Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anticipation & Electric Bills

One of the best parts of an adventure is the anticipation.  Thinking about what you're going to do, what you're going to see, what you're going to eat...how you're going to feel.  For me, it's really been the last two weeks that I have allowed myself to savor all the possibilities.  I just got off the phone with our French host.  Can I just say, I love listening to a French man speak.  His accent is so wonderful and his phrasing is delightful.  He just confirmed that he will be picking us up from the airport and taking us to the house, as he and his wife have a show in the South of France before they leave for the US.  So we'll get to meet our hosts, which I'm really looking forward to. 

At this point, he might be a little worried about me...as a bit of my neurosis came through loud and clear on this call.  Everyone keeps asking me if I'm worried about letting complete strangers live in my house.  I have to say, a year ago I never would have considered it.  I love my home, it's a big part of me. While I love to share it with friends by entertaining, I haven't really wanted someone to stay here when I'm not here (except for my delightful Susanna, who has house sat for us for every trip we've taken in the last five years).  Over the past several months, something has switched in me.  I still love my house, but I am not as attached to it as I was before.  I feel very comfortable turning it over to someone else.  I'm a fairly trusting person...I'm convinced nothing bad is going to happen.

Well, except for one thing.  I'm really worried about electricity.  I can't believe I'm sharing this, but what the heck.  When I was little, there was a huge conservation push (you know, during the 70's when we had the energy crisis).  My mom instilled in me that if you leave a room, you turn off the light (even if you're coming right back).  I don't let the water run when I'm brushing my teeth.  I don't let the water run when I'm doing dishes.  I don't leave the refrigerator door open to pour a glass of milk.  I don't turn on the heat in the house until the inside thermometer dips below 60 and I certainly don't turn on the air conditioner until we've reached 90 (inside...not outside).

I've always been this way, ever since I can remember.  Even before I had my own electric & water bills to pay.  I've conserved for other people's benefit, not just mine.  Now, you might think that I'm writing this to show you how noble I am.  How Eco friendly I am.  How dedicated I am to solving global warning and conserving resources.   Yeah, not so much!  I actually don't think my behavior is any of these things.  I think it's neurotic.  (And I'll tell you, my hubby does too!). 

In fact, I didn't actually think I was neurotic until I started living with James (we'll have been married 22 years at the end of July) and we started having discussions over the thermostat...or in the bathroom as he had the water running as he was shaving.  I'd be like, turn off that water while you're shaving...he'd look at me like I was crazy...and he'd say, but I'm using the water to shave.  I'd say...only in between swipes...turn it off while you're swiping (yep, my technical shaving term, but you know what I mean).  This would elicit more crazy looks.  I'd leave the bathroom, strongly of the opinion that I was right and James was wrong.  We'd have very similar discussions at the kitchen sink and definitely have had major discussions about turning on the heat or the air.  If I was alone, I would never turn on either.  James grew up in the mid-West and Oregon and when he was young, water was never an issue.  So he just looks at things differently than I do.  He also likes to be comfortable, so if sweat is dripping off his brow and the thermostat says 98, he's OK with turning on the air. 

Now, some might say this is a control issue for me.  That I want things done the way I want them done and I'm inflexible.  I might say that I just want things done the right way and in this case my way happens to be the right way.  I bet some of you are thinking, boy how has he put up with her for 22 years (24 years if you count the courting and engaged time)?  Well, I'll tell you, I have no idea.  With a bit of age under my belt, at this point in my life, I realize that I am married to St. James.  The fact that he can accept my craziness and generally not give me a hard time about it absolutely amazes me.  But St. James is a topic for another day.  (I'm not sure whether he has started to read the blog yet...I'm not going to mention anything and see if he does.  He may not be happy with me talking about him here, we'll have to see.  If I never mention his name again, you'll know which way that conversation went.)

This all leads back to why I'm worried about electricity, and why our French host/guest might think I'm a little bit bonkers.  During the summer, our house seems to suck electricity like there's no tomorrow.  The electric bills can be staggering (trust me, I know staggering given that I own a store that has 11 freezers and refrigerators!)  So, to be staggered at home can be quite sad.  And, it's always after the fact.  I always get surprised by these amazing electric bills and water bills and gas bills (because of the pool, in the summer).  We had a water leak that we didn't discover for a long time (two water bills' worth)...don't even get me going on that.  Today in our conversation, I explained most of this to our soon to be guest.  How I'm really only worried about the electric bill and if they could remember to turn the air off when they're leaving, not let it run all night, etc...that would be great.  By the end of the conversation he was saying, we probably won't even run the air...I don't think we'll need it.  I laughed and said when it hits 110 outside, you're probably going to want to turn it on.  He didn't laugh so much at that.  Then I mentioned the pool.  We don't let the heater run all summer, just a few days a week.  I asked if he wasn't going to use the pool for a few days (like when they go to visit the Grand Canyon), could they turn it off.  I think this one put him over the edge a bit.  But I think I redeemed myself and told him someone (delightful Susanna) would be checking on the house when they were gone, so if they forgot something like turning off the stove, she'd catch it.  (OK, I didn't really say the thing about turning off the stove...I'm not that neurotic!)

Now I've bared my innermost secrets about controlling the use of electricity.  After I've written this, I'm starting to think it really is a control issue.  We're all adults, my guests know that they should be judicious in their use of the air conditioning, right?  I probably shouldn't have said anything.  Oh well, I'm leaving them several bottles of wine to welcome them, hopefully that will make up for any damage I've done.

Til next time.  Just be happy I'm not in your home everyday, telling you to turn off the air (except for James, who does have to deal with this everyday...sorry babe.)

4 comments:

Michelle Iverson said...

OMG!! Just so you know the neurotic behaviour runs in the family. I can't stand to see the lights on. I try to bake two things at once so as to not waste all that energy heating up the oven. As you know our family lives in Navy Housing and our electric bill is paid for by Uncle Sam so this is not in anyway a wish to not pay high energy bills. The cycle has been broken though with the next generation...every morning each of my 3 children and husband all leave their lights on so I dutifully go through the house turning all the lights off. Your not alone!

sirey said...

We'll have to discuss this deep seeded neurosis that we share!

Sarah said...

I feel the same way and remember those times in California with gas rationing, watering the yard every other day, etc... But Europeans are generally pretty good about not wasting electricity because it is expensive over here so don't worry too much about them leaving all of the lights on and what not.

Steph said...

Sarah, thanks for the advice...I'm definitely trying to let this one go!