Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Sometimes, it seems as though my whole life is one big old marathon, as if absolutely everything about it comes down to enduring.

Sometimes, it is kind of irritating.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering why something can’t just once arrive in the form of instant gratification.

Why (I ask myself peevishly at such times) does everything have to require a blend of patience, hard work, perseverance, more patience, more hard work, and maybe just another heapin’ helpin’ of freakin’ patience?!

The thing that makes this question particularly irritating is that frequently, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Take today for perfect example.

I’m working from home today. And it is hot. Hot, hot, hot.

It’s a hair over 100 degrees outside today. Inside, well, that depends on where you are. This house has some of the worst air circulation imaginable; the temperature variances can be…crazy.

Downstairs hallway: 78 degrees.
Kitchen: 90 degrees.
Kids’ bathroom: 72 degrees.
Master bathroom: 95 degrees (!!)
Master bedroom a.k.a. my office: 90 degrees.

I guess when it comes to temperature I’m more like lettuce than tomatoes because I’m dying. Seriously. Dy-ING. I am sweating. I am barefoot, in shorts, sucking down lemonade by the gallon, ceiling fan whirring, floor fan buzzing (but I have to turn it off whenever I get on the phone because WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU, MY FAN IS ON!!!!!) (so naturally, today is “hey, let’s call Tama and ask about that! At great length!” day)

And here’s the corker: I’m stuck in this sweat box because I am a prisoner to network connectivity. This Satan’s Waiting Room is where the speed is, people. Sure, I could unplug, waddle off to one of the cooler spaces, and switch to my wireless card…and every query would then take twenty minutes to return and my email would be all “wait for it…waaaaaait for iiiiiiiiit…” and we shall not even begin to discuss how long it would take to upload a single Excel spreadsheet.

I can feel my hair turning gray just thinking about it.

Oh, do I have an air conditioner? Why yes, yes I do. Did we have the old funky one replaced a couple years ago during the Great Remodeling Adventure with the uber-efficient model of great air movement? Why yes! Yes we did!

So why am I sitting here sweating my arse off (alas, not literally)?

Because! I have a budget, and it requires my PG&E bill to stay under $275 – which requires that I not crank up my air conditioner just because I am (pffft!) a little hot. I would have to set the air conditioner to something like 70 to get this room cooled off to 80-something…which would still feel “too hot” and would also mean that it would just run-run-run-run-run.

Cha-ching-cha-ching-cha-ching. For PG&E, it’s like hitting the jackpot. You can stand there and watch the electric meter spinning, and actually feel all your month being sucked out of your checking account.

This is one of those moments where I find myself feeling pissy about the ‘endurance’ thing.

I’m putting up with the heat because I have a very clear budget. I have the budget because I have goals – and at this stage in my life, they’re ridiculously large. Grandiose, even. The kinds of goals that my younger self would have just stared at with her mouth hanging open before saying, “Yeaaaaaaaah, right. So, uh, good luck with that and if you need me, I’ll be over here chasing something shiny and by the way attainable…


Sometimes, I really rue the day I realized that every action I take causes a ripple, that every choice I make has a consequence.

And that each “small” choice is only small in a vacuum – out in the so-called real world that is my overall life, they add up fast.

In aggregate, all those “just this once” and “only a little” and “I deserve it” choices become dream-deniers.

Used to be I could not see the connection between what I was doing now and that whole not having the rent a week or two later.

Now, I can’t not see it. Before my hand can even leave my side, I’m already thinking about our dreams…no more debts to pay, the ability to shift slowly into a less frantic working situation, stepping gradually into a working retirement as the kids start going off to college and from there into their own lives…making less but loving what we do more…

And I can’t do it. I can’t choose being cooler over all that.

So, I don’t do it. I leave the thermostat alone, and I go back to my office, and I drink more lemonade and try not to cuss when my phone rings and I have to snap off my floor fan.

I can endure temporary discomfort in exchange for getting those other things that much sooner.

…don’t promise I won’t kvetch about it, though…


Anonymous said...

Dang, can't you get a 100' ethernet cable and go anywhere in your house? I wilt at 80 and my brain fries at 85. Maybe a few degrees higher if it's really dry. I live in the south -dry? only in the dead of winter.

Rena said...

being a grown up sucks. lets just eat a gallon of ice cream in our room after cranking down the AC to 69.

Tola said...

get dressed in gym shorts and tshirt. shower while dressed. stay cooler than you were before. repeat every 2-3 hours as clothing/hair dries. it works!

Ms. Packrat said...

I have a loft bedroom in Georgia. It gets TOASTY. I beefed up the acc 8 years ago and still had to set it on meatlocker to get the upstairs cool. Then a friend dragged me to the hardware store and made me buy one of those portable acs that vents out the window and can be rolled away into a closet in the winter. Yes, it uses electricity, but it keeps the upstairs cool so that instead of running the big ac on stun, I set it on a sane 77-78 and use the little ac to cool the hottest part of the house. It also does the ion thing and dehumidifies either out the window or into a container. I paid $280 for it early last summer and estimate it saves me $40 a month during the summer in added ac bills - in fact when the weather got hot early here, I was able to leave the central ir off for a couple of weeks and just run the portable enough to keep the bedroom sleepable

Another Joan said...

Two things: Tola knows what she's talking about - excellent way to cope and gives the Jrs something else to think about. Also: my furnace can be set to run on recirculate so the cool air downstairs gets whirled about upstairs giving illusions of cool without cost of AC.

marit said...

we're still in the lower fifties...and there's plenty of rain too...

Darlene said...

And that each “small” choice is only small in a vacuum – out in the so-called real world that is my overall life, they add up fast.

In aggregate, all those “just this once” and “only a little” and “I deserve it” choices become dream-deniers.

Darlene said...

lol, published too quickly there...

the above quote is exactly what I need to remember every day.

I'm sure I'm paying for lots of "small choices" that I made years ago on my credit card. :/

I'm trying so hard to pay off my credit cards, but it is so hard and takes so long that it's discouraging.

PipneyJane said...

I was wondering about the construction around your bedroom.
How is the insulation in roof? What about in the walls? I'm assuming you house is a brick veneer - could you strip off the drywall and line the spaces between the timbers with insulating bats cut to size? (You can even buy wool bats these days instead of fibreglass.) Alternatively, there is now insulated plasterboard/drywall on the market - It's much thicker than the regular stuff. Our house has solid double-brick walls (no cavity) so used it to line the wall along the drive way (I won't know if it's any good until it gets cold. Hot weather not much of a problem around here).

Is there anything you could do to deflect the heat of the sun from that part of the house? Is it too high up to put a pergola in the way and grow grape vines up it? I assume adding a veranda/balcony is out of the question.

Another thought - what is your roof like? Is it flat or pitched? Could you add one of those giant fans that blow air across your loft?

- Pam (grew up in a hot country when air conditioned homes were not common - I remember your pain)

Steph B said...

Lots of good ideas and comments here, but I think Terena wins. Preferably coffee ice cream with Heath bar chocolate fudge topping.

Science PhD Mom said...

Yeah, I have to agree with Pipney Jane that you ought to check the insulation in your attic and walls. You can rent a laser thermometer and it will tell you where the heat is coming in. Blank wall cavities or ceiling spaces will light up like Christmas trees. You can leave the drywall up and blow in insulation through little holes (easy to patch).

As someone with the opposite problem in her bedroom (cold climate), believe me, it's SO WORTH fixing the insulation problem. Just filling the moderate holes between the door and window frames and the rest of the house (hiding under the trim) makes a HUGE difference. And it's cheap to do.

Kaviare said...

I realise I am a bit late to this post's party, but I'm catching up.

I read this post at the start of the week and have been coming back to it in my head ever since. I've just bought a house and I can totally afford everything to do with it. BUT, if I can be frugal and pay it off quicker, my life will be better all over. That was my original plan, and I've been doing pretty well. But lately, I got tired. I started to go, well, it's ok if I just get ONE coffee a week. Well, there's not that big a difference between one coffee and two. Well, I'm tired, why don't I just go out for dinner, just this once. It's ok if I don't put anything extra on the mortgage or in savings this pay, because there's this bill. And next pay, there's another bill. And the one after that I need new jeans. No, I do, I NEED them! It doesn't help that I am one of the few people I socialise with who does have a mortgage (I'm 26) so my peer group is eating out, drinking lots, getting taxis everywhere.

I'm trying to get back on track - not never spend anything, but chosing carefully where my money goes. Because some of those things, I do want. I DO need new jeans... eventually. And the dream is far enough away that one or two months of being a bit slack doesn't appear to make much difference. I mean, it's not like I'm going BACKWARDS. But if I keep doing it...

Well, that phrase is what got me. Dream deniers. They are what kills the dream. And I LIKE my dream. So. I'm getting organised again. I'm taking coffee from home and making sure I always have backup meals in the freezer. And I'm eating them, even if what I really truly feel like is a revolting takeaway. Too bad. When I've paid my mortgage off 10 years before projected and saved myself thousands? Maybe then I can eat out regularly.

Thanks for the kick int he bum!