Once upon a time I was in college and lived in a single dorm room. I had a shitty little TV in my room and it only picked up a few channels because reception was so bad. One of the only channels it picked up was the Food Network and I watched it. All. The. Time. I was obsessed with Iron Chef’s secret ingredient, Alton Brown’s science of cooking, who would be eliminated on Chopped, Giada’s giant head, and what Barefoot Contessa going to make for Jeffrey this week. Mostly though I became obsessed with the idea of cooking in a perfect well stocked kitchen.
I was never much of a cook growing up. I could make grilled cheese, chicken Top Ramen, Bisquick pancakes and scrambled eggs. That was about it. Oh and cereal. I was very good at making cereal. But in college, having Food Network and no friends really changed my cooking life. People always joke about a college kid’s skills in the kitchen being poor, but I came back from it ready to do some master chef cooking. I was gonna Iron Chef the shit out of my kitchen. I really began to experience the joy of cooking during this time. I still love to cook and I make dinner at the house almost every night. I really truly enjoy meal prep and baking and trying new recipes. What I’ve learned to do now though, is enjoy all of this with a lot less THINGS than I used to.
For instance, the moment I got back from college I bought everything I thought I’d need to become a master chef. A mandolin slicer, Kitchen Aid mixer, several different sized bowls, all the utensils, a crème brûlée torch, a pastry crimper, a hand pressed juicer in different sizes for limes, lemons and oranges, muffin tins in three sizes, SEVEN cake pans, four different kinds of graters, a spiraler, etc. etc. etc. Essentially, Williams Sonoma was my bitch.
The point is I bought a lot of stuff, mostly on a credit card because I was making $10/hr working part time (I really need to do a post on my consumer debt btw, which was just all paid off last week!). And I wasn’t even majoring in culinary arts or anything. I just HAD TO HAVE IT ALL. So I was surrounded by a ton of kitchen appliances and stuff I hardly ever used. I stayed surrounded by my horded items in my kitchen as I moved from place to place over the years. I never could find anything. I hardly ever used what I had. I slowly started donating the items that took up space a few years back. I knew if I didn’t use it at least once every six months then I didn’t need it in my life.
I donated a lot of kitchen items over the past year or two, but I knew during this recent move that I needed to do better. This became clear when I thought I had packed the entire kitchen and then found out there was an entire kitchen cupboard full of stuff I had NO IDEA WAS EVEN THERE. So began the kitchen purge, definitely the most extensive yet.
13 items total above, plus I got rid of about 15 cups and mugs we don’t ever use. I’m going to count all of those as one though so 14 items total for the kitchen purge. I posted these in my local Buy Nothing group and two families came and picked the items up. Both were thrilled for the items and I was able to avoid giving a donation shop a surplus of my junk.
We only have six water glasses now, we had about 25 for two people who never have anyone over for dinner or anything. Coffee and tea mugs have always been my weakness so we went from about 30 to 14. We could do with less, but I love my nerdy mugs and they all spark joy and they all get used. I’d like to get down to seven, but I parted with a lot this week so I’m feeling good about it. And I’m not buying ANY MORE.
Then I had to tackle the spice cupboard. I realized I had multiples of the same spices so I consolidated and threw out the empty ones. I looked at my spices and asked myself when I last used a certain spice. I tossed any that hadn’t been used in six months. My favorite tip for spices is to go to your favorite store when you have a specific recipe in mind that requires a unique spice and USE THE BULK BINS. A prepacked spice can cost anywhere from $3-$15! Take the tablespoon of curry powder you need and use the bulk bins for a total of $0.27. You’ll save time, space and money.
I still have some work to do on my kitchen. I know I have large items that take up too much space that I never use. For instance, I have a pie crust cover that is large and round and fits absolutely nowhere. It’s great to keep your crust from burning in the oven…the one day a year I make pie. Foil also works just as good though. I just can’t part with it though. Foil falls off and isn’t as user friendly. So my challenge to myself is to make more pie. If I have something I know is useful and I like to use it but I hardly ever do, then I need to use it more or lose it.
That’s my takeaway from this kitchen purge. I hope it inspires someone to take a look at what they have and size down a bit. Do you have twenty wine glasses, but have never had a dinner party in your life and aren’t planning to? Maybe you just need four.
Remember cooking can be fun, and a kitchen can be a really zen place to relax and nourish your body and soul. Don’t make it a hectic place filled with a bunch of stuff that only serves to stress you out.
That is the lifespan of my social media accounts. These were and are the big four where I can remember portraying myself for the first time in a way that wasn’t always 100% honest. These four platforms of Live Journal, MySpace, Facebook and Instagram are the ones where I put enough of myself into them that I can still go back and see what kind of person I was pretending to be when I was on them. Livejournal wasn’t for pictures. It was for airing your teenage thoughts in an extremely vague way and hoping someone would comment and ask you if you were alright or say that they thought you were funny. It’s the first social platform I can remember being solidly addicted to. Here is a sample of 15 year old me being sad on it.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) MySpace took off in such a different direction than it was in in the early 2000s that you can’t go back and see your posts or your friends. Profiles have changed and the platform looks nothing like it once did. If you still have an account you were too lazy to delete, it’s impossible to go back and see what you’ve posted, which is probably a good thing. I remember being a bit of wannabe ‘scene kid’ when I was in high school. I was really into going to local shows, dyeing my hair bright shades of red, wearing belts sideways, and taking many many selfies with my giant digital camera hoping that I could pull off a great MySpace bathroom pic.
It was the first time I remember feeling like I could never look a certain way. Remember those scene hair cuts the girls had? Short, weird layers, highlights, parted on the side. I wanted to have one so badly, but my hair was just too thick to pull it off. Now I love my thick hair, but I remember just thinking it was the worst thing to not look like everyone else I was seeing online. I also was poor. I couldn’t go buy band t-shirts, collar shirts to stick under them, multiple studded belts, etc. My parents would also kill me if I got snake bite piercings, which fortunately I only wanted really badly for a week or two. This is all extremely embarrassing now that I type it up, but it’s the truth and it’s important to tell it because this was the first time in my life that I played the COMPARISON GAME.
Then came Facebook. Instagram luckily didn’t exist in 2008-2009 when I first moved to Seattle to go to school. I can only imagine how my mental state would have deteriorated even further from it if it was around. I did however post on Facebook a few times about how awesome I was doing, how Seattle GOT me and how I was living this great life at college. I felt like I had to lie and let people think I was doing really well there. I saw everyone else living their best lives online and I thought, why is my life not like that? Not even thinking that maybe those people weren’t doing as good as they said they were.
Truthfully, I hadn’t really made any friends, I lived in a single dorm, ate alone and walked to class alone. I had a few friends that were living in the area and saw them sometimes, but mostly I was alone and my boyfriend at the time (now husband) lived six hours away. My parents had just gotten a divorce, I moved to a city I didn’t know anyone in, I was dealing with a some problems that were all about to come to a head, and I was depressed. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but it took me a year after I graduated and moved back home to finally understand how bad it was.
Facebook was JUST taking off and no one really understood how it worked yet, or what you were supposed to do with it. I didn’t really post on any social network sites during this time, but I have a few pictures I took of myself during this time and was close to developing an eating disorder. This is one of the few pics I have at the time. I wasn’t unhealthy thin yet, I don’t have any pictures of that time, but I was eating hardly anything and I continued to from October 2008-June 2009. Luckily I moved back home after I graduated and my eating habits returned to semi-normal although it wouldn’t be until 2012 that I really felt I had a normal relationship with food again. I still look back at my time in Seattle as a really lovely time, but sometimes it scares me to think about the person I was becoming.
Essentially all this so far has just been to show you how social media shaped me from my very first account until now. How we put the version of ourselves out there that we want other people to see. To show you that what you see isn’t always the truth.
Then came INSTAGRAM. I resisted getting an account for SO LONG, but finally took the leap in 2013. I do really enjoy Instagram. I’m not knocking it, but I think it’s important to be honest about our lives when we share photos and also to help people realize that what you’re seeing is a curated, chosen snapshot of someone’s day: not the real life they are living.
I think the best way to show you the truth is sharing some photos I posted during the first two years that I moved from Spokane to Portland. The in between time from my undergrad degree in Seattle to my life in Portland was filled with a great part time job in Spokane with the best coworkers who turned into the best friends, lots of drinking (I just turned 21) and getting a masters degree because I didn’t want to grow up and school seemed easier. Also Spokane had ZERO jobs at the time and I eventually turned 23 and really needed to get my shit together. So I started applying to jobs in Seattle and Portland and I got one in Portland immediately so I put in my two weeks, packed up my car, prepared to do a long distance relationship (again) and peaced out of Spokane. I was nervous, but excited. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing, but I knew I was never going to find the job I wanted in Spokane. Also, from the moment I moved there in 2002 I’d been trying to escape.
I was going to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in Portland until I could save enough to move out. Jesse was planning on following me once he found a job and all we had to do was save money and wait. It would be EASY. And if it wasn’t easy (and it wasn’t) I sure as shit wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. I started my new job the next day and realized quickly that I had fallen into a terrible, terrible call center scam. Oh, stupid me. Stupid me. Still, it wasn’t a bad company and if you could crush it hard enough at sales you could move up to actually do search engine marketing for them (the job I thought I was getting). It just took some dedication and time. Unfortunately for me, I’m really bad at sales. Really bad. Mostly because I don’t believe in them. I’m really against selling someone something they don’t need or really want. So for the next two months I got up at 4am, drove to work pep talking myself and crying, got on the phones, didn’t make sales, and felt like complete and utter shit.
One great thing about Portland is we have the BEST food. THE BEST FOOD. I didn’t know anyone and I was sad so I spent a lot of time after work eating. And when that didn’t make me feel better I spent a lot of time after work drinking. I made this all sound VERY cool of me but I was putting on weight and getting majorly depressed. Even more depressed than my time in Seattle and this time I knew how to recognize it. All I wanted to do was sleep. On the weekends I’d wake up, pretend to be normal for a few hours and then go in my room to pretend to job search and just fall asleep again for six more hours. I was spending every moment I wasn’t at my awful job sleeping, drinking, or eating. I missed Jesse. I missed my old job (actually almost tried to get it back and admit defeat). I missed having friends. I missed not having panic attacks at the thought of going to work.
Mercifully the job fired me at the 3 month mark (just before I would have been eligible for health insurance, nice job America). **Side note: I was able to get insurance for a year and a half after this for free through the affordable care act and I am so grateful. It allowed me access to birth control, dental care I desperately needed and antibiotics when I had an infection during this time)** I was confused, scared, but also a bit happy because I didn’t think I could handle it much longer. I kept it to myself for a few days intending to tell Jesse on Monday. Instead he called me first and told me he found a job in Portland. Well….here we go. We decided to make the move official and he came to live with me in my tiny room at my Aunt and Uncles where I put on a brave face and job hunted while he went to work every day. We were both pretty miserable and it was definitely a low for us. I blamed myself for moving us here and our unhappiness, but we honestly couldn’t go back. There were no jobs where we were and Jesse liked his. That was a silver lining. I would job hunt like crazy, go on interviews daily, but anytime I wasn’t doing that, I was back to sleeping and eating and pretending to be happy when I was awake (luckily I kicked the drinking). So what were my posts like during this weird limbo period? Oh they were the exact opposite of my real feelings. A bunch of pics of me eating Portland food and living my best life in the big city. Ooo the ocean! Ooo bridges! Ooo cheese factories!
Sometimes the truth soaked through and I let people see a bit of what I was feeling (see below), but I never really just came out and said it. I AM DEPRESSED. I REGRET MOVING HERE. I SPEND ALL DAY IN THE DARK SLEEPING OR WATCHING TV WISHING I COULD TAKE BACK THE LAST THREE MONTHS.
I’m grateful we moved here though. I really love Portland (it’s been six years!) and I’m so happy we came here for several reasons. One of them being that I got to know my niece really well, who was just a newborn when I first came. She’s been such a joy in my life and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to watch her grow up.
I’m going to stop here in late 2013 and pick up next week right here as I talk though the photos I was posting after this time in my life. Mostly because it’s really career and job focused and I wanted to talk about social media and photos we post in relation to money and careers. I’ll be sharing what I posted during the few shit jobs that followed this period all the way up until now. Sometimes I was honest…sometimes I wasn’t.
I want to wrap up honest photos on week four with some truths about motherhood and pregnancy. I am not a mother and I have not been pregnant, but the book I’m reading on Social Media had a really wonderful chapter on this that spoke to me as a woman and I wanted to share. Also, I know a lot of you reading this are pregnant or have kids and I think what I read was really important and I want to share it with you all.
Let me know in the comments about your social media untruths. Was there a time you made a big life decision and made it look MUCH cooler than it actually was? Until next week.
PUSH UP UPDATE: I didn’t want to share this with you all because I was embarrassed, but in the realm of honesty I have found myself in this month….I had to stop push ups this week because I hurt myself. This isn’t as embarrassing as showing you that clip from my LiveJournal, but still I’m not very pleased with myself. Sad to say I probably should have started with wall push ups instead of knee push ups. I’m recovering now from a pinched nerve in my shoulder and an aggravation of my mild carpal tunnel (yay office life) in my wrists because of the work I’ve done so far. I didn’t want to stop making progress (because I really was), but I also was warned from a friend to take my push ups easy because if you push your body too hard when it’s not ready you could end up doing some real lasting damage. So I listened to them and to my body and stopped. I’m hoping to pick back up with wall push ups next week once I feel I’ve fully recovered. I’m committed to doing 100 real push ups in a row without stopping by the end of the year. I just have to take a bit of a detour. Any advice if you’re an exercise person IS welcome.