Tuesday, November 16 2021

adele, a mindful walk, and cheating at battleship

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. From my cozy writing corner in the dining room, it feels like the hustle and bustle of a work day is insistently knocking on the door before I'm ready for it. My phone dings with slack messages. Miles rolls around his crib, making hallow knocking sounds on the wall with his legs. Marissa has the right idea - this morning she's retreated into the studio for some art time, employing some loud Adele music to drown out the outside world. I may not have the silky, booming voice of Adele to protect my writing time, but I do have one secret weapon. You guessed it - coffee.

Sip. It's good to be here today. Speaking of the singer, Marissa has been on an Adele kick since she watched her TV special. Adele put on a private concert for a bunch of celebrities, and the whole thing is minced with clips from an Oprah interview in her private garden.

"I know it's basic," said Marissa. "But you just gotta be basic sometimes." I might be fudging the details, but I think my wife was even clutching a lukewarm pumpkin spice latte in her hand as she was saying that.

Pop music. Dumb comedies. Overpriced coffee. Trashy snacks from the gas station. I think it's perfectly healthy to keep a few guilty pleasures within reach. I think that's reflective of a grounded personality.

Last night while taking out the trash, I stopped into Marissa's studio to watch some of the TV special. Adele belted out Someone Like You over a still, dimly lit audience. The camera panned over a row of shadowy faces, and I immediately recognized one of them to be Justin Timberlake.

"This is Adele's first comeback concert," explained Marissa. "She said she wanted it to just be for her friends."

"Ah yes - nothing more relatable than a crowd full of celebrities," I chided. "That must be fun for them, getting to just sit there and watch a different celebrity."

Marissa told me that later on in the show, Adele brought "a random dude and his girlfriend" onto the stage to propose in front of everyone. The stunt feels kind of sweet on the surface, but put yourself in her shoes for a second. You take off the blindfold and see you're standing on a stage beside Adele. While you're still acclimating to the stage fright - just in case that isn't weird enough - you scan the crowd for your friends and family. But the first face you register isn't your mom, your grandma, or your best friend. It's Gordon Ramsey. It's Ellen DeGeneres. And... is that Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad? If I were her, I'd be too distracted to say 'yes'.

So how did Monday go for you? I had a busy work day, but not a fruitful one. I had one of those days where I felt like my net effect was just bothering people on slack. Of course, a real job is more complicated than "did I write any code today?" Sometimes you do have to spend all day in slack bothering people, but those seem to be the days that invite the worming imposter to wriggle out of the back of my brain and whisper things like "you talk too much" or "why don't you just fix things instead of yammering on about them?"

At least I did a good job yesterday with the mental breaks. I watched a recipe for tomato cream soup on the stationary bike. I went for a walk with Ziggy. And I've also been working on actually shutting my brain off when I take breaks. I've developed this bad habit where no matter what I'm doing, my brain and my body occupy different places. Physically I might be standing under hot water in the shower, but mentally I'm just planning what I'm going to write about. Physically, I might be standing in line at the grocery store, but mentally I'm planning out which dishes I need to wash to clear the sink before I start cooking. Physically, I might be taking Ziggy for a walk, but mentally I'm re-ordering my share of bugs and tickets to maximize the amount of time I have left in the day.

So yesterday, I tried taking a mindful walk. Instead of thinking about work, I just listened to leaves crunch, and my ratty flip flops slapping against the cold pavement. I stared at Ziggy's ears, sharply and precisely turning on an invisible swivel like little fuzzy radar dishes. I imagined I was Ziggy, treating every distant slamming car door, scrape of a rake, and scurrying of a squirrel like it was something that needed my immediate and focused attention. I didn't return from our walk with any divine insight or third eye opening epiphanies, but I felt a lot more relaxed.

We played Battleship after dinner. Marissa and I sat across the table facing our game boards. Rodney, indecisive about where to form his alliance, floating between the two of us. He began to leverage this to win our favor.

"Momma, I have a secret," He said leaning in. "Go here. Five.... C..."

"C-5," said Marissa coyly.

"Miss," I replied. "Dude, that's cheating. The game isn't fun if the other person knows where the ships are too."

Rodney looked confused, so I back-peddled out of my accusation. Marissa and I allowed him to continue giving us secrets. Even though Rodney could see the ships in his head, he didn't understand coordinates well enough to break the game. No harm, no foul.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Have a great Tuesday.