The beginning of the end for my cable bill

9-19-2013 1-06-07 PMWhen you’re whole life gets turned upside down and you can’t even begin to fathom what is going on around you a funny thing happens. You completely forget about something called television.

This week’s ripple effect how our view of TV has changed.

During the worst of it all, there was no TV. I had no mental capacity or desire. As the dust settled I found I just didn’t care. I read a lot. I was also feeling the need to isolate myself from my local world – no local news no Facebook, –  but spent hard core time each night combing the internet trying to find a world to relate to that had nothing to do with my own. One day or night I saw some random tweet from The Bloggess wondering if she was the only person who cried at every single Dr Who episode or something like that.  I was crying all the time anyway so I figured I give it a try.

I had an Amazon Prime account that had come with my Kindle so I fired it up and sure enough all the previous seasons were there for free. Before I knew it I found myself sneeking off to the bedroom with my kindle at every available moment to devour this show. The girls became curious and I began to let them watch it with me.

I also started to notice that Downton Abby which I had heard a lot about on the internet was there too, so we streamed that. And them something else and something after that.

And then I don’t know how but somewhere along the way we’d replaced TV with streaming. It’s like we were curating new shows and watching from the original seasons forward.  I did a little research and found Amazon and Hulu could both be streamed through the XBox we had. That’s when it really all became a thing.

I started this summer determined to try and not turn on the cable box. And we didn’t.  We watched only thing streamed either though Amazon or Hulu. Old stuff new stuff cool stuff you name it. It never felt like we didn’t have choices of what to watch. In fact the kids have more choices than ever before because practically every family oriented network TV show ever made is at their disposal: The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Seventh Heaven, and Wonder Years are just a few of their “current” favorites.

We have whole libraries of TV available for a fraction of the cost of my monthly cable bill.

I’m this close to canceling it. I’ve already downgraded it once. And there is room to downgrade it one more time before completely getting rid of it. I think for $20 a month or so I can keep just the networks.

It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of deciding to pull the trigger.

Cable TV is so last year lifetime.

Are you ready for some football is actually a question again….

images (1)On Mondays I talk about the Ripple Effect the Big Tragic Thing That Happened has had on our lives.

Saturday night I realized what a new one was – I have my fall weekends back. I am no longer forced to schedule every thing I do on Saturday and Sunday based on the NCAA and NFL schedules. If I want to go to the mall at 5:30 on Saturday I can (and did) and no one has to have a fight about it.

Saturday night I posted a FB post about watching a particular TV marathon with the girls. A college buddy immediately chastised me in a comment asking why I wasn’t watching our alumni football game.  The answer is simple – I didn’t have to. I had something else I would rather be doing and I was.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love my school and SEC football and the I’m pulling for the local NFL team but I do not have to actually sit in front of the TV and watch endless hours of the game to feel connected or involved –  Which I never felt was necessary and I always resented. I hated that nothing got done, and you could not make plans and that the whole thing just sort of took over like an illness.

At the time of the mentioned FB post I was in fact keeping up with the score of the game via Google. I knew the team was well ahead, as they should have been, since we were playing an early season non-conference team. But it didn’t require me to wipe out my whole night out watching it. Just like I hadn’t spent most of the afternoon watching every other televised SEC game. I had cleaned house, run errands, went to the grocery store and gone out for dinner.  On a Saturday in September. Unheard of. I was not tethered to the TV.

Football is something I do when I want to now. Last week I went to a friend’s house and we watched games together and it was fun. But it was something I wanted to do, not something I had to do. And I did not do it as the expense of something else. And I enjoyed it that much more.

For years I railed at the fact that everything from noon on Saturday to suppertime on Sunday from September to Christmas was ruled by football. I no longer have that problem.

I have my weekends back. Something that was a cause of stress and been a source of discontentment, for me, for years is gone. Don’t get me wrong, we’d always go back in time and change what happened if we could, but we get through the day to day by looking for the little things, the little silver linings that the ripples sometimes bring us.

For me, control of my weekend is a ripple that I’m riding these days.

Why Picking Up The Phone Matters

080108_ripple_1Last Monday I started a series of posts about the ripple effect that the Terrible Thing has had on our lives. Last week it was a first wave ripple – probably more like a actual wave – a title wave called Single Parenthood.

This week it’s more of a true ripple.

In the past I was never one of those people who knew what to do when something bad happened. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean an emergency, I’m good in emergencies or crises. I mean in the aftermath. I never know what to say or what to do to make that might make people feel better so most often I would do nothing.

This was especially true if someone was sick, I mean like really sick or ill. I always felt like calling to ask how they were was sort of rude. I guess this stems a bit from how I handle my own MS. I live me life and don’t think about it so if someone brings it up – it sort of seems like they are purposefully being a downer or negative or dwelling on the bad things in life.

In the spirit of do unto others – I never called people

But then I went through what I went through and it was fairly public. And people I was close to and people I barely knew called and texted and emailed. They said nice things, supportive things, sometimes they just said Hi and Thinking of You. And every single time it mattered to me. It made me feel better or okay or remembered or less alone.

And I noticed who never said anything.

So the lesson I took from this was to call or email or text or Facebook – early and often. To cook food, to offer to watch kids, or go to the movies or whatever I could. And to keep doing, long past the day or the week or the month that whatever the problem occurred in. Because that shit matters.  It means they are not forgotten, it means I realize that life as they know it has changed and someone out there in the world acknowledges that their world is never going to be the same again.

I’ve made a point of doing it even when it felt pesty or weird. Because in the end me feeling weird, the least of the problem.

Last Wednesday morning my phone rang early , it was a friend who had seen a article on a local news site. The article said a mutual friend of ours daughter had been in an accident – a bad car accident and was badly hurt in critical condition. The report said the accident had been Monday night. She wanted to know had I heard anything from our other friend. No I had not, but I would reach out right now…

I texted my friend – “Heard about the accident, how is she? What can I do, I’m home all week and can help anyway I can. Please just let me know”

The reply I got back was “What?”

Without even thinking about it I hit the dial button, what did she mean “What?”

Immediately she answered and in just a few seconds it became clear she had no idea what I was referring to. She had no idea. No one called her, no police, no hospital, no one. While her daughter still very much lives at home she’s of age – an adult by law – so no family was notified automatically. Or at least they hadn’t yet.  Turns out the article was wrong and the accident had only happened at 8:00 the night before not Monday but still – more than 12 hours had gone by. I read the article to her, editing to make it seem not as bad – afraid it was worse. She hung up to start calling hospitals.

Because I called. Because it’s part of my ripple effect, now I call.

They were able to quickly locate her at the local trauma center and her injuries while severe are not permanent. They were by her side within the hour.

Because I called. I keep thinking how the old Me would never have picked up that phone. I would never had texted or emailed. I would have felt like I was rubbing salt in the wound or looking for gossip material. I would have felt intrusive. It might have been hours before they found out.

I’ve always been the sort to look for silver linings, and this one for me. The new Me doesn’t avoid the awkward conversation. The new Me reaches out. The new Me calls.

Doing This On My Own

So I’ve said here before that I’m not going to talk about the Terrible Thing. And I’m not.

But, I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible to write about my life without acknowledging the the ripple effect of the Terrible Thing because it shapes every moment of our lives now.

One of those effects was that I found myself in the unexpected situation of now being a single  parent.  The thought that has kept rolling through my head is that I never expected to find myself in the position of being a single parent.

When I said that to someone recently, they answered, “Well does anyone really?” Fair question. I guess yes, there are a few in the minority that originally made the decision to have a child on their own. But they are the exception.

I agree, most single parents, never got into the business of parenting thinking they would end up doing it by themselves. But as time has gone by I’ve thought about this a lot and I now realize there is still a distinction within single parenthood as a whole.

I first really identified it when a friend of mine also found herself suddenly, unexpectantly, and tragically going it alone with two daughters just like mine – just stair stepped back a few years younger. Seeing her situation, helped me understand my own a bit.

Divorce is terrible and tragic as well, don’t get me wrong but in the end it’s still a decision. Somewhere somehow most people after much thought and consideration decide that path is better for their family than the current togetherness. It’s still terrible but they arrived there over time and with control.

Illness is terrible and tragic for sure – but it generally takes some time and you see it coming even though there is no control. There is never enough time to prepare but attempts can be made.

What happened to my friend is not the same as what happened to me but the end result was much the same – in the blink of an eye, everything changed with no warning and no control and we both woke up one morning part of a whole family and went to bed single parents.

That is what I mean when I say I never expected this. I mean that I never saw it coming, I was not prepared. I had not planned. I had not reached this place after careful and thoughtful consideration and conversation.  I arrived here on a lightening bolt.

As with any unexpected change there was a long period of shock. A vague time period when you go through the motions – feed people, pay the bills, bath. But that’s about it. Mostly you have no memory of the days past and no idea what the plan is past the next 12-24 hours. Things are just a blur. You’re in survival mode.

But time passes and you find yourself settling into the new life. I hadn’t even realized it when I woke up that day and heard what happened to my friend and her girls that are so much like mine and saw myself  and them suddenly in a new light – 16 months down the road in front them and their new life. I saw their life for the next 12 months and knew what it would be like for her. It clarified a lot for me about the journey I was on with my own two girls.

Not too long after that I ran across a story about a woman in the 1920’s who had suddenly found herself alone … there was this one part that described her like this.

“She could have given up or grieved her life away, but she wasn’t that kind of woman. She was the kind of woman that God would trust to raise 5 girls alone.”

I sent that to my friend and said “This is us! We are that woman”… We are the sort of women that God trusts to raise our girls alone. Since then I’ve had a different outlook. It became a bit of a private badge I wear. It’s what I remember when I feel myself start to get down. I’m the sort that God trusts to do this. So I better do it right.