Hustle Hard Interview Project: Harv & Cal

HHpost famjam
To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I started the Hustle Hard Interview Project. Each month for the next year, I’ll be interviewing one Hustler who embodies a skill or a quality I admire. I hope to uncover some gems that bring me one step closer to being a fully-formed adult.



I’ve been in a deep funk lately. When I woke up with The Gloom a few weeks ago, I chose the course of action I thought was best- I ignored it. I apply this grown-up approach to almost everything unpleasant in my life. Avoidance usually leads to one of three outcomes. 1. The un-good goes away on its own (top two in this category: hormonal acne and insolent children on airplanes). 2. I eventually deal with it (This most often pertains to household chores. I swear to God when I say this: There is only a finite number of times you can turn a pair of socks inside out before your life spirals out of control.). 3. I keep ignoring it, and it keeps NOT going away (top two: parking tickets and depression).

A bout of blue here and there isn’t unusual for me. I try my best not to wallow because the longer I swat away the goodness in my life to focus on my goddamn feelings, the harder it is for me to remember how to be happy. When it started a few weeks ago, I put on a happy face for the first few days, got out of bed, and tried to fix myself up so I didn’t look homeless. Then, one morning, I just said Fuck this bullshit and stayed in bed. For, like, days.

My family graciously carried around the extra burden of having a non-functioning member without guilting or shaming me. One morning before school, Cal knocked softly on my bedroom door before peeking her head in. “You know, Mommy, a rock isn’t just a rock. If it’s a rock on the side of the road, it’s okay to ignore it. But if it’s a rock in my shoe, I have to sit on the curb and take my shoe off and get the rock out or I can’t walk right. I think you have a rock in your shoe.”

I thanked Cal for her wisdom, and then I laughed the kind of deep and roaring laughter where sound ceases and you eventually end up coughing because your body needs air.

The Ride or Dies in our lives will always give it to us straight without being cruel or careless.

The family we are born into and the family we eventually create can be two totally different experiences if we want them to be. My biggest hope is that Cal’s first family experience is the one that teaches her about love and patience and compassion and forgiveness. It wasn’t my first family experience, but I’ve learned about these goodnesses through the family I’ve created- Harv and Cal. My ride or dies.

(Originally, I had planned to post this as April’s Hustle Hard Interview. However, the bulk of my waking hours have been devoted to wallowing and doing jack shit for the past few weeks. I’m now addressing that rock in my shoe. Things are looking up.)

EJL: First things first. Who’s your favorite rapper?

Harv: I thought you said this was going to be a serious interview.

Cal: I like show tunes.

EJL: Can you please not make this the hardest interview I’ve ever done? Sheesh.

Harv: Fine. My favorite rapper is that Chain guy. The one with that music video you made me watch twice yesterday.

EJL: Uh. 2 Chainz? Please never reference him as “that Chain guy” in public. I only showed you that video because you said a rap video couldn’t be tasteful or artistic.

Cal: Mine is the one that says “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday. We’re gonna party like it’s your birthday,” because you sing it to me every year on my birthday, but you bleep out all the bad words.

EJL: That’s 50 Cent, babe. Since you brought up the birthday song tradition, can you guys tell me what your favorite family tradition is?

Harv: Our Saturday morning trips to the farmers market. Even though you refuse to wait until the end of the trip to buy all of the heavy items because you’re afraid someone might buy “your” squash. Hey, are you going to mention that you didn’t know my birthday for the first two years of our marriage?

EJL: Stop.

Cal: I like our Mother/Daughter trips to Las Vegas every year because you always let me pick the activities. You said that cat circus was highway robbery, but I still think it was the best thing we did on our last trip.

EJL: Those trips are some of my fondest memories. And I appreciate that you’ve adopted my buffet philosophy: No breads. No fruits. Easy on the liquids. Start with the most expensive stuff first.

This question is just for you, Harv. A lot of people think it’s weird that we got married after dating for only 18 days. Well, no one’s really said that to my face, but I think it’s because they have manners. What compelled you to take that chance? And don’t say love or kismet, because I’m not tryna make this into a Hallmark special.

Harv: I don’t think you’re supposed to set parameters like that, but those weren’t my first thoughts anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I do love you, but I married you because I knew my life would never be boring. So, my answer is entertainment value.

EJL: That’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me.

This isn’t really part of the interview, but if I’m serving milk and cereal for dinner tonight, what do you think would make a good side dish?

Cal: I thought you said you weren’t going to do that anymore.

EJL: Yes, I did say that, didn’t I? We’d better wrap this up then, because I’ve got some microwaving to do. What do you think our family motto should be?

Cal and Harv (at the exact same time, like they rehearsed this shit): Keep it real.

A big shout-out to my family for keeping it real all day, eryday. Thank you for loving me, even when I didn’t love myself.

P.S. I’m so stoked to be a joining Alpha Mom as a monthly contributor! I rarely allow Cal to read anything I write, but she will definitely be keeping up with my new series: “Dear Cal: Advice To My Teenage Daughter.”

P.P.S. For not-seen-on-this-blog pictures, follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). For (t)hug life thoughts and lots of random shit, like the Flourish in Progress Facebook page. You will probably not be sorry.

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  • Vivian

    Haha, you & your beautiful family are too much! I love it! I totally get where you’re coming from. The family you’re born into is def diff than the family you create and I hope my kids will appreciate the family and life I’m trying to build for them. I love Harv’s reasoning for why he married you. You, my dear, are anything BUT boring!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, you are creating such a great environment for the kids. All book lovin’ and small moments appreciatin.

      I bet Harv secretly wishes it was just a tad more boring around here. =)

  • Victor

    I’m tearing a little right now. I’ve been in one of those moods for a few days and this made me laugh my ass off. This was the BEST INTERVIEW EVER! Liz, you f-ing rock and so does your family.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I have found that foods high in hydrogenated oils and empty calories are a magic bullet for my moods. I highly recommend it.

      May sadness forget you and goodness surround you. I think I stole that from Madonna.

  • Amy

    Thanks for keeping it real. Truly.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank YOU for always supporting and encouraging.

  • Alison

    “Entertainment value.” Seriously awesome family you have there! :)

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Most def. They are awesome and one day, I hope to do them proud.

  • Jennifer Clark

    Cal is one smart kid. And Harv is a treasure.

    Depression is nothing to screw around. I know. Call if you need to talk.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Miss you, ma. xo

      • you gotsars!

        I was thinkin the same as Ms Clark. Maybe we need that potato juice dinner soon! My bi-polar express hits a hard hill sometimes. The upside… there’s an upside.

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          I bet the upside will be easier to spot after a potato juice dinner.

          • you gotsars!

            On occasion, it needs to happen.

  • Laura Bezzeg

    From the sounds of it Cal can teach most adults a lot about love, patience, compassion and forgiveness. She is wise beyond her years. She was not born that way, she has absorbed from you and Harv. Good job, you’ve created what you missed out on.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Dang, that would be baller as fuck if I could claim even a sliver of credit for Cal’s goodness. Thank you for putting that kind and encouraging thought into my head.

      • Margarita Quezada

        You are fucking awesome and you know it! =) I’ve been reading your blog and I have to say I can really relate to it.

  • Elizabeth Aquino

    I loved this.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Not even close to your amazing writing, mami.

  • kimchi_mom

    “The Ride or Dies in our lives will always give it to us straight without being cruel or careless.”


    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Took me, like, forever to figure this out.

      At least I know it now. xo

  • Trophy Wife

    Cal really is smarter than me…

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You are always so funny. The smart kind of funny. And hot. ;)

  • Rainadustbowlstory

    I don’t get “ride or die” with people who stick with you?

    Is it because they tell you to ride or they’ll kill you?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That would be pretty gangster if that was the ultimatum.

  • Megan Gordon

    Can I tell you how much I love that your husband’s name is Harv? It reminds me of the old TV series “Cagney and Lacey” (look it up). I admit that I was really hoping Harv would be a nerdy Jewish guy, but I guess he’ll do. ;)
    Glad you’re coming around. The darkness is a big pain in the ass. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      SERIOUSLY. Ain’t nobody got time for that bullshit. Although, when you’re in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget that there’s any kind of light.

      People never guess that Harv is Asian. Sometimes, people are very surprised he is not black.

      • Edge

        Great family. Sad that in the US it’s common to think that an Asian women wouldn’t choose to be with an Asian man above all else. It’s good to see a cool asian couple and family like yours out there.

  • FearlessFibro

    I love that you have taught your child the value of “not eating the sucker food” at buffets—that advice also applies to crab feeds.

    And, I have a sneaking suspicion that my hubs and yours married us for the same reason ;)

    And, he has just accepted that we won’t “show up late to Justin Timberlake, to skip the rap guy”, so now I know I have to work on him slowly, introducing him to things that will help him appreciate the Legends of Summer Tour—-we started with “Hip Hop and the LA Riots” , “Welcome to Deathrow”, and “Behind the Music: Ice Cube”. What am I missing?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I saw a man eating whole wheat bread and a banana at the Cosmo buffet recently. My family had to stage an intervention so I would not go over and talk to the man.

      You’re a good wife. Every man needs to know about those things. Have you seen that new-sh documentary “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap”? Might be worth your while.

      • FearlessFibro

        I will have to check it out. thx!

  • Morgan (The818)

    I love this. I want to drink in all the stories about your family because your fierce love for them oozes out of you whenever I see you so I have no choice but to be fascinated. And I’m psyched about your new series because my kid one day turning in to a teenager terrifies me so I’m glad you have to do it first. xo

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I will document all the pitfalls and only tell you about the ones that are mildly funny or truly ridiculous and then pray in secret that you don’t cross over the not-so-funny hurdles with your babe.

  • Misty

    Oh sweetie. I am so very much right there with you in the Blues. I am so glad that your ride and dies got you out of it. I’m hoping mine can help me as well. We’ll see about that.
    And finally!! Harv revealed the reason he married you. Entertainment. I shoulda known all along. Well, he definitely will never be bored. Your marriage will last forever.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’ve been so many people’s Ride or Die. I hope that we can return the favor to you when you need it. Because you are much loved.

  • you gotsars!

    Can I be like you when I grow down? I love that you are brave enough to talk about your truth, to be honest knowing those you love read it and not completely censoring yourself.

    When you find that rock, throw it at the bitch who stole your gordita fund.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I was tryna wait till I didn’t sound so whiny to write this. It only came out mildy whiny. I think.

      I must practice my aim in case I do find that rock.

  • Miss Britt

    Woah. That kid is wise.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Wise, but more importantly, super kind.

  • unitedstatesofbecky

    Pretty awesome interview, yo.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you, my friend.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for coming back and posting this even though it was probably really hard and you didn’t want to put forth the effort. Thanks for keeping it real. You rock.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      YOU rock, my lady. I haven’t felt like putting much effort into anything, and that makes me feel both ashamed and embarrassed. Thanks for taking the time to be kind.

  • Shannon Bradley Colleary

    Hey girl — I feel you with the funky stuff. My issue is I’m never where I think I ought to be. Just read a cool article in that edgy publication, O Magazine, an article by Martha Beck that elevated my day. She talks about FOMO which has become HUGE since social media became the place for everyone to show how fabulous their lives are. FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out — of feeling like we’re always doing the wrong things, living the wrong life etc etc. That article’s an excellent pick me up and eye opener. See you tomorrow under the klieg lights. xo

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thanks for directing me to the article. Just what I needed.

  • Roller Scrapper

    Awesome, I love Alphamom! PS I think your Buffet strategy may not take into consideration my corollary…don’t fill up on fruit, *but* if you’ve stuffed yourself to the gills of some expensive meats and feel like you can eat no more, have a piece of fruit, it some how cleanses the palate and renews the hunger and makes you able to cram down that much more.

    You’re welcome!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      More than once, I have said to myself, “That RS knows so many things about so many things.” But this piece of buffet info beats everything. That was supposed to be a compliment, but….yes….perhaps I didn’t word it correctly.

      • Roller Scrapper

        I do what I can to help the world and sharing my fruit meat layering method has helped many a person power through a buffet and probably made them fatter…but happier :)


    Yes! I got married after knowing my man for just 2 months and people gave me such crap about it! You totally beat me with 18 days. Love it!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      We are ballsy motherfuckers. ;)

      When you know, you just know, amirite?

  • Carolyn Hampton

    I have 3 things to say: (a) this one of the best interviews ever, (b) Cal is one of the wisest souls I know, and (c) I warned you about that fucking cat show.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      How Cal came from me, I will never know.

      That cat show still haunts my dreams. Actually, it’s not the performing animals…it’s the 4 adult men who sat next to me who seemed to genuinely enjoy the show and sat with glee on the edge of their seats for the entire time. THAT was scary.

  • Alice

    Sorry to hear about the blues. Call me if you need to talk.
    Funny interview.

  • Michelle Villemaire

    Love love love this. So funny. You got some charming peeps there.

  • Monica Jamer

    Your family is awesome! I love the way you interact. Hopefully my kids will grow up to be a cool as Cal someday.Also, I think I have commented before but I love that you are brave enough to talk about being in a gloom and some of the other issues you have sometimes. I really admire that, I’m not quite there yet I can only tell some people and in small doses.

  • Amy – Toothbrush Travels

    You have created such a beautiful family and have such an amazing appreciation for each other. I love that they understand with compassion and not criticism! Definitely worthwhile ride or dies xo