Off the Grid


Household appliances that have become very ill or died in the last five months: 3

Dishes I washed in a bathtub yesterday: 23

Missing tiles under and around our dishwasher today: 9

Our house is the place where appliances come to die.

Let me backtrack a little bit so you can feel and understand my angst coming through your computer screen.

My husband and I decide to watch a movie on Sunday evening. This is pretty incredible stuff for us. My son had talked my husband into doing a Netflix trial, and my husband was giddy–giddy, I tell you–about watching a movie “for free.” We had been meaning to see “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” for a while… him, because he loved the trilogy; me, because I love Daniel Craig. (When things don’t work out with Rachel Weisz, he can feel free to call me.)

I sit down on the couch, he skips in to the computer… and the movie starts playing.

There are a lot of words I don’t understand.

And there’s a guy onscreen who is not Daniel Craig. This is a problem.

“Ummm. Honey?” I stage-whisper in to the office.


“There’s a lot more Swedish stuff in this movie than there should be.”

“Yeah, the movie takes place in Sweden. Duh.” (He didn’t actually say duh, but I felt its unspoken meaning from all the way in the other room.)

“What I’m trying to say is… this guy isn’t as cute, and I don’t want to read my movie. Like, I’ve already read the book. Daniel Craig has a great accent, and I don’t want to miss it.”

I think I killed his Netflix fun.

So anyway, we ended up watching “Seabiscuit,” which our neighbor had thoughtfully let us borrow, perhaps envisioning this exact scenario. It said on the DVD “1:33,” which I took to mean one hour and 33 minutes, but which we found out two and a half hours later really meant “1:33 to 1,” some ridiculous tech-y ratio that is gobbledygook and is printed on there to confuse and obfuscate. My husband laughed at me, but not too much, because we were both up way past our bedtime, and his laughter energy was spent.

It was close to midnight, and my husband walked over to turn out the kitchen lights… and found water stains near our dishwasher. Very long story short… our dishwasher had been leaking, and we never knew. Dangit.

The next morning, as my husband muttered and said bad words while chipping away at grout and tile, I Cloroxed our bathtub. And then I spent far too long leaning over said bathtub washing dishes by hand. I know. I know. It’s like something out of a Depression-era movie. Poor little suburban woman sudsing up her dishes and the butcher knife in the tub.

The rest of the day was spent in heightened productivity mode, at least creatively speaking.

Much in the same way that I fantasized as a middle schooler about moving far, far away or to medieval England, I now escape to a life off the grid. To some people, this means escaping from the government, or the Internet or mafia culture. To me, it means owning five outfits, mostly bathing suits and cover-ups, a pair of flip-flops and a shack with indoor plumbing. While I hope to eliminate all appliances, I am very fond of toilets and hot running water and will include plumbing in my Florida Keys fantasy.

Until my life of off-the-gridishness, I live with peace about two things, one of which I mentioned in an earlier post: 1.) Our TV has already been struck by lightning, and since lightning doesn’t strike twice, we’re safe. 2.) As our friend and neighbor reminded us and sent us YouTube videos about, our appliances have been “pre-disastered,” a concept coined by Garp in “A World According to Garp.” They can’t break again, right? And now I can sleep at night.

In preparation for my appliance-free life, I am starting to pack my teal L.L. Bean backpack from college with comfort items. If something blows up or leaks or catches on fire or melts or spontaneously combusts, I will grab my safety items, and… well, we’ll have to leave our cars behind, trust issues and all.

We can hitchhike to The Islands. Or maybe if we all wear our running shoes, we can just head down there on foot. So far, I feel like I can trust my own legs.


6 thoughts on “Off the Grid

  1. crubin says:

    And who says marriage isn’t exciting and fresh? You sound just like my husband and me, where the fun never ends. 🙂

    Actually, the Swedish film was really good. But no, that actor is no Daniel Craig, so of course, I had to see the American version as well.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    Hopefully you won’t fall victim to the old adage that “trouble comes in threes.” Or maybe the movie snafu was the third. Then you should be safe 😉

  3. Melissa says:

    I think you are safe now…three down. And hello…Daniel Craig….drool. I’ll watch him any day over subtitles and I don’t really mind subtitles. Tracy wants to open a flip flop stand in Key West….want to be his business partner?

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