Sunday, January 10, 2010

Internet Withdrawal

Please indulge me as I vent just a little steam here…

So far, 2010 is not getting off to the smoothest start for me. The primary cause? The internet – or the lack thereof.

I know that there are people out there who are technophobes claiming the moral high-ground, not understanding why people waste so much time on the internet. They are the people who don't understand why people don't read books or watch tv or go on walks out in the world instead with their time. In fact, this summer, a friend of mine who has spent countless summers at Marlboro claimed that the internet was the sole reason summers at Marlboro were less crazy than they had been in the past. People used to have to socialize with each other and come out into the real world to play (and get into trouble), he said. Now, they could just sit in their rooms and communicate with people all over the planet without even taking off their pajamas (staying out of trouble).

When I first arrived here in Düsseldorf, the first question I asked my landlady as she handed me the keys was: "How do I access the internet?" to which she replied with her charming German accent: "oh…there is no internet…but we are getting some next week!" A week without internet, I thought. Very annoying, but I'll manage. To add insult to injury, she told me that she would also have to take the phone with her so that the internet could be installed for reasons that I must admit, I still do not understand. Yet, grudgingly, I managed. I did more of the non-internet-related activites I do anyway. I read books. I did yoga. I went out on walks and explored this new city. I cooked a lot. I visited a friend in a nearby city for new year's (which I spent much of using their internet). I watched German TV, trying to improve my German. And then, ten days later, the internet arrived. Finally, for three glorious days, I was able to Skype, Tweet, Facebook, watch American television, catch up on the blogs I follow, do research on some projects I have on the backburner, and email at my leisure. Imagine my horror and irritation when I woke up on Friday to discover that the internet was not working. Imagine how much my feelings of frustration increased when I found out that it will not be fixed until Tuesday.

My landlady told me that I should relax about it all. Yet here is the catch: I don't want to relax. I am not here on a pleasure cruise or a vacation (and, to be frank, if I were on a pleasure cruise, I would certainly have chosen a warmer and sunnier locale then snowy, grey Düsseldorf). I am here to work. I basically live out of my suitcase, and the main way that I attempt to maintain some sense of normalcy and consistency is by utilizing the internet for all that it is worth. It is how I work, communicate with loved ones, and entertain myself – it is how I have learned to cope with all of the challenges that this life on the road entails. The memories I have of sitting in the local internet café these past two weeks, where there is only one working microphone for Skype that I have to fight over with Brazilian teenagers, where I have listened endlessly to Russian women screaming into the phones at whoever it is they are talking to at home, and where I have been harassed repeatedly mid-conversation by drunk, belching Turkish men who want to be my friend because I am an American have perhaps have made this the worst trip I have had abroad in a very long time. I am in a foreign country on a different continent, in a city I have never been in before, working and going about everyday life in a second language, singing the most difficult music in my repertoire in an opera house where I have never worked before. How much more out of my comfort zone do I really need to be?

And how am I blogging right now, you ask? From a Starbucks that blessedly has an internet connection. At least there are no drunk people invading my personal space here.

Supposedly everything will be set aright by Tuesday. In the meantime, I remain frustrated beyond belief, yet hopeful (and perhaps almost on the edge of desperation).

Oh, and the show? We opened on Friday, and it was great. Thank God for music.


Bernard Davies said...

Dear Nick, Oh I am so sorry for all your bad internet luck to date. With all their great technology I would have thought Germany right up there for this kind of thing. Hang in there and be brave. Glad the opening went well and I wish you all the best for the rest of the run! Big one to you!

Janet said...

Wow, I think that's the grumpiest you've even been in the entire history of this blog! I can see why it would be particularly crippling in your situation, so here's wishing you better internet luck. (And you probably know this dodge, but I've found Apple stores a good place to access the internet (although not Skype) when I'm adrift.)

Simon said...

Why not get a G3 stick? For someone on the road I would have that would be essential and would save you the frustration of relying on others and awful internet cafés. If the internet connection was part of the your contract you should seek a reduction in your rent for the lack of the amenity. Hope the G3 stick idea is useful to you - they can be quite cheap.