Saturday, March 28 2020

physical distancing, public speaking quirks, and frozen pizza tasting




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday. Yes, I’m aware that at the time I’m writing this, it’s already 12 PM, but today feels like a good day to stretch the definition of “morning” as far as I can. And in our defense, it still looks like morning. The sun is hidden behind a grey, overcast sky, Rodney and I are still in our pajamas, and after splitting a gouda cheese omelette at the table, we’ve relocated to the living room to watch X-men. Rodney and I both agree that morning should last as long as you want it to.

I’ve shared this fact with a few people, and I’ll reiterate it here for the record. I read that the WHO is trying to get people to use the term physicial distancing over social distancing. Their hope is to emphasize that while the coronavirus outbreak necessitates we avoid physical contact with people, socializing is still a very big part of human life.

And you could argue that in a physically distanced world, socializing is even more important. Nothing is free anymore. There’s virtually no possibility you’ll accidentally bump into a friend, neighbor, or coworker and have a chance to catch up on life. In quarantine life, every interaction with people requires effort, planning, and worst of all, video conferencing software.

So please help carry the torch - not only in retiring the term social distancing for physical distancing, but also in being intentional with reaching out to the people you care about. We are physically distanced, but we’re far from alone.

Sip. Yesterday was a great day. I had a productive work morning, diving back into some code all to the end of cleaning up my week’s work for a demo in the afternoon. Around lunch time, I wandered into the dining room to heat up some leftovers, Marissa and Rodney joining me.

“I still think this might be tofu,” said Marissa, examining a chicken colored clump balanced at the end of her fork. We were finally breaking into the second order of chicken in our stash of Chinese leftovers.

“It might be,” I said, joining her in examining the meat. “We didn’t even know which one was General Tso’s chicken and which one was sweet and sour chicken. Maybe they made a mistake.”

Marissa took a bite, chewing her food suspiciously. “I think it’s chicken,” she stated, satisfied with her conclusion.

After lunch, we decided to take the dogs for a walk. We leashed up Ollie and Ziggy, Rodney following close behind us out the door wearing his shoes and coat. We headed down our street along the sidewalk. Rodney broke from the pack, running ahead of us with his arms swept behind him. “Gotta go fast!”, we yelled after him.

“It feels so nice out,” said Marissa, smiling contently. “Let’s go all the way to the end of the street today.”

Physical distancing makes for complicated walks. We found ourselves stopping in driveways so people could pass. One lady had to walk around us in the street. As few as two other people crossing the same path could cause a full traffic jam. As we waited in someone’s driveway for a jogger to past, an older lady tending her garden called out to us.

“Don’t come any closer,” said the lady, rising to her feet. She looked visibly agitated.

“We know,” said Marissa. “We’re keeping our distance.” The lady returned to her work, and we re-entered the sidewalk, continuing on our way.

“I feel like she was more upset than she needed to be,” said Marissa. “Why would she assume we were going to get closer?”

“She’s probably just stressed out,” I said. “Everyone’s dealing with this in their own way.”

Marissa nodded. “We’ll give her a coronapass,” said Marissa. “I read somewhere that during a time like this, it’s important to let people express their feelings. Bottling it up and acting like everything is normal is probably the worst thing you can do.”

“Walks are going to get tricky in the summer as more people go outside,” I remarked. “But maybe we’ll have figured something out by then. Maybe we’ll still get to go to the biergarten, but we’ll sit in big plastic bubbles or something,” I laughed.

After our walk, I returned to work, joining our team’s remote meeting. Alex and I each shared our screen, demonstrating our work. After we were finished recording the session, our team took on a more relaxed, informal tone to discuss the week.

“Nate,” Heath said. “Would you mind editing the recordings so we could send them to different teams?” Nate nodded.

“Hey Nate,” I interrupted a minute later. “Do you use iMovie a lot? Were you looking forward to doing the edits?”

“Recker,” he replied, “usually when I volunteer to do something, I plan on just stitching together my parachute on the way down.” Our team erupted in laughter at the funny visual.

“I like that attitude, but I can do the edits you want. I use iMovie all the time for Marissa’s stuff, and if you’re not interesting in learning, I can take care of it.” Nate nodded in appreciation, and I stayed online for a few extra minutes to edit the demos. Before calling it quits for the day, I gave them each a final watch to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It’s weird watching screencast footage of yourself. Each time I do something in the realm of public speaking, I seem to pick up a completely new arsenal of odd public speaking quirks. This season, I end most sentences with a rhetorical right?, I sip coffee to emphasize my point, and I shrug constantly. I shrug after answering questions, telling a joke, and sometimes I even shrug after shrugging.

After taking some quiet time to play video games in the basement, I wandered upstairs to prep dinner. We had decided on a frozen pizza, and to accommodate my family’s diverse and divisive tastes, we chose to make one Home Run Inn pizza and one Digiorono pizza. After popping them into the oven, I wandered into the living room, tossing the football to Marissa.

“I think your apron and hoodie combo is my favorite outfit of yours,” laughed Marissa. I wear my cooking apron around the house constantly. I’ve even fallen asleep on the couch with it on a few times. And on days where I feel especially aimless, I wear it with a hood. “I could wear this outfit every day. It’s just absolutely perfect,” I said, catching Marissa’s pass.

The oven clicked, and we filed into the dining room for dinner. “Let’s make this interesting,” I said. “Let’s see which pizza Rodney likes better.” I excised a small piece from each pizza and moved it to Rodney’s plate. “OK Rod,” I said placing the plate down in front of him. “This is really important. We need you to tell us which pizza you like better.” Rodney nodded, responding to my serious tone that nearly matched my scary fatherly discipline voice.

“Pizza number one,” said Marissa, handing him a chunk of Digiorno. Rodney happily chewed the pizza and swallowed. “OK,” I said, “here is number two.” Marissa handed Rodney a piece of Home Run Inn pizza. As soon as it hit his tongue, he violently flinched, wincing at the hot cheese and sauce. “Oh honey,” cried out Marissa. “I’m sorry, I didn’t blow on it enough.”

“Well the test is probably voided at this point,” I said. Rodney rallied and finished chewing the hot pizza. “Which one do you like better?” asked Marissa.

Rodney quickly pointed to the Digiorono pizza. “I like THIS one,” he said. Marissa grabbed his plate and spun it in a circle.

“Which pizza do you like better?” she asked again. Rodney again pointed to the Digiorono.

“Dude, you’re your mother’s son,” I said. “And both of you live with the delusion that Digiorono pizza is better than Home Run Inn.”

“You Home Run Inn pizza people are crazy,” said Marissa. “I saw a facebook thread where people were arguing about frozen pizza, and of course all the Home Run in pizza people were like if you don’t like home run in pizza you’re dead to me,” laughed Marissa.

“Yes,” I said. “Well put. You people are dead to me!”

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.