By Tony Ortiz | July 26th, 2014
“It’s a beautiful clear-skied Saturday morning folks. The time now is 9:38am and you’re jamming with Jamin’ 102.8 FM. Here’s Tracy with your weekend weather. Tracy…”
“Thanks Mike. Hello New York and hello warm, sunny-Summer! Your low today is 73 degrees with a high of 84 and nothing but Sun, Sun, Sun. Go to the beach, soak up some rays, or have a BBQ. Whatever you do, enjoy it because the Eastern cold front is moving in quickly and our beautiful weekend will be short lived. High humidity is expected which will bring with it nothing but rain and thunderstorms. You can expect this damp weather for the majority of the day Sunday beginning in the early afternoon, and continuing through your Monday morning commute. So get out there today and make it a good one. Back to you Mike.”
“You heard her folks…”
[Yawn/Stretch] Damn that Alarm is loud today, I thought to myself. I need to get up, brush my teeth and shower. Iron a T-shirt, throw on some shorts and then some breakfast. Maybe a sandwich or some scrambled eggs with toast or something. Or maybe just a bowl of cereal. Yea, that’ll be quickest. I have a bunch of running around that I need to get to. I’m supposed to meet up and go bike riding with James around 3 o’clock. Before that I need to go to the ATM, go to the mechanic and have him check out that weird banging sound the car’s been making every time I put it into reverse - that’s always followed with a forced jerking motion. Then I need to pick up my laundry, pass by the Pharmacy, then the Supermarket to pick up what I need to bake that cake I’ve wanted to try. Actually I should go to the Supermarket before the Pharmacy because it’s closer to the Dry Cleaners. Then it’s a straight shot to the Pharmacy, which is a quick stop anyways, so I don’t have to worry about the butter melting or anything like that. Yup, that’s the plan.
I got up, out of bed and out of my head, and then started for the bathroom. Time’s ticking away. After my morning routines I finished getting dressed and went upstairs.
“Good Morning Pop”.
“Morning son”, he responded. “Did you sleep OK? You look tired”
“Yea-yea, I’m fine” I responded as I zoomed by heading toward the kitchen where operation Cinnamon Toast Crunch was about to commence. I glanced up at the clock in the kitchen as Dad asked me; “Do you have a minute to read this letter that came in the mail?”
“Not right now” I responded. “But give it to me, I will a little later when I come back from picking up my laundry (and from doing the half dozen other things I know I need to do, I thought to myself).
“That’s fine, I know you’re busy. Whenever you have time”, he responded.
I grabbed the letter, headed back downstairs, and dug into my bowl of cereal. Looking at the clock after every few minutes and re-adjusting my mental time table with approximations of how long each errand will be taking. I opened up the letter to get it out of the way now. It was the same Home Owners Property Tax summary that they send every quarter. The same one that Dad always asks me about each and every time, thinking its an unexpected Bill.
I slurp up my sugary-cinnamon flavored milk as I walk toward the sink. Rinse my fingers with water and wipe my mouth. Damn I forgot to use the auto-start for the car to warm up. Could’ve saved myself a couple minutes there. I turn it on now, grab my laundry bag, to give myself something to pick up next week, and head back up stairs.
“Yea Pop, I’ll be back later” I responded.
“Ok, drive saf-”
I cut him off in my usual ‘time is of the essence’ fashion; “Ok thanks Pop. Here’s the letter back. It’s just a summary of the House Taxes that were already paid. You can toss it”.
Happily he said; “Oh thank you, thank you. I thought it was a bill. But it didn’t make sense because we pay the taxes through the Mortgage right?”
“Yea Pop, exactly. It’s the same thing they always send every three months. I have to go, see you later.”
“Ok son, see yo--
I shut the door behind me and quickly walked to the car. Put the laundry in the back seat, and got into the drivers. Put the car in reverse, waited for that jerking - ‘ok, now I’m actually in reverse’ – sound, and headed out of the drive way. The mechanic was actually across the street from the Bank, which is where I spotted it last weekend. The guy said I could pass by today and that he’d take a look and give me an estimate for free. Hopefully it’s less than the $3,500 one that I got a couple months ago. I left the Bank and headed toward the mechanic. I was there for about a total of 20-25 minutes between him finishing up with the guy that got there before I did and him giving me a $2,700 estimate. Better, but not good news. I thanked him, got in my car looked at the clock and readjusted my projections now that I could swap two errand estimates with actual figures. I still had enough time to do what I set out to do.
After picking up my Dry Cleaning, going to the Supermarket, Pharmacy and remembering I also had to go to the corner variety store to buy razor blades, I only had about an hour and a half to Bake this cake before I needed to head out to meet James at 3 o’clock to log in some biking miles at Forest Park.
I got home, grabbed my pressed shirts and groceries from the back seat and headed into the house.
“Hey, how’d it go”? My father asked.
“Good Pop” I responded, “I’m going to make a cake for you to have some before I go bike riding in a little while”.
“Oh, ok great. Thank you” he said.
I went downstairs put my stuff down and I changed my shirt. Went back upstairs to the kitchen, prepped all of my ingredients and in the oven my All White Almond cake went. Time is starting to run tight. When it comes out of the oven in about half an hour, it’d be 25-20 minutes to three o’clock, which wasn’t enough time for it to cool and for me to frost it. I text James and pushed it back to 3:30pm.
It was about 3:15pm and I had changed into my biking gear while the cake was cooling down, and I was ready to go as soon as I frosted it. It wasn’t completely cool, still a bit warm actually. I thought about letting it cool completely and just frosting it when I got back from the Park in a couple of hours…but I promised Pops a cake and I had to keep my word. So I waited til 3:30 on the dot. James was already at the Park I’m sure. He told me he was on his way about ten minutes ago and he was closer to it than I was. I need to get out of here asap.
I quickly leveled out the cake and cut it in half so that I could frost the middle too. I wasn’t happy with the way the frosting came out though. It was more gooey than thick, and the cake still being warm didn’t help matters much either. The frosting just melted into and all around the cake. It did taste pretty good though – it gave the cake a ‘Tres Leches’ like moistness. Next time I can’t rush this much though. It came out way to sloppy. I sprinkled some Almond slices onto it, took one look at the clock showing 3:34pm and yelled out “Grab some cake Pop, I have to go”.
I got my bike from the garage, text James “omw” as I rushed toward the Park. About ten minutes and a quarter of a mile’s worth of residential streets later, I met James at the top of the hill we usually meet up at.
Slightly out of breath I gave him a pound and said “what’s up bro?”
“Better late then never, huh?” James said jokily.
“Sorry man” I responded, “I was rushing over here bro. I was baking a fucking cake that was still warm when I was frosting it right before I bolted out of the house to get here and it came out like shit”
“Haha, I’m sure it’s fine and tastes good though. C’mon lets get this ride in” and we did.
My mind is usually racing. Thinking about what needs to be done, should be done, was done, could’ve been done differently, etc. I’m focused, but not in the moment at all. Whether it’s making sure I hit the exact coordinates of my pre-plotted daily course, unnecessarily rushing conversations, or meticulously and methodically following a cake recipe, I’m just going through the motions. Speeding through. Here I am at the Park, trying to keep up with James and focused on the millage on my odometer. Oblivious to the beautiful sights all around me, forestry areas, hiking trails and other cyclists. People jogging, walking & talking, picnics, BBQs, kids playing, laughing and enjoying life. Here I am pedaling away and to ‘busy’ to stop and actually look around. It’s always go, go, go with me. At about 8.5 miles I reach the top of a long declining hill (my favorite to just let the bike pick up speed via gravity, peddle free) and I notice two little kids that couldn’t be more than three and four years old a piece, with who I assume is their Dad, both on their little bikes walking up the hill on the opposite side and watching me and James in awe as we fly down this hill. And with the insightful wisdom of a thousand Monks, this four year old kid whose helmet was still to big for his head, yells out as we zipped by; “Slow down people”.