Lost Connections

ImageA disturbing thing has happened. My internet connection isn’t working. As the only “phone” I have is Skype and there’s no cell signal in Vinorama, it’s not like I can just pick up the phone to call the local repair person. Not to mention I am that person.

Living down here has turned me into a “Jill of All Trades.” I manage properties, construction projects and vacation rentals, provide translation services and install and repair satellite internet systems. Oh and I’ve recently (blush) taken to working in real estate (more on that in some future post). I took a course on how to install internet systems, but learning to fix them when they go down has been more trial by fire. There’s a troubleshooting manual, but I’ve never seen the modem do what it’s doing and it’s the one thing not described in the manual.

As I watch the lights on the modem come on, one at a time, I feel the choking sensation of panic rise in my chest. As all four light there is a flash and they all disappear. All of them but the power light. Then the process begins again – two lights, pause, three lights, long pause…

It’s in moments like these that I become aware of how addicted I am to my connection with the outside world. The thought of not being able to check my email, pick up the Skype phone and call someone, or see what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter gets me surprisingly uptight. Okay, maybe I’m not that surprised. I know I have an addiction to being connected, but is that so unusual considering how physically isolated I am?

When the system threatens to fail like this I start thinking about all the work I could get done if I wasn’t reading and writing emails, checking on my homies on Facebook or sending typo-tweets to Alec Baldwin so he can belittle me to his hundreds of thousands of followers (true story). I’m writing right now aren’t I? If the internet was up I’d be on Skype. Instead I’ve edited one piece I wrote last week and written 335 words of this blog post. Make that 343…oh I can see this could become much like a dog chasing it’s tail (357 and counting).

I know I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to ask the question, “Is the internet a boon or a bust to the quality of our lives?”  I know in no uncertain terms that it makes my life in the Middle of Nowhere manageable by keeping me connected to the rest of the world. I want to believe that people having cell phones has saved more lives than it’s ended (please let that be true or we are in trouble). But it’s also taking an inordinate amount of time away from things that are arguably more important. Our creativity can be sparked by the internet, but then the time it takes to follow through on the creation is often sucked up by social media.

There are only two lights lit on the modem now and it’s been over an hour since the problem began. What happened between 9:45am, when the system was working fine and 10:00am to make it go squirrelly?

Perhaps a pelican flew over the dish and deposited a poop so big it’s messing with the signal. That would be in line with how the rest my morning has gone. It’s literally been full of poop. And pee. I came downstairs to two large piles of the stuff in the guest bedroom and a throw rug soaked in pee. Then when I went into the garage to get the necessary cleaning tools, I found a dog bed soaked in so much pee I wonder if it’s salvageable and a pool of urine by the door. Then I found two more puddles of pee in the house. Living with five senior dogs means I’m going through white vinegar by the gallon. So the possibility of excrement being involved in my internet woes seems distinctly possible. Except that my training tells me that if all four lights manage to come on, even if they don’t stay on, the problem lies somewhere other than the dish.

If all else fails, I’ll have to drive down the road to the Crossroads Country Club, the local wi-fi enabled restaurant that is about as far from being a country club as could be, to send an email to someone at the internet company who might be able to help. And so I can post this long overdue blog post.

P.S. After writing this instead of going to the Crossroads and posting it, I read my current read “The Help” for a while and then remembering that someone once said, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap,” I proceeded to nap for the next three hours. I don’t normally take naps because waking up is one of my least favorite things to do, but I’ve been missing out on a lot of sleep lately. Seems it was the right thing to do because when I woke up I was back on line. Phew! Crisis averted. For now.

Guess Who’s the East Cape Blogger for Baja.com

I’m a little bit behind the eight ball these days. It seems that the pace of life has left me in its dust over the past month or so. Christmas and the travel that comes with it are partly to blame (must we go there?), but I too have to acknowledge my part in the lack of blogging evidenced here of late. But enough of that because there are some exciting things afoot.

Way back in September when I was still sweating 24 hours a day under the heat of a tropical sun, I got an email from a lovely lady representing a web site dedicated to promoting Baja as a tourist destination that was under construction.  She told me they were looking for bloggers, or as they termed it “Amigos” from each of 15 different regions of the peninsula, that they liked my blog and my writing style, would I be interested in becoming the East Cape blogging representative for their new web site? Well! Tickle me every shade of the rainbow! I was thrilled, honored and excited to be getting some serious validation of my writing skills.

BAJA.COM was launched over the holiday and I’m not sure why I didn’t run over here immediately to let you,the faithful readers of this blog, know, but I’ll blame the coma-inducing turkey chemicals and vats of my hometown Beau’s All Natural beer that was going down at the time. After getting to know the site a little better and reading the web site’s CEO and creator Jim Pickell’s blog launching the site, I am even prouder to be part of this endeavor. It quickly became apparent that they’ve earned their claim to being “the most comprehensive source of Baja travel information that has ever existed.”

So here it is folks! My very first official post on Baja.com as their East Cape Amiga. I hope you’ll stop by often, chime in with your comments, questions and observations of your own and perhaps start planning that trip to Baja you’ve been thinking of taking.

The Revolution

Never before has my self-imposed isolation been an issue for me. I have reveled in my out-post living, the silence, the not-seeing-anyone-for-days-at-a-time-edness of it. But now that I am getting serious about writing, I have become all too aware of the things that are readily available to those living in large city centers that are, at first glance, not available here.

Take writers groups for example. The people in the know say if you’re a writer you need to be part of one so you can get regular feedback, bounce ideas off one another, help get over blocks, provide and receive inspiration. City dwellers need only to look up “writer’s group INSERT CITY NAME” and a list of resources so long it’s hard to take it all in appears out of the ether. Especially if you replace INSERT CITY NAME with a city full of artists like San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Then there is the conference and workshop thing – they cost a lot of money to travel to and there are no conferences or workshops being held within driving distance of my home (if you know differently, please speak up!!). Ever the optimist, I didn’t let that detail stop me, but after approaching one “expert” to see what they would charge to come and run a workshop for a tiny group of writers willing to make the trek here to participate, that isn’t going to happen any time soon. (That is, they want too much damn money despite the offer of a week’s worth of free accommodation in a highly desirable tropical vacation destination).

But I have come up with two solutions to the limitations presented by my current circumstances. Following the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, a small group (three in total) of us have begun to create the closest thing to a writers group that can be conducted over the internet. We are sharing our work and our opinions and giving much needed encouragement and support.

And then there is this internet thing itself.

There is a revolution occurring. It may come as little surprise to you the readers of a blog, that the nature of publishing, reading, writing and the research that informs it has changed dramatically over the past several years. The internet has changed the way we communicate, shop, determine the meaning of a word (when was the last time you used a printed-word dictionary?) and interact with our fellow human beings. Never before have we had such easy access to the worlds of complete strangers.

Recognizing this revolutionary shift in popular media, publishers of newspapers and magazines began many years ago to provide their content online, much of it for free. The days of paying for subscriptions that gather unread by the front door is long gone. Online magazines are an incredible source of information and inspiration, provide content unimaginable and inexhaustible – all of it available NOW. No more looking in the closet for that edition you never read, or the one you did and want to revisit. And search engines point you in the right direction, to the correct source or to something completely new.

Escape Into Life is one such online journal that I recently stumbled upon while surfing through the blogosphere. It is full of incredible visual arts, poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. It is the best quality art I have found on line, ever. It’s like going to a excellent gallery and an ivy league English department all from my little chair here in the middle of nowhere in Mexico. A little writers workshop, university of the ether, that inspires and pushes one to ponder the craft of writing. At no cost to me. My world just expanded several fold and my excuses are dwindling.