Friday, February 4 2022

procrastinating, small talk, and deglazing the pan

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. How are you feeling today? Is this a fast morning, or a slow morning?

I didn't exactly spring out of bed and meet the morning with enthusiasm. In fact, it's 8:38 AM and I should have started writing eight minutes ago. But I got too distracted. Instead of writing, after reaching the bottom of this cup of coffee, I found myself just staring at this image on the family computer desktop.


What else is hanging out on the family room computer? Ah, I see Rodney saved another Nick Jr. painting.


Rodney makes these on the Nick Jr website. I've listened to that background music so much, that I can hear the generic funky looped synthesizer echoing in my brain now just staring at this picture.

OK, enough procrastinating. Time to top-off the coffee and get on with the real journal entry.

Sip. It's good to be here today. It's a quiet morning here at home. From my chair in the dining room, I can hear Miles starting to warm up for the day, and his muffled babbles echo around the upstairs hallway. Marissa and the dogs are asleep - except for Minnie. I can feel her eyes staring me down from the living room. A minute ago, she was contently chewing the flesh of a freshly killed tennis ball. I took it from her and moved it up high to the mantel.

Now I face her sad, watery puppy dog eyes. She's looking at me like I took away the only source of joy in your life. I don't know what to tell you, Minnie. The tennis ball was dead. You peeled away the hide and licked the rubber clean (it was actually kind of fascinating, in a grotesque way). If I know her, she'll exact her revenge in the form of a single angry turd in the living room. That's OK, I think I earned that one.

Yesterday at work we wrapped up our team summit. For the last twenty minutes of our all day zoom call, we exchanged sparse appreciative words but mostly just contently stared at each other. This week, it felt like such a treat getting to discuss big ideas without worrying about time.

I didn't even notice Rodney get home from school. He overheard me mention I was going to head out to the grocery store.

"I want to go to the grocery store with you," he butted in from across the hall.

I sat down at the dining room table in front of a blank legal pad. I began to jot down items. "We need more parfait stuff," hollered Marissa from around the corner. Rodney took a chair across from me.

"I want dinner with no potatoes," said Rodney. "No potatoes. Please."

It's pretty easy to shoot down suggestions from a five year old, but sometimes for my own amusement, I like to humor him and pretend he runs the show. "No potatoes - got it," I nodded dutifully. "I'll just pick up a baguette and we'll slice it up on the side."

We went into the grocery store with a short list, and we would wrapped up our trip a lot sooner if Rodney wasn't so chatty. A kindly old woman standing at the front entrance offered Rodney a sample wedge of pizza, and there was no stopping the ensuing small talk. "I'm five years old, this is my puppy, his name is corgi, my friend at school is named Archer..."

I found myself silently standing next to Rodney waiting for him to finish his conversation. I was mentally transported to my own childhood, waiting for my parents to finish talking to their friends at church so we could go out to lunch. How does this still happen to me, even as an adult?

We swung by the meat counter, where I asked for four pork chops. Rodney contemplatively stared at the price tag. "That's a dollar sign," he said pointing to the label.

We turned the corner pushed our cart to the checkout. "Hey dada," said Rodney. "Was I a good boy?"

I let out a laugh. "Yeah, you can have a piece of candy. Pick one thing, anything you want."

Rodney ran ahead of me straight for the wall of candy. I already knew what he was going to pick - a four pack of Resee's peanut butter cups. Of course we don't let him eat all four of them, but Rodney's a smart kid, and he knows that I'll put the other two cups in his lunch for the next day.

Back at home, Rodney quietly found a seat on the couch in the dim living room next to Marissa. Sports podcast banter blared out of my phone speaker while I cleared the sink and threw together dinner. I microwaved a bag of green beans. I rinsed and peeled a shallot and diced it into a bowl. I lined a baking sheet with tinfoil while I waited for butter to melt in a pan. Five minutes, flip, another five minutes. The familiar routine was just lead-up to my favorite part of cooking this recipe - deglazing the pan. I added a glug of wine, and a plume of wet steam billowed out of the pan. I don't think I ever get tired of doing that - it's just so satisfying.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Go enjoy your weekend.