Tuesday, November 3 2020

election day, rocky road bars, and extreme home office makeover



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Tuesday. How is your day going so far?

This morning, some guys are showing up to paint the panels of our house. Promising to show up some time between 8-9, that time window has about fifteen minutes of overlap with the intimate part of my morning routine where I clean up the kitchen wearing my matronly grey bath robe. I was preparing for the worst. If there was a knock on the door, I'd have no choice but to greet them in all my raw, robed, unshowered, pre-coffee splendor. Thanks goodness we're already in the later side of the appointment window and it didn't need to come to that.

Sip. How's it going? How do you feel about election day? I'm feeling a complicated cocktail of emotions. I feel a steady trip of anger and irritability, and the bombardment of political text messages and viral, sanctimonious PSA's from celebrities isn't helping. No matter what side you fall on in this election, there is one thing that unites us. It's that tonight at midnight marks the moment where we'll stop getting blown up by text messages and receiving dumb little daily fliers in the mail. Freedom.

I'm on edge today, and I think I'm going to have to lay low. It's a good thing that my work blocked off all meetings today to give people time to vote. Marissa and I voted a long time ago, dropping off our ballots in the nearby park, but I still appreciate the extra mental space to work on corralling all this angst and anxiety.

When I wasn't thinking about the election, I actually had a pretty enjoyable work day yesterday. It's hard to describe how wonderful it was to just show up to a meeting and listen, and being a newcomer on the team, it was totally in my right to do so. I did some talking too, but I'm mostly in learning mode.

In fact, I'm feeling proud that I found a way to mobilize my intern Connor in a way that benefits both of us. "Since we're both the new guys, how about this week we go on a fact finding mission," I wrote over slack. "We need to figure out what are team is building, what we've done so far, and what we'll be working on for the next few months. I'll do the research too, and at the end of the week, we'll compare notes."

I also called out some "snack work" for him to do if he gets bored. A "snack", as I explained, is sort of a joke term for busy work that's usually more fun and more interesting than regular work. Write a script to do something, learn how to use a new tool, prune your gmail filters, update your emacs plugins, clean up the files on your computer. You can avoid "snacks", or you can do what I do - use them to keep motivated and engaged while you slog through a bigger task.

And speaking of motivation, I'd like to give a shout out to Chef John's Rocky Road Bars. Dark chocolate, marshmallows, and almonds rolled together in a delectable frozen bar and dusted with cocoa powder. Marissa made a double batch this weekend, and we're probably working through the Tupperware bin twice as quickly.

"The best part about these is probably the cocoa powder," I said as we wolfed down an extra helping standing beside the freezer. "It's a nice little caffeine buzz to get your through the afternoon."

For dinner, I dragged out another favorite Chef John recipe for tomato bisque. Just some vegetables, chicken stock, blended tomatoes, and - get this - rice. The recipe called for a quarter cup of white rice, and even though everything gets blended together anyway, the rice adds just enough starch to give it a shimmer and a velvety texture.

After putting Rodney to bed, Marissa and I met upstairs to plan out the week. After finally biting the bullet on the dreaded car chores last weekend, we're free to take on some more interesting projects. This week we're officially kicking off our extreme home office make over. Phase 1: extending my desk all the way to the wall.

"And I hope you don't mind that I round the corners too," said Marissa, pointing to a corner of my desk. My neck stiffened. I stared at my desk with my brow furrowed.

"Can you... explain that again?" I asked.

"Just slightly, so we don't have the sharp corners," she explained.

"Oh OK," I said with hesitation. "As long as we don't lop off too much, I like to keep my coffee cup here."

Marissa patiently nodded.

"Sorry," I chuckled. "I'm a lot pickier about this area than I realized. I'm really excited, but you'll have to be patient with me."

After we extend the desk to the wall, we'll add a second chair. Marissa also wants to clean up some of the wall space around my computer, which between the random posters and all of Rodney's taped up alphabet practice sheets, could use a touch of design.

"Maybe I could even move my microphone to above the computer," I said leaning back in my chair. "Wouldn't that be nice? I could just pull it down whenever I need to use it."

Marissa wrinkled her nose and laughed. "Sort of like in a wrestling match?"

Along with the desk project, we're also tackling a new art video this week. Marissa is filming a short intro video. We cracked our heads together on some good questions to answer. Tonight, we're recording the audio and I'm going to try to layer it over some new footage of her working in the studio.

Busy week, but we're almost there. It's already Tuesday. I have a feeling we're about to slip into that part of the week that feels like the drop in a water slide. Before we know it, we'll be at the bottom, skittering on our butts into a comfortable weekend.

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