Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

I have not been home to California since last June. I postponed my official start date at my new job to July 1 so that I could make a trip home beforehand. I desperately needed it.

I earn 2.67 hours of paid time off every pay period. I would probably have a lot more accumulated if I hadn't used everything I earned in 2016 toward my paychecks when I went to England in November. As of now I only have 24 hours accrued.

Originally, I had planned to not take lunches last week so I would use only a few hours of PTO for Friday, the 26th and fly home that day. But then I remembered my race I had been training so hard for. It was scheduled on Saturday morning. So I canceled my Friday flight and booked for Saturday evening instead.

Come to find out, the race I signed up for got canceled because not enough people signed up. Wish they had let me know sooner, so I could have kept my Friday flight. Thanks a lot, Alpine Classic Half.

It's OK though. I made the most of my Friday by doing laundry, starting packing, getting Village Baker for dinner (and they royally messed up my order), going to the new Pirates movie with Joyce (where I obvs got popcorn), and getting dessert afterward at The Chocolate.

On Saturday, I was able to start my run at Gardner Village around 8:30am. I was so blessed with this run. I did the same course last year, but they measured it wrong, so it was 0.3 miles short. I finished in 2:06:47, on track to hit my goal of 2:10. But this year, I ran the entire 13.1 and did it in 2:02:51. My energy was great. The weather was great. My body felt great. I only had a few bugs crash into my face. I couldn't have asked for much better.

 My toes were killing me all weekend, and I got really bad chafing on my back and hip (in spots I haven't chafed all season?! so weird). Major scabs on my back right now from it.

To celebrate my huge PR (I got 2:15 on my last correctly measured 13.1 in 2015), I decided to drive out of the way to a donut shop in West Valley I had heard about: Donut Boy.

I was pretty underwhelmed by the amount of donuts they carried, as I am with most donut shops around here, but they were pretty well stocked and had another rolling shelf unit ready to unload. I got a crumb donut (raised, not cake), toasted coconut donut, maple bacon bar, and buttermilk bar. I'll write a review on Yelp for it if you care that much. In short, the donuts were decent, but nothing special. I did like the toasted coconut one.

I went grocery shopping, ran another errand, and cleaned my condo. I also put a 13.1 sticker on my car, since I've now run four of them. I figured it was time to let everyone who drives behind me know. ;) My grandma and mom came to get me to take me to the airport, where my flight was late to board. Cute grandma brought me a gift to celebrate me running 13.1: a couple of Think Thin bars, some Keebler cookies (the girl scout knockoffs), some vitamin water, a bunch of other goodies, and a cute card. She is the best.

My dad picked me up at Long Beach airport on Saturday evening, around 6:30pm. I almost cried when I got off the plane and saw the palm trees and felt the ocean air. Maybe you all feel this way about your home, but something about the air in California just feels different. The light is different. And it feels special.

We went straight from the airport to dinner at Casa del Rey because I ran 13.1 miles, so I get to eat all the food. The chips and salsa were legit, as always, and so was my burrito. Jake and Amanda met us there, and that was my first time meeting her.

My favorite thing about my family is the informality with which we hang out. One or two of us will be in the kitchen talking. Then another sibling comes and joins. Then another. My dad, Jared, Jake, Amanda, and I all stood in the kitchen quoting Forrest Gump for a pretty lengthy amount of time. The original plan was to watch Moana. But we ended up talking until pretty late, and I was exhausted.

I slept like poo, as I always do at home. Partly because I'm a light sleeper, and the pull out bed is in the dining room, adjacent to the kitchen which is especially noisy with coffee and stuff in the morning. And also because it's incredibly bright in my house. There are no blinds or curtains in the entire stretch of the kitchen, dining room, or family room.

So I got up, got ready, had a protein shake, and chatted with my dad in the kitchen. We casually decided to leave around 8am, and proceeded to have the best day ever at Disneyland.

First, we went and got Fast Passes for Guardians in CA Adventure. That line was so. freaking. long. But it moved fast. It took us probably 30 minutes to get our passes. From there we went straight to Soarin' Over the World, which my dad helped build, but had never gotten to ride. The wait was under 20 minutes, and we both LOVED it. It is so fun.

We were starving at that point, so we headed across to Disneyland where we got Mickey shaped beignets at New Orleans Square (at the Mint Julep bar). We listened to a jazz band play and fed a very friendly duck that came by.

After that, we went on Pirates, which was less than a 15 minute wait. Then we went to Haunted Mansion, which also was less than a 15 minute wait. While we were over in that direction, we decided to jump on Splash Mountain. My dad has never been on that ride in his life. That line was about 20 minutes long. We didn't get very wet, which was kind of a relief. We walked over to Big Thunder, and were on the ride in less than 5 minutes. Honestly, I don't know what happened that got us so lucky on Sunday, but it was so cool to have no waits!

Dad's first time on Splash Mountain

We went over to Cafe Orleans at about 1pm to have lunch, but "they were reservation only at that time," and told us we could come back and check on the wait in 30 minutes. But our fast passes for Guardians were for 1:55-2:55, so that wasn't going to work. We made reservations for 4:50, and then went and had lunch at Stage Door Cafe. Dad got fish & chips, I got chicken nuggets and fries, and we shared a corn dog. Guys. That was the best corn dog I've ever had.

After that, we wandered over to Guardians. The line to USE the fast pass was 30 minutes. We thought it would be way longer, but it actually was spot on. That ride was SO FUN! I couldn't believe how many drops we got. So much better than Tower of Terror! Dad loved it, and I think it was probably our favorite of the whole day.


Since dad hadn't been to CA Adventure before, I wanted him to see what it was all about. So we walked down and got on California Screamin'. That line was about 15 minutes also. He loved that coaster. He said it was the perfect length of time.

We wandered back over to Disney, got fast passes for Space Mountain, and had our dinner at Cafe Orleans: a monte cristo sandwich and garlic fries. Oh man. So good! We should have shared our sandwich though instead of getting our own. We both were so full already.

We wanted to take it down a few notches, so we did the 10 minute wait for Jungle Cruise. That was great and cheesy as always. I needed a soda, so we each got a Coke Zero and walked over to Fantasyland and did the Storybook Ride. Dad doesn't like the tea cups or Small World, so we didn't do those. My app told me that Indiana Jones had a 30 minute wait, but when we walked over there, it was a 45 minute wait. It ended up being 38 minutes. I timed all the waits for fun. Dad said it was as jerky and awful as he remembered. I really like that ride though.

As we headed back to use our Space Mountain fast passes, we got a Dole Whip Float and shared it. Don't judge us. This day was entirely about food.

Star Tours had a small wait, only about 15 minutes, so we went on that before heading to Space Mountain. I love both of those rides.

After that, the electric parade was starting, but I still hadn't seen the Matterhorn Macaroons. So we went and each got one of those. I saved it for a little later. We hung out and saw a little of the parade. We hit up a souvenir store where I proceeded to cry over the voice activated dancing Baby Groot. And then we headed home.

I had told my dad when we got there that morning, that a couple of years ago, Patrick and I lucked out and got to watch the fireworks from the parking structure. Well, as soon as we stepped off the tram to the parking lot, the fireworks started. So we got to watch the show from the parking lot. Basically nothing was left undone that day.

We headed home, bodies sore, bellies full, blood sugar crashed, and so, so happy. It was an amazing day. Truly better than I think my dad or I expected.

Monday was pretty low key. I had tried to ask my brother if he and his girlfriend would want to go (or rather would want to drive me) to Huntington Beach, but I guess he didn't get the text I sent from Disneyland. So I slept in a little, put the couch back together, and got dressed to go on a run. I ran five miles total. My route was west on Gladstone, up to Barranca.

I stretched in the back yard, hung out with the dog who kept trying to sniff my crotch, chatted with my baby brother for a little while, showered, and ended up running into my brother Jake as I went to do laundry. We chatted for a while, and he didn't realize I was leaving that evening. He was disappointed and told me I need to stay longer.

Dad and I went to the grocery store to get stuff for dinner. We got chicken thighs and breasts, asparagus, corn on the cob, Cheetos, and stuff to make Texas Tabs (sans the syrup). Dad and Jake LOVED the soda.

My brother Jake came home to spend a little time with me before I headed back to the airport, so that was really cute. He took some very unflattering snaps of us. And Jared came home before going in to work to say bye to me. I love those boys so much.

Mouth was full of dinner

Checking out Jake's eye infection
I fought tears before leaving, all the way to the airport, and at the airport. It is so hard leaving; it's like you're separating from part of your heart. I feel like I'm leaving them behind, and I feel like we are all better people when we're together. I'm really struggling, especially not knowing the next time I'll get to go home. Maybe Pioneer Day weekend I'll head back for another short trip.

I love my people.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Thought I Was a Cat Person

Growing up, my family had a lot of animals. Reptiles, fish, dogs, birds, rabbits, you name it. One thing my family did not love: cats. My parents weren't cat people. And then Shibbs showed up on our doorstep with his momma.

We loved Shibbs, and he loved us. I guess I thought this made me a cat person. But no. It just made me a Shibbs person.

Because back in September 2015, I adopted a cat. His name is Max. He's a bloody nightmare. Sweet. But super naughty and tragically needy.

I'm sure you all can take a stab as to why I picked a cat over a dog: not as needy. Doesn't care about your existence. Doesn't need walks. Doesn't bark. Doesn't need a yard. Could be left alone all day at home. Cleans itself. No picking up poop. Etc. Etc.

Sadly, Max doesn't fit any of your typical cat descriptors. Allow me to give a description of my cat and his behaviors (which you've likely seen on Snapchat or Instagram stories).
- He begs for food and stares at you while you eat
- He destroys and eats plants
- He scratched up the leather portion of my once perfect couch
- He jumps up on the counters and table and eats people food (Chicken I understand. But rice, people. He ate freaking rice.)
- He jumps on the fridge and on the highest cabinets
- He follows you even if you move just a few feet
- He loves to rub up against your legs constantly
- He stands behind you so you'll trip over him
- He walks directly in front of your line of motion so you kick him, and then he gets upset at you
- He chases you down the hallway
- If you're really lucky, he bites your ankles as he chases you down the hallway
- He rubs up on you constantly, especially when you're sweaty or wet so that his black hair gets stuck to you
- If you're not attentive enough, he will bite your knee--he'd rather be smacked than ignored
- He loves to rub up against your legs constantly
- He meows between 5 and 6am almost every day, but his favorite is on Saturdays
- He meows pretty much constantly
- He greets you at the door when you get home
- He loves anyone and everyone; he is not skittish
- He loses his toys under the oven or couch
- He runs outside but then gets afraid and upset and meows like he's dying
- He kicks poop out of his litter box (I clean it every day, so don't advise me)
- He loves to rub up against your legs constantly
- He once ate a roommate's drawstring and pooped it out while darting all over the house as it slowly emerged
- He once ate part of a raw packge of ground beef a roommate left out
- He leaves weird spots all over the couch; I'm not even sure I want to know what they're from
- He digs my blush brush out of my purse to play with and chew on (he's done this three times now)
- He will shove his head under your resting hand to force you to touch him
- He pretty much must be touched always if you are present
- He loves to rub up against your legs constantly
- He will crawl into any open door, cabinet, or cupboard
- He sheds a ton (I buy him expensive grain free food, so don't even start with that)
- He purrs loudly and readily
- He loves to rub up against bags and purses (and also get into them)
- He runs a little obstacle course every night, back and forth between the entryway and living room
- He has scratched up a brand new table I put underneath the window
- He gets paw marks all over the window
- He loves to rub up against your legs constantly
- He jumps into the kitchen windowsill if the blinds are up
- He jumps on your clean clothes as you're folding them
- He will try to jump into the dryer if it's open
- He does not think 3+ hours of snuggling is enough
- He tries to get in the fridge if it's open
- He loves to eat and tear up paper, especially tissue, and has gotten into the roommates' garbage a couple of times
- He has torn up a section of my carpet that apparently had a loose string
- Did I mention he loves to rub up against your legs constantly?

I seriously don't know why I still have this creature. He drives me absolutely insane. He honestly is fine to have around when he isn't being needy or naughty, but I'm not sure that occurs often enough for me to really appreciate his presence.

I know a lot of people really like needy cats and think this kind of excessive affection is cute. But I don't. Call me a heartless witch. I seriously don't know how much longer I can handle this guy. It's been almost two years, and while some things have gotten better, others have not. I feel guilty for keeping him when I know someone else would love to have his love. But I'd feel guilty getting rid of him because it's like a responsibility I accepted, so I feel like I'm facing the consequences. And I also feel like at this point I just have so much stress and damage invested, that it would have all been a waste if I give him away. I don't know if that makes any sense at all. It feels a lot like making excuses to stay in an abusive relationship. Does it sound that way to you?

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that the burden of cleaning a litter box is only icing on the cake when you have a cat like mine. So the best day of my month was the day I got this amazing thing:

A litter genie. I have hidden it in the utility closet next to his litter box. I no longer have to collect plastic bags or go to the trash every single day. I used it for the first time this morning, and it was awesome.

My other great animal investment was that $5 bed you see him sitting in above. It's on the couch and has really cut down on the amount of fur he leaves on my couch (not completely, but a lot).

I honestly do not know if I love this cat. I mean I think I'd be sad if he got lost or died. I'm pretty sure I would. Maybe. Mostly I find him incredibly obnoxious and only good company when I'm sick (which is like... never, so...). I know I need to devote more time to playing with him. But even when I do that regularly (or snuggle with him for HOURS), it's not enough. His behavior is the same. He makes me curse and yell about 5x more often than he makes me laugh. So I have pretty much resigned myself to a life of misery with the neediest creature that ever walked the earth.

Well, no matter what happens with this guy, at least now there is a blog entry devoted to his existence, so he's not like an omitted chapter of my life someday.

If anyone would like a super needy cat, let me know. Just kidding. But seriously...