Sunday, September 27 2020

my seinfeld mug, snipping at rodney, and cleaning the garage

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy football Sunday. This morning, our plans for brunch with family were cancelled, and all of the sudden or active and social Sunday just became another day of hanging around and watching football. But such is COVID. Erring on the side of caution, all plans are tentative, at the mercy of a stuffy nose or a slight fever.

After cleaning up a potty disaster in Rodney's room, Marissa crashed on the couch for a well-earned nap with the dogs. Rodney is slinging arrows around the house while Blippi plays on the TV in the background. And I'm at the dining room computer writing.

Sip. It's been a relaxing weekend. I'm on call through Monday morning, so my phone has been at full volume within arm's reach all weekend. No pages yet, but vigilance is paramount.

On Friday, after work we took a long walk to the Biergarten. Amazingly we found a way to pack our three folding chairs, a picnic blanket, Rodney's toys, my laptop, as well as everything we need to keep a five month old baby happy - all without bogging down the enjoyable outdoor walk. The folding chairs slung beautifully over the handles of the stroller, almost as if they were designed to do that. And Rodney was happy to hide under the blanket in his plastic wagon.

We had drinks and took in the lovely fall weather with Alex and Cassie. Doing me a huge favor, Alex had grabbed the few remaining items off my desk back at the office while he was picking up his things. I knew that I had my other mechanical keyboard there, but he also managed to grab my Seinfeld mug.

My Seinfeld mug! The very same one I've had since Freshmen year of college. The mug that has followed me through three different jobs and close to a dozen living situations. You can go ahead and at "pandemic" and "downtown riots" to the growing list of what this silly, unconquerable coffee mug has survived.

2020 09 27 mug

The things this mug has seen...

Yesterday was mostly a quiet writing day. While Marissa and Ziggy got some agility practice in on the west side of town, I hung around the house with the boys to prepare my big Saturday journal entry.

Yesterday's story was one of those essays that took on a life of its own. Even though I had a clear idea of the tone, length, and overall thesis, sometimes the story I'm telling just takes over and guides me somewhere unexpected. I honestly thought yesterday's account would be a much easier, light-hearted read. But thanks to the crucible of the writing process, I discovered some hidden angst and suppressed anger.

"This guy sounded like such a jerk!" said Marissa, half way through the story.

"Yeah, I guess we was," I said, rubbing the back of my neck. "It's weird, I don't think I realized how mad I was about the whole thing."

My hellish driver's ed experience wasn't the only time I used humor to paint over something painful in my life. The scary part about getting older is how time corrodes away at this veneer of disingenuous humor, and some of the funny stories in my childhood turn to sad ones. I sometimes wonder how much I have yet to discover.

On top of everything, it was a difficult story to get out. My sense of balance between focusing on writing and spending time with the family was sort of thrown off, and as the afternoon started to encroach on dinner, I started to get snippy. From across the hallway, Rodney started to talk to me, asking "Dada? Need anything?" as he usually does. Normally I humor him and just reply "No, I'm good dude. Do you need anything?" But yesterday, immersed in focus, I regrettably shot him an angry glare and snapped my door shut.

I overheard him talking to Marissa downstairs. "Moma, dada is mad at me," he said.

"No - he's not mad at you. He's just writing," she said.

"No,' said Rodney, his eyes widening. "He really is mad at me."

I felt pretty crummy about it. "Sorry dude," I said kneeling down to meet him at eye level. "I shouldn't have snipped. Daddy is still figuring out how to write on Saturdays without being so grumpy."

Don't worry, everyone. We're cool now. We bumped fists, then went for a walk around the block, taking our absentee ballots with us. As part of Madison's "democracy in the park" event, the city is setting up ballot boxes and election officials all over Madison. One of these voting stations was in the small park across from our favorite liquor store.

"They packed up about a half hour ago," a neighbor told us. Just narrowly missed the window, but at least Rodney got a good bike ride, and we have next weekend as well.

After setting up Rodney with some quiet time, Marissa and I made our way back outside to clean the garage. Before we started, she showed me her phone, grinning. It was a notification from Google Photos with one of those "this week last year" albums, and wouldn't you know it? We were also cleaning our garage then too.

"We're creatures of habit," laughed Marissa. "Somehow we picked the exact same weekend to clean our garage."

I remember last year, it took us an entire day. Since we keep our garage in pretty good shape these days, it only took Marissa and I a little under an hour this time. We swept up, threw away some garbage, and consolidated our growing pile of spare rocks and pavers that we need to take to the quarry.

"I feel dumb for asking this," said Marissa, "but... we can dump rocks in the quarry, right?"

"We've been over this before," I teased. "It's a quarry. How the hell would we know what goes in a quarry and what doesn't? It never hurts to ask."

2020 09 27 garage

Still dilapidated, but at least it's clean.

Thanks for stopping by today. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some brunch to cook, and a Bears game to watch. Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone.