Escapism, I Know You Too Well; or, How My Dad Killed the Internet

Over the last few days, I was going to write a number of blog posts, but I just couldn't focus. So, resolutions made over the weekend in Ohio aside, I went back to doing what I seem to do best: sacrificing my days, my evenings, my brain cells and my vision to the Sims (2, if you wondered). The habit has been degrading, though. I promise. You can only watch so many Sims have the same wants and fears and lifetime goals (and noses—their parents' genes don't meld well) before you get a little bored. You can try to give each one a different career, her own style of dress and decorating, her own approach to life. But in the end, they're just Sims, and the progression of their lives and the stories you've built for them in your head are not reflected in the game, let alone in the real world. If you look at ancient matriarch Brianna Conaghy now, there's nothing to tell you she was once a redhead in a cute denim pencil skirt who struggled to make a living in politics so she could move to a house that was proper for raising children. No one knows that her daughter Fiona used to have lavender hair that looked absolutely perfect on her, or that her mother, sick of these brown-haired kids, found a lover to father Fiona, her third child. I won't go on. I realize these details are boring when I try to relate them.

The point is that the Sims is losing its charm, but it's still an easy diversion. I sit there, my fingers darting between speeds one, three, and pause. When it's on three, I hold the key down, willing my people to go faster, faster, faster. When I stop playing and leave the PC to check my email on my Mac or wander aimlessly through the house, I realize my heart is racing. It seems I may have become the lamest of adrenaline junkies, although 'junkie' is probably going way too far. I don't jump off of tall things. No, I speed through simulated life.

When I'm not playing the Sims but am engaged in something and not just staring blankly at nothing, I've been rereading the Anne books. I don't remember what she was talking about, but my mom alluded to them when she brought up Anne's term "scope for imagination," and suddenly, all I wanted to do was reacquaint myself with Avonlea. The second night in Athens, OH visiting Rachel, I had to finish Anne of Green Gables before I could go downstairs to join in the late-birthday Riesling and horrible horrible limited release Woodchuck spring cider—no, seriously, the hint of honey or whatever actually means that this cider smells like perfume and as far as I know, tastes like it too. Avoid it. Brief research has revealed there will be a summer cider too, starting in June, with hints of blueberry. Talk about gross. Although probably not as gross, because blueberries are food and perfume is not.

Anyway, even though I'd read it at least twice before, I needed to see exactly how Anne of Green Gables ended. I was so excited for Anne and Gilbert to finally reconcile and become friends. (It was bound to happen, so this is not a spoiler...for all those people out there who are dying to read L.M. Montgomery but haven't gotten around to it yet.) At the back of my mind the rest of the weekend, I was excited to get home, pull book two off my top shelf, and find out what happened next. I think I had read most of the other books only once. I also think the Anne books are better this time around. I'm older, and more cynical, so it's more likely I would look at their prim sensibilities and Anne's bubbling enthusiasm and laugh a little meanly, then stop reading, but I don't. It's refreshing to be pulled into this sincere, simple, beautiful world. One reason that I appreciate them more now is that I've been paying attention to all the description. As a third grader, I doubt I did that too well. I spent most of my life as a fast reader, something which changed when piles of nonfiction were dumped upon me in college but which I can return to as soon as what I'm reading is both compelling and doesn't have a response paper at the end of it.

The description—flowery it might be, but so good:
The "Avenue," so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.  – Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 2
I didn't even know what a rose window was last time I read this. And the old-fashioned speech, the inverted word order, the words L.M. Montgomery combines: the friendliness and tenderness of 'the Sarah-cat' and 'Anne-girl,' 'fireshine,' and "eyes shining with all the love-rapture of countless generations." 'Love-rapture' is silly, right? I could never write it. But it's perfect in its place. These books have renewed my faith in my ability to be earnest, somehow. At the same time, they've reminded me that descriptive passages can be like this. It's a sort of a downer, because I know I could never write like L.M. Montgomery. Which is okay, probably. It's not like I've spent my life in picturesque, unspoiled Prince Edward Island. I do think I should learn more plant names, however unlikely that may be.

While I tried to savor the first three books, my impatient nature got the better of me, and in three days I was done with Anne of Avonlea and of the Island. I'm a sucker for a love story, even—or especially?—such a subtle one as this. It's just so sweet, without being annoying. So, like the Sims, I raced through all of the Anne books in my house, and now I have to venture to the library to continue.

So now we get to the part where my dad kills the internet. The Sims has lost its luster. I've exhausted the reading options I'm interested in—because all I want to read is the next step in Anne's life, and I can't without making the two-block trek to the library I used to work in. I actually want to get some things done in real life, things that require the internet, like writing blog posts and dealing with my student loans and writing important emails, so I'm not going to allow myself to be sucked into fiction yet. Late Wednesday night, the internet flickers out, as it does rather frequently (apparently only since I've moved home, so it's my fault? do you believe that?). It doesn't flicker back on. I get pissed off—I was in the middle of an AIM conversation, I was writing something in Blogger. I go downstairs in the complete darkness (both parents are in bed) and hit reset on the router.

Oops. Wrong reset-choice. Our network had lost its custom name and reverted to simply 'linksys' and the password was gone. At least I was online again. Come Thursday night, this is a problem. My mom works at home two days a week, and she came home from work needing to finish a project by 10 a.m. the next morning. But she can't access the database if she's not on a secure network. You'd think this wouldn't be that hard to solve, but my dad can't remember how to change the network. He follows the instructions, but it doesn't work. The computer tells him, "Contact the person in charge of your network." "What if that person is me?" he asks, and soon resorts to swearing and yelling and ice cream in the basement with the TV. First he disables the internet entirely. My mom goes to bed, hoping he'll fix it before he goes to bed and she can get back up and work as long as she needs to. He goes to bed.

WHY DID HE KILL MY INTERNET CONNECTION? is all I can think the rest of the night. I don't need a secure network to work. I try to hook up my computer with the ethernet cord, but am unwilling to mess things up further and fail to get online. Every wireless network around our house is protected. I sit out in my car on the street to see if I can get something farther away, but no luck. Just loud, mysterious noises by my house. I rush out of the car and hurry to unlock the front door and get back inside. I seriously consider driving to Ann Arbor, just because I'm so angry. My computer is freezing even though, because it's not online, it's not doing anything. My phone's driving me crazy, too, because the buttons won't stop sticking and I'm trying to text my friends about the situation, and does Emma know if the library's internet is on at night, too? I don't check because I don't think the police would be so into a girl sitting in her car in the middle of the night, glowing conspicuously thanks to the laptop screen. And the police station is right next to the library.

I give up, go to sleep. My parents are up at 5:30 in the morning. I glance at the faint orange glow of dawn out my window and try to sleep. When I get up at 10:30, the internet is back. Without a password. My mom is gone, work incomplete, extension received. We still have to fix the network.

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