Monday, January 10 2022

breaking my plastic bin, losing at monopoly, and movie night

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Monday. Maybe "happy" is too chipper of a word for Monday. Inevitable Monday. Expected Monday. Freaking Monday.

Marissa dropped Rodney off a moment ago, and with that he brief era of virtual school ends. For braving the harsh cold and hectic traffic, she's rewarding herself with a nap with the dogs. Across the hall from our bedroom, Miles begins to stir, undoubtedly power cycling between squirmy sleep and freely urinating in his pajamas. I'm writing here in the bedroom office. It's quiet in this room... too quiet.

Sip. My entire server shelf sits unplugged in the corner of the room, and without the familiar quiet whining this room feels so unnerving. I feel like I'm writing in a different house, or like I'm free falling in a dream. The unnerving silence in this room and the disheveled computer mess on the floor tells a story of frustrating home network problems. The Internet was out when we woke up on Sunday morning, and it didn't come back up until I rebooted the rack twice. Then the live church stream froze halfway through the sermon - another outage. I spent the rest of the morning and the first quarter of the Bears game reinstalling the router software, taking apart the entire corner setting up a shoddy temporary workstation borrowing parts from the family computer. It was a mess, but I got the local network back up. We got home from the movie, and our babysitter Finley told us the internet went out again. This time, I found the router had tried to reboot again - a cryptic error message flashed on the monitor sitting on the floor. I drove to the 24 hour Walgreen's to buy a new watch battery for the motherboard - all in vain because once I replaced the battery the machine stopped booting altogether. Frustrated, exhausted, furious, the all day debacle culminated with a fitful outburst. I punched my plastic IT bin into pieces. My fist went cleanly through the flimsy plastic barrier. It shattered into jagged chunks that scattered across the floor. My head swimming with doubts, I spent the rest of the night sullenly unplugging everything at arranging the parts in a neat pile on the floor. It was destructive and unnecessary, but exploding my IT bin felt undeniably cathartic. I think after spending the entire day patiently fiddling and tending fickle, tedious machinery, it felt good to do the opposite. It felt good to just break something and make a mess.

Meanwhile, Marissa gave me my space. She closed up the house for the night, assembled Rodney's lunch, and she even helped me pick up the pieces of the plastic bin I assaulted. We shared a quiet chuckle when the dust settled. "I'm actually kind of impressed your hand went all the way through it."

"I think we need a backup router," I said.

"That's a good idea," replied Marissa. "This stuff is supposed to be fun, right? The stakes are too high."

"Yeah," I nodded. "It's too much pressure to get it up and running when we can't watch TV or use the computer. I'd love to have the time to do this stuff right without derailing a whole weekend."

My own home network trouble was a small dark stain on an otherwise great weekend. Marissa and I finished out the first week of Greg's exercise program. We've become experts in finding makeshift gym equipment around the house. A machine assisted pull-up? No problem, we'll just sling a resistance band over the coat closet door. We use the bench in the play corner for dips. We jump rope with an imaginary jump rope. We're particular proud of what we rigged up with the couch and ottoman to do preacher curls.


At night, we play Junior Dinosaur edition monopoly. Bumping up against Rodney's bedtime, we compromised to let him play for fifteen minutes. I set a timer on my watch and we arranged the pieces for a new round. "I'm going to beat both of you," said Rodney confidently.

Rodney's stack of leafy greens waned thin. By a miraculous coincidence, my watch alarm rang just as a final dice roll sealed Rodney's fate. His T-rex landed on my gigantosaurus - the game's equivalent of park place and boardwalk. He couldn't pay the hefty 10 dollar friendship fee. Rodney began to pout.

"It's OK to lose sometimes," said Marissa kindly. "It's part of life."

"Winning doesn't mean anything if you never lose," I added. "You've got to learn how to lose."

We followed Rodney up the stairs with more platitudes. We were secretly excited to finish the game ourselves. After Rodney accepted his defeat and went to bed for the night, we opened a bottle of wine and played three more games of Junior dinosaur edition Monopoly. I swept Marissa, offering her the same patronizing advice we gave Rodney. "Hey, you can't win em' all," I smirked.


To celebrate Rodney's last day before heading back to school, we got a baby sitter for Miles and took Rodney to a viewing of Sing 2. But we enjoy the theater just as much as Rodney, if not more. For me, movie theater bliss began with slumping into a comfortable booth, lazily chewing a greasy burger while watching football on a projector screen. We bought a giant bucket of popcorn and slumped into a new pair of heated seats in the theater. Sing 2 was amazing. Rodney was captivated, and even Marissa and I had fat tears rolling down our cheeks. Nothing beats movie night.


That's what I got today. As for me, I'm working in eerie silence directly plugged into my modem until Best Buy opens. I need to buy a temporary router, and also a new plastic IT bin. Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great Monday.