One Awkward Charity Mingle

It has now been 45 days since the 45th POTUS took office and, as you may recall from my post-inauguration, post-women's march manifesto, I have taken the occasion of his election to work towards a few goals: to incite fear of outsiders in the hearts of the American people, play plenty of golf, and go on wildly accusatory rants via my popular Twitter feed. 

And wooooo, doggie have I been successful!!!! 

Oh, wait, sorry I'm mixing things up here. Those are, apparently, the goals of the man now holding the nuclear codes and wow I'm sure glad he's in charge here. As for me, it's a little more like this: don't go insane, access even a small pinch of understanding for "good people" who still voted for The Donald, and become a better citizen. 

And how am I doing? No bueno, no bueno, and... getting there???

I'm still tiptoeing into the bigger political arena. I've been calling my senators (but real talk: not every single day...it's still so daunting and time consuming, excuses, excuses), signing petitions, and I even attended a progressive activism panel hosted by a local district council member! Look at me go!

Just kidding, so, so much room for growth.

But outside of the immediate Trumpian Resistance, my main area of focus on this good citizenry journey has been to become more engaged with my community and use my time and talents to serve and support my neighbors.

As for how that's going, well, if we consider being wildly socially awkward my main talent then it is going just SO GREAT!!

An anecdote:

In the past few months I have found myself moved by the work of a group called CAMBA which has a truly inspiring comprehensive approach to bolstering strong communities here in Brooklyn. They recognize the interconnected nature of issues facing those most in need and their services are holistic: housing, education, addiction counselling, refugee services, job training and more all under one umbrella. They also offer eviction counselling, which you know is my new jam thanks to January's HottRead, so I've been looking to become more involved with them on the ground level. 

I actually first discovered CAMBA through my work, who occasionally partners with them on some corporate responsibility programs. Last year we raised funds for CAMBA through a company-wide walk, and earlier this winter there was an opportunity to go to a CAMBA location for a corporate day of volunteering which I did not, and I can not stress this enough, DID NOT ATTEND. 

~Foreshadowing! ~ 

Somehow or other I ended up on their mailing list and snagged myself an invite to to a swanky informational cocktail reception. After doing several double-takes, checking that the e-vite was, in fact, addressed to me and not some wealthy, cocktail party-attending fancyperson, I enthusiastically clicked "yes!"

A friend was planing to join, but had to bow out to take care of her daughter, which is just like, so unfair. I mean, this kid is almost two I'm pretty sure she can fend for herself for a few hours, but meanwhile I really should not be left to my own devices in public. 

I decided to still attend solo, because I am an adult now, and spent the entire day panicking about how to act normal, even dedicating my full hour of therapy for the week to mature mingling strategies. One of my main sources of anxiety (for the event, duh, there's not enough room on this or any other blog to list allll of my sources of anxiety) was the guilt and shame I have for not being a regularly active community citizen, and I imagined every person in the room listing all of the charity work they do, all the boards they serve on, all the good they've achieved, while I just chugged wine in a corner. We discussed that, when asked about my relationship to CAMBA and presence at the party, it would be best to avoid launching into the full answer of "well, I heard about them through work and then Donald Trump happened and I used to be such a good person and now I never help anyone except myself and I'm constantly abusing my privilege and the guilt is eating me alive and I actually have no idea why or how I ended up at this party I'm such a mess!!!", and instead just keep it simple: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more."

The evening of the party arrived and, to my surprise, I was feeling generally pretty confident. 'Twas one of those freakishly warm winter days, so I didn't have to worry about a giant coat and was able to wear my favorite big-girl outfit, this really chic navy blue wrap dress that evokes Kate Middleton's engagement look (you know...minus the title, the flowing locks, perfect face, giant sapphire, etc), and the gods had blessed me with a lifetime top ten, maybe even top five hair day so I was pretty much bringing it, on the outside at least. I tried to channel my outer hotness into inner poise as I entered the party venue, a stately brownstone in one of Brooklyn's most chi-chi neighborhoods. 

Things started fine.

I gave my name at the door and was given a little name tag. No issues!

I hung up my coat and purse on the designated coat rack, relieving me of the "wtf will I do with this giant tote bag worries." A win, tbh! 

I fluffed my hair, straightened my dress, took a deeeep breath and entered the main room, whereupon I was immediately greeted by two very friendly CAMBA staffers, one of whom struck up a polite introductory conversation: 

Her: "Hello!"

Me: "Hello!"

Her: "So how are you affiliated with CAMBA?"

Me, confidently: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more..."

END SCENE, flawless execution, you did it Liz, you're a champ. JUST KIDDING, there's more...

Me, rambling: "...my company did a walk to raise funds and also did a day of corporate volunteering...which I attended." 

Her, delighted: "Oh that's wonderful! I remember that day, which branch did you attend?"

Me, flailing: "Um....the one in Flatbush...?" (a neighborhood in Brooklyn) 

Her, confused: "Hmm, we don't have a branch in Flatbush, do you mean Kensington?" 

Me, dying inside: "Oh {manic laughter} yes, obviously, I always get those two neighborhoods confused but yes, Kensington, of course, is the branch at which I volunteered." 

Her, seeming skeptical: "Oh, I was the event leader at that branch that day, I don't remember meeting you..."

Me: {runs to window, throws self out}

WHAT in the everliving fuck is wrong with me??? WHYYY did I just lie to this woman's face? I was so confident! I had that dress on, I had a plan...and I couldn't even make it four minutes without choking! No one even asked about volunteering. No one mentioned the corporate day of giving. There was literally no reason for that to have even been a topic of discussion until I started to word vomit, incriminating no one but myself. My greatest fear was that I would be outed as a fraud and instead I just doubled down and frauded all over the room.

Ugh. Ugh. UGHHH.

Blessedly, Her Heavenly Mother Queen Beyonce sent down a miracle at the moment I most needed it in the form of another group of party guests who arrived right in the nick of time, interrupting our conversation before I dug myself even further into a hole. I stayed on at the party for another hour or so, mainly because now I felt like I had to re-prove my normalcy, I didn't want them to be at the office the next day like "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then ran out the door?" Instead they could say "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then still hung around and ate all of our cheese?" 

Win! 

Sooooo yes, Operation Become A Good Citizen is off to a spectacular start, A++, I'm basically going to have my face on a postage stamp by 2019 at the rate I'm going.

In related news, does anyone know of any caves deep in the middle of the forest with a flexible lease until the end of time? Asking for a friend! 

(The friend is me.) 

xoxo 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? 

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. 

Pin This; or, Adventures in Acupuncture

(photo stolen from the internet somewhere)

(photo stolen from the internet somewhere)

Oh, hello! Happy Friday. It sure has been a while, hasn't it? What have you been up to? Have you had any exciting/unnerving/deeply awkward new experiences recently?? I sure have and you BET I'm about to tell you allll about it. 

As you may or may not know, depending on what country you hail from (I don't know your life), this past Monday was Labor Day, which which means three day weekend!  I used this extra day off to finally try something I've been meaning to try for years: acupuncture. Every time I mention one of my myriad ailments, which is always, because I love whining and oversharing, someone will suggest acupuncture. Apparently it is just the cure-all for everything: IBS, bum hips, anxiety, sinus shit. You name it, they can poke it outta ya. Brian is a huge fan and encouraged me to give his practice a go, so I picked an ailment (bum hip!) made an appointment and whoop, there it was. 

The clinic is in a brownstone building a few blocks away from me (have I mentioned that I live in a fancy part of Brooklyn and am a very cool person? Just dropping that B-stone hint for ya in case you forgot), so I sauntered on up and kicked things off to a roaring start when I could not find the entrance. I kept walking up and down the steps and shaking the doorknob and looking all around and finally asked a kindly stranger who exited the building if she could tell me what floor the acupuncture clinic was on and she just kind of rolled her eyes and pointed down. Apparently the clinic was in the basement. WHO KNEW! Listen, Park Slope Wellness, you gotta be real clear about this stuff on your Yelp page unless you want a bunch of bum hip randos wandering the neighborhood breaking into apartment buildings. 

When I finally entered the clinic it was EXACTLY what I expected it to be. There was a little cubby by the door where everyone has to take their shoes off before entering and the waiting room was very calm and zen with tinkly waterfall music playing in the background and the receptionist was wearing like 14 layers of knit prairie skirts and offered me herbal tea. They advise you to get there 30 minutes before your first appointment to fill out paperwork. It seemed like overkill at first, but as the second I got the paperwork in my hands, I honestly thought they might be underselling it. This thing was the most intricately, intimately detailed questionnaire I have ever seen in my life, listing every single ailment you or anyone in your extended family may ever have experienced, from regular stuff like heart conditions allll the way to the consistency and color of your menstrual blood.

The color? You mean red? OH MY GOD what other colors could it be??? I do not mean to dismiss the ancient and beautiful science of acupuncture but I feel like if your period is turquoise or something you should probably not be sitting calmly in a zen waiting room, sipping nettle tea and answering questionnaires, but instead be rushing immediately to the nearest emergency room. 

Buttt that's just me. 

After finishing the most epic Buzzfeed quiz of all time ("which one of these lattes most accurately represents the texture of your nasal mucous") I was led back to an exam room where my acupuncturist walked me through what was about to go down. We sat for a long while and went page by page through my questionnaire which was possibly my favorite part of the whole thing, which I think says a lot about me. I just LOVE talking about gross bodily stuff and instead of being like "ew, women don't poop" she literally asked me "how are your stools?" and I was like FINALLY! Someone wants to hear about my stools! And she was so sensitive and nurturing and I got the feeling she wasn't just asking me because it was her job, she really did care about my stools. 

Bless.

Then I stripped to my skivvies and laid face down on one of those massage tables with the face hole at the top and she covered me with a paper sheet and started putting the little pins all over me. The focus for the appointment was to alleviate my recurring hip/butt pain as well as some shoulder tension that has been lingering since I threw off my entire upper body attempting some burpees at an ill advised boot camp workout class, and she said she'd throw in a few extras "for stress." 

OH DO I SEEM STRESSED TO YOU?????

She talked me through the whole thing and it's really fascinating how the body all works together. A pin in the foot to open up the side of the body, somehow related to the gallbladder. Pins in the hands to open up the heart center. Truly incredible! All told I think I had about 20 little needles in me, a few of the pins hurt a bit but nowhere like getting blood drawn or a shot. It mostly just felt a little funny, I was cognizant that something was happening to my body but otherwise barely noticed them. I was trying really hard not to try too hard to relax, which was mostly worked and I managed to achieve a state of semi-calm which is pretty much as good as it gets in my world. She covered me all the way to my neck with the sheet and left me alone in the room. I was warm and cozy and doing a-ok! 

It didn't last long. I knew the appointment I signed up for was something called "Community Acupuncture" which I thought just meant discounts for people who live in the community. Apparently it meant that you were in a room getting 'puncthed with up to two other people. VERY RELAXING. I mean, I should have realized when I got to the room and saw three beds divided by hospital curtains, but I just thought it was for couples massages or something. Throuple massages, even. This is Brooklyn, we're progressive! 

I had just reached peak calm when my poke-woman (get it? Because she poked me with needles? And Pokemon is a cultural reference??) came back into the room with another patient and got her all set up on the bed next to me.

Who dis bitch? This is my pin room!

I tried to just zone out and ignore them, but of course I had to eavesdrop because I am a creep. Sadly everything they said was boring and I learned nothing exciting about anyone's stools. Then five minutes later she brought in another chick! Suddenly it was like, the Phi Beta Kappa sorority house of acupuncture, just ladies everywhere. And then she abandoned us all to lay there and pretend we're not stressed about the whole situation. It was at this moment that two things happen concurrently: my phone buzzed in my purse, leading me to panic about my poor behavior not putting it on silent, thus ruining other folks zen experiences and my nose began to itch, madly. I wanted to scratch it but I couldn't move my arms, because I had pins all up and down my shoulders so I tried gently blowing on it, which did nothing and it was in that moment, laying there there pinned like a dead moth in a frame, puffing breath up my own nostrils, that I came to the sad realization that I maaaaaaay not be an acupuncture person.

Sigh. 

Finally after 700 hours later (probably 10 minutes) the acupuncturist came back into the room and unpoked me and I hovered behind my little curtain and quickly dressed, lest I accidentally destroy another patient's holistic experience by accidentally exposing them to my unkempt bikini area, and scurried out of the room. 

I felt like I was back in a safe womb when I returned to the waiting lounge. The receptionist gave me cool water and talked to me in her calming, whispery, hippie-lady voice and I handed over my credit card, which is a social transaction I know all too well how to handle and was really starting to feel like maybe this wasn't so bad after all when I saw it. There, perched in a little box on the edge of the counter, was a stack of those tiny envelopes you see at salons, the ones you fill with cash to tip your stylist.

What fresh hell is this?? Are you supposed to tip your acupuncturist?! I mean, I think of them as medical practitioners and I wouldn't tip my dentist so I feel like no. But also it's Eastern medicine and I guessss I would tip a masseuse (I mean, if I was the kind of chill person who could handle massages) which is another service offered by the practice, so where is the line drawn?  It's all very complex. I didn't have any cash on me so I didn't tip. I just tried to look the receptionist in the eye very kindly and avoid drawing any attention towards the envelopes so maybe no one would notice. If I can't see it, it can't see me! But that put me all back in a tizzy, what if you ARE supposed to tip and now they know I didn't and next time I go back the kind and sensitive lady acupuncturist reveals her inner fury and needles me in the eyeball or something? 

I know you're thinking "next time? It seems like you hated the first time" but like, now I need some acupuncture to get over the stress caused by acupuncture and it's just a whole vicious cycle. There's no stopping now!

Also I just really like talking about my stools in a safe and comfortable environment so, yeah. Maybe I am an acupuncture gal after all. 

And that is what I have been up to. Also a good example of how you can get an old dog some new alternative medical treatments, but she will still be the same neurotic pup.

Or however that old phrase goes.

Happy Friday, buds. Don't try anything new, it's a trap! 

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! 

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  

 

 

 

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





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