An Olympic Dream Unwatched

When I read this week’s Writing prompt, “Share your favorite Summer Olympic Moment so far,” I was struck by a myriad of different emotions: frustration, sadness, regret, annoyance, even anger. These were not the feelings I experienced while actually watching the games, however, but were instead caused by the fact that I couldn’t watch them.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this that the last few years have been “tight.” On more than one occasion, my husband and I have attempted to cut back, including reducing our cell phone minutes, cutting back on the extras at the grocery store, and limiting spending money on takeout to just the most special of occasions. We then turned our focus to the cable company. We were no longer receiving the discounted price for the “Triple Play” (cable, phone, and Internet), and our bill had somehow grown to around $250 per month. When I started to look into how to reduce this amount, I was confronted by the fact that even by eliminating the extras like HBO and other on-demand features, the most I would be able to bring it down to would be $180 per month. As I started to think of the other ways that we could access programs we regularly watch, I came across a device called Roku. For around $50, I would be able to buy a device that would stream television shows and movies into our home via a subscription to HuluPlus and Netflix at a cost of about $7 a month for each.

When I first broached the subject with my husband, there were a lot of questions about the cost of buying the devices—we would need four, one for each TV—along with questions about which programs we would and wouldn’t be able to watch. I won’t lie, giving up Game of Thrones mid-season, along with all future episodes of Dexter, True Blood, and everything on CBS, was not an easy thing to do. . . but we decided to do it. The kids tried to protest—there was an endless stream of complaints about “all the shows they couldn’t watch,” and my daughter stopped talking to me when the subject of “what to watch” came up, limiting conversation to annoyed grunts.

I’ll fess up, it wasn’t easy for me either. At first, the hardest adjustment came with my morning cup of coffee. I was used to starting my day off in front of Today, and without cable, this was no longer possible. Thanks to an NBC channel through Roku, however, I was able to watch the previous day’s program, which really wasn’t so bad—except for being terribly behind on all current news.

The only thing that would fill me with dread regarding watching TV was when my children would suddenly remember that the Olympics were coming this summer, asking—

“We’ll be able to watch the Olympics, right?”

I didn’t actually have the answer to that question, and would answer “Sure,” with a slight hesitation in my voice. That is, until I saw an ad for a free NBC Olympics app that I could download to our iPad—I was saved from all future complaints about depriving my children of something they really wanted. There’s just something about the Olympics—especially as a parent who wants their children to witness determined people achieving their goals—it is magical.

When I finally attempted to download the app, my excitement over the NBC App quickly turned to disappointment when I saw that I needed a log-in from my cable company in order to view the games. Although I was still paying them for my Internet and phone, I was not actually a cable TV customer and therefore couldn’t log in. I was frustrated, but I didn’t get all out pissed off until I tried using my cousin’s Cablevision log-in. I immediately realized that based on my IP address, the NBC App/Cablevision knew that I wasn’t a customer and refused to let me log in.

You may be thinking that there must be another way for me to watch the games—and there are—but I don’t think I should have to do anything more than I am.

  • I could answer one of the hundreds of calls I have received from Cablevision since canceling—I would probably even get a better deal . . . well, for at least a year.
  • I could spend every waking moment—when not at work—at my cousin’s or sister’s homes watching the Olympics live.
  • I could force my family to DVR all of the sports we love, and then invite ourselves over all the time to catch up.
  • I could buy a converter for my TV so that I can watch NBC for free (are those boxes even still available?)

Ever since downloading that NBC Olympics app, I have been completely flabbergasted at NBC. It is not a requirement that you are a cable-subscriber to watch the channel, so why should I have to have cable? I was also under the impression that NBC wanted as many people as possible to actually watch the games and their network—which is why they created the “free” app in the first place.

I’d like to ask NBC their opinion about families, like mine, who would like their children to be inspired by these incredible Olympic athletes, and yet find it difficult to pay the cable bill. This post won’t end with advice for my daughter as it usually does—although I’m tempted to tell her to always stand up for something she believes in—but instead will end with advice for NBC: If you create something that is free in the spirit that anyone might use it, you should make sure that it is, in fact, free.

Blame

There are some things that my children do that bother me more than others, like when my daughter doesn’t put away the clothes I’ve painstakingly folded, or when my son brings each and every toy he owns into my bedroom but is then “too tired” to clean them up afterward. As annoying as these things are, they are still somehow bearable. Then there are those things that I have a hard time tolerating, like when my kids choose to blame anyone—but themselves—for things that have gone wrong. They even like to assign blame when none is needed, and more often than not, I am the focus of this negative attention.

A perfect example of this would be when my daughter is running late for school because she can’t find clean socks to wear, she blames me for not washing them. Is it really my job to go through her disastrous room in order to find her dirty socks? Or, when I ask my son to get dressed and he yells at me that I didn’t give him his clothes yet. I mean, he’s seven, isn’t he capable of picking out his own clothes? It seems that the list of things I get blamed for is endless.

Of course, as a mother, I already place this blame on myself—I just call it “guilt.” I believe that it’s a parent’s curse to feel guilty about everything, even when we shouldn’t. So, as I sit here and feel guilty about ignoring my blog once again, I’ve decided to take a page from my children’s playbook and cast blame on everyone and everything that has prevented me from publishing a single word.

  1. My Childrens Rooms In order to write, I need the space around me to be neat, not perfect, but free of excess clutter. Although I don’t actually write in either of their rooms, every time I walk past them, I feel overwhelmed by the incredible mess I see.  That being said, I don’t actually feel compelled to clean them, but I do include them on my mental list of all the things I need to do before I can sit down to write.
  2. Work I’ve worked for the same company for the last twelve years, and although I am lucky enough to work from home, I still have a job that owns my time for 8 hours each day. If only I didn’t have to worry about feeding and clothing my children, putting gas in my car, or paying any bills, I would have plenty of time to write.
  3. Spring Break Because I’ve had a lot going on with work recently, we decided to not to do anything special for spring break this year. When it finally arrived, I felt tremendously guilty about my decision. To alleviate this guilt, I overcompensated. From the moment I finished work each day, I was at the mercy of my children’s whims—from taking my daughter shopping at the mall, to hunting down a new Skylander for my son at Toys R Us—all in the hopes of making their break a little more memorable. Each night, when all of the running around was finally done, I was too exhausted to even turn on the computer.
  4. Alcohol With all of the endless running around, who could blame me for needing a glass of wine—or two—at the end of a long day. And, although wine may be good for creativity when tweeting, I don’t find it incredibly motivating when trying to write.
  5. The Internet Why is it that on the nights when I actually had the energy to turn on the computer, there was always something interesting to distract me: posts from fellow bloggers, Google alerts in my inbox, emails from friends, status updates on Facebook? It was as if the Internet was mocking my desire to capture my advice for my daughter, by tempting me with this or that—and I gave in each and every time.
  6. Shades of Grey Trilogy Five days of my life were lost within the pages of these books—that’s all I’m going to say about that.
  7. Photobooks by MyPublisher Once every six months or so, MyPublisher sends out a coupon code for a photobook with unlimited pages for only $35 dollars. Unfortunately, they only give you about a day and a half to create and submit it—so as soon as the email arrived, I had to get started. In the end, my “2011” photobook was 70 pages in length, and without the coupon it would have cost me $90.00. Who can blame me for thinking about nothing else during that time other than editing, cropping, and sorting images in order to take advantage of such an incredible offer?
  8. DragonVale I hesitate to include this on my list, as I don’t want anyone out there to be tempted to actually play this game—it is a huge time suck. At first, it was something for my son and I to do together—breed some dragons, collect some coins, compete in the colliseum—but then it turned into something more. Suddenly, every time I went to use the iPad for writing, I found myself checking on the dragons. I completely blame the creators of this game for preventing me from writing—wouldn’t you?
  9. Roku I cancelled cable recently in the hopes of saving some money and to attempt to watch less TV. I then purchased a device called “Roku” so that we could still watch TV via the Internet. What I didn’t know was that by subscribing to Netflix and HuluPlus, I was just opening myself up to a world of TV that I hadn’t known was out there—which leads me to #10.
  10. Friday Night Lights This is not a show that I was remotely interested in when it was on TV, as it focuses on three things I can’t exactly relate to—High School, Football, and Texas. For some unknown reason, when I saw the complete series on Netflix, I decided to give it a try. By the end of the first episode, I was completely hooked. Now, a few weeks and 70 episodes later, I am dreading the day—probably in the very near future—that the series will come to an end. Although this was probably the one thing that I blame the most for my not writing, I still think it was so worth it.

Well, there you have it, all the things that have prevented me from writing these last three weeks. And, although I still don’t like it when my kids blame me for things that I don’t deserve—nor would I advise them to cast blame in the future—I do feel better.