Monday, May 17 2021

snuggling, hobby highs, and barbecue chips

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Dear Journal,

Hello, everybody, and happy Monday. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to this past weekend. We took a family trip to Dave & Busters on Friday, had the laziest possible day we could on Saturday, and we drove out to Kelly and Jeremy's place on Sunday to send them off before they move to Iowa. It was all deeply nourishing, entertaining, and relaxing.

Even though I'm physically right where I'm supposed to be, I'm just not mentally there yet. My brain wants to revert back into weekend mode. I want to pour another cup of coffee, browse the internet for twenty minutes, then climb into this picture and take a nap.


Ziggy and Minnie are becoming a dynamic duo of snuggling. It was meant to be - Ziggy is always cold, and Minnie is always hot. Eventually they figured out they could use each other to redistribute the temperature. It's a snuggling yin and yang.

Sip. Ugh. Stayed up too late again. Marissa and I are in the throws of what we call a "hobby high". Every few weeks, our creative pursuits sync up - I take up a new side project at the same time Marissa gets fired up about a new art experiment. We feed off each other's energy and focus. We run interference for each other with chores and kids. We also stay up way too damn late. It's like a game of chicken to see who can push the limits of bedtime further.

We enjoy these hobby highs. Even if it means sacrificing some sleep, you can always pad the difference with a nap later in the week. Besides, the world feels way too exciting now to justify going to bed early. We're going places. We're seeing people. We're exchanging hugs and handshakes. Reconnecting with people over the past week has breathed new life into our routine and I feel like it has left me with an energy surplus.

Sip. So how are you feeling today? Does it feel like your life is starting to open back up again? We had an action packed weekend, kicking things off with a bang at Dave & Busters. Marissa and I passed a delirious and drooly Miles back and forth between us while we followed Rodney around the darkly blinking paradise. We crashed motorcycles. We blasted aliens with machine guns. We pelted clowns with baseballs.


The cavalry has arrived!

Yesterday, we took a long family road trip to Lombard. Before we departed, we threw a small cleaning party to ensure we'd come home to a clean house. That's become my favorite move for weekend road trips. After enduring a screaming Miles and a talkative Rodney for two hours, arriving home a whole 60 minutes after bedtime, it sure helps to already have the house all cleaned up.

The Flinkman's are moving to Iowa exactly one week from today. We were also honoring Jeremy, who had just graduated dental school and landed a new job. We left our masks in the car. The dogs bolted around their spacious fenced in yard. Rodney went straight for their trampoline and playground.


Without masks, parties are so easy. I wasn't worried about my glasses fogging up, my mask falling beneath my nose, or being able to keep enough distance between people. I was just there to enjoy the company.

Holding a paper plate of food, my Mom made her way over to me and leaned in like she had a guarded secret. "Do you know what the best thing about parties are?" She paused, waiting for me to guess.

"What's that?" I asked.

"You can eat BARBECUE CHIPS," she answered in a hushed whisper. "You can eat them, and it's FINE because it's a party."

While the application to barbecue chips may be a little too specific for you, I think my mother's non sequitur observation still captures what our family is feeling in a more general way. You can enjoy things again, and it's fine. You can leave the house. You can go to parties. Yes, you can eat barbecue chips too.

I also got to reconnect with my Auntie Bonnie and Uncle Nick, who we haven't seen in person all of quarantine. We hugged and chatted. I had a side conversation with Auntie Bonnie while helping myself to potato salad.

"I almost hate to say it Alex, but I like this whole Zoom thing," she said with a confident smile. "It's kind of empowering."

I nodded enthusiastically. "I felt the same way!" I replied. "I liked working remote so much that I switched permanently."

For dessert, Sarah broke into her homemade key lime pie and her little dark chocolate brownies. Since the small scare we had with Ziggy at Miles' last birthday party, Sarah has coined them as Ziggy brownies. Ziggy is just fine now, by the way. She got to enjoy that brownie twice, the second time it was going the other way paired with peroxide.

Sarah also sent me home with one of her first loaves of sourdough bread. "I want you to be honest with me," she said. "Tell me what I can improve, I want to get better."

"I'm not going to Gordon Ramsay your bread Sarah," I laughed. "Bread is all about quantity. Just keep making it."

Miles, our quarantine baby, still has a short tolerance for social gatherings. He reached his threshold on the drive home. He filled our dark, cramped car with angry screams.

"He's just over-tired," said Marissa. She reached into the back seat to offer him a finger. On another car trip we took with Miles, Marissa discovered that you can curb this over-tired cry by letting him hold your hand. Miles gripped her pinky and fell silent. After her arm fell asleep, I took a turn. After over an hour of driving, Miles finally drifted off to sleep and released my finger. Marissa and I quietly laughed while I shook my hand back to life.

Thanks for stopping by today, have a -

Record scratch. You didn't think I would forget about chump of the week, did you? This weeks chump goes to whoever is responsible for the Photo Booth at Dave & Busters. Remember? The one that ate our dollar bill?


Marissa recounted that she had that dollar in her purse since 2019. Think of all the things that dollar has been through, only to be laid to rest inside of a crummy photo booth at Dave & Busters. Not only did the machine warn us that there was nothing we could by for anything short of four dollars, but there was also no way to get the dollar back. We had no other choice but to donate it.

Just before we left, I saw a little stack of photos that somebody abandoned. They were unforgivably small, compressed, and pixelated. The color was washed out. I'm glad we only had to spend a dollar to learn that the photos weren't worth four dollars.

Dave & Busters, for that photo booth alone, you're my chumps of the week. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day, everyone.