Monday, May 11, 2015


Most of Friday afternoon, May 8,  and Saturday morning, May 9, were spent in graduation ceremonies at my university. As faculty, we get to sit and listen to a lot of speeches and a lot of cheers. One thing we get time to do is think, though. Since graduation marks the true beginning of summer writing for me, I generally do a considerable amount of planning on how to proceed.

These days, of course, writing is only a part of what we do. We also have to promote. I seldom get a chance to do promotion during the school year other than an occasional post on facebook and blog. During the summer, though, I always try to do more. I believe my stories are good but just haven’t seemed to generate either steady sales or buzz.

Anyway, here’s where the frustration of the title comes in. I came up with a promotional plan during the graduation ceremony. I got home and did a couple of quick posts in that vein and made announcements or sent emails requesting information. Then I had to nap because I’d only gotten 4 hours sleep the night before. I get up to see if there have been any responses to the stuff I sent out before the nap. But before I can make the needed replies, the internet goes down.

Turns out, it’s not the net per se but our phone line that is down, and that’s how we get our internet, through AT & T. I call them. They say there’s a problem on the line but they are working on it and should have it resolved by Monday sometime. That means two days at least without internet access at home. Of course, I quickly realized that they are likely lying to me. I remembered in 2014 we had a similar problem, and checked my journal. On May 11, 2014, the day after graduation ceremonies that year, our phone, and net, went out for a week. Those kinds of coincidences don’t just happen so this is some kind of planned outage by them.

Certainly, there are plenty of writing related things I can do, not least of which is actual writing, but—in many ways—the net has become a big part of actually stringing together a story. I’m constantly looking up things, maybe something about sailing ships, or the economy of Roman cities, or what a particular sword hilt looked like. Some I can find in my collection of pre-internet reference books, but much of it I don’t have in hard copy. I found myself on Saturday night leaving lots of phrases and words printed in red with question marks around them that I’ll have to look up when we do get the net back.

If I lived in the city, I could take my laptop next door to the coffee shop or library to connect. Abita Springs doesn’t have a coffee shop with Wi-Fi. Their library branch is so small that there’s no place to sit inside with a laptop to work. The closest place to get access to Wi-Fi and a seat is the Covington library, which is about a 25 minute drive one way.

I should be used to it by now in life. The frustration. It’s an ongoing and constant thing. But to have to wait for time to put a plan into action, to get to the point where you have the time and start to implement things, and then that chance is snatched away…. It makes me want to scream.

Here’s what it’s like. Imagine you’re a kid and every day on your way from school you walk past a candy shop. One Monday you see, in the window display,  the most delicious looking chocolate chip cookie ever. It’s as big as both your hands together and looks warm and gooey and like it was baked in heaven. The price is a dollar and you don’t have that much, but you will as soon as you get your allowance on the weekend. You get a huge grin on your face thinking about next Monday, about how on your way home from school you’re going to get that cookie and sit down in the sun under a tree somewhere and devour it to the very last crumb.  

Monday comes. You wait all day in anticipation. As soon as school is over you rush to the candy store, hurry inside with your allowance money in your hot little hand. Maybe you’ll buy two cookies. You’ve got the cash. You run up to the counter and tell the lady that you want one of the big chocolate chip cookies in the window. You point to the display. You beam with delight as you lay your money on the counter. She says: “Sorry, we’re sold out of those. Not sure when we’ll get another batch in. But try back next week.”

Maybe, for a minute, you think about just stealing that cookie from the display window and running off with it. But you know, that cookie isn’t real. It’s just a clever facsimile meant to make you want what you can’t have.

NOTE: To give credit where credit is due, our phone and net were actually out for only about twenty-four hours. They got it up faster than I expected and I was happy for that. I’d already written this post, however, and still wanted to share that cookie metaphor. Twenty-four hours is still long enough to generate some frustration.


Ty said...

The cookie metaphor isn't just a metaphor. Something similar happens to me all the time. Just yesterday drove 2 hours to a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, a place somewhat famous for great hot dogs, and they really are the best hot dogs I've ever eaten. They were all out of hot dogs. It was a long drive back.

But I know what you mean. :-)

Oscar Case said...

Now I know why that feller painted "The Scream".

Charles Gramlich said...

Ty, geeze, man. Frustration.

Oscar, I bet it was the reason.

Snowbrush said...

We have broadband, but the darn provider--Clearwire--is now owned by Sprint and will be discontinuing services in the fall. I can but say that if you're close enough to an antenna to get a reliable signal, broadband is great. In fact, we’ve had it for at least ten years, and it has yet to go down.

I guess you must love chocolate chip cookies. I would have used dark chocolate candy or maybe lemon cookies for my metaphor. Danish wedding cookies or butter cookies might have also been in the running as would lemon pie, and don’t get me started on banana pudding, the kind with vanilla wafers and a meringue top.

Unknown said...

It is hard not to become dependent on the net. It is so much easier to get volumes of research done in a short time, than using reference materials from the library.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is frustrating. Sorry you don't have Internet access closer. Want a cookie?

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, I've been craving chocolate chip cookies.

Carole, so true. I've come to depend on it for a lot.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, I've got some cookies in the fridge I'm going to make tonight.

BernardL said...

There is a definite advantage in a lot of cases involving human beings to be a pessimist. :)

sage said...

that is why I keep a data plan on my phone... :)

Cloudia said...

Always interesting to follow your thoughts and activities, Charles. Hope you get you connection soonest

( '>

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I subscribe to something called Triband, a service provided by a government telecom company, which combines internet, landline, and email. I know the local telephone linesmen so well that in the event something goes wrong, all I have to do is call them up and they turn up at my doorstep in less than an hour. Of course, I tip them each time, something we do with many government and utility services in India.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, I'm surely one.

Sage, I don't even have a smart phone. I don't like to work using the phone but you're right, it could be a good backup plan.

Cloudia, it did come back within about 24 hours so that was good.

Prashant, hum, a tip. That might be a good idea!

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I hear you. No matter how prepared I am here at home, when we have a blackout the kids think its the end of the world.

G. B. Miller said...

I definitely can relate. Had a rare Saturday not too long ago in which to do some actually potsing around on the computer (some writing related, some just frivolity).

Tried to get on to the 'net. Couldn't connect even though my connection was working fine. While I was on the phone with Frontier trying to ascertain what the problem was, the rep suddenly says "Oh, just got an e-mail saying the entire state had a server crash".

Stupid thing made the six o'clock news that day.

Got it back after 5 hours or so, though.

Riot Kitty said...

It's still shitty to be lied to. I get you.

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., we are definitely an internet world now.

G. B., if I hadn't made such plans I wouldn't have minded nearly as much.

Riot kitty, absolutely.