Sunshine & Vanilla

being eclectic while trying to be less electric.

Month: July, 2012

When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships – Andy Warhol

“Hi, I’d like to cancel my cable please.”

I’ve spoken these words before several times, twice for the reason I spoke them a couple of weeks ago.  The reason wasn’t because I was moving or switching companies or suffering financial burden.  The reason was simple, I no longer wanted cable. I no longer wished to have a hundred channels of time-sucking drivel pumped into my house at my expense.

Before I go ahead and alienate everyone, let’s get some things clear right off the bat. I am not an elitist. I like television.  I loathe 90% of all reality television, however. And by loathe, I mean loathe, detest, hate, would rather rip out my eyes with a red hot spork than guess who is going to get some rose or get kicked out of some pricey house or god forbid watch those kids on the shore make spectacles out of themselves in my beloved Florence (for god’s sake, talk about giving Americans an even worse name out there).  Okay, okay, I’m sorry, maybe I am a snob after all.  I do love to watch Gordon Ramsay on just about anything, even if he is cursing out the young folk and making them cry. Don’t even get me started on the mystery basket on Chopped.  AND YES I AM TOTALLY ADDICTED TO JUDGE JUDY! That’s right. The worst of the worst. I love Judge Judy. I wish I could have her job. I wish, for just one day I could sit up there and tear those clowns apart.  What kind of idiot would agree to go in front of Judge Judy anyway?  Seriously.  So, yes, those are my reality shows.

Aside from those shows, once my beloved LOST came to an end (yes, I’m still talking about LOST, deal with it), television held little interest for me anymore. In fact, the second time I canceled my cable was two weeks after LOST ended.  Oh sure, there was Alcatraz (canceled) and Person of Interest (sensing a theme here?), those were pretty good.  I don’t know why I missed every single episode of Mad Men this season (how does that happen?), but I guess I’m over that one.  So what will I miss, really, by not having cable?

THE WALKING DEAD.  Yep.  That’s about it.  That and American Horror Story, if it ever returns.  It’s true I may shrivel up and die if I don’t find some way/where to get my Walking Dead fix, but other than that, I’m doing okay without cable. And here’s why.

For one thing, I have an xbox and with the xbox comes Netflix/AmazonPrime and their wonderful streaming. And with their wonderful streaming comes my current obsession:

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Okay, so I’m kind of cheating, right?  It’s not like I’m living 100% without television. But then, I never said I was!  I just said I’m living without cable.  The difference here is, rather than sitting in front of the tube for three hours, getting up and realizing I just wasted three hours on mindless drivel I actually didn’t care about, I’m taking time to choose what I’m watching.  And, also, by default, I’m spending far less time in front of the television.

What have I been doing with all that extra time?

Well…

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I’ve been kind of crafty

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I’ve done a lot of research into and adopted a paleo lifestyle

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I’ve spent more quality time with friends (and viewed beautiful art)

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I’ve read

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I’ve found new ways to get out in the world and exercise

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I’ve taken the time to pamper myself

What else have I done?  I’ve walked a lot more. Just yesterday I walked to get my groceries. I’ve been going to bed much earlier. My house is cleaner. My yard is slowly coming back to life. I’ve been writing a little here and there. I’ve been listening to music so much more. Oh music, I forgot how much I love music filtering throughout my house all day long. I prep my lunches for work the night before to erase some of the chaos in the morning. I’ve been walking the dog and spending time training him. I’ve been playing with my cats. I’ve been multi-tasking less.  I had my parents over for dinner and we languished about playing cards afterwards. And when they left, rather than flopping on the sofa, I cleaned everything up and curled on the sofa with Cooper to polish off a chapter in my latest read before heading into bed so I could get up early and get an early start on my Saturday. I actually spent time chatting with a friend on the telephone. I’ve been taking photos with something other than my phone again.  I registered for a class. I’ve been d-o-i-n-g.

The truth is, I could have made the choice to do all these things even with cable and my little smartphone.  I could have simply chosen not to turn on the television.  But now I have the added bonus of saving even more money each month.   And here’s what’s crazy.  To cancel my cable and keep my internet and landline with the company I was using the cost would have gone from $80 to $110 a month. To just keep the internet would have put me around $70/month.  Yes, it would have gone up.  So I canceled everything, switched to different company and now have a landline and internet (which is just as fast) for $45/month.

So not only have I, once again, dramatically improved the quality of my life by “regressing” as some might call it, I continue to save money by doing away with technology I, personally, feel was serving only to pollute my life.

In with the Old, out with the New

Were you to ask some of my friends, particularly those who I consider some of my closest of friends, they might tell you I’m a closet “hippie,” a “tree-hugger,” definitely one of those liberal minded people.  I haven’t taken things so far as becoming vegan or ceasing my use of deoderant or even purchasing a hybrid car, but I do hug my Christmas tree.  I recycle, but I could do more. I find little ways here and there to try and reduce my carbon footprint or better the Earth, but I could do more. I switched to using sugar cane paper at home, I stopped buying bottled water and other drinks, I have been switching out all the regular bulbs to the CFLs as the regular ones burn out, I pay my bills online and requested companies stop sending me paper statements/bills, I stopped most junk mail (until I moved then – yikes!), and so on and so forth. The fact is I do more than some people, but I still do much, MUCH less than others.

When it comes to cell phones, I am much the way I am when it comes to the environment. I could be worse, but I could be a lot better.

I was always a little resistant to the cell phone idea.  I didn’t even get one until the mid to late 2000s. Then the iPhone hit and I was horrified at the way everyone was suddenly addicted to their phones. If someone forgot their phone it was as though they had left their right leg at home or their best friend had died. If the battery was dying OH MY GOD!  It was terrible and gross and getting worse and worse and worse.

In 2010, I tried out my friend’s iPhone while on a trip to Seattle. In that moment, a monster was created. I purchased a smart phone shortly upon our return and thus joined the ranks of smart phone junkies. Everything was at the tip of my fingers. Twitter! MyFitnessPal! Facebook!  Gooooooogle…. Oh my!  As a google addict, well, now I was in for some trouble.

And trouble it was. I quickly became the person I had been secretly rolling my eyes at in my mind. Family functions saw me flicking through my apps.  Nights out with friends were photographed and posted for posterity.  (Drunken nights out with friends were hastily erased the next morning).  I was sending messages through Facebook while driving, Tweeting from meetings, there was the AngryBirds craze, then WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething shortly thereafter, I played Suduko every night before bed, and don’t even get me started on how quick my draw was when it came time to google something. I had answers and I HAD THEM NOW!

I spent last week camping in beautiful Yosemite, California.  While there, I spent a lot of my time thinking about my life and the strange disconnect between the way I have been living and the way I feel like I want to be living. The two are not entirely different from one another, but they are not at all the same, either.  I already wrote, here in this blog, about my goals to live a less wired life.  I wrote about ditching the cell phone entirely now that I have a land line. Further reflection proved it was just too big a step for me, particularly as I do need a phone for work purposes during the busy season.

So what then?  What could I do to help turn the life I am living to the life I want to live?  What could I do to take away some of the constant influx of information and technology and interruption from my day to day life?

Being due for my new-in-two upgrade, yesterday I took a trip to my local cell phone provider store.  And walked out with this:

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Yes, it’s true. I have reverted back to a flip phone. Gone are the apps, the games, the internet.  No more handy directions when I am lost (good thing I still have a GPS), no more instant gratification of google, no more world wide web.  I think the feature I will miss the most will be the syncing to my google calendar, but I can work around that.  I worked around it for years.

Gone is the temptation to “check in” everywhere I go. I don’t need to give a detailed play by play of every  moment of my life. I don’t need to get a detailed play by play of every moment of your lives. I may have to plan things a little better, but there’s something to be said for spending a little more time, putting in a tiny bit more care and effort in to things.  I’m no longer locked into a contract with any cell phone provider (as I worked through a loophole there) and, should I decide this was a completely crazy move, I can still use my new-in-two deal to purchase myself a smartphone at a deeply discounted price.

People at work have reacted as though I grew a second head straight out of my neck. One in particular thought I downgraded due only for financial reasons and couldn’t understand  when I told him it really had nothing at all to do with finances. I had no problem affording my $90someodd payment every month, though, yes, cutting that in half will be nice.  It wasn’t about money.  None of it is.  It’s about quality. It’s about living a life I want to live, even if it may not jive with what people think is “normal.”

So maybe I’ll take the $500 I’ll save and treat myself to another week of camping under some incredible stars somewhere.  That’s a glow I’d much rather spend time staring at.

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In with the new old and out with the old new.

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