Saturday, March 10, 2007

Agent Now

Oh, this is just peachy: I finally start feeling better and my computer gets sick.

I came home late Thursday and felt like wasting a little time on the Internet, but all I could get was the Yahoo smiley, which grinned at me like an idiot, but refused to connect to the web.

I cursed and fumed, restarted the computer, the whole routine. Nothing. So I finally got smart, or smarter anyway and tracked down the number for Verizon tech support.

There's a prompt where the android woman asks you a series of increasingly stupid questions or gives you the option of asking for a techie by saying the magic words "Agent Now."

I said it and I kind liked it, as it sounded like the name of an ultra-cool Sixties spy who gets all the babes and practices mindfulness mediation--thus allowing him to live in the now and earn that handle..

I keep thinking of the Old Silva Thins cigarette commercial--yes, I'm that old--which feature this slick double agent type in shades who always managed to rescue his pack of cigarettes from conniving females. C'mon, it was a long time ago.

It took a few tries and I had to stay up to nearly 1 a.m., but I finally got back on line. I felt proud of myself that I got beyond the anger and went into action.

Friday I went to bed early and forgot all about my computer. Until I clicked on this morning and found, once again, I was off the Internet(s).

I was little huffy, but I called, asked for Agent Now and got some techie to guide me through my modem's innards. I felt I was conducting an autopsy using a medical dictionary.

Okay, so we're back up and I go do my shopping. I return, click on the computer, and there's that smiley rubber ball refusing to get me online.

I am livid by this time and do one of my greatest hits, about how this is the 21th Century and I still get connected, what is this bullshit, so on and so forth.

I bang out the tech support number and the android lady starts giving me the options list yet again, just as my other phone starts ringing. I was so pissed by this time I started screaming "Agent now! Agent now!"

That could be the opening of the spy movie, with the hapless victim shouting the hero's name into a telephone just before being riddled with machine gun fire. Cut to the credits with a montage of our hero firing guns, jumping out of airplanes, and karate-chopping various steroid-pumped nogoodniks.

Oh, I should mention here that screaming at telephone answering systems is not the smartest course of action at a time like this. They're not real people, so they can't hear you and there's a chance that your rants are being recorded.

I think I get so angry because I'm so helpless when I can't get online and I'm so dependent upon the Internet. There's the importance stuff, but the truth is that I waste a lot time online. But that doesn't stop me from turning around and whining that I don't have enough time for my various projects.

You Think You Got Problems

This time the tech support guy tells me that there's been a system outage, which I thought only happened to Con Ed. He said it could take up to 24 hours, which almost caused me to faint, but it would probably be less than that.

Indeed it was, as I clocked in a few hours later and found everything working just fine. That night I met a woman at my Brooklyn Meetup bash and I asked her what she did.

"I work for Verizon," she said, adding quickly, "it's not my fault."

I'm sure if she was referring to that day's events or life with Verizon in general. But we both had a good laugh.

My anger seems so foolish now, a ridiculous overreaction to a minor incident. It got to thinking about an obituary I read in the L.A. Times on Friday for a woman named Jean Kennedy Schmidt, who was one of the Angels of Bataan, the American military nurses who were Japanese prisoners of war for nearly three years during World War II.

She was 88 years old and one of the group's last survivors. These women lived under the most hideous conditions during the darkest time of the war. I think of my silly little problems--"I can't log on to You Tube!"--and I feel pretty small.

The article had an excellent quote from Schmidt's daughter, who said her mother's wartime experiences had given her a "sunny disposition."

"It took very little to make her happy," the daughter said. "We never really saw her angry. She was only sad at the death of her comrades."

She didn't use those terrible times as a crutch, or an excuse to lash out at the rest of the world. She was able to look at them as a way of making her life better.

My father suffered greatly during the war, far more than any of us will ever know. I often wonder if that explained his violent outburts, hair-trigger temper, and hardcore meanness. We'll never know, but there's much to learn from women like Jean Kennedy Schmidt.

I started my one-person show class on Monday and I have to say I loved it. The people are great, the instructor is very supportive, and I'm having a ball. The classes are held at this beautiful facility on W. 36th Street, a whole floor of studios dedicated to the performing arts.

There were dance classes, acting classes, martial arts, and God knows what else. The place just reeked of creative, positive energy, both of which are in short supply in my life.

There are eight people in the class, only two of which are male. And, under the heading of "Small Freaking World," a woman I met at the Brooklyn mixer (not the Verizon lady) told me she knew the guy from a Peace Corps Meetup group.

The teacher had us tell a brief version of our life stories, then one-by-one, we took the hot seat, faced the firing squad of class members and ranted.

Two women started crying when they talked about their lives, and then apologized. Hell, I didn't mind because I could tell their emotions were real. Then I got up there.

It's the strangest feeling, speaking before a group, even one so small. But I just told them what was going on in my life: my father's death, my upcoming 50th birthday, my life in an empty shell of a house--it was great. How often do you have a chance to do something like this?

I feel a little more confident now because I didn't could or should do this sort of thing. And it's different from stand-up, which I had once considered. I'm not up there being a clown, begging for laughs. I'll telling my story and if I do it right, I'll be telling everybody else's, too.

I have two homework assignments, which I banged out the day after class. I'm going to edit them now and then tomorrow I'll read them--perform them?--in front of the class.

It should be great and if there's any trouble, I'll call for Agent Now.


Donna said...

Creative classes are fantastic aren't they?! One of my most satisfying moments was completing an assignment for a creative writing class and having it read aloud by the instructor. I was a horrible high school student so that was an amazing moment for me. There is something so completely fulfilling in the arts that does not exist any where else. Enjoy the hell outta that class! Wish I were in one too...

PS I added you to my Yahoo :)

Rob K said...

You got that right, Donna. These classes can be the only thing keeping us out of the booby hatch.
That high school memory is fabulous, thanks for sharing.

I'll add you to my Yahoo as soon as I figure it the hell out.

Anne said...

Rob, I'm so glad you're taking that class! Sounds great. Look forward to seeing what you produce. Regardless, sounds like fun.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Anne, I'm having fun. I'm glad I took this class. Shakes things up a little.