Wednesday, February 05 2020

funk, sausage, and bus stories



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re doing well today. I’m feeling clear headed and strong this morning, and this Collectivo Brazilian blend of coffee is hitting me just right. This morning, since I’m working from home for the day, I skipped the usual shower, and I had plenty of time to quietly sit at my desk with coffee and get my thoughts together. To pair with the no-shower day, I’m wearing my favorite pair of sweats and my ‘hide-my-greasy-hair’ beanie. I’m already getting the sense that I’m not going anywhere today.

Yesterday morning, after finishing my blog post and kicking of the script that blasts it out to the Internet, I foolishly tried running a second script that syncs my notes to my work computer. With my journal saved within my notes, they stepped on each other, and the three extra minutes it took me to fix things caused me to miss my bus. Just as I was walking around the corner, I saw the number 15 bus pull away. I don’t miss my bus often, but the next time I do, I won’t be so worried. The 6 runs only five minutes behind it, and it mysteriously reaches the square at the same time as the 15. Don’t ask me why it works, but it does.

Work was sort of a thinking day. I spent the morning mauling over the task I had taken that week, and after talking it over with the team and anguishing about it in our slack channel, I decided to stick it back in the backlog and take something else. I get kind of restless when I go a few days without finishing something concrete. Being Wednesday without anything to show for the week, the situation has put me in a minor funk.

I would love to be able to finish the same amount of work every day, but I guess that’s just not how work works. Some weeks, you do more work than you’d normally do in a whole month, and some weeks feel like they slip away without anything to show for it.

I took a break at 11 to find a quiet place to eat my chicken noodle soup. After gulping it down and cracking open an energy drink, I spent some time hacking on a home project - this week’s IT project card that I was falling behind on. Karl and Heath joined me at the table, and later Julia, so I shut my laptop and chatted with them. Karl too has a kid on the way, and we’re both departing for paternity leave within a month of each other. When I had my fill of small talk, I went for a quick walk around the square, then returned to my desk and worked through the rest of the afternoon.

I jumped off the bus, and Rodney was waiting for me by the back porch. He flung open the door, letting the dogs out, then ran down the porch stairs in his bare feet to greet me by the fence. “I missed you dude!” I yelled hoisting him into the air.

As I unpacked my things, Marissa and I chatted about dinner plans. “I feel like making stamppot,” I said. “You always feel like making stamppot,” Marissa laughed. “Instead of sausage, can we do it with chicken?” she added.

I rolled my eyes. “Then it’s no longer a one pot meal. What if we do chicken sausage?” I countered. Marissa wandered around in thought, then conceded. “OK,” she said. “I’ll try the chicken sausage.”

Rodney and I went to Hy-Vee together. He was in a great mood, and lately the cereal aisle gets him really pumped. I asked him for his help in restocking our to-go breakfast cubbie by the coffee bar, and he jumped on the opportunity to pick out some cereal bars. We went with chocolate oatmeal, and just to even things out, I picked up some fruit bars and an extra box of stroopwafels.

Back at home, I got to peeling potatoes and rinsing kale, and Marissa joined me in the kitchen to chat. “I’m in kind of a funk this week at work,” I shared, as she sat on the shelf beside the counter, empathetically listening. Sometimes, just talking somebody about a problem is it’s own solution - no solution necessary.

“Alright, it’s about time to eat,” I said, jabbing a quartered potato with a fork and giving the cabbage a final toss. As Marissa got Rodney and began setting the table, I mashed the potatoes and kale, blending them into a gentle green, buttery paste. I’ve cut down on the amount of water in my stamppot recipe. I used to fill the pot up and completely drain the potatoes before mashing them, but I think you get better color, flavor, and consistency if you try to preserve as much of the water is possible. Instead of draining them in a colander, I leeched about a half cup of water out with a plastic cup and left the rest.

We ate at the dinner table, and after finishing our food, Marissa and I sat content while Rodney continued poking at his potatoes. “How was the sausage?” I asked. Marissa looked down at her plate. “It was good,” she hesitated. “I mean… as far as sausage goes.”

We sat in silence for another minute, then I decided to break into a bus story. “So this really old guy today boarded the bus, and he was touching as many things as possible as he hobbled over to a seat,” I began, getting out of my chair to demonstrate. “He found the seat next to me, sunk down, and rested his bony elbow right… here.” I jabbed my elbow into Marissa’s side and glared at Rodney. “He rode the last three of my stops like that, with his elbow digging into my side.”

Marissa laughed, and Rodney joined in. “I’m surprised you don’t complain about the bus more,” Marissa said. “I think I would complain about it every day.” Truthfully, the bus isn’t that bad. Most days, everyone is a good citizen, and based on what I’ve observed, people love hearing bus stories.

I think I’ll close this entry with my favorite bus story. Let me take you back to last summer - it was hot and muggy, even in the morning. I was riding the 15 to work, and as usual, the 15 packed with standing room only. Every seat was taken, except for a half seat beside a heavy set guy. His head was rolled back, his legs were splayed out, and he was sleeping so deeply that he was practically snoring with his mouth open. Being good, polite bus riders, everyone ignored the scene - except for this one hip guy wearing a tight black t-shirt and jeans. He took out his phone, aimed it squarely at the heavy set guy, and snapped a picture. His phone even made a quiet camera shutter sound. My face turned beet red, and other people standing around started to feel uncomfortable. That’s terrible, I thought. You can’t just take a picture of someone while they’re sleeping just to embarrass them. Should I confront him? Will somebody else say something?

Tensions grew as the young guy smirked to himself. I could tell he was sending the photo to somebody. His fingers moved over the keyboard, as if he were writing a text.

Suddenly, the heavy set guy’s phone rang, buzzing in his shirt pocket and waking him up from his nap. He took out his phone, studied the screen, then his head shot up, scanning the bus. His eyes met the guy who took a picture of them, and they both bursted into laughter. Apparently they new each other, and the text he sent to him said something like “I can see you sleeping”.

So that’s currently my best bus story. Hope you all have a great day today.