Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Impossibility of Television

There is nothing I can watch any more.

I lie on the couch, unable to concentrate on anything longer than a Billy Collins poem.  Novels are beyond my abilities.  Where once I was able to drift along with the story line, becoming the characters, feeling their slippery shoes on an icy path, now my mind begins to wander before I turn the first page.  Sometimes I just drift into a nothing-ness of hikes gone by, flowers photographed up close and personal, road trips with the Cuters.  Sometimes I wind up in a much darker space.  Either way, neither way is conducive to finishing something longer than a page and a half. Long blog posts are beyond me as well.  Anything which requires thinking is a major stretch.

There is music all around me.  Friends and teachers and strangers and relatives have sent cd's created just especially for me.  For weeks, they sat stacked one atop the other near the stereo (how dated is that?!) blending their mixes one to another.  TBG grew tired of the clutter and moved them somewhere.  I don't know where and it really doesn't matter.  Unless I was using a quiet one to help me drift off to nap-time, I was unable to go with their flow.  My mind took me places I didn't want to go.  I needed something more active.

Active is a relative term when your orthopedist forbids bearing any weight on the hip he so graciously allowed you to take home from the hospital.  Twelve weeks from the date of the surgery.... a day sometime during the week after January 8th.  My family knows precisely when it happened, but, for me, it's all a morphine blur.  I woke up and I was repaired and I hurt and I couldn't move my leg.  Now I can actually make my knee bend without a helping hand, and KiKi, the world's most wonderful physical therapist, assures me that soon I will be able to roll over without pain.  Ah, the little things that make life grand.  For now, though, active is my fingers flying over the keyboard and my bar-dips on the walker as I hop from couch to table to car.  It's a far cry from hiking Brown Mountain, but I am not complaining.  I am here and I am healing and those are good things.  Wonderful things.  Things for which I am grateful each and every day.  But they are not real distractions, at least not for long.

So, I am left with the television.  Daddooooo watched more tv after his hip replacement than he had in his entire existence previous to that surgery.  Daytime tv was new to me, and I would sit by his side on the living room couch, watching talk shows and wondering why anyone who didn't have to look at them would voluntarily do so.  Once the 4pm movie came on we were happier, but my memories of his recovery are of the two of being snarky at a non-responsive Motorola console.  Lying on the couch, recovering myself, I laugh.  Things aren't much better 40 some years later. 

But I am not writing to complain about the paucity of terrific television.  My issue is much more personal than that.  TV is scary these days.  Grey's Anatomy and House, two of the pillars of our viewing habits prior to January 8th, are un-watchable.  IV's, bloody organs, scalpels slicing into flesh.... they are all too real for us.  The Bride tried to watch Grey's three times on her laptop while she was staying with me in the hospital; I never saw her get as far as the first commercial.  TBG has never liked the blood and gore parts, and routinely covered his eyes when the patient was rolled into the operating room.  It never bothered me.  Not one bit.  I found it interesting in an impersonal kind of way.  Now, though...........  it is much too personal, much too close to home, much too been there done that to be allowed into our living room.  Scratch 2 hours of new shows and endless hours of repeats from my schedule.

Law'n Order is broadcast every hour of every day on one of the 1000's of channels on our super-duper-deluxe-cable package.  It used to be that I could watch an episode for the 15th time and enjoy the familiarity.  Lenny, Lupo, Cragin, Chris Noth, Mariska Hargitay (did you know that her mother was Jayne Mansfield and that she was in the back seat of the car when the decapitation occurred?  Just a bit of gory trivia for you to round out this post.) ...... they made me happy in a comfortable, old shoe kind of way.  Now, though....... the bullets fly and I flinch.  The Medical Examiner discusses entry and exit wounds (this is even hard to type) and I cower.  We have given it up entirely. 

So here I was, bored to tears, Heidi in a plane on her way back to the frigid north, all caught up on my thank you notes and phone calls, sitting on the couch and looking for amusement.  Chuck!  I am one episode behind.  The series is OnDemand.  It's 44 minutes of meaningless fluff that amuses without taxing the brain.  I could reach the remote with the handy grabby-dabber the occupational therapist left with me in the hospital.  Life was good. 

That is, until the opening scene devolved into the credits, which feature a bright red bullet zipping across the screen as the actors and directors and producers were named .  I'd never noticed it til right now.  I didn't like it.  Nope, didn't like it one little bit.  Didn't like it so much that I turned off the tube and came right here to The Burrow where such things are just not allowed. 

We are a weapon-free zone, visually and mentally.  We concentrate on healing and looking forward and on the strange and unusual things that make up our polity and our families and our day to day routine.  No guns .... no blood ... nope, not here.

Thanks, denizens, for joining me in my safe haven.  I love snuggling down with you, one and all.


  1. And we enjoy your company as well! We wouldn't be here if we didn't, we crave your companionship...getting comfort from seeing improvement every week. We want you back to "fighting weight," slicing away at a book and giving us the low down. It's coming....I can see it!

  2. Hey... I see progress. A couple of weeks ago Ann Landers couldn't hold your attention. Now you can read entire poems with focus. Short stories and then novels are in the offing! Yay! for healing and moving forward. My surgery is this morning, so it may be a few days...

  3. AB, don't be too hard on yourself about daytime TV. It really is horrible. Surround yourself with comedies that are light-hearted and will make you laugh. Laughter is good medicine. ;)

    Sending lots of hugs your way.

    Megan xxx

  4. Thanks, girls, for the encouragement! It's hard to see it when I'm so close; it's good to have external validation that I'm getting better :)

  5. Personally, I am not a daytime tv watcher and if it is going to be turned on it is usually not before 7:30 pm to catch a re-run of "The Office" stupidity that makes me laugh while I quietly long for any office to return to.

    Recently discovered Oprah's new station OWN and figured out all on my "own" that it is the acronym for Oprah Winfrey Network! If it is not Glee night or Idol night I'll check out OWN until 11:00pm for another "The Office" rerun and put my head to the pillow with dreams of getting up at 5:30am to get dressed in my corporate attire to go an office that for now remains a recurring dream.

    There are laughter provoking shows or movies to be found among the 1000 channels you have to choose from. Laughter is the best medicine.

    Here's a thought A/B maybe you can download onto your iPod one of the old comedy acts we listened to as we sat around our parent's living room stereo consoles with strange relatives visiting on Sunday afternoons long ago. Or better yet, George Carlin will keep you laughing.

    Here's to laughter to get you through the day and to your own humorous musings of The Burrow to get us through the day!

  6. There are some good things on PBS, even during the daytime hours. Check out the Tucson program guide: http://tv.azpm.org/whatson/

  7. AB, thought of something else if you are interested in good things to watch. We have Google TV (courtesy of a conference where Google gave it to all of us attending) and Netflix does streaming on there and so does Amazon on Demand. If you have a TV that's Internet capable or even a laptop, you can watch Amazon or Netflix streaming on those devices too. It's a great way to catch shows you haven't watched in a while and/or want to start watching. I've just started watching 30 Rock. Absolutely hilarious show.

  8. Hugs to you today! I had an illness that took me a while to sink in. Enya helped me to sleep...drift off to lala land. As for TV, I recommend I Love Lucy......

  9. I have never been able to watch such shows. I also would hide my eyes always from anything violent. Just can't take it. Maybe what you should give a try are children's movies. There are some that really do work for me although you have to watch the titles there too. There is something though about their simple stories and the beauty of the animation on some although if fast moves upset you, that might be for later. I rarely want music playing in my house. I like the sounds of the birds outside, the wind, the rain when we get some. Once in awhile i have something that works for me. On my art blog, you might give a try to a video I put there of the ocean waves with Rachmaninoff as the background. (https://picasaweb.google.com/rainnnn7/RhapsodyOfWaves?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ-tx4uEwOnuzgE#5573639848610872018) Ocean waves have been good for me through the month of January when I have had a lot of upset too but for far less reasons than yours.

  10. Oh, I can so relate to the shows on TV now. Next year it will be 20 years since my dear friend died from a gun and I still can't watch most programs and I didn't have to deal with the personal trauma you have had to deal with. I made a mental note that first year after his death that I wanted to surround myself with all things positive and artful/creative. I could have given a rat's @ss if folks thought I was burying my head in the sand. This is what I had to do to survive. You need to do what you need to do to survive. You know what it is.

    I second Rain's suggestion of children's movies. The Secret Garden is one of my favorites and has been done a number of times. Also, LOVED the movie, Miss Potter with Renee Zellwegger (sp?) on the life of Beatrix Potter. Incredibly charming. Continued healing vibes being sent your way.

  11. I watch Law and Order SVU just to see Mariska Hargiatay. She is beautiful and sexy. His eyes and his smile makes me have fantasies.

  12. I started to leave a comment here this morning and then got sidetracked by life. So, here is a bit of it:
    I didn't know you before January 8th, but since I've been reading you, I have sensed your progress toward health. In fact, I think your visceral objection to violence and medical blood and guts on TV is a good sign. We hardly ever watch regular TV programming. What we have discovered is that some of the older TV shows are really good to watch. We are just now finishing up the sixth and last season of Northern Exposure. A wonderful series. Not a hint of violence and incredibly smart, prescient, thoughtful, and good humored. We get it from Netflix. Wish it were Instant Watch, but it's not. We also liked re-watching The West Wing. There are so many good and thoughtful things to watch out there. Good for the spirit and your heart.

    On an entirely different note. One of the bloggers I read, and who is also a friend on Facebook sent me this note to send to you:

    Robin, I am just devastated that I cannot comment on The Burrow (Ashleigh/Suzi's blog). Will you please tell her that I read everyday, but cannot leave a comment? I would be eternally grateful!

    The note is from blogger KENJU, whose blog is "Imagine."

  13. A/B
    You are making enormous progress in your recovery. There are so many people who care deeply about you, TBG, John, Roxanna, and Dallas Jr.'s well being. Do not feel bad I rarely watch television anymore unless it is something very special. You might have read about a horrific plane crash in Gearhart, Oregon back in August 2008 where two related families lost children and other individuals were seriously hurt. I grew up with one of the family members in my old neighborhood here in Portland, Oregon so it hit close to home for me. I will not watch any TV shows or movies where any type of plane crash is involved because of what happened in Gearhart that summer day in August 2008. It is just too painful to deal with especially since I know one of the families involved.
    Sending you positive vibes for a quick recovery. God Bless you, TBG, and your family.

  14. I agree with you about daytime tv - and night time tv for that matter. I am finding myself watching HGTV, Animal Planet, History Channel and
    our channel 73 which has the old black and white terrific 40's movies!! They are great! I think you would enjoy that channel! Try and find it. I'm sure you have it somewhere! It's a movie channel...can't recall the name...debbie

  15. I apologize for being late to this post; I plead grandson. I'm glad to be here now, though, because I have some experience with your TV phenomenon.

    During all the years of active clinical work, sitting with up to 7 patients a day, many of whom were traumatized, I could watch almost nothing on television except quiet little period pieces from the Victorian era. I needed quieter voices, British self-restraint, some stiff-upper lip stuff. Everything violent or overly emotional just seemed like more of my work day. Oprah? Not on a bet. Those gawdawful women's movie channels? You get my drift.

    Likewise, I couldn't listen to most kinds of music; that stuff is DESIGNED to arouse the emotions! For reasons that aren't clear, I could tolerate short bouts of really top class Celtic music. And jazz was good, so my comprehensive Steely Dan collection got a workout...they are so cerebral most of the time. And that was it, period.

    It's better now, three years post retirement, but I resent gratuitous violence in film.

    I like it very much that you're protecting yourself from media abuse. I don't find it unusual at all.

    And my first Billy Collins collections showed up yesterday. We're starting a new morning routine that involves reading three poems allowed each morning before we get out of bed.

  16. As a Brit, I'm not sure I can attest to having a quieter voice, but I'm with Nance, my tv tastes run to " British self-restraint, some stiff-upper lip stuff." I think PBS still has Downton Abbey episodes online. You can always fall in and out of those and just entertain with pretty images. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/watch/index.html

  17. Books on CD, perhaps? My husband listens to those to make his daily commute more entertaining. Take care.

  18. I have only been coming here a short time but still my heart aches for your pain and alienation from the everyday mundane the rest of us take so foregranted.
    When my mind won't be still, I knit. If I don't like how something comes out I pull it out and knit it again. My husband says all he needs to do to keep me happy is make sure I have a ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles! (I do actually finish projects).
    You have come such a long way and still there are miles to go....
    Life goes on, you will get better, living will feel better even if it will never be the same again.
    I'm sending warm hugs your way and wishes of continued improved health and for happiness to grow.
    And if you need any yarn... :)

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