Long standing commenters here will remember when I had a zombie dishwasher. We thought it was dead, it thought it was dead, and then suddenly it would lurch to life, work for a week and give us the impression that it would work. And then it would die again.
I’m not sure if this is a disguised state of the writer post, or a regular post disguised as state of the writer.
First the state of the writer: I am a little past my nostrils in work (I’m drowning, I’m drowning) which of course home appliances sense, and that’s when they strike. But not just appliances, of course. The whole house is alive with the sound of stupid stuff to distract me. First the past my nostrils: I’m now writing Guardian, though every time I do two pages another something happens in the house and yet I need to send Larry 20k words by tonight, because this has dragged on long enough; I’m trying to finish the fourth Dyce book (A Well Inlaid Death, title supplied by Cedar Sanderson); and I’ve accepted a gig with PJmedia again (yeah, I know, but do you know the state of my wallet?) to whom I owe a couple of posts I was supposed to write by yesterday. They’re in my head. It’s just a matter of time.
Older son is on the last week of studying for his boards (prayers appreciated. With exams this massive, there’s always the question of what material will be on the test. It won’t be ALL of it, so it could be the one he’s most prepared on or not. And for those who took the test more than a decade ago… you have NO idea. They now have to memorize crazy stuff like genetic pathways for obscure diseases. I don’t think it’s possible to read let alone memorize the whole thing in two months, and son is a speed reader.) This means he’s touchy like a beaver with toothache. He tries not to be, but it means after about 10 pm we try to stay quiet so he can go to sleep. He lives in a basement apartment, but the insulation is not as great as you’d expect.
Except for a brief period when Dan was making a ton of money (he gave up that job because it was a traveling job and it was adversely affecting our kids) our normal modus operandi for appliances is “appliance broke. Run off and buy the cheapest possible.” We did this with my writing computer which is dying by inches. There was a memorial day sale, we ran out and we acquired the cheapest that will do what I want it to. Because time. Now we need to find time to ACTUALLY move the files over.
But… dishwashers. That time when Dan had a great job and we were very short on time, (the kids were toddlers. I was just starting to break in. He was traveling five days a week) we ran out and said “Show us your most expensive diswasher”. We then bought that. And it washes with NO problems for six years. And it washed really well, not our current machine’s version of distributing the dirt. Then we sold the house and moved, and got a “give us your cheapest dishwasher” and a year later, after multiple breaks we got another, and then two years later another, and then–
So now we’re similarly very busy. Technically we each have three jobs, and Dan keeps not doing his third job (writing) because no time. We’re not making the kind of money he was, or rather it will be close if I can keep all the gigs going (we’ll see) but you know, it’s 18 years later, so it’s not worth the same. Enough for our needs and to start making repairs to the house (not a ton, but we bought it as a short sale, so there was neglected maintenance) and changes we need (like rip all the frigging carpet out, because I’m not living another winter like that.)
That’s fine. We need the money, see. But to get the money, we must spend time. And then time becomes at a premium. I’m putting as much wood flooring down as I can this month and beginning of next (while keeping my schedule going, yes) which is going to hurt physically and time wise. BUT it must be done, to purchase me convenience later. I.e. I’m putting down unfinished hardwood and giving it five fricking coats of polyurethane, so I can MOP the floor if needed. Our oldest cat is 17, our youngest is 9, and at end of life all cats forget where the box is. So, wood floors, besides keeping my asthma down, are going to mean I don’t spend my life cleaning carpet (which is ratty and end of life, anyway.) I’m investing time to save time later, you could say.
Sort of the same with the dishwasher. We’re probably going a little higher than I like (no, not the most expensive, because we don’t have THAT kind of money while we’re helping the kids through school) because I want one with a disposer and a filter. Because I don’t want to have to rewash washed dishes, because there’s grit all over them. Also, I want one with heated dry, which a lot of brands (I’m looking at you Samsung) are discontinuing, in favor of popping the dishwasher open and air drying. If I wanted cat hair on my dishes, I’d physically open it and put Havey in. Thank you.
It’s a balance when you’re actually making money from way too much work (eh. I’ll live. Grandma said no one ever died from work. Not true. But certainly not from sit-down desk-work in the warm) you have to learn which one you’re going to sacrifice for convenience.
You always have to sacrifice one. It’s the old “buy good boots up front so you save money (and time) by not having to rebuy them every year.” Unfortunately that means you have to invest up front.
Oh, and btw, I was telling Dan I wish I’d had all these jobs/been selling my work both fic and non fic like this twenty years ago. Heck, even ten years ago.
But the truth — he didn’t say it, but I said it — is that even ten years ago I couldn’t have kept up with all this work and done it to professional standards. I’m reaping the dividends of thirty some novels and keeping a blog every day for years. None of those paid a heck of a lot, but they were investments, so now I’m better paid (somewhat) I can keep up with the massive load of work.
It’s all investments, and long distance planning, and sometimes eating a lot of toads on the way to where you can start reaping benefits. If you’re lucky and you planned well, and your health holds up.
Let’s just say I’m very grateful for human ingenuity and human progress that allow me to be relatively healthy and strong in my 50s and to work this hard, so I can reap benefits. I’m also thankful we have domestic conveniences, which have freed people — though mostly women, since we tend to do the boring jobs indoors — to achieve more in other fields by taking the boring drudgery of housework off their hands.
People who complain about “machinery stealing human work” didn’t grow up with two hours carved out of the day for hand-washing dishes and clothes, and the clothes outside, on a stone water tank, summer and winter, with your fingers hurting in winter like they were going to freeze and break off. I enjoy physical work, actually, but now I have the OPTION of doing it. I can decide to wash something by hand and hang it in the fresh air to dry. Or I can get machines to do it for me, while I reap the benefits of my experience and expertise by doing writing for pay.
My mom whose work had much the same trajectory didn’t have that option. By forty she still had to keep up with deadlines, while doing all the drudge work by hand. (Dad had a more than full time job, and anyway, in Portuguese culture, his generation, men just didn’t DO that.) She had cleaning ladies when she could get them, but there as here that’s not a reliable thing. So she ended up having a cluster of heart attacks and being medically retired and never reaping the fruits of her artistry and experience.
I’m glad I’m sitting here while the dishwasher (yes, crappy and leaking. We put a plastic underneath, until we can get a new one) does its thing, and the washer washes a massive load of clothes. Later on I have to dust and vacuum because we have company this weekend, but even that beats SWEEPING the carpets, and hand cleaning.
So I’m glad I live today and hopefully will have time to reap the benefits of my youthful learning and work.
People who mock others for first world problems have never lived elsewhere. Sure there are first world problems, like broken dishwashers, and stupid ratty carpets. Identify them and change them.
Embracing convenience and not feeling guilty for that which frees us to do what we’re best at is what MAKES us a first world nation. And I intend to take advantage of it. All the way.
UPDATE: I’ll post this again tomorrow, but as a heads up — two Hoyts (Dan and I) and possibly our house guest (?) will be at Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax in Denver, in the Annex on Saturday between 4:30 and 8 pm or so, unless no one shows up before six and we get bored. Look for us in the Annex.