Wednesday, March 2 2022

exercise, drawing people, and the mask order

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday.

I'm still waking up this morning, so we'll start slow and just establish the scene. I can hear the dishwasher churning away in the kitchen. The sky is grey and overcast, but there's still enough light peaking through it to fill the dining room. And my right leg, crossed over my left, just began to fall asleep, so now I have to reajust and take care of that.

The cool hardwood floor feels nice against my bare feet. I'm wearing a new t shirt with yesterday's sweatpants. My hair is still wet from the shower. I feel tired, but grateful that Miles is still asleep and that I don't have any meetings until the late morning.

I think I've finally got my bearings. Let's grab a cup of coffee and get to work.

Sip. Happy Wednesday. How does your body feel? Marissa and I enjoyed a weekend respite from exercise, but we began a new phase last night. Talk about a rude awakening. We completed weighted lunges, chest workouts, and to our chagrin we saw the return of our old friend the spider push-up. It's a challenging maneuver that combines a leg curling motion with a regular push-up. It's painful and excruciating, like a self-inflicted medieval torture.

Why do we exercise to begin with? So we can better enjoy the moments we don't have to exercise. The best part of exercise is the moment we finish. Before the workout begins, Marisa sneaks two bottles of water into the freezer. By the time we've finished working out, the water is ice cold and partially frozen. We sink into the couch. The dogs fill in the spaces between pillows and blankets, as if they know what comes next. We watch re-runs of Impractical Jokers - the perfect mind numbing activity while we wait for the energy to return to our weary, aching muscles.

Sometimes Marissa sketches on the couch. She's stepped up her own practice with drawing people, and it's fun to watch.

"I don't understand it," she says, thumbing through her own instructional book. "There are so many rules and proportions to follow when drawing a face, it makes me wonder how everybody can still look so different."

Marissa is more guarded about these practice sessions. These carefully crafted sketches of pretend people and faces reside only in her sketchbook, and only Rodney and I have the privilege of watching her progress. I think the extra privacy comes out of a deep respect for how difficult it is to draw a person's face.

You ever notice how we look at drawings of people differently? If I'm shown a painting of a sky, a mountain, a tree, or an abstract pattern, I react with simple feelings - happy, sad, brooding, or adventurous. But if I see a picture of a person, it's almost like I innately judge them more as a person than as a painting. Would I chat with this person on the street? Would I get a beer with this person, or would I ask this person for help if I really needed it? Would this person be more likely to make me laugh or get angry? Would I trust this person?

Marissa has practiced drawing my face a few times. As a non-artist, there's nothing more fun than being treated to a depiction of my own face, because no matter the outcome it will still be a better approximation than whatever I could do. Marissa's sketches of my face look like me, but they also kind of look like an older Val Kilmer.

"Better, but maybe next time go for a younger Val Kilmer, like from Heat," I teased.

We've got a busy day today. I've got some meetings sprinkled throughout the day, Marissa has a dog class on the other side of town, and after work I'm taking Rodney to ice skating class. Today is a special class, because it's the first one to take place after the Madison mask order expired. Masks will be optional in the building.

Rodney is excited to let the other skaters in his class see his face. I'm feeling cautious, wondering if I still remember how to not make weird movements with my mouth in public. Picking my teeth, licking my lips, stretching my jaw, and yawning with an uncovered mouth - if you see me out in public just try to be forgiving about all the bad habits I picked up in the masked season. Maybe now I also talk extra loudly to account for the piece of fabric over my mouth.

To my surprise, a lot of the businesses around Madison will still be requiring masks beyond the expiration of the mask order. Marissa and I can't figure the motivation. Does it help cover them for some sort of liability? Are they afraid of being perceived as too eager to get rid of them and labeled as "anti-mask"?

"Maybe it's revenge," I laughed. "Maybe all these businesses just want to punish us for making them require masks in the first place."


Even if there are some hold-outs, it will feel nice to pick up groceries without wearing a mask.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. Enjoy your Wednesday.