I was chatting online with a friend last night and she started… I don’t even know what to call it. Berating me or complimenting me–depending on your point of view–on the fact that I post every day, and generally long entries, at that. I think this was brought on by her own “I should post but I don’t have anything to say and I don’t want to but I feel like I should” issues, but regardless.
This is a conversation I’ve had before. Every now and then someone points to my posting habits as if I’ve stumbled upon the golden ticket.
It bothers me for two reasons. First, it bothers me to think that there are “shoulds” to the mechanics of blogging. I enjoy many blogs that don’t have new content every day. I also enjoy some blogs where there are new posts multiple times a day. The frequency isn’t (to me) the important part. There are also plenty of blogs out there with daily postings that I wouldn’t voluntarily read if they were the last words on earth. (This begs the questions of how, exactly, all the OTHER words disappeared, and why we couldn’t generate new ones, but just pretend it made sense.)
The second reason… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.
I have to tell you a bit of a story, first. So that it will make more sense.
My ex and I met in grad school. It happened that a number of his friends from undergrad were also at that same school, but I didn’t know a soul when I first moved out there. I made new friends, and wrote to my old ones, and adopted my ex’s friends, and that was all fine. It all seemed about right for having moved 3,000 miles from home.
What I began to realize in fairly short order was that my ex’s undergrad experience was very unlike mine. I was not close to many people I’d gone to college with, and that was okay with me. He, on the other hand, had an entire PACK of friends he’d known for years, right there, and ANOTHER pack of friends scattered across the country, all from college. I thought that was pretty neat, actually.
At our wedding, this pack of alumni all clearly shared a bond that I didn’t quite understand. But that was fine.
A short while after we married, a friend of my ex’s from college came to stay with us on a visit. I forget why she was there. But there she was. I think I hadn’t met her before (she missed the wedding, I believe, though again I cannot remember why). I knew she’d been one of my ex’s buddies all through undergrad.
I also knew, within the first 24 hours, that I didn’t like her. It’s a pretty foggy memory–what little I recollect indicates that she was the sort of perky persona who strikes me as annoying and fake. That may or may not be true. If anything, I suspect it was her discomfort/nervousness that caused her to prattle on about things that made me think she was materialistic and pretentious. But I think for the first time I realized that I was just very different than the people my husband had spent the last 6 or so years around, and I think it made me feel inadequate somehow. And I think I probably heaped all of my insecurity onto this woman who was in all likelihood not so bad.
Having both missed our wedding AND, then, coming to stay with us while regaling us with various tales of objects and adventures that suggested she had a LOT more money than our starving grad-student selves, this woman was magnaminous enough to present us with a belated wedding gift. Of a book. A cookbook, actually. Which is a perfectly nice gift, truly. I like to cook. I would’ve been happy with the damn book if she had just given it to us and SHUT UP.
But of course, that’s not what happened. She presented the book as if bestowing the Shroud of Turin itself, and then spent the next eleventy hours talking about how it was THE VERY BEST COOKBOOK EVER. Really! Better than anything else! She has it and uses it ALL THE TIME! Jesus himself used this cookbook!
[Completely unrelated to the cookbook or even any other part of her visit: I also remember, quite vividly, watching her dig for something in her purse one day, and while moving things around she took out a case of birth control pills and laid them on the couch along with some other things, then–after finding the lost item–tucked everything back into her purse. Now, she was married, but she was also Catholic, and appeared to be quite religious (and when I say “religious,” I of course mean “uptight”). I was amazed that she would not only carry the Pill in her purse but fling it around so cavalierly and without embarrassment.]
The visit ended eventually, and I think that in 9 years of married life I only had to see her once more.
The cookbook was this one (although my edition doesn’t feature that slightly Medusa-esque cover graphic, alas). I didn’t use the cookbook for years after I received it. I had flipped through it once, noted that most of the recipes seemed either expensive, or complicated, or expensive AND complicated, and put it aside.
Time passed, and eventually we were no longer poor grad students. We were parents! With jobs! I was cooking “for fun” more often, and at some point I rediscovered the cookbook. I went through a phase where I tried a recipe from it every month or so. I still sort of sneered at dessert recipes that began with her earnest explanation of how you must use only gourmet so-and-so chocolate ordered direct from Belgium or whatever, but some of the concoctions piqued my interest.
I remember there was a recipe for Neen’s Peanut Sauce, complete with a commentary about how this was her sister’s recipe and she (the author) would “cheerfully eat it on slices of two by fours” because it was just that good. I bought coconut milk specifically for this recipe. I also made it with soynut butter rather than peanut butter, because Monkey was still allergic. It yielded an enormous batch of… glop. Which I deemed passable and no one else in the family would touch. Most of it ended up being thrown away, after a prolonged stay on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
At some point, we were having Chickadee’s former preschool teacher over for “tea” (a delightful ritual which allowed Chickadee to feel very grown-up) and I’d made some cookies from a recipe in the book. Our guest went on and on about how much she loved the cookies, and I told her about the cookbook. Well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I had the book out and was sharing the recipe. She liked the book so much, I offered to let her borrow it. “Are you sure?” she asked me, obviously pleased.
“Of course,” I replied. “I know you’ll get it back to me when you’re done.”
She never did give it back, and we haven’t seen her for years. I kept meaning to call up and ask for the book, but after a while, I guess I just didn’t care. I would fight tooth and nail for a book that’s precious to me, but that one… really wasn’t, I guess. I hope she’s enjoying it.
The second reason I dislike that sort of “you are so completely fantabulous for posting so much every single day” comment is because–as my chat friend and I decided in the course of this conversation–I am the Seinfeld of blogging. This is a blog about nothing. Don’t confuse my inability to shut up with “actually having something to say.”
To wit: A normal person with less mental illness than myself would come here and make a two-sentence post that said, “Hey, have you ever made french toast with split english muffins for the bread? It’s AWESOME.”
But me, I come here and tell you the entire preceding story, and conclude by mentioning that you know, the ONLY thing I now remember from that stupid cookbook was the author’s suggestion to use split english muffins when making french toast. I did it for dinner last night and the children couldn’t get enough of it. Perhaps there is purpose in all things, somehow.
Just not in my blog. I post every day because I’m an OCD motormouth. The end.
But try the english muffins. You won’t be sorry.