Relax, Reclaim, Refrigerator Pickles

When I got laid off in 2013, we had a big apartment that we loved and were making good progress on our debt. Things were still tough, but we’d done a lot of hard work and things were generally looking up for us. The layoff was welcome in some ways — I hated 97% of that job — but was still a huge disruption. Then I decided to go to college rather than trying to just find my same job over again, and everything was suddenly focused around this one, years-off goal. We sort of went into a holding pattern. Since then, it’s been a lot of working somewhere between 4 and 40 hours/week — usually closer to 4 — and making somewhere between $30 and $400 — usually closer to $30 — depending on whether I was cashiering or bartending, full-time or getting 1 shift/week, qualified for unemployment or told “well you said you couldn’t make a 9 a.m. appointment, so you’re clearly not available for full-time work.” We’ve maxed out credit cards and had to borrow from friends to stay afloat — which was a huge…well, I don’t say “blessing” since Jesus and I split, but…it was nice not to be homeless in January, I will tell you that for free — and then we sort of miraculously ended up in a stable living situation last March, and as of the end of May I have a stable job, and we’re actually starting to…stabilize. We’re painting rooms and pulling up carpeting. In the next few months we should be able to pay off a credit card or two, pay back a friend or two, AND get me the new couch I know my ass deserves. It’s time to get back to normal.


What I’m realizing, though, is that, aside from some concept of “pay off debts, make ass stop hurting,” I don’t have any idea anymore of what kind of normal to get back to. Just trying to find work and keep up with classes and sort of keep up with almost enough of the bills to keep everything turned on, all of that has taken most of my mental energy the last few years. I haven’t been taking care of myself, physically or emotionally, because I haven’t really had the time. I feel like I’m coming out of a fog, but as a totally different person than the one who went in.


I’m trying to learn how to relax again. Over the last few years, as I’ve had fewer hours in my day and way less actual space in my home, I’ve shifted my yoga practice more and more towards the restorative end of things and made it more about slowing down at the end of the day and sleeping better. It’s been a huge help through all the stress, but now that I can do more, both time-wise and space-wise, I find I don’t have anything I can turn to for that. And a slow, quiet practice at the end of the night just isn’t getting all the energy out of my system anymore. In order to relax, I need to do some less relaxing stuff, I think. I’m trying to pick up my weights again. I think I want to learn how to beat people up a martial art.


I’m trying to figure out clothes and makeup and skin care all over again like it’s the first time. We’ve gone so long without the money for nice things that I’ve long since worn out and used up any nice things I ever had. I used to be someone who generally didn’t hate how she looked every day, but man the mindset I’m in right now I kind of feel like I’m just waking up and someone drew a whole different person on me while I was sleeping. I’m trying to dig down and find whoever used to be in the mirror that was, not gonna lie, SUPER CUTE, and reclaim her.


I’m trying to build up habits that make me feel good again. And I’m kind of learning how to cook and eat all over again. I’m letting myself buy pre-made stuff more than I have for years, taking a moment here and there to appreciate the convenience. Between my original discovery of how good food could actually taste when it wasn’t just dumped out of a can by someone who resented you for needing to be fed every day and my suspected peanut allergy that had me terrified of so much packaged stuff for years, I went an awful long time on 100% me-made food. I got really into the habit and it stuck around even after it turned out I wasn’t allergic to nuts, and then I went to culinary school and cooked some more, but then 2 years in that tiny apartment with no money eventually pulled me out of the habit of trying to eat in a way that I liked because now it was my paycheck and my schedule making the food decisions, and they mostly decided on pasta and peanut butter. Even since we’ve been here, until this job went permanent things were still in flux a bit and we’ve been catching up on bills and not always getting a steady paycheck, so food decisions were largely at the whim of the bank account. Now that we can do Blue Apron once or twice a month and afford good quality meat, I’m trying to start back at square one and rebuild all my cooking skills. Trying to think about side dishes. Trying to make stuff at the beginning of the week to eat later so I don’t always have to buy lunch. Trying to make new things because they sound like fun and I have a free afternoon and cooking is one of my hobbies, so why not spend a little time on it?


Which is to say: I had a bunch of kohlrabi from the garden I didn’t quite know what to do with, so I made refrigerator pickles.




Two true things about me: I don’t throw jars away, and I don’t go in for a lot of soaking-the-labels-off-properly nonsense. Unless I am doing actual canning, in which case I get way overly particular about things. I don’t worry there’s some sneaky little microbe hiding behind that Claussen label just waiting to kill us in 6 months, since these are all going in the fridge to be eaten in the next week or two anyways.

So, the recipe calls for 2 lbs of kohlrabi and says you end up with 2 quarts of pickles. I can’t tell you what I started with or whether this all comes to 2 quarts, but it looks close enough for me.




Two more true things: I love my mandoline slicer, even way down at the end when things get exponentially more dangerous, and I never throw out those plastic Florida Crystals jars, either. They are goddamned perfect for refilling with more crushed red pepper than you will reasonably need before 2020 and slotting in neatly all along a shelf with their little handles facing out for easy grabbing. (Also refilling with store brand, non-organic, greater-than-zero carbon footprint, regular old sugar when money is tight.)




I had to change a couple things. I didn’t have enough red wine vinegar for the full recipe, so I used apple cider instead. I subbed sugar for the honey since my husband’s allergic and this is a lot of pickle for me to handle on my own. And I probably didn’t use enough ginger; I just grated until I got tired. It all worked out, though.




Final true thing about me: I can never find the right lid, but MightyNest has my back.




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