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Hoda's World

The co-anchor of the Today show’s fourth hour—and author of Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way ($25, Simon & Schuster), out this month—sounds off about things she can’t control; things she can but doesn’t; and why, currently, everything is causing her to break into a sweat.

It’s not all fun and games for Hoda Kotb, who’s best known for her Today show antics with co-anchor Kathie Lee Gifford. Kotb has covered an array of domestic and international stories and human-interest features for NBC, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

I’m in my apartment looking at my kitchen and it’s revealing. Every cabinet door is open and has been since the last time I needed something inside. In this drawer: two old BlackBerry phones, a turkey baster, an old checkbook. Is that a driver’s license? Yes—expired in 2013. I could win Let’s Make a Deal with this drawer. I think I’m just wired to be disorganized. Take my 50-pound purse. Jammed in it right now is a shawl, Coffee-mate, Mindy Kaling’s book, about eight headphones, an orange, a fleur-de-lis ornament, a million contact lenses, a Dum Dum lollipop and on and on. It’s by my own doing that my stuff and my space is out of control, but it doesn’t really bother me. Except for when I’m exhausted, I get to the door—and I need my keys. That’s a nightmare. Purse organizer contraptions exist, but clearly I’m not that interested. I think for me, there’s a sense of security involved. If I need an extra contact or a Lifesavers, I never think: Oh, my God, I don’t have any! Impossible.

About three weeks ago, my body stoked the fires of hell beneath my skin—without consulting me. Out-of-control hot flashes are now part of my life, which is apparently winding down. I’ll have as many as 10 a day, and the worst part is the effect they have on my hair. Blowouts used to last a good three days, but not when you’re lying in your own pool of sweat at night. Poor Laura at the Today show. She used to be able to work really hard on my hair on Mondays, and then Tuesdays and Wednesdays were manageable. Now, every day is Monday for Laura. The other afternoon I was getting my nails done and started sweating. The nail girl said, “Are you sick?” I just said, “No. You’ll learn all about this later.” I stick my head out car windows like a dog; I blast the overhead air nozzles on planes. Ridiculous.

I will eat an entire box of Entenmann’s black-and-white cookies, and to save myself from scarfing down the second box, I escort it out of my apartment and give it to the first person I see. I have a dysfunctional love affair with sweets, and that’s where Windex comes into play. Even if I find the will power to throw away something sugary that I really want, it’s not enough that it’s sitting atop the other garbage in the trash can. To me, that’s still a viable, edible state-of-being for the sweet. I have to douse it with a cleaning agent—most often Windex—so that I will get sick if I eat it. Liquid Cascade used to do the trick, but not since I switched to the little individual packets, which can’t kill a baked good.