I never thought it would come down to this.

But I had to choose.

Picasso or the Internet.

I’ve had some struggles getting decent, reliable Internet service where I live in San Francisco. It’s not that it hasn’t been available, just not to me. Other priorities have claimed enough of my meager artist stipend these last few months to prevent me from being able to order my own hookup until this month.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to maintain my online life with a neighborhood wireless connection that has the most interesting patterns to it. It would be fun to watch the times all during the nite and day when it gets busy or doesn’t, except that I find myself online at too many of those hours just trying to accomplish simple tasks. In the pursuit of said online life, I’ve been working a lot of those ‘round the clock hours trying to get things done.

Now I think I finally, really, honestly, reliably, have an Internet connection on order, and a date it’s supposed to happen.

It’s taken some detective work, and some naively patient waiting, only to find that gatekeepers on both sides of that coveted Internet connection have been giving inaccurate info for a couple months. I’ve been trying to get the really good service that’s available here, hi-speed cable modem, but it finally comes to light that my building did not know which carrier they’d approved. Turns out it was the other one.

The other service looks good, although based on phone lines, and I race to get an order placed. Again I get to the page that says, “no, not at your address. The good Internet service is not available to you.” It’s starting to feel like I’m living in a poor neighborhood on the Information highway, as well as in the physical world.

Responding to the offer of a “Live” chat to help me along, “they” find I really do qualify for the good stuff. At least according to them. I say “they” because while I sense there is a live person behind the chat window, they are typing in canned responses straight from the legal department.

Ironically the connection I’m on to place the order starts blinking out.

Finally, I do sense spontaneous words in the chat window as the chatter sends me a link to place the order. I start the process there, and woohoo; it likes my address this time!

Then it hits me!

You! Yes you, have just qualified to have a functional, reliable, online life. You have just made the cut between the haves and have-nots in the information fueled society we live in.

Had my name not been on that list, or rather my living cubicle in this fabulous city I live in, it would have had quite real consequences for me in terms of livelihood, education, and social life.

I’ve been in my building in San Francisco’s famous Tenderloin neighborhood for a few months now and getting settled into a more regular life after quite a journey in the past year that happily delivered me to this fabulous city along the way. I have come to love this crazy vortex I find myself living in the middle of, where a theatric production of real life unfolds from my third story window view in every minute.

I also feel quite blessed to live in and have housing at all in this very expensive, high demand city, but frankly, much more of my life takes place through my computer screen.

Another wonderful thing about San Francisco is the hella cool museums and the exhibitions we get here. Right now there is Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne and Renoir from the Stein Collection @ SFMOMA, Dutch and Flemish Masterworks @ Legion of Honor, Gertrude Stein and Charlotte Salomon @ Jewish American Contemporary Museum, and  the Musée National Picasso, Paris Collection at the DeYoung.

I’ve been trying to see Picasso at the DeYoung for a couple months now, I mean, how can you miss Picasso when it comes to your city, if you’re even in a city where it comes to?  On the free museum day once a month it’s $15.00, on regular days it’s $25.00. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s been more than I’ve had left at the end of my month the last couple months, and now this one too it seems.

In the order process for the Internet package it got to the hard questions…the security check. None of the answers I have these days are good ones. I settled on “Self-employed” as I usually do on these things knowing it is usually the kiss of death on credit related applications. Sure enough, there’s a problem; but alas, also a solution. Your rate for information access, you freelance writer and starving artist, is five months paid in advance plus the modem.

Quickly I start to do math in my head…I know I have enough for it all, but barely. I take a millisecond to consider…then I pounce! No looking back now! Food, cell phone, creature comforts, heh, who needs them? I’m going back to surfing like the upper crust baby!

So I pressed the button, and waited for the ramifications to set in. Hmmm, still seems to be good. I can get through yet another lean month if you will just stream music for me!

Then it hit me…Picasso! Again! Noooo!

Picasso will again have to wait until next month, and as luck has it, there are two months left. This month it will be Gertrude Stein and Charlotte Salomon which I’ve got a  free ticket to.

Will work for Art!

See you soon,

Calli