Watch this. Just freakin’ watch it, would ya?
Sorry for the unscheduled MIA. July 2nd, the bravest, strongest woman I know, my sister-in-law Pamela Libby, passed away. She had been battling multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, for 19 years. Her one goal was to see my niece Amanda Libby graduate from high school, which she did June 8th. Pam we love you, miss you, and will never forget you.
Losing Pam was just another event in what you could lightly call a “full” summer. Tragic events, joyous events, and I’m not too proud to admit when life happens, I shut down. And the first thing to go is writing. It’s always the first thing to go when the crap hits the windshield.
I walked away from the blog, crawled deep into myself, and comforted my spirit with Game of Thrones reruns, and overpriced palmiers and kale chips from Whole Foods. Gotta balance all that fatty French puff pastry with some sorta greenery.
This isn’t meant to be another “bitching and whining” post about how writing is SO hard. *Insert tiny violin* but when I started this space 4 years ago I promised myself I’d be honest. Not Anne Sexton confessional, but honest regarding what I was about and where I was food-wise, spirit-wise, life-wise. This is where I am at this moment. Deal with it.
It’s not that I stopped wanting to write, I’ve still got the drive. It’s just when a lot of life hits you in the face at once I still haven’t figured out how to fit the writing IN to all that life. I feel like I have to throw down my pen and paper and throw up a giant shield made of the finest Valyrian steel. Or call on that sexy “Imp” for help.
And honestly, I haven’t figured out what sort of food writer I am. I hate labels, but it’s probably a good idea to have a niche, right? A nesting area where I can explore food and put down words about it. So while I was wondering whether Jon Snow would survive his kidnapping or Daenerys Targaryen would get her dragons back, I ruminated. And at the very least figured out what I’m not:
- I’m not a restaurant reviewer, too nice;
- I’m not a recipe-tryer-outer, too bad at it, and frankly, too damn lazy, and not nearly as AROC as you have to be. I’m a big picture kinda girl, not a devil for the details;
- I’m not a technique teacher, like how to boil an egg, again, too lazy and for me, so boring I’m asleep halfway through the blog post;
- I’m not a food diarist, definitely. I envy those who somehow find the discipline to record every little morsel of food they eat. I can barely remember to eat some days;
- I’m not a food photographer, unless it’s with tiny little people. ;) Food porn just ain’t my thing unless I can snap it off quick with an Instagram. Takes too long and my food gets cold.
So what am I? Again, don’t mean to act a whiney-ass-bitch (I can hear my mother’s voice telling me to just get on with it), but I know in my gut writing is not a straight road but one that takes a lot of twists and turns up a very large mountain. All the crap this summer was definitely one big bend, giving me pause to reflect. It’s okay to backpedal sometimes in order to find your footing.
I can’t even use the excuse there’s nothing to write about. Since April I’ve had some tremendous, wicked-good food experiences. But have you seen them? Nope. And I’ll tell you why. After all that life happened, I held those experiences close to my soul and hoarded them like a starving woman. I needed to. For once, I fed my spirit instead of rushing off to the computer. So there.
You know what else is crazy? I don’t even LIKE writing all that much. It’s difficult, soul-consuming, brings up every fear you can imagine, makes you hate yourself, feel guilty, and you become so obsessed you end up half crazy. On a good day.
In a perfect world I’d dance like Gregory Hines and sing like Phyllis Hyman. But I’m awful at both. One of the movies I dive into for comfort when I’m down is The Cotton Club. The video clip above contains the greatest dance sequence ever caught on film. There’s another scene where Hines, a dancer, wants to kill someone at the club because he was punched. Only problem is this is 1929, and the guy is white. Laurence Fishburne, a Harlem gangster, says, sure, I can’t even GET INTO The Cotton Club because of the color of my skin. I have to “dance” here in Harlem. “Tell me,” he asks, giving Hines a long, thoughtful look, “Where do you dance?”
This got me. I can’t dance. I can’t sing. But I do dance, here. On the page. I’ve been told I do. People say I’ve got a sense of place. That when I write a scene they feel like they are there. I had a guy tell me because of what I wrote about him and his restaurant, business picked up and people he hadn’t seen in years came back to visit. He hugged me, kissed me, and thanked me with so much gratitude in his eyes it made me cry.
So maybe that’s what I do. That’s how I dance. I connect. Food to experience to people to place to food to me. And on, and on, and on, and on. In a choreographed dance which I’m still figuring out the steps to. Not to overuse the metaphor, but thanks for the giving me an Intermission while I sort things out.
And a special hug and thank you to my BFF Scotty, who looked me straight in the eye, a stern look on his face, and said, “You know that little guy on the peas has been there a WHILE.” Thanks for that kick in the ass, Boo. I needed that.