A TV-less existence.

Whenever I tell people that I don’t have TV service and don’t intend to get it, the response is generally a mouth-agape gaze.  Sometimes a “wow.”  Sometimes an “I could never do that,” which always sounds a bit like a backhanded compliment.  Kind of like how some people who complain about being overwhelmingly busy are actually bragging.

I thought I could never do it, either.  And it was hard, that first night when I looked at the large swath of time I have every night between getting off work and going to bed.  Five hours that I’d spent every night self-medicating with lots of HGTV and ice cream.  Or Gossip Girl and wine.  Or Mad Men and cigarettes.  (Cigarettes go so well with Mad Men.)

Really, it’s a miracle that my stomach isn’t as mushy as my brain.  But all the anxiety that comes with self-medicating was usually sure to keep me twitching my muscles constantly while lying on the couch.  Cautionary Husband has terrible circulation and would stick his feet between my thighs, only to remove them ten minutes later because I physically could not stop squeezing his feet with my leg muscles.  He’d tell me to stop, and I’d try for a few seconds, and then I’d start again without even realizing it.

Really, anxiety is like a built-in thighmaster.

I still have a TV.  It sits in my living room atop an antique Singer sewing-machine table that I inherited from my grandmother, the only family heirloom I have.  The TV isn’t even digitally compatible, since it was made in, um, 1998.  But, because I don’t have a fireplace, and TVs seem to be the modern equivalent of a focal point (even when they’re decades old), it’s there.  Also because I have grand ideas of doing yoga by way of DVD every morning and night, something that has yet to happen because there are usually other things I’d rather be doing, like soaking in a bath and reading.  Or lying in bed watching The Office on my laptop.

Because even though I’ve quit TV, I’m still able to keep up with my favorite shows online.  I have a feeling this is the direction TV is going, and that someday our computers and televisions will merge into the same entity, and we will remember wistfully the quaint days they were separate.  The days of sitting on the couch watching shows and commercials we didn’t really want to watch, but there was nothing else on, and who wants to actually sit and think about life, anyway?  Or worse, TALK about it.

I consider myself on the forefront of technology.

And while I still seek out Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy and The Office, the thought of actually turning on my laptop to watch an episode of House Hunters seems ridiculous to me.  And it was my favorite HGTV show!  Over the last few years I’ve given of myself countless hours to watching strangers pick from three houses the one they’d like to buy.  Telepathically encouraging them to pick the one I liked best.  Cursing them when they opted for the big budget-buster.  I’m not sure what it was that drew me to the show, even, since most of the time it depressed the fucking hell out of me.  Happy couples, hands clasped, looking at the world’s cutest 1920s bungalows.  And me, sitting alone in my rented duplex with a bowl of ice cream, married to a man I didn’t even know, while the man I was in love with was married to someone else.  House hunting with someone else, even, for part of that time.

Come to think of it, maybe it was masochism rather than any sort of coping mechanism.

Either way, it wasn’t something good, so it’s out of my life.  Most of the time I don’t miss it, but sometimes I do.  I miss Matt Lauer’s self-deprecating sense of humor in the morning, and his impeccable fashion sense.  I miss feeling not so alone, not so isolated.  I miss numbing my mind.  I miss feeling connected, even if it’s just to some actors who enter my living room via flashing light.

I miss having something to do, even if that something to do was really nothing at all.

A few weeks ago, my boss asked me what I thought about what was going on in Gaza.  Since my main news source at the time was Ann Curry’s one-minute newsrundown at the top of every morning hour on Today, I told her that I shamefully didn’t know much about it.  She gave me the same look I described in the first paragraph, that mouth-agape shock.  But now I listen to NPR in the morning instead.  And now I can talk about Gaza all day.  I can talk the shit out of Gaza.

I’ve come so far.  But an ice storm is currently headed our way, and while the thought of having a snow day tomorrow is wonderful, I couldn’t help but wonder: Without TV, what in the world will I do?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “A TV-less existence.

  1. I don’t think I could do without my cable, but I do understand the trying. The snow storm tomorrow? I’m not worried even though Tom THumb was sold out of eggs and bread!

  2. juliennejiggs

    The boy and I don’t have television at home either and we tend to get the same reactions. Since we both travel for work we have access to tv during the week, but our weekends are tv free and since we only see each other two days a week it’s nice to be able to just talk and not have that distraction. We do have a DVD player though and tend to spend at least one of our three nights together just watching movies.

    And? By Monday morning I usually feel totally out of the loop and have to spend some time catching up with CNN.

  3. our tv lives on the third floor of our house. we go up there once in a while — i actually forget about tv all the time. we tend to download any shows we want to watch OR do something else (go for a walk, read, talk, etc.). i haven’t had cable since i was in third grade and i don’t miss it.

  4. I gave up TV about a year and a half ago. I still have a TV (in fact, it’s a brand spankin’ new flat screen, plasma, all-fancy-like TV) that sits in my living room, also atop an antique piece of furniture.

    I don’t miss TV 99.99% of the time. About once every two weeks I’ll throw in a DVD and watch it. Once you adjust you find you don’t miss it at all, there is so much else you can be doing with your time…

    Turn on some music if it feels too quiet. Call a friend. Take your Cautionary Dog for a walk. 🙂

  5. I’m overwhelmingly envious of you. The amount of money I pay for cable each month is insane. Unfortunately, I’m all for sports in HD, and those are really hard to watch after the fact.

  6. TV is central to my life. I watch the usual CW shows, but I don’t get that channel so I either go over someone else’s house or watch it on my computer. But I do a Gossip Girl podcast so I have to watch it regularly, no exceptions to that rule. I can understand the no TV thing and yes I agree with the direction television is headed…straight to the computer. Hulu.com is a great example of that. But the “free time” I set aside for TV every night is filled with the computer. So TV not so bad, if you said you had an high speed internet-less house, I would be pitching one of those backhanded compliments your way!

  7. I’m plotting and plotting and plotting the day I make my big move to new job/new apartment/new city. I realize my tv is not going to be among the priority items to be packed into the backseat of my not-so-big car. I’m pretty much okay with this, except for one thing: the morning news.

    On September 11th, 2001 I smacked my friend Jonathan in the arm and said “Shut up. That’s not funny at all.” Since then I’ve become fixated on checking for terrorist attacks before I leave the house. I’m not worried especially about the likelihood, just about not knowing. Isn’t that dumb?

  8. i too have weaned myself off the tv nipple. i watch lost, heroes, and… and… battlestar galactica, ok i said it, on the internet and i usually do it right when i get off work while i’m making dinner for myself. i used to be pissed that my roommate wouldnt split the cable bill with me and i refused to pay for all of it by myself, but since the new year i have realized that i don’t waste time now when i’m at home nearly as much as i used to and my productivity in other activities has increased tenfold. it’s a blessing in disguise. for the first time since college, i actually listen to music and delve into lyrics and search for meaning. i write ten times as many songs as i have in at least a year. its awesome, i’m actually worried about when i move out and get a new roommate and have to get cable again.

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