On Not Eating the Burned Grilled Cheese

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I did not martyr myself to this sandwich.

Last Wednesday was a crappy day on many fronts. Work stress, bills to pay, minor but annoying health issues, feeling overwhelmed about my to-do list growing faster than my ability to do, a deep despair over the dawning realization that I’m probably never going to see a woman president in my lifetime. I was torn between the desire to smash things and the desire to go to bed forever. But dinner needed made.

I stood dithering in my kitchen for a long time, trying to settle on what I could muster the energy to cook. My top go-to comfort food is a grilled cheese sandwich. So I decided to go easy on myself. There are only three of us in the household now, and three grilled cheeses are quickly made with little effort. I would put apple slices and strawberries on the side. Good enough.

Wouldn’t you know, I let myself get distracted when the first sandwich was in the skillet. It burned while I was washing and slicing fruit. When I took it out and saw the charred surface, my automatic first thought was, “I guess that one’s mine.”

It’s been my default setting for years. The other members of the family get the good ones of whatever thing is being distributed. I get the pancake that was put in before the griddle was hot enough and isn’t quite right, the egg with the broken yolk, you get the idea. This isn’t done with resentment, but as a programmed response, like a factory setting for moms and wives. The thing is, nobody in family would ever ask me to do this. It’s all on me, usually done with little thought.

But not this time. I had the thought. I even took one bite of the sandwich. Then I took myself in hand and lectured me, “You deserve a decent sandwich. You were making this as comfort food because you’re sad and angry about misogyny, for pity’s sake! And here you’re willing to cheat yourself because you’ve internalized messages saying you’re always the one who has to sacrifice.”

There have been times in my life when I couldn’t afford to throw out a sandwich, no matter how scorched. But at present, we have achieved a financial level where I can use two extra pieces of bread and a couple more slices of cheese without facing penury and ruin.

It might look like a tiny thing, but fighting my own thoughts about how little I’m allowed to need or want is a big step for me. I threw out the burned sandwich and made a different one for myself, perfectly toasted. It was delicious. And liberating.

This Muskrat, Living Its Best Life

I know life is stressful for everyone right now, but let’s all commit to a little self-care so we can keep going. For me that means taking walks. I try to do so mindfully, soaking in the sights, sounds and feel of what’s around me, rather than simply using my body as a vehicle to transport my worries from place to place.

Yesterday’s perambulation along the MKT Trail was particularly restorative. I stopped on a bridge for a bit to watch this muskrat enjoying nature’s salad bar. It’s fully in the moment, not fussed about what might or might not happen tomorrow.

Let’s all promise ourselves that for at least a few minutes each day, we’ll be this muskrat, living its best life.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and a New Pair of Shoes

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A toast to self-indulgence

I’m doing okay. I have the most excellent jar of strawberry rhubarb jam in my refrigerator right now. It’s an essential part of my new nightly snack and moment of zen. In the midst of trying to get my kids launched and see my mom through her last years, I keep from burning out or falling into martyrdom with strawberry rhubarb jam. Also new sneakers.

Here’s the deal. I get paid twice a month. Out of each paycheck I make sure to buy something for myself. Often it’s something I truly need, but in the past I might have gone without anyway. Usually it’s something small. I’m not talking diamonds. I’m talking new hair elastics or a book of kakuro puzzles. But it’s something for me, a selfish indulgence to keep me human.

A couple of weeks ago it was a pricey jar of strawberry rhubarb jam thrown into the cart with my pile of store brands. I still have half the jar to enjoy after a several nights of enjoying of a spoonful of red heaven spread on toast. This most recent paycheck saw me retire the shoes that have served me for more than a thousand walking miles. I thanked them for their aid and put them out to pasture (literally, I’m using them for yard work now) as I laced up my new sneaks. I have tread again!

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Old and Wallered Out, you’ll be expected to train your replacement, New and Shiny.

I don’t know if it’s admirable or pathetic or something else altogether when I find myself coping with a stressful moment in the morning by reminding myself of the snack I can have at night. I hope I’m not straying into “Bread and Jam for Frances” territory.

I don’t think it’s indicative of a pathological food issue. I’ll walk off the calories – I have shoes for that.