BUST! 

Without further ado, allow me to present the third and final installment of our Epic First Anniversary Romantical Adventure, a la NYT's 36 Hours Series. Parts Uno and Dos aqui! 

79 HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES IN PORTLAND, OR

TUESDAY

WELCOME PIONEERS | 10:55 p.m.  

Arrive at Portland International Airport, which you will later learn, thanks to a pack of Oregon trivia souvineir playing cards, was named the top domestic airport in a 2006 Conde Nast Traveller Magazine poll of business travellers. Very neat! 

Shuttle it to your chalet for the evening, the La Quinta Airport Inn where, thanks to a booking error, you're upgraded to a suite that is literally larger than the apartment you live in, with two queen sized beds, two couches, two very huge flat screen televisions ... and one very small bottle of 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner Blend. 

FINALLY shower and pass out face down in the closer of the two beds, marvelling over how much you've done in one long, sweaty, flustery, day - was it just this morning you were at the Native American Museum? What time zone are you in now? How good was that wedge salad???

Anddd ZZZZZ. 

WEDNESDAY

OH NUTS | 8 a.m. 

Wake with the sun, because you're insane, check out and call an Uber to take you into downtown. Whilst you wait, spot the first of TWO food-mobiles you'll see on this trip, a Planters Nut Wagon.

nutz!

Sure why not.

Have your Uber driver drop you in a random parking lot, pick up your waiting Zip Car and hit the town. This party's just getting started!

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS | 9:30 a.m.

Portland is known for its vast and plentiful food and drink options and you've rolled in with a list of about 78 "must visit" establishments. You know there's no way you can hit them all...but oh, you'll try! First up: Pine State Biscuits in the hip Alberta Arts District. Order The Reggie Sandwich (fried chicken, gravy & cheese on a biscuit) while your husband opts for The Moneyball: a biscuit, topped with a huge slab of fried chicken, smothered in gravy annnnnd topped with a fried egg.

IMG_4751.JPG

Clean your plates.

Wander up and down Alberta street, peeking into hip shops and marvelling at the amount of people aggressively brunching - cocktails and all! - on a Wednesday. Does no one in Portland work?! 

PORTLAND AF | 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. 

Cross the bridge into Portland's touristy Pearl District and visit PDX's two most recognizable hotspots....

Powell's City of Books: EVEN BETTER THAN YOU EVER COULD HAVE DREAMED!!!

POWELL"S!!!!!!!!
donuts suck

What's the deal with doughnuts? Why are they so trendy? They're not that great! 

BEER ME  | 3:00 p.m. 

Find yourself once again killing time before picking up keys to an Airbnb - reazing this might be the fatal flaw of the whole Airbnb situation. Spend an hour or so sampling local microbrews at The Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom. 

Imperial Bottle Shop

Then pop over to one of Portland's legit super duper cool "Food Pods," organized groupings of food trucks parked year-round to create adorable outdoor eating spaces. Order a salad (lame!) because you think your body needs some greens...instantly regret it when you get a glimpse of your hubz' loaded ramen. 

hot guy eating ramen

Fiyiyiynallly check into your Airbnb only to literally leap back in the car and head west, young men.

PACIFIC OR BUST | 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

YOU HAVE TO GET TO THE COAST FOR THE SUNSET!! Maniacally drive 1.5 hours due west to the town of Astoria, OR, home to the famous and oft-photographhed Haystack Rock. The scenery surrounding you is beautiful - tall, piney trees, gold-hued farmland...but there's NO TIME to take in scenery! The sun could set at any moment!! 

Begin to realize, for neither the first nor last time this vacation (and let's be real, your whole lives), that you two both need to learn how to fuckin' chill. 

(Frantic drive totally worth it tho!)

Haystack Rock beautiful view travel blogger

(And!)

#hotts at haystack rock

(And!)

cannon beach baby

And!

pirate man

I mean! If you' hadn't made the drive, you never would have seen this adult man dressed in FULL pirate regalia, standing in the freezing surf up to his waist, letting the waves crash upon his be-buccanneered torso. 

Did the Booze Cruise follow you to the Pacific?! 

Marvel in the majesty, hop back in the car, return to Portland, crash into bed.

WINGS -N- THINGS | 10 p.m.

JK y'all, the sun may set on the earth but it will never set on FUN! Your night is still young. Realize that A) it's been like, hours since you've eaten anything deep fried or consumed any liquor and B) the famed Thai hotspot Pok-Pok is literally across the street from your apartment so all signs are pointing towards late-night spicy wings and cocktails. 

Ok, NOW crash into bed. 

For real this time. 

THURSDAY

DO GO CHASING WATERFALLS | 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Sleep in. JK again!! Vacations are NOT the time to rest! Up, up, up and at 'em. It's hiking day! Grab coffees from Roman Candle Baking Co and several sandwiches from St. Honore Boulangerie and hit that road. 

Park your car at Multnomah Falls Lodge next to the second snack mobile of the trip, the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile!!!!!!

If I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner...

Again, sure why not. 

Now into the woods! Follow the admittedly VERY poorly marked 8-mile Wahkeena Falls Trail Loop towards Angels Rest Overlook. Pass a family blasting "Who Let The Dogs Out" on a boombox (normal), a group of stoned teens (actually normal) and a cute older couple with matching windbreakers, until you are basically the only people on the trail. Totally don't panic about being lost! You're calm at all times! Achieve bonus Crushing It At Nature Points by getting stung by a bee in the back of your knee. 

Now you know where that phrase "Bees Knees" originated! (Ba dum, ping!) 

Push through the peril, the view will be worth it. 

Angels Rest View

Hike back down, passing half a dozen more waterfalls on your return, each one more gorgeous than the last. 

Do go chasing waterfalls

But none more gorgeous than your pale bod gleaming in the sunlight as you bravely wade out into the frigid waters of a glacial swimmin' hole in your undies and soon to be ruined running shoes. 

swimmin hole

Swimmin' Hole Pro-Tips: Bring water shoes, the rocky ground is painful. Don't sweat it if you chicken out before getting all the way to the falls. DO make sure to train your video camera on your wife as she's scampering out of the freezing pool because you "know she's going to fall and it will be hilarious." (SUCK IT HUSBAND I DIDN'T FALL!!) (Well, I mean, I feel earlier but not this particular time so ha! Not on camera. Boom.) 

Haul it back home for a much deserved nap. But only a short one! There's no crying in baseball and no relaxing EVER in your household. 

PAINT THE TOWN (PINOT) NOIR | 7:00 - 11:00 p.m. 

Bundle up (Portland gets legit breezy in the evenings, even in August!) and take in the best of the hip Clinton/Division neighborhood, where your rental is located. First up: a tasting of local wines (and some bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed dates, YOM) at the Southeast Wine Collective. Then pop over to newish hotspot Ava Gene's, put your name on the long wait list for dinner, and kill your wait on the front porch of the a-dorable Hedge House across the street. It's a former home turned into a restaurant, with the bar in the old dining room, booths in the living room and cozy rockers right on the front porch.

Hedge House

Portland, you charmer you. 

Then mosey back to Ava Gene's where, luck of luck, the only seat available is at the vibrant chef's counter. Spend the evening sipping yummy Oregon Pinot Noir, devouring locally sourced salads and home made pastas while watching the hustle and bustle of (v v cute) chefs turning out dinner orders. 

A true must-visit! 

FRIDAY

SLEEP IN! | Nighttime - like, 10:00 a.m.!

No for real, sleep in today! 

BLOODY GOOD | 11:00 a.m. 

Wander up to the nearby Hawthorne district, stopping for a brunch at Trinket along the way. Order the bloody mary. You will not be disappointed!

Bloody handsome!

(Hot babe not included.)

Meander around Hawthorne, popping into cute vintage shops, bookstores and boutiques. Stop into Blue Star Donuts, order a blueberry bourbon basil and a lemon poppyseed and proceed to question everything you thought you knew - and hated! - about donuts. Is it possible you actually...like doughnuts?! (Also proceed to question why you keep spelling it differently every time you type it. Do-nu-t-gh-tnuts!)

BUILT TO SPILL | 2:00 p.m. 

Journey back to the Pearl District to spend the rest of the afternoon doing what you do best, playing cards and sipping craft beers at 10 Barrel Brewery.

While there, enjoy a visit from an old pal who now calls PDX home.

Keely and Liz!

 (Hi, Keely!)

Catch up. Spill your beer on yourself. Leave. 

LARD-OHHHH | 5:00 p.m. 

Soak up that beer with a DELICIOUS pork meatball banh-mi from Lardo and a side of dirty fries, a dish that will blow all other fries - and possibly foods as a whole - out of the water forever. Crispy, salty hand-cut fries topped with zesty melted parmesean, bright fresh herbs, chewy bacon bits and tart, crunchy pickled peppers. Break your 36-hours writer character to say OH HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS THESE FRIES!!!!!!!!

LARDO FRIES!!!!!!!!!

Grab one more drink at a nearby bar, forget the name of the establishment but DO remember that the bartender spilled a drink on you bringing your tally to TWO drinks poured on yourself (and your Keely!) that day.

But only one that was your fault, so, win! 

THE BIG CHILL | 8:00 p.m  - 11:00 p.m. 

Go home. Take a nap. Uber up to the Alberta Arts district, wander around, stumble into a cute bar, play funny trivia games, eat vegan chick pea fries, guzzle moscow mules, learn a new two person card game, realize you're finally, at last, really, truly, totally relaxed...just in time for vacation to be over. 

Le sigh! 

SATURDAY

COAST TO COAST | 6:00 a.m. 

And back east you go. Watch the sun rise through the clouds as you fly over the Rockies, equal parts sad the adventure is over and happy to be headed home.

rocky mountain high

The end! 

This trip was truly fun and gorgeous and in many ways a grand adventure, but it was also exhausting and often stressful, due as much to our own neurosis as our packed schedule. We joked around a lot about marriage suddenly getting hard in the second year but I really do think we learned a surprising amount about ourselves and each other and what we need to successfully travel and co-exist as a unit. I won't get into that here because this post is long enough, for sure, but juuuust keeping it a little real. LIfe is not always all fried chicken and piney trees! Sometimes it's a bit of a mess. 

But I still love it all. 

Ok now the end for REAL. 

Thanks for reading along! I know this was longer than long but I DO hope it was more enjoyable than getting stuck in a mountain pass and having to eat all of your frozen loved ones, Donner Style. 

When you start making bad canabilism jokes, it's time to shut it down. 

Liz Hott, Over & Out. 

Bye! 

 

Another Awkward Week [9.11.15]

Oh hello there. Apparently it is already Friday. Who knew, I ask. WHO KNEW?!

The week after Labor Day is always a bit of a swift punch in the face and this year things seem to be in hyper-drive. Our fall at work is probably the most intense season I've experienced in my eight years here and I'm tryyyying not to allow myself to become overwhelmed...but I'm not sure I'm succeeding. I keep having all of these stress dreams where like, I'm forgetting important things and have to scramble to fix them. Like the other night I dreamt we went camping (I hate camping!) and I forgot all of my clothes and had to drive back and get them and then I couldn't find them and I woke up in a cold sweat and immediately started panicking.

It doesn't take a Freudian Scholar to decode these themes. I've had some variation of that dream pretty much every single night this week. I'm so tired! 

I'm genuinely curious to hear: how do you take care of yourself when you're feeling really stressed? What sort of self-care routines do you put in place to help yourself navigate a busy season? The madness is just beginning I need all the help I can get! I'm trying to make sure I exercise at least 4 x a week, eat really clean and take these weird sleep vitamins. But then I lay awake at night worrying about what I'm going to buy my in-laws for Christmas (WHAT? Brain...why do you torture me?!) so I might need new vitamins, ha! I know, I'm nuts and need professional help but whatever. Here we are! Help! 

So this is getting off to a rip-roaringly entertaining start, now isn't it! Just gotta keep it real sometimes, folks. But life is not all stress dreams and frantic cardio, I promise!! In fact, this week provided plenty of moments of ridiculousness so why don't we take a look at what was keeping it awkward this week. Aside from this weirdly small font that I can't figure out how to size to match the rest of the font. How do computers work again?? 

Anyway. Let's go. 

This Text Message from a Stranger:

Look in your pants

Um, pass. But thanks for asking?

This Spot:

fly poop!!!!!!!

Just...squint real good, you’ll see it there. Guess what it is??

FLY POOP!

So the other day I decided I’d take my lunch to the park and catch up on a little work reading while I noshed. It turned out to be kind of a whole thing.

First I got a chicken schwarma wrap from this Turkish food truck I’ve been meaning to try and it was...not bueno. I don’t know what it was, guys. I’m not that finnicky of an eater but something about this chicken was just NOT happening for me. It was maybe gristly or chewy or something? Whatever, it was gross. I took out all the chicken and wrapped it in a napkin and threw it out and felt VERY good about myself when I saw a homeless man was sleeping on a bench LITERALLY 10 feet away from where I was throwing away my food because I’m such a picky picky princess. Ugh.

So I sat back down and was munching on the remains of my lunch - now just a lettuce wrap...yum? - when a big fly landed on my trousers, just above my knee.

It was HUGE and had some unusual markings so at first I was worried it might be a bee. I didn’t want to get stung so I paused just a moment to confirm its genus (species? Phylum? Remember that stuff from biology?!!! Clearly I don’t) and just as I confirmed it was, indeed, out from his little fly butt came a tiny - but visible!! - squirt of brown substance.

THE BITCH POOPED ON ME!!!

And then it just flew away! The classic shit and scram!!

I was so grossed out I sprinted back to the office. Well, first I took like,17 various close-up images of the poop stain but thennn I sprinted back to my office to do some serious scientific research.  

I didn’t know that flies even pooped but apparently they either barf or poop almost every time they land. And I thought I had a sensitive GI tract!

I had read just enough internet articles to assure myself that fly poop is both normal and harmless when I told the story to a coworker and she pointed out that maybe it wasn’t pooping on me but instead laying eggs and now my tasteful navy work pants are the nesting place for a whole family of flies.

WHAT. I’m not ready to be a fly mom! Where will they sleep? How will we afford school? We’re not prepared!!!

Upon further internet researching (always 100% the truth) I remain committed to my initial instinct that it was, indeed, a case of the old numero dos, NOT an egg laying situation.

Phew. Fly poop is pretty gross but when the alternative is becoming the primary caretaker of an entire family of diptera (look it up), well, I’ll take the shit and scram any old day of the week.

This Video:

Hits maybe a little too close to home. I spotted this mere hours after fully hijacking my friend’s Labor Day recap to talk about The Goose.

Me - “How was your long weekend?”

Friend - “Oh it was fun, I was at Lake Michigan and…”

Me - “LUCY WAS AT LAKE MICHIGAN!!!”

Cue me forcing her to look at a 15 minute slideshow of vacation photos of a four month old.

I can’t help it, guys. This chick is the best.

cool sunglasses baby

I mean!!! Look at that 'tude!!

And that’s wasssupp. Big plans for the weekend? Brian and I might be hosting a BBQ for our annual joint birthday party (barf, I know I know), weather permitting, and Sunday I’m going to my first clothing swap where I’ll pawn off all my out of season Old Navy jeggings and hopefully score some designer duds in return. Cha-ching!

Whatever you do, I hope it’s spicy, delightful and absolutely fly poop free.

xoxo Auntie Lizzie