erina.jpgGuest Blogger: Erin Allen

Erin is a small town Canadian who spent her childhood running around barefoot. She was a high school wanna-be artist turned English Major at BYU, turned middle-school French and English teacher, turned full time mother. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Mike and one-year old Jonah.

For the past 10 months I’ve been living in a bubble.  This may come as a surprise to some since that’s the same amount of time that I’ve been living in New York City.  One would think that moving to the city would make me more sophisticated, knowledgeable, and worldly.  But that hasn’t been the case.  In fact, for the past 10 months I have had very little idea what is going on in the outside world. In mid-September a girlfriend filled me in on who Sarah Palin was after I mumbled that “her name sounded familiar” during a political conversation.  I found out about “Octomom” last winter at our neighborhood Lunch Bunch and felt more freakish than her because I didn’t know who she was.  I didn’t watch a single episode of American Idol and only know Adam Lambert’s name because someone insisted I look him up claiming he bears a striking resemblance to my sister-in-law (which is true, by the way.)  It’s hard to believe that someone living in the United States who is not Amish could be so in the dark, but here I am.  

The main thing that triggered this bubble existence was getting rid of our TV.  When we moved to New York we left behind our 300 lb, wood-paneled, hand-me-down television from 1982 because it weighed 300 lbs and had wood-panels.  We meant to replace it upon moving in, but we just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  We do have the internet, but I use about the same percentage of the internet’s capacity as I do my own brain’s (does email + facebook + google maps + a little casual blog stalking = about 10%?)  I don’t read magazines these days because I can’t justify something as fluffy as a “People” subscription during this recession (I’ll read ‘em but I won’t pay for ‘em- that’s just taking the guilty pleasure too far) and since I haven’t been getting my hair done at salons either- where I usually satisfied my gossip magazine fix- it’s been ages since I’ve heard any recent updates in the world of celebrities and fashion.  (I did hear that Michael Jackson died, don’t worry.  The big stuff eventually gets to me.)

Let me clarify, I’m not up on a soap box about the benefits of living such a life and I’m not criticizing those who have televisions and iphones and magazine subscriptions etc.   This sheltered and quiet lifestyle wasn’t an intentional choice, it just sort of happened.  It certainly wasn’t always this way.   As a full-time mom of one little boy I found it kind of hard to be alone in my thoughts for so much of the day and still do.  Sometimes it gets boring, lonely, and annoying just to have my own head to talk to.  Back when we had a television I’d flip it on in the background for company during moments of boredom or loneliness.  Without even trying I’d soak up the latest news stories, celebrity gossip, and beloved Oprah episodes (sigh.)  Now that television isn’t an option when my thoughts scream for entertainment, I’ve gotten used to quieting them.  And they obey.

Now my typical day is spent playing cars with my toddler, exploring various playgrounds, cutting the crusts off melted cheese sandwiches, feeding ducks, pointing out butterflies, talking about colors and alphabet letters.  Sometimes I have time to read books, chat with other moms, go on runs, take naps, try new recipes.  It’s a simple life.  I’ve come to terms with the good and bad aspects of such simplicity.  For example, I’m okay with feeling a little more socially awkward during most conversations that don’t revolve around toddlers.  I’m okay with wearing last season’s sunglasses around town, and I’m okay getting today’s headlines tomorrow.  I prefer the news watered-down anyway.  Easier to stay optimistic about the world I’ve found.

Just the other day my husband came home from work excited because he’d come across some nice flat screen TVs for really cheap.  Instead of feeling excited I felt torn.  “We could just use it to watch LOST,” my husband reassured, “and ‘the Office.”

“And So You Think You Can Dance,” and American Idol.  And Oprah.  And Sesame Street.  And PBS kids.  And the Nightly News,” I continued, totally serious. 

We looked at each other, strangely sad at the thought.  It was then that I realized I’d not only come to terms with my quiet existence, I’d grown to embrace it.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let the distractions I used to seek after back into my life, just when I’ve gotten used to living without them.  Am I ready to pop the bubble and let the outside world back in to my life?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  I’ll have to think about it.

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