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It’s been nearly a year since my husband ceased being employed full-time in an office setting. The journey from there to here has been instructive, on multiple levels.
For example, one of my biggest concerns was how I would adapt to having him home all the time. I love my solitude, especially when I’m working, and especially since I’ve been working from home for the past few years, and I’ve become very spoiled in having my very own, very quiet space all day long.
But it hasn’t been a real problem. Sure, he’s an extremely extroverted guy who talks more than anyone I know, and there have been countless times that he’s strode purposefully into my workspace to tell me a lengthy story about a conversation with an editor (he’s been freelancing for the past year) or an idea for a pitch, and usually he gets about three minutes in before I even realize he’s there and I have to turn around and say -- careful to keep the annoyance out of my voice -- “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AND I AM BUSY NOW, CAN WE DO THIS LATER?”
I can multitask some things, but not my work. If my phone rings I will ignore it (usually the ringer is turned off anyway). If a dog barks outside, I will silently wish that dog into another dimension. When Dennis barges into my workbrain, even if he only wants to ask a simple question, he may as well be wearing a clown suit and playing a one-man-band getup. There’s no difference in how I respond.
But these small instances notwithstanding, I have honestly enjoyed his company. It’s nice to have a real human to talk to when I’m frustrated or upset. And sometimes he makes me breakfast.
This experience has also educated me on another matter: money. In Dennis’ prior job, between the two of us we were doing extremely well -- well enough to not have to worry much about paying bills or taking vacations or buying neat stuff. Now we have a budget, and if I’m honest, I don't really mind, because I've learned so much as a result. Today we buy stuff in bulk from a warehouse store; the occasional “nice” dinner out is likely to be Chili’s instead of a swanky sushi place; and perhaps most shockingly, I’ve only bought one new pair of shoes for myself in the past six months or so.
I also spend a lot more time trying to think of ways to cut our expenses, and recently I’ve started to wonder if it’s not time to cut something most people I know killed from their budget ages ago: our cable TV service. I have debated this savings measure for literally the past year, and have justified continuing to pay for it on the basis that we have one of those triple-service deals in which we get cable, internet and phone bundled together at an extreme discount. So, like, we wouldn’t really save THAT much money, would we? But then I’m forced to wonder how much a bargain I’m getting for services I don’t actually use.
The phone service is easily done without -- I have literally never answered nor made a call from that phone, except the one time the cable company demanded that they call me on it to "verify my identity." The most basic wired phone ever sits plugged in, next to the router, with the ringer off. It even has dust on it, I just checked. I initially said goodbye to a proper landline at least a decade ago, and I’ve only had this bundled phone service for a couple years, so I’m not worried about losing that.
The internet I have to keep, because, well, it’s the internet. How else am I going to watch Netflix? See also the part about working from home.
The cable service is the big obstacle. My attachment to cable is absurd, considering it is unusual for me to watch it more than two or three times a week, for an hour at a time, at MOST. Most of my television consumption at this point comes via online streaming services, like the aforementioned Netflix and Hulu. All of these services can be watched on our television, either via one of our game consoles, or by connecting my laptop as an extended display, or using a Chromecast.
There is no rational reason for me to feel such a need for hardwired cable. It's true that I hate waiting until DVDs come out to watch a new season (or waiting until that season shows up on Netflix, which I feel like has been happening more and more slowly lately -- WHERE IS THE REST OF BOB'S BURGERS, I ask you?), everything I care about watching I can get via online streaming. Even if we have to pay for individual episodes of The Walking Dead from Amazon, it’ll still be cheaper than cable.
"I won’t have access to local news stations!" argues my cable-loving side, but then, I don’t watch local news, ever. A gross part of my brain says, “But what if there’s a horrible disaster or tragedy and I need to keep the cable news on 24 hours to know what’s happening?” I tell myself that this isn’t particularly healthy anyway, and if something major happens I can get whatever information I require via the internet -- I don’t need to fixate on live footage for hours and drive myself into one long desperate anxiety attack.
(I am working on refusing to structure my life around the possibility that terrible things might occur. I prefer to plan for amazing wonderful events to happen.)
I suspect part of my reluctance is due to the simple fact that I have not been without cable in my adult life. The last time I lived cable-free, it was 1996 and I was in a college dorm. And DAMN did I miss sweet sweet cable TV. I would go home for visits and park myself in front of the television for hours. I whined about my lack of cable constantly. (Apparently I didn’t mind living on Lipton Noodle packets and that red Mountain Dew they used to make, or working in a convenience store for minimum wage, but I whined about my lack of cable.) By the time I moved into my own apartment, cable was a priority.
But my priorities have changed, like priorities are known to do. And if I can save a bunch of money every month -- money I could put toward, y’know, getting that really good sushi sometimes, or taking trips now and then -- by doing without it, why am I even hesitating?
I’m sure many of you reading this can’t muster much sympathy -- as I said before, most people I know gave up cable years ago. I guess what I’m asking is, are you anti-cable, and if so, how’s it going for you? Are there things you didn’t realize you would miss? Are you perfectly happy in a cable-free lifestyle? Am I just looking for something to stress out about (this is entirely possible, even likely)? And what will I do with all the free time I won't be spending deleting stuff I'll never watch from my DVR?