24 December 2012

my parents' house is too smart for me

I'm back at my parents' house in Iowa for Christmas, and the only thing I can operate with ease here is the light switch in my bedroom. It is exactly the same as when I was in high school—down to the fish lightplate I bought one year in the Caribbean {complete with a hook where I would hang my keys after coming home from a night of play practice or teaching gymnastics or cheerleading for the football team}.

Most everything else in the house, though, leaves me slightly perplexed, especially the TV. My parents are both at work today {Merry Christmas, Scrooge, eh?}, and I thought, after doing my reading from the Advent book I've used this year and after journalling, that it might be nice to watch some Designing Women.

And that is the specific show I thought of. I was remembering how, back when I was in middle school, Lifetime {is their tagline still "Television for Women"?} showed back-to-back episodes of Designing Women at 10am on weekdays. During the summer, I sometimes/all the time planned my day around watching Julia Sugarbaker eloquently, loudly, and intelligently put someone in their place.

Lifetime couldn't possibly have changed their schedule, I thought, demonstrating a form of the hope we're supposed to embody in this season. After all, it's only been...20 years.

Oh my word, TWENTY YEARS {that deserves a spelled-out number, mostly for how far I've come from the little girl in pink plastic glasses who took solace in the fact that Julia Sugarbaker also wore big glasses sometimes}.

This morning, I found the remote, which sits on a recharging station when it's not in use, and I hit power. It wasn't the TV that came on but the remote itself—a touchscreen of options.

I paused for just a moment, perhaps waiting for it to say, "What do you want to do today, Kamiah?" It would, quite obviously, speak with a Hannibal Lecter-type voice: like it knows too much abut you and is judging you for how much Lifetime you watch.

The remote gave me three options:
  • Listen to the Radio
  • Watch a DVD
  • Watch TV
"You're not so tricky, are you, remote? I think I shall call you Siberia, because that is also remote." Siberia the Remote did not care for my joke, but rolled its eyes at me as I flipped through the guide, looking for Julia Sugarbaker {but really, aren't we all looking for her?}.

The 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street was on—of course it was. It has been playing non-stop since, I believe, just after the last bite of the last pumpkin pie in America was taken on Thanksgiving Day. It may have even cheated and started before Thanksgiving, justifying its holiday bleed by pointing out that it starts with Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

There was a Star Trek marathon on SyFy—a branding so divorced from its science fiction roots. What's wrong with owning your nerdiness {wonders the girl in the pink plastic glasses}?

I could've watched The Real Housewives of Almost Every Major City in America, but it's a source of pride that I have never seen any of those, and Christmas is not the time to tear down your pride. Unless, I guess, it's in the "He humbled himself and became one of us" kind of way. Then it's okay.

So many options, but none of them Designing Women.

"Siberia, find me Designing Women," I said, wondering if this remote might work like Siri on the iPhone. It would find Julia for me, and then it would tell me that I'd grow up to be Julia. {I don't have an iPhone, so my understanding of how Siri works/compliments you may be wrong.}

Siberia the Remote did nothing.

Lazy remote. Good for nothing.

Really, I decided it was good for nothing: I hit the power button—it was Julia or nothing—and the TV turned off but not the sound.

I looked at the remote: shouldn't the screen have changed to new options? Something like:
  • Turn Off TV
  • Turn Off TV and Sound {You wouldn't think we'd need to say this, but we like to make it more complicated than it needs to be.}
  • Try Watching a DVD Instead Since Lifetime Changed Their Schedule
  • Switch to Christmas Music. Why haven't you been listening to more "Holly Jolly Christmas"? Is it because you're Anglican now and all into Advent and therefore believe that you shouldn't listen to Christmas music until Christmas Eve?
  • Just Give Up and Read a Book. Old-fashioned entertainment and such. Later, you can make a popcorn garland for your Christmas tree because you're clearly not 21st century enough to understand the TV.
But it offered me nothing, and loud car commercials continued to echo in the house, no matter how many times I hit the power button.

"Hurry in now for our year-end pricing! You don't want to miss this! Surprise a loved one with a new car! We even have giant bows for you to wrap it in!"

"Shut up, shut up, shut up! Who makes giant purchases without consulting their loved ones? You are promoting a dangerous idea!" I yelled, hitting power over and over.

I paused.

Yelling at the noise-noise-noise-noise at this time of year never works. The Grinch learned that, and it would do me well to remember it every year.

We can get overwhelmed by the clang of consumerism and commercialism.

The "Buy this now! It's new!" is so enticing, but it can also make your soul feel like it's being crowded out. You want to—if you're me—yell at everything to slow down, quiet down, and maybe even lay down.

What I really need to do, though, is slow down, quiet down, and maybe even lay down myself.

I remembered that this morning, trying to work my parents' TV. I found the mute button, hit it, and resolved to ask my dad how to use the TV when he got home from work.

And in the meantime, I turned up the fireplace {at least their gas fireplace isn't too smart for me}, called the pugs over to me {there are four at their house right now, including my one Little Pug}, and sat in the quiet.

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