Filling the Void

We are 23 days into January 2021 now, and I have done an absolute shit job at sticking to my new year goals. I haven’t really made much of a conscious effort to stick to them, if I’m being honest, but work has been so off-the-fucking-hook busy that it has put a damper on everything else that was otherwise a seemingly do-able goal. It’s been nearly impossible to get in a 3 mile + walk each day when I’m glued to my laptop, stick to a vegan diet when I’ve been stressed AF and haven’t had time to plan a meal or do the grocery shopping (and also end up binge-eating whatever cheese is in the fridge because of said stress), and even the simple pleasures like writing more and self-care (which for me is simply taking a bubble bath or painting my nails) have all taken a back burner when I’m doing a 55 hour work week and trapped in my apartment.

I have felt perpetually exhausted and short-circuited since the year began. Even after a night of decent sleep (which only happens on Friday and Saturday nights, when I am able to sleep in the next morning), I feel totally burnt-out. I know this is an overused phrase, especially among millennials, but if this isn’t burnout, I don’t know what is. It doesn’t help that my cat wakes me up for breakfast every day at 5:30am, even though he knows he isn’t getting fed until 6:30. I shut him outside of the bedroom, and then he meows and scratches at the door for the next hour. Honestly, my “burnout” is probably just straight-up depression and anxiety at this point. Everything seems pointless at times, and I’m sure this is a common feeling these days, given that we are all sill in the throes of a pandemic and life is a far cry from what it used to be, once upon a time. It’s like the movie Groundhog’s Day – everything is on repeat. The news is a never ending plethora of depressing facts. So many things are out of our individual control at this point – mass extinctions going on with animals, destruction of the environment, global warming and arctic ice melting, wildfires, drought, assholes who still eat factory farmed meat… the list goes on and on.

I wish I could save the world, but I can’t even save myself (LOL). Honestly though, I’m trying to make an effort to do my part, but it’s distressing to see how many others just don’t care at all. Or perhaps, they do care, and think they can’t make a difference. But if we all make a collective effort, we can make a difference. Anyhow, apart from the shitty news we are all bombarded with each day, I miss having things to look forward to and to motivate me – concerts, raves, parties, travel. I miss walking around in a cute outfit (on the occasional day I am feeling myself) sans-mask, and seeing the smiling, happy faces of people enjoying a day or night out. I know these are things that we all miss. It’s not just me. But if all feels so fucking dismal and never-ending that it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

I am happy I don’t have kids right now, and I never plan to have any at this point given the state of the world (and if you’re one of the people who says “oh, you’ll change your mind!” – just STOP. I’m about to be 33, bitch – my mind is made up. The only maternal feelings I have are towards cute animals). Between climate change and global warming ravaging the plant and every living thing on it, and the abuse and mistreatment of animals (which sadly, I must admit to being a part of since I still consume cheese and seafood…), I just don’t think it’s right to keep populating this earth and setting future generations up for struggle and heartache. Every day I read stories in the news about climate-disasters, pollution, and other stuff that makes me not want to even be part of the human population. Today I read a story about a cat who was attacked by two pitbulls that the owners actually sicced on the cat and beat the cat down from a tree so their dogs could attack it. Shit like this makes me sick to my stomach. I know this is an isolated incident, but stuff like this happens every day. What the fuck is wrong with some people? When climate change finally brings this world crashing down (as it is currently in the process of doing), humans will deserve exactly what they get (and yes, the pitbull incident is unrelated to climate change, but I’m just saying – this world is messed up in more ways than one).

I feel like these last 10 months of nothing but work, stress, anxiety, and boredom have made me so physically worn down too. I feel fatter, uglier, and older looking than ever before – it’s like I’ve aged 5 years in 10 months. It’s probably all in my head since my attitude is so ugly right now. The other day, I was in such a funk and felt so bad about myself, that I started researching botox and fillers. Like, who the fuck am I? I used to talk mad shit about people under the age of 35 who had fillers and botox. I think I’m just looking for something to make me feel better, and internally starting with myself always seems like the answer to me. I know it is not though, and even if I did get botox, I’d still hate myself at the end of the day (well, not every day, but on the bad ones).

I really need to find a better balance between work and living (which definitely means finding a new job in the long-run, but right now seems like a bad time to leave a decent position, when I am lucky to even have a job since so many others are out of work). I also don’t want to end up at another place working for others, on their schedule. I want to work for myself, and I want to do something I am passionate about – which is cooking, writing, and saving the environment and animals to the extent that I can as an individual and through educating others (I know I am hypocrite, since I’m still eating cheese and seafood… but I’m fucking working on it, OK?).

I have been relatively good about my ‘no alcohol’ goal. It’s easy for me to go without wine and alcohol if I’m not in a social setting, or if I simply don’t buy a bottle of wine to bring home. I feel so much better without alcohol – it’s easier to wake up the next morning, I feel fresher, I look fresher… it’s just really hard to control myself when I finally am in a social setting and I start drinking with other. I don’t know what triggers it… well, actually I do. It’s probably a combination of finally relaxing and having some fun, as well as social anxiety that fuel me to always have one (or three) too many. Then, I am filled with regret and even more anxiety the next day, all hungover and wondering if I said or did anything inappropriate, offensive, or politically incorrect. I honest should just never drink again – not even in a party setting. ESPECIALLY, in a party setting.

I think I start drinking excessively to internally mask my own insecurities – never feeling like I am nice enough, outgoing enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, or funny enough… never feeling like I am enough to deserve love or friendship. The alcohol temporarily masks these feelings, but the next day is 100x worse when they all surface again, coupled with the anxieties that I’ve fucked up somehow. I started seeing a therapist for this shit right before last year’s quarantine. I think I’d gone to two sessions when everything went virtual, but for me, virtual counseling isn’t going to cut it. So I am on a long-term hiatus, stuck with these feelings that are mostly manageable, but some times lead me down a dark, rabbit-hole of self sabotage and erratic behaviors depending on the situation, lack of sleep, level of stress, state of inebriation, etc. I’m not sure how I can have such love and compassion for others and basically none for myself. It’s really baffling to me and others who know me.

I am looking forward to a very mini break in February, following my birthday. My boyfriend and I are going to New Hampshire for a few days, sans cats, so that will be relaxing. Tuna can wake someone else up at 5am each day. Someone else can clean his ass and wipe his eye boogers for a week. I cannot wait. I hope there is snow when we go – lots of snow. There should be, considering we will be in the White Mountains. We are staying at an inn this time, as opposed to an Airbnb, and that is also exciting. As much as I love having an entire house/hot tub etc. when we rent an Airbnb, it will be nice to NOT shop for any groceries, have someone else come in and make the bed each day, and have a restaurant right there where we are staying. I’m truly looking forward to it.

If you couldn’t already tell, this is the only thing that will be motivating me through the next month. I am thankful that it is Saturday today, and for the next two days I don’t have to have my fat ass parked in front of my work laptop. I’m going to get out for a 6 mile walk today and tomorrow. Not that this will negate the two packs of ramen noodles I ingested yesterday in my hungover state. But it’s a start.

Soup For the Soul – New Year’s Introspection and Borscht

Another year has come and gone, and we are back to the boring, dismal, no-holiday-having month that is January. I don’t mind winter – I honestly love winter, as long as there is snow and not the dreary, depressing rain that is falling today. Today’s nasty rain is especially devastating, since most of the pretty Christmas lights have been taken down and everyone has kicked their poor tree to the curb. If snow was falling, I don’t think the city would feel so drab right now. NYC currently feels like a hole I can’t escape from – but we’ll leave that topic for another day.

I always get sad when both Christmas and NYE are over…. people return to their foul, sour-faced, pretentious city-dweller dispositions instead of the fake, cheerful ones they assume during the holidays – smiling and wishing everyone well with a smile on their face. Now it’s back to avoiding eye contact and looking miserable with a sour face on the subway. If I ruled the world, every day would be Christmas! I kid, I kid…

Me and my “son,” Mr. Peeper (aka Peeps). We both love Christmas, cheese, and rolling around on the shag carpet

Now that the holidays are officially over, it is time to start planning something to look forward to again and working towards my New Year’s goals (hence me sitting here working on this blog). I am trying to invest more time into writing again, whether it’s about food, short-stories, or just general, self-centered thoughts. The older I have become, the harder it is to find enough time in the day for all the things I not only have to do, but want to do. Work, and commuting to and from work, takes up such a large portion of each day, week, month, and year, that I now truly understand why it is important to love the work you do…. If I can’t make a full time living doing what I want to do at this point in my life, I can at least devote as much time as possible to work towards those goals.

Between work, general household upkeep, maintaining my cat, maintaining relationships, cooking/cleaning, errands, and self-care, it sometimes seems like one more chore to make myself sit in front of my computer at night and write. Although, once I do sit down and start writing, it is never a chore; quite the opposite. Writing is like cooking is for me – pleasurable, relaxing, and often times hard to put a cap on it once I start.

Since we are in the throes of winter (despite the lack of snow thanks to global warming), my next few blogs will focus on comfort food and soups. Honestly though, I’m not sure who I’m trying to kid… pretty much everything I cook seems to constitute as comfort food, given that it’s usually laden with cheese, wine soaked, or carb heavy. Comfort food and comfort soup is the way to go when the weather is cold.

I had never made borscht before, but I had a craving for beets (I’ve always love beets and I always will…) and also for a thick, pureed soup, so it was only natural that borscht was on the menu! Since one of my other New Year’s goals is to completely cut out meat from my diet, I made a vegetarian borscht using vegetable stock in place of beef stock, and obviously did not put any beef in the soup.


  • 4 fresh, large beets (or 5-6 smaller ones) (**beets should be cleaned, skinned/peeled, and cubed)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 of a large white onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 large potato (Idaho or russet)
  • 1 cup thinly chopped cabbage
  • 2 bay leaves (dried are fine)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil and/or butter
  • 4 cups (one 32 oz. carton) of vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 TBS white vinegar
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream*to garnish
  • fresh dill *to garnish


  1. Prep the veggies – the beets should be washed, peeled (using a regular carrot/apple peeler), and cut into cube size chunks; carrots should be chopped, onion finely chopped, garlic finely minced, potato chopped into cubes, celery chopped, and cabbage thinly sliced and set aside (this will go in to cook when everything else has been blended)
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil and/or butter (I prefer a combination of the two for added richness) over low heat, add in the onions stirring occasionally and cooking over low-heat until translucent and yellow.
  3. Add in the garlic and bay leaves and continue to cook over low heat for another minute or two. DO NOT BURN GARLIC.
  4. Add in all of the other veggies, APART FROM THE CABBAGE (beets, carrots, celery, and potato), and then add in entire container of stock.
  5. Increase heat to medium temperature so that the contents of the pot comes to a low boil. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check to see that vegetables are thoroughly cooked (soft) by poking with a fork. I suggest testing the beets and potatoes this way, since they will be the last to finish cooking.
  7. Using an immersion blender or a ladle to move soup into an actual blender, blend around 3/4 of the contents of the pot of soup. This creates a rich, thick puree, but also leaves some chunks of veggies for texture and aesthetic.
  8. Continue to keep soup over medium heat once fully blended, add in the cabbage, smoked paprika, celery salt, pinch of cayenne, and regular salt/black pepper to suit your tastes (**the smoked paprika gives it a richer, smokier flavor and complements the earthiness of the beets!)
  9. Once the cabbage is cooked through, add in the vinegar and stir
  10. Serve hot, with a generous dollop of sour cream in the middle of the bowl (it takes it to another level that is orgasmic to the taste buds), and some fresh dill.

I also served some potato and cheese pierogies on the side to make it a heartier meal!!!! Very Eastern European…. but hey – when you’re just a boring, fourth-generation American, you’re allowed to pick and choose which 25% of your ethnic background you occasionally want to play up… on this day we went with the polski :p

Such a beautiful color – just be careful you don’t wear white while cooking 😉 Beets are also really good for you – not that I actually give a f*ck, but they’re loaded with fiber and vitamin C

There are so many other soup recipes I plan to share in the upcoming weeks; everything from my mom’s seafood chowder, to a thick-ass split pea soup, to a Tuscan bread soup called Ribollita. I just fucking love soup – I could probably live on a diet of soups, chowders, and stews!