March 25, 2009

Take a Vacation from the News

Some of this is residual forward-motion from the two-year, 24/7 coverage of the greatest reality show ever: the 2008 Election. We've all been free-falling into our televisions ever since to catch a glimpse here and there of just How Dire Things Are.

The thing is, there are scads of talking heads out there giving play-by-play and armchair quarterbacking the state of the Union. Keep in mind that many of these folks were extras hired to keep the chatter going after debates. If they stop talking now, they're out on the street like the rest of us living in the five-figures.

There's nothing fabulous about that kind of televised desperation. Many of the first-string news folks (to get back to my football metaphor) are talking so fast you can't even see their lips move. A good many of them are just throwing wild passes into a post-game end zone.

The important thing is to keep your objectivity and sanity nearby. The best way to do this is to take a break from all the noise. Turn. It. Off. There are so many other fabulous things to do besides raising your blood pressure over cable news. Here are a few, and none of them cost much. Some are actually free.

1) Take a walk outside. It doesn't even have to be a long one, and don't you dare think of it as scheduled exercise. It's unattractive to calorie-count and set minute/mile goals for this kind of thing. Besides, it defeats the purpose. Just take a leisurely stroll and sing old 70s songs in your head. The lyrics are still there, I promise. Notice everything and interact a bit with the natural or unnatural world (depends on where you live), because most of the time we're too busy being busy to notice what's going on out there.

2) Go to the library and check out a book. Do you have a library card? Many times these are free or almost free. Reading something you like has the ability to both slow you down and transport you far, far away from those talking heads. Inexpensive escapism is what you're looking for right now, and that murder mystery might be just the ticket. I suggest Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Or get trash love novels with Fabio impersonators on the covers. It doesn't matter. Just find a comfy chair near a lamp or drag everything outside and read there.

3) I'll bet you have a forgotten hobby. Everyone has as least one and some of us have dozens. Go look in the garage or the back of your closet and there it is: the thing you started and never finished. No one says you have to finish it now, really, just drag whatever it is out and fiddle with it for an hour. Maybe you used to play the guitar, or you started gluing something with intricate pieces and life got in the way. Look, an hour is an hour. You can either spend it getting riled up over the news or you can spend it remembering why you liked knitting fingerless mittens. Breathe.

I'm sure you all have wonderful ideas for avoiding CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and all the networks, at least for an hour. Share a few with the rest of us.


  1. My cheap new hobby is making ice cubes. I keep them in ziploc bags in the previously empty freezer. The other day I found Ice Block Bags in 2 liter and 3 liter sizes at the 100 Yen store (Japan's version of a dollar store) so now I'm making cubes the size of cement blocks. Pretty soon I'm going to try using my blender to make crushed ice. Forget home-made jam and Strawberry Ripple, I think I've come up with the perfect hostess gift. Every party giver needs ice.


Having problems trying to leave a comment? Let us know at Thanks!