20 June 2011

Call me Catherine

When I was in seventh-ish grade, our class was assigned to do a one-page report on an animal. We had to use three different sources: a book, a magazine, and something from the internet.

The internet?! Terror of terrors! No one had access to the internet! It's a wonder we can remember those days at all, the days before online life existed. Like beings just stepping out of the primordial ooze, my family had a 1994 Gateway, and I had access to all the information we'd ever need because we also had the 1994 encyclopedia on CD. When someone needed to hear the Chinese national anthem, who was typing "China" into the magical encyclopedia, then sitting next to the speakers with a tape recorder? When we fought over the Oregon Trail floppy disks (which were actually still floppy) during computer time at school, who was oh-so-proud of fording the pixelated river without catching dysentery? And when it was time to load up Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers, who knew all the secret DOS words to make it run (MS DOS://RUN/CHIPDALE, ://RR)? Computers were the best!

But I hated the internet because we did not have it, and I did not understand it, and I'm pretty sure I stood there crying in the neighbor's basement as he searched for an online article about cheetahs so I could finish my stupid report. Stupid internet! Stupid online articles!

And now, I am again without the internet, not by choice--and I'm pretty sure I know people who have never used a book as one of their report sources, and I'm even more sure that I know people who haven't yet realized that some people had to survive without the internet. Survive?! Without the internet?! Yes, and walk uphill both ways to school while giving birth in a snowstorm.

It's incredible how dependent we have become on the internet, so it's probably a good thing that I haven't had easy access to it for the past month. Frustrating at times, yes, particularly when it comes to necessities like making bank transfers and getting translations--but I'm finding that I have more time for things like reading books and writing letters and eating corn flakes.

Currently, I'm using internet at the school. The school is surrounded by a metal fence. Once you get through that, you have two more layers of doors, and once you've gotten through all of that, you have less than a minute to get to the secret alarm place and turn off the alarm before the Spanish police show up. I have tried exiting in the middle of the night, fumbling with my keys as the alarm starts to beep overhead, glaring at me with its blinking red eyes, and though I'm terrified I won't make it out all those gates and doors in time, this process--in a strange sort of way--makes me feel like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment or that laser-dancing guy from Ocean's Twelve. Oh, the things we do for internet.

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