Friday, April 3 2020

nightmares, markers, and waving at neighbors



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re feeling well today. Today I’m feeling a little tired. I haven’t been sleeping well this week, plagued by silly quarantine dreams. What’s a quarantine dream? The other night I dreamt that there was a group of people that formed a cult around embracing COVID-19 and they were mingling around my backyard. Right before I woke up, I remember a struggle trying to hold our back kitchen door closed against a throng of coughing and sneezing fanatics. I had another nightmare last night, possibly a continuation of the former. I don’t mind the nightmares so much. They don’t affect me, apart from the fact that I don’t get as good of sleep as I usually do.

“You haven’t been snoring either,” said Marissa. “I can usually tell you’re not sleeping well when you don’t get a chance to snore.”

(You heard that right - a chance to snore - please join me in taking a moment to appreciate how compassionate that is.)

But I’m hanging in there. Like our fat muppet baby villain of a President told the press earlier this week, these are times of war. And speaking for the millenial generation, I’m eager to prove to myself that I can take a few punches too.

Sip. Yesterday was a blur of a workday day. I was in an out of meetings all day. The good news is that after enough of them, I’ve finally gotten to the point where Zoom meetings just feel like meetings. The novelty of joining them from home in my sweats and jammies has just about worn off. But I still love getting teased for my big podcaster microphone.

“Are you staring a podcast, Alex?” jeered someone in our all Madison engineering meeting. I decided to ham it up and run with the joke.

“Actually, recorded bedtime stories,” I interrupted. “For a limited time, contributors to my Patreon will gain access to premium bedtime story content. Join today, and you can listen to my soft and supple voice read classics like The Little Prince and The Communist Manifesto.”

Heath jumped in on the fun. “And contributors in the next tier can join our team stand-ups as a spectator. Listen to Alex’s early morning off-the-cuff rants and conspiracy theories.” I nodded along enthusiastically.

I wandered downstairs for lunch. “Are you hungry, dude?” I said to Rodney. “Whaddya want?”

“Um…”, pondered Rodney climbing off the couch and following me into the kitchen. “MAC IN CHEESE.”

“Sure dude, let’s do it,” I said grabbing a pan off the rack. “Hand me that box.” Together we cooked up a batch of quarantine blue box special, this time jazzing it up with a splash of milk and extra grated gouda. After setting Rodney up at the table, I scraped the rest of the cheesy noodles into a bowl. I had planned on eating the leftover salmon, but the smell, texture, and radioactive glow of the cheese seduced me into a less nutritious lunch. “I’ll save the salmon loaf for Momma when she wakes up from her nap,” I said, letting the sarcasm fly over Rodney’s head undetected.

After finishing out the work day, following up on slack conversations and attending more meetings, I strolled into the kitchen. Fashioning my favorite black apron, I got to cooking. Marissa sat on the deck painting, and Rodney played outside in the backyard. After getting the potatoes, bacon, and onions into the Dutch oven for a brief braising, I joined Marissa at the outdoor table. Rod joined us as well.

“Rod, show dada what you were coloring with today,” goaded Marissa. Rodney held up a series of papers dabbed with colored ink. All week, he’s been playing with a new set of markers - special markers afixed wth little circular stamps. I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and a handful of colors to try it out, absent mindedly dabbing my own pattern.

“This is really relaxing. Check it out,” I said, holding up my paper. “I made the big dipper”.

“Oh, wow. Very abstract, Dada,” said Marissa.

We ate dinner outside. In between scarfing down my own potatoes, Marissa and I struggled to keep Rodney focused on his plate. He was distracted by the neighbors, persistently calling out to them, trying to keep them looped in our conversation. “GUYS?” he yelled. “GUYS? YOU THERE? Oh, hi baby.”

After dinner, we took the dogs for a long walk around our block. About every four houses, there was a little cabal of people gathered at the end of their driveway, chatting and standing in circles. “Our neighborhood is starting this thing where at seven, everyone walks outside to talk to the neighbors from a distance.” I nodded along, marveling at the coordinated effort. I could imagine that at this point, feelings of loneliness must be outweighing any kind of shyness you might have keeping you from chatting with neighbors. I’ve been feeling more outgoing myself, and I’m grateful for a kid like Rodney, who loves to yell out things to strangers and start conversations.

“One without a tail and one with a tail!” yelled a neighbor, referring to our dogs.

“Two corgis is about six feet, so they’re a great reference point for us!” said Marissa. As we walked away, Rodney called out, “SIX FEET haha.” Marissa smirked at me.

“Hear that? He wanted to join in on the joke. I love where his head is at right now.”

Back at home, we skyped Mimi and Pappa. It was wonderful to talk to them. We talked reluctantly recommended Tiger King, talked about how it feels like you’re robbing a bank when we go out to get groceries, and they shared about their romantic car picnic they had in the parking lot of their favorite restaurant. “They gave you a free roll of toilet paper if you bought a bottle of wine,” laughed Tom.

“Yeah, we’ve had a pretty busy week. We did a remote meet-up with someone every night this week,” said Marissa.

“Yeah, busy week,” I added. “In fact we’re feeling a little socially drained, I think this week were just going to lay low and hang around the house this weekend. Avoid people.” Renee and Tom laughed, picking up on my sarcasm. Of course socially drained is not a term I use with sincerity these days.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hang in there, and don’t let the covid keep you down. Keep skyping, waving to your neighbors, and washing your hands. Happy Friday, reader, and God bless you.