I didn't have cable when I was growing up.
In fact, cable was a luxury that my family couldn't afford until my late teens. My Freshman year in high school, I distinctly remember a conversation where my very good friend "L" innocently asked me if I watched Starz. I was too ashamed to admit that my family was too poor for cable so instead, I tried to pretend that I knew what the hell she was talking about. My ignorant ass thought Starz was a television show! L didn't correct me when I fibbed and I like to think it was because I actually succeeded at hiding my "dirty" little secret. But if that wasn't the case and she saw right through my little lie, then L, thanks for being such an awesome friend all those years ago. ;-)
It was absolutely embarrassing to NOT have cable, but my Mom was a on a fixed income so I really couldn't complain. Even John made fun of me when he found out I didn't have cable!
However, lacking cable television and channels like MTV early in my high school career was actually a good thing. I barely zoned out in front of the TV. I got my daily dose of Hip Hop/R&B from CMC and then it was back to homework as soon as local horse racing or the Chinese news came on. Oh how I miss the days when I would lazily nap to whatever music video line-up Chuy Gomez or Franzen & Trace chose to play that particular school day. If you were a teen in the mid-to-late 90's in the Bay Area, you should know *exactly* what I'm talking about.
The benefits of "limited channels" doesn't start at my teen-hood though.
Not having cable while growing up allowed me the opportunity to spend my free time exploring the wonderful world of literature. And that my friends, was a definite plus. Aside from nourishing my love for reading, it taught me to cherish television shows that kids my age wouldn't normally appreciate.
In my opinion, network television had the best Saturday morning cartoon line-up, but, as soon as cartoons were over, my sister and I didn't have Nickelodeon to turn to. No, my sister and I tuned in to PBS (channel 9) to watch Julia Child (we referred to her as "the Amish Lady" for some reason), The Frugal Gourmet, or Jacques Pepin cook up a storm. And to feed our creative hunger? My sister and I watched Martha Stewart or Bob Ross if we were lucky enough to flip through the channels at just the right time.
I was a grown-up little kid if you really think about the types of shows I watched. So, NOT having cable was pretty awesome if you ask me.
Limited channels allowed me the opportunity to dabble in things that most kids my age showed little interest in. As it turned out, I wanted to be and do so many things when I grew up. I knew that I wanted to be a mother, but, aside from that, I wanted to be a pastry chef, a master crafter/improviser, a damn-good oil painter, and a famous Harvard-grad journalist.
Actually, most of my goals held true for brief stints in my life -- with the exception of the journalist thing, of course -- because those TV influences really resonated within me.
I used to bake/cook all the time thanks to Julia, Jacques, and good old Jeff Smith. Being a baker/cooker doesn't fit my character now, but that was me for many, many years. I *really* wanted to go to culinary school up until junior year in high school when I discovered that I hated Chemistry. (Cooking is all about chemistry in case you didn't know.) So, I abandoned that dream and decided to keep it as a hobby instead. Believe it or not, I know how to make apple pie from scratch and I've even made creme brulee and caramel cages a la Jacques Pepin. I just haven't done it in a while.
Bob Ross broke my heart when I learned just how expensive yellow ochre and canvas was. So, because I knew that stocking up on oil paints according to Bob Ross' supply list was well out of my budget, I chose to watercolor and draw instead. I purchased (and stole from school -- I was bad, I know) watercolors, brushes, watercolor paper, and Prismacolors. I used to spend hours and hours of my free time drawing or painting. One time, I spent days drawing a replica of the Lion King cover box for no good reason at all. (A premonition of life that lay ahead for perhaps?) And in high school, I opted to take an art class in night school to make up some of my missing elective credits. My instructor was a watercolorer too so she taught me some pretty nifty tricks. By no means was I a budding artist, but there was something soothing about transforming a drab, blank sheet of paper into a world of color.
As for Martha's influence? Well, I've made doll clothes from underwear and to this day I'm still totally DIY when it comes to organizing parties for the cubs, scrapping, and all things artsy-fartsy. John absolutely hates my craft drawer and my affinity for accumulating endless supplies of ribbon, doo-dads, and paper. And, he refuses to buy my long-coveted Wishblade or Cricut until I use up all the --what he calls "crap" -- I have now. I've always been a bit of a art supply hoarder, but it always ALWAYS comes in handy in a pinch. In fact, my niece used to refer to my early craft supply bag as the "Barney Bag" because I've *probably* been this way (craftily prepared?) for as long as she can remember. You just never know when you're going to need to flat back jewels or grosgrain ribbon on short notice.
And, I owe it all to NOT having cable when I was growing up.
Alas, over the years, my life has gotten way, WAY busier and all of the things that I LOVED to do (with the exception of writing) has slowly fizzled out of my livelihood. Before I couldn't imagine living a serene life without my hobbies and now, I can't figure out how I to find time to do them. I haven't picked up a pastry cutter or rolling pin in years. Instead, I opt to "Go Betty" or support friends by buying from their businesses when I need pastries in a pinch. Don't even get me started on painting or drawing! There is no time for art when you've got cubs roaring in the background all the time. And Martha? Well, I still haven't finished Ethan's scrapbook and I wish it were only because it's too emotionally draining to stare at his pictures. The only time I have time to indulge in crafts is when someone has a birthday coming up. It gives me a guilt-free excuse to drop everything just to...create. I'm still yearning to learn how to sew so I could make Niki's prom dress when she gets older. My grandma totally turned me on to the trade.
For years, I worked seven days a week and had night school 3-4 times a week.
I got SO accustomed to drowning myself in all work and no play. Working hard pacified my need to indulge in my old "limited channel" self, now that I have nothing to over-work myself with, I feel totally unproductive. Such is life. Even though I know I've got a lot on my plate already, it isn't enough to make me feel like I'm doing something with myself. Especially now that I know school won't be in the picture for a very long time.
So my friends, I NEED some rescuing.
I still don't have time to indulge in all of my long lost loves, but I'm vowing to rendezvous with Julia and Martha once more. I really need to finish Ethan's scrapbook -- not to mention get started on the other cubs' books. And, I getting tired of placing orders on food/treats that I know how to make. Lastly, I'm even on the hunt for a vintage sewing machine so I can get started on learning how to sew for Niki. I have a little more free time than I did before, so why not?
Rescuing me is going to be a lot of fun.