Wednesday, December 8 2021

the supersaurus, my weight, molts, and i-spy

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday. Writing here at the dining computer, I'm bathed in peace, quiet, and sunlight. Out our dining room window, I can see the clouds give way to peaceful sunshine, and I'd like to think that it's all because my on-call shift ends today. Later this afternoon when I go off call, I'm going to chuck my phone in the corner of the house and go for a long walk.

I'm still on call through the morning, but we're already off to a good start. The house is quiet again. No COVID results for Rodney, so that means another day without school. That means another day where he can play with LEGOs in his underwear and binge a couple seasons of Blue's Clues. What will he build today? A car? A machine? Maybe if we're lucky he'll make a totally new dinosaur. Yesterday he gave us the supersaurus. To me, it just looks like a T-rex with a tiny leg and an extra tail standing in for his missing limbs, but I'm no expert - what do I know? In case these deformities weren't bad enough, Rodney said the supersaurus also poops out of his mouth.


Fun fact: supersaurus comes from the latin word meaning "affront to God's creation"

If anything, the supersaurus is just a byproduct of Rodney's sore throat vacation. He's floating in a magical school-less headspace. But in a way, his break from school has been nice for us too. We don't have to make his lunch, so that's been one less thing to do in the evenings. We don't have to wake up earlier to bring him to school or pick him up again. We're back on summer time hours, and that means more sleep, more time to clean up, and more quiet time to write and enjoy coffee. Speaking of which, it looks like I need another top-off.

Sip. I've been thinking about my weight lately. Isn't it funny how scary the bathroom scale becomes this time a year? Sometimes Marissa brings our bathroom scale downstairs to weigh packages, and we have this running joke where whenever one of us steps over it, we catch ourselves and lean against the wall, and say "Close one - almost stepped on the scale, that would have been a disaster."

I've done a little better with my weight this year, and I found that half the battle was just stepping on the scale every day. Looking at the damage. Biting the bullet. Something about seeing that scary floating point decimal number every day seems to banish some of the guilt and anxiousness I feel about my own weight. It's like a calming reinforcement of reality.

But then Thanksgiving rolled around, and I haven't stepped on the scale since. Now the guilt is beginning to snowball. At this point, that unknown number is so scary that I have no choice but to just wait until January to check in. Maybe then, I can use the number as rocket fuel for a brief, vigorous exercise routine until I get things under control again. Maybe it's my turn to run a 5K.

In other news - loosely related to the subject of body image - Spidey made it through his molt just fine. He spent the work day chilling out in his web hammock, waiting for his fresh new legs to re-inflate.

I was excited, because there was a good chance I'd be able to finally assess his sex. Following an online walkthrough, I soaked his molt in warm soapy water. I listened in on a zoom call while I unfurled the rehydrated skin onto a square of toilet paper at my desk. I snapped a picture of what I thought was a spermatheca and uploaded the image to a spider forum.


Spidey's old, deflated abdomen.

"It's hard to tell," wrote the forum's anonymous spider sexing expert. "It's still all crumpled up. Soak it again and very gently pull it apart."

I grabbed a pair of toothpicks from the kitchen and gave it the old college try. But the operation proved too delicate for me. The fragile membrane tore under the toothpicks. I uploaded another image, hoping for the best.

"Sorry," wrote the same expert. "That one is toast. You'll have to wait for the next one."

That was disappointing. Dissecting molts is tricky. Even though it's the most exact way to determine a Spider's sex, I may yet have some luck with the less precise method of just studying a photograph of his underside. I guess until then, Spidey remains a ceremonial "he".


The dissection was a failure, but I got a nice shot of his fangs.

After work, Rodney and I played some video games at my desk. Afterwards, we took a drive downtown, then a chilly evening walk down State street to pick up our dinner. The restaurant was still pulling our order together, so we took a seat at an inviting table along the wall of the cozy Mediterranean Cafe. Rodney and I passed the time playing i-spy.

"I spy... something indigo," he said.

"Indigo?" I balked. "OK, is it that painting?"

"That's blue," said Rodney sharply, his voice muffled by his mask.

"OK, how about that bottle in the fridge?" I asked.

"That's blue," he corrected.

"Is it that wall?" I asked.

"That's blue," said Rodney. The girl at the counter made her way to our table, handing me a warm plastic bag.

"Is it her mask?" I asked, pointing to the girl. Rodney shook his head.

"Yeah Rodney's I-Spy is tricky," said Marissa. "The other day, we were playing in the car and he said 'I spy something invisible.'"

"It was a dinosaur that could turn invisible," Rodney corrected.

Rodney's game, Rodney's rules. At least I can still beat him in Connect Four.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Wednesday.