Monday, December 2 2019

art, rest, and my mother the engineer

1200 words

⟵ home


Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I’m back to our regularly scheduled program, up at 6:30, journaling by 7:30, and out the door by 8:00 sharp. And even though I’m beginning what might be my shortest work week of the year, I’m still having a hard time waking up this morning. We’ll see how that pans out. At least I have the first hour of work to keep waking up. Being out for a week, it takes about an hour to catch up on missed emails and slack messages, and while that’s important work, I can definitely get it done with half the brain capacity and use the time to drink more coffee.

This morning also feels a little weird because Rodney is staying with grandma and grandpa. And since Marissa is a heavy sleeper, today I did a lot less tip-toeing than I normally due. And I didn’t have to clamber over the baby gate at the top of the stairs.

Yesterday was a pretty great day. We got out the door and set up at the gallery just in time for people to start trickling in. After a couple of hours, I took Rodney home to make some lunch, and when we returned I surprised her with an oven warmed casserole dish filled with some leftover turkey sandwiches, warm stuffing, and mashed yams.

As a side-note, do you remember when Jon Stewart use to end each episode of the Daily Show with a “moment of zen”, which was just a bizarre 10 second snippet taken from an offbeat political interview or a weird interaction on cable news? That concept has been making me laugh lately, and if I had a moment of Zen yesterday, it was when I was home alone with Rodney. I had a pot of sweet potatoes boiling, I was trying to start a load of dishes, the washing machine went off in the basement, and Rodney called me over to the dining room table to give him a high five.

Toward the end of the gallery, my mom and dad showed up and hung around with Rodney while Marissa and I packed the car. We made our way home, and they sat at the dinner table and briefed for the week with Rodney while I packed his clothes upstairs. I joined them afterwards, and even talked them into snacking on a leftover pancake. As we gave them the Rodney rundown, I couldn’t help but marvel as an observer at how complicated Rodney is these days. Before we could talk, it was just a matter of occasional food, a daily nap, and frequent diaper changes. But now he’s got all these weird rituals, intertwined with his own way of speaking and seeing the world. Last night, over slack my Mom told us that he threw a bit of a pity party before bed because she didn’t know what he meant by piggies? “That’s when you tuck each of his toes into the blanket before bed,” Marissa explained. “How do you even do that?” As we sat on the couch, I laughed and joined in, “tell her that you more or less just pretend to - it’s more just a variation of your typical before bed tickling.”

As my parents were preparing to leave with Rodney, my mom poked around in my kitchen. She compliment how clean my fridge was. And that was high praise, because my mom keeps a very clean fridge, and having just returned from Minnesota over Thanksgiving and rolling right into an art gallery, the house was still kind of in disarray.

I think in another life, my mother would have made a good engineer. She’s a natural optimizer, and one of the best examples of it was yesterday, when even as she had an immediate grasp of how I organize my fridge and was complimenting it, she was still compulsively fixing the orientation of the labels - which I found in no way off-putting. I usually turn the labels forward myself.

I meet lots of people, like my mother, who don’t think of themselves as computer people but would have made great programmers. Marissa would tell you that I’ve rambled about how organizing data on a computer is, in spirit, exactly the same as organizing food in your fridge. Get rid of the garbage, minimize duplication, and sacrifice easily accessible spots for things you frequently access. Because you’ll only reach for the Korean gochu paste about once a month, it can afford to be on the bottom shelf behind the specialty mustard. Something you use every day should be the first thing you see when you open the door - like the milk or butter.

We waved goodbye to Rodney on the front porch, then Marissa took a well-deserved nap on the couch while I unpacked the car. She admitted to me during the gallery that she pulled a late-nighter to finish the inventory she’s be displaying at Goodman. But you’d never know it talking to her - I got a cool six hours of sleep, and she was more chipper than me all day.

Around 6:30, we put the dogs away then jumped in the car to find somewhere to eat. As a parent, it’s always weird seeing how quickly you can go places without having a kid to worry about. After putting our shoes and coats on, we stood there for about a second at the door, like we were both surprised there was nothing left to gather up.

The biting winter air put us in the mood for ramen, but after making the perilous & windy trip downtown, we discovered that Morris ramen was closed for Sunday evening. After some grumbling, we drove to Umami instead. We had a nice dinner, chatting and watching snapchats from my mom and dad. Rodney was eating dinner and playing with a snap bracelet.

When we returned from dinner, Marissa and I collapsed on the couch and watched sketch comedy reruns. We only got up a handful of times to get a snack, pour a drink, or play with the dogs, who were wildly running of their day cooped up in the house. Remember I talked about using the time without Rodney to catch up on chores and do special projects? I’m already starting to think the time would be better spent not doing a damn thing at all. It felt good to unplug and relax, and even though I’m coming off of a week vacation, we’ve spent very little time acting like we’re on vacation.

So today, back to the office for a short work week. I work until Wednesday, then I have off for a Bears game and another art gallery. After work, Marissa and I are going to go to the grocery store and pick up dinner.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Happy December! If you have a full five day week this week, take heart. I bet you’ve got some time-off coming, and it’s right around the corner.