Wednesday, February 26 2020

sandwiches, soup, groceries, and routines



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Wednesday. It is day three of our Madison working Staycation. Last night while putting Rodney to bed, I used my fingers to count the remaining evenings - Wednesday, Thursday, then we leave sometime Friday morning. I’m sure he appreciated the sync up, but I was mainly reviewing the facts for myself.

This morning, I’m happy to be a little closer to regularly scheduled programming. I took the dogs for a little walk around the block so Ziggy could poop. When I returned, I gave them their scoops of food in plastic tupperware bowls, then took a hot shower before once again leaving the house to cross the street and pick up coffee. Yesterday morning, I bought a bag of ground coffee from the same coffee shop, thinking I could hold it down back at the house with the provided Mr. Coffee machine. But Mr. Coffee had other plans. Mr. Coffee spewed water and grounds all over the place - leaking down the side of the pitcher and pooling on the kitchen counter. Later that evening while preparing for dinner, I would do a dry run brew cycle with just water, and sure enough, the same angry sputtering mess ensued. Talk about bad flashbacks to the Mr. Coffee life. God, I miss my Moccamaster.

I worked through the morning, attending some morning meetings from the couch in the much cooler basement. Around lunch time, we packed up and went for a walk down the street to Madison Sourdough. Rodney ordered the PB&J of the kids menu. “Great choice,” said the woman at the counter. “I was actually going to have one of those for lunch myself,” she continued. Rodney’s sandwich was a regular PB&J, but served on this beautiful thick house made toasted white bread, with a side of fruit and whipped cream. Marissa also ordered well - she got a breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and bacon. Then there’s me - I went with the cashew burger.

“I thought this would be more of an impossible burger situation, like with some deception at play, but the peanuts are very pronounced here,” I said peeling the bun apart. “It’s kind of like if you were to take a bunch of boiled peanuts and step on them with a work boot - a very clean work boot,” I continued.

I worked through the rest of the afternoon before joining Marissa upstairs on the couch. I plugged in the little super nintendo tucked in the corner and played some Ninja Turtles. Marissa sleepily smirked and chuckled from her reclined position on the couch while I got my ass kicked.

Marissa got Rodney up from his nap. I followed her down the stairs, making a grocery list. We packed the dogs, then jumped in the car, headed toward Hy-Vee. It was a further drive from Willie Street, but my heart felt fuller the further we drove into familiar territory. Even Rodney started to perk up.

“I’ve noticed something about vacations,” I blurted out while we waited at a red light. “Being away from our house is tiring, and now the whole dynamic makes sense to me. I think when we travel, we get tired out having to adapt to a sudden transition and new routines, and we try to compensate for it by going out, having extra drinks, and getting new experiences.” Marissa nodded along in understanding.

“Since this isn’t really a fun trip per-say - I’m still working, and we don’t have anything fun planned, this week is a good opportunity to turn down one of the channels and listen to the other more closely.”

“I don’t understand,” said Marissa. “Explain.”

“Sorry,” I said shaking my head. “I think I jumped into an analogy without setting it up. I was picturing recording a song in garage band, and if you have two tracks to your recorded song, it will let you mute one so you can just listen to the other in isolation.” Marissa nodded while driving, and I continued.

“Just the act of leaving the house takes a big toll on our energy and stresses us out. Without us trying to make up for it by having fun, that effect is much easier to observe, right?”

“Yeah, I think I follow now.” said Marissa.

I think the take away here is that I think when we travel anywhere, we should take our routines with us.

We parked at Hy-Vee. Marissa pulled into the expectant mothers parking spot. Before leavng the car, she unzipped her coat adjusted her baby bump. “I need to look pregnant. Whenever someone parks in this spot, that’s the first thing everyone does, right? You check if the person is pregnant.” She craned her neck in the front seat of the car, miming the scenario she was describing.

“No,” I said after a hearty laugh. “That’s definitely just you. Don’t worry, you earned the right to park here. You look very expecting,” I teased patting her belly.

At Hy-Vee, we picked up leeks, shallots, a six pack of beer, and some other snacks. Back at home, we cued up a playlist of water slide videos for Rodney. Discovering the YouTube app on the house’s living room TV was another powerful force for reestablishing a sense of normal. Marissa sat at the bar while I cooked soup, struggling to cut the leaks with the blunt knife and flimsy cutting board. “Look, this thing might as well be a giant butter knife,” I said, holding up the giant chef’s knife and skimming the blade against my palm. Rodney visited the kitchen three times for pieces of cheese. After cooking the soup, I used a drinking glass to ladle it into Styrofoam bowls and ripped up a loaf of bread with my hands. We sat at the dining room table and ate.

Perhaps I was just projecting, but I could almost feel the fruity onions and shallots gently breaking up the taco chips, pizza, and donuts that had been sustaining me. Marissa slumped back in her chair. “Well I feel better,” she said.

“I do too,” I replied. “I think everything with me comes down to food. I literally feel back at 100% at this moment,” I said buttering another piece of bread with our shared plastic knife.

This morning, Marissa is taking the dogs to agility class. Rodney and I are going to camp out in the house for a while, then we’ll go for a walk down Willie Street and find some place with WiFi to sit with computer and coloring books.

Hope you have a wonderful day today. Thanks for stopping by.