Monday, July 19, 2010

No commercial interruption

Love this little Federal era house on East Capitol, tucked between two Victorian era houses. It has the sweetest garden, all wild flowers and grasses. Might be a little weird to live there, I'm not sure.

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was talking to my friend Jack on the phone. He is someone I've been friends with since 1980. On that particular morning, out of all the subjects we could have been discussing, we were talking about the Civil War, specifically we were pondering what kind of courage it takes to walk out onto a battlefield. How do people muster the willpower to do that? At some point in the conversation, Jack said, "It looks like a small plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center. I wonder what's up?" He lives in Brooklyn; don't know if he was watching TV or saw it unfolding across the water. We said goodbye.

A little while later there was a super loud boom. Capitol Hill is about three or four miles from the Pentagon. Car alarms went off and Jake scooted under the bed in terror. I didn't think much about it at the time. In fact even driving to work that day, I wondered what the hell was up with all the traffic, why were there so many people outside the Capitol. It wasn't until I got all the way across town to the Whole Foods that I discovered what had happened. Getting home from work was its own adventure - of course the store was closed for the day. I got stopped for about an hour ... ah ... but that's another story. When I finally got home, my housemate and his boyfriend were sitting in front of the TV, watching the footage of the falling towers over and over. I sat with them, watched for hours. We were all in shock.

The next day I bought the first TV I have ever owned. For the first time ever, I felt like I had to be plugged in. I had been totally clueless! It felt so dangerous. That was such an awful week in DC. Everything changed. I didn't even know - and I'm supposed to be a psychic??

Of course I didn't just watch the news. First I developed an addiction for Law and Order. When that infatuation faded, I turned to the food network with a passion. Before the election, MSNBC was on constantly. You could hear the voices of Keith, of Rachel Maddow (before she had her own show) coming from my room every night. (Fortunately after the election I decided to go pundit free. The whole pundit addiction thing is really toxic.) But then I fell into the cult of NCIS, something I have remained charmed by to this very day.

When I moved into Chateau 7, I believed I would really miss TV. I was worried that the "folding TV" - i.e. my computer - would not suffice. The good news is, I don't miss TV at all. I can plug in to the news here anytime I want. I can even watch NCIS on the CBS website, sans the six minutes of commercials every ten minutes. I re-joined netflix so I'll have movies to watch on nights when I need to veg out.

The era of TV is now out of the saga and I don't miss it. It's one of many revelations that are a part of this move, a Very Good Thing. Oh yeah.


John Hayes said...

We dropped our satellite TV subscription a couple of years ago & really haven't missed it much; we also subscribed to NetFlix at the time we stopped & have enjoyed that service. & we were glued to the TV for days after 9/11, even tho Eberle & I hardly ever watched news on the tube. The computer certainly does news just as well if/when you need it.

NanU said...

I read/watch the news all the time when I'm home, but then go cold turkey when I'm on vacation. When I get back it's always strange to reconnect. Partly I feel bad about remaining unaware, but partly I know I can do without knowing.
No pundits! too much of a danger zone that I might spend my whole life bouncing from one to another.
Congrats on unplugging. Who can resist Special Agent Gibbs, though? That glare! And Ziva? And Dinozzo (who's waaay better not dubbed!)?

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Wow, no TV. There are only a few shows I watch & I could watch them via the Internet. We do have cable & I record all shows so I can fast-forward through commercials (they are so annoying!).
As to 9/11, I was in my car listening to NPR when they announced the first plane crashing. I arrived at a workshop & was watching it on TV as the 2nd plane flew into the Towers. Such a heart-rending day.

Steve Reed said...

I've enjoyed having a TV since moving in with Dave, but I've found that I rarely watch it when he's not home. It's still not very essential to my life. (I did watch it right after 9-11, though, just like you!)

Oddly, my greatest joy has come from old TV sitcoms like "All in the Family." I skip the pundits, except for John Stewart, who I suppose is sort of pundit-y.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jon Stewart is a hybrid pundit/comedian. He can not be pidgeon holed. I can watch him on the folding TV if I want.

Nancy how CRAZY to imagine you watching NCIS dubbed in French. Wow, that's that's ... great. I love the narcissistic DiNozzo, but I'm really a sucker for Gibbs. What's not to love?

Everton Terrace said...

Not a big TV watcher myself but NCIS - now that I would miss. I've had a crush on Mark Harmon for a looong time. I think that house in the photo is great!

The Bug said...

We were in DC on 9/11 - & just as clueless as you! We were headed to the National Archives (to do research on the Freedman's Bureau in Kentucky - so, the immediate post Civil War era - spooky). We were listening to CDs in the car & wondering why the traffic was so bad. We ended up pulling off at a park on some parkway headed downtown & had our rental car searched by a bewildered park ranger. He told me to just listen to the radio to find out what happened. Needless to say we never made it to the archives that trip. We decided to go visit our families in NC & while we drove we marveled at the empty sky (great Bruce Springsteen song).

Anyway, I could cheerfully give up TV (except I like to watch baseball & we couldn't watch the Reds on our computers since we're too near their market). But alas Dr. M has to have access to documentaries. Sigh.

Meandu said...

It is funny how we tend to become addicted to watching television. I am not sure what would happen in my household if I suddenly declared that we need to go t.v. free.

Washington Cube said...

I remember everything about 9-11 which started early in the morning with a call from a girlfriend in NYC saying a plane had crashed into the WTC and "turn on your tv." Both of us on the phone studying the footage, trying to understand and saying, "How could they have gotten into that flight zone by mistake." While still on the phone...we saw the next plane go in. Then we knew.

I was due to meet my personal trainer early that a.m. and cancelled. I had a friend in the Pentagon who had gone to a dental appointment that morning and was thankfully not at work. I remember the absence of sound, the sapphire blue sky and then, shortly later, constantly hearing fighter jets rip over my head, flying low. I didn't leave the house until around 5..rush hour..and the streets were deserted. Much more I could write, but won't.

I lived without television for years while in my twenties, but also no air conditioning and no telephone. I was "off the map" and invisible. It grows harder to disappear as you age. We leave "trails."

I didn't watch NCIS until same NYC girlfriend got me hooked on it. I love the head slaps, Ziva mangling her English with inappropriate comments, DiNozzo's movie obsessions and quotes, Abby's goth competency. And they have fun. In one episode someone asked Gibbs what Ducky had looked like, when younger, and he said, "Illya Kuryakin."

California Girl said...

Congrats on your move. I like that little Federal house too. Reminds me of homes one sees on Church Hill in Richmond. I miss that lovely architecture altho' New England has its own charm.

I couldn't miss Mad Men and I rarely missed Law & Order w/ Sam Waterston but it's cancelled now.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah, Cube, that is a classic episode, definitely. Every character is so damaged, and yet they tolerate each other. It is a very human show.

I just ordered the first five seaons on netflix so clearly my obsession has not abated!

The Pollinatrix said...

The morning of September 11, I was out on the street in my very suburban neighborhood at the time, talking to another mother about our sons getting potty trained. For what it's worth.

I haven't watched TV in years and definitely don't miss it, although I do HAVE a TV for watching movies. Occasionally I've thought about getting actual channels (usually at the urging of one of my kids), but it's just not worth it to me. The only channel I'd really want is PBS, and that for the kids' shows.

Cyndy said...

What is NCIS? I haven't had a TV in five years and I just got an old computer screen hooked up to the FIOS so I can watch TV now. But I always forget that it's there - conveniently located right in front of my exercise bike. I'm still waiting for that old habit to kick back in. It's time.