Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The answer to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV.

I grew up in a small, liberal, hippy town in which birkenstocks and patchouli oil abound and on any given day you could spot ten volvos spattered in bumper stickers that read "Make love not war" and "Mondale and Ferraro."  This also meant that about 50% of the kids that I went to school with grew up in a "crunchy" household.  Our family started out that way to some extent.  My sister and I were denied sugar and subsisted on wheat germ dusted cereal and fruit leathers from our local cooperative  market.  But there was one fixture in our household that was absent from most of my granola loving classmates': A television.

I watched a fair amount of television growing up and to this day, I feel somewhat conflicted about how much time I devote to it.  I see those bumper stickers (again, mostly in Ithaca--you wouldn't be caught dead with anything like that here in tinsel town) that encourage you to "kill" or "throw away" your television; I hear those tales told of children reared in homes without it and I admire that.  But then I remember how much I like watching Bravo and all of those delicious fantasies I have about chucking my television, taking up quilting projects and generally becoming a productive member of society, promptly go out the window.

My T.V. watching habits are particularly egregious over the summer: no papers to grade, no lessons to plan, just hours and hours of prime re-run watching at my disposal.  I'll waste whole afternoons with entire seasons of The Rachel Zoe Project and Real Housewives of Anything Ever.  And gosh darn it, if it doesn't feel so good to come home from work at 1PM, sprawl out on my couch and slip into the sweet comatose lull of reality television programming.  It's like going to spa.  Except not at all.  Although sometimes I do reemerge from an episode of Pregnant in Heels to discover that my nails have been painted.

Sure, I could be reading or sewing or cooking or vacuuming or doing the dishes or doing (quite literally) anything else but summer is all about relaxation, n'cest pas? And I've been so worn out by this past year that I need my veg. sessions to recuperate. I am essentially one bad class away from turning Miss Viola Swamp. Permanently.  And for those of you unfamiliar with the children's book Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Viola Swamp is this woman:


The retributive alter ego of the sweet (and grossly abused) teacher, Miss Nelson.  Sound familiar?  Well it should because that's me.  My teacherly plight is so long and filled with suffering that I might as well be a character from a Victor Hugo novel...or fodder for fabulous picture books. 

But I digress. 

The point, dear reader, is that if I do not want to be a twenty-seven year old burnout with bad hair, hinging on bitter haggishness, I need to have down time and I need to learn how to enjoy that down time.  And pronto.  Luckily Monsieur Television is an excellent trainer--he taught me how to delight in other people's interpersonal drama while blissfully ignoring my own problems, how to relate to other people in a cordial yet shallow way, and perhaps most importantly, how to take pleasure in moments of laziness while only feeling slightly rueful about it.  As a result, I am once again nearing human perfection.  At least until fall semester begins and I once again shrivel up into an overworked harpy.

So you see my predicament: as much as I may want to, I can't throw away my television.  I can't have one of those households where everyone reads all the time and makes papier-mâché models of greek gods instead of rotting their brains to the likes of The Vampire Diaries.  I am not that good or true or estimable. Maybe someday I will feel differently.  Maybe I will ban the television from my future household and instead make my kids go play outside, or something tyrannical like that.  But in the meantime, le television will be my companion of leisure and you can go ahead and feel superior to me, although I have to warn you, two can play at that game, compadre, and I have a genetic predisposed advantange.

And besides, productivity is overrated. Just look at American politics...

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