Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Words: Intoxicated

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Since there are newcomers here (hello, hi, welcome!) since the last time I posted something like this, here's the deal: Every once in a while, if you don't mind, I'd love to share some creative writing, like this and this. I used to blog it exclusively, but I think it works better here as an occasional guest star. Feel free to skip this one if gratuitous metaphors and abundant navel-gazing aren't your things.
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I wrote this back in 2010 (I'm pretty sure...). It first appeared on my last blog, alyssagoesbang 1.0, the creative writing version. It stunned me by becoming one of the top five most read posts ever on that blog (which I kept running for a couple of years). It was picked up by another creative writing blogger and featured in a best-of-the-web roundup. It inspired comments from ghost readers and people I knew offline who I had never known read my blog.

But I didn't write it for any of that, and I really had no reason to believe it would get any special attention. It was written in response to a prompt in a writing challenge I used to participate in, Indie Ink:
“Most people would have found it grotesque, but when you're in love nothing is so abstract or horrible that it can't be thought of as cute.” — David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames
What I wrote below simply sprang to mind. I didn't expect this to make any impact, because it was just...the truth.

Back in 2010, I was heavily (clearly) in the throes of what is remains the most intense and tumultuous "heart matter" I have ever been a part of. It had started five years earlier, and would cycle through another two and a half more before I reached my breaking point. I wrote this during a period where I thought I would never be able to escape this entanglement. It was a dangerous entanglement only in the sense that I became an alien to myself and to everyone who loved me, all for this person who never really, honestly could or would.

As the clock wound down on the summer three years later, my patience — and very nearly, my sanity — snapped, and with more furor than I care to describe here, it was over. It was all over. In little more than 12 hours we cycled through seven years of madness and passion and came out the other end bleeding, broken, destroyed.

At least, that's how I felt.

And then, everything was fine. I survived, and I never, ever let that happen to me again. I learned so, so much in those seven and a half years, but it wasn't until they were over that I learned how to apply those lessons to my life and make use of them. I got better. I became a better person. I became healthier, happier, stronger, more passionate about my life. I made better choices in life and love. And within just a few weeks, I barely missed him at all. Within a few months, I barely thought about him at all. Save for a quick and dirty (and I assume substance-assisted) attempt one night, there was never any further contact.

Until eight days ago, when he broke the silence again, like I should have always known he would.
intoxicated (2010)

silence.

silence.  

the thing about silence is that it's never quiet. the entire concept is a paradox.

i have never heard anything as clearly as i've heard his silence.

it rings in my ears, makes them hurt, i contemplate pulling a van gogh.

his silence pushes through all the words in the world. all the words i've dropped on the floor at his feet are swept under the ugly red and beige rug stolen from the sidewalk down the block. 

his silence stomps on the words i've said with a pain in my chest and fills the room like a dark and heavy cloud. i'd rather have the thunder than the silence. say something. say something. say anything. say something.  

the last thing before the silence was a dagger. no, not one dagger, that's not true at all. a million daggers, sharpened and aimed precisely at my heart. vile daggers dripping with venom that stained my clothes and poisoned the air, my insides. the daggers could only be outdone with silence. i'd rather have the daggers than the silence.

one thousand six hundred eighty seconds of silence have passed. the air is toxic and it's getting hard to breathe as his silence weaves its fingers through my hair, over my face, around my neck and they tighten tighten tighten.

i will not be the one to break the silence.

he will. with another venomous dagger he'll ask me to stay. stay.

i'd rather have the silence than be asked to forgive you.

in a quick and muted motion, i slip out of my clothes and slide down to where he and his silence wait. i press my warmth to his and cry out. his smirk appears when my eyes adjust to the darkness he forces over the room and when i see that devilish smile, the one that knows he's won and will always win, the one that pretends to love me, i smile too.

you know i will always stay. 
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(unedited; written by a 20-year-old through and through. forgive me the excessive and clumsy hyperbole. I'd write much of it differently today, but I feel the unedited version captures my early-twenties naivete quite clearly ;))

Also, disclaimer to the masses: Don't let a writer fall in love if you if you don't want to appear in her writing. In fact, don't even kiss her if you are afraid of becoming a muse. Better yet, just know that if you know a writer, chances are she'll draw inspiration from an experience shared with you. (I've got plenty more of these pieces, many inspired by way less. #sorrynotsorry?) 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

One Year Thanks & FAQ

One year ago today, this blog saw its first post. alyssagoesbang (2.0) is one year old today! (In case you missed it, my old creative writing blog was called alyssagoesbang too, but it now sleeps with the fishes.) Though I've been blogging since 2008 and have had a few different sites of a few different persuasions, I have to be honest and say that this space has been my absolute favorite.

Over the course of the last 12 months, I've made such great friends, and been lucky enough to spend time with some of you in person (and plan even more meetups for later this year!). I've talked publicly about things I never would have thought I'd talk about on the Internet. I launched a monthly linkup, and I've loved hosting it with an awesome blog friend. I've changed a lot, of course, and done a million things I never thought I would do. I've seen people come and go from my life, and go and come again.

It's been a fantastic year, and before I go any further, I must thank all of you reading this sentence for encouraging me to keep this space up and go ahead and do many of those things I've written about here. Thank you for being sweet, kind, sassy, funny, and fun to talk to every day.

Over the course of the last 12 months, I've also been on the receiving end of lots of questions. I've been questioned here on the blog, out in the world in my "real life," in conversations born from blog comments, etc. I've decided now is the perfect time to answer all your prayers and answer all those questions here, once and for all, in a nice convenient one-page resource:

alyssagoesbang FAQ: 2015 Edition

What kind of running shoes do you wear?
A: Currently I wear Saucony Kinvara 5s. I have previously worn Saucony Guide 7s and Ride 6s. BUT I don't recommend any of these shoes for you. I mean, sure, they could be the right shoes for you. But my shoe and your shoe have nothing to do with each other. If you're asking because you're looking to pick up a new pair of running shoes yourself, my recommendation is that you go to a running store and get yourself fitted after talking to a sales associate there. (You can thank me after mile 2.)

Have you ever seen [movie title]? 
(Follow-up question: WHAT OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU HOW HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN [MOVIE TITLE] DID YOU NOT HAVE A CHILDHOOD?
A: Listen, I come from a broken home, okay? Gimme a break.

Wait, are you really a writer? (Variation: Is that what you do, like, for work?)
A: Yes. I do it for business and for pleasure. Funny how that worked out: I liked it and was good at it, so I went to school for it so my university could tell other people that I'm good at it too (because writing samples aren't enough proof when I could have a degree in English to give them credence instead). 

I work for an educational publisher, freelance when I can, edit an online magazine, and run a side business editing literary work. I worship the AP Stylebook, am awfully distracted by poor grammar and punctuation, and have strong feelings about the serial comma. 

(I'm also often questioned and challenged about my career because other people insist on glamorizing and/or trivializing a profession they know little about, and that makes me cranky.)

Is that from Target?
A: Yes. Probably.

What did you do now? (Asked in every appointment by my chiropractor in response to topics including but not limited to my headaches, bodily injuries, aggressive tension/stress knots a.k.a. "trigger points" in my back or neck, and my dating life.) 
A: Well, okay, it's kind of a long story but...

How long have you been running?
A: I started running on December 26, 2013, and I hope you're better at math than I am in order to come up with the actual answer to your question there. You can read more about my adventures on the run here.

How long have you been doing yoga?
A: I did yoga for the first time when I was 16. (I'll be 26 next month. See above.) I have been off and on with my practice ever since. Up until somewhere around the fall of 2013, I would commit for a few weeks, try to squeeze in DVD practices in the evenings, and then fall out of the habit. Since then, though, I've firmly recommitted to my practice, attended workshops, renewed my home practice with vigor, and made the studio a part of my practice as well.

Do you want to do a shot?
A: Probably not, but maybe.

Do you want my fries?
A: Yes!

Are you okay?
A: Yes, I'm fine. Way better than I seem, probably. I just have resting bitch face. And resting bitch tone of voice. I'm not being mean, that's just how I talk. And also, I'm not yelling. I'm just Italian.

Do you want to get sushi? 
A:
Yes!

What's your blog about?
A: Ah, the age-old question, plaguing "lifestyle bloggers" for years. It's one thing to be asked by a fellow blogger — "It's a lifestyle/personal blog" is enough answer to suffice there — but when a non-blogger asks? Deer in headlights. (I'm pretty public with my blog, I know a couple friends check in here every now and then, and I don't separate my social media. I just generally assume most non-bloggers don't care much about blogs and don't have much interest in reading them.)

So what's my "lifestyle/personal" blog about? Well.

I blog about running, but it's not a running blog. I blog about yoga, but it's not a yoga blog. I post some book reviews, but it's not a book blog. I've posted a recipe, but it's definitely not a food blog. I've posted about my family and relationships, but I'm not a mommy/marriage (hah!) blogger. I've posted more abstract, creative, writing-focused stuff, but this isn't a creative writing blog (anymore).

My blog is about my life. It's about what I think, feel, know, believe, do, wonder, explore, strive to understand, endeavor to share, and attempt to create. It's about my life as a Jersey-living, book-reading, yoga-practicing, writing, running twenty-something. It's about nothing and everything, and the only real goal I can say that I've always had for this space is that I hope it's always real and never boring.
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Thank you for a wonderful and fun year. xoxo

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Revise

One of my overall goals for this year — for my life, not just for fitness and training — was to stress less. To trust myself (and my lists) more; to make a plan once and not need to double, triple, quintuple check it; to be more open to revision and alteration and spontaneity; to become more comfortable with the reality of life that is change.

Good thing the universe has decided to full support me in this goal by throwing several curveballs right at me and wasting no time in demanding I be flexible and receptive to change.
When we last met for Training for Tuesday, I laid out my race plan for 2015. To briefly recap:
  • March half marathon
  • March 10k
  • May half marathon
  • November marathon (!)
  • December 5/10-miler 
  • A bunch of 5k and 10k races in between
I also talked about my first race goal for the year: to run the March half marathon in two hours or less.

Over the last few weeks, I've had to revise my plans:

+ As a result of some running shoe woes and a too-intense-too-fast training plan (and two months of serious slacker behavior beforehand) I've had to deal with a stress reaction in my shins, which is basically somewhere between shin splints and a tibial stress fracture. I've done my research on stress fractures. There's basically one solution: rest. With the race schedule I had in mind for this spring, rest of that required length (several weeks) wasn't really an option. I scaled back for a couple of weeks as I straddled the "stress reaction" zone, terrified of pushing myself into the fracture zone.

Naturally, this affected my training. I didn't get as many speed workouts in as I planned. I didn't get all the long runs in that I had planned. I won't train up to 12 miles before the race; I'll train up to 10 as I did with my last/only half marathon. I will not feel as prepared going into RnR, and I don't know if I'll be able to run it in 2:00:00 or less.

+ The 10k that I planned to run in March, the same race that I ran last year — the 5k course then, though — to cross my first ever, ever finish line, the race I had planned to make an annual tradition... was cancelled.

Naturally, I started by freaking the eff out. Naturally. But after I took a few hundred deep breaths, I came to a new conclusion.

It's okay.

Life happens. Races get cancelled. Expenses come up, pushing race registrations to the back burner. Injuries arise from trying to do too much, too fast, too soon. Priorities shift. Life happens.

The thing is, no one forced me to plan on running 5-10 races this year. No one forced me to to set a sub-2 half marathon race goal. No one insisted that my doing these things was the best, smartest, right thing to do. I decided these were the things I wanted to do this year. To be completely honest, my initial reasons for setting these goals were dubious at best. (Would it really make me so much happier to run a half marathon in 2:00:00 than it would to just be able to run it at all? Would it really improve my life to spend more on race registrations than I do on groceries this year?)

So why should I, the person who of sound and clear mind made these goals to begin with, not be comfortable revising these goals, as long as I am of sound and clear mind when I do so? Why should I hesitate to look at the current status of my body, budget, and schedule and ensure my goals are still serving me in a productive way, rather than providing more restrictions for my life?

I've spent so much time panicking about deviating from The Plan. And it doesn't matter what Plan is in question. But why? Why can I not be satisfied to run two half marathons, a full marathon, and a 5/10-miler this year? Why can I not be satisfied to shave 5-10 minutes off my first half marathon finish time as I go for my second 13.1 finish line? The only reason I feel like I can't is that I'm afraid to let myself be. I'm afraid of what it looks like — to whom? — if I abandon my goals, and afraid to admit that revising for unexpected circumstance is not the same as giving up.

So I have a new plan for 2015: Run the best I can, when I can, when I can afford to. Enjoy each mile. Remember that I'm running because I get to. Run the races I really, really want to run. Forgive myself for being a human who can't run in -10* wind chills or with injured legs or on black ice after sunset or over two-foot snow banks. Run because it's fun.

Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Race Goal: 2:10:00
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So that's where I'm at right now. Where have your training plans and goals taken you? Don't forget to grab the button and link up with Tracy and me today and the last Tuesday of every month!
alyssagoesbang

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Sweats 8


Monday: cardio yoga practice + 1 mile
Last winter I set myself a boundary of "feels like" 10* — I wouldn't run outside if the temp/real-feel dropped that low. (I came to this conclusion after a one-mile run in 10 degree-weather made me feel like absolute hell for hours.) Tonight's real-feel was about 6, but I broke my rule in hopes of getting back on the right foot. Mistake. I lost feeling in my toes pretty quickly, which made me run weird, which gave me a nasty cramp. I turned around because sorry, no. That's not happening. Not worth it.

Tuesday: studio yoga class
My instructor was moved into a different studio room starting this week and this one has a mirrored front wall, which our previous studio didn't. I'm not used to staring at myself during my practice so it was a bit peculiar at first but ultimately very helpful for my postures. Anyway, tons of warriors and lunges tonight and my quads were feelin' it by the end of class.

Wednesday: stretching yoga practice
I rolled out of bed and right onto my mat this morning and spent a little while stretching my body out. Every studio class leaves me with DOMS somewhere in my body, because the routine is never the same. It feels great though, and I'm grateful for it. DOMS means I worked hard, and peaceful morning yoga stretches set to pranayama the day after is the cherry on top.

Just before and then for a few hours after Tuesday's class I got this nasty, mangled feeling in a thigh muscle that had me near tears Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. (It's always something!) Google pointed me toward the sartorius muscle, since the pain was on the inner lower portion of my thigh and connected deep into my knee. (I always try to research exactly which joint/muscle/bone is causing the pain; it helps me address it more effectively.) I spent a bit of time stretching, stimming, foam rolling, and icing, which banished the issue within about 36 hours.

Thursday: gentle vinyasa flow practice + 3.2 miles
Another free flow kind of morning: cat and cow, a couple vinyasas, some gentle hip openers, and spinal twists.

The "real feel" around the time I was leaving work? -3. So I joined my coworker at the gym and pumped out these miles on a treadmill — my first time back on the hamster wheel since The Great Shin Splint Tragedy of March 2014. I'd read that it's better for road runners to bump the incline up one, so I did, and no issues. Except OH MY GOD that was sinfully boring. I honestly don't know how I kept going; I was bored out of my mind and wanted to leave after .15 miles. But luckily I hate the treadmill only slightly less than I hate missing training runs.

Friday: rest
Eh. Hadn't had one this week. It was 2* outside. Sleeping in was the best idea.

Saturday: vinyasa yoga practice(s)
I couldn't beat the afternoon snow to the road thanks to a busy, errand-filled morning. I did have a sort of abstract, afternoon-long yoga practice though. A few minutes of stretching here, a few rounds of sun salutations there, some headstand on the other side, all on repeat throughout the course of the day.

Sunday: 6 miles
It would have been a sin not to run today. It was 40 degrees and all that snow from yesterday turned to water. (Still a good foot, foot and a half underneath the rest of it though, but that's neither here nor there.) Under the sun, it was absolutely beautiful out. This run wasn't particularly hard, but it wasn't easy either. I'm owing that to the weather and body-related challenges I've had and that it's been so long since I've been out there.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 3 runs, 10.2 miles
Yoga: 5 practices

Reflections:
I had thought I might go for 8 miles today and have two more long runs of 9 and 10 before I taper for Rock 'n Roll, but then I realized I hadn't run over 6 miles in three weeks. I'm rearranging my plan to go 6 / 8 / 10 for weekend longs, obviously starting today, and then taper after 10. Send a good thought into the universe for me that the weather is a bit more cooperative in the coming weeks, please! Overall, I'm still optimistic for a good race at RnR, but I'm readjusting my expectations too.

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Don't forget, this Tuesday is already time for our next Training for Tuesday linkup! Working toward a finish line? Trying to nail an asana? Hitting the gym hard to meet that weightlifting goal? Just trying to get yourself moving a few times of week? Whatever fitness or health goal you're working toward, Tracy and I are here for you. Link your posts up with us this week and share some motivation and encouragement! And in case you missed it, here's the rundown on Training for Tuesday.
alyssagoesbang

Friday, February 20, 2015

Top 10 Oscar Moments of My Life

The Oscars and I go way back. Way, wayyy back. Like, all the way back to the minute I was born. In 1989 during the announcement of Best Picture (Rain Man) during the 61st Academy Awards, I made my big debut. Ever since, the Awards were kind of a special thing in the family, and I have never missed a broadcast in my life. And my obsession has gone so far as to include hours spent trolling the Oscar archives to catch up on everything I missed before I was born.

(Even though I usually have no frame of reference for the movies nominated — but let's just sidestep that fact.)

There are far, far, far too many heartwarming, charming, heartbreaking, and hilarious moments over the last 86 years of Academy Award ceremonies to pick a handful to call my favorites. So I've tried my very best to narrow it down to the moments that stand out in my mind, that I always remember and call on in my memory, that kind of just make my heart smile when I think of them.

(Please note that there are literally dozens of runners up for me, and after you read this, I suggest you participate in my favorite annual pre- and post-Oscar pasttime: Looking up acceptance speeches on YouTube. Hints: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, (sick burn!), Lupita Nyong'o, Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, and so on.)

In honor of Sunday's 87th Academy Awards, here are just a few of my very favorite Oscar moments of the past few decades. (And before you ask, yes, I ugly cry watching almost every one of these.)
Julia Roberts sees Stick Man — When she won the award for Best Actress in 2001 (Erin Brockovich) she told the orchestra composer in no uncertain terms that he wasn't gonna shut her up. Her acceptance speech is genuine, heartfelt, fun, and funny.

Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry — His excitement when he won for The Pianist is so endearing! And I honestly can never remember anything he says in his acceptance speech, because his initial reaction to the win and Halle's reaction to the big fat kiss he lays on her is all just too much to handle.

Ellen tidies up — In her first Oscar hosting gig, Ellen brought the laughs like we knew she would.

Cuba Gooding Jr. loves everybody — Oh, he is just so happy. It's infectious. His standing ovation is well-deserved. He's thrilled down to every inch of his bones and you can feel it through a screen, even now, decades after his Best Supporting Actor-worthy performance in Jerry Maguire. I can't help but smile.

Ellen takes the #selfie seen 'round the world (And every other moment from her 2014 hosting gig. Every damn one.) — You can't have forgotten this one already. And the pizza too.
(via)
Matt & Ben's acceptance speech — Just buckets and buckets and buckets of "awww." And they deserved it too, which always makes it better.

The 2010 Best Actress nominees are introduced by their friends — I adore this whole segment, but I can wrap it right up with four words: Stanley Tucci. Meryl Streep. (PS, she's from New Jersey.)

Robin Williams 1998 acceptance speech — I miss you, Robin. Thank you for never becoming a welder. (Watch to the end to see a beautiful moment between dear friends.)

Hugh Jackman rushes to J.Law's aid — I mean, it's such a small, almost unnoticeable moment, but he's just the epitome of a gentleman in this moment and I just find the whole thing adorable and endearing.

Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win Best Director — Because it was about damn time.

Do you have any favorite Oscar moments I missed? Will you be watching on Sunday? You know I will be — tweet along with me!



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Delicate Things

Every morning on my way to work, I come to a three-way intersection. At the stop sign, I make a slight right turn — almost no one goes left. To my left is another stop sign, and the vehicles that reach it go straight — almost no one goes right there. Straight ahead of the stop sign to my left is a two-way road with no stop sign — cars can go either left or right. Some are kind enough to signal; others aren't. Can you picture it? It's a triangle.

This morning, I reached my stop sign. Cars to my right can go in either direction — left or right — and it won't affect my right turn at all. I stop at the stop sign, notice a car is coming toward me and heading to its left. I prepare to pull out. But apparently, the driver of the truck that was stopped at the stop sign to my left decided that he couldn't possibly let himself get stuck behind my Jeep, and pulled out onto the road, cutting me off, and cutting off the driver trying to make his left turn, which was his right of way.

This happens pretty much every damn day: Someone makes a heinously dangerous maneuver in a busy intersection because he or she doesn't think he or she needs to follow the same road rules as the rest of us, or because he/she fancies him/herself more important than the rest of us drivers, and because he/she cares more about getting somewhere one car length faster than he/she does about not being a complete and total asshole on the road and endangering other drivers.

I'm really sick of it.

Yesterday, I found out that someone I know died of pancreatic cancer. I haven't seen her in a few years, but she used to work with my mom and I worked in the office here and there as well. Her brother was my math teacher for three years. Her niece and nephews were classmates of my brother's and mine. She was someone everyone in town knew, and to know her was to adore her. She was funny, kind, generous, and sweet. She got a much worse lot in life than she deserved. She died younger than she should have, and I can only begin the imagine the gaping hole her loss leaves in the hearts of her loved ones. She was a very special, one-of-a-kind person, whom I regret not connecting with more in the past few years.

Do these points seem unrelated? Probably. They probably are. But with my mind on Judy this morning, and the knowledge that car accidents caused more than 32,000 deaths in 2013 alone, I was absolutely furious with the carelessness of this driver who cut off two cars to shave less than five seconds off his travel time. With slower reflexes, I would have found myself in a car accident this morning. Probably not a fatal one, but an accident nonetheless. Would it have been worth it for this driver, I wonder?

No. The answer is no.

Actions have consequences, and life is fragile. It tends to take a calamity of some sort to remind people of that, unfortunately. But I think if we just tuck that knowledge in our minds — that actions have consequences, and life is fragile — and try not to lose sight of it, even when we're trying to make the light on the morning commute, we'll be better off.

Actions have consequences, and life is fragile.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What to Do While You're Waiting

Hold onto your butts guys, I got some big news: It's winter here in the Northeast, and that means it's cold. NJ is covered in snow and ice and glimpses of blue sky through the thick cover of gray are like life preservers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining (much): This time last year things were so, so much worse between the constant sub-10 degree temperatures and mountains on mountains on mountains of snow. We've been relatively lucky this year, with only a few big snows and "warm" temps (above freezing! 35* never seemed so toasty!) every couple days. And I know my friends to the north and the west are not as lucky as us New Jerseyans have been this year. Bostonians, Chicagoans, you have my deepest sympathies!

Since last year, I've had a deeper appreciation for winter than I ever had before. Running gets me outside more often than I ever was in earlier winters, and I actually respond better as a runner to cold temperatures than I do to warm ones. And my current apartment actually has adequate heat, unlike my last place. But all that aside, I'm a spring-and-fall kinda gal.

Chalk it up to my birthday being in the first week or spring, or my preference to not be sweating (in the summer heat or my winter layers) or freezing (in the winter cold or the summertime's excessive air conditioning) 24/7, or my preference for open shoes and bare shoulders. It all adds up to this: I'm grateful for seasons, but I'm ready for spring.

When you think about it, it's really not that far away. I mean, we're already halfway through winter according to the calendar, and more than halfway through February — it's almost March! It's practically spring already!

Except it's not, because it was 4* when I left my apartment yesterday morning and my toes literally went numb in less than a quarter of a mile on my run last night.

For those of you in a similar boat, don't you worry. I am here for you, friends! I am here to share some great news: Only 30 days until the first day of spring!

And to make those 30 days infinitely more bearable, I've compiled this handy list of tried, tested, and true ways to pass the time.

What to Do While You're Waiting for the End of Winter

• Watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix again, this time skipping over the bummer episodes. (There's no need to watch the beginning of season six any more than necessary.)

• Cat-sit for your friend and realize that (a) you've never owned a cat and have no idea how to care for them, (b) your apartment is NOT cat-proof at all, and (c) cats don't respond to reprimands and will stare you right in the face while climbing back onto the countertop you just picked them up off of for the 100th time.
• Sort through every drawer, cabinet, closet, basket and corner in your apartment in yet another installment of your search for things to remove from your home.

• Experiment with scent combinations made from the various candles in your home to find the most pleasant olfactory combination possible.

• Test the limits of your stomach lining by drinking cup after cup of tea and coffee in an attempt to keep warm.

• Meditate. Balance your chakras. 

• Make a list. Realize that your lists are driving you crazy. Decide you have too many lists, eliminate a few, and furiously hope that you will stress less.

• Realize all of your counterproductive behaviors and eliminate them. (See above.)

• Look up every cultural reference made in Gilmore Girls that you don't get because you don't see movies.

• Reread your favorite book series and cry a thousand times from sadness and happiness.

• Decide to finally read Infinite Jest next, then change your mind, then decide to just freaking do it already, then cry a little bit at the thought, then realize that maybe you should just read Lord of the Flies again instead because it's been like a decade and you don't remember anything about it except that there's a character named Piggy. 

• Calculate average mile paces for every acceptable-to-you half marathon finish time.

• Buy cookie mix without any intention of putting it in the oven before consuming it.

• Write your 200th post on this blog and forget to make even remotely notable or celebratory.

• Online window shop. 

• Plan spring and summer outfits around clothing you don't own yet. Make a list of the clothing you need to buy for spring and summer.

Pinterest.

• Reddit.

• Watch the least depressing documentaries in your Netflix queue, and some of the depressing ones too.

• Field still more random and unexpected text messages from people of the one-time-we-dated persuasion an continue to be completely baffled by them.

• Contemplate cutting bangs.

• Veto cutting bangs. 

• Look up "long vine leafy plant" and get no helpful results before turning to your mom, the greenest thumb you know who has dozens of lovely plants, to help you determine whether you're thinking of a philodendron or a wandering jew. 

• Adjust your eight morning alarms by two to three minutes each in hopes of busting our of your a.m. rut.

• Convince yourself that spring is so close, you're better off going bathing suit shopping than boot shopping. Be impressed with how good you seem to have gotten at lying to yourself.

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We're gonna make it guys, I promise. Oh and those of you reading from Florida, California, and Texas, you'll never know this struggle so just go right on along with your iced coffees and single layers of clothing in February. YOU DON'T KNOW OUR LIVES. Ahem.

How are you surviving this winter? What's your best advice for making it through the next 30 days?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Sweats 7


Monday: studio yoga class
No miles today, since I'm cutting back to a three-run week for now after last week's injury issues. I took class with Donna again and she made me work for it tonight. My balance is NOT what it used to be (I was a ballerina and a cheerleader — a flier, to be exact — in a past life), and she gave us a few sequences holding warrior 3 and dancer for much longer than I usually do.

But I had an absolutely divine moment when I put my legs in the air for headstand at the exact moment this song, my anthem, and my mantra for the night ("Keep me where the light is") came piping into the room. It was an amazing practice, the likes of which only come when you're guided in a studio with a great teacher.

Tuesday: rest
Today did not go the way I planned or expected it to from the moment I woke up, and that's all I'll say about that. Except to add that it was going to be a run day, but I really just couldn't help the circumstances that kept me from the road.

Wednesday: hamstring yoga practice
I know I do this video a lot, but my hamstrings can always use some love. Turned to Erin once again for my morning practice. And then it was chiropractor day, thanks be to the little baby Jesus.

Thursday: 3 miles
The stress pain in my shins is not 100% gone, but it stays away for long enough stretches of time that I felt safe coming back today, felt that running wouldn't throw me right into injury territory. So I ran, finally. It was fine. I averaged 9:23 for 3 miles, but I do feel like I was slowed down by some ice and snow. Either way, I'm happy with this for the first run after nine days.

No yoga today, because I slept late. I have no idea why. This week I've had so much trouble waking up, but less trouble than usual falling asleep. I don't know what's going on, but I've had sleep-related issues my entire life, so I won't give this the benefit of stressing over it right now.

Friday: sun salutation yoga practice
Woke up with a lot of movement with this video from Erin. Sometimes a "back-to-basics" flow kicks everything back into gear!

Saturday: rest
I had promised my little brother I'd help him with something in the morning, and by the time we were done — it took a little longer than I expected — it had started snowing soft, slippery, slick snow. Sigh. And I was so pent up, if I needed anything today, it was a run. Can it just be next week already so I can start strong and not feel like I just wasted two important weeks near the end of my training plan?

Oh, and I didn't manage to get yoga done before I had to assume my cat-sitting duties for the day/evening, so that wasn't going to happen at home. Adventurous, mischievous little kittens with an affection for long hair aren't known for sitting quietly and waiting until you're out of downward facing dog to play.

Sunday: cardio yoga practice
Erin surprised us Bad Yogis with this cardio yoga class for V-Day, so I worked it in today. I added on some extra deep quad stretches to treat a weird cramp I felt this morning, and topped it off with some arm balance practice.

It was absolutely frigid outside, with gusts up to 50 MPH (blowing snow, causing white-outs) and a "feels like" of -7, actual temps around 12 degrees. I can't do that. It doesn't feel safe and, I know from experience, it doesn't feel right in any part of my body — my joints, my chest, my toes, my throat. I wanted to run so, so badly. I'm feeling a little heartbroken right now.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 1 run, 3 miles
Yoga: 4 practices

Reflections:
I'm determined to have these last two very light weeks be written up as much-needed rest to address a potential injury, rather than two weeks of just... fail. The honest truth is that my mental state has never left beast mode since I checked back in in mid-January. I have hated not running. But knowing what my spring racing schedule looks like, I had to be smart and not push my body further than it wanted to go... unless I wanted to push it right to an injury. Or run in weather I don't feel safe running in.

So now I really want to make my remaining few weeks before RnR count, but I want to be cautious about going back to piling on the mileage. I'm thinking I'll continue with two short, easy weekday runs (3-4 miles) and scheduling weekend long runs for 8, 9, and 10 miles. For my last (first) half marathon, I only trained up to 10 miles and that proved enough for race day. It'll have to be so this time around as well.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday: The Galentines Edition

Have you guys had a good week? I feel like my past few posts have been slightly disconnected. I've been busy at work (in a good way — and a new way) and busy and stressed at home, and I don't want to abandon this space, but I've only had so much time and energy to devote to it. I don't think this will keep up; I'll be back to my normal self (up for debate whether that's a good thing or not) within a few days.

In the meantime, some favorites from this week...

+ Yesterday was my first run back after nine days. Normally it would take a pack of rabid wolves to take me out for that many days during a training cycle (four weeks til Rock 'n Roll!) but my body demanded it. (More on that here.) After that much time off I always panic leading up to my run, afraid that I've lost every bit of fitness I had in just a few days. But all was well!

+ I managed to get another friend hooked on Serial, so I have more people to relentlessly dissect this case with and obsess over it with. Hey, Maryland court system, can I get some more news about Adnan's appeal ASAP please?

+ My mom is a genius with a crochet needle, and I've been her guinea pig forever. Whenever she learns a new stitch or finds a new yarn, I get a hat. Or a scarf. Or a blanket. (I have no right ever being cold, ever.) And when she gets bored or doesn't have someone going off to college or having a baby or getting married to make a blanket for, she plays around. And I get a hat, or a scarf, or a blanket. Anyway, I got a package in the mail yesterday with her latest toilings:
+ I filed my taxes this week! This is big for a few reasons: (a) it's the first time I've done my taxes on my own (well, with TurboTax, same diff); my stepdad has done them the past few years; (b) it's done! It can't hang over me, and I can't stress out over it anymore! and (c) I'm getting a couple of bucks back — woo!

+ I saw my chiropractor Wednesday (which you already know makes me deliriously happy) and not only did he work out the rage attacks happening all over my low back and neck, but I got 10 minutes on the good stim machine — ya know, the doctor's office-grade one. Mm, mm, mm.

+ I'm loving my new yoga studio, and the routine of getting back into a studio at all. I had a great and challenging class on Monday, and may or may not have rewarded myself by picking up a bottle of wine afterward. And may or may not have shamelessly flirted with the cashier (who's also a yogi) afterwards. (He started it.)

+ All I'm going to say about Valentine's Day is that I have nothing to say about Valentine's Day — no, not because I'm "single and bitter;" I've never been a fan — but I will say something about the other very important February holiday: Today is Galentines Day! Wishing all my lady loves in blog land a very, very happy one.  :)
(Oh, and I wrote an article about it too. NBD.)


(Linking up with Amanda)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#NowPlaying

Now playing (with editorialization as needed.):

Coldplay – "Always In My Head" (I used to despise Coldplay. Despise. My yoga instructor likes to bring us into our practice to this song, though, and it's just perfect. On repeat.)
Coldplay – "The Scientist"
Hoodie Allen – "All About It" (ft. Ed Sheeran) (Melissa, I owe you a gazillion for this one.)
Maroon 5 – "Sugar"
James Bay – "When We Were On Fire"
Corinne Bailey Rae – "Put Your Records On"
Ben Harper – "Gold to Me"
Ben Harper – "Walk Away"
Andy Grammer – "Honey, I'm Good."
Nick Jonas – "Chains"
Lindsey Sterling & Lzzy Hale – "Shatter Me" (Great running song.)
Mumford & Sons – "Little Lion Man"
John Mayer – "The Age of Worry"
Milky Chance – "Stolen Dance"

So what did we learn from this?
(a) I have either really terrible or really good taste in music, depending on who you ask.
(b) There is no rhyme or reason to my current playlist.
(c) I may have a personality disorder.
(d) My musical timeline is absolutely all over the place. New music? Today's hits? I dunno...
(e) I didn't have time to compose a more substantial post for today, again, but I don't want this place to succumb to radio silence (PUN INTENDED. GET IT!?) so I found "inspiration" (nah) in my headphones.

What do you have on repeat?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More, Please ("Yes Please" Book Review)

Two of my favorite people in Hollywood are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Two funny gals who are BFFs, loud-and-proud feminists, supportive of one another and their peers? Yes please. (Heh.)

A few years back I read and loved Tina's memoir, Bossypants. When I heard Amy would be releasing her own in 2014, this was basically me:

I devoured Yes Please in just a few days, and found myself stopping to highlight passages constantly. Here's the nitty gritty about Amy Poehler's memoir, according to me:
(image via)
What's it about?
Amy talks us through her life as a Plain Jane Bostonian kid, a Boston College student with a penchant for the theatrical, a risk-taking Chicagoan, a determined New Yorker, a good wife and a loving mother.

Already being a huge Amy fangirl, I knew some of the basics, and have sort of a weird fascination with the Upright Citizens Brigade. But there was so much I didn't know that could only be delivered in Amy's own words about her experiences with this comedy troop, her meeting and the beginning of a life-long partnership with Tina Fey, her hilarious and beautiful friendship with Seth Myers, her transition to New York and Saturday Night Live, her first film roles, and her move back to TV with one of my favorites, Parks and Recreation.

In her more vulnerable passages, Amy talks marriage (albeit briefly) and her divorce from Will Arnett (more briefly still) in a way that makes you ache for her and her family but reveals once again that she is just as human as you and me — and in some ways, she appears to be even more so. In some passages (like the chapter about sleep, or lack thereof) I felt so close to her, because she put into words things I thought no one else in the world would relate to.

She gives dating and life advice that can only be dispensed by someone who's lived plenty of lives and lessons and actually cares about the recipient of her wisdom. She talks candidly and unabashedly and writes it all beautifully. And through it all, she maintains her remarkable sense of humor and delivers laugh-out-loud lines in droves.

There are so, so, so many wonderful parts of this book, so many valuable lessons, so much wisdom, and so many laughs. I couldn't even pretend to do justice to all of them here. I loved this book. Perhaps I'm biased because I already knew I would, considering my love for the author and voyeuristic desire to learn more about the figures I adore in such a way. But I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it,

Read it if...
You watch(ed) and loved Baby Mama, Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation or Wet Hot American Summer; you read and loved Bossypants (Tina Fey); you've laughed or cried at anything Amy Poehler has done; you love strong and funny and badass openly feminist women; or you aspire to be a strong and funny and badass openly feminist (wo)man.

Favorite Passages

"I love saying 'yes' and I love saying 'please.' Saying 'yes' doesn't mean I don't know how to say no, and saying 'please' doesn't mean I am waiting for permission."

"I 'dated' one boy and our song was 'Faithfully' by Journey. Every time it played my body would turn electric, and I would stare out whatever window I was near and reminisce about experiences I hadn't had. Is there a word for when you are young and pretending to have lived and loved a thousand lives?"

"Figure out what you want. Say it loud. Then shut up."

"Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me."

"Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive, and I believe it extends our life by many years."

"If it's not funny, you don't have to laugh."

"You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look."

"I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how 'bossy' can seem like shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader."

_________________________________

Have you read Yes Please? Or do you plan to? Are you an Amy Poehler fan too? Leslie Knope forever!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Talking Trash

A collection of conversation topics I've covered in the last few days:

"How has your Mercury retrograde been?" (Difficult and powerful.)

Adnan is getting an appeal! (OMG.)

Using the words "gay" and "retarded" as jovial insults or carefree knocks against things you don't like is disgusting, makes you sound ignorant and hateful (not to mention lazy; this language is full of brilliant words to actually convey what you mean to say), UNFATHOMABLE in 2015, and should not be done in my presence (unless you want a lecture) or anyone else's (unless you're just trying to let people know off the bat that you're probably a shitty person). (This actually came up three times with three different people in under a week. WHAT.)

The Imitation Game made me cry three times, and I was totally not expecting that.

Babies are cute. Well-behaved kids are fine. I don't hate kids. (I used to be a nanny!) Their parents though...

Your draft one should never be your final product, and that's OKAY.

An oven thermometer is one of the best purchases a renter can make.

I'm terrible at estimating male singers' appearances based on their voices/lyrics. (Examples: Hozier, James Morrison, Sam Smith [we all had some trouble with that one though, right?], Hoodie Allen [thanks, Melissa].)

I'm a writer, and I have a flair for the dramatic. He's dramatic because he's a writer. Ergo, writers are dramatic. (I'm not arguing this.)

Wanderlust. (Anyone interested? I'm going to Vermont!)

A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Not my chair, not my problem.

I have a crush on Seth Rogan's voice. And maybe a little bit on Seth Rogan.

I never know half the people present at the Grammy Awards, but being born on Academy Award night in 1989 has left me with a great love for formal awards shows.

If John Mayer is there, so am I. (Grammy Awards, The Late Late Show, and hopefully a concert venue in New Jersey very, very soon.)

I loved that the Grammy Awards broadcast included a segment devoted to the It's On Us campaign and sexual assault and domestic violence. Katy Perry's song was beautiful and appropriate. But it is absolutely disgraceful that Chris Brown was nominated for an award in the very same show. You can't cherry-pick a cause as it suits your agenda, and it's heinously insensitive to the victims to try. You either admonish abusers, or you honor them. Not both.

What kinds of things have you been chit-chatting about lately?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Sweats 6


Monday: 2.5 miles + relaxation flow
We had another blizzard last night and well into today, which combined with the foot of snow that was already crammed up around the shoulders and sidewalks, made for a difficult run just for safety reasons. I'm glad I got out there at all, but I cut this short because the slush in my shoes was starting to freeze my feet right off and it just wasn't smart to be out running in the dark where I couldn't see what I was stepping on.

I wound down with a SarahBethYoga (I'm new to her channel, but I like her so far) relaxation flow practice, because ICYMI, I needed some help quieting my mind.

Tuesday: 0 miles + full-body flow + studio yoga class
I didn't intend to have two practices today, but I started the morning with this video, thinking I'd get out for a run in the evening. But the solid inch of ice and searing pain in my shins (please don't be stress fractures, please don't be stress fractures...) told me to stay inside, and the full moon told me to take a yoga class. It was a beginner class but the only one I could attend this week, so I took some variations and left with the sweet, sweet DOMS (since I haven't had a 75-minute practice in a couple weeks). 

Wednesday: rest
Since I doubled down on the yoga yesterday I slept in and skipped this morning. My sleep has been bad lately, so I needed the extra half hour.

I didn't run today, and it took a lot for me to come to that conclusion. I was in pain. Five weeks away from spring half marathon #1, the last thing I want is a significant injury. I felt like I had two options: one, deviate from my training plan, which NO part of me wanted to do — I've felt so, so good on the run lately; and two, run through the pain and risk exacerbating the screaming pain or actually pushing myself over the edge into stress fracture territory.

I decided to give myself a three-run week instead of a four and spend the night at home with ice and stim on my lower body.

Thursday: 0 miles + gentle morning yoga practice
I woke up with a raging headache and the thought of hearing any sound on a yoga video was just an extra excruciating layer I wanted to bypass. Instead I settled into my mat for some gentle stretching and twisting. Even when I'm not fired up for a full flow, I like to start my morning in this way. It makes a huge difference in my mood and energy level later and my body appreciates the gentle wakeup over the jolt into running around.

After stimming and icing like crazy Wednesday night, my left shin is in much better shape. My right? Not so much. There's a quarter-sized pain center right in the middle of my tibia that I can feel painful pressure on with each step. I spent all day researching stress fractures and panicking and bordering on tears from frustration. I gave myself another rest day, and felt like absolute hell for it.
Friday: 0 miles + restorative yoga practice
I woke up and took a full-body inventory before doing anything else:
The nagging in my hips and shoulders I chalked up to DOMS.
The pinch of plantar fasciitis I had been feeling last week is all but gone.
There's a bit of tightness in my left Achilles, nothing some calf raises and downward dogs can't handle.
Both of my calves are sore, probably due to an increase in calf raises and such that I'm hoping will handle my shin problems.
My left shin is fine today.
My right shin is still showing me that quarter-sized spot of pressure... After researching yesterday and talking to Tracy, I believe it's a "stress reaction" — something between a shin splint and a stress fracture. 
No miles today, just more icing, more stim, and compression.

I woke up with some deep stretching poses and more spinal twists. I just wasn't feeling a rigorous workout or even a full body flow. I like "active rest."

Saturday: rest
Today I felt significantly less pain in my right shin than I have all week, so I decided to stay on the rest train, thinking we were heading in the right direction. I had intentions for a good yoga practice, but I decided to curl my hair before going out instead. Normally I'd feel really guilty about two rest days, but my body and mind needed a lazy day and fun night.

Sunday: 0 miles + power flow yoga practice
FIRST DAY WITH NO SHIN PAIN WHATSOEVER! WOO! I was thinking I might run this week's 9 miles today, but this pain-free revelation pretty clearly says that rest was the right decision. I'm calling this week a wash and I'll pick it up with next week's miles, these past few days just a blip.

To make up for my slacktastic week, I freestyled a long power flow practice that honed in on warriors and balancing poses.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 1 run, 2.5 miles
Yoga: 6 practices

Reflections:
I ran more miles in January than I did in all of November and December combined. I didn't run much in November and December simply because I just didn't feel like it and figured I'd rest up for training. Now, all I want to do is run, but because I took it too easy for a few months, it's risky to, and I have been so frustrated and upset. Let's call this week a lesson learned.

I think the stress reaction was due to a combination of things: 
(a) Mileage increased too much, too fast
(b) Uneven running surfaces and an uneven gate from dancing around ice and snow piles
(c) Rotating my old shoes (~325 miles on them, definitely well worn) and my brand new pair 

Since I saw the light at the end of the tunnel today, I'm going to ease back in with three runs per week (two short weekdays, one long weekend) for at least a few weeks, possibly all the way up to RnR. We shall see...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I'm Here

I try not to do these types of posts often, but I also try to not totally neglect my blog for days at time. So in support of the second goal, a concession had to be made on the first. A combination of being busy (I hate saying that, but it's true) and being unmotivated to reach into the stores of my creative subconscious have me prioritizing pretty much everything over this space, but I'm no quitter.

Reading // Charmed Thirds, the third installment of the Jessica Darling book series, which I've been in love with since the eighth grade. I can't say enough things about these books, so I won't even try to mini-review them here. (Although, I do have a post coming up that will talk about them a bit more.) I've read these books, especially the first three, more times than I could conceivably count. (My copy of Second Helpings is actually in two pieces, as my frequent readings eventually tore the spine, and I'm on my third fresh copy of Sloppy Firsts, so damaged was my original.) But after I talked Kristen into trying them out and she live-texted me during the her reading of the conclusion of Second Helpings, I realized it's been probably two years since I read the series. You know when you're feeling like you just want to sit and talk with an old friend for hours, or want to snuggle up with your mom while she brushes your hair off your forehead? I wanted that kind of comfort, and this series feels like that.
Writing // I'm journaling like it's my job this year. I always have the intention to write at least three things I'm thankful for that day, as I found last year how much keeping a gratitude journal helped me keep perspective and feel more positive overall. But the past few weeks have given fuel for long, long, loooong-form entries, the likes of which I used to document parts of high school and college. Like I mentioned, I've been emotional lately, and I'm not sure if journaling so much is the cause or the cure. But either way, it's been needed. My journals have historically been the birthplaces of some of my best (read: favorite, because I'm not qualified to say what's best or worst of my own writing) creative non-fiction writing.

On top of all this, of course, there's the tremendous amount of writing I do day-to-day at work since, ya know, I'm a writer in a publishing company. But that's not interesting and they pay me to do it, so it doesn't count here.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to add that I've returned to work on a collection of work I started... four years ago? I had this idea to compile my flash pieces, my vignettes, the piles and piles of knock-off poetry and stuff like this I had in the depths of my file storage systems, put them in working order and shop it for publishing as a collection of "essays." Then I turned away from the project because the majority of my best pieces were inspired by a person I couldn't bear to think about anymore. I'm past that place now, thankfully, and hoping that the right time to return to the pet project shows itself soon.

Listening to // Various Spotify playlists conceived in an attempt to help the listener "mellow out" or become "totally stress free." Effectiveness: TBD.
Serial, again, because I'm obsessed and I need to reconsider what I know I missed the first time around.
The podcast Millennial, while I try to decide whether I like it.
Invisibilia, because if I can find any help to explain why I am the way I am, that would be great.

Wishing // That the pain in my shins is not indicating dual stress fractures. I mean, what are the odds of two tibial stress fractures? It's much more likely I just got a bad case of shin splints from overtraining and upping my mileage too quickly. Right? (Agree with me, for the love of god.)

Watching // Socio-cultural documentaries. Friends. Missy Elliott music videos, like the rest of the western Super Bowl-watching world. Not Parenthood, because I never caught up after the middle of last season. (I sense a whole-series binge coming on as soon as the last season arrives on Netflix.)

Wanting // The person I spent three hours training to do parts of my old job, who I gave three pages of notes and a year's worth of back-issues to, to just do it, and not need micromanaging, so that I can put the focus and energy required onto the new facets of my job that I am responsible for and because of which my bosses needed to hire someone to assume my old duties.
It to be next week already so I can see my chiropractor.
Time to slow down and speed up because hello! five weeks til Rock 'n Roll! And hello, I'm so not ready for that time goal I set for myself. But HELLO! I can't wait to meet up again with Tracy and Kristen and the rest and just have the best weekend!
A longer hang time between when my bananas are green and when they are too speckly to look appetizing.
Mercury to hurry the hell up out of retrograde.

Loving // The yoga studio I started taking classes in this year and the instructor I've had.
Snow days followed by "warm" days to help us thaw.
The impending arrival of baseball season.
The surprising response to this post. Those of you who emailed me separately and those who commented with how they're relating, thank you.
The fact that the sky is no longer black by the time I leave work at the end of the day.
The very sweet yogi who complimented my practice after class Tuesday and had me smiling through the rest of the evening.
It all.

But none of that is really very interesting. So what's up with you?

Monday, February 2, 2015

So Emotional

Lately I've been trying to wrap my head around how I've been feeling, and how what I've been feeling is usually construed as a bad thing, but I've never thought so. Let me stop beating around the bush: I've been really emotional lately. And I know that, depending on who you ask, "emotional" often translates to "hysterical," or simply "crazy." I've never believed this — at least, not in a hard-and-fast way, though I know my emotions sometimes make me feel crazy. But as a Highly Sensitive Person, apparently "the term" for "people like me," being emotional is a pretty consistent state. I feel things one thousand percent and almost everything evokes some sort of emotional response.

(Yes, I cried at the Budweiser puppy commercial. No, I don't want to talk about any of the other commercials.)

So, yes, I have emotional responses to pretty much everything. I'm an emotional person. I cry when I'm angry. In fact, I cry when I laugh too — it only takes a little chuckle; it's a trait of the women in my family — but that's not the same thing, I don't think. I cry at fabric softener commercials and I ache for the bullied. (True story: I always loved Clarissa Explains it All as a kid, but my heart broke for Ferguson every time she called him a name.) Lost baby animals tug at my heart strings and nearly every recent high-profile Supreme Court decision has made me shed tears. No doubt about it; I am an emotional person.

But lately, it's been different. It's not just my usual over-invested emotional responses. I feel like I've been... more wistful, maybe? More contemplative, for sure, but not over anything useful. For example:

Remember this person? Well, I made abundantly clear to them that they are not welcome in my life anymore and that all communication is to stop. The word "harassment" had to be used, and without a trace of exaggeration I might add. And for a while, all was good. But recently, apparently they decided I should be over this "little episode" by now and, once again, have come barging into my life without a trace of respect for my one simple and incredibly reasonable request: Leave me alone. I want to be angry, and often I am. But the anger mixes with guilt in a torturous way, because that's the way I'm programmed — ya know, it's not fair. I renounced Catholicism over a decade ago. Why am I still afflicted with Italian Catholic guilt? Anyway, the emotions blend together and swirl into some chaotic manifestation of pain and sadness and hatred that I'm scratching my head over. What am I supposed to do with this? I still have no answer, but I need one more desperately than ever.

And remember the person I wrote this (second half) about?? (Who later became this person to me.) It's been nearly a year since we spoke. In that year, I've managed to completely forget about what that person gave me for no more than a handful of days at a time. Lately, and it may be because of an impending "anniversary" of sorts, this person is absolutely haunting me. Why? I have no idea. What do I do about it? I have no idea. We agreed a year ago that continuing any sort of relationship would be a tremendous mistake and parted ways. Why, then, can I not shake the feeling like I need to reach out? I need to speak up. I have so much I've been dying to say for a year, but I have no reason to believe a word of it would be welcome. But then again, maybe it would. I really don't know, and I have nothing to go on. And maybe life's too short to worry about if it's the smart thing to do or not when I know deep down and into my bones how badly I want to do it. And as we close in on a year I'm thinking about how it all came full circle and wondering how I open the loop again — can I? Should I? What's the worst that could happen if I do? How much will I torture myself for another year if I don't? And is my preoccupation with this a sign telling me to go for it, or just the hallmark of my sometimes obsessive personality? And everything I feel when I cover this debate with myself is maximized and intensified and the answer seems so clear and then so cloudy and how does anyone make sense of feelings like this? I don't like confusion. I don't like dropping my emotions off into gray areas — ironic, since I do my best to convince myself there's nothing black and white in this world. But that's besides the point.

And then there's the immense guilt I feel toward another person when all I'm doing is my job and exactly what I'm required to do. And then there's the anger I still feel toward a friend, and my inability to answer the questions about forgiveness vs. forgetness, even after I've certainly behaved with forgiveness. And let's not forget the guilt I feel about the half-assed rejection I could barely bother to follow through on recently. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

But speaking of the picture, I have no idea where I'm going with this. I have no point or conclusion. Maybe I put this out there seeking permission from people to do the thing I want to do. (Yeah, that's probably part of it, if I'm being honest.) I think I'm also hoping for someone to recognize themselves in some of this so I don't feel like such a freak. I know I can't be the only "Highly Sensitive Person" out there, but goddamn can it feel like it sometimes. I mean... Who thinks this much? Who worries about inconsequential shit this much? Who cries this much? Who cares this much?

I don't know. Besides me, I don't know who does. But sometimes I really, really, really wish I didn't. Would it be simpler to care less and worry less and just take the plunge or not even want to take the plunge because I haven't spend days or weeks or months or years contemplating it, and I was actually able to let. it. go? Again, I don't know.

The worst part is the fact that I have perspective. I know that some of this is trivial in the grand scheme of things. I know I have had far, far worse experiences in my own life; and I know others have experienced worse still. But that can't comfort me. It doesn't change the emotions I feel at max capacity anyway, though sometimes I'd trade anything to have my insides turned to stone. Perspective does nothing when you're capable of crying the same tears over significant trauma as spilled milk. Again, that's the way I've been programmed. Emotionally slutty and equipped with a highly and inappropriately heart-felt knee-jerk reaction to both the tiniest and largest of stimuli, despite every bit of better judgement and every desire to be different sometimes.

What do you think?