Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Staff Lounge


This is the view out the window of our staff lounge at work. When I went to get my morning coffee yesterday that beautiful tree caught my eye, with the sun brightening its colorful leaves. (And yes, the coffee machine was actually working! Whatever the "flow error" was, it has been corrected.)

Remember our missing and ridiculously expensive DVDs? Well, they arrived yesterday, and we were thrilled. This seems to be a replacement package -- my boss e-mailed the vendor on Nov. 11 when the first package failed to show up, and apparently they took it upon themselves to send another shipment that same day. Either that or they never sent them in the first place, and that whole goose chase was over a different box. (We did belatedly learn that apparently the package in the CCTV image from the loading bay was not our DVDs.) Anyway, long story short, they're here now and we didn't have to pay any more to get them, so it's a win for us.

I read an interesting article in the Nov. 8 issue of The New Yorker about a somewhat obscure Bennington College professor who compiled what may be the world's longest and most complete diary. Apparently he began writing in childhood and basically never stopped. He painstakingly saved everything, and although he is now dead, his papers have been acquired by the Getty Research Institute and are gradually being made public.

The professor, Claude Fredericks, knew famous people and traveled in intellectual circles, but according to the author of the article he could be a somewhat stultifying writer. Still, he strove to be open and honest, which he felt were essential qualities for a diarist, and I found the discussion about how and why people keep diaries pretty fascinating.

After all, being a blogger isn't all that different -- except that we're writing for an immediate audience, so there's a certain amount of self-editing going on. That editing raises its own questions. How truthful are we being? How completely are we presenting ourselves? Are we sacrificing accuracy for brevity? When keeping a truly private diary it's easier to be more honest -- although that isn't guaranteed either, because we deceive ourselves about our own behavior and motivations, and if we envision that our diary may eventually become public -- even years in the future -- we may be selective about what we say. But it's also easy to say too much, to be too verbose and revealing, because there really are no editing constraints. It sounds like Fredericks fell into those traps fairly frequently.

Anyway, as a lifelong journal-keeper, I find others' diaries endlessly interesting. (I have the second volume of David Sedaris's diaries sitting in my to-read pile as we speak.) For me, keeping a journal (or a blog) is a way to process and record the events of my life, however ridiculously trivial those events may seem, and I enjoy employing the (modest!) skills required to produce and edit fresh content every day.


Here's another view of the staff lounge -- this was taken when I went for my afternoon cup of coffee, several hours after that first photo. Dramatic sunlight at this time of year! (When there's any sunlight at all, that is.)

See those cacti on the right-hand side of the windowsill? They've been there as long as I've worked at the school. Here they are way back in 2013. I don't know who cares for them but they seem to be holding their own. Either that or they've become petrified.

Oh, and I did order a dehumidifier yesterday. I left several windows cracked open when I went to work. Olga may have been a bit chilly but the house seemed much drier when we returned in the evening!

54 comments:

  1. I've been terribly neglectful of my friends in blogland of late and need to catch up. I love the photo of the desks in sunlight -- it's beautiful! I'm going to check out the diary article in The New Yorker -- sounds really, really interesting.

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    1. I think any of us who are blog writers will appreciate the article, though Fredericks sounds a little bit exhausting.

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  2. Glad you got the dehumidifiers. I’m concerned about that black mold. Great view from the staff lounge. I wonder if those cacti ARE petrified. If they were here, they would have outgrown those pots years ago. At different times in my life, I kept what I considered daily journals or simply thoughts. They’re interesting reads for me now. I was definitely more forthcoming (and unhappy) than I appear in my blog -- although I WAS more unhappy in those days. But although I share more than I intended in my blogs, I do hold back the most intimate details. In any case, I won’t be totally honest about daily experiences here since I don’t want to hurt feelings or betray confidences. That wasn’t the case in my private journals.

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    1. I'm concerned about the mold too! I think a lot of us, especially when we were young, used journals as places to vent, and consequently they can emphasize unhappiness over all the things that were going right in our lives at the time. I don't think my old journals are necessarily accurate reflections of my youth.

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  3. I agree with Mitchell, both about the public/private issue and about the cacti - they should have grown. Does anyone water them?
    I've bookmarked that article to read later. The differences between diaries, blogs, autobiography, memoir, fiction, etc. are interesting. I call my blog a memoir deliberately.

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    1. Someone must care for the cacti, at least in some perfunctory way, but I have no idea who that could be. I suppose a blog could be a memoir, but don't memoirs look back at life -- whereas blogs tend to be more contemporaneous, recording events as they happen?

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  4. I found the fifth paragraph the most interesting one - where you reflect upon the process of blogging and the psychology of it all. To tell you the truth it is not something I have ever stopped to ponder upon for long but it certainly merits proper consideration.

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    1. I think the need that some people have to record and reflect on the daily events of their lives is interesting, and I love articles that explore that need. (Since I share it!)

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  5. I'm closing in on starting my fourth decade of writing in a journal and have two decades of blogging on top of that. I feel similar to Frederick when he said the contents were essentially worthless but the act of writing keeps him sane.

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    1. Exactly! I think it helps organize our days and experiences in our minds.

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  6. I've tried journaling but it falls by the wayside rather quickly, and while I do share some personal stuff on the blog, it's mostly my opinions on the world.

    We have a tree on the side of our neighbors house that I catch sight of every morning and is so beautiful, that I often ponder sneaking over there at night, digging it up, and planting it in our yard. And I would but it's about 20 feet tall so that's quite the endeavor.

    I kinda want to read Mancy Drew and The Missing DVDs now.

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    1. Re. the tree, don't you wish you had magical powers and could simply transport the tree into your yard without lifting a finger? (I think that's the only way it would survive such a procedure!)

      It's interesting that you blog regularly but don't have the journaling habit. That's unusual, I think.

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  7. I haven't read that article yet but I think I've read other articles about that man or perhaps it was another guy who kept an intensely (and some would say insanely) up-to-the-minute record of his life. I often wonder if I have the same sort of crazy. I've never been a journal keeper. I've tried but I'm not consistent and yet...my blog...I feel as if I have to post every night of my life.
    Interesting.

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    1. There was another guy who used to write down everything he did at five-minute intervals. (He is also mentioned in this latest story.) How that's even possible, I don't know.

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  8. That tree really is a beautiful sight to see. I'm glad to hear the missing DVD problem has been solved and with no extra cost. I'm betting the problem was on the sender's end.

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    1. I wonder! We had a tracking number, though, so I think they did send an original package, and this one is a replacement.

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  9. Blogs are definitely diaries and I love the glimpses into others' lives that I get. I might be a bit of a nosy snoop! I can see your point, tho, about how you have to edit your work because we will see it. I have always thought, though, that you write honestly and openly about your life and I appreciate that, Steve! Thank you!

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    1. I think all of us are curious about each others' lives. I sometimes think I'm not as honest or forthcoming as I should be, but I think there's a delicate balance there. I don't want to overshare, because that makes readers uncomfortable too! (And besides that's not really in my nature!)

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  10. I think of blogging as a public journal and write things there that captures the moment, the day the time if it is something that I want shared and remembered. I keep a handwritten journal and only write in it once a month, unless something compels me to write more. In that journal I tell my secrets, and I start each entry as a letter that begins: Dear Parents.

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    1. Interesting that you still reflect on your inner life and thoughts in writing -- and that you address that writing to your parents!

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  11. Enjoyed your sunlight photos--thought probably not as much as you enjoyed the sunshine.

    Journaling has been something I've done off and on since childhood. Wrote quite a bit during years of very serious concerns (e.g. family conflict, disabled child, etc.). A catharsis. While I did hold back some things, the idea of anyone in the family reading these volumes does concern me. Strongly considering destroying them.

    Not a blogger myself, though if you were able to follow my comments on various blogs over the years, there would be quite a bit of information about my thoughts and life--perhaps my own way of randomly journaling--in reaction to something others have shared. I never leave harsh comments or criticisms about bloggers themselves (how rude!). If I don't particularly agree with someone on a subject or don't feel I have anything of value to say, I simply don't comment. Certainly appreciate the work of those I follow who share their thoughts/photos so generously.

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    1. I suppose commenting on other blogs is a method of blogging in itself. I like your approach to commenting -- not that I don't want to hear a critical comment, but some people make a habit of it!

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  12. I think I'm fairly honest in my writing. I try to be anyway. I'm pretty up front about who I am and what I say which has, at times, cost me friendships. I used to warn new people that came into my life that I could be hard to take sometimes. I guess I've mellowed some since I don't do that anymore. There are sometimes things I don't write about because certain people read it that I would probably write about if I knew only strangers would read.

    Glad to hear you finally got the DVDs and the mystery solved...or not.

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    1. You've always struck me as a very frank person. I think all of us have certain blogging boundaries -- places we just don't go out of respect for the other people in our lives.

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  13. I'm pleased the DVD business was resolved and at no extra cost to y'all.

    I've kept written journals off and on since I was 12 and have blogged for 16+ years. There were many years the journals were a way to vent. Maybe those should be tossed when I die, before any of my family members can read them!

    That first shot offers such a lovely view!

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    1. That's also been my concern about my handwritten journals -- that to some extent they were a place to vent and don't truly reflect ALL my thoughts or feelings at the time. I've destroyed a few of them because I thought they were too embarrassing and I didn't want anyone else to read them.

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  14. Blogs can be anything - truth /fiction/ a keeper of time whatever, art/fashion/ politics...A diary , however is very different, a diary is not meant to be read by everyone the world and is kept somewhat personal. If Dennis's grandmother allowed her diary to be read I think that she might have been considered a villain. We have read some of it now that she is long gone and it does not endear us to her memory. It was mostly everyday stuff, I did this I did that sort of slice of history of a housewife- and then the scorcher sandwiched in between laundry and baking- the thing that is so upsetting but in historical context, I suppose "normal" The grandmother's birthday when nothing much happened but the boys did go out and hang a N***er especially for her and her special day.
    Diaries are the day to day happenings of a life, a sort of calendar , journals are more in depth of the inner workings of that life, the working out of one's thoughts and blogging is everything and anything other. I reckon they are three different fruits on the same tree. I say that with absolutely no knowing...opinion is all.
    You have inspired me to take the New Yorker again- I just paid for another year plus...I miss it. Really it is less than the price of three books but is so much more! So thank you, now I can get mad at myself for not catching up reading all that comes in the mail.
    The colors of the leaves are swoon worhthy, lovely shot.

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    1. I'm glad I inspired you to go back to The New Yorker! I have a love/hate relationship with it, as everyone who reads my blog knows -- mainly because it can be hard to keep up with. But I am never disappointed! With all your thoughts on writing you would find that article fascinating. I can't believe that comment in Dennis's grandmother's diary! Horrifying!

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  15. I definitely edit what I write on my blog (to a degree) because I know I have family members who read it - some secrets aren't mine to tell, and some people don't need the full force of my left leaning nuttery (although I don't there there's any question what my opinions are).

    I've read some diary entries from when I was around 12 & then again in high school & they are MORTIFYING. Of course I've kept them, but sheesh. I've tried to journal several other times over the years, but I always quit because I bore my own self.

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    1. Well, we all self-edit, and that's not a bad thing!

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  16. Autumn colours can be breathtaking..and nice to enjoy with a coffee!
    Glad your parcel arrived albeit with some prompting.

    My journal is more personal...when I remember to write it! I must get back to writing again. I enjoy blogging and the interaction with other bloggers

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    1. I can't imagine trying to keep up a journal AND a blog. I seem to only be capable of one or the other. I kept journaling during the first few years of this blog and the blog definitely suffered for it!

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  17. Writing is cheap therapy. I'm relatively open about myself but not as much about my kids.

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    1. Exactly -- it's a way to work out problems, among other things. I try not to write about other people's lives. That's their story to tell, as far as I'm concerned.

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  18. Completely Agree There Brother Reed - Keeping A Timeline Of Data - And Dig The Cactus For Sure

    Cheers

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    1. I kind of want to put that cactus on a plane and send it to Arizona. Imagine how much happier it would be!

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  19. No diarist here ... I delete each day's entry on Facebook! It's all out there in cyberworld anyway but doubt anyone would want to dig it out since it's just day-to-day trivia! It is only yawn-worthy! LOL
    Lack of proofreading on blogs is so irritating to me. I've had too many years working with words so I have to just read ... grimace and go on! LOL
    I would check the cacti and make sure they are real or really good phony cacti! LOL They appear to be exactly the same as they were in 2013, so ... I would guess phony cacti!!

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    1. The cacti aren't phony! (See subsequent post!) I also rely on the fact that I blog "day to day trivia" to keep me somewhat obscure online and thus out of trouble. :)

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  20. I love reading diaries, journals, and blogs. Mine were less boring when I was a drunk, but I still keep them. 1974 through today.....

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    1. Wow, that's a lot of journaling! Do you mean they were less boring or more boring when you were drinking? I have a very funny stream-of-consciousness paper I typed when I was drunk one time -- but it's funny only to me. I suspect it would be very boring to anyone else!

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  21. The word blog covers many different styles of writing. Some are non personal and hopefully very factual. I like the factual styles where the writer sometimes lets of bit of their person be seen in their writing. But most are a mish mash and those are the ones I really like.

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    1. Kind of like life -- a mish mash! I really like blogs where people truly create their own content, as opposed to simply passing along other stuff they find elsewhere on the web.

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  22. Are you certain the cacti are real? Surely they must have grown some across the years.
    Happy about the DVDs showing up.
    That tree is magnificent!

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    1. They have grown a bit, actually. They seem slightly taller and thinner now. (That may be for lack of water!)

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  23. You ask some very interesting and important questions about bloggers and how they see themselves. Another factor would be time. How long ago did things happen. I think I can recall things from 75 years ago. But I wonder how accurate my memories are. When I visit with my brother we often have different memories of the same thing.

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    1. Yeah, it's true! The same thing happens when I talk to my relatives. Our memories can definitely be faulty. (Another reason to write things down as they happen.)

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  24. Interesting discussion on journaling and blogging in the post and comments. I kept a diary when I was quite young and it was as boring as all get out when I read it a few years later. When I got older I realized the potential for someone else to eventually read my innermost thoughts and never wanted to be in that position so I never kept a diary. If I had to write something out to process it, I'd destroy it afterward. Now I blog and feel I'm finding a compromise that works for me between too little and too much information. If we don't put some of our interior life out there, no one knows who we really are and we can't really connect with each other.

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    1. Absolutely -- it's a balance. I think you're quite forthcoming and I admire you for that! I sometimes think I write too much trivia and too little of any meaning.

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  25. I try to be truthful on my blog but I do censor myself because my husband reads my blog. He is not a fan of blogging and doesn't understand the feeling of community amongst bloggers which is what I like. I also write to sort things out. Often times I don't even know what's bugging me until I write it out.

    The truth about my husband would be complicated. He's way too smart and remembers way too much. He's very good at what he does which is solve problems. He would like to fix me but I am what I am. He also has one of the biggest hearts and children and animals love him and trust him.

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    1. I definitely have relatives who question my need or desire to write about my life online. As you said, the community aspect is a big part of it. It's like we're all part of a big writing group, reading and commenting and reflecting on each other's posts.

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  26. Thank you for the peek into your staff lounge room, Steve. I like being able to picture some of the places where my blog pals spend their days.

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    1. Funnily enough, I'm really not in that room much. I don't hang out there. I just go in a couple times a day to get a coffee, which I take back to my desk. Oh, and to check my staff mailbox!

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  27. nice article great post comment information thanks for sharing.
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  28. It's nice to see that seasons and color changing trees are similar in both countries. I agree, it's a lovely view. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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