8/23/10

No Service


When I wake up tomorrow my vacation will be one day from over. I will pack up and I will drive drive drive and drive until I get home. When I get home I will have as much internet service as I want. I will have bucketsful. I will be swimming in wireless. I will bathe in web pages that load within seconds. I will rub the internet all over my body. I will feel elated at the sight of four solid bars.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing.

You see, for the past week I have been in Buttfuck, California. Don’t get me wrong, I love Buttfuck. I’ve been coming here since pretty much birth. I love that there is a lot of dirt. I love sitting on a choice of porches, listening to wind rustle the trees and birds doing bird things. I love hardly hearing cars. I love hanging wet laundry on a clothesline and taking the clothes down a few hours later, jeans stiff from the sun. I love the slow pace that is really a no pace. I love being forced into the Now and not having to constantly think three steps ahead.

But what takes some getting used to is being unconnected.

No reliable internet service makes one realize just how much they depend on the internet. In my case, I might as well have been coming off of crack. Okay, I am exaggerating, but still, maybe not as severe, but close. I feel sick with just how much I check my email, my Sitemeter, Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, etc. I mean, seriously. It’s gross.

But in Buttfuck, you can pick up your iPhone and you can try clicking to these sites and if you are lucky you might get the page to load. It might take three to five minutes to load, but, thank fucking God it was worth the wait! Right?

No.

Half the time when I went to check my Gmail, I had nothing. No new emails. Within the first two days I slowly started to learn, like an idiot child, that perhaps it was completely worthless to keep wasting time checking my email for the lack of results I was getting.

On the first day I would walk out on the acre of land I am staying at, holding my iPhone out in front of me like a dowsing rod, waiting for bars to miraculously grow in the upper left corner of my phone’s screen. I found that the best reception was in the very back of the property between a large grapefruit tree and some tomato plants and there I would stand silently begging pages to load quickly because the dirt was so fucking hot it was burning my feet because I forgot to put flip flops on before I left the back porch. I kind of felt like I was turning tricks for drug money or something. I felt stupid.

The running joke became, “Hey, look at how many bars I have.” And in the upper left side of the phone it simply read, “No Service.”

But being unplugged did a lot for my writing. I quickly realized why it always takes me so long to finish a piece; I can’t stop checking the internet.

I write a few sentences, I check the internet.

I re-read what I wrote, make a few changes, I check the internet.

I go back, I add a few sentences, I re-read what I wrote, I make some changes, I check the internet.

Oh, look, I got an email! I respond to the email. I check the internet some more.

I go back to my piece, I make some changes, I re-read, I make some changes, I check the internet again.

And what the fuck with, “check the internet?”! I mean, how much could change during the time it took me to write a couple of sentences? “Check the internet.” It’s completely mental.

So, do you know what happens when you are writing and you have no internet to check?

You get shit wrote.

I wrote shit. When the ‘feeling’ of ‘checking the internet’ came over me, (usually after I completed a paragraph or a few worthy sentences) I would pick up my iPhone. My iPhone would tell me, ‘No Service.’ I would feel frustrated and then I would put it down and I would continue writing.

Lather, rinse, repeat until I simply stopped picking up my iPhone.

It was weird to just write without distractions. I felt ‘grown up” or maybe like how a real “old-timey’ typewriter writer wrote. Like Nike, I just fucking did it, and it felt good. I felt less bullshitty and trivial. I felt mature. I felt focused. It felt good. I got shit done.

But now, on the eve of my return to the land of four bars, I am begging my future self to remember what its vacation self learned; that you can NOT check the internet and survive. That nothing on the internet will ‘change’ in the time it takes you to write 33 words, and even if something does, it can wait. I hope I will remember how good productivity felt and how asinine it is standing on hot dirt between grapefruits and tomatoes cursing a slow-spinning circle to bring your non-existent new emails faster.

5 comments:

  1. Super like like like. Especially "hot dirt," "grapefruits," "tomatoes."

    ReplyDelete
  2. after reading your post, i'm glad to be connected;)

    but,i know how much more i could be writing without the internet. i forced myself to live unconnected for three months - absolutely no internet at home - and i finished a novel.

    now i'm back on, feeding my habit. and now i'm shaking my head and clicking "post comment"

    cheers!

    ReplyDelete
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  4. You might be qualified to receive a Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete