The Kitchen Index

Like many people, I admit a not-so-secret struggle with the Sisyphean aspects of kitchen duty - keeping up with dishes, making sure the counters are clear and cleaned, etc. You know, basic #adulting. I don't think I'm very good at it, but I'm not sure if that's a matter of my lack of competence or my own unrealistic self-imposed expectations. Martha makes it look so easy!

Even as I struggle with it, I also really like having a clean space in which to cook. Our kitchen is small, and it takes very few dishes or cooking vessels to render our (mainly ornamental) counterspace largely useless. Vigilant upkeep is what ensures every recipe I attempt does not have the hidden direction "Clean kitchen." before "Preheat oven to 325 degrees...", and thus makes cooking a pleasure rather than something that adds needlessly to my pain.

Like many people with chronic pain, I have Good Pain Days and Bad Pain Days. On my Good Pain Days, I can function more or less like a normal human (with caveats, of course). On my bad days, I putter along in a fog and can maybe do something useful or productive - maybe. But it takes an awful lot of willpower to do so.  

During my Good Pain Days, the size of the stack of dirty dishes is irrelevant - I find it a satisfying thing to take a counter full of mess and transform it through the simple means of cloth, soap, and water into usable tools again. On my Bad Pain Days, each crusty pan is one more hill I'm not certain I have the energy to climb. My susceptibility to feel overwhelmed is directly correlated to my pain level.

The upshot of all of this is I have inadvertently created a nonverbal indication of my state of being. I call it the Kitchen Index, and it is a crude barometer of how much pain I'm in on a given day. It goes a something like this:

Good Day - sparkling stovetop and clean counters, empty dishwasher, clean sink
So-So Day - dishwasher's run but not empty, clean dishes on the drainboard, stovetop possibly grubby, small number of dirty dishes on counter or in sink.
Bad Day - dishwasher crammed with dirty dishes, dirty sink (with dishes), stovetop can't be wiped because it's buried in pots and pans as well as crumbs. 

How about you? Do you have your own Kitchen Index? What sort of things do you do/not do that indicate to you or other people the kind of pain day you've had?  Say so in the comments!



(Photo credit: Lori Greig via PhotoPin. Creative Commons 2.0 license.)