Tuesday, April 22, 2014

You're Making Me Blush

It's like you people actually like to hear me ramble about nothing myself all the time or something... ;)

Quick, someone take me down a peg before my ego gets big enough to need its own zip code. Krystal from The Kay Times has nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thanks so much, Kay!



So I guess there are one or two strings attached to this ol' thing, and here they are:
The rules:
1) You must link back to the person who nominated you — Check!
2) You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominator — Alright then!
3) You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following) — Hmmm...
4) You must create 10 questions for your nominees —OOH how I love a Q&A!
5) You must notify your nominees — On it!
Here we go with step 2:

1. What made you decide to start a blog?
Yikes. There's a lot more to this answer than I want to burden you with here, since I already shared a bit about it here and here. Let me put it in simplest terms and say that this blog exists because I feel comfortable here in bloglandia, and I know what a wonderful place it can be thanks to the fact that I started writing my thoughts on the Internet way before I had any right to. Anyone remember Geocities?

2. How did you choose your blog's name? 
I told you a bit about that here too. Basically, I was young and inappropriate and trying to be suggestive and then I was too lazy to try and get people on the Internet to call me anything else.

3. Dogs or Cats?
Sigh. I suppose both have their value. But dogs. Definitely, always dogs.

4. What is your favorite color?
Red.

5. Celebrity crush (girl crush included)
I don't really have just one. Usually I crush on whoever is the most attractive-to-me actor or actress in whatever I'm currently watching. Which is why as I binge on House, M.D. I'm currently crushing on Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde. Oh and I'm always, always crushing on Christian Bale. And Jennifer Lawrence. And ya know what, Meryl Streep too.

6. Which is worse? Lizards or Frogs?
I think frogs can be actually kind of cute, and I don't exactly find lizards inherently bad. So let's say neither and give frogs the slight advantage, how's that?

7. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Sometimes I wish I were way less emotional in my responses, because at times it gets me into trouble. I do eventually stop and think logically, but my initial reactions to things are typically entirely emotion-based. Which I'm mostly okay with — it's just the way I am — but it can be a pain in the ass sometimes.

Oh but wait if I'm not being all self-secure and all that, someone get me prettier feet, stat. I was a ballet dancer for the first half of my life and now I'm a runner, so there's nothing cute happening south of my ankles. #sorryboutit

8. Read the book or see the movie?
I'm not good at seeing movies. I just never get around to it. But if it's a title that I'd ultimately like to see and read, I'd like to read it first. That way I can imagine the characters, the scenery, the voices as I think they were written, not how a director told me the author thought they should be. Also, I cried when The Great Gatsby disaster film happened last summer, so that should tell you plenty about me.

9. What is something about you that not many know?
Hmm. This is hard — since I never stop talking, and the subject I know the most about is myself, I think I've probably covered just about anything. But most people in bloglandia probably don't know that I met Henry Winkler a.k.a. Fonzie when I was 11. Pro tip: Don't call him Fonzie.

10. Link your favorite post!
I think this is my favorite post I've written on this blog to date — it's everything I've learned about life so far.

Okay, step 3...

Here's the thing. I'm a rule breaker. So while I would love to nominate 10 bloggers I love for this award (and believe me, there are plenty more than 10) it seems that many who sprang right to my mind have already been nominated. And I don't want to force anyone to answer another 10 questions, because God knows if I wrote the nomination they would all be compelled to do exactly as I said. Also one of my biggest blog crushes has just announced her exodus from the blogosphere, so I'm a sad lost little duck now.

So instead, I want to just nominate one lady who I really think is the absolute bee's knees, because I know she'll appreciate the Q&A too ;)  But, since I know the purpose of this it to share blogs we love and help others discover new ones to #fangirl all over, I'm just going to leave this here and insist that you all go follow every single being on this roll.

Oh and the person I'm nominating is Emily from My Favorite Day. Go shower her with love and kisses.

Step 4:
1. What's the best/most interesting that's happened in your life due to blogging?
2. Where do ideas for your post topics come from?
3. Who would play you in the movie about your life?
4. What is one thing you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?
5. Tell us one quirk that you feel is uniquely "you."
6. What song will always make you sing at the top of your lungs?
7. What movie will always make you cry?
8. What are you allergic to?
9. What do you think is your best character or personality trait?
10. What one event has had the most significant lasting event on your life?
Thanks again, Krystal! I'm off to complete step 5. Catch you guys on the flippity flip.



Monday, April 21, 2014

My Life on the Run

Disclaimer: I am not a very experienced runner. I am not a trainer. I'm just a gal who couldn't run at all five months ago and now runs five days a week. A couple commenters and friends have asked about my process of becoming a runner, so here's the how. If I can run, so can you, and here's why.

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My first run was on December 26, 2013. I'm a lunatic who remembers these types of things.

When I say it was my first run, I mean the last time I attempted any semblance of running was when, in high school gym class, they made us get around the track four times every class. We usually walked the curves and "ran" the straights.

So years later, I have a friend who is a seasoned runner — 20-something races under his belt. Let's just call him "my trainer." So my trainer was the first person I ever told about my desire to run. There was no point really in telling anyone else: I didn't have any other runner friends, and anyone else would have laughed in my face if I expressed this. See, I was a looong-time smoker when I began running. But that's another post for another day.

So my trainer helped me realize that I could be a runner, if I really wanted to {I did}, and promised he'd help me. So on that December day, we set out for a run. He said we'd just do a mile and a half that day.

I probably made it about a half mile before I had to stop. My chest was burning, I was gasping for breath and kicking myself over smoking that cigarette less than an hour ago. Stupid.

So we stopped, walked for a bit, picked it up again, called it a day. In that first run I MAYBE ran a total of one mile. The next couple of days went like that.

Eventually my trainer stopped letting me walk. When I had to stop, I stopped and stayed where I was until I caught my breath, then resumed running — I guess he was getting me to be able to at least run the full distance.

About three weeks after my first run, we set out for a mile and a half like usual. Something felt different on that day. I wasn't keeping track of my own distance yet at that point; I just relied on my trainer to give me the stats when I asked for them. But I had a vague idea of where the turnaround point was, and the closer we got to it the stronger I felt. For the first time ever, I hadn't had to stop yet, and I felt great.


I thought for a second about stopping for a few breaths at the mid-way point, but my trainer's supportive nod kept me going. Before I knew it, we were rounding the corner and the end point was in sight. I wanted to stop so bad — my chest hurt, I had a side stitch — but more than that, I wanted to finally finish one run without stopping. And I did, and I could barely believe it. It was only a mile and a half, but it was more than I had ever done, and more than a lot of people would have thought I could ever do.

From that first non-stop run day, I stopped making excuses. I eventually quit smoking, which obviously helped with the feelings of aliens trying to break through my chest cavity. I set a race-day goal — my trainer suggested in the very beginning that I aim to enter a 5K in March, and I laughed at him. But I got comfortable at 1.5 miles, and then upped it to 2. Then 3. Then 4.... you see where I'm going with this.

For over two months now, I've been running without my trainer. He sprained his ankle on some black ice during one of our runs, and then our relationship disintegrated went up in flames not too long after for unrelated-to-running reasons. But I quickly — not immediately, I'll admit — realized that I didn't need him to run anymore. I'd already proven to myself that I can do it, and that I could do it with just myself to motivate me. I never ran for anyone else. I run for me, and I always have. In the beginning I thought I needed my trainer to help me, to motivate me... but look who's crossing finish lines all on her own now.

It's been a process, and I've had some injuries and setbacks and days where running hurt like crazy or seemed like the worst idea ever. But because it's something I really wanted to do, and truly love to do, I kept at it. And I kept getting better. Because the only thing that will ever make you a better runner, the only thing that makes it easier, the only thing that makes you stronger when it comes to running, is running more.
Icing screaming shins the smart way. {I rocked this look at work on more than one occasion.}
Here's what I've learned that I want you to know, if you're just starting:

1. Find someone to run with. In the beginning, this is going to be huge. Ask a friend, sign up for a running group in your area, check out a running shop and see what they have as far as training programs. Having someone to help keep you accountable is going to help you get through those awful days — which you will have. Want a virtual running buddy? Email me. :)

2. Find someone who can answer your questions. You won't know everything, and you will have questions. You'll have questions about rest days, what kind of pain to run through and when to stop, what to wear. Diet, protein, hydration. No one can tell you exactly what your body needs — you'll need to learn that yourself. But you'll need someone athletic and experienced to answer certain questions. I might be able to answer some — email me and we'll see! :)

3. Neon running shorts, FitBits and heart rate monitors, Bluetooth headphones and tech compression gear are all optional. You don't need them to be a runner. Sure, sometimes they help. And sometimes they're fun. But don't let your lack of them keep you from running. Grab yourself a good sports bra, shorts and a t-shirt. But here's what does matter: Your shoes. Do yourself a favor and go to a running shop. In my {granted, limited} experience, the last thing you want to do is run on the wrong shoes. Get a gait analysis and invest in the right shoes. Tell the pros about knee problems, joint pain, whatever you have. Have them analyze your arches, foot shape, all that. You'll save yourself a lot of injuries and a lot of pain if you run on the right shoes. This is the one place I will advise you to splurge 100% of the time.

4. Set goals. For me, it was a distance to run without stopping. Then a total number of miles per month. Then a race. I'm currently signed up for three more races this year, but my next milestone goal is this damned hill in my neighborhood. I'll get all the way up it without collapsing one of these days.
You know yourself better than I do. What will motivate you?

5. The Internet is a really smart place sometimes. /r/running and this blog have been so clutch for me. Find other runners to talk to. Follow motivational Instagram accounts. Download an app like RunKeeper, MapMyRun, Nike+ Running — whichever works best for you. The community is a pretty damn cool place. Come on in and get comfortable.



6. You will have great runs and bad runs. One day you'll break a personal record and the next day you'll slog through a mile. It happens. Give yourself a high-five for making an effort that so many are unable to or unwilling to make, and do better next time. A bad run does not a bad runner make.

7. Track your progress. A day will come a month or two or three into your training where you think about giving up. When you look back at how far you've come and the fact that you're now able to do things you never were before, you'll likely banish those negative thoughts right out of your mind.

8. Get a foam roller and thank me later.
Sweet, heavenly roller stick, I would be lost crying over my enraged muscles without you.

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We're bordering on obnoxiously long now, so I'll wrap it up. But if there are any specific questions you have or things I should elaborate on or things you think I got dead wrong, please shout it out in the comments! Let's get some good information-sharing happening here! :)

Side note: Today is the 118th Boston Marathon! Those who experienced the tragedy there last year, my heart is with you. You inspirational maniacs running it today, my heart is with you too. #runhappy


Friday, April 18, 2014

I Believe We'll Be Okay

You all know this is going to be a Friday post, wrapping up the week and looking ahead to the weekend. I don't need to fill this space with some introductory blabber to prepare you, do I? Let's get right to it, I'm on deadline...

{as always, thanks to Cait for this #TGIF format}

The low of my week was learning the hard way that I really do need to take rest days more often than I thought. I was under some delusion that I could run five days straight — which I could when I was only going 1-2 miles at a time! — but I can't with the mileage I'm able {yay!} to do now. I've gotta embrace a good rest every three days.

This just felt like a good place to put this.

The high of my week was learning about today's surprise half day at work on Wednesday! We weren't expecting it, but because of the holiday, the bosses are letting us skadoodle at 1 today. Usually when we get a "surprise" half day before a holiday, we're informed by the boss walking into the offices around 2 p.m. with a "you guys can leave if you want." I'll be spending my afternoon at the DMV, but at least I don't have to do it tomorrow, so, yay.

Oh and high of the week #2: Finding this guy I had forgotten I'd saved on Reddit. CUE ALL THE AWWS.

He just wants to say hi and love you forever!
A link I loved this week was this brilliance from Nicole. Even if I weren't aspiring to be a marathoner on her level, I'd still be crazy about this blog. Though she's talking specifically about her training for the Boston Marathon {go girl!} in this post, I find that a lot of these are applicable to anyone in the running game. Especially #26 :)

My plans for the weekend include a bunch of errands, a run with my new running buddy and one with my big bro, FINALLY watching Frozen with my favorite gals {while sipping frozen cocktails, because of course #frozenparty}, and gathering with the family for the annual Ammirato Easter, egg hunt included.

To help me gear up for the next few fab days, I'm gonna #backthatazzup to this feel-good tune:


What are your plans for the weekend? Do you celebrate Easter? Can you beat the lunacy of a group of 20-29-year-old cousins darting through the yard hunting for Easter eggs filled with Jelly Beans that no one wants? :)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'm It! || TMI Tag 2

If you stopped by yesterday, you probably won't be totally surprised by today's lack of a "real" post. Good thing the talented and gorgeous Emily tagged me in this TMI post recently, and I've still got plenty of answers left to share. Here are some more little things about little ol' me. {Here's Part 1 in case you missed it.}

Oh and, since I'mma be doing some confessing in the answers below, I thought this would be the perfect Wednesday to link up with the super awesome Kathy for Humpday Confessions.



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16: Favorite Quote?

You're crazy if you think I'm able to pick just one — I've filled countless journals over the years with quotes I want to remember. Here's one I strive to live by though:


17: Favorite actor?

I'm partial to the likes of Hugh Laurie, Jason Segal, and Christian Bale. And Jason Bateman.

18: Favorite color?

Red.

19: Loud music or soft?

Loud almost always, but soft when I'm writing or editing.

20: Where do you go when you're sad?

Like my gal Emily, I like to drive. Find some clear roads {as best I can here in North Jersey}, find the right tunes, and eventually clarity finds me. In a perfect world, that drive lands me on a quiet Jersey Shore beach at night. Perfect place to find my center.

21: How long does it take you to shower?

Base: 3 minutes.
Hair washing day: Add 2
Deep conditioning day: Add 4
Shaving day: Add 6
#girlproblems

22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

I can be out the door in 20 minutes, but I like to take my time. I'll spend 4 hours getting ready if you give me all Saturday afternoon. That's when wine, blogging, looking at my butt in the mirror and checking Twitter and Instagram become key parts of the getting ready routine.

23: Ever been in a physical fight?

Yep. I'm a bad bitch, guys.

24: Turn on?

Make me laugh so hard my nose wiggles, care a lot about something, and it wouldn't hurt if you were a tattooed runner too. Also... shoulders.

25: Turn off?

I'll sound very high maintenance if I list out all the things I'm thinking as a response to this, so I'll just hope that "negativity" will be sufficient to generally capture the essence.

26: The reason I joined Youtube began blogging?

The first thousand times {going back to like, 2007, I do believe} were because I wanted to broaden my horizons beyond my hometown. Share my writing. Keep a readable log of my life. {My journals were so cringeworthy I couldn't even stand to review them.} Then I switched to purely blogging my creative writing, and I used the old alyssagoesbang as a sort of writing exercise room. And then I quit and rebooted it, which is what you're looking at now, and I talked a bit about why I did that here.

If I'm being very honest about why I'm doing what I'm doing right now in terms of blogging, it's simply because I love the sense of community and I had missed it. I have some lovely relationships with people I met through our blogs in the past, and coming out of the blogosphere put an end to the ability to reach out and connect with people who I wouldn't otherwise have met. Geography, schmeography. It's 2014. One of the coolest things about being alive and mature today is the ability to form connections with people all over the place. I've already done so with a handful of great people, and AGB2.0 has only existed for less than 2 months!

And if I'm being super duper honest, I will say that no, I don't strive to be blog famous. I probably won't ever make any moves to leverage this blog as an income stream. However, I am a writer, and even though I have a day job, that doesn't mean I'm not always looking for new working connections, freelance opportunities, the like. A lot of my prior work {before I started this job, where most of my work is licensed or in print only} was held online by a company that is now defunct, thus many of my writing samples are gone. You can't be a writer today without having writing to be found online. So let's say this blog is also acting sort of as my calling card. Theoretically.

That'll teach you to ever ask me a question again, huh? That's what I call an "Alyssa-length answer."

27: Fears?

Spiders, birds — although I have been getting better at managing this one — being buried alive/drowning {shudders}, and wasting opportunities.

28: Last thing that made you cry?

Okay, here's some real talk. Last Saturday I was cleaning my windows and I broke one when I pulled it into the room to clean the outside side and it wouldn't go back on its track correctly. I got it fixed, finally, after much Googling and swearing and hitting things with hammers, but I definitely cried somewhere in there. It was just so frustrating, took way longer than it should have, and I was JUST TRYING TO KEEP A CLEAN HOME, DAMMIT.

29: Last time you said you loved someone?

To my friends last night as we were leaving pub trivia {#TriviaTuesdayTradition}.

30: Meaning behind your YouTube blog name?

Oh man. All sorts of real talk happening today. Okay, when alyssagoesbang was first adopted as my Twitter handle way back in the way back, like 2008 way back, I think it had been taken from a song lyric. At this point, I honestly couldn't tell you.

And then when I launched the OLD alyssagoesbang blog, in 2010 or 11{?? I should really have kept better track :(} the reason I gave was that I wrote and posted my creative writing on it because I had these ideas just piling up in my mind and my fingertips and absolutely no place to put them, so I started the blog so I'd have a place to empty out my ideas so my head wouldn't explode and if I did explode, alyssa would go bang. Like explosion sounds. Except that was really stupid because explosions sound more like boom than bang.

I was honestly trying to find a justification for a name I picked simply for the fact that it could have been suggestive if I wanted people to think it was, in fact, suggestive. These days, it's not so suggestive. It's just my name on the Internet, and I'm too lazy to change it on all my social media sites.

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Sigh. I shouldn't be allowed to have a blog.

At least I make up for my faults with double doses of the Gos'. Y'all are welcome.
Arite, what do you have to confess this week? Spill your secrets or answer one of the questions I did!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing Optimism

Sometimes, I have to try really hard to be an optimist.

On some days — days full of sunshine, warm smiles from strangers, face-up pennies, and green lights — it's easier than easy. The world just seems and feels open to you, like a gift just for you, like it's telling you it's on your side. Conversations are effortless, the bumble bees keep a wide berth, you get your ice-to-coffee ratio just right. I love those days.

Then there are other days, where it seems like every doubt you've ever had about yourself, your life, your plan, your skills, your journey, crop up just to remind you that they're there, always waiting, just waiting to catch you in the briefest moment of darkness and threaten to consume you. They're waiting for you to be sidetracked for just one second. Waiting for you to let your guard down and remember that thing, that guy, that conversation, that nagging feeling that brings you to places of bleak uncertainty, fear, doubt.

I'm having a mix of these days right about now. Everything is lining up right, life is good, the plan is on track. But there are things in the back of my mind that, due to their nature of chaos and that they're unresolved, threaten to unravel me every now and then. I'll be sitting at my desk, working away, or scrolling through to see what my friends have to tweet or 'gram today, and BAM. Like a ton of bricks I'm hit with a reminder of something I try so carefully to keep banished to the dreary, nearly inaccessible depths of my mind.

But we can't unknow things we know. We can't unhear things we hear, unsee what we see, unfeel what we feel. So no matter how diligent we are in keeping those negative thoughts, those painful triggers, those threatening reminders in the back of our minds, you never know what song lyric, fleeting image, casual turn of phrase will slam into you like a sledgehammer, just because it can, and just because there's nothing you can do to stop it.

In those moments, on those days, being an optimist is hard. It's hard to think that a day will come that this all-consuming thing won't consume you anymore. That this person or place or feeling you miss or want so much will one day just be a thing that exists, and not a thing that matters to you anymore. It can be impossible to imagine a time where the greatest things on your mind today will one day be distant memories or, in many cases, gone from your memory altogether.

And then you remember that optimism is a choice. And that barring extremes, happiness is too.

And that eventually, no matter how long the winter, how high the snow, how fast the winds, spring will inevitably spring again.

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Here's a haiku I wrote a couple of months ago. It somehow feels even more fitting now than it did when I first penned it back in January.

a bloom finds fresh air
beneath the blistering wind
winter springs new life

I'll be back tomorrow with something more blogworthy. Until then, have a sweet Tuesday.