Monday, March 31, 2014

Reflections

People would probably line up to punch me in the face if I said "Happy Monday," but that's really how I wanted to start off this post today. Because I am deliriously happy.

I turned 25 on Saturday, and had what I'll honestly say is one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time. I spent the day on a nice, comfortable run, taking care of things around my apartment, chatting with friends and family who took time out of their lives to offer me a birthday wish, visiting with my brother, getting a loooooong-over due haircut, and giving myself a mani — honestly, one of my favorite things to do in life.

This is probably a pretty boring day to many. But it was a very appropriate, peaceful, and gratifying day for me, and I found myself feeling really grateful that these things — running, enjoying my independence, my own space, the time and ability to treat myself — are part of my typical Saturday at age 25.

It's my birthday & I'll #selfie if I want to.
My birthday dinner was a blast. A few good girlfriends {and my friend Danny, oops} 

The boy at the girls table
and I ventured out into the wind and the rain for sushi at a spot I love. I meant to get a group shot of all my lovely dining companions, but there was also wine at the table so I forgot a lot of things.

Next a bunch of us headed to a bar to finish off the night with a couple of drinks

Forever hating everyone who neglected to warn me of the shininess. Also confused about the shininess because I've
had perpetually dry skin for 25 years now. Is this what turning 25 does to my face?
But we called it an early night...

Because on Sunday, those two and I were up bright rainy and early, and I ran my first race.

I started running three months ago. At that point, I literally could not run one mile. I could not run one half mile without having to stop and walk and clutch my chest. And I've just run my first 5K*.

Ooh, girl, that hair, that red face, you look so fine.
It feels amazing, I have to say. My time was my personal best, and after a few things that happened lately I really wasn't sure how I'd do with this race. But I did it, I did the absolute best I could, I felt great afterwards and I am so, so ready to do it again.

The runner I am today is a far cry from the runner I was on December 26 — the day of my first run. I cannot wait to see what kind of runner I'll be three months from now!


via

*Those of you following me on instagram know this already, but for those that don't and who were waiting on bated breath, this was the "surprise" I was talking about for the last week or so. Like I said, you shouldn't have gotten your hopes up. But the thing is, I had been registered for a June race which would have been #1, until I bit the bullet and moved up First Race Day to this weekend. I didn't want to make a big thing of the race until I'd run it because I didn't know how I'd do, but I was so pumped for it I couldn't keep totally quiet. And yeah, I'm still really pumped about it. Sorry in advance.


Running my first race was the first thing I did as a 25-year-old. That, combined with how peaceful, sweet, and happy my birthday was, has definitely tempered the freak-out I was having over this milestone birthday. 25 is off to an absolutely wonderful start. Feel's like this year's gonna be good to me.  :)

Enough about me. How was your weekend?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

25

I've been alive for 25 years. A quarter of a century.

If I've done anything right, it's reasonable to expect that I've learned some things of value in that time. I think I have.

I thought of and began writing this list long before I was even sure I would relaunch my blog. I thought it would be a unique little way to mark the big 2-5. And then without even trying, I realized that this is one of the most unoriginal ideas I've ever had, as apparently every person who has over run a blog while turning 25 has had the same idea.


Oh, well. I guess I'm joining the club then...

With as few cliches as possible:


1. Instead of turning up the heat, make a cup of hot tea and crawl under a blanket. Control your individual situation whenever you can. You can't always control the world around you.
I miss birthday cakes with gluten in them.

2. If clutter and messes get you down, make your bed every morning. Nothing pulls a room together more quickly and easily than just pulling up your blankets and fluffing your pillows.

3. Vacuuming and applying a fresh coat of nail polish are two of the best ways to quickly see results. With one pass of the vacuum or brush, you'll see the fruit of your efforts. Build momentum with those little gestures. Minimal effort for maximum results? Why not?

4. The way you were doesn't have to be the way you are. The way you are isn't necessarily the way you will be.

5. Meditation, in whatever form you choose to discover it, is crucial in this day and age. The world doesn't shut off, but you need to make sure you do at some point. Breathing is something we do naturally for as long as we're alive, but it's also something we should make a point to do intentionally every once in a while. Find a way to focus on your breathing, clear your mind, and find at very least a few minutes of still silence.

6. There's a limited supply of patience in the world for people who complain without making an effort to change anything about their situation{s}.

7. A Disney/Broadway/90s pop sing-a-long session with a good friend is one of the best ways to give yourself a quick boost. And it's free. And when you're 25, free is really not something you'll want to pass up.

8. Don't listen to people who say that any four-year period should be or will be the best years of your life. Don't feel like your experience was inadequate because it didn't look like a Judd Apatow production. Are you happy today? Are you building a positive future for yourself? If you ask me, that's better than looking back at an epoch past and wishing you could do it again.

9. It's okay to not be sure of what else is out there. It's okay to experiment {respectfully} with different religions. It's okay to try and find a belief system that you feel comfortable with and that speaks to you. It's also okay to go through this process and discover that you don't want to align yourself with any one of them. It's okay to say that you haven't figured out what happens at the end of your life. And it's okay to keep learning and keep creating your own system of beliefs that works for you.

10. Lipstick, a haircut, new shoes, skinny jeans — never underestimate the power of something so small to make you feel good. Perking up your appearance may seem superficial to some. But for many of us, faking it on the outside is the first step to encouraging everything inside to catch up and reflect that.
One of the few only times my brothers composed themselves for a photo.
The least they could do at my birthday dinner, amirite?
11. Sometimes, love ends. Friendships fall apart. Relationships dissolve into nothing. We like to believe that there's an "end game" for everything. That everything we cherish will outlast, and that love we have for each other will be strong enough to conquer anything. But it won't be, not always. Sometimes you'll love, and then you won't anymore, for any number of reasons. And then all that will be left to do is {hopefully} learn something and move on.

12. There will be times when the only thing you can do is move on, and when that feels like the most impossible thing in the world. When you accomplish it, though, when you are able to move on from something you think you won't survive, make sure you log that feeling away. Remember it. Take note of how strong you became when you didn't think you could. You'll need that, because some day in the future, you'll face those impossible feelings again. Something else will level you. And remembering how you survived before may be the only motivation you need to get up and survive again.

13. Not every experience will be a good one. Not every bad thing will teach you something valuable. Sometimes you'll just have to endure pain and suffering, simply because it is a part of life. There is not always a "why." There is not always an explanation that makes things feel fair and just. But at the end of the day, {allow me one cliche?} it is what it is, and we get what we get.

Ah, 21. So together. So rational. So not sober.
14. There are a lot of crossroads in life where you'll find yourself confronted, wondering which road to take. In many of these situations, you won't be able to predict the outcome of either decision. The consequences won't show until decisions are made, and events are put into action. Making no decision can be appealing in this case, but don't be fooled by the myth of standing still. You'll need to rely on yourself here — yourself, logic, blind faith and, most importantly, your gut.

15. If it feels right in the pit of your belly, it probably is. If it feels wrong in the pit of your belly, it probably is. In the absence of omniscience, the best you can do is go with your gut. It will rarely steer you wrong.

16. There will be things in life that you never, ever believed you could, would, or would even want to do. You will do some — or many — of them, no matter how staunchly you once refused.

17. Sometimes, hard days turn into difficult weeks which turn into tough months which turn into rough patches that last... a long time. These times are your struggles. They are not the sum of your life. They will not last forever. You will not always be able to control how long they last. But you can survive them, and you will thrive again one day.

18. Enjoying the people you see at work every day is a blessing, and one not many people know unfortunately. Being friends with your colleagues can almost make up for any manner of workplace downside. After college, these friendships are the easiest to come by. You're truly blessed if they work both because of convenience and true connection.

19. The people who are supposed to love you are not always the people who will love you the most. They won't always love you unconditionally, or even at all. But that's okay, and it speaks volumes about them — not a word about you.

20. You are perfectly entitled to create a family of people who support, encourage, love, and exhilarate you. Your life will be better when you find these people and tell them how you feel.

I dunno about what in the world I was doing,
but I was feelin' 22.
21. Sometimes, all it takes is just one person who believes in you, who wants you to succeed and will celebrate your victories, small and large, simply because they're happy for you. Sometimes this person will have to be yourself. If you're very fortunate, it may be another person. People like this really do exist.

22. They are rare, they are hard to find, and they don't always come in the form you expect. No, it won't always make sense who they turn out to be. But they're out there, and when you find them, value them, and show them that you do.

23. Losing people never gets easier, and it's something you will have to deal with throughout the rest of your life. Nothing I can say here or that I've ever heard in my life makes it easier. Whether you lose their friendship, you make a decision to move on without one another, they move away, or they die, it hurts. And yet, you'll just have to endure.

24. Relationships often look different to the people inside them than they do to those on the outside looking in. It's important to remember this as both the person on the inside and the person on the outside.

25. Every minute of every day is a chance to do better, to be better, to make something better, and to be a better part of the world.

///

Here's to birthdays. Here's to lessons learned, and to progress, and to always moving forward.
Here's to appreciating every fleeting moment of this sweet and peculiar life.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Last Friday On Earth

This is my last Friday as a 24-year-old.

Believe me, guys, I really could be so much worse about this than I already am.

Seeing as this is the last day before I officially begin dying — no, seriously. My chiropractor told me just the other day that we grow until we're 25 and then just start dying. He admits it takes a long time, at least... but still. That was upsetting. Good thing he's cute as a button and has miracles for hands — I think I'm doing a pretty good job at keeping the crazy under control. I managed to get out of bed and get to work this morning and everything! And I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow and not trying to put it off for as long as possible.

Truth be told, I was way worse on the eve of my 23rd birthday. So, maturity for the win I guess?

Let's please not let the irony of this gif choice escape us here.
So before this optimism wears off and I wake up tomorrow smack-dab in the middle of my twenties, let's ride this good feeling right into the weekend. I'm following Cait's lead again and keeping it simple:

The low of my week was my freak stomach bug or food poisoning or whatever it was that had me up sick in the middle of the night/Tuesday morning but was mysteriously gone within 12 hours. Fun times.

The high of my week was will be tomorrow, I hope! If that's not allowed, I'll say the high was Trivia Tuesday with my two dear friends who constantly amaze me with their love, compassion, and support. And, if I may, that ties with yesterday's running victory where I beat a time goal I set for myself for March and pushed every bit of everything I had out and it. felt. incredible. 

A link I loved this week was this AMAZING roundup of every joke told on The Office, organized by year (via Cup of Jo). Go search any year!

My plans for the weekend include an attempt at a nice 5-mile run {let's hope the rain isn't too bad!}, getting a much-needed haircut, and birthday dinner with a few favorites tomorrow, followed by a busy Sunday {which contains that secret* I can't wont yet reveal!} 

*Please don't get too excited. You probably won't care. I feel like I'm setting you up for a let-down. Honestly this is only really a big deal to me and maybe like one other person in the world who probably isn't even reading this blog. I never should have mentioned it. But now that I have, I gotta see it through to the end. I should stop talking now. 

{Be sure to check back over here tomorrow for a 
very special self-indulgent 25th birthday post!}

///

Now then — I'm ready to link up with Miss Whitney and #backthatazzup into my b'day weekend with this completely un-birthday-related ditty that I can't stop singing this week and you can't tell me not to because it's my birthday and I'll break the rules that I just made up myself if I want to.



How was your week? What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Smattering

It just occurred to me as I wrote the word "smattering" as the title of this post that it could conceivably be one of those words which, like "moist" and "panties" and "ooze" to me, gives people the freak-outs and makes them want to throw up. If this applies to you, I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry that because yesterday was a crappy day and today is a catch-up day, I don't have the energy, time, or creativity to write any semblance of a real post. So here's a smattering {really sorry} of things I have to talk about on this Wednesdayest of Wednesdays.


Yesterday, Tuesday, started when, at 2:00 a.m., I was woken from a sweet slumber my usual 6ish hours of tossing and turning by a pain in my chest that quickly evolved into extreme nausea which then became a two-hour episode of.. well, what nausea makes you do.

So I took a sick day yesterday. I hate taking sick days. The last time I took a sick day was in January 2013 and even then it was just half a sick day. My company doesn't distinguish between sick time and vacation time — it's just all paid time off, and we get a decent amount each year, but they don't roll over. So I hoard that shit. Not that I have any set-in-stone plans for #vaca this year... but last year I hoarded my PTO and didn't come into my office from December 19, 2013 to January 4, 2014. It was a happy holiday indeed.

So anyway, now I'm back at my desk and, because Monday was the first day in I don't know how long that I didn't bring my work computer home with me, because that's of course the way things go, I'm catching up on all the words I should have written yesterday. {It's a lot.} I'm scheduled tightly enough as it is — missing a whole day was NOT in the plan

The worst part is that I didn't get to run yesterday and I had plans for a good one, and though I felt better after I got it all out of my system {ugh} and slept a bit, the nausea still came in waves for most of yesterday afternoon. So the height of my productivity for the day was catching up on 2.5 episodes of Glee — but I still have 1.5 to go. 

Well, no, probably the worst part is that I have a ton of work to catch up on. {Let's not point out the fact that I'm taking time out of my workday to write this post and then go comment on some of your blogs. We're going to pretend that's not relevant. It keeps me sane, okay?}

Also, this is what's happening in my ears right now.

Ghost Man On Third by Taking Back Sunday on Grooveshark

Yeah, I dunno, it's a weird day. A Tuesday sick day is throwing me all out of whack. Remind me to ask my chiropractor if there's anything he can do about that when I go see him tonight.

Oh and I'm just going to casually mention that I'm turning 25 on Saturday and I'm not freaking out at all I'm trying to keep my mini-freakout on the quiet side, an endeavor at which I believe I'm actually semi-succeeding. Go. Me.


If you've made it this far, you deserve a prize. And here it is: I'm done pretending I have blogworthy things to say for the day. YOU'RE FREE! Anywhoodles, I'll see ya tomorrow or something.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Planned to Pieces

It should be noted by anyone that attempts to know anything at all about me that I am Type A. I am a planner. I am organized *almost* to a fault.

Now, I know what you're thinking. That's gotta get annoying. And yeah, probably. I'm sure it bugs people who want to just "play things by ear." Look, I'm totally cool with spontaneity — but actual unplanned spontaneity. Like, you can't be all "Let's hang out Friday. The what, when, and where will not be decided until game time." No, I can't do that. Because then I'll spend every moment until Friday planning for every possible scenario — outfit, do I need to take cash out, should I clean my car, should I clean my apartment, should I shave my legs, etc. However, if you spring things on me on Friday, I'll have no time to over-plan and I'll be much more relaxed and just go with it. See what I'm saying?

Suffice it to say people give me a hard time a lot for how organized/planned I am. They think I'm uptight. {They're not totally wrong.} BUT — when someone needs a Tide TOGO pen or a tissue, or wants to know how we're getting to that thing we're going to, who do you think they go running to first? THAT'S RIGHT.


But, planning is necessary for my sanity. Because even though I know that my plans may not probably won't work out how I envision them, at least when they go to shit I have something to rebuild from. Ya know?

For example.* I was hoping to get a pretty little tax refund, which would help me scoop up a much needed new computer. The ol' gal is ready for retirement and there's a Macbook Air at some Apple store with my name alllll over it. This has been part of the plan for months now.

BUT GUESS WHAT. Instead of getting my Mac Fund from the nice folks at the IRS, they decided that they haven't taken enough of my money over the last year and they need more of it. A whole lot more of it. Money that, while I technically *have* it, was certainly NOT earmarked to hand over to some big bullies.

But here's the thing. My plan got fucked, yes. And now I have to make a new one. BUT — and here's the important part — I don't have to start from square one.

This is why, no matter how many times the universe proves to me that it, much like the honey badger, doesn't give a shit about me or my plans, I will always continue to make them. I will abuse Google Calendars. I will write lists until my hands bleed. I will itemize everything I have to do and keep spreadsheets and revise, cross off, and rewrite until I'm blue in the face. Because at the very least, I'm giving myself a solid starting point. I'm giving myself something to work from.

So while I'm not getting a new Mac this April, all I have to do to figure out when I will be able to is look at my savings calendar, rearrange a couple of transfers and pick a new pay period to budget it into. Simple pimple.

I'm not advocating that everyone be as obsessed with planning and organizing as I am. All I'm asking is that you give us planners, us over-thinkers, us list-makers a break every once in a while. Because while you may not think there's anything to be gained from writing out a plan that is statistically likely to fall apart, I assure you my lists, notes, and calendar markings are the only things keeping me from lookin' like this:


every time a not-so-pleasant surprise pops up.

And trust me when I tell you, it's better for the world that I stay out of the wine bottle.

Are you a planner or do you just take everything as it comes? What works for you when the universe gives you the ol' middle finger?

*Please note that not getting a new computer is not the worst thing that's ever happened to me, and I realize this is a #firstworldproblem. This is just one example, a simple nugget of a for-instance, and I assure you I have more depth than this post may suggest.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Let's Get a Move On

Wheeeeeeeew.

I don't think I've ever been happier to see a Friday arrive. Today has bonus points because it's a payday Friday, and it's the first Friday of spring.

I thought about writing a real Friday post this week — recapping the week, looking ahead to the weekend. But then I realized that it would probably go something like this:
St. Patrick's Day. Running. Work. The "usual" bar. Work. Running. Rain. Icing my sore knees and shins. Chatter. Blogging. Freaking out about my upcoming 25th birthday. The bar.
And really, that about sums it up. It was just a normal week around here. No real lows, luckily, but no extreme highs either. And that's okay.

This was kind of a catch-up week. I missed a deadline at work last week, so I had to make sure I got back on track — which I did, nobody panic. Nothing out of the ordinary really happened, but sometimes you just need a few days to let everything balance out and return to normal before kicking it back up. And since last weekend was drunken and ludicrous a hectic one, it was a good week to stabilize.

So I'm just about ready to dance my ass into the weekend and hope for some high highs. There are rumors of another St. Paddy's Day parade this weekend, and of some nice, springy weather, which means {hopefully!} some good, long runs, and toasting to another weekend with my guys and gals.


Speaking of dancing, and my ass, I need to talk about one thing real quick. Tweets from Jen and Kay may have actually been my favorite thing this week, because they alerted me to the existence of Lea Michele's new album. GURL, I can't. I'm loving this so, so much. And it's not just because I have a huge bias toward Ms. Lea since people constantly tell me I look like her. {I don't see it.} But I shall be blasting this through the weekend aaaand I've already identified my anthem of the summer, aka the Soundtrack to My Shore Drives.

So I'm linking up with Whitney and gonna #backthatazzup to this jam until it's the freakin' weekend:


Cheers! What are you jamming to right now? 

Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happiest of Springs

Happy First Day of Spring!

It feels like I've been waiting forever to say this! And now, even though I'm saying it and it's an accurate statement, it just doesn't feel quite right.

It's "warming up" here in NJ, which just basically means it's not in the single digits every day, but it still isn't warm. 50-ish isn't warm, especially when it isn't accompanied by some sunshine! And seeing as we've only had one actual 50-ish day in the last week while the rest have been in the 30-degree range, that's a moot point anyway.

I don't mean to sound ranty. We're all dealing with some crappy weather lately. Except for you guys in places like Florida or California. You don't get our #struggles and we're I'm resenting you for it.

But regardless of whatever the thermometer says, the calendar says it's officially spring. And even though I CAN'T WAIT FOR SUMMER, spring 2014 holds plenty of promise too...

  • My 25th birthday is in just over a week! I'm equal parts pumped and absolutely freaking out. No one seems to get this really, and I'm not sure why. Isn't 25 everyone's "scary age"? Of course, until you turn 25 and then I guess 40 is the next "scary age." Maybe it's different for women too. Anyone with me on this... at all?
  • Spring is the best time to be outside {well, it will be when the thermometer catches up to the calendar}. Longer evenings and warmer {but not yet oppressively hot} temps mean I can really put in the hours and up my running game. I took my very very first stab at running in the bitter cold that was this past December and have been trucking along through winter. After how far I progressed in just a few months — months plagued by a polar vortex, unrelenting snow, and ice — I can't wait to see what the spring air does for my run.
This? I'm over it.
  • Speaking of running, my first race is scheduled for this spring! I can't wait to finally put my training to some use and slap that number on my abdomen. A year ago, I would never even fathom saying these words.
  • I have a secret that I can't for some stupid reason don't want to reveal. And it's driving me crazy! But I will very soon, and then I shall be very happy, because while I can keep a secret, it's as physically laborious as holding in a sneeze for me.
  • Easter is next month, and though I'm not the most terribly religious person out there, Easter gatherings with my family are just too much fun. The youngest of the cousins will be 21 this year; the oldest are closing in on 30, but you had better believe we still participate in the annual Easter Egg Hunt.
I just love our collective reaction to something one of our elders must have said.
// ready positions! {we're really competitive for plastic eggs full of jelly beans we don't even like}
  • I'm expecting a tax return any day now, which HOPEFULLY {all the fingers and toes crossed} means I get to upgrade my sad little computer, who I adore and have had by my side since graduating high school in 2007, but who really needs to be laid to rest at the Great Genius Bar in the sky. You've been swell, baby, but mama needs some new.
  • The first appearances of spring colors, patterns, and cuts make my heart happy. Maxi dresses! Sundresses! Pastels! Neon! I don't care what's "in," I just know that these things start happening in the spring and I am tired of having to look past the florals and polka dots for the more seasonal items that for WHATEVER REASON only exist in dark solids. Well, at least in my wardrobe they do. You had better believe I'll be pulling out the maxis as soon as it's even remotely reasonable.
  • Memorial Day Weekend, the Official Start to New Jersey Summer, even though it's still a month before the actual season begins, comes in spring. That's when the beaches "open," the parkway becomes a nightmare every Friday through Sunday, but it's all worth it anyway. Kicking off the shore season on MDW is a tradition here and it's almost like New Year's Eve, setting the tone for the next few months and filling you up with hopes of good times ahead. I can't wait.


What are you looking forward to this spring? Is the weather where you live starting to come around?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Sweet Smell of Sunscreen

Remember when it used to be warm in March?

Or maybe it was that when we were kids we weren't so sensitive to temperatures? Maybe. I dunno.
All I know is that this winter has kicked my ass, and Mother Nature can't grace NJ with some 60+ temps soon enough. 

{Confession: It's not uncommon that I take a whiff of some sunscreen or coconut oil just to remind myself that summer is a thing that exists and it will soon arrive to make me happy and take all of our pain/stiff joints/dry skin away.}

Today I'm linking up with Helene and Taylor because maybe talking about summer will make it get here a little faster or something, or maybe it'll just distract me from the fact that I'm still waiting to break out the maxi dresses and mini skirts that I miss so, so much.

Helene In Between

  • I feel like this is pretty obvious, but.. I mean, summer. Sun. Warmth. No layers. Hair air-drying within half an hour. Bare feet. NO PANTS. Ya dig?
  • Summer shows are the best shows! Hate all you want, but Dave Matthews Band puts on a summer tour like no other and this year my bestie and I will be singing our hearts out with the best strangers in the world at 2 to 4 of the most laid-back-yet-awesome lawn shows of the season, adding to my previous 9 {I think?} Dave show appearances. I'm also crossing my fingers that my love John Mayer comes back around this year to let me have another religious experience. Then there's the country music festival and the rock carnivals and Bethlehem Musikfest in August...
  • Sundresses mean I don't have to worry about matching two items of clothing together. Yeah, I'm that lazy in the mornings. Slip it on, out the door.
NJ Festival of Ballooning // NY Yankees Game-worn gear // DMB @ Susquehanna Bank Center, summer 2013
  • July 4th fun with my family is a tradition unlike any other. I've got some really wonderful cousins and we just have the absolute best time together. Family gatherings down the shore just can't be beat. Our 4th of July festivities, between the food, the yukkas, the boat, the homemade wine and sambuca, the laughs, and the sombreros, always go down in the books.
  • The boys of summer are back — of course, I'm talking about the New York Yankees. This year will be our last chance to see the legendary Derek Jeter at the bat, and you KNOW my bestie and I will be up in them bleachers, rocking the pinstripes to see the cap'n make it happen for one more season.
Gambling on a "morning after" in Atlantic City // Musikfest 2013 // Loving on the boys in blue
  • The Jersey Shore... it's really nothing like you see on TV. And it's one of the best parts of being a #jerseygirl. Fireworks on the beach, sandy feet, bonfires, boats, F Cove, the Bamboozle, the AC boardwalk, little gigs at the Stone Pony, no shower happy hours, beach bars... it's a way of life.
  • Summer romance. :)
  • Long days mean more time to squeeze in all the things I love — spending time with family and friends, running, and drinking on patios.
4th of July fireworks on the beach // Legs, not hot dogs // The boats in Wychmere Harbor in Cape Cod, Mass.
  • I wish I could say I have some great summer travel plans, but as of yet I have nothing set in stone. There will be, of course, trips down the shore {#talkjerseytome}, but other than that I'm not positive what else I'll manage to squeeze in. Hopefully I'll get up to Cape Cod for a couple of days like usual, possibly down to North Carolina to visit my friend, and maybe another one or two that I still have in the brainstorming stages!
  • "You can live a lifetime in a summer, especially when you're young." - Judy Blume
    I love this quote, and I feel its truthiness every year. I guess that means I'm still young, right? #feelingoldat25 :| Anyway, it's so true. I feel like every summer awakens a part of me that didn't exist before, or that had been lying dormant all fall and winter. By summer's end, I've either been able to neatly open and close another chapter of my life, or I've unlocked a new part of me that carries through into the cold months and helps me grow and become the person I'm meant to be. I'm sure this makes little to no sense, so just trust me.  :)
There are a thousand more reasons, of course, but these are the most pressing, I think. Now your turn to link up and share why you can't wait for summer!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pit & Peak: Running on Sunshine

Last week I took a page out of Cait's book, but to wrap up this work week I'm gonna dip my toes into a different pool — I'm joining in on the Pits & Peaks linkup today, hosted by Allie & Jen. {Hi ladies!}

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Like any other week, this one has been a cocktail of highs and moderates-to-lows. Here are a couple of them:

PEAK || I am officially registered for my first race! Some day I'll tell you all about my journey to becoming a runner, but let's start with this: Until December 26, 2013, I had not run at all. Ever. I maybe jogged a grossly long lap around the track once or twice in high school when they made us do it in gym class, but I never thought I'd be able to run for real. My first race will be a 5K this June, and I couldn't be more pumped to get #1 {of hopefully very, very many!} under my belt. I wish it weren't so far away!

I Macgyver'ed this situation to ice at work. My boss thinks
it's ridiculous and hilarious. I guess he has a point.
PIT || I've been battling a rough round of shin splints, which I'm going to blame mostly on the treadmill I had to run on while in Nashville. I did as I was told and rested and iced them, but my first run after 6 rest days on Monday was still BRUTAL. I barely made it 2 miles, and my legs were screaming at me the whole time. I haven't been running long enough to take 6 days off and not suffer the consequences of lost fitness, but I didn't want to risk more damage by running on shin splints that bad. Sigh. After Monday's disgrace I pretty much slogged through my runs for the rest of the week, but I remember where I was three months ago and how far I've come in such a short time. This #struggle is just temporary.

PIT || Without dragging all of the Internet into the drama {ugh. Is there any way to say that without sounding like a high schooler/The Hills character?}, let's just say I'm stressed. out right now. A lot of things came to light over the last week or so — not all of them good — and the lack of answers and the ever-presence of confusion and questions has been threatening to wear me down. Hopefully the next few days bring some answers and clarity. Fingers crossed...

Monday || WHAT FOR SERIOUS?!?
PEAK || The weather here in NJ was unbelievable to start off this week! By that, I mean I was reminded of what grass looks like, as the snow's finally started to melt. I'm usually a 70-80 degree kinda gal, but when it's been approximately 4 degrees for so long, the mid-50s make for basically beach weather. Don't underestimate how much impact a few warm days can have on my psyche! Even with all the stress I've been under, I've felt much happier this week than I have in a while, and more effortlessly so. No doubt it's thanks to the fact that I saw short sleeves again.

PIT || ...But apparently Mother Nature is still a little bit upset with us. The beautiful weather could only last so long before torrential rains and temps dipping back into the twenties on Thursday. I gotta say, after the few lovely days, it hurt real bad. Have you ever read Flowers for Algernon? It's like that.

PEAK || For what may be the first time in FOREVER, I went a whole week without a single headache. I'm extremely migraine-prone and have been ever since I can remember — elementary school, at least. I'd gotten used to having a migraine or severe chronic tension headache on average 5 days a week, if not 7. My mild headache was your no headache. I've had eye exams/glasses, changed my diet, had MRIs, and been referred to specialists — nothing. Long{er} story short, getting me headache-free was one of the main goals of my chiropractor when I started seeing him earlier this year, and damn it, he did it! I never thought I'd see 7 straight days without a headache. Getting to tell the Doc "mission: accomplished!" felt almost as good as my head this past week! :)

///

Anywho, the pits of this week are the price you pay for the peaks and for great weekends like the one I have planned: the St. Patrick's Day parades and following festivities, keeping up tradition, and celebrating a holiday that has absolutely nothing to do with my life with my nearest, dearest, and drunken strangers I'll never forget.

I'm really good at making friends || St. Paddy's Day 2012
What's on your agenda for the weekend? And what were your Pits & Peaks this week??

Thursday, March 13, 2014

7 Things

What is the point of blogging, if not to be heinously self-absorbed and talk about yourself all day, e'rry day, in the name of contributing to the lifestyle blogosphere? I do not know, my friends. I do not know.

In truth, since this is the first blog I've ever had where the goal was to let people into my life in an honest way — rather than invite them to read my creative writing and beg them to believe me when I labeled certain things "fiction" and "non-fiction" — I'm interested to see what kinds of things spill out of my fingertips as I strive to show just enough of myself to make you want to come back and chat and hang out with me, without over-sharing to the point of being completely unemployable and even more embarrassing to my friends and family than I already am.

So here are 7 things I think it's important for people to know about me as they attempt to understand what in god's name I'm doing on the Internet.

Why 7? Because when I wrote 10 I realized just how obnoxious I can seem when I go on talking about myself for 10 points.
1. My name is Alyssa {in case you were still unsure}, my Internet name is alyssagoesbang, my family nickname is Allie, and my name is Mom to my hedgehog Oliver
2. I work as a writer & editor for an educational publisher by day, and as a freelance editor by night, mostly of literary fiction for now. My own creative writing catalog consists of an endless series of tabled projects, defunct blogs, half-scratched outlines, abandoned notebooks, and lofty dreams.
{I'm actually quite a versatile writer & editor — we should totally chat if you're looking for some help in your editorial communications!} 

Just a couple of us one 4th of July on the lagoon.
Nope, that's not even all of us. There's a good chunk missing.
Yes, it's impossible for us to all take a good picture at the same time.
3. I live in New Jersey and I'm Italian. Yes, I spent my summers growing up on the Jersey Shore. No, I've never been to Karma. No, I don't fake tan or tease my hair to the heavens. Yes, my big Italian family is one of the most important parts of me. 
4. I strive to live... mindfully, if I have to fit it all into one word. To me, this means that I think about how what I do affects the people I love and the world my hypothetical children will inherit. I try every single day to be compassionate and kind to everyone and to "do all things with love." I think a lot. I try to do at least as much. 
5. Health and healthy living is important to me. I work on my yoga practice whenever I can, I {as of recently} run, and I spend as much time {in the warm months!} outdoors as I can. I eat cleanly {most of the time} and gluten-free // dairy-light // red meat-free. {Do yourself a favor and never invite me over for dinner.} I'm not a snob, or trendy, or new agey. To put it simply, I put my body through hell in my younger life, and I've spent the last couple of years trying to make amends for my earlier stupidity. {Hint: it's working!} 
Just a sample platter.
"Love,"  left inside bicep // lilies, right front hip // 18, left shoulder blade // rose vine, right hip to shoulder blade 
6. I have 10 tattoos. I got my first when I was 17, and the first four within 13 months. I'll tell you more about them all someday. As of now, I'm going on almost 3 years without being tattooed, and it's slowly sucking my will to live from me. Soon...
7. I made over and relaunched alyssagoesbang because:
  • I've missed having a blog to keep up with, but the kinds of blogs I've run in the past just weren't built for longevity. I think this one is.
  • Sometimes I think I'm pretty creative or insightful, and there's a chance that something I've done, experienced, or felt like writing about might inspire or inform someone else in the world. Maybe?
  • I enjoy writing, period. All parts of it. Even the feel of my fingers gliding over keys is exhilarating to me, and the sound of Macbook keys is better than a lullaby. {At least once a week I convince myself I have ASMR based on zero real evidence. This may be something I should have kept to myself.}
  • As a professional writer who hopes to one day publish real live books and stuff, I know how important it is to keep my instrument in tune. My day job helps me do that to some extent, but writing in my own style had gotten a bit lost before I {re}started this blog.
  • And finally, as an avid life/beauty/food/style/personal finance blog reader, it dawned on me one day that I actually might have something worth contributing to all those conversations, a little bit at a time, and I wanted to give it a go.
Hah, I totally thought I'd be able to write this post kind of briefly. I should really work on learning how to just shut up. But then I probably wouldn't be the type of person who blogs. Which, honestly, would probably be better for the world. Sigh.

Now your turn.. tell me something about you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Case of the Tuesdays

Am I the only one who did not become severely disturbed by Daylight Saving Time? Or who never does? I always feel weird in the spring when people are all "OMG I'M SO OUT OF WHACK THANKS A LOT DST" and I'm just like, "hayyy, all good over here." Maybe I'm not thrown off because I have little to no sleep "schedule" as it is already? And I'm usually always tired anyway? Either way, yesterday was just a regular Monday for me. Which brings me to another thing that makes me either not a real human or an undiscovered species of superhuman...

I'm never really bothered by Mondays either. I mean. I hate waking up Monday morning and going to work, but I hate waking up every morning. Seriously, every single morning. The worst part of my day is working up the resolve to actually get my ass up and out of bed. I am the exact opposite of a morning person. So, what I'm trying to get at is that I can joke with all y'all and everyone in my office about having a "case of the Mondays," but if I'm being honest with you, I'm totally just rolling with it and riding the office conversation flow.

This is my Tuesday face.
Tuesdays, however... Tuesdays are not my best days. And I have no idea why. Maybe because I'm a perpetually late person and anti-punctuality runs in my family as strong as the short gene and the tendency toward swearing, my body's actually a day late on everything? And I get my "case of the Mondays" on Tuesdays? Because I swear, when 1:00 p.m. rolls around on Tuesday and I look over at the clock thinking it's about to show me 4:37, it takes every bit of self control I have {I'm not really very good at self control} to not just melt into a little puddle and nap under my desk until 5 p.m.

So the moral of the story is, if it's a Monday, I'm moving a little bit easier than you are, neener neener, but if it's a Tuesday, I hate basically everything about existing, and I'm currently driving the struggle bus. Until I leave work and remember that it's Trivia Tuesday and I have a cold beer cider and the potential to win a whopping 1/3 of a $25 gift certificate to the bar we drink at for free waiting for me on the other side.

I hope DST wasn't too hard on you guys. Are you one of Monday's victims or are you a weirdo like me?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Getting Down

Get it? Because it's Friday? Gotta get down on Friday?

Whew, Happy Friday y'all! I've been thinking about how I want to do a weekly wrap-up sort of deal here, and I have to be honest, my favorite Friday posts around the web are from Cait, the genius PF blogger behind Blonde on a Budget. {Confession: Though I can't bring myself to be as ballsy a PF blogger, I adore reading them!}

So to lull us easily into the weekend, I'm going to steal borrow and modify Cait's TGIF posts for our purposes here, like many other smart bloggers have, and hope she doesn't mind sharing with us!

It's been an interesting week — couple of ups, couple of downs, but lots of plans made, things started, and important thoughts thought. Wrapping up the first full week of March feels surreal — didn't we just celebrate New Years? Every day that passes this month brings us closer and closer to my birthday. And since it's the terrifying big 2-5 that we're {I'm} facing this month, that knowledge is a bit tough to deal with.

Ack. We'll have to talk about my birthday sooner or later. But for now:

The low of my week was: missing my grandmother on Monday. It would have been her 88th birthday; we lost her to Alzheimer's back in August. She's the first grandparent I've lost, and was truly the sweetest, kindest woman I've ever known. She's missed terribly every day, but seeing March 3 come and go without watching her blow out birthday candles made things even tougher to swallow.

The high of my week was: coming home, honestly. As much as I enjoyed the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Nashville, leaving home always reminds me of how much I love returning. Stepping off the plane and into the swearing, horn-honking, middle-finger-throwing chaos that is NJ at rush hour was like a breath of fresh air. Ahhhh...

A link I'd love to share from this week is: Whitney's post about looking below the surface and reevaluating how we judge people, and what makes a person "good."

My plans for the weekend include: FINALLY getting some new tires and some repairs done on my car {this winter has been rough on Ol' Stella, guys}, catching up on some things around the apartment {6 days in Nashville = LOTS o' laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning to do}, getting in a nice long run {50 degrees on Saturday!} and toasting to the freakin' weekend with some friends, including one gal I haven't seen in FAR too long. {It's also very possible that I'll run to Target to pick up the Catching Fire DVD set and then lock myself inside watching every second of extra footage, interviews, commentary, and deleted scenes before returning to behaving like a normal human being. But that's not the goal.}

How was your week, and what are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lady Love

Good morning from the great state of New Jersey, y'all!

Yes, I'm back home, having made my great escape from Nashville. It was an... interesting trip. I wish I had more time {and better means of transport} to see more of Downtown Nashville {which, as best I can tell, is about 2 blocks with as much neon signage as the town could possibly stick onto roughly 12 buildings}, but it was definitely nice to be away for a couple of days. But it's nice to be back in the dirty too.

Anyway, March is a big month. It's my birthday month {!!}, the start of spring, Daylight Saving Time, and the time where we can finally feel like it's okay to start coming out of hibernation. It's Women's History Month too, which I can totally get on board with.

So to mark the occasion and spread a little lady love, here are some of my favorite pieces of wisdom from some of my favorite ladies, past and present.

"You can live a lifetime in a summer, especially when you're young."
Judy Blume

Ah, Judy Blume, the woman who taught us about "men-stroo-ation," bust-increasing exercises, the joy of female friendship, the hardship and heartache implicit in growing up, and that no matter how weird we are, or how alone we feel, we can always find solace, comfort, and companionship in the pages of her books.
This, of course, is far from her best piece of wisdom, but it's one I have always loved and that always sticks with me. Remembering it at the beginning and end of each summer tends to help me bookend another new year, and lets me believe I am, even now in my twenties, still what she meant by "young." :)

"Don't waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you're the boss.
Or they won't. Who cares? Do your thing, and don't care if they like it."
Tina Fey

Tina, oh sweet, beautiful Tina. The woman who brought us Liz Lemon, a gal you know you relate to, no matter how much you want to act like you don't. The woman who brought us MEAN GIRLS, for crying out loud. She taught us about being blorft {"'Blorft' is an adjective I just made up that means 'Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.'" – Bossypants} and showed us, with the help of another wonderful lady of show biz, the importance of supporting and encouraging your fellow woman.

"I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody's passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn't mind leading."
Amy Poehler

This gal. She's full of so much wisdom — just spend a few minutes with Smart Girls if you don't believe me. Amy is a champion for women and girls, and exactly what comedy had been missing. Leslie Knope, y'all! Galentine's Day! Ask Amy! And let's not forget what is arguably her greatest contribution to popular culture — her portrayal of Regina George's mother in Mean Girls. Was there ever a role so iconic and memorable? I think not.
For real though, if you ever want to feel empowered or supported as a woman, spend some time with Amy and the Smart Girls. She knows her stuff, and yes, I'm being a bossy woman and telling you to go watch some Ask Amy videos like right now.

"You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That's how I've done it. There's no other way."
Elizabeth Taylor

She's right, you know. And you better believe we should take any advice we can from her. 

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."
Audrey Hepburn

Call me a cliche if you'd like, but I adore this woman — the shrine to her that is my bedroom would like to support that claim. Has there been any woman since her who was so easily {it seems} able to capture grace, mirth, style, beauty, and kindness in one small package? She's an icon, no doubt, and, in my estimation, a beautiful example of a woman who set and played by her own rules and enjoyed life how she saw fit. What else do you want?

What's the best piece of wisdom you've heard from an iconic woman, past or present? I want to know who your female role models are! Shout them out in the comments :) & Happy Women's History Month!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I'm Not a Good Traveler

My older brother is a great traveler — Australia, Thailand, all over Europe, many of the United States, etc.

My mother's not a great traveler. Her fear of flying and love of home has kept her safely and securely in NJ for most of her life.

I landed somewhere in the middle.

I love the idea of traveling — I'm fully aware of how much world there is out there, and I want to see it. I love to meet new and different kinds of people, seeing new cities, and getting to know what life is like in places other than NJ. I often dream about picking up and moving to any number of different cities — in those fantasies, I'll be honest, I do keep it to the continental U.S.

But when it comes to actual traveling, I'm terrible. I hate flying. Not because I'm afraid of anything that could happen on an airplane, but because the 3-ounce rule is frustrating and checking bags does not happen unless absolutely necessary. Which means that I have not checked a bag since the last time I traveled by plane with my father, which was in high school, maybe?

I hate packing. I'm terrible at it. I'm uncomfortable with looking at my wardrobe and saying "yes, I shall wear these items together on day 1, these on day 2, these for the first evening out..." No. I usually go the "Okay, I'm going for four days. That's four pairs of jeans, two leggings for good measure/just in case, and like six tops? Oh and three handfuls of socks and underwear."

And THEN there's shoes — I know enough to wear the most space-consuming shoes on the plane so I don't have to pack them. But then there's running shoes, casual day shoes, night out shoes, dancing shoes, you see where I'm going with this?

Then bags. My purse has to be deconstructed so I can carry on an extra personal item on the plane, which needs to be bigger than my purse is to hold all the things that won't fit into my carry on bag. In go the cosmetics bags, toiletries bags, chargers, hairbrush, snacks {can't go anywhere without some gluten-free fruit leather}, books, you get the idea.

But the worst really has to be the condensing items into 3-ounce bottles.

Coming here to Nashville, I basically went with a "fuck it" approach, rather than running out to purchase a bunch of 3-ounce bottles. {I had a bunch but they got thrown out in my last fit of organization.}

So rather than try to get shampoo, conditioner, heat protectant, leave-in conditioner, and moroccan oil into suitable containers, I said fuck it. I only wash my hair every 3-4 days anyway, one wash with hotel products and no treatments won't kill me. {I just washed my hair with hotel shampoo and conditioner and I can't wait to be home and deep condition. My hair is like my baby. This struggle is so real today.}

It may, however, have broken my spirit.

But of all this, I think the worst part about traveling {by plane} for me is that I can't afford/don't have interested traveling companions frequently enough to NOT forget all this between each flight. So every time I have to prepare for air travel, I have to figure out how to do it all — literally, all of it, from arriving at the airport to leave to getting my ass back home — all over again. Cue the stress and panic.

So what I'm trying to say is, I guess, traveling by car or train is far superior to flying, but I'm going to have to deal with it I guess. Great post today, I feel good about this one.

What bugs you about traveling? Or do you love it and have some great advice to share with me!?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Navigating Nashville

So if you saw my last post, you know I'm spending a couple of days in Nashville for vacation hayyy a professional conference. I've always wanted to see the city, and NJ has grown quite stale {I've recently realized I haven't been on an airplane since my New Years trip to San Diego to ring in 2012!}, and I've never been to the South at all {Florida — especially Disneyland — doesn't count} so I've been thrilled to bits to finally take this trip.

Day One brought about quite the  SQUIRREL!


in me, so for your reading pleasure time-wasting assistance, I present to you:

My Initial Thoughts on Nashville, in Order

  • Did the pilot really just say it's 58 degrees here? Holy shit, that sounds like a tropical paradise compared to the 17 degree-weather I left back in NJ!
  • Oh man. First thing I hear stepping off the plane is Luke Bryan's voice over the airport sound system. I like this.
  • Second thing I hear is Hunter Hayes' voice over the airport sound system. I like this too.
  • Oh, this woman and her delightfully done hair and chipper southern accent makes finding this hotel shuttle information absolutely pleasant. 
  • I think I really, REALLY needed a break from New Jersey.
  • Even the highways in Tennessee are more interesting than those in NJ.
  • Wow, have I been in a rut.
  • I want to move here!!!!!
  • Oh look, there's the Grand Ole Opry House! I should really do some Googling and find out exactly what the deal is with that place.
  • HOW DID I NOT KNOW UNTIL JUST NOW THAT THERE'S A TIME DIFFERENCE OMG I'M SO SMART WHAT?
  • A little live country music by a fab looking duo with my dinner? Sure, I'll take it.
  • I normally despise this Katy Perry song but with a country twist it ain't so bad. Rock on, country singing duo.
  • GLUTEN-FREE FOOD MENU OH THANK YOU JESUS I DID NOT WANT TO HAVE TO EAT SALAD THE ENTIRE TRIP!
  • So, downtown Nashville is basically two blocks with as much neon as you can possibly fit on two blocks.
  • JESUS TAP DANCING CHRIST rent here is insanely cheap {relative to NJ, of course}.
  • East Nashville is supposedly the "hipster side" of the city, or the Bushwick of Nashville, according to a resident... Pretty sure Bushwick consists of more than one intersection, but sure, you can go with that, East Nash.
  • I think I swear a lot more than anyone else I've talked to here, including the NY/NJ transplants I'm with. #JerseyGirl :( 
  • OH LAWD you can smoke in bars here, God help me.
  • I know this is snobby, and as an almost-ex-smoker I shouldn't be so high and mighty, but I can't help but have a little bit of a bad attitude toward cities that still allow smoking indoors. It just seems so retro or something, but not in like a bell-bottoms/stirrup pants kind of way. More like a duck-and-cover/racism-is-like-whatever kind of way. Probably because NJ and NY started treating smokers like lepers when I was still in high school....
  • Am I the worst person ever?
  • 5:1 girl:guy ratio in bars... Pretty sure I've legitimately never seen that anywhere in my life.
  • This bar has at least 8 different kinds of hot dogs on the menu. I haven't had a hot dog in 6 years but right now I'm honestly thinking about it a little bit. The #struggle is #so #real.
  • Is there ever not country music playing in the background?
  • That's totally not a complaint.
  • EL OH EL remember when I used to despise country music?
  • Okay, I probably won't ever live here. But this is definitely a pretty cool city.

I've got a few days left and plenty more to see and do {including working! I swear! I'm doing some things actually related to my job!}, so please note that this list is subject to change.

What are you up to this weekend?
Have you ever been to Nashville as a visitor? What did you think of the city?