The Revolution Will Be Televised…Kind Of.

20 Apr

Watching, waiting, in living rooms and bedrooms across America, people huddle around strange boxes. They wait with baited breath, waiting for the signals to come through their sets. What are the they waiting for? Probably not the nightly news or the latest episode of Reality Show XYZ. More than likely, they are sitting in front of their televisions, laptops, iPad, or cellphones waiting for Netflix to load an episode of The Walking Dead or Yo Gabba Gabba. Increasingly, no one cares what’s on tonight, tomorrow, or two weeks from now. Kids don’t race home to watch afternoon cartoons or get up early on Saturdays for Saturday morning cartoons. Why should they? They can watch their favorite movies or cartoons on Netflix any time. Most tech savvy parents also keep a large collection of dvds or movie files on a hard drive for their kids to watch in case of Netflix emergencies or special occasions.

So you see, there is no real need for cable or Dish or other such services. With cable and its alternatives, you and your family are tied to a schedule and stuck watching whatever is on. Which in my experience, is usually nothing that anyone actually wants to watch. You begin to wonder why you are paying $50, $100, $150, maybe more a month for such a useless, crappy service. Why would you shell out that kind of money for a service that dictates when you get to watch what you want to watch and restricts your offerings to a very limited pool of shows that may or may not be what is listed on the menu. Why would want to pay for a service that may or may not offer DVR or other recording software and restricts when you can use it, how many programs you can record at a time, and how many programs you can save on their proprietary device? More importantly, what if Jr. wants to watch his favorite episode of Caillou every night before bed? Or you’d like to kick back and watch a stand up comedy special after the day is over?

Can’t do that with standard cable unless you’ve recorded the shows in advance. And then you have to worry about the programs being time restricted (as in, you can only keep them for a certain amount of time before they self-destruct, more or less). The time restrictions are usually only on pay-per-view movies, which makes a customer even more irate. You mean to tell me that I just paid $3-7 for a movie that I will only get to watch once, maybe twice in a 24 hour period and then poof! you’re going to remove it from my device?!?!?! That’s outrageous and quite frankly, I don’t care enough to pay that kind of money when I can go to Redbox in a few weeks and rent the damn thing for $1.19 for a 24 hour period. Or I can just download it (not that I advocate that sort of thing, mind you) for free and watch it as many times as I want for several weeks or months or even years.

Some shows are time restricted as well. What this means is that you can’t record an entire season of, say, HBO’s laughably bad 20-something dramedy “Girls” or their thrill-a-minute, blood and guts vampire camp show “True Blood” and save it for all eternity (or until the new season comes out). I’ve found this the hard way with multiple shows. I’d set my DVR to dutifully record a show that I can’t justify watching live (see above), only to find out by the time I got around to watching it, the first episode or 4 would no longer be listed. What the hell?!?!? I’d check my settings and sure enough, the show would be listed…but only later episodes would be allowed to record. That’s ok though, right? You can always order your favorite show on demand….haha, what a flipping joke.

But enough of my rambles. The meat of this story is how people are rapidly giving up hope when it comes to regular televisions service. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and Plex are taking people out of business. Tech savvy parents and singles with an old Wii and an external hard drive lying around are figuring out that they can set up a ghettoblaster media center that will do the trick for watching the first four seasons of Fringe and whatever else strikes their fancy. Roku and Boxee are viable cable alternatives to the uncabled. Many people just use their cellphones or tablets to watch tv and to the nearest bar or a friend’s home to watch sports or the latest episode of whatever when the urge strikes.

There is no longer a real need (if there ever was one) for most people to pay for tv anymore. Especially in the mobile age where a person is already likely to be paying for internet services and/or cellphone services. Why should you shell out the extra $$ on a service that doesn’t fit into your lifestyle? Why should you pay them for the privilege of loading up your screen with ads, interrupting your viewing experience with commercials every 5-10 minutes, and telling you what, when, and how much you can record on a device that they technically still own?

Some people do live in rural or isolated areas where the internet is slow or non-existent. Others don’t have the money or the technological know how to get started with the cordless revolution. Still some people cling to cable because it is easy, no muss, no fuss and it guarantees a steady stream of whatever into their homes or kids bedrooms, enabling them to live their lives. I don’t begrudge people for making their own choices. Do what works for you.

I do begrudge people who are totally media dependent though. Like people who let their kids stare into screens 24/7 instead of interacting with them. C’mon people. There’s no shame in letting Jr watch Ratatouille while you’re on the way to visit Grandma or setting him up with well-stocked Netflix queue while he’s home sick from school, but For 5,6,7, hours in the evening? While he’s sitting in the cart as you shop? While he’s using the potty?

It’s enough to give me head explodey. Stop the madness. The world will not end after the next episode of Spaztastic5000MegaKidShow!. Get them up, take away the devices and spend some time with them. Take a walk. Draw some pictures. Eat a meal that doesn’t consist of neon colored glop and processed chicken bits. Talk to them. Laugh with them. Because you know what? You won’t regret taking away the iPads, Netflix, Wiimotes and all of that other junk. No one sits next to their dying child and wishes that they had more time to watch Dora the Explorer re-runs with them on Netflix. They wish for one more conversation, one more day at the park, one more day at the beach, one more hour of cuddle time, one more messy meal, one last handmade “I Love You” card.

When you first received your bundle of joy, you probably looked forward to family trips, little league homeruns, first dates, graduations, wedding dances. Not all of the time they’d spent watching cartoons or playing Fruit Ninja while you were in another room chatting with 15 friends online and leveling up in Candy Crush Saga. The most cherished moments that you spend with them do not take place in front of a screen, trust me. If I had to go back and do things differently with my youngest niece and my cousin’s boys (the nephlets, I call them), I’d have turned off the tv more often and went for longer walks. I’d have taken the time to finish The Chronicles of Narnia complete with the ridiculous voices that she so loved. I’d have taken the time to read them at all to my oldest nephew. I’d have let the little one make more messes, and I wouldn’t been so quick to turn on VeggieTales before putting them to bed at night.

I don’t have those chances to do things over. But most of you do. So make the most of it, will you? Stop justifying watching one last episode of Justified and go tuck your kids in. Turn off the iPad and talk to them. Go dance in the rain, chase them down the street, and quit caring about the repetition of routine. In the scheme of things, singing “Brush, Brush, Brush” fifty times just so your little one will giggle is not a punishment. One day they’ll be older and they’ll hate your guts. They’ll slam doors in your face, call you an a-hole and a loser. They’ll sneak out in the middle of the night and sleep God knows where with God knows who. They might smoke, they might drink, they might get a report card full of “F”s. They might stop playing ball and start playing with fire, maybe even getting burned. They might date or even marry a person whom you can’t stand, someone whom you want to “bury 10 feet under concrete” in the immortal words of my older sister who absolutely detests her oldest’s boyfriend.


18 Apr

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” — Proverbs 29:18

I spent a great amount of time in the darkness, without a vision for my life. I am a passionate person who prefers the background and sidelines to the messy front and center. I have a great deal of difficulty channeling my passion into meaningful things and even more difficulty translating my passion into anything that other people can truly understand. For most of my life, I’ve struggled to form, build and maintain relationships. I am socially awkward, a total misfit, and I make no apologies for any of my shortcomings.

I am rough around the edges. What else would you expect of someone who was brought up by truckers, bikers and ex hippies in the middle of the forest? I’ve always been slightly feral, unrestrained, untamed, and strangely untouched by social convention. Those things never bothered me, although as I’ve gotten older and spent more time in the “civilized” world of suburbia, I’ve started to see the reasons why things are the way they are.

Knowing why never answered the greater questions though. Life, for the most part, is quite empty for many people. Work, sex, money, technology, taxes, and that about wraps it up. Pleasure and power. The freedom to choose your preferred brand of wage slavery. The joy of it all reduced to a few boxes on a few forms that you send in at the end of the year.

The greater vision of it all has been lost. Some people have found it. Others are not so lucky. About a month ago, I decided that I couldn’t keep doing what I had been doing. Which was pretty much nothing, I admit. So I decided that I needed to do something. But what? What should I do? What could I do? Why should I do it? Would I even be willing to do anything?

Ah, there’s the real question, the real precursor to living a visionary life. Am I willing? Are you willing? Willing to do what? Something! Anything! Willing to change, willing to be changed, willing to live instead of just living, willing to think new thoughts, believe new beliefs, see new sights, rise to new occasions. Are we willing to be afraid? To really and truly feel fear, not just that mild tremble we feel in the dark, but that mind-numbing, pants-crapping sort of fear that removes us from everything we thought we knew and kicks us firmly out of the door we’ve spent most of our lives knocking on? Are we ready for that? Are we willing to do those things?

Despite the fear, despite the logic, despite the doubt, despite the criticism and the consequences? Really, for real, are we gonna do it, whatever “it” is? Or are we going to sit on the couch and watch Golden Girls re-runs? Maybe we’ll get up and think about doing it, taking that leap, risking it all, going off the deep end….but in the end, will you take the first step and the step after that and the other 999,998 steps until you get to your goal? Or will you find yourself hunched over a keyboard, hammering out that last report, that last proof, that last budget, back up against the wall to a vicious deadline? Will you continue to flip your Xbox, night after night and go to sleep when everyone else wakes up instead of leaving it all behind?

There is truth to be told. There are lessons to be learned. But most of us don’t want truth. Most of us hated school and therefore, we hate learning. So who cares about lessons? Who cares about the truth? Why have a vision when you can watch 1001 different visions on your television? If your bills are paid (or not), if you have a place to live (or not), if you have someone who loves you (or not)…none of that really matters anyway. You can buy tickets to an Alicia Keys concert and you won’t be boring any more. Problem solved.

The truth is, that guy wasn’t boring because he didn’t attend enough concerts or spend enough money. He was boring because he probably never did anything worthwhile. His girlfriend dumped him because she wanted to go places and do things. She was probably tired of sitting around watching him stare into his laptop and moan about he’s broke, doesn’t have any friends, his fantasy football team is going to hell in a handbasket, etc. She herself probably wasn’t that interesting to begin with. If you’re breaking up with someone because they’re boring, then you should probably take a good look in the mirror because chances are you’re boring too.

Relationships and life itself are more than entertainment. They are supposed to have meaning. The relationship itself might be interesting. Or it might not. Unless your “life” is a scripting event on reality tv, then it probably isn’t going to be fun, exciting, and entertaining at all times. There’s a lot of really hard and ugly (pardon my French here) shit in this world. Some of it really freakin’ sucks and some of it can be really freakin’ boring. Toughen up. If you want excitement, go look for it. Don’t sit across from your SO and break up with him because he’s boring. (Unless you’re the Dos Equis guy. Then maybe you can get away with such exploits.)

I’ve raged long enough about a commercial that most people have probably forgotten. I do know what I’m talking about though. I watched a good portion of my life float by me in a haze. I was afraid to take those first steps, or any steps at all. Change is hard, it sucks, but going back to the person who abused you is not always an option. Even if that person is you. For years, I lived a life without restraint. Food was my drug and it consumed me every bit as much as I consumed it. I was fat, everyone around me was fat (or struggling with health issues related to food) and I refused to acknowledge the problem. I attempted a juice fast and damn near killed myself. I gave up and really didn’t care if I lived or died.

I quit writing on this blog because I lacked the vision. I wanted to change minds, but it seems as if no one’s mind really wanted to be changed. No, people are content in their boxes, watching Harlem Shake videos and listening to Top 40 music while glancing into their cellphones periodically and jerking off to half-naked celebrities at night. Who cares about God? Who wants to live a Godly lifestyle? Besides, the world finds Christianity backwards and decidedly unglamorous. I thought that once too.

It’s easier to live life like a country song, takin’ it easy, drinkin’ a little drink, smokin’ a little smoke, makin’ out by those KC lights, and waitin’ for some good lookin’ member of the opposite sex to set you on the right path. Then maybe you’ll go to church on Sundays, drop a $20 in the donation box and stop taking the Lord’s name in vain. None of that means a damn thing though. They are hollow euphemisms for a simple life lived without reservation. That’s all they are. What chances are you taking, what worthwhile experiences are you having by following their advice? None, in my opinion.

Have a forward facing vision, people. Look at the life in front of you. Go out and live. Make changes, not excuses. Don’t be bored.

That’s all for today.

Gaining a Life, Losing a Friend?

17 Nov

It’s been awhile since my last post. My life has been fairly uneventful these past few months, honestly. Until a couple of weeks ago, my life was just moving along as usual. Then I found out that my best friend is pregnant. And things are changing.

I suppose I should back up and explain a few things about myself before I start the story. I am in my 20s and I am unable to have children. There. I said it. I trust that God will provide me with a family if and when He wishes for me to have one. I learned to accept my infertility as a fact of life at a young age. I spent years telling myself that I didn’t want kids, didn’t like kids and had no plans on ever seeking a relationship, getting married or having a family. Some might say that is a bitter and angry way of dealing with the hand that I was dealt. You are entitled to your opinions there, I suppose.

I met the woman who would become my best friend at age 20, right after I found out about my infertility. We were both party girls who liked to drink and we had many common interests. We lived together for two years before she left to go live with a guy. We stayed in touch and hung out frequently. Then I became a Christian. Well, she is not a Christian and could not accept my conversion, plus I found her presence to be too tempting as I was trying for sobriety at the time. So we spent a year with very minimal contact. Time goes on.

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Consciously Objecting To The Concept of Happiness

22 Jun

Summer is here. I hear the sounds of the children playing at the day care center across the way. Their giggles, their cries, their screams, their sighs. I hear it all when I’m out tending to my plants. They play in the sprinklers, shriek as they slide down the slip n slide. They fight over toys and dump buckets of water on each other. It’s idyllic, peaceful, a nice piece of suburbia where all the kids are lily white and all the lawns are kept real nice.

That’s one side of life, the good life that some of us strive to live. We want to be good examples, good neighbors, happy people. Sometimes we smile and fake it. Other times we’re legit because we’ve made it. Here lately I have been questioning it all. What does it take to be happy? What is happiness anyway?

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Suburban Addictions: Tale of a Garage Sale Junkie

6 Jun

I’m admitting to it right now. I’m an addicted to garage sales. I don’t think I qualify for “Strange Addictions“. Maybe “Hoarders” if I ever allow myself to accumulate things.

I used to think that my garage sale addiction was all about being frugal. Until I learned something. Something that threatens to take away even this meager part of my fragile identity.

Today I learned that I’m really tired of it all. I’m only doing it now because I promised my cousin that I’d get her boys some clothes. That’s it. I don’t enjoy it any more. It’s just the same old routine basically. Rich bitches staring me down because I don’t look like the type who’d pay near retail for their adorable love muffin’s lightly used sweat pants (and by lightly used, I mean knees nearly worn through and the elastic shot to hell.) And they’re right. I’m not that type of person. I’m not interested in your overpriced outfits, even if they are Gymboree and GAP…sorry, I can get the same thing at a consignment store for a hell of a lot less and be able to return it to boot.

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