Thursday, October 13 2022

writing in the morning, picture day, and normal people

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. The smell of fresh coffee wafts over the air. Tiny plastic keys and metal switches clack as my fingers dance across the keyboard. The mood is right - I think it's time to write.

I almost skipped writing today. But despite the odds, I sat down to knock out a journal entry. Writing in the morning has been tough for all sorts of reasons. First, I discovered that I really enjoy watching the morning news. Even though the news runs all day, the morning news carries an extra dash of silliness and optimism. The charming WGN news team wields a kind of psychological power over my tired brain, and in the moment I have to decide whether or not I'm writing, I yearn for a luxurious hour of mindlessly starting at the TV with a cup of coffee on the couch.

It's also become a real temptation to save writing for when life feels worth writing about. I hold my reflections until I have some cute pictures in the camera roll or some thoughtful stories to tell about Rodney, Miles, and Marissa. I think we all feel this strong gravitational pull of social media, and the temptation to curate our best moments for the public never goes away - not even my journal is immune!

Yesterday, standing a few feet away from the keyboard in my bathrobe, I sighed just loudly enough for Marissa to hear me, hoping she would give the final word on whether I was going to write or collapse on the couch. "Do what gives you joy," she wisely commented.

This writing routine doesn't give me immediate joy. It's a delayed joy. I don't feel it until I'm already halfway through my work day, and I spend a twenty minute mental break clicking through my website. I look at old pictures, read stories, and sometimes I catch myself laughing. By far, my favorite entries are from the big streak where I went over a year without missing a single day. There were lots of mornings when I didn't feel like writing.

These days, I'm seeking some kind of middle ground. I enjoy the occasional lazy morning to slurp coffee and stare at WGN, but I also make it a point to write on the days when I really don't feel it.

I changed things up this morning. I showered right when I woke up just to escape the comfort of my bathrobe. I set up at the family computer so that it wouldn't feel so much like work. And now that I'm looking around, I've noticed that my coffee could use a top-off. Let's do this.

Sip. Doesn't Rodney look spiffy? There he is in his natural habitat sporting his picture day outfit. We took him to Target the night before. Marissa wanted him to wear blue plaid because it played off his eye color nicely. I made the mistake of grabbing a second plaid shirt that boldly proclaimed his favorite color. "He looks like a lumberjack," sighed Marissa as she slung the blue shirt back on the rack. Rodney may look like a lumberjack, but we decided that gaining enough of his trust to convince him to willingly wear a button down shirt was worth it.

The only problem was that it wasn't picture day. We got our days crossed, unwittingly sending Rodney to a regular school day in this outfit. When he lept off the bus at the end of the day, he boldly and loudly proclaimed that mom and dad were totally, utterly wrong about picture day.


The kids have been difficult this week. If I could show you with a single moment, it would have to be this snapshot of a chaotic dinner at Naf Naf (we just discovered this place - it's kind of like a Mediterranean Chipotle).


Rodney barely touched his food, and he refused to stay in his seat for longer than 10 seconds. Miles, seconds away from a meltdown, loudly pleaded his argument for why he should be allowed to exclusively eat the plain pita in the bag under Marissa's tray instead of the one on his own tray that was mixed with sauce and chicken. I was just trying to mentally block out the noise so I could inhale my own delicious pita pocket in peace. Miles threw his sauce-dripping fork at me, snapping me out of my trance. Meanwhile, Rodney stashed his stuffed raptor under the table, and Marissa would have to drive back to the store to retrieve it from the closing crew. When we put the kids to bed after nights like these, I battle thoughts like how much longer before my kids just act like normal goddamn people?

Later that night after the kids went to bed, I treated myself to a little spider project to lift my mood. Tio's enclosure has been bugging me for a while - it was one of the first bioactive setups I tried, and I totally goofed up the drainage layer. Additionally, the plant was getting too big for the little glass box. The ends of the roots were dying, and I read that this attracts gnats. In this picture, you can see a displeased Tio curled up in a leaf, probably trying to avoid the swampy dirt beneath him.


What kind of re-housing would this be? Would Tio go quietly?


I should have just left Tio in the lid where he felt safe. In hopes of getting him a deli cup, I nudged him one last time with a paint brush. He took off across the table, down the table leg, and onto the carpet. For an uncomfortable flash of time, we had an exotic Brazilian spider running free in our dining room. I could have sworn that I felt a crunch when I brought down the deli cup, but Tio still has all eight legs. Thank God spiders are tough.


I washed out his enclosure, rinsed his old cork bark hide with cold water, and rebuilt a better home - no plants this time, but I left a few tatters from his old leaf as a memento. I'm thankful for spiders - they make life interesting.

That's what I got today - have a good Thursday everyone, and in case I decide to space out and watch WGN tomorrow morning, have a good weekend.