So, computers operate on planned obsolescence. Unlike a washing machine or stove (a good one of those
is designed to last for at least a decade), computers are designed to fail after a few years. And that’s not a bad thing—we’re still making enough advances in computer technology, both hardware and software, and in how we use computers in our lives, that after a few years, a computer doesn’t do what most people want it to do. So for most of us, it doesn’t make sense to pay five times as much to have higher-quality materials and workmanship and have the thing last four times as long.
Knowing that, when my now-old computer started acting up earlier this year, I got a new one. They did eventually manage to fix the old one, but still, I don’t want to trust it with my writing. And I like the new keyboard better.
The thing is, where the old computer had a poor connection to our wifi in my office (which was OK, waiting for stuff to load gave me time to get bored with the unnecessary distractions on the internet and return to writing), the new one just doesn’t connect at all. So every time I’ve wanted to research something or consider submitting things or check e-mail or anything, I’m back in the room with the TV.
Now, in general I can write with the TV on in the background. One story was written mostly with reruns of Criminal Minds as the background soundtrack—some channel was doing a binge. I’d seen them all, mostly more than once, so I could tune in and out pretty seamlessly, and just enjoy the tone of the characters’ voices in the background for a lot of it. It made my partner nuts, though, that she could come in and ask a question about the show, and it became clear to her that I hadn’t even been aware when one episode ended and the next began. Even though I was mostly ignoring it, it seemed to me that the pacing was somehow helping me keep focused on moving the story forward.
But I clearly cannot do productive writing while tracking current events that threaten stuff like my health care or reports on hate crimes against people like me. Nor can I write while watching a new show that I like, one where I want to actually follow the plot, or a show like Face Off where I want to actually look at the TV screen. So sitting in the room where we have the cable coming in just isn’t working for me. And sitting in the office, with no internet at all—well, though I’ve heard it recommended as a way to increase productivity, it isn’t working for me. I can’t research, I can’t read writers’ blogs for inspiration (or to feel challenged/ashamed/inspired by their word counts), I can’t do word wars, I can’t put on Pandora and listen to music chosen specifically as a mood-setter for the story, I can’t submit stuff, and so on. I can’t do mindless noodling-games while I consider how to fix plot holes and the like. I can’t even bribe myself with sites like Written Kitten (once I get going, those things are not a good distraction, but sometimes they can get me moving when other tricks don’t).
It’s all part of my current focus on boundaries and sacred space. They don’t mean the same thing to everyone—and doesn’t mean the same thing even to me all the time. I have, in the past, been able to write while news is on—but then we had a President who was working hard for the interests of people like me. For me the “no internet” boundary that so many people suggest isn’t functional, but I need to be able to curate the internet and other media in ways that help to inspire me and help me to stay focused. And it’s very clear to me that right now, that means getting out of earshot of the news for a while every single day.
So I’d determined that the modem needed to move, but not gone out and bought the very long co-ax cable I’d need, and then fate kindly intervened. We had an issue with the cable signal (it was making both TV and internet cut out briefly at the most irritating times) and they sent out a tech. So, while he was here, I asked for a longer co-ax cable so I could move the modem into the hallway, where it will be a few feet further from my computer if I’m in the TV room, but almost 20 feet closer to the office. If I’d called them to ask them to send a tech to move the modem, that would have cost money—but him coming out to fix a service issue, that is already part of what I pay for. He left me a cord, since replacing old cords is also free, if they happen to be here anyway.
So, this morning, I got up and cleaned off the tall bookshelf I plan to put it on. Then I’ll snake the cord up through the (ugly) drop ceiling (I want to just fix the plaster ceiling and get rid of that thing, but I have lots of higher-priority stuff to attend to first) and drop it down and through the doorway to get to the bookshelf, and I can move the modem! (My partner wants to drill a hole in the wall up above the door so we’ll be able to shut the door, but since we never shut that door anyway, that’s another project that is low priority. Unless while we’re stringing the cord through the ceiling, she gets the drill and just does it. I’m good with using the doorway.)
And then, moving the modem itself can be accomplished, and the circle of internet will cover the house more properly, and there will be much celebration. At least, I will celebrate.
Hah—I wrote all this and didn’t hit “post”, so if you can read this, all this work did what it was supposed to, since I just moved the modem.
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