Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to Basics: The Day Without TV

A couple of experiences in my current life led to some ideas swirling around my head for a blog series titled "Back to Basics."  This is the first entry in said series, though you shouldn't expect to see a second or third entry tomorrow, or the day after that, or...you get the idea.  For now, sit back and enjoy!


When I moved to Arkansas in May 2011 with wide eyes and a heart full of excitement about my first real job that had somehow evolved from just a dream into real life, I decided it was time to be a real adult and splurge on some things.  Like cable television.  All my life, I grew up with access to a little more than your standard cable television packages.  We didn't have HBO or millions of movie/sport channels, but we did have your basics like Disney Channel, ABC Family, HGTV, etc.  While at Nicholls for my undergrad, we did have access to most of those same channels in the dorms on-campus.  However, once I left campus for an apartment, then later internships and eventually graduate school, my access to cable television ended there.  Basically, I went three years without this "modern convenience" except for when I visited family and friends.

In some ways, lack of cable television was liberating.  I didn't get caught up in following particular television shows, or spend hours sprawled out on the couch/bed watching a bunch of garbage (ahem, TLC, ahem).  From time to time, living without cable was downright annoying.  I mean, seriously, how else was I supposed to keep up with the ever-expanding Duggar family, or watch Disney Channel's original movie of the month?

Armed with my new big-girl job (on a high school kid's salary), the jump to cable was an exciting one.  For the first time in my life, I embarked on a journey of living alone and boy was that access to cable television enticing.  However, it was all just a joke, really.  Despite picking the "family package," I still didn't have access to any of my favorite TV shows.  I adapted by taking advantage of my new toy, the DVR, and became accustomed to watching all pre-recorded (usually from the middle of the night) shows.

Needless to say, the prospect of moving in with Alex after the wedding became extremely exciting because no American male, much less one whose job revolves around sports, wouldn't have rightful access to ESPN and other sports channel...which meant that I would in turn have full access to all my guilty pleasures once again!!  Now, not only do I have 24/7 access to such channels, but I also get to use our fancy shmancy DVR to keep up with regular television programming!  Wahoo.

Last week, during one of my daily thinking/planning/reflecting sessions in the car (I drive 30 minutes one-way to work/home each day), I really started to think about the routine that had become so comfortable lately.  Wake up, get ready, make lunch/feed kittens, watch a few minutes of GMA while discussing an overview of my day with Alex, go to work, come home, shower, eat, watch hours of television, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day.

Over the summer, Alex and I had a great deal of time to spend together (when I wasn't away for work), and we really did fall into the pit of spending most of that time laying around watching television.  Don't get me wrong, we still enjoyed being with each other just as we always have, but the quality of our interactions had faded.  Our need for creativity, fun, and games had lessened in just a few short months of being together.  Again, to the average viewer (even ourselves, really), nothing had changed - we were still happy-go-lucky newlyweds enjoying the process of building a life together.  But, it had become too easy.  We didn't have to work for things as much as we did while in our long distance relationship.  To put it bluntly, we became lazy.

After work on Friday, I brought Alex a snowcone as a treat for being out in the exhausting heat at football practice all afternoon.  We decided to be spontaneous by going out to dinner that evening, so I hung around doing some work while I waited for him to finish.  At dinner, I threw out the idea of a "Day Without TV."  Alex listened, thought for a moment, and then agreed without hesitation.  We decided to designate the following day (Saturday) as a "Day Without TV."

Saturday morning, we slept in until 8:45 a.m., which is so unusual for us these days.  Usually, Alex is trying to sneak out of bed by 7:30 a.m.  (He's such a grandpa.)  But not that day.  We started the day off with a string of productivity, including walking the dog, mowing the grass (him), washing the car (me), and doing laundry.  After lunch, we attended to some "homework" we'd been putting off - paying bills and picking out wedding photos/albums.  Alex had to head to football practice at 4 p.m., but for the few hours we shared that afternoon, we took the time to assemble our engagement photo puzzle/wedding guestbook.  It took a while, and some grumbling, but we finally did it!  While Alex was working, of course I "couldn't" indulge in TV as I usually would, so I spent time uploading photos online and even talked to a friend on the phone (!!!) for nearly an hour.  By the time Alex returned around 10 p.m. that evening, I decided it was okay for our 24-hour respite to end.  We pressed that good ole red power button and enjoyed a little late night TV before turning in for the night.

I know I've written a lot about this today, but I thought the background information and evolution as to how or why we chose to do this was important.  Ultimately, taking one day off from TV doesn't make a huge impact in our lives, but I will say that I did enjoy the peace and quiet that went along with it.  It was fun to reconnect with each other and be creative with our time along the way.  I see "The Day Without TV" resurrecting itself periodically, especially if there comes a season when there are children running around our house.

In future installments of this series, you can look forward to pieces such as "Two Weeks Without a Kitchen Sink" and "Dinner Without Gadgets."  What about you?  What other "Back to Basics" practices have you chosen (or "lucked into") to try?  Let's hear 'em.


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