Friday, May 01 2020

candid photos, my last work day, naps, and bad soup




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Friday, and Happy first day of May! Isn’t the month of May exciting? For me the month of May conjures up imagery of spring, outdoors, walks, sports, swimming, and travel, and even if some of these things in reality are hampered by the ongoing pandemic, May still has an inescapable mood of adventure. The month of May feels like change. A new beginning. Not unlike today’s image, it welcomes you into the warm, bare outdoors with outstretched arms, clad with short sleeves and a bike helmet, making a goofy face.

I snapped this photo of Marissa and Rodney while we were eating lunch on the back porch. Usually, I can get my phone out and snap a photo when they aren’t looking, but yesterday they caught me.

“I don’t like how mean I look in all your photos,” laughed Marissa. “I want people to know that I have fun at home too.”

And that’s fair. Candid photos have a certain distinguished air about them, but if you have too many of them mixed in your photo library, you make your family look too pensive. I promise we don’t spend most of our time blankly staring at the walls of our home or up at the trees in our backyard. We have fun too.

Sip. If I haven’t said it already, happy Friday. It’s been a pleasure walking through the work week together, but sadly this probably the last time I’ll be able to commiserate with you about the work week - the five honest days of the week. Today is my last day of work before taking off for sixteen weeks on paternity leave. After this Friday, I’ll be slipping into an eternal weekend.

And I wasn’t prepared to stop working. This day really snuck up on me. I had been telling myself all month that it will be some time in May, but not once did I stop to appreciate that it would be literally the first day of May. Don’t get me wrong - I’m prepared for this on an official capacity. I already worked out the details of parental leave, I’ve squared up our insurance, we’ve made provisions for Rodney and the dogs while we’re away at the hospital. I just wasn’t emotionally prepared to walk away from work for this long of a time.

“And you know what the weird thing is,” I said to Marissa last night before drifting off to sleep. “We’re all remote right now anyway. My computer is going to look exactly the same, and I’ll even still have slack open on my dock. The only difference is I just have official license to ignore everything all summer.”

So that’s what I’m dealing with today. I’m at the point where there’s really no point in starting anything new. I’ve filled yesterday and today with 1-on-1’s, just to get in one last bout of work talk with each person on my team. I have a few annoying, tedious things to set up, like putting my email and calendar into vacation mode, and catching up on emails. And hopefully I’ll have plenty of time to reflect and emotionally prepare for the long hiatus.

To break up yesterday, the family and I took a long walk around the block. Rodney took his little green scooter, allowing us to walk at a pace better suited for Marissa’s waddle.

“So at some point, we should sit down and restructure what a regular day will look like,” I said as we slowly shuffled up the sidewalk on our block. “I’d like to keep things as ‘on the rails’ as possible - just to make sure that I don’t mentally waste away or get swept away by my hobbies.”

“That’s a good idea,” replied Marissa. “I’d love to sit down and figure out how to make time for the stuff we want to do.”

“And I think it’s safe to say that I’ll just be on Rodney duty by default? I think that’s fair, don’t you think,” I asked.

Marissa nodded. “Maybe at first. W don’t know how hard the baby is going to be. If he’s an easy baby, we can reassess.”

Walking behind us, Rodney started to slow down, even more slowly than Marissa’s waddle. He wearily handed Marissa his green scooter and lifted his hands in the air. “Carry me?, he asked quietly.”

“No dude, we’re almost home. Use your legs,” I replied. “He was up an hour early this morning, I think he’s just getting tired. I think he’s going to take a monster nap this afternoon,” I said smiling to Marissa.

And upon returning home, Rodney slipped into a kingly nap that lasted until dinner. I stayed online for the rest of the work day while Marissa fell asleep on the couch. Around five, I got up to start on dinner.

Dinner didn’t work out so well. I was trying for some kind of bacony, peppery potato soup, but half way into it my entire Dutch oven was full to the brim and all the fragrant, sweated onions and meat were practically drowning in bland chicken broth. I struggle with soups, and I blame my tendency to use up every ingredient I can while cooking. Usually that works in my favor. For most meals, nobody complains when you err on the side of extra bacon, extra cheese, extra breading, and extra butter. In our house, portions are heaping, and leftovers abound.

But this kind of mentality can work against you while making soup. My soups begin with copious butter, onions, and seasoning, but inevitably I hit problems when I realize I need an obscene amount of stock to get everything to the right consistency. And, taking yesterday as an example, what was supposed to me a velvety, starchy potato soup for three became a thin consommé for a family of forty - broken up by a few aimless floating chunks of potato and tatters of onion.

“Lower your expectations tonight,” I laughed.

“Why,” said Marissa, freshly emerged from a satisfying nap. “It smells great in here.”

“Oh it’s edible. We’re not using an emergency frozen pizza or anything. It’s just kind of a sad, unfulfilling soup,” I replied.

We ate soup at the table, and out of all people, Rodney was the most enthusiastic over the botched meal. “Dada LOOK. The WATER is lekker,” he exclaimed after lapping his broth out of his bowl like a puppy.

I took it easy the rest of the night. And feeling charged from a long nap, Marissa tidied up the kitchen and brought me a beer, leaving me to waste away on the couch watching YouTube with a warm, sleepy Ziggy melted into my lap.

“I feel so bad that you’re doing stuff,” I said. “Especially because I said I would put Rodney to bed. That’s like the worst headfake you could possibly do to a co-parent.”

“It’s no problem. I feel amazing. I don’t know if you knew this about me, but one good nap can change my whole day,” smiled Marissa.

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