I’ve been trying for months to go wireless on my home network. I got M’s computer wireless after struggling with the config for hours and hours only to realize at last that the 802.11g card wouldn’t work in her system (despite the fact that my router’s a G). I downgraded to an 802.11b and she was on the Web from the couch with nary a cable in site.

But she runs Windows on her laptop, and Windows has broader support for things like wireless drivers. Further, I had bought her a good old Linksys
card, which is very widely supported, even on other operating systems. My laptop, running Linux, had an internal Broadcom card. I jumped through various hoops to try to get the thing installed. I put hours and hours into this, downloading the NDIS Wrapper that’s supposed to make Windows drivers work in Linux, installing a pay-to-play driver from Linuxant that wound up not working (luckily, they offer a free trial). I finally gave up, resigned to being tethered to the wall in my office. Ah, the sacrifices of using open source software — I can use nifty software for free without any guilt, but I have trouble connecting to my wireless network. It could be worse.

Having a baby imminently on the way has really lit a fire under me to go wireless, though. After all, I can get away with hiding in the office to be online now, but it’ll be harder to do so when I’ve got a baby to keep an eye on. So I decided the other night to give wireless another shot. I downloaded a much more recent operating system (Fedora Core 2 — I’ve been using RedHat 9 since I got the laptop) in hopes that the drivers were better supported. There’s still no official Broadcom driver, but after a few hours of research and fiddling with settings and swearing, I got the NDIS Wrapper to work, and I’m now blissfully cordlessly on the network at home. This is a very good, very liberating thing.

As noted above, I have a baby on the way. Maybe it’s a little trite — a little too self-consciously clever — to extend the wireless analogy to her, but I couldn’t help thinking that she too will be going wireless soon. For 37 weeks, she’s been connected to M, imbibing her every life’s need through what will become her belly button. She’s been stuck, rattling around and at times apparently trying to kick her way out of the womb. She too is striving for liberation, perambulatory freedom (before too long, at least).

Trite as it is, I like to think that we’re going wireless together, in a way for one another, though naturally I derive benefits from my wirelessness and she will derive benefits from her wirelessness independent of the benefits our respective wirelessnesses will do for one another.

I think in terms of computer metaphors a lot. Years ago, when M and I were still a long-distance item conducting our courtship largely online,I wrote a little love poem about the limitations of our electronic courtship. It included a conceit in which I proposed that the tapping of our fingers on our keyboards was somehow as close as we could come to tenderly padding one another’s fingers in person. By and large, it was a nice sentiment, however dorky its manifestation.

But that’s how I do things. I have trouble just coming out and saying nice things but can justify them if I can wrap them up in a nice tidy little package — a clever poem, say, or a metaphor-laden blog entry.

So it’s a little weird, maybe, for me to go on about Fedora Core 2 and NDIS Wrappers when what I’m really trying to get at is something about my forthcoming baby — specifically, that as I have striven over the last year or so with varying (increasing) degrees of urgency to get my laptop wireless, so too am I at last really ready to have my baby wireless.

All of this has made me a little nostalgic, and I’ve gone and dug up that love poem. I haven’t yet been able to write anything for the baby, though I’ve wanted to. Even now, nostalgic and sappy as I’m waxing, I don’t think I’m on the cusp of any creative outburst. In any case, for nostalgia’s sake, and as a little history of my heart, here’s that other bit of technosentimentality that my rumination on wirelessness brought to mind.

Let Me Count the Ways

We count the ways we love in kilobytes
across unfeeling networks of thin wires.
Our words, displayed onscreen in pixelled lights,
just flatten how we talk of our desires.
In love that’s papered daily through the mail,
one gets some artifact that can be kept.
But email romance leaves no paper trail,
our contact through keystrokes at best inept:
I touch your fingers only as my own
pad urgently across the alphabet
while you, some miles away, aren’t quite alone,
but pad my fingers back across the Net.
How do I love you? How make the distance better?
I count and recount every stricken letter.

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