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Kitchenette gain

I mentioned in earlier posts how I’ve made some changes to my apartment’s small kitchenette recently. I got a shelf/cutting board to put over half of my stovetop, giving me more counter space, and I got a smaller microwave when I was forced to throw out the cockroach-infested big one, which freed up even more counter space.

I also got a coffee maker for the first time. Since it has a tendency to splash on the counter, and since I was running through paper towels really quickly already, I decided it was high time I restocked on reusable wipes and sponges, which I guess I stopped buying once the pandemic started and I switched to ordering groceries online for pickup. I never managed to find those items on the site before, so I fell out of the habit of buying them. But I finally committed to it and found them.

Which required a bit more kitchen refitting. Now that I had rinse-and-reuse wipes, I needed a place to hang the clean ones so they could dry out. Luckily, I have a second paper towel rack in my kitchen. When I moved in ages ago, I carried forward my father’s practice of using two kinds of paper towels, regular and microwave-formulated (without dyes). And I didn’t like the placement of the paper towel rack in the kitchen, so I installed a second one closer to the sink. Eventually I realized there was no point in using two simultaneous kinds of paper towel, since I could just use microwave-suitable towels for everything. So I stopped using the original rack.

So it occurred to me that if I put an empty paper towel roll in the long-abandoned dispenser, I could use that as a drying rack for the reusable wipes. After the first time I did it, I realized the cardboard roll would get soggy if unprotected, so I rolled some plastic wrap around it, and voila, I had a perfect drying rack. Well, not completely perfect, since it’s above the toaster oven, but I don’t think it’s close enough to be a fire hazard, and I can just put away the dried wipes before using the toaster oven.

Anyway, here’s the upshot of all this. There have been a number of times in the past when I’ve found myself feeling depressed when washing the dishes in the sink. It just made me sad to be be in the kitchen, and washing dishes was a chore that always seemed to drag on way too long. But since I made these improvements, I find that I don’t mind taking more time with the dishes, and I feel more upbeat when I’m there.

So I think these improvements I’ve made in the kitchen have helped me feel better about it. Part of it is just that it’s a change in my environment. I discovered in my youth that I needed to rearrange my bedroom from time to time for my peace of mind, because I got depressed being in the same unchanging environment and needed a fresh stimulus. It’s been much harder to achieve any major change in my apartment, since the rooms’ layout and the available furnishings don’t lend themselves to much rearrangement, and I’ve never been able to afford whole new ones. So it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to make any significant change in my environment, and I think finally getting to make even incremental changes for the better in the kitchen has helped me feel a lot better in there.

Moreover, I think it might feel better because it’s brighter. I remember once in my adolescence when I realized that the big black dresser in my bedroom was depressing me, and I felt better when I swapped it out for the white one my sister had used before moving away to college, which reflected more ambient light and made the room a bit brighter and more cheerful. Here, my old microwave was silver but with a black door. My new microwave is all black, but it’s smaller and positioned differently, so instead of seeing the big black door in my peripheral vision when I’m at the sink, I see the white countertop and wall that were hidden by the old microwave. So I think that might be helping too.

But I think a major part of it is just that I’ve been taking action and solving problems, which creates a sense of accomplishment and gives me more confidence. And I think that’s helped nudge me a little out of the funk I’ve largely been in since the pandemic started, and take some initiative to start trying to improve things in little ways.

For instance, I recently made one more incremental change. I was trying to clear out some empty cardboard boxes I’ve been letting accumulate and take them out for recycling, and I found that one of them was the box my modem had come in, and it still had a bunch of associated cords and filters, as well as a base that you could attach to the modem to mount it vertically. For some reason, I’d never gotten around to attaching it, even though I do keep the modem in that position. I think it’s because I had trouble figuring out how to attach the base, since it seemed to resist clicking into place and I was afraid to try forcing it.

But I finally figured it out. The phone jack is inconveniently far from the computer desk, so I keep the modem on the floor by the bookcase since that’s the only place where the cords can reach both places and still be out of the way along the edges of the room. I have only a strip of cardboard between the modem and the carpet. So it occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t click the base into place was that I needed a firmer surface to push against. I slipped a clipboard under the modem, and voila, the base clicked in easily. It’s a tiny change, but it’s nice to know my modem is now more stable against tipping over. And again, there’s simply the satisfaction of finding the solution to a problem, however minor.

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