Keeping it Breezy

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

Wait, what? Who? This Liz?

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

breezy monica hottsauce blog funny humor

We all contain multitudes! Who knew? 

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

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

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

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

Yes, armpits.

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

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

Again: no.

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

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

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

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

"Of course!" she replied politely.

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

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

KEWL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great, great, SO GREAT.

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

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

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

XO

Liz Hott

 

Feelin' 32

grown up hottsauce funny blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ain't life something? 

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


Whatever the mature version of xoxoxox is, 

HoBag 

 

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. 

On Empathy, On Optimism, On Olive Branches

                                                 My reason to hope for a better future. 

                                                My reason to hope for a better future. 

I know we're all up to our eyeballs in election commentary at the moment and perhaps you're hoping this is just a jokey post to help you get your mind off things. I wish I could say it was. I really do just want to write about books and farting and how I have pho broth all over my shirt right now because I don't actually know how to use chopsticks but I just can't. My mind is in too much of a fog to access that literary brilliance. Soon we'll be back to the good stuff, but first, I need to get a few things off my chest. 

I am feeling very, very sad. For a number of reasons. I'm sad because my candidate lost, of course, but it's deeper than that. I don't think I even realized how important it was to me to see a woman president until we came so close. It is crushing to see a woman lose out on a job to a man who is infinitely less qualified than her and impossible for me not view it as a slap in the face to my gender. I feel the stinging crush of having high hopes dashed so brutally. I worry deeply about the rights and safety of my non-white, non-Christian, non-able bodied, and queer friends. I can't think of sweet, smart, wild little Lucy, that eager beautiful girl up there, and all of my friends' kids and my future kids, without without feeling like I failed them. I want so much better for all of them. 

I'm not just sad, I am angry. And I'm sad that I'm angry. I have always prided myself on being a relentless optimist who saw the good in everyone, a person capable of deep empathy, compassion, and understanding.  I consider this to be something great and true that I value in my flawed self. And yet this week I feel that spark has been diminished. I am not proud to admit this, but I find myself struggling to empathize with anyone who chose to vote for Donald Trump. There are so many people in my own life who I know to be kind and decent, who work hard, who love their families, and who still somehow found it in themselves to pull the lever for a man who spews vitriol for anyone who does not fall within his tiny, angry scope of what humanity should look like. And I can't wrap my head around that dichotomy. 

How do you cast a vote for a man who openly mocks a disabled reporter, who calls women fat pigs, and then try to teach your kids not to be bullies? That is not a rhetorical question. Tell me exactly what you would say? 

There's a lot of talk going around the internet about how Trump's victory is not about race, or gender, or religion, a lot of folks trying to absolve their own consiences by quickly declaring that a vote for Trump does not make one a racist, a sexist, a bigot, a mean, spiteful person like the one they voted for. It's just his tax plans, you see. A desire for a "shakeup in Washington," perhaps. And all of those motivations are well and good and valid but they alone are not the platform on which this man ran and on which he plans to govern this country. 

Here's the thing, y'all: when voting for public office, you don't get to pick just one or two items and ignore the rest. This isn't a Wawa automated sandwich menu, although I wish it was because I'd vote a turkey club into office any day of the week over Donald J. Trump. I have never seen a chicken salad hoagie try to justify sexual assault, that's for damn sure. 

 

You can tell yourself that you voted for him for his supreme court slots or because you just didn't like the other candidate either, whatever it is that helps you sleep at night, but in choosing those as your priroties, you also gave your support to his language of hate. You may not personally brag about grabbing women by the pussies or denigrate the Muslim faith or send photographs of your hands to Graydon Carter (look it up! A real, mature thing that the man about to have our nuclear codes does!) but by choosing to cast your vote for him, you you voted for those things, too. That's just how this works. 

I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a beautiful piece of the country home to delicious corn and a vibrant, growing community of artists, and many people who I love and admire. 57% of the county voted for Donald Trump. On Wednesday at York County Technical High School, one county over, 25 minutes from the little town where I was raised, a group of students marched the halls carrying a Trump poster and chanting "White Power." This is true and here's a video. I'd encourage everyone to watch it and to meditate on it for a good, long while. I can not imagine the good people who I know looking young Kiana Alves - who had to leave the school in fear - in the eyes and telling her that they value her safety less than a spicy little government shakeup and yet, by casting a vote in favor of someone who does encourage this kind of violent, bigoted language, for whatever their own reasons, they are implict in allowing this kind of behavior.

To borrow a phrase from an essay a friend shared with me: "I’m not sure what is worse: to be the person who sets a house on fire, or to be the one who handed that person the match."

Before anyone can say "But her emails! Benghazi!", guys, I know. I never said anyone was flawless here. I actively and wholeheartedly chose Hillary despite some real concerns. She's hawkish, prone to secrecy, and basically refused to even acknowlage the No Dakota Access Pipeline Movement right up to the very minute I enthusiastically circled the bubble next to her name on my ballot. I cast my vote for the full package - for the progressive community activist and for the woman who coined the term "superpredator" - and I was prepared to reckon with my decision. 

And if you voted for Donald Trump, you need to reckon with yours. 

In the coming days I am going to work as hard as I can to reactivate that best part of myself, to present an open mind and a malleable heart, to actively listen to the concerns of those with differing viewpoints from my own, to extend an olive branch to those who I would ask to do the same for me. But an olive branch is not an absolution. 

If you voted for Donald Trump because you agree with his words of hate, I guess rock on with your bad self and I'm truly sorry you feel that way. But if you voted for him while claiming to disagree with his language, you need to put your money where your mouth is. One way I've seen folks jusifying his words is to argue that they are just that, words. That actions speak louder. By that logic, your words are just words too. You can shout "I'M NOT A RACIST!" from the roof of every building, share all the "let's just get along" memes the internet can dream up, but unless you are taking positive action to back up that claim, to work to heal the divide, your words remain just words. I implore everyone to take a stand aginst divisive language. To speak up if you see discrimination in your community. To hold our new president accountable for both his words and his actions. 

And while you do that work, I am going to put my energy into being sure that my own words of sorrow and disappointment are not hollow ones either. I have been encouraged to see that many of my fellow progressives are responding to this defeat with powerful, positive action. We are banding together to raise funds for causes we believe in, to hold our governement to a higher standard of humanity, to be, as that old chestnut goes, the change we wish to see in the world. At the end of this post, I'm sharing a few resources I've found helpful on this front, if you'd like to join me. 

I remain fearful and saddened but I am ready be proven wrong. 

With hope,

Liz 

#StrongerTogether Resources:

Donate Your Hillary Vote

Ten Causes That Need Our Help Right Now

Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund & 10 Ways You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux

.... AND MORE! I'd love to hear suggestions! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  

 

 

 

FOURTEEN.

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

THAT terrifies me.

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

 

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

What the actual fuck.

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

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

We have to.

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

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

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


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

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

Hugs, guys!! 

xx Liz