Friday, January 28 2022

ninjago, couch time, and house shopping

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Friday. It's time to write, so let's get into it shall we?

It's a nice morning today. Not only does it feel like it's getting warmer outside, but I swear it's a little brighter too. I didn't even need to fumble with my phone's flashlight to descend the stairs. I'm mindful about tempering my expectations, but at the same time I think I'm ready for some spring weather.

Sip. How do you feel this morning? Are you more rested or more tired since the week began? I'm feeling good, thanks to a solid two hours of couch time last night. Some evenings are more productive than others. Earlier in the week, I clean, catch up on chores, and even carve out some time to write code or inch a personal project along. Other nights when I don't have as much oompf in the tank, I head right to the couch. Last night after climbing out of a booth at the nearby Ian's Pizza, Marissa and I gave each other a knowing look that said Oh yes, it's a lazy night tonight.

We tag teamed putting the boys to bed. I sat on the corner of Rodney's mattress scrolling through twitter on my phone while he dug clean clothes out of his closet.

"Do we have time to read?" he asked.

"Sure," I said without looking up. "We can do two pages tonight."

This past library day, Rodney brought home a complete manual of the LEGO Ninjago universe, packed with information about each of the characters, enemies, weapons, and locations. Rodney hasn't watched or played with anything from the Ninjago brand, but he was drawn to the pictures of Ninjas. The book would take way too long to read in completion, so we've been hopping around a few pages at a time before bed.

"I want to read about the red ninja," he said.

"OK, that's one page," I reminded him before reading the opening paragraph. "Kai has been called hot-headed, but his life has always been led by passion. From lowly beginnings as a blacksmith's son, Kai learned of the ninja of Ninjago city through an artifact left to his father."

While my voice droned on, Rodney stared at the picture of Kai posing with a LEGO sword in the margin. The reading material is so dry, it leaves me wondering who exactly this book was written for. What kid has the patience to systematically study the back story for each of these characters? What adult cares enough about LEGO to read this much detail about the spin-off Ninjago universe? At least the pictures are pretty cool.

I clicked Rodney's lights off and flopped onto the couch. Ziggy curled up at my blanketed feet before I was even settled in. I queued up a two hour long compilation of scenes from the show Impractical Jokers, a late guilty pleasure for us. Not only did we finish the entire compilation, but we stayed up late to rewind and rewatch some of our favorite pranks too. No work, cleaning, nor any mental stimulation took place last night. Just juvenile highjinks from a cable TV prank show and belly laughs under a warm blanket.

It's been a good week. I had a productive work day yesterday, ending things with a zoom chat with my friend Connor. Connor feels more like a family member, and for that reason Marissa and Rodney feel comfortable enough to hang out in the room while we talk. Behind me, Marissa installed a new headboard behind our bed. Rodney sidled up to my laptop camera to chime in on the subject of video games.

"Hey I'm making a video game, Rodney," said Connor. "I need some ideas, what should it be about?"

"I want a Velociraptor game," said Rodney without hesitating. "A LOT of velociraptors, like twenty-one of them or something."

"OK," I said. "And do they fight?"

"No," said Rodney. "They just hang out."

We vented a bit about the bleak state of the pandemic - how numbers are spiking again, things are shutting down, and everyone is back to waiting until it ends. It made me feel grateful for all the distractions I have going on in my life. Even if things are bleak, my family is preparing for a move, and it helps to have something concrete and hopeful in on the horizon. Our realtor signed us up for a special service that gives us access to real time listings. My phone dings when a new house hits the market, and I have all the details at my finger tips. I relish in those five minute breaks when I can click through a new house and refocus on the future.

Looking at a new house, I like to start with the map. I count the number of turns it takes to get to the highway. I try to discern the borders of neighboring suburbs, but at least in Chicagoland town borders aren't cut and dry. The town borders form amorphous blobs that bleed and fade between each other, sort of like the colors in Marissa's paintings.

Next I click into the street view. I like to imagine taking a walk down around the block. Do the neighboring houses feel like they're bearing down on us, or do they feel cold and distant?

Looking inside the house, I'm a lot less picky. So long as the house doesn't seem like it's on the brink of falling apart, I can come to peace with it. A smart kitchen layout helps, but I have yet to see a kitchen as small and cramped as ours, and if we can cook meals in there I think we can make it work anywhere.

This kind of stuff used to bore me, but I think it's one of those things that's way more fun when you're doing it for yourself. House shopping is a fun distraction.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great weekend.