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🧠 Musings

Death, Taxes, and Doing the Dishes


It’s been about two years since I began adulting. Things like acclimatizing (or acclimating? who designed this language??!) myself to millions of new brand names for every household product, eventually realizing that Clorox™ wipes are the one-size-fits-all solution to cleaning most surfaces, and distinguishing between a million varities of bread and milk are some of the key experiences I’d list in my adulting resume.

I’d received some warnings about the abundance of choices at American stores, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected. However, an adulting experience that did surprise me is the incessant amount of cleaning I have to do in a day, viz. in the kitchen. I can usually get away with not vacuuming for a week or two, but neglecting the kitchen is impossible. We also don’t use a dishwasher in my college house, so everything is hand washed.

Lucky for me, I enjoy cleaning things. There’s something innately satisfying about wiping crumbs and spices from a countertop or restoring cookware to its sparkly clean state. Despite this, there still exist “those days” when nothing can overcome my physical or mental laziness.

Calories In, Calories Out

I wasn’t prepared for the daily cycle of food prep and its accompanying tasks.

First I have to think about what I’m going to have every meal of the day. I’m not a huge cereal person now, so breakfast tends to require a similar amount of thought as lunch or dinner. Then I actually have to execute this plan. I like to cook meals that don’t require a lot of tending to (see: eggs) since I can usually do work (or think about work) at the same time. If preparing a meal does require my active participation, my main strategy involves dancing to music to zone out the rest of the world.

You’d think the step after thinking and prep involves savoring my creation, but this tends to be pretty hit-or-miss. I think it’s largely the result of my previous choice of cooking “easy” meals, so I’m not going to complain much. And sometimes my meals are based around the college student staple of chicken nuggets or ramen — I think these meals are akin to injecting oneself with junk calories. I don’t enjoy the eating process one bit, but it’s a necessary evil to keep myself powered.

Finally, after this routinely mediocre but calorie-rich eating experience comes the ritual of cleaning up. Sometimes I’ll use scalding hot water to do the majority of work for me, but it’ll never fully substitute the rounds of abrasive soaping and scrubbing. Maybe this is why my hands are always dry. I’m also probably losing 5–10% of the calories from a meal washing dishes after; I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Also with cooking you can quite literally spice up your routine by varying your recipe or trying new things. How do you make the cleaning experience exciting? I suppose you could treat yourself to an outrageously expensive vacuum cleaner every once in a while. But with dishes, you’re really just dealing with basic tools most of the time. I guess a new dish soap couldn’t hurt.

An exception to this process is frozen food. I think the vast and marvellous world of frozen meals is a subject for another blog, but I definitely resort to microwave meals to cheat my way out of the thinking-cooking-cleaning procedure sometimes. I do my best to treat this as a lifeline though; something about routinely eating frozen meals scares me.

Non-stick to the rescue

Cooking pros will probably call me unsophisticated, but I thank the inventors of non-stick cookware almost every dishwashing session. It’s ridiculous how convenient clean-up is when things are non-stick. I have a constant fear of one tiny speck of residue on cookware leading to the growth of a microbiome in our kitchen, so non-stick pots and pans have done wonders in alleviating this fear.

Of course, the converse is also true: I compulsively inspect cutlery and ceramics with a microscope before putting them on the drying rack. Yin and yang, you know?

The realities of life have Dawned™ on me

I’d like to end by saying that I’m incredibly thankful to have the support and ability to have nutritious food available at almost all times. I definitely live a life of comfort, but it’s also hard to miss the irony of the dreary routine that comes with this. I don’t know what could’ve prepared me for this life, but I guess I better start finding more strategies to enjoy the process. After all, it looks like “doing the dishes” is the third constant.

Oh and that reminds me: I need to start working on my tax returns.

~ Amal