Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Dirty Job

Why does it feel so good to clean? Last weekend I dripped with sweat, pink-faced from my vigorous battle with the kitchen floor tiles. But I felt fantastic. I was momentarily renewed, peaceful, and felt like I'd really accomplished something. It's exceedingly fleeting, this feeling, especially with two vomiting, shedding cats and a husband who insists on wearing shoes in the house. But that five minutes when the floors glow are worth the effort. I think.

Making order out of chaos is always thrilling for me - I'm not a neat freak, not by anyone's standards. But a clean(ish) house is one thing I can control in a world where I sometimes feel powerless (Gulf oil spill, animal hoarders, my insane family, etc. etc.) My A.D.D. doesn't allow for sharp attention to detail, but I do enjoy a good cleaning session - a mopped floor, a huge bag of clothes sent to the thrift store. It's best done on Sundays, and best done when I'm alone.

I can still fall into the trap of comparing myself to others in the homemaking department. Sometimes I think, a real adult has a cleaner, more organized house than mine. But lately I'm trying to maintain a more Zen attitude towards it. There will always be cat hair, mud, garlic clove skins, peppercorns, all manner of everyday detritus spilled and tracked in on shoes. Laundry keeps on getting worn, junk mail keeps arriving, recycle bins keep filling. We just do our best, right? Life keeps happening, the good and the bad, whether or not we're ready for it. We don't have to compare ourselves to anyone else in this world, not in terms of the cleanest house or the biggest bank account or the smallest dress size. We adapt, we manage. Managing is really pretty good when you stop to think about it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Local Woman Attempts to Banish Food Guilt

The July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, is FAN. TAS. TIC. Not only is it the Summer Reading issue (yay!), it's got a great section on people's different relationships to food - why they eat what they eat. It's a collection of short essays emphasising what is great about food - the pleasure in tasting and the way it makes you feel.

There's a vegan chef, a woman who goes on crazy crash diets like Greek Salad and Tootsie Rolls, and my favorite: The Omnivore. I want to be her. She actually seems to enjoy her food. She eats everything, from pulled pork tacos to poached goat, caramelized Brussel sprouts to a deep-fried candy bar. She acknowledges her "ample butt, boobs, and stomach." But, she says, "I'd rather have curves than agonize over whether I deserve dessert."

BING! I think my brain sort of exploded. I am so sick of my push/pull, love/hate relationship with food. I am sick of feeling bad about my body and making food the enemy. I LIKE FOOD. I like to eat. Sometimes I like to eat junk food. Sometimes I crave a fresh, crunchy salad or a baked sweet potato or grilled corn on the cob - with butter. My life has been one long calorie calculation after another, one more sneaky spoonful when no one else was looking. Every couple of months I have a meltdown (usually after skipping some workouts,) crying, "I'm sick of having to work out so much! I'm sick of having to think about my weight all the time!" It's damn exhausting. It sucks all the joy out of eating and out of life. I want a healthy relationship to what I eat. I want a life of energy and activity and good health. I also want a life without self-flagellation if I eat a doughnut (or two.) There's got to be room for all of that.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Old Friends

Sarah, an old friend, is visiting this weekend. It's been such a good visit. We met in the fall of 1995, when fate placed us in the same dorm at our small Midwestern college. She lived on the first floor, an all-women's floor, called "The Nunnery" by the students. I lived on the third floor, with boys right across the hall. (No air conditioning! Carrying boxes of crap up three floors in the early September heat!) Sarah was one of those girls you just couldn't help but notice. Actually, she's still that girl. We pretty much instantly became friends. She used to work the front desk in our dorm's lobby and I'd go downstairs and bug her all the time. She introduced me to Shawn Colvin's music, for which I will always be grateful. We were DJs together on the campus radio station on Saturday mornings. We were sleepy, goofy, and played awesome women's music like Joni Mitchell and Ani Difranco. Sarah was (and is) hilarious, generous, fun.

The relationship with an old friend is comparable to a marriage. You know each other really, really well. You love one another, even though on occasion you get on each other's nerves. You learn that the other person doesn't need to think exactly like you do about everything, and it's still okay, the bond is still intact. Too much distance can fray a bond, but regular communication does wonders to strengthen one in spite of the miles. It's comforting beyond measure to know that even though people can't help but change and grow in different directions, the core of who you are remains enough to maintain that connection.

Fifteen years. That's a long time to know someone, longer than many marriages! Not having any siblings, I've always taken refuge in my friendships. They are my security blanket and my joy. Life gets in the way too often, and there are gaps I'm feeling right now with some of my friends. It's funny how I live in the same town with someone and don't talk to them for months, yet I can talk every week with a friend who lives three states away. My hope for this summer is to reconnect with dear friends far and near, and to be awake enough to appreciate all the wonderful people who bless me with their love.