• evening will come

    photo credit: my younger daughter

    I recently came across the phrase midlife “renaissance” — as opposed to midlife crisis — and I was like, Ooo, yes! All the creative energy! The reaching! The dreaming! Taking one step after another without a clear vision, the boldness and uncertainty smashed so tight together they’re indistinguishable. Audacity. Fear. Power. Sometime new is coming. I love it.

    ***

    I’ve never been one for going to the gym. The idea of paying money to drive somewhere to get all hot and sweaty in a stale room with a bunch of strangers for a specified amount of minutes always felt ridiculous. But several years ago I signed up for a few weeks of kickboxing and last summer I signed up for another few weeks, and then I did something entirely un-Jennifer-like:

    I bought a membership.

    Here’s why: My perimenopausal body is whack — slowing metabolism, stiffening joints, graying hair, wrinkling skin, ricocheting emotions . . . because perimenopause is basically puberty but in reverse — so I decided now was the time to embrace my dying-yet-fully-alive body by smothering it with tough, kickass love. Make it work. Be in it. 

    photo credit: my younger daughter

    Six months in, my body is stronger than it’s ever been. Kickboxing is a much more comprehensive workout than running or playing Ultimate. Along with all the kicking and squats and jumping, there’s a focus on upper body strength, something that I’ve always been weak in. I’m no Michelle Obama, but after six months of paddles, bag work, weights, and push-ups (I hate push-ups), my arms boast a wee smidge of muscle. As in, I’ll cross my arms and actually get distracted by the hardness of them, like a perimenopausal Uncle Rico (timestamp: 00:26). 

    Funnily enough, I like my aging body now, maybe more than I ever have.

    Yesterday at kickboxing I mentioned my crisis-turned-renaissance to a friend and, after her knee-jerk reaction of, Nice try; I’m not buying it, she said, “I guess midlife is a sort of rebirth.” 

    And I was like, Oh, riiight. Renaissance means rebirth. I’m a baby being reborn so no wonder I’m crying so much! 

    OR. Maybe I’m pregnant, giving birth to a new me. Which also makes sense: foggy brain, no period (sometimes), can’t sleep, hormones wack, peeing all the time, crying, a hunkered-down feeling. The mounting tension of an impending, life-altering change. The excitement.

    ***

    There’s grief, too. I’m not the same person I used to be.

    I will never be that person again.

    ***

    My brother and sister-in-law released a new song and music video* last week. It came out while I was at work so as soon as I got into my car I pulled it up on my phone. When it ended, my face was wet. I took a few deep breaths, texted my brother my congratulations, and then drove home where I immediately watched it again, this time on a bigger screen and with headphones (the better to hear you with, my dear) and, once again: waterworks.

    That evening, I pulled the video up for my husband to watch (with headphones — I was done crying for the day). Afterwards, he just sat there swiping at his eyes and sniffling, looking kinda stunned, like what the heck was that.

    It’s breathtaking, this one. 

    Evening will come. 

    ***

    *The video was produced/filmed by their friend, the same guy who consulted with me about my YouTube channel. The man is brilliant.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (2.27.23), perfect pita, old-fashioned molasses cream sandwich cookies, homecoming, a radio interview, plus a food fight.

  • fridge guts

    The other day one of my coworkers off-handedly mentioned (I forget what we were talking about) that her mom always had them deep clean the fridge before company came — at which point I completely lost my shizzle.

    “Wait, WHAT?! The fridge? No freaking way! Are you kidding me??!!”

    (I can be intense.)

    Turns out, part of their routine company preparations included a top-to-bottom clean of the fridge: taking everything out, wiping the fridge down with bleach, discarding old stuff, etc, etc, did you ever!  Cleaning the fridge ranks so low on my getting-ready-for-company list that it’s not even on the page. I deep-clean the fridge — take everything out, wash the produce drawers, and scrub down the shelves and walls — exactly. . . never. 

    In order of importance, here’s what I do (or make sure gets done) before company arrives:

    Wash all the dishes and empty the drainers.
    Thorough vacuum of the downstairs.
    Pick up. (“De-gnoming,” my husband calls it, as in: decluttering.)
    Clean the downstairs bathroom: toilet, sink, mirror.
    Sweep the manure and mud off the porch.
    Wash the kitchen windows. 
    Wash the stove top.
    Pick up the yard poops, or the dog poops in the yard. (Our yard does not poop.)
    Empty trashes.
    Tidy the shoe room.
    Wipe down all the tables, fold throw-blankets, fluff pillows.
    Light candles.

    The fridge does get spot-cleaned on the regular. My fridge fills and empties almost weekly and when a shelf gets mostly empty, I might (like once a month or so) scrub at the rings of dried milk and sticky smears of pancake syrup with a soapy dishcloth.* And I frequently (though not frequently enough) wipe down the fridge handles. 

    But that’s about it.

    In conclusion, two questions:

    1. How often do you deep clean your fridge?
    2. What’s on your Cleaning For Company list?

    And a bonus question: 

    1. Is your fridge in a perpetual state of packed-full-ness, or does it regularly resemble a chilly barren wasteland?

    *My husband read this and took issue, pointing out that he deep cleans sections of the fridge when there’s been a spill. As do I! But, I maintained, disinfecting the fridge guts before company comes is a whole other level to which we do not even remotely come close.

    (In the process of having the above-mentioned discussion, which may or may not have gotten a little heated, I mis-measured the water for the sourdough and spent the next 45 minutes trying to rectify the error of my ways.)

    This same time, years previous: 100% hydration bread, perimenopause: Hillary, age 51, the quotidian (2.22.21), homemade pasta, jelly toast: a love story, the quotidian (2.22.16), peanut butter and jelly bars.

  • the quotidian (2.19.24)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Grape mead.

    Belper balls.

    (Flavorless and sugarless) cranberry scones with pink peppercorns.

    Treat yourself, people. It’s a winner.

    Fermentation fizz!

    Braided heart.

    Negative space heart.

    This Super Bowl celebration: Ted Lasso.

    This same time, years previous: seven fun things, a cheese crisis, Danny Boy, quiche Lorraine, collard greens, the quotidian (2.19.18), doppelganger, lemon cheesecake morning buns, almond cake, in the eyes of the beholder, digging the ruffles.