Monday, April 17, 2017

Burnout and Reflection

Receptionist desk, GM Technical Center.  Designed by Eero Saarinen. 

You know, there are times that you get so buried in a project that you feel alone at your desk - quite alone.  And that is how Cookie has been feeling of late.

In January I took on a HUGE family scanning project for a cousin in Ohio who is dying.  I literally got in the old Prius and hauled ass on a whim, and came back with cartons of his mothers and grandmothers images.  Since January I have scanned thousands of pictures, back and front.

Not dozens.


I used to love scanning images, but my mind can only take so many at a time.  But with thousands of them my mind has grown numb.  I am unable to think things through.

I feel like this woman sitting at the reception desk.  Isolated.  Alone on an island.

The project is coming to an end.  Really, I have one album of cart d'viste pictures to do and then code in the meta data and Cookie is finished until September.

In September we have been invited to stay for a long weekend at the home of my third cousin and view her collection of family images.

That I find in joy in this is a blessing.

Though it has me a bit concerned.  In my mind are thousands of names, stories and facts.  And though I am fifty four, and not planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.  I am getting concerned about what will happen to what I know, what I don't know and what I long to pass on.

When you work on researching a family so thoroughly that you get to know the people you are researching, I feel as if I need to keep on doing this because I don't want to let them down.  They all have stories that need to be told.

"Well then," people will say, "write a book!"

As someone who has written books and seen them published by a real honest to gosh publisher, easy said than done.  I can write.  But I don't enjoy writing.

It leaves me feeling like this woman - alone and isolated.

And I am feeling that at fifty four, I need to look to other things so when my time does come at a ripe old age, the funeral home isn't empty because I spent so much time documenting and doing for dead people when maybe I should be doing more for the living.

Something to ponder.


  1. The reward from such projects comes from pursuing a hobby and gaining knowledge, expertise and judgement in your area. There is also value in spending time by yourself, although as you point out one does not want to make that 100% of the time. Digital images (if they make it to a server) are also sharable and researchable--I have had some real Eureka moments when I found some rare image on the web, that was painstakingly scanned and uploaded by someone like you.

    1. There is that. And its part of this trip to the North West. I am hoping that they can pull some strings with a research library on the west coast so we can get to the mother lode. THAT would be great fun.

  2. May I suggest writing a family history blog instead of a book? That way, you can update it from time to time or easily go back and correct errors.

    Yes, you're still alone when writing the blog posts but it's not the same huge task that writing a book presents.

    I find it's a matter of balance. I'll go full steam ahead on the family history for a period of time but then walk away for awhile to pursue other interests. I can then return to the history when I'm feeling refreshed.

    I also delegate assignments to various relatives. They're all relying on me to do the lion's share of the work but I expect them to contribute. So I'll say, "Will you please write a little blurb about Uncle Norm? I COULD do it but you're his son and only you can do his memory justice."

    1. Well, I have the family group on Facebook - to which I have uploaded a BIZILLION images and have about a 100 members, but it is mostly crickets out there. Almost no feedback. Zilch. Well occassionally I get a "Your mind continues to amaze me. How lucky we are blah, blah blah," but nothing. That why I worry. What will happen when I am gone - and again, I don't plan leaving anytime soon. I just imagine in 40 or fifty years someone will say "You know, Cookie knew all of this and I should have listened blah, blah, blah."

  3. The other alternative is to transcribe to to a recording device, every now and again. Then when the mood takes you you could use that as an aide memoire while writing. Just sayin'.


    PS If these people are so disinterested in preserving their own collective family memories, then maybe you should step back and think "who am I doing this for?"