Sunday, September 18, 2022

POPCORN AND THE REMOTE

I never dreamt of sitting on my couch late at night, scrolling through so many options on my television. 

I thought I had mastered the endless channels on cable by creating a "Favorites" List. Now I abandon any loyalty I have to run into the arms of Netflix, Disney+, or Prime Video. This is such a sordid situation, cheating on my favorites for an evening getaway with a movie from a list of thousands. I feel dirty. 

My generation remembers the rabbit ears, the antenna we manipulated into moving one of the three distorted local channels on our boxy television into clarity. Occasionally, if you were adept at finding the perfect direction on a clear and sunny day, you could watch WPGH-TV Channel 53 out of Pittsburgh. That would take some talent and acrobatic ability, but you would have trouble watching the screen from the back of the television, where you needed to remain to hold the wires.

https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/television-antenna-wire-old

Progress showed us its beautiful wares, making our lives much more decadent with the advent of cable. Gone was the need for an antenna. Plug in that black cord from the heavens to enjoy an ever-growing list of news, movies, comedies, dramas, and shopping channels. Add a VCR or DVD player, and you have no reason to leave the comfortable confines of a cushy couch. My generation loved this change, right?

Back then, if my generation wanted to see a new movie, we would have to travel to one of our three local movie theaters: The Court, The Victoria, or The Coronet. The first two were one-screen theaters that would have only one movie showing at a time. The Warwood Twin would eventually arrive, followed by the four-screen theater at the Ohio Valley Mall. My small town and the entire world have not looked back. We would hit the road to find the movie we wanted.

https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMJD9J_Victoria_Theater_Wheeling_West_Virginia
https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/
WMJD9J_Victoria_Theater_Wheeling_West_Virginia

Progress continued to be our companion as we discovered vistas we never thought we would ever experience. The ten-screen theater, stadium seating, and the restaurant movie theater. We can just go to one place for our entertainment. All we needed were more and more movies to place on those screens. New ones would wait in the wings if a current release were not doing well. Give us what we wanted and needed, and give it to us now (or at least every Friday).

Remember when Netflix first came about? Do you think they were streaming right out of the gate? Nope. We went online, picked out the movies we wanted to watch, placed them in the order we wanted to see them, and then... waited for the DVD to arrive in a Netflix envelope in the mail. Once we watched our movie, we placed it in a return envelope, stuck it in the mail, then anxiously awaited the next DVD, whatever available one Netflix selected from our list. We wanted to watch it at one time, so we must watch it now, even weeks later. 

We know where we are now. We are on that couch with a remote in our hand, hopping from cable to Disney+ back to cable, then to Netflix as we begin to eat our popcorn. Deep down, I love the endless possibilities because I want to find something that fits my mood; however, I do not like the emptiness that enters my life when I feel like a bum when I cannot find something I want to watch. 

What does it say about me when I cannot find something to watch and settle for any movie with three out of five stars as I fall asleep before the movie ends? What does it say about me when I join the crowds saying the new MCU offerings suck when all I did was ask for more? Why does it bother me when a movie that costs millions upon millions of dollars to make and market fails at the box office? 

Life never used to be this way when I was young. We anticipated a new movie arriving at our one-screen theater. I remember dying to see Jaws at the Victoria. There was no option to watch it at home in a couple of months. If you wanted to see it, you had to see it before it left the theater. So I went to the movie, bought my buttery popcorn, and then settled into the old seat for a special occasion.

Now we have so much more. I feel as if I have less, though. 


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Sunday, August 7, 2022

JUST KEEP MOVING


I turned older than I want to admit last month. I remember those days when I anxiously awaited my next birthday, anticipating that special day when I would be one day older and closer to being "grown." Those days are so far behind me now that I am embarrassed to have wished my life away. 

I have been attempting to exercise more now. At some point, I pushed my health to the background as my schedule became too hectic to take that time for myself. Honestly, adding an afternoon nap rather than one more physically or mentally challenging activity was easier. Those naps are something special, though.

Unfortunately, forty-one fifty-something years old happened. 

My body aches from the constant wear and tear of walking up and down the stairs, waking up too early after staying up too late, and enjoying one plateful of comfort food more than I should have. 

My mind struggles with an inability to process the way it used to. I pause mid-sentence to recall a word I want to use or a name I have forgotten. I feel I am still using my dial-up internet when everyone else is using high-speed networks. I am losing confidence in my own decisions.

Then it begins. The self-talk, the negative kind.

I can't do this anymore.

I will never get back into shape.

This is all too much.

I run myself into the proverbial ditch when life becomes too complicated, when obstacles grow overwhelming, or when mistakes happen too frequently. Life does not wait for anyone, and I have been there when the ditch grows deeper and deeper as I spin my wheels to regain any type of traction.

I remember talking to my sister-in-law Lisa months ago about the aches and pains I was feeling. She just laughed and agreed with me. I do not think I would ever be having this conversation with anyone. Lisa offered some advice, though. "Keep moving." 

Wisdom can be found in the simplest of words.

Lisa's advice was about the physical difficulties we both are experiencing, but I found how easy it works in most situations when I engaged in negative self-talk. 

I struggled for weeks writing this blog. I started. I stopped. I wrote. I polished. I deleted. For the past few days, I began telling myself: I can't do this anymoreThis morning was different. I sat down with my coffee, turned on some John Denver, and continued writing until I finished while quieting the doubts I had as each word hit the page. Just Keep Moving.

I was tired of being tired. One day I jumped on the elliptical at Howard Long Wellness Center. I set the program on what I "instinctually" used years ago. Five minutes into the workout as I sweated profusely, obsessively checked my heart rate, and watched others exercising effortlessly, I kept saying: I will never get back into shape. I lowered the settings, realizing that this would take longer than I expected. Just Keep Moving.

I have a small pocket calendar containing all my meetings, appointments, and shopping lists. I always feel as if there is more to do than can fit into this small calendar. This is all too much. I bought a luxurious desktop blue calendar at Marshall's last week. I transferred all of the contents to its roomy pages, realizing I have plenty of space in my life for everything. Just Keep Moving.

Sometimes I wish I could send advice to that kid blowing out his birthday candles. "Don't rush to be an adult." "Take your time making decisions." "Realize that you will never be perfect." "Don't be so hard on yourself." But he doesn't need these, right? 

He needs a short mantra to push him through difficult times, a phrase to ease the doubts that cloud his mind, and a few words to sort out the countless pressures life brings. I envision Just Keep Moving in blue icing looping across his birthday cake surrounded by the candles he is about to blow out.





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