Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Condition

As the title of this blog suggests I live without modern conveniences, I thought I might clarify - I am not living off the grid, technically speaking. Mostly, the title has to do with an exploration of what off-the-grid means, in a culture so dependent on the grid, i.e. fossil fuels, municipal water and waste disposal, and electricity. An exploration of what life will be like when we can no longer depend on the grid. A preparation.

This fall I filled the attic with leaf bags. This winter, I'm heating only two rooms in the house, the living room and the bedroom. The thermostat is in the living room, so most of the time I keep the living room closed, which reduces the amount of time the furnace runs, which keeps the bedroom slightly cooler; they're connected, in this small house. I keep the thermostat at 70 when I'm here during the day. At night and when I leave, I turn it down to 60.

That, and I keep the water heater on low, turning it up only an hour or so before I shower, which I'm only doing every third day. In this way, I've kept the gas bill at less than a third of what it would be if I were heating the whole house, heating water I'm not using. It also means the bathroom is chilly, as is the sun room, the dining room and especially the kitchen, the kitchen having three exterior walls. Though the kitchen and the sun room benefit from a solar affect on certain days, but only during the day, as neither is designed for efficient solar-heat collection.

It's been a ridiculously cold winter. Only two days above freezing, from Dec 01 to today. Not owning a motor vehicle, I don't get around much. I quit biking after seventeen inches of snow fell in a single storm, though I'm thinking of taking the bike out again soon. I just wish it would warm up. I'm walking where I need to, though that takes awhile and I don't go far. Luckily, I have a grocery, a video store, a bank and two liquor stores within easy walking distance. Not that I spend much money on liquor. I did recently buy a six pack, feeling down after the shooting in Tuscon, and watched the first Iron Man film and got drunk. I know I'm a little behind the curve, but that was fun.

I don't have a job, for getting around to. The one job I thought I might get I didn't get an interview for. If I don't drink too much or watch too many movies, I'll be out of money mid-April. If I don't have a job by then, I might be living off the land. I ordered seed catalogs from Seed Savers ( and Seeds of Change(, but I have no guarantee the house will be mine, the soil mine to plant and harvest. I sometimes wonder about living off the land this summer, hopping in my canoe this fall and heading south. I won't do that if I have the house and a job to pay for it, but it's hard to imagine what sort of job I should go looking for. I'm writing a book, I keep reminding myself, and every day I get up and I do.

It's hard to imagine anything else right now, though next week I'm off to Houston for the Halloween and Party Expo. The guys I worked for this past Halloween are paying for my flight and ticket. We have a host. I hear Houston has bad air. It's full of Texans. But it will be warmer than it is here, and no doubt, lots of fun. A Halloween conference? Surely something to write about.


Anonymous said...

OFF THE GRID is an interesting subject, also known as, OUT OF THE MATRIX. In 2009, I spent 6 months in Nepal and Northern India (strictly Himalaya) Not only did I have no cell phone, but I didn't go on-line for months at a time. People knew I was in India, but that's all they knew about my whereabouts. I didn't even know where I was until after I'd arrived. Even then, I'd keep forgetting the name of the town I was in, cuz I'd never heard of it before. That was OFF THE GRID.

I think everybody should "get completely lost" at least once in the lives (or is it life?). Grammatical question, not theological...

I returned to Los Angeles in November 2009. Since then, I've written 3 books, one of which I self-published and sell for 10 dollars + shipping. I have two more books ready to go, once I get the financial backing to print them out. The first one looks very good. My friends seem to like it.

I still have no cell phone, no job, no bank account, no credit cards, no debt. I live with my mother and I cook all my own meals at home and play music with my band and write for my amusement -- both of which cost no money. My band members are both licensed growers, so I don't have to spend money on enibreators (sic)

I guess I'm essentially STILL off the grid. What's your book about?

ps, I'm responding to your Anis Shivani article comment. I liked his article, too.

William Hunter Duncan said...

Congrats. Stepping off the grid for a time is a profound way to find yourself. Living the way you do, you are more prepared for the troubles ahead than most. I admire your courage.

Three books in one year? Prolific. My own book is a memoir/traveloge, about my maturation as a man is this curious culture, and a challenge to men to stand up for something greater than themselves. I haven't made it available yet, as there are a few changes I need to make. I'll offer widely it at the same time I offer my second book, I hope this late spring.