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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Taos settling in (Part 2)


I am settling in, but it’s taking time. I have been distracted – mostly by the spectacular incompetence of Century Link, our local phone provider, but more of that in a moment or two.

Primarily I have been pondering my fate, my destiny over the next three months. Well, wouldn’t you, if you had to walk past this sign every day on your way to the grocery store?
 


 

What will I achieve here? What significant events will shape the course of my life? Well, the arrival of an active phone line would make a difference, that’s for sure.

On the subject of Century Link I shall be brief – well, briefer than they were. The first day here I spent an hour or more on the office phone (that’s about a 500-yard walk each way, no great distance, but not to be discounted). I arranged for them to hook me up. No problem, sir. You’ll be ‘live’ by Friday. Here’s your number, and here’s your order number. Have a good day.

Friday lunchtime I trudge back through the ice and slush and call them again. I tell them no, I’m not live. What’s happened? They intimate that in fact I don’t actually exist. They have no record of the order, nor of the number – but they are pretty sure someone who sounded like me has set up a business line in Santa Fe, about 70 miles away. Now, I begin, why would I do that when I live in Taos? Oh okay, the gal says, let’s start again. And check a few details…. Okay… you’re in Mexico, right?

You don’t lecture Americans on geography. You’d like to, but you don’t. It’s a lost cause.

Two hours after dialling them, I stagger out into the sunlight. I have a fresh number, a new order reference and it’ll all be ready Monday. Is that Monday morning, I asked? Sure, eight o’clock. Thankyou for choosing Century Link.

Monday morning I leap from my bed and try the phone. Nothing. Okay, it’s only seven o’clock – are you impressed how early this writer gets up? (A tip for aspiring authors: that’s how books get written.)

I try again at eight, at nine and at ten…. Later I plod over to the office, and settle down for a lunchtime concert by CLAME, the Century Link Ambient Music Ensemble – interspersed with preposterous claims as to the superior quality of their services. Some time later I talk to one Tamir and complain about their failure to deliver. Oh, he says brightly, they shouldn’t have told you Monday morning, sir. No, they should’ve said five o’clock. It’ll be live for five. I tell him that I am reluctant to believe him, but he insists it will happen. He repeats his assertion, then instructs me to have a good day. I am sorely tempted to ask him how he suggests I do that, but I resist, manfully.

Tuesday morning I’m back. Just can’t keep away from the place. The line was dead at five, and remains so, I tell them. This time the agent recognises my number right away, and calls me by my name – as if we’re old friends, which I suppose we are. We certainly go back a long way. After the usual round of recriminations (mine) and expressions of bafflement (his) and several more intervals for light entertainment as my agent puts me on hold and checks a few things, I suggest an engineer might call and investigate – because this agent insists the line is active, although dead. (Like a blood-sucking vampire, I am tempted to ask?) More soporific tunes are played while we track down an engineer who has to SHOUT because, he says, I am coming and going on the line.

I said I would be brief, didn’t I? Trust me, this is a skinny, pared-down version of the real thing – a mere synopsis. So let’s skip to the outcome - the hoped-for outcome. Tomorrow morning, between 0830 and 1230, I can expect an engineer, and he, or she, possibly even they, will try to fix it. Let’s hope he or she is on time. 1230 is my once-a-week slot over at the Foundation laundry and, having travelled light, I am out of clean clothes.

And now a pause while I calm down. Here’s a nice picture of the house in the snow (and sun). Pretty, isn’t it? Calming.



So what about work? After all, I am here to write. Well, miraculously, I am doing so. More than that, in going through and editing the first few chapters of my ancient novel, Son of a Gun (yes, I too have heard there’s a new movie by that title, but I got there first), I see as clear as day the structural fix that will turn it into a thing of wonder. I won’t talk about that yet, lest I tempt fate – El Destino (see above). Maybe later, after I’ve had time to mull it over and convinced myself I’ve got it right.

For now, however, I can report that, despite the frustrations with the phone company, I’m feeling both cheerful and optimistic. Until next time – or, as we say in these parts, hasta luego.