Friday, April 17 2020

being pregnant, rodney's spring jacket, and making bread




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Dear Journal,

What a wonderful day today. It feels nice outside - so nice, that I’m starting to wonder if we’re finished with that last swell of gross, chilly, winter weather. And of course, the rules of the midwest dictate that once somebody says I think we’re finally done with winter ‘der, that causes at least four more inches of snow to fall, followed by some evil frozen rain. And I’m not even kidding, Mimi and Pappa reported to us yesterday that they got four inches of snow. Sometimes I feel like the middle of the country is run by the same ancient spirit from the magical forest in Frozen 2. But maybe not so cinematic. This mysterious force is content to simply be as annoying as possible.

Sip. So how is everyone feeling today? Are we in good spirits? Does it help that it’s Friday? Most people I talk to have gotten accustomed to the lockdown life. Though it seemed impossible in the early stages, lockdown life eventually became regular life.

If you’re out there, and you talk to my wife Marissa regularly, she could use some encouragement. We had a long talk yesterday, and to sum up, she’s sick of being pregnant. Acid reflux. Trouble sleeping. Feeling like you need to cry for no reason. None of your favorite clothes fit anymore. And at the end of the day, you can’t even wash down all the sorrows with an ice cold beer. Do you think quarantine has been hard? I’m not trying to belittle your suffering, but imagine doing it all without a drop to drink, and with an angry little bowling ball strapped to your stomach.

“I feel angry that I had to go through this during quarantine,” she shared last night. “And I feel depressed, because it’s just endless. I don’t feel like myself, and I feel guilty that I’m not more excited.”

“Not more excited?” I asked.

“Yeah. I feel like you’re supposed to be happy about having a baby,” she explained, wiping her eyes.

Being pregnant sucks. And it breaks my heart that sometimes we romanticize pregnancy so much that women like Marissa are invaded by this pressure to enjoy everything about it.

Reach out to Marissa and show her some love. Oh and hey - quick commercial break - she’s having a virtual art show on Instagram live this Saturday, 2:30 PM CST. We’ll be setting up paintings all over the house, and if that’s not enough, I’ve been given full license to be as snarky as I want while I hold the camera. It will be a good time.

Back to our regularly scheduled blog post. I had a pretty good day yesterday. One of my team’s services suffered a weird outage this week. The incident exhausted our error budget, and as a result, we’ve pivoted to fix the issue. You might think a sudden call to fix something shitty would hurt my morale, but oddly, I find it energizing. Our team has been fragmented between several diverging priorities lately, and it feels good to all do the same thing for a change.

Zoom meetings, research, notes, tickets. The Thursday work day preceded, and soon I found myself downstairs in the kitchen heating up some leftover orzo pasta and finding a seat on the couch for lunch and YouTube. Rodney joined me on the couch under the guise of a tender snuggle, but he was really just trying to steal my baggie of apple slices.

After lunch, we decided to take a walk around the block, filing into the kitchen by the back door to suit up and leash the dogs. I reached for Rodney’s new grey spring jacket, and an epic stand-off ensued.

“No dada, no!” yelled Rodney, recoiling in terror as I tried to drape the jacket over his shoulders.

“Dude, c’mon this is your new jacket,” I protested. “You gotta wear it. He’s so stubborn about new clothes,” I said turning to Marissa.

“Dada, but my brown one. I want to keep it.” Rodney pouted. His shoulders slumped, and with misty eyes he looked longingly at his brown winter jacket.

I kneeled down to Rodney. “Wait. Dude, do you think we’re getting rid of your brown jacket?” Rodney nodded, and tiny tears were pooling on his face.

“Oh honey,” I said hugging him. “No dude, we’re not getting rid of your winter coat. You have two coats now. Look.” I flung open the back door, letting the cool breeze fill the kitchen. “See? It’s nice outside. Way too nice for your brown coat. You’re going to get sweaty. You wear the new grey one when it’s warm, but you’ll wear the brown one when it’s cold again.”

Rodney nodded. He seemed more agreeable, and while I’m not sure any of the explanation landed, maybe he just appreciated being reasoned with.

We had a nice walk around the neighborhood, and soon we were back home and I finished out the work day. I started on a simple dinner of potatoes, bacon, onions, cabbage and kale. But the real star of the show was the bread we made.

Using extra time at home during quarantine to make homemade bread isn’t the most original idea I’ve ever had. Hy-vee has been sold out of flour and yeast for weeks, and my Instagram feed these days looks like a Breadstagram feed. But quarantine is an excellent time to practice making bread. And either making bread is easier than I thought it would be, or maybe I just have a knack for it.

“I’m impressed,” said Marissa. “You’re new to it, but literally every single loaf you’ve tried has worked out.”

And the silly part is that I have at least three books on making bread on our bookshelf - all of them unopened. I find it more fun just screwing around, testing theories empirically, and eating the results. This morning, we have a French bread dough sitting in the fridge. I’m testing the theory that the more slowly you can make the yeast eat, the better it will taste. Even switching from warm water to cold water in last night’s loaf made a notable improvement.

I’m going to try forming this next dough ball into two small baguettes. A bold plan, but we’re on a hot streak and we might as well test how lucky we really are.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a wonderful day.