Okay, okay, okay.
I know, I know, I know.
Last week. That was a cheap shot. (See Blog Post #14)
Actually, more like a ‘Hit n Run.’
But sometimes when it’s simple, you don’t need a lot of words.
Although, turning off the television isn’t the only thing.
Maybe my television isn’t your ‘television’.
But, ‘same difference’, right?
Let’s back up.
First, let me say this – how bad can anything be with Kool and the Gang playing in the background?
(I mean come on, anyone who says James ‘JT’ Taylor, isn’t fine is just plain lying!)
But, and to the point, I remembered something.
Somewhere in the 80’s or maybe the 90’s, – or both – I was stage-managing a show called, “Going East on Ashland” for Mike Houlihan. Mike Houlihan taught me what it means to be Irish. And yes, Ashland Avenue in Chicago is a north/south street.
“…Ashland” was a very funny show about growing up Irish Catholic on Chicago’s extreme Southside. Also, very successful. We played many venues throughout Chicago. As stage manager, I dealt with a lot of load in’s and load out’s with big burly teamsters who had a stranglehold on the loading docks and tech positions of the theaters in which we performed. Being a 5’4”, 115 pound, Tiny Girl (and I was tiny in comparison to the many big strong women of the northern Midwest – the Polish and Eastern Europeans and so on, all trying to keep warm in the sub zero summers in Chicago. Out here in LA, much closer to the continent of Asia, I am an Amazon.) I mention this because I was at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of being taken seriously as ‘The One in Charge’.
So I smoked. I was a smoker.
This was not a conscious decision. ‘Hey, see my red box?’ Nor was it because I thought it made me look tough or more knowledgeable because I had a tobacco stick hanging out of my mouth.
There is a secret society among smokers. A brotherhood. Shared moments in the alley out back; call a work break, bum a smoke, talk about all the assholes, find common ground.
And that was all fine and good until I couldn’t make it up a flight of steps.
So I decided to quit smoking and guess what? It was hard.
My dad always said the only way to stop smoking is to never start.
So I did some research and discovered that people tend to link smoking with certain behaviors. There are things we do, activities in which we participate, that become linked with smoking. If we continue the activity, it can be quite difficult to quit.
This was the case with stage managing – also drinking Coca Cola – a smoke and a Coke, oh, don’t cha know. So, I took a couple weeks off to quit smoking.
When I went back to the theater, I really felt the pull at intermission to go out to the alley but I managed to find something else to do – like stick needles in my eyes – and I did it. I quit smoking.
There is nothing that makes more sense to me than pouring a drink and sitting down and watching TV.
World peace, maybe.
Salt and pepper.
Shoes and socks.
Rice and beans.
Scotch and soda.
Just as the science tells us, if we can avoid the behavior with which we associate the habit, we stand a better chance of breaking the habit.
When I don’t turn on the television at night, it is so much easier not to have a drink.
Hey guess what?
BONUS: If I’m not watching television I have all this time to do other stuff. Like create journals, and record more audiobooks, and sew napkin sets, and see my friends, and search for my soul, and write blogs, and all the things that prior to this I have been pissing and moaning and beating myself up about not having the time to do.
AND what is the by-product of not watching the television?
I feel really great about myself.
- I am not drinking. As much.
- I am getting all this stuff done that I have been trying to get done for eons.
- I am experiencing the natural high that comes from being creative.
Just like the euphoria that comes with the endorphin rush from exercise, the joy that comes from being creative leads to a spirit of goodwill that has infiltrated not only my sense of self, and my relationship with my husband, but also the way I treat every single person I come in contact with including the idiot that uses their garden hose like a broom to wash away leaves and the bozo who doesn’t look left when he’s turning right even though I am already in the intersection.
All this, directly or indirectly, because I turned off the television.
This is linked to the notion that all things are possible.
I’ve known deep down for a while that the TV was an issue, that I was using it as a distraction. (See Blog Post #1)
Remember The Ross Allan Story? (See Blog Post #7)
Yes, remember that incredible space my husband created for me? The one I had to get back to or I would lose my soul for good and ever? That space? Yeah.
It’s just been sitting there.
I stalk it periodically. I go out there and admire it. I open all my little drawers that hold my rubber stamps and my stickers and my fabric and my images. I read each one of the inspirational quotes hanging from the much-sought-after-hard-to-find IKEA drapery wire. I sit in my 47″ drafting chair. I gaze at The Felt Suit. (That’s another story.) And then I turn on the television.
But I knew the time would come. I knew it.
Everything in its own time.
I haven’t given up on me yet.
My senior year in undergrad I studied in New York City. ‘The Broadway Semester’. An incredible opportunity available only at William Woods College (now University) and the reason I chose to attend. I waited four years to go study with working Broadway theatrical professionals. To live in and walk the streets of The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, The Greatest City in the World. I could not imagine a more exciting, inspiring, life-changing opportunity for a twenty-one year old girl with dreams of becoming a professional actress.
I can tell you in hindsight it was all those things and more. It changed my life forever. It made me who I am.
But for the first week to ten days, I did almost nothing but lay on the couch of the apartment where I stayed, watching reruns of The Love Boat.
Yup, all of NYC at my feet and I spent my days with Gopher, Julie and Doc.
Because I was scared.
Even with all my accomplishments as a student, roles I’d played, places I’d been, jobs I’d worked, contests I’d won, straight A’s I’d earned, I was still a very little girl.
Fast forward to the last days of my Broadway Semester: I was walking the 35 mile length of Manhattan from Soho to the Upper West Side at midnight with a very handsome young man who had seen the show I was in Off Off Broadway and wanted to talk over coffee.
But in the beginning I was scared. Particularly after the checkout clerk at the neighborhood grocery made me cry over not getting my money out of my wallet fast enough to pay for my cantaloupe.
Ah, New Yorkers.
The point is, laying on that couch at twenty-one years old, safe with my ‘ol pals engaged in high seas high jinks, I still knew the day was coming when I would leap to my feet and shout, “What the fuck am I doing?” and, like a Muppet, take Manhattan.
I knew it.
Everything in its own time.
I don’t transition quickly. I’ve always been that way. I have to think about things.
I thank my lucky stars, and the ties that bind, that same little voice that was with me in New York (which Sonia would call my ‘soul’) lovingly whispered through all seven seasons of Prime Suspect, (NOT surprisingly an exceptional and highly-regarded BBC series about an aging police inspector – Helen Mirren, OMG! – who is also an alcoholic), reminding me of all the other things I could be doing, other worlds I could be exploring, other adventures I could be adventuring.
Since I turned off the television I’ve planned two late night rendezvous for my husband for his birthday, our anniversary, and to celebrate his inaugural performance of HAMILTON.
I’ve created a one-of-a-kind journal like I used to for each character I played on the stage. This one is for my current journey of self-discovery. I’ve named it ‘Sonia.’
I picked out and installed these super cool solar powered lights, continuing the development of my backyard magic place.
I got my turntable, my iTunes, and my SONOS all working together so now I can imbue my world with all the music I so dearly love and did not have access to because it was one of those things I never had time to get to. Kool and JT, come on in!
I feel like working out again and I have the time to do it.
My relationship is deepening with my dogs.
(I know, I know. Hard to believe that’s possible.)
I cleaned my house.
(I know, I know. Hard to believe that’s possible.)
Well, good for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I still have a cocktail upon occasion. Not turning on the TV makes it easier to keep them fewer and farther between.
And I am always up for a good Masterpiece Mystery.
In NY, I was scared to go out into the Big Bad City.
Took me a while to decide I was equal to the task.
What am I scared of now?
Big Bad Me?
Big Bad Life?
Geez, I’ve lived a lot of life to be scared of it now.
Maybe we are not so big and so bad.
My TV is my distraction.
My TV is my enabler.
No, I am my enabler.
What’s your TV?