After living without a television for ten out of the last eleven years, I am suddenly spending a lot of time with a giant one that could crush us all. I stayed away from it for the first week or so, mostly because I didn't know what to do with it. Honestly, I didn't know that the cable box had to be turned on separately. And then I didn't know how to change channels. Then once I got that all figured out, I didn't know what to watch. So I just gave up.
Then one evening my friend Ash told me he was going to teach me how to watch television. He showed me the joys of his Tivo, and forced me to watch one episode of 30 Rock and one episode of the new 90210. I didn't really understand the humor behind 30 Rock, and 90210...well, everyone knows how to watch that. It has gotten much more risque since the Brenda/n Walsh days of my youth.
Although I wasn't too impressed with this foray back into television, I did like the "I'm-doing-something-but-not-really" feeling I got from it. So I started to watch things. Any movie set in New York (about 80 percent of all movies). Cartoons. The Office. When I found myself watching an America's Next Top Model marathon, though, I knew something had to change. So I shut off the television and promptly burned myself by placing two fingers, deliberately, on the coffee burner. I was seeing if it was on.
I really feel much more stupid when I'm at home. Part of it is because my mother doesn't allow me to cook, which means the huge segment of my brain devoted to gathering, preparing, and consuming food has gotten soft. The other part is that my father doesn't allow me to take care of things, like replacing my cell phone which broke last week. Another part is because of increased access to television. And still another part, I really think, is because survival in the suburbs is so much less involved than survival in the city. I no longer plot the seventeen different routes I can take to get somewhere and still pass by the bodega that sells the cheapest cigarettes, miss the hill that gets slick in the rain, get on the A train before it stops running express, and be above ground for the most likely part of the day that my latest crush could call me for drinks. No. Survival is now so bloody likely that I have to drink four cups of coffee a day to keep from falling asleep because so many circuits in my head have stopped blinking.
Until then, I have online dating to distract me. But even that is reaching its limits.