Tuesday, June 2 2020

skin markers, anger paintings, poached trout, and walks

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you'll join me today in trying to forget whatever carnage is happening in our city and in our country to enjoy this beautiful summer Tuesday. The afternoons get a little muggy, but the mornings are nice enough to enjoy a cup of coffee while watering the grass. These days while we're outside for even the briefest moment, I have to keep a close eye on Rodney. He likes to bury his head in the sand of his sandbox - completely immersed, ostrich style. Even at the risk of throwing out a potentially powerful metaphor for how I'm dealing with things right now, sandbox baths are off limits.

At the moment, I'm also dealing with a pretty strange hand injury. On Sunday night, while trying to start our stubborn weed wacker, I whacked my hand on the side of the hard plastic surface. Part out of frustration, and part just trying to conjure our engine to life, I immediately felt a shooting pain in my wrist. Since then, I've been sporting a little greenish bruise, and having some strange numbness in my thumb.

"I don't even think I can get through push-ups," I said wincing in pain just before ending the work day.

"Oh no!" said Marissa with animated sarcasm. "Well, you're just going to have to skip exercising and drink wine on the porch with me."

Sip. Yesterday morning, Rodney and I went to the grocery story, and even though it was only his second time back, our Hy-Vee routine feels thoroughly restored. Rodney helps keep track of the list, chats people up in line, and begs me for extra snacks. Yesterday he talked me into buying a very specific type of crappy bars, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized they were smores flavored.

After getting home, Rodney helped me unload the groceries into the kitchen, then helped himself to his chocolate egg while he played games on the computer. Marissa passed through the kitchen , stopping to check out what we brought back in our grocery haul. She smiled, seeing Rodney engrossed in the Nick Junior website.

"Does he actually know how to play games?" she asked.

"Not really," I laughed. "He can sort of move the mouse, but just well enough to watch the toons - I think he's literally just watching full episodes of Paw Patrol right now. Sometimes I have to come help when he accidentally resizes the window or something."

And there was one time where Rodney accidentally changed the web address to nickelodeon.co.uk, which loaded a completely British copy of the nickelodean website. Thinking nothing was wrong, Rodney watched a solid hour of queen's english Paw Patrol that day.

After finishing some lunch on the deck, Marissa and I chatted about the riots.

"I feel like I'm having a delayed reaction to everything," I said. "I was OK about it at first, but now I feel like I'm in a bad mood, and all I want to do is read about it on my phone."

"Same," said Marissa. "Miles didn't sleep well last night, and I feel like I'm too tired and sad about the riots to paint. I feel bitter and trapped, like I can't even express myself right now."

Fittingly, Miles was fussy yesterday, spending most of the afternoon rhythmically, viciously crying in his crib. And we all dealt with it in our own ways. Rodney hung out in his room, and used his sleepless quiet time to make an elaborate pattern on his skin with colored markers. His self-made crayola tribal tattoo spanned his legs, stomach, arms, and face.


Ceremonial toddler warpaint

Marissa spent the afternoon in her art studio. "I made an anger painting," she said. "I tried to paint with my anger and get some of it out on the canvas, and it felt good." She made a medium sized black ensemble with streaks of glittering gold. Elegant and beautiful as always, even motivated by anger.

I hid out in the kitchen most of the afternoon. I didn't intend for dinner to be so elaborate, but it felt good to just hide away, listening to music and trimming vegetables. For dinner, I made sticky rice bowls with sliced vegetables, topped with figs, chickpeas, and some trout poached in bouillon. The bowls were drizzled with a soy sauce honey glaze, and I even topped them with an edible flower and a pared slice of lemon.

fancy meal

Poached trout rice bowls: figs, lemon, chickpeas, and an edible flower

The second after we prayed for our dinner, I stuffed the entire purple flower in my mouth and stared at Rodney. He squirmed in his seat with laughter, then dug through his pile of rice to find his flower so he could do the same. After I was done eating, I went inside to collect a screaming Miles from his crib. I let him fall asleep on my lap out on the porch while Rodney picked at his dinner. We all uncomfortably swatted may flies.

"So it's been kind of a bummer of a day," said Marissa. "Do you think we could go for a walk?"

"I think that's a great idea," I replied. "A nice walk might salvage this."

Marissa and I took slow steps down the sidewalk behind the stroller, flanked by both dogs. Rodney was in full running guy mode, runnning far ahead of us with his foam sword stuffed in the waist band of his shorts. It turns out that the reason running guy hasn't showed up in a while is because the new flip-flops we bought for him have a flimsy strap that falls off of Rodney's heels. "My sandals are cool, but these shoes make me go FAST," explained Rodney before taking off down the sidewalk, pumping his arms.

As we walked, Marissa and I brought each other up to speed with what we knew about the riots. Madison is doing much better - last night, there were some isolated opportunistic acts of vandalism, but the larger protest remained peaceful, and there was no need for riot gear.

"The worst part about these riots is it's not like we're even that special," I said while we strolled. "Everyone is dealing with their own riots too. It feels kind of lonely."

I'm looking forward to a new day. In a few moments, I'll get Rodney out of bed, and I'll try to put aside my worries and concerns and get excited about something productive instead. I think I might leave my phone upstairs for the morning - it's that kind of day.

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