Tuesday, March 17 2020

stockpiling, decorative letters, and a hole in a diaper



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. I hope you’re having a good Tuesday morning thus far. I imagine that the cabin fever is starting to set in, and the bleak, chilly weather isn’t helping either. But as long as we’re here, we still have plenty to be thankful for.

Yesterday was a nice quiet day of work, beginning with a team planning meeting in the morning. We all sleepily sipped coffee and exchanged jokes, like we normally do, before laying out a loose plan for a week. Things on the team are still going great. We have interesting work to do, and amidst the weird period of social isolation, it feels like everyone is going out of their way to be more intentional with writing and video calls.

Following our planning meeting, Marissa joined me upstairs for coffee time. She sat in the chair beside me, which was newly decorated with an re-purposed side table and a tiny lamp just for the occasion. “The moment I turned that tiny lamp on, everything felt right. That little bit of extra light was the missing piece,” I said praising the new detail. Marissa proudly set her coffee cup down beside it.

Rodney peeked his head into our bedroom. He was wearing a Tupperware bin on his head and holding a hockey stick. “Go down stairs, dude,” I ordered. “We’re having coffee time.”

COFFEE TIME?,” Rodney repeated, barging into the room. Rodney has found a new trick in which he uses follow up questions to stall something he’s supposed to do, or remain in a place he’s not supposed to be.

“Yeah, we’re having coffee time, dude. Go downstairs and play, OK?” Marissa instructed. Rodney hung his head low and shuffled his way out, dragging his hockey stick behind him. Shortly after the door closed, I could see a tiny eye peeking through the keyhole.

“I SEE YOU,” I said pointing at the keyhole. Rodney giggled, keeping his face pressed up against the door.

Marissa and I chatted about the pandemic. It’s been difficult finding the balance between supporting each other and being honest with each other. “I think we can each be strong without faking it,” I said. Marissa nodded.

I spent most of the day writing documentation for a new tool our team is building, and nothing clears your head like writing technical documentation. At lunch time, I jaunted down the stairs to plate up my leftover Subway sandwich, shaking some cheese balls onto the plate before joining Marissa and Rodney on the couch. Together, we took in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Rodney wormed his way onto my lap and proceeded to pick cheese balls from my plate.

I had another meeting in the afternoon, then at quitting time, I got ready to make a trip to the grocery store. Marissa and I had talked about curtailing the daily grocery trips. “Just let me do it on my own terms. I’ll make a small stockpile - I just want to be thoughtful about it, and accumulate things slowly throughout the week.”

To sweeten the deal, Marissa even agreed to throw away the giant decorative letters above our fridge that spell EAT. I used to give her grief about those all the time. “Are they instructions?” I used to tease. “Is it a cue for when you stumble in here and forget what this room is supposed to do?” I used to rearrange the letters to spell TEA and ATE just to see if she would notice.

“We can get rid of those and keep food up there instead,” offered Marissa. I was sad that it came to this. I enjoyed the playful teasing while it lasted.

I drove to the Jenny Street market. The tiny grocery store was noticeably more busy, but well-stocked and well-staffed. The employees were stressed out, but doing an admirable job of saving pace and remaining patient.

I perused the store, thoughtfully filling a cart with canned vegetables, fish, and fruit. I grabbed some kale, potatoes, yeast, and canned tomatoes. I also picked up a baguette on the way to the checkout. I wasn’t trying to get everything at once, but it was a start.

As I was checking out, an employee ducked his head in my lane. “Dawn, we’re not supposed to park in the parking lot anymore,” he said sharply. The cashier nodded. “It was pretty empty when I got here, sorry…,” she muttered. I uncomfortably shifted on my feed, pretending to check something on my phone.

Back at home, I began cooking dinner and putting the groceries away. I sliced some potatoes and threw them in a pot with sliced kale and sausage. While the pot simmered, I cut and cleaned the rest of the kale, saving it in a bag in the back of our freezer.

I set aside the single withering tomato in our counter top fruit basket and filled it with the extra potatoes. I almost threw the tomato away, but I decided to slice it up instead. I assembled a few quick crostinis on a pan, using slices of bread, some grated pecorino, olive oil, and the tomato slices.

We gathered at the table for dinner. I first plated the crostinis. “Remember that random tomato sitting on the counter? I decided to use it.” Even the cheapest Italian food has a funny way of tasting lavish. Feasting on merely bread toasted with a leftover tomato, I felt like royalty.

I cleaned up dinner and Marissa took Rodney upstairs to give him a bath. Hearing that Rodney was trying to poop on the potty, I joined them upstairs.

“He felt it coming while he was in the tub, then got scared,” Marissa said quietly to me. Rodney was wrapped in a towel sitting on the toilet with little suds of soap in his hair. He’s close to pooping - he’s gotten pretty good at telling us when it’s happening, but he still gets nervous when he sits down to do it.

“Here dude, I have an idea,” I said pulling my head up from my phone. I cut a small hole in a diaper and handed it to Marissa. She strapped it onto Rodney, and sat him back down.

“All done. Rodney all done,” he insisted after a few more minutes of trying.

“The diaper helped, I think,” said Marissa while helping Rodney back into his clothes. “He looked more relaxed - I’ll set that aside and use it later.”

After putting Rodney to bed, I cleaned up the kitchen. I cleared a shelf off the pantry, moving everything onto the high shelf above the fridge where Marissa’s decorative letters used to sit. I made a batch of white rice on the stove. Marissa joined me in the kitchen to check up on the changes.

“I hate buying food. I feel guilty when I have to buy a lot of it - but I love cooking it,” I said. I pointed to the empty shelf with my foot. “Thanks for letting me store stuff above the fridge - now I can put more canned stuff here,” I said.

Marissa nodded and smiled. “Are you making rice?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m going to try to get in the habit of making either a loaf of bread or a batch of rice every night. We’ll have fried rice tomorrow, and anything else in the fridge we don’t eat is getting chopped up and added to the rice,” I laughed.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a great Tuesday.