Monday, May 11 2020

pickled goods, seinfeld theory, and beer & cheese



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! It feels good to begin another work week, doesn’t it? There’s fresh coffee in the pot, the kitchen has been put back together, and I even managed to get the garbage onto the curb before anyone else in the house woke up. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a good day today, and after this weekend’s emotional slump, we could sure use one of those around here.

Sip. “My post was pretty gloomy today,” I chuckled walking into the bedroom. Marissa, after sleeping off a rough night with Miles was working her way out of bed. “But would you mind giving it a read before I send it out?” I asked sitting at the foot of the bed.

“Well yesterday sucked,” laughed Marissa. “It was the worst day, and you have to write about what happened,” replied Marissa sleepily.

“And isn’t it funny that it came after Friday, which was probably the best day we’ve had in a while?” I asked.

Marissa’s eyes flickered over her phone screen as she scanned the posts. “Looks good,” she said. “I’m past all the juicy stuff, I’m just reading it for fun now. You can post it,” she said smiling up at me.

And so after sending out the entry commiserating how terrible of a day Saturday was, I was determinate to bounce back with what remained in our Sunday, beginning with the grocery shopping. After getting Rodney set up for the afternoon, I drove to Hy-Vee in usual gloves and a mask. I’ve also started to bring a printed grocery list, which I cross off with a pen. Between locking & unlocking, signing onto the wifi, and using a touch screen with gloves, some things just go a lot faster when you don’t have to fiddle around with an app on your phone, and speed is of the essence when you’re dealing with one way shopping aisles.

At Hy-Vee, I proceeded to pick up leeks, potatoes, and a beautiful bunch of parsley for making soup. I also decided to mix it up with some pickled goods. Shopping for maximum shelf life has been a learning process, and before the quarantine I assumed that canning is magical, and everything coming out of a can will be a steady B+ scompared to the real thing. But not all cans are the same, and I’ve found that the can life is not as kind to asparagus and carrots as it is to corn, beans, and fruit.

So this trip, I decided to mix it up and experiment with pickled goods. I grabbed a jar of pickled asparagus, pickled bell peppers, and of course just a big jar of dill pickles in case the other pickled goods are a bust.

I also brought back quite the beer haul. I’m so happy to have my drinking buddy back, and it’s been a delight opening the throttle on the variety of beer we keep in the house. I brought back two bombers, a six pack of Zombie Dust, and the usual twelve back of Amstel Light.

Back at home, I got to work preparing the soup, taking breaks to fend off an energized, sword wielding Rodney. While the soup simmered, I chased him around the living room with a dish towel, spun him in the air, body slammed him on the couch, and did everything to fulfill my daily horseplay-with-dad quota.

Dinner was served - hot leek and potato soup and a warm loaf of sourdough beer bread that didn’t even live long enough to become leftovers. “We’re finishing this entire loaf, family,” I said while chewing. “We’re no quitters.”

After dinner, we conducted a round of mother’s day phone calls, and after getting Rodney into bed, I took some time to catch up on email. Earlier in the week, I got a wonderful email from a complete stranger who wanted to talk about an old post I made about Seinfeld.

“You caught me on a busy week,” I explained. “I literally noticed your message in my inbox on the way to the delivery room, but I’ve been looking forward to sitting down with this email and thinking about this stuff again.”

The meat of the discussion was around how the characters of Seinfeld change throughout the show. For most sitcoms, characters drift from their original piloted personality over time. Writers tweak things as they explore how the characters interact with each other, actors begin to incorporate their own flair and personality, and maybe even TV executives throw in a wrench or two, dictating that two characters get married or one of the characters has a baby.

This phenomenon is absolutely present in Seinfeld - so much so that Season 1 barely feels like the same show compared to the later seasons. Jerry thinks he found the one, so much so that he’s willing to stake out her work place to ask her out on a date. George has enough self respect to retaliate against his boss by slipping him a Mickey. Elaine is much more sensitive and conscientious, and she’s so insecure after her break-up with Jerry that she gets upset at him for oggling another girl while she was pettily rambling about a dream she had. And of course, Kramer is a recluse who “hasn’t left his apartment in the last ten years.”

But Seinfeld is a special show because these things also work as character transformations. Over the course of the show, these four normal, unassuming people are awakened to the meaningless of their life. Jerry dates a new woman every episode. George cynically experiments with living his life directly contradicting his instincts. Elaine stops depending on people for support. And Kramer learns that his reality may as well be a fantasy, so why hide from the world?

“Ready for our Sudnay night meeting?” I asked Marissa, peaking into her basement studio. “Oh, and just so you know - snacks will be provided.” Marissa’s eyes widened with delight. She wrapped up her painting and followed me up the stairs, grinning at the plated gouda cheese and Belgian beer resting between two chilled glasses.

“Happy mother’s day,” I said smiling. “… or not. I don’t want to violate our pact of not doing things for each other.”

“I’ll allow it,” said Marissa. “I think our pact is more about not making each other feel guilty for not planning anything ahead of time. I’ll always accept small, spontaneous things throughout the day.”

We enjoyed beer and cheese while planning out the week’s work. It was a good evening.

“I think I figured out how to keep the bad days away,” I laughed. “We just need to surround ourselves with as much bread, beer, and cheese as possible.”

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