Thursday, September 10 2020

insecurity, soup, and piano

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. I hope you're hanging in there today.

This week feels longer, doesn't it? I thought I was in for an easy week, having this past Monday off and everything. But I forgot about that weird phenomenon in that occurs in the busy seasons of life on short weeks like this one. It's still a week's worth of work, but we just have fewer days to do it. Turning the corner on this Thursday, I have the overwhelming sensation that I'm behind on something - that I need to catch up before the weekend so I can relax.

Sip. Yesterday was tough. I had one of those days where all of my insecurities just jumped on my back and stayed with me throughout all of my dealings with people. Little dark, nagging thoughts bouncing around in my brain. Am I working hard enough? Am I asking good questions? Am I making this simpler for them, or just more confusing? Am I managing my time and staying on top of things? Am I too silly in meetings, or am I too serious?

And a chat tool like slack probably makes things worse. You can't feel the warmth in a room when you crack a joke or say something crass. You don't get the appreciative nods rewarding a valuable explanation. And all of your words are right there on the screen in permanent black and white, like a big cold hunk of meat on an operating table waiting to be dissected.

Insecurity is tough. It would be nice if I could just fix it. It would be great if all these thoughts flowed from a single false syllogism in my brain, and I could pluck it out. I wish I could fix my insecurity by introducing little daily or weekly regiment into my life, like cleaning my coffee machine or doing push-ups at night. It certainly feels better to write about it. Thanks for the therapy session, reader. And now I've spent so much time on the first topic in my notes, I'm out of coffee.

Sip. That's better. Throughout the day yesterday, it seemed like Ziggy and I were kindred spirits, each dealing with our own negative thoughts. Ollie was at de kantoor van de dierenarts (or "Veterenarian's office") all day yesterday getting his teeth cleaned. Without her brother, Ziggy moped and wandered around the house like a... Ah, I can't really say lost puppy, can I? She was a lost puppy.

For most of the morning, Ziggy remained curled up at the corner of the bed, casting her big droopy eyes at the back of my head while I worked. Later in the morning, I felt a familiar sharp jab from a tiny finger.

"DADA, guess what I have," said Rodney. He had a small bundle of papers jutting out from behind his back. I slipped my headphones off my head and turned to focus on him.

"What. Show me," I replied, smiling.

Rodney unfurled his papers. An orderly phalanx of uppercase B's and lowercase b's made with crayon. He held them out in front of me, awaiting praise.

"Dude, you made these? This is awesome," I said.

"And we played with a BALLOON," said Rodney.

"And do you know why we played with a balloon?" called up Marissa from the living room.

"Because it's a BALLOON," replied Rodney, without thinking.

Marissa replied quietly. "No, dude. It starts with B."

Rodney's little traveling letters road show has become the highlight of my mornings. I've started to collect his letters on a stack beside my desk. "Dude, you're just killin' it with these letters," I encouraged.

The work day proceeded. There was a code bug blocking my task, so I switched gears to see if I could fix it. I latched on to the problem, and focused on hit so hard that heading downstairs for lunch, I felt like I was stumbling out of a time machine.

Things mellowed out in the afternoon. I got my notes in order, caught up on emails, and before I knew it, it was time to shut the laptop and start cooking.

Thank God for cold weather, and thank God for soup. Over the summer, I had forgotten the simple joy of making a comforting pot of soup. I love how soup smells when you start sweating the vegetables in the pot. I love how you can hang out and chat while it simmers. I love how imprecise and flexible and forgiving it is. Yesterday I made a batch of roasted butternut squash soup. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to use the stick blender again.

After dinner, Rodney and I set the electric piano up at the table for his very first "school-at-home" music class.

"Dada, why we doing this?" asked Rodney.

"This is school," I said.

"No," said Rodney correcting me. "I had school with Momma. I made a B."

"I remember, dude. The b's were awesome. But you have school with Momma and with Dada too. We're learning piano."

Rodney and I tinkered with the piano for the duration of our twenty minute lesson. Some of my ideas worked, and some of them didn't. He seemed to like clapping to a metronome, but my little game of "sing the note you hear" was a huge bust.

"I think he keeps losing the keys," said Marissa. "Maybe you could put some tape over them?"

"Oh, that's a good idea, Momma," I said. "OK dude, I'm going to put three pieces of tape over these three keys. These are your keys."

"Um, let's do the white ones," said Rodney.

I laughed. "No, we're going to do the black ones - I'm running the show, dude."

Taking turns, we played a little melody on his three black keys. "We just need one finger now, like how Blippi pets a sea urchin," I explained.

Before heading to bed, Marissa and I exchanged notes.

"I like how you were just trying things to see what stuck," said Marissa.

"Yeah, my plan was to just kind of feel it out today and see what he had the focus for," I replied.

"So what I've noticed that seems to work is making him feel like we're working on it together," said Marissa. "He has a hard time focusing when he feels like you're just telling him what to do."

"Very true," I laughed. "I think you're onto something. Whatever you're doing is working, because he really likes the letters. Maybe we'll try to figure out how to play a little duet together."

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