Monday, March 8 2021

the bubble, the tent, and the royal family



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Monday. It’s my first day off pager duty after a long, paranoid two week shift. Just knowing that I don’t have to be ready for a server alarm makes me physically relaxed. I can feel myself sinking a little further into my writing chair. It feels like I have all the time in the world. This morning, I’ll gather my thoughts, enjoy plenty of coffee, and quietly work on a task in my cozy upstairs computer fortress.

So it’s Oliver’s birthday today. The old cheese is seven. Marissa and I joked that seven years in our household is only good enough to marry the uglier daughter Leah. Call it trickery, but if he wants a whack at Rachel, he’ll have to give us another seven years, and that’s a Biblical precedent.

I think I pretty much hit it out of the park with his birthday present. I’ve gotten to know Ollie a bit over these last seven years of him being my son. Something told me that his foremost birthday wish was to eat his breakfast at his own pace without needing to worry about his greedy sister finishing first and trying to steal extras. So when the dogs were done with their morning bathroom break, I held Ziggy back with my foot and escorted the birthday boy to his food bowl. I had grated a little fresh parmesan cheese on top of his dry food. Between swallows, he looked back at his Ziggy just to make sure she was still trapped behind the back door. When he was finished, Ollie waltzed upstairs to our bedroom for his morning nap in his secluded crate as he usually does, but he had an extra full belly and a goofy smile plastered on his face.

So Ziggy is pissed. This is already the worst day of her life, and she doesn’t even know how bad it’s about to get. She’ll have to endure her brother getting to pick out his own special dessert too. It’s just one day Ziggy - tomorrow you’ll be the princess of the castle again.

Sip. So how was the weekend? Ours was full - exhausting and relaxing all at the same time. Friday was our very exciting family date night. After work wrapped for the day, we packed into our single upstairs bathroom to make ourselves presentable to the outside world. We put the dogs away and headed out into the car. It felt so strange all being in the car at the same time. Marissa sat parked at the base of the driveway for a full thirty seconds until we were convinced that we weren’t forgetting anything and that nothing was wrong.

The host at the brewery escorted us to our private plastic bubble. It was surreal climbing into was essentially just looked like an play-fort for adults. There was a zipper door, outdoor chairs and couches, little flapped windows for fresh air, and a tiny heater in the corner that kept the air at a balmy temperature. As soon as I zipped the door behind me, Rodney tore off his jacket and shoes and threw them on the floor.

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There was a beer menu on the table. We were nested next to a busy road, but the thick cellophane walls made the cars whizzing by sound like thunder in the distance. And so we began our 90 minutes in a submarine of comfort. We ordered a round of drinks. Marissa and I got beers, and we treated Rodney to a bottle of apple juice that had a decorative Little Mermaid head for the spout. We got a bag of cheese curds and some pretzels.

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Beyond just ordering drinks and snacks, we didn’t know how to behave. I’m afraid it’s painfully obvious from the pictures that we were so comfortable, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

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On Saturday, I took a week off the programming stream so we could get a jump on setting up the tent. Marissa was beginning to apply for art shows, and as part of the application she needed to submit a photograph of her finished booth. We were due for nice weather on Saturday, and it was also a great opportunity to learn how the pile of metal rods, joints, and shiny fabric actually came together into a tent. Our neighbors were nice enough to move their cars out of the driveway so we could build everything out. Rodney supervised, and by that I mean he ran around in circles.

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We made quick work of the tent, but it felt like we spent more time talking to neighbors than we did actually setting it up. It was the first nice day of the year, and pretty much everyone was outside. Neighbors from our street poured out of their houses to cautiously check out the tent from a safe distance. That’s to be expected - you can’t just go setting up an art tent at the base of your driveway and not expect some people to come check it out.

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Little Dutch boy belly-riding a skateboard not included.

The neighbor kids trickled out of their houses. After asking us if it was OK, Rodney put on a mask and introduced re-introduced himself to his neighbors Derrick and Talia. They took turns riding scooters and skateboards. They played contact free tag. They threw burrs at each other. He was so exhausted that he fell asleep during his afternoon quiet time, and I don’t even remember the last time that happened.

Before I go - I have a quick question for you. Are you following this drama with the royal family? If you are, then congratulations - you’re my chump of the week. Look, I don’t even know what’s going on over there - something about prince Harry and a baby and I know Oprah is involved. I could give a crap about what’s happening, and do you know why? Because I’m an American, and it’s my duty to not give a crap. It’s not your country, you chump. Besides, it’s no secret that the royal family doesn’t really do anything anyway. At their best, they raise a few corgis and throw big weddings, but if you ask me they have no business in our tabloids or talking to our Oprah.

Royal family - you’re all a bunch of chumps. And that goes double for anyone paying attention to them.

Have a nice week, everyone.