Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zenith

Once upon a time, there was a television--a Zenith, to be exact. It was a small TV, but it served a big purpose: entertaining Dana the College Student. It spent its days on a much-too-big TV stand in her much-too-small dorm room, dutifully fulfilling its destiny.

Television-watching freedom at last!
Image courtesy of Rebecca Merrett,
rgbstock.com
I loved that little thirteen-inch Zenith. My parents had bought it for me around Christmas time of my senior year. They had given me a choice between a microwave and a television, but there really was no contest. I figured I could always go to the cafeteria for meals or eat cereal or ramen noodles cooked in my hot pot in my room. What I couldn't always do was watch what I wanted to on the floor's one TV. There was just too much competition, and unless I wanted to wrestle for my right to watch Beverly Hills, 90210, I knew it was best to steer clear of the common room.

Looking back, I'm surprised I managed to get any homework done once I started sharing my single with the Zenith. I guess it helped that I didn't have cable and was able to pick up only one network, NBC. Still, NBC featured some great programming back in the "olden" days of 1993 and 1994, and I remember watching Seinfeld, ER, Mad About You, and F•R•I•E•N•D•S--all great shows that I still love today.

After I graduated from college, I packed up my TV and went on to graduate school. That tiny TV looked even smaller in my brand-new apartment, but it remained a treasured possession. In fact, I guess you could say I had formed a sentimental attachment to that Zenith. Did I refuse to go out with my friends in favor of staying home with my TV? Of course not. I'm sentimental, not antisocial. Still, that TV had been with me through a lot: it had helped me stay awake during all-night cram sessions, consoled me after fights with boyfriends, helped take my mind off worries that would threaten to keep me from sleep... I used to say that I had two possessions I would do my best to rescue if there was ever a fire: my Skylark and my Zenith, both of which offered me a much-needed escape from life whenever I needed it.

But one day I noticed that the Zenith wasn't working as well as it once had. It turned fickle at the worst possible moments--like during the many but crucial "Will-this-patient-live-or-die" scenes on ER. Sometimes it displayed a picture but had no sound; sometimes there was sound but no picture. I feared I was losing it (the TV, not my mind, although I have friends who would beg to differ). I started babying it, talking to it, cajoling it, even giving it a little slap when it wouldn't listen to me. I didn't know it then, of course, but, for better or for worse--and minus the slapping--that TV was helping me hone my future parenting skills.

No matter my efforts, though, the Zenith continued to decline, yet somehow I couldn't part with it--not even when I finished graduate school and packed up a U-Haul to move 1,300 miles away to Nebraska to teach. Yes, that old, broken-down, works-only-part-of-the-time-but-still-isn't-quite-dead TV made the trip with me.

I know what you're thinking: I was crazy to keep the thing, right? Why didn't I just go out and buy a new one? That would have been the logical solution, I admit, but I've always been much too sentimental about things, and I have an especially hard time parting with anything given to me by someone I love. To add to that, I was moving far away from home and family, from the Midwest to the Plains, from security to uncertainty... No wonder I wanted to cling to something from my past.

So I moved that TV into my new (rented) house. It wasn't long before it wouldn't work at all, but instead of tossing it out, I boxed it up and put it in the basement, where it wouldn't have to see its replacement and where I could still keep my memories. It wasn't until nearly seven years later, as we were packing up yet another U-Haul, this time for my move to Wisconsin, that I allowed my dad to throw that Zenith away. I couldn't do it myself, and somehow it seemed fitting that one of the people who gave it to me was the one to get rid of it. I guess that having it live in the basement for all those years made me realize that I could live without it--and more importantly, that living without it didn't mean that I would be living without the memories.

And that was a big realization right there. I had come to my zenith in regard to my Zenith, just as we are now at the zenith of this challenge. I'm sad that the challenge is over; I had so much fun meeting other bloggers and enjoyed writing to a theme. I'll save the rest of my thoughts for my reflections post on May 7, but I want to say now that I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to read my thoughts. Reading your comments has been the highlight of my day. Thank you!




So how about you? Have you ever owned a Zenith or formed a sentimental attachment to an object? (Please tell me I'm not the only one!)

46 comments:

  1. My grandparents' television set was a Zenith -- the kind with legs. When I was very young, we lived in the apartment upstairs and would go downstairs to my grandparents' to watch tv quite often. We watched Lawrence Welk and Ed Sullivan and Red Skelton religiously. But my favorite memories with the Zenith was the annual presentation of Wizard of Oz.

    It's been a fun month, Dana!

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    1. I agree, Wendy. I've had a blast!

      I remember watching Lawrence Welk on my parents' TV when I was growing up. Good memories!

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  2. Great way to end the challenge; enjoyed reading about your Zenith TV; I tell you I would have chosen a TV over a microwave too! I'm trying to remember if I formed attachment to things and other than a few stuffed animals from the kids' growing up that I (note I still have, not the kids, LOL) nothing else is coming to mind.

    Well done for finishing the challenge!!!! Glad I found you through it too!

    betty

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    1. Thank you, Betty!

      I don't know how I'll ever be able to get rid of my kids' toys. I hope they take them with them when they grow up and leave the house. Then I won't have to make the decision. LOL

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  3. A-Z was a fun challenge and like you I will miss it...Good job:)

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  4. I've got a roof full of stuff that I can't throw away. I'll have to get somebody to go through it and dispose of the rubbish I know is up there when I'm away!!

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    1. My sister is so great at throwing things away. She has almost no attachment to "stuff." I need her to go through my basement...

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  5. Good Z! When I was a kid we had a big Zenith...a console TV....and it was color!

    My cousin still has her old TV...she gutted it and turned it into a terrarium.

    Happy End to A-Z!

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    1. What a great idea! I wish I would have thought of that.

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  6. I still have my 13 inch TV with built in VHS player that I took to college. Don't know if it was a Zenith, but I loved it. Now, my daughter watches my old Disney VHS tapes on it. LOL.

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  7. I keep pictures and papers, but I'm good at getting rid of other stuff. I understand having an emotional attachment to something though. In a way, that TV was a tether between your old life and your new life. It kept you connected, whether it was on or off, working or not.

    Congratulations on a super finish to the challenge. It's been a pleasure meeting you.

    Lucy

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    1. You're exactly right, Lucy--it was a tether between my two lives and something I really felt I needed then.

      Thanks for your comments throughout the challenge! It was great to meet you as well. :)

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  8. yes i have had too many attachments to objects--great ending post!!

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  9. Love this post. Yes I know what you mean about throwing things away. I have a black & white tv that I had before I married the first time, actually I think my ex helped me pick it out before we married. It has been faithful and still works, more than I can say for my ex....lolol. I am so glad you found my blog, looking forward to reading your future posts.
    until next time... nel

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    1. It's good to know I'm not alone--especially when it comes to old TVs! LOL

      Thanks for your kind words. :)

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  10. Oh, you better believe I owned a Zenith. Only it didn't have a fancy-schmancy remote control. When it started to decline into television alzheimer's, I took it off the rabbit ears. No more watching "Must-See TV" for me and my trusty companion (sadly, I cheated on it with a Japanese model). However, I used it for my growing collection of video games.
    It wasn't until years later that I learned that Pac-Man isn't SUPPOSED to be green.
    Twas then I pawned off my Zenith to an unsuspecting younger relative.

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    1. Hilarious! Did he or she ever confront you? ;)

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  11. I'd never heard of a Zenith - don't think we had them in the UK, but I understand you not wanting to throw it away!
    Congrats on completing the challenge, and many thanks for visiting my blog.

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  12. Enjoyed your story. I'm pretty sure I've owned a Zenith or two over the years. I used to watch a lot of TV but not so much these days and we've got 5 TVs in our house with just my wife and I living here. She likes to have TVs. I think it was quite a status symbol in her native country of Ecuador and watching TV was what helped her to learn English when she came to the US.

    And yes, I have a lot of things I'm very attached to. I'm going to open an EBay account so I can start getting rid of some of them.

    Now following your blog. Thanks for following Wrote By Rote.


    Congratulations on making it through the A to Z Challenge. Join us on May 7th with your Challenge Reflections post.

    Lee
    Places I Remember
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. eBay--that's a great idea! Maybe I can work on getting rid of some things that way.

      Thanks for the follow.

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  13. Oh yes! I had a Zenith TV. I have become attached to many an inanimate object. My first car...when the tire kind of fell partway over the second time and before I was going to drive it very slowly that mile to salvage yard...I sat inside that old Pacer and cried remembering all our adventures. I have attachments to pens and a wide assortment of gifts. Yes--I think it was very fitting that your dad was the one who finally threw out the Zenith. :):)

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    1. I agree. If he hadn't thrown it out, I'd probably still have it all these years later.

      I get attached to the same kinds of things you do--especially gifts. I have a hard time parting with things I'm given, even if they're not exactly "me."

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  14. Yup! Had a Zenith. And I, too, get attached to things. I am a little sad to see the A-Z end today. But I will look forward to next April when we can do it all again! Thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog posts!

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    1. I'm also sad that the challenge is over. I've enjoyed your posts. :)

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  15. I think I had sentimental attachment to everything when I was younger. I wouldn't throw anything away, and if my parents tried to, I would cry and cry! I did have a Zenith VCR! Cool, huh? And it's fun to be at the zenith of our challenge! Wahoo!

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    1. I was the same way when I was young. My parents couldn't get me to part with anything. Now I'm having the same trouble with my five-year-old son. Uh-oh. :)

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  16. i remeber those mammoths!
    and you reminded me that a movie theater played the final episode of cheers on the big screen in our wee college town! epic!

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    1. How cool! I hope you got to see it.

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  17. We had an old TV that you had to baby just to get it on. It didn't have a remote, and you couldn't just push the power button, you had to sort of slide your finger from top to bottom.

    I'm really glad I cam across your blog. I've loved your subject matter and style.

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    1. Thanks, Janna. Those old TVs were something, weren't they?

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  18. Oh, I watched those shows too!
    I was about to make fun of you for keeping and treasuring such a silly piece of machinery but then I took a quick look around and realized I have some prized possessions too that I have kept. Mostly because of who gave them to me.
    So, good for you and great that you wrote the story down to remember it all.
    I had a great time meeting you and thanks for your support.
    Don't be a stranger.
    Heather

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    1. They were great shows--better than what's out there today, I think.

      Haha! Glad I'm not the only one. Yes, for me it's the sentimental value. I almost feel like I'm throwing away the person if I get rid of the gift. LOL

      It was great meeting you, too. I'll be visiting your blog. :)

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  19. Great story! :) I'm attached to too many objects... especially the computer I'm currently typing on!
    Congrats on making it to the end of the Challenge. It was really nice to 'meet' you and I'm looking forward to keeping up with your blog! Take care! :)

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    1. Thanks, Cat! Congrats to you as well. I'll be keeping up with your blog, too. :)

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  20. When I was growing up our family had a Zenith. The best TV ever. It lasted for YEARS!

    Great post...congrats on the challenge! It's been fun. So great to meet you, Dana. Keeping you on my reading list. Blessings.

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    1. Thanks, Luana. It was great meeting you, too. I'll definitely be keeping up with your blog. :)

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  21. This is very geeky. I'm attached to my HP-12C calculator. I still have the one that was given to me on my first day of my first real job after graduating from college with a mathematics degree (March 1985).

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    1. I don't think that's geeky. That was a pretty important day, so I'm sure the calculator has a lot of sentimental value. :)

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  22. my very first car was Chevettee...like an orangish brown color with thousands of miles and thousands of dents...worked well through college and visits to my husbands college...after graduation I could not part with that car..no matter how bad it made every parking lot look....it too finally got too expensive to fix. When I think of that car, it brings back such good memories.

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    1. I was the same way about my Skylark. (I wrote about that car in a post called "S is for Skylark.") I had such a hard time parting with it, and like you, I have such good memories of it.

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  23. Aww... great story! Here's to the Zeniths of the past and all the future Zeniths yet to come! :)

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