Thursday, February 25, 2010

Households and the Mother of Invention, Part 4: Going Dark

Jason and I are big fans of the show 24.  We DVR it and watch it together on the weekends when he’s home.  One of the past shows had Renee Walker (woohoo!) under deep cover in a Russian Mob Syndicate (no worries – no real spoilers coming if you’re behind on your episodes - make that waaay behind, which coincidentally, we are) and communicating with Jack Bauer using an ear com.  One dramatic moment had Renee suddenly advise Jack Bauer she was “going dark” just before she took out her ear piece and dropped it down a sink drain.  She was no longer “plugged in.”  She could neither hear nor talk to Jack.

Aside from the whole Russian Mob thing, and the perilously fragile thread of life-and-death communication with Jack Bauer, the “going dark” feat felt strangely familiar to me.

Life in Klamath Falls - or I should say our week of life in Klamath Falls - is very simple.  And I like that.  Most of the time.  The apartment is quite Spartan (um, have I mentioned this?); toys are only the favorites brought down by the Great Week in Klamath Falls Migration, meals are all planned and ready to go, no laundry to be done except the absolutely necessary.
We also have no television or internet.  Our Week of Life in Klamath Falls can feel very much like we’ve just Gone Dark.

There are definite pros and cons to Going Dark (i.e., having no television or internet).  The biggest pro is a lovely peace from information over-stimulation.  I love my shows and my sites and online friends, but there’s something to be said for quiet days listening to my daughter play and reading books with her, making simple meals, and reading or writing.  It’s sort of like a spa visit for the soul.  Sometimes I can let myself get so frenzied with checking email, sending email, checking blogs, writing blogs, checking Facebook – it’s nice to have time where I just can’t.  Can’t do any of it.  Now don’t get me wrong – email, blogs, Facebook, it’s all my choice and I very much enjoy being part of it.  I CAN always say no.  But there is a certain freedom in having the choice made for me: no logging on, no tuning in.

The biggest con to Going Dark is pretty much just that; having no tv or internet.  Now, we do have a DVR at home in Albany (allow me to say: a DVR is SUCH a must, especially for a family – but that’s another blog for another time) so we don’t miss our important shows; we just watch them later.  But Siennalee does miss being able to watch her regular programs during her daily routine.  Little Bear.  Little Einsteins.  Those are the two big ones.  We get around this by bringing DVDs (we do have a tv and DVD player – we’re not totally in the Stone Age, okay?) and having some “tv” time during the day.  Siennalee’s a great independent player, but sometimes it’s nice to veg a little.  We all need that occasionally.  I try to get new DVDs at the library, but this last time I ended up buying a couple: The Muppets Take Manhattan and Little Bear’s Movie.  They have both turned out to be excellent choices.

The most frequent con to Going Dark appears when I’ve finished whatever book I’m reading or I’ve hit a stall in my writing.  Sometimes I just want to log on and see what everybody’s doing.  Sometimes I’d like to know if there’s snow or ice in the forecast.  The worst con to no internet is when my sis-in-law Anne needs me to design and send something ASAP for her photography business.  We can *get to* internet, but it’s sticky.  McDonald’s is one of the smart-and-super-cool businesses which paired up with our internet service and offers wireless internet access away from home at no extra charge (yay Mickey D’s!).  We’re pretty lucky to have a McDonald’s about a quarter mile from us, up the sloping hill upon which sits Oregon Institute of Technology, one of K Fall’s claims to fame.  Load up the computer (hopefully with full battery), get in the car, drive up the hill, park in the McD’s parking lot, log on… wait… still logging on… wait a little more… check the local radio stations… still logging on… consider calling your mom or sis-in-law… still logging on… pick up the phone to dial your mom or sis-in-law – and you’re online.  Just like that.  I tell you, I am pretty darn grateful these days to be able to just sit at my kitchen table in my Albany home, open the laptop, and TAH-DAH!  Internet!  Just like that.  Wow.  No driving to McDonald’s, no logging on… just internet.  Amazing.

When we get back home to Albany, it sure is nice to be able to switch to a different program, maybe switch back again, run through my DVR’d show list, or get online without visiting the golden arches.  But overall, the week of life in Klamath Falls mostly finds me reveling in the peace and simpler pastimes.  There’s definitely an upside to Going Dark.


Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

Now I know. When I wonder where Jessica is... I can just answer myself. (Yes, I may ask myself questions aloud.) "She's gone to the *gasp* Dark Side."

Autumn Terrill said...

I like how when you write you are able to make everything sound like a grand adventure! I bet your daughter really benefits from that, even if she doesn't know yet to appreciate it!
In a way it reminds me of the freckled little Anne in your fave quote. Everything in life has 'scope for the imagination'...just some things more than others! ;)
(I am reading that book to my daughter right now.)
Blessings to you and your family.