Friday, July 9 2021

the calm before the storm, spider-man at the zoo, and moving day

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday - let's set the scene here. From my seat at the dining room computer, I can see our recycling bin stuffed full of boxes from newly opened toys. Beside me at the bar sits Rodney's new bug hunting kit, complete with his own pair of binoculars, survival flashlight, a net, and some plastic bugs to get him started. Marissa's fish tank protein skimmer noisily clicks and gurgles behind me. And of course, I have a fresh cup of coffee right in front of me. If you ask me, I think it's time to write.

Sip. Minnie continues to impart an important lesson on me. There's nothing I can store on the floor in my closet that is inert and uninteresting enough to keep her from mildly destroying it for her own amusement. First, she claimed a cardboard box from a borrowed Super Nintendo emulator. Next was the box that housed my spooled up ethernet cable. This morning, she reached a new level of puppy boredom when she tussled with a compressed brick of reptile substrate.

I'll tell you this much, it probably didn't taste good. When Minnie pierced the plastic corner, she was probably greeted with the unpleasant, chalky taste of milled coconut fiber. But she pressed on just long enough to accomplish her mission - making a new mess for me to clean up in my closet. Then it was back to squatting in Ollie's vacant crate where she would cast her big silly puppy dog eyes at me to keep me from getting angry. Minnie, I know you get overcome with boredom in the mornings, but for the love of God find a real hobby.

So how has your week been? It's been a very chill week at work. A few members of my team took off this week to extend the holiday weekend, and it's gotten a little difficult to hide the fact that I don't have anything to do right now. I have a few pull requests teed up for review. I've read and tested everything I could get my hands on. When the work dries up like this, there's a small part of me that feels restless, but the bigger part of me has come to peace just treating this week like the calm before the storm.

Yesterday was Rodney's birthday. For our birthday boy, the first order of business was changing into his favorite Spider-Man costume. He made chocolate chip pancakes with Mom, which was a welcome reward for getting through my first morning meeting.


He opened a few presents up at the breakfast table, then he and his brother spent the rest of the morning at the Zoo with Marissa. I stayed at home, but from what they tell me there was lots of action. They heard the lion roar. They bought a larger, even more sparkly companion for Rodney's stuffed snake Sparkles. Rodney also bumped into another kid dressed like Spider-Man. He wore the classic red and blue suit, which complemented Rodney's Miles Morales look very nicely.

"The kid just sprinted over to us and stood by Rodney," laughed Marissa. "He was like 'I used to have a mask but I lost it,' and Rodney just said 'dang it'. Then they just stared at each other." It sounded like an awesome time.


Meanwhile, I held a training session in the afternoon for some new hires. I went around the zoom room and pronounced everyone's names, then I went into autopilot mode. Don't get me wrong - the training session feels rote, but still enjoyable; and I've gotten so good at it it's spooky. Ice breakers, introductions, content, follow up questions, and a personable send-off - sixty minutes on the nose every time. Even if it's not the most mentally stimulating activity, who doesn't enjoy spending an hour in their element like that?

Rodney, Marissa, and Miles returned from the zoo. Rodney disappeared into his own world to play with his toys, and in a way I did the same, un-boxing a new tarantula enclosure left with the mail on our front step. The truth is those small acrylic cubes currently housing Karta and Spidey are really meant for spiders that are about an inch in size. Karta barely fits, but Spidey makes it look like a joke. If I had any doubts at all, the way Spidey was sprawled out on his hide touching three corners of the enclosure at once made me sure it was time for a move.


"This is just like... the lobby, right? When do I see my real place?"

Spidey's new place is twice the size. I filled it over halfway with fresh dirt, dampening the soil on the bottom so he could choose his own comfortable humidity. He got a brand new house from a hallowed out piece of cork park. I hot glued some fake leaves and dried moss around the outside, and he also got a fancy acrylic water bowl that doesn't leak out the bottom. I coaxed him out of his old home with the tip of a paintbrush.

The first time I opened the lid, I felt like the late Steve Irwin in a flashy, adrenaline-fueled animal encounter. This time, I just felt like I was helping a friend out on moving day. He brought his legs close to his body, planted firmly on the side of his old home. His old home was too small for him, but he felt comfortable there and he didn't want to leave. After a few more gentle prods and brushes, at last he made the clamber of faith over the invisible wall into his new home. Tarantulas hate moving day - add that to the ever-growing list of ways we can relate to them. I filled his water bowl, then snapped his lid shut for the night. He had earned his privacy.

We took Rodney out to Portillo's for his birthday dinner. Our family's Madison eat-out hex was in full swing last night - it took a full thirty minutes to get our food. The girl behind the to-go counter was on the brink of tears, but Rodney was happy to fill the time sprinting in circles around the patio. Back at home, we sang happy birthday - at his special request, we sang quietly.


Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Friday, everyone.