Off the Grid

Slowly I caress my laptop’s keyboard, admiring its sleek design. Silently, with come-hither eyes, I stare into its extended blank screen hoping for a sign from the gods or at the very least a little taste of the stuff that it gleans off the Internet for me. Unfortunately tonight there isn’t going to be any web surfing; there isn’t going to be any fun times pressing ‘send’ and waiting for a response; there isn’t even going be those annoying errant bits of spam to complain about either, as A.T. & T. – that unholy money-grubbing-soon-to-be-a-monopoly-again-
telephone/internet company – still hasn’t seen fit to hook-up my new DSL/Internet phone line.

After haggling all day on the telephone, wasting an unbelievable amount of time on hold, listening to insipid muzak and getting disconnected at least three times after supposedly being transferred, I was left with no other alternative than to have to start the entire process over again by conducting numerous long drawn out breathless conversations with A.T.&T.’s new computer voice based customer service interface that apparently wanted me to talk dirty to it because when I finally got fed-up enough and told it to “blow me” it immediately connected me to a human – which was all I wanted in the first place. Eventually I did find out that they had upgraded my account to a newer faster DSL service – only they installed it at my old address. So I guess that it is probably safe to say that the new tenant/crackhead that moved into my vacated former apartment is happily enjoying really fast Internet service while I sit here in the dark in my new humble, yet somewhat empty, low tech abode.

Jonesing for the Internet is nothing pretty. It’s amazing just how much I rely on it these days and being without, I find myself laying in bed at night calculating stuff like missed emails, wondering what my fellow bloggers are up to or trying to remember what my next Netflick’s pick was gonna be.

Yet obviously I’m not that strung-out because I did go to the café down the hill from my house where they provide free Internet service. Only it’s always crowded with these weird jittery caffeinated people leaning into one another amid a sea of those small round tables covered with empty coffee cups. Every time I glanced over my shoulder there were these wandering eyeballs looking at what I was trying to write while the steam of the espresso machine was getting so heavy that it was fogging up my computer screen. I prefer my Internet in the privacy of my own home. It is not, as some people out there appear to practice, a communal effort. My emails are somewhat private and my blog postings are public, but the process of writing them isn’t. Human contact, especially while I write, is strictly forbidden. Human interaction any time I am trying to be creative is nothing more than a distraction.

Moving has got me off centered. Living without the Internet has just about sent me over the edge. A few more days of this may force me further into reclusion – so agoraphobic that I may never again show my face out in public.

I wonder of anybody notices my absence? I wonder if the incessant barrage of comments that I constantly leave strewn across the Internet have been missed? Do you think that there’s a support group for this kind of addiction? Do you think that I need help? I mean I can stop anytime that I want to – really, I can! It is just that I don’t want to stop and being forced to doesn’t help the issue in the least.

I got A.T.&T.’s 800 number on my speed dial. I’m fingering the Ethernet cables while shoving their male connectors into the wireless modem even though my laptop has a built-in airport card. A second ago I thought I heard that weird start up jingle that windows plays when a PC boots. Maybe my neighbors have a wireless router signal that I could “borrow” for a little while? Maybe I should order dial-up in the meantime? Yeah, I know its slow, but hey, at least there’d be some sort of action on my computer. Hell, my schoolwork is suffering. I haven’t been able to post regularly in weeks. I’m forgetting how to type for Christ sake.

By the side of my bed are the four books that I am reading. Two I’m more than half done with – that one really stupid one that I gotta read for school, I’ve actually only got a twenty page chapter left to complete and it’s through. Seems like I getting some things done. Seems like only my ability to write emails is at stake here. But I’ve grown so accustomed to having the Internet for the dictionary and being able to effortlessly research any subject that I want that I’m a little out of sorts when I try to write.

Lifting the phone up I press “20” and hear the eleven digit 800 number dial.

“Thank you for calling A.T.&T. All our operators are busy. Please stay on the line and the next available operator will be with you shortly. For faster more convenient service try online at”

That sound you hear is me beating my head against the freshly painted walls of my new apartment.

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