Friday, February 23, 2007

02-12-07 – Snowbound in S. Alberta

It keeps coming down… beautiful fat flakes… layering lockdown white on roads and roadmobiles…

Snowed in! The fear/fantasy of childhood and pioneer-days lore has, in the event, nowhere near the romance you’d like it to have. Dreams of nothin’ but quilt-covered snuggling behind drifted doors belong in imagined days of root-cellars, Clydesdales and fieldstone hearths; modern snowbinding is too data-porous. First order of business: emailing the boss for telecommuted orders, work by wire.

Still, the minute-to-minute supervisory eye isn’t present, and the blank white prairie desolation outside the farmhouse picture window doesn’t do much for psychological motivation; it’s like a hope-deadening glimpse into a special corner of Limbo reserved for unbaptised fenceposts and cowsheds. So not a lot of work gets done; even in the heart of Extreme Cyber Century 2000 a cabined-up couple finds pioneer-style diversions… like reading the Bible!

Except our study of the Good Book consists of gigglingly checking out every Chapter 4, Verse 20. There’s not much secret stoner revelation to be had from this exercise; I doubt some white-Rasta hippie’s going to be using “Adha bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and raise cattle” (Gen 4:20) as his email signature, or his stall-wall tag. Eventually our Bible-reading descends into idle riffling of the pages in search of baby names. Which I guess is pretty pioneer-style, too.

“I’m glad you’re here,” my fiancée purrs while we wait for the kettle to boil. “I’d be freaking out if I had to be by myself. Plus, I can always kill and eat you.” I ought to be nervous, but I know I’ll never become lunch:

1)Having been treated at various times with antibiotics, additives and pesticides (aphid infestation; who knew?), my ribs are incompatible
with her chosen Organic lifestyle.

2)We’ve got plenty of supplies – enough President’s Choice “Blue
Menu” Wasabi & Honey rice crisps to last nearly forever (because they’re
really gross and we’d almost rather starve).

In picturing being detained by weather in a remote location, one likes to think of themselves heroically: given adequate supplies, the forced removal from the day-to-day bustle is imagined as a great chance at catching up, and self-improvement, at spiritual and emotional decompression. What really happens is I go stir-crazy almost immediately, watching roads worsen minute by minute as the snow piling up around my vehicle makes it less and less likely I’ll even get to the highway in the first place. Ali’s trucker landlord says he’ll get a plow out sometime tomorrow to clear the access road. Until then I pace, I swear under your breath and I take futile “relaxation” baths, as inaccessible urban responsibilities quadruple in gravity.

Really, though, the hell is the accessible urban responsibilities, the inescapability of work. My girl’s got a herself a full-on Snow Day (Whee!) – she can’t phone in her clients’ dinner or fax them their personal care – while I’m stuck in this sort of electronic otherspace, physically stuck in a cozy winter cabin with my lover but mentally (and contractually) obligated to be halfway at work. It causes friction in the farmhouse, interference… two lives 180 degrees out of phase. The silence of my grumpy laptop-tapping is boring for her; the sound of her page-turning through a Japanese thriller is enough to crack my teeth.

I resent that tech reality has wrecked and workified the only chance I’ve had to experience old-fashioned snowed-in conditions. The modern information worker has nowhere to run, no scenario that will excuse not being in touch. Sick, distant, weather-stuck, traveling… as long as there’s a phone line, a cell tower and a laptop (or, God help us, a Blackberry) in begging, borrowing or stealing distance, productivity is demanded and expected…

…unless the power goes out!

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