Two nights ago, I had a nasty scratch of insomnia. I went to bed at 11 pm. By 1:45 am, I was four cups of coffee awake, and I caught myself doing the oddest thing– I was literally tossing and turning in bed. My sleepless nights usually find me staring unblinking at the ceiling, but on this night I couldn’t get comfortable, my skin felt itchy, my pillows were suffocating me. My mind was running eight hundred miles a second– how will I pay my rent? did I respond to that email? how many people have I slept with? what was Forest Whitaker’s last movie?— and the only thing that seemed to calm me down was an episode of Downton Abbey.
Days following those nights can be rough. I’m tired and I know something is on my mind, something that might be unknown to me, and I find that stressful. I wanted to cry when I woke up and I wasn’t sure why. I went to work and felt mildly bewildered all day. After work, instead of coming home and parking in front of a movie or my computer, I decided to bake a cake. I used to love to bake. I miss it. I went to the store, I bought a bunch of baking supplies, I got home and drank peach beer, I listened to the James Taylor Pandora station and I made an olive oil cake. Usually books and movies and booze help me when I’m feeling sad, but those things run the risk of keeping me locked in my head. There’s something about doing the dishes as the entire house starts to smell like something is baking in the oven that just involves me in a different way. Sometimes it’s good to do things with your hands when the blues come to getcha.
*Full disclosure: my cake kinda tasted like shoe. I skimped on the olive oil, opting for the cheapie four dollar bottle, so yeah, my sweet olive oil cake wound up smelling and tasting like a cheap Italian restaurant.