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.

 

 

Partners & Fart(...ners?): A Novice Chimes in on Love & Marriage

Still Life With Carrot Cake

 (In case you are curious, our wedding cake still tasted delicious a full year later. A metaphor for our marriage, perhaps? Also in case you're curious, Brian totally bought that candle for the express purpose of toasting our one year anniversary...just in case I don't brag enough on how sweet and wonderful he is.)

For weeks I've been sitting down, inking up my quill pen (I wish) and reflecting on our first year of marriage in the attempt to write something utterly profound and time after time I come up empty. I'm beginning to develop a sinking feeling that {whispers} I might not be very profound after all. Thank goodness for the experts

I was talking to a girlfriend of mine the other day who is getting married in just a few weeks (hey, Ashley!) and trying to explain how it feels to be married and the best I could come up with was "it's neat!" I really think in some ways I expected married life to feel like a huge change, for some kind of switch to flip August 16, 2014 but for the most part, it just feels so natural . Sure some things are a little different and I still have to suppress a grin every time I call Brian my husband (squee!), but at the same time it seems like he has always been my family. I can't remember what it felt like to not have him as my partner. 

I do remember the first time I felt really, truly married. Some friends of mine go to this music festival every year, the Newport Folk Fest in Rhode Island and I've always wanted to join. It's like, a yuppie thing where people drink craft beer and sleep in houses with showers and stuff, not one of those nightmare festivals where everyone camps and does Molly and wears like, daisy crowns and crop tops or what have you. The horror! That is like, my personal Guantanamo Bay. Oh I'm shuddering just thinking about it. ANYWAY Brian and I talked about this festival for about five seconds last fall and vaguely discussed that maybe I'd go but he didn't feel like it, and left it at that. When the tickets went on sale in January, I scooped one up immediately and only then realized that maybe I should, you know, talk it through with Brian. 

So that night I went home and we talked. We looked at the calendar for our upcoming year, what with various family obligations ($), weddings ($$), planned trips ($$$) and other looming expenses ($$$$), and I realized that my taking this trip might not be the wisest way to spend our time and our money. So I bowed out. 

To be sure, Brian in no way forbid me from attending - we don't roll like that. If I'd said 'hey, champ, this is important to me" he would have rushed out and bought me a Native American headdress, which I then wouldn't have worn because A) this isn't Burning Man and B) Cultural Appropriation, people, learn about it! and C) this is mostly just a metaphor, he wouldn't have really bought a headdress... but you get the picture. He would have supported me with zest. But I realized in that moment that I was no longer making decisions for just ME. I now have to choose what is best for our family as a whole.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this story but whenever I look back on the year, that pops out to me as the turning point moment when we were straight up MARRIED, full stop. It wasn't when we signed our marriage license or started farting with wild abandon in front of one another or spent Christmas together, but this one totally random weekday afternoon when we sat in the living room and talked and listened and compromised and then forged ahead as a unit. 

That's marriage, I do suppose! 

It surprises me, as someone who loves doing what *I* want to do, how much strength and joy I draw from working as a team. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I have THE BEST teammate like, ever. 

This year has been intense for me, personally, for a whole host of reasons I'm not ready to get into here, but there have been high highs and low, low, lows and a lot of moments of feeling uncertain and out of control, which normally would send me into a tailspin. I was talking with another girlfriend (I'm INSANELY popular) the other week, catching up on things, and she commented how surprisingly calm and level I've remained through it all. "I've seen you get more upset about a bad sandwich," she remarked.

To be fair, through all the ups and downs of this year, the sandwiches have been consistently good. But she was right. I haven't always been my best self this year but I certainly haven't been my worst and I really do think I have Brian to thank for that. Knowing he is in my corner and feeling like I have a partner helps make the tough things seem a little less tough and the fun things seem exponentially more fun. And it's my goal to always make sure he always feels the same. 

It's so cheesy but I really do feel lucky every single day - even the days like today when I'm crabby and snipping at him for leaving his pants on the floor (despite the fact that my pants are like, one foot away from his...also on the floor) - that we stumbled upon one another. He's my person! I wouldn't trade him for all the cheese in the world. 

Except maybe for a vat of endless burrata...

Nah. Not even burrata. 

This turned out to be semi profound after all. I'll lighten the mood by admitting that second only to the partnership thing, the best part about marriage is indeed farting with wild abandon. One gassy year down - a lifetime more to go. Toot toot! 



Don't Go To Bed Angry: Some Experts Chime in on Love & Marriage

Hi from Oregon! As I mentioned in last week’s post (and over and over and over again on social media, you know I can’t resist a plea for attention) Sunday marked one whole year of marriage for The Hotts. Time sure flies when you’re having fun / embarrassing your husband by talking about his butt on the internet all the time. (It’s so cute tho! I can’t help myself!) At some point I’ll be sharing a few thoughts on what I’ve learned about marriage and relationships over the last year...you’re dying with anticipation, I’m sure. For now, I’m too busy out living those lessons, such as: Take Romantic Adventures and Don’t Get Mad At Your Husband If He Loses His ID In The Midst Of A Romantic Adventure And Then That Becomes A Whole Thing and Love Your Wife’s Friends, Even If That Means You Spend Your First Anniversary Dressed Like A Pirate With Her BFF. You know, all the classics.

In all earnestness, though, one thing I realized while reflecting back on year uno, is that one year ain’t no time at all and we still have SO much ahead! We’re still total rookies. So I turned to a few women I love and admire and asked them if they might share any memories from their first year of marriage and/or tips for keeping things strong and spicy. And oh how they delivered!! I was so overwhelmed and honored by the words of advice and wisdom that poured in and so grateful these wonderful gals took the time to share their stories with me...and YOU GUYS!

Their warm, wise, funny and occasionally surprising and tips, tales and tricks are collected below and... I might just have to retire from blogging and hand the reins over to this crew - they good. I am a sentimental sappy sapster, we all know this, but the combo of love stories + friends opening their hearts to share had me all verklempt and I mayyy have even shed a tear or two. I hope you enjoy as much as I have!

And as always, I’d love to hear from YOU! Are you married? What memories do you have from your first year? What tips would YOU share with newlyweds? Are you dying over this photo of cute old lovers or is that just me?! xo Liz

L - Married 19 Years:

Year one of marriage? One specific story doesn't jump out in my memory - I just remember overall happiness and contentment. And 19 years later, I still feel that way! I think one of the best things we've done is make our anniversary a priority through the years. We don't buy each other any gifts. We just take a weekend away - just the two of us. In the last five years, this has meant a recurring visit to the same little town, in the same cozy apartment, and an anniversary dinner at the same little restaurant. It's a weekend I look forward to all year!

M - Married 11 Years:

1. Go to bed mad. Staying up and arguing when you're both tired and angry is just counter-productive. Sleep on it, and when you wake up most likely the argument will seem silly. If not, at least now you have slept on it and can move forward more rationally and calmly.

2. Never use powerful words like divorce unless you're willing to back it up. The word divorce is nothing to throw around lightly as a threat that you really don't mean (see: arguing while tired).

3. Always treat each other with respect; always, but particularly when you're in company. There is nothing more awkward than sitting with a couple who is bickering about something completely asinine in which one person is inevitably throwing their partner under the bus for something ridiculous, like why didn't they wear the shirt that you told them to wear.

4. Keep touching, cuddling, kissing, making out, etc. Be that embarrassing 30 year married couple who still can't keep their hands off one another.
 

A - Married 6 Years:

My husband and I were married in July, and we waited until December to go on our honeymoon to Vietnam.  At the very end of what had otherwise been a spectacular trip, we both came down with food poisoning.  Mat first.  He complained about a stomach ache in our hotel room, right before our Mekong Delta river cruise, and I basically told him to buck up.  “You’ll be fine,” I said.  

He toughed out the cruise (which was more of a rough boat ride in a river strewn with plastic bags that kept getting stuck in our motor than a relaxing cruise) and then, on the drive back to Saigon, I started feeling queasy.  

We spent our last night in Vietnam in agony.  We had the chills, so we took turns sitting under the showerhead (standing was too much effort).  Mat braved a trip to a Vietnamese pharmacy, where he came back with dubious-looking medicine that we took anyway.  (It didn’t help, but I don’t think it made matters worse.)  

We made it, somehow, to the airport, and onto the plane.  It occurred to me that we might die, and I didn’t even care.  I wanted to die, a few times—I’d never felt so sick in my entire life.  

And the whole time, I kept thinking that I hadn’t believed Mat when he’d told me he was sick.  I’d thought he was just wimping out.  Because I felt fine, so how could Mat feel sick?  And then I felt just as sick as he did, and the lesson felt cosmic:  believe your husband.  It’s something I remind myself of all the time.  Take what he says seriously.

L - Married 3 Years:

(1) The saying "never go to bed angry" is BS. Sometimes you need to time to cool off, think about the issue or catch some zzz's. If you guys love each other, which you presumably do since you got married, you'll be able to work through your issue even it you don't deal with it until the next day

(2) Compromise or come up with a good way to settle matters when you have differing opinions (on relatively unimportant issues). I know one couple who flips a coin when they can't agree on something like where to go out to eat, for example. We don't do that, but we definitely compromise a lot and agree on the fair way to proceed. Maybe I pick out a restaurant this time and he picks next time

(3) Waking up next to the love of your life never gets old...at least not so far :)

(4) Spend quality time together - maybe try something new, have a conversation over dinner at home instead of sitting in front of the tv or go out for "date nights"

(5) You don't stop learning new things about your partner. I've been with my husband for almost 7 years (married for 3 of those) and we recently went on a trip and I learned new things about him that I never knew before!

(6) This piece of advice came from my husband - Husbands like these things that start with the letter "B" and end with the 10th letter of the alphabet ;)

K - Married 25 Years:

How not to get through the first year of marriage:  never, ever attempt to wallpaper a tiny bathroom together.   We bought our first house and moved in right after we got married.  Actually, it was not completely done after our honeymoon, so I lived with mom and Chris lived with his mom for two weeks and we got by with conjugal visits until our new place was finished.  Anyway, I was obsessed with wallpapering the downstairs bathroom.  I knew the paper I wanted and how it needed to be done.   The bathroom was tiny, and under the stairs, so the ceiling had very awkward angles.  To put it lightly, wallpapering was a nightmare.   The room was cramped and hot and Chris had his ideas (which were probably correct) and I had mine (which we did ).  We had some spectacular fights wallpapering that bathroom and I think once it was done, we questioned why we even thought marriage was a good idea in the first place.  Luckily, Chris is quick to forgive and forget and besides the bathroom really did look amazing.  We decided to stick it out for a little longer.

In all seriousness, marriage is work.  It is not nearly as easy and carefree as I thought it would be.  Chris and I are two very opinionated people and don’t always agree.  As time has gone on, I value him being different.  I always said that if I married someone exactly like me, it would have driven me nuts and we would no longer be together.   For the really important things, the things that truly matter (and wallpaper is not included), we are rock solid.   Chris always uses the reference from my favorite movie “Rocky”.  When Rocky is in the meat freezer, Paulie asks Rocky what his attraction to his sister, Adrian, is.  Rocky replies “it fill gaps".  When asked what that means Rocky says “she’s got gaps, I got gaps; together we fill gaps". In the few areas that Chris has gaps, I fill them in  and, more importantly, Chris more than makes up for the areas in my life that I am lacking.  Yep, we beautifully fill gaps.

H - Married 5.5 Years:

I'd say that I think the whole "never go to bed angry" thing is a line of b.s. Because sometimes, getting the bed to myself is worth the fight.

Sometimes I daydream about being divorced, mostly as an escape from my in-laws, but then I remember he's my favorite. He's my team. He's my bff. He's the best dad there ever was (truly, I'd put him in any competition for that title with total faith he'd win). He's it.

M - Married 7 Years: 

M has been married for 7 years.  During their first year of marriage, she and her husband continued to enjoy all the activities they participated in while they were dating.  They also faced fertility challenges, but are now the proud parents of 4 year old identical twin boys.  Marriage is full of ups and down and requires a strong commitment to each other.

N - Married 6 Years :

1. Never share a bathroom sink.

2. Don't get anything smaller than a queen size bed.

3. Marriage is about comprises so if you  want him to make dinner you will have to give him "dessert" later. But trust me it will be your best meal.

4. Sex is always your wild card to fix a situation and/or get what u want.

5. Remember that he will be the one there with you through everything so don't be too hard on him but also don't be too easy. ;).