Keeping it Breezy

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

Wait, what? Who? This Liz?

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

breezy monica hottsauce blog funny humor

We all contain multitudes! Who knew? 

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

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

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

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

Yes, armpits.

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

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

Again: no.

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

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

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

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

"Of course!" she replied politely.

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

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

KEWL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great, great, SO GREAT.

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

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

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

XO

Liz Hott

 

Another Awkward Week or Two or Five [3.18.16]

HELLO!! And oops. I just realized that the last y'all heard from me was a lengthy word-vomit about how badly I  need a therapist and then I went and dropped off the face of the (blogging) earth for a month. You were probably so worried about me!!! You're so sweet to be concerned. 

Ok yes, it is also possible that a) you didn't even notice how long it'd been or b) noticed and didn't miss me at all, which frankly is so rude, but I have now been to four whole therapy sessions so I am a fully actualized, self-confident and emotionally stable adult woman who totally does not even care at ALL about being liked by everyone all the time. Who needs outer validation when I have inner peace?!

JUST KIDDING I STILL NEED SO MUCH VALIDATION!!!!!!! Please love me! I'll do anything!!! 

Ok, maybe I still need a few more sessions to get over that particular personality trait. But otherwise, no I have not been off having a nervous breakdown, I've just been, you know, livin' my life. Watching TV, running, eating cheese, looking at houses I can't afford on Zillow-dot-com, making fancy breakfasts, falling for any and all feminist thinkpiece click bait the internet has to offer, transitioning from whole milk to half-n-half in my coffee and then back to whole milk again, going to be at 9 PM, considering veganism, biting my nails, planning imaginary vacations, webMDing various ailments, reading and publicizing literature, talking about myself. 

The usual!

Oh and also dropping my panties in the office.

Oh yes. You read that right.

Dropping. Panties. Office.

Let me explain! So as I've written once or thrice before, I have a terrible habit of leaving my wallet anywhere other than in my purse, where it belongs, and then finding myself in all sorts of shenanigans as a result. For example, this past week. I'll set the scene: It's 2:05 PM on Monday,  March the 14th. I was already having quite the day, being that it was a Monday and it was pouring rain and I was late to work because I had to stage an instagram of this Pi Day mug (my priorities are great, thanks for asking) and then as I was racing out the door to make up for all the time I lost filtering that shit I stepped in actual shit, of the dog variety. Yup. Some kind neighbor had the thoughtfulness to leave a big 'ol pile of dog doo right on the sidewalk next to our building and it was exxxxxxtra wet and gloopy thanks to the rain storm. Real cool, neighbor. Real cool.

So I went to my 1 PM Pilates class, as I do every Monday, determined to turn the day around with a heady mix of deep breathing and endorphins. And it was working! I pilatesed (not a verb) and rinsed and waltzed back into the office ready to give the day another go. As I entered our lobby, I began to dig into my oversized gym bag to find my tiny wallet, which I would need to enter through the security gates. I drew closer and closer to the gates, becoming frustrated. I swore the wallet was in there, why couldn't I find it?? I paused in my tracks and amped up my digging to level F for "Furious," scrabbling around in that tote like a drunk badger and it turns out that I did not have my wallet in there after all but what I DID have was a pair of underpants and somehow amidst all of that frantic searching I flung said underpants out of my bag and onto the floor of my office lobby.

Was the lobby crowded? Yes.

Could you tell they were def undies and not just like, fabric? YUP.

Was it clear they belonged to me? Crystal.

Were they laying there for at least 30 seconds if not longer? YES.

Does 30 seconds seem like four hours when you're talking about having your UNDERPANTS LAYING ON THE FLOOR OF YOUR OFFICE??? Honestly, it feels even longer. 

Did anyone notice? OH YUS. 

Did I look up to find the security guard staring at me in horror? Obviously.

Did he then kindly let me through the security gate, though I clearly didn't have an ID? No of course not. 

After I realized the scene I was causing I quickly scooped my panties off the ground and shoved them into my bag and tried to play it cool and sauntered up to the guard like I hadn't just been standing right in front of him throwing my undergarments all over the place and asked him to let me in and he blushed HARD and I knew he watched the whole thing go down, but what was he going to do? Point out that he noticed my underpants?? I've seen the company sexual harassment video our company sends out. Don't go there. I politely told him I forgot my wallet and he wouldn't even make eye contact with me, that's how embarrassing this all was and of course he still wouldn't let me, so I had to stand there, shamefaced and sweaty, waiting for someone I knew to come save me. 

GUYS!

You know I have a very high threshold for embarrassment so when I say this, I mean it: I was MORTIFIED.

I mean, all things considered I guess it could have been worse? They were a pretty cute pair, neither overly sexy nor overly frumpy and I'm pretty sure they were clean, at the very least they didn't have like, overt menstrual stains or anything, so like, if I had to pick an ideal pair of underpants to throw on the floor of my very crowded office lobby, this was probably the best pair to pick, but honestly, I really would prefer to pick the option to just not throw my underpants on the floor of my very crowded office lobby. Like, ever.

Mortified. 

You would think this would teach me a lesson about being more careful with my wallet, but no, I managed to forget it again two days later when I went to lunch and ended up stranded in the lobby for 20 minutes, calling every co-worker cell number I could think of until someone picked up and came downstairs and got me.

Hot. Mess. Express.

So there ya have it! What I've been up to the last month. And how has YOUR March been?? 

Peace, love & underpants,

Liz 

 

 

 

The LaxBro is In

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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