Starry Strawberry Rose Marshmallows
It’s been a year since Pâticheri was born. A year. A whole long year of reading, and learning, and writing, and making many mistakes, and figuring out what it takes to set things right again.
When just my first post was up and I was struggling with the second, my very own Shari Ann asked if I wasn’t already getting hundreds of hits per day. Aren’t families just so great like that? They have such boundless faith in your capabilities, they’ve convinced themselves that all the beans you have to plant are pure magic.
But now, I wonder if there isn’t a gentler, lovelier magic very much at work. One that simply reveals the hundreds of tiny glowing markers by which we find our way to humanness through the alien universe. Here’s how it came about.
I started out listening to sages and pundits. They told me to: Post frequently. Take fantastic photographs. Get an expert to take photographs, if you need to (no other way to get on Food Gawker). Write excellent stories—but not too long, and not too intellectual. Seriously, who would read? Nobody has time. But don’t forget Food 52. Troll other blogs as you’d hang out at parties. Go up and make conversation. Never mind if you’ve always been the shyer sort who found these approaches insufferable—get out of it. It is the social network, after all. But don’t drop a bunch of links; it’s like handing out a business card at the wrong moment in a conversation; how gauche would that be. Think SEO. Live SEO. Be SEO. Write recipes for SEO (It’s easy. There’s an app for that).
Did I mention post frequently? Once a week if you have any hopes of getting on the big league BlogHer, and wearing that coveted badge. And like. Tweet. Tweet. TWEET. Oh, Pin, too ‘cuz that’s the new best way to get out there. Pin like you’ve never pinned before. Pin like your life rests on pins.
And when you are formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When you are pinned and wriggling on the wall–
Then measure out your life with coffee spoons. Heaped high with likes and re-tweets and re-pins.
As I say, I started out listening. Tentative, unsure, but willing, through what has been without doubt one of the harder years of my life–the sort that pushes you to many, many existential tipping points, and makes you wonder:
Do I dare
Disturb the Universe?
But then you snap out of it, find yourself in wasting bananas, and you say no. The pundits may be right about a great many things. But they are not right for me.
Sure, it’s nice to have the post likes and the page likes and the re-tweets. But what matters to me in these things is not that someone has clicked a button, but that I’ve heard from a friend, a person, a fellow human being. We’ve found a point of contact. We’ve shared that little glow of a little something in the universe for just a moment. It’s fleeting, its incidental, and it pays nothing but joy and returns nothing but beauty.
It sounds either a cliché or a sacrilege, but I’ll say it anyway to this world of numerical
pont-quantification: the hits don’t matter, bots be damned. People do.
What Pâticheri has taught me then is how to find my own way through the blogging universe with non-tech tools that nobody lists out. With all inspiration and support from those of you who’ve stopped by to cheer this endeavor on and add your voices to its song. It’s from you that I’ve hitched many a wonderful ride this past year, and drafted my very own hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. Here’s the working list I’ve come up with, theory crafted from praxis:
(1) Love your life, poor as it is. It’s your only ingredient, and all the ingredients you’ll ever need.
(2) Write from where you start.
(3) Revel in the beauty of food–and that doesn’t just mean take chic photographs, but spend time watching, admiring, studying the stunning symmetries of the littlest things.
(4) Don’t keep pace; make time. Steal it, if you have to. From anyone but your kids.
(5) Breathe. Reflect. Muse. Pause. Hang. And then jump, firm in the belief that the wind will lift your heaviness up.
(6) Make friends, not contacts. Converse with strangers. They’ll become dear friends.
(7) Give away your cake and keep your thoughts. Hand out likes like free cookies. Don’t hold back.
(8) Give space away. Allow other voices to join the conversation. Collaborate.
(9) Make marshmallows again. Glowing pink strawberry ones this time, scented with rose. Serve them in crystal and fine china for the transformations and the convictions and the contented dinner-table scenes they represent. Drop them as you go, all the way to Venus–for others to follow the scented trail to you, or for you to find your way back again; and
(1o) Hardest of all: learn to be happy, alone in the expanse, for its all that will ever be.
[& here's the print version of the Starry Strawberry Rose Marshmallow recipe above]
With heartfelt thanks to each of you who’ve stopped by, and made this first year of blogging baby steps as beautiful and enriching as it has been,
With due apologies to T.S. Eliot, whose tender “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” I’ve pilfered from in the narrative above.