Today has been luxuriously lazy. I’ve done nothing but lounge around, drinking coffee, eating a breakfast of Spam and eggs, and watching mind-numbing sitcoms on television. I think there may have been a brief, unplanned nap thrown in for good measure, as well. Exactly what I needed after a hectic three-day work symposium that had me on my toes constantly.
It all started on Thursday. Actually, that’s not true. It all started about six months ago, when our annual conference was first announced, and I learned I’d be expected to deliver a presentation. This had been a constant looming-on-the-horizon distraction ever since, and along with the wedding, gave me something to nervously anticipate and fret over. Needlessly, Tara says, but that’s just the way I am. Maybe it’s the stubborn Taurus in me. I fixate on things of this nature and worry about them until they’re over and finished with. Seriously, for the first time since January, I feel like I can just relax and enjoy life. (Actually, in January I was worrying over the proposal, so I don’t think I’ve felt this at ease since last year, to be honest).
Right now, I feel great. We have a trip to Denver coming up in just three and a half weeks, and a lot of other fun things planned for the rest of the year that I can finally allow myself to look forward to without “having to get through something else” first. I feel liberated and very much at ease, in a way I haven’t felt – like I said – in ages. I can finally breathe again.
Anyway, the actual symposium began on Thursday with a cocktail reception on the 15th floor of The Nines luxury hotel in downtown Portland. We’d reserved the outdoor patio bar and it was a stunningly beautiful evening, puffy white clouds mingling with the sun as it set over the West Hills giving way to twinkling city lights. It was a bit chilly, but the outdoor heat lamps did wonders, and the food – a mixture of sushi, spring rolls, meatballs, chicken, and other finger foods – was very good. My coworkers and I socialized with members that had flown in from as far away as South Carolina, and it turned out to be a pretty fun evening. My biggest fear? As a content writer I have virtually no direct contact with any of our members, so I wasn’t sure whether they’d even know who I was, but as it turned out they all did know me and were full of compliments over my writing. I even ran into the guy from North Dakota whose Spock-less TV and radio scripts I am working on, and he was excited to see what I’d come up with. I was pleasantly surprised and secretly pleased that my hard work was acknowledged so well. You never know when you’re a behind-the-scenes guy.
Most of my coworkers were staying at the hotel, but I chose to commute, since it’s only about a 20-minute drive from home. I’d much rather enjoy the comfort of my own bed and new wife than strange sleeping quarters, though I have to admit the rooms looked very nice and got rave reviews. Luxury hotel and all, remember? Breakfast kicked off at 7:30 Friday morning and I wanted to allow myself plenty of time in case there was traffic, so I left the house at 5:55. And pulled into the parking garage at 6:15. So much for the bumper-to-bumper traffic I was told I’d encounter! That day was spent in one of the conference rooms listening to my coworkers take turns giving their presentations, until 4:00 rolled around and it was my turn to step up to the podium. I was nervous – there were about 25 people in the room, close to double what I’d expected (there were three presentations going on at any given time, and members got to choose which ones to attend) – but aside from a minor technical error involving a YouTube video I couldn’t play, it all went off without a hitch. Once I started speaking I was fine, and I even cracked a few jokes with the audience. The worst part about public speaking is the part leading up to your speech. In my case, like I said, this lasted about six months. Afterwards, we had a Portland-themed dinner in the ballroom, complete with food carts, a full bar, a violinist who looked like Jesus, a pair of female aerial acrobat artists/contortionists, beer pong, henna tattoos, a caricaturist, and a photo booth. Spouses were invited, so Tara showed up, and we had a great time. Best of all, I rediscovered whiskey sours and have a new go-to drink now.
Saturday was another early morning, but I left an hour later this time, and that worked out much better. Breakfast, more presentations, lunch, and then three hours of free time (I took advantage by driving to Powell’s Books) before we boarded buses to head to McMenamin’s Edgefield, a resort hotel in Troutdale where we were to golf, drink, and have dinner outdoors under a tent. Now, you’ve heard the phrase, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, right? When this event was planned months ago, we figured the weather would still be nice in late September. Normally, it is. Last year, this same weekend was sunny and warm. This year? Ha. No…more like, HA. It started raining Friday morning and continued nonstop through Sunday night. Not just a little rain, either: monsoon rain, complete with 45-mph wind gusts and flooding and a lot of downed branches. Portland received almost 3″ of rain over the weekend, and set a record for the wettest September ever. Suffice it to say, the golfing event never happened except for a few hardy souls who gave up after sloshing through ankle-deep water 3 or 4 holes in, and the dinner beneath the tent was a wet and windy affair that found most of us huddled together for body heat. I was asked many times by our out of town guests, “Is it always like this around here?” I’d reply, “Not always. July is pretty dry.” We were back at the hotel by 8 PM, and for me, the symposium was over. Whew! It felt great to walk through the door an hour later and kiss my wife.
We were all given a day off to use this week in return for giving up our weekend, and I wasted no time in choosing to use mine today. That way, I still got two days off in a row, and have been able to recharge my batteries nicely. I think I’ll put on a movie in a few minutes, then make Tara a nice dinner of cabbage rolls. Oh, and the sun came out (briefly) this morning for the first time since Thursday. But it’s still chilly and damp. Fall is here, and it looks like it’s not going anywhere.
Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I feel ready for that.
- Portland is amazing. (bigredroadtrip.wordpress.com)
- Oregon storm 2013: Portland, Astoria see highest September rainfalls on record (oregonlive.com)