Wednesday, December 1 2021

the tired generation, chocolate bars, and my real name

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. It's good to be here today. What's the loudest thing in the house? Upstairs it might be the quiet hum of the server rack or the buzzing red lights of Rodney's Christmas tree. Down here on the main floor, it the clacking of the keyboard. This morning, I don't even here the dogs shuffling around, which tells me they've already settled on their respective corners of the living room. Without turning around, I'll hazard a guess that Ollie is flopped in the middle of the dining room rug like burrito. Ziggy is either perched on the back of the couch like a cat or curled up around Marissa's feet. Minnie, in the style of the babied youngest child of the family, is probably nuzzled safely in a choice spot under the blanket with Marissa. Our real youngest child of the family Miles is still sleeping upstairs of course, and we'd like to keep it that way for another hour.

All quiet on the home front. Everyone is sleeping, except for your tired narrarator checking in from the morning shift at the Recker house. If you're with me, grab a cup of coffee and start drinking.

Sip. Lately I've been reading more clickbaity type of articles. I have a bad habit of absent-mindedly swiping around my phone whenever I have a free minute, and swiping to the left takes me to a page of Google curated headlines. I went down the inviting rabbit hole of an article titled "Why are millenials always so tired?"

Millenials, did you know that we're now "the tired generation"? One article referenced Post Malone's face tattoo - the words Always Tired emblazoned just underneath his eyes. We have constant social media. One article described how "hustle culture" - the nihilistic acceptance that endless exhaustion and grind is just part of the recipe for success - is partly to blame.

I think the clickbait authors are on to something here. Flicking through my Instagram feed right now, I see ads for custom mattress delivery, caffeine pills, and self-guided meditation apps. A lot of people my age convince themselves that running their own YouTube channel, podcast, or an Internet gig is better than clocking into a more traditional job, even though they might have to work twice as hard. We really are the tired generation.

This morning, I'm no exception. I'm tired today, but I can't blame my lack of sleep on hustle culture or existential dread. Last night, I just made the mistake of eating one of Marissa's dark chocolate bars. Dark chocolate, melted with nuts, frozen into bars, rolled in cacao powder - I think the cacao powder is where the real kick is. It was simply too much caffeine to ingest at 10 PM, but I carried on with my evening none-the-wiser. Marissa and I went to bed, we fed the animals, and we chatted after turning the lights off. But the conversation was livelier than usual, and the pillow talk took us well past midnight.

"You're chatty today," laughed Marissa. "I feel like I'm at a sleepover or something."

"Ahhh. It was the chocolate bar, wasn't it?" I laughed. Suddenly, I remembered why we usually save those for after lunch or on the weekends."

With the exception of the misplaced evening caffeine rush from that chocolate bar, I had a wonderful day yesterday. I began a new on-call shift and I slashed several things off my to-do list. Marissa caught up on her backlog of things to sell on Facebook marketplace - all things collected from our basement earlier this week. "We basically accounted for Christmas presents this year," she said proudly.

We ended an awesome day with take-out pizza. After work, Rodney and I jumped in the car and sped off to the near east side of town. We parked on a street corner and wandered down the block to Sal's pizza. At one time, the restaurant was close enough to our house to deliver, but they have since moved to a much larger location closer to downtown. But Rodney and I didn't mind. We're the family's part time delivery drivers after all. Our evening walk through a lively part of the city felt electric, especially for Rodney who refused to wear his winter coat. We sat at the bar while we waited for our delivery order.

"So your nickname is Dadda," said Rodney, broaching a new subject. "But... what's your real name."

"My real name?" I asked. "It's Alex."

"Alex," nodded Rodney, re-committing it to memory. Rodney has become fascinated with the different names we take, like why the people he calls "Momma" and "Dadda" answer to "Alex" and "Marissa" in other places. Rodney was also enthralled with the coincidence that I share the same name as our friend Alex. "Oh, like Alex and Cassie!" he said drawing the new connection for himself.

Later that night, we sat at the table silently munching on pizza. The dining room computer screen faded to black, and our random photo screensaver flung a new image onto the screen. It was a photo from this past summer, where Rodney and I were sitting cozily on the curb eating street food at Atwoodfest. We both shared a warm moment of nostalgia remembering the delicious food, the easy going summer, and the exciting festival music.

"I love you, Alex," said Rodney.

What a weird moment. Touching because it was unprompted, but also weird because it was my first name. But since we had just finished a discussion about real names and nick names, I knew he didn't mean any disrespect.

"I love you too, dude," I replied. "But don't use my first name. I'm just dadda to you."

"Your nickname," clarified Rodney.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, have a great Wednesday.