Thursday, July 9, 2009

Communication Frustrations

Last night, Lizzie and I caught the tail end of an Oprah episode that dealt with simplying life--people who stockpile food and clothing and goods and houses until they go a little crazy and stop functioning for a month or so, just take to their beds and refuse to get up.

Oprah put a family or two on a diet of sorts: told them to turn off the TV and the internet for a week. To limit themselves to 5 toys (there were little kids involved) each and to NOT use the car for anything but essentials. In other words, they weren't allowed to drive the two blocks to school. The five year old boy had tantrums when he found out about the restrictions, but later seemed to perk up as all the choices were reduced and he focused on what he did have.

Lizzie thought the unplugging was kind of cruel. She particularly objected to Oprah's denigration of the boob tube. After all, she huffed, isn't that the medium she's chosen to deliver her reduce-and-be-better message?

Yes, I could see the irony in it. I could also see the sense, however, in reducing the number of stimuli in our lives. It was just yesterday afternoon, after all, that I trudged up the hill through the heat and dirt and exhaustion, back to the apartment, and felt the weight of homesickness pushing me into the asphalt. I'd have given quite a sum, I thought, to fast forward to the end of October and be done with this adventure. I was just tired of being on guard, of learning new things, of keeping myself open, of being dependent on others to get to the store, or the mall, or even the doctors office. Tired of being afraid.

I'm also weary of the struggle to keep up with communication. The in and out internet connections are frustrating: this one is tenuous, for instance. It's "default," and it's coming in right now at a mere 1 mbps, with one bar of intensity. The kapit balay, our official internet connection, isn't working. At all. I never know when my laptop's going to connect in the office, so I've stopped bringing it in--it's heavy, and rains always come down with the greatest intensity in the late afternoons when I'm trying to walk home with it.

Lizzie's laptop is half broken, too. The DVD drive can't spit out a disk anymore. I had to travel through a spaghetti warren of streets to get to the Mac repair shop, borrowing Cesar and the car from Butch and Beng, in order to find out that it's busted. Now she's having trouble keeping a charge on the machine. If my laptop decides to quit working (and it hiccups at times, threatening me), we're done for.

It occurs to me that if I didn't have the expectation of getting on the internet at a drop of the hat, or of watching TV, either over the airwaves, the cable, or a DVD, or movies, then I'd be a happier camper all around. I am happier when I'm on campus without my laptop and can't even try to connect.

So perhaps I'm in favor of slimming down on all the gadgets in my life, and the expectations they set up for me.


Who the heck am I fooling? I love my gadgetry.

I'd be happier if I had a better hairdo. That's what.

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