Back to Basic

My girlfriend and I added yet another luxury to our apartment over the weekend — cable.

Previously, we’d been getting by on basic cable, which is really no cable at all. Just the four of five local networks and a smattering of public access channels, which seem to cover any local church service, every municipal meeting and, sometimes, algebra.

No, really, there’s a channel that constantly has some clown working through algebra equations on a chalkboard.

So yeah, we needed cable. Or so I thought, anyway. My girlfriend’s been awfully busy working 40 hours per week and taking classes nearby. She’s at it seven days per week, so I’m left altruistically planning my days alone with a book, thoughtfully cooked meals, maybe some NPR. What happens is I end up yearning for cable when the networks are playing all infomercials or I already know the algebra equations.

I’ve been back on the cable now for two days and I’ve had enough. Too many reality television shows that couldn’t be further from reality. Too many sports channels showing obscure sporting events (college lacrosse?), too many 24-hour news networks diluting two hours of legitimate news and too many reminders why we, as a society, are done.

I watched MTV for a little over 10 minutes. The Real World was on. I couldn’t tell where the kids are living this season, but in that 10-minute span, I realized:

  1. I’m officially too old to be cast on The Real World. That left an empty feeling.
  2. The Real World used to be more like a fish bowl or a sociological experiment that blended gender, race, religion, class, sexual orientation and every other characteristic that makes us different. I think the first four seasons were crucial to my formative years, where I was underexposed to people different than myself coming from South Dakota.
  3. Wouldn’t it be great if, midseason, the cast got word their digs had been foreclosed? Welcome to the real world, fools.

Cable is a time suck. If my math is correct, I spend just about three hours awake and unoccupied during the weekdays. I can’t say watching cable brings me a sense of fulfillment. The reality is there’s so much to do in Portland, and I haven’t seen the half of it.

A co-worker the other day alluded to an observation his 30-something sister made: When you get out of college and settled into your first full-time job, you spend several years just working for the weekend, but then wasting the weekend by going to bed early and spending all your time on the couch. You’re exhausted. However, a little later on in your 20s, as friends are becoming husbands and wives and parents, you take initiative and start owning your weekends. You’re off to the bars, off on vacations, out doing stuff.

I’m 25 and I’ve got a lot of time to do stuff. I want to try hiking or camping. I want to give the local golf courses a hack. I could use some culture, too. Catch more plays, see more concerts. Try food I never knew existed from restaurants I’ve never heard of. It’s become more apparent in the last 72 hours I’m a homebody, a man of routine, and that’s something I desperately want to shake.

So, I’m canceling cable this week. Goodbye, 60 channels of excess. I won’t be your prisoner no mo’. Back to basic, which I hope offers very, very little so I can somehow push myself off this loveseat and in the direction of something, oh, I don’t know, not on TV?

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9 thoughts on “Back to Basic

  1. I gave up The Real World for my 24th birthday because, I too, am too old to be on the show and cannot relate anymore to those fools. Thank god. Take in Portland while you can.

  2. I agree to the waste of television shows on cable these days. I’m close to canceling my Dish and just setting up a computer to record or download any shows I want to see (ie. The Office and Criminal Minds).

    The problem with the alternatives you mentioned is the cost. I’ve lived 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis for about a year now, and I can count on one hand the amount of amenities I have taken advantage of. It just costs too much to constantly pay 8 bucks for a drink, at least 30 bucks for a concert ticket, and that’s not including cab fares or parking.

    Steph and I stopped going out to the bars every weekend and saved hundreds of dollars a month. Unfortunately, that money went into our new big screen LCD TV… not sure if that’s a win or not.

  3. I am also 25 and find “The Real World” to be not so real anymore. I haven’t watched it in years. Here’s another mind blower: The show is in its 23rd season (or something like that). The show is officially older than most of its cast members. Ouch.

    On a side note: Good for you for getting rid of your cable. Life is much more interesting when you’re out living it.

  4. I haven’t had cable since October and I’m loving it! I only watch LOST religiously anyways. After not having cable, I went over to my parents’ house this weekend and they have DISH network and flipped through the channels for 10 minutes. 10 minutes! I then realized that if I haven’t had access to cable in months and still cant find something to watch, I’m not missing anything.

  5. Without cable, in Sioux Falls we have 3 1/2 channels. Before you give up the cable try the food channel, history channel, and lawn and garden channel. You might learn something.

  6. Also, if you are planning on doing stuff and have no concern for your weight, could you try out Voodoo Doughnut? I read it was one of the best places in the U.S. for doughnuts. I’m intrigued as I’ve been known to eat a baker’s dozen from time-to-time (read: every other Saturday). I put the link to the article in the box thing for Web site.

    • I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Voodoo Doughnut. I had some concoction glazed in chocolate with crushed Oreos on top. Puts Krispy Kreme to shame, although mid-donut, you feel compelled to do some sit-ups. It’s located right near the best bars downtown, so by midnight on the weekends, there’s a line that wraps outside the door and down the blocks. People wait a good hour in line just to score a donut. Here’s some Voodoo Donut trivia: They offer a wedding package for $5,000. That’s a lot of donuts, man.

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