So… internet connectivity issues in the 21st century, during a pandemic, while working from home… yeaaaaaaah… so…. wow…

…The world has changed a lot since 2000, hasn’t it?

A couple evenings in a row, we’ve experienced some connectivity challenges. Initially, I soothed my frustration with assumptions that it was, most likely, network bandwidth issues resulting from higher usage during peak hours – after all, my ISP’s status page indicated there were no outages in my area (although, checking the internet showed some consumer self-reporting to the contrary). It got worse, each day beginning a bit earlier, resulting in more frequent interruptions in connectivity, that began to last longer. Each time, resolving itself fully, for a shorter and shorter period of time. I reported it. No resolution, just the usual “did you try unplugging it and plugging back in?” sorts of basic troubleshooting. The next day I tried getting help through chat-based support, and frustrated myself with a fairly terrible customer experience, due to the ISP’s zeal to protect my account security (so, thanks, I guess?) – efforts which sometimes create new challenges because of my TBI. Yeah, that sucked, but apparently there was still “no outage in my area”, and it seemed like our connectivity was back…? Sort of? Mostly?

This morning I awoke and found myself face-to-face with my Traveling Partner’s apparently all night long frustration-journey with the intermittent lack of connectivity having become so severe that it was not possible to connect, which he continued to re-attempt, troubleshoot, and re-attempt some more, without success. His frustration was uncomfortable to be around, but so familiar; frustration is my kryptonite. I get it. What a shitty experience! The longer it goes on, the deeper and more encompassing it gets. Worsening that; all the log-in and authentication details are mine, and there’s never been, previously, any reason for that potential limitation to become a known, obvious, “need to fix this today”, sort of concern. So… he could not simply contact technical support and resolve it with them, himself. (Couldn’t have anyway, since their hours are extremely limited right now, in this time of pandemic; I had to wait until 6:00 am to call.) Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. What a shit experience that had to be for my partner! I only glimpsed those final moments at the ragged edge of his all-night-long frustration, before he yielded to sleep, and left calling technical support in my hands.

Some 90 minutes or so later, after chat support fails me utterly, over-the-phone troubleshooting confirms that some piece of technology outside the house has begun to fail (but still tries to serve), and needs a technician to actually touch it. Repair or replace? Unknown, and to be determined. I feel fortunate that there was an appointment window open tomorrow morning. Working from home, for me (probably for most people), requires a fast FiOS internet connection. No connection? No access to work tools. No ability to authenticate to access those tools if I could access them in the first place. lol I sip my coffee and reach out to my team – instead of enjoying my morning hours. (“Fuck this shit”, I snarl to myself, softly, not wanting to wake my partner with my irritation; I have much to do “in the office”, and this is a valued “get it done” day of the week. Super frustrating. My turn.) I start working on rescheduling what can be rescheduled, and figuring what I can do instead of what I can’t do. I succeed in coordinating with my team. I succeed in moving the one critical meeting that very much needs me to be connected to have any value. So far, so good.

It’s still weird that the only work tool I really have available is my email. I mean… seriously? Still, I can get some things done. That’ll matter tomorrow afternoon, and Friday, when I have to attempt to catch up everything else. 🙂

Finally, I sit down here, and begin to write, even though I already know that with this connectivity challenge, it’ll be the spin of a cosmic roulette wheel determining whether I can save it, and upload it, at any point. I actually feel pretty cut off, which feels pretty weird. If I were out in the trees, I muse, I’d be seeking this experience, and embracing it. Right now, though? It’s a major inconvenience. It tests my patience. Clearly, my Traveling Partner’s patience was also tested. It would be nice to be certain whether or not we “passed”. LOL

“Not connected. Trying in 31s…” I look at the router. Flashing light. Yeah, okay, I get it. I sigh, and make a second coffee.

As I pass through the living room on my way back to my studio, I smile at the books; I’ve got plenty to read. I grin at the aquarium; always something to do, to watch, to enjoy. I frown at my partner’s gaming computer… and my work laptop… It is what it is. Today it is temporary, and will (probably) be resolved tomorrow… but… what if it wasn’t? What if, and this is an unlikely “if” but worth considering, what if it were permanent? What if the internet simply failed. No recovery. No reconnecting. What would life look like without internet… after allowing connectivity to become such a critical piece of 21st century life? I mean, sure, books, games, love-making, conversation, crafts, hobbies, gardens… but… what about online shopping? What about connected gaming – or gaming that requires online authentication to proceed with local play? What about work? What about staying in touch with loved ones. (Do you even remember where you last saw a postage stamp in your home? Do you still have stationary?)

I find myself sitting with these questions, and this coffee, watching the dawn turn to day, and waiting for tomorrow… as if there’s no value in “now”. Weird. I breathe, exhale, relax, and pull myself back to “now”. Present. Awake. Listening to the sounds of life beyond this house – the occasional car goes by. Birds are singing. The otocinclus in the aquarium are contentedly seeking out any remaining algae to munch on. Life is very much still… alive. No connectivity required. I finish my coffee, hit my vape, and begin again.

…I don’t really know what today holds, but there are more ways to be “connected” than the internet. 😀