Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sticking it to the Man

Sometimes I like to be stubborn, just to prove I am. I am think I am displaying a certain behavior, but when it comes down to it, I just want to prove that I can do X. My family grew up, except for a four month hiatus, without a dishwasher. When people asked my Mom why we didn't have one, she would say, "I don't need a dishwasher, I already have nine of them." These were her nine children living at home, of course. Hyuk, hyuk. In college I maintained that I didn't really believe in dishwashers. I had many reasons why - because everyone pre-rinsed anyway, so dishwashers didn't save on water usage, nor time. Because I lived with roommates who all ate at different times, and didn't pre-rinse, and the dishwasher was run erratically, and the caked on food never came off.

I to this day have not had a dishwasher in mine and Avram's marriage, except for when we lived with his parents. I have also (except for right now, when my house is falling apart because Avram was gone all week at a convention here in Columbus, and it is heart wrenching to do dishes when you miss your spouse. That's my excuse) gotten over my latent hatred of dishes, and now I do not mind doing them. Usually.

Having said all this, I recognize that when we eventually move into a house that has a dishwasher, I do not think I will tear it out, nor will I use it as a storage for extra pots. No, I will succumb, and fall in line with the rest of middle class America. It turns out my not liking dishwashers, while still having valid points (such as the pre-rinsing. If I'm going to bother rinsing, I can just add some soap, and call it washing?), is mainly just me being stubborn. Against what, I must wonder? Perhaps the middle class myth of necessities in America.

Air conditioning is the same way. We had a swamp cooler growing up in my home, which worked fine, although very local to the living room where it was contained. After I had gone off to boarding school or college my parents upgraded to central air, but regardless I did not grow up sans AC. Avram did, however. Despite living in the jungle like humidity of Virginia, plus heat that makes you melt into a puddle under a fan and lie there in a comatose state throughout the day (not to mention their Summer lasts around five months long), his family never had AC. So when we were married, we did not automatically buy a little portable apartment AC. And because we both worked that first Summer, and usually weren't home during the heat of the day, we never really missed one.

Then the next summer I had Lydia as a newborn, but I learned to leave my windows open at night, and then close them and the blinds at 10 am the next morning, and the house kept its cool for the day.

Then we lived (after briefly melting our brains in Virginia) in England, where we were still using heat intermittently in June. If you ever visit England, I suggest packing a variety of cardigans and other jackets.

Which brings us (after once more losing more brain capacity in Virginia) to Ohio. In April I rearranged our love seat and placed it directly in front of the built in swamp cooler AC unit. I was bound and determined to not use it. I suppose to save money, but mostly to prove to the world that I didn't need an AC, and that I would be alright without one. We're tough! We like to sweat! Up until this past week my Summer has been according to plan. We had had a couple of really hot days, but they were intermittent with nice storms, and all was well. Our house never felt uncomfortable, just warm. I didn't even sweat. Then this week we were on a heat wave, although it was only the upper '80s, but with humidity, and I have been dying. Monday through Thursday I saw many women in the Ward for various activities, and somehow the subject of dying in the heat (while sitting in their Air Conditioned houses) always came up. Looking back, I realize I sounded like the biggest, cheapest wimp of central Ohio.

Then on Thursday a storm hit in the evening. As the rain started pounding down, and a fine mist of water came through the open window, I felt my heart lift within me. I loved the storm, and I felt my heart knit as one with the pioneers, who must have looked for relief from heat from the weather as much as I did. That night the main floor of our townhouse was blessedly cool. Then next day continued with clouds, and our upstairs cooled off as well. I could finally sleep without constant tossing and turning. Since then the weather has been moderate, and I find myself thinking, "We don't really need the AC. I'm fine. Despite the fact that now my whole Relief Society thinks that I complain a lot about my own decision to not use AC, I really am OK." I really am Ok, and I have made my peace, for this week, with the weather.

By the way, this explains my absence from blogging. Our computer is upstairs, and every time I would get on it, the heat would melt my brain, and it would dribble out my ears, and I often could not even remember why I was on the computer, let alone my blog topic.

But I have realized that ultimately I do not not use the AC to save money. It probably saves me $30 a month - a little bit, but not worth making a fool of myself to my feminine social groups by constant complaining. No, I do not use AC so I can stick it to the man. That middle class man, the one that says AC is a necessity. He's also the one with the Dishwasher. And the TV.

Except TV is one place I actually have belief behind my odd habits. Avram and I have never owned a TV until this year. And this TV is old enough it doesn't pick up digital channels, nor do we ever plan to buy the little subsidized doo-hickley that receives digital programming. I do not ever plan, nor want to receive TV in my home. I have the TV because I got tired of squinting when watching movies on our computer. But sometimes, such as when I was visited by the Living Scriptures salesman this past week, I wish that I didn't have one still, because then I could simply say, "I don't have a TV," and that would be the end of that. Now I have to go on about how it may look like a TV, but do not be fooled, it is only a Movie Monitor. I think I'll start calling it my MM. That'll show the Man.

Yet I am never tempted to have a TV, and except when the Olympics or Conference is on I don't complain about it either. Because to me a TV is a colossal time waster, and I already have the Internet for that. And although I'd like to pretend that someday I could theoretically get rid of the Internet, I would have to then write my blog from the Library. And in the words of Lydia, "That's silly!"


  1. That's funny, today I said to Samuel, "I don't really want to get a microwave," and he said "I'm ok with that." It's just one of those silly things that everyone feels like they need. We've been without one since ours broke in early April, and we didn't buy a new one because we were moving anyway. Within that time we've learned how to live without a microwave, and it's easy. There are a few things it's super convenient for, but when you add up the purchase price plus electricity cost I'm sure it's not really worth it. Maybe I'll write a post about how we get around it.

    I don't plan on having air conditioning when we build our home, but I must say that I use it every day now, for an hour or so. It's been in the upper 90's-100's and I'm pregnant. There are times when I say to Samuel, "It's hot in here, isn't it!" and he says, "Uh, not really." Pregnancy is crazy! If I lie in bed with a fan pointed at me then I feel great, but there are times when I don't want to just lie in bed.

    Maybe this is like the girly version of macho: proving you can do without various middle-class home appliances. :D

  2. We're on our 3rd South Carolina summer without AC, and I freely admit to running off to the library some days in August to bask in the chill all afternoon, but we've managed--with copious fans and shutting down the house in the morning, right up until that "Magical Hour" (yes, it deserves capital letters) when it's finally cooler outside than inside. But for us, it's that while we could afford to buy the AC unit, I don't think we could afford to run it.

    But I do look forward to someday owning a dishwasher. I'm long past my cooking guild days of being kicked out of the kitchen post-feast and told not to wash the dishes.

  3. Hah. That Anonymous was me.

  4. I like a dishwasher, and a microwave, though I have lived very happily without them at times. (I never have made my peace with dishes, though). I also like air conditioning. However, I concur with the TV thoughts. We still only have Kevin (the TV). If we got a big TV it would only be for watching movies and as a really cool computer monitor. We watch entirely too many TV shows on the internet anyway, and I'm not tied down to anyone else's schedule by that, either. The end.

  5. Thora you are my hero. If it was JUST me I would be brave and turn off the ac. I could manage the temp with blinds, fans, etc.. But my husband doesn't like coming home from an air conditioned office/car to a hot humid house. So I succumb and keep it cool. I also do truly love my dishwasher. I know that means I should be cast out from my "green" sisters, but I really hate washing dishes. The microwave I could probably do without if I tried. Maybe someday. Baby steps. I think its very admirable to show that we don't NEED all these things that everyone has just because we can. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Thora. You are crazy. With the way my family goes through dishes, despite my best efforts, I run the dishwasher about every other day. And if you have a good one, you don't even need to pre-rinse.

    We were lucky to not need the AC but for a couple of days so far, and I keep it at 80. But that's the utmost I can stand, esp. if I'm busy working. Installing the bedroom ceiling fans has helped, but this old house doesn't keep it's cool if I shut 'er down in the morning. Ah, and then there's the fact that Todd and Oliver can't sleep with the windows open, because of the proximity to traffic on 60th west.

    And with all this, my friends and family still call me cheap.

    PS- using the dishwasher saves so much time! Think of all the yummy foods you could be making instead of spending all that time washing dishes. But then, you'd be dirtying more. So maybe it would just even out.

  7. I turned off the AC today, opened the windows, and turned on all the ceiling fans and the temp in here has since dropped two degrees! Why did I have it on in the first place!!!! ARggggg.

  8. I dont rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, plus the time putting them in there is the same time it takes to stack them in the other rack so it acutally saves me lots of time a day. Plus its only like 30 a year to run it so not much money IMO. The A/C we have gone without in some apartments. Right now in texas its 110 for the next two months i am told so i will stick to a/c. I keep it at 80 so I am not like those people that put it at 70 and then you are cold when you visit them and wish you had brought your winter jacket! I just cant sleep if its 90 in my house, i tried the first night here becuase the a/c wasnt working and it was 96 that night and never fell asleep and gave up at 4 am and just took a cold shower and got up and started unpacking instead.

    i cant rembmer where i was going with this... my brain must have partially melted in the texas summer heat!! :)

    call me when you get back from utah and we can chat. I dont know when that is.