When we moved to our house 8 years ago, we decided not to get cable. I grieved the loss of a few TV shows for awhile, then moved on. Now it feels normal to read or watch DVD's in the evening, and I find myself looking at commercials and current shows with a bemused wonder, as if I've just wandered out of the backwoods.
The only place I get access to cable, therefore, is at the Y, and since I'm still too cheap to buy earbuds, I look for channels that have subtitles, like a news station. Last week, however, someone had left the TV on the HGTV channel, so I settled down to watch the program. It was about kitchen renovation. A very nice young couple completely remodeled their (already attractive) kitchen. When I turned on the TV, the wife was in a warehouse watching the program host display pieces of granite countertop. The camera then showed the maple cabinets, new hardwood floor, stainless steel appliances, and the black granite countertop the couple eventually selected. They built a custom windowseat (I liked that a lot), and finished it off with all kinds of "staging" accessories so it would look good in the final camera shot. The final price? A mere $49,000.
I'm not trying to judge this couple or the program. Heaven knows I'd like to be able to spend $49,000 on a kitchen or any home improvement at all. What bothered me was what happened in my mind after I turned off the TV. Yep, you guessed it, I started mentally tearing my perfectly adequate kitchen apart. "Let's see ... if we could just take out the wall between the kitchen and dining room ... then maybe install a bump-out bay window, with a window seat underneath ... possibly a center island ... new appliances ... more countertop ... and you know, I'd love a 4th bedroom and master bath, a family room, a rear deck, and isn't it time the front of our house actually had some landscaping ..."
At this point I had to mentally shake myself and realize that madness and marital discord lie down that road. Truly, there is no end to the home improvement projects once you get started.
My interest in houses has grown over the years. I should have majored in architecture or construction. The house I live in is, shall we say, not perfect. It's still more "fixer" than "upper." This is not easy, especially when you live in a relatively wealthy area, full of house-proud people. The bar around here is set rather high. And, unfortunately, that gives me lots of opportunity for house-envy. It's easy to forget that most of the world does not have access to a 12 room perfectly landscaped house. Many people would be thankful for a roof over their heads, literally.
Since this is already an area I struggle with, HGTV simply feeds my discontent. I focus on the 20% of things I don't have, instead of being thankful for the 80% I get to enjoy. So, for now, HGTV will remain an occasional guilty pleasure, and I'll keep working on being content.