Monday, March 30 2020

hash from leftovers, paint pickups, and caesar salad in the car

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, brave quarantiners. I hope you're feeling ready to attack this Monday. I imagine by now the novelty of lounging around the house full time is long gone. Maybe a lack of contact with the outside world is finally starting to outweigh the small perks of wearing sweat pants during business hours or cutting back on showering. At this point in the quarantine, perks aren't going to cut it - at least for me. It's time to dig in, and find something much deeper than sweat pants and day drinking to motivate us. And what better day to do that than on a Monday. With the rain clouds parted, and the warm spring air creeping back to gain on an a stubborn winter, today feels like a new week.

Sip. I made hash for breakfast yesterday. As Marissa and Rodney found a seat in the dining room, I tossed in a handful of sloppily grated gouda cheese as I clicked the stove off. The cheese melted into goey strands falling between the tiny crispy potatoes.

"I'll give you a million dollars if you can guess the secret ingredient," I said after sitting at the table. Marissa sniffed some hash at the end of her fork and took a pensive bite. "It's... some kind of spice, right?"

I shook my head. "Nope."

Marissa stared at another bite for a few seconds. "I give up. What's in it?"

"I sliced up the leftover general tso's chicken," I said proudly. "Don't worry, just the chicken."

Marissa dropped her fork and recoiled, wincing. "Ahhhhh," she exclaimed.

"Oh I'm sorry, should I not have told you that? I was kind of proud of how resourceful I was since I kind of short shrifted us on the bacon," I said staring down at my bowl.

"No, it's fine," said Marissa. "And it actually tastes good. And I guess that stuff is only..." Marissa's voice trailed off as she counted the days in her head. "Yeah, yeah that's still safe."

"Good," I said. "And just fair warning, whatever you don't eat, I'm going to save and throw it into some hash. I intend to make hash out of your leftover hash."

Marissa chortled, mid bite. After clearing her mouth, she jeered, "I bet your ultimate dream is to make hash from fried rice. Or fried rice from hash."

After breakfast, Marissa wheeled over to the computer to place an order of paint at the local paint store. "Do you think you could run over there?" she asked. "They close in a little bit."

I looked at the clock on my phone and grimaced. "Oh man, I forgot how much we slept in today." With Rodney still in his pajamas, I carried him out to the car and strapped him in. Rod was excited to take a trip. Together, we drove to the paint store to get Marissa's order. When we arrived, I pulled over on the curb and called the store. The employee walked outside, setting our box of paint on the curb, waiving to confirm. I stuffed the box in the trunk, and after rubbing my hands with a glob of hand sanitizer, we headed home.

Pulling into the driveway, Rodney sighed in disappointment. He didn't expect the car ride adventure to be so brief. "Dada, Rodney stay in the car?" he asked.

"Aw, I'm sorry dude," I said, un-buckling his seat belt. "We gotta head inside now to watch church. I promise we'll go for a longer drive tonight."

After pouring a second round of coffee, Marissa and I settled in on the couch. Rodney climbed up into my lap, and I silently groaned as he dug his hip into my stomach. I queued up our church's live stream video. "Good morning, and welcome to..." began the video.

"I can't believe this is reality," said Marissa. "I never thought we'd be doing this. This is basically our church now." I nodded, too distracted with balancing Rodney on my lap without spilling my coffee to engage the thought. But it is odd, isn't it? Even the novelty of occasionally staying home and skipping church has worn off during the pandemic.

After the service, Marissa headed upstairs to work on painting Rodney's room. I hung out in the living room with Rodney, working on code and letting his favorite youtube channel play on shuffle. After a few hours of solo time, we reconvened in the kitchen for a quick lunch. I made Rodney a PB&J, and I made Marissa and I a grilled cheese. After wrapping up lunch, I headed to Hy-Vee to pick up some groceries.

Grocery shopping takes considerably more mental effort now. I miss the days where I could go to Hy-Vee every day. I used to choose a recipe and make a small grocery list at 4 o'clock every day. I'd take Rodney with, and together we'd pick up food for dinner and a few supplies we were missing. After cutting back on grocery trips, keeping our house stocked feels like a part time job. Grocery trips are arduous. At any given moment throughout the day, my thoughts are invaded by concerns. What are we out of? What are we making tomorrow? Has anything gone bad?

And I'm getting a little peeved with Hy-Vee at this point. We're starting to run low on toilet paper, and each time I've gone I've scanned the toilet paper aisle to check on their supply. It feels like it hasn't even been restocked since the first wave of panic buying.

"Have you guys gotten any toilet paper since the first wave of panic buying?" I asked the cashier. She sleepily looked up from her register and thought for a moment.

"No," she replied. "I haven't seen anyone buy any."

"Are you guys going to stock it?" I asked. The cashier shrugged her shoulders. I pushed my heavy shopping cart back to our car, silently stewing over the situation. I still feel a lot of anger directed toward panic buying. As if I didn't have enough to worry about between keeping my family healthy and having a baby six weeks from now, you're telling me that now I have to worry about where we're going to get toilet paper? As if you couldn't find a way to deal with the stress of this pandemic that didn't also screw me over?

The spiral of mental anger continued, and out of anger I flung the metal cart across the empty parking lot, into the cart stall. I stopped for a moment to compose myself, then drove home.

Immediately after coming home, I got to work putting away groceries and preparing dinner. I made a Caesar salad, packing three Tupperware containers. In helping us pack, Rodney fished a beer and a diet coke out of the fridge. "Biertje for dad, diet coke for momma!" he yelled.

It feels good to be back on Amstel light. A week ago, I bought a case of PBR on an impulse, but I quickly regretted it, and I've been drinking it like pennence. I think I've been drinking light beer for so long now that most regular lagers taste too sweet. A PBR makes me feel like I just chugged a can of Mountain Dew on a dare.

And I think Rodney is happy that I'm back on Amstel light too. I remember the first time he went to get me a beer out of the fridge, he was disappointed to see cans of PBR instead of the usual neat row of brown colored bottles. He was a little bummed that he couldn't practice with the bottle opener too.

But he was happy to see the fridge once again stocked with Amstel. He looked as if a small piece of his sense of normalcy was restored. A biertje for dada, a diet coke for momma. Just wait until he learns that when Mom's not pregnant, she drinks biertje too! I think that will blow his mind.

We jumped in the car and drove downtown, parking on the curb just outside the capital. Together, we listened to music and ate our salads.

"I'm getting choked up looking at the capital again. I remember coming here for concert on the square," said Marissa. "Do you think things will ever go back to normal?"

"Oh definitely," I said without hesitating. "Think of how many people right now are wanting things to go back to normal. It's the whole world. If the whole world wants to return back to normal, we'll find a way."

Marissa smiled and nodded. "It felt good to hear you say that," she said.

Thanks for stopping by today. Now go get this Monday!