Friday, March 27 2020

new desk, fish hash, and chinese food



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, my unconquerable, temporarily quarantined friends. Happy Friday. It’s time to celebrate the end of the work week. The weather isn’t by any means stellar, but as long as it’s warm enough to stand outside for a few minutes without a coat on, or even run a bag of garbage out to your can in flip-flops, it’s better than nothing.

It’s been a long week. Sometimes adapting your work around your environment is more challenging than your work itself. I’ve run into an interesting problem in remote life. I’ve found that if I don’t set aside explicit time to check email and respond to messages, it never gets done. Paradoxically, I was better at slack and email when I worked on location at the office. Being such a code heavy week thus far, I spent most of the day yesterday just reading. I read other code, proposals, decision documents, and a few recent instructional documents produced by my team. I had a few meetings as well.

Meanwhile, while I was on a quest to achieve a feeling of mental synchronization, Marissa and Rodney were busily assembling Ikea furniture. Rodney got a new desk for his room. “I enjoy the challenge of putting these things together,” said Marissa taking a coffee break leaning on our bedroom door. “But I’m always surprised at how long it takes. This took me all morning.” From over her shoulder, I could see Rodney happily sitting at his new desk up against the corner. After clicking his desk lamp on, he buried his head in a coloring book.

“Do you like your new desk, dude?” I called out to him. Rodney flashed me a quick thumbs up and got back to coloring.

Marissa relaxed on the couch for a bit, and I decided to whip up something for lunch. On an impulse, I started to peel a pair of potatoes. Soon Rodney joined me, dragging his white ladder over to the counter and joining be at the cutting board. He had in his hand our large metal meat tenderizing hammer.

“Oh that’s perfect dude,” I said. “We’ll definitely need to tenderize these potatoes.” As I continued slicing, Rodney swiped a potato slice from under my arm and hit it with a hammer, sending little water droplets everywhere, and leaving little spiky holes all over the potato. Senseless, destructive, juvenile, but I was too amused to stop him. “Nice, dude. Here, do another.”

We moved over to the stove, throwing the cubed up (and thoroughly tenderized) potatoes into a pan with oil. While we waiting for the potatoes to brown, Rodney grew restless, dividing his time between sneaking bites of butter and sugar from the counter and trying to throw more salt in the pan. “HEY, dat is genoeg zout, geen meer!” I yelled.

I don’t blame him for getting bored. I love making hash, but it takes too long. And there’s not much you can do other than just tossing the potatoes every few minutes and waiting for them to get crispy. But eventually, they did, and soon after we added garlic, cabbage, and some herring out of a can. Rodney grabbed a handful of fish and popped it into his mouth. The herring we were using was far from the tastes like chicken variety. In fact, from the time I opened the can, our kitchen smelled like a fish market. Dit vis stinkt. I studied Rodney’s face, waiting for a reaction.

“Pretty good dude,” I said. “You didn’t even flinch or nothing.”

After frying a pair of eggs for us and dropping in a dollop of sour cream, I joined Rodney at the table for a few minutes. I had already used most of my lunch hour to just make lunch, but it was time well spent. And much more stimulating than my usual hour of browsing reddit on my phone.

I worked the rest of the afternoon, getting Rodney out of his room around five. He was seated at his desk, fiddling with his desk lamp. “Want to go play some video games, dude?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. I love video games,” replied Rodney, getting up from his chair.

“Hey dude, I have an update for you,” I said. Rodney looked at me in anticipation. “So I got the green light from momma to order some new Xbox games. They’re coming in the mail!”

“Oh yeah!” replied Rodney.

“Yeah dude, they’re awesome. We have a new Spider-man game coming, and a motorcylce game.”

“mOOOOOtorCYCLE GAME?” repeated Rodney enthusiastically. He’s had the concept of a motorcylce game in his head for a few weeks, conjuring it out of nowhere and reminding almost on a daily basis. Unceremoniously, I searched “motorcycle game” on Amazon and bought the first result. I have no idea how playable it will be, but I’m sure as long as it has at least one motorcylce in it, it will be in instant classic in our household.

After playing video games in the basement for an hour, we wandered upstairs to order some food. Marissa ordered us some Chinese food from a place we’ve never tried. Looking out the front door of our house, I watched the masked delivery woman dash up our driveway, drop a paper bag, and dash away. “Man, she was quick,” I said to Marissa. “That was like how you’d leave a flaming bag of poop on someone’s door.”

But instead of a flaming bag of poop, it was warm, fragrant, salty, sticky orange chicken and fluffy white rice. We sat at the table and plated it up. By the time Marissa was on her fifth bite, my plate was clean. I turn into a monster around Chinese food.

“Good job, Recker family,” I said rocking back in my chair and holding my stomach. “Look at us, how selfless of us for supporting local businesses,” I said pretending to slam my fist on the table. My face grew pale and I hunched forward. “Oh hell, I ate that way too fast. I’m going to go pop some tums, this is going to be a tough one.”

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Oh, and if you see my dad around, be sure to wish him a happy birthday.