Friday, May 14 2021

happy hour, wyatt kalynuk, and ball pit drama

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Congratulations on making it to Friday. If you're on the same vaccination timeline as I am, than we just passed the fourteen day mark and we're probably going to have an excellent weekend. We're celebrating tonight by taking the boys to Dave & Busters.

"What's Dave & Buster's?" asked Mimi on yesterday's Duo call after dinner.

"It's this place with video games and prizes over by the mall," said Marissa.

"It's basically a casino for children," I added.

"What are you doing for dinner?" asked Mimi.

"We're just eating at Dave & Busters," said Marissa. "It's kind of like a mix between Buffalo Wild Wings and Chuck E. Cheese."

I nodded to Marissa in approval of the apt comparison. "We'll eat their terrible food, and then we gamble with their fake money."

You could argue that we've been looking forward to this all year. To our family, Dave & Busters isn't just a place to eat thawed chicken fingers and teach children to gamble. It's a milestone. It's a distant goal. A lighthouse in the storm. Our silly trip tonight is a symbolic gesture of our family returning to a more normal world.

On to more pressing matters. Last night while getting ready for bed, Marissa and I got distracted by the super worms box on my shelf. It's fascinating watching the patterns emerge. Most times I look at the box, all the worms are beneath the surface. But every two days or so they emerge to explore, eat, and sniff each other.


Two prominent fatso's take an evening stroll around the pasture.

Some of them are starting to get fat. After about a month or so, I may attempt to turn the fatter ones into beetles. These worms are just the larval stage of the darkling beetle. It sounds cruel, but to trigger the next stage of their development, they have to be separated from the other worms, kept somewhere dark without food.

One thing's for sure - the decorative plastic car was a dumb idea. They don't seem to mind the little Mad Max shrine in the corner, but each time I reposition the car it just ends up sinking below the surface of the oats. I will probably just give it to Rodney - after a thorough bleaching, of course.

Sip. I get the feeling I've put you through enough worm talk. How did your Thursday go? Yesterday I got to meet three out of our four interns. Around the office, we've had this running joke that the interns aren't real, and we have lots of fun making up our own conspiracy theories. When we are on calls together, perhaps it's just an AI sending generated audio and video data over the wire. Maybe they are just paid actors helping Zendesk conduct a long running loyalty test. Maybe they are just manifestations of my own work stress, or a regular ol' case of mass hysteria.

Well, I can be sure that at least three of them are real. I met them after work on the terrace for a beer. The "terrace" is a regular hangout for UW students, but I had only been there one other time. For me, it was an exciting adventure that involved parking in a new parking garage and taking a sunny walk through an unfamiliar, youthful part of town.

We found an empty table together. In no time, we found the same group chemistry we share on zoom calls, but it's so much more fulfilling in person. To feel the table shake while people laugh, to watch their eyes while they're telling a story. Even pouring beer out of the same plastic pitcher felt intimate and special.


As we were talking, a pair of students lumbered by. One of them stopped to give Connor a fist bump, and they had a brief side conversation. After the stranger wandered away, Connor filled us in.

"I took Swedish with that dude," said Connor. "He's Swedish and he already spoke the language. He's a hockey player I think."

I jumped in. "Did you know hockey is huge in Sweden?" I feel like the NHL is just pillaging them right now. The Blackhawks just picked up this rookie, this Swedish kid from UW actually. Wyatt Kalynuk."

Connor's eyes bulged across the table. He glanced down at his phone. "That guy's name is Wyatt," he said. "Yeah, that's him. Wyatt Kalynuk." And that's how I sort of got to meet one of the players we had been watching all quarantine.

Back at home, Miles and Rodney were enjoying the spoils of their new ball pit. They must have spent all day in that thing.


Marissa bought a reload of plastic balls. During his quiet time, Rodney scooted the plastic car filled with balls into his room. Out of boredom, he filled it with every toy he owned. When it came time to clean his room, the thin framed car was bursting at the seams. Rodney dumped his metal cars into it. He dumped some of his k'nex into it. He dumped his Paw Patrol action figures and vehicles into it. Marissa began to tease through the mess while Rodney sat on his bed in his pajamas, waiting for a bedtime story.

"Hey, will you help me with this?" said Marissa. I got up from my computer chair and joined her in Rodney's bedroom.

"I just... I don't know what to do right now," she sighed. "Dude, you... you can't do this." She began to unzip the car and pull toys out.

"Well don't just dump everything out," I said. "He's gotta go to bed, we'll be doing this for hours."

We were frustrated with Rodney, but after talking it through, we concluded it wasn't his fault. We hadn't laid any ground rules about the car ball pit. Rodney wouldn't have been able to anticipate the consequences of filling the car with more toys.

"We'll have Rodney sort the toys tomorrow." I said. I turned to Rodney. "You're going to help momma clean this up. You guys can put on some rock music and have a fun cleaning party. And from now on, just balls go in the ball pit."

Ball pit drama, huh? Have a great Friday, everybody.