Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I moved here to Portland, Oregon the first week of May of this year. It was a good idea and I keep learning over and over again how good it was to have moved here. The one thing that I have not done was watch television. Sure, I watched the PBS Murder Mystery Theater about three times, but that is all. In Redding, I watched far more than that.

Across the street from my house in Redding, I had a neighbor named Rose who started to watch television from 12 noon and finished at 2 or 3 am, seven days a week. At noon, she would pull the curtains open and sit in her arm chair and turn on the television and eat all of her meals on a TV tray. I would often go over there and say hello and would find the same book on her small table next to her chair. I offered to go to the library for her but she said no. She had ordered that book off an add on the TV. She left the house for doctor's appointments only and a food truck delivered her meals. That went on for seven years until an ambulance to her to the hospital where she died.

We all choose the life we have. I used to think I did not want to spend all that much time watching television. When I thought about being on my death bed, I could not fathom thinking about episodes from television programs. I wanted to think about things that were real. For me, reading and listening to music help me enjoy life more but television was dead time. I would start watching a movie on television and several hours would disappear. That would be alright ever so often but as a steady diet I did not think that was for me.

I have Netflix and watch movies ever so often. I usually watch it on the weekends although after my walk last night I did watch a movie called "The Holiday". It was on another movie service and I thought it was very good. It was about several women who exchanged houses for the Christmas holidays and they find romance. It was fun, but I doubt if I will watch another movie today. I was at an impasse on a short story that I was writing. Now, I know what to do with it.

When I was a youngster, I loved the television show, "Bonanza" I watched it every Sunday but I can't recall any of the stories although I can remember the actors. The same goes for "77 Sunset Strip". I really liked the parking attendant, Cooky. Yet, the television series, "The Defenders" had stories that I remember to this day. They never have "The Defenders" on reruns. That was the series that stared E.G. Marshall. I did not watch all that much television then, only on the weekends. I loved "Star Trek" and can remember many of the episodes. I really admired Spock.

I remember going for walks after I did my homework in the evenings back then and I would hear the sounds of televisions coming out of the homes I passed and the sounds of canned laughter. That depressed me for some reason. It was beautiful in the Southern California evenings and in those days there was no smog. You could see the stars and moon clearly especially over the Pacific Ocean and the small islands off the coast. Usually, I was the only one walking. I could hear the "I love Lucy" and Jackie Gleason" shows. I thought what was happening outside was better than what was happening on those television sets.

When you sat in those living rooms and watched television programs, you did not have to talk to each other. Few people read books then as few people read now. Here in Portland, more people go to the bookstores and read in them. I don't know what is popular on television which is ironic since some of the programs are filmed right here in Portland.

I went out for a walk last evening and there were a lot of people walking and playing games. I walked on some of the walking trails that are around my apartment. I first went to Starbucks and bought some coffee and read The New York Times. I found myself just staring out the window at the trees and flowers in the small shopping center. There is a Lamb's Thriftway Market and I watched some people walking in and out of there. Finishing the paper, I left it on the table and walked outside. It was comfortably warm so I walked on the trails as I said and enjoyed the large old growth trees that are in my neighborhood. There are some nice apartments and houses around here too as well as a golf course.

I am glad to say that I was not alone. There were many people out enjoying the evening. In Redding, I would have been alone. Not in Portland. I am not sure why this place is so different. I wondered if the people here know how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place but maybe they do. They were out walking in it, all different ages. There was a couple who were barefoot which was silly but that is the current rage. I am sure some orthopedic doctors will be making some money off that fad. I saw lots of dogs but all of them were on leashes. There were the normal amount of men out using their cell phones talking urgently in corners and one was in the kids bus shelter. Television was the last thing on their minds.

To my mind, television is a sort of suicide. It kills time but it kills the soul. I tell my grandchildren that it fries their brains. There I was in Redding allowing it to fry mine and that was not good. I am glad I am not doing that anymore. I lived in Korea last year and never had a television and never missed it. Of course, I had this computer that I am typing on now and the Internet. I watched documentaries. Now, I never watch them on the site I used. I read books when I could get them. I wrote a book of short stories. I was never happier except here. I love it here too.

I don't know why Rose, my neighbor across the street in Redding, watched TV so much. Maybe it made her happy. She told me she had a set schedule of shows that she watched everyday. She used to be active and involved with other people and with clubs but gave it all up. She began a relationship with her television instead. For all of those years I lived across the street from her, she never went to my house. She was not crippled or housebound. There was something that she did not want to see outside of her house anymore. She had a daughter who visited her and she never went to visit her either. In her obituary, her daughter put down that she was a active reader. When she had a garage sale, she put that book out for sale, the sales slip still inside of it. I don't know if anyone bought it although someone bought the television set.

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