Friday, October 23 2020

stressful dreams, red sauce, and a real life mayor humdinger



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Friday. Wonderful Friday. Perfect Friday. Sweet release from the work week, standing at the pearly gates, leading me to the magical land of sleeping in, drinking coffee on the couch, and leaving my work laptop in the darkest corner of my house.

I've had a pretty stressful work week. I tend to react to stress with denial, and convincing myself that I can stay on top of things, I push it down. Make a todo list, take notes, set reminders, get the calendar in order. Optimize optimize optimize.

And when you suppress stress, it tends to mysteriously leak out of your life in other ways. I sit at the computer for too long with a stiff neck and I get a back spasm. I don't sleep as well. I have incredibly weird nightmares.

In last night's nightmare, Marissa and I fell victim to a roving band of Hollywood celebrities that were terrorizing our neighborhood. In one moment, I was standing out in my front yard grilling sausages when a very friendly hippy approached me, handing me a funny looking cigarette. We imbibed, and as he chatted me up, figures wearing Halloween masks, capes, white sheets, and costumes shuffled past us into our house. Realizing this was all a diversion, I broke away from the friendly hippy to defend my house, where masked celebrities like Gillian Jacobs and Ken Jeong had trashed our home and hidden various bizarre booby traps in our closets and under our furniture. Little sticks of dynamite, exposed nails, and rat traps with dangerous chemicals. As Marissa and I spun in the middle of our bedroom in a bewildered panic, I saw Tom Cruise pass through our hallway wearing one of the masks from Eyes Wide Shut. Kumail Nanjiani sprang out of my closet and attacked me, and the last memory I had before waking up was lying on my back on the floor, trying to fend him off with an axe. I woke myself with my own muttering.

It was so bad, Ziggy was curled up beside my head out of concern. When our eyes met, she swatted the pillow with her tail out of relief.

The worst part of it all was that I woke up only five minutes before my alarm would go off anyway. So I didn't even get to enjoy the moment that moment of bliss where you tiredly get a glass of water and effortlessly sail back to sleep.

I would have appreciated at least a little power nap to shake it off. But here we are, regardless. In one moment, I'm trying to mar Dinesh from Silicon Valley with an axe, and in the next I'm getting ready to start the work day.

To sum up, I could use a long, quiet weekend. And judging by the subject matter of my nightmare, maybe I should lay off of twitter and reddit a bit too.

Sip. So how's it going for you? Have any weird dreams lately? And how was your Thursday? I had a lovely late morning, sleeping in and taking the extra time to relax and enjoy myself. After writing I lingered around the house a little longer in my bathrobe drinking coffee and staring out the window. I stretched out my morning routine. I worked for two hours before taking a break for lunch.

For dinner I planned on cutting up a chicken and frying some thin cutlets in a French vinegar and onion sauce. But piercing the plastic on the refrigerated bird, the off smell gave me doubts.

How long is a chicken good for, I punched into google. The result, one to two days, highlighted in bold on the search page. Sighing, I shoveled the wet bird right into the garbage can.

I really goofed things up with fridge food this week. Earlier last week I stuck two fresh chickens in the fridge, thinking I'd be able to go through them before their time was up. But somehow I missed them in the meal planning. We didn't eat either of them in time.

Marissa wandered through the kitchen and caught me standing over the garbage looking stressed.

"Do you want to order out tonight?" she asked.

"No," I sighed. "We'll figure something out."

Scanning the fridge, I found a few stalks of celery, a carrot, and an andouille sausage. Retrieving a bright yellow can of tomatoes from the pantry, I leaned into the comforting routine of making red sauce. Diced sausage in the ban with butter. Sweated onion, carrots, and celery. Tomato paste, garlic, and a few squirts of miso.

And just for fun, I added a splash of cognac. If you ever get the chance, stand over a hot pan with butter and vegetables and dump in a shot of cognac. In that moment, it's impossible to be mad about anything. The smell is comforting and spiritual, and it feels prayerful in a weird way. Ah, but maybe wait a few seconds for all the alcohol to evaporate first, otherwise you might get a different kind of spiritual experience.

By the time Marissa crossed through the kitchen again, I was in my red sauce happy place. The blended tomatoes happily gurgling in the pot, velvety and glistening, swirling with the fat from the diced sausage.

"It's a little spicy," I said to Marissa, holding out a spoonful for her to taste. "Rodney is going to hate it, but all we had in the fridge was an andouille sausage."

"Oh he'll be fine," laughed Marissa. "It's good for him."

After dinner, we played a game of jenga. I set baby Miles' chair in the center of the dinner table like a decoration. He giggled, undoubtedly feeling like the center of attention. Rodney, first to take a turn at the tower, started to pull the very top brick.

"You can't do that," chided Marissa. "You have to pick a brick from underneath."

"What a wingus," I jeered.

"No YOU'RE a wingus," retorted Rodney.

Marissa took Rodney upstairs for a bubble bath. I flopped on the couch with the remote and watched some of the debate. Marissa would later let Rodney come downstairs and watch it with us. Even though it was well past his bedtime, we wanted to make sure he had some memories of political events.

"That guy right there," said Marissa. "Is like a real life mayor Humdinger." Rodney nodded with understanding.

"Yeah dude," I said. "He's a real wingus."

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a great Friday.