Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I started writing a post about how I wasn't going to write a post about gratitude. I started to say that these posts are overkill this time of year, and terrible cliched, and nearly transparent. I wrote that I believe it's more important to show daily gratitude all year than just in one month or on one day, just like I believe it's more important to show love all year than just on February 14. I started to write about how keeping a daily gratitude journal (when I remember to, oops...) has helped me be more grateful each day and put things into perspective, and that I like to practice this in January, April, and June, just as much as in November. I started writing a whole post about how it would be silly to jump on the bandwagon and list out the things I'm thankful for, as if I'm only thankful for them in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

But then I decided that at the very least, the world could to with a little bit more expression of gratitude, no matter how cliched, hackneyed, or redundant it might be. I'm thankful for my many blessings all year round, but this is the time of year we talk about them. So I'm going to talk about them today, and hope that I do just as well next May of showing my gratitude for these things as I do this week — albeit maybe not in a very public blog post.  :)
(image via)
In no particular order, I'm thankful for...

My family of kind, compassionate, funny, giving, and talented men and women. For better or worse, they've seen me through a whole lot and I'm so glad to say we have so much fun together. There have been tremendous ups and downs over the last 25 years with these people, and the ones I count among this group today have earned every privilege that comes along with being family.

My dear friends, many of whom deserve the title of family too. The people who show me love all the time, who encourage me to chase dreams, who hold me a little bit tighter when they know I need it, who I laugh with until my insides ache, who understand me in ways I always thought impossible. The people who make me believe that "friends are the family you choose."

The blogging community, without whom I would have felt very alone at certain points this year. I've made some incredible friends since starting up this place, and though some of you live hundreds or thousands of miles away from me, I hold you so close in my heart. You guys have seen me through personal and professional challenges this year, you've supported me in my goals, you've encouraged me to reach new finish lines, and you've helped me nurse a cracked heart more than once. I used to think about the support of blog friends as "the kindness of strangers," but that's really not true. We're not strangers, not anymore. The conversations we've had, the secrets we've shared, the jokes we've laughed at together mean we're no longer strangers, merely peering into one another's lives on the Internet. Blogging means opening up our worlds to others out there, inviting them in, and implicitly, perhaps sometimes foolishly and without real reason, trusting them to treat us with kindness. I'm so honored to say no one in this community has made me want to close those doors. So to you, my dear friends — who just happen to live in different cities, states, and countries — I'm so grateful to know you.

My ability to run. This year, I became a runner in what is no doubt one of the most shocking transformations of my life — at least, if you asked anyone who knew me a year ago. Running has introduced me to incredible people. It's shown me so many sides of myself that I never knew and let me know strengths I didn't imagine I had. It's taken me to beautiful places and taught me valuable lessons about pushing boundaries and setting realistic limits. It helped me to stop being a daily cigarette smoker. Running has changed my life in more ways than I can count, and I can't imagine what I would look like today if I hadn't started.

My job, even though it isn't my dream job, and it has its flaws. It affords me the opportunity to earn a respectable living for myself and be independent and live a life I love. It allows me to work side by side with a very dear friend and share laughs every day with sweet and kind girls whom I'm lucky to know.

My yoga practice. Yoga means more to me than I think I can really put into words here without making some people feel ill, so maybe I'll leave it for another day. But yoga is another experience that has led to countless positive things, people, and adventures for me. I'm grateful that I discovered my practice and the ability I've had to nurture it over the years, this year in particular.

And the infinite "little things" that I admittedly take for granted on a daily basis — my health, my independence, my ability to work and make choices and create a life for myself, my ability to stay connected with people I love no matter where they are from Afghanistan to Japan to the far, far-away land of South Jersey, the food I'm able to eat and sustain my body with every day, the clean water I have to drink, my access to quality health care, my access to entertainment and my (albeit limited, however by my own doing) leisure time and activities, and all the things we're often so quick to complain about but that truly do make us lucky beyond words.

For all this and for each and for every day I have the option to write it, think it, and know it, I am beyond thankful. And regardless of how many posts like this appear in your feed today, and how many of you skip over this (I don't blame you), it wouldn't kill me to say it once in a while, ya know?

Happy Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate.
And if you aren't celebrating, happy Thursday and have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do Werk

Whew! It's hard to believe a month has passed already since I ran my first half marathon. And in the month since then, I've run... 20 miles. I know, what.

The reason? No good one, really. Yes, I had to increase the frequency of my chiropractor appointments earlier this month because of the minor car accident I was in the day before my last race. And it's been busier than usual lately; I've had more deadlines to keep up with and more side hustles to make time for than I have in the past few months. But I also deliberately didn't make much time for running. I gave myself a bit of a "rest month," but that changes now.

This Training for Tuesday, I'm looking a good distance into the future and laying down a few fitness- and wellness-related goals. Some are for running, some are for yoga, and they're all for making sure I don't lose my mind.
  • Run, damn it. See above. 
  • Find and begin a new half marathon training program. I'm already registered for my next big race and one of my first 2015 races: The Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in March. The awesome thing about this race is that it's also going to be a huge blogger party! Tracy, Becky, Erin, her husband Jared, and a few others and I will be going for it all together. But... I have a LOT of work to do before then. I ran my first half marathon in 2:16:12, and I know I will run my next a decent bit faster. I know this because the next one won't have 2.5 miles of trail, and I'll use something to keep track of my pace this time, and RnR won't be as hilly as the Oktoberfest Half I ran last month. I have a realistic goal (2:10) in mind and a crazy goal (not telling yet) that I've been turning over with Tracy, but neither one of those is going to happen if I don't get to work. I'm picking up the frequency of my runs starting this week and am going to be in full-on training mode by the end of next month.
  • Work on arm balances in yoga. With the help of my favorite yogi Erin Motz at her workshop last month, I got that much closer to really having forearm stand and handstand down. They're still not very strong, and I'm lusting over some other arm balances that are still beyond my reach. My yoga practice is important to me, and feeling strong and confident in many aspects of my practice as I currently am, this is just sort of the natural next step for me. Now let's just hope I can get to nailing these advanced poses without a permanent neck injury.
    Someday I'll have a decent photography equipment and a place where I can actually take yoga pictures. Today is not that day.
    (Crow pose)
  • Increase the duration of my practices. Currently, I do yoga pretty consistently about five times a week, on weekday mornings. I do roughly 20 minutes of yoga following one of Erin Motz's videos or putting together my own combination that feels good and works with what I want to target that day. Partially because life has been so chaotic lately, I've been skipping yoga on the weekends, but I would really like to try and carve out an hour or so for yoga on the weekends and try more advanced postures and intensive practices. I like this site for videos that are a bit longer.
  • Find a yoga studio and community. I've mentioned before that I have a primarily home practice. And by primarily, I mean pretty much almost entirely. Yoga studio memberships are not cheap, and I generally prefer my daily yoga home practice anyway. The timing works out much better for me too. But, the yoga community is something I feel like I'm really missing in my life right now. Where I live, there is no shortage of various types of yoga studios, so I want to spend the next couple of weeks sampling the options and seeing if I can find a place that feels like home. I'm hoping this will be good for me mentally and emotionally, and I'm hoping it serves another purpose too...
  • Find a studio for my yoga teacher training. This is a longer-term goal, as I don't anticipate having the deposit and time for this until a few months into 2015. But this is something I've been kicking around for years, and I'm tired of just talking about it. I can only imagine how much work becoming certified to teach yoga will be. I know it will be intense, expensive, and time-consuming. But I cannot wait to start the journey. Related, a lot of yoga studios run a program called Karma Yoga, where you are offered complimentary yoga classes in exchange for working at the studio for a few hours, at the front desk or helping to clean up after classes. The studios I plan to sample over the next few weeks all offer this program, so in my trials I'll be keeping this goal in mind too.
So that's what I've got coming up over the next few weeks. I'm trying to be as realistic as I can, considering the work year-end deadlines, the holidays, travel, and how exhausted I've been lately (chronic insomnia, at least I can always count on you...), but also set some goals that take at very least a mental effort and commitment to accomplish. 
And now we want to hear about you — what have you been working toward lately? What do you want to work on before 2014 winds down? Don't wait for the new year to start on a fitness goal; there's no time like the present. So grab a button and link up below. Like my inspiring co-host Tracy so perfectly said, training is better with friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014


I have to be honest. I'm Grinching early this year.

Or Scrooging, if you prefer.

I know a lot of people get really grumpy when the grandiose displays of Christmas come before Thanksgiving. I'm not one of them. Yes, the Macy's and Bath & Body Works displays I saw before HALLOWEEN were a little bit excessive, but I'm okay with stores getting their holiday sales and decor going anytime around November 20th. The holiday season is so short, especially with Thanksgiving being so late this year, and isn't it The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Who can blame people for wanting to make that wonderfulness last a little bit longer?

So that's not what I'm grinching over.

But as much as this time of year brings out the generosity and kindness in people — and I really believe that it does (shout out to the state trooper who let me off with a warning yesterday morning so I could get my brunch on in a good mood) — it also undoubtedly brings out the selfishness, the egomania, the entitlement, and the complete lack of consideration for others.

Knowing that it's the weekend before Thanksgiving and that thousands of patrons of my local Shop Rite would be lining up to get their free turkeys and all their fixings for Thursday's dinner, I went into my quick, small but necessary shopping trip this Saturday with fingers crossed. This grocery store gets crowded beyond belief on a regular Saturday, so I knew I would be in for a treat on this prime shopping day. But it was worse than I could have imagined.

I pulled into the lot fully intending to drive all the way down to the end, far away from the doors, because I just wanted to get in and get out. I ran a half marathon a month ago, I can walk 50 yards to the store. But apparently, no one else was capable of walking any distance beyond 15 feet — at least, that's what it seems like when there's a line of SUVs stalking people as the walk out the front door and staking out all the prime spots. Listen, it's not that cold out. It's not raining. I see you running around with that cart inside the store. You can walk. But if you insist that you can't, please at least make some damn room for the rest of the people trying to park to maneuver the parking lot.

But it wasn't enough that I could barely traverse the lot. When I finally got out of the store, after witnessing countless parents yelling at their kids, being rammed with other peoples' carts, and nearly mowed down by careless people old and young, when I finally made it back to my car, when I finally got out of the spot after waiting people to MOVE, I saw that there was a damn car accident in the lot. Because we have to have our heads so far up our asses that we can't even drive like adults in a 5 MPH grocery store parking lot without causing a traffic accident, thereby drawing police officers and making the parking lot traffic infinitely worse.

Now, it occurs to me that I've just spilled way more ink on this shopping trip than I had planned to, so I'm not even going to go into all the details of the THREE TIMES I had to fight for my life in order to park at the mall (THREE TIMES!) yesterday — Apple Store problems — or the multiple times I nearly tripped over gaggles of holiday shoppers who find it necessary and acceptable to stop right in the middle of a busy walkway to text, chat, contemplate life, or stare mindlessly into perfume displays, or the incessant honking that accomplishes nothing but inciting rage in fellow travelers, or the dingbats who hop out of traffic to ride the shoulder and then try to hop back in because they don't feel that the rules of the road apply to them. I won't talk about any of that.

I just wish everyone could agree that YES, this time of year is busy for a lot of people, YES, we're all rushing to a million different places and have a long list of things to do, YES, no one likes to sit in traffic (yet we are the traffic ourselves, ya know?), YES, it can be frustrating to watch a light change four times before you move an inch, YES, we want to go fast and get where we're going right now... BUT no civilian driver on the road is more important than any other, and it would be super duper if everyone could stop acting as if they are above the rules of travel and of general decent human-to-human behavior.

Because that's the kind of crap that ruins the holiday season for everyone.

So please, stop tailgating me so close that I can't even see that you're behind me. Stop driving with your high beams on because you want everyone to get out of your way so you can drive at break-neck speed down a busy highway. Stop hunting down other shoppers and drivers. Stop consuming three times the amount of driving and/or parking space that you actually need. Stop honking for no reason. Stop expecting everyone else to move out of the way so King/Queen You can be the only person getting to their destination on time. Stop believing that your agenda is more important than anyone else's and stop acting like you're the only one with somewhere to be.

Slow down. The holiday season comes once a year. Enjoy it and remember that the goal is kindness and generosity toward our neighbors. And I'd really like to make it through this one without any more car accidents, if you please.

Before class is dismissed, here's your reminder that TOMORROW is the last Tuesday of November, and you know what that means! Before the holidays with all their eating, drinking, and being merry truly arrive, let's set a goal for the next month! Or let's talk about how you kicked ass in the month of November. Are you training for a race? Working on your yoga practice? Starting a new lifting routine? Getting started in biking, a sport, or any other active endeavor? Link up your training wins, woes, trials, and goals with Tracy and me tomorrow for Training for Tuesday! Grab a button and share whatever's on your mind!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday: The Good Stuff Edition

Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Regina George if it's been ages since you linked up with Amanda for Friday Favorites?

*raises hand*

I figured this would be a good week to merge a favorites post with some gratitude, following Ashten's lead. Earlier this week I got some tough-to-swallow news (I'm fine)...
...and thought to myself that morning, "Today is definitely a day for the gratitude journal." Gratitude journaling helps me find silver linings and realize that even when the sky is falling, or at least it feels like it is, there are still good things happening all around me, and I still am luckier than so many. It's important to me that I remember that and try to stay as positive as I can. So with that said, here were some of the brighter spots in my week:

Favorite Recipe
I made this Italian Wonderpot on Sunday and have been portioning out the leftovers for lunch all week. This was one of the best things I've made lately, period. SUPER flavorful, so incredibly easy, very versatile, and a good method to learn and adapt with tons of different flavors and ingredients. I used my favorite pot so I didn't even have to break the spaghetti I used and that was it — you don't even need a strainer for the pasta. I'm looking up a bunch of similar ones to try out through the rest of the winter.

Favorite Workout
Even with two visits to the chiropractor this week, I was feeling so achy and just bad this week. I haven't been sleeping, I've had one thing stressing me out after another, deadlines are keeping me up at all hours, and the cold has set into my bones. It wasn't until my Wednesday adjustment that I realized just how little I've been taking care of myself this week. I skipped yoga on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and honestly, it showed. I made up for it with this workout Thursday morning and my back immediately started feeling a bit more comfortable.

(Check out the rest of my favorite yogi Erin Motz's videos here and here!)

Favorite Read
I'm participating in the Semi-Charmed Winter 2014 Book Challenge, and now that I've finally finished reading the Harry Potter series (I loved it, you guys!), I was ready for something non-magical. I picked a YA novel, Jessica Darling's IT List, because... well, I'll be 80 years old and still reading YA. I love it. I love Megan McCafferty, and this novel is a MG prequel to the series I've loved since I was 13, the Jessica Darling books. I grew up with Jess, she feels like a best friend. I'm so, so, so happy Megan went back to give us more Jessica. (Now if only we could get Hollywood to commit to a Sloppy Firsts movie....) I read this breezy book in just a few days, but don't get it twisted: Just because this is YA doesn't mean it isn't clever, funny, and charming for readers of any age, and it's an absolute must-read for any fan of Jessica Darling. I can't wait to finish the prequel series too.

Favorite Weekly Wear
It's dipped below freezing here in NJ this week, and so it's officially winter as far as I'm concerned. I finally was able to budget in a replacement pair of Ugg boots (I really don't care if they're so 2002 or whatever. They're soft and warm as hell.) and I'v been pretty much living in them. Thank god for a casual office.

Favorite Song
I don't know why, but I've been playing this like crazy this week. *shrugs*

Favorite Netflix Binge

As pretty much the entire Internet knows, the whole series of Gilmore Girls is on Netflix right now and I, like any red-blooded American woman, have been watching pretty much nothing else. I didn't watch the series in its entirety when it was on air, I think because I was the only girl in the family and rarely got first dibs on the TV. But I had seen bits and pieces over the years and was so happy when I could finally stream the whole shebang, start to finish. I'm about halfway through the last season and am kinda hating that it'll be over soon! What should I binge on next?

Favorite Purchase
So this happened. *big-eyed emoji here*
D.C., here we come. Second half marathon, you're mine. More on this another day! For now, just: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(P.S.: This Tuesday is our next Training for Tuesday linkup! Join Tracy and me to chat about your goals and successes and get some motivation before we officially head into the holiday season!)

Favorite Pick-Me-Up
I may or may not have eaten an entire bag of these in two days. (Spoiler alert: I did. I regret nothing.)

Favorite Delivery
I'm 50% through with my Christmas shopping, and the majority of the gifts I've bought so far (the one exception being a restaurant gift certificate for my grandparents who hopefully haven't figured out how to use the Internet and stumbled on my blog) have been from Etsy, so I've placed a bunch of orders and the gifts have started arriving! I'm going with Etsy for a lot this year because I've imposed a one-gift rule for everyone on my list (a post on my gifting philosophy coming next month), and so I wanted to buy one really great gift for everyone. I love to support small, original, creative businesses whenever possible and have found some wonderfully unique gifts for my loved ones so far. (If you're looking for some gifting advice, my girls at Feather have been churning out awesome gift guides like woah!)

For all of these things I've been fortunate enough to have this week, and for all the other small joys that make life so sweet, and for all the ways I continue to be lucky in life, I am grateful.

I am also very, very, very grateful it's the weekend. Oh and I would also be super grateful if you all sent me a quiet good vibe or crossed your fingers — and try not to hate me for not explaining why until I can be sure there's nothing for me to jinx. Love you like xo.

What are you guys up to this weekend? As always, I hope it's an amazing one.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Words: Drive By

Every now and again I want to use this space for what my old blog, my creative writing blog, was meant for: to house some adventures out of the "lifestyle" game and let me play around with my words
I used to participate in Magpie Tales linkups once in a while, and I was really feeling* this week's image — so here goes nothing...

Drive By 

When I came to visit you / That's when I knew / that I could never have you

you fascinated, you fascinating thing, you were fascinated with me. with my ring. my clunky silver and stone ring, the ring that sits on the finger that he used to hold, and when he didn't anymore, my clunky silver and stone ring did instead. and while you slid my clunky silver ring from my finger and twirled it in yours i stole the chance. the world was fixed on you; i was fixed on you. your hands were fixed on my ring and then your eyes moved to fix on me. i blushed.

I knew that before you did / Still I'm the one who's stupid

i wouldn't let them call you calculated. but in the hushed words, the looks that lasted a single second too long, the clink of bottles, the padding on pavement, the turning of pages, the heavy silence, and the sounds of quiet torture between us, i tried to figure out the math. i always came up with one too many, and you promised my math was off. i was fooled.

And there's this burning / Like there's always been

it didn't add up that i, me could fascinate you, yes you. that i could make you want to run with me, and that you could make me want to run. but i did and you did and suddenly 'safe' meant something new and strange and where was i? where were we? i was interrrupted.

I've never been so alone

i was in over my head
And I've never been so alive

and i walked through fire for more.

Visions of you on a motorcycle drive by / The cigarette ash flies in your eyes / And you don't mind

every minute, every waking moment, every moment together and even the whole of every single solitary one apart, you set the world on fire and called it a gift to me. you burned bridges and forests and made walls tumble down and the sirens screamed out under the weight of your imposing fist and so did i, and my siren song became your anthem. you sang along like you knew the words (i helped you learn them)

You smile

and muted my song when it suited you. and i was silenced.

And say the world, it doesn't fit with you / I don't believe you

and so i sang your song instead. my teeth broke and tumbled out of my mouth in crumbs when the words wouldn't fit, but for you, i tried. and my tongue bled when i bit it one too many times so you could have your peace, so i could keep you safe and so you would only hear the song you wanted to dance to. and i broke.

You're so serene / Careening through the universe / Your axis on a tilt / You're guiltless and free

i should beg forgiveness but i can't muster another word for an apology after i used every one i knew to figure out how to break you too. for half a moment it felt and looked something like relief: the sharp, jagged pieces of these grandiose ideas we once had of who i was, who you were, who we could be and what we would never do. but it was fake relief, like the moment your body goes numb after the hundredth lashing, the way your nerves call it quits and your skin becomes water, the way you spend just a heartbeat thinking you'd rather feel nothing at all, before you remember that at least when you burn, you know you're alive. and sweet, merciful hell did you make me feel. and i burned.

I hope you take a piece of me with you

but your skin turned to water and i lost you on the current.

*I'm fine. I just have a good memory.  :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Six Real Reasons I'm Pretty Much Undateable

As may be painfully obvious (and totally understandable) to most of you, I'm single. I think I'm required to clarify that I'm 25 and single, because that suddenly makes it a whole new ball game. Because at 25 I'm not supposed to be single. Or at least, I'm not supposed to be this single. By that, I mean I haven't had a quantifiable "relationship," ya know, with a person who called me their girlfriend out loud and in front of their parents in... well, the better part of a decade.

What I have had instead is:
  • A horrendously undefinable seven-year off-and-on stint with a man who I should have cut things off with (or kept them cut off with, as it were) about 1,000 times before I actually did
  • A summer fling with a magician 
  • A winter fling with a firefighter
  • A late fall fling with a college kid after I'd graduated
  • A lot of conversations with people about all the reasons we can't commit to each other right now
  • A lot of attention from people in relationships who were shocked that I wasn't cool with entertaining their scandalous ideas
  • A month-long summer fling that nearly had all the intensity of the seven-year thing
  • A couple of exes who reappear for no explicable reason
  • A handful of encounters and adventures I maybe shouldn't talk too much more about
  • A lot of conversations with people who are apparently way more uncomfortable with me being single than I am, in which I repeat my whole-hearted philosophies on love/relationships:
    • (a) A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. (- Irina Dunn)
    • (b) I like myself, I like my life, and I'm happier being alone than I am in a bad or bad-for-me relationship.
    • (c) If I'm going to be with someone, it's because they complement my life; not because I need them to make it better.
This is, unfortunately, not acceptable to a lot of people. And by a lot of people, I mean my aunts and most of my friends who are in relationships.

But I mean that a, b, and c with all of my guts. And it's a good thing I do, because I'm not a great dater. I mean, I'd totally be friends with me if I were someone else. Well, someone else with a decent sense of humor and thick skin who isn't going to whimper at every snarky comment I make.
But as far as dating me? I'm not going to lie, it's certainly not for everybody. It's not easy. As evidenced by the trail of broken-down, shuddering, confused men I've left in my wake.
Kidding. Sort of.

So to satisfy grandparents, aunts, friends of parents, coupled friends, and single men who think "how are YOU still single?" is a valid pick-up line everywhere, here you go:

An Honest Explanation as to Why I Am Still Single, At 25, When I Should Apparently Already Be Engaged or Married or At Least Living With Someone, Even Though It's Not Like My Life Is in Shambles As It Is, and Why I'm Not Suicidal Over It, Because I'm Actually Just Pretty Much Undateable

1. I get really easily annoyed by people and am extremely selective with my patience. Basically, and I know this isn't a great thing to say, you kind of have to earn my patience and annoyance. If we're still getting to know each other and you annoy me, then you're just going to be a person who annoys me. On the flip side, if I've already gotten to know you and I like you and THEN you annoy me, then at least I know (a) you aren't 24/7 annoying and are maybe just having an annoying day and (b) you have redeeming qualities that make the annoying ones pale in comparison.
2. I can and often prefer to spend time with you without touching you. This is important: I am not a touchy person. Do not play with my hair. Stranger at the bar/grocery store/beach/every other place this has inexplicably happened: Do not touch/trace my tattoos with your fingers. (Yeah. WTF?) This ban on touching is lifted when I feel comfortable and then, sure, it's fair game. But even then — a point which most people don't wait for — why do we have to be touching constantly? It's annoying (see #1.) Don't say affection, because poking me in the shoulder with your shoulder or something isn't affection. I don't need you stroking my kneecap during the movie to know you're into me. That's weird. And also annoying. And listen, I'm no prude, but I don't dig extensive PDA. I have a feeling people will know we're together even if there is an inch of space between us, and even if they don't, I actually don't care at all. Please give me some damn space.
3. I don't receive or give out early terms of endearment or expressions of affection well. By the way, I'm fully aware that I'm a poster child for intimacy issues. Let's just get that out of the way. I'm aware. Anyway, here's the thing: It's rare that this feels genuine to me, whether I'm trying to dish it out or take it. Remember that seven-year thing I mentioned above? It was then that I learned how easy it is for (some) people to make someone feel loved when they aren't. Terms of endearment don't take any effort to say, and very little effort to sound genuine. I've been told a whole lot of things. And I'm a writer — if anyone knows how words can lie and manipulate, it's me. So I've had my fill of being told, and now I care much more about being shown. Because I've been called precious terms of endearment countless time and heard expressions of affection even more, but that's just not enough to make me believe it. So unaccompanied by any actual gesture of affection or love... sorry baby. Talk is cheap.
4. If you don't know me well or can't keep up, you probably think I'm insulting you most of the time, and I don't care. I don't care because you got yourself into this mess by insisting you "can keep up." You can't and that's okay. Listen, I am a very sarcastic person. I always have been (I blame books and hating everyone I knew as a kid) and I have a really hard time checking it. And I also don't think I should have to change the whole way I speak, ya know? Anyway. I tend to test the other person out early with an innocent and fairly obvious snarky comment. If it goes over their head (it usually does), I explain that I'm just kidding (I have to say that a lot more with most new people than I'd like to) and that most of what I say is sarcastic. I invariably get a response like this: "Oh yeah me too, I'm really sarcastic. Hope you can keep up ;) ;) ;)" (in person and in text). And then I get all ragey because STOP BEING ALL "OMG I'M THE BEST AT SARCASM" when it just sailed RIGHT over your head. It's annoying and misleading because I'm just going to keep saying sarcastic things. And if I have to explain 15 times per date that I was just kidding, I'm not having a good time. Snark back or get out.
5. I have no interest in being "rescued" from myself, my circumstances, or the the world in any way shape or form: My life is good, and I want it to stay how it is for a while. I'm just open to making some room for one other person in it. Yes, I understand that being with someone means shifting priorities and being accommodating. I can do that. What I can't do, however, is listen to you give me advice on how I should talk to my boss, service my car, approach my "father issues," change my career, forget about this one goal and work on a different one, stop running because it's bad for my knees, stop seeing my chiropractor because you "fail to see any applications of chiropractic that would have an effect on migraines" (<- actual quote), adjust my voting practices, alter my view on feminism/politics/religion, eat differently, "stop being uptight and get drunk once in a while," or any of the other ingenious pearls of wisdom people seem to think I am in desperate need of, unless and only unless I ask for your opinion or advice or make it apparent that your feedback on how I'm doing things is welcome. I've kept myself alive and thriving for 25 years, I have a pretty good idea of how to keep doing it.
6. I love being by myself. I can love you too, but that doesn't and will never mean that I want you around all the time. Telling this to people is often like kicking a puppy though, and I'm against animal abuse, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is for me. I can like spending time with you and like spending time by myself in equal measure and still want to be in a relationship with you and still love you and still like the look of your face. But I've always been independent and I've been taking care of myself for a very long time. I'm used to and very much enjoy my alone time. Please respect it. (Spoiler alert: They don't.)
But other than all that, ya know... I'm a real catch.

Oh! Total non-sequitur: Here's your reminder that one week from today is your next chance to link up with Tracy and me for another installment of Training for Tuesday! Let's chat training before the holiday season is officially set in motion and we all gain 30 pounds at Thanksgiving, shall we?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Recipe: The Best Spinach & Artichoke Dip

My mom has been best friends with her best friend for over 30 years. The two met when my mom moved into the neighborhood in second grade and they've been through everything with each other ever since. My "aunt" has been as much (or more!) a part of my life as some blood relatives, but as we all grow up and get busier, it's harder to make time to enjoy each other's company.

Over the past few years, we've made it a mission — my aunt and her two daughters who are my age — to get together a few times a year for a classic girls night: wine, snacks, catching up, and belly laughs.

We gathered at my mom's this past Friday for the latest installment. For the occasion, I pulled together my favorite, go-to bring-to-a-party dish: spinach and artichoke dip.

I found a recipe for this ages ago, copied it down, manipulated it a bit, and have been hassled for the recipe countless times. This stuff is good. Not even remotely kidding: I went to a party once and set out the spindip on the snack table. I stepped outside for about five minutes, then figured I'd go in and grab some snacks. THE ENTIRE PAN OF SPINDIP WAS EMPTY! Next time I brought two trays.

I've emailed out this recipe to various friends of friends since I started bringing it and this weekend my "cousin" said she wanted a recipe too. I figured I'd share it here for any of you hosting holiday parties or attending a Friendsgiving or Friendsmas who need something easy to whip up that will make any crowd happy.

Disclaimer: I don't know where I got the original recipe, but I've worked it a bit differently over the years. If this looks like your original, please let me know so I can credit you!
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it's easy to make modifications without satisfying flavor, and easy to cut calories (though there's really not planet on which this is "figure friendly") using lower-fat ingredients.

What I Use:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 8oz. package "lite" cream cheese, softened — you can buy full-fat, non-fat, store brand, or the good stuff: it makes no difference in the flavor
~ 1/4 cup (I just eye-ball a few tablespoons) mayonnaise — You can use Miracle Whip if that's your preference or, if you're like my cousin's husband and despise even the mention of mayonnaise, skip this part altogether
~ 1/2 cup grated cheese — I just use whatever I have on hand. Sometimes it's Parmesan, sometimes it's Romano, sometimes it's a blend. It makes no difference
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Garlic powder

What I Do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and find a pan. I usually use a round Pyrex dish, but you can use any small-medium glass pan or pie plate
2. Rinse and chop artichoke hearts and add to a mixing bowl
3. Add cream cheese, mayo, and grated cheese to artichokes and mix together gently
4. Dry (by wrapping in a paper towel and squeezing out the excess water) spinach and add it to bowl
5. Gently mix in the spinach and add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. If you want to get crazy you can add in onion powder as well
6. Spread the mixture into your baking pan and smooth over top. Add a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella over the top
7. Put pan into oven, uncovered for 15 minutes. Take out, and use a fork to turn mixture around and redistribute cheese. Put back in oven for 15 minutes — add another layer of cheese over the top if you like it really cheesy and want a browned top — and then take out ready to serve!
Now if you're preparing this at home to be served right out of the oven, you can "cook" it all through right here. If you're bringing it somewhere else, I suggest doing the second 15-minute heat-through at your destination, if possible. This dip is best when warm and melty.

Serve it up with pita chips, pumpernickel bread or pretzels, or any other sturdy crackers. Enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Gratitude

Today, for the sake of getting some words and a splash of creative energy out of my system, I decided to join Ashten for Gratitude Friday. I have a much longer (lucky for you guys! ;)), more heartfelt post on gratitude coming up (because really, who doesn't this month?), touching on my own adventures in gratitude journaling and practicing thankfulness, but since this has been such a trying week, I thought it would be a good one to begin counting my blessings.

In no particular order, this week especially, I am grateful for...
  • My new Jeep baby, Sirius Black, with its heated seats
  • The fact that I haven't come upon any new spoilers in the last few weeks as I come SO CLOSE SO VERY CLOSE to the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The fact that I am able to read the books of my own choosing and for leisure, even if the time to do so this week has been limited
  • My ability to turn my degree (B.A. English) into a career (writer) that while I may not enjoy 100% of the time, I am good at and can do with a degree of ease that allows me to (on most weeks) balance my work and personal life healthily
  • The freedom to write where and what I want — for this, I'm thankful always
  • My chiropractor, who not only fixes my battle wounds but entertains and amuses me during every visit, and without whose expertise I'd surely be suffering right now
  • My own independence from my family, my financial independence, and the knowledge that I can and do take care of myself and handle my bid'niss
  • The trust and friendship of a brilliant novelist who is going to rock all of our worlds when her book, that I'm honored to be editing, hits shelves
  • Chipotle
  • The paycheck I received today and the knowledge that it enables me to live a life I create intentionally and with care
  • My friendships — again, always
  • The fact that even though I'm 25 and unquestionably jaded about love and irredeemably bad at romance, I managed to feel some flutter of butterflies over a dude in a red bodysuit
  • Mariah Carey's complete discography on Spotify, which I was prompted to tune into yesterday after the radio blessed me with THIS on my drive into work
  • That it is Friday once again, and that I'm off the hook for that whole using-my-brain-at-work thing for the next few days
What blessings are you counting right now? What are you grateful for? Are you up to anything fun this weekend? I hope you have an amazing one.  :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jessie Spano Just Gets Me & Other Time-Consuming Things

I'm here! I'm here! I know it's only been a day but it was almost two days and when those two days aren't weekends I get anxious about everyone up and leaving because two weekdays sans post obviously means I'm never returning to this blog and why should you stick around? Sigh. Oh right — I'm going to be calm and normal and not spazz out this holiday season. Right? Easier said than done.

10 Things I Don't Have Time to Do Right Now That I Have to/Should Do Anyway Because Life
  1. Finish an initial full read-through of a novel I am editing for this brilliant author who has put her heart and soul into my hands by hiring me for this project. (It's a brilliant novel. I have terrible time management lately.)
  2. See my chiropractor for a second time this week because since I was in a car accident a few weeks ago, my already messed-up back is in even worse shape and I don't want to get even worse still so it's trekking the half hour to and from his office multiple times a week for me until he puts the kibosh on that. I love my chiro, but it would be so much more convenient if he could just come adjust me in my office or apartment.
  3. Yoga. I totally slept in and skipped yoga this morning. I'll be regretting this move within the hour. Though I did leave my mat out, thinking that maybe I'll squeeze in a quick practice this evening but let's not be ridiculous.
  4. Blog. This is such a bad use of my time right now but whatever. See above.
  5. Work. Because there's all that life stuff in the way. Work and life just constantly seem to be battling each other for my brain space. Tell me again why they only ask working moms — particularly those who usually have a partner to give them a hand with at least one of those things — about work/life balance? #SINKsForWorkLifeBalance (SINK = single income, no kids)
  6. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This week I've read a total of maybe 10 pages. I'm SO CLOSE to the end, but I just can't make the time to read right now and it might actually be killing me. (For anyone new to the party, this is my first read of the series, no spoilers!)
  7. Go to pub trivia, but I did that last night anyway because I like living on the edge and sometimes I like to drink hard cider and eat potato skins with excessive sour cream.
  8. Write an article for Feather Magazine due this week. HEY — you guys can help me out with this. What are your favorite holiday traditions? I want to feature the yearly must-dos of Feather Girls of all backgrounds. So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or none/all of the above, drop me a line sharing your favorite winter holiday tradition. One present on Christmas Eve? Dinner at Grandma's? Midnight mass? Chant naked in the backyard holding big sticks? I won't judge. Please and thank you for sharing your memories with me!
  9. Go on dates with The Flash, but...he's got a really awesome full sleeve tattoo and he made me dinner and we have the same favorite Shakespeare comedy, so I think I'd actually be more foolish not to keep seeing him.
  10. Run. Seriously, this is not a good week for me with running. I last ran on Sunday — it was awesome, by the way; this whole "not in training" thing is doing wonders for my pace! — and am hoping to get in some miles tomorrow or Friday but. We'll see. 
Linking up with Helene for #SOTWW!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making Happy Holidays

It is so, so easy to reach Stress Level: Midnight this time of year. As I've mentioned a time or two, I'm a Type A with mild OCD and anxiety who's always doing 150 things at once. Yeah, you think I get stressed out? Just a little bit.
Up until a few years ago, this time of year — immediately following Halloween and straight through to the end of the year — always signaled a non-stop freakout:
  • I have to get all my holiday shopping done.
  • I have to make sure I don't forget to get anyone a gift or send anyone a card.
  • I have to get my Christmas donations sent out.
  • I have to do all of this under budget and not go totally broke.
  • I have to remember my mom and grandfather's birthdays right before Christmas.
  • I have to figure out what to prepare for Thanksgiving, and then do it.
  • I have to decorate for the holidays. (Silly, maybe, but it's part of me!)
  • Here comes the snow. Is my car ready? Is my wardrobe ready?
  • I have to schedule in all the holiday parties that come up over the next few weeks.
  • That means host(ess) gifts and party outfits.
  • Let's not even talk about work – year-end deadlines and reviews, oh my!
  • Do I have the days to take winter vacation time this year? Can I actually GO anywhere? LOL NO but wouldn't it be nice? Staycation it is. Let's plan a vacation for next year...
  • Who's coming into town for the holidays that I need to schedule in?
  • Shit, am I getting sick? I feel like I'm getting sick.
  • Christ it's COLD out. Do I really have to leave the house at all? Oh look, ice. Oh look, broken neck.
  • I haven't seen sunlight in a whole week.
Need I go on any further?
I often have this problem where I feel like I'm forgetting about something, or there's something keeping me from feeling "done." My budget is set, my shopping lists are checked twice, my To Do list is handled and organized. Everything is in its right place but there's something that keeps me double checking my calendar, my lists, my spreadsheet. It's a really inconvenient way to be, let me tell you. It's frustrating. And it's exhausting.

This year has been a really wonderful one for me. Full of change and growth and exciting new beginnings. So I'm determined to ride that good feeling right into 2015. No, Holiday Season 2014, you are not going to reduce me to a manic mess of a woman this time. I'm not letting the stress spoil the holidays for me, and I'm not going to give in to the negativity some people can't resist spreading through their relationships.
From now until the end of the year, I'm going to Christmas shop.
I'm going to give back.
I'm going to run for the love of running, rather than to prepare for a race.
I'm going to decorate my apartment in hand-carved Santa Clauses and evergreen wreathes.
I'm going to play Christmas and winter music by the Glee Cast (IT'S SO GOOD), She & Him, Michael Buble, and Harry Connick, Jr.
I'm going to enjoy my heated seats and learn how to use four-wheel drive.
I'm going to watch ABC Family Christmas movies under warm blankets with hot tea.
I'm going to watch Love, Actually and The Family Stone and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and quote along, even if I'm talking only to myself.
I'm going to endure the horrified looks I receive from people who learn I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life, Home Alone or A Christmas Story.
I'm going to enjoy Thanksgiving with kind people whom I love and love me.
I'm going to celebrate Christmas with loved ones.
I'm going to ring in the new year with positive energy, good friends, laughter, and love around me.
I'm going to remember my grandmother, and miss her, and carry my beautiful memories of her from holidays past into every moment of the next few weeks.
I'm going to be where I am and when I am.
Directed toward literally no one. It's just... well, perfect.
How are you planning to spend the next couple of weeks? How do you prepare for the onslaught of holiday mayhem? Do you have any tricks or tips for keeping calm through the holidays?
Oh and most importantly, for playlist-building purposes, what's your favorite Christmas/winter song? (Or artist, because there are really only like 10 songs sung by 600 different artists, right?)

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Selfie of Blog Posts

You know what I think it's time for? Mostly because they're my favorite type of post to read (I told you I'm nosy as hell) and I've seen a bunch coming around lately, but whatever. I think it's time for a little reintroduction of sorts. There are a few new readers (or at least subscribers) hanging around here lately (Welcome! Easy ride in? Hope the traffic wasn't too bad.) so even though I'm probably not a very interesting person and there's nothing with which this post coincides, I thought we could all do with a little Facts of Alyssa. Also because who doesn't love trivia?
My name's Alyssa. I'm 25 and I live in North Jersey, and that will probably always be true. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and I work as an education writer, but I was almost an English teacher. (I switched out of my English/Secondary education double major to just straight-up English lit in the middle of my senior year in college. That's a very long story for another day.)

My current career is not my forever career, and I've spent most of the last year trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

I'm also a freelancer. I used to do it full-time, but now I have to pay rent and I don't feel like working 70-hour weeks right now. I take on writing projects here and there, but my main side gig is editing. I worked on this fantastic project and am currently editing two novels by very talented authors. I am also the Life section editor at Feather Magazine and would love it if you dropped by for a look — I think you'll like it. (PS — I am currently taking on new projects if you want to talk about working together on yours!)

I love trivia. (See what I did there? That's what we call a "callback.") I used to go to pub trivia every Tuesday with a few friends, but then we mostly got lazy and bored with it so we don't go very often anymore. But I love trivia, especially board games. (You can take your Trivial Pursuit, I'll have Smart Ass and Bezzerwizzer, thanks!)

I am a runner and I do yoga. The former wasn't a thing until this year, and the latter has been true since I was 16.

I have a big blended family, including stepparents and stepsiblings. I wish I got along with all of my family, but the ones I do have relationships with are some of my favorite people on this planet and I would walk through fire for them.

I have a very dry delivery most of the time I speak, which causes a lot of confusion. My sarcasm or snark is often mistaken for bitchiness. But the people who know me intimately know there's a pretty easy way to tell the difference. My emotions are all over my face, and I cry when I'm angry or frustrated. I can't lie and I don't lie and lying is one of the few things I have very little tolerance for.
That said, a motto I try to live by is "Do all things with love." (Og Mandino) I have the word "love" tattooed on my arm so that I always carry love with me, and to remind me that it should be in every comment and gesture I make. I am not perfect and I fail at this effort from time to time. But my single greatest hope is that the people who cross my path leave in at very least as positive state as they came across me in — all the better if I can add something to their lives or at least their days. I strive for kindness and compassion whenever possible, and believe it's pretty much always possible.

I am an empath; I am Type A; I have a minor case of OCD, and I hate when people say "I am so OCD" because they are organized or clean. I have had my battles with anxiety, depression, and disordered eating. I will likely never be totally free of these things but I strive to make my experience useful to others whenever possible.

I currently have 11 tattoos and will soon have 12. I used to have piercings, but now I just have two holes in each ear and one hole in my right rook.

I am a feminist and, if you ask my father, a "goddamn liberal." If you ask me, there's no sense in using such terms because they give false illusions and perpetuate little more than hate and backward agenda.

I realize that is a risky thing to post these days and that the F-word is inextricably tangled with misunderstanding and ignorance. But if you want to talk about what feminism means to me and how I came to call myself such, I'd love to chat about it.

I don't eat red meat, I'm starting to eat some gluten again after a few years not, and I'm leaning toward becoming totally vegetarian again. I don't wear animals. I don't judge you or really even have an opinion on whether you do or don't.

I have lots of opinions, but they don't entitle me to anything and I operate under the assumption that most people don't give a shit about them unless they ask. (I assume that you give a shit about them if you come to my personal blog, though.)
I swear a lot, but I also have a tattoo for Shakespeare, so I don't think my fondness of the (other) F-word gives anyone the right to make a judgement on my intelligence. Colorful language for colorful people or something like that?

I love to read, but I'm horribly slow at it. I love to write, and once I begin it's often difficult for me to break for air.

I have a date this weekend with a man whom I've only seen in a Flash costume. It was basically a bodysuit. So this should be interesting.

What are you up to this weekend? Care to share a fun fact about yourself before you go?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Get Ready with Me: Weekday Morning

I've mentioned before that I used to be a liiiiittle bit obsessed with beauty videos on YouTube. My favorite videos were the morning routines/get ready with me ones, because I'm obnoxiously nosy and like to see into peoples lives and, I mean, hello, aren't all of us who read blogs?

Anyway, after the heavy nature of my Tuesday post, I thought it would be best to lighten the mood a little bit around here with a post like that. Agree? Agree. But since I care too much for your eyesight and because time is of the essence this week (back to running post-race, three visits with my chiropractor post-car accident [he's a half hour away], editing a novel on deadline, and being unable to put down Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) I'm going with gifs instead of an actual video. Because gifs are infinitely more fun and I feel like I haven't used gifs in a post in ages and that just won't do.

So here's what the typical weekday morning looks like in my apartment:

7:20 — Alarm starts going off
7:30 — Actually get up out of bed
7:30–7:35 — Brush teeth, roll out mat, pick yoga video
7:35–8 — Yoga and headstand or handstand practice
8–8:15 — Shower
8:15–8:40 — Moisturize skin and hair if it's a hair-washing day (it usually isn't), and put makeup on
8:40–8:50 — Make bed, take vitamins, get dressed, get distracted by something that can most certainly wait until I get home seeing as I'm already late for work
8:50–8:55 — Frantically throw together a lunch, top off my coffee, spill coffee somewhere in my kitchen or on myself
8:55–9 — Look at myself in the full-length mirror until I decide my favorite thing about where I work is that I can wear leggings and a cardigan e'rryday
9 — Hop in Sirius Black and head to work
Riveting stuff, right? If you're good boys and girls next time I'll tell you about my evening routine! (This post was really just an excuse to gif.) Later, skaters. Don't drink and gif.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Make Damn Sure

This is going to be one of the most blunt posts I've ever published. It might be a little bit risky for me even. But this is my space to be as honest and transparent as I choose, and I think this is a topic that calls for transparency.

I made a passing comment about how this year's holiday season would look much different for me than previous years. For one, it will be the second year without my paternal grandmother. She died after a long and heartbreaking fight with Alzheimers in August 2013, and it still doesn't feel right without her alive.

For another, I will not spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family as I usually do. This is, pretty much, all because of one person who I cannot stand to be near. This person is a blood relative of mine. This person is the single most toxic person I have ever known, and this person adds nothing to my life. This person fails to understand that they alone are responsible for far-reaching alienation of loved ones. This person has intentionally, willfully, purposefully, calculatedly, abusively, and hatefully hurt, manipulated, and stolen from me and people I love fiercely for years. This person has been given dozens of second chances — both in legal terms and by those they've personally wronged. None of those extra chances has inspired this person to change, or to apologize.

So I've decided this person no longer has a place in my life. I would be crazy to offer this person more opportunities to treat me so terribly, wouldn't I? If this person was not a blood relative — if this was, say, a boyfriend — no one I know would think twice before telling me to end the relationship. But when it's a family member, we're always expected to forgive. I've been forgiving for over 20 years, and I remain the only person being hurt here. I'm the only person who seems to have learned a lesson in all these turns of hurt and forgiveness. And the lesson I've learned is that I am infinitely better off, happier, healthier, and more productive a member of society when this person does not have access to me.

I decided this a few months ago. But apparently, it wasn't understood then that my decision was final, and I find myself having to explain it all over again. With the holidays fast approaching, apparently I'm expected to be all, "nah, just playin'!" about what I decided is the best, healthiest, sanest thing for me. That's kind of why part of me has been dreading the holidays for months.

I knew since March that I would be breaking tradition this year, and I felt sad about it. But then I learned that I wasn't quite alone in my feelings, and that I wouldn't be the only person absent from the Thanksgiving table this year — if that table even comes together at all. And yet, though I'm not alone in my decision, I do seem to be the only one being harassed (literally) and verbally abused for it. Go freaking figure. Luckily, I do also have aware, understanding, caring family members who I will sit down with for Thanksgiving dinner, and our evening won't be marked by hateful mutterings or passive-aggressive or explosive attacks.

I am so, so, so tired of being harassed by a family member and having to defend my choice to take a stand to protect myself. I can't believe I have to continuously be on the receiving end of such delusional, hateful, vicious, and downright wrong commentary. I can't believe the things I've heard, seen, been subjected to, and known in my life, and that I'm one of a very small number of people who refused to sweep such things under the rug. I'm tired of leaving family functions in tears. I'm tired of screening calls. I'm tired of receiving a slew of emails, voicemails and text messages that have only been sent with the intent to make me cry. I'm tired of having to repeat myself: This is not welcome in my life.

I'm tired of having to force myself to laugh at this person's pathetic attempts to manipulate me some more — because if I don't laugh, I'll cry. I'm tired of dodging questions about this person and having to explain that, no, I'm not a cold and heartless person for cutting off a family member; I'm simply not as determined as they are to have a miserable, anger-fueled, hate-driven life, and that I have every valid reason to cut off contact. I'm tired of being vilified for refusing to be abused.

So with all that said, I just need to put this out into the universe. Because I know I cannot be the only one with family members or loved ones like this. Because writing this down is a way to ensure I never forget this feeling and give in. And because I wish I had someone to tell me this ages ago: You have the right to decide how you want to be treated, and if there are people in your life who refuse to respect those boundaries, you are entitled to remove them from your life. You have the right to be treated with kindness, respect, and honesty. You have the right to be loved and treated with love. You have the right to create for yourself a life of happiness, health, and positivity, no matter who tries to infringe upon that right. You have the right to decide who you count as family. You have the right to live free from abuse, harassment, and hate.

Are we clear on that?

Monday, November 3, 2014


Happy November, y'all! (Fun fact about me: I write "y'all" all the time — in text messages, tweets, posts — but I think I've said it in real words like maybe five times total in my whole life. I have no explanation for this.)

Ah, November. This month is a doozy, innit? Never mind that Macy's, Target, Bath & Body Works, and Quick Check (all the stores I went to in October, basically) have been ready for Christmas since last month. Now is the time that I officially start the Christmas music (and "winter" music, for the "Baby it's Cold Outside" and others of its ilk to feel included) and get ready for the chaotic mess of eight weeks that just becomes "the holidays."

This year, the holiday season is going to look very different for me than it ever has before... But we'll get into that later this month. Meanwhile, cheers to those participating in No Shave November! Cheers to you brave souls going for it with NaNoWriMo! (I'm editing a novel this month, or else I'd be joining you!) And cheers to you poor (or lucky, depending on what floats your boat) folks who saw the season's first snow in your backyard this weekend. Better you than me.

Listen, I would really love to chat some more, about something less pointless than that which I've already said here, but I just need to get back to the books right now — I'm determined to finish Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tonight so that I can start Deathly Hallows ASAP, which I'll be reading for the Semi Charmed 2014 Winter Book Challenge. (Woot!)

So my offering to you is a Halloweekend recap in the form of photos and a linkup with my friend Biana...
#BASICally, I killed it for Halloween.
And obviously, so did my very talented friend B.
Halloween night we went to a bar I love that's just a few blocks from my new (is it new anymore, after two months?) place. It was so much fun — creative, funny people in clever costumes, a great band, a phone number exchange (hayyy), a late-night floor picnic and more laughs with two good friends than I can even count. I haven't had that great a Friday night in a long time.
The dancing queen turned one last week, so we celebrated her on Saturday! This sweet little girl, my cousin's daughter, is so full of sunshine and just the best personality. Love having her around.  :)
Speaking of tiny humans who I'm glad exist, I spent Sunday with my best friend and her husband, aka the parents of this not-so-little peanut! (He's seven weeks....) I love this little dude; he's just the coolest. I felt so bad for him yesterday though; he seems to have picked up a cold and was so uncomfortable all day. But he's a little champ with two amazing parents!

So that was pretty much my weekend: Halloween and other people's babies. I have zero complaints. :)

What did you get up to this weekend? Did you dress up for Halloween??