Friday, November 6 2020

stress, six months, and feeling smug about pizza



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. If you ask me, I think we all deserve some accolades for making it through a week like this. A tense presidential race. Murmurs of riots. Conspiracy theories. An endless flood of angry social media posts. Can you imagine what you would have thought back in 2016 if someone went through a time machine to show you the headline, "Anderson Cooper just called Trump an obese turtle flailing on its back in the hot sun?"

Last night before bed as I dutifully threaded a bloody floss string between each of my teeth, Marissa mused about election stress.

"It's a different kind of stress," said Marissa. "It feels different, and it's like I don't know what to do with it. I'm used to combating stress in other parts of my life, but fear about an unstable government... it's different."

I spit into the sink. "That's a good point," I said. "It's like a new kind of stress that my body and my brain weren't ready for, and it's just a whole new thing you need to learn how to counteract."

It's also weird watching how stress can permeate your house and your family. For obvious reasons, Marissa and I are on edge. My patience with Rodney runs thin. I've having trouble focusing on work and chores, it goes without saying that has spilled over into my focus on Rodney's playtime and his silly stories. It's no wonder why Rodney is stressed too.

Mysteriously, even Miles seems to be more stressed. Last night, while Marissa was teaching a remote art lesson in the basement, I put Miles down in his crib for a nap time. Both Rodney and I tried to relax around the living room in futility while Miles screamed in anguish from his bedroom.

"Sorry dude," I said to Rodney over the wailing. "I think Miles' teeth are growing."

"No, not growing," said Rodney. "They're cutting." Rodney reached over my lap to grab the baby monitor, mashing the mute button with his thumb. He leapt off the couch and reached for his loud yellow dump truck. He gritted his teeth and ran the wheels across the carpet. The truck flashed, blinked, and honked, spewing bombastic around the room. It was almost like he was dealing with his own stress by playing with his loudest toy to drown out the sound of his brother crying. After putting Rodney to bed, Marissa turned a corner into the living room.

"Hey," I said sleepily from the couch. "How was the lesson?"

"It was good," said Marissa. "A friend of mine from Australia. She's very chill. Did you know that over there coronavirus is basically gone?"

"No kidding," I replied.

"Yeah," Marissa nodded. "She said everything is pretty much back to number. The numbers are down and people are going to pubs and restaurants again."

"Sheesh," I sighed. "Hard not to be jealous of that."

With Rodney's forgotten Corgi stuffed animal in hand, Marissa trudged up the stairs to deliver it to him in bed. She returned a moment later.

"He was already asleep," she laughed.

I turned on my side to glance my phone. "You're kidding me," I chuckled. "I probably put him to bed twenty minutes ago."

In other news, baby Miles officially hit six months. Marissa took some silly photos of him propped up in his bedroom chair. Yesterday was also the first day we could try giving him solid-ish food. We had a good feeling at first. Marissa lugged our high chair up from the basement. Wearing a fresh outfit and a bib, Miles looked ready for a new adventure. But after twenty minutes of failed spoon feeding, his courage faltered and we punted on the milestone.

"He just didn't understand why he wasn't allowed to hold the spoon," said Marissa. "And he said milk is way easier."

You have to commend Miles for trying something new, especially in the painful throws of teething. And likewise, you can't blame him for just wanting to stick to the status quo. Maybe just for another week or so. Just enough to get him through this stressful election season.

For dinner, I made a thin crust pizza. While Marissa and Rodney napped on the couch in a dark living room in front of the flickering TV, I rolled out the pillowy pizza dough into two medium sized thin crust pies. After the first pizza baked in the oven, I called Marissa and Rodney over to the dining room. We said a quick dinner table prayer, then we ravenously and silently ate.

"This pizza is ridiculous," said Marissa. "It literally tastes like we just ordered a pizza."

"I know," I said, grabbing a napkin from behind me. "Fair warning, I'm feeling really smug about it."

Just getting through a pizza recipe is something to be proud of. I think that's a reasonably difficult milestone for home cooking. But making a good pizza? That's a whole other level of confidence, and frankly it's difficult to come back down to earth afterwards.

"Everything about it just feels so cool," I said. "I love all the little tricks. I love the way the peel looks on the counter dusted with corn meal. I love the little flick you do with your wrist to slide it onto the stone."

"I want this one," said Rodney reaching over the table for a fresh slice. He handed me his saliva soaked wedge of bare crust. "You can have this one, dada."

"This is sacrilege," I laughed pretending to scold him. "And it's disgusting. I'm still going to eat this though."

Welp, I think it's time to begin the day. We ran out of coffee this morning after I selfishly drank our last pot myself while writing. Miles has already begun angrily yelling at our bedroom ceiling, and I'm sure we're only a few minutes away from Rodney whining to come out of his room as well. Here's to Friday, here's to reaching the end of this crummy week, and here's to (maybe) putting this election to rest today. Wouldn't it be amazing if we didn't have to think about it this weekend?

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