Something Google This Way Comes

look at that nefarious bunny.

Last Summer, the place I live was chosen as the next hotspot for Google Fiber. While it may sound like a goofy way to up your roughage intake, it is really a high tech, high speed internet that works one hundred times faster than the internet the rest of America can access. There are also rumors that it will make you stronger, cooler and grow hair in places that haven't seen a follicle for years.

Basically, people here are obsessed with it.

Social media is full of status updates about its installation or the waiting for its installation,

"OMG Google Fiber in da house!"

"If I ever have to wait ten minutes to download a movie again, I just might die. Google Fiber, where are you?"

Kids are coming home from school asking when their house will get the google. Real estate listings now read like this,

" This late-70s gem is equipped with a daylight basement,a  fully remodeled kitchen with a fridge that can make ice cream and pizza, and dual sinks in every bathroom. To top it all off, Google Fiber is now installed!"

Everyone knows you put the best item last when trying to sell a house. How does Google Fiber beat the fridge for fatties food lovers who don't want to cook? How? It doesn't.

But maybe it does.

This town I've adopted as my own is a place full of smiling people, unbridled generosity and judgments behind closed doors. It is perhaps one of the last outposts of parades, carnivals and concerts all animated by the power of hometown pride. The streets are narrow and the houses mostly brick. You can walk down to the local ice cream shop and play on top of old canons erected in memorial park. It is Americana. Over the past six weeks, most streets have had a Google Fiber van parked in one or more driveways. Often you see three all lined up, the busy technicians installing and testing and smiling.

And I get chills.

Listen, I know I've read too much Ray Bradbury, I know my imagination is wild and extreme and prone to flights. But here is what I think every time I see one of those vans.

The stereotypical American small town full of big smiles and small prejudice is willingly invaded by a friendly, but ultimately nefarious, corporation selling them their own enslavement at $70 a month. The people buy it willingly! They clamor over each other for it! Fighting and grasping and appointment making until they are triumphant partners in their own demise! Finally when every house is plugged in the vans all leave and the work begins. Google fiber hums everywhere, slowly downloading the consciousness of every consumer until it owns them all. Making every decision and moving every part. Every consumer except one. The girl in the lone house that somehow, someway slipped under their radar. That girl is now left to undo the work of the vans and free the living zombies that occupy her town! Cut the wires! Clear the eyes! Declare your independence from the man!

Ahem.

Yep. That's what I think every time I see another Google van. There, I say to myself, there are the long tentacles of an unknown, storybook style evil. And I might be the girl that can save us all.

Then I go home, call the local office and ask, once more, how long it is going to take to get Fiber installed in my house.

Two more weeks?

But I can't wait.

 

 

Bel Canto

Virginia Zeani as Violetta

When I was seventeen my Grandpa got us tickets to the opera. The night started with pastrami at a real live deli where he let me order extra pickles. After the cured meat we made our way to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The venue was all red curtains and hushed voices. We sat at the edge of the balcony overlooking the stage below.

The lights dimmed and the first act of La Traviata begin. At the time I didn't know I was watching Verdi's masterpiece. I didn't know that it offended morality police when it first spread itself across a stage in 1853. I didn't know that the part of Violetta is opera's most coveted role.

I just knew it had changed me.

The actors and actresses sang color into that darkened theater. The words were foreign, but the emotion was all too human, all too familiar. I wiped tears from my face and my grandpa harrumphed next to me.

At one point in her anguish, Violetta threw herself upon the stage floor. She sang into the crowded theater like she was truly alone. Her voice lifted and she pounded one fist into the floor. And in that moment, I could see through her eyes, could feel that cold stage against my hand, could sense the deep lament of a lost love stir in my throat. For just an instant I was her.

In that big space with my lovely grandpa I learned an important lesson. Every story, even that of a doomed 19th century courtesan, is our story. A piece of each of us is woven into each heartbreak, triumph, loss and ever after. They belong to us and we belong to them.

God bless the storytellers, God bless the storymakers, God bless the opera.