Tuesday, April 28, 2015

TV Turnoff Week

by Natasha Sinel

I just got a flyer home from school announcing that TV Turnoff week begins May 4th. My kids don’t want to do it. Even though they don’t watch much on school nights anyway, they’re positive they’ll die a horrible and painful death next week.

But me? Eh. I can go without it. These days I usually do.

I used to love TV. I loved it so much, I worked at Showtime. I worked there for a long time. I watched a lot of TV.

But since I’ve started writing, I don’t watch much. There’s nothing noble about my not watching TV. I'm not worried about my brain rotting or my creativity withering.

The reason I’m not watching TV is that it just hasn’t been doing its job for me lately.

I’m a mother of three, wife of one, owner of a home. My day starts in servant-mode—making breakfast, packing lunches, making sure all homework, notes, and library books are in folders, all logistics for the afternoon are settled, and off they go to school. Then I have a bit of time to squeeze in writing and all the other things associated with writing (like blogging) as well as the occasional errand, exercise, maybe once in a blue moon, a quick coffee with a friend. Then the kids come home and it’s go-go-go—homework, activities, showers, and then bedtime (and I still read for 20 minutes with each of them—one at a time). Then, if I haven’t already, I eat dinner.

And then, I’m done. Toast. I want to turn off, to immerse myself in something else so that I don’t have to keep going and going.

TV used to be perfect. But these days, the TV goes on and it’s like Pavlov. I grab my phone or laptop and start doing the things I didn’t finish during the day. Pay a few bills, return some emails, check Twitter, Facebook, read a few blog posts, a few book reviews.

I look up and I’ve missed the whole show. Usually, I don’t even know what show is on. TV’s not doing its job anymore, like I’ve built up an immunity to it. Maybe it’s that “date” TV doesn’t exist anymore—remember Must See TV on Thursdays—Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, Will & Grace? Back in the (ahem) mid-nineties, when The X-Files moved from Friday nights to Sunday nights, I had actual anxiety about rearranging my schedule. But now? I’m just surfing through endless channels, on-demand, Netflix. Whatever I end up with doesn’t feel special because I didn’t make a date to see it. Or maybe I just haven’t found “the right show” to date.

But I think the real reason is that when the TV is on, I can continue to multi-task. I can pay bills while watching TV. I can check my email, eat, even edit, while watching TV.

But reading doesn’t allow me to multi-task. Reading requires all of me—my eyes, my brain, even my body since I have to hold the book and turn the pages.

So now when I’m at that point in the evening when I need to shut it all out, I read. It’s the only thing that works.

I hope I find my love for TV again. But until then, I’ve got some pretty amazing books to wind down with thanks to my fellow 2015 debuts.

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she's still in high school, and hopes that no one near her can read minds. Her debut YA novel THE FIX will be out from Sky Pony Press on September 1, 2015.

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