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No Cable for a Month

No Cable for a Month

television_no_cableI told myself after Wimbledon, I’d quit cable–at least temporarily. A summer challenge to rid myself of the evil toxins that spew from the endless hours of cable news and reality TV.

Now I haven’t gotten all crazy and called Comcast to disconnect, but I suspect cold turkey would be an easier way to go.

No, I’m subscribing to a crazy level, call cable anonymous-type of temptation. I’m leaving the cable connected. The only thing between me and channel surfing is pure will power. I can hear the devil serpent whispering to me now, “turn me on, it’s time for another rerun of Friends.”

Over the past six months, I’ve closely monitored my viewing habits and discovered that most of what I enjoy watching is quality, scripted TV, and live events like Wimbledon. I hate reality shows, even the contest-based one’s, and since we won’t have an election for another three years, there’s no sense in watching the childlike behavior that ensues on cable news. All the news I need to know is in my daily Facebook feed of The British Monarchy. You didn’t think I’d miss that coverage, did you?

For me, it’s the live events that keep me an indentured servant to Comcast. Yes, I can hookup my computer and watch them online through my TV, but I haven’t gotten that sophisticated yet. That’s another step in the cable addiction recovery plan.

Now before you think I’m all anti-TV, let me be clear, I’m anti-cable. I hate what they offer and what I have to pay on annual basis just to watch Wimbledon and March Madness.

So for the next month, I challenge myself to not watch anything through my Comcast cable account. Instead, I will opt for my Netflix account and the channels offered via my Roku (BTW: the Smithsonian channel is great).

Day 1, starts now!




Summer Summary 2012

Summer Summary 2012

The US Open has crowned a new champion, the door to the pool says, “see you next year,” parents have swept the shelves for new school supplies, and the thick humid air has given way to a fresh, crisp breeze—these are the annual rites of passage that officially tell me that summer is over.

Summer is my favorite season, so it’s hard to see it pass by, once again. However,  before I swap out my t-shirts and flip-flops for sweaters and boots, I thought I’d take a moment to reminisce on the summer of 2012.

And in the spirit of  what I did on my summer vacation, here’s my 2012 wrap-up.

–          Lived 3 months and counting with no car

–          Drove over 400 miles on my scooter

–          Learned endless bus routes for NoVA

–          Saw three shows at Wolf Trap

–          Made one Sound of Music dress for sing-a-long

–          Took my first trip to the Biltmore House

–          Read 4 books

–          Traveled to Germany and Austria and drank A LOT of beer

–          Completed annual trip to a Virginia winery

–          Survived a Derecho and 36 hours with no power.

–          Finally saw the DC 4th of July fireworks

Car-Free Summer: Benefits Adding Up

Car-Free Summer: Benefits Adding Up

I’ve lived 30 days without owning a car and with no regrets. Originally, ditching the car was a plan to save money, and well, shoot the middle finger to the oil and car companies for whom pensions were fully funded by my fear of being car-less. However, after a month of learning bus routes, walking, biking and scooting around NOVA and DC, it’s the unintentional benefits of a car-free lifestyle which are  beginning to add up.

1. Exercise. I still go to the gym 4x/week for a 50 minute cardio session, but now I’m getting bonus workouts by walking 40 minutes round-trip to get to Target, the post office and the bank.

2. Fresh Air.  Whenever I drove my car, even with the windows down, I wasn’t outside. I wasn’t  breathing in, smelling and enjoying the beauty of wildlife and real life all around me.  Now as I’m scooting or walking,  I’m taking in fresh air, which in turn makes me feel more awake, more alive, a more active part of the universe.

3. Taxes at Work – Like it or not, I do not, taxes are a fact of life. And since I do pay my taxes, why not get a first hand view of how my local government uses those dollars.   Buses, trains, and clean sidewalks are all on the tax bill, so may as well get my monies worth or get  my complaint in order for the next city council meeting. (And if you know me, you know I will!)

4. Grocery Bill Reduced – When you’re dependent on your backpack and the storage compartment under your scooter seat, you think hard about your weekly grocery list. My cart’s no longer bogged down with a 12-pack of soda or six bottles of wine, instead I shop for the immediate–what do I want to eat today, tomorrow and maybe the next day. I find I can even spread my short grocery list into five days by encouraging myself that I have food in the house, albeit it may not be my first choice for breakfast, but I can make do with a boiled egg  until I can make another run to the store.

5. Going Green – Please note: I will never be All Gore on the environment, but I do believe we should do what we can to save the planet.  My way was to ditch the car. No amount of recycling or changing my light bulbs has given me the satisfaction that ditching the car has given me in my attempts to preserve the planet.  I don’t sit in traffic and burn gallons of fuel, nor do I  waste precious time filling up a gas tank every two weeks. Instead, I just walk on by the gas stations and the folks sitting in traffic, saying to myself, “it’s not easy being green, but it sure does make life a heck of a lot more simple.”

6. Adventures – Finding new ways to get to old places provides adventures without leaving the neighborhood. Traveling back roads either on scooter or the bus, I’ve seen parts of my neighborhood I didn’t know existed. Plus, it keeps my mind active and alert.

7.Reading – Riding the bus or metro gives me a lot more time to catch up on all those books I bought when Borders was going out of business. I’ve already made it through two books. And while I know I can listen to a book while driving, for me, it’s just not the same, not as intimate as turning the pages one by one.

Right now, I’m happy being car-free. I’ve discovered that life is a lot less stressful when you take the slow way, the longer way. We settle down, we take in our surroundings and forgive me for being all zen-like, but we’re  more present in the moment. In the process of getting somewhere, we focus on the journey, not the destination. After all, isn’t that life?

Car Free Summer: Releasing the Fear

Car Free Summer: Releasing the Fear

Last week, I sold my car to CarMax and officially began my quest to go car free for the summer. I don’t live in NYC, so to go car free anywhere else in this great country of ours can be seen as a bold, some might say crazy move. And though, I live in a major metropolitan area with access to public transportation, the car still rules supreme and to go without one puts you in the minority.

This move to a car-free life was not taken lightly. I looked at it from all angles, all scenarios. I evaluated every “what if” as if planning an escape from a pending nuclear disaster. What if I needed to take Paxton to the vet, what if I had an appointment to somewhere outside the beltway, what if I had a large item to get home and the list went on and on. But these were the exceptions, not the everyday. And for every exception, I found an alternative to getting there without having a car to call my own. Everything I needed was either within 5 miles of my house, accessible by foot, bus or could be done through online shopping and delivery services. I concluded that I was keeping a car out of fear. Fear of the “what if.”

I no longer wanted to be controlled by fear. I decided to let go of something that I had for 24 years believed to be a necessity of life, my car. I thought by giving up the car,  I’d feel constricted with no freedom to come and go as I please.  However, now 8 days into my car free lifestyle I’ve discovered that by lifting the burden of car payments, maintenance, parking meters, parking tickets and high gas prices, the freedom I so feared of losing was just that, fear.  I guess FDR was right after all, “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”