Friday, October 30 2020

my flowery coffee mug, meetings, and fixing the sink



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday! I'm excited for a long weekend, and even though I was griping out how dumb daylight savings time is in principal, you can't complain about it in practice. Here's to reaching the end of a long week, and here's to an extra hour of sleep getting folded somewhere into the rest.

Today I'm drinking coffee out of my new coffee traveler. Simple white metal, a handle, and a plastic lid with a sliding piece that goes over the mouth hole. The rim is also lined with a flower pattern.

One weekend we were working outside, and I still had some coffee in my mug to finish. Marissa offered to lend me her flower mug. I would spend the rest of the work session on-and-off raving about how perfect it was. Good size. Nice firm fitting lid. It magically holds your coffee to the perfect drinking temperature.

"I couldn't find any that don't have flowers on them," said Marissa at the computer. "You don't mind, do you?"

"I don't mind at all," I said. "It's 2020 - gender stereotypes are dead. Find me one that's hot pink and blush red if you can."

Finding a good coffee traveler is exciting, isn't it? The best ones are always discovered by accident. I remember not long ago, Marissa and I wanted to invest in some good coffee mugs we could take with us to church on Sundays. I found this pricey Japanese brand that everyone was raving about on reddit, so we ordered two of them. They had cool metallic colors. The machinery in the lid was so satisfying, it made you want to fiddle with it in between sips. But even at almost thirty bucks, the damn thing started to leak after only a few trips in the dishwasher, earning it a new home in the bottom of our garbage can.

Sip. Have you been hurt before by shiny, promising every day items that just end up leaking all over the place? Would you use a mug that was perfect, all except for a silly flower pattern around the side? And how was your Thursday?

The true work week feels like it ended sometime on Wednesday. Working for the last few days on a team that will be dissolved and absorbed on Monday, there's only so much you can actually work on. But yesterday felt productive, just for all the meetings I had. All day I floated between 1-on-1's with my old team and new team. We also met as a big group with all the interns that will be joining us this year.

"And then as a get-to-know-you question, we'll ask what is your favorite fall activity and what is your favorite thing to eat this time of year," read the manager who was leading the discussion. "Then offer a piece of advice for the interns."

"My wife and I have been watching a lot of movies," I said. "We've been doing it all quarantine, but I expect to step it up as it gets colder. And my favorite thing to eat is soup, specifically leek and potato."

Glancing at my laptop screen, I saw friendly nods packed in little zoom room squares.

"And advice..." I said, my voice trailing off. "I'm going to use a cliché, but a good one. Go with the flow. That's advice for interns, as well as anyone else trying to resume life in quarantine - me included."

I also had a nice informal chat with my new manager, Seth. Being a photography buff, he uses a high quality mirrorless camera mounted by his computer as a webcam.

"I feel like I'm in a sixty minutes interview," I laughed. "The light and focus is just absolutely perfect."

"I get that a lot," laughed Seth. "Like literally on every zoom call."

"It's funny, because I complain about how often people mention my arm microphone," I replied. "And I just realized, I'm just as guilty of it, sure enough your camera was the first thing I mentioned."

After work, I flopped on the couch to watch some YouTube. Marissa wandered through the living room.

"I was thinking about finally fixing the drippy sink," she said. "When were you planning on starting to cook?"

"It's actually perfect timing for you to do that," I groaned, rolling further under a blanket. "I'm just making stew, I could probably make it in fifteen minutes."

An hour later I emerged to get started. Marissa had the sink taken apart on the counter. Beneath her on the floor, Rodney piddled around with his own play tools.

"I... think I have to go to Home Depot," she said. "I bought the wrong size."

"Oh no problem," I said. "I still got lots of time, go do your thing."

Preparing for dinner without running water proved to be kind of a fun challenge. I carefully shaved a bulb of fennel over the garbage can. I peeled garlic. I blended a can of tomatoes with clam juice, setting the pitcher aside. By the time I was ready to peel the shrimp, Marissa slumped back into the house, scattering a pile of new parts on the counter.

"So, I didn't know what size to get," she said. "I know this is dumb, but I just bought a bunch of them."

"That seems reasonable to me," I said. "You're the expert - you just do your thing."

Marissa, ripped away the plastic and fastened it to the nozzle. She sighed with relief, feeling it click into place. Moving quickly, she spun the handle back onto the sink.

"I also just had to by temporary handles," she said. "I don't know what size these are."

Tightening the shiny chrome handle, she turned the water on. A fresh rush of water poured from the faucet. She reached for the handle and squeezed it shut.

"Moment of truth," she muttered. The water stopped - really stopped. No more annoying drip. Marissa fell backwards onto the floor with her arms raised in the air.

"You're my hero," I said. "Now pardon me, I'm going to defile the sink with shrimp guts."

Later that evening, we sent Rodney upstairs to get ready for bed. We heard a shriek from the bathroom.

"Momma!" yelled Rodney. "The water is LELLOW."

Marissa cracked a smile. "Oh, sorry dude. I shut the water off today, I'm coming up to fix it."

Marissa showed him how to run the water. "In an old house like ours," she explained. "When the water sits for too long in the pipes, it turns a gross color. But look, dude, all you gotta do is turn it on and let it run."

"It's CLEAR!" yelled Rodney.

As I put him to bed, I was curious to see how much Rodney had retained from the lesson in plumbing.

"What did you help Momma with today?" I asked.

"We fixed the drippies," He said. "The sink... was drippin', and we made it stop."

"That's awesome. Hey dude, why was the water yellow?" I asked.

Rodney began to wax poetic, filibustering with his own gibberish. But somewhere in the munged up mess of sounds, I distinctly heard water sits in the pipes. I told Marissa afterwards that her lesson had stuck.

"I heard that too," she said. "He was helpful today. He's a good listener."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Friday, everyone.