Saturday, December 02, 2006

I Killed It

I did it. I killed my cable.

Well, almost. I’m down to the first 22 channels, which means nearly an extra forty bucks a month – just enough to cover the cost of the increase in the condo fee and negotiate a deal for better Internet connectivity. Ok, so, it’s not really an extra forty bucks a month. It’s a reallocation.

So it goes.

My kids have today been enmeshed in a Harry Potter marathon. Sure, those are fun movies. But why should I pay to watch them AND the commercials that extend the running time by hours while corporate media buyers try to sell me stuff I don’t need?

Even my daughter got sick of it. So while we were hanging out in my room and she was reading me a story, I called my friendly Time Warner customer service rep and killed my cable, or at least left it severely disabled.

I realized how very different things are now even than they were when I was very little. There was no cable; there barely was television. There were no VCRs or DVDs. There was PONG, which we did have, but which never out-funned the air hockey table we also had. There was no credit the way there is today – no unending number of options to dig oneself into a miserable impossible hole of debt. Cars ran, mechanics were honest. I never remember my parents’ cars being out of service – and my brothers knew how to fix most anything if there were a needed repair.

Maybe it’s the grind of the holiday season that reminds me how simple my life used to be. We seemed always to have what we needed, played endlessly when we weren’t in school, constantly had something to do and were happy to daydream when we didn’t. We didn’t have a computer, or parents who were constantly trying to build a better kid brain by providing one. There were no malls, at least not until I was a little older, and they were an excursion in which we did not frequently indulge. We did cool stuff, like travel to interesting places, and our parents forced on us music and dancing lessons, which gave us all kinds of different opportunities. We had all the creative material my folks could get their hands on in our sorry little neck of Ohio woods. My sister and I were extremely fortunate to have private educations, including excellent undergraduate educations. That now is just a dream for some kids because of the cost of higher education, my kids included.

These are difficult, confusing times. These are times I’m certain my parents never in their wildest nightmares might have imagined for their children. It’s no wonder that a few years back, at my own crossroads and searching for meaning, I fell headlong in love with bluegrass, which I fear my dear departed parents never thought a match for formal training in classical forms.

But it is what I love.

One night last week late at night, I lay in bed with a foggy brain and my MP3 gadget close at hand. I stumbled across some tracks that were “untitled” – that had been loaded on to my then-new laptop at the early stages of my techno-transformation some years back. I clicked, and heard the heavenly voices of Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice.

That album of duets is one of the most beloved recordings in Bluegrass. A former friend passed it on to me as I set out on my journey to explore the music that now takes up most of the real estate in my heart. As I lay in the dark with a troubled heart and mind and unsure whether I was fighting some seasonal bug, I gazed out at the darkness on the other side of my window and let the melodious ring of these two near perfect voices along with the very perfectly simple accompaniment of these master instrumentalists take me to a place I imagine will someday feel more like home.

At the same time, I remember feeling grateful that I had a bed to lay in, a window to gaze out of, a pillow under my head, and the grace to know what this simple song meant to me – at that moment, a peace no money could ever buy. I sang along with the higher part quietly in the dark, a sort of prayer or promise that someday I’ll sing it alongside another bluegrass believer in the bright light of day.

Bury Me Beneath the Willow

My heart is sad I am lonely

For the only one I love
When shall I see her oh no never
'Til we meet in heaven above

Oh, bury me beneath the willow

Under the weeping willow tree
So she will know where I am sleeping
And perhaps she'll weep for me

She told me that she dearly loved me
How could I believe it untrue
Until the angels softly whispered
She will prove untrue to you


Tomorrow was to be our wedding
God oh God where can she be
She's out a courting with another
And no longer cares for me



At December 03, 2006 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, congrats on killing most of the cable. I killed mine years ago and do not miss it one single bit. Nada.

Second, Ricky Skaggs is still one of my favorite musicians. He's just so talented and I do find his voice soothing. I downloaded a bunch of stuff by him from iTunes last week and was just listening to it today as I took a walk in the Metroparks. "Uncle Pen" was the one I enjoyed the most today.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you are really lucky. You have two wonderful children and a great group of friends. And music in your life. Who needs cable???


At December 04, 2006 8:41 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey BB,
You're right! Not me! I don't expect we'll miss cable much, tho the kids might go through a little Nickdrawl.

Uncle Pen is a fun tune Bill Monroe wrote for his ... Uncle Pen! Skaggs will always be a musician I admire not only for his own musicianship but for his initiative with other performers, producing them on his own Skaggs Family Records. I guess he doesn't have cable, either!

Peace of the season to ya...


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