Wednesday, September 15 2021

the happy dance, getting in trouble, and trivia night

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Wednesday. Something has me in a much better mood today than yesterday. Maybe it's the bright sun filling our dining room. Maybe it's the comfort of my favorite sweatpants. Maybe it's realization that we're halfway done with this work week. Something in the air, in the water, or in my sub-conscience is lifting my mental wings. Oh I know what it is - it's this cup of coffee.

Sip. It's good to be here today, and it's even better with coffee. You know who has a ridiculous breakfast each morning? Rodney. We have a narrow window of time before the school commute where we can eat breakfast and stare at each other, and each morning Rodney selects the same thing for breakfast: a small gulp of milk and four or five pieces of peanut butter captain crunch. "Just a little bit of crapain crunch," he reminds us.

It used to bother me, but we recently learned that the kids eat an actual breakfast at school. We don't know the details, but "breakfast" is the first thing listed on their schedule, and Rodney assures us that "school has ALL KINDS of food. So much food." So maybe the breakfast he eats before heading out the door is more of a ceremonial thing, or just a small sugar rush to warm up the brain cells.


Rodney warms up for the day with five pieces of crapain crunch

How did your day go? I had a pretty wide open day, and I hit it hard with the coding. With my team's blessing, I ripped up the metaphorical carpet on one of our pipelines projects. It feels so good to purge, clean, and tidy. Whether I'm doing it in the real world or just with lines of code, the ritual releases all kinds of happy chemicals into my brain. After a day of slinging code, before I knew it the clock read four o'clock. I decided to celebrate the satisfying workday by feeding the spiders.

Karta remains buried underground, so she wouldn't be eating for obvious reasons. But Spidey and Glassy have both been doing lots of roaming this week. I diced up a super worm for them to share. Glassy, always the shy one, would wait until later in the evening to drag the worm stump into his cave. Spidey approached the dinner table with boldness and delivered an excellent happy dance.

I never get tired of watching the tarantula happy dance. These little creatures live their lives with so much patience, routine, and precision. It makes it that much more amusing to watch them do something so silly for no practical reason. As a tarantula owner, it's like watching your dog chase their tail.

When it came time to make dinner plans, I absolutely blanked. I was hoping to take Rodney and Miles to the grocery store, but after staring off into space for twenty minutes, I couldn't summon a single idea on what to make for dinner. All the good coding I got done yesterday must have fried my brain. So we took the easy way out and just ordered Pervuian food takeout, gathering around the dinner table an hour later to feast on succulent chicken, bright green cilantro rice, and crispy wedges of fried plantains.

Over dinner, Rodney elaborated a bit more on his day-to-day school life. We learned he sits between two girls now, but Archer is still his go-to friend. They sing silly songs about making guacamole and standing still in line. Kids get in trouble sometimes.

"Ooh, what kids got in trouble?" asked Marissa. We both leaned off the edge of our seats in interest. Rodney explained that one kid in his class kept opening cabinets in the classroom.

"Why was he opening cabinets?" we questioned.

"He... he was up to no good," said Rodney, leaving it at that.

"So dude - what does your teacher do to the bad kids?" I asked. "What's the punishment?"

Rodney shrugged. "She just talks to them, and tells them to sit down."

"There's no special punishment or anything?" I asked. Rodney shook his head.

"Dude, do you know what my teacher used to do to us when we were bad?" I asked. I rose from my chair and grabbed a little piece of tape from the duct tape on the nearby table. "He would say 'GO TO THE WALL'," I bellowed. "Then he would make you stand on your tip toes." I stood up against the dining room wall and placed the piece of duct tape in front of my nose, resting my nose against the tape. "Then you would just have to stand here like this."

Rodney laughed. Marissa looked on in horror. "Why did you have to stand on your tip toes?" she asked.

"So your calves would get sore," I explained. "It was a punishment. It was supposed to hurt."

"That's messed up," said Marissa. "Your school was weird."

In honor of today's trivia night, I'll close out today's entry with a retelling of mine and Marissa's first trivia night - one of the first times we've ever interfaced with the Madison night life. We had just moved to this city, and we were living on the west side of town. While taking a long and aimless walk along the road behind our apartment, we stumbled onto a little bar pub, so we ducked inside to get dinner. We found a table just as their trivia night was getting started. Young and spontaneous, we decided to join the game - and why not? We had just graduated college. We felt reasonably smart.

We didn't get a single question right. We learned that no matter how smart you feel, pub trivia nights have a way of zeroing in on your intellectual blind spots. Eighties pop culture. Baseball. The years things happened or guessing big numbers.

I've also grown to dislike how trivia questions are formatted. You know how they always begin with a random observation the suddenly change course? "A Cuban is a delicious panini made from ciabatta bread and smoked ham... WHAT YEAR DID THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS HAPPEN?"

We haven't tried trivia since. Heading into it tonight, Marissa is feeling optimistic. "I secretly hope we do really well," she said.

"Don't worry," I said. "We won't. We're not going to get a single question right."

I guess we'll see who is right. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Wednesday.