Tuesday, June 23 2020

quarantine blues, calzones, and my discover card

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. I hope this Tuesday is treating you well so far. Apart from some quiet, gassy cooing in the crib behind me, the house is quiet now, and I have a brief hour to enjoy a cup of coffee and write before it's time for Rodney to come out of his room. Getting out of bed in the morning can be so difficult sometimes, but in the moments like this one - where I am right where I need to be with plenty of time to myself - make it all worth it.

So how are you today? I don't know about you, but yesterday, I had a bad case of quarantine blues. Yesterday, I felt like breakfast and lunch were a blur, and I couldn't shake the sensation that Monday was slipping away without anything to show for it.

When I'm in a bad mood, it's my nature to skip all the introspection and just look for something to blame. Where is the faulty component? Where is the weak link in the chain? What needs to be set right so this day can feel normal again?

Rodney was dressed, and I, still sporting yesterday's t shirt, was trying to get the kitchen in order and get another loaf of bread in the oven. Marissa entered.

"So I'm ready to go - you guys are still good to run errands with me?" I nervously glanced at the oven timer.

"Are we going to be gone for less than an hour?" I asked sharply.

"No, probably not," said Marissa. It took a long sigh and an eye roll before I caught myself.

"I'm sorry, I'm in a bad mood today, and I think I'm just looking for something to blame," I said.

After Marissa picked up a batch of things from Home Depot, we parked the car in the back of the parking lot so she could feed Miles. Rodney asked to go to the bathroom.

"I'll take him in," I said.

"It's a long walk," said Marissa. "That door is just an exit now."

"Eh," I huffed. "I don't mind, we could use a small adventure today." Rodney and I strapped on our masks and made our way across the spanning blacktop. Rodney held my hand, striding beside me with a bounce in his step. I felt bad for him, because there is so little to do these days, this little jaunt through Home Depot to use the bathroom would probably be the most adventure we'd get out of the day.

"I want to use this one," said Rodney sidling up beside the tallest urinal.

"As much as I'd like to see you try, I don't want to deal with the mess," I laughed. "Use the small one."

We headed home and pulled into our driveway as it was starting to rain. "Ugh," I sighed. "I can't believe it's time to start dinner already."

"We can order something if you want," said Marissa empathetically.

"Nah, we ordered out yesterday," I replied. "I'm still in a bad mood, but it will probably get even worse if I don't cook. I'd like to make calzones today."

Twenty minutes later, Rodney was in his room for some quiet time, and I stood in the kitchen over a stockpot of gently simmering San Marzano tomatoes, closing my eyes, letting the sweet aroma fill my nose.

"Is red sauce putting you in a good mood?" laughed Marissa. I nodded. "Red sauce always puts dad in a good mood."

I poured the proofed pizza dough out onto the counter and divided it in half. The dough was soft, pillowy, and so easy to work with.

"Hey, come try out this pizza dough," I said to Marissa, inviting her to a spot at the counter. "It feels really nice right now."

"Wow, it does feel nice," said Marissa, flattening out her dough into a circle.

"I think I've been working with finicky bread dough so much that I forgot how nice and forgiving pizza dough was," I laughed.

We enjoyed two giant golden brown calzones at the dinner table. They were stuffed with canadian bacon, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella - pretty much everything that remained in our fridge. After dinner, Marissa gave Rodney a haircut, then I put him to bed. Rodney and I recapped the day in his room.

"And where did we go today?" I asked. Rodney stared at me blankly.

"We ran errands with momma today," I prodded. "Do you remember where we went?"

"The orange store!" exclaimed Rodney. "I went potty in the orange store."

Marissa cackled from across the upstairs hallway. "I like that. Let's just call it the orange store from now on."

The day took a productive turn after Rodney went to bed. The sensation of falling behind around the house lit a sufficient fire under my ass to clean the kitchen, take out the garbages, and even list Marissa's camera on ebay.

"I just listed it under my paypal account," I said. "Is that fine, or did you want to use your art account?"

"Oh you can just use your paypal," said Marissa without looking up from her painting. "The money is going toward your Discover card anyway."

Ah, my Discover card. There's a story here. In my last year of college, I applied for a Discover credit card. Even though I didn't have much to show for in terms of an organized life, I loved setting up my Discover card. It made me feel like an adult.

I hung onto that credit card for a few years, checking the balance every day and staying on top of the paper work. One weekend, I got a strange form in the mail that had to be mailed back. It felt strange to me, because up until that point, their website and mobile application were robust enough to handle everything. I filled out the form and promptly sent it back.

A few months later, my credit card stopped working. I could still log in and view the balance, but I no longer had any credit available. After cleaning up all the declined payments that littered our monthly bills, I spent the entire weekend on the phone with their customer support line.

The form I had sent in was lost in the mail, and since Discover never received it, they closed my account.

"Unfortunately, this is irreversible," explained the manager over the phone. "It's a really important form, as you can see."

"But I sent it in," I contested. "You really have no recourse if it's lost in the mail?"

"For that reason, most people fax it to us," he said.

"A fax?" I scoffed. "I haven't even seen a fax machine since I was in middle school."

Four years later, I'm still chipping away at my Discover balance. And each time I open the website to check it, I'm reminded of the odd paperwork fiasco that irreversibly closed my account.

"I can't believe how that all happened," laughed Marissa, seeing me log in to check my balance.

"I have a new theory," I said. "I think it's a conspiracy."

"Oh?" said Marissa.

"I think that form is made up, and they just use it to shake off the deadweight," I laughed. "Everything else about that card was seamlessly electronic. They're app was fantastic. They're automatic payments and notifications worked perfectly."

"Oh that's an interesting theory," said Marissa. "I mean, in the meantime, they're still making interest off of us. The only difference is you can't borrow more money from them. I hope the camera does well - it would be sweet to finally get rid of that balance."

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