Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Training for Tuesday

I'm not fully out of holiday weekend mode, so forgive me for completely forgetting it's Training for Tuesday! I know, I know, it's my own link-up—shame on me! If you have a post about your workouts, training, goals, plans, wins, or woes, link it up here! Back to regular programming... sometime soon?

alyssagoesbang

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Notes From Your Editor, Part II

I like grammar. I like words, language, and punctuation. Why? Because I talk a lot—whether orally or through the written word—and it would be nice if people understand what I'm saying as much of the time as possible. At least, as much as they're listening. (I've recently come to realize that there's likely a good percentage of time where I'm talking and no one is listening. It's fine.)

How do I make sure people understand my intent as best as possible? By utilizing proper (or at least contextually correct) spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics. Much to the dismay of some people, apparently. Anyway, it was after going off on this tangent that I was reminded that I, as someone in possession of a bachelor's degree in English and a career in journalism and copywriting, have a leg up when it comes to these mechanics. And I'm nothing if not willing to share.

I wrote a part one to this bad boy some months back, so if things like "a lot" and "affect vs. effect" aren't clicking for you yet, get a refresher there first. If you're ready to move onto some really fun stuff, here are some hopefully helpful and not at all obnoxious tips and reminders to make your Facebook statuses and intra-office memos really shine bright like the diamonds they are.
Notes From Your Editor, Part II

Generally speaking, the past is a place. You left that toxic friend in the past, and even though you recently took an action and passed by his house, you're totally over it. Pass is a verb, of which passed is the (ready for it?) past tense. Think of the -ed as the word "pass"'s walking shoes that put it into motion.

You wear your regular old everyday flip flops to go pick up the mail every day. When in doubt, sub it out: Can you also say "each day" and get the same message across? If so, then use the two-word option in the case of everyday/every day as well.

If you want to give a specific example, go ahead and use e.g. It doesn't mean this, but think of it like "example given." If you want to clarify a statement, or say "that is," elaborate after using i.e.

I'm just easing you in, because this stuff is where the real party starts. (Also, my sentences are dumb, but grammatically correct. Focus on the latter.) (P.S., the latter is the last listed of two options, as opposed to the former. Memory trick: "latter" is almost "later," and it refers to the option that comes later in the sentence.)

Capitalization! It's fun. I know in blogging, a lot of us are informal—and I really have no gripe with that. I keep proper capitalization in my posts generally because it's just habit from spending all my day typing. But what does grind my gears is the Random Capitalization of Words that don't need Capitals. Like every single one of those in the last sentence. Here's where you use capitals:
  • To begin a sentence
  • To reference a proper (specific) noun: President Obama, the White House, the Voting Rights Act
  • For all words excluding articles (a, an, the) in titles UNLESS you are utilizing sentence-case capitalization across the board. Consistency is key!
Here's where you DON'T use capitals:
  • On random Words because you think that makes them look more important. It does not; it makes you look confused. Add emphasis using bold, italics, or punctuation and context in these cases.
  • The second word of a two-word hypenate in a title, UNLESS it is the last piece of a title

And finally, the stuff I get asked about or see misused most often: dashes and hyphens. (Aka, my favorite. Seriously. The em dash (—) is my favorite piece of punctuation.)

So technically, --  is never correct. Sometimes I like the way it looks and it makes me feel less pedantic, so I'll use it time to time. What you really want is the em dash. Following AP Stylebook, you would use an em dash (—) and there would be no space between the words.
Example: My mother—who went to George Washington University—never cared much for George Washington.

The annoying thing is that no computer or word processor automatically makes the em dash, though it has more use than the en dash which they DO autocorrect to, which is just a hair shorter (–). The difference between the two physically is that the em dash is the width of a typewriter letter “m,” and the EN dash is the width of a typewriter letter “n.” 

You would use an en dash when listing things or when a dash is otherwise not technically part of a full sentence. 
Example: Office Holiday Schedule: January 1 – New Year’s Day (Closed)
Also, you'd use the en dash when joining a passage of something in a list.
Example: The event will occur January 1–3, 2016. Highlight columns A–N in the Excel sheet.

Hyphens are only used to join words and are the shortest of the dashes. (Half-baked scheme, off-duty cop)

How's that for a fun blog post, heh?! (Oh, and by the way, that ?! is called an interrobang, and the proper formatting is ?!, not !?.)

Got any more for me? If I know the answers and have a trick to help you remember I'll be happy to share. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Off My Chest

While the rest of bloglandia is out here confessing their sins, I'm looking to get some things off my chest in a different way. I know some of you might think I'm a perpetual sourpuss lately, which I swear is not the case. It's just that some less-than-cheery topics lend themselves better to blog posts than the cheerier ones.

Like the fact that this Friday is my cousin's wedding and I'm so happy for her and cannot wait to perform my MOH duties to help make her big day as perfect as possible! Or the fact that even though spring weather is nowhere in sight, Memorial Day is just around the corner and hopefully summer will take that cue to arrive. Or the fact that I have something suuuuch a long time coming working its way to a blog post announcement near you! (Sorry for vague-blogging, but I'm just trying to keep myself accountable!)

But that's about all there is to say about those things, for now. But I do have a whole hell of a lot to say about some other things, and I just need to get a some mini-rants (aimed at no one in particular) off my chest.

1. Grammar dismissers
Caring about grammar and spelling doesn't make me uptight, pedantic, or boring. Look, the rules we ask language to abide by exist for a reason—clarity of message above all—and there's really no good reason that I've ever heard of to throw them to the side when discussing writing that is expected to have any degree of professionalism. Business websites, marketing content, and YES, your social media if your social media is a part of your business strategy. 

Frankly, I think it's rude when people tell me not to worry about spelling and grammar in a piece I'm writing or editing, or tell me "it's not important" when I point out an error (that can be fixed) on something professional. That is literally my job. And it's my job because it's NOT a laborious task for me. I have a feeling the people who make this request or think I'm being pedantic aren't as fluent as I am in these spelling and grammar rules, and it's harder for them to edit for them. That's fine. That's why people like ME, who don't have to stop and think about the difference between its and it's, are editors. Telling me not to do my job because it's "not important" to you is pretty insulting.

And also? Clean up your grammar and learn how to spell. It's good for the world.

2. Savasana quitters
Most yoga classes, including all of mine and every single one in the studios I teach and practice in, end in savasana. Corpse pose. Final resting pose. Concluding meditation. Basically, it's grown-up nap time. It's 2-3 minutes long, sometimes mayyyyybe 4 minutes, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people take the cue for savasana as their cue to leave class early.

First of all, I feel bad for you. Honestly, I do, and I'm not trying to condescend. But I truly don't understand why you don't think you deserve or need or can benefit from less than 5 minutes to let your body be still and calm and catch up to the 75 minutes of intense physical work you just did before you go out and return to the madness of your life. In fact, if your life is so busy that 2-4 minutes of stillness feels frivolous, you need savasana more than anybody. It's dessert.

Secondly, you're disruptive and rude. I can't actually believe that so many of us teachers have to say during the final few minutes of class that people who can't stay for savasana need to leave before it begins. Rolling up your mat or (even worse) cleaning it right there in the studio while other people are still finishing up their practice just can't be done quietly, and while you may be in a rush to get back to reality, the rest of us would like to treat ourselves to every one of these 75 minutes we set aside to do something good for ourselves. Whatever you're rushing off to, it can wait. If you can sweat for 73 minutes, you can rest for another 2. You're not going anywhere important with your shirt drenched in sweat and your hair a mess.

3. Cartwheel shaming
I love Target, I really do. I loooove my RedCard, and I love using Cartwheel for an extra few cents off things here and there. But why oh why, Target, do you offer us the opportunity to add tampons to our coupon list privately? First of all, who the hell is looking at my Cartwheel but me? Shopping lists don't need to be a social platform—enough already. Secondly, I am a woman and I have a period and I use tampons, and if you think I should be ashamed of or make an effort to hide any part of that fact, screw you.

4. Workout guilting
Just because I chose to be a runner doesn't mean I also chose the conditions that surround racing that are out of my control. So yeah, I'm allowed to use an early run or tired legs or traveling for a race as a reason for why I can't do something else, even though you think that if I *really wanted to* I'd be able to shrug off my training or racing. Training is intense, and races are expensive, and missing social events and going to sleep early are necessary evils included in being a distance runner. The (hopefully good) race is the reward for all that. So "You chose to be a runner/race tomorrow" is not the way to guilt runners into doing what you think is a better use of their time. (Also applicable to athletes or, really, hobbyists of any sort.)

And also? While I'm on the subject, people who work or enjoy fitness aren't freaks or antisocial or one-track minded. We too have relationships and friends and enjoy time with our families. We go out to dinner and happy hour and even though sometimes we get to sleep early to get up early for a workout, that doesn't mean we aren't enjoying life. I see memes about "enjoying life rather than spending all of it at the gym" or whatever people who don't work out at all say to convince themselves that exercising is a waste of time.

People who work out the amount (or more) that I do often enjoy working out and that's one of the reasons we devote so much time to it. We don't do it to escape family and friends (although sometimes...) and we don't neglect people for fitness. WE aren't the freaks for loving our bodies and taking care of them in a way we enjoy. It's always so passive-aggressive when I hear this, and it just reeks of accusations that are wildly off-base.

5. Girl-on-girl hate
I don't know what it is lately but I am seeing so. much. woman. hate. on social media. It’s not funny or clever to call girls skanks or whores because you don’t like them, or because they dress in clothes you don't feel comfortable in. (Remember the paraphrased words of Tina Fey here: All that does is give men permission to call women skanks and whores.) Find another way to make yourself feel good that doesn’t involve calling someone else a nasty name that zeroes in on sexuality or harmless sexual exploration.

In fact, if you don't like a woman because you think she's a bitch, I'd rather you call her a bitch. But don’t call her a whore because you don't like her. And don't decide you don't like her or she's your enemy because she's wearing a crop top and smokey eye. Using only sexualized names and "reasons" to criticize other women is straight-up unhealthy, and plays right into the idea that sexual women are right to be criticized on all levels, because being sexual means she has nothing to offer. And if you want to argue that she DOES have more to offer, that may be true, but why does it offend you if her sexuality is the part of herself that she chooses to accentuate today, and why is it any business of yours?

Bottom line is there are enough hurdles for women to clear still, today. Baseless and judgmental woman-on-woman crime shouldn't be one of them anymore. 

Any rants you feel the need to just set free into the universe? DO IT. Trust me, feels good.

Friday, May 13, 2016

18 Reasons I'm Actually Totally Dateable, I Swear

I think it's important to be honest with yourself about what you are, who you are, and what you bring to any equation—in business, at home, in relationships. I've spent a lot of my adult life to this point in introspective contemplation about who I am. What I can change about myself—what I should change about myself—and what is just the "price of admission" to pay for an interaction or relationship with me. For example, I can't help but talk with my hands, so if you're wearing a white dress near me, you'll want to put the pizza or red wine down.
As proof of this self-reflection and honesty, I offer this post I wrote a while back: Six things I totally confess make me borderline undateable. However, as that's been rendered untrue and I actually *gasp* have a date this weekend, I think it's important to go in prepared and spend some time reflecting on reasons I'm not totally undateable. Ladies and gentlemen, here's why I swear I really am a great date:

  • I'll almost never say no to grabbing a meal, so date-planning needn't be difficult. Just feed me.
  • When I say "I don't care" in response to the food options you've presented, I really don't care. I can eat sushi, pizza, or Mexican food 100% of the time and I literally cannot choose between them.
  • I never say "I'm fine" when I'm not fine.
  • I think public fighting is super tacky and will never engage in a Ron and Sammi brawl.
  • I don't require over-the-top romantic gestures. In fact, they make me super uncomfortable. Don't bring me flowers. 
  • When I offer to pay or split the check, I mean it.
  • I'll drive.
  • Unless you want to, and you know where we're going better than I do.
  • My Spotify has something for everybody, so I will let you have input on car music. Also if we take my car we can listen to 90s on 9, which is all anyone really needs.
  • It's my reflex to take my bra off Flashdance-style the minute I walk in the door to my apartment.
  • I'm starting to learn how to be better about not letting little annoyances turn me off completely. I'm getting there.
  • I won't be offended if you tell me I'm being annoying, because you'll be right. And then I will try to stop.
  • I'm very intuitive so you probably won't have to tell me.
  • Don't worry, I'll clean the kitchen after dinner. Seriously. No, stop. Just don't bother, you're doing it wrong anyway.
  • I know all the words to "Ice Ice Baby" in case we happen to find ourselves in the middle of an impromptu lip sync battle.
  • I'll never ask you to hold my purse when I go into a store. And for that matter, never ask you to come clothes shopping with me because I hate clothes shopping and turn into a She-Devil when I have to do it. I want to get in and out and you'll just slow me down.
  • My apartment is always clean. I've actually been made fun of before for having it the same level of clean whether I am or am not expecting company.
  • I'm really good at pub trivia.

One at a time, gents.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#NowPlaying

Ready for spring. Ready for sunroof open, windows down, patio life. Ready for warm air, bare-leg runs and long, light evenings. Here's my springtime soundtrack this year...

Conrad Sewell – Hold Me Up
Ed Sheeran – Make It Rain
Silento – Watch Me (I know. I don't know why. But I'm obsessed.)
Ingrid Michaelson – Little Romance
Troye Sivan – YOUTH
Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight
The Format – The First Single
Lapsley – Falling Short
Tame Impala – Elephant
Robin Schulz – Sun Goes Down
The Neighbourhood – Cry Baby
GAMPER & DADONI – Oxas
Ed Sheeran – I See Fire
Alessia Cara – Wild Things
Coldplay – Adventure of a Lifetime
The Chainsmokers & Daya – Don't Let Me Down
Weezer – The entire White Album, but especially loving California Kids and Endless Bummer. And Thank God For Girls. And Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori. I stupid love this whole album, honestly.

What are you playing right now? Gimme more!

Friday, May 6, 2016

See You Down the Shore: NJ Half Marathon Race Report

It's becoming quite clear to me that I have a knack for picking race days that fall on terrible weather days. Last March's Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon: pouring rain the entire time. Last May's Superhero Half Marathon: first hot day in months; 80ΒΊ by like 7:30 a.m. and no days for hot-weather training beforehand. Last November's City of Oaks Marathon: overcast from the start and rain for the last 10k. This April's Cherry Blossom 10-Miler: 50 mph wind gusts resulting in the organizers all but fully cancelling the race. Adding to the list the latest, the New Jersey Half Marathon on Sunday: pouring rain the entire time.

Luckily for me, it turns out I also have a knack for having great races in the rain.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The May Currently

What's New With You

writing • three books, one project. Hold me to this, guys. Keep me writing, even when I start to feel like it's pointless.

readingAtonement by Ian McEwan, for the second time though I can't remember anything about the first.

burning • a fresh pink sangria, a repeat Target purchase that has no business smelling quite as delicious as it does.

watchingOne Tree Hill. I never watched this growing up and have been reprimanded for it a LOT over the years. I flipped it on on a whim a few weeks ago and am fully committed to the lives of these decade-old strangers at this point.

listening to • a whole lot of back-logged episodes of This American Life. Any song that feels like something I can work into a yoga playlist. (In fact, the other night I was complimented on my playlist by a newcomer who was pleased to discover I play "real songs." I guess he was fearfully expecting more gongs and chanting and less Gnarls Barkley than he got. Confession: I love when people ask me about my yoga playlists.)

planning • the second to last wedding hoopla extravaganza, the bachelorette weekend. Yes, weekend. Lord help us.

sipping • green tea with mint.

snacking on • avocado toast with an over-easy egg broken over top. I could eat this for three meals a day. I won't even tell you how many times I've done close to that.

teaching • fun (well, I think they're fun...) themed classes to keep things interesting. Writing a class around a theme helps me make sense of the sequencing and string poses together in a way that each is really complementary to the one before and after. Last week, my class was complimented by nearly every single yogi who took it and of course I got nervous, worrying that I'd peaked already and wouldn't be able to write a class half as good ever again! A good practice with my mentor, though, cleared that worry right up.

seeingThe Fits as part of my town's annual film festival. It's a rather big to-do around here with tons of great events and panels and special events and such, though I only was able to make room for one film on my schedule this year. But one is better than none! (Even if the one ended up being very strange and kind of left us going ??????? all night.)

focusing on • what I can control and what I can do with what I have where I am.

going • on a vacation, soon? Maybe? I hope? That's more wishful thinking than updating because I have no plans to go anywhere but oh man alive, do I need a few days with nothing to do but lie under the warm sun and read a book while a cabana boy cools me down with a giant palm leaf. Anyone want to kickstart the funding for this one?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretchen. What's new with you?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why You (I) Should Edit Your (My) Blog Posts

The other night I tossed up a post on here and confessed to the fact that I hadn't read it over before hitting Publish. But after I started hearing your feedback on it, I realized that that may have been a mistake... because when I did go back and read it over, I read something different than what I had meant to write.

Before backtracking at all, firstly: I do 100% appreciate all your comments and feedback and encouragement telling me to run my blog however I want, and post whatever I like, because it's my space to do with what I please. I love you all for that! But worry over whether or not I "can" post something different on this type of blog isn't really what I meant.

What I should have said more explicitly is something about the obscene futility of all of this I sometimes feel. Blogging in specific, and writing in general. Which is convenient, because I'm a professional writer. Well, sometimes. And when I'm falling on the wrong side of sometimes—as in, when no one seems to want to hire me to write things—pouring any amount of energy out onto a blog post feels absolutely ridiculous, and my words almost spit back at me: "You're no good at this. No one is giving you jobs because you're a crappy writer, so why are you even bothering?"

The hard balance to strike is where this blog lands cleanly in the middle, reminds me of how happy I can feel when I'm writing but doesn't remind me of every opportunity I'm losing to do it, and doesn't remind me of how I'm wasting opportunities I could be making for myself out of fear and self-doubt.

I didn't say it correctly (because, remember, I'm a crappy writer and shouldn't be bothering at all) but I'm not worried necessarily about what I'm posting here insomuch as I fear it won't be "appropriate" for a lifestyle blog, or that I'll lose readers. But what happens is I get myself into a cycle of thinking that makes me question what is worth saying, posting, writing about. And then I get trapped into thinking that I need to post something worthy of being said at all, and what the hell even is the criteria for that?, and in the process of coming up with something worth saying I talk myself out of saying a damn word.

The beautiful irony here of course is that this nihilistic streak of mine is probably something people can identify with in one way or another, whether it's about blogging or life or anything else, and that by talking about this specifically I could probably accomplish exactly what it is I ever set out to have my words do: connect with someone.

Are you still with me?

Here's another consideration—and this shouldn't apply to you necessarily; I don't project my reasons for or motivations (when they exist) for blogging onto anyone. But I absolutely do not "blog for myself." If I didn't want other people to read what I'm writing here, I wouldn't post it on the internet. I have a journal for that. So blogging "just for me" doesn't exist to me. True, I will never write and post something here for the sake of clicks and pageviews alone or anything like that. But when we talk about personal blogging and using our spaces here to write whatever we want, for me that maybe means something different. Me writing whatever I want means me writing something people care about reading. I'm not here to waste your time—although sometimes I'm absolutely sure I inadvertently do. I'm sorry.

So when I got comments from people encouraging me to blog whatever I want, I felt like I had to be clearer—what I want is to write something that is worth reading. That's worth the time you spend clicking over here and reading and maybe writing a comment in response to, if you're so moved to do so. (Again, the irony of course is that this post and the one it's responding to probably aren't worth your time.) Some days I'm sure I'll hit, and some days I'm positive I'll miss. Some days I'll hit for some of you and miss for others, and vice versa. I get that, and I'm fine with it all.

So the point was and is not to beg you for permission to blog about whatever I want—although I do so appreciate your encouragement. The point is—and here's the realist thing I've said here in a while—a lot of the time, I just don't see the damn point. And when I don't see the damn point here, that's indicative of a lot of negative feelings I have elsewhere, where I don't see the point of anything. Not in a scary way, but in a way that makes me feel defeated. Maybe it's more sad than scary. 

And that's what I'm trying to navigate. And what I was trying to navigate Friday night when I penned my letter to you guys. Finding a reason to keep writing and posting and maintaining this space even when I can't see the point, because it's in that continuing—that writing, that digging deep down to the bottom of what I'm experiencing at any given moment by sitting down in front of a keyboard and opening a vein—that the point of anything I do here and anything I do anywhere else eventually finds a way to come clear and make itself known to me, again and finally.