Journaling yesterday. Blogging (in the “receptacle”) today. We are all in the same boat.

journals-diary-writing

Growing old is certainly far easier for people like me who have no job from which to retire at a given age. I can’t stop doing what I have always done, trying to sort out and shape experience. The journal is a good way to do this at a less intense level than by creating a work of art as highly organized as a poem, for instance, or the sustained effort a novel requires. I find it wonderful to have a receptacle into which to pour vivid momentary insights, and a way of ordering day-to-day experience (as opposed to Maslow’s “peak experiences,” which would require poetry). If there is an art to the keeping of a journal intended for publication yet at the same time a very personal record, it may be in what E. Bowen said: “One must regard oneself impersonally as an instrument.”

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea (1977)

(Robert) Coles himself says elsewhere in the piece, “Not everyone can or will do that— give his specific fears and desires a chance to be of universal significance.” To do this takes a curious combination of humility, excruciating honesty, and (there’s the rub) a sense of destiny or of identity. One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private, and one must also believe in the vehicle for expressing them, in the talent.

[…]

But I believe we learn through the experiences of others as well as through our own, constantly meditating upon them, drawing the sustenance of human truth from them, and it seems natural to me to wish to share these aperçus, these questions, these oddities, these dilemmas and pangs. Why? Partly, I suppose, because the more one is a receptacle of human destinies, as I have become through my readers, the more one realizes how very few people could be called happy, how complex and demanding every deep human relationship is, how much real pain, anger, and despair are concealed by most people. And this is because many feel their own suffering is unique. It is comforting to know that we are all in the same boat.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude (1973)


Notes:

2015: Top 15 Blogger Tools.

blog-keyboard

It’s that time again for year end awards for blogging and productivity tools:

  1. Best App in Supporting Role: Evernote (for clipping, storing and syncing across devices. My new e-junk drawer.)
  2. Best News / Site Content Aggregator: Feedly. (Indispensable. Every day)
  3. Best Search Engine: Google.  (Bing is too busy. Yahoo? Wow, time for a make-over.)
  4. Best Browser: Safari for Mac/IOS – for its Reader View, for Reading List, for full article emailing and for syncing across devices. Google Chrome can be faster – has much better tabbing framework – but is a battery hog and is missing Reading list integration and full article emailing/storage.
  5. Best Writing Aid: Microsoft OneNote.  Clean interface. Slick syncing across devices. Intuitive. Easy on-the-go writing app on the desktop and the smartphone.
  6. Best Utility Apps: 1password (for passwords), TextExpander (for shortcuts) and Snagit (for photo clipping)
  7. Best Reader App on PC/Phone: Reading List (for Mac/IOS) has replaced Pocket and Instapaper, both excellent apps.
  8. Best e-reader / best reading app: Kindle.
  9. Best Notes App: Google Keep. (Simple. Intuitive. Great syncing across devices.)
  10. Best Photos App: Google Photos.  (Wow! Free. Clean interface. Exceptional syncing across devices.  Cool image identification. You have to try it. Read The Mossberg Review for more.)
  11. Cloud Storage / Back-up: Dropbox is more universal and easier but I’m on iCloud for Apple device integration.
  12. Surprise app of the Year: Apple Music.  A bargain for the family under the monthly subscription.  Downside: Complex! Holy moly!
  13. Favorite Social Media (excluding #1 WordPress): Tumblr.
  14. Biggest Disappointment: WordPress.com for its new update in posting functionality.  There is so much to love about WordPress including the new notifications and response tools but I find the new posting interface to be a step backwards.  (What was wrong with the old format?)
  15. Biggest YOY change: Fewer (many) apps. I’m further embedded into Apple’s ecosystem. While it can be more expensive (especially for Apple crack addicts like me), it’s simpler, easier, more stable and offers better integration.

Am I missing any apps / tools that you find are indispensable?


Notes:

 

Is this good enough?

Ryan-Holiday

[…] Think about what you put on Instagram, on Twitter, on a blog, on Facebook. These are great media but it’s clear they select for a very specific type of content. It’s got to be bite sized. It’s got to look good. It has to be spreadable. It has to compete with all the other content out there from professionals, from pretty girls, from snarky a**holes. Oh, and it has to generate a certain number of public responses or you look like a loser. In a sense, these tools that were intended to help us share our realities ironically has turned into a sort of unpaid performance art. I know that you sense this too. That moment of hesitation before you post something.

Is this good enough?  […]

~ Ryan Holiday

Don’t miss Ryan Holiday’s entire post and the punch line at: The Performance Bias: Life is Not a Movie, Life is Not a Novel


Notes:

Riding Metro-North. With Kvetch.

man spreader

Friday, November, 13th.

Morning Paper.

“Confiscated glitter spray at airport security…Mouldy bread…No caffeinated coffee…Cannot find simple persian rugs with cherub imagery…Lack of free time…Horrors of luxury travel…Mediocre meals…Rude customer service…The obnoxious guy at the next table…The Talkative taxi cab driver…A hostile airline ticket clerk…The interminable security line…The malodorous seatmate and crying baby.”  Teddy Wayne, the author, continues in The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Whine About.  “It was once considered unbecoming, or annoying itself, to moan publicly about trifling personal ordeals. Now, in a seismic shift for the moral culture, abetted by technology, we tolerate and even encourage the “microcomplaint”: the petty, petulant kvetch about the quotidian.”

I finish the article and mumble my POV: Micro b*tches and then tweet or blog the h*ll out of them.  Can you believe these people? Grab a six-pack of perspective people!

Wednesday, November 18th.

5:40 a.m. Metro North to Grand Central.
Train whistle blows as it approaches.
I’m assessing the passenger load as the train cars pass. 5:40 and jammed.

There’s a single aisle seat open in a two seater.
My seat mate doesn’t raise his head from his magazine.
His oversized backpack sits on the floor between his legs.
His legs, spread wide, encroach. A Manspreader! In My Space. [Read more…]

Amateurs. Seeking mastery? Here’s our Truth.

arrow-gif-bullseye

TRUTH. In a second.

He’s the spark for this share.  Greg Cowles, editor of the NY Times Book Review, reviews Mary Karr’s new book The Art of Memoir.  One sentence in his review (also titled The Art of Memoir) summarizes his thoughts on the book:

It is not, alas, a very good book. Repetitive, unorganized, unsure of its audience or tone, it can’t decide whether it wants to be a how-to guide or a work of critical analysis.

Here’s my review of the book review in fewer words: BAH!

Now on to the Truth, our Truth, Truth for anyone seeking mastery of anything – with the most illuminating excerpt from Karr’s new book.


[Read more…]

no cows to milk

pen-paper-writing

Sometimes you wake up at four in the morning
with all this energy and no cows to milk.
So you just have to get up and
figure out what it’s there for.
Use it or lose it.
If you’re lucky
some part of you will know what to do,
but it’s not the part that thinks its steering.
Make sure you have your notebook and a pen.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Photo: Anne with Where My Deepest Dreams and Desires Are Hatched

Sunday Afternoon: Dwindles to a wisp

fading-light-portrait-eye

When I was young, and for a long time afterward, Sunday afternoons were melancholy. I used to blame it on memories on my father retiring alone to his study to listen to classical music. I didn’t like classical music. It made me uneasy…I didn’t like the closed door.

But I think something else was going on. The span of a week is a reminder of the finite, even to the young. And powerful Sunday, which starts out fat and lazy, stretching endlessly ahead, dwindles to a wisp, and just like that, it’s over.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Notes:

My Truth

abigail-thomas

My editor turned it down. She wanted me to write a novel about that marriage, what went wrong, what went right, then friendship, illness, and death. But life doesn’t arrange itself conveniently into chapters – not mine, anyway. And I didn’t want to write a novel. My life didn’t feel like a novel. It felt like a million moments. I didn’t want to make anything fit together. I didn’t want to make anything up. I didn’t want it to make sense the way I understand a novel to make a kind of sense. I didn’t want anywhere to hide. I didn’t want to be able to duck. I wanted the shock of truth. I wanted moments that felt like body blows. I wanted moments of pure hilarity, connected to nothing that came before or after. I wanted it to feel like the way I’ve lived my life. And I wanted to tell the truth. My truth doesn’t travel in a straight line, it zigzags, detours, doubles back. Most truths I have to learn over and over again.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Notes:

Driving I-95 S. With The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

car-drive-night-lights

4:35 am. Wednesday.
It’s leaden, and anchored behind the eyes. Throbbing.
I squeeze them tight. And exhale.
No. Not today. No. 
I grab the Tylenol.

71° F.
The flirty British Lady on Waze calls out Let’s Go!
39 miles. 42 minutes.
Skies clear.  Roads dry.  Traffic light.
Manhattan bound.

Cockpit is lit with the soft glow of fluorescents.
It’s dark but for the tail lights from hulking semis.
Speed lane is clear.

I adjust my right foot on the accelerator. Flying on cotton.
It’s silent but for the soft hum of the engine and the faint spinning rotation of the Goodyears.
The A/C streams in at maximum comfort level.
Sir, you’re in First Class today. Our cruising altitude will be 39,000 feet and we’ll be flying 500 mph.  
I loosen my tie.
And grab my water bottle. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 N. And Recycling.

recycling_logo-green

Tuesday.
Drive home.
A torrid August afternoon.
Waze signals an express track: 22 minutes.
Reality reports something else.
Traffic inches forward.

The car in front is a late edition Mustang hard top.  Driver and passenger wearing baseball caps. A empty Marlboro pack is tossed out of the passenger window, skips once and lands on the simmering asphalt.

That’s bullsh*t.

Traffic snakes ahead.
A butt is flicked out the window, and lay smoldering on the shoulder.

Pig.

The A/C is blowing, but I’m hot, from the inside-out.  I loosen my tie.  Unbutton the right shirt cuff, and then the left. And roll-up my sleeves. I sit.

Here you go again, with another demonstration of Fuller’s Celtic inclinations: irritability, intolerance and irascibility.  You bathe in it Man. It is your Oxygen. [Read more…]

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