Monday, March 02 2020

church from home, crass bumper stickers, fish posters, and schlepman



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re prepared to begin another work week. I know I am. After a chaotic week of working ticket duty, being on-call, and living out of a suitcase in an AirBNB, I’m ready to bring things back to basics. I’m looking forward to going into the office and resuming my regularly scheduled life without all the drama that comes with re-treating wood floors.

Yesterday morning, after a long & full breakfast, we remained at the table a little longer digesting our food before Rodney got antsy and asked to play in the living room. I brewed another pot of coffee, and Marissa and I moved to the couch where we watched a sermon on YouTube. It was one of those weekends where we needed some church, but understandably didn’t have the energy to leave the house. Once church-from-home concluded, we moved the party upstairs to get ready for the day.

It was such a delight heading outside wearing nothing but a hoodie. This time a year, even fifty degree weather makes you want to go for a long walk in the park and spend as much time outside as you can, and the evidence was all over town. The bike bath teemed with people running, biking, and walking their dogs. As we drove around, I dwelled on all the outdoor activities we had gone without all winter - sitting at the biergarten, eating outside, and going for walks around the city. I think it’s going to be a wonderful Summer.

We made our way all the way over to the Westside. Now that the floors were finished, the next undertaking we selected as a family was the living room fish tank, and we set aside yesterday to stroll around Pet World and gain inspiration. But before that, we parked at Culver’s for a family lunch.

As we made our way through the parking lot, I stopped in my tracks at a black car parked in front of us, my attention drawn to the single bumper sticker which read, F_~k~ you, and that piece of shit you call a car. “Look at this bumper sticker,” I said beckoning Marissa over. “Isn’t that a strong statement?”

“Yeah,” said Marissa strolling over. “And it’s the only bumper sticker. That means something.” We stood for a few moments pondering the sticker, and imagining the type of person who would stick that on their car. “It’s not even a very nice car,” I said, moving around the back, pointing out the scuffs and scratches along the old exterior. “It’s just incredible that somebody would put that on their car.”

“Let’s try to sit by a window so we can see who gets into it,” said Marissa heading inside.

Nobody ever got into the car, but we had a nice lunch at Culver’s. Marissa and Rodney ordered a kids meal so they could get a free scoop of frozen custard at the end. “Did you save the bags?” asked Marissa as I set out chicken and fries. I took on a worried look, then darted to the nearby garbage, fishing out two crumpled bags. “Yes,” I said, rejoining them at the booth.

We scarfed down our food, and when we finished, I started to clown around with Rodney’s dinosaur puppet while he finished eating. I mimed the dinosaur head at the edge of the table, pretending to steal a french fry out of my own hand on the way to my mouth. Rodney’s cackle could be heard through the entire restaurant. After finishing some frozen custard, we walked across the street to pet world.

Rodney excitedly scanned the walls for animals, pointing out the fish, lizards, hamsters, rabbits, and even a kitty Samuel. That’s the name of the cat at Ollie and Ziggy’s vet office, and Rodney has come to assume that kitty-samuel and cat are interchangeable terms. We took our time by the saltwater fish. Marissa studied the clown fish, and her attention was drawn to a poster on the wall. “See, look at all the different breeds of clownfish you can get.” She called me and Rodney over - we were distracted by a large black scorpion that was temporarily removed from its tank by a Pet World employee. Marissa called us over to the poster again, more assertively, triggering my teasing instinct. “Let’s take a break from the exotic animals, Mom wants us to stare at a poster,” I said directed toward Marissa. “C’mon Rodney, did you think we were here to look at animals? We TOLD you we came here to look at the fish posters, so that’s what were going to do,” I said in feigned scolding. “Did you get enough time at this poster? Do you need a half hour?” I continued. Sometimes I wonder if I take things too far.

Once we had our fill looking at animals and - more importantly - the fish poster, we made our way home. Rodney went down for a nap and I slipped out the house to go to Hy-Vee to buy dinner. “It’s beautiful outside,” I said to my fried at the meat counter while he wrapped up my tuna steaks. “In fact, I think I’m going to grill these - first time firing up the grill this year.” He nodded in approval and sent me on my way. Back at home, I lit the grill and prepared a kale salad while waiting for the charcoals to heat up. I grilled three tuna steaks, serving them with salad and some toasted bread with sesame seeds.

Once we had finished dinner, things started to get serious on the chore front. Marissa and I had a goal to finish putting the house together this weekend, starting with Rodney’s room. We moved his bookshelf and unpacked his suitcase while we scampered around the upstairs floor in his pajamas before he joined me in our room for evening workouts. Of course we don’t actually make Rodney workout - he just has enthusiasm for anything that extends his bedtime routine. In our bedroom, we did push-ups, sit-ups, and aided by a new pull-up bar I picked up from Target for my closet door, some sit-ups as well. I held Rodney by the waist so he could get the pull-up experience. THERE I WAS IN MY APARTMENT, DOING PUSH-UPS, GETTING STRONG, we chanted quoting our favorite spider-man movie.

Out of breath, I flopped down in Rodney’s bed and read him a story before saying goodnight. Marissa and I spent the rest of the evening moving things up from the basement. All the schlepping has spun off into a weird joke where Marissa refers to me as “schlep-man”, or said as one word, schlepman. She orders me around like a wealthy aristocrat. Uh, SCHLEPMAN. I wish to read my book about DOGS, she says in an airy, withering voice. Fetch it for me at once!

We concluded the night in our bedroom, filling the project board with new tasks for the week. It feels liberating to move onto new goals and projects. This week, I’m rebuilding our NAS on some new, slimmer hardware, and we’re taking the first steps toward prepping the fish tank.

Hope you have a wonderful day, everyone. Thanks for reading.