Day 39: It Just Keeps Going

I got nothing for this one.

It’s been a pretty good challenge this year coming up with things to say inspired by the most generic of American Italian food.

The food is like this blog. It’s not great but it’s not awful. But above all it just keeps going.

The good news (and food news) for you readers keeping score at home is that at some point in the not-too-distant future this section of the blog will shut down. And then we may return to the days of annual or biannual blogging–who knows.

That’s one thing to say about this challenge (and it has been a challenge, as much as it’s been a treat it’s been a task), is that it’s forced me to cook up something out of the same old noodles and sauce, week after week.

This is all I got for today:

Same windows with nonexistent view into parking lot or highway traffic. Same empty wine glasses (we’ve ordered zero bottles or glasses so far, and barely touched the samples maybe twice), same empty crayon packet (James has like an entire 64-box or so of Olive Garden crayons, but imagine that would be like opening this new pack of Crayolas and seeing instead of a beautiful gradient of visible light in that yellow-and-green chevroned box row after row of the same flat shade of blue, red, orange, and green. And the crayons are too waxy anyway and they suck.), same hospital-sick painted walls (nothing warm about that hue).

They changed the tables and seats.

The challenge is making something out of nothing, out of the same nothing you’ve faced day after day.

Because, guess what, novelty is temporary. Tedium is forever.

If Sisyphus has to roll that stone up the mountainside day after day for all of eternity, you better believe he’s invented about a trillion different games to play as he goes. Camus was right: by now, the man loves it, loves every second of repeating the same motions and sights and thoughts again and again and again.

There is purpose and new things in the redundant. Originality is impossible and overrated.

Eat at the Olive Garden day after day until it makes you the most interesting person on the planet.

Item 1: linguine, meat sauce, breaded shrimp

Breadsticks: 3

Weight: 170

How many times would I buy this pass over again? Every time always.

Day 38: Growing Up

Sometimes it’s hard to tell that time passes. But kids help with that, because they are little measuring sticks to show you how you are growing and changing. And sometimes they even grow, too.

James has gotten bigger and he’s also gotten larger. This, combined with new tables and chairs at our local Olive Garden, has led to his sudden ability to sit by himself in the seats without a booster. So now he can color on his menu, order off of it, and then eat from it, all from the comfort of his own soft seat.

This is great for me, because while Chrissi was always afraid he was going to teeter off a booster seat and crash into the alfredo-patterned carpet, I was always a little more concerned about whatever diseases I would contract just picking that seat up. Anything in public that little kids handle is going to be a mess of germs, and if their parents are grabbing these chairs, too, one can only speculate. So that’s the big win, no more grimacing and trying to pick up the ugly brown butt buckets with just a thumb and a forefinger.

Growing up is hard to do, but we do it anyway. At least kids do.

I remember being a kid (until about last year or so) and constantly thinking about how much better everything was going to be next year. Whatever problems, financial or otherwise, I faced, I would solve them when I was older, wiser, meaner.

And then I kept growing out of car seats and booster chairs, and into classroom seats and office chairs. And I kept wondering when I was going to be able to fix everything.

It’s not just me, though. Others do this, too. The Olive Garden does it. We aspire. Olive Garden aspires to be some kind of rustic, seaside, Italian, mom-and-pop place with fresh noodles and fresher shrimp. The redesign in progress at our store points this out. Instead of those old black-and-white photographs that I’ve enjoyed cataloging this year, they’re replacing all that lovely, childhood weirdness with some grown-up awfulness:

You see, a kid doesn’t dream about some colorful coastal town. He dreams about the black and white photos of grandparents he barely remembers. She dreams about the strange look that watermelon seller gave her. They dream about the balloons that floated away into the night sky.

But we tell ourselves we dream of pastel beach towns. We tell ourselves when we retire we’ll have it all figured out. Put up our feet and watch some wrinkled fisherman split a shark in half without blinking. We dream of being old enough so that our problems have been replaced by someone else’s.

The future will fix the present.

This year of Olive Gardening was supposed to fix last year’s pasta drought. But has it been better? No, it’s just been different.

The future isn’t better, it’s just different.

Item 1: Alfredo linguine grilled chicken

Item 2: she seemed mad early on so I didn’t push her for more courses or leftovers

Breadsticks: 4 (oof)

Weight: 170 (yeeks)

Age: 33 (hmmm)