Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Training for Tuesday: Thank You for Joining Us

Hi friends. As you may have noticed, there is no Training for Tuesday post here or at my cohost Tracy's place today. You may have also noticed that Tracy carried the linkup last month and that both of our blogs have been much quieter in general lately than usual.

You may be expecting this, you may not. But Tracy and I have been talking about it for a few months and have decided that we're ready to put this linkup to rest. After a year and a half of talking training, wins, woes, goals, hurdles, and all that good stuff with you guys, we've decided this linkup was great while it lasted and it's time to set it free.

Thank you to all those of you who've ever linked up with us to share your stories, whether you came to join us once or every month since we started. We loved reading your posts and will both continue to post about our fitness/training/goal-chasing journeys on our blogs, and we hope you will too.

We'll catch you around. Thanks for everything.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Impeccable Words

You like your things perfect, impeccable—or so I’ve heard you say. Things like your shirt collar, your ankle cuff, my hair. There’s no margin for error when you balance the world just above your palm, an inch out of reach yet always just there. Everything you want hovers a breath beyond your fingertips, and on days like this I’m added to that list.

Or, “perfect me” is added to that list. The one with loose strands and loose lips nestles nicely into your outstretched hand, but the one you reach for, the one who’s impeccable just like you like is just out of range. Just beyond a sputtered apology and half-drunk excuse and bashful never mind. Just beyond the space between your past and your now, your then and your this.

Because impeccable me is something you’ve imagined, and impeccable words are something I can’t speak. My aims for impeccable words sound like “I’m sorry” and “I love you” and “Forgive me” and “Kiss me.” Hear my impeccable words tell you I’m yours and ignore them because my tone has never been quite pitch perfect.

There was a day when I could have been perfect and oh, you should have seen me then. It was a lifetime and a lashing ago and you would have loved me for real, then. I had barely learned to speak, let alone how to use my imperfect words to make you bleed. I had barely learned to walk, let alone how to turn on my heel. I had barely learned to love, let alone how to suffer. Oh, you should have seen me then.

Attempts at impeccable words coming out of me sound too much like “I’m hurt and I hate you” and “I’m sad and I need you;” how could I not know they’ll never be perfect for you? So tell me then, be the one who knows everything: to fail at your expectation or waste away in silence as you unravel mine?

This much is real and imperfect and raw: each word I make for you is as true as a moment can be, often truer than the last but not as true as the next. You shift and I fall and I change my mind and the words come out differently when you crane your neck to listen than when you shrug your shoulders to dismiss. But I try, because I’d rather aim for impeccable and fail in great fashion than tie up my tongue so that you alone can feel perfect.

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More like this in my book of words that were better left unsaid, Things I Would Say

Sunday Sweats 78

June 20–26

Friday, June 24, 2016

Five Things

This Monday was the fourteenth annual Solstice Times Square event. For the second year in a row, I went with Michael and we participated in the 90-minute Bikram method session, right under the sun. There's something indescribable about practicing a solitary technique in the middle of the busiest intersection of the world, simultaneously turning toward yourself and drawing in and sharing the vibrations of so much energy. Sharing a practice with hundreds of strangers and knowing you're a part of something so big on the longest day of the year... it's just pretty damn cool, and once again I'm overcome with gratitude to live where I do with the access I have to such a prominent part of the world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just Let it Go

Two weeks ago, I applied for a job that felt like it was made for me. Last week, I interviewed for that job and learned more about it, and became even more confident in my ability to do the job and in the job to be a good professional fit for me. I chatted with HR for 45 minutes, connected on professional and personal levels, and walked away excited about the possibility.

Last week they asked me to proceed with the next steps. I carefully wrote my story pitches and sent them in days early. I modeled my story concepts after the site's existing content but made sure to be original, creative, and authentic.

This week, I learned that I didn't get the job, and that was the end of that.

But it of course wasn't just the end of that. It was the end of my daydreaming about how I could finally get rid of some work with some clients who barely pay me enough to make ends meet, yet keep me stressed and feeling disrespected and jumping through hoops that are always changing shape. It was the end of my daydreaming about finally replacing my broken phone, buying new dishes, taking a real vacation that I can help fund. It was the end of my daydreaming about putting some money back into my savings after it has stagnated and then dwindled over the last year. It was the end of a week or so where I could actually let myself feel optimistic that the rest of this year would be a big improvement over the first half.

The first thing my guy asked me was if I made it a habit to ask people why I'm being passed over for jobs, and I explained that this is the first time (that I can recall) in nearly a year I'd even been extended the courtesy of being TOLD I didn't get a job. I've sent out my resume and inquired about positions hundreds of times in the last 18 months, and the most common response is radio silence.

I don't know what the answer is. I'm attractive enough a candidate to get promising interviews in the first place every now and then. I'm qualified enough to continue being approached for freelance work. But the one thing I am absolutely aching for—the stability and comfort of a good job—is the one thing alluding me, and after more than a year of searching for a job that won't force me to move back home (remember the 40% pay cut I almost took last year?) but also won't send me into such a severe depression that I become unrecognizable to myself (remember the job that I left for that 40% pay cut because I was so desperate to escape?), I don't know what to do anymore.

There is a real fear that comes with being financially independent (well, fingers crossed I still can be...), knowing your lease renewal is coming up and your new landlord will likely jack up your rent up to 20%, and trying to not give up the few things you've found in your life that make you deliriously happy enough to forget about the many months and years you've spent mourning your professional dreams and emotional stability. This fear has been creeping up on me for the last year and I'm at a point now where I just...don't know what else to do. Is it me? It must be, so what is it?

But even more than I want a good job (and I want a good job so badly right now), I want to be able to shake off this last interview. Rather, the email that came a few days after the interview in which I was charming and professional, and demonstrated my qualifications and enthusiasm well. The email that said what everyone I've tried to work for in the last year has said to me, whether or not they were courteous enough to actually say it: thanks, Alyssa, but no thanks.

I want to let it go. My guy has been trying to encourage me to stop stewing over things I can't control, or things that are behind me. I have this habit of replaying scenarios over, rethinking decisions I can no longer change, and driving myself crazier by wondering "what if?" or "why?" when I'm already upset enough by the outcome. And I know this is the right approach for now—bounce back and keep on the grind, right? That's what I'm supposed to do when I'm explicitly or implicitly rejected by the thousandth job in 18 months?—but it feels impossible.

How do you do this, friends? How do you let shit go? How do you say, "Okay, X didn't happen, and that's the last bit of emotion and brain space I'm going to spend on it"? How do you stop any one bad or less-than-pleasant thing from gripping you tighter and tighter until you're choking on rejection or failure to the point where you can't figure out how to move forward? (No? Just me then?)

Seriously, can you help me learn how to let go?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Recent Reads Vol. 9 (+ a BIG Announcement)

It's been quite a few months since I've had enough to share here, as my reading pace has been s.l.o.w.—when I've been reading at all. Here are some of the titles I've spent time with recently...

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This book took me a while to get through, but that's the fault of my schedule—not the book. I loved it. I wasn't expecting the book to open how it did for the first 20% or so, but I really enjoyed Pi's early life in India. I loved all the spirituality and religious components and appreciated my small background in and understanding of Hinduism, which helped me follow along better than I think I would have maybe a year or so ago. The writing is beautiful, clever, crisp, and creative. I highlighted a LOT, and I was actually really pleased with some of the takeaways. I definitely consider zoos a little bit differently now than I did before I read this, for example. My heart broke into a thousand pieces in the last 10% of the book, but I knew why it had to so I didn't much mind it.

Recommend? — Very, very highly.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
I can't remember when I last picked this book up, but I know I at least started it sometime in the last 27 years. I'm not sure I ever finished it. I forget all narrative details within 15 minutes anyway, so it was basically an entirely new reading experience from page one.

So I hit a wall with this one about halfway through. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen—I wasn't ready to abandon it—but I also didn't want to pick it up at all. It was boring in a weird way. The writing is beautiful, pure poetry, but the plot moves frustratingly slowly. I get that the first half is just really not supposed to be plot-driven, but it may not have been a smart choice for me at the time in that case. I was almost unshakeably irritated by some of the characters and kept reading mostly because for whatever reason I was actually desperate for the resolution.

Recommend? — If you have the urge. But I don't think your life will be missing anything if you skip it.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I requested this from the library a few weeks ago when someone mentioned it (again) but was waiting on hold forever. Funnily enough, it came available for me the same day I have a long and emotionally exhausting conversation with Erin about my goals as a professional writer and her final point was basically: ALYSSA YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. So I pressed play on the audiobook and within a half hour was thanking Erin. That's all it took for this book to start turning my wheels and cranking my gears.

I put down Eat, Pray, Love in less than 50 pages—I don't think because I didn't like the book, but because I needed something different at that time—so this is my first full read of something by her. I found her conversational style really accessible, and her humor just right for this type of book. And in the end, the whole point of this book was to inspire BIG MAGIC within myself. By the end of this post you'll learn exactly how this book accomplished that. This book changed me in a very real way. I took notes while reading it as if in lecture again. I refer back to them nearly every day right now. Read this book.

Recommend? — Absolutely yes.

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz
I went audiobook on this one, and picked it up mostly because it was available from my library and I needed something for four 1.5-hour drives over the course of four days. I liked it well enough, and to borrow the phrase from Steph, it passed the time just fine. The timeline jumps were a little confusing, but it may well be because I wasn't paying close enough attention to the audio.

I wasn't sure if it was going to build toward something or if just the whole story was going to be rolling hills of tension and relief, which isn't necessarily bad. I think it's a side-effect (at least, for me) of audiobooks when I can't feel or easily see while I'm reading what point I am at in the book and how much is left to come. In the end, it was an enjoyable read.

Recommend? — I think this would be a great beach or plane read, but the physical book is probably the better way to go.

Head by Yve Chairez
Full disclosure: I edited this book. I also edited the author's collection of short stories a few years ago, which you should check out. Also full disclosure: This is not for everyone. It can be triggering for abuse and assault survivors. But it is an incredibly moving, well-written, intentional, whole story. It is violent and upsetting but not for the sake of upsetting readers with violence—it serves a purpose that is clear and meaningful and present every step of the way. The characters feel and just are SO real, and I can find myself physically in every setting this book weaves and wanders through, so rich is the detail. Of course I am biased, but this is also my completely honest opinion.

Also, I highly recommend checking out this blog post by the author.

Recommend? — If you can handle it, unequivocally yes.

_______________________________

In the truest spirit of the phrase "Show us your books," I have some news. I already spent most of my words on the thing I'm announcing, so without further ado... I wrote a book, and you can buy it today.

Since 2010, I have been writing essays and flash pieces and micropoetry when the mood has struck. For the past few years, I have toyed with compiling them for a book. And so finally, I did. The essays and pieces within the pages of my first (very short) book are all non-fiction, though some take more license than others. I decided to publish this (very short) book under the very new Hellbent Publishing imprint with the help of my friend Yve, to keep one hundred percent of this book true to its purpose and intent. And as of today, it is for sale on Amazon for Kindle or the Kindle app for iOS and Android. Introducing:

essays, etcetera

Cover art is by the absolutely brilliant Chelsea Tauzin.

(via)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What the Internet Says I'm Doing Wrong


I love life hacks. Who doesn't? If there's a technique out there that can help me get the most lotion out of my lotion bottle or prevent my boiled eggs from being impossible to peel or keep my running shoes from growing so disgusting they can walk themselves out of my apartment, I'll take it. So for years I've loved browsing or just happening to come across life hacks/simple tips on Reddit, Pinterest, or elsewhere in the internet universe.

But there are some things that the internet swears up and down by, promises will make my life better or my space happier or my work/life balance more balanced, that I just have to thumb my nose to. But the crazy thing is that I'm not even talking about the ones that are so bizarre that I wonder how people even thought of them, or if they're even worth the effort. (Seriously, some life hacks I've seen involve spending three times longer on a task or chore in order to save $0.002. No, sorry—it ain't worth it.) No, the ones I repeatedly and purposefully ignore all make good sense, but I just refuse to get on board. According to the internet, I do all of these general life things wrong...

I don't maximize freebie days/birthday sales. I hear it was free donut day last week! I did not have a donut. I like donuts, and would have happily eaten one. But now I'm craving a donut and will probably have to go buy one before the week is up. Never in the history of Julys have I gotten my free Slurpee on 7/11. All those businesses and companies that ask for your birth date in order to send you birthday-specific promos? Guess who literally never takes advantage of them. In theory, it's because I don't want to consume just for the sake of free or discounted consumption. In reality, I'm probably keeping myself from maximizing sales on things I will eventually need to purchase anyway. But in my mind, it's my way of keeping the faucet turned off.

I don't meal plan. I know, I know—it's going to save me a million dollars a year on groceries and make my evenings so much less stressful. But I have a strange and temperamental palate—not to mention the tendency to rapidly vacillate between wanting to eat the same exact thing five times a day for two weeks (avo toast with an over-easy egg, for example) and having absolutely no taste or craving for foods I typically enjoy. To plan four or five meals based on one Sunday taste bud will almost always result in wasted food, and I hate wasted food. Because I'm also a toddler and can't force myself to eat something I'm not in the mood for—literally, I'll feel sick to my stomach. But then I'll either eat absolute junk if I have it in the house instead of meals, or just not eat until I'm so hungry that I'm beating down the door to Chipotle 90 seconds before closing.

I use dark colors and minimal mirrors in my small apartment. The horror, right? If you consult Pinterest and Apartment Therapy (which I absolutely love), you'll see studio apartments almost religiously adorned in light, bright colors and decorated with mirrors and pale prints. Yet here I sit with dark wood furniture, a brown couch, and only one mirror above my bathroom sink and one skinny one tucked beside my front door. Thing is, I don't NEED to "make my space feel bigger." That's always the reasoning I see behind these decor/style tips: Make your small space feel huge with windows and light colors and even (ugh, sorry, NOT my thing) clear acrylic furniture! I actually quite like a small space. My 500-square-foot apartment feels cozy and contained, but I get enough natural light and have it laid out in such a way that it doesn't feel claustrophobic. But I picked a small space because I like a small space. Not everyone needs a cavernous dwelling, ya know?

I don't try to make my apartment look bigger or section off my bedroom. On a related note, there are no carefully-placed Expedit bookshelves or ceiling-hung "sheer but functional" curtains separating my bed space from the rest of my apartment. To do that would be to cut off a significant portion of my living space and actually make it feel claustrophobic. Know what I do to make my apartment look less like a giant messy bedroom? Make my bed—novel concept?—and not point my couch toward the pillows. Yet still, every time I read an article about "maximizing studio aparment layouts" or "feeling at home in a tiny space," the number one suggestion is to cut off the floorplan by pretending walls exist where they don't.

I take my phone to bed. You would think that as a life-long insomniac I would have tried everything and enslave myself to any bit of internet advice about how to get a better night's sleep. Well, the latter is true—I've tried everything. And I know the light from my phone is bad for my eyes and brain, and I know that waking up with my phone and all its notifications right next to me is a terrible idea... etcetera. I know this all, and I truly believe it. But I also know that if I try to fall asleep without some sound in my ears OR without tiring my eyes a bit by reading an article or Reddit thread before bed, I'll lie awake having imaginary conversations in my head or replaying dramatic moments from the last 27 years or agonizing over a decision I need to make, rather than distract my brain for long enough to actually let it slip into unconsciousness. (That's what happens when you sleep right? I think...)

Oh, and I also don't eat Nutella or put sriracha on any food ever, and apparently the internet doesn't believe that anyone could be such a monster. But I am, friends. I am.

Okay, your turn: What do you "do wrong" by the internet's standards of living? Don't leave me out to dry on this one.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Merry Merry Month of May

What's New With You

It's quite fitting that this linkup is falling when it is. I'm finding myself currently craving coffee dates (say that 10 times fast) with friends I need to catch up with, after a very busy May kept me from keeping my head above water. So let's pretend you're sitting beside me at one of my lovely town's many little cafes so and I'll bring you up to speed on what life's looking like these days.

One thing that kept me so busy last month was my cousin's wedding. We celebrated her last hurrah with a weekend-long bachelorette party early in the month, kicking things off with a Pure Romance party at the bride's request and bringing it on home with a night in Atlantic City where we went Magic Mike-style and took in a show. Needless to say, I have no pictures to share—though if you follow me on Snapchat (@alyssagoesbang), you might have seen some pearl-clutchy shots. It was a fun, funny weekend with some awesome ladies.

After that was the big show! Michelle married her love on May 20 at a rustic antique shop and barn event space in the most unique and fun wedding I've ever been to. As her Maid of Honor I was able to stand up in front of friends and family and welcome her husband to our clan and tell her everything I wish she would never forget: that she is an exceptional person, and that my life is better because of our friendship.

My "boss" (I guess?), the owner of the studio I teach in primarily, awesomely offered me another class, so now my regular schedule is 5 classes per week! I feel like I can't fully express how much I love teaching without coming off like a cheese-ball, but I seriously am just so happy for any chance I get to teach. Hence why I jump at opportunities to sub, and accidentally roped myself into teaching a Saturday 7 a.m. this month... (I'm not a morning person.)

And in more awesome teaching news, this Sunday is my first workshop! Two ladies I went through YTT with (who have since become wonderful friends—the power of YTT is real!) and I are hosting a partner yoga workshop to help pairs assist and adjust each other in practice, with all sorts of fun things like tandem breathing and meditation plus fun partner poses and some acro yoga. Wish us luck! (And if you're in the NNJ area, come join us!)

Outside of teaching, on the work front things have still been unsettled and unstable. Of course, such is the nature of freelancing...and why I'm trying to not be a freelancer anymore. But unfortunately that decision is not entirely up to me, so I'm just trying to keep chugging along.

But on that note, I've also decided to take some different actions and try some new things with my writing and such, so here's hoping some good things will start to pan out in the coming weeks. Cross your fingers for me, would ya?

And speaking of good things panning out, is it too soon to tell you guys about a certain bald man who is a very good thing lately? It might be, so I'll continue to keep the details under wraps. But for the sake of gossip, there you have the coffee date update that has me smiling the biggest these days.

So after I finished rambling on about everything that was going on in my life—I'm sorry, I do have a tendency to go off on tangents that can last a little longer than I intend to—I'd fix my attention on you and return the question: What's new with you, friend?

Linking up with Kristen & Gretchen