What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

In all four of his television series thus far, Aaron Sorkin has named an episode “What Kind Of Day Has It Been?” It was the name of the first season finales for “SportsNight,” “The West Wing” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” and it is the name of the upcoming series finale of “The Newsroom.”

The reason I love Sorkin so much, and particularly “The West Wing,” is that he writes for intelligent people and doesn’t assume that he has to dumb it down to meet the lowest common denominator (with the exception of the first four episodes of “The Newsroom,” in which every woman was a drippy damsel in distress, and every man a douchebag trying—and, somehow, being allowed—to be a knight in shining armor). It’s also witty when it’s right to be witty. “The West Wing,” in particular, is my go-to when I need comfort viewing. Something about it is the visual equivalent of macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, the entertainment equal to being wrapped up in a cozy blanket with a mug of hot tea on a cold night.

Today has been an odd kind of day.

It started with me reading, for reasons passing understanding (big Sorkin phrase), a blog post on cocktailsandchemo.com that I saw posted on a friend’s Facebook feed. I have read posts on this blog here and there before, and it has always been a mistake, but, like a moth to a flame, there I was, and I was destroyed for 15 minutes when I should have been drying my hair. It’s heartbreaking. It’s about a very young man who is dying of colon cancer, and it is written by his wife. They have a daughter who’s not even two. Don’t read it. I swear, you’ll be done in from the combination of love and ache and beauty and sorrow and hope and anguish and just don’t.

At work, my colleague and I finished the last of the eight phone interviews we were conducting for a vacant position. They went fine, and we were able to solidly eliminate three candidates and put one on the bubble, leaving us with four we felt confident bringing in for face-to-face meetings. But as anyone who has conducted interviews knows, doing eight in a week pokes a bunch of big holes in your days, and between them and your meetings, you tend to feel like you haven’t gotten anything productive done. I kept trying to get a foothold, and being able to do little more than toe a few emails.

Then there was an absolutely ridiculous issue with a publication that really should not matter in the slightest, but required another redesign and another round of new copy after the clients had agreed on the design and sent the supposedly final final final copy. My vice president wound up involved in a way I’m not aware of, and as far as I’m concerned, she can handle it the rest of the way, because I am pretty tired of trying to do things for these particular clients and getting split decisions, too many revisions, and still hot breath down the back of my neck to get the final version to them in time for them to send it out when they didn’t give my team any time to do it in the first place. The real killer of this whole thing is that the designer spent four days hand-drawing this publication after all parties had agreed on a design concept, and now it’s scrapped entirely. I find it terribly disrespectful of someone’s energy, time and talent, and these clients do this constantly.

A bit before that, Facebook told me that my dear friend Sam is leaving and moving to Indianapolis to take a job. Sam helped me through a lot of really difficult times in my last job, listened and asked with great interest about my love life or lack thereof, gave me great advice I actually took, bantered with me Sorkin-style in solidarity to our shared affinity, gleefully played my political wonk game, and generally has been a precious friend. Nearly a year ago, he told me about something really difficult that he was struggling with, and five months ago, he stopped talking to me altogether. Nothing happened between us, no argument or conflict… he just stopped answering messages of any kind and never reached out again. It has always made me sad, and now that he’s leaving town, it makes me even sadder. I’ve sent him a message to congratulate him and let him know I miss him and hope to see him before he goes, but I don’t know if I’ll ever hear back.

At the end of the work day, as she was leaving, my coworker declared quietly that she was going to go get gas in her car and deal with her lingering depression. She wasn’t kidding. It was awkward, if not surprising. Most of us know she is struggling, and what makes matters worse is that she’s not terribly well-liked. I don’t know which begets which. I have always found her lacking in self-awareness, which leaves me torn between concern and irritation, which makes me feel awful because I know she is in pain.

But the weirdest part of the day, and that part that, along with Sam’s announcement, has me the most untethered, was around two this afternoon, when my friend Angie found my blog.

As many of my readers know, I am completely anonymous here, and none of my real-life family, friends or acquaintances have ever known I write a blog. I wanted it that way, because the anonymity gave me permission to speak freely, to blather on about things my friends might already be bored by, to say what I want about whomever I want, and to feel like I had a safe place to do it all. But today, after I quoted a particular song lyric in an Ohio 5 group message, Angie Googled it, and somehow, a blog entry in which I had also quoted it came up. She outed me in the group message immediately, and even told our other friends how they could find the blog.

I can’t describe the feeling I had. My heart pounded. I don’t log into the blog on my work computer, but I did today, first having to change the password because it’s cached in my computer at home and I couldn’t remember it. Then I had to quickly go through all my posts to see if my friends would be upset by anything. I will admit that I deleted posts that I thought would upset them enough to cause friction.

I got a message from WordPress that my stats had skyrocketed. Eighty-three hits to the home page.

That seemed excessive, even for my friends.

I worried that they might have shared it with a few other people we’re close to. It wasn’t really narcissism, any more than writing a blog is narcissism. It was just that I suddenly felt like I had lost the ability to protect something tender.

I’m not angry at Angie; She was shocked, after knowing me so well for nearly 20 years, that there was something I had managed to keep from her for three and a half. Her impulse to tell the rest of our friends was reflexive. Thoughtless and inconsiderate, but not malicious. She has apologized for it, admitting that she searched through all of it looking for her name so she could see what I have said about her. Meg has apologized for trying to find the blog after learning it existed. Joey, after finding the home page and reading the glossary, has promised not to read anything else, acknowledging that there’s a reason none of them ever knew about it and that he would respect that. Will came late to the conversation; I don’t know if he’s seen the blog or not.

I’m not holding it against them. But I feel exposed, like my clothes have been torn away on a busy street. I don’t have anything to be ashamed of, but if I was already feeling a little raw, now I feel like my diary lock has been broken. I know that sounds silly when I post things on the internet for anyone to read, but the pages in the diary don’t really contain anything these friends don’t know. What they do contain are some expressions I feel embarrassed for them to see, and empty pages where a certain freedom I had cherished has been taken away. There’s no lock to keep all of that safe anymore.

So, not to be dramatic, but in a way, today was a season finale. There’s every possibility and even likelihood of more episodes, but the anonymity was a major character in this series, and that character is gone now. Everything will be a little different from here on, if not for you, then at least for me. I will think twice where I never thought twice before. I am already wondering if my friends will read this post and be upset by it. In “SportsNight,” after that season one conclusion, S2 Ep1’s title is “Quo Vadimus.” It’s Latin for “Where are we going?” While I’m sure I’ll still try to be witty when it’s right to be, and I won’t dumb anything down, it’s going to be a while before I feel comfortable again.

In the meantime, I think I need some mashed potatoes.

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13 thoughts on “What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

  1. I don’t always comment, but yours is one of the few I’ve kept up with during my own little blog hiatus. I’ve envied you your anonymity when there were things I sorely needed to let go of, but couldn’t for fear of hurt feelings. It’s public, yes, but it’s safe. It’s like a support group of people you can’t see. The readers are friends you never meet, and they don’t judge everything you share through the lens of a back story and history you share together – because there is none.

    This is a loss, but I so hope you can work around it. But if not, maybe this is just a sign that it’s time for something different, to move on, to embrace change. If so, I hope you let us know before you move so I can send you my email – I’ll be needing a link to the new site. 🙂

  2. I love Sorkin’s work too. I was pleasantly surprised to see a promo last night for Network — even if it is going to be the final season. Also sorry you were outed. I hope you don’t decide to pack it in. You’re a terrific writer and I really like your blog. I appreciate your honesty as a writer and it’s a shame you feel that’s been compromised. Hope you’ll let me know if you shut this down and begin anew anonymously.

  3. I agree with Fransi above — if you do start again, do stop by and let us all know the new site.

    But for a day like you’ve had, I recommend the West Wing episode where they pardon the turkeys.

  4. Hey SC. I too follow and read but don’t always comment. I agree with the other commenters – your blog is honest and open and invariably strikes a note with me. Please reconsider shutting down your blog. I don’t have a blog of my own yet but have done some guest blogging. I decided against anonimity early on and do find that i have to think about what i write so it is not as personal as a diary. But the essence of who you are still comes through and you can still rant. You would still add a lot to the blogging community SC. It often surprises me what people get from my posts. Today, I did a weekly gig and one of my readers commented that I was charming. ha! Gave me a big head – i’ve never been called charming before. But my point is that to me it was a peek at my day to day doings – including a face off with an impertinent squirrel and yet to someone else it was an enjoyable read. I honestly cannot figure that out but i find that it seems to be true. And so i too enjoy your blog and hope that you continue..

  5. So, my blogging twin… I can understand your duress, and I can share my personal experience in the hopes that it will help. I started pithypants anonymously. I struggled with what to share. I was (initially) quite discreet about how I posted and shared. And then it jumped the shark. I can’t remember if I did it, if a well-meaning friend did it, if someone googled it, or if it made FreshlyPressed, or what… but I went from thinking it was anonymous to realizing that senior executives in my company AND my parents were reading it in one fell swoop. Oopsie!

    Here’s what I learned and hope hold true for your experience too:
    – People are forgiving. They understand that a blog is like reading a diary and they’re surprisingly generous with what they find.
    – People are glad to find that you’re writing – period. If they’ve ever thought you had talent and they’re good humans, they’re just glad to see you flexing the muscle.
    – Your relationships can get more real now that people have had a glimpse inside your brain. I’m sure they were good before, but all the twisted, fucked up thoughts you had that you expressed on your blog are actually insights that make the people who love you, love you even more – and weed out the people who were superficial anyway.

    I’ll admit to doing what you did – reading back through my blog to seeing if I’d posted anything that would offend anyone and trying to edit or delete it. (I’d like to note that I kept THIS post up and my mom hasn’t insisted on counseling yet: http://pithypants.com/2011/01/25/warning-men-might-want-to-skip-this-one/). But as time has passed, I’ve gotten more free and real… and no one who really matters to me has abandoned me.

    So here’s my advice (not that you’re asking for it): Let your blog serve as a litmus test. Your real friends will give you a long leash. And the people who don’t? Well – it’s like a purge.

  6. Ah yes, my friend. The double-edged sword of our supposed anonymity. My friends and family read my blog and so there are some things I do not talk about. I was however, shocked, when during a job interview, my soon-to-be boss complimented my blog writing. I had been very careful to maintain my anonymity, and not identify myself or my location. And yet they found me. I was glad what I had written made them laugh, but it did make me feel vulnerable and somehow betrayed by the internet and it’s illusion of anonymity. Perhaps that’s why I share more photos than writing these days. I like pithypants comments (and pithypants, I’m going over to meet you bloggishly as soon as I finish writing this.) Stay with us, celli, and we’ll hang with you.

  7. Just me, wishing you’d rejoin the land of the posting. You’re a talented writer, so if you’re not blogging, I hope you’ve found another outlet so you can continue to flex that muscle and get feedback.

    • Hi Kelsey – I took a long break for a lot of reasons. I just posted for the first time in more than a year. Don’t know if or how often I’ll continue… but here I am today. Kind of you to wonder about me and to miss my posts!

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