Dishpan Hands

In an attempt to take procrastination to new levels, I’ve started a new Tumblr, Nice Rack, to document the dish drying racks I see on TV. It’s a great comfort in my dishwasher-free existence. Also, please keep your eye out for any drying racks on screen because I need all the help I can get.

Somewhere in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century I became the kind of person who expects a dishwasher in her apartment, not as the luxury this workaday appliance has traditionally been in New York City, but a right. It’s hard to say whether this entitled feeling was triggered by a mid-2000s wave of prosperity in the city that gave rise to amenity creep–in-unit washers and dryers and car ownership seeming normal–or simply higher levels of expectation that come naturally from aging out of the futon and roommates stage of life.

All I know is that after living 2004-2014 in three modes: brownstone Brooklyn floor-through, new construction condo, converted warehouse luxury rental, my dishes were not being washed by hand and it was good.

Don’t worry, I’ve since been humbled to pre-millennium standards, wash my clothes communally, take the bus when a car would cut travel time in half, get $25 haircuts–and most importantly, have invested in a collapsible, wooden dish drying rack. a painful symbol, made more hurtful by the fact that I’m now a property-owner.  In a most old-school NYC fashion, I am not allowed to install one by my co-op board because of supposedly old plumbing. (We’ll see about that–don’t rat me out.) I thought in 2015 it was an accepted fact that dishwashers are more energy-efficient than hand-washing.

It’s one of those accepted indignities of NYC living like paying $3,000+ per month for 500 square feet, schlepping a week’s worth of groceries up four flights of stairs or having to take three trains to go five miles (Jackson Heights and Bushwick were never meant to be compatible). This is not the case anywhere else that I’m aware of in the United States, because freedom?

The typical American attitude can be summed up nicely by this commenter on GardenWeb (now part of Houzz) a most un-urban message board full of kitchen appliance obsessives. (I did get a lot of good feedback asking about how I might hypothetically squeeze in an 18″ dishwasher.) This was the logical response to a poster who dare posit the idea of removing a dishwasher to make more room in the kitchen:

I think it’s a mistake if you: A. Think you may EVER sell your house, B. Think you may ever date, entertain, or cohabitate with a spouse of any kind.

Sure, most dates are thinking about how they might get their dishes washed when they come over to your place.

No one else cares, obviously. And it took me the first six months in this apartment to come to terms with the fact. While briefly seeing a therapist last year, a different sort of amenity I’ve never been able to embrace, I would end up spending a disproportionate amount of time talking in circles about how I could rectify the dishwasher situation. Why pay someone to lament the un-fixable when you can just blog about it? I couldn’t see myself being fully satisfied with this major purchase and my adult life if I didn’t have the kitchen of a successful person. One, I don’t like being told what I can and can’t do, but moreover I was reacting to a perceived fall from grace, a regression to a 20something style of living in my 40s as if my 30s never happened. How did I lose a whole decade?

Of course I didn’t really.  And lowered expectations can be awesomely freeing. Good things come to those with no standards. Cheers to giving up.

TL;DR: I now find great comfort in stumbling upon my fellow dish rack-users on screen.