Tonight I’ve decided to cook dinner on my cast iron dutch oven thing. I usually reserve this tool for camping and cooking over a fire, but I want to cook outside. I’m trying it out on the grill.
This afternoon over pizza with my family and my parents, a novel idea came to mind. It started a few weeks ago when Husband was curious about what brought my parents to the United States. When he first asked me, I was amazed that I didn’t know the answer to the question. Surely I had heard the story of my parents immigrating. But no. I don’t think I had. Because when the answer to the question came out over dinner one night, the protests at the Francisco Jose de Caldas District University that shut down the univeristy right when my dad had matriculated did not come to mind.
My mom, it turns out, had also spent a few years in college before leaving it all behind for good. She was headed toward a degree in petrochemical engineering, priming for a career at Ecopetrol, the largest primary petroleum company in Colombia.
“It’s your alternate reality, mom.” I said, “And in that alternate reality, none of us are here.”
My great and novel idea is this: when all this Covid travel anxiety is behind us, I will travel to Colombia and retrace my mom’s steps. Maybe dad’s too if there’s time.I will visit the town my mom lived in, and the university she and my dad almost graduated from, and the streets where they grew up.
In the meantime, I will ask questions. And sit here while I wait for the results of my outside cooking experiment.
Since coming to Florida, I have become very structured with our schedule to avoid too much of everyone idling around on devices, wasting away on Fortnite or Roblox, and not spending time together. So, in the evenings after dinner, I’ve instituted an hour and a half block for Family Time to watch half of a movie, unless I can come up with something better. We went and jumped rope in the col-de-sac the other day—that kind of thing.
Tonight the kids wanted to watch Descendants 3. If you’ve never seen any of the Descendants movies, you’d be surprised to find a cheesy, low budget Disney production that manages to be wildly popular and make boatloads of money. The premise is a world divided between haves and have-nots, the haves being the descendants of classic Disney royalty, the have-nots being the descendants of classic Disney villains. The premise is clever, I admit. The story follows Mal, daughter of Maleficent, who steals the crown from Audry, daughter of Belle, and Audry’s boyfriend, who is the son of The Beast (I must have this wrong because somehow this is not incestuous. Whatever).
It occurred to me sometime during the Watch Your Back musical number, my kids are watching these 20 something actors in the market for role models. I don’t remember having celebrity role models per se, but I remember paying attention to people on TV. I remember following crazy Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder, and whoever else would show up at the MTV Movie Awards. I used to love Clare Danes in My So-Called Life. Thanks to that show, I still wear flannel.
So I did some celebrity social media stalking. After we shut off the TV, I encouraged my favorite well-rounded Disney stars and discouraged the ones with hyper-sexualized Instagram feeds. Plus, I’m recently very concerned about how men and women relate to one another in general, and all the 20 something pouty-face on the internet seems alien and all wrong to me now. So I will be strategic. Why not? It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a kid and think these things don’t matter.
Sitting at the Orlando International airport, air travel is in a sorry state. I’m struck by the empty spaces peppering the ticketing counter, which under normal circumstances would have been packed with families vacationing to Disney World, and kids in mouse ears. I haven’t seen a single set of mouse ears yet. Earlier this year I did a lot of air travel. I think I flew four times in January while still mobilized and it was, normal. And fun (even when we missed a flight). I guess we’ll all get used to this.
Although the sun is still out and twilight is some thirty-minutes from now, it’s quite late in the day, nearly 8pm. The long summer days are in full swing, but so are social distancing measures and other weird norms of the past 2.5 months.
I took Penny to the Houston Camera Exchange hoping that I could talk to an expert and browse some camera bodies, but when we arrived to the store they said it was appointment only and turned us away. So I did what any sane person would do, which was go to Best Buy and browse their inventory and pick the brain of their camera expert. I had every intention of buying something from Best Buy, but when they didn’t have what I wanted in stock, I called back to the Houston Camera Exchange, who had exactly what I wanted, and I bought from them. I wonder how much longer the big box stores can take this kind of customer behavior.
This weekend I started getting caught up on Formula 1 racing. Steve had made a few comments about how much he had enjoyed the Netflix series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive. I’m sheepish to say that there was a time in which I might not have noticed that comment, but since I’ve been wanting to take an interest in what Steve’s into these days, I heard him say Formula 1 and started binge watching. After all, if you want to do fun things with your spouse, do things that you both think are fun. You know, like pizza and beer fun. So, if he thinks Formula 1 is fun, maybe I can get behind it too.
Formula 1 is pretty cool. It’s single-seater auto racing at the elite level. Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have teams, along with McLaren, Haas, Renault, Williams and a few others who are lesser known to the Formula 1 lay person. There are ten teams total, two drivers per team. It’s easy to learn and follow because there are only a few players. What’s interesting about Formula 1 is the pureness of the sport. In a very broad sense, the variables boil down to the car and the driver. The game becomes engineering a car that is optimized to do this very specific type of driving, and cultivating a driver who is Alpha Alpha Alpha.
In Formula 1, there is no team in the philosophical sense. Drivers are fiercely competitive, especially with the driver counterpart on their team because, well, they are driving the same exact car. They are in pure competition with one another over who is the best driver.
In some ways. Formula 1 reminds me of elite climbers, like Free Solo guy Alex Honnold. In each sport the athletes risk life and limb to perform feats of athleticism for no other reason than the pursuit of excellence. There is no greater calling or sense of purpose. From what I’ve seen in Formula 1 interviews so far, there is little credit afforded to the engineers or the pit crew. Elite climbing is the same. There is no team. It’s the pursuit of excellence for the sake of it. And while Formula 1 drivers appear to have luxurious lifestyles as a result of their success, they’re not prima donnas. They care about being the best, like driver monks or something. And I think anything with that kind of dedication is pretty cool to watch.
It’s dinner time, and I have one of those giant Costco lasagnas in the oven. Guess what we’ll be eating for the next four days? I woke up really early this morning again to try and get a handle of my projects and things. Between virtual school, meals, sibling fighting and house chores I don’t have much time to sit in front of the computer or run or whatever. So I squeeze it all in in the morning, because I’m a nicer person if I get it all done in peace and quiet. So I was nice today.
I am going to get Bible-y now. There’s that verse in which Jesus says something along the lines of ‘don’t be anxious for tomorrow…yada yada.’ I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist. It’s controversial because I think people always understand this to mean, don’t plan, don’t care, don’t worry; be a bum on the street because, who cares? You’ll have treasures in heaven like eternal life!
Anyway there’s a lot of worrying going on around the world about jobs. But it occurred to me this morning that this Christian call to not worry, in particular about job stuff, applies to me as well even though I’m not the bread winner. My worrying, it turns out, takes the form of frustration for not having answers to things like, are we moving in the fall? Can I pay off this car loan right now? Because I would really like to do these things, you know, cross things off the list. Maybe if I settle into the mystery and uncertainty of things, as it relates to my personal to-do list, that will be me practicing my faith to not worry.