Friday, January 7 2022

abandoned potatoes, date night, and beautiful details

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Dear Journal,

Hola friends. According to Rodney's teacher, that's the greeting of the day, and just as they took the time to say hola to each student in the zoom call, I say the same to you. It's hard to resist participating in a group activity, especially when it's happening a few feet away from the coffee machine. Ah, I forgot to greet my cup of coffee this morning. Hola, coffee.

Sip. Happy Friday, everyone. While Rodney attends virtual Kindergarten downstairs, I'm back writing in the upstairs office again. But virtual school is done after today. We're told Rodney will be back in the building in person starting this Monday.

Why only two days of virtual school? We're left puzzling over the decision. It's certainly not because the spread of COVID is dying down. Every day I try to avert my eyes from scary headlines about Madison's hospitals filling up with cases. "I read a story about a kid with appendicitis who had to wait five hours for a bed, and it ruptured in the waiting room," Marissa told me.

So the numbers aren't getting any better. We have to conclude that his school planned on sticking with virtual for a while, but got pressured into reopening. As brief and hectic as it was, I'm still grateful for the glimpse into Rodney's school life. I've never even set foot in his school building, so what a treat it was to listen in on Rodney in a classroom setting.

To my surprise, Rodney hasn't a shred of shyness in his DNA. He's the first to talk on every Zoom call, and sometimes it feels like he sees himself as an assistant teacher. He likes to check in on classmates, compliment their t-shirt choices, and kick off new conversation topics.

"Have you seen the giant ball?" he asked. "It's in New York. It's a giant ball that goes slow to the ground, and everyone says HAPPY NEW YEAR."

Yesterday was a hectic, mad rush to Friday. We squeezed in a workout during my company's yearly kickoff webinar. I had my zoom camera switched off, for fear that one of my company's executives would see us jumping rope with an imaginary jump rope or miming a medicine ball slam with dumbells. Since it lined up with Rodney's recess time, he joined us upstairs, stripping down to his underwear, grabbing a resistance band, and doing his own freestyle dance workout in the corner of the room.

We transitioned from hectic exercise to a hectic lunch. While Rodney continued class, Marissa slapped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together and I tossed a salad with leftover salmon. At the stove, a charred crouton flew out of the pan and landed on the bare skin of my foot, searing it like a piece of flaming shrapnel. Remembering Rodney's class was in session around the corner, I bit my lip so I wouldn't blurt out any words that weren't kindergarten friendly. An hour later, Marissa sent me a picture of the two russet potatoes I abandoned in the microwave. "This is proof of how tired we are," she laughed.

But what is Miles up to? I feel like Rodney gets all the attention these days, and that's because Miles' life hasn't changed all that much recently. He still sleeps up until his cushy 9:30 AM wake-up call where he transitions to his daily routine of watching Blue's Clues and throwing toys around the room. Lately, he's been doing this thing where we walks around the room with his chest out and his hands folded behind his back. He struts around the living room this way, like he's a sovereign dictator over the living room.

At last, our baby sitter arrived. Marissa and I dispensed popcorn style reminders to Finley while we gathered our things. Lax bedtime. Pizza on the way. Rodney ran into this baby gate and broke it, but it still works well enough to slow down Miles. Finley politely nodded, and all at once we snapped the door shut behind us and drove to a restaurant.

It was a well-timed date night. Life has been moving so fast this week, and sipping on beer, picking at wings, and quietly heckling trivia night from a back table was the perfect therapy.

"We're never going to do trivia, are we?" joked Marissa. "Tonight we had no excuse."

It's true - we had no excuse. We even sat in the same room as the trivia, but I just couldn't find the will power to join a structured activity with adult strangers. Instead, we talked about sources of joy and rare moments of respite this week.

"Did you see our windows?" asked Marissa. "They're old, and they froze with this beautiful pattern."


Marissa thinks the old windows let air leak between the panes, and the up-draft makes the ice freeze in this flowy pattern.

"I think it's beautiful," she explained. "I've always wanted to find inspiration in something natural, and this is the closest thing I've ever found to my paintings."

On the subject of small, beautiful details, I couldn't think of anything besides my smiling wife across from me and the tall, cold beer in front of me. But this morning while the house was still sleeping, I paused to inspect a silly LEGO structure Rodney left out on the coffee bar. I leaned in for a closer look. I sleepily rubbed my eyes. "What is going on here," I muttered.


I believe it's Owen Grady's head on some kind of altar, or maybe the controls of a ship. And behind him Blue the raptor approaches it in respect. Maybe not as elegant or captivating as glistening fractal ice on a sunny window, but it's beautiful in a bizarre boyish way - and it gave me a good laugh.

That's what I got today. Happy Friday, everyone.