For the love of the story: some thoughts on TV.

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To some, television is this bad, evil thing that we watch way too much of.  That we are rotting our brains and as parents, rotting our children’s brains by spending so much time inside staring at a screen.  I remember my eccentric creative writing teacher in college giving some sort of rambling speech about how TV was the devil and how he lived up in the woods with no TV and no social media so he could actually write.  The same day I think he told us how Doritos were going to kill us and that to “remember: while us girls were wasting our time putting on our makeup, he was at home writing.  He was so out there, it still makes me chuckle. But it also makes me miss those classes, cause he really was a fantastic writing teacher. But all of that aside…I take a bit of a different view on TV.  I agree that too much TV can be absolutely detrimental, and I do have to remind myself to get outside and find that balance.  But, too I don’t think you need to lock yourself up in the woods away from that evil TV devil.

After reading this, you’ll probably think I watch too much…or at least more than the average person. (But gosh, if only you knew other members of my family!) But to tell you the truth, I really don’t.  I’ve never been one of those people who would just turn on the TV for background noise or just for whatever was on at the time.  I typically would rather listen to music or audiobooks. Chris used to do that sometimes, but now that we have gotten rid of satellite and rely on only netflix/hulu/amazon and an antenna, our TV watching is much more deliberate.

TV has always been a special thing for me. Growing up, it was one of the ways our family bonded.  It still is.  Inevitably when we’re together, our conversation will turn to the latest episodes of our favorite shows. It has always created closeness in my family and a sense of community among friends. I remember distinctly every week as a teenager, going into my parents room to watch Boston Public, and then Boston Legal.  The current event storylines that David Kelley throws into his shows always gave us something relevant to talk about. And as dad was acquiring all of the Twilight Zones on VHS, we would watch those together as a family when each new one would come in the mail. And though it might sound superficial, I think that love of the story of these shows definitely brought us together.  (Movies too.)

I remember how my good friend Emma and I would stay up super late on Sunday nights to watch Grey’s Anatomy when it was first on, even though we had to get up at an ungodly hour to be in Jazz Band the next morning at 6.  Grey’s has been around for 10 years now.  And for most of those, it’s been a constant to my Thursday nights and something I always look forward to.  In fact, my other good friend Elizabeth and I have a date to watch the season 10 premiere this week!

Chris and I watched the entire series of West Wing in the spring and early summer months – it was so, so good we are thinking of starting it over again – but I will always remember the first time we watched that show as a time when I was going through health problems, so many of our nights were spent in bed And that it was also when we decided to try to get pregnant and the early part of my morning sickness. That’s when that story was with us. And while we are still both shocked that we didn’t watch it when it actually aired several years ago, it was extra special for us to experience the show together for the first time.

We’re now slowly going through the series of X Files, which I never watched before, but for Chris, brings up memories of his watching these with his family while they were airing.

I think TV gets a bad rap.  Because of reality TV crap and badly written fluff. (no offense, I know there are some decent shows out there) Because you can get stuck watching mindless shows that don’t really add anything to your life…

But the storylines of quality shows can really rival that of a good novel.  Because when you think about it, though they are episodic, that’s what these shows are…a long running novel with characters that you grow to love and hate and relate to as they change and as you do.  So when a series comes to an end, as Dexter did last weekend, it’s sad to let that story go. Just like it’s sad when you finish a good book.

While Dexter’s finale didn’t make me cry, I have to say Six Feet Under, Medium, and Boston Legal all did.  And well, even though I’ve seen Gilmore Girls more times than I can count, the series finale ALWAYS still makes me cry.  Chris rolls his eyes at how many times I can watch Gilmore Girls over and over again.  But it’s really the same as how many times he’s read the Game of Thrones books, or how many times I’ve read Harry Potter.  It’s revisiting a story, a friend.

So, for everyone else out there who loves shows as much as my family does, in light of Fall TV’s start this week, here’s what I’m excited for:

Castle – the end of the season premiere actually made me say WTF out loud.

New Girl – started last week, but is as funny as ever.

Modern Family – Chris and I re-watched the last season SO many times this summer, we can’t wait for it’s return Wednesday! This show has the uncanny ability to be hilarious and heartwarming in every single episode.  Chris is Phil. Much of the time. And he will take to calling me Claire at times.

Grey’s Anatomy – As mentioned above, I’ve been with this one since season 1, episode 1 so I can’t wait for the new season.

Parenthood – Last season was a rough one, emotionally.  I’m hoping this one has some more upper moments, but I love, love this show and am excited to be with those characters again.

Scandal – During the height of my morning sickness, I literally watched all of season 1 and 2 in a two-week time frame. You can definitely tell this is the Grey’s writer, and I’m looking forward to it coming back in October!

 

New shows I’m planning to try out:

The Blacklist – I love James Spader from his Boston Legal days, so we’re definitely trying this one.

Mom – Allison Janney is funny, so I’m hoping this show will be too.

Hostages – Saw the previews for this like 10 times during the Emmys, looks worth a try.

The Crazy Ones – David Kelley’s newsest writing! Robin Williams and it looks hilarious!

Shows that don’t start till Spring:

Shameless

Girls

yes and yes.

 

What shows do you watch?  Do you bond over TV with family and friends?

 

What I’m doing these days.

Sometimes I am amazed at what a better place I am in now than I was just a few months ago. Most of it due to medical problems that forced me to make some serious cuts and lifestyle adjustments. (another story for another post) But I think it’s also just knowing that somehow things will work out.  Chris and I are finally on the path that we want to be on and that makes the most sense for us.  Am I scared to be a mom? SURE.  Do I have moments of sheer terror or “how the hell are we gonna do this?” But I also know that it will be fulfilling in a way that no corporate career could be for me.  I am perfectly capable of excelling at a corporate office job. I’ve done it.  But over the course of the last 6 months, I discovered it was not what was fulfilling for me. Medical issues forced me to look even harder at this than I probably would have. Otherwise I probably would’ve continued plodding along…losing myself in the process. Answering to someone else, and working within sometimes chaotic, sometimes downright unfair/unethical structures that don’t help people (or kids) or better the world just didn’t work for me.  I can do marketing. I get it, and I’m a good writer so I can ‘do’ it.  But it absolutely doesn’t bring me joy.  Chris was impressed by my most recent piano student ad…and I’m like yeah, well, I did spend the last 3 years in marketing…so I can do it.  And it took me a while to really accept that while I ‘can’ do it, I certainly don’t want to and it’s okay to not want to. But if you are going to spend potentially 2,080 hours of your year in a place (if you’re working full time)…don’t you want it to bring you some joy?

Granted, I count myself lucky that things happened to work out the way that they did…(well maybe lucky is the wrong word) but that my health and reaction to the nasty side effects of birth control forced me into a place where I had to reexamine and evaluate what I was doing. I’m also incredibly thankful that I have a husband with a good job that allows my work to be more flexible and family friendly.

And sure, financially it wasn’t (still isn’t) easy.  But even with the financial stress…I am so much happier and calmer than I was 6 months ago…. and especially than just a few months ago.  Chris and I together are happier, not snapping at each other and are spending much more quality time together than we did before.

So what does the future of working me look like?  I am not so sure yet.  But I have figured some things out over these past months.  I love helping people, and especially helping kids.  I missed teaching piano lessons so much.  My old studio of kids became like family to me, and I am excited to be building up another family of kids.  Those of you who are my facebook friends have seen my posts over the past few weeks about what a joy it is to be back doing this.  I love taking on some of my old students, and I love meeting the new ones.

I think the reason I love this so much, is sharing the love of music at such a young age for kids can be the stepping stone for whether they continue music in the future.  The foundation, really. I truly believe that if kids have a loving, kind and supportive piano teacher at a young age, they are more likely to want to continue with music in future years.  And being that music and band had a significant impact on me as an adolescent and into early adulthood…gaining lifelong friendships…music people were just always ‘my people.’  So if I can provide the foundation for a child to have that in the future, then that makes me happy. That fulfills me.

I also realize that I love reading and writing.  But I don’t love writing when it’s forced and marketing writing.  So I’m sure writing will play some role in what I do.  But the creative side of it. If writing and kids can go together, all the better, too!  That creative writing degree will get used, somehow.

Post-pregnancy I will also go back to teaching zumba (and probably get certified for zumbatomic – zumba for kids). I do miss zumba, currently.  But my body is busy building a baby, so for now it’s walking and maybe some prenatal yoga.

I’m also taking some early childhood education units at the community college…perhaps to work at a preschool eventually…or just to supplement and enhance my piano teaching.  Side note…it’s very strange going back to community college after earning a bachelor’s! And while the lessons sometimes seem very basic, reading the material and discussing the situations, I am finding myself saying ‘yes, this is right!’ and I am not married to any one plan these days.  Just doing things that make me happy and work for us and our family, and seeing what happens from there!

And of course – the best job of ALL – being mommy to our new baby coming in February.

Sometimes you really have to go through hell to get to the exact place you’re meant to be.

Freecycle – and how the 2nd trimester makes you clean ALL the things.

Now I know I said I would be blogging more. And I have all of these things I’ve wanted to write about…I’ll even think through blogs in my head in the shower or while driving. I’ll make lists of things I want to write about. But when it comes down to sitting down and writing, it just hasn’t happened lately. Yet. I said after the first trimester I’d have more energy to and then something magical happened when I hit that second trimester…the nausea and fatigue finally started to let up and I turned into crazy energizer cleaning bunny! The last 3 weeks have been spent turning our house upsidedown – literally – cleaning and getting rid of every possible piece of clutter we owned. And god was there a LOT. I went closet by closet, shelf by shelf and room by room getting rid of everything we didn’t need and reorganizing what was left.

It left me feeling so productive and content. Knowing that the things that are left in the house are things we really care about, want or need. I’d be way too embarrased to count the number of trash bags we ended up with. There was a large pile of goodwill stuff. My clothing swap friends are in for a ridiculous amount of stuff at our next one. We donated 15 trader joes bags full of books to the SPCA book sale, are selling a few things on craigslist, and finally, we used freecycle.

Which is mainly what I wanted to share on this post. Freecycle is an awesome, awesome thing. Most people I know haven’t even heard of it, but there are 7,000+ members in just the Sacramento group alone. My dad had originally heard about the site several years ago in Kona, and I’m so glad he did.

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The premise of freecycle is “Changing the World, One Gift at a Time.” The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,110 groups with 5,253,315 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Membership is free.

Basically, you join your local group and post stuff you are getting rid of. And you really have to think “one man’s trash….” cause there are so many things I’m surprised get scooped up. Then you get responses from whoever is interested in your stuff. You get to pick who you give to. You can give it to the first responder, you can decide based on the responses. Whatever you want. The things I love about it are a) it’s not like the free stuff on craigslist…people don’t waste gas trying to get stuff that someone has thrown out on their curb. b) you get the opportunity to give something you are no longer using to someone who may really, really need it and perhaps couldn’t afford to buy it at a thrift store or elsewhere. Sure, there is the hassle of coordinating pick ups…the flake outs… but there are some instances that make it so worth it, I have to always sing it’s praises. This go around, we gave 30+ items to 12 different people. We had a pile of old too small bedding that went to St Johns Women’s shelter. A very thankful mom of 4 took our old computer cabinet that had already had life at my parents and with us for several years. A single mom took a bookshelf that we had actually gotten on freecycle several years ago, as well as chris’s old xbox console. Which appararently made her 12 year old cry. I could go on and on. Seeing our old stuff make other people so happy, just makes me feel so much joy. These things probably would’ve ended up in landfills or at goodwill if it hadn’t been for freecycle.

And I also believe it really gives good karma, because a few days after the last person had picked up stuff from us, a very generous woman gave Chris and I a nice crib and matching changing table in the dark wood that I totally would have picked out myself! We were so grateful and happy and she was incredibly happy to see the items that had served her kid so well going to a new home. I wish she wasn’t all the way out it granite bay, or I would love to teach her sweet daughter piano lessons. It’s good stuff, guys, this freecycle thing – I tell you.

The other cool thing you can do is post things you are wanting to acquire. We did this recently to get a DVD player for the living room. I got many responses. Another lady was looking for a chair for her sewing table. We had an old mismatched kitchen chair that I was considering putting in the trash pile until I saw her post, and she picked it up that same day.

So the next time you are making your piles for goodwill or considering what to do with your old stuff – please check out freecycle first! You might just make someone’s day or life a little bit easier.

And really, I promise I will start writing more…