Wednesday, December 11 2019

confrontation and cabbage



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re doing well today. This morning, I’m working from home, but I’m trying to get an early jump on the day and stick to the regular schedule of things.

Rod is finally starting to feel better. His fever went away, and he felt good enough to run errands with mom, and later go to Hy-Vee with me. He still has a pretty nasty cough, but through his exasperated, phlegmmy voice he’s still just as talkative as ever. So for anyone that wished him a speedy recovery, know that he’s turning a corner and he’s back to his rigorous daily routine of watching TV, chasing the dogs around, and occasionally peeing in the potty. He’s still not feeling well enough to help out in the kitchen. Since he was feeling better yesterday, I offered to make dinner with him, but I got his classic no daase as he stared out the car window. Then he spotted the moon outside, so we were already on to the next thing.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, although I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to. It was one of those days that kind of slipped away, lost to reading slack messages and email and attending meetings. I had a pretty good one-on-one with my boss - I shared that I have a problem with confrontation. I’m not even talking about serious confrontations - getting rear ended in traffic, or having to go tell someone to get off your lawn. I seem to have a problem with small confrontations - the kind where it just seems easier to nod and go along with things instead of ruffling feathers.

He recommended a book to me, and I ended up ordering it. Those little book previews in Amazon are pretty effective, aren’t they? I Must have read through half the first chapter before I even forgot what I was doing. The book is by some Harvard people who studied how difficult conversations take place, and in the first chapter, it described how alongside all difficult conversations, there is a hidden, personal conversation people have with themselves. Both parties are judging everything through a lens, using it to measure whether or not they seem competent, tough, lovable, and overall living up to their own ideals.

For instance, two young parents who are arguing about which parenting book to follow are probably not actually looking for alternative suggestions - it’s more likely about who is a better, savvier parent. Two college students arguing about politics are probably just trying to prove to themselves that they don’t live in a bubble, and that they know what’s going on in the world.

The idea makes me feel kind of dirty. I’m not sure how I feel about talking to people and, rather than taking what they’re saying at face value, you play a little game where you try to imagine why they are saying what they’re saying. I certainly don’t try to have secret conversations in my head. I’m one of those people that says whatever pops into their head. But it struck a chord with me, and the examples in the book sounded a lot like some puzzling confrontations I’ve had in the past, so I bought the book. I’m hoping it’s one of those little thin paperback books that I can blow through in one wild weekend of binge reading.

After kind of a heavy, thoughtful afternoon, I ended the day on a high note. Somebody from our San Francisco office reached out to me for some python help, and before our late afternoon meeting I tried to be intentional about putting some coherent thoughts together. She was starting out on a new project where she was asked to bring a big, multi contributor project under better testing and logging, so we spent the half hour looking through the code and talking about some strategies for refactoring it - and for the uninitiated, refactor is a silly industry pseudo-word that just means change the code without changing what it does. So it was a pretty fun, stimulating conversation about a topic I enjoy.

After work, I took Rod to Hy-Vee. He had practically skipped all his meals the day before, so I wanted to put a lot of vegetables and potatoes on his plate that evening. We picked up potatoes, ground beef, kale, and red cabbage. Once at home, Rod crashed on the couch to watch some TV. I was kind of bummed he didn’t want to help in the kitchen, but he still looks the kind of sick where you wake up at 80%, then before dinner feel about 50%, so I can relate.

I quartered and boiled the potatoes with chopped kale, mixed the ground beef with an egg, bread crumbs, and spices, then rolled the meat in puff pastry. They may have been my best saucijzenbroodjes ever. I feel like I’m starting to really hit a good stride in the kitchen. Lately it feels like I’m getting faster, and I can either use the extra time to put food on the table earlier, or just enjoy spending extra time on something to get it right. As the broodjes finished in the oven, I cut some cabbage and cooked it in my biggest pan in some hot oil, and taking a tip from Rachel Ray, I jazzed it up with some mustard seeds.

If you haven’t cooked red cabbage, I would give it a try. It looks really cool. The dark purple brightens up, and it even leaves this regal sheen in the pan. Later that night as I cleaned the pan in the sink, the water ran purple, then deep blue like squid ink.

So that’s what I got today. Today, I’m working from home, and Marissa is taking the dogs to class. The Rod man is probably going to sleep in, and I’m hoping he does, and finally beats that dang cough & cold.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Thanks for reading, and hey - Happy Wednesday!