Details of a Day Off

It’s the start of my weekend. After managing two weddings, wholesale, and retail baking, I am friggin’ exhausted and ready to relax.

That’s why I’m awake at 4:30 AM. I let myself sleep in a bit, and I think what I need first after the last couple weeks is just some quiet time. On my back porch, I’m sitting under our porch light wearing my pajamas and a fuzzy hoodie. My legs are wrapped in a Mexican blanket Em and I got for our last beach trip that still feels warm and smells sandy.

I can hear the traffic on nearby streets, my neighbors air-conditioner, and my fingers clacking on a keyboard. Normally I like having music or a sound generator on when I write to help me focus. Right now though that would spoil all this.

The sun is starting to rise in the East, and the moon is still hanging high in front of me. If I put on shoes and got started soon, I might be able to reach Mount Tabor in time to see the sun come up over Mt. Hood.

I’m glad I live here. I’m glad I’m awake. I’m glad it’s my weekend, and I’m glad it’s quiet for now.

I’ve been trying to cut back on energy drinks again. It’s also chilly this morning, so my “preworkout” is a cup of black tea. I’ve rarely-if-ever enjoyed milk or sugar in my tea, and especially not this one. It’s a blend called “Gong Fu Black” that I got from a tea shop in Corvalis. Em and I need to go get more soon- and it’ll be a good excuse to visit some of our friends out that way.

The mug was made by friend from back East. He was always an artist, but he’s lately decided to go full-bore into making it his livelihood, starting with ceramics. At some point I need to get to the post office today and send him a shawl as a thank you. Between this, the sandy smell on the blanket, and even my hoodie (a drug rug I got on a trip to Rehoboth Beach years ago) I’m feeling a little homesick. Calling some of my friends today might be a good time.

I know I wrote about motivation in my book, but the fact is that even the strongest ones wax and wane a bit. It’s a beautiful, sunny morning. I know I won’t want to run when it gets hot later, but for some reason I keep putting off the run. “Maybe I wanna just take a long walk instead… maybe I just want to chill today.”

I imagine it’s just from getting a little bored with running. I know I can change up my route or go for a new PR, but quiet sunny days make me want to just chill out and enjoy them on a leisurely walk rather than sweat through a run. Starting is always the hardest part though.

Start by starting. After a couple blocks, I want to press through to the finish and I rarely regret it. I can always take a walk in the evening.

Lists keep me on track in the kitchen. Production, administration, stuff to bring up with the staff- doesn’t matter. What is written is remembered, and what is measured is managed. There’s chores to do of course (“adulting,”) errands to run, and fun stuff I promised myself I’d do this weekend and I’d be frustrated if I forgot.

Em is away for a few days, so I get to conquer the kitchen. It’s only about 30 minutes to knock out dishes, clean surfaces, and tidy wayward ingredients… plenty of time to make a cake my sister told me about. While it bakes, I can reframe a picture, throw out some clutter, and clean my new thrift-store decanter.

I’m far from a clean freak, but it’s easier to relax when things are orderly. Sipping scotch in a rocking chair while a cake bakes in a clean kitchen and episodes of “Way of the Househusband” are on Netflix is its own kind of joy.

If you told me at 15 years old that I’d turn into a friggin’ hobbit at age 34, I’d have asked what went wrong. Now, I’m glad for everything that did AND didn’t. Tomorrow, after work and before D&D, I’ll tackle the living room.

End of the day.

I told myself I needed to stop eating out so much, and I intend to- but this is a reward for a productive day, and writing in restaurants is one of my favorite things.

I’m parked on the patio of the Bellwether. An older gentleman across the deck convinced me with his own beverage to get a cocktail on top of the beer I’d already been enjoying with dinner. We chat about the food scene and the evolution of restaurants around Portland as my writing is (semi) forgotten. It’s a little muggy out- no one is inside. You can’t catch a breeze in there, and it’s not hot enough to justify air conditioning. Instead we sip drinks under string lights, drink in the green and cooling air, and absorb the bittersweet vibe of weathered wood.

I’m still working of course. I’m writing this- it was the condition for going out. “If you’re going to go out AGAIN, Matt, you are damn well going to work for it and make the most of the time.”

So I am. Today I lived the beloved, boring life I never figured I’d be lucky/dumb enough to lead. I remember growing up and seeing people my age out and about, thinking “Man, look at them. They’re living their best life. They’ve got it all figured out. They are so cool and together… I hope I wind up like that.”

I did, and now I know better. Either I’m winging it everyday, or I have a better handle on things than I think I do to justify this objectively lovely day. I have a feeling it’s a bit of both. I just told my boss the other day in a post-shift moment of exhaustion “I rarely know just HOW the work is gonna get done until it’s done- and then I say ‘Ok, how’d I do that?’”

There are worse things to be than a baker in Portland.
There are worse things to be than a writer on a patio with a cold, oddly bitter cocktail.
And there are few things better than having a moment of peace on your day off- time to feel yourself breathe, and listen to the blood coursing through you.

Tomorrow morning, I’m back at the grind. Another big contract, another rough week. Another week of putting out fires, organizing labor, and tweaking recipes.

If those are the trolls I must pay for peace of mind… I’ve got myself a bargain.

Stay Classy,

P.S. It was a recipe for St. Louis “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.” Check out my Instagram for the results… It’s cooling right now.

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