Check out my latest interview with Laverne Cox for the NY Observer!

The Transformer: Laverne Cox’s Rising Star From ‘Diddy’ to ‘Orange is the New Black’

Laverne Cox at the premiere of Orange is the New Black.

Laverne Cox and I met at Good Stuff Diner in Chelsea last Spring, where she entered in an amazing floor length black dress, fishnets and heels. She’d just come from an event at Soho House for the premiere of Orange is The New Black, one of Netlfix’s most popular original series. We sat in a booth and ponder the menu. Miss Cox had a cup of chamomile tea and a salmon club sans bread, but they bring the bread anyway and it’s too good to resist.

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Check out my interview on with Beth Stern!

So happy and proud that allowed me to interview one of the nicest people, Beth Stern.  It’s always a pleasure working with Beth.  She is one of the sweetest compassionate and most beautiful women that I’ve encountered.

The Dodo is an awesome new animal awareness site!  PLEASE check it out.  I hope to write more for them in the future.

Last summer Beth and Howard Stern were having lunch with friends Billy Joel and his girlfriend, Alexis Roderick, when Joel unveiled his birthday plans: A concert at Madison Square Garden, where all the profits from the already sold-out show would go to Bianca’s Furry Friends, a foundation Beth Stern established in honor of her beloved bulldog Bianca who had passed away.

“I cried when he told me!” says Beth Stern.   

Read the whole story by clicking on the link above and follow them on Twitter!!! 

The expansion, named after the foundation, involves adding a second floor to the already existing shelter, which will make more room for not only kittens and cats, but dogs and puppies as well, expanding this animal kingdom to 14,000 square feet. It will include a 24-hour care nursery, outdoor habitats for the animals to freely explore, cage-free environments for the cats, examination rooms, a feline behavioral department and grooming stations. The expansion also will leave more room available for rescues from puppy mills on the first level of the facility.

Modern Friendships, by Phillip Lopate…

I haven’t been sure exactly on what to post this past week.  It’s been a bit crazy.

One thing that comes to mind is an essay that The New School had us read in a summer non-fiction writers intensive course I took about seven years ago.

That class saved my life that summer (thanks Mom and Dad for helping me attend) and I’m happy that I made a small number of friends that I’ve kept in touch with since then, and stepped on a path leading in the right direction.

I remember bits and pieces of that time, but what I really remember is this essay called Modern Friendships by Phillip Lopate. You can read it in it’s entirety by clicking that link.

Summarizing, it’s about…well…modern friendships.

You want your friends to celebrate happy moments with you, vice versa, and when things get tough you’ll give them a shoulder to cry on, and then cry on theirs.

The last paragraph of the essay has always gotten to me, especially the last sentence.

When I think about the qualities that characterize the best friendships I’ve known, I can identify five: rapport, affection, need, habit, and forgiveness. Rapport and affection can only take you so far; they may leave you at the formal, outer gate of goodwill, which is still not friendship. A persistent need for the other’s company, for their interest, approval, opinion, will get you inside the gates, especially when it is reciprocated. In the end, however, there are no substitutes for habit and forgiveness. A friendship may travel for years on cozy habit. But it is a melancholy fact that unless you are a saint you are bound to offend every friend deeply at least once in the course of time. The friends I have kept the longest are those who forgave me for wronging them, unintentionally, intentionally, or by the plain catastrophe of my personality, time and again. There can be no friendship without forgiveness.



Laverne Cox Transforms The Audience at the GLAAD Awards…From Newsweek

 From Newsweek 

Laverne Cox Transforms the Audience at the GLAAD Awards

Laverne Cox GLAAD
Actress Laverne Cox, left, and writer Janet Mock embrace each other at the 23rd annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York March 24, 2012. Andrew Kelly/Reuter

Laverne Cox remembers her first red carpet experience.  It was 2005 and she was on the rug at the Tribecca Film Festival, standing before the paparazzi. “I was in acting school and they gave some of the students the chance to walk the carpet,” she recalls. “Someone told me to pose in their direction.”  She vogued for the lens and then the photographer said, “Thanks, I’m just testing my camera.”

She continued her walk down the carpet, quietly.

Things have changed dramatically for Laverne Cox since then.  Starting as a contestant on VH1’s reality series I Want to Work For Diddy. (where she didn’t win a job with the rap mogul)  she has gone on to produce, write and star in VH1’s Transform Me, solidifying her role as a transgender advocate and bonafide TV star.  Her breakthrough role as trans hair dresser Sophie on the hit Netflix women-in-prison series Orange is the New Black has brought her to a completely new level of fame.

Cox has chosen to use her status as a means of educating others about transgender issues.  Fresh off a speaking engagement tour of over 44 universities across the United States, Cox continues tirelessly in her advocacy role, opening up to countless strangers about her experiences growing up and promoting trans awareness.  Her efforts were acknowledged when  GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) decided to honor her at its 25th annual Media Awards in Los Angeles.

The Stephen F. Kolzak Award (named for the late Hollywood casting director who fought against homophobia and for AIDS awareness in the entertainment industry) is presented each year to an openly LGBT individual in the media whose words or example promote the same values.  Sir Ian McKellen, John Waters and Ellen DeGeneres are past recipients.  Ms Cox is the first transgender female to be honored; Chaz Bono (2012)  was the first transgender male to receive the award.

“I just can’t believe I’m here,” she says.  “It’s surreal.”  Cox is in her bungalow room at the Beverly Hilton, unpacking after her flight from New York to Beverly Hills.  The hotel management has sent her a bottle of champagne by way of welcome.

“I don’t feel any different,” Cox says. “ I still feel like any other person who has issues and struggles.”

When a fan approached her by the pool, Cox took the time to listen.  “Sometimes there are moments where I can’t stop and take a photo with someone, and I feel awful, but I always try.”

Before the event Cox strives to take it all in stride:  “I’m going to have fun, and rock these gowns tomorrow.”  She’s excited to be working with a stylist for the first time, and will be wearing a stunning red Zac Posen gown on the carpet with a pair of Jimmy Choos’, and then a vibrant green Monique Lhullier gown during the actual awards ceremony.

“I’m a little starstruck that I’m going to be in the same room as J-Lo,” she admits.  Jennifer Lopez is being honored that same evening with the Vanguard Award, given to those who help promote equal rights for the LGBT community.

The morning of the awards, Ms. Cox tries to relax for what lies ahead with a massage and pedicure.  This before a full hair and makeup team primps her for primetime.  She’s just getting acclimated to all of the frenzy that comes with being the guest of honor.  When asked what’s on her mind beforehand, she says  it’s more a matter of who.

Cox is thinking about Monica Jones, an African-American transgender college student, who was found guilty on April 11th of “manifesting prostitution” in Arizona “She was in a certain neighborhood and arrested by the police,” says Cox. “This is purely based on suspicion that if there’s a trans woman in a certain neighborhood there’s an assumption that she is a prostitute.  She was walking, and just by being trans, found guilty.  I need to talk about Monica tonight.”

As she continues with her preparations Cox is unaware that GLAAD has flown her mother, Gloria Cox, from Mobile, Alabama, to surprise her onstage after she’s accepted her award.

“We talked about me coming out here, but it didn’t seem realistic at the time and it was last minute,” says Cox’s mother.  It was GLAAD that made the arrangements and footed the bill. “I’m happy I get to surprise her.”

“We had to have her mother be here.” said Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications at GLAAD.  “We really pushed for Laverne to get this honor.  This is her time and her moment.”  GLAAD has worked more than ever in the last year with the transgender community, making the “T” in LGBT more prominent with help from Cox.

This time her walk down the carpet is no acting exercise.  Everyone wants a photograph of her, everyone wants an interview.  And after she has obliged them, many reporters shyly ask if she’ll pose with them for selfies.

During the awards her mother proudly watches from the backstage green room, beside celebrities such as Rita Moreno; Lupita Nyong’o; GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz; host and comedian, Ross Mathews; and award presenter, Ellen Page.  After famously coming out at an LGBT youth conference in Las Vegas this past Valentine’s Day, Page says that Cox had inspired her to do so, even calling her one of her heroes.

After being introduced by Page, Laverne Cox gives an inspiring speech.

“I think it’s important for people to tell diverse stories,”  she says, referring to how her role on Orange is the New Black has impacted viewers.  “I don’t think Jenji Kohan when she was writing the show came up with the idea that she was going to change the way transgender people were represented on TV.  I think she said, ‘I just want to tell human stories.’  I think that should be the goal for everyone, that we tell diverse stories…each and every one of us has the capacity to be an oppressor.  I encourage each and every one of us to interrogate how we might be an oppressor, and how we might be able to become liberators for ourselves and each other. “

Before exiting the stage her mother joins her and the entire audience gives a standing ovation as they embrace.

Cox only stays a few minutes at the after party before she returning to her room where the celebration continues.  She orders french fries, chocolate cake and champagne for her friends and they debate whether or not she’ll be able to carry the heavy award with her in carry-on luggage.

“Do you think they’ll consider this a possible weapon?”  she asks, not realizing that when it comes to her cause, Cox is her own weapon.

She and her mother talk about the Beyonce concert they attended together; Cox was mobbed, as if she was the star.  “Security didn’t know what to do,” she says.

Some people still don’t.

Foster Pussycat!…From The New York Observer

From The New York Observer

Foster Pussycat

The model, the king of all media and the homeless cats.

Beth Stern

If it were humanly possible for Grace Kelly and Christie Brinkley to procreate, their spawn might resemble Beth Stern, a refined beauty with mesmerizing eyes and a genuine smile. Looking more West Coast than Pittsburgh, where she grew up, Ms. Stern—né Beth Ostrosky—came to Manhattan in 2000 to pursue a modeling and acting career. Her life changed a year later when she crossed paths with radio personality Howard Stern.

“We met at a dinner party at the Mercer Kitchen 15 years ago. I had no idea he would be a guest. We ended up sitting across from each other,” Ms. Stern said about meeting the man she married in 2008. “We’ve been together ever since. ”

While many women would go on The Howard Stern show to attempt to further their careers in the entertainment industry, vie for the attention of Playboy or seduce Howard himself, that was never Ms. Stern’s goal. A three-time FHM cover girl with various film and TV credits to her name, her first time on his show was about a year into their relationship. Now she’s a regular guest, but she’s not promoting anything other than pet adoption. “I usually have an animal agenda when I go on air with him,” she said.

Ms. Stern’s passion for animals was born of a childhood raised in a pet-filled family home. “We always had rescues,” she recalls, “our family dog, Suziedog, was my parents firstborn. She was a giant Collie mix. We had two cats, three guinea pigs and three chickens. Loving animals is in my blood.”

Beth Stern

Ms. Stern has used her spouse’s popular radio program to promote her love of animals and her work with the North Shore Animal League. When the couple first met, Mr. Stern had and one dog and one cat. She began fostering cats after their bulldog, Bianca, passed away in 2012. “When we lost Bianca a few summers ago, it was devastating,” she said. “Animals are part of the family. I had to go through grief counseling. My dog was like my child. I woke up one morning and said, “Before we adopt another dog, I have work to do.” Howard was 100 percent on board; I contacted my friends at North Shore Animal League America. ”

Knowing that municipal shelters often euthanized animals, she started going to the shelters herself, grabbing litters of kittens and harnessing the power of her husband’s radio show to save their lives.

“I brought them home, and using my husband’s show, we found homes for them. He photographed the kittens, talked about them on air. He named them, and I personally delivered them to the families. We’re still going. We’ve fostered almost over 50 cats. Five rescues that we call our own. “

Mrs. Stern is gearing up to start saving more. “May and June is the beginning of kitten season. Most shelters are just filled with kittens during these months and need the help.”

At one time, the Sterns had a total of 15 kittens under their roof. This past summer, they fostered and found loving homes for 41 kittens and one English Bulldog. When it comes to rescuing, Ms. Stern won’t stop. Even when it comes to animals that may be a little out of the ordinary, she’ll make sure they get the help they need.

“No exotic pets; I think my husband would kill me. No reptile fostering. But Howard and I both work closely with the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons. If there were a hurt reptile in our yard, we would transport it to the center promptly.”

TV is fair game, however. It was the perfect fit when she was approached to host the Hallmark Channel’s first annual Kitten Bowl, which aired on Super Bowl Sunday and featured kittens playing football in their own miniature stadium on Astroturf. A total of 71 kittens participated, each available for adoption. Other notable animal lovers involved included New York Yankees announcer John Sterling, Nicky Hilton, Regis Philbin, Rachel Ray and Hoda Kotb. Kitten Bowl was so successful that Hallmark has already planned another game for next year.

Ms. Stern’s considerable charisma isn’t incidental to her the show’s success. “She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” said infamous JD Harmeyer, known as JD the Intern to Stern fans. “She has a big heart, and she really wants people to have animals to love.”

The Sterns are currently on a mission to help expand North Shore Animal League by adding a 14,000-square-foot facility. The project is known as Bianca’s Furry Friends.

Beth Stern

“Upstairs is going to be a cage-free cat environment. I just feel that when you go into shelters and see an animal in a cage, they’re not happy. I want them to be thriving in the time that they’re waiting for their forever homes,” said Ms. Stern.

The addition will add more space for canines in the downstairs area to be rescued from puppy mills and for adult dog rescues. “It’s two-fold: The dogs benefit, and the kitties benefit.”

To contribute, one can go to the North Shore Animal League website and make a donation. In exchange, you will be given a limited-edition 2014 calendar. Each month features a photo of animals up for adoption, posing alongside Ms. Stern. The calendar’s photographer: none other than Mr. Stern, who has taken up photography on the side, with all of his proceeds going to North Shore.

Others are following suit. Billy Joel, who recently rescued a pug from the North Shore Animal League, is donating the earnings of his sold-out, May 9 birthday show at Madison Square Garden to the cause. (Readers can help too, at or

Until the facility is built, the Sterns will likely have a lot more company. “I feel that people think cats are second fiddle to dogs,” said Ms. Stern. “Cats are incredible pets.”

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The Bergdorf Experiment….from The New York Observer

From The New York Observer 

The Bergdorf Experiment: Why You Should Dress Like Crap

If you're going to shop at Bergdorf, dress like this.

If you’re going to shop at Bergdorf, dress like this.

Those who want top-notch customer service at the likes of Bergdorf Goodman may do well to stop by after SoulCycle class. That’s my conclusion after road testing a Harvard Business School study that associated star treatment in luxury retail stores with wearing sweats.

Yes, that’s right—leave the fur and leather at home. “It’s been found that under certain conditions, nonconforming behaviors, such as not following the expected dress code or the appropriate professional conduct in a given context, can signal higher status,” associate professor Francesca Ginowrote in her conclusion. “In our research, shop assistants working in boutiques selling luxury brands in Milan assigned greater status to the woman wearing gym clothes and a jean jacket rather than to the woman properly dressed. When the deviant behavior appears to be deliberate, it can lead to higher status inferences rather than lower ones.” The same apparently goes for clean-shaven/disheveled men.

To investigate this counterintuitive finding, I rolled out of bed one Wednesday morning and into Bergdorf Goodman, sporting sweats, hiking boots and a zebra-print beanie with dirty unbrushed hair underneath. Other noteworthy accessories: oversize sunglasses, a Venti Starbucks cup, a T-shirt with Abraham Lincoln holding a kitten on it and a canvas Trader Joe’s shopping bag. I kept my sunglasses on. “I’m a celebrity,” I told myself. “I have money and power.”

I immediately went to the beauty level and waited for help.  The Tom Ford people could’ve cared less. At Chanel, it was about five minutes before a cosmetic sales rep ran up to me. I inquired about anti-aging products. He asked if I could remove my sunglasses. I declined.

“I just had Botox, I’m so paranoid about the bruising. Please understand.” No problem! He applied product around my sunglasses, and then leaned down and asked the golden question.

“Are you an actress?” he said in a hushed tone.

“Oh, no!” I laughed.  “But if I were, who do you think I would be?”

He paused and said, “Nicolette Sheridan, a younger version.” Michael Bolton was never my type, but she’s pretty. I was satisfied.

I was shown a trio of products in the Chanel Sublimage family totaling more than  $1,220. Knowing I couldn’t afford a single one of them, I had to slip out of the situation gracefully. I told my new friend I had to bounce for my weekly blow-out but would return. We embraced tightly. After I left, he chased me halfway around the store, because I had forgotten my samples at the counter.

Next stop was Dry Bar in Le Parker Meridian, conveniently located close to Bergdorf. I would return after my high-maintenance transformation. “Make me look as pretentious as possible,” I instructed. “I want people to be staring at how big my hair is. I want to look like a bitch.” I chose the look on their hair menu known as Southern Comfort.

I now was dressed in a gray trench coat, black dress and black kitten-heeled boots. Notable accessories for round two: a Missoni wrap, a Louis Vuitton pouchette, a toy poodle named Mishka.

Not this.

Some associates feigned smiles from afar, not budging when I’d make my way over. Upstairs in the shoe department, I spent a good seven minutes loitering in front of the Chanel shoes, while two salespeople carried on a long conversation about lunch. I waited for a simple “How can we help you?”  None came.

Making my way to accessories, the woman at the scarf counter kept her head down. I then arrived at sunglasses. The salesperson seemed annoyed by my little dog but still was willing to help. I complimented the Pradas in a locked display case but was shown frames all under $300. Finally, after my third hint, he reluctantly took out his keys and let me try on a pair for $795. I told him I’d make my husband come back later and buy them for me. He had no hopeful look in his eye; he probably knew I was a poseur. I couldn’t exactly argue. I gathered up Mishka and went home.

I can’t say I got five-star service on either visit, but the sweats were marginally more effective in attracting full attention. Deviance achieved, I guess. I wanted to reach Bergdorf to follow up on my experiment, but several phone calls to the P.R. department went unreturned. Maybe I should go in wearing yoga pants

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Never Feel Bad About Your Neck Again. Ever.

Or Your Hands, Underarms, or Eyelashes. These Beauty Treatments Will Make You the Fairest of Them All

Looking GoodGrowing up I was so deathly afraid of needles that I refused to even get my ears pierced. Then something happened that changed everything.

I got the “elevens.”

Those two little marks between one’s eyes, technically known as Glabellar lines, changed my outlook on how much pain I’d endure for beauty. People started asking me, “Are you tired?” and “Is something bothering you? You look mad.” Every time I would hear these comments, I would scrunch my face in dismay, so those lines only became deeper and more prominent.

Something had to be done. If effective anti-aging treatments meant dealing with a few needles, so be it-—I was on a race to turn back time. I’d gotten used to Botox and Juvederm, but I’d heard the Vampire Facial, otherwise known as the PRP Facial, was the newest, hottest thing that I must, must, must try.

But I was terrified. With good reason! I’d seen Kim Kardashian have a vampire facial on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and she’d screamed in pain.

But vampires do look young and beautiful (at least they do on True Blood) and Kim Kardashian doesn’t look angry.

Still, I immediately breathed a sigh of relief when I found out that the cause of Miss Kardashian’s pain was likely the fact that her technician had done the treatment using microneedling. Fountain Medical Group uses a laser instead—which cuts treatment time in half, and pain down to a bare minimum.

Perhaps I was right to be wary of needles all along. Though I was still a little worried about exactly how the doctors would be using that laser.

I took a deep, calming breath and resolved to let the doctors work their magic.

First, they applied topical anesthetic to the area to be treated. In my case, that area was my forehead, but it can also be used on body parts, and is especially effective on small areas, such as your hands, décolletage and neck. “Those ‘problem spots’ usually show faster signs of maturing than the face,” Dr. Todd Schlifstein informs me.

Then two syringes of blood are drawn from the arm (which is about two teaspoons—much less than is taken when you give blood). The blood is put into a centrifuge chamber, and then injected into the area you wish to treat, either by needles or by lasers. Once it’s injected into your skin, the new blood helps thicken the dermis underneath, which helps smooth and soften fine lines and wrinkles.

My bravery was rewarded with a healthy, youthful glow that even vampiric murderess Elizabeth Bathory would envy.

But if you want to follow it up with some less bloody procedures, we’ve got a few we recommend:

Dr. Lionel Bissoon
Mesotherapie and Estetik
10 West 74th Street Suite 1E, New York, NY, 212-579-9136

Stop wearing a Chanel jacket year-round to hide your underarm jiggle. Instead, try Mesotherapy.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s the only effective medical treatment to treat cellulite,” says Dr. Bissoon.

It’s an ideal treatment for people with double chins, fatty triceps, leg or abdominal cellulite, or just small areas of fat that just won’t budge from working out.

Results vary for each individual, and sometimes multiple treatments are required—though the treatment time varies depending on how big the targeted area is. The process can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.  Small needles, which penetrate the middle layer of your skin, are filled with a custom blend of homeopathic minerals, pharmaceuticals, vitamins and amino acids.

We’re pretty sure that it means you can retire that Chanel jacket for a while.

Luminique MedSpa
Dr. Michael Fiorillo
350 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 212-647-0007

A cooler alternative for liposuction has arrived. That’s great news for anyone who thinks liposuction seems a little bit invasive, which it absolutely is.

That’s not the case with CoolSculpting. While having this treatment administered, patients lie on a comfortable table. A suction-type device is placed on the desired area, which is typically a “fat bulge”—an area that the machine squeezes, then freezes between two cooling plates. The process takes approximately one hour per each treated area, but multiple areas can be treated at the same time if desired.

Dr. Fiorillo, who has done the treatment himself, says, “Some people come in on their lunchbreak from work. Most people watch a movie or read a book during the procedure.”

It’s estimated that you can lose up to 20 per cent of fat from the area you’ve had treated.

Fiorillo promises that, “When you leave the clinic, your pants will feel looser.”

Eyelash Transplants
Foundation For Hair Restoration
60 East 56th Street, Third Floor, New York, NY, 646-480-1353

Fantastic if you hate applying false eyelashes as much as I do—and if you want something more permanent than eyelash extensions (nobody wants to go in every two weeks for upkeep). With eyelash transplants you’ll look like a French film-noir star, and you’ll save a fortune on mascara.

The procedure involves hair being removed from the back of your own scalp and then transported to the lash line.  The procedure can take up to two hours, during which the patient is given an oral sedative while 25 to 50 hairs are implanted on the upper eyelid.

Be careful to do your research beforehand. “This is a delicate procedure that must be done correctly to minimize complications and maximize re-growth,” says Dr. Jeffrey Epstein.

The main thing to remember is that once the implants are done it takes up to six months to see results. But after you start seeing them, you’ll be astonished by the growth. Many patients have to trim their lashes once or twice a month to keep them from getting too long.  The same procedure is also available for those who wish to enhance their eyebrows.

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How To Tell If Your Shrink Sucks (and then fire them)..from Gawker, Jezebel, XoJane

Appeared on Gawker, Jezebel and XoJane…

How To Tell if Your Shrink Sucks (and then fire them)

I knew that it was time to find a new doctor after she suggested I lie to my ex-boyfriend (I didn’t even want to get back together with him) and say that I was pregnant. Even in my crazy, unstable state of mind — I knew that this was not the advice that seemed helpful.

I’ve had just about as many psychologists, shrinks and guidance counselors as I have had sexual partners … and all I’ll say to that is: I’ve had more than four and less than 70. Finding a good professional that you can talk it out with is seriously like finding a good hairdresser. The first few times you see them, they want to do their best; it’s that honeymoon period of excitement. Both parties want it to work out. They want to make you happy and keep you coming back for more.

Once they’ve got you reeled in, they might starting getting a little too comfortable and push the limits — (you know, like chopping an extra five inches off of your hair because THEY think it’s best for you). Usually one of two things happen: You live happily ever after with your shrink and keep seeing them. OR, things start to get not so nice after they’ve had a few months to gain your trust and suck you in.

It can be easy to confuse someone being a dickwad with a professional attempting to give you a dose of tough love and reality that you’re paying to hear. However the delivery and in the manner which the therapist chooses to do so, can make all of the difference.

How to Tell if Your Doctor SUCKS.

I started seeing Dr. S about 3 ½ years ago when I was in the midst of my alcoholism. At first she was nice and gave me a student rate of $50 an hour, and offered me cookies! Then one day she suddenly told me that my rate had gone up to $75 and expected me to fork over the extra cashright then and there (no snacks at that session).

She watched me struggle as I rummaged through my pocketbook for singles and loose change to pay for the sudden price increase, and even suggested that I go to an ATM if I was short on cash. So NOT cool Dr. S!

Our sessions got shorter and shorter. Ending 20 to 30 minutes early. Throughout this whole ordeal it became very obvious to me that Dr. S did not like me. She would scold me for having a water bottle on her couch. If my cell phone rang, she’d get angry at me … but if HER phone rang, she could answer it.

I started rebelling by saying that if my phone rang I could answer it because I was paying to be there and it was MY time. She didn’t like that … but I was right.

If you leave your therapy session more upset than when you come in, that’s a pretty good sign that your doctor is a douche. A good therapist will make sure you’ve calmed down so when you walk out the door you won’t feel like jumping off of the Empire State Building. And many times, I felt just that lousy after spending a hellacious hour-or less-with Dr. S.

Things came to a head when Dr. S decided to use her time with me as her lunch break. Granted, she did offer me some potato chips from time to time…but still, NOT cool. She also started imposing her personal beliefs on me and became quite judgmental. As soon as she started going off about her adamant annoyance with homosexuality, I knew that maybe it was time to say adios.

This also happened around the time she yelled at me, “You’re an alcoholic and you need help!” Words I didn’t like to hear, but because of that statement which was so bold, harsh and made me cry, I DID check myself into a program which saved my life. It only took a week of me sobering up to realize that I didn’t have to put up with her anymore.

This is what I emailed to her: “Dr. S, Thank you for your time with me. I have decided to take a different direction in how I will approach therapy from now on as I enter sobriety. Best of luck to you.” (Feel free to copy and paste if you’d like to send this to your shrink you’d like to fire!)

Dr. S wrote back a simple. “OK. Good luck.”

Of course I wanted her to fight for me to stick with her, but by then I knew we didn’t like each other. The poor woman really must’ve needed that extra $75 I gave her each week.

I then started seeing an extremely sweet soft-spoken woman, Dr. A. She told me that she didn’t usually work with patients, but evaluated them and placed them with other doctors. In this case, however, she would personally take me on.

Dr. A would make me lay on a couch with a piece of paper over a pillow, in a very bland medicinal room with muted Van Gogh art prints and several boxes of Kleenex. I didn’t like laying down. She asked why. She asked “Why” a lot.

I spent our sessions doing all of the talking, spilling my guts out, working myself up into a frenzy, and when it was time to leave, I’d be frustrated. After working with Dr. A for about a month, I realized I liked her a lot as a person, but as a medical professional it just wasn’t working. I made the dreaded phone call. “

Hi Dr. A, I don’t think I’m going to be able to see you anymore.”


“It’s just not working for me, and I really wish it was, but it’s not helping and I’m not feeling any change in my progress.”

“Well, maybe we should talk about it,” she said.

“No, I don’t want to talk about it because I know that I’m done, and I really am sorry because I think you’re a great person, but this isn’t working for me and what I need in my life right now.”

I heard in her voice that she really was disappointed, but she wasn’t going to force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. We hung up. I cried. Dr. A was the sweetest therapist ever, but when it came down to it, it wasn’t working. If I had her number now, I’d call her and thank her for being a sweetheart.

Now I’m working with a therapist on an as-needed basis. He doesn’t force me to come in. If he pisses me off, I tell him, but that’s usually because he’s telling me something that I need to hear and work on. He gives me a dose of tough love if and when I need it.

Therapists WILL tell you things about yourself that you won’t like to hear, but part of therapy is being willing and open to change. Once a therapist personally attacks you, purposely forces you to dwell on something that is traumatic and that you’re not ready to deal with yet, imposes and tries to force their personal beliefs on you…that’s when there is a problem. Therapy isn’t always fun, but it shouldn’t be something you dread and walk out of feeling less than.

The most important thing to realize about working with any therapist? They are working for YOU on your dime! And if something doesn’t feel kosher about your situation with them, it’s your right to cut the cord and find help elsewhere. After all, it’s your life.

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission.


I Went To Prom With Andrew Rannells…from The Gloss

From The Gloss

I Went To Prom With Andrew Rannells…

Yes, I went to prom not once, but TWICE with Andrew Rannells. Go ahead and be jealous. He was an amazing date! We ripped up the dance floor and he got me the most spectacular orchid corsage that I want to replicate for my wedding. We posed for this picture on purpose, quite dramatically. Andrew and I caused quite the commotion at this event. It was in Omaha, Nebraska at an ALL boys Catholic school event where women where allowed to venture onto campus once a year on this magical night.

Did we go all the way on prom night? I don’t kiss and tell, but hey…I went with him twice, so I must of made some kind of lasting impression. Or maybe he agreed to this interview out of fear of blackmail. Either/or.

Andrew recently finished a stellar run in Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s, Book Of Mormon. Where his role of Elder Price got him a Tony Nomination, and after that, things just took off. You may know him as Elijah, from Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow‘s awesomely controversial HBO series, Girls (Hannah’s ex-boyfriend, who turned out to be gay), then appearing alongside Kirstin Dunst and Isla Fisher as “freelance stripper” Manny, in Leslye Headland‘s hysterical film, Bachelorette. Now what is Andrew up to? Doing something that Broadway actors dream of…making the crossover to Hollywood and starring in Ryan Murphy‘s The New Normal, with heavy hitters, Justin Bartha (Hangover) and Ellen Barkin (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and so much more…)

Andrew graciously took the time to take an interview with me! Like I said, I must’ve done something right on that prom date.

You’ve been on Broadway working constantly for years, doing Hairspray and Jersey Boys, and then Book Of Mormon came along. Did you have any idea how popular the show was going to become?

I immediately loved the script and score. I was so exited about the show. I knew that some people might find some of the language offensive, but I definitely knew that we would find our audience. I don’t think anyone thought it would be a huge of a hit as it is though.

Girls has been a controversial show and your character is kind of a dick. But he’s hysterical, and I love his brutal honesty. Your character in The New Normal is completely different?

Yes, pretty different. Bryan is much more together than Elijah and is in a very different place in his life. I don’t think Elijah would be a very good father…ever. There is certain amount of sass that both characters share, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Was there a defining moment you had where you realized that you were kind of becoming a big deal?

Well that’s nice of you to say, but I don’t really see that. I have been given some wonderful opportunities in the past couple years and I am very grateful for that. I am just thrilled to be working so much and with such incredible people.

I’m going to reveal a secret about you: You’re an extremely talented writer. Do you have plans for crossing over into producing, directing, or some kind of screenplay?

Thank you! I would love to write something. Right now it’s just finding the story I would like to tell. But I definitely have hopes of doing that in the near future. Maybe we should write something together…

Okay, let’s talk about some fun stuff now. One thing I love about you, is that you have a great sense of style, and you love helping your girlfriends prevent fashion mishaps. What’s the number one piece of advice you want to tell women about how they can prevent fucking up their look?

Oh god, I don’t know if I am qualified to give that advice. I would say that as long as you feel confident in what you are wearing, as long as you feel comfortable, then fuck what anyone else thinks. That said, I am not a fan of Jeggings. Sorry, Jessica Simpson.

Before going to Los Angeles for The New Normal, you had only been there a few times. Are Californians THAT different from New Yorkers? Are you getting into any weird LA habits? Are you going to check out The Church of Scientology?
Ha! No Scientology for me. It IS really different, but I am really liking it! I have lived in New York for 15 years so this is a lovely change for me. I really enjoy the driving. I basically just drive from Whole Foods to Target to the BevMo to Trader Joe’s. I love it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give anyone? I’m talking from stockbrokers to housewives.

Goals are important. They can change, they can evolve, but I think that is important to always have something to strive for.

Do you have any fun recipes you’d like to share?


Growing up in Nebraska, we both sang along with Broadway soundtracks together and idolized various Broadway stars. How does it make you feel knowing that there are young adults in the Midwest doing the exact same thing now, and looking up to you? That must be a really amazing thing to wrap your head around?

I am not going to lie, it is amazing. I lived for those Broadway cast recordings and the dream of one day being on one so it is a real dream come true. Truly. I feel so lucky to have gotten to do what I dreamed of doing as a kid. I feel very proud of that. And this new adventure I am on is so exciting and so unexpected. I am absolutely loving it.

Justifying My Sobriety…from The Fix


Justifying My Sobriety

Trying to talk to friends—even close ones—about my addiction and recovery has proven one thing: a lot of people out there just don’t get it.

None for me, thanks Photo via

When you’re a recovering alcoholic or addict, you quickly discover that a number of people out there in the world simply do not understand addiction. Unfortunately, you will find that some of them are your friends.

I’ve encountered this attitude quite a bit during my three years of sobriety and I’ve just had to assume that these people have never had any drama with addiction in their own lives—which is surprising, considering that many of them are part of my drunken past. But I was always the one instigating and encouraging: doing shots, buying rounds, chugging bottles. My drinking would then continue once I got home, and would linger on into the next day. It was something I tried to hide from them.

I realized that’s perhaps why she felt I could have “just that one” drink: it helped to justify the pathshe took.

They are people who can handle occasional boozing and partying and I support their choice to keep doing it. But the truth is that I don’t envy social drinkers. I marvel at them—I simply don’t understand how they can stop after just a few drinks—but I don’t want to be them.

The conversations tend to go something like this:

ME: Yeah, I’m three years sober this Saturday.

THEM: Oh that’s great, are you going to go out and celebrate?

ME: Yes, probably dinner.

THEM: Are you going to have champagne? You really should! You should have a glass of champagne, just one glass! That’s so cool!

ME: Well, why would I drink alcohol to celebrate the fact that I stopped?

Awkward silence. Conversation over. If it’s a woman, she will often later bring up the idea that she wants to come to AA meetings with me because she thinks it would be a great way to lose weight and meet hot guys.

Getting sober was a major decision for me; it had essentially come down to whether or not I was going to live or die. I went to extremes to make sure it would work—we’re talking outpatient detox and rehab to the tune of several thousand dollars. But I didn’t flinch at the bill; I hazily threw it on my credit card, knowing on a certain level that I was paying to get my life back. No one was making me pursue recovery; I wanted to.

When I called my close friends and family to share the news, they were all supportive but mostly confused.

“Can’t you just drink Monday through Friday?” I heard. “Maybe take weekends off?”

“So if you go to an AA meeting, it’s okay if you want to have drink after, right? Because going to AA makes it okay?”

“Why do you have to get medicine to stop drinking? Can’t you just stop?”  These were people who thought delirium tremens were a myth and easily solved by mimosas.

“I think this sober thing is really great, but I don’t understand why you have to make it such a big deal about it.” A family member actually said that to me.

“Oh you’re not gonna drink anymore? That’s cool. Maybe a beer at Christmas though right?” That was another family member.

Then there were the very few who simply said, “That’s great and I’m here for you.” Or: “Yes, I knew you had a problem but I didn’t want to say anything.”

I’ve always felt like I had an amazing support system when it came to career and other matters, so it was a shock to discover that the same was not true when it came to alcoholism and addiction,. But nothing could have prepared me for the conversation I recently had with one of my college friends.

She started talking to my fiancé, Eric, who has been sober for 10 years, about one of her co-workers who had crazy emotional outbursts during happy hour after work each day. Then the discussion turned to the subject of drug use and alcoholism—about how some people can just stop after one drink and others cannot.

“Oh, Randi can take or leave alcohol,” my friend said. “I think she could have just one glass of wine every once in a while.”

This was a surprise. Eric and I remained silent. The way she said it made it seem like she was expecting me to jump into the conversation and agree with her. For the 15 years I’ve known her, we’ve agreed on a lot of the same things. But not this time.

“No, I can’t,” I said. “I cannot just have one glass of wine or a drink and be fine with it. Alcoholism doesn’t work that way. You can’t just have one drink. You just can’t.”

I could tell that she was frustrated and almost upset that I wasn’t siding with her.

But I was, too: I had assumed that she knew I had struggled with getting sober.

Then something else occurred to me: a few years earlier, she’d entered an inpatient program for opiates. She had never gotten into the details about her experience, other than to mention how bad the food was at the facility and how awful their bedding was. She summarized the experience as a time at “ghetto summer camp,” always speaking about it lightly. She’s now she’s on benzodiazepines, having essentially replaced one drug with another. And I realized that’s perhaps why she felt I could have “just that one” drink: it helped to justify the path she took.

“All I’m just saying is that I really think you could have a drink, just one, and be fine,” she said.

At a certain point, Eric excused himself to walk the dog and I naively continued to plead my case with my friend, trying to tell her how much my life had improved since I had gotten sober. “Look at my life now,” I said. “I think we can both say I’m 200% happier than I was when I was drinking. I’m living again. I have a healthy relationship. I’m responsible. I’m doing things that I was never able to do when I was drinking. I think I’ve changed a lot. Am I the only one who sees this?”

I looked at her, all but begging for validation.

“I do think you’re a lot stronger,” she finally admitted and for a second I actually thought I had gotten through to her. But then she laid it on me again. “That’s why I know you could have a drink and be fine with it once in awhile. Only if you wanted to, though, and I’d never make you, of course.”

I felt like I was talking to someone that I didn’t know. Eventually, I changed the subject—something I probably should have done much earlier. But I’ve had so many questions since then that I know I’ll never ask her. Does this mean that when I got sober, she didn’t believe it or even take it seriously? Did she think I wanted to go drop almost 10 G’s on detoxing and rehab for the fun of it? Does she not get that my “Livesober” Soberisexy bracelet is more than just a fashion statement and that the AA coin I keep in my purse means something? It was as if she thought I was going through some kind of “healthy” phase that I’d throw away for a Jager bomb as soon as the wind blew in the other direction. Or was this all part of her—perhaps subconscious—justification for her own behavior?

As time has passed since then, I’ve realized that my issues are my own and that if my sharing them with other people makes them question their own potential issues with drinking or drugging, that’s their business. My college friend and I still gossip about mutual friends, talk about pop culture and go shopping together. But I’ll never discuss my addiction with her again and I don’t need to. I know I’m an alcoholic and that’s good enough for me.

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