Thursday, April 2 2020

blanket forts, fish bones, and tiger king



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday. Just as the month of April was beginning, our work week is almost over. Thursday is a great day for taking a step back to make finer adjustments. What did I want to accomplish on Monday? What should I spend less time doing? Am I working too much or too little? Thursdays are a great day to ask these kinds of questions, ensuring by the time we get to Friday, we’re primed for a long, relaxing weekend.

Yesterday, after concluding our morning coffee break, Marissa built a blanket fort with Rodney around the kitchen table. I finally got to see the end result around lunch time when I wandered downstairs to heat up some pasta. Rodney, scurrying around the dining room floor on his hands and needs, saw me enter the room and sprung to his feet.

“DADA, come inside look at my fort,” he said taking me by the hand. I set down my coffee mug and carefully climbed inside. Where Rodney’s fort was lacking with space, it made up for it in decor. He had his blanket and pillow, his stuffed animals, his toy computer, and he even had a little bluetooth speaker softly playing the wiggles radio.

“Dude, this is so cozy in here!” I said, shifting to a more comfortable position on my side. Rodney beamed, spinning his toy computer screen around so I could see what he was working on. “Oh nice dude, you’re playing the ‘guess the animals’ game. How classic!

After leaving Rodney’s fort, I scooped some leftover pasta in a bowl and flung it into the microwave. “It’s Wednesday today,” said Marissa leaning her head into the kitchen. “You can have a beer with lunch!”

“AH, yes, thank you. I almost forgot,” I said, grabbing a bottle of Amstel Light out of the fridge. Marissa set Rodney up with a slice of pizza. “You can multi-task for lunch today,” said Marissa, setting a plate of leftover pizza in front of him. “But only because your new toys came in the mail.”

Rodney and I picked at our food, playing with his new building toys at the table. Rodney made a long chain, then crumpled it together in one congealed mass of colorful plastic. He held it up to my face, pretending they were goggles.

“OK, as much as I’d like to just hang out in your blanket fort and play with awesome toys, I have a meeting to get to,” I said rising to my feet. I grabbed another beer out of the fridge and headed upstairs to finish out the work day.

Around five, I peeked out of our bedroom and met eyes with Rodney, who was finished with his nap and ready to come downstairs. “Want to help me in the kitchen, dude?” I asked. Rodney nodded, trotting down the stairs behind me.

The recipe I had picked for the evening was Chef John’s Shelter-In-Place Salmon Loaf, calling for a large can of red sockeye salmon. Rodney and I dumped the contents of the can into a bowl, taking a moment to marvel at how unappetizing it looked. As Chef John explains in the video, canned salmon is a mix of meat and bones, but the bones are just about as tender as the meat. So hopefully, after crushing and mixing everything together with breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, butter, and onions, even the unnapetizing bits would be undetectable.

Rodney fiddled around at the cutting board while I beat the eggs with a whisk. After four minutes, my arm got tired. “I should have probably used an egg beater for this,” I said aloud. “But at this point, I may as well finish by hand.” Breathing heavily, focused on whipping the whites into stiff peaks, I stuck it out, and ten minutes later I finally had the desired consistency. “There!” I said to Rodney. Rodney stared at me blankly, chewing a piece of mozzarella I sliced off for him as a snack.

I folded the egg whites into the salmon mixture and poured it into a baking dish. Rodney ran outside to play, and while the salmon loaf baked, I sauteed a side of cabbage and onions.

“Five minute warning!” I called out from the kitchen. I heard Marissa stir from the couch. I carefully removed the baking dish from the oven and flipped it over on the plate. Half the loaf fell out, the other half still adhered snugly to the dish. I hissed a four letter word under my breath, scraping the rest of the loaf out of the plate before we all sat down at the table for dinner.

“So this is kind of a weird one, let me know what you think,” I said digging into my own plate. Marissa thoughtfully chewed the first bite.

“It’s better than I thought,” she said. A few minutes later, Marissa winced, squeamishly scooting a bright white fish vertebrae off of her plate.

“Ope,” I said. “Must have missed one - sorry about that. They’re totally edible, don’t worry about it.” Marissa nodded, and a few minutes later, she winced again. This time, rolling another fish bone out of her mouth and onto the plate.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t like this one.” I boisterously laughed. “Yeah come to think of it, “ I said. “As someone who struggles with odd textures, this whole meal must be a waking nightmare. You know I was pretty sure you would have lost it after finding the first fish bone.”

“But look! I did pretty well, I finished most of it,” said Marissa, defending herself.

“It’s OK. This can be a one time thing. But the good news is this is really healthy, so we can pig out on snacks tonight.”

After a skype call with Gigi and putting Rodney to bed, I cleaned out our fridge while Marissa sat at the dining room table painting. It felt good to take extra time cleaning out our fridge, freezer, and pantry. I sliced and washed the celery and carrots to save space and wiped out each of the drawers and shelves.

Marissa and I concluded the night by watching the last episode of Tiger King. I think I’m finally ready to take sides.

Oh, and spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished Tiger King.

“So let me get this straight,” I blurted out as the credits played. “Joe Exotic went to jail for hiring someone to murder Carole, but no jail for the guy who was actually going to do it? Or for the guy who suggested the whole plan?”

“Yeah, well they also got him for all the tigers he euthanized and all the illegal breeding,” chimed Marissa.

“They wouldn’t have found any of that stuff unless they had an excuse to raid him. Doc is right, that murder for hire charge was BS, it was just an excuse to raid his facility.”

“Yeah, the show was good, because it makes him look like the only one in all this who wasn’t hiding anything,” said Marissa.

If anyone is keeping score, put me down for team Joe Exotic. Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.