When it is unexpected, uncontrolled, and unwanted, two days without Internet is two days in hell. My cable modem has for months been slowly but steadily withering. Did I take care of the problem in a timely fashion? No. I jiggled and wiggled and plugged and unplugged and started and restarted and bought myself a few weeks, until finally, there was no more life in the beast.

I called the cable company yesterday, and spent the requisite two hours having things checked and rechecked, holding and reholding, my blood pressure rising. Serious deadlines loomed. This went on, into the gloaming. The support staff switched to the other side of the globe. I was transferred to someone in India. He decided I needed a visit from the cable guy. No problem. There was a long silence, and finally he said, brightly, cheerfully, We can get you an appointment for May 5.

I sat in stunned silence while my brain inched towards a calculation: That would be eight days away.

Then I deteriorated faster than a modem can blink. Within minutes, I was sobbing. And pleading. This is unacceptable. You don't understand. My life depends on Internet access. I work from home. The Internet is the only support I have. I am crippled without it. I am on deadline. I will lose my mind if someone doesn't come immediately. Please. I beg you. ETC. A sobbing, raving, furious, impotent maniac.

I know, more honey with flies. Next time I will pretend I am from Louisiana. Or I am Dolly Parton. Or something. Screw the flies.

Several supervisors later it is agreed that I need an appointment for the next day, sometime between 9 and 7. So I waited, and pondered how my life had come to such a brittle pass. I waited, and mopped the kitchen floor. I waited, and washed the bed linens. I waited, and made a watercress sandwich (white bread and lots of mayonnaise.) I waited, and read a book. I waited, and wrote, and gazed out the window. It was strange not to know what was going on in the world. I don't have television. No news.

I could not meditate, which might have helped, in case by some evil twist of fate the one time I might see the Blue Light of Nirvana would be the time I didn't hear the phone call from the cable guy.

And I wondered. What was wrong with me?

I decided that there is nothing wrong with me. I need email. I love checking in on my friends. I love knowing that soon, Ed will tell me the names of things coming up in my garden. Caroline will make me take a walk. Sarah will tell me what new plastic item I should throw away. Frances will tell me what exhibit I must see. Theo will tell me when he is coming home.

I might not have office colleagues. But I have Internet colleagues. I look forward to laughing over the comments from the always bemused Reverend Terry; I'm grateful for the support of William,Warren, Bruce Barone, Thea and Mary; I admire the stimulating comments of Vivien, VL, KarenSandburg; I love the reliable cheer of Karena; I wish I could tell Bradley Thoennes how to get her kid into Berkeley; and I wonder if Anonymous is right, that the law will toughen my son. I have editorial delightful meetings every single day.

And then there's the paying work.

If I can't meet my deadlines, no one would know that it was because my Internet connection has died, and how many days would my editors wait before they actually set out to find me....stuck in my pajamas, waiting for the cable guy, food supplies dwindling. Who uses the phone?

Hey! Did anyone miss me?

The guy did show up. Never have I been so happy to have a Helpful Man darken my doorway. New wires, new modem, new lease on happiness.


Nancy said...

I missed you!

Violet Cadburry said...

I might have missed you if you posted everyday, but I figured you were out on a jaunt to some stunningly incredible garden or home and would share some pics. I too don't have TV and haven't for years. It is very calming not to have that extra voice interfering in my everyday world. If I want to know what is going on, I use the internet. Glad you are back and hope to see some more pics of stunningly incredible places.


Look what we have come to!??
I can't breathe without this stuff. How did it happen?
Was I sleeping?
Ye Gods

helen tilston said...

I know exactly how you felt. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I must admit I was ashamed of my behavour. I was irritable and lost without internet. Like you, I rarely watch TV, exception will be tomorrow morning and the Royal Wedding from London - so wish I was there but am grateful to have had several invitations to Buckingham Palace and St James Palace in the past. We will enjoy a full English breakfast and look through our photos of past visits


Warren said...

Well, it seems you have your feet firmly planted in two worlds... Visiting Zen-like places which fill us with peace, and (trying to) live at the speed of an electron. Is there peace in either world?

As a semi-Zen friend said "the cup is already broken"...

So have back-ups. Go out to your local tea/coffee shop and use their WiFi, savor the tea and marvel at your great misfortune... Or if you insist on working in your PJs, get a phone you can use as a modem to your computer or Verizon's little biz-card MiFi that will let you wirelessly connect your computer to their little 'hot-spot.'

But do plan on your modern marvels failing. And enjoy the nice weather we don't have here in Seattle.

PS: Get Skype so you can video chat with those boys.

VL said...

Dear Dominique,

To me, your blog is like cold water to a thirsty soul...I would detail my multiple admirations, but this soul has been so overwhelmed with deadlines that there's been time for hardly a peek, and I figured you were on some new adventure or preparing another in-depth post on a hidden garden gem. Glad to have you back!


Cristina said...

highly enjoyable.
is it just my impression or is it true that you become more witty than usual when panic-stricken?!

Anonymous said...

Of course you were missed! Deep breath....slow love moments ahead!

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

To be honest?...I didn't miss you. Like another, previous poster, I assumed you were off doing something wonderful in some very interesting place with clever companions, rather than (as I regularly do in this old house) crouching on your floorboards and moaning over your betrayal by some piece of "essential" machinery that you never particularly wanted in the first place.

I did THINK of you at least three times this past week, as I ordered 3 more copies of "Slow Love" for friends with upcoming birthdays and not particularly enjoyable (2 are very ill and one is suddenly unemployed) these-days. Since that book came out,it's become my E-Z-shop, default-decision present (I loathe shopping, if for no other reason than one's having to put on shoes and start up the truck to do it) for the sort of folks I happen to like.

As for internet access? I'm always very pleased/content when I don't have it for a week or so. this happens regularly. I figure that, if I can learn to be patient and try WAITING for just once, then anyone (including clients) can. Neither the internet nor cell-phones necessarily "work" in the Vaucluse or Andalusia (or, for that matter, at my family's house in the Tennessee mountains).

Speaking of the Tennessee mountains?....I gather you're to be speaking and hobnobbing at Garden&Gun's Secret Society Weekend at Blackberry Farm with Sid Evans. It's very pretty there, of course, and you should have a great deal of fun. Just make sure that you accept a drink anytime one's offered by those folks, who are the new version of what I grew up with and around. You'll eventually NEED that drink.

I've recently learned that I've apparently offended two folks by not accepting an offer to go to that weekend. I told them that I wasn't sure I was ALLOWED to go...and, anyway, Blackberry Farm was too far and too-snakey-to-get-there (as one of my great-aunts used to say).

you have fun there, though.

Just remember that it's gone to take about three bottles of bleach to wash the party-manners off yourself afterwards. Personally, I don't think I'd ever be up to the business.

Level Best as Ever,

david terry
(Who doesn't see much use in internet "anonymity"?)

Anonymous said...

Head on over to the "glen", let yourself in, log on, and seek solace in a Whispering Angel!!

Robyn said...

LMAO....Oh my gosh I so understand completely! Now that I have discovered that I can do most of my postal errands on line the only thing I leave home for is groceries (I prefer to pick my own vegetables and yes I do know I could order online and have them delivered) and to visit family. I've become such a hermit! Have a great day and here is to a great service man who made your life good again!

Maery Rose said...

I've read some posts from other people who have lost their internet connection and it's funny how similar their description of the moment the cable or dish guy arrives, how godlike he appears and how thankful they are in their gushings. Those workers may eventually move to the status of doctors.

karenleslie said...

(karensandburg here)
yes i think you definately DO become funnier the more panic stricken you are. not since 'lactating with love' have i laughed so hard at one of your posts! and ... thank you for the sweet shout out.

and yes, god knows, i missed you. was it really four whole days we had to wait for the conversation about who-knows-what to begin again and those repeated hits on my bookmark to this site produced no change... but like the others, i figured you were on another interesting journey which, as it turns out you were, except it was more of the insanity of mind type than your usual explorations.

the conversation here is a catalyzing source for me. it's the reminders to be environmentally active,great photography, all those fabulous hyperlinks sending us down the road to new worlds, and your writing that connects the dots in surprising ways.

i'm reminded of a friend, an artist and psychoanalyst, who i met a few years ago. we tumbled into what can only be described as a passionate friendship. i tried to slow it down, really i did, but we laughed so much, and so hard. and she knew the best of everything -- the best indian restaurant, the best almond paste and the best way to hang those yao ceremonial paintings i had -- no no, hang four, not three and hang them tight together... conversations were always intense and fun, but when the friendship inevitably ended - almost as abruptly as it had begun - i realized, after some licking of wounds, that she had been an incredible source of information...

without the licking of wounds, this site is a dependable place to be inspired, so i'm with you dominique about enjoying these lovely computer interludes that season our days...

Ashling said...

Amazing....15 years ago there was no such thing, at least not for ordinary folks. Now internet access is a 'necessity', like cell phones. Whether used for work or pleasure or somthing in-between, the internet is beguiling, a seductive siren song of constant connectivity. I feel your pain--welcome back!

SweetRetreat said...

Everything about technology and the Internet is fraught with eventual distress. Loss of connection, computer failure, some vital link down ... sigh, it is a new age. I'm even hooked on my Kindle now, just love it.

Best part of your rant - the watercress sandwiches with white bread and mayonnaise. Now, that is life at the edge and a perfect 'take that' strategy.

You were missed.

Karena said...

I am like an addict if I am without internet..isn't it awful...reality though!

I am not one posting even once a week however I must visit my dear friends sites!

Art by Karena

Last few days to Come and enter my very Fashionable Giveaway from the French Basketeer!

mary said...

I am laughing til the tears roll down my cheeks--my internet was down for two days also (Verizon's new 4G went dark over the entire US!). I kept checking; calling; checking and calling......finally while I was making the last call, the icon appeared and I was once more one with the world (I don't have a TV either). One good thing did result: apparently there is a problem with the signal tower--so they are going to send a real person to check on the signal so that my connection isn't dropped every 20 minutes or so. I did miss you, nevertheless. Be well.

Leslie Lindeman said...

Of course we missed you!

david terry said...

"Do You Miss Me?" (A Cautionary Tale for the Fans and Readers of Miss Dominique Browning)

"Your cigarette's are on a table by the door.
I left the house the way it was before.
Your clothes are hanging in the hall,
if you come to call...

You say goodbye but you come runnng back again..
You think my love will be the way it's always been?
You think I'm waiting home for you?
N-o-t true...

You can find me in Havana
with a sailor named Henri!
He's not that much to look at
but he loves to look at me!
And you might think I'm crazy, but I'm
happy as can be.
Do you miss me?

Oh, I dance the night away
until the morning
I let the music play until morning
Oh, I'm happy like I've never been before...

I left some frozen dinners on the second shelf,
and there's some clinging-peaches.
You can help yourself.
And if you miss me, once again?...

You can find me in Antiqua
with a prince named Miguel.
He's not the same kind of lover as you;
He does it TWICE as well.
And he doesn't think I'm 'crazy'.
I'm happy as can be.

I got your telegram the other day
Just ten words or less...
But how much can they say?
I won't take it anymore..
What for?...

You can find me with Roberto
In a villa on Capri!
He's not as cute as you were,
But he owns I.T.& T
And he likes me fat and lazy

Do you miss me?....

(fortunately available, as sung by Andrew Marcovicci, on her album "What is Love?", through Amazon.com)

----D.C.C. Terry

William said...


Now that you are hooked up again - unhook yourself. 2 days without the Internet is not "hell", in fact it is just the heaven our brains need as a rest from the world of distraction known as the Internet. Unhook yourself for 48 hours over a weekend, say - making compulsive news or email checking not an option - and find where it takes you - walking, reading, drawing, cooking, writing, organizing, biking - the list is endless. Want some real motivation to break free from the Internet periodically - pick up the book 'The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains' by Nicholas Carr. I think reading it might lead to taking a hammer to your new modem.

Dominique said...

I'm really not worried about what the Internet is doing to my brain---I love having the connection. And I often read long books, walk for miles, and watch old-fashioned biopics. Saw an AMAZING one last night about Michael Collins, as I'm on a bit of an Irish lit kick...What unhinged me was losing the connection in an unplanned way...in the midst of deadlines. The hellish part was realizing how my work life -- and I include the blog in there -- is entirely dependent...

That said, I forgot about Starbucks, the library, that thingamajiggy Warren mentioned, which I'll have to go investigate.

I was making fun of myself in asking whether I was missed--b/c I was gone for so short a time....and I do only post twice a week, usually. (However I am quite glad to know that some people would miss me if I disappeared entirely). Strange story, that, about the intense friendship that "ended as abruptly as it began..." A coup de foudre, the French would say--a lightening strike. I suppose we learn to take what we can from such connections, and when they unplug, wish them well. Interesting how that connected to losing Internet...

Love Marcovicci. Do you all know the recordings by Nancy LaMott? Brilliant.

Looking forward to Blackberry Farm, and to catching up with one of my all time favorite photographers, Jack Spencers, about whom I wrote a profile for G&G...Party manners? so drilled into me I could never bleach them out!

THANK YOU ALWAYS for buying books! d

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

How funny....the Nancy LaMott mix-CD is playing right now (it's one of our default CD's for sunday mornings).

As long as you're on an "Irish lit" kick?....have you read Colm Toibin's new collection "The Empty Family"? It's beautiful.

And do read William Trevor's novel "Fools of Fortune". I first encountered it during my twenties, at which time I was genuinely weirded-out (not a particularly edifying critical response, but a genuine one)to be reading a novel and, every other page or so, thinking "Good Lord....this is my family".

I'm not exactly on an "Irish Lit Kick", but I've suddenly (as in, over the past 2 days?) got a pile of homework. My most-fabulously-named Irish friend, Martini Emmart-Niedbalski, has just forced a copy of MacNamara's "The Valley of the Squinting Windows" on me. She delightedly informed me that it's a deeply unpleasant novel which is supposedly devoid of any whiff of paddywhackery.

Additionally? If you exhaust your local Irish Literature resources, let me know....I'll send you the manuscript (which came on Friday) of "The Hand and the Child". My old Gaelic professor (I studied in Ireland a lot during my twenties) has just finished the dang thing, after ten years of writing. In longhand, I should add.

This is a 200-plus page analysis/study of various Old Irish narrative fragments. About half of the thing is footnotes. Knowing modern or middle Gaelic is of no particular help, of course.

I'm absolutely sure this tome (for once, the word is appropriate) will turn out to be a rib-tickler and heartwarmer.

A bheith cúramach a iarraidh ort le haghaidh....

Level best as Ever,

David Terry
(who now has to go out and plough in the half truckload of composted cowshit delivered to me yesterday by, in contrast to your experience, a Very Helpful Woman)

William said...


Your comment, "I'm really not worried about what the Internet is doing to my brain---I love having the connection." reminds me of what someone in the 1940's might have said when hearing for the first time that cigarettes might have an ill affect on their lungs, "I'm really not worried what smoking does to my lungs --- I love smoking as a digestive aid."

My prediction is that within 2 years you will be attempting to rouse a group of moms to help eliminate excessive Internet usage by children because it has been conclusively proven to negatively affect their cognitive skills - no longer able to concentrate or contemplate or think deeply.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...I would perish without internet! The other day my husband asked me how much I loved him, and I replied, "I love you so much that if I had to pick between you and a working internet connection, I'd probably pick you."

Love the blog, by the way. It is beautiful. You have inspired me to improve my own (they all require MUCH improvement!)

Majorel said...

To William,
Really, the internet or computer use has been proven to negatively affect children's cognitive skills??? I have a feeling that in two years there will be a new study released that says that computer use in children is not at all negative, but instead positive!.....really the age of computers is here to stay and children absolutely need them, and how to use them to gain information to succeed today and in the future! Do young people need parental guidance??.. of course they do, but to make the suggestion that we all unplug completely is just not realistic! Don't compare apples to oranges.

William said...

To Majorel,


Majorel said...

So I read the article in Atlantic Monthly as you requested...it was just ones mans opinion, the author having just released a book on this subject...certainly food for thought, but even he states that he might be overreacting.
As Dominique states, she walks miles frequently, she reads long books and she watches TV. Not to mention she gardens, swims, kayaks, writes books, travels, in other words, she does not need to give up the internet or lose her mind and abilty to think and write.

Just Saying.

William said...


It's merely something to watch - for example the ill effects of smoking, at one time, was just one man's opinion. Carr develops his argument further in his book, 'The Shallows', which was released 2 years after the Atlantic article. Jaron Lanier, a brilliant computer scientist and Internet pioneer, effectively argues in his book, 'You Are Not a Gadget', that the Internet is killing the individual mind and destroying creativity by creating a baseline that few move beyond. To just dismiss these arguments as "one man's opinion" is both missing their points and proving them at the same time. I understand that being critical of something everybody has embraced and believes has improved their lives is dangerous territory - but I always remind myself of the great Mark Twain quote whenever I get caught up in 'everybody is doing it' thinking - "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

Majorel said...

To William,

App Development said...

Everything about technology and the Internet is fraught with eventual distress. Loss of connection, computer failure, some vital link down ... sigh, it is a new age. I'm even hooked on my Kindle now, just love it.

end tables said...

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Klaus B said...

Should that be "AT&T"? The singer is Andrea Marcovicci. Also see: