Friday, June 24, 2016

Run to Exile 5K recap

The Run to Exile is four years old. And I have participated in it four times. It's become an annual tradition for me to run this race.

It's no secret I have not been very good about my workouts in the last few weeks. I hadn't run in a while, so I was slightly nervous about this race. But usually, I can run 3.1 miles without much effort. Maybe I wouldn't be fast, but I would be able to finish.

I didn't take into account that I hadn't run outside recently. My lungs and body were not ready for the high humidity. So this race was really rough. I had to walk more than I wanted to.

My final time was not great. But I still did it, and I still finished.  That's enough.

Oh, and there was a free beer at the end. That definitely helped.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Run to Exile 5K
Sunday: Off
Monday: Core + FitFusion
Tuesday: Yoga at home
Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Off (Although I walked about six miles while I was volunteering at a local event)

I'm getting more consistent with my workouts, but I need to keep improving.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I needed to be single until now

In high school (and earlier), I was completely boy crazy. I was never without at least one crush. Looking back, it was kind of pathetic and I'm embarrassed of some of the methods I deployed to try and get certain boys to notice me. I can't change any of it, and I suppose I wouldn't even if I could. Those experiences happened for a reason. Or reasons. Many of which are yet to be seen.

I spent a lot of my 20s searching for a guy to date. I tried meeting guys through friends. I tried online dating (so much online dating). I once even tracked down a cute firefighter after seeing him at the scene of car accident I went out to cover for the newspaper. I had some good times along the way, but I never found a relationship. It was frustrating and discouraging.

As I entered my 30s, I continued my search. Even when I said I was giving up, I didn't. I couldn't.  My hopeless romantic heart wouldn't let me. But I began to feel like it was less and less of a likelihood that I would find someone who wanted more than a few dates. Who wanted a relationship. And I worried about if/when I did find that someone, how would I explain to him why I'd never been in a relationship before. Would he think that was weird? Would he think there was something wrong with me (a few "friends" warned me of this)?

I'm in a relationship now, and as I continue to navigate this new territory, I've taken some time to think about my past and how I got here. And I have some solid ideas as to why I needed to stay single so long.

:: I needed to be confident enough to make my own choices.
In the past, I know I would have worried about the opinions of those around me. I would have analyzed everything about him and tried to guess what my friends and family would think. I'm not saying the opinions of my loved ones don't matter. They do. But I think I would have discounted someone in the past over one perceived flaw or a non-committal comment from a friend. Now, I would listen but ultimately make the right choice for me.

:: I had to give up the idea of being perfect.
For a long time, I held this belief that I wouldn't, couldn't, or shouldn't find someone until everything about my life was perfect -- my job, my finances, my appearance, etc. It was very limiting.  And maybe a bit of a self-defense mechanism indicating I just wasn't ready for a relationship. Either way, I know now that none of those things I listed will ever be perfect. They'll just be what they are -- parts of who I am but not the definition of who I am.

:: I needed to let go of the idea of romance as it is portrayed by Hollywood.
Connections don't always look like like they do in movies. Love songs capture one person's feelings about another. But that doesn't mean everyone feels what's described. And love at first sight sounds exciting but isn't realistic (especially for someone as overly analytical as I am). Sometimes the girl gets the guy, but he isn't the one she ever expected. This all sounds negative and cynical, but it's really not. I'm starting to realize real-life meet cutes (totally stole that term from "The Holiday") are far more interesting than the ones we see on TV or in movies or books.

:: I had to find myself.
This was the biggest thing. I spent so many years disliking myself -- my body, my quirks, etc.  I had to get to a place where I didn't just love myself, but actually liked who I am. There's a huge difference. And I'm apparently a slow learner, so this took a lot of work. And I'm still working on it. I probably always will be. But I'm in a much much better place now than I was one year, five years, or 10 years ago.

I've never been someone who could date just for the sake of dating. When I choose to spend time with someone, it's because I think it has the potential to go somewhere. And I want it to. As you can see, I had a lot of work to do on myself before I could be ready for a relationship. For the right relationship.

With this guy ...

Say "hello" to Sean.

(He occasionally reads my blog, so he will see all of your comments if you do legitimately address him.)

We met via Twitter after I tweeted in to the local radio show where he works. Our communication was solely online until the start of May when we decided to see "Book of Mormon" together. Funny enough, we didn't even sit next to each other on our first date (because we bought our tickets separately and didn't plan very well). I wasn't even sure it was a date until the end of the night. After that, I've never had a question regarding his feelings for me. He leaves no doubt. We talk every day and see each other whenever our respective crazy schedules allow. We've watched a lot of baseball together -- he's a White Sox fan, and our second date was watching our two teams play each other. We survived it pretty well. He's met a few of my friends. We went to a Tony Awards watch party in downtown Des Moines and had a blast. I never thought I'd find a guy who enjoys sports and musical theatre ... oh, and also likes me. But Sean does. He is a unicorn. Then again, a lot of people have called me that over the years as well. Maybe we're both unicorns. Pretty well-matched unicorns.

The irony of all of this is that we arranged our first date on the same day I wrote this post and subsequently had a long conversation with close friends about my dating hang-ups and failures. Crazy, huh? I had no idea how much my life would change about 36 hours after that post went live.

To be honest, I was completely unprepared for him and this relationship. For those who are new to this space or me, this is the first time I've had someone call me their girlfriend since I was 18. I've been on a lot of dates in the interim, but this is the first real adult relationship for me. I'm still learning how to let him in. After so many years of being on my own and kind of giving up on finding someone, I'm more guarded than I suspected. Fortunately, he's very patient and seems to think I'm worth it. And, in my opinion, he's worth the work of letting down the walls I spent so many years building.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 6/22

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ... 

... that the Rangers are still atop the American League. I know the season isn't even half over and this probably won't last forever, so I'm savoring it while I can.

... "Young and Hungry." Whenever I have a little extra time for Netflix, this is what I choose to watch.

... that the Des Moines Arts Festival is this weekend. I'm on the event management team, so the next few days are going to be crazy but also a whole lot of fun.

... that my concert calendar keeps getting fuller. I recently added Tim Stop (he'll be on a free stage at the Iowa State Fair) and Eric Hutchinson to my itinerary for the year. I cannot wait.

... that I finally got to FitFusion again on Monday night. I love that dance fitness class, it just hasn't fit into my schedule recently.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer's here!!

Yesterday was the first official day of summer. I'm so excited. Bring on the BBQs, beer, fireworks, and baseball.

I enjoy setting some goals for each season -- things I want to do or accomplish -- and then evaluating at the end of the season. 

These were my goals for spring: 

- Lots of live baseball. - CHECK!
I went to St. Louis and visited a new ballpark (I've now seen 11 of 30) and caught a game. I've also been to three Iowa Cubs games so far.  I'm only getting started with the baseball.

- Wear a skirt or dress once a week. - CHECK!
I did it!!! After about five weeks, my co-workers stopped asking why I was so dressed up.

- Check out a new running trail. - CHECK!
I did a race in a new part of the city, so I think this counts.


And, now, it's time to look ahead to the new season and the things on my to-do list for summer. Here are my goals:

- Take advantage of the pool at my apartment complex.
By this time next year, I will hopefully be living in a house I own. I need to enjoy the luxury of pool access while I have it.

- Ride my bike to the High Trestle bridge.
This was on my list last summer and I failed. I need to make it happen.

- Finish the first round of re-writes/edits on my next book and start the first draft of the one after that.
I have kind of an aggressive timeline with this baseball romance series. I want to have the second book out in November or December, and I need to have enough of the third one written to tease it in the back of the second book. Time to get to work.

What's on your to-do list for summer?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Music Monday: Brad Paisley feat. Demi Lovato - "Without a Fight"

Let's put this song in the category of "collaborations I never envisioned happening." I've always been a fan of Brad Paisley. I've skipped his last few albums, but I think he's a talented songwriter and guitarist. I'm also a fan of Demi Lovato. Her voice is killer. This is crazy and wonderful combination of their talents.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 76

I have not been able to articulate my thoughts about the violence that happened last weekend in Florida. Fortunately, others have not had that struggle. Steph and Taylor helped capture what I've been thinking and feeling.

Monica wrote about how to make yourself happy when you're feeling sad. I have deployed a few of the strategies she's listed. They really do help.

Body image and self-esteem issues are rampant among young women. And we learn it from the women closest to us. Madison did a great job in explaining what she wants to teach her daughter about her body.

I'm eager to see "Finding Dory," although after reading Karen's piece about how the movie uses bullying for laughs, I'm a bit less eager. I am far more sensitive to things than Karen is, so if she was disappointed, I'm likely to be even more so.

I'm all about encouraging people to read. And the younger you start them, the better. Kristin has some great tips for helping kids learn to enjoy reading.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Four of my favorite podcasts

As much as I love music, occasionally I need a break from the tunes on my iPod. But I still want to shutout the other office noise so I can focus on my work. Surprisingly, podcasts have been a great addition to my workday listening. I'm able to focus on work while still being entertained.

Here are four of my current favorites:

Here To Make Friends
If you watch "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette," or any of the related shows, you need to be listening to this. The hosts, Claire and Emma, break down each episode and often have guests on to add their two cents. Some of their guests are even Bachelor/Bachelorette alums, which I think helps give a different perspective sometimes.   

The Armchair Librarians
I've yet to successfully participate in a book club, but if Stephanie and Jana started one, I'd join. I love their commentary on whatever they're reading. I've gotten some solid reading recommendations (and several I still need to get to) and learned more about the reading habits of others. I enjoy that knowledge as a reader and an author. The sound quality isn't always perfect, but it doesn't deter me a bit.

True Crime Garage 
I loved the first season of Serial, but the second one lost me really fast. I began searching for other shows about real crimes. I stumbled across this one and have completely devoured it in the last few weeks. I like the banter between the hosts as they debate, speculate, and share their theories on various crimes. They also have a featured beer each week, which really speaks to me.

KXnO Sports Fanatics
Maybe I'm getting old, but regular radio doesn't appeal to me.  In the mornings, I listen to Elvis Duran (for the chatter, not necessarily the music). In the afternoons, I turn the dial to the AM band for this local sports talk radio show. I began listening because I've followed Chris (one of the hosts) for his Cyclone Fanatic insights for a while. I continued listening because I like the balance between him and Ross. They mostly discuss local sports but occasionally dip their toes into national sports topics. They also sometimes discuss non-sports things such as movies, ghosts, and beer. I can't always listen to the full three hours after work, so I catch up on the podcast the following day. (Full disclosure: I've developed a personal connection to the show in the last few months as well, but I would be listening regardless.)

Do you have any podcast recommendations?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 6/15

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ...

... that we are exactly halfway through June today. Which means we're closer to my birthday month. I love birthday month.

... that a friend and I brewed last night for the first time in months. Our lives are just so crazy we haven't had a chance to make beer. But in about a month, we'll have a mandarin orange wheat to sip on for the rest of the summer.

... that the reviews of Dropped Third Strike are starting to roll in and are mostly positive. There was one comment about the ending, but I fully expected some feedback on that aspect. Other than that, people really seem to be enjoying it. And are starting to demand the next one. That's super encouraging.

... that this week marks 10 years since I moved back to Iowa from Texas. I still miss some of the people and things (OK, mostly the Rangers and Whataburger), but it was absolutely the right decision for me. Being near family is the best, and I've found a new appreciation for my home state that I didn't have when I was growing up here.

... this song Brendan James wrote just after the Newtown shootings. It seems relevant again after the events in Florida last week. I love Brendan, but I hope someday this song becomes irrelevant or dated.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Show Us Your Books: May

Life According to Steph

This link-up really doesn't need to be plural for me this month. I only read one book in May.  One.  I'm not proud of this, but ... I have no good excuse or explanation.

I confess I have a really hard time with non-fiction books. This one was no exception. I struggled to get through it and admittedly skimmed through some parts so I could finish it faster. I watched the movie as well (since books turned into movies is my reading goal for the year), and it was much more engaging.  Maybe because of George Clooney?

I really need to pick up my reading pace soon, as I am 18 books behind for my GoodReads challenge.  Yikes!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Music Monday: "Touch Me" from "Spring Awakening"

I love musical theatre (if you weren't already aware), and I look forward to The Tony Awards each year. I don't have TV service, of course, so I was sure this year, I'd be stuck looking for clips on YouTube. Fortunately, I was wrong. Last night, Des Moines Performing Arts hosted a Tony Awards watch party in the beautiful courtyard. There were food trucks and the Iowa Craft Beer Tent (my favorite, naturally). And, of course, the awards.

I thought James Corden did great as host. The opening number brought many laughs, and I enjoyed the replay of his carpool karaoke segment with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Audra McDonald, and Jane Krakowski. There were so many shows honored during the awards that I would love to see. "Hamilton" has included Des Moines among the 14 stops on their first tour. I can't wait.

I was also thrilled to see a performance from "Waitress," because I adore Sara Bareilles, who wrote all the music. I really hope that show tours so I can have a chance to see it.

The performance I was most anticipating, however, was the revival of "Spring Awakening." It is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I love that Andy Mientus (who was on the touring cast I saw) and Krysta Rodriguez (who I loved in "Smash" are in the cast).  It's such a poignant show and the music is some of my favorite. I really hope the revival tours, as I'm intrigued to see how the sign language adds to the show. Here's a clip I found online of one of my favorite numbers from the show.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Suns out, guns out challenge

As I've alluded to many times in this space, I have have been a real slacker about my workouts the last few months. I did my races, but ... not much else.  That will not help me accomplish my fitness goals. It's time to shape up. Especially with the weather heating up (which means lighter and fewer clothes).

Thankfully, I have some people to help motivate me. A friend of mine is a Beachbody coach and added me to her Suns Out, Guns Out Challenge group. The focus will be on upper body strength (which I desperately need) with some encouragement for better eating and overall wellness activities. 

These are the only parameters of the three-week challenge:
- Work out 30 min a day 5 days a week with a workout of your choice.
- Eat clean and eliminate junk food.
- Drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
- Be active in the group and check in daily.
- Participate in BONUS daily arm workout.

I think I can do this.  I know I won't be perfect with the eating. I'm going to aim for 70-30 for now. I think that's fair.

As for my arm workout, I found this on Pinterest:

On the "rest" days, I think I'll do push-ups. Whatever the rep count was for the previous day.

I'm looking forward to toning my arms up a little and just getting stronger overall.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: BodyPump -- my first time back in more than a year. I was sore for four days. Worth it.
Monday: Off
Tuesday: 2-mile outdoor run
Wednesday: Yoga
Thursday: Off

I wanted to work out more, but after so much time off, it's probably best to ease into it.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A working girl's job history

Not long ago, my friend Rena was reminiscing and listed all the titles she's held in her working life. It got me thinking about my own employment resume. If you count babysitting, I've been working since I was 11 or 12.  If not, then I started at 13.

That's a lot of years of collecting paychecks for various duties performed. And I do mean various. Here is a look at all the jobs I've held in my life.

Babysitter - I babysat for a few different families in my early teenage years. Some I liked more than others. I mostly took care of school age kids. And my job, really, was just to make sure the siblings didn't kill each other.

Detassler - I'm fairly certain this is a right of passage in Iowa. My job was to pull the tassels off certain rows of corn so they can "mate" with the right varieties of corn. Sounds like a blast, right?  I only made it one summer of this. I was too short (easily lost in the corn fields), and I did not like getting wet and muddy.

Retail associate - I was a cashier and stock associate at a Bugle Boy outlet store. It was miserable. Mostly because of my manager, I think.

Waitress - I worked at Happy Chef, which is a family restaurant that's open 24 hours. Those overnight shifts were rough.  I was only 16 or 17, but for some reason no one blinked that I was working 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Grocery store clerk - Tired of the overnight hours, I went to work for my hometown grocery store. The shifts were more reasonable, and the people who owned the store were really nice. I stayed there until I graduated high school, working a few evenings and most weekends.

Fast food worker - Yep, I worked at McDonald's. For two summers (and occasional breaks) during college. It wasn't all that bad, honestly.

Information desk attendant - This was my work study job on campus. My duties included directing campus visitors to the correct building or hallway and providing phone numbers when people called in for them. I wonder if this person is obsolete now.

Concession stand worker - After college, I didn't immediately find a full-time job, but I needed to make some money. And I wanted to get out of the house occasionally.  So on Saturday nights, I worked in the concession stand at a local race track.

General assignment reporter - My first big kid job!! I covered crime, courts, agriculture, and the local junior college for a daily newspaper in Texas. I also did layout on a rotating schedule. Even though I'd been the managing editor of my college newspaper, I was not fully prepared for this job. I learned so much in a hurry. And put in some really long days.  It was not uncommon for me to work 10 a.m. to midnight.

Managing Editor - I moved on to another daily newspaper and was originally hired as a news writer. But three days in, the managing editor just ... stopped showing up.  I assumed the role and stayed in it for two years until I moved back to Iowa, where I became the managing editor of a weekly newspaper. I stayed there for almost five years.

Creative & Marketing Writer - I was nearing the point of burnout in the newspaper industry, so I decided to try my hand at a different style of writing in the marketing office of a university. It was a huge change. My job now was to entice students to enroll at the college or to compel alumni to give money. There was also the occasional feature (my favorite) and news piece. It was interesting work, and I enjoyed the academic setting, but it didn't prove to be a good fit for me.

Communications Specialist - In one of my temp jobs, I spent three months in corporate communications. After so much time spent in the fast-paced newspaper field, this was just too slow for me. I could not find enough to stay busy. The position was just a test one anyway, and they figured out they did not need that role. Or me. This is pretty much when I gave up on communications and writing as my career.

Loan Processing Specialist - My second temp job was with the same company that had just eliminated the communications specialist job. But in a different building and a completely different role. I evaluated mortgage documents to see if borrowers were correctly charged for the various fees involved in a mortgage. If the numbers were incorrect, I made the proper contacts to rectify the situation.

Subrogation Specialist - This is my current full-time job. But I've done it at two different companies. For those who are confused, basically I work with insurance claims (largely auto claims). When our insured is in an accident that is not their fault, I pursue the at-fault party to recover damages incurred by our insured. When I started, I had no idea what subrogation was. I'm pretty well-versed in what it means now, but there are still constant challenges. That's a good thing though. I never want to get complacent in my job. Comfortable, but not bored.

Library Circulation Clerk - One of my current part-time gigs. I check in returned materials (books, movies, video games, puppets, learning materials, etc.) and get them ready for pre-shelving. I also perform check out duties. On the rare occasion I have some downtime, I have other projects that include processing books that are being withdrawn from the collection and checking various areas of the library to make sure things are still in the correct place.

Beertender - Another one of my current part-time jobs. I pour beer and take money. I also wash a lot of glassware. I have some beer knowledge too, so occasionally I help someone find a beer they like. That's a really fun part of my job. And I really enjoy meeting and talking with new people.

So ... there's a very wordy snapshot of all the jobs I've held in my life.

What are some of yours?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 6/8

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ...

... that I had an unexpectedly free Saturday this last weekend. My original plans got cancelled and I had no idea what to do with myself. So I binge watched "Young and Hungry" on Netflix (so addicted) for half the day and then hit a local patio for beers with friends. It was such a good day.

... how much fun I had celebrating my book release the other day. Around 20 people came to my party at the brewery. And then another dozen or so tuned in online. It was a blast, and I'm feeling so very loved and supported.

... that I spent last night at a "Pitch Perfect" sing along. I mean, it's a sing along every time I watch it at home, but it was slightly more fun with a few friends and a few dozen strangers.  Oh, and we took a groupie (like a selfie but with lots of people, right?) with the photo of my friend's cousin, which was hanging on the wall with other Iowa actors. Recognize him?

... that the Rangers are in first place.  Not just in the American League West , but in the entire American League. And also in my heart.  That was cheesy, wasn't it?

... that I've worked out three times in the last four days. BodyPump on Sunday. Two-mile run on Tuesday. Yoga today. I might be getting back in the habit. Hopefully.

What are you loving this week?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Music Monday: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - "Never Go Back"

Today is the official release day for my book, Dropped Third Strike.  (Click here to see the history, cover, and summary of the novel.) I'm having two celebrations (one local and one online).  In honor of the story, I decided to find a song I thought fit my characters and their conflict in the book.  I landed on this tune by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. It captures much of what Kate is fighting for most of the story -- her past with Reid.

Also, here's an excerpt from Dropped Third Strike:

As her brisk walk turned into a slow jog, Kate plugged her headphones into the treadmill’s console and looked up at the television in front of her machine. Her feet pounded against the belt as the one-liners and laughter of The Office chased work concerns from Kate’s mind. She didn’t watch much TV, but one of the guys she briefly dated had mentioned this show. While the relationship hadn’t worked out, his sense of humor had been one of his most endearing qualities, so Kate checked it out one night. She loved it immediately, and since the episodes were only 30 minutes long, Kate found it easy to catch up and keep up.
When the credits rolled, Kate began flipping through the channels. Unable to find anything else she could get into, she finally stopped it on the MLB Network, where they were discussing some of the latest transactions. It might have been a little too work-related for what was supposed to be off-time, but Kate couldn’t resist. Even before she’d entered the baseball industry as a professional, she’d had a hunger for constant information on the sport and the business behind it. As a GM now, she was always interested to see what her colleagues were doing. Most of the topics were old news to her, as she’d received calls and e-mails about various transactions and happenings all day. However, there was one announcement that nearly made her trip on the treadmill.
“After designating him for assignment early last week, the Mets have released outfielder Reid Benjamin. A one-time top prospect, Benjamin’s stock has been steadily dropping since his debut. He hit .250 with 30 walks and 120 strikeouts in his second season as the starting centerfielder after signing a five-year contract worth $100 million. Despite tallying 89 RBI, 20 home runs, and 40 doubles last year, he has not been able to put together a full season without injury or incident. His troubles off the field have also undoubtedly influenced New York’s decision. In the last few years, Benjamin has been arrested a handful of times on charges ranging from public intoxication to disorderly conduct. Just two weeks ago, he was kicked out of a popular nightclub after punching a bouncer. That appears to have been the final straw for the Mets. Benjamin now becomes a free agent. Between the size of his contract, his offensive troubles, and the late off-season nature of his release, finding work will be quite the scramble for him.”
Kate’s gait stuttered a bit as the segment started. Fortunately, she was able to stop the treadmill and find the side rails with her feet before looking like a klutz in the near-empty gym. For several long moments after the TV had gone to commercial, Kate’s gaze remained on the screen, letting the name resonate through her brain – Reid Benjamin.
From a professional standpoint, Kate was not all that surprised by the news of Reid’s release. His off-field headlines combined with his declining value and a saturated outfielder market would likely leave Reid without a job this season. She actually felt a bit sorry for him, and that sympathy annoyed her. Why should she feel sorry for Reid? He certainly hadn’t done anything to deserve it.
Kate knew Reid well – far better than any of those scouts, managers, or GMs who had been drooling over him for years. Reid also knew her quite well – in ways she preferred not to think about. Much to her chagrin, they occasionally snuck up on her. Usually on nights when she let her mind wander a little too far into the past.
This is not going to be one of those nights.
She unplugged her headphones and went over to the free weights section of the facility. For the next hour, Kate drove Reid Benjamin from her mind with every lunge, squat, and curl. After she stretched and cooled down, she showered and headed home for a quick late dinner and bed.

Kate’s reprieve from hearing Reid Benjamin’s name didn’t last long. Even though she was at her office by the ungodly hour of six, she already had three voicemails mentioning his name. The last one was from the team’s owner. She shook her head and took a sip of her coffee as she picked up the phone to dial his number and set him straight.
“Please tell me you’ve already set up an interview with Benjamin,” Mr. Scott blurted out, almost before Kate could even say “hello.”
“I haven’t,” Kate managed to answer.
“And why not?” Mr. Scott demanded. “He would be perfect.”
“For what?” Kate asked. “You’re aware of his history, right? On and off the field, he’s a huge liability. I wouldn’t sign him as a player, and I definitely don’t want him coaching and mentoring. Even if he wasn’t such a bad influence, he has no experience.”
“Clearly, you are the one who has not looked at his résumé,” the owner replied. “During the off-seasons, he went to his alma mater and helped fine-tune the mechanics of many players there. Most of them have been or will be drafted.”
“Then why was he so horrible at the plate?” Kate asked.
“You know what they say – those who can’t do teach,” Mr. Scott said. “Interview and sign him. Fan Fest is in two days. I want to make the announcement then.”
“OK, I’ll interview him, but I can’t guarantee I’ll hire him,” Kate said.
In her mind, the possibility was very doubtful. Her personal bias against Reid Benjamin aside, she could not imagine him as a proper fit for the Pioneers – professionally or otherwise. Neither his batting stats nor his rap sheet inspired her. Besides, who was to say he would be interested in a coaching position? Regardless, the owner had given her an order. She had to carry it through. Honestly, it wasn’t as though she had many other options. The other candidates had failed to impress her. Reid was likely to follow suit, but at the owner’s command, she had to at least interview him.
Now she needed to figure out how to get in touch with Reid. His information was still in her phone contact list, but she wasn’t sure the number still worked. Years had passed since she’d even attempted to use it. Trying to shake that memory, she turned on her computer and opened her e-mail. The answer was in her inbox. More than one of the replies to her plea for help had suggested Reid and included his contact information. Some of them were time stamped before the evening announcement, so either they had insider information or they’d seen the writing on the wall. Interestingly enough, his number was still the same as it had been five years earlier. She took a deep breath and picked up the phone, dialing the number slowly.
When he answered sounding sleepy, Kate inhaled quickly. Knowing how his voice had once affected her – particularly when laced with the sexy, barely awake tone it carried now – why hadn’t she rehearsed something to say?
Fortunately, “Professional Kate” mode kicked in.
“Reid Benjamin?” she asked in a cool, even manner.
“Yeah,” he mumbled. “Who is this?”
He didn’t recognize her voice. Given their history and the time that had lapsed since their last conversation, this shouldn’t have shocked her or even bothered her. But it did. She felt a distinct and familiar twinge of pain. Somehow, she found a way to push on without sounding affected.
“Kate Marks, general manager of the Portland Pioneers,” she said. “I’d like to talk to you about the hitting coach position in our organization.”
There was a silent pause on the other end, and she wondered what was going through his head. Then she heard a rustle of fabric, which suggested he was sitting up or getting out of bed. The mental picture rattled her as much as his voice had. She closed her eyes, but that only made the image more vivid. She snapped them open and turned to look out the window, nearly pulling the phone off the desk in the process. She scurried to catch it and reposition it smoothly. She wondered if he had heard any of the clatter in his silence.
“Sorry, you woke me up,” Reid said finally. “Can you repeat that?”
Kate repeated what she had said, though she could hear a slight tremor in her voice that hadn’t previously been there. She hoped he didn’t notice it. The odds were in her favor though as Reid had never been particularly observant where she was concerned.
“Oh,” Reid said. “I guess the good news of my release traveled fast.”
She heard a catch in his voice. She couldn’t tell if it was hurt or annoyance, maybe a combination of both. Kate, in turn, felt a little bad for her negative thoughts about him.
“Yeah, I heard it last night,” Kate admitted. “I know it’s probably too soon for me to be calling you about this opening, but I felt like I needed to jump on you before someone else did.”
Kate immediately regretted her choice of words, especially when she heard him chuckle. Apparently, he heard the unintended innuendo as well.
“Well, you might be a bit late for that,” he said in a low voice, still clearly amused. “Except in terms of employment; I’m still open on that front. I could fly out next week.”
“Actually, I’d like to talk to you sooner than that,” Kate said. “I could make arrangements for you to be here this afternoon. We would cover the costs, of course.”
“This afternoon?” Reid asked. “Wow…you must really be desperate. Well, OK, but I can handle the costs. As you know, I made a pretty good living while I was employed. I’ll call the airline and get back to you with my ETA. What was your name again?”
Kate rolled her eyes and gave him her name again along with her number.
As he hung up the phone, Reid smiled to himself. He hadn’t heard that voice in a long time, but he’d recognized it instantly.  He’d never heard the woman speak in such a business-like tone – but he still knew who was on the other end of the line before she identified herself. Despite the years that had passed and the substances he’d ingested in the interim, Reid had never managed to erase Kate Marks from his memory, even though he preferred to have her believe that was the case. He would have preferred that to be the case too, but it hadn’t happened. Clearly. His reaction to hearing her voice on the phone was unsettling, to say the least. And now he would have to face her in a matter of hours. He really wasn’t in any shape for a reunion or a job interview, but he had already agreed, and now he had to go. Plus, he needed a job, and for the first time in his career, there weren’t multiple teams fighting over him.

If you're so inclined, you can purchase it in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 75

I had good intentions to have this post up earlier today. But then I stayed up late to finish watching the Rangers game. And I got up early to go to the gym for BodyPump (hoping to get back to this weekly), and I just didn't have time.  At least the post is here, right? Right.

I have some of the oddest and most insightful stream of thoughts when I least expect -- on a run, in the shower, or laying in bed. Rena recently had one of these, and it was incredible.  Sometimes our worries seem big, but they're really very minor.

I use my phone for a lot of things -- communication, social media, tracking my fitness, entertainment, and an alarm clock. But Kelly's post has me wondering if I should scale back a bit and take a smartphone detox.

Adult coloring books are a great way to detox from the smartphone and escape your worries. Angie is doing a huge giveaway that includes coloring supplies and a ton of books.

Wednesday was Global Running Day. I loved reading Amy's post listing the top reasons she runs. I can relate to all of them. I don't have a husband or a kid, but I definitely run to take care of myself and be my best for others.

All goals begin with a plan. And everyone's plan looks a little different. Check out how Cara is hoping to tackle her goals.

Steph is one of my favorite bloggers to follow. I love her strong opinions. Even when I don't agree with her, I know where she stands. I admire that. Her post, "I love you but ..." is a great example of her personality. 

Have a great Sunday everyone!

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