Tuesday, April 26 2022

talks, blood, and spider-man

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for waking up today, and welcome to Tuesday. Are you staying warm? The cold is back. Being optimists, we tried to stick it out for as long as we could without turning the heat back on. But there's a thin line between cozy and cold, and you know you've crossed it when you can no longer feel sensations in your toes sitting at your dining room computer. We've been duped again by the false spring. Not wanting to get hurt again, I'm not putting away my winter clothes for anything less than eighty five degrees.

Sip It's good to be here today, isn't it? I'm reporting from the bowels of another hectic week. All of Marissa's paintings will be in Chicago this week for the One of a Kind Art Show, but at the moment they're all in our living room. At my work, it's conference week, and I'm on the hook for preparing two separate talks.

I have a serious regret. I definitely should have only committed to one talk. I give my first talk this afternoon, and that's the one that's actually finished. But I have a second talk tomorrow morning, and that one is barely started. I think I'll eventually get it to a place I like, but I'll be writing and rehearsing non-stop until Wednesday morning.

The part that really sucks is meanwhile, there's a work conference happening. My friends and coworkers are giving talks of their own, and I simply don't have the time to show up and support them. I left no extra time to simply take in the conference as a listener.

The second talk is about spiders. I'm lucky that there's no persuasive angle to the subject, and if there was a talk that I could get away with skimping on the preparation, it would be this one. "Maybe I'll just click through a slideshow and talk," I laughed.

"You should just feed a spider for everyone," suggested Marissa. Not a bad idea, that would burn at least seven minutes off the clock.

Yesterday's work day was a blur. I left slack closed, and worked non-stop through the entire day. At some point, I took a ten minute lunch, wolfing down a reheated taco from Taco John's. Sitting across from me in his high chair with his mouth smeared with peanut butter and jelly, Miles watched with amusement as I stole a couple of dortitos from his plate.

Rodney shook me from my trance when he got home from school. He plopped into my chair, and took a long drink from his strawberry smoothie. "The most crazy thing happened at school," he began. "Arthur cracked his head open. There was so much blood."

Marissa already brought me up to speed before returning home with Rodney, but the version she got was a lot more surreal. "Arthur got a crack in his head, and his blood was everywhere," said Rodney. "I think he died."

"He didn't die," assured Marissa. "I texted his Mom, and she said he needed to get a few stitches."

"But he lost his blood," said Rodney. "If you lose your blood, you die."

Aside from scraping his knee or picking open some mosquito bites, Rodney hadn't had a lot of experience with blood, let alone someone else's. Rodney recounted how it dripped on the sidewalk, ran down his face, and stained his mask. "It was really gross," he said to me.

"Is Arthur OK?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Rodney. "He had to get stitches. Like you did when you sliced your finger." Rodney's memory surprises me - I feel like he was way too young to remember that when I had my mishap while cleaning my chef's knife.

Already immersed in a busy week, I still fondly remember this past weekend when it was warm and sunny. I took Rodney to the park by our house. We rode our skateboards down some ramps. We played some basketball. We climbed around the playground.

"This is the same park where you broke your leg," I reminded him.

"When I was a baby?" asked Rodney. I nodded, walking over to the short platform by the ground.

"You fell off this little platform here, and that was too high for you" I laughed. "And look at you now, dude, now you can climb on anything you want."

Rodney thought that was cool. Reminded of how feeble and small he used to be, he felt even cooler climbing across the top of the monkey bars as a stronger, bigger kid.

Later, Rodney and I parked downtown. We ordered food from a restaurant further down State street, and we decided to walk and enjoy the cool evening. Rodney wore his Spider-Man suit, darting between benches, tress, and smirking pedestrians. We grabbed a seat at the bar while we waited for the bartender to grab our food.

"Hey, is that Spider-Man?" said a man seated next to us. "I didn't know you were in Madison too."

"I'm not Spider-Man," he said. "I'm Rodney."

The man shrugged and turned around, but Rodney continued to tell him his life's story. The name of his school, the name of his brother, and where we're moving. Rodney played the snub off well with a final "see ya later" right before we left the restaurant.

That's what I got today. I have to go practice my first talk, and also somehow find time to finish my second talk. Busy busy busy.

Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great Tuesday.