housekeeping, etc.

I have been seriously spring cleaning since January. I cleaned out and organized the pantry, kitchen cabinets and drawers, the refrigerator (including finally getting Imo to switch its doors to open on the left side, the optimal configuration for our kitchen), the bathroom cabinets, the girls' and my closets. I scrubbed the bathtub to a white I've never before achieved since we moved here; I got rid of the scale around the bathroom faucets and polished the chrome. I have switched to a more "natural" cleaning regimen, using vinegar and baking soda, mainly because of my success in the bathroom. I am also implementing the use of Sal Suds (as soon as I use up our current jug of laundry detergent), vinegar, essential oils, and wool dryer balls in the laundry. I've switched the entire family to Castile soap for bathing. In this process, I was able to rid our small apartment of a lot of stuff: dinnerware and kitchen gadgets that I hardly use, plastic containers and utensils, old jars/packs of food I've stashed in the back of the fridge and pantry, harsh chemical cleaners, bottles of unnecessary bath products, clothes and shoes that we no longer wear. Although I continue to struggle with consumerism, and feelings of profound guilt and complicity over my wastefulness, household maintenance has somehow become easier, lighter -- for instance, doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom is no longer as dreadful (because I love my homemade cleaning solutions and my wooden brushes, haha!), and it's now easier to use up what I have in the fridge (because I CAN SEE THEM ALL). And even though reading the news still leads me to despair, I haven't felt truly depressed in a while. Even when I turned another year older. Maybe it's these distractions (bursts of productivity? renewed sense of purpose? restored order?) that have allowed me to be in a slightly better place, mental health-wise, than I was the same time last year.

The first quarter of 2018 was so full in a good way, and not just of things housekeeping-related. Yumi was in the 5th grade musical, it was Annie Jr. this year (she played Grace Farrell), and I drove a lot of carpools and volunteered a few hours to supervise at rehearsals. We baked A LOT of cookies for her Power of One project and sold them with the help of two friends and their moms outside the auditorium after performances. Asha and Yumi auditioned for a small children's theater production of Into the Woods and made it in the cast: Asha got the role of Jack's mother, Yumi got Rapunzel. Nacho did Destination Imagination again this year and we attended the regional and state tournaments; his team placed second in State and qualified for Globals. We saw some really good shows -- notably, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, a musical about Marc Chagall and his wife, which had me sobbing in the theater because it was so beautiful, and Khruangbin, who play a fusion of Thai funk and psychedelic- and retro-surf rock and were trippy and completely awesome at the Lodge Room in Highland Park. I hosted a few family brunches and dinners, including one for my birthday (brunch), which was nice -- I made Ottolenghi's asparagus mimosa (it was peak asparagus season!) and everyone brought other delicious food and we drank bellinis. We spent Easter Sunday with Chingbee, who was in town for a conference at UCLA, and whom I had not met in person before then, but for whom I felt an instant affinity. (Our conversations made me think about my road-not-traveled -- that is, the academe, maybe even a literary life -- which is something that comes to mind a lot, actually, and which, I've found, hurts less to reflect upon the farther away it drifts from me. Or maybe I have just gotten better at resignation. Haha.) I still swim at the Y twice a week, and Imo and I went to a pilates class together (which we plan to keep going to, even though pilates is not my favorite, i.e. self-inflicted punishment).

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say, after the above litany of domestic minutiae (sorry), is that I am okay. And that's a good thing. I hope I don't jinx it.

pantry, a month later

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