unplugged

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addiction: ad-dic-tion, noun. great interest in a particular thing to which a lot of time is devoted.

(see also: a word used to describe shawna’s behavior with regards to cable television)

i mean, i can’t really argue with webster’s, can i? because based on his explanation alone, i would definitely be described as (gulp) addicted to love  tv. and i suppose i’ve never been ashamed of said aspect of my life, and more so always simply justified it by saying that “everyone has their vices, logging mindless hours emptying a week’s-full of prime-time and reality programs alike on my dvr is mine.”

my love affair with the small screen began at a very young age. a trip to grandma’s house warranted unlimited access to the disney channel and nickelodeon and it was there that i began to find a strange sense of community with the characters on the screen. oftentimes, i tended to another activity -baking, making collages out of newspaper scraps and magazine clippings, yes, even writing -while watching the program itself, but while the likes of eureka’s castle, fraggle rock, and doug didn’t have my undivided attention, somehow having their stories as muffled background noise was soothing. maybe as an only child, it helped me feel not so alone.

adolescence brought SAT tests, AP classes, cheer practice, and a mediocre social life, and while i continued to tune in weekly to my beloved friends and csi, the need for nightly programming simply wasn’t as fervent, maybe because i simply didn’t have the time.

my tv-watching was all but non-existent in college. sure, the occasional bachelor episode was taken in amongst a few dozen sorority sisters every monday night, but for the most part, i was pretty good at that “being social” thing. i poured into my studies; listened to many many a john mayer album, and took time to caffeinate in the presence of my girlfriends as often as possible.

then graduation, the real world, a big girl apartment and that first year of “self-discovery” that, for all intents and purposes, should be re-titled, the first year of “feeling really really lonely.” or at least, that was the case for me. all of a sudden i found myself in a routine where the highlight of my week was a sunday trip to trader joe’s. so in my despondent state, the television became my companion, once more. i watched a whole lot of food network, mixing things up with the occasional movie rental from blockbuster (i know, a regular party animal), too. having ina garten and bobby flay as my “friends” allowed for me to bypass making actual friends; a fete that seemed fruitless given the fact that i would soon be relocating once more back to america’s finest for a new position and well, a new life.

the years immediately following the return to my beloved childhood city were mixed in nature, work was complicated but good, family life, excellent, the dating sitch, ah, well, that was put on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time, and well i had a roommate again so i kind of had someone to talk to on a regular basis (not that the couch pillows weren’t lovely companions). tv-watching wasn’t just mindless means of appeasing my loneliness at this juncture, it was actually a facilitator of guaranteed quality time with my roof-sharer; we made plans weekly to carve out an hour or two to indulge in our favorite reality shows. sure our dates were centered around a television set, but it was nice to feel like my tv-watching had an intentional purpose every once in a while.

and then one roomie moved out to get married. and her replacement moved out to move away.

and i was alone once more.

and instead of a warm body, i was greeted by the likes of serena van der woodsen, zoe hart, every real housewife of [insert city here] and the doctors of seattle grace (and well, a whole slew of others) when i returned home from work each night. and whether or not i’m proud to admit it, for the past twoish years or so, my dvr has housed upwards of fifteen different shows in its archives (i actually think i’m low-balling that number). but instead of my tv-watching patterns five years prior, the reasons for my adherence to such a rigorous viewing schedule weren’t to keep that social butterfly in her cocoon (okay, maybe just a little).

rather, if we’re being really honest here, it was my attempt to stay relevant. while friends’ lives seemed to be constantly evolving, growing, and changing with the entrance of spouses and children, of new jobs and new places to call home, mine was sort of a stand-still. i mean, it was at a really good plateau, but a plateau nonetheless.

i couldn’t chime in when a girlfriend gushed about married life, or when another recalled the “CUTEST thing her little one did at daycare yesterday,” heck, i wasn’t even able to relate when someone described how much they were enjoying their new position at [generic company, u.s.a.]. so instead of pouting that my life didn’t warrant stories of teething or honeymoons or even new shiny expense accounts, i simply inserted myself into conversation with an embarrassingly vast knowledge of the latest television show fodder. because with all of the shows that were currently residing in my dvr repertoire, there had to be an episode or two of whose details i could bring up for discussion. if i became the master in my field (hollywood gossip/the plot lines of every reality and prime-time program), then i would always have something to say (don’t worry, no matter the topic, i probably always have at least something to say) and if i always had something to say, i would never truly feel alienated from the group, despite the differences in each of our life’s junctures.

i realize it is equal parts pathetic and impressive that i just divided my tv-watching trends for the past 27 years into categorized time frames, but in doing so, i think i can effectively deduce that i turn to the boob tube in times of solitude. it is a security blanket of sorts; a safe haven from the world when i feel like being anti-social (which, btw is like all the time) and a “friend” when i’m lonely and most definitely a distraction when that book-writing thing (or house cleaning thing or laundry-doing thing) is the LAST thing i can imagine myself doing at that present time.

and then i started dating, like really dating and wound up in a four-month long (woo!) relationship which lent me little time on the weekends to catch up on the shows that had filled up my dvr the week prior. more than that, with the weekends dedicated to spending time with my sweetie, i filled my weekdays with coffee dates and dinner rendezvous with my best gals, which, in addition to my daily pure barre class, didn’t put me back at the homestead until a much later hour. throw in the nightly phone chat with my boy and you know, that whole tendency of falling asleep on the couch at around 9 p.m. and there soon became very little time to devote to televised programming. i know, it really does stink having a social life, right? #itsnoteasybeingpopular (just kidding, i’m hardly popular). and while i loved having new items to fill my nightly agenda, i wasn’t naive to the fact that i was beginning to neglect the one aspect of my life that i had for so long identified with. the aspect that made me “relevant” amongst friends, the aspect that cost me over $100 a month!

i’m going to say something now that might sound a) pathetic and b) overly exaggerated. and i assure you while it may be the former, it’s unfortunately not the latter.

i used to (notice past tense) find my identity in my ability to keep tabs on any and every water cooler talk-worthy show on tv. i found great joy in being able to voice my opinion on the blond from middle-america vying for the title of america’s next top model or whether or not i thought lexi grey (RIP) and mark sloane would FINALLY get back together after seasons of romantic longing and sexual tension. and past aside, i still like being everyone’s token “phone a friend” for all things celebrity should they ever make it on the likes of who wants to be a millionaire (if that’s even a thing anymore). but there has been a shift, you see.

tv isn’t what it once was to me anymore. i’ve changed, and likewise, its role in my life has changed as well. and while yes, this does have something to do with the fact that my love life has taken a turn for the awesome as of late, i’d like to think this shift may have happened regardless. my writing, my responsibilities for miss A and alternative strategies, pure barre, all of it, they have also added to my lessening need for the company of cable.

so i inadvertently “tested” out my theory, that i could indeed survive without regularly tuning into one of my “staple” shows for a season, by voluntarily not watching bachelorette emily maynard’s journey to love. and while initially it was hard not being able to have those ridiculous g-chat conversations about how crazy/hot/weird each of the 25 eligible men were in their quest to win the bubbly blonde’s heart with my closest girls, i eventually got over it. and to supplement, i simply read the blogs of some of my favorite recappers. their commentary and supporting photos were all that i needed to remain pithy to emily’s path to love. and i didn’t even have to deal with drawn out rose ceremonies or commercial breaks. it was kind of the best of both worlds, actually.

and it’s funny when you start using less of less of something, how it becomes less and less vital to your everyday existence. until suddenly you think, self, i think i might cancel my cable.

yep, you heard (saw?) me correctly, i said cancel my cable. as in, no more bravo (gulp) or immediate access to a full dvr. but you know what guys? there’s this thing called the internet (i know, i hadn’t heard of it, either) and a magical little place called “hulu” (and netflix (which i don’t currently have, but could most certainly sign up for) and there’s also the networks’ personal websites, too) which house a catalog of prime-time and reality shows for FREE (unless you get hulu plus, then you have to pay a little bit). so as long as i have internet access and a laptop of which to watch said shows, then i’m in business. and bam, why hello extra $40 a month, it’s nice to see you! i’m going to introduce you to my good friend, starbucks; i think y’all will get along swimmingly.

also, can we talk about how i’ve started watching movies, again? and seeing how my “already viewed” repertoire of hollywood’s finest is not only the opposite of vast but also the opposite of filled with classics and high caliber films (i will still argue that the mighty ducks franchise is one of the best things to ever come from tinseltown), it has been fun to put the boyf’s newly assembled home entertainment center to good use. also, thank goodness for redbox. i mean hi, how is anyone supposed to rent movies anymore?

so i called time warner cable the other week and lobbed out my proposal to a kind lady named lashawn. like if my name were a spanish noun but without that “a” at the end (like “la manzana” or “la biblioteca”). anyway, lashawn, as she was probably just instructed to, asked me my reasoning for wanting to cancel my cable service. and i, the over-sharer that i am, went onto explain the recent change in relationship status (i’m not kidding) and how my social life had picked up and how i simply didn’t have the time to watch tv as much as i used to and how i kind of didn’t miss it either. and then, probably thinking she had me, she mentioned my dvr box; “you can just record the shows you aren’t able to watch during the week and watch them at a later time!”

yes, yes, i know that, lashawn, but the trouble is, i have recordings on there from MARCH.

and then she squeaked out an “oh” and fell silent. i mean, silencing a time warner cable rep? now that’s a first.

also a first? learning to be okay without tv; letting go of this self-induced pressure to know every plot line and reality show personality for relevance sake; and realizing that i have more to offer in a conversation than simply the knowledge of who got voted off survivor last night. besides, that’s what google is for.

i’ll let y’all know when this momentous occasion actually goes down, because like any big decision, this one doesn’t come without hesitation, too. but if i’ve made it this far without it, i just might stand a fighting chance.

so thank you all for your support in advance. and for the offer for me to come over and watch the bravo network anytime i so please (you’re really thoughtful).

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