Wednesday, October 23 2019

weather, tea, letters, flowers, and anger

1471 words

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re doing well today. This morning I’m taking my time winding up for the morning, enjoying the coffee. Black Cat Espresso was a hit with Marissa, so I bought another bag, and I think I finally figured out how to brew it well. I just had to use slightly more beans than I would for any other coffee - that seems to have pushed it over the edge and made it a great cup of coffee.

Yesterday was a great day. Leaving the house after ranting about Marissa’s infamous salad put me in a great mood. It didn’t rain nearly as much as I expected, so wearing just a rain pancho, I was starting to regret my outfit choice. Yesterday, I was dressed for Monday’s weather, and on Monday I was dressed for yesterday’s weather - if that makes any sense.

Dressing for climate is hard, isn’t it? Especially if you live in the Midwest. I wish I could just wear the same thing every day, but you have to live somewhere really temperate to do that, don’t you? I’d like to see Steve Jobs wear one of his black turtlenecks and weird jeans in Madison in the summer. Or in Madison during the winter. A thin black turtleneck would be a poor choice for both. If you wear the same thing every day, you’re not a genius. The way I see it, you either live in California, or you’re an idiot.

I had a much more normal day of work. After morning stand-up, my coworker brewed some Chinese green tea for us all to try. I didn’t mind sacrificing a cup of coffee - it’s all just caffeine anyway. We stood in the kitchen watching her skillfully steep the tea leaves in hot water, decanting it into our coffee stained mugs.

For lunch, I heated up my hutspot. I had been thinking about it all morning, especially since I was under-dressed for the cold. I also brought a saucijzenbroodje, cramming it into the tupperware between the cabbage and the lid. On Monday, I was running behind on dinner, so rather than crimping the remaining meat into a neat little log, I just flopped it down in the middle of some puff pastry and pinched it closed - like some kind of weird Dutch ravioli. But puff pastry looks gorgeous after you bake it, no matter what shape it’s in, and the lazy meat pastry monstrosity looked like a very thoughtful variation of a sausage roll.

I slinked away to the seventh floor eating area with my lunch and my laptop. Sometime that day, we would get the official map from the surveyor so we could mail a copy to my neighbor, and I wanted to write a cover letter. I wasn’t looking to stoke anything new. It was just a courteous little bow to tie on this crummy property line dispute, and hopefully conclude it. I think perhaps in a parallel universe, I’m making a living writing legal documents for people, if that job even exists. Sometimes I get carried away with flowery legaleze, but I have just as much of a right to be an armchair lawyer as anyone else, don’t I? When I was done, I sent the letter to Marissa for review. I made sure to include my usual wildly inappropriate and outlandish “PS” section where I end the letter in the worst way possible. I couldn’t help myself. I made sure to delete my joke postscript before Marissa could print it.

As I got onto the bus, I got a message from Marissa warning me that Rod was in a pretty bad mood. “No problem,” I responded. “We’ll screw around at Hy-Vee for a bit, then I’ll try to keep him in the kitchen.” Whatever had been bothering him all day must have worn off after a good nap. He was still sleeping when I got home, and was pretty agreeable as I woke him up, got his socks on, and put him in the car.

I try to chat with Rodney when we drive to the grocery store. I can usually hold his attention for a few seconds before he sees an ambulance or an excavator, and acknowledging those as we drive by takes precedence over small talk. “How was your day today, dude?” I asked from the front seat, turning down the music. “Vriblllrblrrib glib sfffverlish bita… Mama mad. Mama mad,” Rodney replied. Rodney’s a good talker, but at this stage he has to warm up each sentence with a few syllables of babbling, which we’ve started doing ourselves too - I think everyone should try talking that way. “Yeah? I heard you guys had some problems today…” I replied. “DADA. LOOK. EXCAVATOR,” yelled Rodney. And at that, small talk with Dad concluded.

We picked up ingredients for cream of chicken and wild rice soup. We were moving quickly, having lost a lot of time in traffic. Rod picked up on my urgency and remained helpful. I ripped off a piece of bread for him, and he sat on the bottom lip of the cart and nibbled on it contently. Just before we pulled into a checkout lane, we decided to swing by the flowers and pick some up for Mom. “I know you probably already said ‘sorry’, dude, but sometimes some surprise flowers can help smooth things over,” I explained. I was speaking from experience.

Rodney proudly presented the flowers to Mom while I unpacked the groceries and prepped for dinner. “Rodney is out of the doghouse,” we joked. Marissa went back downstairs to work, and Rodney and I got to making dinner. We chopped the veggies together at the counter, then he got bored and asked if he could watch Blippi. “Sure, dude - I have to cut the chicken now anyway,” I replied. And there’s no good way to tag team slicing chicken thighs with a toddler. That has to be among the top five worst learning activities. Rodney plopped on the couch with his juice, I hit shuffle on our 100 hours of saved Blippi episodes, and I returned to making dinner.

As we ate, we talked about anger. It seemed like it was on everyone’s mind - mouthing off to mom during a morning dog agility outing, or stewing about a crummy interaction with a neighbor that dredged up some dormant bitterness.

After dinner, I watched a final episode of Blippi with Rodney on the couch, then put him to bed. Lately his favorite book to read is this very flimsy “spot the animal” book. It only has six pages. For all the filibustering he does to prolong bedtime - tucking in each stuffed animal and trying to draw my attention to the window - you’d think he would pick a longer book, right?

I cleaned the kitchen while Marissa continued to work downstairs. We reconvened on the couch around 11:30, having just enough time to finish Raiders of the Lost Ark. Watching Indiana Jones has been such a delight. For the last few days, Marissa and I have been swept away by how cool this movie is, and we sheepishly admitted to each other that we’ve never actually seen it. “I convinced myself that I’ve seen it, but I think I’ve only watched the scene at the end where everyone’s head explodes,” I explained. Alert the newspapers - the Recker family approves of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It was midnight, and we didn’t feel like going to bed just yet. I was showing Marissa some movies I added to our plex server, and one of them was “The Last Kiss” with Zach Braff and Rachel Bilson. “Why did you get this,” Marissa asked. “It was filmed in Madison,” I eagerly explained. “It was set there too, I think they’re both supposed to be UW students, and I heard there are lots of shots of the city.” I thought it would be fun to watch pretentious celebrities pretend to be humble Madisonians like us. We watched twenty minutes of the movie, and while it opened with a nice pan from our great capital building to a familiar Wisconsin license plate, the remaining twenty minutes we watched was disgusting. Really bad - even for Zach Braff. I paused the movie, looking at the elapsed time in horror. “This is going to be a long one. Buckle in.” Our rules dictate that once we start watching a movie we own, we have to finish it. Marissa reminded me that Hitch was my idea too.

The big question is - will it be worse than Hitch?