Some Deep Thoughts On God & French Fries

Two weeks into 2013 and my once again my Wednesday blogging happens on Thursday. Thursday is SO the new Wednesday, y’all. This week’s excuse: yesterday, on a rare day when I actually was in a productive mood, our company was hit by a building wide network failure rendering us completely unable to access the internet, Outlook or internal shared drives. It was, in a word: frustrating. But also, in another word:  kind of the best. Ok that’s three words. But hear me out. Yesterday’s web disaster was one of those great situations where you really feel like there is a god and s/he’s definitely on your side.

I’m not yet making sense. Here’s what I mean! I once saw someone tweet – ugh, yes we are in a place in our modern society where it is totally ok for sentences to begin “I once saw someone tweet” – but anyway, someone on twitter, I do believe it was Mindy Kaling who is someone we should discuss here at a later date, made a joke, a twitter joke, get to the point Liz, about the great moment when you order a side salad to be good, but the waiter messes up and brings you fries instead and you’re just like “oh well, love handles, I tried!” and dig in. Because let’s be real: no one actually prefers a side salad over fries. You may do it because you think you should make the healthy choice or you want other people to think you have willpower or a little bit of both but at the end of the day, you just want some goddamn French fries in your face. Now.

And that is why these little situations are so perfect. You actively make the “right” choice and some outside force, be it a flaky waiter or an internet server thingermabobber or your own forgetfulness, overrules you and gives you what you really want. It’s like god’s way of saying, you know, I hear you! I see that you are trying to be a good, salad eating kind of person and now I will reward you with some guilt-free fries because I think you are great and you need a break.

Ok, I don’t actually think I see god in a plate of fried potatoes (OR DO I???) but I really do think that sometimes you just need life to let you off the hook. Like:

  • You’re trying to work, but the server is down! Relax.
  • You went to the gym, but forgot your shoes! Go home and sit on your couch.
  • Out of skim milk at the coffee counter! Dump out your coffee, fill your cup to the brim with Half & Half and chug that bitch.

It is really hard to go through life trying to do the “good” thing all the time. I think we all deserve a little French fry break now and again, don’t you?

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How’s that for some Deep Thoughts, ehh?!? You’re welcome, world. Now I really want fries for lunch…but I packed a healthy quinoa soup.

So, Are you there, God? It’s me, Liz Ho. I know you did me a real solid yesterday when you crashed my work server, but if you wouldn't mind, I don’t know, blowing up the microwave today while I’m heating my soup or something so that I have to run out and buy some greasy fries, guilt free, gee whiz, I sure would appreciate it.

Another Awkward New Year: 2013!

Happy New Year!! I hope everyone ushered in 2013 with plenty of champagne and ridiculousness. I celebrated at a friend’s party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He hosts an amazing bash every NYE - last year I left with a huge goose egg on my knee after a too-much-bubbly stumble and the year before, just hours after chopping off half of my hair in what is now known as the Great Round Brush Incident of 2010, I met Brian. Two years later, my hair’s better than ever and so are we. Worth it.

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I already posted this photo to instagram and facebook but wanted to show it off on yet another online medium, lest anyone not fully grasp how cute we are.

Alrighty then, once you've finished barfing over that internet PDA, let's talk New Year, New You type stuff. As is customary in this country and probably others, now is the time to look ahead and make some resolutions for the upcoming year. But before we do that, let’s take a quick look back at the past 12 months, shall we?

As a whole, 2012 was a good year for Ol Hobags. I got a promotion, made Freshly Pressed twice, ran a race, went from long distance dating to down the street dating, got a sassy new do, discovered glitter nail polish, drank a lot of wine and, of course, cured the common cold. Patent pending on that one, though. All in all, I’d give it two thumbs, way up. Beginning the year, I set a lot of lofty, extremely serious goals for myself, too. So how’d I do?

  • Catch up on Breaking Bad - NO :(. This is the greatest shame of my year hands down. One of the downfalls of having a boyfriend in the same city is that we have to...I mean GET to... hang out all of the time, which means I have less time to lay around, alone, bingeing on TV. Brian is currently catching up on BB but is still several seasons behind me so it's hard to catch on my end when we're hanging out. Boyfriends ruin everything. I just spent twelve minutes trying to think up a clever “bros before hoes” riff on this and the best I could come up with was “Mr. Whites before Date Nights.” That should be twitter trending worldwide any minute now.
  • Finally choose between Ryan Gosling and Jon Hamm (anticipating this is the year one or both of them proposes) - Threesomes! Why pick one? (gross.)
  • Figure out ideal hair color - did not even try
  • Try one new type of cheese each week - probably
  • Stop texting while crossing the street - absolutely not. Now that I own a smart phone, I “like” instagram photos while crossing the street. I am basically the Amanda Bynes of walking: a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Go to yoga class at least once - Yo, I went TWICE. Yoga is incredibly difficult. I know I’m late to the party on this, but it’s a lot more than just sitting around breathing. I went to a class on Sunday and can still barely move my arms.
  • Put a bird on it! - constantly
  • Wear red pants - yes!
  • Try Zumba - no!
  • Learn to correctly spell the following words: alchohol, wierd, Carribbean, embarass - alcohol, weird, Caribbean, embarrass (thanks spell check!)
  • Perfect faux British accent - pip pip, cheerio, old chap!

Giving it a very rudimentary glance it looks like I accomplished possibly half of these, mostly ones involving cheese and pants, so I think I did prettttty good for myself. Pretty, pretty good.

Now! Sayonara 2012, So Long, Farewell, Al Wiedersehen, Goodbye! It is time to turn our hearts and minds and belly buttons to the future: to 2013. I have been thinking long and hard (TWSS) about what I want to accomplish this year and think I’ve come up with a pretty solid list. Last year I didn’t get around to doing this until January 23 so I’m already a significantly improved human being!

  • Write More. I am in the midst of compiling a detailed plan of action called “How To Become a Famous Writer in ?? Easy Steps,” the ?? because I haven’t quite finished yet. So far it is 12 steps. Simple.
    • Step One: Blog More. I plan to be writing here three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. So technically I should have written this yesterday but I was confused and thought it was a Monday...which is still no excuse, I just said I’d write Mondays...off to a great start! Listen, it was my first day back at work after a week and a half off and I decided it was the perfect day to simultaneously give up coffee and begin an intense course of prescription sinus medication. I’m lucky my head hasn’t just fallen right off my neck at this point. What I'm saying is, stay tuned. It's happening.
    • Steps Two through Twelve: TOP SECRET!
  • Eat Nicely. This sounds hippie dippie but don’t worry, I’m not turning vegan. Hopefully! Actually, this resolution was initially entitled “Conquer IBS!” but another of my resolutions is “Stop Talking About Your IBS In Public All The Time,” so I decided to change it. Figure out what ails me and cut it from my diet. Even if it is something delicious like coffee (sob!) or gluten. But oh god, PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE LACTOSE! #cheese
  • Learn How To Wear Red Lipstick and Drink Whiskey. I yearn for someone to call me a “broad” by the end of 2013.
  • Be Present. Ack, again, this sounds very crunchy and hippie. Apparently I am turning very spiritual in my old age. Scary. But straight talk, for just a moment: I have a bad habit of fretting on the past or worrying about the future and it’s not great. Sometimes it is very not great, and leads to some rather serious anxiety, but other times it’s more subtle, I’m just never quite focused on the moment I’m actually living. As I get older and begin to think more about “adulthood,” I find I am constantly trying to speed things up (I need to get married! My eggs are drying up! What retirement community should I move to?!), or slow them down (my youth! We have to go back, Kate, we have to go back!) when I should be just enjoying where I am now: happy, healthy, relatively settled, hilarious, good looking and generally in a great place. Looking back on 2012 I feel like it flew by. I know it is a cliche to say that every year goes faster than the last, but I’m beginning to see some empirical proof of that and I don’t want my life to buzz past while I’m busy picking out linens for my imaginary future wedding. (Um, just kidding Brian!) This year I’m slowing it down, living in the present and savoring every moment. And if that makes me a crunchy spiritual hippie weirdo well, Namaste Bitches.

So there you have it. 2013: The Year of Living in the Present While Wearing Red Lipstick, Not Pooping as Often and Writing Up a Storm. I’m excited!

And what are YOUR resolutions?!

Happy 2013, my loves! xo Liz Ho

One Awkward Thanksgiving Revelation

Scenes from our Thanksgiving: Turkey Hats, lots o' wine, square pies & some creative magnet wordplay 

Ho Ho Ho, the holiday season is upon us! I adore this time of year, from Thanksgiving week through the New Year. It just feels so festive and cheerful and warm. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, I know I did.

As I mentioned last week, my family came to spend the weekend with me in Brooklyn. We’re big on traditions, we Hobags, especially when it comes to the holidays. Every Christmas we get matching pajama sets, and put the same decorations in the same spots. On Christmas Morning we each sit in our designated chair to open gifts and then we have an egg casserole. Years and years and years ago we had twice baked potatoes as part of our Christmas Eve dinner (a dinner we’ve shared with the same family friends for over 25+ years!) and somehow they became a most imperative part of the holiday. We eat Twice Bakeds with every Christmas Eve meal, whether they fit in on the menu or not. They’re nearly as important to Christmas as Santa Clause it.

We might be a little nuts.

But we can adapt, too. One of my favorite new-ish traditions is our quiet, nomadic Thanksgiving meal. Despite our insanity over keeping things the same for Christmas, we’ve never really had a set Thanksgiving plan. When I was very young we used to travel to visit my mom’s extended family in a gorgeous, sprawling old farmhouse in upstate New York. After my parents divorced when I was in high school, my siblings and I did a few years of Thanksgivings at our Dad’s house, other years we ate at home or with local family in Pennsylvania. Then the first year I lived in Brooklyn, five years ago, my tiny immediate family – my mom, brother and sister – came up to me. We cooked in my little kitchen and walked around New York City. We attempted to see the Macy’s Parade balloons but couldn’t stand the crowd, so we ditched the madness and got a drink somewhere warm. The next year we repeated, this time in my brother’s new Brooklyn apartment, just ten blocks from mine. The year after, Boulder, Colorado, where my sister was doing a year of Americorps, then to Chicago where my brother had just moved for LawSchool, a year back home in PA and then this year, in my newest Brooklyn pad. Though the location changes we still do have our rituals: eggs & bacon & cinnamon buns for breakfast, Macy’s Parade on TV and a long afternoon walk. Maggie always mashes the potatoes, Michael starts singing in a Russian accent (don’t ask), Mom makes a pumpkin pie, I make apple. A few years back we added our Turkey Hats to the mix. Wine is consumed, pants are unbuttoned, board games are played. I love it so.

It’s not all perfect, though. As with all families, we have snits and spats and one of us, I won’t mention any names, could be anyone, but it’s definitely me, always snaps. This year, despite the jolly happiness and pleasantry, I was a bit on edge. Whenever my mom comes to visit I get a little anxious – I love having her and we get along great (mostly!) but I become overwhelmed by a weird feeling of being in between. As I get older (and older, and older, and oh, my hip!) I have this desperate want to be an “adult,” whatever that means and to “have it all together,” again, whatever that means.  But it is hard to be a totally-together adult when your mama buys the turkey and stuffs it and generally runs the show. My mom (love her!) has a bit of a control-freak streak in her and she blessedly passed it on to her first born, me. So there inevitably ends up being some tension over who’s in charge. Instead of relaxing and going with the flow, two things I have never done and don’t see happening anytime soon, I become overwhelmed with anxiety to make things perfect and prove to my mom that I’m all grown up. Instead of seeing her as awesome and helpful, I see her as overbearing and bossy. Her innocuous attempts to help make things easier (“use wax paper to roll out the pie dough!” “chill the bowl for the whipped cream before whipping!”) become cruel criticisms about my ability to do things right and attacks on  my personality. I simmer and seethe and then at about 3 PM, have a mild hysterical meltdown and start barking at people.

Not all traditions are charming and quaint!

It’s weird though, navigating this time in our lives. As you all recall, I wrote extensively on the strange feeling of being late-twenties, of straddling childhood and adulthood, not sure which way to go. Having my mom around always exacerbates this feeling in me and sends me into a complete frenzy. Don’t worry, I ain’t mad at her – I realize I’m totally bonkers.

One thing I’m realizing though, despite my purported devil-may-care attitude towards turning (gulp!) twenty-eight, I’m actually a little obsessed with trying to grow up and mature and stop being such a goofball. I recently heard from someone that I’d been criticized behind my back for being too flaky. My first thought, hearing that, was no fucking kidding, that’s kiiiind of my shtick.  But the more I ruminated on it the more I let it bug me. I AM flaky! And while I clearly get a kick out of being a hot mess, I still sometimes year to not be so…me. I tried so hard to make my house a home for my family to visit – I bought fresh flowers and scented candles and stocked up on toilet paper, what foresight! – but when we went to make pies, we realized I had no pie pans. We made square pies in casserole dishes (ok, adorable) and when I made my classic apple pie I screwed up the crust so bad I had to pitch a batch and made such a mess with the flour and dough that I had to vacuum the dining room.  These are such tiny little things but are so classically, well, me. I’d love to be the kind of person who makes perfect pies or always has a clean house or knows what kinds of dishes to have on hand for all sorts of occasions. I’d love to pay my bills on time, to have just ONE pair of tights without a run in them, and matching Tupperware sets. I’d love to be the kind of person who remembers to send birthday cards and knows how to act at parties but guess what, world, I ain’t.

And I’m thankful for that! How dull that must be. How stressful it must be to keep it up. And how totally boring this blog would be. The internet is crammed to the gills with what I call Bullshit Blogs (here’s one gleaming example), blogs by girls who portray themselves as "real" girls who just happen to have perfect, fashionable, non-flaky lives full of circular pie pans and beautiful homes and fishtail braid hairdos and DIY glitter centerpiece craft projects and to these girls I call bullshit! You may have a stocked closet and a deft hand with the glue gun but do you have fun? Do you laugh at yourself? Do you go anywhere without posing for photos with your Canon DSLRMNOP Top of the Line Digital Camera? Probably not. Your life may look perfect, but mine is a flaky, ridiculous mess and I love it. So there.

No one remembers perfect holidays and I don’t think anyone looks back at age 89 and remembers what a delightful Grown Up Thanksgiving they once had. Messy holidays are the best ones.

So adding to last week’s silly list: I’m thankful for square pies, for a patient, amazing mom who gives me love and guidance and treats me like an adult, even while I’m throwing an eight-grade-style hissy fit. I’m thankful for a brother who sacrificed his usual fast, eight-mile runs for slow short jogs with me this weekend, where we could catch up on life. I’m thankful for a sister who mashes a mean potato and watches just as much Hulu as I do and knows just how much icing to put on each individual Pillsbury cinnamon bun. I’m very thankful for Pillsbury as a corporation. Is there a better sound than the POP! of the biscuit tin? I’m thankful for Trivial Pursuit, even though I always lose (what I lack in brains, I make up for in looks, obviously) and for vacuums that allow for easy flour clean-up and for expandable waistbands and for crazy, obsessive adherence to tradition. And I’m thankful for Bullshit Blogs and for overhearing the occasional personality critique because they remind me to take a step back and take it all in – to appreciate my life for what it is and stop trying so hard to get it all together.

I think I’ve just made a New Year’s Resolution a few weeks early!

So from my disaster of a house to yours, whatever state it might be in: Happy Holidays!

Xoxo

Liz Ho Ho Ho