A few years ago my wife and I were shopping for a new house and bought a cute early 1900s bungalow. We fell in love with the big front porch, handcrafted windows and all of the nostalgia that goes along with an older home. Of course, we checked it out thoroughly before the purchase. It was structurally sound, but needed many updates to sustain modern living. That is where the problems began.
It all started innocently enough, watching a few episodes of “Trading Spaces” on television. The show’s premise of couples pairing up with a designer to renovate a room in a friend’s home was fresh and interesting, not to mention the good-looking hostess kept my attention.
The show provided us with hours of entertainment. And, even though the program was in the heaviest of rotations, soon it was not enough to wait for the next episode to air. We started recording it.
Recorded versions temporarily fed our need for home improvement entertainment, but this was merely a gateway and before we knew it our addiction spiraled out of control. Initially we experimented, branching out to other cable programming. First it was straight-up home-renovation-on-a-shoestring-budget programs. However, our appetites were insatiable and when this no longer satisfied our cravings, we started trying the hard stuff.
“While You Were Out,” “Flip That House,” “Designed To Sell,” “Design On A Dime” and, even though I’m embarrassed to admit it, we sank as far as reruns of Bob Villa. Then there were the magazine subscriptions, dozens of them. They came so fast. At the depths of my dependency I was reading just to get up in the morning and watching to get to sleep at night. On several occasions I actually skimmed articles while watching TV.
It wasn’t long until our friends noticed a change in our behavior. The missed dinner parties, unreturned phone calls and absence from our regular hangouts threw up red flags. We had completely vanished from the social scene.
Around this time a good friend invited me out for a drink and I reluctantly accepted. When I arrived I was surprised to see no fewer than seven of my buddies there. I could see from the looks on their faces that something was up. Then they confronted me and the intervention began.
I was ashamed at first. It was hard to admit that I had made home improvement entertainment more important than my friends. Ultimately my shame gave way to appreciation for their concern. Their makeshift version of rehab, which included ample quantities of beer, golf and socializing, helped me face my demons. It took some time, but with their help I’ve been able to pull my life back together. I’ve since cut back on magazines and TV and learned to enjoy them in moderation.
My wife is still struggling with her issues, but I think we are both on the road to recovery. As for our house, it still desperately needs remodeling. But, we have a lot of great ideas.
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