"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

Return to Portland: Taking a Step Forward

Seeing as I’ve been paying rent for the last two months on my apartment sitting empty in Portland, I finally extracted myself from Southern California and the fame-and-fortune-seeking life as an aspiring TV star of a pie series to return to my own reality show. Rain. Taxes. Unpacking. Unemployment.

PHOTO: Shoes of Swan Island. Random collection-cum-spontaneous art project. Was this an omen to take a step forward?
It’s Monday and I had every intention of applying myself to my long list of outstanding tasks. Starting first thing this morning. Pay bills. Make dentist appointment. Call accountant. Write thank you notes to all those pie bakers we interviewed. Finish unloading RV. But it was sunny! So when Alison said she was free to meet at Swan Island Beach, I said, “Sure! This stuff can wait another day.” I mean, how often does the sun shine in Oregon!
As we walked with our dogs, we held our faces toward the sunlight, its brilliance and warmth doubled by its rays reflecting off the Willamette River. It’s amazing how blue an industrial waste-filled river can look when it’s sunny! I may have been ignoring my To Do list, but at least we talked about finding work. We talked about preparing taxes. We talked about going to the dentist. Does that count?
We also talked about Marcus. Swan Island is where he worked when we lived together in Portland. Marcus and I walked our dog on this very beach many, many times, throwing the stick for our little puppy until our arms ached. Now it’s my heart that aches. My heart remains heavier than the waterlogged tree trunks half buried and trapped on this riverbank.
“I’ve been thinking about him,” Alison said. “I look at his picture on our refrigerator and still can’t believe he’s gone.” She paused and asked, “How are you doing?”
“I just pretend he’s at work,” I replied. “That’s the only way I can cope. That or stay in constant motion. The TV project kept me intensely occupied for 3 weeks, and that was helpful. Then there was my 4-day drive back to Oregon. But I just can’t justify any more gas money for the RV right now.” We walked in silence for a while after that. I tipped my face higher toward the sun so she couldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes.
On the drive back to my apartment I was overcome by surprising inspiration. On NW 23rd I swung a sharp right (God, how I missed driving my MINI Cooper!) and stopped at Grand Central Bakery.
For as much as I long to return to baking for a living, I always remind myself, “Seven-fifty an hour is not a living.” But today I felt radiant and invincible, a feeling as rare these days as the sun in the Pacific Northwest, and it seemed important to take advantage of this moment. Money be damned! I filled out an application for a baking job.
I may not get hired. They will probably laugh at my qualifications: 1 Year, Pie Baker to the Stars; 3 years, Pie Blogger; 12 Days, Host of would-be TV pie-lot; 0 days, Culinary School.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” said Confucius. Confucius wouldn’t laugh at my job application. This was a step in a positive direction. At the very least applying for a pie baking job — or a job of any kind — is something to keep me busy until I become the rich and famous star of a pie TV series. Ha! Meanwhile, back to my reality show, I have a dental appointment scheduled for Wednesday.