Sunday, December 15 2019

boogers, superstition, reocurring fights, and broken laptops

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re all feeling good today. Today is another agility day - Mom and the dogs left early this morning, and it’s just the Rodman and I. I’m taking things pretty slow this morning and letting Rodney get some extra sleep. He’s feeling much better - it seems like his energy has back, and now we’re just left with occasional heavy coughing and, of course, lots of boogers. Boogers are absolutely everywhere. We’re almost at teething levels of booger production. And while I will not spend any more time talking about the levels of boogers we’re dealing with here, just know it’s a lot of boogers.

Today is game day! This morning I have the Chicago Bears on my mind. We play the Packers at Lambeau field at noon today. I’m pretty nervous about the game. Football has showed me that I’m more superstitious than I thought. Even though we’re on a four game winning streak, three of those games, I was either out and about at the museum, in Minnesota for Thanksgiving, or at the actual game. I haven’t watched a game from home in a while. And my superstitious brain is making me worried that if I watch the game, I’ll somehow make it harder for the Bears to win. Also, being at the game where Mitch and his offense finally started clicking, it doesn’t yet seem real. Ironically, I need to see him play that well on TV before I start believing it’s not a fluke.

I’m also pretty worried about the symmetry with last season. If I’m not mistaken, last year when the Bears beat the Packers in Lambeau field, it was the Packers who were just one game from playoff contention elimination. With the Bears on the brink of elimination themselves, the situation this season seems similar and ominously reversed.

At least it’s an earlier game. I like the noon games much better than the evening ones. I find it kind of difficult to focus on cooking dinner during the Bears game. But a noon game is usually wrapped up around the time we put Rodney down for a nap.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I enjoyed getting an early start yesterday. Getting up around 8 gave me plenty of time to write, clean the kitchen, and set Rodney up at the Breakfast table. Later, as he played with blocks, I played some Christmas music and did my first bing reading session of the new Difficult conversations book. Thus far, it’s a great book. The only unfortunate part is that the terminology in the book is undeniably corporate, almost a little retro - like something reminiscent of an HR mandated training video made in the 90s. As I was trying to summarize what I learned to Marissa later that evening, I struggled to pick words that didn’t make the concepts sound boring.

The case examples are also hilariously dated. To illustrated “blame”, the book asked you to imagine that your secretary sent you to a business presentation with the wrong briefcase. Maybe it’s just my line of work, but I have never actually seen anyone carrying a briefcase full of papers.

But overall the book is compelling, and I’m learning a lot. And it’s already one of those books that I wish Marissa and I had when we first got married. On one hand, I’m proud that we’ve arrived at the same conclusions preached by this book - rules like “intentions are invisible, never assume them” and “blame inhibits problem solving” - even if it took us a couple of fights to get there. Looking back at our marriage, the thing I’m most proud of is how much we studied our own arguments. It’s tempting to argue, apologize, then sweep things under the rug, but I think there is a lot to learn from fights, and even if it was two in the morning and our voices were hoarse from yelling, Marissa and I always took the time to make sure we both understood what happened.

One of the concepts we tried to pioneer early in our marriage was a “reoccurring fight”. We had a some fights that would crop up every month or so, and though the subject matter would be different, our defense mechanisms, habits, values, and diverging perspectives felt the same. It sort of reminded me of when I learned I could be trapped into losing a game of tic-tac-toe after my first move. If they go center, and you take any non corner space, you’ve already lost the game. Some of our fights felt like a common chain reaction, and even though there was no way to stop them once they started, they could be avoided if you just anticipate the scenario that got you there in the first place.

After spending the morning reading, I heated up some lunch for Rodney. Afterwards, Rodney helped me sort some laundry, then “fix” a laptop. Marissa’s old computer stopped booting, and it had been sitting in my closet waiting to be worked on. The plan was to take out the hard drive, stick it in a working computer, and wipe the drive so it could be safely recycled. Rodney sat at the table while I worked, and to let him feel involved I set him up with some spare computer parts. Marissa called us while we were working, and while the phone was on speaker Rodney excitedly talked about how he was fixing her broken laptop. “That must be what he thinks you do everyday,” Marissa joked later that night. I laughed, picturing a life where my job was just to jam screwdrivers and spare parts into old, broken laptops. Some days while working, it certainly feels like that might as well be my job. The joke is a great metaphor for the imposter syndrome and futility.

So that’s what I got today. Rodney is starting to wake up. I can hear his loud, phlegmmy barking up in his upstairs bedroom. How lucky for him to get a free week long cough added to his cold & fever at no extra charge. In a moment, I’ll head upstairs, get him out of bed, and get him ready for the day. We’re both wearing our Bears swag today. This year my Secret Ditka thoughtfully included a new kids sized bears hat for Rodney. It took some convincing to get him to wear it, but my son has a real trust problem when it comes to new hats.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Bear down, and have a restful Sunday.