I I I I I I I  

My home is full of unconditional love. No, it doesn’t come from my kids, who frequently think I am the meanest person in the whole world. No, it doesn’t come from the spouse or the pets. Instead, my great big ball of unfettered acceptance comes from my DVR. Our relationship is one of slavish devotion. Both of us prefer it that way.

There are moments when I love it more than my actual family. It never mocks my taste in TV, no matter how trashy the reality show or banal the celebrity interview. My DVR never surprises me with a sticky mess to mop up shortly before it refuses to take a bath. It simply gives me whatever I want whenever I may want it, which is exactly what I crave after a day of dealing with all of the more demanding parts of my life.

With kid number one, I had not yet found my digital lover. Infomercials and the Weather Channel were my only comfort during those lonely late night feedings. My knowledge of Ronco-related trivia is vast. I frequently had nightmares about the OxiClean guy putting red wine and grape juice in my washing machine. I can describe in great detail the exact mechanics of a tornado or a blizzard.

When I tried to endure those night feedings in media silence, I would always wind up resenting the fact that I was up at all. The TV offered distraction from the sleep deprivation, a promise that I would one day be able to rejoin the world, even if it was full of products that no sane person needs.

Most nights, I felt like the only human awake during those dark hours, abandoned even by TV programmers who felt that all I deserved was Ron Popeil screaming at me. It was a loneliness that always threatened to creep deep into my soul and chill it beyond repair. When that long, dark teatime of the spirit would hit, I’d flip over to SportsCenter, where I could bask in my Kenny Mayne crush. It was a temporary respite, mostly because I cared even less about the sports than I did about the infomercials.

And, yes, I did own a VCR at the time. It could have saved me from my bleak viewing options but its magnetic tape was far too user intensive. Frequently, I couldn’t free up a hand for continual rewinding or fast-forwarding nor could I summon enough mental agility to recall where on the tape any particular program was. Our relationship was, at best, unsatisfying.

When kid number two arrived, I threw off the shackles of the Ab Rocker and Little Giant Ladder System. Thanks to the wonder of my new DVR (who some of you may know by its chummy brand name Tivo) and its friendly interactive menu, all of my favorite guilty pleasures were a button-touch away. Despite my sleep/wake cycle being held hostage by a restive baby, I had control over whose glow I could bask during those long, dark hours. Anthony Bourdain will always be my first choice. Ron Popeil doesn’t even make the list, Pocket Fisherman or no.

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Now that I have two kids, most of my uninterrupted viewing time is in these small hours. During daylight, after we all make it home, the telly is held hostage by the children, who simply cannot deal with winding down for sleep before finding out what Peep or Hi-5 have done with their days. Most of what they watch is provided by the beloved DVR as well. He helpfully stores shows for the kneebiters, saving all of us from stacks and stacks of DVDs or videotapes. Aside from the environmental and economic savings, the kids’ shows can be easily erased according to the wee folks’ whims, which are quick and mighty. Or, say, our DVR might “accidentally” lose the Care Bears’ movie that drives nearby adults to thoughts of bear-icide.

But after sundown, I am my DVR’s and my DVR is mine. Jon Stewart and I can hang out without being overheard by little ears. At my convenience, I can catch up with America’s Next Top Models or those Amazing Racers. Given how little in my life is at my convenience right now, knowing that I can call up virtual friends who lead more interesting lives at my whim infuses me with a level of joy that I find hard to describe. That might be the sleep deprivation talking, however.

There is guilt, of course. Every relationship has some. I wish that when the baby wakes at an unheavenly hour I could simply bounce out of bed to tend to him. Instead, I have to bribe myself from beneath the sheets with the knowledge that I can watch Project Runway – and fast-forward through all of the commercials. It’s decadent to use this time this way, like I’ve found a secret cache of hours that no one else has access to. Of course, I can’t use these hours for anything that requires too much brain – like, say, balancing my checkbook – but I can, at least, stay in touch with pop culture.

Under no circumstances would I trade the DVR for the family, of course. Each being that I live with is worth all of the sleepless hours and routine irritation. My DVR will never worm its way as deeply into my heart as the kids and the spouse have. But the ability to completely control one simple, entertaining thing makes some of the harder moments much easier to take.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini  has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was  born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about  knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. In July 2006, her first book Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood will be published.  During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy and Cory, and wife to Scott. 


I I I I I I I  

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