Thursday, September 8 2022

arlington heights, math homework, and chicken thighs

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Thursday. I hope you're all staying healthy and well-rested out there. This morning, I'm reporting from my office chair, hoping to make a quick transition to the work day to make up for a late start this morning. Ollie sleeps at my feet with his face pressed against a cool patch of drop cloth in the studio half of the room. My hair still feels wet from the shower, and I'm down to my last pair of clean sweatpants in laundry. Even though I sit in front of a big, sunny window, I caught myself staring - of all places - into my desktop wallpaper. I guess you can't blame me, it's a very beautiful picture I took in Amsterdam. Little moments like this tell me it's been too long since I've been on a plane. I've been bit by the travel bug.


"Are you going to absolutely roast me for what I did to the coffee?" asks Marissa as she shuffles by the door across the hallway. I think at this point, she expects me to write about all her trademark coffee machine mishaps. But compared to all the others, this one wasn't even the most egregious. I brewed up a pot, then got the second pot ready. Without realizing there was already a full pot of coffee waiting for her to enjoy, she simply hit the button again. The pot overflowed, making a tranquil little brown river that ran down the counter and cascaded onto the floor. Not her worst - the court of Alex's blog feels merciful today, and we'll let it slide.

Sip. Not much to report around here lately. I'm on the last day of a short week, so no work tomorrow. Marissa, Miles, and I might use the extra day off to go couch shopping.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day, in that I kept my ass in this chair catching up on slack messages and working on tickets. But I got to take a drive to Arlington Heights to drop a painting off to one of Marissa's customers. I careened north up highway 53, ducking out eastbound onto Euclid Avenue. I used to make the exact same drive to high school every morning, and it was fun to watch that muscle memory take over. The drive also took me past the Arlington Racetrack, which was recently deemed the future site of the new Bears stadium. The gates were chained shut. The main building, a few hundred feet off the main road, looked ominously abandoned. Thinking of a brand new football stadium and entertainment district in that spot made me wonder if the drive on northbound 53 would ever feel so smooth and fun again.

After Rodney got home from school, I set him up at the table with his homework. That's right - he has homework now. Each school day this week he's brought home a single page from his math workbook. In a hurry to enjoy his snack and binge YouTube, Rodney rushed through his work. He walked the scribbled work sheet around the corner to my office.

"You didn't follow the instructions," I said. "It says to draw pictures to solve the problems."

"We don't need to do that," he shrugged.

"Uh, I disagree, dude," I laughed. "It says it right here."

Rodney took another pass at the math work sheet. "I don't want to draw fish, I'm just going to draw circles," he qualified.

Later before heading to bed, Rodney succinctly summed up his first impressions of homework. "Math makes me happy - I'm really good at it. But... can I say a grown up word?" he asked.

I knew exactly what was coming. "Sure thing," I nodded.

"I hate writing," he said quietly. "It makes my hand tired."

After we got the kids to bed, I took a late night walk to Jewel. The grocery store is a soothing place in the evening. Even though I just had to grab a loaf of bread, I contently made a slow lap around the whole store just to make sure I wasn't missing any new snacks. Ripe peaches, a bag of Garret's popcorn, and a cup of salsa with a cartoonish label that read the SALSA king of Chicago - I just had to judge that title for myself.

The Jewel meat aisle is a sight to behold. Steaks, pork ribs, shoulders, brisket, wagyu, hams, and oxtail.


But can I shed light on one of the greatest mysteries of my local Jewel? They never have any chicken thighs. They have a few of the expensive, organic ones, but no standard chicken thighs. Doesn't seem like a big deal at first, but just look at home many chicken breasts they have for sale.


This is only one of four cases, and they're eached packed with wrapped, hand-trimmed chicken breast. Dozens - maybe fifties or hundreds of breasts. But where are all the thighs?

"They sell out really quickly," the butcher told me. "I don't get it either."

I wish I took another minute to press the point of how weird this was. I visit Jewel at least four times a week, and I've never seen any thighs for sale. What the hell is going on? Who is buying up all these chicken thighs?

It's time to start the work day, but how about a napkin before we go. This is Miles, re-imagined as a little drooling robot. Have a great day, everyone.