Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


It's Baseball Season, Baby!

We caught our first live game o' the season last night as our hometown minor-leaguers, the Sacramento River Cats, took on their big-league affiliate, the Oakland As, in an exhibition game at Raley Field. Though the weather was chilly and a bit moist, our seats behind home plate on the 1st base side were well-protected (yay!). Unfortunately, our Cats lost, but we did get to see a rare triple play, which was way cool.

GO CATS!!! Rowrrrrr!

And the home opener against the Las Vegas 51s comes up in just two weeks (April 14th). Yippee!!!!

It's baseball season, baby! What a great time of year!!!

Mmm. Too bad Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez can't exhibit the same positive attitude and enthusiasm, isn't it? Note to MLB: Those "sensitivity"classes don't seem to be working so well for this guy...


Earning Her Keep

Miss Muffin recently "brought home the bacon," or to be more accurate, the kitty litter. ..

Thanks to a referral from a neighbor, I had registered some time ago with an organization called Opinions of Sacramento that runs focus groups for various market research projects. Though I'd responded several times to emails for different potential projects, I'd never been chosen until about a month ago when I received a survey about pets in the home and kitty litter use. After a few more follow-up questions and a phone call, I was selected to participate in the focus group.

The catch? This study involved using a specific brand of cat litter in your home for two weeks prior to the interview.

I was worried at first that Muffalo would reject the strange litter, so I was incredibly relieved when I picked up the big ol' 25-lb bag of "new & improved" Fresh Step, since that's the brand we use anyway. Phew!

As instructed, I changed Muffa-Golightly's litter to the new product and carefully monitored her use over the past two weeks (she seemed to like it just fine). My follow-up interview was this past Tuesday and lasted about 15 minutes.

Here's the really cool part - for using the litter and chatting for 1/4 of an hour, I received not only a big bag of free (and fab) kitty litter for the Muff-Cat but also $75 in cash for my time. Not bad!

So Pooka-Muff really earned her keep this week ($75 would cover almost 3 bags of her Iams food) and got a spiffy new litter in the process. Way to go, kitty!

Debt Free (well, sort of...)

Yesterday we achieved one of our short-term financial goals - paying off our credit card debt. Woo-hoo!

We didn't have that much, especially compared to many other people I know, and we only have a single joint credit card, which is also rather unusual these days, but we still really wanted to get that balance down to $0 and begin a "pay-as-you-go" approach to the Citi plastic.

Yay! Go us!


Crisis of Faith

I've been having a tough time with my running lately.

Last weekend was the Shamrock'n 1/2 marathon. The weather was awful (cold, wind, rain) - the worst I've ever run in, even worse than the Madison Marathon (fondly referred to as the "Madison Monsoon" because of the rainy conditions) because the wind and temperatures were so harsh. I made a miscalculation in my running gear for the Shamrock'n and took my pants off early in the course, which meant that my legs got really cold and stiff in the mid part of the course up along the levee. I even had to walk a little bit between miles 10 & 11. Bleah. So my final time was actually my personal worst 1/2 marathon time (1:54 with an 8:43 pace). Even though I know the reasons for my poor performance, I was/am still disgruntled and unhappy.

And over the past week or so, including my 10.5 mile run yesterday with the Fleet Feet folks, running has been making me feel worse about myself rather than better. I find myself questioning why I'm doing it, what I'm getting out of it or want to get out of it, what my goals are. I keep looking at running with a negative spin in terms of what I didn't accomplish ("I didn't improve on my 1/2 marathon time") instead of what I did accomplish ("I just ran 13.1 miles in nasty weather!").

I'm not sure why my reactions and feelings have changed. And it's very frustrating, because running has been an anchor for me, part of my center, for at least the past 5-6 years. So now I find myself thrown off course and unsure about how to find an even keel again. For me, this really feels like a crisis of faith.

My short-term goal is trying something new - working on my speed for the 5K. I plan to do the Zoo Zoom on April 9th to see if I can place within my division (past year results from the event suggest this is a reachable goal). I'm curious to see if having this type of goal keeps me motivated or helps me to find new inspiration to run. I've never thought of myself as a fast person so I've always brushed aside any real focus on speed, and it'll be interesting to see how my body (and mind) react to this new focus.

I have a suspicion, however, that I may need to just take a full-blown break from running after that event to clear the chatter of my mind and reflect on exactly why I do this and what it means to me.

Maybe that will help me rediscover my faith.


Running Risks

Funny thing happened when I got home from work yesterday: Around 3pm, I pulled the scooter into the driveway, turned it off, grabbed my keys from my coat pocket, and went to open the front door (all as usual). Looking at my keys, I realized that some were missing. Hmm. And those some that were missing just happened to be my house keys. Double hmm. Quick flashback to the morning when, after returning from my run, I put my keys next to the Fresca can on the counter, thinking that would be a good way to remember to place them back on my main key ring since I always take out the recyclables when I leave for work. Triple hmm. Guess that didn't quite happen yesterday morning...

So there I am, stuck outside. No extra set of keys hidden anywhere nearby. No spare set living with a neighbor. No way to manually open the garage and no set of keys in there anyway even if I could have gotten in. Luckily, I do have my backpack with cell phone, wallet, etc., so I call Mr. E to see if perhaps we do have a spare set of keys in existence somewhere outside the condo, but of course I was correct in thinking that we don't, so we chat for a bit about what I could do in the meantime since Mr. E has a late meeting at work and won't be home until after 6pm.

I end up heading to Target to look for some workout clothes so that I can still at least go to my Pilates class at 4:30pm at the gym (and I'm currently in need of some new non-running workout clothes anyway) and manage to find a pair of pants and a top to tide me over. Of course, I don't have any gym shoes, so my plan to do the 5:15pm Cardio Party class is scrapped, but then I remember there's a 5:15pm Mat Pilates class, and the new outfit will do just fine for that.

All in all, then, the afternoon & early evening turned out pretty well, despite the silly situation of having no keys. I guess that's the risk you run when you run in the morning with just your house keys to lighten your load and forget to re-load your key ring before scooting to work...