Wednesday, November 4 2020

election stress, bossy monster trucks, and a makeshift sound booth

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Wednesday. How are you feeling today?

This morning is a struggle. I didn't sleep very well last night, waking up at least twice in a feverish sweat. On top of everything, against our better judgment, we stayed up late watching election results.

The numbers this morning look pretty much the same as the way things did last night. But isn't it funny how you get sucked in? Before we knew it, we were opening a bottle of wine to calm our nerves and pacing around the dining room. The only speaking voice heard in our house was John King endlessly running through fragmented possibilities on his big magic electoral map.

At 12:10 AM, my phone buzzed and began to ring the Closing Time jingle - our cue to head upstairs to bed.

"Why don't we give it an extra half hour, just to see if anything changes," I said, sliding a button on my phone, silencing the alarm.

Ziggy immediately protested. She has become so conditioned that when she hears Closing Time, she jumps off her comfy chair and trots around the living room of the house, like an impatient princess waiting for her escort up to her bedroom. With her eyes narrowed and her ears swept straight back, she proceeded to scold me. She barked loudly and sharply, bunching the fur around her shoulders up by her neck.

"Momma, Ziggy is yelling at us," I said tiredly. "I think we're going to get in trouble if we don't head upstairs to bed."

Sip. Election stress is the worst, isn't it? I feel like a shell of a person right now, and at this moment I really have no idea how I'm supposed to continue to function. For the people who clamor about how election day needs to be a national holiday, I'd add to that, why don't we just make it a whole week?

I'll tell you who had a great day yesterday. Rodney discovered a new TV show, and while we were distracted by the election all day, he had his fill of Blaze and the Monster Machines. From the time he woke up to the time he sat down to dinner, the Blaze and the Monster Machines theme song quietly thumped out of the living room speaker. I joined him on the couch for a brief midday coffee break.

"So tell me what's going on here," I said to Rodney.

"That's blaze," said Rodney pointing to the animated monster truck without taking his eyes off the screen.

"Uh huh," I nodded. "And how about the little kid driving him? Who is that."

"Um, I think that's AJ," said Rodney.

Blaze, AJ, and their friend Gabby were waiting for a waterfall to freeze over so they could use grappling hooks to climb to the top. For the next few minutes, as they inched up the mountain, one of the sharp icicles would wiggle, and Blaze would prompt the audience for help identifying which climber needed to jump out of the way.

Marissa passed through the living room.

"You guys watching some Blaze?" she asked.

"Yeah, I didn't know it was one of those... you know... 'bossy shows'," I chuckled. "Blaze really likes staring at the camera and telling you what to do, kind of like that awkward thing Dora the Explorer likes to do."

I'll give them credit. They do a nice job mixing in nuggets of science and math. As Blaze and his crew were trying to evade a pack of roving bighorn trucks, they asked the kids to help them remember the freezing point of water. Rodney stared blankly while they counted down to zero degrees Celsius. Having tried to tackle the concept of solids, liquids, and gases with Rodney earlier this year in lieu of preschool learning, I know how difficult that is to explain. Maybe the missing ingredient in my lesson plan was a bossy animated monster truck.

After lunch, we went for a long family walk around the block. Doubling back at the end of our street, a friendly neighbor flagged us down.

"Mind if my dog says 'hello' to your dogs?" he called from several houses away. Turning on our heels, we waffled the decision.

"Is your dog friendly?" asked Marissa. The guy nodded, then brought out his dog to meet us.

"His name is Tombo," said our neighbor. Tombo indifferently sniffed at Ollie. Ziggy lunged forward, making her leash taut.

"How old is Tombo?" asked Marissa.

"Tombo is fourteen," he replied. "I used to have a pair of dogs, but the other recently passed away. It's been difficult for him to adjust, but I think meeting other dogs helps."

Rodney took over for the rest of the conversation. Our new friend politely fielded questions about his age, his late Halloween costume, and why he had so many leaves in his yard.

"You have to rake them up in a big pile," said Rodney, genuinely concerned over his yard.

"I think I'm going to use my lawn mower," he replied.

"Oh, a lawn mower," said Rodney. "What color is your lawn mower?"

"Green," he laughed.

"Um, excuse me," said Rodney. "Ours is black."

"Rodney is a very skilled conversationalist," I explained. "He could probably ask you these questions all day."

Back at home, I joined Rodney on the couch for some more Blaze episodes while Marissa cooked dinner. I drifted off to sleep right in the middle of a tense plot arch in which Blaze had to deliver medicine to his crew to combat the dreaded sneezles.

After putting Rodney to bed, Marissa and I set up a makeshift sound booth at the dining room table. Recording good audio samples for her promo got more silly and more difficult as we reached the bottom of our bottle of wine.

"OK, try again," I said, hitting the record button.

Marissa stammered. "Can you say 'action' when it's..."

"Action," I said rolling my eyes.

"When I'm painting, I feel like I'm in a different place," said Marissa with poise.

"That's really good," I said loudly within earshot of the microphone, intentionally ruining the recording. Marissa's nose wrinkled. She stopped to laugh mid sentence.

"OK, action," I said. Marissa took a deep breath. "That means you can start talking... right now... so go for it," I added. Marissa was laughing too hard to continue.

One of the takes we tried was a question and answer format. "I ask the questions, and then you answer, and we'll only keep your answers," I explained.

"So your voice won't be in it?" asked Marissa.

"Right. My questions will get cut out - it's just to help you sound more natural, like you're answering a question instead of just reciting something," I said, shifting in my seat. "OK let's try it."

The dining room fell silent. I tapped the record button on my computer. "OK, so tell me - how does art make you feel?" I asked, leaning forward in my chair.

Marissa blinked slowly and thoughtfully. "It makes me feel... like I'm in a different place," she said smiling. I started to laugh.

"What?" she said. "I thought that was really good."

"You just said it makes me feel," I laughed. "Remember, we're only playing your answers. They're not going to know what it is unless you say art. Otherwise this is going to sound like a car commercial."

Marissa launched into a terrible Matthew Mcconaughey. To her horror, I was still recording. I played it back to her on loop with the volume cranked to max.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day today.

2020 11 04 sound booth