Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Cup of Tea (+ Our First Linkup!)

Oh hello, hi, and welcome to the inaugural Training for Tuesday linkup! In case you missed it, here are the "rules" — we can just call them Guidelines for Harmonious Linking. Tracy and I will be here for you on the last Tuesday of every month to talk about your current training goals, what you're working on, what kind of progress you're making, and all that jazz. Don't forget to grab a button and add your link below before you hop around to see what everyone else here is training for!


If you've been following along for a while, you probably know that I started running around Christmas last year (December 26, 2013 to be exact) and I've gotten a few 5ks under my belt over the last couple months. But more notably, I'm running my first big race in October. I'll be running a half marathon (13.1 miles for those who don't know) in just under one month.

When I first started running, I laughed at the idea of running a 5k (3.1 miles) three months later. But I did that. And then I started thinking about running some other races — so I signed up for a few more 5ks. And then one day this summer I started thinking... maybe I could run a half marathon in the fall?

See, I'm a very goal-oriented person. If I have something in my sights, and it's something I really want to do, I'm going to do it.  So from the very start of my running career, I was making myself little monthly goals. I made monthly total mileage goals, distance goals. Then race goals. But when I decided I wanted to run a half marathon, I wasn't entirely sure it was realistic. But at some point over the last couple of weeks, while on a 9-mile run, for the first time ever, I started to feel like I would be ready for race day. I felt like I would be ready to run 13 miles.

And then this weekend happened. Saturday morning I set out for an 11-miler. I called it quits after just two. It was a perfect storm: my slight headache became a migraine minutes after I stepped outside. I was overheated from the get-go (thanks, Indian Summer). I hadn't stretched enough and my legs felt like lead. I packed it in and promised I'd do at least 9 miles the next day.

Sunday came. I stretched. I dressed for the weather. I queued up my playlist. I got out there and was just absolutely miserable. I was hot and cranky, because I'm tired of being hot. My shin was on fire — why? I have no idea. I've worked through stints of shin splints before; this was new and different. just... heavy. My body was tired. I was hungry. It was buggy as hell and that made me seethe. I was just not going to have a good experience on that run, so I called it a night after 2.5 miles.

And I came to a conclusion.

Most of the time, I run because I thoroughly enjoy it. I know I'm not alone in that, but I also know a good bunch of runners who don't actually enjoy running — they enjoy being fit and healthy and feeling accomplished after a run. I love being on the road with my headphones in. It's my time to work through everything: pains in my heart and in my legs. Questions I've been turning over for days. The uncertainties of my life are met with solutions, if they exist at all, during a bout with the road.
image via. wisdom via.
That's where I started with running, and that's where I always want to be. That's not to say, of course, that of the million thoughts that race through my mind on a run, all of them are positive. They're not. We all have our "running sucks" moments, even while in the very act. But they're a drop in the ocean.

Over the weekend, I didn't enjoy my runs. So I ended them. I've trained up to 10 miles, which everyone says is "all you really have to do" to be ready for a half. I'm not sure I agree with that — I absolutely want to hit 13 miles before race day. I feel ready, and I feel confident, and I will give nothing less than 110% of myself on race day. I wouldn't know how not to.

But I'm done training for the sake of my training plan. I want to keep enjoying running as I always have and never lose sight of why I started in the first place nine months ago. So I've decided that from here til the half, I'll run as much, as often, as long, as hard as I want to. Luckily, on most days, I want to run long and hard. But on the days that I don't? I've decided that that's okay too. And on those days, I'll do my best for as long as it feels right... and then I'll go home, practice yoga, and make a hot cup of tea.

Go ahead and share your training goal with the class now! We'd love to hear about whatever you're working on: to run faster, harder, longer. To increase your flexibility and touch your toes. To nail your first race or triathlon. To hit the next weightlifting benchmark. Whatever you're training toward, tell us!

And don't forget to hop around and spread some love, words of encouragement, been-there done-that advice, or a pat on the back. AND don't forget to mark your calendars — we'll be back with the next Training for Tuesday linkup on October 28! Get ready to share a new goal or update us on your progress. Good luck!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Things That are Just Okay

Hey, it's okay...

...that I'm borrowing this post idea from Kay, who borrowed it from Glamour, because I'm giving credit.
...that I finally mustered the energy to go to Ikea yesterday and make a return/pick up something I needed and when I got there I remembered that in that particular county, there are some crazy blue laws which mean pretty much nothing in town is open on Sundays.
...that I drove 20 minutes and paid two tolls to get to the closed Ikea and turn back around.
...that I wound up with this instead of a dresser.
...that I had two absolutely awful, short runs this weekend when I was supposed to have a great 11-miler.
...that I snapped this picture instead of forcing myself to keep running when it was absolute hell.
...that I missed fall premiere season so badly (I cut the cord when I moved!) that I decided to make my own with help from Netflix. I started watching About a Boy last night and I'm pretty sure I'm in love with Will.
...I'm almost 100% sure I'm in love with Jason Katims, because everything he touches (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Roswell (I've heard), and now About a Boy) is flawless.
...that I got to 25 years of age without going a D1 NCAA football game.
...that I finally went to my first this weekend — Notre Dame vs. Syracuse — and that because my D3 alma mater left me with no allegiance to a collegiate football team, I'm growing one on my own for Notre Dame.
...that I'm slightly terrified that no one will link up for tomorrow's Training for Tuesday and I'm not above dropping yet another reminder here just in case.
...that I generally worry about the dumbest shit in the world to an extreme level.
...that I haven't linked up with Biana for Weekending in weeks! because I'm changing that today.

How were your weekends?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday: The Rainbow Edition

Last night on my run, I had to stop about a half mile in.

See, I was running a partially new route. My town is sort of grid-like; there are a bunch of roads that run parallel to each other, north-south, as they stagger up the side of a mountain. For the first time, last night I ran the highest one of those roads (in sleeves and pants!) after a day full of rain.

One other thing you should know about my town is that the houses in it are absolutely gorgeous. Each of them is unique; their designs are just beautiful. I'm talking Victorians with wraparound porches (my favorite!), intricate details, ages-old ivy, perfectly manicured lawns, cobblestone driveways, peaked attics, and even towers on some. My favorite thing about running through town is noticing something new and exquisite about my neighbors' homes. So as I run, I tend to keep my head on a swivel, trying to notice everything all at once.

While attempting to notice something to my right, my eye went straight over the house to the east of me and toward the New York City skyline, which sits less than a marathon's distance away, just over the Hudson River. From my lookout, the island was right there, sitting squarely and perfectly between New Jersey rooftops, the Empire State Building front and center.

I've said it before and I'll say it again — the intensity of New York City never wears off. No matter how familiar and comfortable it is, no matter how unimpressive the nuance of the Greatest City in the World becomes after a lifetime of living within arm's reach, a glance like that when you're least expecting it is enough to stop you in your tracks. It was just the perfect view, made better by a faint cotton-candy sky and a huge — seriously, I'm talking enormous — rainbow arching over the skyscrapers.

So I stopped, paused my running tracker and whipped out my camera app. I wanted to take a picture for the 'grams because, well, it's my insta and I'll post a pretty rainbow if I want to. But some perfect storm of obstacles — the hazy dusky light, the faint fog over the Hudson, the angles of the tree boughs — I couldn't get a shot to do my view justice. So I just put away my phone and ran another five miles.

Being a blogger, and especially a lifestyle one, and having a social media presence, it can be hard to stop feeling the need to document every good (or bad) thing in your life for the audience you've invited to view it all. And lord knows, that's exactly what we do here. And as much as I appreciate each and every person who comes here to read what I'm thinking about (or watch what I'm babbling about), as grateful as I am to have developed real, true friendships with so many of you, and as absolutely indebted I feel to all of you who have offered me such important encouragement and kind support all week, sometimes it's good to remind myself that there are some things I can keep just for me.

Hopefully this doesn't come off like a bum trade — you guys get the heartbroken and confused ramblings of a navel-gazing twenty-something while I selfishly hold onto rainbow-touched sunsets over Manhattan. But I think we could all do with a reminder every once in a while to just enjoy things for what they are, in the moment we experience them. Every special little thing doesn't always have to be blog fodder or an Instagram post. Because some things are special enough to be remembered, cherished, and celebrated on their own, even if we don't see them through a photo filter online.

But of course, there are still some things that are great to be shared. Like our goals and headstrong efforts to achieve them! Don't forget to link up with Tracy and me this Tuesday, September 30, for the inaugural Training for Tuesday blog party! Find all the details here. We can't wait to see what you guys are working toward and how we, as a community, can help you make it happen.



And now we're off to the first full, official weekend of fall. What do you have planned?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vlog: Sweater Weather

So I wanted to talk about fall but pretty much every blogger alive beat me to the punch so instead I vlogged about fall. Reasonable. Please watch it and tell me the giant pimple on my cheekbone isn't that noticeable (it's okay, I know you're lying and it totally is that noticeable).

Also I'm sorry it's so long, I tried, but I just never shut up so really, I did pretty good, only keeping this to like 13ish minutes. Also, sorry about the weird sounds at the end — apparently if you use your laptop while vlogging it makes sounds. Who knew.

So literally all of you can consider yourselves tagged in this Sweater Weather Tag. Please do it. Here are the questions:
  1. Favorite candle scent?
  2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
  3. What's the best fall memory you have?
  4. Which makeup trend do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner? 
  5. Best fragrance for fall?
  6. Favorite Thanksgiving food?
  7. What is autumn weather like where you live?
  8. Most worn sweater?
  9. Must-have nail polish this fall?
  10. Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
  11. Skinny jeans or leggings?
  12. Combat boots or Uggs?
  13. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?
  14. Favorite fall TV show?
  15. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?
Happy fall, y'all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Cheerleader & Other Things I Used to Be

If this past week and weekend (and, honestly, the seven tumultuous off/on years with one particular person included therein) have taught me anything, it's that I need to stop trying to revisit my past.

I have this tendency to romanticize the past. Part of that comes from my need to forgive, my tendency to hold on to guilt (it's a longwinded road to connect the two, so just trust me), my urge to find the best in everyone, and my heavy-handed doling of second chances. But the problem with this mindset is that it's just not accurate. Your memory has a way of weeding out the bad and holding fast to only the good. Which is sometimes useful, sure... but when you're me, it leads you right into a trap of repeating the same mistakes and going back to poisonous situations over and over and over and over again.

So in the interest of finally learning my lesson, I've decided to not even entertain the thought of welcoming the two blasts from my past that reemerged this weekend into my life and continue on the course I was barreling down. And I'm also working very hard to let go of the small part of me that was holding onto someone else from my past who I have yet to fully move on from, as often happens with lack of "closure."

Because there's just no use, is there? As someone whose favorite book is The Great Gatsby, shouldn't I know better by now?
Know who said that second part? (Spoiler alert) The guy who ended up dead in a pool.

So no, you can't. And trying to might just kill you. Literally or metaphorically, neither one is what we're aiming for here.

I do, however, believe that people can reenter your life in different capacities, and that things from your past can present themselves again as new things. But in order for that to happen, I think, there has to be some sort of real, substantial, not-like-we-used-to-be change. It can't be the same patterns and behaviors over again. And I do believe that people can truly change.

In my case, it's pretty safe to say this year has been filled with more change than any other in recent memory. I am not the person I was a year ago. And I like to think the changes have been for the better, mostly, and I fully acknowledge that there have been people, some who are no longer in my life, who have helped them come about and to whom I owe much gratitude. But I digress.

But until there's real change in the whole of things, and until you can say that things are really different and you approach whatever the situation may be as a new one, rather than a continuation of past experiences or relationships, it's just repeating the past. And you're just stuck. So in the interest of FINALLY REALIZING THIS, I'm done. That was then, this is now.

This has probably been really annoying to read, and I apologize and profusely thank you for sticking with me. Here's a list (because who doesn't love lists?) to make things better that only slightly ties in with the theme of the rest of this post.

I Used to Be _____, But I'm Not Anymore
  1. A cheerleader. YEP. And pretty much everyone I ever mention that to comes back with a look of shock and disbelief. Maybe you need to know me in real life to get why.
  2. A huge fan of hip hop music, and Ja Rule in particular. Like, in almost a weird way. I've never had good taste in music. According to my friend the Lieutenant, at least.
  3. Dead-set on being a lawyer when I grew up. I wanted to work in family courts and on cases that were similar to my own brand of family disfunction. I cry at fabric softener commercials though, so it's probably best that I went a different route.
  4. Obsessed with black eyeliner. Would not leave the house without it.
  5. Addicted to Red Bull. I worked with a girl who had a side hustle with the company and she would give me cases of the stuff. I kept one in my car at all times during winter months.
  6. A Harry Potter hater.
  7. Preoccupied with ideas of moving far, far away from New Jersey and never returning. 
  8. Anti-nature. My idea of "the great outdoors" was the beach and bar patios. I hated hiking. I still maintain that that was because as I kid I was literally forced into it nearly every weekend, and that makes it kinda hard to like.
  9. Not a coffee drinker. Those were dark days.
  10. Always on time for things. But, alas, my lineage caught up to me — no one on my dad's side of the family has been on time for anything past the age of 21... ever.
PS: This list is partially inspired by a Judy Blume book, one of the less popular ones, that I read until its spine tore. I'm dying to know if anyone reading gets the reference? Please tell me if you do!

What did you used to be that you aren't anymore?

Linking up with Kathy!
Vodka and Soda

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Words: The First Single

In the most unsettled times of my life, I've always turned to the page. My journal page or a fresh blog page, here or on any of the several others I kept before I opened this shop up. I would make sense of everything by writing.

It hasn't always been prose, and it hasn't always been pretty. It would probably make a lot more sense if I came to a blank page and just wrote the words that were twisting around in my mind. Put disjointed thoughts into complete sentences and used those sentences to create ideas and turned those ideas into steps I could take to make things make sense. But that's not always what happens.

Sometimes I just end up with an awful poem, or a vignette. Or some flash fiction even. Sometimes I end up with more questions than I started with. But I feel better when I write it. Even if it hurts to conceptualize, which I realize makes the least sense of all. I'm sure none of this is logical to most of you.

All this is to say that, as you may know if you were here yesterday, right now, my heart aches and my mind is still in a frenzy trying to really understand why. In truth, there really isn't much for me to do. In truth, I know that both of these men need to go back to where they came from and rejoin the land of jelly sandals and summer vacations — in my past. I know that repeating the past has never worked out well for me (my mom used to joke that she should call me Rerun for all the misguided second and seventh chances I gave people) and that some things just don't ever change. I know that I'm already seeing a ton of red flags and that even though I wasn't exactly "crushing it" to certain standards on the romantic front on Friday before all this happened, I was fine. I was certainly safer, more stable, and better off. I know all this.

And I'm fairly sure that for once I'll actually learn the first time and do what I know I need to do. I'm also partially sure that writing about it yesterday and in emails and messages with friends has helped me reach this place. I don't think it'll be simple to just revert back to where I was Friday, before either of those things happened, but I know that if I was able to dig myself out of the sort of places I've been in before because of my stupid heart, this'll be a piece of cake.

All this is also to say that before I had this blog, my blog alyssagoesbang 1.0 was a home for my adventures in creative writing. Mostly creative non-fiction, but also a good bit of flash fiction and experimentation in stream-of-consciousness. And while I realized after a while that that's not the kind of blog I want to run all the time, I do like putting some of that kind of stuff out into the universe. So I'm wondering if you guys wouldn't terribly mind if I post some different kinds of writing here every once in a while? If you're interested in seeing that side of me, of course. Thoughts?

I'm hoping it will help me to write in this style that I love (and really, really miss) a little bit more, having someplace to house it or share it that isn't just the inside of my own computer. I haven't workshopped my writing in over a year and have all but abandoned my plans to collect pieces like this to publish together (a project that actually reached about 50% completion before I banished it to the back corner of my mind and to-do list to sit and collect dust). So what do you think?

To give you an idea of what I mean, here's something I wrote back in January that has been seen by fewer than five people. Other than myself, only two were intentionally shown, one of them being the subject/addressee who asked me to write something for him; a third stole a peek without my knowing. Ack. But by making it public I'm partially hoping I can stop caring about that invasion of privacy. BUT I digress, whoops.

Here's a look at some of my words, if you're interested...
the only gift i could give you (2014)

i lose my words when i think of you. my sweet words, the sour ones too, the ones i’d use as armor and the ones i’d twist into melodies to try and move you. i can’t say these words to you, even when i know you want me to. i can’t use my words to arm myself against you when your words disarm me completely. do you know how it feels to be rendered defenseless by the break in your voice, the look in your eye, the way your body shifts to learn mine?

i wish i could wrap up a pretty package of letters and lines, of prose and rhyme to offer you, perhaps the only gift i could give you, one i know you want from me. how better to even the score? you give me your best and i’d do best to give you mine, but standing stripped naked and numb before you, my best is still falling behind.

i want to say something lovely, something pretty and perfect and prime, something to give you comfort, a smile, something that says all you want to hear and nothing to threaten your good life. i’d love to saunter up and drop sweet words in your lap, but no, if i’m honest, no, it wouldn’t be nearly enough. pretty words won’t do when i know you’d rather the truth; handing them over won’t do when i want to imprint them on you. 

couldn’t i just once use them to leave a mark? they won’t be pretty and they won’t be sweet, they’ll burn and pinch and bite and hurt. but they’ll be real and raw and every bit of me — don’t you use your words to tell me that’s the side you love to see? and if you can use yours to tie me up with doubt, fear, and some feeling like free, can’t i use mine just once to make things ugly? to brand your skin and let it be known i was here — not that i, not that me that everyone can see — the i, me you reach in and coax out for your eyes only.

i’d be gentle and sure and soothe each pain as soon as i left it. i’d tremble but only panic if you started to worry. and i swear i wouldn’t tell, not a soul, and no one would see. i’d smooth the edges with care so you and i are the only ones who know what words i left there, what they mean, and that you so carefully drew them out of me. i’d leave them with you for safekeeping, but i won’t lie, they’d be heavy to hold — and i’ve already laid with you a burden too great to bear alone.

so forget i said this at all — i don’t even know how much was true — and keep breaking and looking and shifting, and i’ll try to wade through the mess to find something for you, something better, something pretty and lovely and sweet.

Before you ask, it's a metaphor.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Some people really have all the luck. While my friend Kay is jetting all over the planet on her month-long vacation, I'm sitting here in NJ getting bombarded with rain and ex-boyfriend-ish things crawling out of nowhere. Two in twenty-four hours, to be exact. Needless to say, I'm a little frazzled.

Story time.

Over the weekend, I was contacted by two men I honestly never expected to speak to again after ending things a few months ago and a year ago. One, I loved. Madly, and for too long. Enough that I'm having a lot of trouble processing how I feel right now at just the idea of him. The other, though we ended almost as quickly as we began, I knew I could love, easily and comfortably... until things went downhill, fast.

To hear from one out of the blue was concerning enough. To hear from the other less than a day later, I pretty much flew right off the handle. Why either one at all, and why both of them in the same day? I don't mean to suggest that both of them showed up at my doorstep with engagement rings, professing their love for me. That wasn't quite the case. I'm not in the middle of a love triangle now, and one has already — as far as I can tell — retreated back to the past tense where, honestly, I've always known he belongs.

But just having the phone numbers appear on my phone after so long and with so many questions attached has been enough to send my heart into a fit of frustration and my mind into a tailspin. I'm feeling things I never wanted to feel again, asking myself questions I thought I'd answered for the last time long ago. The reappearance of one altered the feelings I was working through toward the reappearance of the other, and now I'm left knowing less about what I want and how I feel about what I've done than I have in a long, long time. I'd put the idea of ever opening those doors — one more so than the other — completely out of my mind; reconciling or even acknowledging each other again wasn't an option. And now, something that I worked so hard to make a hazy memory has been launched to the front of my mind, and I had no say in the matter. All I'm left with is the need to fix it all over again.

I don't know how some people thrive on relationships with more peaks and valleys and twists and turns than a roller coaster. I've had enough tumult in my love life to last a lifetime, and I'm only 25. I don't want a dramatic, stop-start relationship anymore. I don't want to love someone who doesn't know how to love me back. I don't want to cry more than laugh because of the person I've committed to. I don't want to force myself to leave a person I don't want to leave again. And I certainly don't want to wake up to any more ghosts of loves past weighing on my heart and mind.

I don't know how I feel, what I want, or what to do.

It's times like these where I turn to binge-watching episodes of Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, because no matter how unsettled I am of heart and mind, at least I never chose a Ke$ha concert over a legal obligation. Jenelle.

Oh and in case you're wondering why I brought up my friend Kay in the beginning of all this, it's because she is kind enough to host my more positive, less heart-wrenched words over at her space today while she traipses all over the U.S! Go see what I have to say over there about why Kay needs to give American football another chance — and help me convince her, if you don't mind?

The Kay Times

OH and in case you missed it, I blogged on a Sunday. I know, weird since I can barely show up on a weekday anymore. But I blogged about running, and in case you're interested in reading about some of the races I've got lined up — in reality and in my imaginary world — check it out here!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Oh! The Places I'll Go

I'm a list maker. I'm a goal setter. I'm a runner. So how could you expect me NOT to join the fun for this Race Bucket List edition of Runners Tell All? (Oh and it helps that I have a total blog/runner-crush on this month's co-host, my girl Tracy from Tracy Tris!) Here are a few of the big races I want to run before these legs give up on me.

Cape Cod Marathon. Cape Cod is my favorite place in the world. I've been deeply devoted to it for 25 years. I'll probably post more on why I love it so much soon, so I won't give it all away here. But I've been coming to the Cape since before I was born; my maternal great-grandparents bought a B&B-turned-vacation home there back in 1960, and my grandparents kept the memories alive there for us kids. When they retired, they moved up there full-time and still live in the best house ever. Some of the best and most magical moments of my life have been on the Cape. As much as I love NJ, summers on the Cape are such a breath of fresh air. If you've never been, please go visit. Anyway, it's a sanctuary of mine, and my older brother and I plan to register for next year's marathon across the place we love so much as soon as we are able. Might even check out a portion of the course when we head up there in a couple weeks. :)

The House on Main Street
That blue sky though... Chatham Pier, where the friendly seals play.
New York City Marathon. I love this city. Growing up so close to it — really, just an arm's reach away — has firmly cemented it as one of my top five places on the planet, behind Cape Cod of course. There really is no city like New York; it just never stops. Even when the initial magic wears off, this feeling of 'absolutely anything can happen' never does. The intensity of the city is a good match for someone like me. And though I don't ever want to live there — I'm more than content just popping in to say "hello" here and there — I want to run those streets in front of the kind of crowd that only a city like New York can attract.

City of Oaks Marathon. When I went to visit my friend Lisa in North Carolina a few months ago, I only got a taste of what it's like to run Raleigh, but I know I want more of it. And I definitely want to run a race with one of my best friends. And also, I dunno, City of Oaks just sounds cool. I really like trees, that's all. I guess.

Disney Half/Marathon. Because I will run 26 miles under the Florida sun for Olaf, and frankly, I don't quite understand any runner who wouldn't.

Spartan Sprint. Honestly? To say I've done it, mostly. Whatever.

Broad Street Run. I've never met a Philly runner who didn't have a blast on this 10-mile race. Philly is a fun city, and though it's no New York, it's another place where pretty much anything can happen at any given moment. I just want me racing 10 miles to be one of those things.

Superhero Half/Relay. One of the reasons I wanted to start running was because of all the opportunities for charitable giving that coincide with races. This one benefits the American Cancer Society AND I can wear a cape. I'm pretty sure it'll make me go faster. But it's a pretty course in a fun town and I might even be able to rope a pal into running it with me (think about it, Christina!). This is on my to-do list for next spring.

Rothman 8k. As of now, this is only on my list for 2014. It's part of a series of Philly races including the Philadelphia Marathon (which I will NOT be ready for in 2014) and Half Marathon (which is, for me, too soon after my first half to try this year). But I want to run it this year because one of the beneficiaries is the Alzheimer's Association. Last year, some family and friends and I participated in the Alzheimer's Association 5k Walk to End Alzheimer's in honor of my paternal grandmother, who we lost to Alzheimer's last August. It was an emotional day but it felt so wonderful to raise money (and it was so touching to receive unexpected support and donations from so many great people) for Alzheimer's research in honor of our Mema. Every penny Millie's Marchers raised is part of the pursuit of an end to this heartbreaking, devastating and madly growing disease. So I'd love to be able to do that again and run those miles in honor of one of the kindest women who ever lived.

NYC Underwear Run. Because... why not?

Boston Marathon. Is there a competitive runner alive who doesn't think it would be the greatest experience in the world to participate in a tradition like this that's more than a century old and full of the best runners on the face of the earth? For now, and likely for several years, it's all a pipe dream. But one day....

I know I'm missing about a thousand, and I'm sure as I hop around the linkup I'll add at least another 10 to my list. But we've all got to start somewhere, right?

And don't forget to mark your calendars, because next week on Tuesday, September 30th, our lovely Runners Tell All co-host Tracy and I are hosting the inaugural Training for Tuesday linkup! We want to hear all about whatever you're working toward and start helping each other get there with some motivation, support, and a healthy dose of "hell yeah!"s. Are you in?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Defending the Giants & Other Actual Desirable Things

"Eventually things will calm down and I'll be able to breathe again."
— Me, every week since, like, July.

No but seriously, it will happen right? RIGHT? It has to. Because this week I'm editing a whole bunch of (AWESOME) stories for Feather Magazine, running roughly 13 time-sensitive errands per day after work, taking on another freelance project, going on canceling dates, squeezing in visits with my five-day-old "nephew" and his mama (my BFF), and fixing other people's month-old (and very time consuming) mistakes at work while also desperately trying to keep up with my actual work work which is on tight and, frankly, not very realistic deadlines. Oh and trying to remember that I have a blog. And beautiful, funny, witty, smart, and helpful friends in blogland.
I like being busy — I really don't know how to just sit and be. Which is why I always have a to-do list, and why I take on side projects and pet projects and all that. But... then it eventually snowballs, and when you're me, it snowballs in the same week where you start feeling a little sick (though it's probably just sleep deprivation and stress playing tricks on your body) and convince yourself it's Enterovirus D68.

I have no idea what I'm saying. So without further ado:

10 Things I Would Rather Do Right Now Than My Massive Actual To-Do List
  1. Print all the things, since I finally bought the first printer I've owned since college. (It didn't survive my three moves that first post-grad summer.)
  2. Give myself a manicure and then peel the polish off.
  3. Finish Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. IT'S SO GOOD RIGHT NOW I THINK I'M AT THE BEST PART but by the time I can finally sit down to read every night I'm so beat that I fall asleep get tired enough in the eyeballs to close them and then toss and turn for an hour after about two pages.
  4. Run 10 miles
  5. Make a return to IKEA which I still haven't done yet and have to do before I lose the return window, GAH.
  6. Attempt to construct a functional defense for the New York Giants. And then offense. Special Teams are okay, all things considered.
  7. Stretch my violently aching hip flexors (WHAT IS GOING ON HERE WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH).
  8. Identify that one perfect piece of furniture that my apartment is missing that will house all the leftover little things that still need a place to live.
  9. Go car shopping.
  10. Blog, clearly.
But how's your week going?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adventures of Alyssa in a Car Dealership

(A True Story)

or: How to Not Buy a Car in an Ungodly Amount of Steps

Step 1: Realize that your beloved old Stella is on her way to the big parking garage in the sky. Set yourself a deadline to replace her before you need to renew her registration in November.

Step 2: Make your mind up 15 different times about buying vs. leasing and what kind of car you want.

Step 3: Remember how your little sedan got stuck in the snow three times in one week last winter, in addition to every other close call. Decide on a pre-owned small SUV because mama's ballin' on a budget and also because your brothers will yell at your if you buy new again.

Step 4: Set your heart back on the car you've wanted off and on for the past eight years.

Step 5: Tell both your brothers what car you want and have them instruct you to get a different one. Ignore advice. Talk at them until they change their minds and offer you the advice you want to hear.

Step 6: Spend a half hour on cars.com and email 15 different dealerships within 30 miles with the car you want on the lot.

Step 7: Ignore most of their automated response emails until you get one from the dealership .6 miles away from your office.

Step 8: Go there after work, ready to buy, without telling anyone, including your car-enthusiast uncle who lives two miles away and who would kill you for buying a used car without him driving it first.

Step 9: Meet with a salesman who resembles a Hispanic hobbit and never tells you his name. Glance at his ID badge, giggle, and refuse to say his name out loud because it's a euphemism for the male organ of love and because you have the maturity of your best friend's four-day-old baby.

Step 10: Endure the most awkward small talk ever while HH forgets how to spell "Ford" when taking information on your potential trade-in.

Step 11: Go for a test drive having barely talked car with HH at all.

Step 12: Have the following conversations on said test drive:
HH: So what do you do?
Me: I work in publishing.
HH: What do you do there?
Me: I'm a writer.
HH: Really? Like, really? You actually write the stuff?
Me: Yeah, I'm a writer.
HH: I've never met one of those.
Me: ....
HH: (Referring to my current vehicle) (Incredulously:) How did you end up in a two-door?!
Me: I was 18 and I thought it was cute and I wanted it?
HH: Dumb move!
Me: Okay.
Me: (Trying not to make the ride more awkward:) I tend to be the one driving whenever we go out so yeah, it's a little inconvenient trying to maneuver people into the backseat.
HH: Yeah especially when you're all drunk!
Me: Well I'm usually the one driving because I don't really drink all that much and don't get drunk.
HH: Hah, you suck.
Me: Okay.
HH: You go to the city at all?
Me: When I'm in the mood for it. I love having it at arm's reach but I haven't been in much lately, just haven't had much reason to.
HH: Yeah you don't look like you go clubbing.
Me: Okay. [Because that's literally all there is to do in NYC, I guess?]
HH: You snowboard at all?
Me: No, never tried. Want to give it a shot eventually though.
HH: You should, but definitely get drunk first. It's more fun that way.
Me: Sounds like a good way to get hurt when you don't know what you're doing on a snowboard.
HH: Nah, it doesn't hurt that bad.
Me: ...
HH: So will you show me something you've written?
Me: No.
Step 13: Return to the dealership as HH tells you, "You're not that bad a driver! Just a little." Reassure yourself that you're a good driver, especially for being born and raised in NJ.

Step 14: Hand over information on your trade-in. Assume HH has scampered off to the appraiser, but remain unsure because he didn't tell you where he was going when he got up and left.

Step 15: Browse Reddit on your phone for 20 minutes while you sit at his desk alone. Drain your battery to 39%.

Step 16: Tell yourself if he hasn't come back in five minutes you're getting up and leaving.

Step 17: See HH return four minutes later. As he writes your information down again and gives you no answers, sit quietly.

Step 18: Roll your eyes as HH says, "All the other guys keep asking me if you're a model." Ask why. Hear, "Because of the way you walk. And look at you*!" Laugh uncomfortably. Hear, "These guys, ya know?" Give yourself a migraine with the intensity of the ensuing eye-roll.
*Swear to god, not a humble brag. It was ridiculous. I mean, I'm 5'4. Show me a model shorter than 5'10 and I'll show you a liar. XP

Step 19: Remind HH of the numbers you told him in the car of how high you wanted to go with monthly payments.

Steps 20-25: Have HH run back and forth between you and "the bank" (?), each time returning with numbers that are not in the same ballpark as what you said. Inform him each time that the right price is more important than driving something new home today and thank him for his time as you try to leave.

Step 26: Have HH come back one last time with his manager, who you thank and tell you're not buying a car today. Inform them that you're aware they did what they could, but you're not making this big a change of plans on five minutes notice. Stand up and try to leave.

Step 27: Have manager try to talk you into leasing a new and completely different car when you've already said several times in no uncertain terms that you don't want to lease and that you don't want to buy new. Remind them also that, as you said earlier, you have no problem not buying today because this is literally the first car you've looked at and you're not going that far outside your comfort zone without looking down different avenues first.

Step 28: Have manager tell you he's going to call you every day this week.

Step 29: Have HH wink at you as he hands over his card and cell phone number.

Step 30: Leave with Stella and go to Chipotle because it's National Guacamole Day and and remember that you still have a month and a half until your self-imposed November deadline.

Happy Hump Day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Things Runners Know (+ Announcement!)

Runners know the difference between a flat road and a flat-ish road. The difference between a steep and a "long and slow" uphill. They know the ups and downs of every road in town, the streets to fly down and the ones to challenge themselves on. Runners know the peaks and valleys that punctuate the neighborhood and when it's time to go for each.

Runners know every crack in the sidewalk and what roads pitch on the south side. They know which tree roots are beginning to grow through the cement and where it's safest to run with their eyes down. They know where those low-lying branches loom and where it's best to step into the street. They know where the walnut tree that deposits those big green shells waits and how to dance around their skeletons, weaving and bobbing through limbs and casings. They know where the rosebushes creep onto the sidewalk and which sidewalks are better avoided altogether.

Runners know where the dogs live. They know which ones will bark when they hear a sound a mile away, which ones are always after a new friend, and which ones come with the friendliest or grouchiest humans. They know where to dodge Frisbees and tennis balls, lawn sprinklers and softballs. They know where the new couple just moved in and which nest just emptied. They know which dads water their lawns by hand and which kids cut the grass to earn their allowance.

Runners know where the kids live. They know where the rope-jumpers, the future quarterbacks, the grinders, and the trouble-makers live. They know where to find a great hopscotch course and which house always has a light on upstairs. They know which families sit down for dinner together at 6 sharp each day, and which kids snuggle up with Gram for Jeopardy! at 7. Runners know when soccer practice is.

Runners know how the air feels just before a storm, when the last mile that separates them from home and the thunder is suddenly as steep as Everest or as long as the Nile. They know the difference in the wind on a breezy fall day and the gusts that mark a pending boom, splash, crash. They know where the other runners are. They have a favorite house, a gentle loop, a favorite challenge.  They know their streets like an intimate partner, like an old friend, and like a new discovery all at once. Runners know that the roads, like little else to speak of under the sun, are always there waiting.

A few days ago, I chatted a bit about this little party Tracy and I have cooked up, and I want to revisit that today so we can all find the right page and hop onto it. (Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Officially Announcing: Training for Tuesday, a monthly fitness-focused goal-setting linkup.

Now we're not trying to be bossy here, but we do have a few, let's say, strong suggestions. Guidelines for harmonious linking, if you will. Check out how we want to roll:

1. Write a blog post about whatever fitness-related goal you're working toward. It can be ANYTHING. No goal is too big or too small. You might write about...
- A race or triathlon you're currently in training for, like Tracy and I
- Your weightlifting goal of any kind
- To establish a workout or fitness routine, like hit the gym 3 times a week or start going to weekly yoga classes
- To touch your toes
- To be able to run a mile without stopping (Tracy and I both started out with this as a goal!)
- A time or distance personal record (PR) with running, swimming, biking, anything!
- To tone those calves and quads
- A headstand, handstand, crow pose, or whatever pose or asana currently alludes you
- Anything else you can think of!
2. Link up your post with Tracy and me on the last Tuesday of the month (we're kicking things off on September 30th!)
3. Add the button to your post or your sidebar and/or link back to either Tracy or me in your linked post so your readers can find similar posts and we can all connect!
4. We'd love to create a community of ass-kickers here, so hop around to other linked blogs and read about the goals others in our little family are working toward. A few words of support, advice, encouragement, or even commiseration can go a very long way. Spread the love and build your community of cheerleaders and motivators!
5. Go out there and keep being awesome!
6. Don't have me arrested for my heinous abuse of exclamation points! (I'm just really pumped about this.)

We'll be back every month with another link-up post where you can either tell us about how you did on this last goal, ask for help on how to make your dreams a reality, or share a new goal! We'll keep you posted on the dates, but mark down the last Tuesday of the month as the Training for Tuesday so we can all stay up-to-speed on each other's progress.


Are you in?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Letters Vol. 2

Dear Blog Readers on #TeamApple, You guys made my week, putting pumpkin in its place (second, in case you weren't following along) where it belongs.
Dear Chiropractor, I will never quit you. That adjustment Wednesday left me feeling drunk and wobbly in all the good ways. Thanks for being a magician and also for acknowledging that I'm a badass.
Dear New York Giants, Please don't hurt me again. All I do is love you.
Dear J. K. Rowling, I've finally hopped aboard your magical train and so far so good, but I'm actually terrified now that everyone is going to turn out to be a traitor and I have so many trust issues right now.
Dear Entire Rest of the World, I've only just discovered how impossible it is to avoid spoilers of a series that's over a decade old. Please just stop talking about Harry Potter until I'm done, k?
Dear Baby DSM, Today is about to be your birthday, and I cannot wait to meet you! Your mama is my best friend and I have no boundaries so you had better brace yourself for lots of auntie kisses and hugs because my favorite kind of kids are the ones I can leave when they start crying and you're going to be my guy.
Dear Sauconys, We're going places this weekend. Get ready.
Dear Stella, You've been a great car for me for the past seven years, and I know you don't want me to send you off to the big garage in the sky, but the time has come for us to part ways. And no amount of surprise Wednesday morning flat tires I have to spend dollhairs to fix is going to keep me from hanging up your accessory belt because you, my princess, have done enough. Time to hit the golf course.
Dear Sam Hunt, Promise it's not weird that every time I play "Leave the Night On" I have to play it at least two more times immediately after? And it's also not weird that I do this several times a day?
Dear Friends, I still want to know — are you in?
Dear IKEA, I really don't want to have to go visit you tomorrow to make this return, but we all have our cross to bear. Please don't make it hurt too much.
Dear Super-soft Oversized Sweater and Leggings, I can't wait to be inside you.
Dear Eyebrow Threader Whose Name I Don't Know, You da real MVP.
Dear Google Analytics, As helpful as you are, you can really freak a girl out. Who is reading from my home town, my work town, my current town, his town, and my parents' town? Reveal yourselves. (Or don't because I'm really not sure I can handle that.)
Dear Blogosphere, What's on tap for your weekend? I hope you've got a great one planned!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Caramel Trumps Pumpkin

There are some things I've been wanting to get off my chest, so thank a frog it's Wednesday again. Here's your weekly installment of confessions, this time with no rhyme, no reason, and no BS. Let's get to the soul cleansing...

Listen. I know you're all pee-your-pants excited that the PSL is back. And look, I love it too. But I only get about one or two per season. Three tops. Because you know what's better than pumpkin everything? Apple. Apple everything. GO AHEAD AND TELL ME I'M WRONG. More apple stuff for me.
I'll never not use this gif when it's applicable.
Also. ALSO. Very important. The Salted Caramel Mocha. The SCM. Do it. Yes, I prefer this to the PSL. Seriously underrated seasonal drink at Sbux. I've always been one to root for the underdog.

I cut cable when I moved into my new place. Between Netflix and Amazon Prime and my inability to commit, I never watched a whole lot of real-time TV anyway, so it made sense. But it's football season, so it looks like I'm about to become a regular at the bar around the corner. Related: Because I'm a plan-in-advance kinda gal, anyone want to have me over to watch the Oscars next year? I've never missed a broadcast in my life and I'm not about to start.

(Related: I was born on Academy Award night in 1989. During the announcement for Best Picture. Rain Man won Best Picture that year and Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor. #funfacts.)

Also related if you go back to the root: I've been watching nothing but Teen Mom 2 reruns. Thank you, Amazon Prime for feeding my addiction to teenage baby mama drama.

Also Kieffer makes me want to throw up every time he speaks. GIRL, BYE.
It's officially official. I am registered for my half marathon next month. Of course, I've known I'd run this race for some time. But now that I've thrown my hard-earned dollhairs at it, it's legit. I'm doing it. Someone hold me.

Last week sometime I crossed a major threshold. I officially (I like when things are official, obviously) went one full year without corresponding with a particular person, with whom I've had an aggressively rocky, painful, and confusing relationship since our first meeting about 150 years ago. The end of last summer also marked the end of that relationship, but part of me worried that that goodbye would go the way of so many of our previous goodbyes, which were only half-assed "see ya laters" that fell apart months in, sucking me back into the storm. A full year later it's pretty clear that I've finally made it out of the woods for good. And I'm celebrating this, because a few years ago I never thought I'd be able to do this.

I get irrationally angry when I run past other runners on the street and they do literally nothing to acknowledge me. Why are you so antisocial? Not that we need to stop and chat, but a courtesy wave? A nod? A super big smile and thumbs up like that one older gentleman who always makes me smile for a good quarter mile because he just seems so excited to be alive? Nothing? I don't get it. Especially the ones who appear to go out of their way to not acknowledge others. They make me mad, which is probably ridiculous.
Me, whenever I cross paths with an unfriendly runner.
Also, there are way, way, way too many cyclists in my town and they need to settle down a bit. This isn't Tour de France, guys. It's Mountain Avenue.

Whew, that felt good. Right? It's always nice to get the important stuff off our chests. What confessions are you spilling today?

Linking up with Kathy, as always.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Five Mile Freedom (+ A Sneak Peek Mini-Announcement!)

If you came to see me yesterday you know by now that I accomplished a nine-mile run this weekend. For the first time in my life. All my long runs here out will be new personal best distances, until I run my first big race — a half marathon — next month. Even though eight, nine, 10, 11, etc. miles have been on my calendar since I started this half training program over the summer, actually getting here has felt surreal.

I won't bore you with the beginnings of my life on the run (though you can read it here, if you'd like), but to say I never thought I'd be here is the biggest understatement of the month. When I first started running, and couldn't make it a mile without stopping, winded, hurting, nine miles wasn't even on my radar.

At the time, the distant goal in my mind, the goal I wouldn't really even let myself think on too often, was to run a 5k. That's 3.1 miles. The thought of being ready for one three months away was laughable.
But then I got there. And then I knew I would keep going, and longer distances took over the 5k as my "big deal" distances. Once I knew I could run three miles comfortably, I began anticipating the day I could do five miles the same way. Even from three, five looked tough. I think there's just something about certain numbers. Five is one of those that just feels... solid. I don't know, I don't think I can explain it much better than that. But as a young runner, I couldn't wait for the day I could casually say I had just run five miles, no big deal. Though it felt at times like that day would never come.

My nine-miler on Sunday was one of the best runs of my life. I was quick (for me), I felt strong, I was so happy. It was a beautiful night and my town is so precious. It was the kind of run that makes a person who runs a runner. It was every reason I keep lacing up, all rolled up into one jaunt through town.

I ran to my alma mater and past the campus that looks almost unfamiliar to me now, for all the new additions and renovations. I ran past an iris memorial garden that I've passed by car thousands of times, but saw differently from my closer (and slower) viewpoint. I ran through one of my town's many quaint and pretty parks, past a soccer practice, family picnics, first-date walks, and solo strolls. I ran past dog-walkers, runners, bikers, sidewalk chalkers, plant waterers, and chatting neighbors. And I could have run for another hundred years.

During my run, I shaved a little more than three minutes off my previous (unofficial) best five-mile run time. I wasn't aiming for that. Generally, in runs over four miles, I don't worry so much about time; I'm still working on just being comfortable at longer distances. But when I got that dose of reality — three minutes off! — I started thinking about how five miles used to feel so unreachable. I thought about how earlier last week I had a sixer and a five-miler scheduled back-to-back nights, and when I first stepped out for the six I decided halfway through that I would swap them "just do" five because I wanted to take it easier that night.  Five miles was my taking it easy last Wednesday.

Five months ago, five miles was my holy grail. It scared me and excited me at the same time. Remembering things like this, relative to where I am as a runner now, is easily one of my biggest motivators. The thing about running is that all you have to do to be good at it is... do it. And just keep doing it. And do it even when you don't want to, and even when it's a little too hot, or there's something good on TV, and even when yesterday's run sucked and you want to never lace up again because what's the point in running if you suck at it? The point is that practice really does make perfect. Well, maybe not perfect. I'm no Shalane. But it does make you the best you can be.

And it makes your once-impossible sights and goals into realities. Here's hoping I can carry this attitude into the weekend, where I'll go for double-digit mileage for the first time in my life.

And in this spirit, I want to give a sort of sneak-peak announcement about something Tracy and I are working on. She and I are both in training for big races this fall — me, the half marathon; Tracy, the Richmond Marathon. We like to talk about our training with one another, and a good deal of our readers seem to like sharing their training wins and woes with us too. So we're proposing a monthly blog party where we can all link up to talk about our training goals, spread some always-appreciated motivation, encouragement, and support, and hear about what everyone's working toward.

Whether you've got a race or a tri coming up, whether you're just trying to touch your toes through a new yoga practice, whether you're trying to hit that next deadlift goal, or whether you just want to run one mile without stopping, we want you to share your training triumphs with us and others. We want to give us all a space to talk about what we're working for, introduce readers to others in similar boats and create a strong, motivational, supportive training community. All will be welcome — no goal is too big or too small.

We'll both share some more about the linkup details when we get closer, but for now I just want to know... are you in?

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Adventures

I believe that in this life, there are always opportunities to learn and to try new things. To broaden your experiences. Take on new challenges. Taste new flavors and explore new territories. And if those chances and opportunities come to you and you let too many pass you by, what kind of life are you really living?

In that spirit, I took some time during last evening's run and thought about all the ways I try to keep pushing myself into new territories. And as I thought about it, I realized that this weekend alone was filled with new things! Like...

1. I watched The Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time. No, I'd never seen any of them before. Yes, I have a soul. There are just a whole lot of movies I haven't seen. And I never felt the need to go out of my way to check out Pirates because I just really didn't think I would like it. It's not my genre. But then again, neither is Harry Potter and I'm on book #3, so.
Anyway, yes I liked Pirates, and I'm really looking forward to checking out the rest of the movies.

2. I rooted for a college football team. I should explain this one. I love football. I really do. I love it. Today, the NYG season opener, is one of the best days of my whole year. But due to certain circumstances, I went to a D3 college that really couldn't have given a damn about football (though club hockey was a big deal, for some reason?). My campus was mostly about baseball and lacrosse. And all my school friends were arts students, for the most part. I literally went to zero games at my alma mater while I was a student there. It just wasn't really important to anyone but the players themselves and the girls they were hooking up with. In fact, I've been to exactly one game at my alma mater, and it was when my little cousin's college played there — and I cheered for his team. School spirit, I have none. (Worth noting I was a cheerleader in my younger years. We don't talk much about those days.)

Anyway, as such, I have had a hard time getting into college football because it's hard to have allegiance to a school I didn't go to. But after many, many, many persuasive chats with my friend over the years, wherein he's appealed to my Giant fandom and tugged on my heartstrings, I found myself sitting alongside him and rooting for Notre Dame Saturday night. Just call me a front-runner, I guess. (Although I've been a Giants fan since before I could talk, so maybe you shouldn't.)

3. Watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. My mom and stepdad are big Harry Potter fans, so they're pretty stoked I'm finally finding the magic myself. During a visit there this weekend I joined them for a viewing of movie #2, as I'd just finished the second book not long ago. I'm diggin' it, guys. I think that makes me a real blogger now or something.

4. Sent texts to the Middle East. A couple of you may remember that a while back I had to say a sad "see ya later" to one of my best friends as he prepared to ship out to Afghanistan with his Army unit. Saturday night (or Sunday morning if you're on his time) I was so beyond pleasantly surprised to see his name pop up on my phone. I didn't know that texting would be an option at all for us to keep in touch, but I'm so glad he reached out to me on his bit of time off to reassure me that he's safe and sound. It was a huge relief and a wonderful surprise.

5. Did laundry in my apartment building. You guys, this is a big deal. My old building had no laundry whatsoever, and though the laundromat a mile down from my office was clean and lovely and had free WiFi, there's nothing quite like being able to do laundry without having to lug the hamper to your car. Coin-opp, schmoin-opp. I did laundry bra-less, and I don't care who knows it.

6. I ran nine miles. This was the new "longest run of my life." It was also, honestly, the best run of my life. I kept a good pace, I felt strong, I felt like I could have run another nine. For the first time in my training, I felt like I would really, really be ready for my half marathon come race day. Runs like this are what keep me running.

What new adventures did you find yourself on this weekend?
Join me in linking up with Biana and share with the whole class! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This Dress Has Pockets

I'm pretty sure I'm about to get in trouble for not having posted this sooner, but life is crazy and moving is a bitch and things happen. Before we go any further, I must inform you that I was contacted by eShakti to receive a dress and write this post. Of course, opinions are all my own because, you know, ethics, and I don't even think I would know how to go about writing this post otherwise.

So eShakti was all HEY GIRL WANT A DRESS? And, well, who doesn't want a dress? Especially a dress with pockets. So I browsed through their designs and selected this one...
...that I can't find on the website anymore, partially because I waited way too long to make my selection (I'm so very, very clearly not a fashion blogger.) and I wasn't able to pick my first choice any longer, and also because it was cute.

Another way in which I am so very not a fashion blogger? I don't own a real camera, let alone a tripod, so no beautiful naturally lit twirling photos for me. I also don't have a significant other to bully into taking these photos of me, and feel absolutely ridiculous making such a request of literally anyone else. My mirror selfies have always been just fine for Instagram, so they're good enough for the blog too, I guess. I told you, I'm not a fashion blogger. I just needed a new dress.
So anyway. The nice thing about eShakti was the ability to customize the dress to my liking. Like pockets or no pockets. What devil woman on earth would choose to remove the pockets from a dress? I remember my first "this dress has pockets!" revelation. It was New Years 2010, and my friends and I went to a panic party at the disco. As we sat at the "complimentary dinner" we received with our outrageously priced club tickets, fueling up on all the things I didn't yet know I shouldn't be eating, I noticed the dress I was wearing had pockets the perfect size for extra dinner rolls. You know what happened next.

So anyway, along with the pocket question, eShakti also lets you play with the neckline, sleeve, and length of the dress. AND you can put in your exact measurements so it fits you right in the hip, waist, butt, and boob. #CRUCIAL.
After I placed my order it came super fast via DHL and all in all, I was pretty pleased with the whole experience. Now that fall is (allllllmost) here and it's time to update the closet for the season, I'll definitely look to eShakti for some pieces for autumn. Their prices are generally above what I usually prefer to spend on clothing, but with stacked discounts and really cute styles to choose from, I'd be crazy not to at least browse ;)

And if you want to do the same, go ahead and use code alyssagoesbang on any and every order you place before September 19 to get 10% off! You can even double it up with any other promo — like the $25 gift coupon you'll receive when you sign up for a new account at eShakti.com.

{ Find them online: eShakti.com // facebook // twitter // pinterest }

Thanks to eShakti for sponsoring this post, and to you guys for forgiving me for terrible outfit photos. Who wants to guess how many more offers I'll get from clothing brands? 

What's on your wardrobe wish-list for fall?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oops, I Did It Again

If you're some kind of maniac and hate Q&A posts, you're excused from reading the rest of this post. I still LYLAS.

If you're like me, stick around! I know I probably sound like a broken record to some at this point, but I've gotten myself another Liebster Award and, with it, the chance to share some more trivia about the gal behind this ol' blog.

Big, huge thanks to Nadia for the nomination and fun questions! If you don't know her yet, go check out The View is Beautiful.

Now, in my post last week where I accepted another Liebster, I dodged the first half that wanted me to share 11 facts about myself. I figure enough time has elapsed that I can go ahead with them this time around. I know there are a couple new readers around here too, so maybe it's a good time. I'll try to keep it brief:

11 Pieces of Delightful Alyssa Trivia

1. I'm an Aries and I have it tattooed on my right collarbone.
2. I'm training for my first "big race," a half marathon this October. The day of the race will be exactly 10 months from the day of my very first run.
3. I remember and commemorate minutiae like that.
4. I am a writer by day; I work for an educational publisher and write for (mainly) K-12 teachers and other faculty.
5. I have 11 tattoos in total. For now.
6. I'm born and raised in NJ and can't imagine calling anyplace else home.
7. I recently learned that I am 5'4", thus invalidating my answer anytime I was asked about my height in the last five or so years. I thought I was 5'2".
8. I am a feminist and I don't think it's a dirty, radical, or combative word.
9. I haven't left the U.S. in six years, if I remember correctly. Gawd. It's on the list for 2015 to change this at LEAST once.
10. My favorite color is red. It used to be pink. Like, when I was in middle school. My mom still won't stop buying me pink things. It's not my "signature color," mom. Sigh.
11. For someone who runs a blog that's basically about herself, I'm having an obscenely hard time coming up with #11.

11 Very Important Answers to Questions About Me

1. Are you a texter or a caller?
Texter most of the time, caller if it's easier to get a quick answer by calling, but above all I'd prefer to text to make plans to actually see each other and talk face-to-face.

2. How long have you known your closest friend?
I've known my two best since college. One since first day freshman year (7 years), the other since the summer between sophomore and junior years (5 years).

3. What is one product that you recommend to everyone?
Anything from Yes To. I use Yes to Carrots shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleanser; Yes to Tomatoes facial cleanser (I double-cleans at the end of the day); Yes to Grapefruit serum and eye cream; Yes to Blueberries serum and eye roller (alternating with grapefruit); and Yes to Cucumbers wipes. I swear by it all.

4. Are you an online or in store shopper?
I used to be way more impulsive a shopper; I would buy anything in-store. Since becoming a budgeter and not an idiot, I tend to look online and then buy in store. I hate going into stores blind and without some idea of competitor prices.

5. What is your most worn item of clothing?
Yoga pants/leggings.

6. What is your favourite holiday?
Christmas. It makes winter bearable and I love spending so much time with my whole family.

7. What is one material possession you couldn't live without?
If I'm being totally honest, I'll say my Macbook. On it is everything important I've ever written, photos of friends and family. It's my link to the world beyond my reach and from where I've actually accomplished a whole bunch. Plus I dropped a whole lot of money on it and it felt really good to be in a place in my life where I was able to do that, so it's a nice reminder of my having "made it" to a certain point.

8. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
This is tough. I was the first in my family to graduate college, and that felt incredible. Moving out on my own and being fully financially independent at a much younger age than many members of my generation was a big one too, so I'll say that. Professionally, landing the job I have now was a great accomplishment, but it's not the ultimate goal so I'll save it for now.

9. Are you a hot or cold beverage person?
I only really drink water, coffee, and tea. Iced tea once in a while, water at room temperature, and hot coffee and tea even on a 100-degree day.

10. What colour do you think suits you best?
I listed the facts above before reviewing the questions, my bad. I'll say red, because I don't think a single person who's ever met me would say I'm anything less than intense. Also because red = fire = fire sign = Aries = see #1 above.

11. What has been your biggest learning since starting your blog?
I really don't know, because I started blogging back in 2007 or 2008. Obviously blogging has changed a lot, and just learning how to do it, how to commit to it, how to gain and respect readers, etc. was a huge learning in and of itself. Starting this current blog was a different experience because it was a different kind of blog, and I actually tried to extend my reach with it a little bit. The whole entire thing has been a big learning experience, and I hope I keep on learning as this blog grows. One of the coolest things has been meeting people from all over, and learning about life from their experiences. Can I say that? I'm saying that.

As for nominations, I resent rules and the like, which I mentioned here. So rather than hand-picking a select few blogs/bloggers who may or may not be up for a Liebster post, here's an open nomination for anyone (if you like rules, anyone with fewer than 200 followers) out there. I mean, who doesn't love a Q&A post? If you're reading this, consider yourself awarded. Now answer these questions and share the link so I can learn everything there is to know about you.
1. What's the best/most interesting that's happened to you since you started blogging?
2. What was the hardest post to write?
3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? Do they read it?
4. Are you where you thought you would be today five years ago?
5. What is one thing you hope happens, either in your life or the world, in the next five years?
6. What is currently keeping you up at night?
7. What's the most daring thing you've done this year?
8. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
9. What is your most prized (material) possession?
10. Share a YouTube video that always makes you laugh.
11. Are there any words that you try to live by? Please share!
Vodka and Soda
Linking up with Kathy. Love you like XO.