Wednesday, May 13 2020

writer's block, diaper angels, and roasted chicken




posts/2020-05-13.jpg

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! How is your Wednesday feeling so far? This morning, I’m feeling tired. It turns out that these new babies are kind of a lot of work. And the thing that really sucks about new babies is that three outfits and four diapers later, when they’re finally at rest in the crib, you still have to do all the other stuff that needs to get done in your house. The laundry, the dishes, the food, taming the daily wreckage of toy cars and foam ninja weapons that find themselves strewn across the living room every day. The wheel must remain unbroken, and the show must go on.

But I’m grateful to be here, staring a fresh Wednesday in the face. Marissa is feeling good today too. As I was winding up for the day by unloading the dishwasher and taking some notes on the computer, she joined me in the dining room about an hour earlier than usual.

“I have a good feeling about today,” she said waggling her eye brows, staring down a bowl of bone-dry frosted flakes. “I woke up today, and I didn’t feel like crying!” We clinked coffee mugs. Hormones are a helluva drug, aren’t they?

As things get busier, my life gets harder to write about. For the first time ever in my journaling campaign, I’m plagued with a loss of words. Morning entries take longer to write, and I find myself staring at an empty buffer for uncomfortably long stretches of time, or I’ll finish a wall of text, and sigh in disappointment seeing that I’m still a few hundred words short. Maybe 315,000 words into this, I’ve just run out of all the easy things to talk about. Maybe I’ve had less time to reflect about things. Maybe this is just writer’s block.

Whatever the issue is, the anecdote, as always, is just to keep writing. And perhaps I’ve gone off the deep end with this quarantine bread making hobby, but I’d like to make the case that yeast and writing can be very similar.

You can’t really force yeast to make bread for you, just like you can’t force writing to happen - but you can improve the conditions in which it happens. You can feed yeast, keep it in a dark warm place, and above all give it lots of time to adjust and adapt.

And what I’m learning about bread is that yeast shines when times are tough. In the sourdough recipe I’m trying, the dough is moved to the fridge overnight to intentionally slow down the yeasts’s growth and digestion. The added difficulty creates a more unique and complex flavor profile. I’d like to thing the same can be said about writing, which is why in moments like these, when I can feel the word well drying up and writer’s block at my back like a dark rain cloud, it’s important to keep writing.

Sip. Rodney and I began our day at the breakfast table. I fried him an egg with cheese, and placed the whole mess on a stove charred tortilla.

“Yum!” he exclaimed. “I love quesadillas.”

“Dude, did you know that when you were little, you didn’t eat eggs?” I said, cutting the open faced quesadilla in half for us to share. “It used to drive me crazy. How many different things can you make in the morning without eggs? But you like eggies now, right?”

Rodney raised his tiny plastic fork in the air, like a toast. “To eggs,” I said stately, raising my fork in the air alongside him.y

We polished off our breakfast, then headed outside to play hockey. The sun was warm, and after playing on the blacktop for a few minutes, we shed our hoodies and jackets, working up a sweat. Forty-five minutes later, we were both doubled over, breathing heavily from chasing the ball around the parking lot.

“Let’s go back home,” said Rodney. I nodded, and we trudged our way back to our house. I grabbed the coffee pot and collapsed into a lawn chair. “You go play dude,” I said. “I’m going to take a little break.”

We hung out outside for a bit, throwing a baseball around and shooting some basketball before heading inside to cool down, dragging a big box of delivered diapers into the house on our way. I sat on the couch, holding Miles while Marissa showered, and Rodney began fiddling with the diapers.

Miles stared at me blankly with wide eyes, quietly gurgling and blowing spit bubbles. I made silly faces at him. A diaper landed at my feet, catching my attention.

“What are you up to there, dude?” I laughed. Rodney looked up from a pile of diapers. He had taken out all 198 newborn diapers out of the wrapping and scattered them on the floor. Marissa came down the stairs and smiled.

“That looks fun,” she said. “Dude, make a diaper snow angel,” she said, egging Rodney on as he leaped onto the mound and flashed a grin for the camera.

We heated up some leftovers for lunch, and Rodney went upstairs for quite time while I caught up on my French Cooking videos. Yesterday, we covered knife skills and vegetable preparation. Inspired by the formal rigor of the French kitchen, I decided to practice the skills by thoroughly cleaning and prepping our batch of red bell peppers over the sink with a pairing knife.

“Could I get some help in Rodney’s room,” said Marissa, beckoning me through the baby monitor. I walked upstairs, holding a few off cuts of bell pepper. Rodney snatched one from my hand as he climbed into the tub.

“I feel like I’ve just been covered by poop and pee all day,” said Marissa. “I need a beer.”

After getting Rodney cleaned up, Marissa and I cracked open a beer and sunk into the swinging porch seat. Mesquite smoke wafted into the air through the little holes in the grill. Rodney grunted, trying to worm his way in between us.

“No dude,” said Marissa. “Momma kind of needs a little break.”

“Go play dude,” I said. Rodney slinked away letting out a sigh.

“No sighing, Rodney,” scolded Marissa. “We don’t like that attitude.” We eyeballed Rodney as he slowly, stubbornly stepped off the porch.

“It’s been a rough day,” said Marissa. Tears were welling up in her eyes.

“Yeah, but this is kind of a nice moment, right?” I said, raising a beer. Miles was silently sleeping inside, and Rodney was fiddling around in his playhouse. “I feel like I’ve barely seen you today, this is kind of nice.”

The oven timer rang, and I reluctantly got off my chair to finish the rice. Rodney took my seat beside Marissa while I was gone. Through the screened kitchen window, I could see Marissa saying something to Rodney, then leaning in for a long hug.

“Would you guys set the table?” I said leaning out the door. I lifted the cover off the grill. The chicken was crispy, and the bell beppers had gone soft, blistering from the smoky heat. Rodney was first to clean his plate.

“You were hungry, dude,” I laughed. “I guess we’re going to have to start giving you more than just the wings.” Rodney nodded.

“What are we gonna do when we have to big hungry boys at the table?” I asked looking at Marissa. “I’m going to have to make a whole chicken for each of them!”

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