movember, ki gong, starbucks, and fire extinguishers
Good morning everyone. Hope you’re doing well today on this sunny, chilly Tuesday morning. Last night, my wife cut my hair, and keeping the personal grooming momentum going, I also shaved - but not the beard. I’m growing things out for no-shave-november. A few weeks ago, my coworker sent me a link to our work’s “Movember” charity team and I joined. I think the idea is that a bunch of guys grow silly mustaches and beards, and people donate money to charity in approval. I’m happy to tag a long for the ride, especially if now I get a more concrete excuse to look like a wild man all month. So enjoy the clean shaven me while you still can, things are going to get hairy this month - all for charity of course.
Yesterday was a pretty good day. I had plenty of things to do in the morning, including filing for paternity leave in the spring, figuring out insurance stuff, and going to a few meetings, but I remembered to make time for the half hour Ki Gong session on the ninth floor. I was delighted to find that Justin, our instructor, switched up the routine a bit. After the half hour of meditative movements and breathing, I commended him for the new set. “That routine was created by a Chinese general in the year 1000,” he explained. “It was designed to keep their archers relaxed, and to give relief to the men who had been marching all day in heavy armor.” I suddenly had a clear picture in my head. As part of the session, we breathed deeply while miming a bow and arrow, and we bounced on our toes, stamping our heels into the ground. I can’t say I was wearing heavy armor, or marching all day at the bidding of a warlord, but maybe my suffering as an office worker compares if we’re willing to embellish the metaphorical route. “But still useful to us - we all still march in heavy armor, in our own way,” I said smugly. “How philosophical!” Justin laughed.
I grabbed lunch at Starbucks. I asked them to heat up a ham and swiss pannini, and I ordered an iced tea. Eating at Starbucks is a guilty pleasure, but I’m more in it for the nostalgia than for the food itself. It takes me back to working late nights, skimming an extra sandwich off the ‘expired’ pile and finding a quite corner of the store to spend my lunch. Even though I’m in a different place working a much different job, quietly eating my pannini in Starbucks feels exactly the same - if not a little better, since I’m no longer limited to the sandwiches that expired.
After work, Marissa, Rodney, and I went to Hy-Vee to pick up dinner. The deal was that I would wait in line to get a flu shot while Marissa and Rodney picked up supplies for taco dinner. I filled out some paperwork, then waited almost a whole hour. Marissa and Rodney waited with me for the last ten minutes before Marissa finally gave me the lets get the hell out of here eyes. Even though I had every right to throw a little salt at the lady behind the counter, my Midwestern sensibilities got the best of me. “I’m really sorry,” I said. “I ordered a flu shot, but we gotta get goin’, really sorry about this.”
I watched TV on the couch with Rod while Marissa made tacos. It was a wonderful meal, and it hit the spot. For all the cooking we do, I don’t have a very deep bench when it comes to Mexican food, so tacos - even simply made with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes - have an exciting presence on our dinner table.
We put Rod to bed, then I got to work on chores. Last night was the first night I tried my new Monday through Thursday nesting ‘power hour’. Marissa rolled her eyes when she saw it on our family calendar. “You should move that to your calendar - it makes us look a lot busier than we are,” she said. That was a fair ask.
For power hour, I cleaned the landing by our back door, which had kind of turned into an awkward little dumping ground for things stuck in limbo between the basement and the main floor. The middle shelf was spilling out with half empty boxes of garbage bags and parchment paper, and the bottom shelf was filled with swiffer wet jet refills that - ironically - were covered in dust and dog hair. After I had finished that corner, I made my way to under the sink. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. We just had a few nearly empty bottles of cleaning solution that we no longer used, and an expired fire extinguisher. I smiled when I saw the gauge resting on ‘empty/expired’. That meant that I could play with it outside before discarding it.
Standing in the middle of the street, I aimed, pulled the plastic tag, and squeezed the lever. A chalky white dust leaked out onto the street, catching the wind and vanishing into the night. Very anticlimactic, but I was grateful to have this disappointing experience without a blazing kitchen fire in the mix.
After chores and haircuts, Marissa and I sat down at the computer to figure out our shared calendar for the month of December. I let her drive this time, so the planning wouldn’t be sidetracked by when we eat breakfast and when the Bears play.
We concluded the night by watching a few minutes of The Karate Kid, which is another one of those movies that I’ve deceived myself into thinking I’ve already watched it. I’m pretty sure this movie is completely new to me, so no spoilers, OK? I’ll tell you one thing - I have a feeling that rude maintenance worker he met in the apartment building will be coming back in the story, he seemed interesting.
That’s what I got today! Hope you have a great day today. Whatever “armor” you’re wearing and wherever you’re “marching”, make sure you take some time today to breathe, empty your head, and shake out all the stress, the Ki Gong way. Thanks for reading.