Wednesday, December 18 2019

tiredness, restaurants, good moods, and baking hell day



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. This morning, I’m having a lot of trouble waking up. Yesterday was a pretty exhausting day. I’m tired, and right now I would like nothing more than to just shut my eyes and slump in this chair. I would probably sleep for an hour right here if I could. I guess this is punishment for my gloating yesterday morning about how easy this week has been. All things considered - (pause for a deep yawn) - this is fair. I’m thinking when I get into work today, it could be a Starbucks morning. Before I start this day, I’m going to test the limits of how many shots of espresso Starbucks is legally allowed to dispense to a single person.

This week, another foundation engineering team is visiting from San Francisco, and we dedicated yesterday to work with them. We had some meetings in the morning, where we discussed some high level architecture decisions. It was a pretty stimulating conversation.

For lunch, we took the team out to the Old Fashioned, padding the walk over and wait for food with the usual small talk about Madison, Wisconsin, and what it’s like to live here. Our food took a long time to make it out of the kitchen, and while I was tempted to launch into my rant about mediocrity & restaurants in Madison, I did my best to pump the breaks. After lots of reflection, and armed with the new ideas in my Difficult Conversations book, I’m starting to question where that anger is coming from.

“Do I sound like an ass when I do my whole ‘Madison restaurants’ rant?” I asked Marissa later that night. Marissa sheepishly smiled. “I don’t know how to answer that,” she said with as much grace and tact as possible. Hearing that, I felt some shame. I don’t like the idea of being a complainer. My hope for this critique of our city’s food scene was that is was more nuanced than “Alex complains about restaurants,” but I’m starting to worry that’s all that’s getting through. I think instead of trying to charge up the people around me to share my anger in frequently waiting too long for bar food, it might be time to lay down the sword and figure out where that anger is coming from.

“Maybe don’t talk to other people about it - you can talk about it with me,” Marissa clarified. “I don’t know if it works that way,” I said. “If I talk about it with you, I’m just going to get excited about it again and it’s going to leak out,” I responded.

Following lunch, we split up into two groups using a bit of people from each team and did some problem workshops. We set up some work before the visiting team arrived to take advantage of being in the same room as a team with which we normally only talk to remotely. I worked with Oleg and Julia on upgrading some kubernetes servers, and everything pretty much went according to plan.

I took the bus home from work, and while walking up the driveway, Rodney happily greeted me at the window, pressing his face up against the glass. Marissa was laughing at him sitting at the dining room table. Rodney opened the door and immediately took my hand and led me into the house, as if I was a visiting friend. “He’s in a really good mood today,” Marissa said. I could imagine that after a week and a half of fevers, a runny nose, and terrible sleep, Rodney was due for a good day. It was clear that his energy was back, and he was elated to have a regular day. “Do you want to go to the grocery store?” I asked kneeling down to meet his eyes. “Leeeet’s DO IT,” Rodney said pumping his fist.

At the grocery store, Rodney continued to let his good mood radiate, wishing almost every person we walked by his trademarked “Happy Holidays!” I rewarded his shopping work ethic with a chocolate egg, which he happily unwrapped at home. I cooked hutspot and some sausages while he worked on a puzzle at the table.

After dinner, I gave Rodney a bath, then Marissa and I reported to the kitchen for “baking hell day” as we have been calling it. We were each going to make double batches of, respectively, Oatmeal butterscotch cookies and palmiers. We worked in the kitchen the rest of the music, baking, chatting, and joking about the endless toil around baking in general. “We could open up a bakery around this concept - just being reluctant and grumpy about everything we make,” I joked.

We finally closed the kitchen just before midnight, and making the decision to trade in some sleep for time on the couch, I poured a drink and slumped over in front of the TV with Marissa. By the time we had watched a couple of YouTube videos, my eyes started to grow heavy and we retreated upstairs.

This morning, I’m heading into the office, and I’m trying to get in a writing mindset. That technical paper I was supposed to be working on all week remains practically untouched, so today the plan is to find a quiet corner and write as if my life depended on it, breaking only for some leftover hutspot. I think I can knock the whole thing out today. Technical writing is difficult, but it doesn’t squeeze your mind dry the same way that creative writing does. There’s no danger in writing too much and churning out drivel - either your technical paper accurately and concisely describes the solution, or it doesn’t and you have to rewrite the sentences that are not clear. I may call on the help from several cups of coffee, but we’ll get it done.

That’s what I got today. I hope you have a wonderful day, and as always, thanks for reading. Happy Wednesday, everyone.