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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life without Television

Okay, I know you are expecting me to wax eloquent about the glorious frugal, practical, productive, parsimonious life post-TV. Well, sorry to disappoint you. I am neither more happy, more at peace, more productive, or more anything except more disgusted. Now, I am going to whine. Or, rant.

How do I happen to have no TV? It happened at midnight on June 12, 2009, exactly at midnight. Just like I read and heard. Just like that—it happened—the screen went black. Did I think they meant everyone but me? Beats me. But, it really, really happened.

After I received my $40 coupon for the HD box, I purchased it and had television reception for about 30 minutes, sort of. It seems that for some reason, the picture just drifts away. Finally, I gave up on the box. After an hour of adjusting everything, I always lose reception again.

Okay, I could visit or talk with friends instead of watching TV. They all have families. I watch my favorites after most people have retired for the night. The library closes at 8 p.m. on two nights, 6 p.m. on the other weekdays, 4 p.m. on Saturday and closes on Sunday. The few museums close at 4:30 p.m. They charge admission, and I have been to them often. One bookstore stays open until 10 p.m. Fast food establishments are open late. Options are not abundant in my town.

Folks, this is real trauma! Since I happily, more or less, live alone, TV is company. Yes, I know it sounds pathetic. I can turn the TV volume really loud and wash dishes or straighten up the place if it is something I don’t need to watch continuously. The Today Show comes to mind. They do talk lots.

Plus, folding clothes is my activity during TV time. I like to fold clothes, but folding clothes is not exactly something that takes my full attention. Neither does the news. Now, folding clothes is a huge, horrible chore. Actually, clothes can lie in the basket for days not folded now. I have to force myself to keep up with them.

I watched the local NBC station mostly for the weather forecast. Since I have holes in my roof, I stress over rain. Jerry Tracey is the best meteorologist around. I really need him. Local=50 miles from here.

Some people adjust readily to their lack of TV. They even PLAN to not watch by getting rid of their television set or cutting cable. Not me! Even without cable or satellite, I could always get about eight stations. Since I am the only person in the whole neighborhood who can get anything without technical assistance, I think my luck is due to the metal chimney covers on my chimneys. Okay, so it is an untested theory. No one has had any other thoughts on my good fortune.

For the last thirty+ years, my television viewing has consisted of what I could get without paying for it. I had cable for about six months and dish satellite for the same length of time. Both were just too expensive for me to continue paying the exorbitant amount each month. Besides paying more than I was willing, I could not afford to continue with cable or satellite.

Really, I only want local NBC (local is over 50 miles away.). So, it is not so local by the cable and satellite definition.

If I had continued with satellite, my life would be in shambles. I would be on the street and in ruin. Why? Well, the movies fascinate me and I cannot, do not, resist. I would be willing to watch movie channels 24/7. That’s no way to live.

My favorite sitcoms, even in rerun, gave me so much pleasure. Laughing is good for us. I must have been getting healthier by the half hour when I had television service. Besides, I do terribly miss, Law & Order, Medium, and The Today Show. Have you guessed that NBC is about all I watch? Do you hear that NBC? I LOVE YOU! I miss you!

I have never even had the chance to look for Dancing with the Stars or anything else that is making headlines. It would probably conflict with NBC broadcasts, but at least I could choose if I had TV service. While I don’t feel that television should hold center stage in my conversations with others, I still would like to know about SOME of the references people make. Luckily, most of my friends can find other topics of conversation.

Most of my current events news is online, so it’s not often an issue. I discovered I can watch Dateline in episodes on MSN. I call a friend who can fill me in on anything I miss about state news.

Television viewing allayed my fears for years. Actually, the noise was my security. Often, something is in my basement. First it was a groundhog; then a raccoon took up residence. Both walked around knocking things over. Cats jump from here to there, knocking objects from hooks and shelves on the walls. Sometimes, they snarl and fight. Sometimes, it is a little whoopee session.

The noise is unnerving even though I know I am safe. The basement has an outside entrance only, so nothing or no one can get to me. Even though I know all this, the fact that something is invading my space in unnerving. Squirrels could jump on the house; hickory nuts could bombard the house and roll right off. Cats and squirrels could tussle noisily without jarring my last nerve when the television was entertaining me or I was just working to the background “noise."

When it is dark, I want noise in the house. I am very brave but I am easily terrorized!

Am I sounding pathetic yet?

Before the TV went off permanently, I lay on the sofa to watch TV. Now, I sit in my chair and use my laptop in my lap to view what little I can view. Folks, this is not as relaxing. Even when I get the news, I prefer to relax. Plus, then I spend too much time on the laptop.

I suppose I could try an antenna made for my situation. But, that would be a purchase. One man said he bought half a dozen, brought them home, tried them to see which worked best, and took back the rest. First of all, I cannot buy that many at once. Second, my back, eyesight, and fingers are going to make this an impossibly long and mostly a physically impossible task. I cannot see through the top of my progressive bifocals, and often connections are below my line of corrected vision.

You thought this was going to be a post about frugality or miserliness or parsimony? Well, it’s not. I long for television viewing. The longing is just a deep ache that cannot be stopped by anything else. I want to be bored stiff by inaneness when I am not being entertained. I don’t even think that is a word. Yes, I had my favorites that I watched. But, sometimes I just drifted off into the world of television. I was half-listening sometimes. Often, I read. Game shows, reality TV, soap operas? No way. But, the choice of what to watch is what I want. I want the right to watch as I please, to use the noise to drown out frightening noises, to watch my favorites.

Radio is not the answer. I just don’t listen to the radio, except in the car. And, I don’t want to listen to CDs. I use hulu for movies. Plus, I do check out movies from the library. Either way, only one-movie-a-night is my rule for me. Otherwise, I would overindulge. It's a pain to find a movie on hulu that I have not seen and want to see. I can only check out five DVDs from the library, so that keeps me in control.

Television reception is what I want. My favorite shows are what I want. I cannot be placated with a substitute. I resent paying for what was free to me before June 12, 2009.

I want what I want! I need what I want! (in this case)

Okay, maybe I am too miserly to spend over $600 each year for television access. Maybe it is parsimony. You decide.

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