Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good Intentions

A couple of weeks ago, I watched an episode of Oprah about learning to live with less. Basically, the show followed two families, who were forced to give up all the technology in their lives and spend more time together. They had to surrender all their TVs, cell phones, and access to the computer for a week (and in one case two weeks), and spend some quality time with their family. In addition they were told they had to give away at least ten things a day that they could live without.

I started to think about how I could incorporate some of these same ideas in my own life. My initial thought was to give up watching TV one night a week. My initial plan was to have this happen last Thursday. The reason why I picked last Thursday was because the Yankees had an off night and I was already Tivoing, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). I figured it would be an easy transition.

Another reason I picked Thursday was because my husband and I were already planning on going to a happy hour that his office was hosting. Now, usually any sort of work related thing with my husband isn't too interesting to me, especially since a lot of the people who I know who worked there have moved on to other things, and more importantly I cannot drink. However, after a teary conversation a few nights earlier, which I blamed on being really tired and seven months pregnant, about not spending any time together, I figured that something was better than nothing. Now, I ended up spending about 45 minutes at the Happy Hour, in which time, my husband played a trivia game, and we watched the four TVs that were on in the bar, one with headline news, one with Jeopardy, and two with the women's college softball playoffs. Turning the TV off seemed to be a little harder then expected.

I think that had we gone home and the Lady had been sleeping then maybe we would have whipped out the Scrabble, where we would have sat in fierce competition and I would have pouted my way through it because he has a knack of using like all his letters on a triple-word score and I get stuck with a hundred k's and z's. However, not only was the Lady not sleeping but The Scripps National Spelling Bee was on in prime time.

Have you watched this? A few years ago, I was lucky to watch the early rounds on ESPN one late Spring afternoon and I was sucked in. Since then, I have been an adamant watcher of home schooled kids, in awful outfits, with braces and crazy hair and uni brows. I have had the pleasure of seeing how thirteen year-old boys can look both thin, frail, obviously hairless in the pants, and unsure of their sexual orientation, to full fledged men complete with facial hair. And speaking about facial hair, oh those poor little Indian girls. I mean, I know that at twelve or thirteen you aren't thinking about your eyebrows, but really, just pick up a razor and get the fuzz off the lip. These poor ladies, isn't it bad enough that you are a competitive speller? Don't you take enough flak at school? (If in some cases you actually attend school and aren't taught by your overweight mom in a peasant skirt, or your tyrannical father, who wields flash cards and spelling lists like the world is going to end.) Please ladies see a salon specialist, now I know that the eyebrow wax is painful, but you are national TV for God's sake.

Anyway, there is obviously a market for this event because beyond the sheer awkwardness of each speller with their minor ticks and tricks to spell out the words, this thing is broadcast in prime time. I can't be expected to look away, besides my husband and I sat side by side on the couch, communicating about the flaws and features of prepubescent children, and laughed in glee as each time a word was spelled incorrectly, the bell dinged and another kid ran off to sit on the lap of their parent, tears in their eyes, and the shame of a misspelled word fresh in their minds.

Now, I know I have a ton of clutter here in this house that I can get rid of. I know that if I really made the effort to turn off the TV, even one night a week, then maybe our family would run a little smoother, be a little closer, but had I missed Kavya Shivashankar's spelling Laodicean which is defined as "lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics," I think that I just might have lived a little less.


  1. The boys are hairless in the pants you say? Maybe i will start watching the spelling bee from now on.

  2. Hairless in the pants. I know--oh, the places I've been.

  3. Why would you ever consider giving up TV- even just for a night?