Friday, May 21 2021

hot-dog pizza, wet burritos, and mark the mason

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Dear Journal,

Happy Friday, everyone. We made it. Let's make a pact - today at five we're all shutting off our computers, chucking our phones in the corner of the room, and taking a long nap. Maybe even the dangerous kind of nap where you don't set an alarm. That kind of nap is not for the faint of heart. Are you prepared to wake up at 7 PM? 8 PM? 1 AM? Sometime around Saturday lunch? I say live dangerously, and pay back the sleep debt with reckless abandon.

It's good to be here on this clear Friday morning. We've got a busy work day ahead of us. I got back-to-back action all morning, so Marissa and Rodney are going to pick up the groceries from Hy-Vee. A sloppy, scatter-brained grocery list penned on the back of an envelope awaits them on the dining room table. But knowing those two, they will come back with lots of things that aren't on the list too.

Sip. I usually do a pretty good job taking pictures. I've made it a habit of taking my phone out for quick snapshots to capture all the silly happenings around the house. The pictures help me remember all the things we did, and it's easier to write about. Each morning before writing I check Marissa's Google Photos page too, picking out my favorites.

Yesterday, we utterly dropped the ball. The only photo I took was of this freakish Chicago dog themed slice of pizza.


You can almost feel my enthusiasm as I was about to dive into this meal. That enthusiasm would quickly dissipate. It wasn't life changing, nor offensive. This specialty slice was kind of a one-time thing. I felt the same way about the Thanksgiving pizza with turkey, cranberries, and stuffing. I felt the same way about the macadilla pizza with macaroni and cheese arranged around a quesadilla melted on top. Same goes for the ravioli pizza, the barbecue brisket tater tot pizza, and the chicken alfredo pizza. They all have the same effect of putting a bunch of different flavored jelly beans in your mouth.

If you ask me, the correct way to enjoy Ian's pizza is a single, fresh slice of pepperoni on two paper plates. Don't even sit down or order anything else with it. Just fold it in half long-ways and eat it quickly, like you are trying to cover up a crime.

I'm a little too hard on Ian's. The chicago dog pizza wasn't so forgettable. I appreciated the neon relish and the sport peppers. Knowing how many of those I can eat right out of the jar, it would be hypocritical to turn my nose up at eating them off a pizza. What's the difference, it's all just food anyway!

Marissa also struck out in the pictures department. The only thing in her Google Photos account from yesterday was a picture of a mural on the wall at the new Mexican restaurant we tried for lunch.


This frightening image depicts a man trying to hold onto a burrito as it sprays out the back. This place boasted their burritos were delicious but "hard to hold onto". They were half right. Trying to wolf down my steak burrito, I looked a lot like the poor guy in the painting, but the spectacle wasn't as impressive. I didn't have a burrito exploding out the back with flavor. Just a sopping wet tortilla and a plate pooling with water. Tomato water. Beef water. Lettuce water. I didn't know you could make a burrito with that much water in it. It offends me thinking about how this is intentional - that some restaurateur on the other side of town tried this sopping wet burrito and thought This is it, this is my gimmick. I'm the place that makes the wet burritos that fall apart.

But enough about our questionable food choices. In other news, we're getting some work done around the house. We're getting our tuck-pointing completely redone. The funny thing is we didn't set up an appointment. Marissa and I didn't even know the outside of our house was going to get a facelift this week, or at all. On Tuesday, our neighbor Mark crossed the street, and politely asked us if he could fix it up. The metal teeth of his buzz saw screamed. His hammer and chisel rattled the walls. By the time we brought Mark a plate of lunch, he was ashen white from dust and rock. I don't know how much a project like this would cost, but I have a feeling it's more than a beer and a plate of leftovers.

Why would Mark do all this for us? He's a good neighbor, sure, but this is Wisconsin. Everyone is a good neighbor. I think the truth is that Mark is an artist. He's the same mason that the city hired to do the stone work around the capitol building in the center of town. A few weeks ago while chatting in our driveway, he noticed the brick on the side of our house. He tried to avoid looking at it, absent-mindedly picking at it with his finger. He finally addressed what he couldn't ignore.

"Did... you do this?" he asked Marissa. Marissa nodded, rushing to an explanation.

"It was like the first thing I did," she said. "The inspector mentioned it when we bought our house, so I tried it. Is it... bad?" she asked sweetly.

Mark pursed his lips and sighed. "It's just... it's terrible," he said with sadness. "The colors... they don't even match."

I can picture what Mark was probably doing on that Tuesday morning before he talked to us. I bet he was standing in his driveway staring across the street, fixated on the little imperfections between the bricks in our house. I picture him pining after it the way Gatsby stared at the green light on Daisy's dock. He could only take staring at that shoddy stone work across the street for so long before he had to do something about it.

I know something about artists. When they get fixated on something, it's best to get out of their way. Just be appreciative. Give them space to realize their vision. Most importantly, keep bringing them beer. Mark is a cheap date. "I drink reg'lar ol' Bud," he says with a twang. "Or anything that kinda' tastes like Bud."

Thank God for neighbors like Mark. Have a great Friday, everyone.